Monday, July 25, 2016

Knee Calluses (How do you spell that?)

Dear family and friends,

There was a little earthquake here on Wednesday! That freaked me out.  It was the first time in my life I´ve ever felt even a little earth-shaking, so that was nuts.  Don´t worry though; I´m still alive;)

We noticed the other day that all of us missionaries have developed callouses on our knees from saying kneeling prayers so much.  I even have little indents in my knees now, so all that´s pretty...weird.

Here, all the kids have to take religion classes.  Well, they don´t have to; many of the LDS kids get excusal notes from their parents to take a different class.  Why, you ask? Because that class is pure apostasy!! Haha a kid in the ward showed us his assignment this past week.  One of the statements: "God will forgive sins, but not scandals."  One of the questions: "What would have happened if Jesus would have been disobedient?" What are they teaching those kids??  I guess one of the only benefits of the US´s Seperation of Church and State.  One of the few haha! Sorry to get all political, but I thought that was funny.

We had this big activity planned yesterday, an open house of our chapel.  Our branch president was all excited and printed 600 invitations.  I was trying to be optimistic, but I was like, "Are we really thinking that passing out invitations in the street is going to have a big impact?" Plus, I don´t like doing that as missionaries.  I feel like it kinda ruins our image, or at least makes it seem less powerful.  I don´t feel like the Savior every would have done that.  But, they passed out the 600 anyway.  Yesterday was showtime.  Exactly....3 investigators showed up.  And they were existing investigators! So that was kinda embarrassing.  And hilarious.  It was a good idea though, we´ve just gotta involve the members a little more haha.

I´ve really felt the importance of helping people here learn how to read The Book of Mormon.  Remember the cheesy quote about buying a man a fish and teaching a man to fish that I refuse to quote here?  Elder Bednar said in the Christmas Devotional when I was in the MTC that we can´t just give investigators answers; we need to teach them how to find their own answers! So I´ve really felt the importance of helping investigators read, understand, and apply The Book of Mormon in their lives.  If we could help just 5 families here in Viru develop that habit, I feel like it would be worth it.  

Anyway, hope you all have a super week and I´ll talk to you shortly! I quite enjoy all the updates and pics, keep it up!

Love, Tanner

Monday, July 18, 2016

Trying to Find Dory

Dear family and friends,

Another week has come and gone.  Time flys so fast! It was a pretty sweet week though.  We started last P-Day by eating something called "pollo a la brasa" as a zone.  It´s just rotissere chicken with french fries and condiments, so nothing really special.  BUT! These fries were the closest replica to american french fries that I´ve had here in Perú. Thin, crunchy, hot; boy oh boy they were tasty.

After that we watched Finding Dory, or Buscando a Dori as it´s called here.  We bought the movie, plus 4 other movies on the same disc, for 2.5 soles (the money here).  That´s equal to LESS THAN A DOLLAR! The illegality and pirating of things here is so funny.  We put the disc in.  It´s a guy, sitting in a movie theater, with his camera, filming a showing of Finding Dory!  Haha he´s like adjusting the camera to get it level and you can see the silhouettes of people´s heads on the bottom of the screen.  Oh man it was so funny.  On the bright side, it´s probably the closest I´ll come to being in a movie theater on my mission.  I didn´t really want to ruin the surprise and watch it for my first time in Spanish.  With the combination of sound quality of the movie and acoustics of the church and my still unperfect Spanish, I don´t understand all the talking in movies.  So I slept instead.  I woke up and caught the last 10 minutes and found out the ending, but oh well.  I look forward to seeing it in English haha.

The district here is going to have a pioneer trek activity here on July 28th and 29th, and our zone has received permission to go! I´m super excited, we´re gonna go and talk to people along the sides wondering what´s going on.  They also want us to share messages and pioneer stories with the youth, so we´re all pumped for that.  They´re working on the handcarts now, which also look pretty sweet.  It takes me back to when I went on trek.

I´ve been learning lots about agency.  We often pray and pray and pray for guidance and help in our lives, forgetting that we fought so hard in the pre-existence for the chance to choose! I think Heavenly Father is a lot more content than we sometimes think to let us make our own decisions and figure things out for ourselves.  If he told us everything to do, would it really be any different than Satan´s plan?? I read in True to the Faith this past week, "Heavenly Father will rarely do something for us that we can do for ourselves."  We have the resposibility to make choices, work, try, counsel with the Lord, ask him for his help and to consecrate our actions, and trust that he knows what´s going on!  That being said, he will help us and guide us and bless us as we go to him in prayer and involve him in our lives.  "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you."  A little something that I´ve been learning lately.

Love you all tons! Hope you have a great week, and happy Pioneer Day in a week!

Elder Hart

Monday, July 11, 2016

Teachin' Seminary

Dear family and friends,

This week we got back on track!! After the stupid party of the "Señor de la sangre," which means "Lord of Blood," things were a lot calmer this week. We were able to get to work and find some people and home and meet a lot of new ones.  

I didn´t mention last Monday for the 4th of July, our pensionista made us "hamburgers" and french fries at my request.  The hamburgers here aren´t real hamburgers; they´re thin jerky-like strips of meat with a fried egg.  But still, tasting meat and bread and ketchup and mayonase and tomato all together kinda resembled a hamburger, and made me happy nonetheless.

One fun thing that happened this week is that we taught seminary! Got to put myself in the shoes of my pops haha.  The teacher has some training for recently returned missionaries, which he is, so he asked us to teach.  We taught Numbers 17-21, and it was super fun! I really do like teaching.  I´m not as good at it as I´d like to be yet, but I really enjoy it.  I was flashing back to my year of Old Testament in 9th Grade with Brother Larsen and thinking about my dad teaching seminary all his career, so it was kind of a fun moment.

We found a family of 6 this week, the brother of our recent convert and his family.  They aren´t quite as prepared as their relatives, but they´re super nice and we´re looking forward to visiting them with their recently baptized family members and working a bit more with them!

So I got insanely confused this week reading Mosiah 15, the first few verses.  I´ve read them lots of times, but most of the time I just kinda gave them the Isaiah treatment, if ya know what I mean;)  I decided this week to really dive in and try to understand how Christ is God, the Eternal Father, but is also the Son of God, and how they are really one Eternal God.  I can see why there is so much confusion in the world about it! Today I made some real progress and started to understand better.  Christ gives us life temporally and spiritually, is the creator, is the God of this world and the author of our salvation.  Reading Ephesians 1:3-6 really opened up a new way of thinking too.  I´m not even going to try to say more about it here, and I surely don´t understand it yet, but I would invite anyone who wants to have a fun personal study look a little more into it.  And would also very much appreciate any commentaries from general authorites on the subject!

To finish, I´m gaining a lot more appreciation for the light of Christ.  The scriptures talk about Christ destroying peoples and nations.  I didn´t understand how or why he could do that either, with the charity that he has, but one idea that I had is that maybe he just withdraws that spirit and light and watches in sadness.  The spirit won´t always strive with man! We learn a little bit about what would happen without Christ from Jacob in 2 Nephi 9.  When a people is so wicked that Christ withdraws that spirit and his light, they kinda just destroy themselves.  Sorry for the morbid spiritual thought, but I thought it was interesting.  And that isn´t doctrine either, just my though haha.

Love ya all and hope you have a great week!

Love, Tanner

Monday, July 4, 2016

Lotsa Bread

Dear family and friends,

"Nevertheless, the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith."  Wow! Remember last week, how pumped I was that everything was so good and that we were just a'teaching away?? Well, this week the Lord saw fit to try our patience and our faith haha.

It started on Monday, when I got sick from something, who knows what.  I was just feelin´ a little blue.  But we had interviews with President on Monday, so I took some pills and all was well.  In the interviews, we were supposed to take our Area Book.  So, we did! Or at least we thought we did...until I showed up at the chapel and realized that it wasn´t in my hands.  A very deep and dark fear came over me and I was sure that I had left the area book in the taxi!! My word, it was the feeling of forgetting your homework, but worse because people´s salvation and all the work of missionaries the past four years are at stake, not just a grade! Haha turns out I just left it in the apartment....whew!

But that was the start of things.  There has been a big party this weekend, starting on Thursday, for one of the Catholic saints.  Marching bands, and fireworks, and food, and partying, and drinking, and vendors, and lots of crosses and statues of saints everywhere.  It´s been crazy! But it´s really affected the work; no one´s home! Not even members! They don´t celebrate Catholicness, but they do get together with family and eat and everything.  

In all the craziness, I was almost backed up on by a car on Wednesday! We were just walking behind it, minding our own business, and all of the sudden he barrels out of his parking spot (let´s see if anyone in my immediate family get´s that reference;)) backing up! I tried to somehow stiff arm his car with my skinny right arm, which almost worked...but not quite.  I just pushed off and kind of ran out of the way.  Then he started yelling something in Spanish which I didn´t understand, probably because it wasn´t in my very gospel-based vocabulary haha.  

We met with two ladies this week named Auria and Elvia.  Auria is 97 years old!! And Elvia is her slave, almost! THe parents of Elvia were slaves of the parents of Auria, and the tradition continues.  Man I felt so bad with the way this 97 year old lady was bossing around her helper! But we coudn´t really do anything about it! They fed us bread and jam and Inka Cola...and then more bread...and then more bread.  Man we were so full.  I started stuffing all the bread in my backpack when they weren´t looking to at least give it to another family! I´m scared to eat in Perú anyway.  With the lack of 1) paper plates and 2) dishwashers, it makes it hard to trust any utinsel.  So anyway, that was one to remember!

There´s a recent convert here who´s got family names and is super pumped to go to Trujillo and get baptized for them.  He wants us to go with him, which would be super sweet! Here´s to hoping that that can happen!

Anyway, that´s the long week it´s been! I´m so grateful to be a part of the ups and downs of the Lord´s work, and to have the honor to suffer a tiny tiny tiny bit in his name as a full time missionary.  Love you all and hope you have great weeks!!

Love, Elder Hart

PS Just got news that KD is off to Golden State.  WHAT????? 
Also, Happy 4th of July:)