December 25, 2013

¡Feliz Navidad! (December 23, 2013)

As much as I would love to talk to everyone for Christmas, I just don`t get that luxury. So, instead I will send an email full of love and Christmas wishes!

So, my scripture for the week is exciting (well at least for me) and so I want to this time save it for last. So, yes, you need to read my adventures first!

Two Christmas parties this week: one with the ward and one with the President. The first one with the ward was one that I know select members of my family would have truly enjoyed, because the young women’s group danced to 5 songs from One Direction. Strange, yet nostalgic. We, as the 4 elders in the ward, then sang two Christmas Hymns (half in English, half in Spanish!). It was the first time I (as well as the ward, I think) heard Christmas Hymns sung in key this year! 

Then, we had our party with the President, where we got to watch the Polar Express in Spanish. I think I liked it and found it quite thought-provoking/complex because I am serving a mission and basically look for the deeper meaning in everything all the time. But, either way, it was nice to watch a "pelicula del mundo." (worldly movie)

My plans for Christmas basically are: eat, carol, eat, and then....well eat. I am excited for these activities, but unfortunately, all of the hard work I put into losing weight will probably be reversed in just 3 days. Oh well, that is why repentance is part of the Gospel, right? Yohoho. But yes, that is my very complicated life for the next few days...I hope everyone else has better/ healthier plans for their Christmas!!!

And now, the final Christmas Scripture! Here I would like to write a bit about the return of Jesus Christ to the world. No, it hasn't happened yet, but while we are all celebrating His birth and life this Christmas season, I figure it would also be appropriate to celebrate the fact that He will return and reign among the children of men. It may sound a little scary, but in truth it will be the greatest blessing the world has ever received! How? Well, as every good missionary knows, let's turn to the doctrine! In Doctrine and Covenants (a book of scripture written by modern day prophets as they received revelation directly from Christ) section 133 verses 3 and 25, we read: "Porque desnudará su santo brazo ante los ojos de todos las naciones, y todos los extremos de la tierra verán la salvación de su Dios...Y el Señor, sí, el Salvador, estará en medio de su pueblo y reinará sobre toda carne." In truth, I know that He will one day return to the earth and all will know that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. It is my testimony to everyone back home, and it is my testimony to the good people of Peru. I leave this Christmas Scriptural Thought with one more scripture from section 76 of Doctrine and Covenants, "Y ahora, después de los muchos testimonios que se han dado de él, éste es el testimonio, ul último de todos, que nosotros (y Elder Rich) damos de él: ¡Que vive!" 

I testify as His representative that Jesus Christ lives and that this is His church, restored on the earth to bless and save the children of men. Merry Christmas to everyone and may the Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Ghost, dwell in your homes and with your beloved families this Christmas. Enjoy God`s greatest gift to mankind this Christmas: your family. 

Con amor, fe, y esperanza verdadera: (With love, faith and true hope:)

- Elder Dax Rich

D&C 133:3 For he shall make abare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the bsalvation of their God.
25 And the Lord, even the Savior, shall astand in the midst of his people, and shall breign over all flesh.

 D&C 76:22 And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the atestimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he blives!

December 19, 2013

Elder Rich Got Run Over By a Reindeer (December 16, 2013)

Not really. It just sounded like a good title. But, it certainly did feel like I got hit by a train this past week! However, before that, let`s turn to the Christmas Scripture for the third week of December.

This week, I decided to share a little bit more about Jesus Christ in the Americas, but this time his actual visit to the Americas just a short time after his death and resurrection in the Holy Land. We read in Chapter 11 of the third book of Nephi in the Book of Mormon that Jesus Christ himself fulfilled ancient prophecies and came to the Americas to teach His Gospel to the people in this continent and bless them for their righteousness. However, He also demonstrated His unparalleled love for the world, as He demonstrates in verse 11: "he glorificado al Padre, tomando sobre mí los pecados del mundo." He indeed fulfilled His objective on this Earth and atoned for all of our sins. Yet, during His visit here, He also blessed and healed the sick, and blessed the little children. In Chapter 17 verse 21 we read: "Y cuando hubo dicho (Jesucristo) estas palabras, lloró, y la multitud dio testimonio de ello; y tomó a sus niños pequeños, uno por uno, y los bendijo, y rogó al Padre por ellos." What an example of love! One by one, our Savior took the little children and blessed them. I pray that we may all remember the example of the Lord both in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon and apply that same expression of love to all those around us; for indeed the Spirit of Christmas is the Love of Jesus Christ.

And speaking of love, what greater love is there than lots of stress right before Christmas? Yes indeed, a stressful week as last Monday night I received news that I would be having a transfer in one day. So, in that very short window, I tried to visit with as many investigators and members as I could to say my good-byes and, bueno... now I am in Capullanas in the zone, Piura Central! Oh, and also, I am a trainer. Yep, three weeks out of training and I got my first hijo: Elder Benitez. ¡Sorpresa! Also, I am now in the same district as Elder Moses, and he same zone as my trainer, Elder Chavez. So yeah, it is quite the change and quite the excitement here in the world of Elder Rich! 

But, with all of the fun changes, I have gotten to prove myself here as a new leader, a new missionary in an area, and as, well, a representative of Christ. Lots of different experiences in just one week, but I would like to share what was (in my opinion) the coolest experience this week for me. So, I got to do some door-knocking with my companion and a 15 year old member who is planning on serving a mission in a few years. We were having horrible luck with people who were just quite firmly set in not talking to us, no matter what. It was rather disappointing. We then ran into a man sitting on the side of the road, and so I said, what the heck, let`s try. We began talking to him and learned a bit about him, and then his drunken friend came over and began his drunk-rampage on Mormon-philosophy. We could not get a single word in for like 5 minutes and we were just getting bashed around. Finally, I gathered as much strength as I could, looked the man who was sitting on the side of the street in the eyes, and gave a powerful testimony that I knew that our message was true. The drunken man began to talk back, but I kept speaking and would not stop nor blink. The drunk man suddenly stopped, and didn’t say another word until I extended my hand and said that I knew these things would bless his life as well as his families. The man on the street then simply said: When can you come by my house? So, long story short, missionary beats drunk every time. 

Anyways, that`s been my week in a nutshell. I hope everyone is getting excited for Christmas! It really is the most wonderful time of the year. Remember to look for ways to serve others, and you will find that this Christmas will truly be memorable and enjoyable! My prayers are with you all always, and may we all remember the birth, life, and gift of Jesus Christ for all of us as Children of God. 

¡Cuídense mucho! (Take good care of yourselves!)

- Elder Dax Rich

December 9, 2013

Christmas is in Our Hearts...Not the Weather (December 9, 2013)

It is very hot. I will not lie. Someone send me snow. 

And with that, Christmas Message Number 2 from your friendly, Peruvian missionary! This week I am going straight to the Bible, right to where we read of Christ´s birth in the Holy Land. In two of the Four Gospels, we read of an angel visiting both Joseph (the man engaged to Jesus´ mother, Mary) and a group of shepherds who were tending their flocks in a nearby pasture. First we read in Matthew of the angel speaking to Joseph and prophesying of this soon-to-be child of Mary. The angel says in chapter 1, verse 21: "Y dará a luz un hijo, y llamarás su nombre JESUS, porque él salvará a su pueblo de sus pecados." We then read in Luke 2:10-11 the angel´s words to the shepherds: "No temáis, porque he aquí os doy nuevas de gran gozo, que serán para todo el pueblo: que os ha nacido hoy, en la ciudad de David, un Salvador, que es CRISTO el Señor." In truth, Jesus Christ was born into the world, and like the angel said, He was born into the world in order to save all those who will believe on Him from their sins and give those people the chance to experience "gran gozo" (great joy) without end. It seems impossible, but through our Savior, Jesus Christ, we can indeed be free from the chains of sin, guilt, and pain, and can live lives of joy, happiness, and hope. As a representative of Jesus Christ, I know these things to be true and hope you all can know these things too for yourselves by the power of the Holy Ghost.

To continue, I have some cool stories to share. Actually, just two. But, they were certainly worth sharing! So first, the comical one. We went to a lesson with an Evangelista (an evangelist) who is also an English teacher. So, she was super interested to talk to us, for the English lesson and because Mormons are just super interesting. So, we began teaching her, and she asked to know our real names (actually demanded), because she didn’t like calling us by our last names. So, we finally gave in and I just said my name was Zach. So, for the next hour, I was referred to as Hermanito Zach. But the best part was when she guessed our ages. She said because I was so mature, so pensive and thoughtful about responses and scriptures, that I must be at least 28 years old. My companion burst out laughing and it almost blew her off her seat when I said I was 19. A compliment, I guess, but bien chistoso! (very funny)

Anyways, to go back to a little more reverent tone, we also met with a family who hasn’t attended church for 9 years. They were extremely dedicated members of the church, but due to unknown reasons, they slowly slipped away until now, where they believe that God does not love them. As we talked with them, I felt prompted to ask that question: "Do you think God loves you?" When the wife just looked at us and shook her head, I felt my entire heart break. I can’t even explain it. It was just heart-breaking. We shared a scripture about putting your trust in God, but then we testified before the family that God loves them. I thought back to my farewell talk before I left for my mission, and I remember saying that my goal on my mission was to help people know that God loves each of His children, and He knows each and everyone specifically. I looked her in the eyes and I testified of this truth, and I truly hope that if anyone reading this thinks the awful lie that God does not love them, then I hope that these words will speak to you like they did to everyone in that room: "God loves you, more than you can even imagine. You will fall, you will make mistakes, but He will always be there to lift you up, because He is literally your father and more than anything else in the world, He wants you to be happy."

May the Spirit of Christmas light up your homes, and may all of your homes be holy places of love and hope. Family is the best gift we have from God. Treasure your family and remember them this Christmas season!

Con mucho amor, muchas oraciones, y una fe fuerte, (with much love, many prayers and a strong faith,)

- Elder Dax Rich

December 3, 2013

The First Gift of Christmas! (no just an email) December 2, 2013

So I decided that since this is the Christmas season, and I am a representative of Jesus Christ and teach about him all day every day, I should give a short little message in my December emails about Christ. Merry Christmas!

For this week, I wanted to share the story of a prophecy of Christ´s birth, but here in the Americas. This prophecy came from a prophet, Samuel the Lamanite, who preached to a city of wicked folks that in just 5 years, the Son of God would be born into the world. He also prophesied that on that day, there would be a new star in the heavens, that the sky would be so bright so that it would appear that one day, one night, and the next day was as just one single day and also that there would be many wonders and signs given in the heavens. Yeah, a lot to take in. Long story short, some accepted this prophecy and believed this prophet and others rejected him. But, I like this one verse of scripture from Samuel and as always, I will share it in Spanish. In Helaman 14:8 of the Book of Mormon, Samuel the Lamanite declared "Y sucederá que el que creyere en el Hijo de Dios, tendrá vida eterna." 

Okay and now to the week:

So first off, I found I am really getting into the scriptures. My Spanish Book of Mormon and Bible are like coloring books, because they are now full of highlighted scriptures and notes, and I feel so ready for just about any teaching situation. Bring it on!

I also got to train this week. That’s right, I just finished my training 2 weeks ago, and this week I got to train 2 different, new elders. I felt quite impressive and important, and I am quite excited to be a trainer myself in the future. Oh, and this week I get to train an American. (He thinks he can talk with me in English, hahaha.) It will certainly be a fun week indeed!

We also went out with a member this week to visit some less active members of the church here in Pampa Grande. This member is struggling with the decision to go on a mission, and after just one lesson, he told us that he felt the Spirit stronger than he ever had before, and I think he is getting very close to being ready to also serve a mission. Maybe he will get called to serve in Connecticut! Cross your fingers!

This week was a lot of running around, with companions going away for training and what not, and so I spent a fair amount of time in the bus station here in Tumbes. One night, we ran into a group of college-aged young adults from the United States (why they chose to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Tumbes, Peru, I have no idea), and so the Gringo missionaries decided to try our hand at sharing the Gospel in English for once. Would you believe that we actually failed quite miserably? I found I can’t speak properly in English now and even in a lesson this week when I was asked to pray in English, I failed so miserably. 19 years of praying in English, and I have just lost the words. Strange things are happening down here in South America!

Last but not least, I would like to help everyone back home know that I am not just a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Oh no. I am also a certified home-destroyer. This past Saturday, our district went to help a sister in the ward knock down and rebuild a wall in her house. It was quite the experience to tackle and claw your way through a mud wall. But, there you have it. I am just a man of many trades; you never know what I will do next!

Well, that is it for this week. I hope you all enjoyed Thanksgiving and are getting ready for Christmas! May we all remember that it is "Christ"mas for a reason. May we all be more giving, more humble, more understanding, and more loving like el Señor Jesucristo es mi querida oración (is my dear prayer). Thank you all for reading!


- Elder Dax Rich

Dia de las Gracias...well at least for this Gringo ( November 25, 2013)

So, no Thanksgiving here for me, but I certainly have a lot to be grateful for!

Let's start with my adventure to Chiclayo this past week. So, after 2 and a half days with my American/awesome/chévere companion we all went to Piura and I met my new companion, Elder Osegueda, who was Elder Tunney´s Papa (trainer). He is from Honduras and he is just about to hit his one year mark in the field, and he is pretty cool himself. We are already off to a good start, so I am excited for these next 6 weeks! While in Piura for a day, we got to stay at a hotel and enjoy Inca Kola along with some grilled chicken and french fries, and then (unfortunately) got to "enjoy" a night with the zancudos (mosquitoes) of Piura. There were so many that I literally am covered from head to toe in mosquito bites. It is quite ugly, but lucky none of you can see me, so I am grateful for that too!

I also ran into an old friend in Piura, and wow was I blown away! I was getting ready to get on the bus and I turned and saw a new Elder that looked familiar, so I awkwardly starred and walked up to him. After about 30 seconds it hit is Joshua Moses!! He was my good friend from German class in BYU last year who I hung out with a lot and shared many wonderful Subway sándwiches with, and now here he is in my misión! It was one of the coolest moments of the month and I indeed did write about it in my journal, don't you all worry. 

Anyways, so we all got on the bus and went to Chiclayo (fun fact: it is 10 hours from Chiclayo to Tumbes. Lots of sleeping). In Chiclayo I ran into a lot of my old friends from the CCM, for example Elder Rich and Elder Vanderwood. It was fantástico and indeed a wonderful reunión.  But, the best part was seeing Elder Nelson, and then shaking his hand. He gave a great talk about the importance of family history work and temples, and that one of the most important messages we need to share with people is that they can be sealed to their families forever through the ordinances of the temple. I thought a lot about Nona and how grateful I am for the ordinances of the temple that make it so I can see Nona again and for all eternity, and I really felt like I needed to start teaching more about all of that, like Elder Nelson said! He then gave a good testimony in Spanish, without knowing any Spanish, and that was pretty spiritual/moving. It was one of those "you had to be there" moments.

Well, that was this week for me in a nutshell. I am excited to share more with everyone as time goes on, and I hope you are all finding lots of things to be grateful for! Family, God, love, safety, food, friends, Jobs, etc. We are all blessed as Children of God and we all have amazing destinies as such! My prayers are with you all and I look forward to sending more back home in the coming weeks!

- Elder Dax Rich

Through the Eye of the Storm (November 18, 2013)

Well, it finally came. The end of my 3 month training, and now I am a veteran missionary ready to go to work...just missing a little bit on the Spanish side of things, but that will come! My new companion is named Elder Osegueda and I will meet him tomorrow night in Piura, when all of Tumbes goes to Piura in preparation for Chiclayo. So, right now I am in a companionship with the Zone leader here...who is an American. Yes, it may be frowned upon here, but I have been having an English party for the past day and wow does it feel good to know exactly what your companion is saying! It will only be for a short time, but hey, I am counting every blessing I get! We are also getting an upgrade in our bus to Piura, going out for hamburgueses/hamburgers tonight with the zone, getting an hotel room tomorrow night, and we are getting 2 new companionships in our district! Super great stuff! 

Una historia por divertimiento. (A story for your enjoyment.) Last night, the whole district stayed in the zone leader’s room, and I decided to bring some of my food from the packages I have gotten from the states to share with the Latinos. i think I brought JIF peanut butter and the gummy worm industry to a new frontier. The Latinos went crazy for the two and we all made big sandwiches with PB, cocoa powder, gummy worms, (and for some, tuna), and just ate like a bunch of silly 20 year old missionaries. Good times indeed!

On a more spiritual note, we also had another baptism yesterday (we had to squeeze this one in before Elder Chavez left). I did not include the pictures this week because I didn´t want them to get confused with the baptism for Manuel, but anyways, we helped a young man of 17 years to be baptized into la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días yesterday and it was quite the great experience! The young man, Jasmani, was a reference (a friend of a member who referred him to us as missionaries) of the bishop here and when we first met him 3 weeks ago, he said that he wanted to serve a mission. We looked at each other, speechless, and said "Bueno....(in Spanish) you kind of need to be a member of the church before you can be a missionary for it." It was quite funny, but in truth he has a fantastic testimony of the Gospel. His testimony is built on the knowledge that God lives and is our Father in Heaven, and Jasmani has said to us many times that he wants to serve God not because he has to, but because it is the only way he can think of to thank the very Father who blesses him everyday. What a testimony! It is testimonies like this that i wish I could share with the world. If people would just pray and wait for the still, small voice of the Spirit to enter their hearts (as it will for all of God’s children), they would know God lives and loves them. It is so easy, but as we learn from the story of Moses and the brass serpent on the staff, even with something so simple, without the faith to act people just won’t even bother. 

Anyways, that has been about it for the week. I look forward to my new companionship and to seeing a living Apostle of God (like Paul or Peter in the Bible) in just two days more! A super exciting week is ahead, and I hope to share some good stories with everyone! 

My prayers are with you all back home: family, friends, a los demás. I love you all very much, and I am sending you all lots of hot sun to enjoy so that I don’t have to anymore!! (Send some snow when it comes!) Thanks to everyone for reading and for checking out my pictures. I will keep them coming!!

Cuidese mucho!

Elder Dax Rich

My Last Week of Training (November 11, 2013)

So after what feels like a lifetime, I have finally come down to my final week of 12 weeks of training. The good news is that after 12 weeks, my Spanish has gone from being able to say my name and that I know God lives to giving talks in church, teaching hour long lessons, and finally being able to understand jokes from other missionaries. I also have learned a lot about being a missionary and what it means to stand as a witness of Christ in all times and in all places. Lots of learning, and now just a little less than 2 years more of learning to go! 

Also, I apologize again for no pictures. I purchased an adapter to bring over my photos, and the adapter is called "Daax" and so clearly I believed it could do the job with such a wonderful name...but I was proven wrong. Anyways, the next week for sure I will have lots of photos to share!

So, next week we are all going to Chiclayo, to see Elder Nelson give a talk to three different missions...and we are all leaving the day after transfers. So, I will get to meet my new companion for one day, do some work, and then take a 3 day break to go see Elder Nelson. Lots of time to get to know my new companion!!

Today we had P-Day at a little resort called "Lúkuma" which literally is a resort in the middle of nowhere. It is quite funny: you drive 30 minutes through sand, walk up a hill, and there is this little patch of grass with soccer fields, pools, and a restaurant. Very much… "out of nowhere". Anyways, it was just a fun and different way to spend the day, and I got to meet some "Snakes" (as we call women here who seek out men) who bought me and some other elders some sodas. One of them asked my name and when I said "Elder Rich" she looked at me like I had 2 heads. It was pretty funny indeed. Anyways, that pretty much is the extent of the adventures there, and perhaps the pictures next week will better illustrate this picture, but it was nice to have time with all of the missionaries in Tumbes. 

On a philosophical note, I had a lot of experiences not only this week, but in all of my time here to see that in truth the world is different, but people are the same. Divorce, children leaving home, and people struggling to balance careers and families is universal. We are all people, and while we have different cultures and beliefs, we have more or less the same problems and challenges. We also all have the same Father in Heaven, and that is why the Gospel is for the whole world. One God, one path to happiness, and one Savior, namely Jesus Christ. Certainly just one more reason to be grateful that I can serve God and his children here in Perú. 

Anyways, more to come next week! Hope all is well for everyone and know that my prayers are always with you all!!

Mucho amor,
Elder Dax Rich

November 9, 2013

What a Wonderful Week (November 4, 2013)

First off, BAPTISM!!!! Yes, the third baptism I have been involved in during my mission here in Perú, but more exciting, my first baptism where I baptized the person! So, the young guy who I got to baptize was a boy named, "Manuel." I haven’t written much about him due to time restraints in the past, but he is the one who we had the lesson with the many kids from off the street with (and in fact this week we had the biggest lesson yet as 8 niños joined in on one of our lessons). He is the youngest member of a family who are all members of the Church, but are not attending services currently. However, even though he is the youngest he has the biggest testimony. From Day 1, he bore his testimony of the Book of Mormon and the divinity of it, and he shook both my companion and me to our cores. He is a lot like Nephi (the first writer in the Book of Mormon) in that even though he is the youngest in the family, he has a testimony big enough to fill the whole house! He is a fantastic young man, and after his baptismal interview, he said that he wanted Elder Rich to baptize him. So, I had the wonderful privelege of baptizing Hermano Manuel and helping him begin a life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. What an amazing experience! I wish I could share the experience with everyone back home, but words really can´t describe it as well as I would like. Anyways, it was a wonderful experience, and Manuel is now officially a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

On a different note, here in Perú Halloween is not as big as it is in the States...or even really that similar. The more important celebration is el día de los muertos on the first and second of November, so the 31st of October is just another night in essence. Thus, the Church here in Tumbes decided to hold a Missionary Night in the stake center of Tumbes for people to learn more about the church. So, naturally we went to help teach people, and as we walked in, the zone leaders pulled me into the bathroom, threw some colorful scarves and robes around me, and told me I would be acting in the show there. So, long story short, I played the part of an angry citizen during the preaching of Korihor (full story: Alma chapter 30 in the Book of Mormon), and I got to exclaim with all of my acting power and wisdom the truly moving line: "Usted esta enseñado falsas doctrinas!" (“You are teaching false doctrines!”) You had to have seen it...people were moved to tears. Maybe they were tears of laughter, I can’t tell, but either way it was quite fun. If I get pictures of this, I will send them home, but I am sure the picture in your mind is pretty close to what it was.

Anyways, sorry for a not super long letter this week. Much to do and little time to do it! Thanks to everyone and I hope everyone is enjoying their new month of November! Love to all and know that my prayers are with everyone back home.

Elder Dax Rich

October at its End (October 28, 2013)

As the leaves start to fall and as the children begin to put on their sweaters back home, dreaming of the candy they will get on Halloween, I am getting a #2 haircut (yes, that short), and preparing for the heat wave of November. Different worlds indeed! But, that is why it is all exciting in the end!

So this week was the continuation of the month long celebration of Jesus Christ for Catholics here in Peru. Or, more specifically, the celebration of El Señor de los Milagros. This week there was a parade every night throughout all of the town where at least 500 Catholics crowded the streets and made walking literally impossible. It was quite interesting, yet a little unwanted as we were late to everything because of it. But, it is nice that people want to praise Christ. It was also fun because during the parade, a group of guys who we played futbol with in the past saw us and started yelling out (and then chanting) "Rich!!!" I laughed and had quite a good time this week. 

Speaking of the people, we also met a man who (besides being insanely drunk) said he was from Utah and that he was Mormon. But, he said all of this in perfect English. I was very much impressed, and had the situation not been as extremely dangerous as it was (because literally...this guy was just wasted), I would have liked to stayed and chatted about Utah with him and his life as a Mormon. Perhaps another day.

This week we also decided to be adventurous, and so we went to a restaurant called "Happy Chicken" to purchase and devour "pollo a la brasa." (It is basically grilled chicken breast with great spices) It was quite pricey, but it was also super delicious and I got to try 3 new Peruvian sauces made specifically for french fries and chicken: a ranch sauce, a spicy cream sauce, and some weird red sauce that was just...different. I can´t explain it much better, I apologize. 

In terms of our work this week, we also had some interesting lessons. First off, we had a lesson right outside of our door. Since we are teaching a young man who lives in our building, we went onto the roof (where our room/house is), pulled out three chairs from our house and had a lesson right there.  It was quite unique but also quite rewarding as this young man has such a great love for God and everyone in the world. He prayed for at least 5 minutes for everyone suffering in the world and everyone who did not know God so that they could be blessed with the knowledge that they have a father in the heavens who loves them and wants them to have the knowledge that he exists. It was moving and powerful, and he really is an amazing man. We have a baptism date set for him for 2 weeks from now, so we will see if things work out for him! We also are teaching a young boy of 9 years and so for a lesson this week we invited some members (2 9 year olds) to help out. Well, they came and brought 2 more 9 year olds from off the street. Literally just 2 random kids (named Jesús and Cristian ((Jesus Christ, go figure!)). Anyways, the lesson became a lesson for 5 9 year olds and we then committed all of them to sharing the lesson with their families, and so besides playing babysitter, we also indirectly taught 5 different families. Success indeed! 

Well, that has been about it for this week (and for time!). Hope all is going well with everyone back home! You are all in my prayers and I hope you are feeling blessings in your lives in some form or another! God truly does want us to be happy and he really does bless us everyday, we just need to look for those blessings and gives thanks...and then we get more! It is crazy how that works, but it is true too. We have a loving Heavenly Father (un amoroso Padre Celestial).

As a last note, a special shout out to Brynly: Feliz Cumpleaños, mi hermanita!!!! 

Mucho amor y muchos oraciones,

Elder Dax Rich

Octubre/ October Fun (10/21/2013)

The month keeps moving on and so does the work here. We have been working hard with not active members of the church here and we have had some success as well as fun stories to share. First off, we were very blessed to have a man who hasn´t gone to church in 9 years return this week after many weeks of working with him and inviting him to come back. It was truly amazing and the meeting was just so much more powerful to have this man back in attendance. 

But, as I indicated in the beginning, we have also had some interesting experiences during our work this week. We have been trying to find people to teach so we did a lot of door-to-door preaching this week and we had some great experiences of how people try to Dodge "The Missionaries." One lady saw us from her window and when she saw us walking towards her house she ducked down and lifted up her daughter to the window to talk with us and tell us that her mother was not home. We couldn´t help but laugh as we said "Gracias" and walked away. We always knocked on a window and a man stood up and asked who it was, and when we introduced ourselves as the missionaries, he shot back into his seat, turned on his TV, cranked up the volume, and pretended that he never Heard us. We just laughed again and walked away. The other story worth sharing was one where we met a man who asked us who our best friend in the world was. To this I said "Bueno...Jesucristo." But the man just wouldn´t take that for an answer and so he said again his question, to which my companion and I looked at each other and said "Jesucristo." Well the man had the answer to our question and he said (In Español) "No, Mary is my best friend." (Mary the mother of Jesús Christ). So, to say the least, it was an interesting week for meeting new people.

Oh, more on culture: If you want to visit Perú and be on the in crowd, you need to love Ben 10. I swear, Ben 10 is everywhere and on everything, even on things you wouldn´t expect like store Windows, bikes, and graduation diplomas. Ben 10 is the hero of Perú. Also, the big shows here are "Este es Guerra" and "Combate." Literally everyone watches one or the other, or both. It is quite funny. Also, everyone here is a lot younger than  you would think. I have been asked to guess ages of people here and have been wrong everytime. Girls that you think are 17 are really 13, girls that look 24 are actually 19, and even the 8 year olds look like they are 12. I have felt quite Young many times here hahaha. Also, the two coolest animals that I see here are iguanas and (less common) monkeys. We were walking a week ago and passed a monkey running on the rooftops and we were both very excited (My companion and I). Apparently the university here in Pampa Grande is home to 4 wild monkeys as I learned this week so there´s that! Also, fun fact: Peruvians speak castellano, a dialect of Español, which really is the most pure form of Spanish since it doesn´t have the lisp or weird changes, and apparently Perú speaks castellano the best, so I am quite excited to say soon that I am fluent in the Spanish dialect of castellano! Good times.

In other news, this week I am going to get a cooking lesson in order to learn to cook the most rica comida in Tumbes: ceviche. Basically it is raw fish with seasonings, and I am actually not suppossed to eat it (rule of the misión) but I am going to learn to prepare it so that I can make the dish when I get home. I am very excited for this! Also, this past Sunday I gave a 15 minute talk in Sacrament Meeting again, and then right after gave a 45 minute lesson all on my own so basically I rocked the world of Spanish this past Sunday. I felt quite accomplished.

Anyways, that is about it for this week. I hope all is going well for everyone! I am quite jealous of the cool weather back home, and if anyone wants some more sun, just let me know and I´ll send you some (trust me, I have PLENTY to share). Thanks, everyone, for Reading and keeping up with the marvellous adventures of Elder Rich in Perú!

Elder Dax Rich

Day In The Life (October 14, 2013)

So today I wanted to share some everyday facts about life here for me, because it is a rather different experience living and serving in Tumbes, Perú.  But first off, I wanted to share an interesting little event that apparently happens every three to four months called "Simulacro." In this event, hospitals bring out their patients into the street to wait for ambulances to transport them to other places (the normal routine) but the people in the town are asked to help. So, there is a marked circle literally in the middle of the road for the people to stand as a protection for these patients from muggers/robbers/drunks/etc. I got the wonderful opportunity to stand in one of these circles and give a public service of protecting a hospital patient. It was interesting indeed (uneventful, but interesting).

Okay, now for the common stuff. My day begins at 6:30 like every other missionary and I get up, pray with my companion, and then exercise. I then eat a very structured breakfast of cereal (generally corn flakes) with a fruity flavored yogurt instead of milk. I also enjoy a delicious side of bread with strawberry marmalade and sometimes even a banana. I then study personally for an hour, then with my companion for 2 hours, and then we go out to teach generally one lesson before lunch. We then go to lunch at a sister`s house in the ward (the same sister everyday except for Saturday and Sunday). Afterwards, is an hour of Spanish study and then teaching from 3 p.m. until generally 9 p.m. We then go back, plan, eat a very small dinner (I usually eat an orange, ramen, or if we actually have enough time soup with a little pasta) and go to bed.

Throughout the day, we walk 50% on dirt and 50% on pavement, so it is hard to stay clean/smell good, but we do the best we can. We also walk everywhere, unless we need to go into the city or go to the church quickly because we are super late in which cases we take a motorcar. I love these because the people like to rip me off, because they think Gringos are slow in the head, so they try to charge me double the cost and I just shake my head, start walking away, and they quickly cut the price down to be more realistic. It is always an adventure with them. It is hard though to know where to go because there are no street signs, and generally houses do not have numbers (because a lot of houses are made of wood, mud, or not very ordinary materials). All houses are generally one story and if there is a second story, it is generally another house. Houses also are generally one room with a curtain divinding it up, so the bathroom is techincally in the same room as the bedrooms, the kitchen, and the living room. It is quite lovely to hear people using the bathroom when you go into a house.

Sacrament Meeting every Sunday is interesting too. It is in the building adjacent to the actual church house, because the church house is so small, so we walk between buildings for the meetings. The sacrament meeting room is also unique because it is full of large pillars, so literally only one full row has the ability to see the speaker. You just have to know where to sit to get the chance to see the speaker.

We also go to an internet cafe every Monday for emailing. It is 2 soles to email home and we are all crammed next to each other on different computers, but it`s an adventure too.

Food. First off, we can`t eat strawberries, pork, lettuce, or raw fish. So, I usually look for things flavored strawberry. It is great fun. Meals here always consist of beans, rice (white, or yellow), meat (chicken, beef, or fish), onions, potatoes (in french fry, mashed, or cube forms), and a sauce (generally a cheese or a green sauce). However, we sometimes get pasta, soup (the best is banana soup) and fried plátanos. We also can`t drink the water, so we always get a juice for lunch, and the juices are always spot on. They are super fruity, super sweet, and the only problem with them is there is never enough. Overall though, the food is really good and as different as it is, it isn`t horribly different from the food back in the States.

More or less, that`s about it for the everyday stuff. I hope that helps give a picture of life here!

I also was reading in the book of Judges in the Bible yesterday and I found a good quote from my Mom back when I was in Seminary and I thought it was pretty strong and worth sharing here, so I would like to share it. It is a quote from James E. Faust about the man named Gideon in the book of Judges and the quote is about Gideon when he was asked to do something that seemed quite impossible. The quote says: "The Lord can do remarkable miracles with a person of ordinary ability who is humble, faithful, and diligent in serving the Lord and seeks to improve himself. This is because God is the ultimate source of power." I testify that this is true. I see people here doing amazing things and totally changing their lives when they do these things and trust in the Lord. For example, one guy here was a heavy drug addict and drinker, but after he learned about this message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he humbled himself, put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and sought to totally change which he did! He serves faithfully in the ward here and he is a real example for us.

Anyways, hope all is going well with everyone and my prayers are with you all! Thanks everyone!

- Elder Dax Rich

October 9, 2013

First Week Of October (October 7, 2013)

So, Piura was a nice little break. It is a 5 hour trip both ways so it was a lot of sleeping and reading, which I was fine with. On the way back, we even got the treat of hearing a man stand up and give us a 37 minute (yes, I timed it) lecture on the poor health of the United States and how if Perú does not want to be like them, they should buy this miracle health drink that he was selling. It was very awkward but also very funny and I couldn´t help but smile the whole time. It was also fun to hear some Bon Jovi music in Español. I tried not to listen to follow the mission rules, but I did have to at least listen enough to hear the title so I could write it down for the post-mission. 
The food of the week is chifles: fried banana chips. They are light yet crispy and salty without being greasy. They are truly wonderful little snacks and they are only half a sole so it made my day when I got my hands on them. I will try to remember to bring back bags and bags for everyone to try (because it has to be authentically made in Perú, de verdad). 
Oh, but time out for sports. This week it was an all-out-war on the Gringo in futbol (soccer). I teamed up with 2 other hermanos from the ward and we played against my companion and some kids from the street, but really it just felt like everyone was against me 1) because I´m garbage at soccer and 2) because it is pretty funny to show up a 6 foot 2 inch tall Gringo when you are only a 4 foot tall Latino. I still enjoyed it, though. Quizás I will return just as good as the natives! 
The big news for the week, though, was the baptism for Hermano Andres this past Sunday. 2 hours before General Conference we decided to hold the baptism service for Andres and we actually had a pretty good turn out of members at the service. I got to sing in English for part of it and then lead the congregation in singing the rest of the hymns in Spanish. The baptism itself was also very interesting as Andres is quite old and so he struggled to get into the font and go under the water, but he finally was able to, and he had the biggest smile on his face afterwards. He then gave such a powerful testimony that he knew God lived and loved him and that he hoped his family too could know this through his example today of following the Savior. I really look up to this man and hope his family will be blessed for his faith.
Well that is all for this week. My prayers are with you all and I hope everyone is enjoying October! Gracias, todos!

-Elder Dax Rich

September 30, 2013

Greetings to all and a happy last day of September! I am hearing how wonderful New England is right now with the changing leaves and cool weather, and I smile and cry at the same time because here it is getting hotter and the sancudos (mosquitos) are multiplying by the millions. But that is okay, I will enjoy the Fall vicariously through everyone back home. So, first off, la semana en el pesado. My companion and I have been working a lot with helping teach members the missionary lessons so that they can feel more confident in sharing the Gospel and helping come with us to teach investigators (pretty crafty plan, eh?). Anyways, while we were teaching a family, their TV (which was on the BYU International chanel) suddenly started a program which was the General Relief Society Conference broadcasted from Salt Lake. So, we got to see the entire Relief Society Conference as well as see President Monson speak. I found I really miss hearing his voice, because a translator´s voice over President Monson´s just isn´t the same. Oh well, esta bien. The good news for this week is that I am going to Piura tomorrow and having a training session (but more accurately, a reunion) with my fellow MTC Piura elders, so the gang is getting back together! It is like getting to have Christmas in October! Also, at the end of this week is General Conference, and during that time on Sunday morning, we are baptizing an elderly man into the church. But, this elderly man is not just an old fellow. He is one of the most amazing people I have met here, so I am super excited. Perhaps a bit about him: his name is Andres and he is 83 years old. He doesn´t hear very well and needs a cane because he has severe knee problems, but he has the faith of a giant. He was one of the first people I taught when I came to Pampa Grande, and now I have the opportunity to see him be baptized. He is such an amazing example of love and faith in God. He told us that he wanted to set an example for his entire family of faith and diligence, and so he wanted to be baptized to cleanse himself of all the sins in his past and he wants to change everything he does that is not in harmony with the commandments of God. So, when we taught him about the Word of Wisdom and not drinkind coffee, he at first was surprised, but then said "if that is God´s will, I will do it" and by the next lesson he had thrown out all of the coffe and tea in his house. He trys so hard to obey every commandment we teach him and he prays with such love and faith to God. He is an amazing man, truly, and I am so excited to see him enter the waters of baptism next Sunday! Anyways, that really is about it for this week. We visited a very...interesting museum and historical site which you can see in the pictures, but really it is just a pile of sand that people lived in. Welcome to Perú! I hope all is going well for everyone back home and please know my prayers are with you all! Sincerely, Elder Dax Rich

September 23, 2013

So first off a super great scripture that has been super helpful for me personally and in lessons with other people. In the Book of Mormon, in the book of 3 Nephi, there is a stellar scripture about prayer and in Español it reads: "y cualquier cosa que pidáis al Padre en mía nombre, si es justa, creyendo que recibiréis, he aquí, os será concedida." I love the scripture so much, it just rocks! So this week I had a lot of fun with Spanish. First off, I took a Spanish comprehension test, specifically on grammer, and I got a 50%. Normally I would just hang my head in shame, but basically it means I went from 0% knowledge of Spanish 2 months ago to 50% accuracy in a fluency test. So, good day in Tumbes! I also gave my first talk in Spanish in church. The ward mission leader came up to us one day last week and said that he wanted us to give talks, and so my companion said, okay well my companion can probably talk for 5 minutes, to which the ward mission leader said nahhh he can do 10. Challenge accepted. I gave a 15 minute talk straight in Spanish. Point 1: Elder Rich. I also cool cultural experiences from the week to share with everyone in the Estados Unidos. First off is music. The music is jamming down in Perú, quite literally. People just turn up their stereos to full blast and play music for hours. We were walking and right in the middle of the street was 6 loudspeakers blasting Spanish dance music, and only 4 people were listening to it. Yet no one complained. People were just sitting out in front of their houses reading the paper, not caring at all. It was quite glorious for a music lover. We also have this obnoxious yet pretty cool catepillar train car that drives around every night playing a car alarm (literally, its horn is a car alarm) and busing around families with little kids who apparently love car alarms. But this little train doesn´t just go once around the block for the kiddies, oh no, it goes 10 times around this area from 9 until 11 everynight. It is quite interesting, obnoxious, and cool. I want one for when I go home. I also helped a lady redo her house. This was done by first moving the furniture to one part of the room, pouring mounds of dirt in the desired new area, pouring a mixture of soap and water on the dirt to help it compact, and then moving the furniture onto the new area. It was very unique, but nice and easy. We need easy home-maintence like this. With this little bit of time left I would like to share something I learned in my study of the Bible. First off, it has been interesting being in a Catholic-dominated country because the Bible is like the newspaper here: everyone just reads it casually everyday. Thus, we use the Bible pretty much every lesson and so I have been studying a lot from it. Anyways, I have found it interesting in the book of Éxodo (Exodus) that everytime people get blessings from God like crossing the parted sea to escape the Egyptians, getting manna from heaven, getting sweet water or even water from a rock, the people end up murmuring and wanting more. It is sillyness, but sadly it is the way of human nature. A good lesson for me to remember to count my blessings each day. Anyways, thanks for everyone´s thoughts and prayers. I read from Aimee´s blog that BYU didn´t fair too well against the U, and all I can say to that is obviously someone got paid off in that game. Crazyiness. Oh and another side note, I also keep wishing I had spell check here but I do not, so count your blessings! Sincerely, Elder Rich

September 16, 2013

September 9 and September 16 letters

Always A Good Time Out Here (September 16, 2013)

Another really good week out in Tumbes! First off, it sounds like I will be in Tumbes for 16 more weeks, so past Christmas. This also means I will be in one of the most heavily mosquito populated areas of my mission for Christmas, the prime time for mosquitoes to party. So while everyone back home has a white Christmas, I may have a red one... because my whole body will be swollen from mosquito bites. So funny. Oh also an interesting fact about Tumbes and Perù in general: Tumbes and Lima (and maybe more, but for sure these two) are considered to be in different time zones, but the difference is only 5 minutes. So for TV programs, they will announce (por ejemplo: Finding Nemo 21:00 Lima, 21:05 Tumbes). It is very different, but I guess it means they are more accurate in terms of being on time.

I also got one of the most baller haircuts ever last week. My companion and I went to a very sketchy little hub of shops and walked into this tent where like 20 hair-cutters were huddled together. Right when we walked in, they all started waving their barber knives (or whatever you want to call them) and I just awkwardly walked to the first one I saw. The lady gave me a nice haircut, and then spoke in Spanish afterwards, to which I just nodded and said "Sì." So, she began to massage my head, and then my neck, and then gelled my hair. She then spoke more in Spanish and so I said "Sì" and so she whipped out her knife and gave me a Sweeny Todd-like shave (minus the blood), and then put cream on my face afterwards to make it nice and smooth. In total, my experience cost about the equivalent of $2.25. It was by far the best deal ever.

But, now to something a little more spiritual. On Tuesday we went to go meet with a new investigator and found that his daughter was extremely ill. The family needed to take her to the doctor`s but due to time and money, they could not for 2 more days, and so they were very discouraged and turned us away immediately. However, we offered to give the daughter a Priesthood Blessing, and explained that it was a blessing with the power and authority of God, but only worked through faith both on the recipient`s end and the family`s. The family agreed to the blessing, and while I did have a lot of problems giving a blessing in Spanish, I did finally complete my part and my companion did his part. Afterwards we left quickly and said we would stop by later that week. Well, we stopped by Friday, and we were instantly welcomed in. The family told us that the blessing caused a miracle to happen. Right after the blessing, the daughter pucked again, but then suddenly stopped moaning and was able to sleep. The next day she then said she felt totally fine, and was walking and had no pain. So, the family cancelled the trip to the doctor`s and the daughter had been totally fine ever since. It truly was a miracle, and so we used the experience to talk with them about the Priesthood of God. I had never seen the Spirit work so hard on a family as I did with this family. I know the power of God is real and exists in our time to help people just as it did in time of Jesus Christ. I am constantly impressed at the power of the Holy Ghost in people`s lives, and I am so glad I can be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to proclaim the Gospel of Peace to a people who need to know that God is real and knows everyone of His children.

Everyday is another adventure, but I can`t write them all here, because I need to save some for my own journal! Hahaha, anyways thanks for everyone checking in on me. I hope all is going well back home, and know that you are all in my prayers everyday. 

Ever onward,
-Elder Dax Rich

Week 2 in the Field (September 9, 2013)

A lot of interesting experiences happened this week here in Perú! It is a fantastic mission and I know I will be experiencing some truly remarkable experiences here as time goes on.

First off though, I wanted to say something about JR. I Heard about JR when I called home from the airport after the CCM, and I just cried right there in the airport with my friends. JR was such an inspiration to me, and many other people, of following your passions and loving other people. JR always showed extreme kindness to others and I only remember how much he helped me and cared about me. I know it was because of his amazing character that he was blessed so dearly in life. I also know that we will see him again. In fact, it is because of that reason (and many others) that I want to be out here. The message of the Gospel of Jesús Christ is many things, but one big part of that is the plan for all of us to live with our loved ones again. People need to know that there is life after this life and that this isn´t the end. It breaks my heart when I see people break down in tears beliving they just lost a loved one forever. And with 9/11 just two days away, memories of that pain for others resurface in my mind. Specifically, we taught a 14 year old boy yesterday who just lost his mother and has now decided to join a group of boys who drink, party, and do drugs. As we taught him he cried and said he wanted to change. He knew his mother would not approve of his choices and he felt so dirty. We testified that the message of the Gospel of Jesús Christ would bring peace and guidance to his life, and I shared a scripture in the Book of Mormon, Alma 40:11-12. The scripture talks about what is after this life, and that after this life, those who had good Works (like this boy´s mother, and JR) will be received into a state of happiness, a state of rest. I know that is so true with all of my heart. I want everyone to know that truth and that is just one reason why I am so glad I can be out here and preaching this Gospel.

Also, to add some notes on culture here: the food is suuuper baller. The portions are unhealthily large and the food is muy rico (rich). I love the food here. However, there are other parts about the culture that take some getting used to, for example: women breastfeeding right in front of you during a lesson. We literally would be sitting there teaching and the mother would just lift up her baby, whip out her breast, and keep talking like it was nothing. Very different indeed.

Okay, lastly: baptism. Saturday was the baptism for a new member of the church, and we asked for his friend to do the baptism. It was so powerful to see a friend baptizing a friend into the Church of Jesús Christ, and we were all so excited and moved by the experience. Also, we have challenged two other people to be baptized, and while I don´t want to baptize many people myself (because I think it is better if they have a friend in the church do it to make it more meanigful and memorable), I may baptize one of them! So, in the next month I may have a baptism under my belt to share with everyone!

Also, the coolest Word in the world is my last name when pronounced by a Latino. It is just so funny: it is either Elder Reeeech or Elder Risssssssh. I just smile and say, exactly! (I also like Elder Rico, but I am not suppossed to go by that.)

Anyways, thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers! You are all always in my prayers. I hope everyone is enjoying a new school year and a new month as well. I look forward to hearing from everyone as time goes on!

Elder Dax Rich

The Big Email From The Field

Greetings from Tumbes!

So the last week was literally like going between two different worlds. Lima was the closest thing to America I will see for two years, because here in Tumbes, I live in the smallest house in existence on the top floor of some lady´s house. The good part is that I have a nice view. Anyways, my new companion´s name is Elder Chavez and yes, he is a Latino. So, no more English for me. That was also a huge difference. Going from a place where people were learning Spanish to a place where people are just barely learning English was very much a culture shock for me. It is super hard to just nosedive into this culture, but it is worth it. A lot of great blessings have come from this already. But before that, a little bit more about my area: It is all sand and huts, and people walk everywhere. The church house is very small and the doors do not close, so you can hear every class no matter where you are.

Okay, I just ran out of time so rapido: I have felt the Spirit here so often in just 5 days. When I bear my simple testimony with the little Spanish I know, I can feel the Spirit in the room and see its effect on peope´s faces. I urge everyone back home to pray. For whatever. Just pray. It literally is life changing when done addressing Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ. I can´t even explain it. Seriously, just try it.

I hope to write much more next week, but I for now just have to leave it at, this is verrrry different from home and the hardest thing I have ever done by far. My Econ class was like 1st grade stuff compared to this. However, this work is totally worth it. People´s lives are changing, including my own, and I want to help as many people as I can come unto Christ and realize that they can be with their family forever. That is the best message I can share with the people here, and it holds a great deal of power. Anyways, enjoy the photos and know my prayers are with you all!

With love,
Elder Dax Rich

August 24, 2013

Last CCM email

Hey everyone,

So, I realized after I sent my email last week that I did not even write about my new position as District Leader of my district, so that is something worth sharing. Surprise everyone. Since this is the last week here at the CCM for me, I have been busy buying all of the Lima goods to prepare me for my mission. I got an awesome sauce hymnbook and case with the Lima temple on it, which I am sure will be the talk of the town in my mission. I got another lovely llama tie and a nice Peruvian satchel so I am now one of the natives.

Quick break for elders and Apostle talk: I tried to read the article about President Monson being in Hartford for the temple groundbreaking, but I didn’t get to, but I was super excited to read that he was there! I hope everyone got a chance to be a part of that and see the prophet somehow! Hopefully, I will be back in time for the dedication of the temple once it is built and I can go. Speaking of temples, I went to the temple for the last time for 2 years today and besides it being super spiritual with my whole district there, it was like I went through another farewell because I was saying goodbye to going to the house of the Lord for 2 years. It was sad, but I am so glad I got to go at least a few times while I have been out here. We are all super excited to see Elder Cook this Sunday and we are even personally inviting him to our district´s Navidad Fiesta that same day. Our plan is to get one of the guys to say the closing prayer and then as he goes up, he will announce that Elder Cook is exclusively invited to our party, and then he will say the prayer and sit down. It will work, trust me. Also, for our devotional this past Sunday we had a speaker from the Quorum of the 70 and when I finally realized who it was I started laughing and knew I had to tell the family that we had the honor of seeing C. Scott Grow at our CCM. He is a great guy and all, but his name will forever be funny to me, and after I explained it to my district they all laughed with me...while he was speaking and we were in the front row. This is obviously why we need hermanas (sisters) in our district, to keep us in line, but oh well. It was funny and I hope everyone else can appreciate this humor with me.

I finished Jesus the Christ today. 800 pages during two-three weeks of one of the craziest schedules any human should ever live in his/her life is quite the accomplishment in my book. I now recommend it two times as much as I did before and it has become one of the most interesting books I have read in all of my many days. I also recently learned that there are only two CCM´s that allow their missionaries to proselytize while at the CCM, and ours is one of those two, so I felt quite lucky. However, we are not actually going this week because of Elder Cook coming, but it is still cool that we got the chance to go.

Okay, back to sports. In case anyone wants to know, our district is 56/60 in terms of ultimate frisbee, so we are basically the very best like no one ever was. This guy packs quite a punch with his mad throwing and catching skills. I discovered that I suck at every sport so that I could be quite good at Frisbee. My life makes sense now.

With this last bit I want to share just some interesting experiences I have had recently here in the CCM. We have been having a lot of problems with missionaries in terms of their health emotionally and physically, and it has been especially evident in my district and with the elders in my room. Because of this I have had interesting experiences, the first being that I got to give a blessing with 8 other elders standing in on the blessing for an ill elder. I exercised my Priesthood power as I have in the past, but when I did it with 8 other elders with me, I felt more power in my words and I really felt the Spirit guiding me and helping me to bless this sick elder (who now said he feels totally fine). Power of the Priesthood right there. I have also seen the emotional health of missionaries here decline as one specifically has been thinking about going home, and in fact decided for sure that he was going home. He talked with the president and called home for a week straight, and two nights ago he decided for sure that the mission was not for him and that he was going home. Everyone was totally devastated to hear that, and so my room decided to come together in prayer for this elder. We all joined together in a long and powerful prayer, and we had Papa Prince (Elder Prince) go out and talk with this elder one-on-one. The next morning the elder came up to all of us with tears in his eyes and said he was staying. He had been cheering the night before when he finally got the "okay" to go home, but that next morning he said he had felt a huge change in his heart and knew he needed to be here, and just like that he decided that this is where he wanted to be. It may not have been as crazy as the night we saw the one elder fending off evil spirits, but it certainly was just as powerful. Satan works on every person here as hard as he can, but the power of the Priesthood, God’s authority, will always come off conqueror. I have such a stronger testimony of what a man with the Priesthood can do now, and I am so glad for that power on this earth. The biggest lesson that I have learned this week though was certainly these two words: "Trust God." He loves all of His children and He has a plan for all of them, we just need to trust that He will do what is best for all of us. We all want certain things from life and we want them in our time, but if we remember that God knows best and wants us to be happy then we will be more willing to turn to Him and trust that He will give us what is best for us when we truly need it, and not when we think we need it. Throughout this week those two words have been repeating in my head, and I want to share them with everyone back home, because they are that important. Trust Him, siempre (always).

In conclusion, my district is also awesome because we sing songs in Spanish. Our most commonly sung song is only two lines but we all join in whenever one person sings out the first line. When someone sings "qué quiere" (what do you want) we all sing back "bébe lo tengo" (drink what I have). We are that cool. Anyways, sorry if my English is slipping, but my Spanish is growing! It is a trade off, so it is all good.

 My next email will be from Piura, so stay tuned! I hope to hear from everyone soon and I hope all is well with everyone! God be with you until we meet again (or at least until my next post!).

-Elder Dax Rich

August 15, 2013

Week Four

Another week of fun, laughs, emotions, etc.

First off, a scripture to share from my readings in "Jesus the Christ." This is about a man Jesus healed and it is in Juan 9:25. The man says, "una cosa sé, que habiendo yo sido ciego, ahora veo." I will leave you to do the homework of translating that, but I really liked that because it was a simple testimony of a simple truth, and I feel like that is sometimes what we need in order to truly be mighty in spirit: know a simple truth in the Gospel. For me, it is that God loves and knows personally every one of his children on this earth. That has been such an important fact for me to know as I have been out here, as it has helped me in every lesson I have given, either in practice lessons at the CCM or actually out in the field during proselytizing. (Mom, sorry for my spelling) I always bear my testimony of: "Yo sé que Dios es muy amoroso y sabe cada persona personalmente en la tierra." I´m glad I can also share that fact with everyone back home. 

Well, now that I have mentioned proselytizing, I might as well talk about it. This 2nd time around, my companion and I were sent out alone without a Latino elder to translate, and we were so ready to just get to work. However, we ended up with a Latino member who asked to come along and help, and although we did not get to try teaching just on our own, we did both find that we have grown tremendously in our Spanish. I could follow about 80% of the conversations and I even was able to talk for 5 minutes straight every time with my excellent Spanish (excellent being a very relative term in this sense). The cool part of this second round of proselytizing was that even though we only taught 6 lessons, we only met 7 people. We had literally 30 minute lessons with 6 different people and only one person turned us away. I was blown away at how kind and receptive people in Perú are to other religions and to people who just want to share a message of their faith. I love these people, and I cannot even wait to get out to Piura in 2 Tuesdays from now. 

Also, we are getting one of the twelve apostles, Elder Cook, to come to the CCM in two Sundays from now. Everyone is going crazy, especially my district because it will be our last Sunday in the CCM, so we just barely made it. We also had a devotional yesterday that was broadcasted from Provo, and was the first ever broadcasted devotional at the MTC to other MTC´s around the world. So, it was kind of a big deal. We all cheered when they mentioned that of the many MTC´s included in the broadcast, the Lima Peru was one of them. The talk itself was alright (but it was word for word the same talk that this apostle gave at another time and we had all heard it just two days ago, so we all just looked around every now and then), but the cool part was when we all sang "Called to Serve." As I sang, I realized that literally all over the world, missionaries were singing that exact song with us, and that thought was amazing. It was just a cool experience.

So, now to the misadventures:

My maestro said he wanted to have a pizza fiesta for us, but he knew that we could not bring food into the CCM, so he strategized a plan for us to sneak in 4 boxes of Papa John´s Pizza into the CCM. He had 6 elders distract the maestros near the front gate, 2 elders clear the hall leading to the dormitories, and the rest he had clear out the dorm halls. He paid off the guard at the front of the CCM, and he then literally ran the 4 boxes of pizzas up to our room, where we all locked ourselves in and had a pizza party fit for gringos. It was truly worth remembering.

The other experience was getting the exotic food of Perú, which has been called the 3rd best country for food in the world behind France and Italy. My companion and I decided to get empanadas and churros from the vendors in downtown Lima, and my brains fell out of my head. The churros have a delicious caramel inside filling and are fried like nothing else, and the empanadas are filled with maravilloso pollo y queso. It even had an egg in it, and if anyone knows me at all, they will know I hate eggs, yet I loved the empanada even with the egg. Perú is already getting to me. 

I have so much to write and always have like no time, so once again sorry if my emails seem scatter-brained. In sum, I am doing well here. Spanish is coming along, I am learning so much about the gospel, and I am making such good friends. As I continue to read the "Book of Mormon" and study the life of Christ in "Jesus the Christ", I constantly find myself feeling the Spirit and feeling such a sense of peace and hope. I literally could not be doing anything better than being a missionary right now, and I am very glad I came out here. I am going to change so much, as I have already changed a lot in just one month. Thank you for reading my updates and for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. I love you all so much and pray for everyone siempre. Otra vez, please just know that I know God loves you and knows you. He really does.

Elder Dax Rich

August 9, 2013

Week Three

This week really flew by, and I feel like it will continue to be rather quick. There are always adventures here and a lot of growth happens here for many different people, especially for those who haven´t been away from home, which personally i have no idea how they are holding up so well. Anyways, once your mind starts focusing on the Lord, everything seems to be easier, and that probably is true for all aspects of life, but for sure here. I´ve had lots of great scriptures I have wanted to share with everyone, but I keep forgetting my scriptures and my notebooks when I come to email. My companion and I literally book it to the computer lab when it is our time to email, and we always forget to bring other items outside our cameras and camera cords. Pero, esta bien. I am sure I will have some for another later week. I hope all is going well for everyone back home. My prayers are always with everyone back there, and I know God will be blessing everyone back home.

Dios es muy amoroso, y Su amor es para nosotros siempre. Now that my district has been here for 3 weeks, we are considered the "intermediate class" and all the newbies are the "Gringos" a name which we are not hesitant to remind them of. We keep an iron thumb pressed down on these Gringos and we all very much enjoy our position as "veterans" of the CCM. I continue to learn more and more Español each day, and I am getting better at speaking with people, a skill which came in helpful especially today when my district went shopping for P-Day. We were walking to the store, and two ladies stopped us, said they had just become members of our church and (on the verge of tears) grabbed each of our hands and thanked each of us at least 10 times for our service. It was so heartwarming knowing we will be able to touch lives like these two wonderful women's lives and I really just cannot wait to get to Piura to help people find the joy of knowing their Redeemer and loving Father. This is a great and marvelous work, but oh man, is it hard. Español es muy dificil, knowing where to start teaching is muy dificil, and even just getting a moment to share your message with others is muy dificil. But, all will work out. I know it.

In terms of adventures, I don´t really have enough time to share anything super exciting, so I will just leave it at my district is crazy and we make every day an adventure. I love it so much here, and for the first time in a while I caught myself smiling the entire night until I fell asleep last night. This work gives you such a good feeling. I am currently reading "Jesus the Christ" a book about the man who is Jesus Christ in this life, the life before, and the life after his crucifixion. I have learned so many mind-blowing facts and have grown to understand our Brother so much more in just 200 pages of reading. I recommend it no matter who you are if you want to know more about Christ. (In addition to the Bible and the Book of Mormon of course). Now people are yelling at me to get off, so I really won´t write anymore for now, and will have to deprive everyone of my wonderful stories for another week. I love you all and pray that joy and blessings will flood into your life.

Oh and Alma 26:12 by the way.
(12 Yea, I know that I am anothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will bnot boast of myself, but I will cboast of my God, for in his dstrength I can do all ethings; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.)

Enough said.

Elder Dax Reech (as the Latinos say)

August 1, 2013

Week 2

Hey everyone!
So now it has been two full weeks at the CCM in Peru and I am just full of lovely stories and moments to share with everyone. First off, I hope all is going well for everyone back home and especially for Aimee who probably just went out to the field this week. I´m excited for her, but I truly do not envy her. After having gone out in public many times these past few weeks I have seen just how poor my knowledge of Spanish is and how poorly I can understand other people. Currently, I can only bare my testimony, say prayers, and teach lessons to some degree of skill in Spanish, but I am getting better slowly. I feel like I have at least learned enough grammar for at least one year of Spanish in high school already, though, so I think I am making some serious progress.

Ok, so now about the group dynamics, which is basically the best part of the CCM (besides learning Spanish and helping people come unto Christ). Everyone in the district is really close and we all do a lot together all the time. We goof off together, we do sports together, and we eat together. We are tighter than skinny jeans. We recently got into doing Jam Sessions, which are musical events where one elder in our group plays the piano to arrangements of hymns and other uplifting music, and (generally) the other 11 elders sing in a nice choir of manliness. we do these basically whenever we have free time, want to feel the Spirit, or just are feeling like rocking some vocals. They are the best thing ever, and without them I would not be where I am today. One of our elders in the group also got hair cutting equipment and with 0 experience, he decided to cut both my compañero´s hair and my own. You may be a bit taken back by my luscious locks, but I do not blame you. I feel weird with the cut.

We had transfers on Tuesday, because Latins only are in the CCM for 2 weeks as opposed to our 6 weeks in the CCM, so all of the Latins left and some Americans who had finished their 6 weeks, and thus the campus was left with only 50 people in it. I loved it. I could go to bed without being kept up, never had to wait in lines, and I got to get seconds on empanadas and churros. It was beautiful. however, last night, we had so many Americans and Latins come in that we maxed out the capacity at the CCM and we are now more full than the CCM has ever been in its history. But, I did get to meet another Elder Rich as a result, and we got only Americans in our room, so now we are the only dorm room without Latins in it. This means we can say "Go to bed now" and they will probably listen!
It is also super frio here in Lima and I have actually had to wear my sweater a plethora of times. go figure.
Ok, so the big stuff. Here at the CCM, since we are not in Mormon Provo, we get the chance to proselytize so I went out with a Latin companion to downtown Lima to share the message of Christ with people. We were getting a lot of people saying they were too busy or saying "Go away" but because I couldn´t understand them i would just smile and say "Gracias!" and walk away. My companion had to tell me later that they weren´t saying nice things after all. But, eventually we came across a few people who gave us the time of day, and I got to see firsthand how powerful the message I am delivering can be on people´s lives. A man who ran his own BBQ store asked us to come sit with him, while he temporarily closed his store and we shared a message about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. the man was so interested and kept asking if we had materials to share with him about this. So, we gave him a pamphlet about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a picture of Jesus Christ, and then finally his own copy of El Libro de Mormón (the book of Mormon). We talked a little longer and then we left. About twenty minutes later, we came to a house and knocked, and an old man who was apparently living all on his own came to the door, smiled, and asked us to come in. He sat us down and asked us to share our message with him. We talked about the same thing with this man and he seemed very focused on what we were saying. I wished I knew Spanish better so I could see why he was so interested, but I did not know the words, so the thirty minute discussion ended in us giving him a book of Mormon also and then leaving. While I did not get to see how impactful the books were for these men, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy as i was able to share a message of hope for these men and their families. We practice teaching investigators (who are just employees acting as people who aren´t members of our faith) everyday here at the CCM in order to learn how we can share important doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people who need certain doctrines the most, but none of those practices could compare to actually sharing a message of happiness and love with real people who need to know that God loves them and knows them personally. That is something I know more clearly than anything else in the world, and I want everyone I meet to know that truth for themselves.
Anyways, that is probably enough for this week. Point of this email: if the Mormon missionaries come by your house to share a message, at the very least please don´t say vulgar things in other languages to them. they may just smile and leave, but they will find out what you said eventually.
God be with you all, and I pray that everyone is doing well back home.
- Elder Dax Rich