Greetings from Saint Peter of Boxes

Hey Family!  David here.

I am freezing my butt off here, but that’s okay because I like the cold oh so much better than the heat.  I have been transferred to San Pedro de Cajas in Tarma.  The climate is almost exactly like Utah, minus the billions of trees that we have.  I feel like I’m in mid-Utah but in Peru at the same time.  I am in the Tarma zone with Elder Diaz from Panama.  He is having a much harder time getting used to the cold than I am since he is from a really really hot country.

My new Panamanian companion, Elder Diaz. We’re in our new room.

The area here is pretty small, but the people are really quite lovely.  The only problem with this area is that both my companion and I are new to the area, so we are technically opening the area.  It is the same situation for our district leader and his companion.  So, our entire district is new, and we are all pretty darn lost.  Luckily, we have the help of the really nice members to help us find our way around the area.  We’ve been told that this area is one of the hardest in the entire mission to get baptisms because they either don’t care or already have their own religion.

The outside of our new place. We have to cross the courtyard to get the bathroom. There’s no heat and no hot water, but all is well!

I arrived in the area on Wednesday after sitting in a bus for about two hours to get to Tarma.  Then I chilled at the Terminal to wait for other missionaries to arrive on their own buses before I was sent out to my new area.  I had some good chats with some other elders about the kind of things that we want to get done with these transfers, as well as doctrine that we’ve learned as missionaries.  Then, we went to a run-down area of Tarma to hop in an old 2002 Toyota Corolla to head to the area.  The scariest part of the trip was that my luggage was strapped to the top of the car.  We sat in the car for two more hours to get to the area, and had a really beautiful and scenic ride through the mountains.  Then we basically climbed up a mountain to arrive in the area.

As I said, all of the people here are super nice, even when they see a Gringo.  There isn’t a ton to do here, as the town is tiny.  We have to leave our area to Internet.

Our Pensionista is named Maria, I think.  She and her husband run the local restaurant and make some pretty good food.  I still love Hna. Susana’s cooking, but I just have to get used to the slightly different food that we now have.  Maria is super nice as is her whole family.  Unfortunately, we have to walk a bit to get to it for each meal, but it’s all right.  Keeps us warm.

Also, we also have dropped down in quality of rooms.  The water is ice cold from the shower, we have one room, and we have to walk across a courtyard to get to the bathroom.  Luckily, we don’t have to spend outrageous amounts of time in the room, so it isn’t too bad.  Shame our water heater device doesn’t work well and that we don’t have a heater, but that’s what happens in small towns.

There isn’t a whole lot else to report this week since we’re really just been contacting our brains out so that we can get to know the area.  A few appointments have fallen through, but that’s all right since it really isn’t a busy area.  About 50% of the houses are abandoned here, and most of them end up telling us that they’re “of a different religion” even when we ask easy questions like “would you like to live in the presence of God with your family?” Really kind of frustrating, but we are getting decent references.  We have about three people that are willing to be baptized in this super hard area, and we’re going to try to teach them as much as we possibly can.

Well, that’s basically it on my end.  On to your questions.

You’re right:  that three minute phone call on Thursday was sweet torture.  I left the phone booth with tears in my eyes, as did a few other elders.  The day after transfers was not a good time for that phone call.  It’s a shame that we can’t really use Skype here, but in the provinces, the Internet just can’t handle it, unless you’re in Huancayo, which I might get assigned to on the mission.  So, lesson learned.  Call in the provinces, Skype in Lima and Huancayo.  Hopefully I’ll end up in one of those places at least once during the calls.  Probably will, but I don’t know.

Well, that’s pretty much it.  Love you all and talk to you tomorrow in the night!

Best Advent Calendar ever! Thanks to everyone who sent my mom fun and inspiring messages.

Presidente Ardila, Sister Ardila and the La Merced Zone wish you a Merry Christmas!

Me, with my first Pensionista Susanna and her daughter Andrea and son Leo. Andrea is wearing the shirt Mom sent for Christmas.

Note from Mom:  San Pedro de Cajas is one of nine districts in the Province of Tarma in the Junin region.  It is at about 13,000 feet above sea level and is a dry frigid climate.  David reports that even though it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere it snowed last week.  The city has a population of about 9,000 people.

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