Last week, I thought a lot about this and the relief Jospeh felt in having three other witnesses to verify what he had been saying all along for about nine years. Last week we completed our first "mission tour" for three days with Elder Waddell of the seventy and a counselor in our Area Presidency. It was so wonderful to feel his support and his approval of the things we are trying to do in our mission. He added his witness, in his talks to the missionaries, of how important it is to be obedient, the importance of the family and temples and the importance of following the mission president. I have seen firsthand that being a mission president, at times, can be a lonely job (and any leadership calling for that matter) and to have support from the Area Presidency and other leaders means a great deal. We have felt a great sense of relief and a burden lifted. Especially the assurance that we have been led by the Spirit. The Lord never leaves us alone when he asks us to do something that is not easy.
We have asked the missionaries in our mission to study and use the Proclamation on the Family in their teaching. "Con Viviente" or men and women living together out of wedlock is a very common practice in Peru and is a great hindrance to missionary work. So often missionaries tell us about the wonderful families they are teaching and then sadly say, "But they are living together." We believe that teaching them the doctrine of marriage and of families will help some of these couples change their lives. As Boyd K. Packer has said, "True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior." During our Zone Conferences last week, nine missionaries spoke about the Doctrine of Marriage and the Family and the Spirit was very strong as they shared what they have learned and some of the special experiences they have had in teaching families these truths.
Our mission tour consisted of three multi-zone conferences three days in a row with Elder Waddell presiding. He stayed in our home and we were with him for all three days. Wednesday and Thursday we met with eight zones in the Chiclayo area along with the zone from Jaen. We had about 100 missionaries each day. The Zone Conference started with Elder Waddell, and Mark and I, greeting and shaking hands with each missionary. So they each got to meet him personally. The rest of the day consisted of about 5 hours of instruction mostly from Elder Waddell. Mark and I were asked to speak a total of 45 minutes on a doctrinal topic. I talked about the atonement and Mark talked about recognizing the Spirit. On Friday we got up early, drove to Cajamarca, (winding roads for 41/2 hours) and had another zone conference at Noon with the two zones in that area. Elder Waddell spent about 4 hours teaching and counseling the missionaries. I can't believe he was able to do that, but I know the Lord sustains His leaders.
What did I learn from this experience? The Lord LOVES missionaries. They are some of the best young people on earth doing the most important work, the work of salvation. It touched my heart that the Lord would send one of His special witnesses to teach and counsel the missionaries and to meet and greet each one individually. I believe it is the same thing the Lord would have done if He were here Himself. He taught the missionaries that our goal is not to only baptize people. Our goal is to facilitate true conversion to the gospel. We are trying to help people come unto Christ, be converted to the gospel and go to the temple and be sealed as a family for eternity. There is a big difference between baptisms and conversions!
Half the group on Wednesday, October 22, 2014
After the Zone Conference, Mark and I stayed in Cajamarca another two days for their Stake Conference. In the last week, Mark spoke nine times and I spoke seven. (We had a Stake Conference in Chiclayo last weekend also) It still terrifies me to get up and speak in Spanish, so that was a lot of terror to go through in one week. I really hope at some point it will get easier, but I am not there yet. Last weekend, I was asked to get up and share my feelings at the moment (twice) and that really terrified me. My husband had to give me a blessing before the evening meeting because I really felt I could not do that in Stake Conference. I prayed for my faith to be stronger, because I was very weak. (Ether 12:27) The Lord did strengthen me and I was able to do what I was asked to do. I could not have done it without the Lord's grace, the enabling and strengthening power of the atonement. Maybe I had that experience so I could bear a stronger testimony of the atonement at zone conference.
This week will mark our fourth month in Peru. This last month flew by because we were so busy. I feel like I was just writing about our 3 month anniversary. It has gone very fast but also very slow when we think of all we have done and experienced in just four months. It was interesting to be here in Peru for elections. We have been reading signs and bill boards since we have been here and have watched several political rallies. When we were in Jaen the last time, our hotel was right next to the city plaza, (almost every city in Peru has one, usually called Plaza de Armas) and they were having a huge rally until 1:00 in the morning with fireworks and loud music. We asked an employee at the hotel what the politicians are saying. He said, "I don't know. I don't really follow it. Blah, blah, blah!" That sounded just like the campaigns in the United States! The next weekend we were in Cajamarca, and again we were right next to the plaza and they were having the mother of all political rallies because it was the last night of campaigning. Tons of fireworks and music.
In Peru, elections are held on Sunday and the campaigns are closed the Thursday before election day. I guess that gives everyone two days to be quiet and have time to think. It is illegal for any meeting to be held on election day, so we could not even hold church. The election was held on Sunday, October 5. That was general conference. So the church could not have meetings in the church that day. Most of the missionaries had to wait until the following Sunday to see General Conference when it was broadcast in Peru. It was strange. Two weeks in a row without normal Sunday meetings.
Most of the people in Peru are very soft spoken, but they love to make noise in lots of other ways. A few include: honking horns, car horns, bike horns and any other kind. For a week after the elections, there was a protest going on at the election office which happens to be on our street. Apparently some of the voters believed that one of the men who won office had cheated in order to win. So they had three protests in one week for two hours. Somebody had this annoying horn that they honked for two hours straight. I really wanted to beat somebody up. They also use megaphones to get people's attention when they are trying to sell something, especially if it is something fresh like fish or fruits and vegetables. Anywhere you go in Peru, there are people selling things: washing cars in parking lots, selling treats or washing your wnidows at stoplights and street vendors everywhere. One night Mark and I bought some fried dough with cheese in the middle of it from a lady in front of our apartment. It was really good. They also make a hot drink from apples.
Peruvians also love fireworks and fire crackers. From what I have heard and seen, I don't think there are any laws governing them. There were fire crackers going off randomly in Cajamarca for three hours Friday night and then on Saturday too! Friday night I came home from the zone conference exhausted and feeling like I was getting sick. I was very weak and having chills. I just wanted to lay down and rest while my husband and Elder Waddell went to meet with the Stake President. As we walked to our room, we noticed the pool area was decorated and full of chairs and our room was right next to it. The bell boy mentioned something about something going on and said "Good luck." Oh yea, he was right! First there were just people talking and then at 8:00 pm the extremely loud music started. It was so loud! It turns out it was some kind of fashion show and they had models making strange
Common sight in Peru! There is a little tiny cart
with bike wheels carrying a load of about 13 mattresses.
We thought this was pretty hilarious! Right in the middle
of downtown traffic! You just don't get to see stuff like this
in the United States. We are just too careful and proper.
poses and dancing. So much for a quiet evening of rest. I'm beginning to believe that does not exist here in Peru! I turned up the TV at first and then I gave in and just listened. At least it was American music. My body was too tired to care. After 30 minutes or so, I fell asleep in spite of the noise. I think the idea of "quiet hours" is a really good one. Thank goodness, the modeling was done by 10:00!