Monday, July 29, 2013

One of my favorite people -This is a little old woman that is crippled and is the slowest walker I have ever walked with. But she is a faithful member and walks the ten or so blocks to church every week without fail with her cane. We had a family home evening with her this week and filled out some get to know you questions and then talked about how its harder to love people you don't know so you should get to know them better. We found out during this time that her birthday had passed and that she spent it all alone without anything. We ran to the nearest tienda or store and found sliced chocolate cake. They pack everything in those tiny tiendas. We sang happy birthday to her and ate cake. She was the happiest person in the world.
This week was great. We are keeping busy as always. We had a ton of people at church again this week, found a great new family and have three baptisms on Saturday. Things are going great and the weather has been really nice this week.
The new family that we are teaching is really awesome. Their house is a museum of all sorts of jungle animal skins and they have parrots too. Its like a real museum that people pay to go to and look at things. I felt right at home with all the animal skins and  the father and I hit it off really well because he is a big hunter. We taught about the restoration with them and they said that they think this is what they had been looking for. They came to church on Sunday too as a family. We are super excited about them.

Hello Huancayo - here is a picture of my city.  The zoo was on top of a hill.

Another picture of Huancayo
My Peruvian cookbook is coming right along. Whenever I like something I ask my pensionista to help me write down a recipe. When I get home you should be excited because by then I will be a master of everything delicious that is Peruvian. These people are super good cooks they don't usually measure anything and they cook pretty much all natural because they don't have very much processed foods here. On Thursday we made pachamanaca with one of our investigator families. Its about as natural as things get. Its meat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and abbas (giant pea things). You cover it with a bunch of leaves and herbs and stick it in a hole in the ground to cook it with rocks for about an hour. It was super delicious after you get over where it was cooked.
I was a little sick in this picture. but thats what it looks like

I could talk about food forever. I always want to talk about food because I'm always starving. I don't understand it because I eat a ton. I feel super bad because my companion is really concerned about her weight and has gained a lot here in this area and I am eating 7 times as much as her, am always hungry and I am losing weight. I don't understand how my calorie expenditure can be that much higher than hers but it is. I eat more than I have ever eaten in my life. I need to gain a little if I go to Cerro because everyone loses weight in Cerro.

I was a little sick this week. Just a little advice, don't be sick here. Its not super fun and the people do weird things when you are sick. I was starting to feel sick and my pensionista insisted that I sniff this cotton ball with alcohol for about a half hour. Other rules of being sick are that you don't shower for at least five days or change your clothes. Don't worry I fought that one. Also its against the law to drink anything cold or room temp or you will die. They think its really terrible.I was really dehydrated because all they would give me is hot things and hot liquids aren't absorbed as well in your body as room temp (random fact from exercise physiology). I had to sneak water. But the blessing of it all is that despite all that I took medicine and was fine after a day or two. 

We had a lot of little miracles this week while finding people. I don't know how it happens but my companion and I will feel a need to turn back and go back to a house and knock on a door. Or cross the street to talk to one person or we will both see the same person in a crowd of people on the street. I have learned that reality and availability of revelation is very real. 
this is just a normal meat market that we pass by a lot
Another blessing of the mission is that I realized I have learned to sleep though anything and everything. When I got here it was really hard for me to sleep. The dogs barking all night, the cat screaming that will someday get killed by those dogs, the baby crying in a home near us, the random orchestras late at night and the tamale guy with his megaphone cart at 4am in the morning yelling TAMALLLESSS! When I get home I'm sure I won't have any problems sleeping ever again.
With Llamas - Last pday we went to a zoo in Huancayo
At the zoo - I think this is a hawk
I think one of the greatest things of all I have learned in Huancayo is the simplicity of the gospel. These people here are very simple and often very uneducated. I spend a lot of time during the week trying to make the message more simple so that people will understand and be able to respond to my questions. And I have learned that it is. The truths and doctrines of the gospel are simple. We can either follow gods way or we can go some other way, whatever other way. And if we follow the Lords guidelines through faith I know that we are blessed.

Have a great week everyone. Thanks for the birthday wishes. No place I would rather be this week than teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Con amor,

Hermana Rhoten

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

This week was a good one. I had a really spiritually uplifting week.

We had interviews with president during the beginning of the week. During that interview he told me that right now in the mission we have 27 sisters and between now and December we will triple that number so I need to be ready to train now. After he finished talking to me about training he paused a moment and said I haven't received any revelation on this so it might not be this transfer or next I don't know but I feel like I need to talk to you about Cerro de Pasco. Let me pause a second and tell you everything I know about Cerro. It is the highest city in the world (so automatically everything I ever learned in all my units about high altitude in my degree come to mind and how I promised myself I would never climb a high mountain) the people are cold, they have an accent that is difficult to understand, its an area that has been really struggling with missionary work and its freezing cold with occasional snow. Its not like United States where you go into a house and it is warm it is always the same cold. President repeated all of those things to me and told me that if I am to be called there he wanted me to know that it is because I have the highest respect from the Lord and from him. He said its about as hard as missionary work gets physically and spiritually and he has to send tough missionaries there. He told me I will be stretched beyond what I think I can handle but the Lord will help me.
This was from the other pday.  My companion and I.
Our puppies
Needless to say I didn't sleep very well that night. My nightmares about training in Cerro de Pasco kept me up most of the night. But it also forced me to turn to the Lord and talk to him a lot. I learned a lot about what I need to be doing to prepare myself and am feeling good now. I know that God will help me with what I can't do.
My district. Love all of them.
Sorry this is a little blurry
 One note here for Marissa the monkey. We were given bananas for dessert which is really common here to get fruit for dessert. It looked normal on the outside but when I opened it up it was orange. I was blown away. I didn't know there was such thing as orange bananas. The other hermanas thought it was super funny that I was so fascinated by this.  They said there are also red bananas in the jungle areas.  I thought of Marissa.

We taught a lot this week and we had a big activity this week with three wards that was a big success. Without the help of members I might add. It was crazy to try to get it all ready on our own. We had kind of a carnival type thing where people could spend fake money on things of the world or things of the church. At the end of the activity we turned off all the lights and led people to the chapel where we taught about the plan of salvation and divided them into three kingdoms according to what they had done. We had lots of investigators there but it was frustrating because nothing was ready when we wanted to start.
Lima Temple from when I was there
In Lima
We also had a baptism nightmare this week. The members didn't come and unlock the doors or start filling up the font so Sunday morning I took off my shoes and climbed over the railing of the font and tried my best to get it to work.Then there was no water. Our church building never has water. We ended up getting a hose from a house across the street and filling it with buckets of hose water. The water was absolutely freezing. I felt bad because he had to be baptized twice too. But his testimony and the tears of joy that he had between him and his father who isn't a member was worth it. It was really awesome. 
Diego before his baptism.  He is my favorite. Crazy kid.
My companion was sick this week. She had a terrible flu. One morning she was super sick so we decided to not take the twenty minute walk to breakfast and went to a tienda (store) and bought some breakfast so she could sleep. Cereal and their watery yogurt is the best combination. I don't think I will ever want cereal and milk again. I let her sleep through all the studies and I had several hours of study by myself that morning. During that time I read Joseph Smith history for the first time in Spanish. I felt the spirit so strongly and prayed again to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know that he was. I know that through him the Lord restored his church and that this is the true church of Jesus Christ again on the earth. 

Hope you all have a great week.

Con amor,

Hermana Rhoten

Monday, July 15, 2013

I am really blessed to be in this area.

This week I was in Lima for paperwork so I feel like I don't have much to write about because I didn't teach very much. It was still a great week. I learned a lot in my studies and from being able to be with and learn from other missionaries. I am really grateful that I shouldn't have to travel for awhile though.

The morning I was supposed to leave, we ended up leaving late because there had been an accident on the bus we were supposed to take. There are a lot of bus accidents I guess, it was decided recently that we aren't allowed to ride buses at night anymore to hopefully help with this. The drive from Huancayo is long and beautiful. We get up to a really high altitude so they give us a pill to help with the sickness that tastes awful but it really does help a lot. The one time I didn't take it I felt pretty awful. The drive is full of the hugest mountains, tunnels, waterfalls, cities, and llamas. It is a little scary because almost the entire drive is on a cliff and the roads are tiny and really windy. But we arrived safely both times without problems.

Immigrations is quite the process. We were there for about 8 hours waiting in lines. I was there longer because they lost my little white paper that you get at the airport that goes in my passport. I waited in a room for about two hours praying that they would somehow find my paper so I could finish all my paperwork that day and not have to return like they said I would have to if they couldn't find it. They ended up bringing in my paper at the very last second as they were closing and I was the last one they did for the day. I was so grateful and happy to leave. 

We often teach people about how there needs to be opposition in all things. If there wasn't sickness we wouldn't know health, if there wasn't sadness we wouldn't know joy etc. It's all part of Gods plan so we can learn and experience joy. With that being said I have never been so grateful for all the rice and potatoes and freezing cold showers as I was when I was in Lima. If it wasn't for that I wouldn't have had so much joy over McDonald's and a hot shower. It was my first hot shower I have had since I had been here in Peru and it was wonderful. It was like heaven that day, our reward for enduring all the immigrations paperwork. When I finally returned to Huancayo it felt like I was really home. I was so happy to be there and to be able to work again.

Random side notes from this week are that the dog that lives near our house had puppies this week. They are a week old now and are starting to get cute. I also tried two fruits that I have never seen before that were really good. Chimimoya and ganadias. Chimimoya has a green shell that you open up and then you eat the white fruity stuff in the middle with a spoon. It is really good, I don't know how I lived my whole life without trying it. I liked the other one but it had a lot of seeds. I learned you have to suck on them and spit or swallow the seeds instead of trying to chew them. 

We had another awesome Sunday yesterday with lots of people at church. Sundays are always really stressful trying to keep track of all the investigators when there are only two of us. David and America and their family were there again. They are so awesome. The bishop was a little bit too excited about them last week and he gave them every book the church has last week. Triple, Bible, Gospel Principles, Preach my Gospel, True to the Faith, etc, the whole works. He walked out with his arms filled up to his chin with books and he looked a little bit terrified because he thought he needed to read all of it. I laughed and told him he had his whole life to read all of that. When we taught him later in the week he said he had stayed up until four in the morning reading and that he had never been so curious about anything in all of his life. We are really excited for them.

We also got a bunch of great referrals this week of people that had gone to other wards. Lots of people that want to be baptized. Its so wonderful but sometimes its like slow down we have to teach you first! Haha. I am really blessed to be in this area. 

We also got to be angels for a few people this week. That seemed to be a theme in the lessons that we did teach was that they thanked God for sending angels to help them and their families in times of need. Its one way we know that we are following the spirit as we work. I love being a missionary and getting to serve people all day long. I know this is the work of God. 

Love you all! Have a great week!

Hermana Rhoten
Note from Miranda's mom: It takes 8 hours to travel to Lima then 8 hours to travel back.  Miranda had some awesome photos to share but the computer wouldn't upload them.  Hopefully we can see them next week.

Monday, July 8, 2013

This week flew by. I'm not sure were time goes.

This is a picture from the park. I am wearing all borrowed clothes because I didn't have any clean. The hat is a traditional Peruvian hat.
 Every week it seems that way. There is never enough time. I was told yesterday that I have a bus ticket for Lima that leaves on Thursday so I'm sure this week will be even faster. I am not sure how long I will be there but I assume it is only for a few days. Today is going to be an awesome pday. Our district is making food from our homes. Elder Mira (my Chilean zone leader) begged me to make brownies so I am going to try it. Most of the people in my district have never heard of brownies and it will be their first time trying them. Wish me luck. Then we are going to go hike somewhere that's a little ways outside of Huancayo.
For service one week we helped our investigator make clothes. He has a business in his home.
It is winter here and rains almost everyday at least once. It usually rains really hard for about a half hour and then stops. If we get caught in it we get soaked. We usually try to run to the nearest little store (there is one about every block) and wait it out. It is a great opportunity to teach people in the stores while we wait. While we were waiting we met a man in a wheelchair named Eric. We have met with him almost everyday this week. He always reads what we give him and always has questions for us about what he read. I love teaching him. He is a great example to me of faith in trial.

Hermana Orellana and I at dinner‏

We had a meeting with the new president and his wife this week. I love them. I left the meeting feeling excited to be part of the new mission. I feel that President Henderson is serious about the things that need to be serious like obedience but he is really funny. He had us all laughing. If I said he served his mission in Peru last week I lied, sorry. He served in California Spanish speaking. They are from Raleigh, North Carolina and are super adventurous. His wife is very sweet and was excited to speak to me in English.
This is from the reunion meeting with President.
One of my investigators is in a hard rock band. After one of the lessons this week I helped him translate one of his original songs into English. I'm adding that to my list of really random experiences from my mission. I guess if it ever becomes famous I helped with the translation. 
Silly elders. These are my zone leaders. Elder Mira from Chile and Elder Serrano from Mexico.
This week was the first week that I didn't really notice everyone staring at me as much. I had almost forgot I was different until we were in a store one day this week and a man asked if he could have a picture with me. I was caught off guard so my response was an equivalent to yea, i guess. Then I added only with my companion and if we can share a message with you. :) 
Yep, rice potatoes and guinea pig, typical Peruvian meal.

This is a fruit that is used in drinks that I love.
I realize I haven't shared much about my companion with you. She is from La Paz, Bolivia. 23 years old, one of seven children and is an incredible teacher. She is also probably one of the most patient people in the world. I always have about a million and three questions for her but she patiently answers all of them. She says its funny that I never get tired of wanting to know things and learning. I love that she is more right brained than me so she helps me to grow in different ways. We draw, play piano, make creative surprises for each other and are always singing.  She has one of the most beautiful voices and I love listening to her sing hymns in the shower every morning. We were told that this transfer is going to be longer than the others because of the mission split and we were both so happy. I am super lucky to have such an awesome companion. 
Teaching primary. And thus begins my collection of cute Peruvian children pictures.
Cleaning the church. This is what our building looks like.                            
This past Sunday was awesome. Or in Peru we would say bien chevere. We had lots of investigators come to church including a family that we hope to be baptized and their two children. It was an answer to our earnest fast for people to come to church. I was talking to this eighteen year old boy after church about a song that I played in sacrament meeting that he liked and two great things happened from that conversation. The first was that he said he didn't know I spoke English! I told him I was learning Spanish and he said my pronunciation was so good he couldn't tell. It was one of the greatest compliments of my life. The second great thing was I found out that he isn't actually a member. I don't know how that slipped past everyone, he has been coming to church for several months just because he loves church. I asked him if he wanted to be baptized and he said yea but I have some questions first. I grabbed my companion and a member who just returned from his mission and we went into the chapel and taught him through Sunday school. He has a baptismal date for next week after I get back from Lima and we are so excited for him. It was an awesome experience.
This is where I was dropped off when I arrived in Huancayo

Downtown Huancayo. Pretty huh?
Also at our meeting this week we were given the address to our mission. In case anyone wants to write me its, Mision Peru Huancayo Jiron Cuzco Nro. 274 Huancayo Peru. I got Grandma and Kelsie's letters this week. We also have a mission blog. The address is and they said they will post pictures and stuff.
I thought dad would appreciate this. This is construction in Peru.
Walking to the pensionista we always pass this park. The buildings are what all of Peru looks like. They are playing futbol (soccer)
I know this work is the work of God. There are too many miracles for it not to be. Have a great week!
Con amor,

Hermana Rhoten

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hola familia! I hit my three month mark this week.

I can't believe how fast time is flying. Also Happy Birthday to my Grandma Hatch yesterday who has always been an example of a righteous woman in my life.

Birthday of my pensionista. The older woman is her mother she is about 87 years old. They are the ones who are teaching me Quechua. The others are missionaries and her daughters.
This week we welcomed in the new mission with full force. There is so much excitement for a new mission in Huancayo. On Saturday we had a big celebration in the coliseum to celebrate the new mission and welcome the new mission president. The coliseum can hold about five thousand people so my guess was that we had about three thousand people who attended. I was one of the missionaries who greeted at the door. I fake kissed and shook hands with hundreds of people. When we got done my companion and I literally went to the bathroom to wash our hands and cheeks. My job was to talk to them and find out if they were members or not and if they weren't members they were assigned to another missionary who gave them a pamphlet and got references from them. There were so many non members who attended. The program consisted of speakers usually stake presidents, the new mission president and his wife, special musical numbers and then about an hour of traditional Peruvian dances from members of the nearby stakes. It was fun to see the traditional dancing and clothing. I wanted to get more pictures but we were busy working, talking and teaching people throughout the entire program. 
Me at the randomly beautiful park in the middle of the city
From the moment I saw President Henderson I knew that he was called of God to be my mission president. We haven't been able to meet him yet but from when he spoke I could tell that he has tons of energy. It was pretty obvious that his wife doesn't speak Spanish but I felt her testimony as she struggled to sound out the words. I definitely felt for her, being able to relate to that part of her big change. President Henderson's Spanish is pretty good, he said in his talk that he learned it on his mission in Peru. 
This was a randomly beautiful park that we visited last pday.
I am on a bunk bed and this week my alarm clock fell of the bed and broke. We are only able to buy things on Monday so we were planning to have the other sisters call us and wake us up. They forgot the first day but it ended up not mattering because a rooster started crowing about fifteen minutes before we were supposed to get up. We had never heard a rooster before and that morning we looked around everywhere for it but couldn't find it. Everyday this week that same rooster has woken us up fifteen minutes before we need to be up and we still cant find it. Its our little miracle. Thanks Heavenly Father.

Also there was a dog that joined us for sacrament meeting this week. The doors are always open in Peru because there are no such things as heating or cooling systems and a stray dog just walked right on in. We had a couple people trying to chase it out of the chapel. The joke was that it wanted to join us. Only in Peru.
This is a man dressed up to dance at the festival.
The longer i have been a missionary the stronger my testimony has become about the adversaries attack on the work. I have began to always expect that in the most spiritual parts of a lesson there will be a distraction, being interrupted by something when bearing my testimony, technology never working the way it should and unexpected trials with our strongest investigators. We have an investigator named Alex who is unfortunately not an exception to the pattern. He is incredible and I have no doubt prepared of the Lord. He is seventeen years old, lost his parents when he was really young and is living with his aunt and uncle going to school and working full time to support himself. On top of that he is the happiest and one of the most intelligent people I know. He knew about the great apostasy and answered before we could why there are so many churches if Christ only organized one. We taught him about the restoration and he prayed sincerely to gain a testimony and the next time we met with him he said he wanted to be baptized. The only problem when he told his aunt and uncle for permission they were very angry. He tells us that he prays everyday that he will be able to be baptized. He is such a great example to me.

I street contacted an old lady in the park this week who told me about a dream she had about her family. In the dream she talked with god and told him she wanted to be with her family forever. She then went on to tell me the vision of the tree of life with her family in it. I thought that was pretty neat. I hope she keeps her appointment with us so we can read from the Book of Mormon what her dream means.

My pensionista and her mother speak Quechua so they have started to teach us during meal times. Quechua is a native language of Peru and a lot of older people here speak it. I have a Book of Mormon in Quechua and was told to start learning it because I will probably use in in some of the jungle areas. Here is a little taste of Quechua...Hinataq noqa Nephi taytayta nirqani risaqmi ruwamusagtag wiraqochaq kamachiquanta. That is the first part of 1 Nephi 3:7. I was so proud that I could translate that. 
I always talk about motos so I thought I would send you a picture of one. Its not a super great picture. Basically these are dirt bikes with three wheels and a cart. We ride them everywhere because they are much cheaper than a taxi. Its the best when they decorate them with Christmas decorations and lights. I always thought that dirt bikes could only hold one to two people max but I've seen people put almost their whole houses on these things. It's nuts.
Yesterday we were walking down a street when I had a thought that we should turn back and go talk to someone. I told my companion and we started walking until we came to a corner with a woman sitting on the ground. Her hair was so big that it was difficult for me to see her face but when you got close enough you could see that her face was black but her neck was white. Her clothes were filthy, the soles of her shoes were almost completely detached and her pants were soaked in urine. We introduced ourselves and began to talk with her. She was difficult to understand because she had no teeth but she wasn't crazy. We went to a store and bought her some juice to drink. That was when I noticed that she had very little use of her hands. We started to teach her about God and Jesus Christ. We told her that she was a daughter of god and that she was very special to him. We sang I am a child of God to her right there in the street corner, one of the only hymns I have memorized in Spanish. We watched tears roll down her face as we sang. We asked her where we can find her and she told us that she lives on the streets but we could meet her back in the same spot today to give her some new clothes. I hope she is there. My companion and I walked away wondering why we are so blessed. And as I have thought about it I'm still not sure. But I do know that God has a plan for each of us and that faith in God can bring hope into even the hardest of trials.

Have a great week everyone! Sending my love and prayers home to each of you.

Con amor,

Hermana Rhoten