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