Tag Archives: church

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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corpus christi.

the painted streets.

the painted streets.

a couple of weeks ago, we celebrated corpus christi in our site. the schools and church painted the streets around the main plaza, and then sprinkled the streets with red dust. in there morning there was a procession throughout the streets and everyone celebrated with a large lunch with their family. needless to say, i didn’t know there was an actual holiday for this…only just a coastal city in south texas where i have fond memories building sand castles when i was kid.

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(b)earth day.

where to even start? yesterday was an incredible (and long) day, and i felt love from all over the world. a birthday is quite the holiday in peru. in fact, legally, people are free from all work for the day…unless you are a peace corps volunteer.

it all started the night before where mp presented me a video of all those i love and have loved throughout my life wishing me a happy birthday. there were friends from high school, college and beyond, and people fro seattle, nyc, boston, utah, all over texas and everywhere in between. within seconds of seeing hans dialing the phone (the opening shot of the video), i was left in tears. tears of feeling so much love from back home. for those four minutes, the usa and all those i love there no longer seemed so far away. it was the best way to start the day.

samia barged into my room to show off her new brigadir uniform, which then followed with my host mom running in to hug me and sing happy birthday to me. i then worked on finalizing the details of my earth day event for the morning, and i learned with about 10 minutes in advance that the ong that was coming to speak about reforestation in the bosque was not going to make it…so i had 10 minutes to come up with an hour-long charla about the environment.

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luckily, you learn to get pretty creative on the fly in peace corps. additionally, i was greeted with 70 students at my colegio singing happy birthday to me!

say, what?!

say, what?!

for the charla, i had an environmental youtube video i showed, then spent 30 minutes rambling about the ecosystem and reforestation. i also had us play a game outside…which went…well…let’s just say i was able to tie it all back in.

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afterwards, we planned a pasacalle in conjunction with the primeria, and my students followed behind and cleaned up trash on the streets, while the primary kids, ironically, used more resources to look cute in earth day costumes and posters…and was burning trash to show the consequences of doing so…i still haven’t figured that one out yet…

me with some of my alumnos ready to pick up the litter!

me with some of my alumnas ready to pick up the litter!

blanca with her cutiepatootie students!

blanca with her cutiepatootie students!

seriously. i don't get the burning things to make a point act, but it's peru...so it does kind of make sense...

seriously. i don’t get the burning things to make a point act, but it’s peru…so it does kind of make sense…

taking over the pan-american highway...it's what we do best.

taking over the pan-american highway…it’s what we do best.

you know, if one’s peace corps service was determined by the number of pasacalles one does…then i would be the pcv all-star…only because my site loves them, and is pretty reluctant to try something else…pero poco a poco we will see what we can do about that…

after an exhausting morning of corralling the alumnos around town and cleaning the streets, i came home and watched samia all afternoon. and she really demonstrated what it means to be four…tears…all day…for no reason…well, honestly, it was because she was exhausted, but i felt the consequences of that. for 3 1/2 hours straight it was just tears. at about the 2 hour mark it just became impressive.

also, our pesky chanchito has gotten bigger, stronger and smarter and keeps escaping. so i had to run after him a couple of times yesterday and redo his stake in the ground, which resulted him in getting his piggy-ness all over me…gross…

hammering the stake back into the ground...he was too close for my liking...

hammering the stake back into the ground…he was too close for my liking…

later that evening my family returned home, and they surprised me with my favorite meal: pollo a la brasa and of course, some birthday cake!

mi mama, yo y samia!

mi mama, yo y samia!

millie did such a great job on picking out the cake!

millie did such a great job on picking out the cake

i gave samia the reigns on my camera. i look like a giant in a 4-year-old's eyes...not complaining...

i gave samia the reigns on my camera. i look like a giant in a 4-year-old’s eyes…not complaining…

the johnsons wished me an extra special birthday with a special blog post on cat’s website. it still makes me smile!

later, i went to mochumi to visit with my branch president. sunday, after church, a lady there randomly asked me when my birthday was and so i responded with “tomorrow.” this caused my branch president to run after me in the street and invite me back the chapel the next day for “something.” i figured it was going to be cake, and when i was walking up i could here some of the kids say “ella viene!, ella viene!” but then the lights went out and it was just my branch president. he then proceeded to pretend to “interview” me/have a birthday chat. we then went downstairs, and they hit the lights, and i was greeted by everyone in my branch for a surprise party. it was great! there was a saxophone. and decorations. it was the best. they made me dance in the middle with every male in the room (per tradition). they pushed my face into my cake (per peruvian tradition). we danced to the saxophone some cumbia, huayno and marinera. everyone gave some palabras (per peruvian custom).

my branch president and family. love these people so much.

my branch president and family. love these people so much.

listening to the wonderful words of people in my branch.

listening to the wonderful words of people in my branch.

danixa giving her palabras.

danixa giving her palabras.

seriously. love this girl. she has come such a long way since i arrived.

seriously. love this girl. 

lourdes, jasmin and their sister. some of the girls i work with.

lourdes, jasmin and their sister. some of the girls i work with.

making my wish and getting ready to blow out my candle...

making my wish and getting ready to blow out my candle…

lucho wanted me to play his saxophone in our picture. seriously. this man has some great talent.

lucho wanted me to play his saxophone in our picture. seriously. this man has some great talent.

not an awkward picture with the elders. ha.

not an awkward picture with the elders. ha.

the leftovers.

the leftovers.

it was just so incredible. my heart was so full. in fact, it is still so full of all the outpouring of love i received yesterday. i wish i could stress just how small the world felt yesterday, because i truly felt love from all those all around the world. i have been less than enthused about turning 28 (for the first time in my life i feel old…), but i couldn’t have had a better day…including the chasing down our pig. also, i realized that birthdays are really just days to celebrate your relationship with all of those around you in your life, and i am grateful that i was able to do so!

peru. i fell more in love with you yesterday. every one else, thank you for making me feel so loved and cared for. i am so blessed.

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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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