We made it through our first transfer last week. It was pretty intense. The transfer day was actually Tuesday, August 12, but it started on Sunday for both of us. Mark was at the office that day for about five hours doing Exit Interviews. I was at home getting started on cooking the food because I had two huge meals to prepare.
Monday, the missionaries departing are given about eight hours of training on how to prepare for and get a job and basically be successful in the real world, so Mark was involved with that all day. I was at home cooking with Edna. She is such a great help. She cuts up fruit and vegetables so fast, like it is just nothing. I spent most of the day making 32 cinnamon rolls for the breakfast Tuesday morning, while Edna cut up fruit for a fruit salad. Then we prepared a roast, carrots, mashed potatoes, gravy and salad for a special dinner for the eight missionaries leaving that night. They arrived at our house at about 5:30 pm. We ate dinner and had dessert; brownies, ice cream and hot fudge sauce. Lastly, we had a short testimony meeting so they could all express their final thoughts. It was wonderful. Next we went to the airport to say goodbye.
One special missionary from Honduras, really made his way into my heart in a short time. I only talked to him about three times, but in my interview with him, he said how much he loved us and that he wished he could be in the mission longer to get to know us better. I told him I felt the same. I cannot express how much we do not want the really good missionaries to leave. Inside I felt like I wanted to just grab on to them and yell, "No, don,t go!!!!!" But I knew it was time. They had given their service and their time. I told this particular missionary that I would miss him and thanked him for his service. His reply, "Thank you for loving me." My heart melted and I said, "That was easy Elder." I still miss him.
Elder Asqui: Only member in his family and only a member one year before his mission. He is awesome! He left the field as a Zone Leader.
On Tuesday morning, we were at the airport again at 7:30 am to greet 20 new missionaries, 18 from the United States and two from South America, 15 elders and 5 hermanas. What a great group! They got up at 2:00 am to get on their early flight and they all looked pretty shellshocked when they first got off the plane. I just remember how I felt the first night I came here. It seemed like such a strange world. We put them all on a bus and whisked them to Pimentel Beach. Mark gave them a little presentation and had them each burn a paper boat to represent the boats that the Spanish burned when they came to the New World. We had a small explosion in one of the garbage cans with water when an elder accidentally dropped his lighter in it. I thought we were going to have our first casuality in the mission. It literally took all the hair off his arm as he had his arm in the garbage can when it exploded. It reminded me of a mishap the mission president had when he was younger. He lit some gasoline in a cap and it blew up in his face. He did not have any eyebrows or lashes for a while!
Next we went to the mission home for breakfast. Thirty-two people, including us, the office elders the twenty greenies and two helpers, feasted on cinnamon rolls, fruit salad, cereal and yogurt. (The yogurt in Peru is drinkable. I,m still not used to that!) Then we gave some medical advice and words of welcome. Next they walked to the mission office. We met all of the transfer missionaries in the chapel. Mark and I spoke, the new missionaries introduced themselves and then transfers were announced. Last of all, the greenies found out who their new companions were and where in the mission they were going. It was a pretty exciting morning!
For the rest of the afternoon, Mark and I interviewed all of the new missionaries. What an interesting experience. These are our first group of missionaries that will be in the mission the whole time with us! They are completely ours! I asked each one of them how they decided to go on a mission and it was so wonderful to hear that they had come on their missions for the right reasons; because they have testimonies, they want to bring the gospel and the atonement to others and because the gospel has been such a blessing in their lives. One poor missionary was really bewildered. He had already been to his apartment and realized this was not luxury living. Some of them had red eyes and were about to fall asleep, but they were all choice young adults and had a great desire to serve. The eighteen year olds seem sooooooo young! We did not get home until 8:00 pm that night. It was a long day.
This past weekend we had our first Stake Conference and visit with a general authority. It was a choice experience. Elder Grow of the seventy came to reorganize the Chiclayo Central Stake. Mark picked him up at the airport Friday evening. He had dinner with us and then talked to us and answered our questions for 2 or 3 hours. He is such a kind and gracious person. We really enjoyed having him in our home. Mark spoke at all three sessions; Priesthood Leadership, Adult evening and the Sunday morning session. Saturday evening, Elder Grow had us stand up to introduce us. Then he said, "We will let Sister Williams rest tonight but tomorrow she will give a thirty minute talk!" I am so glad he was only joking.
The Sunday morning session was incredible. The outpouring of the Spirit was overwhelming. I felt such joy in feeling the love that these saints have for the gospel and for the Lord. They had a special youth choir and they all looked so nice. The young women had on white blouses and black skirts and the young men wore suits and ties. They were all so clean and beautiful. I have not ever talked much about the music in Peru but it is a little different than what we are used to in the United States. There are no organs, only pianos, and they rarely get played. Most Peruvian services and baptisms are sung a capella. Without accompaniment. They have done this so much, that they sing a lot of the hymns in their own special way. Sometimes it takes me a minute to figure out what they are singing. They are not the best singers. There is no harmony, but they love to sing and they sing the hymns with all their hearts.
This choir did not have the best sound I have ever heard, but as I looked into their faces, I knew that they meant every word they were singing and it greatly touched my heart. The choir diector was so cute. You would have thought he was directing the Tabernacle Choir. He was very expressive in his conducting and was enjoying every moment of the production. He had created a special arrangement of "Come, Come ye Saints and the youth were happy to follow his every "command", just like the Sons of Helaman. Ha ha! Mark and I were asked to bear our testimonies. After the meeting, the saints rushed the stage. We could not get off the stage for quite some time. The good part was that I got to hug almost every young woman and shake the hands of the young men in the choir and thank them for their service that day.
Peruvians are very affectionate people and they believe in hugs and kisses. I have received so many since I have been here. We have really felt the love and the welcome of these people. I love to see the elders in our mission hug each other when they see one other. In the United States that might seem strange, but they are not afraid to show their love and affection for each other. Of course, I am not allowed to hug the elders, but I get lots of hugs from the hermanas and sometimes I forget and almost hug one of the elders! I can,t wait until I,m not a missionary any more. When I see these elders again, I hope to give them a big hug!
are sisters everywhere, thank goodness!
Training (12 sisters and 1 elder) with their companions