Monday, May 25, 2015

The Lord's Tender Mercies

This is the first weekend we have been home in four weeks. It has been an eventful month. The first weekend in May, we were in Lima for a Conference of all Mission Presidents in the South America Northwest Area, including Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. It is always a great experience to be taught by the Area Presidency. We stayed at the Westin Hotel in Lima and were treated to a lot of delicious food. There was a lot of talk about how we can bless the lives of the missionaries, but in my mind I was thinking what a blessing the missionaries are to me. They inspire me to work harder and to be more dedicated. Many missionaries tell me that they pray for us every day. What a tender blessing to us! This really touches my heart. When I am discouraged, they always make me feel better. They have given me so much encouragement in learning Spanish. They always tell me how well I am doing. It means so much to me. I love these choice young people.

One of the biggest blessings of going to Lima was that they let us go a day early so that we could attend the temple. It had been six months since Mark had been and two and a half months for me, so we were very happy to go. When we first arrived there, they gave us two blue cards that said we had an appointment for the 2:30 pm session. We went to eat a quick lunch, then returned to the temple. Not knowing that the blue card was really important, Mark left with both of them. When I got to the new name booth, the woman asked me for my "tarjeta", which means card. I had no idea what she was talking about and asked if I needed my recommend. In frustration, she finally left to get a worker that spoke English.

While she was gone, I remembered the blue card, and explained to another woman there that I did not have the card, it was with my husband. Next, the English speaking woman came and I explained to her that I did not have the card. Apparently, you are not supposed to be allowed to go on the session without it. The Lima temple is extremely small and there was a big demand that day because it was a holiday. So I needed that card! At this time, another worker came (this is four now) and they explained to her that I did not have my card, it was with my husband. She asked for his name and was just about to leave to retrieve it, when another worker appeared who was the Veil Coordinator (that's a very important position in the temple). She heard my story and said, "It's fine, just let her go. They already have the card by now!"

So I made it through the booth and arrived at the session. By the time I got to the session, though, I was feeling a little discouraged and depressed to be, once again, the stupid person that did not understand Spanish. It's an experience I have had many times here in Peru. But then the session started and the Lord blessd me with an incredible tender mercy. I could understood every word of the session as clearly as if it was being spoken in English and I mean every word. Usually it takes great effort for me to understand native speakers. But not this day. I was blessed with a doubly sweet experience in the temple that day and was able to relax and feel uplifted and inspired, especially because I was blessed with the gift to understand a foreign tongue.

In Lima, we took the opportunity to visit a fountain park. They claim it is the largest fountain park in the world and it was pretty amazing. There are all different types of fountains, all lighted up and four or five splash pads where kids and adults were having a lot of fun getting wet. The main attraction was a row of fountains where there was a show with lights of all colors, lasers and music, traditional and modern. It was very well done and very entertaining. We also had some wonderful frozen yogurt and were treated to hot off the griddle crepes with orange sauce and ice cream. They were delicious! The best part of the trip was rubbing shoulders with such wonderful people and trading "war" stories. We got to spend several hours with the Marlers who will be taking over part of our mission on July 1st. Jenner Brown, nephew of Julie and Tucker, is one of their assistants. They are wonderful people and we feel very assured that we can trust them with our missionaries!

              My husband was so excited to take a selfie!

                                            The fountains in Lima were so pretty at night!

The next week we were in Cajamarca for four days for interviews, Multi-Zone Conference, Pensionista Training and Stake Conference. It was an intense four days. I had some great experiences in interviews. I can actually carry on a conversation with the Latino missionaries now and I was feeling like all my efforts to learn Spanish have really been worth it. My favorite question in interviews now is "What have you learned recently in the scriptures?" The missionaries and I have had some very spiritual experiences as we have shared insights and feelings about the scriptures. Most missionaries learn to love the words of Christ when they are serving a mission. That alone will be a great blessing to them throughout their lives. It was our first run through of our Zone Conference and everything went very well. Our emphasis was on using the scriptures in their teaching, working with members and the doctrine of the Allegory of the Olive Tree in Jacob 5.

                                            Pensionista in Cajamarca. She and her family
                                           own and operate a bakery. Those are two wood 
                                           burning ovens behind us where all the bread is
                                           baked. It is delicious and never burned! The shelves
                                           to the left are always filled with bread every day
                                           of the week, except for the Sabbath.

This is the only modern convenience in the bakery:
Not Elder Lalli, but the huge bread mixer! He is holding
a cake that the pensionista made for us. It was absolutely
amazing! We ate it in the car with our bare hands.

The day of the Cajamarca Stake Conference was Mother's Day. I was showered with special notes and little gifts from the missionaries. They were so sweet! This trip was a little bittersweet for us because it was the last time we will ever be in Cajamrca which means the last time that we will see the majority of these missionaries. Two areas in our mission, Cajamarca and Guadalupe, will become part of the Trujillo North Mission on July 1st. After Conference they gathered around us, lingered and we took pictures with each missionary. Then they followed us out to our car. I will never forget the sight of those sweet missionaries waving goodbye and watching us as we drove out of sight. It really touched (and broke) my heart. They are such wonderful young people that we have had the priviledge of knowing.

                                        Mother's Day gift from my sweet thoughtful husband
                                         waiting for me when we got home from Cajamarca!

The following week we had a Multi-Zone Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, then on Thursday we headed to Jaen. The group in Jaen is only one zone and 18 missionaries, so it is a little bit smaller, but the Spirit was just as strong. We were able to go to some lessons with four of the missionaries. The sisters I was with taught the gospel very well and taught naturally as a companionship. They used the scriptures and answered questions. I was very pleased with their lesson and got to bear my testimony of Joseph Smith and the living prophet. We did more interviews, trained the Pensionistas and spoke in Stake Conference. At one moment when we were training the Pensionistas, as I stood in the front, for a moment I had the thought, "What in the world are you doing? You are training Pensionistas and talking in Spanish!" Ten months before, I had no idea what a Pensionista was or how to speak Spanish. It is amazing how the Lord is able to work with our weaknesses and use us as instruments in His work.

                                              The big event: Zone Conference! 1 of 4!

We had an experience in Jaen that reminded us that the Lord is always watching over us in this work. On the way home from the evening session of Stake Conference, our brakes went out completely! Luckily we were close to our hotel. We were supposed to drive home the next day after the second session of Stake Conference, but knew that would be impossible without getting our brakes fixed. We had visions of being stranded in Jaen for days. There are hardly any cars in Jaen. so just finding someone to fix the car was a challenge. Thanks to connections in the church, we found a bishop who knew a good mechanic.

                                            The miracle car with new mattresses for
                                                      missionaries on the top.

There is always something that needs to be
fixed when we visit apartments.

The greatest miracle was that the mechanic was able to find the parts to fix the car and by the time Conference started we were ready to go! We have waited for car parts for a month in Chiclayo, which is much larger than Jaen! How this happened, we do not know, but know that the Lord cares for His servants. Our brakes could have gone out when we were on a windy road next to a ledge. This reminds me of a scripture in 1 Nephi 17:3, where Nephi says:"And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them." We certainly felt that means had been provided for us to accomplish what we were commanded.

 Youth in Cajamarca practicing for the cultural celebration
 June 20, 2015. Night before the Trujillo Temple Dedication.

We were touched to see them working so hard to
prepare to dance for a prophet.

We have felt the need to emphasize using the scriptures more effectively in our teaching in the mission. One of my new favorite scriptures is D&C 11:21. This is a well known and oft quoted scripture, especially in missionary work. The Lord says. " Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men." I feel the first part of this scripture gets emphasized a lot. Of course it is important to obtain a knowledge of the scriptures before you can teach them. But the part that I was really impressed with is the last part. The power to convince men and change their hearts comes from the Spirit and the word. It's not the Spirit alone or the word alone, but both used together. Missionaries know they cannot teach without the Spirit, but sometimes fail to understand or forget the power of the scriptures combined with the Spirit.

We challenged the missionaries to search the scriptures more diligently and to learn the scripture mastery verses. They are really key scriptures in missionary work and answer a lot of questions and concerns that investigators can have. I really have a testimony that this is true, because I have been in lessons where a spirit of doubt has been changed to one of belief almost instantly when scriptures have been shared combined with testimony. There is power in the scriptures! They change the hearts of men! At times, I think we are afraid that those we teach, investigators or even our own children, will not understand the words of the scriptures. That is why it is our job to teach them what they mean. I believe they can understand anything that the Lord impresses upon their hearts. Remember the experience of Joseph Smith, an unlearned boy, but when he searched the scriptures his heart was touched and changed forever.

                                                      A beautiful garden in Cajamarca.

My husband taught the allegory of the olive tree and reminded the missionaries that this is about them. They are working with the Lord and His prophet to lay up fruit against the season. How exciting it is to know that we are fulfilling prophecy in our day. We are part of the allegory! We will have joy with the Lord in the fruit of His vineyard. What an exciting time to be involved in missionary work. Every member is a missionary! I have talked with many missionaries about the prophecies of Nephi in 2 Nephi about the last days and the gathering of Israel and how exciting it is that we are actually helping to fulfill this prophecy. This has always given me a desire to serve a mission and I am thankful that the Lord has answered this prayer.

Farming in the Andes.

This past week we had a visit from our friends the Sutphins from Rock Springs, Wyoming. Bro. Sutphin was our bishop when we first moved to Wyoming and Mark and I had the opportunity to be their hometeachers for the year that we lived there. When they found out about our call to Peru, they said they would come visit us and they kept the promise! We had some interesting experiences with them. One of the most interesting was a tour of a sugar factory. We saw how tons of sugar cane is brought from the fields, washed and ground down, over and over again, about five times. Finally the cane juice is separated from the by-products. The sugar is made from the juice. The by-products are ground down and burned to power the whole plant. It was pretty amazing and we were covered in soot after we went out in the yard! At times, when the wind is blowing the right direction, we actually get little pieces of black soot on our window sill, from the plant 60 miles from our house!

We also took them to the Pimentel Beach, where we watched fishermen in their little reed boats, fight the waves and go out to check their nets. They got about one or two fish from each one. It looked like a very hard way to earn a living to me. We went to the Mercado Modelo and walked for miles and found some great souvenirs and gifts. Also saw some very interesting sights (like cow guts and chicken feet, my favorite!) Mark took them to the nicest newest park in Chiclayo that is lined with statues of ancient Gods of the native people. We shared some fun meals and good conversation. They tried some Peruvian dishes like ceviche and goat. Friday they left for Trujillo and were able to get into the Open House of the Trujillo Temple which will be dedicated on July 21, 2015.

This apartment literally had the sink
in the shower. No wasted space.
That could save you
a lot of time. 

Recently I have been studying about the Spirit in Preach my Gospel. I have thought a lot about the revelation that we receive to help us in this calling. Like President Monson always says, "When you are on the Lord's errand, you are entitled to the Lord's help." I believe there are also other reasons why we are able to get so much help and inspiration. First, I believe it is because of all the prayers that are offered in our behalf. We have our entire large family praying for us, all 206 missionaries in our mission, and all the members and temples of the church praying for us! We can feel the support of those prayers! Another reason is because the Lord loves the missionaries so much and is so concerned about their welfare. He is relying on us to help them in the areas where they need help and to make sure that their physical needs are met. It has been such a blessing to feel the love and concern of the Lord for His servants. They truly have been called to labor with Him for this last time!

Some of our missionaries live in such luxury. We visited
Elders Oswald and Anderson in La Cria, Pomalca and
were surprised to find them living such a lavish lifestyle!

Most of our missionaries live in one room apartments,
but these Elders have a house all to themselves. Here are 
some of it's features:

Sitting Room with plush furniture.

Custom built tin roof.

Their own private gym!

Private garbage burning area. No messy garbage removal.

Custom made ping-pong table.


  1. Hello, Sister Williams, what a great post! I have been reading your blog since you began it almost a year ago. : ) My son, Elder Haddock, is serving in your mission and between his emails and your blog posts, I am really getting a feel for what Peru is like! Thank you for all the service you are giving and sacrifices you are making in behalf of the mission. I am so grateful for all you do to help our sons and daughters succeed in their work! --Sister Tracie Haddock

  2. Thank you so much! We are so thrilled to have Elder Haddock in our mission. You probably know by now that he has joined the office staff so we will be seeing a lot more of him for the next couple of months and we are very happy about that. We are very thankful for the fine and wonderful son that you have raised and for his help in our mission. We will be depending on him a lot!

  3. Yep, we got his email yesterday detailing his first busy week! This will be a cool opportunity for him to see how a mission is run--kind of a macro view of things. My prayers for him have changed--I am now praying he will learn quickly and be effective in his office work (and hopefully still get to teach one or two people)! Again, thank you for the things you do that help our missionaries feel the Lord's love and watch care. : )

  4. Sis. Williams, how exciting it is go get on your blog and see photos of my son Elder Oswald. I want to thank you for all you do for our missionaries. My son has loved his mission and put his whole heart into it. I am conflicted in my feelings as we get ready for him to come home next week. I am excited for myself and my family to see him again but sad for him as I know he will be leaving a big part of his heart in Peru. Thanks again to you and Pres. Williams for all of your service, support and love for the wonderful young men and women serving with you. Nikki Oswald