August 15, 2012
So, I’m finally here! I made it safe and sound to Peru and I’m loving every minute of it so far. (P.S. Spanish keyboard layouts suck. The shift key is half the normal size with the “<” key where my finger usually shifts.) My luggage made it safe and sound to the Jorge Chavez International Airport, and after about an hour I was able to enter the country and get past customs. Sure glad I didn’t bring anything that was against customs. Some poor gentleman had his entire suitcase dumped because they saw something on the x-ray that looked suspicious.
Both plane rides were pretty nice, minus some heavy turbulence that we had to deal with at times. There was actually a thunderstorm that shook the plane pretty badly as we were flying over the Caribbean. We were fed dinner (which my body really needed — like really needed) plus many snacks and many opportunities to have a drink (no dehydration for me, Mom!). I think my favorite combination of drinks and snacks is apple juice and peanuts. I slept for most of both plane rides, so I feel pretty good this morning. I read some scriptures, and most of Our Search for Happiness but I left that poor book on the first plane. Hopefully some flight attendant will read it and will appreciate the church more. Or, he or she will just throw it away.
While on the airplane to Lima, we had a real and true Missionary Experience that really lifted our spirits. Elder Atkins and I were sitting with a gentleman right between us. He was obviously from South America, and could barely speak any English. We knew he was religious because he wore a golden chain around his neck with a very stylish cross. He asked us for something to read, and Elder Atkins handed him a Book of Mormon. I told him to read the Introduction as well as the Testimonies of the Witnesses before he headed into the true meat of the book. He gladly read and dived right in to the book. As he approached 1 Nephi chapter 6, he was full of questions. Unfortunately with our little Spanish, we were unable to answer, let alone understand, his questions. However, I’m certain that the Lord worked on him, as he continued reading for the next while. By the end of the plane ride, he had read all of 1 Nephi and had begun on 2 Nephi. He expressed his thanks for letting him read the book and said that he was very interested. Elder Atkins gave him his personal copy of the book and he was very grateful.
However, the best part of this experience came when we had to go through immigration. Two Latino elders were standing behind him, and the Spirit must have moved those elders to talk to him about the church. Things got going, and they eventually told him all about the Book, answered many of his questions, bore testimony, and challenged him to continue reading and to test Moroni’s challenge. He willingly agreed and I told Elder Atkins about what they were talking about. I will probably never see this man again, but I’m very glad that this experience happened to us and I’m sure that we changed his life forever.
At the Airport, I ran into Elder Sheridan who was helping the missionaries from Lima East get us all to the CCM. He was finishing his mission yesterday and leaving just an hour later for the States. Isn’t he the son of your high school friend and soccer teammate? (Note from Mom — he’s the son of one of our best pals Kevin! Such a small world.)
Peru is a pretty cool country and Lima is no different. Everything is very different from America, minus the CCM. We drove past loads of houses, businesses, and whatever else the buildings were on our way here. The city is so compact that they just keep building on top of pre-existing stuff. It is pretty phenomenal that they’ve been able to do this for so long.
I’m not sure if this computer will allow me to send pictures, but they just threw us in here today without warning. I’ll do my best to send some around next Wednesday (our P-Day) so that you can all see what it is like here. I feel that I’m going to love it!
My new companion is Elder Derek Durfey, whose parents went to school with you guys. (Mom note again — Elder Durfey is Jacque Eastham Durfey’s son so the world gets smaller and smaller!) We get along well, and I’m glad that he’s my new companion.
Fruit Loops are weird here… That’s what we had for breakfast after we got to wake up at 9:00. They’re super fruity, but they don’t taste exactly right…. Oh well.
My hair is also super short. They had us get haircuts right after breakfast, which was good.
I’m fairly certain that God is in the details for everything that I am doing right now. For instance, I woke up from my nap on the plane and said “Gee, I’m hungry and really need nourishment.” Lo and behold, the flight attendants were handing out dinner. I also thought at times “Gee, I’m thirsty!” and guess what? Out came the attendants with water. Finally, I woke up this morning saying “Golly, I sure could use a hair cut. My hair is getting ferociously long!” Then, shazam, they were giving us hair cuts.
I’ll be sure to send you a picture of my newly super short hair and my new companion and his short hair. I love you all so very much and wish you the best. The phone calls yesterday were wonderful and I’m grateful that I could talk to you all again. I know that the Lord will bless each of us during these next two years. I’m super grateful to be here and I’m super excited to really get things going. I love you all so very much! Talk to you all next week in another email!
Elder David Van Komen