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 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Week 57 - Elaina, Milgros & Diana; 3 hours in a bus to the mountains of Celendin

Buenos Dias!!!

This week has been pretty awesome. The week started off a little bit slow with  lot of doors being shut on us but when ever there is a challenge all one has to do is keep working hard and the blessings will come. For us the blessings came on Thursday when we went to teach Elaina Diaz and her family. Her, her daughter Milagros (12), and her daughter Diana (20), all have accepted baptismal dates for the 20th of January. That being said we have had  difficult time teaching Diana because she is always working. This Thursday we were teaching the Plan of Salvation to Milagros and Elaina and right as we are about to invite the family to come to church with us, Diana walks in. She quickly took a seat and we ask, "This Sunday will you guys attend the church with us". We barely finished the invitation and Diana just about fell out of her chair screaming "Yes". She then proceeded to turn to her family, who had been  little quieter in this moment and said "well it looks like I will be attending alone". It was pretty hysterical to witness. Diana then went on to explain to us, that without us inviting her to do so, she had talked with her boss and told him she cannot work on Sundays so she can attend church. How awesome right, the Lord really prepares people to hear the Gospel and when these people receive the message they just want to follow it. It is something inside that just guides everyone to do what is right. Well the whole family attended, Elaina and her three children and it was just awesome. This week in church we were blessed to see three different families attend, Elaina and her family, Jovita and Jaime, and the Estela Medina Family. God truly loves the family. 
This week Elder Zapatiel and I traveled to a small town about 3 hours outside of Cajamarca to conduct a baptismal interview and have interchanges in this town called Celendin. The Elders from Celendin are a little bit isolated from the rest of the world but it was so much fun travelling to proselyte with them in what is  bit more of Peruvin countryside. They serve in a small branch which has an attendance of 25, 7 of which are investigators. Well the bus ride through green windy hills, basically in the clouds was super beautiful and the people of Celendin are amazing. In Celendin the ancestry is northern European so you will find lots of people who have light skin, colored eyes, and different colored hair. They call them Shilicos, so we fit right in. The people there are so humble and receptive to the gospel. We were able to teach 11 new people in just one day. They were practically just inviting us into their homes. It just goes to show that yet again the Lord prepares people to recieve this message. 
In other news this week was transfers and not a lot changed. They sister missionaries in our district closed their area so now it is just the 6 Elders, and now we have permission to include the Elders from celendin in the district meetings via skype.... wooooooh.... hahaha.
Well all is awesome here in los Baños del Inca. Until next week. 

Elder Vassau

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Week 56 - Feliz Ano Nuevo!

Feliz Navidad & Feliz Ano Nueuvo!

This has been a great week here in Los Baños del Inca. Monday was Christmas where of course... we played soccer, and yesterday was New Year's Eve, where of course... we fell asleep before being able to see any fireworks. The mission is awesome  This week we had an awesome apointment with little Milagros, Percy, their older sister Diana, and their mom Elaina where they all accepted to get baptised. It's awesome. This week we have been working a lot with the family of Jaime Diaz and his wife Jovita Huaripata. They are super awesome and have testimonies of the truthfulness of what we teach, the problem is that they are not married and a couple that is living together cannot be baptised without being first married. Both of them would be willing to get married however... they this year have had a lot of challenges in their relationships. Although neither Zapatiel nor I are marital nor relationship masters, but what we do know is the Gospel of Jeus Christ which can help us with whatever challenges and problems we have. We have been visiting them with various couples from the ward here in los Baños del Inca who can testify of the blessings that come when we apply Gospel Principles as the center piece of our family. It is just so amazing when a family can share the same purpose and cause of following the teachings of Jesus Christ. This week we read with Jaime and Jovita a document published by the church called "The Family: A Proclamation to the World ". It explains the importance of the family and marriage to God. Our Heavenly Father has put us here on Earth in a family for a reason and it is because it is one of the best places to learn. It is also one of the places where we can experience the greatest blessings that our Father in Heaven has prepared for us. That being said it is also something that can present lots of challenges and sorrow when there are problems. It is our job to help keep the family together and in the paith of following Jesus Christ. If we do that, although challenges will always present themselves, we can find the peace of mind that only our savior can offer. Hopefully Jaime and Jovita, applying things such as the family pray and scripture study, can fix the problems they have currently, get married, and take the first couple of steps to enjoy a family that can be eternal if they are willing to follow Christ together. This week has been awesome and I would like to wish everyone a happy New Year and a delayed Merry Christmas. 

Elder Vassau

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Week 55 - Christmas in Peru

Feliz Navidad!!!

Today was a wonderful day, topped by being able to speak with my family!!!  As a missionary, we are only allowed 2 video calls per year (Christmas and Mother's Day) so it made today even more special.   It was awesome getting to see everyone and to catch up personally.   What a special Christmas Day!

This week has been amazing here in los Baños del Inca. This week was Christmas and it was an incredible and spiritual experience. It was full of us visiting people and trying to sing Christmas carols, sharing messages about the birth of our savior Jesus Christ, and especially lots of Paneton. It is delicious. It has really been a treat helping people to remember about the birth of our savior Jesus Christ and remember why we celebrate this holiday. Christmas here in Peru is a bit different but when someone feels the Christmas spirit it really does not matter what part of the world you are in it is something real special. I wish everyone a merry Christmas back home and have a happy new year. 

Elder Vassau

Monday, December 18, 2017

Week 54 - It's beginning to feel a little like Christmas (and Rainy Seattle)!!!

Hola de Peru!!!

This has been one of the most fun weeks of my entire mission. Here in Peru Christmas and therefore Christmas activities are in full swing (despite a large portion of Peruvians who do not celebrate Christmas). This week started with a great family home evening Monday night where we enjoyed some delicious chicken ceviche. Ceviche is a super famous Peruvian food that is raw fish that is served after "cooking" it with nothing but lemon juice. I have heard it is quite delicious but as missionaries we are prohibited from eating it considering it is raw chicken. That being said we are allowed to eat chicken ceviche which although is cooked and is not fish it is still delicious.

On Monday night after our family home evening we got a call that President Calderon was coming up to Cajamarca to teach a zone training and host a zone wide Christmas dinner in a member’s house! Well my dear friends the elders from the distant Celendin branch (about 3 hours outside of Cajamarca) came and stayed with us all week as we enjoyed the various activities president had planned for us. Tuesday we had our interviews that we have every transfer. Then on Wednesday we had our zone training which was amazing. President taught a lot about the importance of having faith in whatever we do. If you do not have the faith that something is possible than you yourself are causing it to be impossible. It was an amazing and incredible motivational training, but the highlight of the week was our Christmas dinner with President Thursday night. All 22 missionaries from Cajamarca came to a member’s house in the city to share a dinner and Christmas festivities. We started off with some great Christmas music and President and his wife had bought a Christmas president for every missionary. After sharing Christmas presents President invited us all to watch a Christmas movie with him and the family (as missionaries we do not watch movies). It was crazy awesome. We watched the classic "It’s  a Wonderful Life" and I think everyone was dying of laughter and nearly brought to tears by the end. I think everyone was a little over emotional at the whole idea of the Christmas night and breaking out of the norm of the missionary routine to celebrate Christmas. After the movie we shared a nice Christmas dinner with Turkey. Turkey in Peru is a food that you only eat at Christmas. It was awesome. We also shared some special Peruvian hot chocolate and the famous Peruvian Pantone before returning to our areas. It was awesome to enjoy a true family dinner with the other missionaries and celebrate Christmas.

To make the week even better the ward had their annual Christmas party this past week where we witnessed a hilarious talent show filled with lots of Christmas themed skits and sketches. To top off the week today we went to a super cool rock forest here in Cajamarca where there are tons of cool rock formations, caves, stones carvings, and every an Incan sacrifice table.  This week was full of lots of fun and exciting activities but I think the very best moment of the week was seeing the Estela Medina family attend church with us yesterday. The family consists of the mom (Marina), her two sons (Arturo 20 and Victor 19) and her daughter (Diana 17). We have been teaching Victor, Arturo, and Marina for a few weeks now, and yesterday with the help of a member who owns a miniature bus the whole family accompanied us to church and loved it. This week we are going to teach them about the plan of salvation so that they understand that God wants their family to be eternal. Pray all goes well. 

Well this week has been amazing and this coming week is Christmas which gives us just that much more of an excuse to talk to people about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and all he does and has done for us. The littlest we can do to show our thanks is to share his love and message with everyone else. Christmas time is truly the most wonderful time of the year. 

Elder Vassau

p.s. My room is now decorated with a little Christmas tree and lights to help us keep the Christmas spirit going. Also big thanks to the best family in the world for the Christmas package