Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I have fought the good fight

Oh, the last day's here, of these long two years... (you're all singing now)

Well, I never thought this day would come. But alas, here it is. It has been a great week for me and my companion. I have never worked so hard in my life. We taught more lessons than I ever have in a week in my whole mission. We were able to find an investigator that will be baptized this Saturday, and an investigator of more than 3 years has finally committed to be baptized this Saturday as well. The Lord has placed so many people in out path this week, it has been incredible. This week has been a little tender mercy in my mission, and I have seen so much improvement in my companion as well. He is so excited to work and to finish his mission strong now. Really, I couldn't have asked for a better week to end my mission.

This week, well... tomorrow I am going back to be with Elder Blanco and to finish off the last few days doing my assistant duties. I also wasnt able to say goodbye to hardly anyone in Umacollo so I am going to take advantage of Tuesday and Wednesday to say goodbye to everyone who I didnt get the chance to see before I left and whom I wont be able to see this weekend. So basically, I have seen the end of my mission working days. 

I have so many mixed feelings about all this. But I am so grateful for my mission and for the experiences I have had here. It has been incredible. I really dont know what to say here, other then that the gospel is true and really does change lives. Thank you all for your love and support these last 2 years. I'm so excited to see you all soon!

Much love,

Elder Matheson
Misión Perú Arequipa

Happy 4th

First of all, hope everyone had a fun 4th of July and that many things where blown to smitherings in my honor. Next year I will celebrate a 4th of July to make up for the last 2 I've missed. Anyways, hope it was a good one for everyone. We celebrated by going to the pensionista of one of the Elders from my group in our zone and making hamburgers and hot dogs, and finishing it off with some brownies and some peach cobbler. Not a bad day!! 

Things are going well with President Johnson. He is super excited to work hard and we have been working our butts off with him these last few weeks. We had interviews with all the missionaries in Arequipa this week, as well as MLC. There were a few days this week where we kind of hobbled home and after planning for the next day just kind of collapsed in bed and passed out until the next day. I dont think I have ever been so tired, but I love it. I think I might be going home on a stretcher. President and Sister Johnson look pretty tired too. But they are troopers and are just plugging along. I think they are really enjoying being mission presidents. He interviewed me yesterday and it was really cool. Since becoming a zone leader, I really havent had an interview with my mission president. Pres. Zobrist would just kind of look at me and ask, "is everything ok? any sins to confess? No? Alright, keep up the good work." In his defense, has his assistant I spent more one on one time with him than probably any other missionary in the mission, but still, it meant a lot to me that President Johnson took the time to interview Elder Blanco and me. 

This next week we are hitting the road. We go to Pedregal on Wednesday, Camana on Thursday, and then we are going to Mollendo on Friday and coming back that same day. More interviews. Should be another busy week, but one we are excited for. We need to make sure every last second of the day we are working hard. And it's interesting, the other day I was thinking and thought to myself, "man, I really want to just be in an area where I can work the whole day, not have to worry about leadership responsibilities, nothing like that, just work." I actually started to get kind of frustrated. But then, the thought came to mind, "are you willing to sacrifice what you want for what I want?" I guess it was kind of a wake up call that this isnt really about me, but about learning to do what He wants me to do. We are working in a very different way, but we are still doing what we are supposed to be doing. 

Leslie and Arturo are doing pretty well. Their aunt died this week, and they were pretty bummed out, but then Arturo had a dream where he saw Isabel (the aunt) dressed in white calling him by name, saying, "Arturo, I'm ok." Then she went through a while curtain and her family was there to greet her on the other side of the curtain. There were a few people there that Arturo didnt recognize, but after describing them to his wife, she was able to identify them as Isabel's grandparents and great-grandparents. It was a really cool dream and they were able to find comfort in knowing that she is ok. It's interesting, because Isabel and all of those family members who he saw with her were members of the church. I hope we can help them just realize that they need to get baptized!!!! 

Anyways, that was our week. Hope everyone is doing well, have a good one!

Elder Matheson 

Friday, July 8, 2016

7/2 Changing of the Guard

Well this was quite the week for us!!! President Zobrist is now at home, are we are now with President Johnson. It was definitely weird to say goodbye to President Zobrist. After 23 months with the same president, that can be expected though. The good news is that even though we miss him a lot, I'll him in like a month so no worries there. 

This was a crazy week. We basically went running around all over the place with President Johnson just doing our best to make sure everything was going well. They are very, VERY excited to be here haha. He has a vision for this mission that involves baptizing a lot more people than we are right now. He told a story about he and his companion in his mission went to open an area that hadnt had a baptism in over 3 years. They set the goal to baptize 25 people in the first month they were there. After a number of miracles occured, they baptized the 25th person on the last day of the month. Then they decided, well, if we can baptize 25 in a month, then why not 50? So the next month they baptized 54 (as a companionship mind you). Then they said, if we can baptize 50, why not 100? So the baptized 107 people the next month. And finally, if we can baptize 100, why not 200? So long story short, they ended up baptizing A LOT of people and he knows we can do the same here. They really are super awesome and we love them already. The only problem is they dont really speak Spanish, so I have been translating for them this week. They'll pick it up though.

Some fun facts about them, they both went to the U, love to ride horses, and are both Diet Coke addicts. Sounds like mom and dad will get along great with them :)

Our investigators are doing well. Arturo and Leslie are coming along really nicely. Arturo wants to get baptized, as well as their daughter, but Leslie is having a real hard time letting go of her Catholic traditions. She says she needs more time to make a choice. Its frustrating for us because I know she knows its true. She has felt it so much. She just needs to make a choice!!! 

Anyways, that was our week. This one will be equally brutal. We have interviews every day of the week, and on top of that we have MLC. I havent even had time to think about anything else but the work, and I wouldnt have it any other way. But hey, it's July, so I guess I can say see you this month!

Love you all!

Elder Matheson 

6/25 Chao Presidente Zobrist

Alright family, another week down, and it was another busy one for us. First of all, President Zobrist is NOT done yet. He finishes on Tuesday. President Johnson will get here on Tuesday as well. He is staying at the hotel (it's like 2 blocks from the mission home) because they are remodeling the mission home a little bit before President Johnson gets here. So I still havent met him. I'll let you know how it goes this week :)

So this week we received another new group of missionaries from the MTC. It's the last group I will receive, and it was President's last as well. I always love getting the new group because it reminds me of when I was there and all the excitement we had to get out and work, and how nervous we were to have our new companions, and I see the same in all of them every time we pick them up from the airport. 

President Zobrist was in the office talking to me the other day about his mission and his experience and how much he has loved being the mission president here, and then he told us, "you know, I brought one book to read here in my mission, you know, in my free time. In three years, I have probably read about a third of that book." I'm sure Grandma and Grandpa can relate haha. I've really loved having him as our mission president, and for the chance I've had to really get to know him and the great man he is. He told us the Zobrist Bed and Breakfast is open whenever we come through Las Vegas. 

Leonidas is going to get baptized later today. We are sooooo excited for her. Seriously, we love her so much and are really estatic for her baptism. I think the whole ward is coming to her baptism as well haha. Yesterday we placed another baptism date for the 30th of July with the lady that cuts our hair. She is really really awesome. Her name is Diana, she's about 35 years old, and we have been teaching her for about a week now. She has an 8-year-old son, Diego as well. They are coming to church on Sunday, as well as Arturo, Leslie, and Daniela, the family we are teaching now. They are progressing really well. They have been praying together as a family and are reading the Book of Mormon. We had them read Moroni 8 and they read it and said, "you know, as Catholics, we were all baptized really young, but this makes sense. Children really dont need to be baptized." They have a baptismal date pending for the 30th. If they end up getting baptized that day, we would all be able to go. If not, the most important thing is that they get baptized. 

Funny story of the week: We were contacting the other day and stopped this guy in the street to talk to him and give him a pamphlet. It was probably 7 at night and it was kind of dark and couldnt see what this guy had in his left hand (this will important later). We shook his hand and started talking to him. He wasnt super receptive so we gave him a pamphlet and asked for his address to try and stop by another time, and he said "hey sorry guys, I'm a little....uhhh....intoxicated." Then we finally saw what he had in his other hand, which was a big fat marijuana blunt haha. We kind of just stood there kind of shocked and he went huffing and puffing on his way. I think that pamphet might get put to "other uses." 

Wish us luck this week. It's going to be a crazy one! Love you all!

Elder Matheson 

6/18 USA!

Hey everyone! Hope everyone had a fantastic week, and that everyone is enjoying the beginning of their summer vacations. This was another action packed week, and I'm coming to realize that just about every single week for the last almost 2 years has been so. This was the last week of the transfers, which meant lots of administrative work in the office, running missionaries to the airport, farewell meetings, and all sorts of good stuff like that. With this group going home, I am now officially in my last transfer of my mission. It was actually really sad seeing this group go home, because a lot of them have been my good friends for almost my whole mission. Elder Evans is now home also. This coming transfer, well, it's going to fly by. We have a change in mission president, welcome to the mission meetings, interviews, and then it will all be over. Bring it on. 

After the farewell testimony meeting in the mission home on Thursday night, President decided to let all the missionaries do pretty much whatever we wanted too. So, we got two TVs going, one with game 6 of the NBA Finals, and the other with the USA v Ecuador quarterfinal match up in La Copa America. The group that went home was almost all gringos who love sports, and so yeah, I saw game 6 and saw the USA whoop up on Ecuador to make to the semifinals. After we scored the second goal of the game, Elder Taylor, one of the elders finishing his mission, jumped up and actually broke a wooden beams holding up some lights haha. Good thing they are in the process of remodeling. 

We are going to have a baptism next Saturday! Leonidas is going to be getting baptized. We are really excited for her and for her baptism, and so is she. We are teaching a few new people also. Juan Carlos is the father of a less active guy here in our ward. His adopted son got back from his mission in Argentina and Juan Carlos has been really receptive. We taught him last Sunday, but havent been able to get back to teach him since. We have an appointment with him for this Wednesday though. We'll see how it goes, he seems really cool, somebody who could progress really quickly if he does his part. 

We are also teaching a new family (families are the best to teach). We met them last Sunday when we went with our Relief Society president to give a blessing to her sister who is super super sick in the hospital, and we started talking to Wilma's (RS pres) niece and her husband. They are obviously worried about their aunt, and were really receptive in having us come and teach them. We went back last night and they recieved us with open arms. Arturo, the father, owns a grill-type restaurant and when we came in they gave us popcorn and apple juice and then shut down the restaurant and turned off a Peru soccer game to listen to us. Dedication (Peru lost in penalty kicks, everyone is mad). We taught Arturo, his wife Leslie, and their daughter Daniela (12 years old). We hadnt mentioned baptism or anything yet, and Arturo told us, "you know guys, we've been Catholics for our whole lives. Change isn't easy. But maybe God has placed you in our lives because we need to get closer to him. My wife and I, along with Daniela, are going to talk about this and pray and see if we are going to become Mormoms." They seem to have a real desire to learn and do the things they need to do in order to know for themselves. We taught them how to pray and challenged them to pray as a family, something they had never done before. Arturo told us all he had ever done was say the Lord's Prayer, and at the end of the lesson he gave the closing prayer like we taught him and it was such a humble and sincere prayer, and he told us he felt so good he almost cried. These are important steps. We are going back on Tuesday and we are going to teach them the Restauration and challenge them to prepare themselves to be baptized.

Well, that was our week. This is President Zobrist's last week, and then President Johnson gets here. We have another new group coming in this week. Anyways, have a great week. Happy Father's day to all of the wonderful fathers out there. Have a good one!

Elder Matheson

6/11 Flying by...

Hey everyone, not a whole lot to report this week. Just a lot of busy days in the office getting ready for transfers next week, and we had two more zone conferences here in Arequipa. President has been doing the zone conferences at night to be able to invite the bishops and stake presidents, and we have had a remarkable turnout from the church leaders here. The only problem is, when we do the ZCs at night, we dont have any time to work in our area. We did splits with the zone leaders as well here in Arequipa, so all in all, we had a total of 1 lesson this week. But, it was a good lesson with Alex and he seems to be progressing well. He committed to come to church tomorrow so we'll see how that goes. The weeks just seem to keep flying by. This next week is the last week of the transfer, and then I'm down to my last 6 weeks. Never thought I would ever be in the situation haha. But here it is. I'm excited to keep working. We sent the July schedule to President Johnson and he actually emailed us back, and it sounds like he is ready to work and get to it. He told me he might need me to extend until November, so Mom, maybe cancel the trip next month, I might be staying another 3 or 4 months.*** 

Thanks for all the love and support. Sorry this is a short email, not a lot happened this week. 

Elder Matheson 

***MOM NOTE***   Not funny joke about the extension.  

6/4 The Sax Man

Hey all! It was a great week for us here in our area, and it was just a great week overall. We finally have investigators with baptismal dates for the first time in like 2 months, and we are really excited for that. The first is named Leonidas, she is the mother of the YW president here in the ward, and she has listened to the missionaries forever, but could never commit to baptism. She has finally worked through whatever she had to work through, and is excited to be baptized. We are working towards the goal of the 25th of June. The other is this guy named Alex who we contacted this week. We were walking through this park and we heard this guy jamming on the saxophone and we felt like we needed to go talk to him, and we ended up chatting for a good 20 minutes. He listened to the missionaries about 6 years ago but was never baptized. He feels kind of lonely, becuae he's in his late 30s early 40s and is single, lives by himself. He teaches music and plays a bunch of different instruments. He's a really good guy. We taught him yesterday for the first time and he accepted the Restoration of the gospel and is excited to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it is true. He accepted baptism in the first lesson and we are working toward the 10th of July for his goal. Keep them in your prayers! 

So on Saturday, our ward had a party and rented out this big park and we played soccer and had a BBQ and played games as a ward. It felt like I was in the States for a second. The ward invited all 6 of us office Elders, and the young men and YSA of the ward challenged us to a 6 on 6 soccer game. We destroyed them. We probably played for like 2 or 3 hours and we won 9 straight games against them. Poor kids, didnt know what hit them. I played goalie this time, didnt allow a single goal in those 2 hours we played. Then to finish off the day, President Zobrist had recorded Game 1 of the NBA Finals and invited us to go watch it with him. AWESOME. You really get to know someone watching a basketball game with them, and President Zobrist is awesome. Hilarious. And he knows his stuff when it comes to basketball. All in all, a good week and a great Pday for us. 

Christian, congrats on a great season. I'm sorry it ended that way, but use it as motivation to work hard in the off-season and beat them next year. 

Thanks for all your love and support, see you all NEXT MONTH! 

Elder Matheson 

5/28 Back to the Stompin Grounds

Hello everyone! 

Another week in the bags. Yesterday we were at lunch with President Zobrist planning out the month of June and he looked at his agenda and then at us and just said, "man, these pages just keep on flipping." Pretty much sums up how I feel right now. I saw Elder Larsen this week during the zone conference and he informed me that we have 9 weeks left. Dang. Single digits!!!! Where the heck did the time go. It just seems like every day seems to go by faster and faster, and the weeks even worse. It seems like just yesterday that I left with Elder Wagner to go to the MTC, but it was almost 22 months ago. Anyways, I am excited for what the next 9 weeks will bring for us. After planning out this next month with President, it is going to be a busy one. More zone conferences, leadership council, farewell meetings with the missionaries that are going, training the new missionaries, new mission president. And for my last month... holy cow, its going to be crazy haha. Meet the president tour, interviews, leadership council... and then its all over. 

We had a zone conference in Camana this week, so Elder Blanco and I went down a day early to go on splits with the zone leaders. President actually told us to just split up and have me go by myself to Pedregal and Elder Blanco to Camana. So I had Pancho (a guy who works for the mission) drop me off where the minivans go off to Pedgregal and I hitched a ride by myself for 2 hours to Pedregal. Then walked across town by myself to the zone leaders room. Yes, it felt weird, but I did get to watch Captain Phillips in the minivan, which was a plus (I didnt get to the part where the Navy SEALS take out the pirates though). It was cool to be in Pedregal again though. We actually went and taught some of my converts (still active, whooo!!!) and they are doing super well. Jose Abanto bore his testimony about how the Book of Mormon and the gospel changed his life. He suffered an accident a few months before meeting us and couldnt walk or work (he still cant, and its been over a year). He told us how sad he was and how lonely he always felt (he's 74 years old). He asked God how He could let something like that happen to him. Then he got the Book of Mormon and heard the message of the Gospel and he said the loneliness has never returned, that he is so happy now. Then, with tears in his eyes, said "I am so grateful I had my accident, because now I have the truth in my life." It was a sweet experience, and those are the moments that make your mission worth it. 

We have found a few new investigators this week, but I dont know what their deal is because they dont seem to understand a word we say. I guess we need to have more patience and teach to their level. But they are really good people and they could progress. Yesterday we went to the chapel to have a meeting with our ward mission leader and we came in and this lady with her daughter were sitting outside and we went and said hi to her and started talking and it turns out she isnt a member of the church. So we got an appointment with her for later today, so we'll see how things go. 

Well, that was my week. We have leadership council this week. Wish us luck! 

Elder Matheson 

5/21 Rat Race

Hey family! This was another crazy week, lots of traveling! We left for Tacna on Monday afternoon, got there that night with President Zobrist in time for dinner, and crashed at the hotel. Tuesday we did divisions with the zone leaders in Tacna, and I got to go in a trio with Elder Wagner and his comp, Elder Moll, who are both from my MTC group and some of my best mission friends, so needless to say we had a really good time. We ended the night with President taking all of the stake presidents and zone leaders to eat at that good steak place in Tacna, and it still hasnt disappointed. Wednesday we did divisions with one of the new district leaders in Tacna and it went really well, and then we had a zone conference that started at night, which we usually dont do, but decided to so that the bishops could go to the conference. We talked about how to work better together using the new area plan from the area presidency, which is really focused on the youth. Thursday we headed out to Moquegua and did divisions with the zone leaders there (Elder Evans is still there haha) and then had the same thing, zone conference at night. We stayed with the ZLs Thursday night and then Friday we left Moquegua in the afternoon to come back to Arequipa. So, long story short, long week, but a good one. 

When we got to the room in Moquegua, the sister that lives downstairs called us frantically because a rat had gotten into her kitchen. So we, being the good Elders that we are, went down with brooms and wooden rods determined to exterminate the infestation. Elder Evans carefully started moving the boxes out of the corner where it was hiding while we all waited ready to pounce. Sure enough, it came running, right toward me, and I smashed it with a wooden stick. It tried playing dead on us, but we're smarter than that so we flung outside and then proceeded to bash its brains out with the sticks, and then, as a sign of victory for us and as a warning to the other rats who want to come in, we doused it in rubbing alcohol and set it on fire. Moral of the story, don't mess with the kitchens of the members when the elders are around. 

This week will be busy too. More zone conferences, more traveling. I'll be doing divisions in Pedregal, so it'll be fun to see all of my converts and talk to my pension, because it has been almost a year since I've seen them. Thank you for your love and for all your prayers. See you soon!

Elder Matheson

5/14 Por fin me mordieron

Hello family! Happy belated Mother's Day to all the moms out there! It was good to see those of you I saw on Sunday, and it's always a blessing to talk to the fam. It was a pretty week, but it was a busy one. The first week of the transfer is always busy, and this one happened to include missionary leadership council also. Translatation: we have had a total of 6 hours in our area this week. We really have to use our time super wisely if we want to have any kind of success in our proselyting zone. And honestly, we probably shouldn't have left the office so early yesterday because next week we have zone conferences and we still havent prepared hardly anything, but I guess we'll just kind of see how things go haha. We still have a few hours on Monday to get ready before we have to leave. 
Peggy continues to do well. We only had chance to talk to her for like 15 minutes last night at like 9pm before we had to go back to our room, but she said she loved going to church, and the talks really inspired her. She also said that her boss (whom she hates) got fired after she went to church so the Church must be true haha. We really feel like she can progress, but we just need a way to teach her when her husband isnt there, which actually kind of happened. I know it sounds bad, but we sat down and I kind of said a prayer that something would happen so that Jimmy, her husband, would leave. 2 minutes later he got a really important call from someone and had to leave, so prayer answered? Maybe. Peggy is going to come to our ward talent show today and is probably going to go to church again on Sunday. 

So, as my title says, they finally got to me. After 21 months here in this country, last night I was finally bitten by a dog! It actually kind of funny how it happened, and kind of ironic that it happened in this area. After spending my whole mission in the ghetto of Peru, where there are all sorts of dogs, I got bit by one in a place where there are hardly any dogs. But anyways, we were leaving Peggy's house and a couple of dogs who are also there and who are always super friendly came over, as they always do, to say hi. I guess one of them was in a bad mood becuase it came over and just tried to take a bite out of my leg. I dont know how, but it bit through my pants, through my socks, but didnt touch my actually leg at all. I was like, what the heck just happened?! And then that same dog walked a few steps ahead where Elder Blanco was and did the same thing to him. So we both got bit by the same dog in a span of like 2 seconds. Kind of cool that we weren't hurt! 
Anyways, next week is a busy one, we have a ton of conferences and divisions and are going to be traveling a ton. Hope you guys have a great week! 

5/7 Mothers Day

Well, this will probably be a short letter because, after all, we'll talk tomorrow. It was a long week! But then again, transfer week is always like that for us. It was even busier because we had to do a training for the sister leaders in the middle of the week, which basically meant that we had a total of about 5 hours to work in our area this week. It can be frustrating sometimes, but I figure that the work that we do is still work, and that if we didnt do it, someone else would have to anyways. 

We have been working on contacting a lot more recently, and we have had some good experiences. We contacted this family in the street a few days ago and they look fairly promising. We only talked to them for a few minutes, but they invited us to their house on Tuesday to meet with the whole family so we'll see how things go. I really like the guy's beard too so I hope things go well :) 

Peggy is doing well! We taught her again on Wednesday and she said she had read and after reading she felt so good and realized that we really do base all of our belief in Jesus Christ. She told us she wants to be baptized but she feels like it would be wrong to do it without her ver Catholic husband. Then a little miracle happened and her husband came home from work and sat down and started listening to the part of the lesson right when got to Joseph Smith. The Spirit was super strong as we talked about the First Vision and Book of Mormon and we were able to answer a lot of questions and misconceptions he had about the Church. He told us he liked listening to us and he accpeted a copy of the Book of Mormon and said he would read it and pray about it, and that he would try to come to church with Gina and Peggy. We still feel like he is more of a "long-term project" but still, it was a little tender mercy. We are going to teach Peggy again tonight, and we are planning to place a baptismal date with her. We'll let you know tomorrow how everything goes! 

Next week will be a doosy also. New missionaries coming, training the trainers, leadership conference, and I think we are going to start the zone conferences next week (I think?). This is also President Zobrist's last transfer here, which means I am down to 2 left.... where did the time go? 

Love you all, have a happy Mother's Day!

Elder Matheson

Sunday, May 8, 2016

5/2 May the 4th be with you!

First of all, we need to recongnize the significance of international Star Wars day, which is coming up on May 4th. Also, can you guys believe it´s May already?!? That means I am one step closer to being able to watch Star Wars 7 with the popcorn machine. 

Anyways, this was an awesome week! We are writing on Monday because we had an all day ward activity on Saturday that we were pretty much a big part of. It was called, "One day as a missionary," and it was honestly one of the coolest experiences I have had on my mission. We started at 6 in the morning with all the youth from the ward coming to the chapel. We assigned them companions, there was breakfast, and then we did our whole missionary morning routine, studying with the youth of the ward, all that jazz. Then at 10 we started a mini-MTC for them. We trained them on how to use the Book of Mormon, how to contact people in the street, and had them practice with us. Then, we had a lunch and in the afternoon we gave every single youth a Book of Mormon, had them write their testimony in it, and then we took all the groups out to have them give their Book of Mormon to strangers in the street and share their testimonies with them. It was seriously such a sweet experience. All of the kids, even the deacons and beehives, went and shared their testimonies with complete strangers, gave them a Book of Mormon, and invited them to meet with the missionaries. They were all so excited but so scared. We would go and start the conversation, get to the topic of the Book of Mormon and then look at the kids and then they couragously bore their testimonies to these people. A lot of them were rejected, but they wanted to keep going, keep sharing, and there was such a sweet spirit around the whole activity. There was a testimony meeting to end the day, and almost all of them shared their experiences and it was really one of the highlights of my mission. 

Yesterday I think Elder Blanco and I had one of the most, if not the most, spiritual experiences of my mission. We have a recent convert in our ward named Gina. She is 18 and was baptized a little over a year ago. She has one of the most powerful conversion stories ever. She was clinically depressed, and attemped suicide mulitple times. One day she was praying to find a way to get closer to God, and happened to meet a new friend that day who was a member of the church. Long story short, she was introduced to the missionaries and baptized a few weeks later. She is her class president for the Laurels now, brings referals to us almost weekly, and is planning to leave on a mission next January. She is also the only member in her home. Well, yesterday we finally had the chance to teach her mom. We got to the lesson at 4, and her mom started telling us about her mom abused her when she was little, and how she has never been able to forgive her for that. She told us, sobbing, that she just wants to find inner peace, that she wants to go to church and even get baptized, but she is too afraid of what her mom (Gina´s grandma) would do to her and her family. She told us that she just couldnt go to church. Then Gina shared her testimony and grabbed her mom by the hand and said, "Mom, I'm tired of going to church by myself. I love you and I want to be with you forever, I want to go to a temple and be sealed to you and dad and my sister. But you can only do that if you come to church with me." It was seriously one of the most powerfuly moments of my mission. After battling with her and testifying, she accpeted to come to church next week. I dont really know how to describe what happened in the lesson, but it was really cool. We saw her change in the 2 and half hours we were there (thats a very very long time to be teaching a lesson) and we are really excited to see her progress. Prayers for Peggy please!

Anyways, this week is transfer week, and we have a training we are going to give to the sister training leaders, plus the good-bye meeting for the missionaries who are going, so it should be a busy week! Love you all, have a great week! Talk to you on Sunday!

Elder Matheson

4/23 Asistentes Viajantes

Hey everyone! 

As you can tell from the title (those of you spanish speakers) we did a lot of traveling this week! We really only had one day in our area, which is tough sometimes but we had a good time traveling. We ended up going to Pedregal, Mollendo, Ilo, and Moquegua this week. What a week! We are really tired haha. I dont understand how sitting in a chair doing interviews can make you so tired, but it does. It has been such a spiritual experience doing these interviews, really getting to know the missionaries a lot better, helping them with their problems and just listening to them. We have been asking the question, "what is the most important thing you have learned on your mission?" The answers are different every single time, and it always brings the spirit. I've been asking that question to myself this week, and I think the most important thing I have learned is how true the gospel is, and how important it is too. I guess I always thought it was all true, or at least believed it, but now I can say that I know it, and that I know what I want my life to be like and what I dont want it to be like. 

We are working a lot with our ward members to try and get references, and a lot of people have commited to getting in touch with their friends and inviting them to meet with her or go to a church activity or their noche de hogar. It will be a slow process getting all the members involved, and it might not give a ton of immediate results, but if we keep doing what we are doing, we are going to really build the kingdom, and not just baptize people we contact in the street. We need to strengthen the members and have them get involved in missionary work, and then they'll have consistant growth in the ward. As President Zobrist said, if every active member of the Church prepared one person to meet with the missionaries once a year, and 25% of those people got baptize, we would have more than a million convert baptisms every single year, more than quadruple what we have now. It really isnt that hard to do. All we have to do is invite. 

We dont have any progressing investigators right now. We have a lot of people who seem they are about to progress, but they just dont for some reason. We are working with the family of one of our recent converts (Karla and Nicolas), and they seem they could start progressing at any moment right now. Karla's brother and sister in law, Celeste and Beto, are really awesome. Celeste told Karla the other day, "when the elders teach me, I feel like God is talking to me." They are feeling the Spirit, but there is something holding them back for some reason. Pray for them so that they can soften their hearts and accept the gospel! 

Well, it was a good week and this next one should be a good one too. We have the last set of interviews on Tuesday with Zamacola, my first zone. I think that night we have a training for the STLs, (sister training leaders) and that will continue through Wednesday morning. Other than that, I dont know if we have any other trainings or anything like that. I should me a pretty laid back week. Then come transfers (AGAIN?!?!), the new group coming in, leadership conference, and then zone conferences again, then President Zobrist goes home, new MP comes in, and then interviews again and by that time it will be the end of July and I think something relatively important happens at the end of July but I cant remember :) 

Have a good week!

Elder Matheson

4/16 The Grand Canyon is for wimps!

That's right, shots fired at the grand canyon. Now, who could possibly say that a mile deep canyon is for whimps? A person that just got back from seeing a TWO mile deep canyon. We headed up to Colca Canyon last night and got back this afternoon, and wow, it is pretty spectacular. It is actually the deepest canyon in the entire world (10,725 feet deep). To get there, you have to go first to Chivay, a little village/pueblito in the mountains, and then catch another bus to head up to Colca. At one point, you go over a mountain pass that is almost 16,000 feet above sea level (taller than any point in the continental United States). And then you make it to the canyon, and it is breath-taking. I sent pictures but you cannot convey the magisty of the canyon with the pictures. It was really well worth it, and I feel bad we probaby wont have time to go, because it requires waking up at the butt-crack of dawn to get out their in time. I'm super glad President let us go though. 

After getting back from the canyon trip we immediately went to the baptism of one of my investigators from Chachani, my first area. She never got baptized because she was living together with her boyfriend. We ended up baptizing her 13-year-old daughter more than a year ago and then I got transfered and didnt here anything about her until a few weeks ago when the elders in Chanchani told me that she was preparing to be baptized. This was actually the first time I had gone back to one of my areas to visit, and holy cow, I felt so much love from the people there. Chachani has always had a special place in my heart, and now it does even more. My pensionista came, some of my converts, and of course, I was there for the baptism. They even asked me to lead the music for the program haha. Anyways, the service went super well and I am continuing to see the seeds I've planted being harvested, which is almost better than harvesting yourself. Janet was there, and she told me that since her baptism, her mom, who when we were teaching her was a hard core evangelist, was baptized, and then her cousin came to visit more a few months and he was baptized, went home after vacation and now all of his family has been baptized as well. And now, the missionaries have begun to teach all of Janet's brothers and sisters. One person can make all the difference for the eternity of another. 

Needless to say, today was an awesome day, and a much needed one as well. Ever since being the assistant, I have just wanted to work in my area and sprint to the end, but my work here is a little different. With the large geographical size of the mission, we have to do a lot of traveling and that takes a lot of time away from our area here. When we are here, it always seems like we have something that we need to do in the office, and we only get a few hours of proseliting in everyday. That has really been hard for me. I know what I am doing is important as well, and I know we still do have at least some time to work in our area, but still, it's been hard, and this week has been like that especially. Today was much needed, and my comp and I have talked about it and we have the goal to spend less time in the office and more time with our boots on the pavement so to speak. I think we can do it, and with such a relatively short period of time left in my mission, I cant afford to waste any more time. 

Speaking of working in our area, we will NOT be doing that this next week, as we hit the road once again. Pedregal on Tuesday, Mollendo on Wednesday, Ilo on Thursday, and then Moquegua on Friday. Another week of interviews. I figure if I am not going to be in my area for a week, then I better make sure that these are some pretty dang good interviews haha.

Love you all, have a fantastic week!

The karate kid returns

4/9 Templo Peruano

Hello all! 

Another great week is in the books. I seriously cannot believe how fast time goes by here... we are so busy I dont even have time to breathe sometimes, but I wouldnt have it any other way. So conference was AMAZING and I think everyone who participated felt the spirit in abundance. I really really really loved President Monson´s talks. It´s obvious that he isnt doing too well physically, but his shortened talks force him to get straight to the point, which I liked a lot. The messages from General Conference are never anything new, but we sure do need the reminders they give us. Really, all of conference was good. They talked a lot about eternal marriage... 

Anyways, we are going to get ANOTHER temple here in Peru! Everyone here is super excited, even though they still havent even started constuction on the temple in Arequipa. The work is really progressing here in Peru. 50 years ago there was one branch in all of Arequipa, and now there are 7 stakes and a temple announced. In all of Peru there are now 12 missions, whereas 50 years ago there was one mission for all of Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. We went to talk to our bishop here in Umacollo and talked to him about conference and he started talking about having another temple here in Peru and started to cry, expressing how grateful he was for the gospel, he talked about how his grandparents joined the church here in Arequipa almost 50 years ago, and how lucky he was to have been born into the gospel and to live in a country where the blessings of the temple are so close (right now, he needs to get on a bus for 18 hours to get to Lima to go to the temple). The work is moving forward! 

So we talked with President Zobrist, becuase we had been working in 2 wards, but really felt like we didnt have enough to dedicate to both based on the very limited time we have to work in our area. So now, we are going to work only in Umacollo. I am really excited because it is a much stronger ward and we are going to have much more time to get to know the members and work with them. We now only have half the amount of people to teach though. Honestly, we have almost nobody to teach, but we have been working with the members this last week and hopefully this coming week we can go and contact some of these referals and get some more new investigators. Honestly, without member support missionary work would be awful. I hate knocking doors and street contacting, and have learned that it is literally the least effective way to do missionary work. We can have so much more success working with members. 

This last week was super busy, with interviews and leadership conference. I love doing the interviews, but they are so tiring it´s ridiculous. On Wednesday we had interviews from 10am to 6 pm and then started the leadership conference and at the end of the day I just collapsed into my bed was gone. We are actually leaving in a few hours with President to go to Camana do continue doing interviews until tomorrow night. Tomorrow is election day in Peru... they are going to choose a new president here. That means that is illegal to have public meetings tomorrow, or in other words, no church. So we are going to take advantage and do some more interviews. 

This next week should be pretty tranquila, we only have to do interviews on Tuesday, and then it should be a pretty normal week. President's family is coming in so he is going to be busy with them. Then in two weeks we are going to be gone the whole week. 

Well, I got all signed up for my classes at the Y! Should be a whopper of a semester. I think I might minor in Spanish as well. I looked at the requirements and its a piece of cake. I want to continue perfecting my Spanish as well, maybe see if I can work as a translater of something like that. I think it would be super cool.

Thank you for all your love and support! Have a great week everyone!

Elder Matheson

4/2 Airplanes

Hey hey hey!

Another week down, and it was another busy one! I am here with my new comp, Elder Blanco, and it still hasnt set in that he will be my last comp. Last comp, last area... I'm not trunky I swear! (Mom and Dad, I KNOW that you guys are :)). Anyways, Elder Blanco is a total stud. I really do love the guy. He is probably the most humble, hardest working companion that I have had, maybe tied with Elder Evans. Since he's from Argentina, I was really hoping that he would have the same Argentine accent he had when I met him a year ago... but he's lost it and speaks like a Peruvian now haha. We get along great and I'm really excited for the last few months of my mission. Home stretch, time to give it my all! 

We started off the week picking up the new group of missionaries coming in (3 sisters, not a single elder...) and taking them to the temple site and eating lunch with them and all that fun stuff. We shipped them off to their areas, and then we and President and Sister Zobrist headed to the airport to catch a flight to Tacna. We were there from Tuesday to Thursday doing interviews (we do interviews once every 3 months). These will be the last interviews that President Zobrist does before going home. The next time we do interviews it will be July, and we will be with the new MP. President had us interview every single companionship as well to see how they are doing with obedience and their area book. It was actually a really cool experience! We felt the spirit really strongly, and honestly, most of the missionaries are doing really well. We really dont have obedience problems here in our mission. Little things here or there, but nothing big. We got back to Arequipa on Thursday, and then continued with the interviews yesterday. Next week we have more interviews and we also have the Mission Leadership Conference. Should be another busy week. 

Our area... well, when we arent in our area for weeks at a time it struggles, but we have a great ward that always helps and supports us so we cant get away with it. We were able to teach 4 lessons yesterday which was awesome. We are helping Maria Fernanda do her family history and send a name to the temple. Speaking of which, yesterday I was on my familysearch account and found a distant ancestor who still needs their work done, so I reserved it and will do it 4 months from now. Cool, right? 

Anyways, we had a good week, hope you all had a good one too! Cuidense y disfruten la conferencia! 

Elder Matheson