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.