Machu Picchu

Monday, May 29, 2017

Ending with a Bang!

So we had 2 baptisms this week, 2 confirmations, found 5 new investigators to teach and had 7 investigators at church!  Cool stuff.  Is great to be so busy as the time gets closer to going home.  Just keeps me focused.  We have another baptism scheduled for June 17th, but that will have to be handled by Elder Lara in my "absence!"

I also spent 2 days this week traveling to Cusco.  I got a call last Monday night and was told I have to give a power of attorney and then be fingerprinted for something with visa / Peru travel rules.  I have no idea why they couldn't have done that when officer Elders were in Juliaca last week, but I got on a bus and traveled to Cusco (7+ hours) and then the next day came right back.  Sort of crazy and inefficient, but whatever.

I can't believe I am coming up on the end of my mission.  I am getting tons of emails from the office about "rules" of finishing your mission, details about last few days, instructions for travel and immigration paperwork, etc... Here are some pictures of one of our baptims this week.  For some reason I only took them from the first baptism and not the second!  Things got really busy with the White Night and number of folks getting baptized.

So Elder Lara stayed with Elder Wells and Werlen (the two serving in our neighboring area) while I traveled to and from Cusco.

So I also have some potentially sad news.  So evidently we might not get to see Elder Christensen.  Apparently he is only coming to Cusco, but the mission really doesn't have the money to send us all to the event.  Is a little frustrating actually and many folks are angry.  I find it interesting that they can  afford to bus me around for something that could have been handled in person a week before, but oh well.

It struck me pretty hard this week re: money spent in the mission as I had to stay with office Elders on my quick trip back to Cusco.  The office house is DEFINITELY a huge step above what I have stayed in my entire mission!  So they have a huge complex, like in a tower that is very close to the mission office.  They basically have a complete house that is really nice.  3 bedrooms; 3 bathrooms with actual working showers.  A super nice kitchen and a nice balcony with city views.  I had to take a pic (below) to just show my District back in Juliaca how some folks got to live in the mission! :)

We pay 250 soles a month for our house, getting showered with a bucket, living in a little hut on top of some guys roof!  Yet the office Elders live in an ultra modern apartment tower, with super nice water heater thingies for their showers, and their rent is around 2,000 soles a month!  Crazy.

Anyway, was still an experience to ride the bus for so long and to people watch and talk with folks who wondered what the "lost tourist" was doing on the bus!  We got stopped two or three times by police on the trip and they searched for stolen electronics and checked people's identification.

Here is a little video of Elder Lara and I having some fun.  Meet "the Barley Challenge."  I had dared Elder Lara to eat a spoonful of that Echo drink I like and he totally thought he could do it!  Result:  FAILED.  It was totally funny though.

A member took us out to "Asador Point" this week, which is pretty much the only good restaurant Juliaca has to offer.  I ordered Lasagna.  It was actually pretty good (definitely in comparison to the food I normally eat here).  I gave it a 10 out of 10.  Lol.  The member is 19 and turning 20 in December.  He is very mature though for his age and seems a lot older.  He is the Ward secretary.  He is a recent convert (think about a year and a half ago) and is planning on turning in his mission papers in the upcoming next week or two.  His family aren't members and he has it pretty rough.  His mom has some sort of illness where she got paralyzed and his Dad doesn't live nearby.

I heard from my entire Lima MTC group this week and they are all going home on the 12th of June as well.  So that is going to be exciting to catch up with them back home.

Here are a few more random pics from this week.  I am off for now.  Will talk to you guys next week, which I guess will be for the last time!

Take care!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Lots of work!

Hello from Juliaca!  This week was just a good week working.  We were sent to Puno on Saturday to have interviews with the Mission President.  Mine was pretty easy, and VERY short, as I guess he is realizing we will have our final and more "official" final interview in less than 3 weeks!

This week we had 7 investigators at church, taught a ton of lessons, and have confirmed 2 baptisms for the Zone's White Night this Saturday.  We thought we were going to have 3 baptisms by Saturday, but one investigator wants to wait until June 17th when his Dad will be in town.  So I guess that one will be for Elder Lara and his new companion!

Here are a few pics from this week.  Nestle Ecco is a barley drink that everyone drinks down here.  I am actually a fan of this!  But I am not sure it exists back home, so I will need to take home a few cases!

We also found a bunch of new investigators this week, including an older man who appears to be in a lot of debt and has many problems and issues.  We were a little unsure how to approach the lesson given the host of issues he has, but it actually turned out very well!

Messing around in soccer today--- played volleyball and soccer as a zone-- and made these little funny videos!

Love you guys.  Talk to you next week.

Elder Barry

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day

[We got the chance to talk with Connor via Skype for Mother's Day!  We are excited as this was the 4th and final video call and now we just have the last 27 days to wait until he comes home!]

[We also got our weekly email on Monday and the blog entry below is a combination of a portion of that Monday email along with some text / chat we had with Connor as his companion spoke with his parents.]

Hey guys!   So we can video chat in about an hour once my companion is done.  We can chat on Skype until he is done though.

We are not in a Trio anymore.  Our third Elder went back "home" on Tuesday, so we have been the dynamic duo for a while.  Today was an awesome day in church!  We had 10 investigators at church and now have 3 confirmed baptisms for the 27th!  (We might actually have 4 but are still working on that.)  I think my District will have 6 or 7 by itself on the 27th and our entire zone will have over 10.  Pretty exciting and is helping me not think about going home!  It helps to have work to keep you busy.

Here is another picture of my mission dollar!  It only has one letter left unshaded!  [They evidently color in one letter a month until all 24 months / letters are complete.]

We have a very busy week scheduled to keep teaching our investigators and line up the District baptisms for the upcoming White Night.  The weather is very strange right now, as it is very hot in the day and then come evening it gets very cold.  I sort of wish it would just pick one or other!  Hot or cold!

Well not much more to say given we got to talk live yesterday!  Looking forward to seeing you guys soon.

Love you.

-Elder Barry

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Trio Working in Juliaca

Hi everyone.  So this week pretty rough.  We are still in a trio with Elder Cunya. We really haven't received any news about his companion.  We hope he is ok and doing better, but we really aren't told anything.

So we actually are not having a member of Quorum of the Twelve come to our mission in June.  I guess that was just a rumor.  We are instead having Elder Craig C. Christensen from the 70 though on June 7th.

It will be interesting to see what they do with me in terms of travel plans.  I was going to come into Cusco anyway on the 10th to wrap up my mission.  I am guessing they will just bring me in (along with entire mission) on the 7th for our meeting with Elder Christensen and then let me stay there rather than sending me back and then turning right around a day later basically and coming to Cusco again.

We are working hard though since we also need to cover Elder Cunya's area.  So we spend our time in our area and then running over to Elder Cunya's area.  The good news is that working keeps us busy and I don't think about going home as much!  We also have a great investigator in his area that accepted a baptism date for the 27th (the next Mission White Night).  We have two tentatively scheduled for that day!

Working in a trio is a little hard actually. Everything is more complicated!  The travel arrangements by moto taxi; teaching a lesson (when we are so used to two Elders); and even just walking down the road with three of us!  Is all just sort of strange.  We don't want to waste money so when we take a mototaxi to Elder Cunya's area we try and spend the entire day working there.

I assume we will still be in a Trio for our Mother's Day call on Sunday.  That might be interesting for logistics too.  I guess we will figure it out.  I will try and figure out what time we are talking and will tell you beforehand.  I assume it will be like around 6 pm my time.

Elder Cunya gets to sleep on the cot in the picture above.  He says it is fine, but I am sure he is ready to go "home."  

We also spent a fair amount of time this week looking for a room for the Elders opening up a new area here.  We really spent most of the day Tuesday, all day Wednesday, and a lot of Thursday.  We didn't expect it to take that long, but honestly, everything we looked at was pretty scary!  Most didn't have hot water, didn't have a private bathroom, or were just extremely dirty / run down. 

But after a lot of prayer, we finally found a decent room for them.  I prefer ours still for sure!  But it was the best (by a long shot) of the things we saw.  They live very close to our church building.  

This coming week should be busy, as we plan on spending a lot of time in Wiracocha (Elder Cunya's area), and mostly trying to firm up our two baptisms for the 27th.  It looks like we will have a lot of baptisms this White Night in our zone!  

For our time in Peru after my mission ends, I am literally going to be wearing basically the same few sets of P-day clothes for a week!  It is weird how I have more white shirts than p-day clothes!  Elder Lara and I were laughing the other day when we realized "how did a white shirt and tie become normal clothes!"  That is the joy of missionary work though!

So looking forward to our LAST phone call this Sunday afternoon.  Take care. Wow, can't believe this is our last call!

Love you all.

-Elder Barry

Monday, May 1, 2017

Staying in Juliaca for final transfer

Hey guys!  I am on early again today.  Well today was transfer days again and I am staying here with Elder Lara!  So this will be my 4th change with Elder Lara.  So by the time I go home, I will have been with him for 6 months!  That is great though as we get along really well and love having a companion that I get along with so well.

We were in a TRIO since Thursday this week with Elder Cunya.  His companion (Elder Diaz, who has the super long hair (a cultural thing and which is "legal" here in the mission) from Ecuador) got an infection in his belly button (gross huh and no idea how that happens).  He is getting an operation in Cusco.  So not sure how long Elder Cunya will be with us.

So my area is being split in two like I thought it would be.  Universidad 2 is being opened by Elder Wells (was in our district in Puno) and he is going to train a new Elder.  Wells is super cool so excited to have him in our area.  So Elder Lara is going go "kill me" (be with me as I go home) and I am still the District Leader.

The new Elders in Universidad will live by the church (other side of sector), but we actually don't split the sector geographically.  It is pretty much what we did in Cusco / Tahuantinsuyo with the Zone Leaders. Whoever you find, you teach and so we all share the same geographical limits.  So we are keeping all of our investigators (around 15 or so right now) and the new Elders have to open a new area and find new investigators for themselves!

Apologies for not taking any pictures this week.  We just got busy with work and time flew by fast.  Our pension took the picture (above) from her phone which has all 3 of us that served in the Trio this week.

This week we added a new investigator to our group.  Her family are less actives (her brother is a returned missionary), but she only came to church before when she was REALLY young (5-6 years old).  She has come to church now two times in a row.  She is really kind and understands what we teach her right away.  She offered the closing prayer in the first lesson, and said, "I believe this is the true church".  That was a first for me! :)  This Saturday we have another appointment to teach her.  We are hoping that can be a baptism for us by the end of the month.  We have another Zone wide "white night" scheduled for May 27th.  So that is our goal to have at least one baptism by then.

We also heard that apparently we have a member of the Quorum of the Twelve coming to Cusco to visit in June!  We are not sure of the date yet or which Apostle is coming.  I will let you know what I hear next week.  I sure hope I am still here in the mission when the visit happens!

My plans for that last week are basically set.  I will come in to Cusco on Saturday (the 10th of June).  They let you do that ONLY if you served in Cusco during your mission.  So since I served in Cusco twice, I sort of have my pick to where to go.  I am really excited to visit my first area where I was trained (Los Alamos) but the problem is that only 4 sisters serve there now.  So I will most likely be teamed up with some priesthood members for Saturday and Sunday.  My other area (Tahuantinsuyo) has Elders, but I really want to visit the ward where I STARTED.  There are tons of recent converts that are willing to work with missionaries and let me stay with them in that ward though--its huge!  If not---I can just visit Tahuantinsuyo.

Funny note: I will be in the church on Sunday June 11th about 3 minutes away from the airport when you guys land!  But as you know we apparently can't see each other until Monday night.  Lame huh?

Well we are off to play soccer in our Trio of Elders!  Love you.  Take care!

-Elder Barry