Week Two en el Campo Misional!

Well, it is pretty much the hottest I’ve been for a long time.  I know I’ve experienced this kind of heat before, it’s just that I haven’t experienced it for so long and so consistently. Every single day I’m sweating buckets and walking through the crazy heat.  I am in the jungle, to be sure.  However, our area is more of a cleared out section of the Jungle.  Since there aren’t many trees (which has its ups, as well — namely there aren’t tons more bugs around and the bugs aren’t always as big as I saw last P-Day on our trip to a waterfall) there isn’t shade, and it is often a dry, but humid heat.  However, the humidity is something that I’ve only experienced in the coast — never at home! — and it is killing me.   Also, Peru doesn’t have air conditioning in a lot of places, so that kills me, too.

Last P-Day we went to the Catarata Tirol, which is a pretty awesome waterfall that actually attracts quite the amount of tourists.  The best, and worst, part was that we didn’t have time to change our clothes after heading over to La Merced to get our monthly allowance of money for personal and travel.  However, it is something to talk about, for sure: I have hiked to a waterfall in my white shirt and tie! On our way to the waterfall, we pretty much walked through the actual jungle and saw some gnarly bugs and other stuff. I attached some pictures.

Saturday was also my first baptism!  For reals! I baptized two little girls, sisters.  They are daughters of members, but they have been slow to be baptized.  One of them is named Claudia, she has 8 years and the other is named Valeria who has 11. They are both sweet girls and we got to meet with them to teach them about the gospel to prepare them for the baptism.  The service was very sweet, and a picture is attached of me standing with them.

Also, I’m absolutely certain that the Lamanites have lived here for quite a while. Here’s how I know: surrounding us is the wilderness of the jungle, impressions, how some of the people here look, and of course the food I ate on Saturday prepared by my pensionista!

The dish my pensionista prepared some say that it is “tan rica carne” but I’d like to say differently.  The meat is from the mountains of the jungle.  The animal is hunted for its meat and for game. It is called sisaño and has such a strange texture.  It was prepared with a weird dry rub of weird spices that I have never before tasted in my life, cooked in however they cooked it and served with various vegetables of which I only recognized potatoes and yucca. It was one of the weirdest things that I have ever eaten, and I don’t really want to again. According to my companion, it will be one of the only weird things that I will eat.

We’ve got a few new investigators, including two couples that both have a baby, but aren’t legally married.  We’re going to help them, and then we can finish preparing them and then baptize them! Super exciting. My Spanish is coming along swimmingly and it is always super awesome to hear the other elders of our zone say that it is tons better than it was just two weeks ago! YES.

Yesterday, I finally got the package (which had stuff that I absolutely love and will cherish for a long long time) and a stack of a billion letters from Grandpa and a handful of friends.  Super fun to read, and super fun to see the surprise on the faces of the other elders when they saw my hoard!  AW YEAH.

So, to reply to your questions, yes, I got to go watch conference on Sunday.  We unfortunately missed the Saturday sessions due to it being a standard proselyting day.  The conference was at the Stake Center at La Merced and to get there we shoved a bunch of members into a van and just pretty much shoved off.  The sliding door didn’t lock into place, so I sat and held it closed. So sketchy. We got to watch in English since there are five of us Gringos in the zone. Super cool, but the stream cut out on the prophet twice. Gah.

Our Pensionista is named Susannah, and she is super nice. She loves cooking and loves giving us food to eat.  She’s also quite funny and loves to joke.  Not really much else to say about her since we only see her for meals for a few minutes.  My companion is super awesome and is a phenomenal person.  I don’t remember the name of the country he is from, but I’ll find out later.

The trip to our area was pretty cool.  We sat in the bus from 8 in the morning until about 6 at night.  It was pretty cool as we wound our way through the mountains, but I was asleep for quite a bit of it.  There was one part when the altitude was sooo high that my skin all went pale,  I had a hard time breathing, and I was struggling. That was super fun.

Well family, until next week! Love you all!

Elder David Van Komen

At the baptism of sisters Valeria, age 11, and Claudia, age 8

Me in front of the waterfall Caterata Tirol. I didn’t have time to change to P-day clothes, so that was a sweaty hike!

A very gnarly bug! Elder Espinoza and I went on a hike with another companionship last P-day.

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