Monday, September 18, 2017

Week 37 - Sarita & Eternal Families

Buenos Dias!

This has been another great week here in El Milagro. This week we have been teaching a single mom name Sarita. She is 22 and super cool. This week we taught her about the plan of salvation and how she can be together with her daughter for eternity. It is an amazing blessing that our Heavenly Father has given us, and knowing that the relationships we have hear on this earth have no end it makes us want to treat those we know and those in our family just a little bit better .

Last night in the bishop's house we had an awesome missionary night where we invited a bunch of people, played some games, and taught a super cool message about baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. We were a little worried at first because at the hour nobody was there, but I think we had forgotten that everyone here runs on peruvian time so they all showed up fashionable an hour late as usual. It was super cool we played some games where everyone had to draw what "God" was drawing while listening to the Holy Ghost and we did a little demonstration about the baptism of water and fire to be forgiven of our sins. We literally lit a piece of paper on fire to clean a little stick figure of all of his sins. It was super fun. To make it even better my best bud Roy, a young 7 year old in a wheel chair that I met a couple of weeks ago, was able to come. The activity was a blast and Roy enjoyed it almost as much as the wheel chair races we do with him. 

In other news today we went to the Huaca del Sol and luna. It was awesome. It is an old native temple from the moche civilization that lived here in Peru. We read and saw tons of cool artifacts and murals about all of the ceremonies and ritual sacrificies and such. Pretty sweet stuff. Makes me a little glad that in these days we have the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ so that we are not lost in the confusion of trying to figure out how to follow God. Although Jesus did suffer and die so that we could be forgiven of everything and one day return to our Heavenly Father's presence; ritual battles, sacrificing the loser, decapitating him, drinking his blood, then chopping him up into little pieces to feed to the condors is not something that our Heavenly Father has us missionaries teaching now adays as this Moche civilization did. Hahahahahaha. 

Well all is well here in El Milagro with Elder Alcarraz. Until Next week. 

Elder Vassau

Monday, September 11, 2017

Week 36 - More Diana, Mariachi's, Spiders and Our Old Friend

Buenos Dias!

This was another awesome week here in el Milagro with Elder Alcarraz. This week we have been continuing the drama with Diana Loyaga. After being locked in her house for two days she was feeling like the whole world was against her. Her family thinks she is crazy and her boyfriend of 6 years left her. Well with nearly all those that she knows beginning to pile up against her Diana decided to backtrack a little bit. She knew that if she sacrificed her happiness and postpones her desire to be baptized that everyone around her will be a little calmer and a little happier. She cares more that everyone else is content and is willing to sacrifice herself for it. Well she got back together with her abusive boyfriend who convinced her to go visit with three different pastors this week. These pastors amongst other things have been attempting to convince her that her answers that she has received all come from the devil 👿 and that she is surrounding by demons that have been playing with her weak spiritual mind (I think they might be talking about us...😈👹👺💀👻). Well despite the extreme opposition and no longer being welcomed in her home we have been teaching her all week in a member's house. Although she has backtracked she knows she cannot deny her testimony that these things are true. We decided that it would be a good idea to teach her more about the Holy Ghost, so we explained the nature of the Godhead and also what the fruits of the spirit are. She knows that the things she felt and the answers she received come from God and although she has gone backwards a little bit so that those around her are happy, she still knows that these things are true. She cannot deny her testimony nor the answers from the Holy Ghost. She refuses to turn in her pamphlets nor her Book of Mormon to her pastors, and she even surprised us by sneaking out of her house and coming to church. It was awesome. Hopefully she will begin putting her own happiness in front of the happiness of her those around her so that she will make the difficult decision to leave him and her family and get baptized. Although she knows that her getting baptized will cause a lot of problems in her family I think deep down she knows this is not only the decision that will help her but also will help her family gain eternal happiness in the long run. She just needs to make this decisions looking up to her Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and not looking at everyone around her who want to pull her back and cut her wings. Keep on praying for Diana because she is going to overcome these obstacles soon. 😁

Well on another note, this past Saturday was our lovely pensionista Lila's birthday. She has always talked about her childhood dream to have a personal mariachi band for her birthday, so we put some things together, pulled some strings, and set up a surprise party complete with a mariachi band. To make it even better (or worse depending on how you look at it) purposefully no one said happy birthday to her until her surprise party, other than her family of course. She had thought everyone had forgotten about it and was down in the dumps. When we jumped out and surprised her and the mariachi began singing to her she literally could not hold back the tears and was crying in joy for almost 30-45 minutes straight. It was awesome. 

Well Milagro keeps on being awesome and I know we are going to be seeing lots of miracles this transfer.

Elder Vassau

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Week 35 - Lifelong Friendships, Elder Nunez back to Argentina & Diana Loyaga

Buenos Dias!

This has been a crazy and awesome week here in El Milagro. This week we almost had the baptism of Diana Loyaga. She is an awesome investigator who I have told quite a few stories about. Well this was the week of her baptismal date, and she was more than ready but she still had to overcome the challenge of her mentally abusive boyfriend and her family not wanting her to get baptized. She is 24 and so legally the family is not a major problem and we believed that if she could get past the problems of leaving her old church behind and working everything out with her boyfriend that everything would be alright. Well... it almost worked out perfectly. She has received so many answers that the church is true that she knows everything is true and she wants to be baptized, the problem is that she has been dating a mentally abusive controlling boyfriend for 6 years who through constant insults has reached the point where she cannot make a decision without his approval, and he does not approve of her getting baptized in another church. Despite her being incredibly unhappy and being absolutely controlled by him she has grown to just accept that this is what she deserves and so they had plans to get married. In very soft terms he told her that if she gets baptized they are done for and he would rather marry a bunch of other horrible things before marrying her. So this is what we had to work with. Thursday Diana had a lesson which finished with her deciding to accept the baptismal interview which she passed with flying colors, but then Friday she got a little discouraged for some of the things her boyfriend was saying to her. All throughout the day Friday we spent on the phone with her trying to help her find the strength to stand up to her boyfriend and most of the morning Saturday we were doing the same. Although as missionaries we are not really responsible to be metling in her relationships we are here to help her to come unto Christ, and by us helping her gain the courage to come unto Christ she knew taking care of the other part is a necessary step. It seemed like it was almost futile until our pensionista decided to have a girl to girl talk explaining how she deserves better and how she should put God ahead of an abuse boyfriend. Well despite lots of tears Diana called her boyfriend and said she was getting baptized no matter what. He broke up with her over the phone following by immediately insulting her and deleting her from every social media he has, but she was still determined to get baptized as soon as possible. We quickly rushed to get everything at the chapel ready while she got changed and then we were just waiting. Although the baptism was spontaneous members began to show up and we were just waiting and waiting. We called her and she said she was waiting for her sisters, so we decided to wait some more. We continued to wait and she still did not arrive so we went to go call her and in that exact moment we got a call from an unknown number. We quickly answered it, and it was her mom and she was not too happy with us. She told us we are liars and that she regrets ever opening her doors to us. Believe it or not, just days before she had invited us over and we enjoyed a lovely lunch with the whole family. Apparently Diana's parents got home and went ballistic and freaked out. They thought she was going crazy for getting baptized too fast and for breaking up with her longtime boyfriend who has a wedding, house, and car waiting for her. It seems they were not too worried about her actual happiness though. Although she is an adult, they decided to lock her in the house so she physically could not leave. Although she had her phone and called to talk to us and has all the intention in the world to get baptized, she physically cannot leave her house to get baptized. This is the situation we are now in. She overcame one obstacle and another presents itself, but as Elder Uceda taught us, we should expect opposition, and this I hope will only help her grow her testimony. Although she did not get baptized I am still so incredibly happy to see the change that has started in her, to see her breaking out of her shell to start making decisions for her own happiness. Hopefully she will get baptized one of these days this week.

This week in my personal studies I read Alma 32:27 ''But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. ''. Diana has experimented upon his words and is now trying to exercise her faith and act. Although she has received tons of opposition from every which way she is now taking the necessary steps to follow Christ and the things that she knows will make her happy. Recently in a conference address Elder Uceda, a general authority and church leader from Peru, taught us that we should always expect opposition especially when they stakes are at their highest. Right now the stakes are at their highest for Diana so please pray for her so that he family will calm down a little bit and that those around her will allow her to be happy.

This week was Elder Nuñez' last week here in the mission and by Tuesday afternoon Elder Nuñez will be landing in Buenos Aires, finishing his two yearlong mission. I have absolutely loved my time here with Elder Nuñez' and I have not only learned so much from him about how to be a missionary and disciple of Christ, but I have also gained a lifelong best friend. Today I met up with my new companion Elder Alcarraz from Apurimac, Peru, who also is going to be finishing his mission after this transfer. Looks like I might be here in El Milagro for a little time more. Great things are going to happy these next few weeks and keep Milagro in your prayers so we can continue to see some miracles.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Week 35 - Gloria's Passing, The Plan, & a couple Birthdays

Buenos Dias!

This has been an awesome week here in El Milagro. This past week has been full of celebrations and birthdays. Last Tuesday we went to the Temple as a mission and it was just absolutely awesome. To make it even better it was Elder Maddock's birthday so we went to the mall afterwards to enjoy a nice Chili's lunch and at night our pensionista even bought a cake so we could sing to him. Well this was the start of the week. On Thursday we had a multi zone conference with area authority Elder Montoya of Mexico. Originally our training was just supposed to be our zone and one other but because of a few delays... it ended up being a mission wide conference. Well all the mission minus the zone that is way in the mountains of Cajamarca. It was awesome getting to see a lot of friends and former companions for the first time in months, and getting to listen to a general authority is always really really awesome as well.

After the conference Elder Nuñez and I had a fun family home evening with Hermana Gloria Rodriguez' kids Medalit, Tracy, and Mack. Missionaries have spent a lot of time in this house, and personally I have grown really fond of the family, that is why it has been really hard recently. Gloria has been sick for almost 4 years and recently she has gotten a lot worse. To make things even better her husband also has some medical problems and has had to spend weeks in hospital service as well. Last week Gloria entered the hospital service and the doctors basically after a long fight declared that there really was not much hope. The spirits of everyone in the family were about as low as you could see and because their dad and aunt had to always be in the hospital with their mom these 3 kids were basically left all alone. For this reason we decided to head over Thursday night and make little 9 year old Mack's dreams of making pizza come true. Elder Nuñez put his master pizza chef skills to action and with the family we made a couple of pizzas. It was really a great experience being able to lift their spirits just a little bit last Thursday, especially because late Friday night, the very next day Gloria Rodriguez passed away. Although death is always a sad moment because we know how much we are going to miss that person, we can always find peace of mind to know that thanks to our Heavenly Father's plan for us we will be able to see our loved ones again and we will be able to live with them for eternity. I think the idea really brought a peace of mind to Gloria's family, especially her husband Jorge. In all my time teaching and visiting Jorge he was always a little hard, a little cynical and pessimistic, and always with doubts. He is a very nice guy but he always had his doubts, but we went to go visit the family during Gloria's service I talked to a man that was at peace knowing the his wife was not going to suffer anymore and that she was now waiting for him in a better place. I had never seen him so calm and so in tune with the spirit and I am glad that they are able to feel their savior's love in these tough moments.  Although I am sure the family is sad, I also know that in these moments they are finding some peace in God's plan... and a little bit of homemade pizza helps a little bit as well. 

On a slightly more upbeat note this Friday was my 21st birthday. It was a normal day of proselyting but our investigator Diana Loyaga had a little party for me when we showed up to teach them, complete with custom made cupcakes of/for Elder Nuñez and I and the chance to watch a wonderful missionary approved church movie and lesson with her family. Also our Pensionista hna Lila bought me a beautiful cake and had a little surprise party waiting for me when we arrived for dinner. I also got to participate in the Peruvian tradition of sticking your face in the cake... lots of fun.  Not too many better ways to pass your birthday then with some good friends, cake, and missionary work. 
On top of all of this, Elder Nuñez and I both gave talks in church this Sunday about missionary service. During Elder Nuñez' talk we had the wonderful surprise of Hna. Diana, her sister Ruth, and her son Harol all showing up to church for the first time. It was just awesome. 
Well despite a few sad moments with the passing of our friend Gloria, this was an awesome week here in El Milagro and I can see some great miracles coming up soon. 

Elder Vassau

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Week 34 - Miracles happen in El Milagro!

Buenos Dias!

This was another amazing week here in El Milagro. This week we have had some pretty amazing experiences with an investigator named Diana Loyaga. She is 24 years old and is a very active member of an evangelical church in Trujillo where she is the equivalent of a primary teacher and was baptized about a year ago. Her boyfriend is a strong member of her church and she is quite comfortable where she is right now. Well although she is comfortable where she is right now, one day when we came knocking at her door looking for her older sister Ruth, who was not home, she decided to let us in anyway and listen to what we have to say. She from the start has been very energetic and very active in her learning process. Although at the start there were some very respectful disagreements about doctrinal points she was very excited to invite us back. Well after her first lesson she had her experience which I shared a couple of weeks ago about finding the Book of Mormon in her house, and well she just continues to have experience after experience. This week while joking with a friend on two separate occasions she said "if I see a Mormon I know this is true" , once while scrolling through Facebook and another while walking to work, and of course immediately finishing the word Mormon she sees missionaries. She has had so many answers to her prayers and signs that at this point she is just asking for something a little simpler. This past week we went to visit her on Saturday, and she had talked with her pastor who has given her the advise to not allow us to visit and to especially not pray to know if the things we share are true. Well we kindly explained how prayer is just a conversation with our Heavenly Father and that he will never lead her down the wrong path. With tears in her eyes she expressed how she is scared because she knows what we teach is true and she knows that we are authorized representatives of Christ. She is scared because she knows now she has to make the changes that from the beginning she had promised to be willing to make. Well to make things even better yesterday we gave her a tour of the chapel here in Milagro. We did not even make it past the Sacrament room before her eyes started welling up with tears. With her heart practically beating out of her chest she expressed how she had dreamed the night before that she was in the chapel dancing for joy although really she had never before entered. She is so ready and knows that what we share about Christ and his church is true and now she just has to begin to take the difficult steps to change her life. To make it even better she shared with us that the night before we visited her for the first time she had been praying for God to put something in her path that would help her change her life for the better and that she was willing to do whatever it takes to make that change happen. Well I think it is a little hard to have more obvious answers to one's prayers then Diana has had these past 3 weeks. She has a lot of opposition to begin to make these changes in her life, but when we find the truth we will always have Christ by our side when we try to follow it. I just pray that she is able to stand up against the opposition she is going to find with some of her friends and she can continue down on this path that she has started to find the truth that will bless her life eternally. 

Well on a slightly less spiritual note this week I decided to shave my head because I was tired of having bad haircuts. I was thinking maybe it will help to start from scratch. Well I officially feel like I am 13 all over again hahahaha. In addition this week to celebrate Elder Maddock's and my birthdays we as a district all went to Chili's and ate some oh so missed "mexican food". Some other happenings this week include a new kitten that is continually trying to enter our room at all hours of the day. He has been given the name Elder Vassito. We are hoping he might soon help us with our mouse friend Remy as well. We also were able to visit the temple this week with our zone which is always an amazing experience. 
Well this was an amazing week in El Milagro and we have some really exciting things coming up here in the near future. 
Elder Vassau

p.s. Happiest of birthdays to my dearest brother Max Vassau who is officially turning 13 this year. WOW as of tomorrow our favorite little Max will be a big time teenager.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Week 33 - Brando Baptism!!!

Buenos Dias!

Yet another awesome week here in El Milagro. This week we had the baptism of our best bud and 14 year old neighbor, Brando Gallardo.  He is the cousin of our pensionista's kids and we met him a little over a month ago. He honestly wanted to get baptized after only 2 weeks but because of a few complications with him possibly moving away we had to post pone things until this weekend. He is so awesome and is going to grow up to be a great missionary one day. To make the service even better we invited our other neighbor, 16 year old Eduardo Castillo to perform the baptism and help out his new friend Brando.

It is really so much fun working with the young men here in El Milagro. It is not a huge group of boys who are active in the church but it so rewarding helping out the young men because not only can I see myself in them (I was there age not too long ago) but I also know how much the gospel can change their lives. I know how having fun activities always helped me while I was in young men’s so recently we have been working to try and have some fun activities for the young men members and friends in this area and on this subject... Young Men Missionary Movie night was born. On Friday, with 7 young men, about half members half friends, we all climbed into one tiny public van and went to the church to watch a short video of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to have a short lesson. It was so cool to see these young guys share their beliefs with their friends, all the while enjoying themselves with a nice little movie. Well sure enough the first thing they asked afterwards was when we can do it again so it looks like Young Men Missionary Movie Night is going to be a regular thing in these coming weeks.

This past week Elder Nuñez and I went to the Plaza de Armas to pick up a package his mom sent him from Argentina, and sure enough it was filled with Mate (the name of an argentine herb/tea and the special cup/straw that you use to drink it) and it is fair to say now I am addicted to my new mate he gifted me.

Well this has been another great week here in El Milagro and I think we will see a few more baptisms this month before Elder Nuñez heads off home.

Until next week!

Elder Jack Vassau

Monday, July 31, 2017

Week 32 - Elder Nunez from Argentina, Diana the Teacher, A boy named Brando

Buenos Dias!!

Well this has been an absolutely awesome week here in El Milagro. This past Monday I said my goodbye to Elder Bedregal after 3 transfers together and have now sent him off in the hands of another really good friend of mine from my group Elder Peterson. I am now currently with Elder Nunez who is just awesome. He is 23 and from Merlo, Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is awesome. He loves Rock music (we love all the same bands although we cannot listen to them right now) and studied Advertisement and Photography before his mission and has plans to study anthropology after his mission. He also loves to Juggle, spent the past 5 transfers in the mission office, and finishes his mission this transfer. Well to say the least we have had a great week. 

One particularly special lesson we had this week was with a 25 year old kindergarten teacher named Diana. We found Diana while we were actually trying to contact her older sister Ruth who missionaries had been teaching a couple years back but sure enough I do not think it was a coincidence that we found Diana. Elder Bedregal and I taught her just once about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and she understood it perfectly. She understood that Jesus taught and established his church while he was here on the earth and that this same church, exactly as he organized it, we have in these latter days. As proof of this message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ we have something called the Book of Mormon which is another testament of Jesus Christ. Well just like we do with many investigators who want to know if these things are true or not we invite them to read and pray to see if the Book of Mormon is truly a testament of Jesus Christ, and therefore with it, if in these days we have the authority and organization of the church of Jesus Christ. We invited her to pray but our luck we had just gifted our only Book of Mormons and so we could not give her one at that time. Well sure enough in the days following our visit with her she prayed and asked if these things were true she received an answer. Although she did feel the spirit while praying, she did not recognize her answer until moments after her prayer when she went out back to feed her dogs. She went out back to the storage shed and crouched down to give her dogs some food. As she stood back up there it was, sitting on the corner of the table right in front of her, an old copy of the Book of Mormon! I suppose missionaries had given it to her sisters years ago but how just in these moments it was all alone on the corner of the table right in front of her, unopened in years, only God knows. Sure enough she picked up the book and began to read, and after a quick visit with her this week she, with tears in her eyes, promised that when she knows that this book that God has put in her path is true, she will change her life and get baptized.  She was so excited about what God had put in her path that she even offered us a wonderful lunch afterwards which we had to regretfully decline. God clearly had a plan for Diana and it is just testament that when we ask with faith and with real intent we can see miracles, whether they big and obvious, or small and simple feelings, God will help us to find the truth. Milagro is awesome.

Well looks like Brando is going to get baptized this coming week here in El Milagro and there are a lot of truly amazing things happening in this area. This has been a truly amazing and miraculous week with Elder Nunez. We are seeing the growth of seeds planted in these past transfers and now with new invigorated energy and ideas I am sure the best is still yet to come.
Elder Vassau