We had the privilege of hearing from several General Authorities including Elder Neil A. Andersen - The Doctrine of Christ, a group discussion with Elder Bednar about teaching with the Spirit, Bishop Waddell (a good friend of ours and the mission) - The Purpose of Commitments in Missionary Work, a group discussion with Bonnie L. Oscarson about Teaching People and Not Lessons, Elder L. Whitney Clayton about working with members in missionary work and closing remarks by Elder Dallin H. Oaks about Repentance and Baptism. I was so happy that Elder Oaks emphasized that our leaders want us to study Preach my Gospel every day!
Every missionary I talked to received a different impression from the meeting and that is fantastic and the way it should be. Whenever we attend any church meeting, we should be listening to the impressions that the Spirit has for us as an individual. My feeling from the Spirit was of the importance of Preach my Gospel. I don't think we can ever overemphasize or talk about this book too much. Everything taught in this meeting was directly from Preach my Gospel. I really believe the key to effective missionary work is directly tied to how the missionaries apply the principles of Preach my Gospel.
I was talking to the companion of a very effective missionary, one of the most successful in our mission. I asked him what he had learned from his companion and how it would help him to be a better and more effective missionary. The first words out of his mouth were, "He studies Preach my Gospel all the time." I said, "I knew it!" Then I talked to the missionary himself and he shared his testimony with me of the principles of Preach my Gospel and all the great companions he had that were such a great example to him of applying those principles in missionary work. I knew it!
Second Event: Julie, Tucker and Cutter were able to come and visit us in the mission. They arrived on January 27, 2016 and it was a day we had looked forward to for a long time! Cutter turned a year old on January 13, 2016 and this was the first time that my husband had ever seen him. Mark was so excited to hold him and play with him. It had been 11 and a half months since I had seen him too! I knew it would be a blessing to us to have them here and enjoy their company, but did not realize the blessing they would be to the mission. Our Leadership Counsel was blessed to have Julie sing for them and share her testimony. She also talked to the Hermana Leaders in my Training Meeting and was able to share some words of encouragement and faith to a sister who had to go home because of some severe health challenges. I felt like everything she said was exactly what this sister and her companion needed to hear.
In the kitchen with my oldest
Papa playing with Cutter
Tucker had some serious discussions with some of the Elders and Cutter just spread joy and sunshine everywhere he went. There were sisters at Stake Conference who wanted to have their pictures taken with him. One morning Mark took him out on a walk to buy some eggs and he could not get away from a group of women who were just enamored with the gringo baby. They kept saying, " Gringito, Gringito!" We decided this is going to be his nickname now. They all had to touch him and squeeze his cheeks! It's not every day you get to see a Gringito in Chiclayo! I'm sure for most of the people here it was the very first time! We were sad when they had to go, but their other five kids were really missing them at home. We were so thankful for the sacrifice they made to come and spend some time with us.
Hiking at the Pyramids of Tucume
At the Museum of the Señor of Sipan in Lambayeque
A couple of weeks ago, I turned to my husband and asked, "Did we ever live in the United States?" After 19 months in Chiclayo, this has become our life and our reality. It is getting hard to remember some things in the States, so it was funny to see Julie and Tucker's reaction to everything in Peru. It all seems so normal to us. Many things are very different; the traffic, the driving, the handling of food, the buildings, etc., but Mark and I do not really notice it anymore! The first time Julie saw a moto, she exclaimed, "Wait, people actually ride in those?" They had the experience of seeing the Central Market, (which Tucker thought was extremely sanitary), to visit pyramids (which Julie thought were a little disturbing) and to learn about the Señor de Sipan. They saw the countryside and the crazy way people travel at times. They also got to see two Peruvian beaches and the mall, which almost trick you into thinking things are the same as at home. It was quite an experience. Of course it was sad to say goodbye for another year and a half, but we have always felt the great support of our family in this service.
At the Mercado Modelo (Central Market)
Third Event: The Mission President had his 58th Birthday! He is really getting up there! I never understood I was going to be married to such an old man, but it is much better than I could have ever imagined! I am so thankful for this amazing man who is my most faithful friend in all the world, who does anything he can think of to make my life better and who has never said one negative word to any person about me. He really doesn't even know about all my weaknesses. He is so full of charity that he thinks I am perfect! Believe me, I am not, but I am so grateful for his unfailing love. He is such a great Mission President and I cannot believe all the things that he manages at one time. He is an inspiration to all the missionaries. I had the privilege of seeing him give a blessing to a very ill sister. He gives blessings to missionaries all the time, but this was only the third blessing I have seen and heard him give. It was just as tender and inspired as to one of his own daughters and I realized he really is a father to these missionaries in the Chiclayo Mission. They are so blessed to have him for their father and their leader! I love him with all of my heart.
At Pimentel Beach
The Birthday Boy: 58 years old
It is amazing to me that everything in the scriptures is about missionary work. I did not realize this until I served a mission, but everything we read in the scriptures as missionaries applies to us! This is yet another reason why the Book of Mormon is so important to missionary work. There are so many applications for missionaries and so many great examples of teachers and missionaries in this inspired work.
In January we had interviews with all our missionaries. This is always such a great experience. My favorite question is always, "What have you learned in the scriptures recently?" I have such amazing experiences discussing the scriptures with them and hearing their insights. The one truth I learned about the scriptures this time is that the scriptures give us hope! That is probably obvious to many, but sometimes I am slow to catch on! One after one, the missionaries shared scriptures with me and each time I felt so inspired and so buoyed up. I realized this is one of the reasons I love the scriptures so much! The scriptures give me hope! I always feel hope about something when I read them; hope for a better world, hope for life after death, hope that the atonement can and will heal us, hope that we can overcome everything. The list goes on and on.
Singing at a Baptism
I was interviewing one missionary and he shared with me how much he loves to read the Book of Mormon. He said before the mission, he really did not enjoy reading the scriptures, but that now he has realized, that no matter what is going on in his life or what challenges he is having, after he reads the Book of Mormon he always feels better. I said, "That is exactly how I feel too. The scriptures always give me hope." He agreed, "Yea. That is such a good way to put it!" I am so thankful for the scriptures in my life. I know I am weak, but I could not make it through this life without them. They are the foundation of my testimony of Jesus Christ and of my faith. They have increased my knowledge of the gospel and have helped me to find the answers I have needed. (2 Nephi 32:3)
One scripture that has given me hope recently and increased my love for the scriptures is 2 Nephi 31:20. This scripture teaches us many things and is quoted often, but I received a different insight that has given me more hope. It tells us that we need to, "Press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and all men." For me these are not easy things to do. Even with my faith in Jesus Christ, when things have been their worst, I have not always felt like I could keep "going" forward, let alone "pressing" forward. The words "pressing forward" themselves imply that this is not going to be easy, because we are moving against something. It is called opposition and we have a lot of it in this life. All of this makes it difficult for me to have a perfect brightness of hope at times, but one thing I have learned in this mission is that no matter our circumstances, we all have hope in the atonement of Christ. This still does not mean that it is easy.
Last of all, we need to have a love of God and of all men. Some people are easy to love, like the missionaries, but others are very difficult to love. So we have this list of things we need to do and it could almost seem impossible, but I believe we are given the answer in the second part of the scripture. "Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." To me the answer to the first part, is like with so many things, the scriptures. If we feast upon the scriptures, we will be able to keep pressing forward, we will have a perfect brightness of hope and more love for God and our fellowman. These are all blessings that have come to me from feasting on the scriptures. Then we are given the hope that if we do these things, we will receive eternal life, which according to the scriptures, is the greatest gift of all. (D&C 14:7).
Yesterday, we had the privilege of attending the baptism of the 18 year old son, Daniel, of Jose. Jose is a recent convert of 9 months. He received the Melchizedek Priesthood in November and it is so wonderful to see him growing in the gospel and in his role as a priesthood holder. He was given the opportunity to baptize for the first time and it was his son. What a special experience and the testimonies of Jose and his son were powerful. The Holy Ghost bore record that their words about the prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon were true.
Visiting Sister's Rooms
I also had the opportunity to work with two sisters, yesterday, and to teach two lessons with them about the Book of Mormon. I had the great privilege of bearing my testimony of this sacred powerful book, the Book of Mormon. I was impressed with their ability to teach and in their faith that the Lord would guide them to know what to do. After a lesson with Anna, who is preparing for baptism the end of this month, we tried to visit two other investigators, and neither of them were home. We were walking on dirt roads in the heat of the day, and the sisters got a little bit frustrated. One of them asked if we could say a prayer, so in the middle of the dirt road, with dogs and people all around, we stood in a circle and had a prayer. The sister prayed with much faith that we would be directed to someone who needed our message that we had to teach.
We resumed our walk down the middle of the street. There were people on either sides, but after a few moments we almost walked right into a woman and her son who were walking two dogs. She was really sweet and friendly and seemed very comfortable about talking with us and told us some things she knew about the Mormon Church. After some minutes, she finally admitted that she was a baptized member of the church, but after moving to Chiclayo a few years before, she had quit coming to church. The sisters wrote down her name and address and phone number and arranged to visit her the next week. Her son of 9 or 10 years was so cute and had a special glow about him. I knew that he needs the gospel in his life. So the sisters now have a woman to rescue and a son who needs to be baptized. That was one miracle that day, that we happened to bump into these people who need the gospel after our prayer in the street.
I read chapter 8 in Mormon the other day and it is so powerful. Mormon talks about our day, when it will be said that miracles are done away. Just like so many beliefs in the world today, that teaching is false. There are miracles in this work everyday. The restoration and the Book of Mormon itself are miracles. The gifts of the Spirit I witness everyday are miracles. I am so grateful for the scriptures and that they teach the truth. I am grateful they teach us the Doctrine of Christ. The Savior taught His doctrine very clearly to the Nephites and declared that anything more or less than this was not His doctrine. We need to feast on the words of Christ everyday so we understand and know the truth and we are never lead astray.
When we visited the Sister's Room in December,
their apartment was right over a restaurant. The
stairs were full of corn stalks, that's how we
fatten up cuy (guinea pigs) in Peru. These little
guys were living upstairs getting ready for the