Sunday, April 22, 2018

Week 72 - Finding Connor, a lost traveler from Canada

Buenos Dias!

This has been another great week here in Primavera. This week I had a number of great experiences. Working in the office you really begin to notice all of the little things. One of these experiences was a very unique opportunity to contact and teach in English. My companion and I were running some office errands in a post office here when a slightly raggedy looking backpacker came up to us and began to speak English. He had a beard, long hair, and some 3 different backpacks. At first he came up to us and began to ask me in English who we were and what do we do, but after a few minutes of explaining that we are missionaries the discussion changed to a much more religious message. This man´s name was Connor and he was from Toronto Canada. To be honest I am still not totally sure what he was doing here in Trujillo. He said the wind just kind of brought him here and he was now looking for a way to get back to Canada because he had no money. A little strange but we did not want to pry too much. We talked for a few minutes and then after saying a brief goodbye to continue with our chores he newly came up to us and asked if we could say a prayer with him. He said that he had felt the strong impression that he should ask us to pray and to talk with him. There in the middle of a post office we offered up a prayer with our dear friend Connor asking our Heavenly Father to please guide his life. After saying the prayer, in the best English I could, we began teaching him about how he is a child of God and his Heavenly Father has a plan for him. Connor, like many, was a person who although believes in God, really does not understand who God is or why he is here on Earth. As missionaries it is our privilege to help people to understand that God is our loving Heavenly Father who has a master plan for our happiness here on Earth and to bring to pass our eternal life. When we understand who God is, who we are, and what God's plan is, our lives will always have the direction necessary. We will always be able to find the peace and security to know that we are part of something bigger and no matter what our Heavenly Father loves us and that our Savior Jesus Christ suffered as to help us overcome all obstacles. It was really special to share a short and sweet message with this man Connor and try to add a little bit of direction to his life. Although we were not able to coordinate anything further with Connor I know that this brief moment in the post office is going to make a big difference in his life. 

This week we also had a great experience knocking doors here in our own area. I was in an interchange with one of the other office Elders, Elder Rosenhan, and we decided to knock on the door of a less active. This less active wants nothing to do with the missionaries, but us both being knew to the area, we decided to give it a try in hopes of finding some of her family members. We knocked and thanks to a little bit of luck we found her niece Naomi. We share a quick visit with Naomi where she shared that although she believes in God, she has a hard time believing in the divinity of Christ. It is proven that Jesus was a person on earth, but many question whether he truly was the son of God. To teach someone who does not believe in Jesus Christ is a bit of a strange experience here in Peru where nearly everyone is Christian in some form or another. What we decided to do was to talk about how we knew God exists and how we felt in those moments of our lives when we realize that God exists. Our Heavenly Father often times uses his messenger the Holy Ghost to respond to our questions, and this Holy Ghost often speaks through our feelings. Everything good comes from God and therefore that peace that we feel also comes from God. Naomi expressed that she had felt that peace many times in her life, and we then invited her to pray about Jesus Christ, promising her that if she prayed with true intention, through those same feelings she will know that Jesus is our savior. It was yet another short yet sweet visit this week where I know the spirit was present. 

This has been a great week here in Trujillo and I hope everyone back home has a great week as well. 


Elder Vassau

Monday, April 16, 2018

Week 71 - Finding Carlos Quispe!

Buenos Dias!

This has been a great week here in Primavera. This week we have been seeing lots of little miracles. There are two that really come to mind. This week we have been making a real effort to use our ward directory to visit lots of members. The thing is though is that the addresses here in Peru are sometimes super complicated and mixed up. The majority of the addresses we looked for this week do not exist or the people no longer live there... so please any ward secretary please keep these directories up to date. That being said we had been looking in particular for a member named Carlos Quispe. He is an active member who always comes to church, however, recently because of possible health problems he has not been coming. We have been a little worried and so we went looking for his house, which according to what it says in the directory is not a real address. After looking for about an hour or two on Tuesday with nothing close to luck, we had kind of given up when yesterday while proselyting in a completely different part of our area a man called us over. He was a member who called us over and invited us into his home, and it turns out it was Carlos Quispe. We had no idea how but the man we had been looking for all week had found us, and he lived in the complete opposite part of the area. A little miracle, and to make it even better, after sharing a short message with him we are now planning to hold some small activities in his house to start teaching his grandchildren who are all young adults and teenagers. It is going to be pretty awesome. 

Another little miracle that happened to us this week was with this couple we have been teaching Isabel and Carlos. Isabel has been a little frustrated because her spiritual progress is being blocked by the fact that she is not married and that her husband, do to a past divorce, is really afraid to get married. She was so discouraged that Thursday she had reached the point where she decided that she was going to tell us to stop coming to visit her and that she was no longer going to attend church. Some serious discouragement. However that very same night she had a crazy dream. The people here in Peru are always having super cool and crazy dreams. Well her dream was like something straight out of Revelations. She dreamed that it was raining fire over the entire Earth, and the only people unaffected were her and her family. You can interpret it as you want, however she took it as meaning that she has to stay in this path to follow the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ even if it is really difficult right now. The Gospel is what helps FAMILIES enjoy blessings here on Earth and enjoy eternal life together and I think she really understands that. Even though everyone is imperfect these blessings today and for eternity are available to all her work hard to follow the Gospel. Friday when we went to visit her she was newly energized to attend church, read, and now she even wants to attend institute religion classes on her own account. Way cool to see her re-energized and ready to continue working towards marriage, baptism, and eternal life. Just another little miracle. 
Well this has been an awesome week here in Primavera, Trujillo. 


Elder Vassau

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Week 70 - Baptisms back in Los Banos, New Work, Conference Time!

Buenos Dias!!!

Hello from Trujillo!   OK, to be honest I am going to have to start getting creative with my blog emails because I spend a lot of my day in the office or in immigrations, and the stories of office life only go so far. Ok well this week during our time actually teaching about Jesus Christ we had a really awesome opportunity where we found some old investigators who had disappeared for months. They had been receiving the missionaries for 4 month, were reading the scriptures, and attending church. Then all of a sudden summer rolled around and they completely disappeared for 3 months. That is until yesterday when we found them in the house a couple we are teaching. It is sometimes so cool to see how the Spirit guides us to do little things that can often make all the difference if we choose to follow them. In this case following the prompting to visit this investigator couple helped to guide us to find these old investigators once again and to pick up where we left off. How marvelous right?!?

That reminds me also of something that really called my attention from the previous General Conference this past weekend. General conference is a worldwide broadcast put on by the leaders of the church where we are able to hear messages from the president of the church (who is considered to be a prophet of God), the twelve apostles, and other church leaders. The current president of the church is named Russell M. Nelson and he is just awesome. He gave a message about the importance of seeking personal revelation and how to obtain it. Revelation is when God communicates with us, and therefore personal revelation is when God gives us personalized answers to our prayers to guide us in whatever situation that presents itself. If we seek personal revelation through prayer, scripture study, and by living worthily we will have his guidance in his life constantly that helps us take the decisions necessary for both our Earthly and Eternal happiness. We have the guidance from someone who is all knowing and all powerful and all we have to do to receive this help is to ask for it. It is amazing and it is a true sign of how much God loves us. 

Well this has been an awesome week and this week will be just as great here in Trujillo. }

Elder Jack Vassau

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Week 69 - Office duties, tender mercies, miracles, and just a little bit of stress

Buenos Dias!

This has been an awesome and very different week here in the mission office. It was full of tender mercies, miracles, and just a little bit of stress. This week as my companion and I went to pick up the documents that were going to allow the Elders to leave the country and head home on Monday we ran into a slight problem. About a year ago, we do not know whether it was lost or it was just forgotten about, his residency renewal papers were never done meaning he had been living ilegally in the country for about a year. Ouch. This also meant that he would not be able to leave the country on monday until he did the necessary procedure to renew his residency and then to cancel it. Considering we found out about this on Wednesday and Thursday through monday immigrations was closed for Easter week we had very little time to act. With a lot of phone calls and running to immigrations, lawyers offices, and the transfer of a few legal documents from Lima we were able to get everything done. It was a real pull off that was all truly coordinated by our Heavenly Father because we saw so many miracles happen that allowed us to pull it off. I think the most obvious of them all was when we went to go turn in the final copy of the renewal papers. We had put everything together that the Elder needed however we were missing Peruvian identification. We were not sure if it had been left in immigrations with the worker or if we had lost it so we decided to just go ahead with the idea that they still had it. We went back to turn everything in and it turns out neither us nor immigrations had the identification card... but rather some random stranger had found it in the middle of the road and right before we had returned, she brought it in. I still have no idea how the card got their or how the lady knew that she needed to come here to drop it off, but what I do know is that it was one of the many office miracles we have seen. 

To be honest the office life is a little different but you do see lots of little miracles that makes it so that everything works out alright. 

Today as well back in Baños, two investigators I was teaching for 4 months are getting baptized. Wooooooh. I will send the pictures as soon as I get them. 

Also today we have the wonderful opportunity to sustain our new Prophet Russel M. Nelson along with the two new apostles Gerrit W. Gong and Ulisses Soares. It is just so amazing to know that Godly calls modern day prophets and apostles to be special witnesses of Christ and to guide us away from spiritual dangers that we often cannot see. 

Well this has been another awesome week here in the mission and I am sure this next week will be just as awesome. 

Elder Vassau

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Week 68 - Move to Trujillo by the coast, goodbye to friends in Los Banos

Buenos Dias!

This has been a real surprising week here in Trujillo. Sunday morning on our way to breakfast I got a call from President Marble asking me to come down to Trujillo. I am now his new personal secretary. 

It was a sad early good bye to los Baños del Inca, Maria and Coringo, the ward, and all of our investigators. After 3 transfers and just a little over 4 months we finally had three people who had set their baptismal dates and were going to be baptized in the next 3 weeks. Well Sunday, whether there were baptisms waiting or not, I had to pack my bag and say my goodbyes. I had done my part and I guess it was time to move on and leave these wonderful people of Baños in the hands of Elder Zapatiel and his new companion. The Lord has a plan for the progress of everything. 

I am now here in Primavera near the center of downtown Trujillo. We share a room, ward and office between 4 missionaries. We each have a special job as secretaries. Right now I am receiving training from Elder Hiskey (the former personal secretary) in order to be his replacement in all the logistics and coordination of that is visas, legal documents, travels, the president´s calendar, and all of his personal errands. I had to officially be declared as a legal representative of the Church here in La Libertad and I even have a smartphone (the only elder in Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia to have one). Hahaha. I now spend from 9-5 every day in the office and in immigration dealing with the logistics of the mission followed by proselyting here in Primavera from 5-9. It is way different but it is also lots of fun being here in the office with the 3 other secretaries. So far it is not too stressful but I am sure that will pick up a little bit when my Trainer Elder Hiskey heads off to his new area. It is lots of fun and real exciting to be here in a new area and I know those who I left behind in Baños the Lord will take care of. 

This week a scripture that I have been thinking about a lot as I begin my work in the office is found in Alma 37:6 it says...

"6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
7 And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls."

This is a scripture from the Book of Mormon that teaches about the importance of all of the little things we do and that happen in our lives. If we work hard and develop the little habits, it will make all the difference and I think that is the key to my new assignment as well. If I work hard and stay focused on organizing all of the little things, "great things [will be] brought to pass ".

Well this week has been a big mix of tears and excitement but the Mission continues and all is happy and well here in Peru. 

Hasta Luego!

Elder Jack Vassau

Monday, March 12, 2018

Semana 66 - Prayer, Promptings, and Finding Jose

Buenos Dias!

This has been yet another awesome week here in Los Baños del Inca. This week we invited Shirley, who I mentioned last week, to prepare for a baptism date and she accepted. It was awesome and I will keep everyone updated on her. This week we had a really awesome experience while out contacting.
It was a Friday and basically all of our evening appointments had fallen through which meant it was time to contact. Contacting can be really fun if you get into it and have energy, but this Friday evening we were kind of low on energy and not quite in the mood to knock on doors. Well we decided to go do it anyway. We were knocking doors for a good 20 minutes without any luck more or less aimlessly tracting a part of Baños. Then it came to us that what we should do was pray. Something so simple can really make a big difference, but sometimes because it is something so easy we ignore to do it. Well we found a nice quiet spot on the side of the road and we offered a pray asking for energy and for God to guide us to at least one person who was ready to receive the Gospel. I do not think more than 30 seconds had passed by after finishing the prayer when a very specific house popped into my head. We had knocked on the door of this house a number of times with no one answering and there was always a little group of dogs outside that liked to give us a hard time. Even if it maybe did not seem to have too much promise, we decided to follow the prompting anyway. We approached the house and sure enough there was the little band of dogs parked outside. However this time as we approached instead of barking and growling as usual they gave us a nice warm greeting. We then went up to the door to knock. A middle aged man answered the door with a slightly stern expression, however, I do not think we had finished saying our names before he ushered us in to his home. He had answered the door in such a way that it seemed he had been waiting for us. We then went on to introduce ourselves and ask if he had met missionaries before and that is why he was so friendly to let us in. He had never met, seen, nor talked to missionaries before... it was a real strange miracle. We were left without words for a little while, a little dumb struck at how quickly God had answered our prayers. He not only lead us to a house that we could visit, but He also lead us to Jose, this middle aged man, who was so willing to let us into his home to teach before even knowing who we were. It was a true miracle and Jose as well has started to learn more about the life changing Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is currently on his rotation in the mine (most men work in the mines and have real difficult schedules) but we are praying that when he gets back we continue right where we left off because we were guided to his house for a reason. It was a true miracle and we made sure to thank our Heavenly Father right upon leaving the house. 

This week we also had an awesome family home evening in our Bishop's house. We invited a whole bunch of investigators, and all of the young adults from the Baños ward came out. We enjoyed a nice barbecue Peruvian style and we played with his giant hyperactive golden retriever Rusty. For a spiritual message for the night we presented a great new video that the church has put out about the importance of discover the truth. Ideas and truths here on earth are always changing which often causes instability, but we can find true peace when we learn about God's truths. God's truths never change and when we learn of these things we can always trust in them and follow their guidance. The video is quite hilarious and explains about what happens when we find partial truths... Here is the link. 

Give it a watch when you have 5 minutes. 

Well this has been an awesome week here in los Baños del Inca and this coming week is going to be just as awesome as well. 

Love Elder Jack Vassau

Monday, March 5, 2018

Semana 65 - Fasting, Arturo, Victor, Diana & River Monsters

Buenos Dias!

This has been an awesome week here in los Baños del Inca. This week we had the awesome opportunity to fast with a few of our investigators. We taught Arturo, Victor, and Diana about what it means to fast and they were super excited to fast in order to feel the spirit more fully in their lives. To fast is to abstain from food and water for a certain period of time. We typically fast for 2 meals or about 24 hours... but Jesus Christ faster for 40 days. In Isaiah 58 it explains to us some of the blessings of fasting. If we make a small sacrifice of hunger and thirst our Heavenly Father will help us to feel the Spirit more abundantly and will help us with what we need. Obviously to fast we are not commanding God but rather we are showing to Him that we are willing to sacrifice a little in order to receive a little more his help and guide in our lives. It was a truly awesome experience to fast with them and hopefully they too felt this promised spirit.

This week we have also been working with a less active family. Elmer Pajares (35) is a member of more than 20 years and his wife Yhovana has been a member for about 7. However when they built the chapel here in Baños about 4 years ago they went inactive, or in other words they stopped coming to church. They recently had a child, little 6th month old Alejandro, and are now super excited to become active once again in the church. In addition Yhovana has a 20 year old daughter Shilly who we began teaching just 2 weeks ago and has already come to church twice with her family. She listened to Book of Mormon stories from her mom when she was a kid and she has a ton of interest. She really seems like someone that God has been preparing to receive the gospel from a young age. God knows when and how to plant the seed so that at the right time, these people come unto Christ. All is still amazing here in los Baños and mission life goes great. 

Gracias a Todos!

Elder Jack Vassau

PS In other news today I went to a restaurant that sells food from the jungle and I ate a paiche stew. Maybe you remember the Arapaima from River Monsters (see picture below). Well it was pretty cool!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Week 64 - Climbing the Mountains to find people, a visit with a Jaguar

The Jaguar

Buenos Dias!

This has been an awesome and chilly week here in Los Baños del Inca. Last week I wrote about hope and I think we are already starting to see a lot of the fruits of really trusting in the Lord's promises and doing our part. Hope. We have been putting a large emphasis in losing ourselves in the work, forgetting about ourselves, and trying to get rid of anything that might distract us from what really matters. It is not something easy to do, but one just needs to put their Faith in our Heavenly Father's plan that if we are obedient to his commandments than everything, no matter what happens during the journey, will turn out for the best. 
This week we were able to find 19 new investigators which truly is a miracle when we think about the hard times we have had the past couple of weeks finding new people to teach. We decided to follow an impressions we had and go proselyte more in a neighborhood that is waaaaaaaay up the hill, where the cars do not arrive late at night, and it gets more than a little cold. Although making the decision to visit more by this neighborhood, called El Inca, means that we would have to suffer a few long hikes in the cold and rain, the fruits of these labors and trusting in God paid off with finding new families to teach. We went up to the Inca looking for the names of a few old investigators and less active members in a hope of finding them and working from there. The problem is that when you start getting into the more rural parts, there are no addresses so we were aimlessly knocking doors asking if they knew X person nearby. Nobody recognized these names which is a real strange occurrence for these Peruvians who usually spend their whole lives in the same neighborhood. Well nobody recognized these names, however, on two occasions it was as if we were truly guided to these houses. We would go knock a door, ask for a name, they would have no clue, and then basically the next door we knocked was one the people we were aimlessly searching for. It was amazing. A true miracle that came to pass because we put into practice a little bit of hope. 
This week on a less spiritual note we went as a zone to a tourist site here in Cajamarca called the Granja Porcon which is basically a giant zoo. The zoos here in Peru are a little iffy as far as the habits and cages go so we had some nice close and semi same encounters with a Jaguar and some lions. 
All is going great here in Los Baños del Inca, and everything I know will work out for the best if we just put a little bit of faith in God's promises. 

Elder Vassau

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Week 63 - Anderson Baptism, Hope and Rain

Buenos Dias!!!

This has been an awesome week here in Los Baños del Inca. This week we got to participate in the Baptism of Anderson Colorado. He is our pension’s grandson and is just awesome. He is 9, his mom Annika is a long time member but her husband Juan Carlos "Charlie" is not. For this reason they decided to wait until Anderson was 9 to get baptized so that he could receive all of the missionary lessons. Anderson understood everything we taught him surprisingly well for a 9 year old and we have also been teaching his parents, especially Charlie who wants to now set a good example and help his son to stay in this path to follow his savior Jesus Christ. The most touching part of the baptismal service was when Coringo, Anderson's Grandpa who is usually a completely jokester broke down in tears right before baptizing his grandson, and also at the end Anderson decided to get up and shared his testimony. It was a testimony so simple yet so powerful where he talked about how all of his sins were washed away (I cannot imagine a 9 year old has too many sins) and how he was now in the path to follow Jesus Christ. So simple yet so sincere, and that is how it should be. 

This week in my personal studies I have been studying about a Christ like attribute which is hope. Hope is the trust and confidence that if we do all our part to be obedient then our Heavenly Father will always fulfill the promises he has made with us. Sometimes this requires a bit of patience but God will always do his part when we do ours. This confidence and faith in God's promises stems primarily from two key principles 1) that we are literally God's children. Our Father loves his children and wants us to be happy and wants us to learn, so when we show him we are learning by keeping his commandments he will bless us. 2) That Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and Died so that we can receive forgiveness of our sins, and so that we, just like him, will resurrect one day. If we always think about these two principles we will remember who we are and what our savior has done for us to allow us to receive these blessings. Throughout the course of our life we have the opportunity to make even more promises or covenants with God such as baptism. With these promises the deal is the same. If we are obedient then we can always have this surety that God will fulfill his promise to bless us. This hope is what drives us to make the decisions we do every day, and it is this hope that drives us as missionaries to go find the people the Lord has prepared to receive the Gospel. 

This has been an awesome week here in Los Baños del Inca and it looks like both Elder Zapatiel and I are going to be staying here together at least one more transfer. Woo Hoo!!

Elder Vassau

1) Anderson’s baptism
2) Saying Goodbye to Elder Earl after 5 transfers in Celendi
3) Carnival funeral service
4) Carnival flags