Monday, November 20, 2017

Week 47 - Johnny Lingo, Janeth and Rosemary

Buenos Dias!!!!

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

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

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

Hasta Luego!

Elder Jack Vassau

Monday, November 13, 2017

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

Buenos Dias!!

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

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

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

Elder Vassau

Monday, November 6, 2017

Week 45 - Sarita Malaver Bapitsm, Temple and Bats

Buenos Dias!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Vassau

Monday, October 30, 2017

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

Buenos Dias!

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

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

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

Elder Vassau

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

5) Baptism

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

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

Buenos Dias!!

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

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

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

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

Elder Vassau

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

Week 41 - Training A New Missionary, Visitor from the USA, Goodbye's and More

Buenos Dias!

Another awesome week here in El Milagro. This was the last week of my companion Elder Alcarraz and my best friend Elder Maddocks. Both are heading home today, finishing up their 2-year long missions. It has been a great time with Elder Alcarraz this transfer, and Elder Maddocks and I have been together here in Milagro for almost 7 months together. He is truly a lifelong best friend who I am going to miss dearly. 

This week I had a great visitor to my area that worked with me for the day.  Michael Hall came from Lima (via Savannah, Georgia in the USA).  It was awesome Mikey came up to visit me. He came in on a night bus from his study abroad in Lima. We spent the morning proselyting together, then we enjoyed a nice seafood lunch that our pension prepared especially for him, followed by hiking a nearby "hill" (at the top of this hill it was a completely different world), and we finished the day by him accompanying us to visit more investigators and get to see Milagro with us. It was awesome to be able to catch up with my best bud since birth. I have really missed the guy since he moved away to savannah. He is doing great and is doing a study abroad in Lima. We already have plans to explore all of Peru when I finish up the mission. 

Well this week because of a few frustrating setbacks we have had to postpone a couple of baptisms for these coming weeks because of renovations in our church building here in Milagro and various other reasons. 

The good thing though is that hopefully I will be able to see these coming baptisms with my new companion. This transfer President Marble has given me the privilege of training a brand new missionary coming straight from the missionary training center. Although I have no idea who it is yet, I am super excited to help a new missionary learn the ropes. Here our district of Milagro both Elder Torres and I are going to be training... for the first time in my mission I am now the old guy. Milagro has always been full of missionaries finishing their missions but as of tomorrow I will be the most senior missionary in the district with just 10 months. How crazy how things change. 

Well yesterday we had an awesome experience teaching a family and committing the entire family to a baptismal goal. Elder Alcarraz and I, in his very last lesson in the mission, we taught about the plan that God has for all of his children. It is a plan that we can all live eternally as a family. It is the privilege and opportunity to be happy forever. I mean who would not want to be happy forever. That is exactly what our Heavenly Father wants for us, just sometimes we forget about that and stray from the path that will lead us to this goal. As missionaries it is our privilege to help people and families remember about this divine and awesome plan that our Father in Heaven has for us so that we can follow it and enjoy the blessings our Father wants to give us. It appears that after 7 years, the father of this family, Leonardo, is finally starting to understand this plan. 7 years ago his oldest daughter began to learn about our Heavenly Fathers plan. 5 years ago this daughter Jennifer, against her dad's will, got baptized as a step to follow this plan of happiness, and now after years of our Heavenly Father softening Leonardo's heart it seems that he is finally beginning to understand this plan and is going to let his family get baptized. With a little luck and a lot of prayer he too will take the decision to follow this plan of happiness as well. 
This has been an awesome week here in El Milagro and I am sure this coming week is going to be amazing with my new trainee. SOOOOO Pumped! 

Hasta Luego!

Elder Jack Vassau