Monday, December 29, 2014

Un-googleable facts about Peru

Wow!! I can´t believe I got to see my family in the flesh this Christmas! It was the best Christmas Gift ever!! You guys look so great. I have the absolute best family in the world.  I wanted to show run outside with the lap top and show everyone in Peru what a family is supposed to be!! Full of love and happiness and especially the Gospel of Jesus Christ!! Families here are just not the same.  It’s really sad, but it makes me grateful for my family.  I am out here because I want people to have a family like ours.  Thanks for the support and all the love.  I can feel it all away over here in Abancay!   My Christmas was a wonderful normal day spent preaching the Gospel.  Every lesson we taught we read the Christmas Story in Luke and talked about Jesus´s life.  It was a very great Christmas and I had a lot of fun.  It didn´t feel exactly like a normal Christmas, but It was a good little change.   AS I talked to you guys I realized all the things I haven´t told you.  They are normal everyday occurrences here and as for now I will call them the Un-googleable facts about Abancay, (maybe Peru, but only time will tell).  So here is a list I have been collecting this weekend.    
1. Nursing in public is no big deal here,  nursing during lessons is also no big deal.    
2. They don´t have a lot of nice things, but their soccer fields are amazing!  Soph if you ever go on a mission pray that you won´t get called to South America because I am even tempted to join in a game once in a while.    
3. We don´t flush toilet paper ever here. ( I feel like you should know this one)    
4. There are a lots of random animals, unchained, in the streets. Dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, chows, ducks, chickens, horses.  Yah its Normal.    
5. They celebrate Christmas with a ton of fireworks and they stay up really late on Christmas Eve. They also don´t have Christmas trees but giant nativity scenes.  
6. They have Cambis here which is a little bigger than a van.  They seriously crowd so many people in and It’s really always an adventure taking one.  Also I am serious when I say this, it’s a real life Indiana Jones. Its nuts.    
7. There are no shower curtains here.    
8. When the garbage man comes, he plays a song and everyone runs out with their trash.  It’s like the ice cream man, just not as fun.    
9. No one, no one can sing here, and members really don´t know the tune to any song.  This fact leads into a hilarious story that happened in Church.  I will share details.    
10.  Lined paper literally doesn´t not exist here, or if it does I have not found it.  They use grid paper for everything.   
11. In the church we call everyone by their first name, with Hermana or Hermano in front.  I think it’s because everyone has the same last name.  

Alright that’s about it for the un-googleable facts about Peru.  I will always be thinking of more throughout the week to share, so look forward to that folks. :)    Well this weekend has been really really good.  We found and have started teaching an investigator named Carolina. She is 14 years old and has an adorable little brother Juan Carlos.  Picture should be included.  She is amazing and is reading the book of Mormon and she even drew a huge version of the Plan of Salvation and taped it to her house.  Juan loves pass along cards and every time we visit them we give him one and he literally glues it to the wall.  They came to Church this Sunday! It was so great to see them and Hna Holland and I went to Young Women’s with her.  She seemed really interested and excited.  During young womens we had a catastrophe with the opening song.  You have to Understand that they don´t have Pianos in every room here.  THAT IS SUCH A BLESSING! Anyways we sang a song and Hna Holland was asked to lead it.  We gringas didn´t know what song it was in English, so she tells everyone (there is about 7 people in young women’s including the leaders) to sing loud so we can learn the Tune. Anyways the song turns out to be one we sorta recognize but the words are even close to the same thing.  So I get the tune and so does Hna holland. But during the chorus it’s a little different ( We think they added something) But Hna Maria, the young women’s president is singing so loud and so off key that I cannot even follow along.  Every time the chorus comes she sings faster and wow It was probably the best thing I have ever experienced.  Her Daughter who is behind me and who has a hilarious personality, just starts to laugh.  Everyone should know me and should know that I just can´t hold it in either,  Wow everyone started chuckling and Hna Maria just continued to sing with all seriousness,  she seriously didn´t crack a smile. Best moment ever.    Anyways we visited Carolina after that and taught her the third lesson which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  WE also set a baptism date with her and so now we have a lot to do.  It’s very exciting though!  We are really hoping that we can get her ready by that time, but the pressure is on and now we will be visiting her almost every day!  I am really excited for her!    Also Yanet came to Church again!  Later we visited her and helped her with a personal progress activity.  We talked about the role of mothers and what we can do now to prepare.  I don´t think she was ever taught about that so it was really neat. We are going to be helping her now on with her personal progress.  Funny how the Lord knows exactly what you need, I guess it’s what I get for not embracing the program!  haha :)  Yanet is really warming up to us.  She is the only member in her family so we are trying to get her mom involved in the personal progress as well.   Also we are moving this week! Hopefully!! Our pension has built a room on the third floor.  Yesterday we decided we would try to throw candy up to the third floor.  It was absolutely hilarious.  Our pension came out and tried to throw candy up there too.  We were laughing our heads off and so were the workers. WE love our Pensions family. We have adopted them as our own and we can´t wait to live above them and avoid Mount Everest!    Well I honestly love being a missionary.  Each day I wake up and try to make it the best day of my life.  I don´t always succeed because I have had a pretty awesome life, but It helps me enjoy it. President Ferrell’s advice is now my motto.   “Repent every day and then progress”.  Don´t look back at the mistakes or dwell on what could have been.  I like to embrace every moment, even when I am crammed in a Cambi or singing really off key.  Life is super great! I love Christmas but I feel like every day is Christmas here!  I love you all and I promise I will answer your questions!   Have a great week!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Feliz Navidad

   I can't believe it’s another week and I can't believe its Christmas
(almost)! I am super excited to see my family (: I will be calling
around 2 here in Peru so I believe that is like 12 for you guys. I hope
that works well and doesn't cause you all too much stress on
Christmas!! Well I saw a couple of the emails.  And I just want to say
congrats to the Flinders!! I am so excited  for you guys!! I will be
praying for you guys and I am with Abby,  I want another Flinder Girl!!
(: that is just the best news ever.  Well for responses from last
E mail.
  Abancay is probably one of the easier ones to pronounce so good luck
when I go to a new sector! Hahah You gringos are probably hilarious. I
still sound like a gringa and probably always will so join the club.
 Amee, you should hear and see our sacrament meetings.  I am sure
that Palmer and Ryder have nothing on the two years olds that run
around the pulpit and run in out of the room.  Coming from a singles
ward it’s a little different for me.
  Well I am proud of my family and your amazing stalking skills. Yes
you found my chapel on Ave. Nunez. Now for my house,  if you keep following
that road up you will run into the Plaza de Tamburco.  I live next to
there.  If you go one street over from Nunez moving away from the
Plaza that is my street.  We live next to a huge white shed at the top
of the hill. Our pension lives at the bottom and hopefully by the end
of this year we will move into their third floor room they are
building for us.
  Mom, yes it rains everyday but it’s a very soft rain, and usually
refreshing.  It’s a lot like mountain weather, when the sun is out it’s
really warm but at night it gets pretty chilly,  like jacket weather
is all.  I don't think it would be so hot if we weren't climbing and
hiking all day.  Abancay is one of the sectors in my mission that has
the best weather. So it literally will only get worse from here.  My
companion teases me that I am headed to the jungle next and I
seriously believe her! I will have to enjoy Abancay while it lasts.
It really is beautiful here.
  Soph: Patriarchal blessings are the best!! Congrats on the rest of
your life because I am sure it is going to be wonderful!  Always read
your blessing, it puts everything in an eternal perpesctive and
definitely helps me while I am out here.  Word of Advice: read it a
lot and follow the counsel.  It will be a great source of strength in
your life.  I wish I had read mine a little more often.
 Hannah! thanks for mentioning your trip to the Cheese Cake Factory.
Honestly, I could really go for a hamburger and fries from anywhere!
haha Lots of rice and potatoes here. Also I laughed at your nursery
story.  Hna Holland taught a primary class in her old sector which was
basically a two hour nursery where she was the only teacher.  Imagine
doing that in a foreign language....haha Yeah two kids you got this!
Soph: I want Falcons are fabulous pictures and the scoop!! It’s always
the best week!
Mom: It’s your needy child again, I am going to need more tights and
itch cream.  Tights are dog proof so my tights already look like they
are 80 years old. But yes I am wearing them every day because the
mosquitos are just awful here. I think this is the first Christmas
where I will have mosquito bites, a tan, and where I have eaten
watermelon almost everyday.  Sometimes Hna Holland starts singing, Its
beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and we just laugh and laugh.
We are so funny!
 Okay so for my week! It was pretty great! Last Monday we went to
MIrador with Hermana Rene and her kids.  It’s a beautiful park way up on
the hill.  It’s kinda an unsupervised zoo as well.  I am sending
pictures to drop box.  Don't judge, fashion sense tends to be the last
thing on your mind.  It was like the perfect day and that family is
just the best! Sebastian and Diane! Hilarious kids.
Also this week we helped make hot chocolate for a primary activity.
We boiled this huge pot of water, and guess how we boiled it.  We
started a legit fire in a members house.  Like the whole works right
in her house.  We set up some cinder blocks, put the pot on them and
tha’ts how you do it in Peru.  Crazy right? Her whole wall in her house
is black from doing that often. Next to this fire was a small guniea
pig farm! My first sighting!! She has probably over 50 and they were
all so fat!  I just kept thinking of the Tice's pet Charlotte.  Haha I
haven't tried it yet but all the missionaries say they really love it.
  It will be interesting for sure!
  One last story, well maybe two.  There are a lot of dogs here.  Like
alot.  And our pension Rene has a dog named Shadow.  He is a nice dog
but seriously lacks a brain.  One night this week after dinner ( which
is like a midnight snack here, they have huge lunches and tiny tiny
tiny dinners, I have actually grown to like it a lot!) anyhoo we start
walking back up our Mount Everest and Shadow decides to follow us.  My
first thought is "oh that will be nice to have some protection" but as
we countinued up our hill we entered our neighborhood. Here the dogs
are very territorial and Shadow isn't a street dog so he has no
experience, But as Shadow entered our neighborhood, dogs come out of
the wood work and they are surrounding us and barking and growling.
HOly cow it was so scary.  We weren't even tired from walking because
of the adrenline.  Shadow keeps moving behind our legs for protection
and we are yelling at him to leave but he just keeps following us and
we are so terrifed! It was seriously the scariest!  Stupid Shadow!
But we made it safely to our room but poor shadow had to go back home.
We heard a lot of barking but luckily Shadow made it back.  He really
is the dumbest dog and a big scaredy cat! haha  Also this week I got
bit by a dog.  It was pretty exciting, but I guess it was bound to
happen!  Don't worry, it didn't break skin or anything so no rabies
for me!
   Anways,  I’ts been a really great week. I am loving it although the
language is probably the hardest.  It’s getting better but sometimes I
feel like it’s getting worst.  Hna Holland is a big help and very
supportive.   Thanks for all the support and  love.  I really do have
the best family ever! I love Christmas because it’s a time to reflect
on the Savior and all He did for us.  I hope you have seen the video
He is the Gift. What a great video!  Our Heavenly father loves us
beyond our comprehension.  I hope that this Christmas we can embrace
and accept our Savior.
   I can't wait to see you guys soon(: Love you all!

    Hermana Russell (:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week Two in Abancay!

 Hola familia!!
         This week has seriously flown by.  We have been so busy visiting members and menos activos.  There are a lot of menos activos here in Abancay! I am able to print out your emails so feel free to write long, heartfelt letters to me.  I was able to print out your emails and write some responses to them.  First I just want to thank my family for always writing me and for you amigos who write me too.  I just have so much love for all of you.  
   okay so responses! 
       Sophie... What are you doing for Falcons are Fabulous this year? I remember those times in school and they were always the best.  You will look back on those memories and love them!  Also how did the ACT go?  Don't worry about how well you do as long as your future husband aced his! (: haha You will also look back on that time and realize that in the grand scheme of things... it really does not matter! 
   Dad... Did you find Abancay?  I am in the Tamburco district which is the top of the hill.  It is beautiful here! It rains almost every nice, so sometimes I wish I had brought a lighter rain jacket, but our pension always loans me jackets when I have to walk home and it is raining.  I am going to try to buy one in Abancay.  also fun fact.  Dogs here in Abancay, are like Mcdonalds in the STates, one on every corner (: haha my favorite is the dog with dreads. 
   Ellie...  You sweet thing, expressed to me how amazing our parents are.  I back you up 400 percent.  But do you want to know why they are so amazing?   Because they are centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and because they are doing the things that parents need to do... teaching their children the principles of the gospel, through their every day examples.  Families here...well they are very disfunctional.  They don't have the gospel so they do a lot of things out of order.  I can see the difference the gospel makes in the family unit.  The gospel truly does bless families!  Our parents are amazing because they love God and love the teachings of Jesus Christ.  
    The ogden lights look super amazing fun, but you all are stunners (: I love my family!! I love telling people about you guys.  They are always surprised by me having four sisters! and I love showing them pictures!! 
    Okay Sisters:   You all better start playing the piano again! I regret it so much and I am for sure picking it back up when I get back.. The people here have never played and don't have the oppurtunity to learn.  I wish I knew some songs to teach them! 
   Traveling to Cusco! Well I had a lot of help.  It was a pretty great flight and I spent two nights in Cusco, one in a hotel, which was super cute and reminded me of that one show where the girl is traveling through ireland to propose to her boyfriend, I think its called Leap Year? But I don't know.  We spent the other night in the hermanas room.  They have a ton of mattresses and I guess they see a lot of hermanas pass by. 
  Mom,  how as the cake you made?  I thought It was pretty snazzy looking.  It reminds me of the lack of cake here.  They have this holiday "fruit cake" here that is really popular.  We had it the other night at my pensions house but its basically bread with fruit snacks spread around.  Haha interesting but I'll take it. 
   So I translated my favorite saying into spanish.  Coming in Hot.... Entrando Caliente... .Yeah not the same and Hermana Holland just laughed when I told her. 
   Amee:  Palmer will always be adorable.  even if she lost one eye, She would still steal the show.  I love that cute girl and I hope that she is loving her glasses.  
   OKay! So my week!  I wanted to tell you guys a little more about Hermana Holland.  She went to BYU the same year I did and we actually had the same chem 106 teacher and the same TA for 107... So yeah she knows the BYU Groper. Which is just hilarious. We talk a lot about those classes and BYU.  She was an RA there and loved it.  Hna Holland is just the sweetest girl you could ever meet.  She is a hard worker and has amazing faith!  We have seen so many tender mercies this week and I know it is through her great faith.  She also pushes me to speak spanish and often lets me lead lessons.  Which causes a mental panic in my head, but she is always there to back me up.  She is always in my corner and I know she could help me with anything.  She is also a ginger... I think all my best friends are gingers!  I am pretty sure I should have been one.  I do have the whitest skin out of the fam.  Anyways she is just super cool! 
   Because we visted so many people this week I can't possibly tell you everything. But I want to tell you about a girl named Yaneth.  She is 12 years old and a menos activos.  She lives in a very poor part of town.  Her house is basically all dirt, no glass windows or really a door.  We visit with her sitting on a little wood bench, and she sits on a broken plastic chair.  We found her through a member named Candy, that showed us where she lives.  She is the biggest sweet heart and really knows her stuff about the gospel. She is the only member in her family and I don't think she gets a lot of support. But we invited her to church and guess what, She came! I was so thrilled to see her! She stayed for all three hours.  It was the best to see here there! I wish I had a skirt to give her or something, but I think I will give her a CTR ring (:  
   Okay so my pension is seriously the best!  She is very very very healthy.  Me and hermana Holland are almost always starving.  We need more energy to climb these Hills! But she cooks really well.  For example she gave us fish one day and a drink that had vitamin C in it.  I guess that The vitamin C added with fish is supposed to help it even more, I don't know exactly how it works out, mostly because it was in spanish, but Its just really good to have fish and vitamin C.  She has taken some nutrionsist classes and she is really on top of things.  Here they don't have a big dinner, so lunch is huge!  and then dinner is like a wheat like drink and a sometimes a fruit or some bread.  It takes some adjusting but its good.  We are going with them to the Mirador today!  I don't have any new pictures but I will take some today.  Our last p day was pretty boring and we told her this at dinner, and she said, Yeah my day was boring too, lets make next monday better!  Yeah she is pretty great!   She has a 6 year old boy named Sebastian who is out of control.  ahah They were talking about a family one night at dinner, and I was drifting in and out of understanding them, but all of sudden Sebastian, pipes in "Soy Gay!" haha He has no idea what it means but we just laughed and laughed.  Hermana Rene said " Nino confeso"  (: Their family is really great,  I am beginning to understand her more too, which is super nice! 
  One last story,  We visited a menos activo named Martha, She has such a strong testimoney of the book of Mormon, we always wonder "why are you inactive?"! But she has little grand children and she owns a store, so during our lesson someone came to the store and she had to leave and help them.  So her grand daughter comes in carrying three of the tiniest cats I have personally ever seen. and basically threw them onto Hermana Holland! ahah It was so great! We really shouldn't even touch the animals here, so Hermana Holland was like wow! Que Linda! and then the grand daughter grabbed them back and they were all clinging on to hermana Hollands skirt and I was just laughing and laughing! I should have taken a picture of that percise moment.  It was classic.  
   Well I wanted to finish by answering Shelby's question.  Is a mission harder than Finals?  well I think I can answer that better when I have alittle more experience with both, but for now, I'll say, Yeah its alittle tougher, lots of stress, a little more physical and mental, sometimes you feel far away from anyone who loves you and sometimes you just need the encouraging words of you mom.  Or sometimes Shelby, I wish I could have some of your wise advice,  But with that said, there is a far greater reward from being on a mission, than acing a finals test. There is joy in seeing a young girl coming to church for the first time in awhile, or sharing your testimoney of the plan of salvation to a young 19 year old boy who doesn't know who is he is.  The reward is worth the work.  Salvation is worth the work.  I love being a missionary because there is something powerful in seeing someone pray for the first time and there is something powerful about bearing your testimoney.  
    Well.  I love you family so much!  I feel so blessed to have each one of you in my life and in my corner.  I am grateful for my Savior and I am grateful for this time of Chirstmas to really ponder about who he is and what he did for us.  We should all pray harder, study more diligently, and serve everyone we can.  Love you all! 
                           Con Amor, 
                                       Hermana Russell 

Monday, December 8, 2014

I'm definitley not in Kansas anymore

Hola Familia!! 
    Wow it has been such a long week and half!! I have so much to tell you guys and even less time than I had in the CCM. Where do I begin?!  Well I am in ABANCAY! It is a city about four hours away from Cusco and it is literally on a HILL! But its called the city of eternal spring, so the weather is lovely.  My companion is HERMANA HOLLAND. A gringa from Portland Oregon!  I love her already so much!! She and I are opening a new sector, which means niether of us have been here before.  She just transfered from Ayavidi. A super cold and high place.  She went through a lot there.  She is an amazing hard worker and her spanish is perfect.  She has been out 7 months.  Opening a new sector has been really hard.  There are no house numbers here and we do not have a map.  So figuring out the area has been really hard, but its slowly coming.  The Sandbergs are a missionary couple here and they were kind enough to show us around one day.  Also the members are way nice to offer and make plans to accompany us, but usually something comes up.  Anyway we are really lucky because Elder Sandberg is also the branch president here.  We did not have church this Sunday due to elections in Peru, so we haven't met a lot of members yet.  The ones we have met have been really nice.  
    We live on the top of mount everest.  This is not a joke! its the biggest and steepest dirt hill you have ever seen. Our pensiĆ³n or pensionista lives at the bottom of it.  I will make sure to take a picture of it.  Lets just say that my calves are eternally burning here.  Our pension is awesome though! Her name is hermana rene and she cares so much about our health! I have not gotten sick yet from her cooking or sick from anything here.  She gave us watermelon one day and it was like heaven on earth.  Also the mangos here are to die for! So So Good!! She makes really healthy food.  Her husband works in the mines so he is only home for ten days and then he is gone for 20 days.  They are great members and they have two little kids.  Diane and Sebastian!  They are super cute and even though i have a hard time understanding them, they always make us laugh.  
   Spanish! Well its very frustrating but I have only been here for a couple days and I can already see the improvement.  I dont feel like its a different language than what they taught me in the CCM so thats good.  Its frustrating because I just want to comunicate with people.  Hermana Holland is a big help though.  She suggested I read every word of the Book of Mormon outloud in spanish each day, so that is what I have been doing. i can already see the improvement.  
   Lets see,  Thanksgiving! We had a thanksfiving devotional from Provo MTC which was really good.  We got pecan pie for lunch which may have been the best pecan pie I have ever had.  It didnt really feel like thanksgiving, but i never felt sad or homesick that day.  Although some girls did.  I feel like I have been really blessed with no feelings of homesickness or being trunky.  I had a really good thanksgiving and it was reallly relaxing.  Because of all the down time we had the last week in the CCM and the first day in Cusco, I was able to finish the Book of Mormon in one week for the last time in English.  I love that book and I am so grateful for the fullness of the gospel it contains.  
  I have learned a lot in these few days.  I wish I had time to tell you guys every little detail, But some of the stories will have to be saved for later.  People are really humble here.  They dont have anything.  Their houses look a lot like our food storage.  Cement and unfinished parts.  Each house is different.  Our apartment is really small, but very nice.  We have really good shower, although I did take my first bucket shower this week.   
    Well I love you guys! I miss you guys a lot but I know this is where i am supposed to be.  Its really hard to open this sector in abancay but I know that there is something here I need to learn. I will be here for 12 weeks for sure and then who knows what.  
    Oh yeah I forgot to mention.  My president and his wife are the best!! They are so nice and kind!! My favorite night was when we had a testimoney meeting at their home with all the new missionaries, and at the end of the night President Harbertson played the closing song Called to Serve! He played it so fast and loud and it was the coolest thing!!

Con Amor,
Hermana Russell