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

Monday, February 12, 2018

Week 62 - Buses, More Buses, Carnival and a Baptism

Buenos Dias,

This has been one crazy week here in Los Baños del Inca... or maybe it would be better said in Trujillo, Celendin, and trapped in our room. This was a very out of the ordinary week here in Cajamarca. Monday morning about midday we took a bus to Trujillo. The bus ride can range anywhere between 6-8 hours... and usually it is super luxury and comfy, but for us... we had the nice cramped bus without air-conditioning nor windows. I think everyone was just about cooked alive by the time we arrived to Trujillo ha-ha. It was still a great time though. The entire zone in one little bus. We spent the night at the Temple facility in Trujillo and Monday morning we had an awesome conference with President Marble and 2 other zones. We talked about the importance of following through what we commit to do. How can we expect our investigators to do what we invite them to if we ourselves are not disciplined? After our conference we went to a Temple session as a zone followed by an overnight return trip to Cajamarca... in the same tiny hot bus. Hahaha. A little miserable was the bus ride but the conference and temple visit was awesome. Wednesday we spent the day proselyting in Los Baños del Inca and yet again Thursday morning we took a nice bus ride to Celendin to do a baptismal interview and to be there for the service as well. Celendin is the most isolated part of the entire mission, being 3 hours away from Cajamarca, which is already 3 hours away from the rest of the mission in Trujillo. We spent Thursday proselyting in Celendin and Friday we got to see the baptismal service of Sister Nelida. Celendin is a tiny little branch and so they do not baptize in the church rather they usually baptize in a river or during the rainy season in whatever body of water they can find. This Friday they baptized in a hotels swimming pool. Although the service was beautiful... the water was not... it was a nice shade of dark green full of bugs and algae... I guess it is the spiritual cleansing and not the physically being clean that matters. Well the service was on Friday and in the evening we returned to Baños. Why the service was on a Friday? Well it is because Saturday was one of the big days of Carnival here in Cajamarca. I believe it is a celebration before the beginning of the Catholic lent, but it is really just an excuse to throw paint, water, or even burnt oil and food at any passerby of the opposite sex. There is also a huge parade and lots of friends taking advantage of the time to get a little drunk and make it nice and dangerous for the missionaries. This means Saturday from the moment we woke up until the moment we went to bed we did not have permission to leave our rooms... It got nice and boring. It was pretty fun though to see, from our balcony, all the crazy painted cars and people dressed up as all sorts of things. Today as well was a big carnival day where they even cut the power so people would not have excuses to stay at home... We try to avoid most of the Carnival shenanigans but it would be a lie to say a few water balloons were not tossed from our balcony.  Also our pensionista, her daughter, and her niece got us nice and wet on our way to lunch. With buckets and buckets and buckets of water. It is all in good fun though and other than being a little bored in our rooms carnival is a great fun for everyone. Well this has been a great week and hopefully we can survive the rest of carnival... literally no one is safe... even the stake president got soaked by his neighbor while he was in his suite. He was opening up the door to let us in for lunch and the neighbors came out of nowhere to surprise him. Oh well welcome to Cajamarca. 

Love Elder Vassau

Photos from Temple and my companion and I soaking wet before lunch

Monday, February 5, 2018

Week 61 - Firm Testimonies, Travel Week & Trip to the Temple in Trujillo

Buenos Dias!!

This has been a great sunny week here in Los Baños del Inca. It appears that the torrential  downpours have taken a break for Carnival season here in Cajamarca because it has been nothing but sun all week. This week Elder Zapatiel and I had a really interesting lesson with some investigators. We had finished the lesson and we were on the way out the day when one of the investigators starting to share about an article he read about Jesus Christ and his life. It was a bit of a mudslinging article that he was taking to be super factual. Elder Zapatiel, myself, and the member who was accompanying us we just kind of laughed it off because we were ready to call it a night, but the investigators got a little mad and began to ask us if "all member of our church were so close minded". He really took us by surprise because up until this point everything had been going so well. He then went onto say that he does not really listen to my companion nor the member because they are so close minded with their ideas and they are not willing, according to him, to listen to new concepts. This little discussion really made me think, "as missionaries are we actually closed minded?" That night I had a long hard thought about this topic and I came to the conclusion that maybe close minded was not the best word choice but rather steadfast in our beliefs. In this world it is really important to listen to people and to be willing to be flexible and open minded to new ideas and ways to see things, and as missionaries we are always willing to listen and to not be too divisive on many areas of conversation. However, that being said, our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are people and have teaching that are eternal, in other words, their teachings and doctrine never change. When someone receives a testimony about a teaching of Jesus Christ through scripture study or prayer, no one can change that testimony. It is between someone and God. No matter how many people want to say otherwise when God has given me an answer, I cannot deny that answer, nor that truth. When this investigator called us closed minded what I think he really meant to say, maybe it just came out in a much more judgmental angry tone, is that "wow Elders, you guys have really firm testimonies in Jesus Christ, and nothing I can say or show to you guys can change that". What was meant to be an insult was really a compliment about our firm testimonies and that is something I am happy to hear. 

In other news, this week is my week of vacations. Today we are taking a bus trip to Trujillo for a conference and for a trip to the temple. Wednesday we will be here and then on Thursday we will be traveling to Celendin. Back here in Baños on Saturday.... but.... we cannot leave our room because Carnival will be in full swing here meaning that if were to leave we would be soaking with either buckets of paint, burnt oil, or have a few run ins with a few slightly drunk men. Hahaha. It is going to be a very interesting and different week here in Los Baños del Inca. 

Elder Vassau

Monday, January 29, 2018

Week 60 - Exchanges and A Book More Precious than Gold!

Buenos Dias!

This has been a great week here in Los Baños del Inca despite a slight case of the flu Sunday afternoon. This week the Elders from Celendin (a little village about 3 hours outside of Cajamarca) came up for companionship interchanges. For a couple of days this week I had the privilege of proselyting with my good friend Elder Torres from Machala Ecuador. He and I were in the missionary training center together and we are now in the same district. We had a great time proselyting and it is real fun to learn from his energy and excitement to contact. Interchanges really help Elders learn new ideas and break out of the routine that we occasionally find ourselves in. He is a great example for me of talking with everyone. One never knows who really needs the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and so the message deserves to be shared with everyone. Elder Torres really takes that to heart stopping anyone in the street to give a quick message. It is just awesome.

This week Elder Zapatiel and I have been teaching a family that live waaaaaaaay up a hill near by Baños, they are Luciano (35), Jaime (18), and Fiorela (14). This week we were teaching them about the Book of Mormon, which is a volume of scripture that teaches about and is Another Testament of Jesus Christ. We were teaching them about the importance of this book in relation to the idea that it is an evidence of the restoration of the Gospel in these modern days when I remembered a talk given by the President of the church, Russell M. Nelson. In this talk President Nelson told about a story when he was on a visit to western Africa when an African tribal king approached him and initially began to ask him about the Book of Mormon through his translator. After explaining that the Book of Mormon is a second testament about Christ, the king left his translator and in perfect English began to express his gratitude for this book. He explained that anyone could give him jewels, rubies or gold, but nothing was more precious to him than more information about our Savior Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is another opportunity to learn more about our Savior and from a perspective of prophets here in the Americas. It is just awesome and something that we should value more than gold or jewels or any worldly possession. It is truly a privilege to share this message with the world. 

Everything is going great here in Los Baños del Inca. This past week Carnival has begun, so all the town is decorated with colorful streamers and we now have to be careful where we go and to choose our paths carefully. This month everyone, from little toddlers to adults, is on the prowl trying to get everyone else wet. Whether it is water balloons, super soakers, or even people driving by in pickup trucks with buckets of water, everyone is out and about trying to share the "Carnival spirit". Well it is lots of fun and it looks like one of these days we might start throwing water-balloons from our balcony to share not just the gospel but also the "Carnival spirit" with all those that pass by. 

Los Baños del Inca is awesome and this has been an awesome week here. 

Hasta Luego!

Elder Jack Vassau

Monday, January 15, 2018

Week 58 - Jaime and Jovita, & did someone say eat Monkey and Alligator?

Buenos Dias!!

This has been a great week here in los Baños del Inca. This week we had a real fun opportunity to have a family home evening with Jaime and Jovita Diaz in our Stake President, President Barbosa’s, house.  We focused on the theme of how we can support the burdens we have here on Earth that appear in our families, our work, our school, among many other situations. God gives us challenges so that we can learn and progress. If we never had any type of problem that needs solving we would never need to learn and we will not be following our Father´s plan which is to be tested here on Earth. How can we have a test without any challenges? Everything that happens in this life, whether it be when we get stuck out in the rain here in Baños or when someone shuts a door on us, everything that happens is for our spiritual wellbeing. These challenges can help us learn and progress if we know how to take them on well. The key lays in 3 simple tools God has given us. These tools are prayers, scripture study, and church attendance. If we do these three things all the while having faith in Christ, we will be able to take on any challenge that presents itself and be able to us it as an opportunity to learn. It is awesome and so simple. Prayer, Scripture Study, and Church attendance. 

In slightly less spiritual news tonight we have a family home evening with a member of the ward who is from the jungle. He recently traveled to Iquitos, his home town, and has brought us back some alligator and monkey to eat. Awesome right?!?!?! Wish us luck tonight 

Well this has been an awesome week here in los Baños del Inca and with a little bit of divine help this coming week will be even better. 

Elder Vassau