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