Wow. I can't believe that I'm actually here. This is such a different place than any other place I've ever been before. To answer your question, I think Interpol was just something I needed to do to make sure that I was good to go to be in Peru for the next 18 months. They fingerprinted me, and looked at my teeth...hm. Whatever. After I left the CCM in Peru, I went back to the airport to catch a flight to Piura. While I was waiting to board my plane, I started talking to a mom and her 3 children in my broken Spanish. She lives in Piura, which was great. I talked to them a little bit about the Gospel, but I wasn't exactly sure what to say. I had never really done this before. After we got off the plane, she asked me what chapel I attended. I didn't know, but I had seen my mission President and his wife waiting for me, so I told her to come with me. I asked her if she wanted to go, and she said yes! It was really cool. My companion, who was also there, started talking to them. She doesn't live in my area, so we took done her address, and gave the elders in that area her contact info. I hope things work for them!
Anywho, my companion was there at the airport to meet me as well. She is amazing. Her name is Hna Lopez, and she's from Guatemala. She's been out on the mission for 10 months so far. She doesn't really understand English, which is good for me, because that means I have to learn Spanish...but at the same time I miss English. Oh well. I'll learn one day. I had dinner that night with Pres Chipman and his wife, and Hna Lopez. Apparently they only allow 4 North American Hermanas in this mission at one time (and I'm not exactly sure who "they" is). I do feel pretty blessed to be here in this mission though. There are 3 North Americans in my zone-me and 2 other elders. I try to speak Spanish all the time though. I think it's better for me.
So on Friday afternoon, I finally made it to my first area. I'm in a subarb, if you will, of the city Chiclayo, in a town called Monsefu. There's a branch here of probably 100 members. They are good people, and I'm excited to work with them, even though I can barely understand them. Going to chuch on Sunday was so good for me. It reminded me that no matter where I go, there will always be the gospel in my life, always constant. Everything else here is different, but the church is still the same. I played the piano in church on Sunday. They have a piano in their chapel-it's a little out of tune, but it's still a piano. Everyone loved it. No one here can play the piano. The branch pres asked me to teach some people in the branch how to play the piano. I said that I would. The only music I have though is the hymnbook. If you have any ideas on how I can do this, you should share them with me. In RS on Sunday, they asked me to teach the sisters a hymn that they didn't know called the "La Santa Cena" in Spanish (I can't remember which song that is in English. It's one of the sacrament hymns though). I sang the first verse through for them, and then we all sang it together. I guess that is something they do each week. I've also had a couple of branch members ask me to teach an English class. I've heard that that is a good way to find investigators, but again, I'm not exactly sure how to do it. RIght now, I feel like those are really my 2 biggest assets-English and music. One day I'll speak Spanish. Oh-and I get to teach Gospel Principles next week. And speak in Church. In what language? Oh yeah. Not English. Good thing I have a great companion and the Lord to help me.
The food is pretty good. I've had more carbs in the past 4 days than I'm pretty sure I've had in my life, between all the rice, bread, and potatoes. We walked almost everywhere though, so hopefully they even each other out. There are a couple of things that I don't really like-they have this drink-a type of juice-...I think it might be made from corn...I'm not sure. It tasted like medicine. They have it a lot here, though, so I guess I'll work on getting used to it. We have our own little apt above one of the member's homes. It's old. The bathroom is probably the worst part, but I'm fine with it. There isn't a toilet seat (just the toilet part), and sometimes the toilet doesn't flush, so we have to pour water down to help it flush. My showers since Friday have consisted of me pouring water on myself (the water is a little cooler than room temperture) and then washing myself and then rinsing off again. I wash my hair every other day, basically using the same method. It sort of works. Oh well. I'm surviving. The weather here is pretty nice too. It's summer time (yeah, like 80-90 degrees outside! I love it!). It does get a little cool at night (like maybe into the high 60s). However, everyone thinks that it's super cold. I wear my sweater at night, but mostly just because my companion doesn't want me to get sick. I humor her :) Most of the people here live in concrete hut things. Many people have dirt floors that have just been packed down. Others have concrete. We have tile in our apt, which I think is nice. There are dogs wandering everywhere. Probably shouldn't bring Laura and Emily here...they would probably cry. There are certain areas too that smell like feed lot in Canada and worse...but I love it. I'm pretty sure that I'm the only American in Monsefu too. Because I spend my entire day looking at people who have beautiful brown skin, I sometimes forget that I'm so white. I'll wash my hands and remember "oh yeah! I have white skin!" It's good though. This has been so hard, but I love it.
Anywho, about the gospel. The reason I'm in this place. My comp and I are both new to this area, so we're trying to start up our pool of investigators. It has seemed kind of slow for the past couple of days. Everyone here is Catholic too. Almost are just say they are Catholic though, because that is what they have been taught. We have taught about baptism to a couple of people, and all of them said they were baptized-when they were niños, and they had water splashed on their head. I think that will be a fun problem to conquer...oh well. Most people are very willing to listen to our message. They agree with us most of the time about the need to have faith in Jesus Christ and that we are all children of God. We haven't taught as many actual lessons yet, but we have a busy schedule for this next week. We've contacted a lot of people and given them pamphlets centered on one of the first 3 lessons in PMG. Probably one of my favorite investigators right now is a 75-year-old woman. Her name is Rosa (we have 3 or 4 investigators named Rosa...). She's had a tough life. She's had 15 children, 5 of them have died, she can't read...and I think she had some other struggles that I didn't understand. Most of the time she was talking to us she looked right at me. In most of our lessons, people talk to Hna Lopez, because she can speak Spanish. But she was talking to me. I wasn't sure what was going on, but my heart went out to this poor old woman. We're also teaching her daughter Yolanda that lives with her. I think the gospel could bless their lives so much.
Well, I'm going to try and see if I can send some pictures, so I'll be done with this email for now. I love you so much. The Gospel has to be true. There is no way I would be here if it wasn't. Absolutely no way. But I do love it.