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 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Week 53 - 1 year Anniversary, Reategui Family & Milagros

Buenos Dias!!

This has been an awesome week here in los Baños del Inca. This week we visited a super awesome family and reference from the Reategui family. The Reategui family is super awesome. The husband, Pedro Reategui, works for a humanitarian organization from the U.S. called Aguila Condor. His wife, Melisa is a nurse who helps businesses with health standards. The two of them together run a community center/food bank for children here in Baños called El Bichito. They are just awesome and this week with Melissa and Pedro we visited a 12 year old girl named Milagros, who attends el Bichito, and her mother Elaina. They have had their fair share of economic challenges in life and Elaina is practically a single mom raising her 4 children here in Baños. Well we went to visit this family and it went amazingly. Elaina used to be super religious but over the past 20 years, because of various challenges, has really distanced herself from God and any type of church. Elaina and Milagros were super excited to recieve us and Elaina was saying how it is not a coincidence that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ has come into her life at this time. It is really quite amazing to see their disposition to come unto Christ. Her daughter Milagros (12) and Percy (7) are just the sweetest thing. After our second visit with the family, after Percy explained an encyclopedia's worth of knowledge about prophets, Milagros offered the sweetest prayer asking for God's help to find his true church so that they can follow Christ as a family. Her prayer I think brought tears to the eyes of just about everyone that was present. The family is awesome and they not only attended church this week and witnessed a beautiful primary program, a presentation put on by children, but they also have accepted a baptismal date for the 6th of January.  No better way to start a new fresh year than to get baptised. Sometimes God puts challenges in or life to prepare us for future blessings and that is very well what has happened with this family. Every challenge is an oportunity to learn and grow as children of God, to be more like Jesus Christ. Super awesome right?!?

Well this has just been an awesome week here in Los Baños del Inca (so called not because they are the bathrooms of the incas but rather there are thermal hotsprings here that the Inca/emperor used to bath). Last monday as a district we went to visit some small waterfalls in my area at llacanora. Despite the mosquitos eating my legs alive it was super rad. Here the rainy season is in full swing and we enjoy nice sunny mornings and rain or occasional downpours in the afternoon. It is pretty awesome here. 

Well I love you guys lots, until next week. 

Elder Vassau

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