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.