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