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 himself...to 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