Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Chapter 12, Versiculo 22, Pre-Christmas Edition 12.22.14

Area: Yunguyo  Comp.: Elder Vargas


-Spiritual Thought! John 3:16-"For God so loved the world that he gave his Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life" (or something like that). Don't forget in this epoca Navideña why we celebrate Christmas! Also christmas.mormon.org the video on the front page is just fantastic.

-I gave a talk! I based it off of that video! It went pretty well. My third talk in 5 months, two of which were in Spanish. Also it turns out I'm a member of the Branch Presidency here. I had no idea!

-We have this one family we teach, the Familia Peraltes. So the parents are inactive members and the kids are not members, so we've been teaching the whole family together with the intent to reactivate the parents so that the dad can baptize his kids. We taught them for the first time this week without the dad there, and the mom told us that she had secretly had her kids baptized at 8 in Puno, and the dad doesn't know. I thought that was pretty interesting.

-Beach Day! Last P Day we went to the beach! We obviously can't go swimming, so we basically just stood there and took pictures, but it still made me really happy.

Anyways, things are good here! Elder Vargas thinks his leg is getting worse, and is still on bed rest, but I go out with the other Elders and study like crazy. Have a fantasticly Merry Christmas! Talk to you guys soon!

Elder Steele

On the street.

Jackson and Elder Vargas on the beach of Lake Titicaca.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Month 12 Day 15 -- Nothing Really Happened This Week Edition 12.15.14

Area: Yunguyo   Comp.: Elder Vargas


Nothing really happened this week. We spent half the week in Puno and the other half in bed, so I'm sorry in advance that this email will be terrible.

-We went to Puno a lot! Mostly for doctors. We also had a Christmas Program with Presidente, which was really good! We sang songs, and exchanged gifts, and ate pizza!

-I taught about 3 lessons this week, one to a very old couple with a member granddaughter. We started off by offering service, and the granddaughter asked for a blessing for her grandmother. The blessing included things like "You've lived a life the Lord is proud of" and "We bless you with the ability to rest from your labors". We then sat down and taught the Plan of Salvation. I'm not sure if she's died yet, but I'd bet money on it being in the next couple weeks.

That's really everything. I've almost finished the Book of Mormon in Spanish for the first time, I've spent a ridiculous amount of money (Sorry Mom!), and I'm just waiting to be able to work again! Have a good week!

Elder Steele

Note about the pictures: Jackson doesn't send any explanation with his pictures so that leaves me to guess on locations and names of people based on name tags and past letters. Hopefully this will get better with time.

First Christmas in Peru.

Jackson with Elder Day. Christmas dinner/devotional with the mission president. (Puno)

Jackson, Elder Williams, Elder Hanson, Elder Yorgeson and Elder Day. All these guys came out
together and are all serving in the Puno zone. Christmas dinner/devotional 2014 (Puno)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Season 12 Episode 8--Status Report Edition 12.8.14

Area: Yunguyo (Juli)     Comp.: Elder Vargas

Dear Everyone,

So this is my 'Status Report Edition', seeing as I'm in a new place with a new companion, but I actually am not in my sector right now and I'd really like to start with the story of 'why'.

Also, first off, sorry I spent lots of money this weekend! It was necessary!

So on Saturday, we were walking and right as we passed an ATM I got the feeling "I should go get 150 soles out on my card from home," so I did. Didn't really know why, just kind of expected it to burn a hole in my pocket until I needed it, but yeah. Keep that in mind.

So yesterday, we were in a lesson that was right around the corner from where we live, and during this lesson it started to rain ridiculously hard. We weren't wearing jackets, so we decided to go back to our apartment around the corner and get them. We went in there, and the other Elders that kind of live with us were in their apartment talking about plans for the day or something. So the rain started getting crazier, and by the time we'd said hi to them and put on our coats, the streets were flooded and it was too crazy to go outside. So my companion Elder Vargas said, "Let's go on the roof and watch the lightning until the rain settles down" and I said, "That's a terrible idea." But apparently there's a little room on the roof with these big windows, so we're inside but we can see everything, so that seemed safe enough. So that's the fourth floor, so we went up there and started watching, and everything's cool. Then we decide that it's calmed down enough to leave again, so we start to walk out. So you know that corrugated tin stuff that a lot of people down here use for their roof? There was a piece of that on the floor, and there was some trash on it, so it looked like someone had just set it there. So Elder Vargas stepped on it to walk over to the door, and it turns out that it was covering a hole in the floor, that had an equal hole on the floor below it. So long story short, Elder Vargas fell 2 stories onto the concrete floor. Obviously we freaked out, ran downstairs, and basically broke down the door to get to him. Somehow (I'm still kind of confused where these came from) there was a bike, a chair, and a big stone on top of him, so we pulled them off pretty quick. He seemed ok, no obvious bodily damage or mental damage, and luckily he'd fallen to the 2nd floor which is the one that we live on. So we pulled him into the room, gave him a blessing, and called the ZL's, who gave us permission to go to Puno to get medical attention but told us that they wouldn't give us 150 soles for a taxi to get there, although Elder Vargas said there was no way he could go in the bus. BUT I HAD 150 SOLES! So we took a taxi, went straight to the hospital, and have been there since noonish today. He's fine, he's got a messed up shoulder, a badly twisted ankle, and another ankle that's fractured. He'll be ok, but we're confined to our room for the next week, so I would imagine that next week's email will be just the worst. But yeah! Exciting 24 hours!

Anyways, Status Report:

-My companion's named Elder Vargas! He's Boliviano, 21, finishes in 6 months, and is absolutely fantastic! He's just the nicest guy. I'm super freaking excited to work with him.

-My Apartment! It's good! It's one room, about 15 feet by 20 feet, and it's only got room for our bunk beds, our desks, and a dresser, but I love it! And the bathroom has somewhat warm water and a toilet that not only consistently flushes, but also is attached to the floor! So I'm actually really happy. AND THERE'S A MIRROR, that's not only in the bathroom, but at head height! I'm actually ecstatic about that, that's not even sarcasm.

-Yunguyo! I'm in Zona Juli, but where I am is a pueblo named Yunguyo. Usually when people say 'pueblo' here, they mean a little community living in humble adobe homes out in the field with their farm animals, but this isn't like that at all. It's only a pueblo in population, which is small, but Yunguyo is designed like a big city. The buildings are all next to each other and tall, the streets are paved, there's no trash in the streets, and there are 2 plazas which are absolutely beautiful. It's great.

-I live with Elder Vargas and a companionship of 2 other Elders, so my use of the English language just dropped to about 0. I'm actually really happy about that.

-The pension's great! Well, I'm conflicted there. I haven't been there a week and I've eaten chuno and cow heart, but everything she gives us tastes amazing (including chuno and cow heart).

-We've spent 160 soles on pizza this week. Well, I didn't, the other elders did. That's why they didn't have any money. It's good though! We get pineapple mushroom, which is surprisingly delicious. I'm kind of addicted, but it's expensive.

-The branch has about the same attendance as our ward in Juliaca (like 50 people), but apparently the Elders are the counselors to the Branch President. We help conduct Sacrament, we count the tithing, etc. It's my turn to conduct in 2 weeks from yesterday. Also, although attendance is 50, the ward list is 40 pages long. There's like 10-15 names per page. There's a lot of work to do here.

-One last thing! Not a status report though. We have this special contact card we give out for Christmas, and I was trying to give one to a drunk guy who had walked up to us, and he didn't understand that I was giving it to him so I decided to tell him "This is a present. Merry Christmas!" But instead of 'Merry Christmas' I accidentally said "Happy Birthday!" He was so happy that it was his birthday. Freaking drunks.

Anyways, things are great! I think this week I'm going to read all of the BoM 10 times, so stay tuned for that edition!

Elder Steele

Season 12, Episode 1, Birthday-Transfer-PDay, Take 2 Edition 12.1.14

Area: Juli      Comp.: Elder Vargas

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MADELINE! I can't believe it! You're finally old enough to get a license that's turned the right way and stuff! And drink, but no. I'm not really sure why else 21 is significant, but Happy Freaking Birthday!

-Transfers are today, and since my training's over Elder Ayo and I knew that we'd get split up. It made a lot more sense for him to go, but one thing about being a missionary is that we're pretty in tune with the Spirit and I knew on Thursday that I´m going. My new area is Juli, which is a pueblo with 12 missionaries in the whole city. My new companion is Elder Vargas, who I would assume is Latino. I know nothing else. But stay tuned next week for a special edition of 'Ridiculous Cities: Juli'.

-There's a stake musical concert thing here (which I will now not be participating in), and the stake assigned one song to each ward. Our ward got Silent Night, and they asked me to help because no one here plays piano and they don't know how Silent Night goes. Pray for them.

-One member told us this week that she had a reference for us, and it turns out it's this girl that has attended church every week for the past year, has read the BoM through Helamen, prays regularly, and has a testimony. She's a member that we just forgot to baptize a year ago!

-Apparently, the last time there were elections, no one won. So they're doing them again this Sunday, which means no church this Sunday.

Anyways, not a huge amount of things to talk about this week, but next week I'm sure there'll be a bunch! Stay tuned!

Elder Steele

Side note from Jackson's mom: Jackson is the senior companion in his new companionship.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Act 11 Scene 24 - "Do You Hear the People Sing 'Happy Birthday'?" Edition

Area: Juliaca     Comp.: Elder Ayo

Ok, I'm sorry that this edition is so lame. But it's hard to pass up such a fitting Les Miserables reference, and only once a year is it MOM'S BIRTHDAY!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOTHER! I can't believe you're turning 30 again! Thank you for being born! Otherwise I would've had a different mom, and who wants that? Anyways, I hope your birthday's fantastic!

Preface to this letter: Potentially, of the letters you'll get from me, this is the worst one to send home for my mother's birthday. But I'm sitting down at a computer right now, happy and reasonably healthy. And nothing even happened! It's fine! Plus, the people here are SUPER superstitious, so even if they don't believe in our religion, the fact that my nametag says Jesus Christ on it makes me safer than anyone else in the city. Really though, nothing happened.

-Something happened on Tuesday and Wednesday! The Spanish word that they used to describe it means both 'strike' and 'riot', which I think is just a perfect description. It was a strike in that it was pre planned, had a clear purpose, and not even a little bit violent. It was a riot in that it was an angry mob of people travelling through the city, and that it was kind of violent. But not really! Basically what happened is that gas here is $5 a gallon, which compared with the price of living is just ridiculous, so what they decided to do was a forced boycott of roads/vehicles. To accomplish this, they smashed bottles and bricks in lines across the street to act as spike strips, and to anyone stupid enough to drive those two days they did what they could to destroy their car/combi/mototaxi. So on Tuesday I was in a combi, sitting in the front seat (which means I could see everything), and we were driving down the road normally when out of no where there was a line of people across the street holding machetes running straight at us. Within like 3 seconds our driver had made like 5 turns onto some obscure neighborhood street and made us all get out. It was super cool!

-One of the Seventy, Elder Evans, is in charge of the missionary department and came to our mission this week. There was a conference scheduled with him for us on Wednesday in Puno, but we weren't able to leave the city. So that stinks.

-Ok I admit it, I don't really understand Thanksgiving. I was under the impression it's just the 3rd Thursday of November, but apparently Thanksgiving hasn't actually happened yet. Regardless, I've already celebrated it. We ate mashed potatoes with gravy, PB&J's, chips, and beef. And later, Elder Buehner had turkey jerky that he brought from home. It was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

-Spiritual thought! Alma 14:12-13. Here Alma and Amulek are watching a bunch of women and children from the church burn to death, and Amulek asks Alma, "Hey, do you think we'll die?" And Alma responds, "No, we'll live. We've still got stuff to do." Essentially this is my super-lame birthday scripture for Mom, since I still have stuff to do in this life so I can't die. Happy birthday!

Anyways, I hope you guys have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that Mom has a wonderful birthday! Do fun things! Celebrate for me! I'll see you in 20 months!

Elder Steele

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chapter 11 Versiculo 17--Thanksgiving Edition 11.17.14

Area: Juliaca  Comp.: Elder Ayo

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! Assuming I did my math right, it should be Thursday, right? I hope so!

-I put up Thanksgiving decorations yesterday! I'm kind of limited here, so it's a hand-turkey that says "I'm thankful for..." and sticky-notes denoting the things we're thankful for. I'm actually really happy about it.

-We had exchanges this week! Last time Elder Wagner went with me, so this time he went with Elder Ayo. That was especially awesome since that meant I went with Elder Bodily, who's just as new as I am and neither of us really knew what we were doing. But we taught 2 lessons, got cake from a menos activo, and contacted 15 families! And even better, it was just ridiculously fun!

-Elder Ayo and I were in a mototaxi with the old Bishop when a Panai rode by on a motorcycle, and the Bishop pointed and said "Look how ridiculous! A Panai on a motorcycle!" That's what's ridiculous about Juliaca Bishop?!

-Spiritual Thought! This is from the hymn "Brightly Beams the Father's Mercy", which has become one of my favorites since I came out. It goes, "Trim your feeble lamp my brother; some poor sailor, tempest-tossed, Trying now to make the harbor, in the darkness may be lost. Let the lower lights be burning; send a gleam across the wave. Some poor fainting, struggling sea-man you may rescue, you may save." Even if you're not a missionary, you're still a missionary, especially with less actives. Let your light so shine, that they can find it! They might actually want to come back, and they just need someone to show them the way!

-We were in a lesson and I said the opening prayer, and right after our investigator asked what language I had just prayed in. Elder Ayo told her, "Spanish, he just sucks at pronunciation." So that's where my Spanish is at apparently.

-A 15 year old less active we're teaching told us that someone had graffitti-ed something really mean about her on the wall of the church. As soon as Elder Ayo and I heard that, we said "Heck no!", stood up, bought spray paint, and painted over it. The colors don't match at all. I'd feel bad if this wasn't Juliaca.

-We got a new Bishopric yesterday! I'm excited, since currently our Ward Mission Leader and Young Women's President are inactive, we don't have a Young Men's organization, and we sing all of our hymns acappella despite the fact that Church Headquarters gave us a radio and the CD's of all the instrumental versions of the hymns.

Anyways, things are good down here! We spend most of our time teaching and jumping drunks, which is a blast! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Elder Steele

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Building 11 Room 10, The Edition Where I Don't Have a Ton to Say 11.10.14

Area: Juliaca    Comp.: Elder Ayo

Hey everyone!

This week wasn't super exciting, especially now that we've kind of settled into a routine of sleeping, studying, and teaching, as opposed to having weeks of ridiculous experiences. Sorry about that, I know it makes for boring emails, but it makes for stronger wards! So that's good!

-Primary put on an activity 'for the whole family' on Friday, which was bizarre. It started two hours late, at 8:00 instead of 6:00, and went on until 11:30. That seems strange for a family activity to me, but whatever. They also had our High Council Representative choose the music, and despite the fact that he's 40 and was there with his wife and two kids, he exclusively chose music that was ridiculously innappropriate, so that was fun. They split everyone into two teams, and it was basically just relay races, but it was strange in that the first 3 were for kids and the rest were for adults. And these games got gradually worse, until at one point we as missionaries couldn't play without breaking mission rules.

-I cooked food for my pension's family! I decided to cook Philly Cheese Steaks, and that was the plan until I woke up that morning and could tell that it was a Spaghetti day. It went well! The noodles were kind of low quality (Peru), and the Parmesean cheese was expensive and also didn't taste right, but it was good!

-We had interviews with President Friday! Have I mentioned I have the best mission president in the whole world? I have the best mission president in the whole world. Every transfer he visits every zone, even though our zone is a 6 hour drive from Cusco and the farthest zone is a 12 hour drive from Cusco in the opposite direction. Every other transfer is either a zone conference or interviews with every missionary. He's awesome!

-The hand sanatizer here "kills 60% of germs!", so basically I'm going to die.

-Spiritual thought! "Walking where Jesus walked is less important than walking as He walked" -President Monson. Jesus didn't just come to pay for our sins, he also set the example for how we should live our lives. Try to follow it!

Anyways, the work's going good! We had 9 investigators and 2 less actives come to church yesterday! Stay awesome!

Elder Steele

Series 11 Episode 3, Halloween Edition 11.3.14

Area: Juliaca   Comp.: Elder Ayo

Hey Everyone!

-Despite what Elder Stradling told me, there is Halloween here! All the kids dressed up in costumes and we ate candy and s´mores. I went as a Gringo Missionary. I thought I was pretty convincing.

-Along with Halloween, Sunday was Peru´s Day of the Dead, which means that everyone in Peru went to the cemetery and got obscenely drunk, which makes it different from other days in that they were at the cemetery. Also at church, we only had 31 people for Sacrament, 20 for Sunday School, and 7 for Priesthood/Relief Society. We also couldn´t get any lessons yesterday, which was great.

-I finally tried chuño! I´ve mentioned it, but now that I´ve tried it I´ll actually describe how it´s made! What they do is they take the potatoes that they can´t use because they´re infested with worms, and they step on them until they get all the potato juice out, then they leave it to dry for a couple days. Then, when it´s dry, they stick it in the river for 2 weeks. Once that´s over, they stick it in a dark, damp place to grow mold. Once it´s black all the way through, it´s ready, but it´s like wine in that it ´only get´s better with time´, which I think is a strech to say.

-There was a Relief Society activity where they invited a ´health expert´ to tell them about how to eat healthy, who turned out to be an Adventist who told us all about how the Sabbath is Saturday and how it´s a commandment to not eat meat (D&C 49:18). I´m still not sure why we even went to a Relief Society activity.

-Murcielago is Italian for ´Bat´, which means the Lamborghini Murcielago is essentially the Batmobile!

Anyways, things are going great! One of our best investigators told us how he can talk to cats, I GOT MY PACKAGE!, and we´re trying to re-activate our Ward Mission Leader! Hope everything´s good at home!

Elder Steele

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Edition I Don´t Have Anything To Edition This 10.27.14

Area: Juliaca   Comp.: Elder Ayo

Hey Everyone!

-Birthday! Now that it´s happened I can tell you about it! Elder Ayo and I found this awesome internet café that is really fast (for Perú), so during internet time I downloaded a bunch of Mormon Messages and Conference talks onto my USB and after lunch Elder Stradling and I just lay on our pension´s couches and watched them on her TV for like 3 hours, which was awesome! Then Elder Ayo and I went to this market nearby and bought some things, which I really needed, then we went to our District Meeting and our District Leader Elder Wagner and his comp Elder Bodily bought a cake! Then at our pension´s house, we had another cake for dinner (again)!

-Elder Ayo and I got locked out of our house twice this week, but we don´t have a roof so we just borrow a ladder from our neighbor and climb in from the top. The thing is, the ladder that our neighbor has he made himself out of big sticks and wire hangers, and I was sure Elder Ayo would die. I didn´t get on that thing at all.

-Transfers were this week! Elder Murillo went to Puno, and Elder Stradling is training a new Gringo so he went to Cusco practically all week to pick him up. Elder Ayo doesn´t like that he´s the only Latino now, but it´s ok because my Spanish is getting a lot better!

-I decided that for this transfer I want to get my Spanish down, so I´ve been speaking only in Spanish all week-even when other Gringos talk to me in English. It helps immensely though, and I´m currently at the point where I understand everything and I can say everything that I really need to. I´m still working on that, but it´s coming!

-Our pension wanted to take Elder Ayo and I to this REALLY fancy restaurant, but she didn´t want to take Elder Stradling (I guess) and she didn´t want her husband to know because it was expensive, so we had to do it secretly. It was fun though! And DELICIOUS!

-On Sunday the Elder´s Quorum President found out in Priesthood that no one knows who they are assigned to home teach, so he took a ward list, took out the staple, and gave each person a page. That's like 20 people. That's how many inactives are here!

-Spiritual thought! I´m going to take a break from Conference insights today, since I read a scripture this morning that I really liked--2 Ne 4:26-28. Be happy people!

Anyways, things are good here! Things still surprise me every day, and I see miracles every day! The Church is true!

Elder Steele

Monday, October 20, 2014

Book 10, Chapter 20, Edition There's Nothing Significant About Today 10.20.14

Area: Juliaca    Comp: Elder Ayo


-Confession time--I got the date wrong last week. I put it as September. D&C 64:10.

-Today's my birthday! So far that doesn't mean anything, but it's only 11:00 in the morning, and I'm going to get your package in like 3 weeks!

-We had a city-wide blackout yesterday, which was interesting. We didn't do a thing differently, it was just dark. But I showered before that happened, which was nice! My shower was still hot! The weirdest thing was church, since the microphone didn't work.

-Our shower head died for like 3 days, so we showered at member's homes, which is really uncomfortable. Elder Ayo and Elder Murillo fixed it, but they cut a lot of wires unneccessarily, and now it's being weird.

-I gave a talk in church yesterday! Which, let me just say, the last time we had church was Fast Sunday and 4 of the 7 testimonies borne were us 4 Elders, and the week before that Elder Stradling and Elder Murillo spoke, and the week before that they didn't have any speakers so they called the missionaries out of the audience to bear testimonies, and the week before that I was still in the CCM. This is a really weak ward. But my talk went well! It was boring, and half plagiarized, but my delivery was good! Especially considering the lack of a microphone! But we only have 50 members of our ward, so it's basically like talking to nobody.

-Spiritual thought! "Choices that aren't inherently evil are insidious when they distract us from our goals"-Quentin L Cook. Maybe it's not bad to play that video game or watch that movie or whatever, but if it distracts us from what's important (scriptures, prayer, church, etc) then just don't do it.

-More things that are ridiculous about Peru!
  -They start drinking at 9:00 am every day.
  -When you buy a 3 liter (they don't have 2 liters here) bottle of soda, it comes with one cup, which means it's not uncommon for me and Elder Ayo to have to share a cup with 4 or 5 Peruvians, which we hate
  -Sometimes cars drive on the wrong side of the road. Like, there's a median and everything, and they just don't care.

Anyways, things are going well here! We have two investigators that we're trying to have a double-baptism the 8th! Things are absolutely ridiculous down here, but really I'm used to it. There are things that I don't even think worth mentioning that you would find completely insane. Have a magical week!

Elder Steele
19-year-old missionary

Monday, October 13, 2014

9/13th General Session of Weekly Emails, General Conference Edition 10.13.14

Area: Juliaca    Comp.: Elder Ayo

Hey everyone!

I'm just going to start of with Conference because it was AWESOME. I'd compare it to the Super Bowl if I had ever had an interest in that kind of thing.

-I got to watch it in English, in the High Council room of my Stake Center with all the other Gringos in my zone. We had a "Gringo Party", which essentially means we brought an obscene amount of snack foods (with a focus on snack foods found in the States, como Doritos and Lays and sodas)

-Because we were in the High Council room, we had a table, which was nice because I took a full 26 NOTEBOOK PAGES OF NOTES! Which, depending on how well you know me, you may know that I've never taken notes in my life.

-From what I can remember off the top of my head, there were 2 talks each about the sacrament, raising your kids, prophets, personal revelation, and helping the poor. Those things must be really important right now guys! Get to it!

-I think my spiritual thoughts for a long time are going to be from conference, so be prepared for that. The first one I want to use is from Elder Holland, talking about doing everything you can to help the poor-- "Do everything you can [to help the poor]-nothing we do is but a drop in the ocean, but had we not done it, the ocean would be one drop less." Do service people! Pay fast offerings!

-We moved this week! I'm still not sure why! The new place is 'bigger', but one thing that Peruvians do is they don't finish the building so they don't have to pay taxes on it, so our third story doesn't have a roof. So we don't use it. Also the bathroom is infinitely worse. But the Zone Leaders finally gave Elder Ayo and I beds and desks! So now we're not sleeping and studying on the floor!

-I got bit by 2 dogs this week! Neither broke the skin (don't worry Mom), but they probably would have if I wasn't wearing the gigantic jacket I brought with me. The first dog was big, so I just kind of got out of there, but the second was a little dog and I was already mad so when it bit me I basically threw it and freaked out at it. Oddly satisfying.

-I went on splits with my DL this week! His name's Elder Wagner, and he's awesome. And he really likes to jump things, and there was a drunk passed out on the sidewalk, so we jumped him twice! And the two jumps were hours apart. He was passed out there all day, as far as I could tell.

Anyways, I think that's all I'm going to mention this week! The mission's awesome! Make sure to help your missionaries! Give them references! Feed them (if they want to be fed)! Have a wonderful week!

Elder Steele

Monday, October 6, 2014

Season 10 Episode 6, One Fortnight Until My Birthday edition 10.6.14

Area: Juliaca   Comp.: Elder Ayo

Hola personas!

-The work is hastening in Juliaca like crazy! In the past week, we got two of our investigators to commit to baptism! And, we had three people contact us on the street! The first was on our way to lunch, Elder Ayo had a feeling we should visit an investigator who is on the way. So we stopped by, and her probably 6 year old daughter answered the door, left for a minute, then told us that "my mom says she's not here", which was a mixture of super hilarious and very depressing. So we started walking away, and her neighbor asked us what church we represent. We told her "We're from the LDS church!" and she said "Great! I want to hear your message!" The next one was a group of kids, who asked us if our church was for kids too. We got them to introduce us to their mom, and now we're teaching them. The third was an extremely old lady that was Catholic or something, and we taught her the Plan of Salvation and it was obvious that she prided herself on her biblical knowledge to the point where we explained the kingdoms of glory and she said "Of course! Just like my pastor taught me!"

-So elections were this weekend, and that meant it was against the law to have church or watch conference at the church buildings. Presidente decided that he wanted us to wait until this coming weekend to watch conference in the church building with our investigators, so that we could have all weekend to proselyte, but Elder Ayo decided that that rule didn't apply to us and the only way I could get out of it was to go on splits with Elder Stradling, while his also not obedient companion watched conference with Elder Ayo. It was actually really fun, since Elder Stradling speaks English, and also since we got to do an exorcism (I believe that kid was possessed but E. Stradling is still skeptical) and we taught a schizophrenic woman. We didn't get much success other than that though, because it was elections and it's against the law not to vote so almost no one was home.

-We had a barbeque! It was good, but strange because they used a vinegar-based barbeque sauce that looks like salad dressing. Also, in this mission, it's against the rules to eat any pig product, lettuce, strawberries, or ceviche. Not that the Latino elders follow that rule either, but really it is more for us (since I've been sick an uncountable number of times already).

-They gave us cake at the zone meeting this morning! That just makes me really happy!

-We're moving tomorrow I think! I'm not really sure. I'm confused a lot here.

Anyways, things are going great here! I don't have too many crazy stories! Stay awesome!

Elder Steele

CCM district

CCM grounds

Lima Peru temple

Lima Peru temple

At the airport on their way to Cusco

Elder Black (also from AZ)
Elder Bodily getting ready for bed on their second night in Cusco.

Elder Steele and Elder Ayo in front of an Incan tomb.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekly Email Stardate 29.9.14 (9.29.14)

Area: Juliaca     Comp.: Elder Ayo

¡Hola todos! I hope everything is going well! Juliaca's such a ridiculous, ridiculous place, but I know that the Lord chose for me to come here (out of every area on earth!) and I honestly love it.

-¡Spiritual thought! Mark 15:34--For the atonement to be truly infinite, Jesus had to experience every bad thing that anyone will ever experience, including not only suffering and physical death, but spiritual death too. For this reason, while Jesus was dying on the cross, the Spirit was removed from him for what I believe is the first time in his life. Imagine how incredibly lonely it would be, to have been betrayed by one of your 12 apostles, to have been denied thrice by your lead apostle, to have none of them with you during Gethsemane (they kind of were but they were asleep) and now no one with him as he died on the cross, causing him to cry out 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' And because he did this selfless, selfless act, we never have to be as lonely as he was then. We have the opportunity to have the companionship of the Spirit with us always, as we live worthy of that privelege and opportunity.

-I went on a treasure hunt! Kind of. The Church gave us this list of very inactive people, which means that they've been inactive for so long that we don't really know if any of their info is still correct. So we have this stack of 20 of them, and we chose one to find and decided to start by going to his last known address, which ended up not even existing. So we asked the poeple who lived around this nonexistent house number if they've ever heard of him, and they referred us to this butcher shop that I would never ever buy meat from. The butcher apparently used to be his friend, and referred us to another address. We went there, and the person there told us to go to this public bathroom he used to frequent, so we went to it and asked the owner of this bathroom and she told us that he really likes this chicken shop down the street so we run down there and walk in and just yell his name and HE WAS THERE! He told us he hadn't gone to church in 25 years, and we asked him if he was interested in hearing our message and he said 'Of course!' So now we have his real information (the only thing that's the same is his name and birthday) and we're teaching him!

-There's this marketplace here that is very much how I imagine Indian bazaars, and apparently Goodwill takes clothes they can't sell in the States and ships them to 3rd world countries. So these people somehow get these clothes and sell them in these little shops (with the Goodwill tags still on them) for dirt cheap. It's interesting though, since a good amount of these clothes are from American high schools, and I actually saw a guy wearing a letterman jacket from Mom's high school!

-Elections are this weekend, which is crazy. As someone who has lived here for 3 weeks, doesn't watch TV or listen to the radio or read the news or care about this election, I could probably tell you everyone running for every position. They're crazy about elections down here. The craziest part is that it's local election year! It's not even like a Federal election! I don't even understand why people want to be in local government, here in Juliaca like a year ago they didn't like the mayor so they dragged him behind a truck for a couple hours then burned him to death. And Quillabamba killed their mayor like 2 weeks ago! Because gas prices are a little higher than they would like! Anyways, the point is that Perù has a law where you can't hold any public meeting at all on election weekend, which means no church this weekend and Conference next weekend. So don't ruin it for me!

Anyways, everything's going good here! I haven't eaten anything ridiculously gross, I'm safe, and the work is hastening!

Elder Steele

Monday, September 22, 2014

Episode 9 Versiculo 22, The One Where I Can Kind Of Breathe Again Edition 9.22.14

Area: Juliaca    Comp.: Elder Ayo


Sorry about that email last week, that was kind of a mess. And along with that, I don't remember exactly what I said, so if I repeat things then that's why, so sorry in advance!

-Juliaca! My home for the next 10 weeks! It's an interesting place. First off, it's called the 'city of the winds', so Hey Dad! We're practically in the same mission! Give or take a hemisphere and a language and years and years. It's an interesting place though! It's close enough to Lago Titicaca to be freezing cold, but not close enough for us to see it. All of the vehicles here are either taxi's, mototaxi's, combi's, those bike/cart things Nacho Libre rides, or giant dump trucks, which is interesting. A mototaxi is essentially a motorcycle on three wheels with a thin plastic cab wrapped around it. They're from India, and they're tiny and fascinating and EVERYWHERE. Combi's are basically those big 12 seater Astrovans, but they take out all the seats on one side (so instead of rows of three seats it's rows of 2 seats and room for people to stand). They're crazy because no one cares about personal space here, and they PACK those things. I counted one time because I couldn't believe how full it was, and we had 27 people on one of them. So Juliaca has some interesting city planners (or whoever chooses what roads are made of), because they decided to make the streets here out of a 50/50 mixture of dirt and trash. Which that, combined with the rain every day and the massive dump trucks means that the streets here are excrutiatingly bumpy. Really though, they've made it look like it should be a Call of Duty map. In fact, Google street view it--the part I live in is right near the Parroquia Pueblo de Dios iglesia. Also significant about Juliaca is that it drinks more per day (on average) than the rest of Peru drinks per day. It's kind of hilarious to see the borrachos around here though, it makes for some good stories. So also I´m convinced that the Cusco mission is like Texas in that it's a different country from Peru in all but name. Anywhere else you go in Peru, almost everyone you meet will be Catholic, but in Juliaca they're extremely traditionalist to the point where they wear the same type of clothes that the ancient Inca's wore, and THEY'RE PAGAN. I found a mission in South America that isn't high-baptizing, and it's mine! Yay me! Even like the people in our tiny, tiny ward still do pagan traditions. Crazy.

-There's more KFC's here than in the US, along with Pizza Hut. There's also a fair amount of McDonald's here.

-Don't get me wrong, I love my mission, but by far the worst thing here is the food. It doesn't even taste that bad, but it's the same 3 times a day and each meal is more than I can eat for a day. I've started pulling every trick in the book--'fasting' excessively, shoving food in a napkin in my pocket, feeding it to the dog--really, it's hard.

-We're not allowed to tell people how long we've been out, other than 'a little less than a year' or 'a little over a year', which makes it much harder to apologize for my Spanish.

-Spanish! It's hard. Whatever language they taught me in the CCM I'm fluent in, but Spanish I can't understand a word of.

-Origin of the word 'Gringo'! Supposedly--don't take my word on this. So apparently during the Mexican-American war, the Americans wore green and the Mexicans weren't very good at English so they kept yelling "Green! Go!" as an attempt to convince the US to give up or something. I don't know if that's true, but that's what my pension told me and I think it's hilarious.

-I ate cow stomach! It was hard. They didn't even tell me it was cow stomach, and with every bite I threw up in my mouth and had to catch it. Horrible.

-So I don't know how many people are supposed to be in Ward Council, but yesterday we had 18. Including a child, one member's spouse, and a non-member who's never talked to the missionaries and just decided to go to church for the first time yesterday.

Anyways, this place is ridiculous, but it's an adventure! Really though, it's awesome!


Elder Steele

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chapter 9 Verse 15--Campo edition! 9.15.14

Area: Juliaca    Comp.: Elder Ayo

I'm a field missionary now! Crazy!

First off, my new email time is 45 minutes, so I don't know how many emails I'll be able to write....

Now the good part! At least in my opinion. My companion's name is Elder Ayo. He's Ecuadorian and SUPER awesome! He's been out for 18 months already, and he's obviously a Latino. But he's great. We're stationed in Juliaca, which is near Puno and Lake Titicaca. We're in the coldest part of the mission, which kind of sucks. Also Cusco is 11,000 feet, which is about the height of Mount Timpanogos, and Juliaca's at 12,000 feet. So breathing's really fun! But I'm adjusting. The only real side effect is that I sound like Darth Vader 24/7, which is actually really cool. We get 3 meals a day from our pensionista, which I actually really hate. Like, her food's good and all, but I feel bad because the only payment she gets is reimbursement for the food cost. Also she gives us so much! I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I decided to be healthy when I entered the CCM, and I lost like 15 pounds, which is great except now my stomach is the size of a baseball and they're feeding me basketball sized portions. On my first full day here (Friday), for lunch she gave us this plate of rice and quinoa, and I was trying to eat it all but I was having a very hard time, so I told the other gringo (oh yeah we live with a companionship of another Latino and another Gringo) that I couldn't make it and he told me I had to so I said a prayer that I could just possibly do this and I had the strangest tender mercy of my life happen--I was about halfway through my plate and my stomach was about to burst and I threw up. Which I count as a tender mercy for 3 reasons-1. I didn't have to finish, 2. My stomach was empty, and 3. it gave me the opportunity to tell our pensionista that I couldn't possibly eat that much ever again. So that's good! So we spent the first two days of the field in Cusco getting trained and stuff, and the AP's told us that there are 5 (unofficial) things that need to happen before you're a real missionary, which are: Chuno (look it up), double-headed dragon, crap your pants, get bitten by a dog, and Plano Alto (which is where Juliaca is). I've so far done 2.5 of them, so that's good! So me and my comp are opening a new area, so we didn't have an area book or investigators or anything so we've been contacting and it's awesome! We have 1 investigator family and we're teaching a couple more Wednesday! The only thing is that activity in our mission is like 25%, so Presidente wants that to rise more than he wants membership to rise, so before someone can be baptized they have to come to all 3 hours of church 3 times, they have to pay fast offerings, and one other thing... Sorry, this email is really scattered (a million things have happened and also altitude). Anyways, our apartment is interesting. There's mission standards for the worst apartment you can have and ours breaks it--we don't have beds, dressers, lights, hot water, or desks, and my companion's super mad and now the ZL's are finding a new apartment for us I guess. It's fun though! For showers we heat water in our neighbor's stove then pour it over ourselves with a pitcher! Fun stuff! Anyways, there's a million other things and I can't remember one.

Elder Steele

 President and Sister Harbertson

All the missionaries from the CCM that went to Cusco together.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Carta para mi familia, capitulo 9, versiculo 3 (ugly tie edition) 9.3.14

Area: CCM   Comp: Elder Luster

Familia! Y otros!

-Spiritual thought-D&C 122:5-8

-Two elders in my district went to other districts, so with the extra room we reorganized our chairs into a Jedi Counsel shape. The general consensus is that I'm Yoda. (Everyone has their Star Wars character)

-Picture day was this week, so I finally had a good opportunity to wear the tie that Kami and Erik gave me. Thank you guys for that! It's amazing! Mi maestro described it as 'having measles'

-I told everyone what their wives would look/be like, and I somehow perfectly described the girlfriends of two missionaries and the close friends of a couple others (that they are now writing), so that was incredible.

-Contrary to my long-held belief that women's restrooms are for gossip and makeup re-application, una hermana accidentaly flooded the 2nd floor women's bathroom, which subsequently leaked into a 1st floor classroom. Luckily it wasn't my classroom though, but it's disgusting and they don't care about fixing it because Peru.

-Elder Black and I are really good friends. He asked me to say that, but at the same time it's true, so there you go. I spend a LOT of time with Elder Black and Pearce, and they're amazing.

-My teacher wants to learn English (along with every other Peruano I've met), so when we're not doing a class he speaks to us in his best Spanglish and he was telling us that "if we don't try to speak Spanish, then we're going to have to ride our [Biblical word for donkey] home" and we don't really get it and we couldn't stop laughing enough to ask him what he meant by that, but he keeps saying it and we love it.

-Justin! And anyone else who reads these (I still have no idea who even gets these) and speaks Spanish! As a missionary, I have to use Usted todo el tiempo, pero en Cusco ellos usan vosotros tambien y I DON'T KNOW VOSOTROS. Apparently Cusco is basically a different country than Peru. It's the Texas of Peru.

-There's this guy here that has been writing riddles for me, and they're so much fun. Also Log (does Log read these?) have you played Device 6? I think you'd like that potentially. I don't know why I thought of that, but there you go.

Anyways, good week! By far the fastest week at the CCM! And one of the least eventful... But good! I've started speaking Spanish much more per day! Have una buena semana! Nos vemos!

Elder Steele

Monday, September 1, 2014

Libro de Jackson, Capitulo 8, Versiculo 27 (Felíz Cumpleaños a Truman edición) 8.27.14

Area: CCM  Comp: Elder Luster

¡Hola Familia! Happy Birthday Truman!!! I can't believe it's been a full year since you didn't get your license and refused to go on your first date! Time flies!

So this letter is probably going to be a little shorter both because this wasn't a very exciting week and also because I want to spend more time on personal emails.

Proselyting was this week! Always a blast! Mi compañero fue Elder Delgado, who's a Latino from Ecuador. We also went with a missionary who was in the area and had been out for 17 months, which means that he super carried the lessons. He was from Argentina and looked surprisingly like a taller, manlier version of David Archuleta. But we went to a poorer area (still not even close to how poor the people are on the mountain). It was super humbling! We taught a lesson to a family who lived in a literal concrete block a little bit smaller than our garage and in much worse shape--the walls were crumbling in parts! They made us some makeshift chairs out of planks of wood and they stood during the lesson. This whole place is humbling though! My morning maestro's dream in life (not like his goal, his dream) is to work for Microsoft and afford to take his 2 year old daughter to Disneyland. I just wish I could take all the Peruanos to Disneyland (and, you know, the temple).

The Avanzados and Latinos also left this week, which was really sad. They were so awesome! But they're going to do amazing out in the field. One of my good friends who left (Elder Carder) gave me a tie. It's yellow and has a hole and it's the ugliest thing I've ever seen and I love it so much.

Spiritual Thought! I feel like I should spiritual thought you guys because, you know, the whole missionary thing. My first one is on the love of God. Regardless of anything in your life, it's important to remember that God will always love you--he will always love you. (See Romans 8:37-39).

Other than that everything's normal here! The weeks are flying by! MY ONE MONTH MARK IS ON FRIDAY! I can't believe that. Crazy. Also can you send me a picture of Mickey Mouse? Mine are off and I can't figure out why.

Nos Vemos!
Elder Steele

 Elder Steele and Elder Luster

 Elder Steele at the CCM

CCM grounds

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Capitulo Ocho Versiculo Veinte 8.20.14

Area: CCM  Comp: Elder Luster

Hola Familia! And anyone else who might actually read these!

Anyways! Crazy week! Super short! Doesn't make sense, but lots of things don't make sense in the CCM. Especially Spanish. Entonces,

-I went to the templo today! It's a TINY temple and it was very strange but at the same time an AMAZING experience! I used a translator at first but after a couple minutes I realized I could understand the Spanish just fine.

-Did you know Texas has a pledge of allegiance?!

-You know that picture when Jesucristo appears to the Nephites? The one with the crumbly buildings? Look in the top left corner. It's Macchu Picchu.

-Mom-There's a "Peru Missionary Moms" FB page, that has a lot of my friends' moms on it and also supposedly some pictures of me. Also if it becomes necessary, I'm in the Peru CCM Distrito 110

-I bought a paperback Quechuan BoM today and it's so cool! The title is "Mormonpa Qelqanmanta Aqllska T'Aqakuna" so look for it in the Mesa Temple Visitor's Center! Also apparently about 30% of the Cusco mission has people that exclusively speak Quechuan!

-So one of the first things they tell you (100% serio aquí) is that if you're sick DO NOT TELL MOM so I'm breaking that but yesterday there was only one person who wasn't sick! Like we were all ok enough to attend classes but we had to have VERY frequent bathroom breaks and one guy (who actually lives in my room) was on the toilet with his face in a trash can for 6 ENTIRE HOURS STRAIGHT. I don't think anyone's ever gotten so many blessings directed towards them (except the prophet potentially). Also we pray 1500 times a day here and I love it. Have I mentioned that yet?

-I finished a pen. Like, a new pen, that I started using day one, ran out of ink yesterday. I was actually a little sad about it, so I had a funeral for it. It was a small service (just me), but it was good. Surprisingly Castaway-esque though.

-Elder Powell (the Palmer one) is our new DL, and Elder Black (the Gilbert Cultural Celebration one), who was our last district leader, knighted him. It was really bizarre but we had flickering lights and non-Satanic chanting and it ended up hilarious. I guess you had to be there though.

-I know you're insanely curious (I am speculating 100% there) about what I miss most, so here it is. In order of most to least: Driving, Disney movies, Physics (didn't expect that), the flashlight part of my iPhone (another surprise), Robin Williams, Rowan Atkinson, English, and not being around guys 24/7 which is disgusting.

-My whistling is increasing leaps and bounds, despite the strict whistling ban.

-People quote Nacho Libre here constantly. I never realized how relevant that movie is to my life.

-For my birthday, could I possibly get a Spanish mini black quad with tabs? They don't carry any of those things in terms of Spanish scriptures here. It's sad. Also wait, do I get birthday presents? I'm realizing more and more that I don't really understand this whole missionary thing.

-Sorry Mom, I spent SO MUCH money today. I bought this awesome bag, and a tie made out of alpaca fur, and lots of scriptures, and food, and it ended up being like s/.200...

-The Spanish is going well! I'm at the point where I'm considered fluent enough that I can join a Latino district for the last two weeks, but I prayed about it and felt really bad about it. But they count me as fluent! No dreams in Spanish yet, but I can basically think and talk in it. And the LdM makes sense in Spanish.

-We got 4 new principios in our room. They're really cool!

-Dad-That secret thing we were talking about in the Jordan River Temple? I learned a LOT more about it! Remind me when we're in the temple in 2 years and I'll tell you!

-So we were teaching an investigator and it was running kind of short (not my fault), so I decided I was going to share a scripture with him. Our investigator's 'thing' is that he is a student and thinks we can help him be a better student, so I looked at my nifty seminary card with all 100 Scripture Masteries on it, which is wonderful to have 99% of the time, and I chose 2 Ne 9:28 because the description was "learning is good with God" but that is NOT what it said. It was funny though!

-They have these cookies called Casinos here which are like drugs to us mishies. They're amazing! Oh I bought some of those today too. Sorry!

-People pee on the streets here. Not Missionaries obviously, but the Peruanos do constantly.

-One guy in my distrito is named Elder Bodily and he's been doing chiropractic services with us and it's amazing. He's the best chiropractor I've ever gone too (between him and the hippie one)

Anyways, I hope you guys had a fantastic week! Do lots of good things! Go to the temple! Be missionaries!

Elder Steele

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Semana 2! 8.13.14

Area: CCM    Comp.: Elder Luster


¿Hola? ¿Comó estan?

So first off, I forgot a LOT of things in last week's email, so I'll rattle them off real fast:
-We have 'physical activity' like 5 times a week. Most people play soccer, but I usually run or play foosball.
-We have this gate around the CCM that belongs in Jurassic Park. It's about 15 feet tall and a foot thick.
-There's this fruit here that they call grenadas and they look like alien spider egg sacs, but people love them. Also they have freshly squeezed juices here that are 90% pulp but are SO GOOD
-Palmer special! I have a surprising amount of news for the Palmers! Wait, Justin went to Colombia, right? Otherwise this isn't great news. But our CCM Presidente (Presidente Gonzalez) is a convert from Colombia! And my morning maestro (we have one in the morning and one at night) served his mish in Colombia! Also that guy from their stake? His name is Elder Powell and he's so awesome and I mentioned that the Palmers were my cousins and he said "Ty Palm's your cousin?! He's way cool!" (People say things like "way cool" because it's still the 80's in the CCM). He's in my distrito too!
-I didn't have any hangers for the first week, but I got some! Though I didn't get enough, so now I'm doubling and tripling up clothes on hangers.
-As a bustling CCM of like 120 people, there isn't a choir. Also since there's no choir, there's no need for free time. So that's stressful. Also we're not allowed to listen to music here unless we make it ourselves by singing or on the piano, and luckily my friend Elder Pearce is like a professional pianist or something. By far the best I've ever heard.
-Earthquakes, all the time
-We only get to study like 3 hours a day at the most which sounds like a lot but it really isn't. Read the BoM while you can, kids!
-We get ice cream every other day and it's the greatest I've ever had. Nielsen's doesn't hold a candle to this stuff.

There you go! Basic summary of the CCM, so now I can focus more on stories.

I went proselyting for the first time on Saturday! It was great. My comp was Elder Olsen, who's an American in the Latino district. We were supposed to get a list of menos activos from the bishop to visit, but he never showed, so we just street contacted for 3 hours. It was awesome! They gave us folletos to hand out but we ran out! We ended up having mini-lessons on the street with 15 people. Everyone's super humble and receptive here.

The strangest person I met during proselyting was this woman who was mopping the sidewalk and then she couldn't believe we existed because we were the wrong skin color and height. She was really receptive, but it was hard to understand her because her teeth were nubs and she slurred a lot. Also, she didn't know how to write or what street she lived on so we had to ask her neighbor.

Also on Sundays (which are the best, along with Wednesdays) we watched a talk by Elder Holland from Jan. 2013 in the Provo MTC and it was the most inspiring thing I've ever seen. It's missionary work based, but HUGELY inspiring. Also he threatens to beat us up, so that's cool.

I went to migraciones and interpol this week, so basically I have my visa. The only problem is that they had my birthday down as April 28th and I didn't know enough Spanish to fix it or care enough to care.

Anyways, I hope everything's great at home! I haven't read any emails yet, so if this is totally not the email you wanted, sorry about that!

Oh, also the whole "pictures" thing is really hard because we can only take them outside on P Day and starting yesterday we aren't even allowed to send them home.

Elder Steele

P.S. I wore black yesterday to mourn the loss of Robin Williams, don't worry.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Semana 1! 8.6.14

Area: CCM     Comp.: Elder Luster

Hola familia!

I can finally write you guys! Sorry about the email last week, they gave everyone 3 minutes...

First: the essentials:

Bathroom-Good. The water temperature is moody but semi controllable.

Shower-Good. Again, moody, but super private. The only problem is the drains suck and they're sunk into the floor a little and if you don't shower fast the water rises to your ankles which is disgusting.

Food-Ok. They try to serve us American food and end up with this strange pseudo-Peruvian comfort-food type stuff that's just rice and chicken basically. Also there is one cereal dispenser, but it has this kind of unfrosted, unsweetened Frosted Flakes, that look suspiciously like mini tortilla chips. Also there isn't any milk, so you have to use yogurt or just eat it dry.

Room- Good. Sleeps 6, but there's only 4 of us, so that's awesome. It kind of smells, but the other companionship in my room are the funniest people I've ever met. I end every night crying laughing, they're so funny. Also we can set our AC to whatever we want, and we set it to like 19/20 degrees Celsius, which is super nice. We don't know how hot that really is though.

Companion-Jock from Texas. I know I said Utah, but it's really Texas. Long story. He's a great guy and I really like him, but at the same time we're very different people.

Lima-Beautiful! The city has a very strange smell, but not necessarily in a bad way. The weather is perfect, like 60's with not at all bad humidity, the only problem is that we have only seen the sky for two out of the seven days so far, and only for like 15 minutes at a time. VERY cloudy. Also the drivers are crazy. They never leave more than 6" of clearance on EVERY side, all the time. And if you get into an accident and the cops get involved, both people lose their licenses for life, so people are constantly crashing then just driving away. Strange.

That's basically it! The only people who speak English here are the other Norteamericano elderes, so it's interesting to see what Google Translate tells our instructors to say to us. In our welcome presentation, they told us "Don't put fruit in the urinals" and "Don't put paper in the cup" and we still don't totally get that. The Spanish is good! By far the hardest thing I've ever done, but I'm doing well! Back in school our Spanish class was set up in like 2-3 week units, and here each unit is called a class and we have two classes a day. But we can retain it like crazy! I can't take credit for that though, 100% el don de lenguas. But now I can understand and hold a simple conversation with Latinos, and we teach our first "investigadore" tonight in Spanish! And we go real proselyting to menos activos this Saturday! I'm excited!

I'm sorry I made you all sad! And also I have some devastating news. The internet here SUCKS, like, worse than anything we ever had at home, so it takes about an hour and a half to upload a picture and I have an hour to email... So there's that. I'm sorry! First week in the field, 100s of pictures! And when I got in the computers were down, except for one which is why we wrote for 3 minutes each the next day. My district is good! There's 6 companionships, which makes us the largest district, and we're all Elders. Of the 150 people here, there's about 10 Hermanas and 20 Latinos, and as Norteamericano Elderes we're not allowed to associate with either of them (like, we can't even acknowledge the Hermanas. Crazy, right?!) We went outside the CCM for like 20 minutes to exchange money, which we're in by far the nicest part of town and it would be the ghettos of Mesa. The CCM is the second nicest building in Peru, excluding the temple of course. No money spent, but soon! They have peanut butter here!

Oh hey! I thought you'd find this interesting! The water here is 'safe' but it tastes really sour and they gave us these REALLY NICE like military grade water bottles with filters built in! Like these filters will remove radiation! They said that you could drink straight out of the Amazon with these and it'd be fine, but they don't recommend it!

Hopefully I can write more next week!

Se amo ustedes!
Elder Acero (Elder Steele)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I am alive! 7.30.14


I made it! I got to the Lima MTC last night at like 2. The city looks really nice, all of the graffitti is really cool. The drivers here are amazing! They can do this thing where they drive inches away from each other and slam on their brakes constantly and turn without warning and just do whatever they want and I am still alive! The flight was a nightmare though. I was in the middle for both flights, and in the second they had a TV in front of me with free movies that were still in theaters!! AND I COULD NOT WATCH ANY OF THEM! But it is ok! These days last forever, but it is good! (Sorry I am not using conjunctions, I doubt this keyboard has an apostrophe).

My companion is named Elder Luster. He is from Utah! He is a pretty cool guy!

Anyways, I only have a minute! Lo siento! Pero I have an hour next Wednesday to write you! Oh also we can only take pictures on P day, and I also have not taken any... Sorry about that!

Thank you for that book, it is awesome!

Elder Steele

And He's Off 7.29.14

Jackson (I mean Elder Steele) left on his mission bright and early this morning. There were two other missionaries on his flight from Phoenix to Atlanta. He had a five hour layover in Atlanta, where I'm sure he met up with more missionaries traveling to the Lima MTC. He was scheduled to land in Lima at 11:20 pm local time. All total, a 17 hour travel day with about 12 of those hours in the air. It was tough to say goodbye, but he is so ready to begin this new adventure. We love you Elder! See you in two!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Called to Serve 4.8.14

Dear Elder Steele,

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Peru Cusco Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 24 months.

You should report to the Peru Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish Language.