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