Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Saints of the Latter-Days!

                                          Our picnic stop on the way to Jaen. No rest stops.
                                           No grass or tables. We just stand while we eat.

This may sound a little weird, but there are two things that I really look forward to in Peru: Chocolate and owls! It has become a tradition on our road trips to Jaen to watch for a little city called "Chocolate".  I only noticed it a few months ago. We had only driven to Jaen at least 15 times before we were even aware that it existed! It is very unique. Every single business, cafe and restaurant in Chocolate is called "Chocolate". I have counted and there are 28 signs that say Chocolate something. The funny thing is that there are only about 28 people in this town. Okay, maybe 100, but it is tiny! One day we decided to stop, because there are also many signs that say "Vende Chocolate" or "Chocolate for sale". We stopped and asked if they really sold chocolate and they started pulling out all kinds of chocolate in all shapes and sizes. The lady said that she had a "factory" in the back and that she makes all the chocolate herself. The chocolate wasn't that good, but it was very interesting.

There are at least 6 Chocolate Cafes in Chocolate.

This is the really classic one. It is an abandoned,
falling apart building.

I just noticed on our last trip that just before you come into town, a few hundred yards before, there is a sigh that says "Chocolate Armageddon". Somebody in Chocolate has a sense of humor!

Zone leaders and Elders in Jaen. Sometimes the 
rooms look like a very nice garage.

A common sight on road trips. No space is ever
wasted in Peru!

Now about the owls. I have mentioned before that we have a whole flock of burrowing owls that live in our neighborhood and I have fallen in love with them! They are so adorable and fun to watch!

They peek up from over the sidewalk or from the bushes. It is amazing how they blend in with the surroundings. The way they hop around is adorable. These are one of the common birds that cause problems at construction sites because their burrows are in the ground. So now I have a little owl collection and some Elders that I mentioned it to have even contributed! It's fun!

My owl collection. They paint gourds and make 
owls out of them. They also carve them out of rock. 
I know no one cares about the
owls, but I do!

The house across the street is coming along, very
slowly. Sometimes the workers do not get paid,
so they stop working. It's hard to see, but there are
all kinds of sticks to support the second floor. They
are just getting ready to pour the cement for it.
Construction is very different here.

Hermanas teaching

We attend baptisms every Saturday. Of course, they
are always a highlight. This is why we are here!

This is a popular, famous park in Chiclayo called 
"Las Musas". We had a little date and walked 
around one night. It was our first time to see it in two years!
 The park has a dozen statues of Muses.
 This is the one that inspires knowledge.

Visiting another room in Olmos.

This is how some families travel, believe it or not!

This chicken got left behind! This is how chicken is transported.
No, this is not a refrigerated truck!

The baptism of this lady was pretty special. She 
lost one of her legs not too long ago and did not
have a lot of hope about life. She said that she felt
something special the minute the sister missionaries
walked in her door. The gospel has totally changed
her perspective about everything in life. She has
a new peace and hope that she never had before.
This is why we are here!

My husband really likes to take pictures of me
when I am eating and I really don't like it! I am
trying to smile and look happy in this picture.

Another great group of missionaries going home. 
It gets harder to say goodbye every change. We
grow to love these Elders so much.

The Sister Leaders with me at Leadership Counsel.

The cuy (quinea pig) eating machine! I don't think
he will ever eat it again. I got the Elders
to eat mine. I just couldn't do it. I have
a hard time eating meat that is so rubbery
 that you can't cut through it.

 If you want a McDonald's breakfast in Chiclayo,
then you have to make it yourself. This is my
healthy version of egg biscuits. They were
actually pretty tasty! Much better than cuy!

Many times when we visit rooms,
my husband ends up fixing something.
He is quite the handy man!

 Multi-Zone Conference role play in Jaen.
My husband always has to be a part of it!

They are all smiles on the way to the airport.

Zone Conference lunch in Jaen. 
Chinese food is actually
very popular in Peru.

Sweet Sister Cachi visiting from Bolivia.

We just finished up Multi-Zone Conference last week and we felt like it was a huge success. We felt the spirit in abundance and felt the great spirit of the missionaries. They are so amazing! They are literally the best young adults in the whole world! We constantly marvel at their dedication to the work and their desire to find the elect that have been prepared to receive the gospel. These missionaries literally see miracles on a regular basis. Not every day is perfect. Missionary work is tough. They suffer a lot of rejection, but they just keep going! Through diarrhea, parasites, ingrown toenails, pulled ligaments, painful feet and aching backs! They just keep going. I cannot believe what they are willing to endure sometimes. The sacrifices they make are great, but of course, the blessings in their lives are to phenomenal. 

Mark taught them about the significance of living in "the latter days". He taught us that we are in the "eleventh hour" (D&C 33:3) and that the Savior is coming at "midnight" (Matthew 25:6) Therefore, our responsibility to teach the gospel "this last time" (Jacob 5:70-71) is extremely urgent. I followed up with a discussion of D&C 133. It is an amazing section of the Doctrine and Covenants. We discussed the importance and responsibility of preaching the gospel and declaring repentance because Christ is coming! I love a quote in Preach my Gospel that says, "As you teach people to understand the Restoration of the fullness of the gospel, you "declare repentance." The missionaries do this every day! They do not need to stand on a street corner and "cry repentance." They simply need to teach that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored and that a living prophet gives us guidance about how we need to live.

My husband did such an outstanding job of teaching the missionaries. He has a gift for teaching by the Spirit with power and authority. The missionaries love to hear him teach! There is never a problem with missionaries not paying attention. They have such a great desire to learn and are like sponges that absorb every word! A wise leader once told us that the missionaries will listen and do whatever you tell them. You just have to tell them the right things to do. 

My husband shared this quote given by President Ezra T. Benson to the youth of the church. He said: 

"For nearly six thousand years, God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the Second Coming of the Lord...God has saved for the final inning some of His strongest and most valiant children, who will help bear off the kingdom triumphantly. That is where you come in, for you are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God. In all ages prophets have looked down through the corridors of time to our day. Billions of the deceased and those yet to be born have their eyes on us. Make no mistake about it--you are a marked generation."

My husband asked me today what I learned from Multi-Zone Conference and I told him that it is how elect and chosen the missionaries really are. In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord says, "And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days. And they shall go forth and none shall stay them for I the Lord have commanded them." Those that "go forth" have been chosen by the Lord to be a voice of warning in these last days. I have a firm testimony of this from the experiences I have had the last two years.

It is always a great opportunity to spend this time with these fabulous missionaries. We love them so much! We role played teaching the Word of Wisdom, tested their knowledge of Preach my Gospel with a game, introduced a new booklet from the church about using technology in the mission and just had a great time! One missionary wrote me and said, "Well thanks for the Multi-Zone. It was amazing! I won't forget that moment." We feel the exact same way!

President Benson also said, "There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time than there is of us. Never before on the face of this earth have the forces of evil and the forces of good been so well organized." We are at war. As the faithful of the lord, we are all under attack constantly. I have felt the fiery darts of the adversary at various times of my life, but never like I have in the mission field. All I can say is that I know that Satan does not want us to succeed in the good work that we are doing. In the scriptures, we are told two very important things: In D&C 45:57, it teaches us, "For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived. . . shall abide the day." And Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:37, "And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived." Unfortunately, it seems that in our day most of us, including "latter-day saints" are taking the internet for our guide, rather than the Holy Spirit and the scriptures. Because of this, many are being deceived! It is so troubling to see the untruths and confusion that are being spread through modern technology and to see all those who accept them without searching the right sources.

We have a great responsibility to seek the Spirit, to search the scriptures and to flood the earth with truth and with our testimonies. We also have a living prophet on the earth to guide us in these troubled times. Why would we not give heed to his counsel? The counsel of prophets has been a blessing in my life and the life of my family. I am so thankful for the organization of the church, for its ordinances and the huge blessing they are to me and my family. I know that President Monson is the mouthpiece for Jesus Christ and that Christ leads and guides His church. I am so grateful to be a part of His church and His work. What a privilege it is to serve Him as a Latter-Day Saint!