Monday, November 17, 2014

La Vida Loca

Every time I think I have experienced everything that I possibly could on this mission . . . something crazy happens. I really need to quit having that thought! Two weeks ago we were in Jaen for a Stake Conference. We had picked up two general authorities at the Chiclayo airport on Friday evening about 5:00 and immediately driven the five hour trip to Jaen so that they could begin interviews early the next morning to find the new Stake President. We had finished the evening session of the Conference at 9:00 pm and went looking for a place to eat. It had been a long day. We were looking for a hamburger/ice cream place we had eaten at before and had a lot of trouble finding it. We finally did and realized it was all closed up. Apparently, it was out of business. So, disappointed, we decided to eat at the hotel restaurant that was supposedly open until 10:30 pm. However, when we got there it was already closed. We just had to laugh. What else could go wrong? There was a chicken place a half block away so we decided to walk there and eat (the four of us). The food was actually pretty good and we felt we had made a good choice.

By the time we finished eating, it was now about 10:15 pm, standard eating time for mission presidents! It always takes a loooooong time to pay the bill and our general authorities were very tired, so my husband told them to go ahead and get their things from the car and go ahead to their rooms. I took them to the car to get their stuff and then made the stupid decision to walk back to the restaurant to wait for my husband. The Area Authority insisted that he would walk with me, but I told him I would be fine. It was only a half block. He still insisted and began telling me that he knew Peru and it could be dnagerous. Right at that very moment when he said that Peru was dangerous, some guy came from out of nowhere from behind us and grabbed my purse and yanked on it as hard as he could. He yanked it so hard that it knocked me to the ground. Since he was unsuccessful in getting it, he took off and ran and jumped on the back of a motorcycle with another man. As I was picking myself up from off the ground, I commented to the general authority, "Yea, you are right. Peru is pretty dangerous!" He and the other seventy, who had returned, kept asking me if I was okay. I said I was fine, just my arm hurt really bad. Finally, my husband came out and wondered why we were all still standing there! When we got back to our room, we looked at my arm and I had a huge, nasty bruise. It was throbbing that night and was pretty tender for the next two weeks, but I was kind of proud of it, as a badge of honor. Especially since the "thief" was not able to get my purse away from me. I like to think my Mom was there protecting me!

Last week, we attended a Mission President's Seminar. It was held in Bogota, Colombia, so we spent three days in that country. Bogota was beautiful! So lush and green. It rains there almost everyday. On Wednesday we road a tram to the top of the highest mountain in Bogota, Mount Monterassat. It was 10,000 feet (Bogota itself is 8,000 feet). It was so amazingly beautiful. There is a church on top that was built in the 1600's. There is also what they call a cloud forest. The mountains had a huge cloud cover over them that is always there, but it never snows because it is not cold enough. Fitness enthusiasts actually run up a trail to the top of the mountain. The record right now is running it in 23 minutes. It is a very steep mountain and the altitude so high. It's an accomplishment to even breathe up there. I didn't understand how it was even possible to run up the mountain, but sure enough, when we were taking a group picture in front of the church, a jogger came running up from the trail! He had made it! Some people are so amazing, and such showoffs too!

                                          This is on top of the mountain with Bogota in the
                                           background. It is a huge city of 8 million people.

On our way home, we spent the night in Lima two nights. The second night we were in a 15 story high hotel. At about 7:20 pm, we had just got back from eating dinner, to our room on the sixth floor and there was an earthquake. It lasted about a minute and it was one of the most frightening minutes of our life. We were just waiting for nine stories on top of us to cave in! It was amazing to see the hotel shaking in the way that it was! We couldn't remember what we were supposed to do. We looked out the window at an office building and there were people eating a buffet meal like there was nothing happening. Mark just kept saying, "It's still going, it's still going!" I finally said, "Can you just be quiet!" We heard on the news the next day that it was 5.6 to 5.8 on the richter scale. I really hope we never have that experience again, but there are earthquakes in Peru all the time, so we may not be that lucky.

During the seminar we heard from the Area Presidency: Pres. Uceda (who is incredible, speaks English fluently and studies the scriptures in English), Elder Waddell and, Elder Carlos Godoy from Brazil. We also had David F. Evans from the Presidency of the Seventy come from Salt Lake to speak to us and we learned a lot from him. We realized some things that we need to do better. It seems that there is always room for improvement. I also had the opportunity to hear their wives speak in a wives session. The best thing I heard was counsel from Elder Christofferson that was quoted. In speaking to leaders who are incredibly busy and can't seem to do all that they are supposed to, he said that the way to not worry or feel guilty is to follow the promptings that you get from the Spirit. That little bit of advice gave us a lot of comfort. Sometimes we just cannot do it all!

Our next experience was just incredible and it all started with a simple email from the Area Office. We were asked to get our Peruvian Driver's License. Little did we know what we were in for. It started on a Friday. There is preliminary work that you have to do in order to get your license. First you go to a notary office, fill out some paperwork and get it notarized. Then you go to a doctor. In our case that was a four hour ordeal because we did not know the correct place to go. We went to five different places before we were able to get help. You have to have a blood test, a doctor's exam and a psychological evaluation. We had the blood test and the evaluation which consisted of drawing shapes, drawing a person and doing mazes. Very ineresting. Then we were told we would have to come back in an hour and a half because the doctor had gone home for lunch. That ended up being a six hour ordeal. That was just the preliminary. We still had to go the the MTC, Ministerio de Transportes y Comunicaciones. That was another day. The church flew a man they hired from Lima to help us with all the paperwork, etc. After going to the MTC, this man and my husband decided it would be easier to get our license in Lima.

So on our way home from Colombia, we stayed in Lima an extra day to get our Driver's License. We left our hotel with the hired man again at 8:00 in the morning, hoping to be done by Noon and catch a flight back to Chiclayo by 3:30. But in Peru there is always a problem. There was a problem with our doctor's exam. They did not like the way he had filled out the paperwork. So we had to go do the whole blood test, doctor's exam and psychological evaluation again. This time, on top of the pictures and mazes, we had to arrange blocks in ten different patterns. We were just very aware that we did not have a lot of time, so it made everything that much more stressful. We went back to the MTC and took a practice exam. It was in Spanish and the study material was in Spanish, so it was not easy. But, I had spent two hours on our flight studying the questions, while my husband relaxed and read a book. I was able to finish the exam before he did and then helped him with the last couple of questions. We both passed.

Next we took the real exam. They had only one English version, so I decided to take that and Mark took it in Spanish. Even in English, it was not easy. I finished 40 questions in about 15 minutes. It was so hard and worded very differently than it would be in the States. I was really worried that I did not pass, but I did!! It took Mark much longer and he did not pass. They would not let him retake the test until the next day. So we had to cancel our flight and spend an extra night in Lima. I went to two places and three different stations before they could make my license and I waited two hours to get it. We were working on getting my license for eight hours and neither of us had had anything to eat the whole day. I helped Mark study all night, then he went back in the morning, took the English test and passed.  After about 3 1/2 hours, he was able to get his license! What did I learn from this experience? The DMV in the Statesis really not too bad. I will never complain again about going there!

                                          We're official now! Look out Mototaxi's!

This morning I had a chance to ponder the scripture in D&C 18:10, "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God." This is something I have really felt is true as I have served on this mission. Yesterday we had the opportunity to attend and speak at a District Conference. I always get choked up as I look at these humble people and feel the Lord's love for each precious soul. I realize His love for every soul as the missionaries go out and try to teach and reach every single one of them. I feel His love when He sends His servants to teach the Saints of the world and when He sends them to teach the missionaries and talk to each one personally. I feel His love for the missionaries when he asks my husband to read 240 letters each week so he knows exactly what is happening in the life of each missionary, OR when he asks us to interview every single missionary every three months so we can give counsel and show our love and interest in each one. I share my testimony that I know that Christ lives and that I know that he loves every single person who has lived or will yet live on this earth. He is full of charity and loving kindness. He is our advocate with the Father (D&C 45:3-5). He wants everyone of us to repent and to come unto Him. I know this is true.

Halloween in Peru. Harry Potter came!