Monday, January 28, 2013

Transfer...Or Not

Yay! Today was our days of missionary transfers and I get to stay in MALA!!! Whoo! Elder Tohara has FINALLY left. No ha. I´m actually really sad he had to go, and I really have learned so much from him these past 12 weeks. I sure do appreciate him as my first companion! And boy does the time fly by. My new companion is Elder Luque from Ecuador. He´s from an area about two hours south of Guayaquil (I forget the name of his city). He seems like such an excellent missionary and I´m super excited to serve with him! I can tell he´s not afraid to just open his mouth and talk to people because he was already having a gospel conversation with a complete strange 5 minutes after arriving at the bus stop. I´ve only heard and seen good things about him so the time that I have with him will be a definite success!

Things are looking just up, up, and away with the missionary work here in lil´ol´ Mala. This past week has certainly been a blessed one, and although the people continue their emmigration to the playa, we still finding people to teach and baptize. This past week we´ve had two people with baptismal dates, in my last letter I mentioned Delicia, who literally seems to already know it all, and so she continues to progress smoothly for her baptism on the 9th of February. She recently found a job maintaing the garden for a beach estate, and sometimes she invites us over there to enjoy sitting and teaching her there in the beautiful surrounding foliage, with a giant beach home and two pools to admire. I´m tellin´ ya, there´s some richie mcrichies down here!

In my last letter I also mention Roberto and Beatriz, the parents of Antuane and Alexis who we recently baptized. We´re continuing to work with them and collecting their documents for civil marriage with the state so they can be baptized at the end of March. To get married in Peru is really difficult for some reason, so it´s actually pretty rare to find married couples or complete families. But I know that the despite the challenge, the Lord provides a way for families to become complete in the gospel and eventually be sealed in the temple. Also, this next transfer, instead of the normal six weeks, is only four due to the huge influx of missionaries in the church. I´m hoping that I might get to stay until April to be a part of Roberto and Beatriz´ baptism, because then I can be a part of their sealing the next year! I guess we´ll see! 

I think the highlight of my week was finding jolly good fellow named Juan Diaz. He´s a reference of our recently called mision leader, Hno. Avelino, in the branch. Although he has around 65 years and now lives alone, he´s literally a child in the gospel. He didn´t even know Christ was baptized or who Moses really is. Nothing has ever been explained to him he says, even though he went to Mass his whole life. We challenged him with a baptismal date in the first lesson, and he already has his baptismal stuff ready laid out on his table for the 16th of February. It´s been a pleasure getting to know him over the past week!

Wellp, I´m just happy to be staying here and to have my new companion Elder Luque. These past couple weeks have shown a lot of promise with some really quality investigators. I love my area and things just keep getting better and better! I know that the Lord is guiding us in this work, and that this gospel changes the lives of so many. I´m growing closer to my savior every day and know he loves Mala as much as I do (actually more with the ifinte love he has for these people!)

Have an excellent week and see ya´ll next time!

Elder Lundberg

Late To The Funeral

Hey family and friends!

I hope your week went well! Because week started off with a funeral! 

On Tuesday morning we got a phone call from the Relief Society Prez, Hna. Faviola, that an older man in the branch had recently passed away. I never knew the guy because the last time he came to church was about three or four months ago. Anyway, Elder Tohara and I had a fun time cleaning up the chapel that morning. After rearranging the chapel benches with a few members who came to help, we sat......and waited until 12 noon when it was all supposed to start. But the coffin or the family hadn´t arrived. A bunch of members came dressed to attend about a half hour later and they all sat and waited with us. forward two hours later and still no coffin. Just sayin´, there´s no telling what Peruvians will be late for.So Elder Tohara and I left to go eat lunch cause we were starving and when we came back about 15 minutes later it had already started. Ahhhh......good times. It was also Elder Tohara´s first time seeing a prepared corpse so he was a little freaked out by that. But all in all, it was a good little ceremony(despite the fact that the man was two hours late to his own funeral).

I also had an interesting encounter one day as Elder Tohara and I were traveling to a meeting with some of the other missionaries in our zone when......BAM!....this lil´old Peruvian lady came stomping up to us saying ¨Elderes! Elderes!´´ It turns out the owner of the Carreta Peruvian restaurant up in Utah was on vacation in her home country and we just happened to pass by. She was so excited to see us! Haha.We conversed for a little while and she invited me to come to her restaurant after my mission. I think I´ll definitely visit in a couple years!

Yesterday we had kinda a cool experience as Elder Tohara and I went up North to a beach town, Chilca, to eat dinner with a sister named Hna. Kelly. She invited her neighbors, David and Lula, over to her house as well  to eat with us so we could teach them. They had expressed previous interest in the church so it was exciting for Elder Tohara and I to find a new investigator family. Apparently, David attended the deacons quorum for a year as a kid but never got baptized. Also, both of Lula´s brother´s were baptized in the church but she never listened to the misisonaries. After teaching them about the restoration we challenged them to pray whether these things are true or not. David piped in and said ¨I´ve already received my answer and I know this church is true. So that was convenient. They´ll probably be getting baptized in February!

So that´s it folks! Love ya!

Elder Lundberg

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Summertime in Mala la Buena

So cool. Hi everybody! The weather here is heating up everyday. As you all suffer in the cold icy snow, just imagine yourselves lying on a nice warm California beach getting a golden tan and that`s basically my life right now! Ha. Not really. I`m definitely getting tanner, but definitely not enjoying the beach...... But that`s ok!!! I have so much faith that God is placing people in our path to teach and baptize according to our obedience. There`s a saying in our misison, "Obedience brings blessings, but EXACT obedience brings miracles." So I`m doing my best to try to put that into practice. Miracle, miracles, miracles.....

Hmmmm.....let`s see. Probably the biggest miracle this past week was having the absolute privilege of baptizing dear ol` Hermano Hipolito. On Saturday afternoon, we visited his home about 20 minutes away by taxi van just to encourage and get him excited for his baptism later that evening. When we got there, we overviewed a little each commandment just to keep things fresh in his mind, and by the end of it I was crying because I was so happy to look into his eyes and see how much the light of Christ had taken hold in his soul. I have seen a real visible change in the glowing countenance of somebody who I absolutely know will never fall away from the church. I`m tellin` ya....this guy is absolutely a golden soul.  Later that evening, the chapel filled up as we waited for all the late comers to show up. We told everybody 6:30 pm for the baptism just so we could get started at 7:30. Yup....that`s Latin America folks. But what`dya know......Hipolito showed up at 6:30 on the dot. I think that just goes to show his devotion to not just receiving a testimony that these things are true, but of actually converting to the Lord and his Gospel. His baptism was a great success and he handled the cold water very smoothly with me! He`s one of those investigators that I can`t help feeling just super proud of. Go Hipolito!

So another kinda cool experience we had last Wednesday was with a new investigator named Wilmer. He had the missionaries before, but he feels insecure about being baptized because the rest of his family is "bien Catolico". Yeah, like everybody around here. But at the end of the lesson we invited him to pray, and he didn`t know how! Which surprised me, because one of the basic things we first teach is how to pray in the first lesson. So we helped him understand how to pray, and after he said the closing prayer there was just this rush of the Spirit after we all said "Amen." We all just sort of sat in silence for about 10 seconds and just knew that the Lord was touching the heart of this man. Elder Tohara and I think that in the future he would make an excellent bishop or branch president! I feel like the Lord is working wonders with him.

Our other four investigators with baptismal dates, Milusca, Alexis, and Antuane (who are cousins) and Cristian Jesus didn`t show up to church yesterday. So we`re having to do a little back-tracking with them. But I`m still absolutely hopeful in their progress as future members of the church. We found out yesterday that Jesus has a girlfriend who he doesn`t live with (which is rare/ a miracle here) so we`re glad he`s not passing through law of chastity problems, He also doesn`t drink or do drugs (another miracle) and his girlfriend wants to listen to the missionaries (yet another miracle). So that`s a good sign for us!

Anyway, that`s my weekly update to all yàll. Enjoy your last few weeks of vacation and I love, pray and think of you all fondly erry`day!

Elder Lundberg

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Post Christmas Energy

Ha. Well hey my good friends and dear family.

Sadly, I had to write a lengthy letter to the president today about some good ol´ Mala business, so my letter will be a little shorter this week! But no worries, errythang is doin´ just fine...........except for the darn PLAYA.

Playa, by the way, means ¨beach¨. Ooooooohhhh boy and how much do I just love the playa...................actually about zero love for the playa is goin´ on.

Anyway, this past week was a little rough. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, the paneton, the chocolatada, etc. was all great and dandy. Then it all ended for summer vacation to begin! Suddenly the day after Christmas comes and everybody here apparently high tails it to the playa, members and investigators alike. All the gringos (slang for white person) and people from Lima come down South to enjoy time on the beach, and all the restaurants, hotels, etc. suddenly turn on and require literally almost every person in Mala to support all the business. So that´s the new norm, workin´at the Playa.

Depiste the setback, Elder Tohara and I, although a little discouraged at first, are still very hopeful. At the very least, our five investigators with baptismal dates in January aren´t working at the Playa! Which is a literal miracle. I´m grateful to Heavenly Father for that tender mercy.

Anyway, gottta go. I love it here and haven´t given up! Love you all!

Elder Lundberg

Feliz Navidad

Since I`m gonna talk to yall tomorrow, my letter today is gonna be a little shorter. Hope ya don`t mind.

This past week we`ve placed five new investigators with baptismal dates. The best part is that four our of the five are showing up to church, which shows serious interest. One of them, Hipòlito, is just a friendly cute little man. He`s so happy every time we make the trip to his home, which is just a hop, skip, and a 20 minute bus ride away! Haha but it`s so worth it. The last time we visited, I had low spirits because we had just come from being rejected by some investigators who were fed misinformation about the church. But after teaching Hipòlito and feeling the Spirit so strongly during the lesson, I couldn`t help but leave with a smile. There`s an older sister in the ward who befriended him and who lives pretty near his house. She`s single and he`s single and.......well we think that she might have some interest in him. Haha old love. Yeah........kinda weird. But they`re just friends and nothing more.

The other four investigators are part of partial member families. The best part about working with incative partial member families is that it gives us a chance to help the whole familiy come back to the church. Antuane, Alex, and Milusca from the Villaroel family are going to be baptized on the 19th of January and Cristian Jesus, whose aunt is a member, is getting baptized on the same date. What great blessings!

Anyway, here in Peru they have what`s called "Chocolatada" where the whole branch or ward comes together to drink hot chocolate and panetòn, a fruit cake type bread that actually tastes good. So last Saturday we did just that and as I watched all the members laugh and enjoy each other`s company, I realized how much I really do love being a missionary. Even though I`m thousands of miles away from home, missing all the turkey, presents, and christmas music, I`m so happy to be here. Christmas time really is about giving service, and that`s the greatest satisfaction we can ever feel. 

To end my letter I want to share a scripture from Alma 34:29. Sorry because I only have my spanish scriptures but I love how simple the message is. If we don`t forget ourselves and look for those opportunities to serve, we have no foundation on which to base ourselves and become trampled by men. But when we serve and love others, we can depend on other people to look after us in those times of trouble in our own lives to bear us up. 

I love you all so much and have a Merry Christmas!

Elder Lundberg