Saturday, March 5, 2016

3/4/15 Derek vs the mushrooms

Que tal familia! Well, the traveling is over (for now). We finished up the road show this week with zone conferences in Camana and Pedregal. We went and did divisions with the zone leaders in Camana and Tuesday. I was with Elder Blanco. He was one of our district leaders in Manuel Prado and he is a total stud. He has been out for a little more than a year but has already been a zone leader for more than 6 months. Looking at the transfers with President, he decided that he will be my next comp, as Elder Orbegozo goes home here in few weeks. I have to say, I am super super excited to have Elder Blanco coming in a few weeks. He´s from Argentina. Super humble, super patient. He´ll be a great assistant and a great companion. And I cant believe that we´ve gotten to this point, but Elder Blanco will be my last companion. 

The zone conferences went well. It was strange to be back in Pedregal after about a year. I didnt have any time at all to visit anyone, but talking to the missionaries there, my converts are going strong and the branch is doing really well. They also told me the only teaching records or any other reports in their area book are the ones I did when I was with Elder Nelson and Elder Cerezo, so I think it might be time to do some trainings with the area book haha. 

We were actually able to teach a little bit this week. We have a few investigators that we are teaching right now that are progressing really well. One of them is named Nicolas (i´ve already told you his story a little bit). He is the 12-year-old son of one of the recent converts in the ward. His progress has been super fun to watch. He comes to church every sunday in his shirt and tie (and suit jacket). His baptism is next Saturday. 

We are also working with a less active sister in our ward named Carmen, and she recently presented us to her friend, Maria Fernanda. She´s a 20 year old single mother who is seriously one of the most prepared people I have met in my mission. She went to stake conference with Carmen and we got an appointment to teach her for Friday. We taught her yesterday, and she said that heard in the conference that we need to keep the Sabbath day holy, so she switched around her whole schedule so that she can go to church every single Sunday. Keep in mind, this happened before we even taught her anything. Well, we taught her about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and invited her to be baptized in 2 weeks and she said yes. We´ll have to work closely with her so she can be ready to be baptized in such a short period of time, but we dont have to travel this week so we should be good to go. 

We are also teaching another referal from a member from another ward named Alex Bravo. 23 years old, studying to be an engineer. Really smart guy, and he really understands things really quickly. He also went to stake conference last week and really enjoyed it. We have taught him twice now, and he has accpeted to be baptized once he knows the Book of Mormon is true. We have working with him to help him understand how to receive answers and how to pray. He still feels like he hasnt gotten his answer, but he now understands that he needs to keep praying and reading and going to church to be able to get it, so he committed to pray again, read more, and go to church on Sunday. He will progress, with time. 

So.... I ate mushrooms a few days ago. They were given to us in the home of a recent convert. There was no way around it. I had to eat them. And, well, I am still alive. They actually werent all that bad. Still hard to get over the fact that I am eating a fungus... but not all that bad (i´ll be awaiting the I-told-you-sos).

Well, have a great week! All is well here in Peru. 

Elder Matheson

2/27 The rains came down and the floods came up...

Well, the weeks just seem to be going faster and faster. I cant believe that I have already been here for 3 weeks!!!! If this were a normal transfer, it would be half over already. But.. its as 7 week transfer so its not. But still, time continues to go at warp speed. This week was full of trainings, companionship exchanges, and rain. We headed down to Tacna, which is like a 7 hour bus ride from Arequipa, on Monday afternoon to get there in time to go on exchanges with the zone leaders there, and it went super well. I went with Elder Andersen, and it turns out he also lived in May Hall before his mission, but he lived on the 3rd floor on the other side. It was a lot of fun actually, we talked a lot and he´s a really good guy and a fantastic missionary. That night, President took us out to eat at this nice steak restaurant in Tacna, where they import their beef from the United States... oh my heck is was delicious. I got a bone-in ribeye that was seriously amazing. I dont know if its because I havent had good meat in 18 months or what, but dang... good stuff. Cooked well, served piping hot. The zone conference we had on Wednesday went super well, and I think my part went better too. We had to end at 2, and I am the last speaker, and had planned for like 45 minutes, doing role plays, analyzing Preach My Gospel videos, everything, but I only had like 20 minutes because everyone else went over their time, so it ended up being more of an extended testimony of the Book of Mormon. People said they liked it though. 

Thursday was the district leader training in the morning, then we ate lunch and drove back with President in the afternoon. It was actually really cool, Elder Orbegozo was watching Finding Nemo on the laptop in the back seat and i was in the middle and President and Sister Zobrist and I just kind of talked for like 5 hours. He is such a cool guy, and I really feel like I am getting to know him a lot better. He is super worried to make sure the hand off to the new mission president goes smoothly, so he was pretty much telling me that I have to help him know how to get places, where to eat, how to do things... it sounds stressful but I think its going to be a really cool experience getting to help a new mission president transition in to his new calling. 

Yesterday we finished off the week doing yet another zone conference here in Arequipa. It was actually the best one I´ve done yet. I had enough time to do what i wanted, the role playing went super well, and the spirit was there. One of the elders came up after and told me, "in my whole mission, i have never left a zone conference as inspired to work as i did today." 

So, as the title says... it has been raining here in Arequipa. We were in Tacna most of the week, but President said it rained so hard on Monday that the ENTIRE city of Arequipa (more than 3 million people) went without power. We went to work Friday in the afternoon and got to the house of a member who lives in front of one of the huge irrigation ditches they have to control flooding, and as we were in the house, the floor started to shake and I was thinking "another earthquake," but then we realized that it had rained so hard that the ditch turned into a massive river that was literally carrying giant rocks like they were pebbles. The street a few blocks up collapsed into the river, and so we helped the family get their emergency backpacks together and then we got out of their. As we were leaving, a two story house near the collapsed street also collapsed and fell into the river. We dont know if anyone was hurt or not, but the river was literally like a class 5 rapid. If you fell in there..... probably not making it out alive, especially with all the debris in their. We cancelled out appointments last night and went to help a ward member whose entire house had filled up with like 3 feet of water. Its a mess right now in some parts of Arequipa. there is no drainage system so everyone who lives at the base of the mountain gets hit with a ton of water. I´m going to attach a link with pictures from around Arequipa and the flooding that has happened. And dont worry, where we live we are fine, and we are fine. I havent heard of any deaths or anything like that, just property damage.

Well, there ya have it, another week down. We have another busy week next week, going to Camana and then to Pedregal for zone conferences, and i think we might be going to Colca Canyon for Pday next week, so we´ll see. Have a good week everyone!

Elder Matheson

2/20 I survived week 2

I survived another week! This one was equally as tiring as the first. We actually had a few days to work in our area, but then it was back on the road to head back to Moquegua for splits and the zone conference. 

Our area is super interesting because we really dont have a lot of people to teach. The last few months have been super busy for the APs, so there really hasnt been a lot of time to work in the area. What we are doing right now is working with the members to get referals. So far, we have gotten a few. We are working with on of the recent converts here in our area, and he gave us the referal of his 13 year old sister, named Alessandra. We taught her for the first time last week and it was a really cool experience. She is different from every single other investigator that I have ever had in my mission- she doesnt believe in God. It took me literally 18 months to have an investigator who is Athiest. She is pretty firm in her beliefs, and said she just wanted to meet with us to see what our viewpoints are on religion and God. After talking to her for a while and teaching her (the spirit was super strong) she finally agreed to pray to see if God exists. We used Alma 32 to help her realize that she isnt going to get an answer if she doesnt do her part to get one. She even agreed to come to all 3 hours of church on Sunday as well. Super cool lesson, one of the best I´ve had in my mission, because she went from firmly believing that God doesnt exist to having a sincere to desire to know if he really does exist. We feel that she could progress pretty quickly. 

Our other investigator that we have right now is named Nicolas. He is the 12-year old son of a convert from last month. He has gone to church for a while now, but there has always been something holding him back from accpeting a baptismal date. We have been having him pray a bunch to know, and this week we saw quite the miracle with him. First, he finally confessed that he is afraid of what his dad will say if he gets baptized (his dad is a devout Catholic, and lives in Canada). Luck would have it that his dad called this week, and Nicolas told him that he has been thinking of getting baptized and his dad surprisingly told him that he would support him in whatever he decides to do. We then invited him to be baptized again and he said that he still wasnt sure. Then, these last 2 days, he went on a YM campout (yes, they have those here in Peru too) and I guess the YM planned a special testimony meeting for Nicolas, and it went well because he came back with a baptismal date for the 12th of March. Awesome! I love this ward!

Divisions were weird in Chen Chen. It was really dejavu, teaching all of my old investigators, like Eduardo and Joanna. It actually kind of gave me a chance to say good bye to a lot of people that i didnt get to say goodbye to. The elders there are now teaching Eduardo´s parents and brother, and in the lesson we taught them while i was there, we committed Eduardo´s mom and brother to be baptized. It was actually really cool. Then the next day we had zone conference and i think it went ok. I didnt feel super prepared, but people said they liked it. I´m going to go back and see if there are some things I can do different for the next one becuase I didnt feel really good about my part. The nice thing about doing 7 conferences is that there are a lot of chances to get better! haha

Well, this week we are going to be in Tacna for like 4 days doing conferences. President told us he knows a good steak place in tacna that has USDA certified beef, so we will be going there. We head out in the bus Monday (we were going to go in a plane but the tickets were all booked), go on splits Tuesday, Zone Confernce Wednesday, District Leader Conference Thursday, and then back to Arequipa for a zone conference Friday, and then Saturday is PDay again. Another busy week!

Thanks for your support!
Elder Matheson