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.