Monday, December 4, 2017

Week 52 - Banos de Las Incas, Rain like Seatte!

Buenos Dias!!!

This has been an awesome week here in Baños del Inca (BTW in English this means Baths, NOT BATHROOMS of the Incas after all the hotsprings in the area). It is a bit of a change from my experience in Milagro. I miss Milagro dearly but I am so excited to work here in los Baños del Inca. Here things are much cooler with lots of rain, greenery, and lots and lots of cows. It is pretty funny actually.

The climate here is a little colder and from reputation the people are a little more reserved as well. This week we have spent most of the week visiting all the members here in Baños del Inca. Missionary work is never done only by the missionaries, rather it is a team effort with the members and the Holy Ghost. If the missionaries and members are working together diligently they will have the spirit with them and will be able to find all those people that our Heavenly Father has been preparing to recieve the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The members here are so cool. We pension with a sister here in Baños named Maria. By chance she happens to be sister Lila's (my pension in Milagro) aunt. Her husband goes by the name "Coringo" and is hilarious. Always trying to rob our stuff and talk about himself in the third person. It is pretty hilarious considering he is also the second counselor of the bishopric here. To say the least when we go to pension it is a very interesting experience. 

This week we have been working hard to contact and find lots of new investigators. We were looking over something called the area book this week, a record of past investigators, and we found a super cool family. Jaime Diaz (31), his wife Jovita, and his son Hans. Jaime has a brother who suffered a super severe motorcycle accident a couple of years ago where he broke his femur and was bed ridden for 2 years. This brother of his found the missionaries one day and after a few months got baptized, while he was still bed ridden. This same brother despite his slight cripple is now serving a mission in Paraguay. All of these happenings inspired Jaime to meet with the missionaries. About a year ago he was meeting a lot with the missionaries and was attending church regularly but what happened is the missionaries got transfer and the new missionaries lost contact with Jaime. Well after months without communication we made contact with Jaime who is now super excited to once again learn about the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and attend church. He is super cool and attended the church this past sunday with his whole family. I know our Heavenly Father has been preparing him and it is no coincidence that we have found him after so much time. 

Well this week has been awesome here in Baños and in this district we are going to start working Miracles. Miracles come according to our Faith and Righteousness. If we make sure to always work with faith and righteousness God will do the rest in our lives. Another awesome, rainy, beautiful week here in Baños, and this next week is going to be that much better. 

Elder Vassau

Monday, November 27, 2017

Week 51 - A Wonderful Baptism, Hasta Luego El Milagro, and Welcome to the Andes!

Buenos Dias!!!!!!   Hasta Luego El Milagro!!!!

This has been quite the last week in El Milagro... Elder Vassau welcome to Baños del Inca. I am now currently in zone Cajamarca as a district leader. Cajarmarca is a city in the mountains which is about a 9 hour bus ride from the Trujillo and a bit isolated from the rest of the mission. To say the least the greenery, mountains, trees, and constant rain remind me a little more of Seattle then the hot desert coast. Well the week started a slightly unusual note when our room in El Milagro was robbed while we were out playing soccer. Nothing serious happened but they did steal money, my favorite backpack, and documents/wallet. It was a very humbling moment where I had to put into practice what I preach everyday which is that we always need to maintain the eternal perspective. I am not going to lie, when we walked up to our room to find our door wide open and our room a little bit of a mess I was a little angry. After a good 5 minutes of anger I took a seat and said "Elder Vassau what are you doing being angry... these things are just temporal. Although you cannot replace a favorite backpack nor a gifted wallet, all that was stolen was temporal things. You need to remember what really matters." Elder Romero and I decided to put into practice what we preach and we were soon having a good laugh at ourselves and at the situation while we were seated in the police station. We got everything sorted out, the police report filed, and I think the robbery might have even helped our spirits. 😎😂 It is so awesome to be a missionary. 

This week we were also able to have the privilege of seeing the baptisms of Janet and Rosemery Casanova. They were so excited, but in very different ways. Both have been waiting for this moment for years but they show it in very different ways. Rosmery is really really intelligent, quiet, and does not like to share her feeling while on the otherhand her little sister is quite the opposite. Janet is very emotional and open about her spiritual moments. Although Janet and Rosmery expressed it in very different ways,  the highlights of the baptismal service were being able to see their father in attendance and being able to see the number of people that came out to support Janet and Rosmery who have been working for this moment for such a long time. It was truly a miracle, and although Leonardo, their dad, did not really believe they were ready, he still was there to show his support for his daughters and make right past errors. He even brought food to celebrate a baptismal service that he did not agree with. 😁😇 Pretty great things. 

Well sure enough saturday night I got the call for my transfer and sunday I said my tough goodbyes to the ward, a few converts, and especially our pension and her family, Lila and the Benites Family. Sunday night, along with many other Elders, we boarded the overnight bus to Cajarmarca and we arrived this morning at 430am. I am now in the most beautiful area of the mission with my new companion Elder Zapatiel. He is an argentine who loves football and cars and has 7 months in the mission. We met when he was just first started the mission back in Esperanza and since that moment I had a hunch that we were going to be companions one day. On top of that crazy predictions I also predicted, with a little help from former Baños del Inca resident Sister Lila, that I was going to be sent to Baños. My former companion Elder Romero is now in Milagro with the Elder who trained me and started his misison in Milagro, Elder Angulo D'Leon. In the mission we joke that your trainer is you dad... and since my dad is now also training my son, Elder Romero has officially converted into my son/brother (I trained him for one transfer and we both share the same trainer)... How crazy right?

Well this has been an amazing week in Peru and although it was sad to leave behind some great friendships in Milagro I am very excited to experience the completely different culture and missionary experience that Cajamarca has to offer. 

Elder Vassau

(Note we didn't post 48, 49 & 50 because we mis-numbered the weeks :)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Week 47 - Johnny Lingo, Janeth and Rosemary

Buenos Dias!!!!

Another awesome week here in El Milagro with Elder Romero! This week Elder Romero and I had a very interesting opportunity to do divisions with some returned misisonaries from our ward here. That means I go proselyte with one member while my companion goes off with another member as to be able to visit more people in a smaller span of time. It was really interesting to learn from the members as well. I went knocking doors with a returned missionary named Jose Rodriguez. He served his mission in Resistencia Argentina. What I really loved about my time contacting with him is that at every house we visited he always asked "What is the greatest blessing you have recieved from your Heavenly Father?" It was so interesting to first of all see how everyone began talking about their families and second of all everyone started to realize how blessed we are. Here in this life we often run into a lot of obstacles and challenges which more often than not allow us to become discouraged and sad. What I really saw from this experience though is that when we focus on all of the blessings we have recieved in this life, especially our families, it is pretty difficult to stay sad. Everything we have is a blessing in this life and when we can focus on how privileged we are now and how much more our Heavenly Father has prepared for us when we obey him, it is hard not to be optomistic and excited to follow our Savior Jesus Christ. Everything is always in the perspective. 

This past week we also had a couple of visits with the Casanova family. Well last week I believe I mentioned how excited Janeth is to finally be able to be baptised... it was so awesome... until wednesday when her father in the lesson we had with the family basically backtracked on everything he had said, telling his daughter that she is not ready to be baptised. It was heartbreaking to see how Rosemary and Janeth's expressions changed in an instant as their father began to explain that getting baptised means we need to be perfect and that his daughters are from perfect. He also went to talk about the fact that to attend church would take too much time away from his daughter's studies. He was looking for excuses and ways to discourage his daughters. He was probably thinking that if he discouraged his daughters enough that they would not want to be baptised and therefore he would no longer be the badguy. Well the situation reminded me a lot of a short movie that BYU published about 30 years ago called Johnny Lingo. On an island in the pacific lives a young women named Mohana who everyone makes fun of. Mohana is super shy because her father and everyone tells her that she is ugly and is not going to be a good wife because she is so shy and never does anything. Well along comes super sharp trader Johnny lingo who visits Mohana's father to bargain for her daughters hand in marriage (in number of cows). Well they begin the bargaining process and the father with much hope asks for 3 cows in exchange for his daughter's hand in marriage. The whole town proceeds to laugh and make fun of Mohana saying that no one will ever pay 3 cows for her. Then comes in Johnny offering not 3 cows... but 8 cows.... wooooooooo 8 cows. The whole town is completely shocked. Why would anyone pay 8 cows for someone like Mohana. Well Johnny Lingo and Mohana go off on their honeymoon and months later they return and Mohana is a completely different person. With the confidence and self esteem Johnny gave her by paying 8 cows she was able to blossom and begin being who she really is. Her father even returns to Johnny asking for 10 cows because he felt cheated. Well how does this story relate to Janeth and Rosemary one might ask? Well it is all about self esteem. Leonardo wanted to ruin the spiritual Self Esteem of his daughters so that maybe their desires to be baptised might go away, much like Mohana's father talked bad about Mohana maybe in an attempt to motivate her. Janeth and Rosemary were discouraged and down on themselves like Mohana until along came Johnny Lingo, AKA their sister Jennifer who went to go bargain with their Dad. Jennifer explained to their dad how prepared Janeth and Rosemary really are and by the end of the conversation Janeth and possible Rosemary recieved permission to get baptised this week. The difference was that as Jennifer, as Johnny did with Mohana, talked to the father about the high value and preparedness of their daughters, the daughters also gained the self esteem  necessary to show to their dad that they really are ready to be baptised this saturday. So thanks to a confidence boost and the help of their older sister, and a very obscure Johnny Lingo reference,  Janeth and Rosemary Casanova once again are super excited to be baptised this coming Saturday. Wooooooooooh. Missionary work is just awesome. 

Well this has been another awesome week here in El Milagro with Elder Romero and if all goes well, and if the Johnny Lingo movie is any way to predict the future, we will be able to see the baptisms of Janeth and Rosemary Casanova this week. 

Hasta Luego!

Elder Jack Vassau

Monday, November 13, 2017

Week 46 - Casanova Family & dining at Chili's!!

Buenos Dias!!

This was another awesome week here in El Milagro with Elder Romero. This past weekend my companion has been a bit sick so yesterday we got to do divisions, meaning I went out and visited with a member of the ward here in Milagro while my companion stayed home in bed with another member taking care of him. It was pretty interesting not having the same support of a missionary companion at your side, but it was pretty cool to show some members what it is like to be a missionary. Recently we have been working a lot with the Casanova family helping them prepare for a baptismal date, the funny part is that our two appointments with them this week I went without Elder Romero. One of which I was with Elder Brady during a companion interchange (He is a brand new Elder from Las Vegas) and the other apointment I went with a 19 year old member from the ward named Cesar who recently got baptised. The Casanova family have had contact with missionaries and the church for basically their whole lives, but so far only the oldest daughter (24) is a member. She got baptized 6 years ago on the 24th of October against her Dad's will. Back then Leonardo was really hard. The type of guy to slam the door and yell at the Elders.... but.... after 6 years of his daughter being a member, recieving constant visits and invitations from members to activities, he has finally started to soften up a bit and is now our best bud. He even says he wants to be baptized one day. We have been working with the family to accomplish a baptismal goal for the 24th of November, the same date just 6 years later of the baptismal date of the olderst daughter Jennifer. Although Leonardo says he is not yet ready he said he will leave his daughters to make their own decisions and will give permission to them if they would like to be baptized. It was so sweet to see Janeth (13 years old) just break down crying when she heard her father say he will give permission. She then went on to share that she has always known that what we teach is true and that she has had her answer for years. She and her older sister Rosemary have always wanted to get baptised and finally everything has aligned to make it possible for them. It is a beautiful and simple miracle in the Lord's work here in Milagro. 

In other news this past week we went to the Mall and enjoyed a nice Chili's lunch. This week we also had a super cool training with President Calderon and this past friday we had another very successful missionary game night in the chapel.

Another awesome week here in El Milagro and I am sure this coming week is going to be even better. 

Elder Vassau

Monday, November 6, 2017

Week 45 - Sarita Malaver Bapitsm, Temple and Bats

Buenos Dias!!!!

This has been an awesome week here in El Milagro with Elder Romero. This week we have had the privilege of seeing Sarita Malaver enter into the waters of baptism. Sarita Malaver is a single mom who I met about 3 months ago with Elder Nuñez. She is a single mom and met her thanks to her cousin Elton. He is a returned missionary who lives in Lima but decided to travel all the way here to Milagro one day to introduce us to Sarita. Although she has had lots of challenges along the way with her daughter getting sick, her family giving her a hard time, and a work schedule that just wanted to make it near impossible to attend church, she was able to overcome these challenges and get baptized on Friday. During her baptismal service she shared her testimony where she talked about how we arrived in her life at just the precise moment. When we first met her she had recently undergone some serious problems with her then boyfriend and father of her daughter and was really suffering emotionally. She spoke about how the gospel perspective has helped her not only overcome her obstacles but also to change her visions, goals, and joy that she has here on Earth. She now knows that her family can be eternal and that our Heavenly Father is with us to help us overcome obstacles whenever we need him. It was awesome. 

This last week we also had the joy of being able to attend the Temple with our ward here in Milagro which is always awesome. Something that I noticed at the temple really helped me to realize that God always has a plan. At night the temple is completely lit up and you can, just about any day of the year, see a swarm of bats flying around the temple. Many visitors get confused thinking that at first they are birds then when they realize that what they are watching are bats some of them get a little shocked and begin to blame the bats on the cemetery nearby. I know the real reason there are bats around the temple... and it isn't because the temple is right next to a cemetery... it is because God put them there... to eat the bugs. Anyone knows that at night, especially in places where it is nice and warm, bugs always swarm to lights (aka the temple lights). Therefore God put the bats there to make sure that anyone can walk the temple grounds without being annoyed by mosquitoes or any type of bugs. It is truly a divine design so that anyone who attends the temple can enjoy a spiritual, bug free experience :) Hahahaha. 

In other news last week for Pday our district did a mini museum tour in Trujillo with a member of our ward named Larry Ascoye. 

We visited a few colonial museums but I think the highlight/slightly scary moment was the toy museum we attended. It was full of ancient toys from all around the world... and I am pretty sure we saw a few of them move.

Well this was an awesome week here in El Milagro and my companion and salsero Elder Romero is doing awesome. Today we are going to the mall and we are going to eat Chili's WOOOOOOOOH (only in Peru is going to a Chili's an adventure) Wish us luck. 

Elder Vassau

Monday, October 30, 2017

Week 44 - Baptisms of good friends Julian (82) & Pedro (76)!

Buenos Dias!

This was an awesome week here in beautiful Milagro. This week we had the wonderful opportunity to see two of my dear friends get baptized. Julian Huaman (82 years old) and Pedro Benites (76 years old). Both of them are nice senior citizens now, but are just the sweetest and most fun guys. Both of which are still working full time. Julian works in construction every day and Pedro in his carpentry shop. As the peruvians say, it is some serious "Chamba". Julian I met for the first time about 4 months back with Elder Bedregal. We were just walking down the street one night and saw an older man carrying bags of cement, which weigh a ton, and so we decided to help. He, a long time ago, had spoken various times with missionaries so he gladly decided to listen to what we had to say and from the beginning he has had the desires to be baptised. From the very first week where we began teaching him and we helped him a bit in his contruction projects he has been attending church. Every sunday he walks for nearly 30 minutes to arrive to church nice and early. We have coordinated numerous times for members to come pick him up in their cars, but every time when the members stopped by his house to pick him up, he had already started on foot. He is so sweet and just wants to get closer to God and Jesus Christ. He is awesome. 

Pedro Benites is our pension's Father-in-Law. He met the missionaries over 20 years ago and basically everyone in his family are now members of the church. I explained a little about his situation last week, but Pedro has finally decided to change to follow what he knows is true, and to set an example for his grandson. He is so funny... and short. He also greets us with a big hug at about waist level followed by a comment about either my hair being golden and he wanting to sell it or to my companion that the two of them classified for the world cup together (Colombia and Peru qualified together with a tie in the last match of qualifying). He is just awesome and it is so sweet to see the two of them follow Christ's example. 

Well another fantastic week with Elder Romero my "Cali Pachangero". He is already an awesome seasoned missionary and Milagro is the bomb. 

Elder Vassau

1-2) Julian and Pedro's Baptism
3)Teaching Julian
4)Cumpleaños with the family Casanova

5) Baptism

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Week 43 - Welcome to Elder Romero from Colombia, almost 1 year in El Milagro, Pedro Benites Baptism

Buenos Dias!!

What a fantastic week here in El Milagro now with the brand new Elder Romero. On Tuesday Elder Torres (the other missionary from Milagro) and I went to go pick up our trainees. He is training Elder Brady from Las Vegas and I have the privilege of training Elder Romero from Cali Colombia, the salsa capital of the world. He is so awesome and I think I am finally with a companion that is taller than me believe it or not. He is super excited to be here in the mission field and is already teaching as if he were a seasoned missionary. 

This week, on Elder Romero's first day in the mission field, we had a really awesome experience with an investigator who is going to get baptized this Friday. His name is Pedro Benites and is our pension's father-in-law. Basically his whole life Pedro has known the missionaries but for various reasons he has never made the final step to get baptized. He is a short very funny Peruvian who although has always known what we teach is true however he has always felt personally unworthy to get baptized. Many people have this fear to fail God in following our Savior Jesus Christ because they do not understand that as children of our heavenly father he sent us here to Earth knowing we would be imperfect. Jesus Christ is the only person who has lived a perfect life, however, in our quest to follow his example as long as we are constantly trying to be better through repentance we will be able to return to our Heavenly Father's presence. Many if not most do not understand this, and this was Pedro's stumbling block his whole life until recently his oldest grandson returned from his mission for mental health reasons. Since the day his grandson returned home, Pedro has been insisting on us visiting him and from the first moment we taught him he right out and said he was going to get baptized this month. What changed? After 20 something years of listening to missionaries what changed in Pedro Benites? Well we were recently teaching him about the importance of baptism and explaining to him a little more about what it means and he told us that he is getting baptized because A) he knows what we teach is true and B) he wants to fulfill a promise to his grandson and help him out. His grandson suffers from mental health problems caused by a traumatic childhood. If he spends too much time alone in his thoughts he breaks down, but when he attends church and reads the scriptures he is able to be comforted by the spirit and return to normal. Pedro told us is that one of the reasons he is getting baptized is to show his grandson that he can change and can help his grandson stay strong in the only thing that gives him peace, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He knows that if he shows his Grandson that his willing to change and follow Christ, that his grandson will find strength to keep on trudging along despite his mental challenges. What a sweet grandpa. 

Well this Friday Pedro Benites is going to be baptized and we have the potential baptisms of Julian and Sarita, so everyone stay tuned it is going to be an awesome week. 

My time with Elder Romero is going great and I am so excited for a great transfer with my new Colombian Trainee. 

Elder Vassau

p.s. Shoutout to my dear Colombian friends the Bernals.