Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Backpack, Book of Mormon, Action!

Well hey there!

This past week has been probably a nine out of ten. Not because anything bad happened, but solely because there´s no such thing as a perfect week. Elder Tohara was really nervous this week because today is transfer day. Thank heavens he didn´t get transfered because I'm just a wee lil' pup of a missionary and we've also grown to be good friends and I´d give our companionship a solid 9 our of 10 as well!

Last Thursday we had a huge multi-zone conference with over half the mission. It was a big surprise because that never happens. Elder Tohara and I thought that maybe the President was going to anounce the "end of the world" or something on the 21st or 23rd or whatever haha. But you know, just the norm. I learned a ton and there's a lot to apply from my notes. It was good to see some of my friends from the CCM and my former companion Elder Wilcox.

Last Friday we had what I would consider "my first baptism". His name is Joel and he's fifteen years old. His mom is a less active member but ever since we started with Joel they've been coming back to church. Joel is an investigator that I had the privelege of being there from the first contact to baptism. Ahhhhh I know..... my first big step. I'm growin' up Ma! The young men's group is really starting to see some sizeable results here as we´ve already had two new young men be baptized in the past month. Us missionaries and Elder Price, the senior couple missionary in our branch, are really working with the branch president to get things going here in Mala with these boys. Any advice Dad?

The members are also starting to bring people to church, and the Spirit is really guiding us as our third companion. An older gentleman named Hipolito, just seemed to float right into our pool of golden investigators, and he's super excited to be baptized on the 5th of January! We also found another younger guy, Cristian Jesus, who's going to get baptized on the 19th of January. And last but not least, we've been visiting a member family, the Pomas, for the past month and they're now returning to the church after years of inactivity.  Their son is getting baptized this next Saturday and the parents are starting to prepare to enter the temple to seal for all time and eternity. What an amazing blessing it is to be a part of all that's happening here!

Last of all, I have kind of a funny story haha. So Thursday night, right before bed, Elder Tohara leaves the room to go to the bathroom. The bathroom, first of all, is about 50 feet from our room, so just know that. Also know that I was so completely exhausted and tired that I could barely keep my eyes open. So yeah, I kneel to say my personal prayer while Elder Tohara is doing his business. Without even realizing, I wake up in my bed, under the covers, unaware that I had even moved or finished saying my prayer. I look at the clock which says "12:47 A.M.". Then I look at the other empty bed........wait, EMPTY?! Yup, so I run to the bathroom since that was the last place I knew of the whereabouts of my good ol' Latino mission buddy. I knock softly on the door and say in Spanish, "Elder Tohara, what are you doing?". All of the sudden I hear scurrying and the light suddenly turns on from behind the door with the quick little reply "I can't open the door." So yup, I found a hammer and we basically broke the door open. Apparently the lock broke and so Elder Tohara was stuck inside for almost 3 hours while I slept peacefully in my nice warm bed. Also, he tried to bang on the door and yell to get my attention, but of course, I was already saying good night. After companionship prayer at 1:09 A.M I said I was sorry and we jumped into bed. I really am such a good companion.

Anyway, that's it folks! I love you all and just know that I think about you everyday!

Elder Lundberg

P.S. Hannah Denney - Thanks for your letter! I'm so excited for all of you deciding to go on missions. Keep me updated! Chocolate!
Mackenzie Brown - I completley believed in your letter that you were getting married. Good one. Thanks. Stay single! Or at least ease the real news next time.
Kelsey Baer - ITALY! No. That doesn't just happen. How insanely bangarangin of a missionary you'll be Sorobella Baer! Keep up the good work my friend and we'll stay in touch!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Oh yeah...What's up America?!

Family and Friends!

Sorry about the last letter I wrote home. I got cut short on time and didn't have enough time to explain my story fully. But just to clarify, it was Hermana Prissy who had the miracle of finding 20 soles in her little book that her little boy found while at church. She actually gave an incredible talk yesterday in church about the true Christlike spirit of Christmas. She really inspired the whole crowd with her Spirit. Our chapel was filled to the brink and there were more people than ever before! I love breaking church attendance records.

Anyway, Christmas is coming up so quick. I will actually be able to communicate home using Skype. I'm not sure when, but I'll let you know when I know. And it's a little different having Christmas in the summer time, but it sounds like Utah has had yet another warm winter. Last night I got to watch a recording of the First Presidency Christmas Devotional and felt a little tinge of homesickness seeing all the lights on Temple Square. My companion always says jokingly, "Wow. Gringos tienen plata eh?" (Gringo have silver, eh). So he said that in the middle of the devotional as it panned over the conference center and water fountains with lit up trees everywhere. Basically, he thinks every single American is a millionaire. I try to convince him otherwise, but he insists. Ah well. We really have so much to be grateful for.

This past week we contacted a new married couple! Their names are Nestor and Vanessa and they have two small boys. The first thing they said was how they want to change their lives and come closer to Christ. Their biggest challenge is that the father works in the mine for ten days and then has five days of rest, so it's hard having huge spaces between lessons. But this past Sunday they came to church, and attended the Gospel Principles class afterwards where I taught the Plan of Salvation as a review with all the new converts. Hermana Vanessa had a huge grin on her face when we asked her how church went at our lesson with them yesterday evening. It was pretty great. We're going to set their baptismal date for January.

I received way to many letters today and made the mistake of reading them all. So sorry my letter is really short. No time left haha.

I love you all!

Elder Lundberg

It's the Mala life for me!

Hey ery´body.

Well, this week has been interesting. A lot of good and bad, but it´s still going great.

First, the good. After my last email last week we went over to the Wilson family's house for lunch. They're an older couple from Nevada. The Price couple, who are from Idaho, and who work with Elder Tohara and I in Mala, were also there. They're the kind of hilarious old people that just say funny things and when you look at them you think "Ah, cuuute." Haha. Anyway, they prepared a really nice Thanksgiving ¨lunch¨for us with all the props.  I goota say, I was pleased. So, bye bye chicken and rice.

On Tuesday we visited with Kelly to have kind of our last lesson with her. After we finished, I invited her Mom to her baptism. Her face was completely  surprised to find out what her daughter had never told her, that she was going to get baptized. You could tell her mom was a little miffed, and Kelly's face went really red. We left feeling a little worried. 

The next day she showed up to her interview and she was super discouraged. Her uncle is a Catholic priest and all her aunts are very Catholic. Kelly rolled her eyes as she said, " mi familia es Catolico" (My family is Catholic). She also became very sad when she explained that they all said ¨muy feas cosas¨ (very ugly things) to her. There exists a lot of confidence problems between her and her mother. Her mother doesn't really understand baptism and thinks Kelly has to wait a few more months to make a decision. That's just how a lot of people are here. Marriage, baptism, grocery shopping, etc are just things that people say they have plans for in the next few months, but it usually ends up being about thirty years. Haha, not all, but some.

So yeah, we're hoping to talk with Kelly's mother this week and teach her the doctrine of Christ to help her understand the decision that her daughter wishes to make. We're going to do our best to have her baptism this coming Saturday, otherwise the retention for situations like these is very low.

Another hard thing for me was showing up to some of the investigators homes for visits and finding the kids outside and their parents drunk inside. This past weekend there's been a lot of partying. We showed up to visit Juli and Jesus, a married couple with four kids, and found her daughter walking out who told us about her dad being ¨borracho¨or drunk inside. Yeah, that was hard to see. But I'm keeping my head up despite the adversary's efforts to prevent the work from rolling forth.

A highlight of the week was our visit to Hermana Cruz. Although we found out that she's going to be moving at the end of the month and therefore can't be baptized since she won't be ready by then and there's no chruch presence where she's going.  

Hermans Prissy, her neighboor recounted a miracle that happened to her.  Last Sunday she had to walk to church because she only had about a sole and a half which is about 80 cents America money. She walked about 30 miles with her two boys. While at church she prayed to God that she might find a way to get home instead of walking. In a little book that she gave to her boy he found 20 soles which she had actually searched earlier that day very very thoroughly for any left over money. I teared up as she told and cried during her story. What a woman of great faith and such an example.

Love you all !

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Can anyone say pollo?

Oh hey fam and friends.

This past week has been absolutely fantastic. The mission. So great. The companion. Even greater. He also would like me to say "Hello" for him.

I think you guys are most curious of all about the little details. So here I go.

I wake up at about 6:26 every morning. Kneel by my bed and pray until about 6:32 am.........

No, I'll spare you those details. A normal day here in Mala really just consists in visitng investigators. Elder Tohara and I have study in the morning, we go over to Hna. Faviola's house for lunch each day (which usually consist of some kind of chicken and rice) and then the rest of the day we visit couples, individuals, etc. Many times we go with members to the different homes to visit.

Right now we are working with 3 married couples toward baptism and 3 unmarried couples towards a matrimonial date. The Lord has really answered our prayers for new families to teach. The ward really lacks more priesthood holders because a lot of the men work or don't feel like coming to church on Sunday morning. This Saturday we have the baptism for a young sister named Kelly. She is really an incredible person and is really smart. She also cooks amazing pastries. One time, before she was taught the Word of Wisdom, she baked some cookies with coffee in them and gave them to Elder Tohara and his previous companion. But she quickly learned to throw away that recipe. Talk about someone who is SO prepared for the gospel. I'm super excited for her baptism!

Last Saturday we had a "Gran Toque de Puertas" where members from all around the zone came from other cities to help members in Mala visit all the less actives. We had about 50 people show up! Mala is one of the towns that has more struggles compared to the other towns, so it was really great to have that kind of support. We were able to visit a lot of people and get new references for Elder Tohara and I to teach. The next day in church (yesterday), our chapel was PACKED. I felt so happy and inspired by the members.

Anyway, that`s my story for the week! I would advise you all to read Mosiah 2-3. Really great stuff in there.

Love, Elder Lundberg

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy Chicken Thanksgiving

Well hello there. And Happy Thanksgiving!

I sure do miss the whole mash potatoes, cranberries, turkey, pie, etc. feast. What did I have for Thankgiving? Oh wait. Chicken and rice. Yup. Wouldn't see that comin' either.

So, last week I FINALLY got dearelders from literally a month ago. I think those who sent me letters accidentally sent them to my mission address while I was at the CCM. Yup. There's difference. But thanks Jess, Chels, Kelsey, Katie, Andrea, Dad, Grandma, etc. I sure do appreciate you writin'! No really I do appreciate it so much. It's awesome to hear about your thoughts or decisions to go on missions for some of you. Since the mail system here kinda....well.....doesn't really exist in Mala, I have a hard time sending outgoing letters. I think what would be best for letters from friends would be to email my Mom at carolyn@onvoyinc.com. She can forward them to me and I can just print them off.  LET ME KNOW IF YOU'VE GOT A MISSION CALL.  I just want to know. Ha. For packages and special letters you can just send them to my mission address. The district leaders give me my mail and packages every P-Day. Just think about 3 weeks ahead for mail to get to me in time for Christmas.

First off, I want to apologize for my letter last week. After missing a week of writing I receive like two thousand five hundred and two letters in my email (actually more like 15) and was dumb and didn't just print them off and read them later. That's why I probably sounded rushed or undetailed in my last letter. AND the computer wouldn't let me send photos. So I'll try again today. So....yup.

Well, to be honest, this past week has been a bit rough. Both Elder Tohara and I got sick with colds and sore throats. Not fun. We weren't in the cheeriest of moods some days. My faith and positivity was really tried this past week because a couple progressing investigators haven't been meeting their compromisos (I don´t know the word in English ha!) before baptism.  Hermana Cruz is now pending, and another we had to move her date up one week to the first of December. But why am I complaining? I'm in Peru preaching the gospel dang it! How awesome is that?! So yeah, today is much better.

We've been praying for more families with men who can hold the priesthood. The Lord blessed us with A LOT of references this past week, all of which are families. However, the curve ball is that only a fouth of the couples are married. So, the Lord hasn't made it all that easy for us because first we have to work them to get married, and then baptized. So yeah. Challenging times ahead for sure.

This next Saturday the whole branch and branches from other cities are coming to Mala to visit all the less actives. The senior missionary couple in our ward, Elder and Sister Price, are really hoping this will help us start to turn things around for the members in Mala. Elder Price says he has always felt like a miracle is about to happen in Mala. We have a new chapel under construction in town, and it will definitely be an improvement from having pigeons nesting above us during sacrament meeting haha. So I think that will also help attract people towards the church, and not think of Mormons as just some random Protestant church. I can't wait to see the progress over the next couple months!

We had another baptism last Saturday for a deacon aged boy named Alberto. He is such a great kid! Honestly so ready. He lives with his aunt and uncle, who are Catholics, and they came to see the baptism. They were really happy he was deciding to join our congregation despite our differing beliefs, and I think they felt the Spirit very strongly. Alberto is hoping to someday baptize both of them.

Anyway, I've gotta leave time for sending photos. I love you all so much!

Elder Lundberg


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Finally! Out in the field.

Well well well, so much has happened in the past week that I barely have any time at all. They had us send letters last Tuesday but that was no help since they won't even get there for a while. So sad to here that Romney lost. My heart sank when I saw a picture of Obama smiling with a cellphone to his ear at one of the newstands. Anyway, everything is going well for me. I´m very happy here.

I've been assigned to the Canete zone of my mission. More specifically, I'm serving with my new companion Elder Tohara in a little town called Mala. I love the people here. There's a big big problem with less actives in this town, but those who do attend are very faithful and a great example to me. The hardest part is that, apart from a place like Utah, members here just don't have the same kind of influence, support, and resources that I'm used to. These people pass through many trials and many of the parents have to work on Sundays to provide for their families. That's our biggest obstacle, church attendance.

On the bright side, we are having great success. Elder Tohara and I have baptisms lined up for every Saturday over the next couple months. Pretty amazing! One sister investigator, Hermana Cruz, lives about 20 minutes north by bus near a cattle ranch. A member, Sister Prissy, lives close by and accompanies us to our visits. Sister Prissy is a single mother with several children, and I have never seen such incredible strength and faith.  She is a HUGE part of the branch and gives us references all the time.  Hermana Cruz is an older women and has her baptism set for the 1st of December.  She's also very humble and an incredible woman.

In general, the people here are very very very poor. It's almost unimaginable sometimes. But my Quito trip prepared me well for what I would see. Our chapel is pretty makeshift, but the cool thing is that the church is building a new one for the Mala people by next summer around June. I'm hoping that will really help attract more people to the church.

I also love my companion Elder Tohara. He is such a good example to me and the trainging with him is going very well.  He has about 6 months left and has remained so faithful.  He's from Bolivia and speaks really good Spanish. He was impressed with how well I can speak coming fresh fromt the CCM.

I also had my first baptism last Saturday.  Hermana Blanca is about 13 years old. The rest of her family are members, so hopefully they can find strength in being a complete family within the gospel.

Love you all!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Last week in the CCM

Happy Halloween everybody!

I hope your all having as much fun as I am today! Ok maybe we don't get to wear costumes and go to haunted houses but we sure have a lot of candy! Since it's P-Day all the missionaries bought loads of candy at Tottu's (a Peruvian grocery store) and we´re doing sort of a room to room trick or treat tonight in the dorms. That should be fun! Halloween is the literally the best!

It's so sad to hear about the disaster up there on the East Coast. We literally have no idea about anything going on down here. I'm praying for Elder King up there in Pennsylvania! I'm sure this will provide him with a lot of opportunities to serve those who have been affected.

Anyway, I'll be outta here in less than a week. I'm pretty darn excited. It's been a long road up to this point and I know that once I start proselyting full-time my mission is going to feel like it's too short, but you know, that's life! Time flies when you're a missionary!

Taking a step back, I was able to go proselyting again last Saturday. We only went about 15 minutes into the more ghetto part of Lima. We knocked doors for about 3 hours and were able to hand out five Book of Mormons and get about eight references. Although there was nobody who was an on-the-spot golden investigator we did cheer up several people with our message. Towards the end of the day we were headed back to the chapel when I had an impression to teach a man in a park that we happened to pass by. When we approached he was listening to music with some ear buds and we just sort of smiled and said hello. He finally took out his ear buds and talked to us for about ten minutes. His eyes were pretty red either from feeling extremely tired or he was depressed. I don't know, his spirits just seemed pretty low so we chatted a bit and gave him a BoM. He was a little perkier when we left after having asked for his contact info. I think we were able to bring a little Christlike love into his life that day. To me, it wasn't a mind boggling miracle or a life-changing event, but it was just a simple greeting in the park that bore witness to me about the impressions we make as missionaries. I genueinely have so much love for these people here, and can't wait to get goin'!

Anyway, I love you all SO MUCH! I always look forward to mail from anybody (since I never get any haha) but I think once I get out there in my mission it will be a little better for letter writing (dearedlers are proving to be a little difficult). God bless you all!

Elder Lundberg

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Little Experience In The Field

So, this has been another great week here at the Peru CCM. The two higlights of the week were last Saturday when we went proseltying in Chosica (a suburb of Lima) and today when we went a mini tour of the old parts of Lima. Oh yeah......and a third highlight, there was a plague of food poisoning throughout the whole CCM and I had a real fun time a couple nights ago. Like if I could probably say how fun it was I would probably say.......zero. But first, some of the good news.

Last Saturday all of the "Norte Americanos" were paired of with Latinos to go proselyting in Chosica. I was paired with Elder Villacrés from Guayaquil, Ecuador. I thought it would be nice to get out of the main part of Lima but the poverty only got worse as we headed East. The people here are very humble, and it´s hard to imagine that some of those houses are even houses. Some families that the missionaries taught that day lived in homes made of bags full of trash, cardboard, sticks, and plastic bags tied into ropes to hold it all together. All in all, if you ever think America has it bad......don´t. But the huble circumstances of these people never keeps them from being happy, and that´s what makes America "bad" I guess you could say. People here are much more willing to listen to what you have to say.

The first part of Saturday we went out to visit less actives. The whole experience was exciting and eye-opening. First, because I realized how fun it is to preach the gospel in Peru. Second, I realized how much I really don´t know Spanish when listening to the people speak. But that´s ok, I´ll be speaking like one of them by the time this whole mish thing ends right? Anyway, we first visited a middle-aged woman up in the hills of the city who was less active. She was so excited to see the missionaries, which is actually pretty surprising because many of the less actives are resistant when the missionaries show up. She welcomed us in and we taught her about the importance of reading the scriptures and I was able to bear a simple and powerful testimony about how the Spirit will guide her in taking care of her family if she reads the Scriptures each day. It was cool to look out her window, see all those poor makeshift buildings dotting the desert hillside, and realize that the gospel really is such a universal and all-welcoming world religion. She certainly felt the Spirit like I did, and said that she would attend church the next morning with her husband and kids (they´re all members but weren´t home).

After lunch, we were able to just knock doors. The cars can no longer go up at a certain point up the hills, and so the dirt paths between homes are very narrow. We placed two Book of Mormons and got a few reference cards. The first woman we talked to was very interested because although she was separated from her husband some 15 years ago, he was actually an inactive member. She didn´t know much, but we all bore testimony to her and she willingly accepted the invitation to go to church! We also found another man walking home and he also took a Book of Mormon. Family was very important to him, so we talked about the Plan of Salvation, and I had a hard time understanding, but that´s why they pair us with the natives thankfully. Anyway, chosica was incredible and I loved the whole experience!

Yeah....so about my sickness. There was a rampage of food poisoning, but just know that I´m perfectly fine! I had it Sunday night, but I was better by the morning so it´s all good. It wiped out many of the Norte Americanos, but we´re all good!

I sent some pictures of our tour today. The first few are of the cathedral where we visited the catacombs. The next few are of the plaza and the palacio. The kids making the weird face is my companion, Elder Wilcox! He´s pretty awesome. Hope you enjoy!

I´m overtime so I should go, but just know that I love you! Have a great week!

Elder Lundberg

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What!? Missionaries at 18

Hey, everybody! It´s been another marvelous week here in Peru. The blue sky and sun came out in full array for a few days here during General Conference and it was so nice! Even though it´s cloudy here most of the time in the city, the weather is still really nice. I can´t wait to get our of the city after my time here at the  Peru CCM.

So yeah.....what´s up with the age changes?! We were all so excited when they announced that. A lot of us went to BYU for a year before coming and so we were all talking about how the whole nature of BYU will change as far as the student ward atmposphere will go. It kinda just depends if 18 becomes the new norm for leaving on a mission. That would be SO incredible if Deni and Jade served missions. It could mean that we could get back around the same time too! And that way neither of them will get married before Elder See and I get back too. Also, I´d love to hear from all my friends who are now considerig maybe going. I get dearelders about every Thursday or Friday. So to answer your question momma....nope. I don´t get them the very next day.

Anyway, I would like to send some pictures this week so I´ll end with a quick spiritual thought so I have enough time. Of course, it´s from General Conference. Like most everyone else, Holland´s talk really touched me as well. Like you Mom, I too got a little teary-eyed. Instead of writing ¨Peter, lovest thou me?´´ I wrote down in my notes, ¨Davis, lovest thou me?¨, and that really put his message into a personal perspective for me. I got too thinking, ¨how much would I sacrifice to preach the gospel?¨ Of course I´m serving a mission write now, but if I had too, I would honestly give everything up just to have all my family and friends who have not yet joined the gospel have the same conviction of the truth that I do. I love my Savior, and I know that whatever I give up to him in this life, I will receive a hundred fold, and even more in the next life, as the scriptures teach us. I have never paid so much attention to GC before, and that was just one of many impressions that I received throughout the weekend.

Elder Lundberg

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Life In CCM Paradise

Hey Family and Friends,

Unfortunately the internet was down on P-Day and yesterday so we were delayed a couple days for writing emails. Wednesdays are P-Days for the next little while just so you're aware. Dearelder is still the best way to contact me but they haven't arrived yet from last week. Also, I still have't had a chance to send pictures yet but I hope I can by next Wednesday for sure.

The CCM here is absolutely incredible! You wouldn´t believe how nice it is. It really is an oasis in the middle of a poor, shanty neighborhood. But there are huge walls around to keep us all protected. They have a really nice soccer field made of turf, sand volleyball, and a big courtyard. I can't wait to send photos because it really looks almost heavenly with all the white buidlings and green trees.

Also, tomorrow is General Conference!!! How cool is it that I get to sit for ten hours on a hard plastic chair in an auditorium?! Way.......not cool. there's something in the air here that just enhances my ability to fall asleep. Every morning is such a struggle during personal study time because everyone in our district just can't stay awake! But I'll do my best to watch GC. It's kind of cool to be so far away for the first time during these types of moments.

On P-Day we get to go to the temple in the morning to do an endowment session. I was the only missionary who chose not to use the translator because I wanted to listen to it in Spanish. I sat next to this really ancient man with crutches who was missing a leg (pretty humbling actually) and the coolest part was that I understood almost 100% of it. My Spanish is REALLY getting quite good as far as comprehension, reading, and writing goes. My speaking is getting better everyday, and all the missionaries in my district are jealous haha ; ) But, I see it as an opportunity to help and teach them because I can answer most of their questions and sometimes I have to translate between our teachers and the "Norte Americanos". In a couple of weeks I'll have the choice to be in one of the native speaking districts and I think I'm gonna go for it. I also will probably end up being a translator for some of the weekly devotionals. There's another elder who lived in Mexico for a while and so he knows Spanish really well and does the translating, but once he leaves in a week, I'll probably be asked to take over......

Anyway, I don't say any of this to boast about myself. In fact, like Ammon says in Alma 26, I do no boast in my own strength, but in the the Lord my God who strengthens me. I am so grateful to even have this privilege in the first place. I love that fact that I get to volunteer two whole years to serving Him and the people of Peru.

Anyway, I pray for you, and I hope that I can be the missionary that y'all want me to be.

Love you all!

Elder Lundberg

P.S. Also, I praise all those who took the time to work down at the BYU football game for Mr. K.  Way to go Mom and Ash for putting it all together! I wish that man the very best and pray that he can make a full recovery soon. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Elder Lundberg Arrives at CCM in Peru

Lima Peru CCM Garden
All my travel plans went really smoothly yesterday. We had no layovers longer than 45 minutes and the flying was magnificent! I was kind of emotional landing in Lima because this is where I will be for the next 23 months! The city here goes on for miles. Driving to the CCM (or MTC) gave us an even closer look. Going to Quito really prepared me for what to expect before I got here because the culture and the driving is essentially the same. The sky is always gray here, sort of like Seattle or something. I've read in several books that Lima has been named the most depressing city in the world or something along those lines. However, I don't think so because the gospel has a light of its own in my life.  I'm just excited to be here to spread that light!

The CCM is a complete oasis. The facilities are way way way nicer than Provo.  The grounds have some incredible plants and flowers that no American like me would have ever known existed. For breakfast we had french toast, yogurt, and this really weird fruit that I didn't know existed. It looks sort of like an orange pomegranate and you peel off the hard shell leaving a soft cotton-like cocoon. Then you puncture a whole in the top and the inside looks like a bunch of caviar or fish eggs. At first I was shocked and disgusted, but you just suck out the inside and swallow without chewing and it tasted really good! A couple of the elders in my district are also American and have been really helpful in telling us what to do. They've only been here for three days but they said that they've learned more Spanish in just three days than the whole time at the Provo MTC. I'm so excited for my Spanish to really be put to the test! Also, the food I've heard is SO much better, so there's another plus.

My new companion is Elder Wilcox. He's from Layton, Utah and came from the beginner Spanish group in Provo. I'm glad that I can help him learn Spanish because it will only fortify what I know by teaching him.  He's really great and I think we'll get along wonderfully!

Anyway, already I'm experiencing many new things just in the few hours since I woke up. It turns out, Peru is only an hour ahead of Provo instead of two hours like I thought earlier. So just a heads up. Also, DO NOT send any packages to the CCM. Dearelders or email are the very BEST way to stay in contact. If you do send a package, send it to my mission address for when I get there in six weeks. The mail office is four hours away.

Well, gotta go! Everything's great and I'll try to figure out a way to send some pictures soon!

Lots of love,

Elder Lundberg

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Elder Lundberg Is Going to PERUUUU!

Elder Lundberg received notice yesterday that his visa arrived and he will be departing to Peru on Friday morning!  He is very excited.

Friday, September 21, 2012

E. Lundberg Hits Week 3 At MTC

HOLY COW. There ain't nothin' like flyin' time here at the MTC. Days are weeks. Weeks are days. And I can hardly believe that it's already P-Day!

We had the opportunity to go to the temple again this morning and that was wonderful as usual. Of course, I look forward to the temple breakfast afterward because they really have the BEST omelettes and Belgian waffles. I can't remember his name, but the temple worker that runs the cafeteria is a lil' Asian man who is hilarious and is always so gracious to the missionaries. He's definitely a highlight of temple visits as well.

Anyway, I HAVE been getting the dearelder.com <http://dearelder.com>  letters. I've written Aunt Janine a couple times through dearelder.com <http://dearelder.com>  and that's been really great to hear from her (thanks Janine!). Here at the MTC, missionaries LIVE for mail. No joke. Some missionaries in my district get like four letters or some kind of package every day......and then there's me. Like one letter a week. Haha it's ok though. No hard feeling to anyone out there. Elder Fitzner in my district hasn't even heard from his own family yet! As a joke, another Elder Kimball asked his grandma to write Elder Fitzner and SHE DID. We were all dying of laughter when it arrived because Elder Kimball's "Grammy" is  a riot. She sent pictures of herself with the funniest little captions and then a nice little note with plenty of jokes to go around the district for a week. Ahhhh......good times.

Thanks for sending me Christian's e-mail. It's nice to read his words as he continues to adjust to the Germany life. It will be so cool for him to speak German fluently by the end of all his time there.

This past week I've been fighting off a minor case of strep throat. Well, the strep was never confirmed but I'm pretty sure that those nasty little white spots are a sign. I believe I got it from one of the elders who was staying next door to us as he was temporarily assigned to our district for a few days. He had to stay behind his travel because of strep throat. But the oils have really been helping and I've been using a lot of herbs to really keep me healthy and well throughout the week.

Right now I have three "investigators" who we're teaching. All three are my teachers but it's been a really good experience to treat them as real people. At first I was struggling with the fact that they aren't actual investigators, but one of my teachers provided me with some really great insight. He said that by playing the roles of real people who he taught while on his mission, it helps remind him of the love that he has for those people. Sometimes, the lessons we teach as missionaries are even answers to his prayers to questions or concerns in his own personal life too. That's evidence to me that these mock lessons are really just powerful testimony building experiences. Elder See also told me about how since he treated the "investigators" as real people while at the MTC, it has really helped him as he actually teaches real people while in Guatemala.

The language is also coming along really well for me. I've already pretty much finished going through the whole grammar book with like 42 chapters or something. Everyone in the class recognizes my talent for Spanish so it's a really great opportunity to teach my companions and fellow district members. I'm kind of in this awkward stage where I'm sort of in between the advanced and intermediate classes. I can understand Spanish almost perfectly, but my speaking is still getting there.

Anyway, for my spiritual thought I just wanted to share a really cool story that was given at the last Tuesday devotional. Paul E. Koelliker of the Seventy spoke to us and I believe he currently serves in the South Africa area. He told us about a missionary from South Africa who was called to serve in Uganda. Elder Holland was scheduled to speak in Ethiopia to the members there andthis South African elder was called to put together the arrangements for Elder Holland's stay. After arranging the hotel, restaurant, travel, etc. Elder Holland spoke to the Ethiopian missionaries and mentioned that at times missionaries have been faced with arrest, persecution, etc. but that the Lord would always deliver and protect them. After Elder Holland's visit this young South African missionary could now go back to Uganda. While at the airport, the Ethiopian officials arrested him becuase his visa had problems. This missionary had done nothing wrong, but the officials saw it as an opportunity to insult the Ugandan government. This elder was sent to jail, and was placed with the thugs and ruffians overnight. Church officials did all they could to get him out of there the next day but the jail wouldn't release him. They couldn't get him out for three weeks! They were finally able to hire an attorney who aided in the missionaries release on that third week. This missionary, however, was not shaken. When he came out they asked him how he'd been and he said "I taught the gospel everyday. I didn't get any baptisms, but I was able to teach many investigators." I admit that I teared up a little when I heard this part, because I found it so inspiring to me as a missionary for this gospel. I don't know how I would react in a situation like that. The best part of the story was that the attorney who rescued the elder from jail actually took the lessons and was later baptized because of this experience. The Lord can really take unpleasant situations and bring out incredible positive results.

Anyway, that's my spiritual thought for the week. I'm way over time, but I just wanted to share that with you. I will be sending another hand written later to answer all of your questions and to let you know about my visa and other things I might need.

Love, Elder Lundberg

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Week 2 - Elder Lundberg Settles In At MTC

This past week has seemed pretty long. It's weird to think that only a week and two days ago I was being dropped off at the curb without the slightest idea of what was going to happen next. I was so nervous! Fast forward eight days later and here I am! I love it here and all that waiting was worth it! The only thing that makes me nervous now is the cafeteria food. Last Tuesday we did some service as a district and I guess I got an "inside look" at what happens behind the scenes as the cafeteria employees were preparing lunch. It wasn't horrible but......eh. Just seeing that lady slice up a huge vat of some kind of egg material with a butcher knife was.....different. But I was trying not to focus on that as I carried boxes and pallets back and forth from the kitchen to the loading dock. I also got to see a mixer literally the size of my whole body (a real MAN's mixer as one of my companion's called it haha). It's amazing how much effort they go to to feed over 2750 missionaries for three meals each day. I just wish it could be a little less......digestable? Haha it's not THAT bad but I've learned to avoid the orange juice and the breakfast potatoes because of their........detrimental affects.

Anyway, enough about food. Oh wait. We went to the temple this morning for a session and got to eat the temple food. AAAAHHHHH!!!! So good. Temple food is definitley a highlight of my week now.....and endowment sessions of course.

The language is coming along really well. This past week we've been teaching a couple  "mock investigators" named Valdecir and his "spouse" Miriam, who are actually teachers just acting as investigators. We've made a lot of jokes about Valdecir becuase he was sort of frustrating to teach. He would eat skittles in the middle of our prayers. Pick at his sock incessantly. And fall asleep literally EVERY time I or anyone else would bear their testimony. And he wouldn't keep commitments very well. We finally decided to come up with our own verb.......Valdecir (derived from the spanish words "vale" and "decir"), which means "to evade" or "to pick at one's sock constantly." Haha we have some good times as a district.

However, the last few lessons have been really great. Even though it was kind of frustrating at first, I've seen a lot of improvement in my ability and the ability of my companions to communicate in Spanish. Although we still have a long ways to come, it's also been a testimony to me that even if we can't speak perfectly, the Lord makes up for that when we let the Spirit do the teaching. We also have to remember to teach people, not lessons. I love how Preach My Gospel allows such flexibility in letting us give a lesson according to the needs of the investigator. Even though these investigators aren't real, I think the Lord gives us these MTC opportunities to develop our own testimonies before we actually go out into the real world. I can't wait to bring the joy and happiness that this gospel brings to the people of Peru!

About Peru, I'm hoping my visa will come in time. Apparently, visas have been a little bit delayed for most of the Peru missionaries. I'll find out probably on Monday whether or not I'll be leaving on the 25th or staying for several more weeks. I'm praying that it will come because I really want to be immersed in Spanish down at the Lima CCM so I can really feel confident in my own speaking of the language.

Well, time is running low. I guess I'll finish off with a spiritual thought of some sorts. This past week we've been talking about the Doctrine of Christ a lot and how it relates to our purpose as missionaries. The purpose is "Invitar a las personas a venir a Cristo al ayudarlas a que reciben el Evangelio restaurado mediante la fe en Jesucristo y su expiacion, el arrepentimiento, el bautismo, la resepcion del don del Espiritu Santo y el perseverar hasta el fin." Sorry if you don't know Spanish, but I don't know it as well in English! Anyway, I just love this gospel and the simple message that it brings. I would challenge you to read 2 Nephi 31-32 because it really puts my purpose and our purpose as members of the church into perspective.

Love you all and God bless you until next time I write!

Elder Lundberg

P.S. The Church is true!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Elder Lundberg's First Few Days

So far everything is going swimmingly. It has been really crazy too. Apparently, they try to pack a weeks worth of activity for incoming missionaries into four days. Everyone here tells me "Just wait until Sunday. It gets better after Sunday." So I guess we'll see! The first night here I had insomnia and only had three hours of sleep, but the past two nights I've slept like a baby because we can't help but be exhausted at the end of the day. It's really nice to be working hard and staying constantly busy again!

The spirit here at the MTC is amazing! As my Branch presidency has pointed out, there is not other place on earth that has the same kind of feeling that we do here at the MTC and at other MTC's around the world. I can definitely feel the Holy Ghost everywhere I go because we're all striving together to gain testimonies, love our companions and districts, and to be strictly obedient to the mission. Speaking of companions, I've actually been paired with two other elders instead of one. Everyone calls us "the Trio". Their names are Elder Griffiths and Elder Snyder. Both of them are really great missionaries! Although it's a little different with two other elders to watch over instead of just one, we're getting along really well! Elder Griffiths has been called to be District Leader and I've been assigned to be the Senior Companion for our little group. We have a bit of an awkward power struggle that way, but Elder Griffiths has promised to let me lead above him in all matters regarding the companionship and other responsibilities of my assignment. He is a great example to me of exact obedience and diligence in the work. Elder Snyder is really great too, and he loves to have fun, especially at gym time. He's also a great example to me as we work together in learning Spanish and performing our duties each day. I love them both and can't wait to get to know them better over the coming weeks.

Speaking of Spanish, I'm feeling like I have a really great hold on listening and understanding, and my biggest hurtle is just speaking fluently. However, I will say that I may have a chance to move up to the Advanced group because I'm not feeling very challenged as of yet in my language classes. But mostly native speakers are in the advanced group, and that kind of freaks me out because I definitely can't speak as well as they do. I'm trying my best to study with the Spirit as I meet the challenges that lie before me. I trust that the Lord will be my guide throughout these experiences. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Elder Lundberg's Blog Will Post to Facebook

Elder Lundberg's blog "Viva Elder Lundberg" will post to Facebook as updates to the blog are published if you are Facebook "friends" with Davis.  However, you might miss something with all of the other friend updates. If you don't want to miss any of the action please subscribe to email updates to Viva Elder Lundberg by submitting your email in the form.  Thanks for your support.

Off To The MTC

Davis Lundberg is now Elder Lundberg.

This is it! 10:00 AM in the morning with just 3 hours to go before Davis enters the MTC.  The luggage is packed and we are trying to make sure we got everything done.  Time to put the suitcases in the car and get rolling.  A little Thai food with the family and a drop at the MTC.

Best wishes to Davis and may God bless him in his journey as a missionary.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Farewell Talk - Gratitude

This is my farewell talk from this morning. At the end I filled in what I said impromptu, so I added a few things and tried my best to replicate what I said. Thanks to all those who came to hear me speak!

It’s awesome to see all the support here today, not only for myself but also for Sister Byron. I can’t help but feel humbled by all the positive influence that the majority of you have had in my life.  I feel that within this congregation is the culminating evidence of all that the Lord has truly blessed me with over the past 19 years of my life. You guys are amazing! I’m so glad all of you were willing to wake up early this morning just to hear me speak!

Brothers and sisters, I am excited to be able to speak to you about Gratitude this morning. It is something we all know to be more than JUST important, but which many of us tend to neglect. And so, I’m more than happy to stand here today, and give us all a reminder about how essential the spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude is in our lives.

So what is gratitude? I believe it is more than just “being grateful”.  The spirit of Gratitude is only demonstrated by action, whether through sincere prayer, selfless service or through our conscious efforts to constantly recognize the Lord’s hand in both the small and great, pleasant and unpleasant situations.  Gratitude is not a general, passive feeling; it is a constant, specific, and active measure of our love for our Heavenly Father and his Creation.

Alma made this promise to his son Helaman in Alma 37:36-37:
 36 Yea, and acry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy bdoings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy cthoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
 37 aCounsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for bgood; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the cmorning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.
Basically, what I understand from these verses is that Gratitude is central to our faith and salvation. Alma promised that if his son would constantly remember and give thanks to the Lord in every thought, word, and deed that he would “be lifted up at the last day.” Certainly, this simple principle applies to us today. If gratitude leads to salvation, then ingratitude will bring damnation.  

President Monson, at the 2010 October General Conference, defined gratitude this way, he stated that “If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues... a grateful heart … comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives” and “a prayerful life is the key to possessing gratitude.”

I love the words of President Monson. His name appears most under the keyword “gratitude” on lds.org.  As a prophet of our modern day, he both exemplifies and recognizes the essential role that gratitude must play in every moment of our lives.  On multiple occasions, President Monson has recounted D&C 59:
“Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things. …
“And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things.”
From this we learn that to have gratitude is a divine principle and commandment from the Lord. It has been since the first days of Adam when he offered sacrifices to Lord, it is a central theme to many of Christ’s parables and stories, such as that of the ten lepers, and continues to be one of the main subjects in general conference talks every six months. After everything the Lord has given us, the last thing we want to be is ungrateful. Really, we don't want to be ungrateful. I hope and pray that we will all strive to be more diligent in remembering not to take things for granted.

Aside from understanding the meaning of Gratitude, what are the benefits and blessings of Gratitude?

I think the answer can be found in D&C 78:19. 
 19 And he who receiveth all things with athankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an bhundred fold, yea, more.
By practicing Gratitude, we focus on the positive, even in negative situations. It humbles and changes unfriendly perspectives.  Like the scripture says, we “shall be made glorious.” That glory was defined by President Monson when he said these words:

“We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. “

As he describes, we “lift ourselves” up when we look for the positive in every person or situation.

The scripture also talks about how “the things of this earth shall be added unto [us], even a hundred fold, yea, more.” We must be careful not to think that gratitude is just a reaction to getting what we want multiplied by a hundred. Sometimes there’s just that awesome feeling that comes from appreciating the simple pleasures of life that we usually take for granted. These are things which money cannot buy: our families, the gospel, good friends, our health, and the love of the Savior and those around us. Sometimes we simply forget to see those things which we see every single day.

I googled “gratitude” and found an article about two college professors who conducted a psychological experiment on the effects of gratitude in people’s lives.

The study split several hundred people into three different groups and all of the participants were asked to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day without being told specifically to write about either good or bad things; the second group was told to record their unpleasant experiences; and the last group was instructed to make a daily list of things for which they were grateful. The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. In addition, those in the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.”

Like this study suggests, I think it would be a good idea for all of us to keep a gratitude journal. I wish that I had done this during my first year at BYU. I think that if I had just taken the time to slow down, and write down a list of just a few of my countless blessings, I would have been able to manage my time, stress, and homework a little better.

Speaking of which, during my second semester at BYU this past year, I had a chemistry professor who was probably too intelligent for his own good, but at the same time was certifiably hilarious. When the class was struggling with certain homework problems or complained about difficult test questions he’d say things like "There is no forgiveness for applying principles incorrectly, only outer darkness” or "I lay awake at night thinking I'm thermodynamically favorable to turn into carbon dioxide." So yeah, although he was kind of crazy, he was also an incredible professor who I really respected, and who really brought to light the importance of chemistry in our daily lives.

That class was easy to complain about.  The tests were almost humanly impossible and I’m pretty sure that my professor loved his chemistry labs more than he loved his own kids. But I found that even though I was being challenged to the extreme, I chose to see my professor as someone who was helping me see God’s plan for us through chemistry. By taking a positive outlook on something that was hard and discouraging at times, I began to have gratitude for the complexities of bases and acids, pressure phases, and other complex chemical balances that are essential to God’s intention for life to be on this earth. I’m a nerd, I know, but it really was a significant step in my college career to find gratitude in the big picture of why I’m working hard to receive an education.

I grateful that when we all experience tough challenges to our faith, intelligence, physical well-being, or whatever else may be pressing down on us, we can find the positive and feel love and happiness in Heavenly Father’s grand scheme of things.

My last point is on how we can better implement gratitude into our lives. I think it’s hard for some of us to accept acts of kindness. We only want to give, and never receive. Gratitude is not only demonstrated by our outward actions toward others, but also by the inward acceptance of others’ time, talents, and gifts.

In D&C 88:33, it states:
 33 For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.
Not only do we profit by giving, we also profit by receiving with thankfulness toward others. The following story perfectly emulates this principle:

“The District of Columbia police auctioned off about 100 unclaimed bicycles Friday. “One dollar,” said an 11-year-old boy as the bidding opened on the first bike. The bidding, however, went much higher. “One dollar,” the boy repeated hopefully each time another bike came up.
The auctioneer, who had been auctioning stolen or lost bikes for 43 years, noticed that the boy’s hopes seemed to soar higher whenever a racer-type bicycle was put up.
Then there was just one racer left. The bidding went to eight dollars. “Sold to that boy over there for nine dollars!” said the auctioneer. He took eight dollars from his own pocket and asked the boy for his dollar. The youngster turned it over in pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters—took his bike, and started to leave. But he went only a few feet. Carefully parking his new possession, he went back, gratefully threw his arms around the auctioneer’s neck, and cried.”

I love that story. It is so powerful to me.

Well, I would love to end my talk by expressing gratitude to each of the following (this is where I bore my testimony, and I've added a few things that I wish I had mentioned, but didn't under pressure):

First, I would like to thanks my parents and my family. I love my parents so much. They are incredible examples to me and always have been throughout my life. When I went to Ecuador to do humanitarian work at an orphanage, I saw children who had been left in gutters to die because their mothers could not afford to take care of them. It doesn't seem fair, but I am so glad that my parents had the means to provide for me and love me always. My mothers emulates much of what I would look for in an eternal companion. She is incredible and has always been there for me. She stayed up the whole night preparing for my farewell this morning. I don't know how she's even still awake!
My Dad is so amazing. He is honest and hard-working in everything that he does. Despite challenges to his employment, I know that he is always willing to go the extra mile to provide for our family and he always has, both as a priesthood holder and breadwinner. I love him.

I love my siblings. I am glad that I have been the oldest so that I could be responsible for them in some way. I am setting an example for them because I want them to be happy and successful throughout their lives. It will be crazy to see how much they've grown over the next couple years.

I also want to thank my grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins for all the good times. I have one of the best families anyone could ever ask for. I am truly blessed by spiritual giants. They are all so strong examples to me.

Second, I would like to thank my teachers, both from school, sunday school, and young men's. They are what have helped me develop my testimony over the years, and I want to especially thank Bro. Sandberg, who couldn't be here, for his leadership over the priests quorum. Also, thanks to Bro. Hulsey for his support in helping me complete my eagle in scouting.

Third, I just want to thank my friends. Without them, I don't even know who I would be today. They have had such an incredible and positive influence in my life. I love you guys so much. I know that a lot will change over the next two years, but I am just glad for the times that I have had with them over the past 19 years. They are great examples of Christlike attributes and of wholly committed members of the the church.

Brothers and Sisters, I would just like to conclude with a testimony on Gratitude. I testify that much of the unhappiness in the world today stems from ingratitude. I would challenge us all to think about ways in which we can implement more practices of gratitude every single day. It will bring us happiness and joy. It will point us to the Savior and his atonement. It will bring more satisfaction than anything else. I love this Gospel. I cannot express in words how much that the Lord has blessed me. He truly cares for me, and the rest of us. I am grateful to have the chance to serve in Peru, and to bring this happy message to the people throughout my mission.

I say these things in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.