Monday, July 17, 2017

Week 30 - Preparing to say goodbye to several other Missionaries

Buenos Dias!!

This was another great week here in El Milagro. Last week we worked really hard to try and find lots of new investigators and to contact new people using the guidance of the spirit. We accomplished a goal of 20 new investigators and this week we have been working really hard to follow up with a lot of these investigators to see which of them the Lord has prepared to learn about and progress in his Gospel. Sure enough we have found a couple great investigators/referrals that the Lord has prepared. One of which is Brando Gallardo. He is the cousin of our pensionista's son and was a referral that we contacted last week. Brando is 14 and to say the least our Heavenly Father has been preparing this young man for quite some time to receive the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was so excited to learn about the Gospel and to accept the baptismal invitation for this coming Saturday. He began attending church and all church activities on his own after only one visit - Some serious desire to learn about his Heavenly Father and follow the example of Jesus Christ!    We have been teaching him just about every day in his uncle's carpentry shop and it turns out he has a stepbrother on a mission in Colombia... someone who was in the CCM with me!!!! It is crazy. On top of that here in Milagro there is only one active young man in the Teachers quorum (young men ages 14-15) and they have been working hard and praying that they can find new members for the quorum or reactivate some inactive young men, and sure enough, Brando is of teacher's quorum age. He is so excited for his baptism this week and is a definite answer to many prayers here in Milagro. 

On the slightly more P-day note, today is our zone wide Peruvian Parrillada (more or less a barbeque). There are a lot of Elders who are finishing their missions this coming week and it will be a bittersweet goodbye for a lot of them . 

Well another great week here in El Milagro and chances are this coming week either Elder Bedregal or I will be moving on to a new area. We will just have to wait and see. 

Until next week,

Elder Jack Vassau

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Week 29 - Julian the 82 Year-Old Construction Worker

Buenos Dias!

Well happy 4th of July. What a special holiday, the day where the greatest country on earth declared independence Yet another awesome week here in El Milagro. Well this past week was just awesome. We found so many new people to teach and serve. This week. Including an 82 year old CONSTRUCTION WORKER named Julian who we helped move some dirt and a super enthusiastic young lady named Patricia. I think one of the highlights of this week though was getting to know a 62 year old retired Police officer and his wife Elvia. He is a retired police officer and our neighbor. For those who do not know our current living quarters are just about 2 blocks west of the state penitentiary and he just happened to have worked in this prison for a couple of years of his service. Boy did he have some crazy stories to tell... Well we were visiting with him and his wife and as we were explaining a little bit about what we teach as missionaries Elder Bedregal made the comment that as missionaries we are representatives of Jesus Christ. Felipe was in awe for a couple of seconds then turned to his wife and said (in Spanish of course) "God has clearly sent these two young men here for a reason. This week we are going to church with them and we need to be listening to what they have to say". It seemed a little humorous at first but as missionaries we have this privilege to represent Jesus Christ and it a serious privilege. However not only us as missionaries can be examples, Jesus himself taught while he was giving his sermon on the mount in Mathew that 

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

We can all be examples of Jesus Christ and let our light shine if we try and do what he would do in any given situation. As we choose to follow the example of Jesus Christ other people see it. We are like a city on the hill that anyone can see and as long as we do the best we can to try and be like our savior Jesus Christ people are going to see our "good works" and remember and "glorify your Father which is in Heaven". Jesus Christ was the perfect example and in this life we can be examples to the world as well to help others to come unto Christ through our service and everyday actions. It is pretty awesome stuff.

Well on a slightly less spiritual note as a district this past Monday we went to an all you can eat Chinese buffet (Chifa) in downtown Peru called Eating House. Well to say the least we ate a lot of food and the owners of the restaurant spoke a nice mixture of English, Spanish, mandarin and who knows what else because we could not understand a thing they said. 
I hope everyone had a great 4th of July. Things are still going great here in El Milagro.

Elder Vassau

Monday, July 3, 2017

Week 28 - Wilson Flores and Game Night


A great week here in El Milagro!  This week we put together a super fun missionary night activity in the church this week. It was basically all games and music. We planned a full night of games and each of us four Elders was in charge of two different games. We played charades, telephone, musical chairs, blindfolded bobbing for apples, blindfolded partner eating competitions, soccer with balloons, and we even brought a piñata. To make the night even better Bishop Escobar brought his son's DJ set and I kept every nice and entertained with some wonderful Disney music that I had (Thanks Tuck for the music). Well the night was lots of fun and it was a great way for us to bring the members and investigators together along with helping us to receive lots of new references to visit. 

This week we have been working a lot with an investigator named Wilson Flores. He is the husband of a returned missionary and they have two kids. He has never talked with the missionaries in all their time together and she has been inactive since starting to live together as well but recently, thanks to the invitation by their awesome 8 year old son Victor and his Grandma, we have started visiting them. Originally we started visiting Victor because he wants to get baptized, but we found his dad and mom and they have started listening as well. Well this week we visited Wilson with a couple from the ward that comes from a very similar situation (she is a returned missionary and he is a recently baptized convert). Well the lesson went super well and near the end of the lesson while we were explaining a little bit about the Book of Mormon Wilson interrupted us and said "What can I do to believe in this book".  He has seen how his oldest son who is about 20 and many others in his life have completely changed after meeting the missionaries and beginning to read the Book of Mormon and learn about this message of Christ. Basically he wants to know if this is all true or not so that he as well can make this change for the better. We were a little shocked at first but we went on to explain how we get answers to our questions. In the book of James in the Bible it says that "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him". We explained that whenever we have a question (lack of wisdom) all we have to do is ask God (pray) and he will answer our prayer.  In whatever moment we have the privilege to ask God anything we need. We can receive help or answers to any need or questions we have if we just humble ourselves enough to prayer, ask for guidance, and afterwards get to work. We always, after asking for help, have to do all we can to help ourselves, and after all we can do is when God answers our prayers and helps us with the rest. In this case Wilson now just needs to read and pray and if he puts in the time, God will respond to his question. 

God loves us and wants us to be on the correct path. He wants to help us with our challenges because he loves us, but he loves us so much that he allows us to work to solve our problems so that we can learn. It is pretty awesome stuff. 
Well all is still well here in El Milagro. 

Elder Vassau

Monday, June 26, 2017

Week 27 - English Classes

Another great week here in El Milagro. This week I had the opportunity to do an interchange of companions for a day this friday with my other gringo buddy here in El Milagro, Elder Maddocks. Two white americans proselyting here is always a funny thing to see. Almost even funnier than two white guys walking around Milagro was the spelling bee we held in our english class this saturday. Once again I think it comes down to poor teachers, but the spelling bee was sooooooo difficult. Simple english words are so hard to spell if you are not used to the sounds. 

This week we have also had the wonderful new opportunity to eat lunch Saturdays and Sundays with members which until recently was prohibited. So far it has been so much fun trying out everyones different cooking and to hear lots of stories. What has really stood out to me were the many conversion stories that we have heard in our coule of lunch appointments we have had. So many of the members here have sacrificed so much in their lives to find Christ and to serve their neighbors here in El Milagro. It just made me think about what we are personally willing to do to serve and sacrifice for our savior Jesus Christ who was the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. 

Well another great week here in El Milagro

Elder Vassau

Monday, June 19, 2017

Week 26 - The Carpenter and Shop Cleanup

Buenos Dias!

This week was another great week here in el Milagro. This week it is safe to say that I really learned part of the meaning "What would Jesus do". When Jesus was a young man growing up... he probably worked in Joseph's carpentry shop... which means every once in a while I am sure Joseph, as any earthly father would do, made Jesus clean the shop... and that is exactly what we did this week as a district service project, We cleaned up a carpentry shop. Exactly more or less maybe something that Jesus would have done when he was a young man working in Joseph's carpentry shop. Maybe. Ok, it is a little bit of a stretch but well it was a great service project. I forgot to take the before picture but just image about 2-3 feet worth of sawdust just about everywhere and piles and piles of unorganized wood, basically that is what we were dealing with. 

Well this week we have been planning our big noche blanca of baptisms for this coming week, but it looks like the investigators from our half of Milagro are not quite ready just yet so we are going to have to postpone it a little bit.  A little disappointing, but if it is not our Heavenly Father's will that they get baptized this week then it is not his will. God has a plan for every one of his children. He prepares many in their own time to receive the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, but we all still have our agency to choose. Therefore we are still super excited here in Milagro that the Lord is still preparing these people and please keep them in your prayers. WOOOOOOH MISSIONARY WORK.  

On another note, Elder Maddocks and I are still doing our English classes every Saturday night and they are so much fun. So far we have covered going to the grocery store, body parts,emotions, and many other themes. This week we taught how to give basic directions such as "go straight" or "turn right" followed by a game where participants had to guide their blindfolded companion through a very basic obstacle course. It was a ton of fun but the game was almost a complete disaster with no one being able to give directions but oh well. I guess one should blame the teachers not the students. In this case I think failure to be able to follow directions was probably because of poor teaching  but on occasions it is due to the fact that the students are not listening to their teacher. When students do not listen to a teacher they get lost because they do not know what to do... basically they missed the directions. Well in life we as heavenly father's children have the same problem. When we do not listen to the guidance of our Heavenly father through the Holy Ghost, scriptures, and latter day church leaders, it is as if we are not paying attention in class, and when we do not pay attention in class is when we get lost. We need to always pay attention to the direction and instruction of our heavenly father so that we can always know exactly what to and if we do that and follow his instructions we will never be spiritually lost. 

This week we also had our La Esperanza stake conference so it was lots of fun seeing my friends from Jordan and some of my converts including Jerrado who is still doing fantastic. 
Well this is going to be another great week here in el Milagro and until next time. 


Elder Vassau

Monday, June 12, 2017

Week 25 - Belisario, car racing, and June 24th preparations!

Biuenos Dias!!!!!

(OK - I wasn't really with Tucker at his wedding but at least they were thinking of me )

Another awesome week here in el Milagro, and to make it that much better, all four of us missionaries here in El Milagro survived transfers and we will all be staying at least one more transfer here!  

This week we have been working hard to contact some of the referrals we had from our Capilla Abierta (Open House Tour) last week. We were able to contact a couple of people who are interested but one in particular was really cool. His name is Belisario. He is in his late 50s/early 60s and is basically retired. What he now devotes most of his time to is racing rally cars. He was telling us all about some of his races here in Peru and how one day he wants to make it to the U.S.A. to have the chance to test out the pavement there which apparently is "Legendary". I guess nice paved roads are something you take for granted until you are trying to race cars. Well he is super cool and he is also super excited to learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was really surprised when we were explaining to him exactly what missionaries do and how we sacrifice two years of our lives to serve our Heavenly Father. What really impressed him was that two young men are taking the time in their life to slow down and focus on some things that are really important, service and our Heavenly Father. Talking in terms of racing cars and in terms of life Belisario explain that in this life, a lot of things happen at a really fast pace and often because of all the fast paced exciting distractions we do not take time to slow down and focus on the things that really matter. Things such as our families and our Heavenly Father, two areas of his life that he knows the Gospel of Jesus Christ will help him refocus on. 

When we learn of Christ we begin to remember what actually matters in this life. Although there is time for other things as well, we always need to take time to remember and focus on the things that really matter and that really bring eternal happiness to us here on Earth and in the life to come. Belisario is awesome and I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will help him focus on what really matters in this life, with maybe a little bit of extra time for him to race cars as well.  

Well big things are happening here in El Milagro. Yoland Rodriguez, Rosabel Aranda, and Paolo Carrera all have baptismal dates for the 24th of June as well as 6 other people from the missionaries in the other half of Milagro. That means we are going to have a possibility of having 9 baptisms on the 24th of June. That is a lot of people that are making the decision to follow the example of Jesus Christ. It is awesome! We just need a little bit of help so please keep this date the 24th of June in your prayers so that we can help all of these people prepare for this date. It really is a privilege to help people to come unto Christ as a missionary. 

In other news my big brother Tucker got married to Caitlin this past week. Big congratulations guys! Love you both so much and I am super excited to have a sister in the family. I guess it was about time that a sister came into the picture to mix things up with these 4 brothers. You guys are awesome and meant to be!

Things are still going great here in El Milagro and looks like I am going to be here in El Milagro with Elder Bedregal for at least another 6 weeks and maybe more.  Only the Lord knows J  Well until next week. 

Also,  today I completed my goal for the past two transfers to read the Book of Mormon in Spanish. WOOOOOOOOOOH. The Book of Mormon is another set of scriptures that we use side by side with the bible. Basically it is another testament that talks of Jesus Christ but from the perspective of prophets here in the Americas instead of the Middle East. Here are two scriptures that really stood out to me this morning during my power reading. Both of which talk about what we are capable of if we have faith and come unto Christ. 

Ether 12:27
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humblethemselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weakthings become strong unto them.

Moroni 10:23
23 And Christ truly said unto our fathers: If ye have faith ye can do all things which are expedient unto me.

Elder Vassau

Monday, May 29, 2017

Week 24 - Franklin Villa Baptism & A Dream

Happy Memorial Day!

Franklin at his Baptism!!!

The Peruvian "workhorse"
Look what is in the window - Chickens
A funeral with people carrying the casket to a Church

Well this has been another fantastic week here in El Milagro. This week we had the grand privilege of helping Franklin Villa get baptised. We had a nice baptismal service for him this Saturday with a few members and some of his friends from the ward. He is awesome and so much fun. Being the mean people that we are we had him convinced that in order to be baptised he would have to hold his breath for 5 minutes under the water 😏😰 It was pretty funny when he realized it took about a whole 2 seconds to be immersed in the water. To get back at me for our little prank, as I was saying his name to perform the ordinance he tried to distract me by saying his name at the same time and correcting me. Well sure enough I got a little distracted and had to repeat his full name about 5 times... 😁. It was a pretty funny situation but atleast I was glad that he was excited and was enjoying his baptism and covenant he was making with our Heavenly Father.

This week we have also been teaching the sister of Gloria Rodriguez named Yolanda. She lives with Gloria and she has had so many missionaries in her life and in her house but because of her work she was never previously able to listen to the missionaries or attend church. Well that all changed this week because she recently changed work, began listening to us, and attended church for the first time yesterday! It is awesome. She also accepted a baptismal date and shared with us a dream she had. Her sister is a member of the church and her father was also before he passed away. She recently had a dream where she was talking with her father and he said, "Well Yolanda... your sister and I are baptized now but I am still waiting for you".To be completely honest I am not a big believer in dreams because most of the time they are pretty random, but for Yolanda this was an  obvious answer that she should be baptised so that she can enjoy the blessings of eternity with her family forever after this life. It truly is a wonderful privilege and opportunity we have here to live with our families for eternity.

Well this has been an awesome week here in El Milagro. Shoutout to my little brother Stewart and the Mercer Island lacrosse team for making it to the state championship. Next year you will get it. Also shoutout to Tucker and Caitlin who are going to get married in just about 12 days... aaaaaaaahhhhhhh.

Until next week.


Elder Vassau

Monday, May 22, 2017

Week 23 - Snakes, Family Home Evening, Paolo & Frank


This was another awesome week here in El Milagro! This week we have had the wonderful opportunity to help two of our young investigators, Paolo and Frank, prepare for their baptisms which are scheduled for this coming Saturday May 27th. As part of their preparation for baptism we needed to teach them about some of God's commandments. In order to teach them both these commandments before their baptisms we decided to host a little family home evening in one of the young men's house in our ward. A family home evening is a small event where you share a message, play games, eat food, and sing a little. Basically it is a normal lesson for us plus food and a game but always when we say family home evening everyone is a little more excited. Well we hosted this family home evening in our neighbor Eduardo's house, and of course Elder Bedregal had prepared some of his famous cookies just for the occasion. We invited some of the young men from the ward here in El Milagro and a bunch of our young neighbors came as well. We ended up having about a group of 10 or so young men ages 12 to 15, members and non-members, in this house for our little get together and it was so much fun. We sang a little, did introductions (sharing favorite super heroes of course), played a short little game, and we then taught them about some of God's commandments including the word of wisdom (No alcohol, drugs, tobacco, coffee, or tea), tithing (giving 10 percent of your income to God) and the most fun of all for 13 year old boys the law of Chastity (no sexual relations before marriage ). To be honest it was a blast. You would think that teaching some rather complicated and not always fun commandments to young teenagers would be a little awkward or boring for them, but noooooooo, it was lots of fun. These commandments bless our lives in ways that many do not understand at first. We just have to remember that pretty much God always knows what is best for us sooooooo if we follow his guidelines we will be doing alright just about all the time.

This week we also had a great time teaching one of our new investigators Hermana Rosabel. She is a referral from our Pension Hna. Lila and she is awesome. She has a pretty tough family situation and has been attending a church for a few years now but she just has not been feeling a close connection to her Father in Heaven so she invited us and Hna. Lila to come over and to begin teaching her. She was super excited to learn about everything we taught her regarding how the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ can bless her life. It was awesome. The best part was when, like always, we invited her to pray and ask God if the things we taught were true. She gladly accepted and followed up with the question "Sooooooo, do you guys think a 2 hour long prayer is sufficient to get an answer?". We followed up by trying to explain that she does not have to pray for two hours to get her answer, so of course she followed up by asking "Sooooo an hour is sufficient... wait no... 20 minutes... no probably 30.... yeah definetly 30". We clearly were not explaining prayer very well to her. We went on to explain that prayer is literally a two way conversation with our heavenly father. You can talk to him and share your needs and gratitude with him for as long or as brief as you want, and he will always answer your prayer in one way or another. Sometimes through small feelings or thoughts or every once in a while something a little more obvious. Rosabel previously had been taught to pray by singing and yelling for 2 plus hours at a time so we tried to help her understand that prayer is something simple. Anybody at anytime can pray for any reason. Our Heavenly Father wants to listen to us and wants to help guide us in this life here. I think after a little more explaining she began to understand and she is now preparing to get baptised! Pretty exciting stuff. Prayer is an awesome privilege that we have hear that sometimes we just have to be humble enough to take advantage of.

In other news, the nights here are starting to get a little chilly (mid to upper 60s BRRRRRRRrrrrr......) so I have started whipping out some sweaters at night. Every once in a while I whip out the infamous 1 dollar green llama sweater as well. I just know that it helps invite the spirt to all those we teach. HAHAHAHAHAAH.

Well this was another great week here in El Milagro and I am sure great things are going to be happening this coming week as well.

Elder Vassau

Monday, May 15, 2017

Week 22 - Mother's Day Skype with the Family and Teaching Franklin!!!

Buenos Dias!!!

This was another awesome week here in El Milagro. This week we have been teaching some young men here in El Milagro and we have 3 new baptismal date for this transfer. I really enjoy teaching Young Men (in the church it is ages 12-18) because I know how much the Gospel of Jesus Christ can change their lives if they start living it at this young age when you are just beginning to mark your path in this world. One of the young men we have been teaching this week is 13 year old Franklin Villa who is our neighbor and best friend of the Bishop's son. We have been teaching him for a few weeks and invited him to be baptized a few weeks ago after teaching him about the Book of Mormon (which he had asked us for a copy of a couple of weeks ago after being assigned a reading during school one day in church) we invited him to be baptized. He accepted this invitation on the condition that God answers his prayer about the Book of Mormon and so every night for the past week he has been praying to know if what we have been teaching him is true or not. As missionaries we do not try to convince anyone of anything but rather we share a message that someone can personally, through a prayer, ask God if it is true or not. So we followed this same pattern with Frank and he had been praying for about a week, but still no answer. That is until we began to teach him 3 principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which are Faith, Repentance, and Baptism. As missionaries we love to focus on how faith is a belief accompanied by actions to match those beliefs. Faith is always followed by Repentance, but repentance is not just asking Heavenly Father for forgiveness of the things we have done wrong, but it is also an action of faith where we begin to change our hearts to be more like the perfect example of Jesus Christ. Repentance is the action of changing our lives to be more in line with what our Heavenly Father wants and has planned for us. Well we taught Frank about this change of heart and he prayed... and sure enough that very same night he found us in the street and ran up to us with a grin that stretched from one ear to the other and said (in Spanish) "Elders, I received an answer to my prayers. While I was praying last night I had this crazy feeling of happiness come over me and this bright light in my mind that I could just not get rid of. This is an answer right?" He then went on further to explain that after he received what he believed to be his answer about the Book of Mormon he told us that he immediately began to apply what we had taught him. He said that in his prayer he began to repent of everything he has ever done wrong in order to begin to follow the example of Jesus Christ. To say the least we were a little shocked and super excited that such a young man could understand the importance of these things and begin to apply Christ's teachings in his own life. It is soooooooo exciting and he is so excited for his baptism the 27th of this month. He really understands, like we would love everyone to, that our actions of repentance in this life are our way of becoming more like Christ. We are not perfect, but when we try to be more like Christ is when we can have peace and happiness in whatever situation we find ourselves in. 

On a slightly less spiritual note, Elder Bedregal made a chocolate cake this week for one of our investigators birthdays... and of course it was delicious. This week we plan on making empanadas and another chocolate cake stuffed with peaches. Wish us luck. (He really loves to cook, so I will try my best to try and keep up)

This has been an awesome week here in El Milagro with Elder Bedregal!!!

Happy Mother's day to all the great Mom's out there in this world. Thanks Mom - You're the best!

Hasta Luego!

Elder Jack Vassau

Monday, May 8, 2017

Week 21 - A Baptism and Building of an Adobe House

Buenos Dias!

This was of course yet another awesome week in El Milagro. This week we had no garbage duty but we have been helping out an investigator named Valerio Chacon build an adobe wall in his house. In reality, at first he did not want any help, but considering he has one leg and no one in his house to help him out we kind of insisted. 

This week we also had the wonderful opportunity to have the baptism of Ricardo Alfredo Otiniano Caceres. He is 20 years old and futbol (soccer) is his life. He gives me all the updates on scores and standings. He is 20 years old and lives in a pretty rough situation with his mom, stepdad, and half-sister. To make it simple, before we met him he did not have a very optimistic view of his future. His family has no money, his step-dad is really hard on him, he is still trying to finish high school, and he is about as shy as possible.... but boy has he changed. Since being introduced to the Gospel he has begun to look at things in the big picture of God's eternal plan for us. Our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy here on Earth and if we follow the Gospel of his son Jesus Christ we can find that happiness in whatever situation we find ourselves in. In the short month that we have known Ricardo he has changed drastically. He has begun to come out of his shell, his self-confidence is up, he has begun to make plans again to finish high school and enroll to become a police officer. These temporal things began to change hand in hand with his growing testimony in Jesus Christ and his Gospel. His mom still constantly reminds us that Ricardo still has a long way to go and to change, but with the help of our Heavenly Father little by little, if he continues on the path that God has set for him, his future will continue to change for the better. 

Along this same message of God's plan for us, yesterday we had a really interesting lesson with Jorge Gamboa, the husband of Gloria. His wife has been sick for a long time and he thought that when she got baptized that she would be healed... but it did not quite happen exactly like that... he is now contemplating that if he gets baptized she might be healed. The thing we had to tell him was that sometimes things happen in this life that we just cannot explain. He and his wife did nothing wrong to bring this trial into their life, but sometimes things just happen in this life. We might not understand it, but things happen that will allow us to grow and experience true happiness here or in the life to come. God knows us better than we know us. He is always able to see things in the perspective of eternity whereas sometimes we are a little more shortsighted to this world. He knows how we will gain eternal happiness and sometimes the hard times happen in this life no matter what we do. All we can do is control the things we can control and follow the example of his son Jesus Christ and we will have peace here and be happy. The blessings might be immediate or a long way off, but our Heavenly Father knows what will help us in the long run, all we have to do is put our trust in him. 

On a little brighter note, this week we spent quite a bit of time teaching Gloria.  Turns out she has a neighbor and friend who she believes is a witch or practices witchcraft.  Pretty crazy, I know, but we expressed to Gloria that we don’t believe that she is trying to harm her by putting special salt around her house and gifting her strange fruits. This question came up when we were teaching about the theme of faith. It is amazing some of the things that people experience here and the types of faith they have in ways that God might work and help people.  The theme of witchery and witchcraft/spirits/magic is quite a strange one for me, but for the people here in Peru it is a lot more normal to believe and talk about these things. A little strange I know, but maybe I cannot explain everything either. 

Well this was another great week here in El Milagro and it is still as sandy as ever. Until next time.   Hasta Luego!!!

Elder Vassau

Monday, May 1, 2017

Week 20 - Miracles Happen!

Buenos Dias!

Another awesome week here in sandy El Milagro! This week Elder Bedregal and I had a lot of awesome experiences here in El Milagro. One of which was a story one of the sisters in our ward told us. Her name is Gloria Rodriguez and we have been teaching her husband Jorge for about a month now. They are really great except for the fact that Jorge works way too much. Jorge's birthday was this past Friday so Elder Bedregal, being the expert baker that he is, decided to bake Jorge's favorite Lemon cake. That morning we went over the Hermana Gloria's house to make the cake and she told us this story. Gloria has been suffering from pretty serious cancer for a couple of years now and has been going through chemotherapy as well. She told us about how one day she was going in for her 3rd or 4th session of chemo. She had the routine down and now knew what to expect. Hours of nausea and pain sitting in the hospital. She was terrified and was about to get up and just leave the hospital without doing her treatment to avoid the pain and allow the cancer to take its course when she decided to offer a short prayer asking for a little help with what she was going through. In that very moment she heard a still small voice saying to her "Gloria, do not fear, you are not alone. The two of us will get through this together". Heavenly Father answered her prayer through the Holy Ghost who was able to help lighten her burden of the Chemotherapy. She went on to tell us of how that whole day she had no nausea, no pain, and she felt as though someone was protecting her from every obstacle in her life. It was a really special opportunity to hear her share this story with us and it just goes to show that the Lord really wants to lighten our load if only we humble ourselves and ask for his help with faith.

One of the other awesome experiences I had this week was the missionary night activity we hosted in the church. As a district of 4 we decided to do a little game where members, friends, investigators, and whoever wanted could learn a little bit about obstacles in this life. We set up a rope that ran throughout all the rooms in our church building. The game was that people would have to follow this rope throughout the church avoiding obstacles, in complete darkness, while blindfolded, until they arrived at the Chapel, where videos, a short spoken message, and piccarrones (Peruvian donuts more or less) were waiting. To make it even better myself and a few other ward members were working as guides, both good and bad. The majority of us were trying to distract and lead everyone astray. Basically we were trying to tempt them to not follow the path of the rope that leads to their final destination and goal, the chapel and food. Most of us were trying to distract but there were a couple who using very quiet voices tried to guide everyone in the correct path. Let me tell you... it was a lot of fun trying to lead people astray and if helping people get lost is success, we had a lot of success in that field. This activity was a symbol to represent this life. Our heavenly father has a path set out for us that we can choose to follow or not. In this life there are a lot of worldly distractions that try to have us change our path and will not allow us to enjoy the blessings that come to us when we reach our destination. In this example these blessings were picarrones but in our Heavenly Fathers plan, these blessings include the ability to live with our families for eternity (probably to eat picarrones for eternity as well hahahahahah). This short game showed everyone how easy it is to get distracted and lose the path that is set forth for us, and all we need to do is block out and listen to the still small voice that is trying to guide us back to the path and eventually to our final destination. To be completely honest the best strategy is to just never let go of the rope or in real world talk, always be doing the things God gave us to keep us on path (prayer, scripture study, attending church), however, there is always a way back to our destination and the path if we listen to the still small voice of the spirit and search and follow the rope (prayer, scripture study, attending church). This was a super fun activity for the message we were able to share and a little bit for the opportunity to mess with a few people as well :)

This week we had transfers here in Trujillo. Only Elder Vasco from my district is leaving but tons of changes are happening here in the zone. About half the zone is changing because of the limited changes during the time of rain and Huaicos. It is crazy. Also I mad waffles this week which was a huge success (although my companion was not a huge fan. He could not decide if he liked it as a dessert or a breakfast) and wish me luck with the French toast I am going to make for my district tomorrow. Everything is still amazing here in The Miracle (El Milagro).

Elder Vassau

p.s. how is it that in Spanish they can get away with naming places La Esperanza and El Milagro but in English it just sounds weird to call a place The Hope or The Miracle... food for thought.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Week 19 - Sanitation Missionary!!!!

Hola Amigos!

This week I can officially say that I have worked as a garbage man. This week here in El Milagro we did a service project for the city of El Milagro with about 14 Elders. Because of all that has been happening here in Peru in this part of El Milagro (My area) garbage services have not been running for a little over 3 weeks... cue Elder Vassau the Garbage Man. Basically for 4 hours I was standing inside of a giant pickup truck as other elders through bags of garbage at us. To make it that much better, we had to open up all the bags and sift through them to look for recyclables and let me tell you peruvian trash is nice and nasty. It is full of chicken parts and dead animals sooooooo to say the least it was a bit gross, I enjoyed my shower afterwards, and I have tremendous respect for anyone that works with garbage as a living... 

Along with the service this week there were plenty of great missionary moments. This week I did an interchange with the other Elders in Milagros. I was with Elder Maddocks all day saturday. It was the weirdest thing proselyting with another gringo... everyone just looks at you a little funny. We had a great experience knocking on doors. Basically the whole time we were thinking about a conference talk by Elder Rasband which talked about following our first impression which about 9 times out of 10 is the Holy Ghost trying to guide us. Well we were walking around in some random alley and I had the strong impression that we needed to knock on a purple door we saw... so we knocked... and knocked again... and of course we knocked a third time because we are missionaries and tend to be persistant... and nothing. It was so weird. Well we were just leaving, we walked about half a block and I had the impression that we needed to go back. We went back and knocked one last time and sure enough Hermano Ciro Helaman answered the door and invited us in. We had never met him before but anyone who is familiar with the Book of Mormon knows that Helaman is a name from the Book of Mormon. He immediately invited us in and we began to talk to him. He had not talked with missionaries in over 30 years, but he was baptised when he was 8 and was recently looking for something to invite more peace into his families life and then we showed up. It was awesome and we are going to visit his family this week. Always listen to those little impressions of the spirit. 

This week we also today had a guy run out of his gym and basically chase us down the street yelling at us. Sometimes people do this to annoy us but we turned around and talked to him anyway and the first thing he said was "Where can I find a Book of Mormon". For a missionary this is basically the greatest thing ever hahahahaahaha. We will see what happens but we are visiting this guy tonight. Everything is great here in El Milagro and things are just about completely back to normal with people starting to take down their sand bags and dirt piles they had put up because of the flooding. All is well here in Milagro. 


Elder Vassau

Monday, April 17, 2017

Week 18 - Semanta Santa & Servicio

Buenos Dias!

This was an awesome week here in El Milagro. This week was the
Semana Santa (Holy Week) here in Peru and I guess around the world. It
is the week and events leading up to Easter where there are a few
unique traditions such as not eating any meat other than fish... not
many follow this custom but most at least try. All week everyone was
talking about the Semana Santa and in just about every house we
entered that had a television there was some form of the Passion of
The Christ marathon. For how much everyone talked about Easter and the
Holy Week I was super excited for Sunday to see all the festivities
and talk to everyone about the resurrection of our savior Jesus Christ.
When Easter actually came it was a bit different. I really would not
have known it was Easter if I had not marked it on my calendar because
everything was so normal. It was the weirdest thing.  No one was out in
masses celebrating Easter in our area, at church it was mentioned, but even
stranger was I thought that if nobody was out in their churches they would be at home with family celebrations and this was not the case.  No sight of the Easter bunny and no candy eggs in our area... how strange, right?  Perhaps these are US traditions.

All the events on Sunday seemed a little disappointing because of how important
this day is to commemorate and remember the life and resurrection of
Jesus Christ, but we still used this opportunity to share with
everyone we contacted yesterday the important message that our savior
taught us that thanks to his example we too can be forgiven of all
our faults, we can find peace in this life in whatever situation, and
we one day will be resurrected and can live with our families in a
state of eternal happiness. Thanks to him we have these wonderful
opportunities. He is awesome to say the least.

Along with it being the Semana Santa, this week we had the chance
to do a super crazy service project. Wednesday from about 9am to 7pm
with a group of about 12 Elders we worked clearing out mud of a house
that was really badly affected by the Huaicos 3 weeks ago. There was
about 2-3 feet of mud in every room that was still soaking wet...
soaking wet with a putrid stench after 3 weeks still... it was
disgusting and sooooooo much fun. We had our masks and big rubber
boots, and with nothing but shovels and wheel barrels we went to work.
The floods had passed basically right through this house; there were
watermarks at about chest level. It was crazy. It was so rewarding
though knowing that at the end of the day we had helped restore this
family's life to an almost normal state. There was still a lot of
water damage, but with all the mud cleared out they can finally start
to rebuild again. I think we helped the family feel a little of Christ's love
because it was something that helps us remember his ultimate sacrifice of love for us.

Well all in all this was another fantastic dusty week here in El
Milagro with Elder Bedregal. This week we have been baking his special
cookies just about every night and we have started to experiment with
banana bread as well. Hahahahaha. Until next time.

Elder Vassau

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Week 17 - First week in El Milagro with plenty of service

Buenos Dias!

This was a great first week here in El Milagro. It was a week of a lot of service which is always awesome. This week we cleared some yards, built some roofs, and we even helped someone bury their dog (it was at six in the morning, and the dog had been sitting out in the sun for 2 days... a little gross). It was so awesome getting to help these people in whatever way we can. This week when I was doing service I tried to remember another great quote of Dieter F. Uchtdorf from General Conference this past weekend that says "one kind of service is not above another". Whether you are rebuilding a house, helping someone bury their dog, helping someone carry their groceries to their car, or whatever type of service it might be that you are offering, as long as you are serving your fellow man, you are in the service of your God (Mosiah 2:17). No matter what situation we are in or calling we have their are always time to offer some type of service, and as long you are doing all you can to help others, it is all the same. 

Along with a lot of service this week yesterday I had the "privilege" of flying to Lima for the day. By privilege I mean I gave up my preparation day to fly down to Lima  nice and early to go sit in Immigrations for 5 hours to recieve my peruvian ID. This was followed by 3 hours in the airport waiting for our flight. Although it was not the most exciting day, I had a great time talking with some of the other missionaries who flew down with me as well as a few others who were waiting in Immigration. One of these contacts who was particularly interesting was Willians Mardian. He is an 18 year old venezuelan who moved to Lima 5 months ago because of the situation in Venezuela. He told us about how he left everything including family and friends behind to try and start a new life for himself here in Lima. Although he was far from home without too many comforts, he was able to keep a positive attitude telling us about how everywhere you go there is a different "flavor" of life, and it is your choice whether you are going to try and enjoy it or not. I think this made more sense when we were sitting in immigrations super hungry talking about food, but the idea is one can make the best of any situation or any "flavor" as long as one has the attitude to try something new and stay optimistic. 

As for my companion and I, Elder Bedregal had his 28th birthday on friday which we celebrated in our pensionista's house with cake, pollo a la braso, and Elder Bedregals famous cookies. He loves to cook and bakes his special cookies in our room just about every other night. They are delicious :) 
This week is also Easter, a great time to remember our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you have the time watch this awesome video about Christ.
This was another great week here in El Milagro. Have a great week of Easter and Passover.

Elder Vassau

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week 16 - Moving to El Milagro, the epicenter of recent floods and devastation

Week 16 - Moving to El Milagro, the epicenter of recent floods and devastation

Buenos Dias!

Today I was transferred! My first transfer and I am leaving Jordan for a different part of the Esperanza zone called El Milagro. El Milagro is one of the poorest areas here in the mission. This is also one of the areas most affected by the rain and flooding. Many people here are without housing and still throughout Trujillo the majority are without running water, probably for about another month. The missionaries just returned to this area after 3 weeks of being relocated for safety and I am the first gringo in my area ever! It is pretty darn exciting stuff. Things here are a little different than in Jordan but I am super excited to serve the people who are in need of both temporal help and spiritual guidance. Our apartment is not quite the paradise I had in Jordan, but when as a missionary you start to get too comfortable the Lord always shakes things up so that you are always learning, and there is a lot I can learn here. After a great 2 months with Elder Angulo D'Leon and a great 2 weeks with Elder Aeschbocher I said my goodbyes to them and also my friends and investigators in Jordan and am now ready to continue to serve here in Jordan. And Elder ADL is going to train another new missionary.   My new companion is Elder Bedregal. He is 28 and from the south of Peru in a city called Arequipa, where they think they are a completely separate country... it is a little funny.  Things are going to be great!

This week was another great week here in the mission. As a group of about 40 missionaries we had the wonderful privilege to do a group wide service this week where we drove to Huanchaco in buses and picked up trucks full of food, water, and mattresses to pass out in some of the most affected areas... it was really humbling when we arrived in these areas. People were clustered in groups with empty buckets begging every passing truck for water. The streets were filled with rubble and rocks that had been brought in by the flooding and fallen houses. It was a really great opportunity to help these people feel loved in this their time of need. Even better, turns out that the area in which we distributed all of these supplies is my new area! I basically have the privilege to help these people recover and feel Christs love every day now. I am so excited and I hope I can help these people. 

This week as missionaries here and all around the world we had the great opportunity to listen to church's general conference, where the leaders of the church from all parts of the world give talks through a broadcast over the course of 2 days and 6 sessions. It is sooooo awesome and it is a time to learn soooooooo much. There were a ton of great messages given but one of my favorites was given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a church leader and apostle from Frankfurt Germany, who talked about how we should not use fear to motivate but rather use our love for others to try and help others change. When fear motivates us, we change temporarily, but our desires and our hearts do not change. When we motivate others through love, seeing others as their full potential as Christ sees them is when peoples desires and hearts truly can change for the better. Fear inhibits growth and when we motivate with love and kindness it is a catalyst for growth. Another great point he made during his talk was that we should not "take ourselves so darn seriously". I really love this point because often times we can get over stressed with all the little things in this world when we are trying to do too much. When this happens I always try and remember that as a former President and Prophet of the church Gordon B. Hinckley once said "Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured". When we take everything too seriously and allow fear to motivate us we get bogged down, but when we are able to remember to enjoy ourselves and be motivated by Christs love is when we will really start to be happy and remember the big picture. 

Another great week here in the Peru Trujillo North Mission. Until next time.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Week 15 - More Flooding and Service! Pray for Peru.


Well this has been another crazy week here in Peru. This week I have been in a group of 3 with Elder Angulo D'Leon and Elder Aeschebocher. Because of all that is going on here with the flooding and rain and the lack of potible water, we did not actually end up having transfers this week, but rather Elder Aeschbocher was in an area to the north of Trujilllo called Casa Grande. His area is basically all sugar cane fields and because of the flooding he was without water, electricity, and almost all the bridges to pass from trujillo to casa grande had collapsed. Because of this all the elders from zone casa grande were evacuated and are now spread throughout my zone or other zones either helping proselyte or doing full time service. Elder Aeschebocher is going to be staying with us in Jordan until the situation is a little more normal in his zone. 

This week because of all that has been happening we recieved a bit of a strange new rule in our mission... we are now supposed to proselyte in street clothes. We have always been able to do service in street clothes but in these strange times here in Peru we are instructed to be in street clothes as often as we can in order to search for more opportunities to serve those who are in need and also for our own safety. It is so much fun, but wearing jeans and a tshirt after months of almost nothing but a shirt and tie feels a little strange. 

This week most of our work involved building roofs with various other elders and members in the areas around Jordan. We had a particularly great time building a roof friday with a member named Hermano Soransen. He is venezuelan who recently moved here because of the situation in Venezuela. His parents are danish, and he studied in Russia... so he speaks English, Danish, German, Spanish, and Russian fluently, with a little bit of Japanese as well... to say the least he is fun to talk to and we had a great time rebuilding roofs as well. Most of the houses here are not built for any type of rain, so most roofs are just sheets of plastic without incline or anything, so what we do is basically remove their roof and rebuild it from scratch with new materials to prepare them for any future rains we have here in Trujillo. With all of the elders from Casa Grande doing service here as well it is like we have a small army of missionaries rebuilding houses in this zone. It is awesome! 

Service is a great opportunity to be a representative of Jesus Christ and help others feel the love he has for them, especially when they are in times of much need. Always remember that we are all children of our heavenly father, meaning that we are all brothers and sisters and therefore we should serve and love eveyone as if and as they trully are our family. 
We are still without running water throughout most of the city and in our apartment, but things have largely calmed down and more normal here. The rain has stopped but the water is still coming down from the mountains so the Hauicos (flooding) continues a little. There is a lot of service to do in these days and many people in need without food, housing, or water. As missionaries and as a ward here we have been trying to rebuild houses and bring food and water. In these days please pray for the people here in Peru, they need all the help they can get. That is about all for this week here in Jordan. All is well and it was another awesome week in the life of a missionary.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Week 14 - Rains and Flooding in Peru, plus Hermana Vergara gets baptized!

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Queridos Amigos,

To say the least this has been a bit of an unusual and crazy week here in Trujillo. Right now everyone throughout Peru is kind of in Emergency mode due to the abnormal amount of rain. Too be honest here in Jordan any amount of rain is an abnormal amount of rain. The increased amount of rains this week has cause flooding throughout Trujillo and Peru that has left a lot of people isolated or without water. Luckily here in Jordan, La Esperanza, we are basically in paradise relative to basically every area around us. In other areas there have been Huiacos (Flash floods) that make people really scared. The land, buildings, and streets here are not used to much water so they fill up quickly and create rivers of water and debree in various streets along with filling up dried river beds that have not been filled in over 20 years. Every time it rains everyone has a mini panic attack that a Huiaco will come or that the rain will fill there house. In our area the only problems we have had were tuesday when because of the extreme rain we were up until 1 in the morning using buckets to clear the water from our house and room. Our room filled with 3 inches of water... and we live on the second story... It might not seem this way but in reality we are extremely blessed. A couple days this week we have taken in Elders from other areas to stay and proselyte with us while their areas are still a bit dangerous. Soooooo between the rain and flooding sending us to our rooms early on occasion, the service and filling of sand bags to protect houses and streets, and having a rotating hotel of elders in our apartment it has been an exciting week. 

One of the highlights this week was the baptism of Hermana Zoila Vergara who we have been working with for sometime. She is about 70 years old and is she a sweet lady. Her baptismal date for January fell through due to her family being really hard on her but we had helped her choose this day March 18th and had been prepping for it for some time, and it was so close to almost not happening. Basically on friday there was major flooding all throughout trujillo so almost all the chapels were without water. We had planned the service for 3 in the afternoon and between 1 and 2 that same day we changed the location of our baptismal service 4 times... it was a little stressful. In addition once we were able to help Zoila get to the chapel we had to wait for another young lady who was going to be baptised in the same service by Elder Lavado and Elder Fernandez. Turns out her family was stuck on the other side of a Huiaco sooooooooo we had to wait until about 530 to start the baptismal service. After stressing over how we would fill the baptismal font, where we were going to do the service, and if everyone was going to be able to make it to the service it ended up happening and it was a very beautiful and spiritual day. She was so excited and was not going to let anything get in the way of her baptism. It was awesome. 

This week with all the service we have been doing I have been studying a lot and gave a talk this sunday in church about service and the importance to love or our neighbors. A great scripture to sum up some of my studies is Mosiah 2:17, a scripture that we can find in the Book of Mormon that says, "and behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." Some other great scriptures I studied this week are found in 1 John in the Bible, anyone who has time should read 1 John 3: 16-18; 1 John 4:19-21. These are some great scriptures that teach a lot about the importance to serve and show our love for others through our actions and that through these actions we can help others feel of Gods love. Service is sacrifice and it is a wonderful opportunity to share Christs love with others and help us to feel Christs love for us as well, because in reality he is the ultimate sacrifice. Well that is all for this week, everything is relative calm and safe here in Jordan and pray for those in this mission and all around Peru that they will be out of harms way and will recieve the help they need in these times of natural disasters. 


Elder Vassau