Category Archives: religion

what it’s like.

i’ve been wanting to do a post like this for a while, which probably means it’s overdue…probably because it’s so personal, but at least now it’s happening? for those who have found this blog, and have yet to have a chance to acquaint myself further with, a piece of information that makes my experience in the peace corps even more unique is that i am lds (also referred to as mormon). this has been apparent in some of the other small activities that i have posted about in the past, so perhaps, as a whole, it’s not even a surprise.

a common question that i receive from people in general (from home and here) is what is it like to be a mormon in the the peace corps? well, that is a great question. it’s an adventure, just as how it is for every other person who embarks on this journey. but really, i feel blessed for the new layer of the gospel that has been laid for me here. i have had the opportunity to leave much of the culture that exists in mormonism in the us, and arrive to take part in a newly started branch in a small town next to mine. there are only 25 members on record, with 9-10 of those members being adults, all being converts and have been practicing for various lengths of time. for some, especially those whose age is within the young single adult range, this could be discouraging, as there is not a program that caters to those needs. but there is a group of people, who have the largest hearts of anyone else i could ever know, and they are ready to make you a part of their family. i also love that i have the opportunity to get back to the rudimentary elements of the gospel, and what our purpose is on the earth. back in the states, i found myself at times getting caught up on other thoughts within the gospel or even within mormon culture that took away from what is the purpose of having this everlasting gospel on the earth today. the past year in my branch, i have been continually reminded of gospel basics, which is what i needed. with my various callings, i have had a chance to be inspired by the youth in my small branch, and particularly by the young women. i have been able to work with them on internalizing why the gospel is important. and more importantly, i feel as though during this journey together, we have all grown within the gospel together. and today, as i sat in a stranger’s front room of her bodega, with the elders and branch president, as they began the first ever sacrament meeting for tucume, which will one day have a branch of its own, i was filled with emotion during such a simple, beautiful moment. i was seeing the gospel grow before my eyes. and i was reminded again of my hope to maintain a pure and earnest heart,  like the people i was accompanied by today.

though, i should also mention that amongst comradery with my fellow volunteers, with whom i find comfort for we share the same culture, it can be a little lonely. i miss having those hours long gospel discussions with my friends. but the volunteers are just as open-minded with me and my beliefs as i am with them and their cultural backgrounds. for many, i was the one who broke their already made stereotype of what a mormon is, or really their first friend with someone with the beliefs i have. and it’s through learning from each other and sharing those things that are personal and true to each person that we have created great friendships.

so back to the common question: what’s it like to be mormon and in the peace corps? i don’t know if there is answer to that question, but i do know it’s everything between the letters a and z, and much more. and that i, personally, feel as though i am blessed to have two transformative experiences here in peru: one that we all receive here as volunteers, living in a foreign country and serving others, and the other being a much deeper, more personal transformation of the soul that perhaps i will never be able to articulate.

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church.

my church building.

when i was taking my first combi to site, my combi drove by the building i would be attending church in. actually, when it drove by they were putting up the church sign that day, which explains why i couldn’t find it during my site visit. anyways, the following week i ran into the missionaries who were tracting in tucume that day, and asked them what time church was at…3 pm…needless to say, i was less than enthralled about the time.

that following sunday, i came to realize the time was perfect for me, because after all, what do i have going on that i need to be done with church so early in the day? that and i was able to get a lot small house chores done, as i try to give space to my family on saturdays to complete their chores without getting in their way.

i then boarded my combi to arrive to my new branch for the next two years. i entered into the chapel through a door about half my size in height. it is a brand new branch, only 7 months old. i believe that there are a total of 25 people on record, but there was only 16-17 people at church, including the missionaries and the kids. it is the complete opposite of any ward i have ever known, but i think it will be the perfect fit for me.

due to the size, there’s only 2 hours of church services, and due to the fact that most people at church are either very new members within the last 2 years or visitors, the second hour is solely a gospel principles class. the sacrament meeting was the exact same structure, which will leave me to wonder how long until i have to give my first talk or even how many talks am i going to have to give? i say that, only because i am positive that it is a quick rotation.

though the ward might be small in number, just during that one sunday, there was so much love filling the chapel. it truly is a little family that really looks out for one another, and the love that the members have for the gospel is so strong and unwavering. to be frank, a branch this size and new is a perfect for me, because it is such a nice breath of fresh air. i get to concentrate and reaffirm my testimony in the gospel essentials and not have it be convoluted with so many outside/inside politics by members and the church. i consider myself lucky with this. and hopefully, i don’t take it for granted.

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