Monday, August 21, 2017

Week 35 - Gloria's Passing, The Plan, & a couple Birthdays

Buenos Dias!

This has been an awesome week here in El Milagro. This past week has been full of celebrations and birthdays. Last Tuesday we went to the Temple as a mission and it was just absolutely awesome. To make it even better it was Elder Maddock's birthday so we went to the mall afterwards to enjoy a nice Chili's lunch and at night our pensionista even bought a cake so we could sing to him. Well this was the start of the week. On Thursday we had a multi zone conference with area authority Elder Montoya of Mexico. Originally our training was just supposed to be our zone and one other but because of a few delays... it ended up being a mission wide conference. Well all the mission minus the zone that is way in the mountains of Cajamarca. It was awesome getting to see a lot of friends and former companions for the first time in months, and getting to listen to a general authority is always really really awesome as well.

After the conference Elder Nuñez and I had a fun family home evening with Hermana Gloria Rodriguez' kids Medalit, Tracy, and Mack. Missionaries have spent a lot of time in this house, and personally I have grown really fond of the family, that is why it has been really hard recently. Gloria has been sick for almost 4 years and recently she has gotten a lot worse. To make things even better her husband also has some medical problems and has had to spend weeks in hospital service as well. Last week Gloria entered the hospital service and the doctors basically after a long fight declared that there really was not much hope. The spirits of everyone in the family were about as low as you could see and because their dad and aunt had to always be in the hospital with their mom these 3 kids were basically left all alone. For this reason we decided to head over Thursday night and make little 9 year old Mack's dreams of making pizza come true. Elder Nuñez put his master pizza chef skills to action and with the family we made a couple of pizzas. It was really a great experience being able to lift their spirits just a little bit last Thursday, especially because late Friday night, the very next day Gloria Rodriguez passed away. Although death is always a sad moment because we know how much we are going to miss that person, we can always find peace of mind to know that thanks to our Heavenly Father's plan for us we will be able to see our loved ones again and we will be able to live with them for eternity. I think the idea really brought a peace of mind to Gloria's family, especially her husband Jorge. In all my time teaching and visiting Jorge he was always a little hard, a little cynical and pessimistic, and always with doubts. He is a very nice guy but he always had his doubts, but we went to go visit the family during Gloria's service I talked to a man that was at peace knowing the his wife was not going to suffer anymore and that she was now waiting for him in a better place. I had never seen him so calm and so in tune with the spirit and I am glad that they are able to feel their savior's love in these tough moments.  Although I am sure the family is sad, I also know that in these moments they are finding some peace in God's plan... and a little bit of homemade pizza helps a little bit as well. 

On a slightly more upbeat note this Friday was my 21st birthday. It was a normal day of proselyting but our investigator Diana Loyaga had a little party for me when we showed up to teach them, complete with custom made cupcakes of/for Elder Nuñez and I and the chance to watch a wonderful missionary approved church movie and lesson with her family. Also our Pensionista hna Lila bought me a beautiful cake and had a little surprise party waiting for me when we arrived for dinner. I also got to participate in the Peruvian tradition of sticking your face in the cake... lots of fun.  Not too many better ways to pass your birthday then with some good friends, cake, and missionary work. 
On top of all of this, Elder Nuñez and I both gave talks in church this Sunday about missionary service. During Elder Nuñez' talk we had the wonderful surprise of Hna. Diana, her sister Ruth, and her son Harol all showing up to church for the first time. It was just awesome. 
Well despite a few sad moments with the passing of our friend Gloria, this was an awesome week here in El Milagro and I can see some great miracles coming up soon. 

Elder Vassau

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Week 34 - Miracles happen in El Milagro!

Buenos Dias!

This was another amazing week here in El Milagro. This week we have had some pretty amazing experiences with an investigator named Diana Loyaga. She is 24 years old and is a very active member of an evangelical church in Trujillo where she is the equivalent of a primary teacher and was baptized about a year ago. Her boyfriend is a strong member of her church and she is quite comfortable where she is right now. Well although she is comfortable where she is right now, one day when we came knocking at her door looking for her older sister Ruth, who was not home, she decided to let us in anyway and listen to what we have to say. She from the start has been very energetic and very active in her learning process. Although at the start there were some very respectful disagreements about doctrinal points she was very excited to invite us back. Well after her first lesson she had her experience which I shared a couple of weeks ago about finding the Book of Mormon in her house, and well she just continues to have experience after experience. This week while joking with a friend on two separate occasions she said "if I see a Mormon I know this is true" , once while scrolling through Facebook and another while walking to work, and of course immediately finishing the word Mormon she sees missionaries. She has had so many answers to her prayers and signs that at this point she is just asking for something a little simpler. This past week we went to visit her on Saturday, and she had talked with her pastor who has given her the advise to not allow us to visit and to especially not pray to know if the things we share are true. Well we kindly explained how prayer is just a conversation with our Heavenly Father and that he will never lead her down the wrong path. With tears in her eyes she expressed how she is scared because she knows what we teach is true and she knows that we are authorized representatives of Christ. She is scared because she knows now she has to make the changes that from the beginning she had promised to be willing to make. Well to make things even better yesterday we gave her a tour of the chapel here in Milagro. We did not even make it past the Sacrament room before her eyes started welling up with tears. With her heart practically beating out of her chest she expressed how she had dreamed the night before that she was in the chapel dancing for joy although really she had never before entered. She is so ready and knows that what we share about Christ and his church is true and now she just has to begin to take the difficult steps to change her life. To make it even better she shared with us that the night before we visited her for the first time she had been praying for God to put something in her path that would help her change her life for the better and that she was willing to do whatever it takes to make that change happen. Well I think it is a little hard to have more obvious answers to one's prayers then Diana has had these past 3 weeks. She has a lot of opposition to begin to make these changes in her life, but when we find the truth we will always have Christ by our side when we try to follow it. I just pray that she is able to stand up against the opposition she is going to find with some of her friends and she can continue down on this path that she has started to find the truth that will bless her life eternally. 

Well on a slightly less spiritual note this week I decided to shave my head because I was tired of having bad haircuts. I was thinking maybe it will help to start from scratch. Well I officially feel like I am 13 all over again hahahaha. In addition this week to celebrate Elder Maddock's and my birthdays we as a district all went to Chili's and ate some oh so missed "mexican food". Some other happenings this week include a new kitten that is continually trying to enter our room at all hours of the day. He has been given the name Elder Vassito. We are hoping he might soon help us with our mouse friend Remy as well. We also were able to visit the temple this week with our zone which is always an amazing experience. 
Well this was an amazing week in El Milagro and we have some really exciting things coming up here in the near future. 
Elder Vassau

p.s. Happiest of birthdays to my dearest brother Max Vassau who is officially turning 13 this year. WOW as of tomorrow our favorite little Max will be a big time teenager.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Week 33 - Brando Baptism!!!

Buenos Dias!

Yet another awesome week here in El Milagro. This week we had the baptism of our best bud and 14 year old neighbor, Brando Gallardo.  He is the cousin of our pensionista's kids and we met him a little over a month ago. He honestly wanted to get baptized after only 2 weeks but because of a few complications with him possibly moving away we had to post pone things until this weekend. He is so awesome and is going to grow up to be a great missionary one day. To make the service even better we invited our other neighbor, 16 year old Eduardo Castillo to perform the baptism and help out his new friend Brando.

It is really so much fun working with the young men here in El Milagro. It is not a huge group of boys who are active in the church but it so rewarding helping out the young men because not only can I see myself in them (I was there age not too long ago) but I also know how much the gospel can change their lives. I know how having fun activities always helped me while I was in young men’s so recently we have been working to try and have some fun activities for the young men members and friends in this area and on this subject... Young Men Missionary Movie night was born. On Friday, with 7 young men, about half members half friends, we all climbed into one tiny public van and went to the church to watch a short video of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to have a short lesson. It was so cool to see these young guys share their beliefs with their friends, all the while enjoying themselves with a nice little movie. Well sure enough the first thing they asked afterwards was when we can do it again so it looks like Young Men Missionary Movie Night is going to be a regular thing in these coming weeks.

This past week Elder Nuñez and I went to the Plaza de Armas to pick up a package his mom sent him from Argentina, and sure enough it was filled with Mate (the name of an argentine herb/tea and the special cup/straw that you use to drink it) and it is fair to say now I am addicted to my new mate he gifted me.

Well this has been another great week here in El Milagro and I think we will see a few more baptisms this month before Elder Nuñez heads off home.

Until next week!

Elder Jack Vassau