Sunday, August 13, 2017

Week 101 - "Busy Week" - August 6 - August 12 (Primavera)

As he draws closer to the end of his mission, I find it amazing that he continues to work like he just started. This week he in an email he said, "I think I might ease up a little bit too if I actually felt like I was finishing...but I don't feel that at all hahaha. I always joke around about it, but I don't think it's actually hit me yet. Maybe when I see you two it'll hit me."

This week has been pretty fantastic, and as usual, very busy. We were able to have 2 interchanges with some different Elders which always changes things up a bit, and we got to end our week with a visit to the temple today which was wonderful! We got to attend a sealing of a family that the Bentley's (the couple missionaries) had helped out while they were in Pacasmayo. It was the first time that I had attended a temple sealing since we were sealed together as a family with Gabriel...16 years ago. So that was a really special experience......and you can call me crazy..but when we were there, a memory of that day came and hit me like a truck full of onions jaja. Something special, done during the ordinance, made me remember when I did the same thing with my family. <==== Super cool.

So during the week, we had some ups and downs, but that's usually how life is jaja. We had been preparing a few people to be baptized for this week and the next, but it looks like a few personal problems have gotten in the way and will have to be postponed, but that's okay, we're still excited for them to get baptized later on. We have been able to find several people this week that are really excited to learn more about the restored gospel and are willing to make changes in their lives in order to live what God wants us to live. It's kind of amazing how many people we come into contact with during a week, and how different everyone is from one another. It's even cooler to see how the same gospel can relate and connect to everyone's problems and needs as well. Most people don't realize it because they have never given it the chance nor the idea. But when people start to actively use their faith, they quickly realize that a hole they never knew they had, begins to be filled. It's so great to be a part of that process, and it's why I love being a missionary!

On Wednesday, we were with Elder Bejarano and Elder Turner, and then on Thursday, we were with Elder Spencer and Elder Espinoza. Both of the interchanges were great and we were able to work hard and find great people. Just today was Elder Melendrez's birthday! We got to go to the temple and eat Chili's for lunch so I'd say it has been pretty great!

I love you all so much and I hope you have a wonderful week! I know that the power of God exists and that in the holy temples we can make promises with Him to have eternal families. I know that my family is forever, and that's why I do all in my power to be obedient and follow Christ. Because I want to live with my family after this life. Love you all!!

Elder Moncada, Elder Babbel, Elder Anchiraico and Elder Melendrez (front)

Birthday Lunch for Elder Melendrez

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Week 100 - "Week 100!" - July 30 - August 5 (Primavera)

The final few emails are coming in and it looks like Jonah will stay busy as the Assistant to the President.    Last week he mentioned that they spent almost the entire day cleaning their apartment so in this weeks letter he explains that they are getting a visit from a General Authority (a higher up leader in the Church). Just a few photos this week.

The week has been super crazy!! But great! Haha, that's what I always say, but yeah whatever. We had the leadership council on Tuesday, and it was great! We really felt the Spirit the whole time, and all of us left the meeting feeling really inspired to work harder and more efficiently. That's always the point of these meetings, but there was something special about it this time. I'll miss those meetings a lot; a lot of great ideas get tossed around by some excellent missionaries. Right after the meeting, we had an interchange with the Cajamarca Zone Leaders, Elder Cuellar and Elder Olsen. Elder Olsen was trained by Elder Rios, so we got to talk about how great of a companion he was for us...we had some pretty funny stories about him.

Oh yeah! So last Sunday, we found a super awesome family! Gino, Patricia, and Franco. They are a married couple with their one 17 year old son. The Lord has been preparing them for some time now..especially Patricia, the mom. After teaching the first lesson about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, they both told us that they knew what we were saying was true. The only hold-up is that they work a lot and they feel like they won't be prepared to be baptized too soon. We assured them that they will be able to be ready if they do their part, read the Book of Mormon, and pray to know that it's true. We're praying a lot for them and we hope that they will be baptized the 2nd of September. Also, Adriana, the less active from last week, went to church with her two daughters and Mikaela, the one that is not a member yet, will be baptized next Saturday. The Primary is planning out all of the details, and we're excited to see her prepared so quickly. we are going to be having a mission visit by one of the General Authorities of our Area and his wife will be checking the rooms...and we're pretty certain that they will come to ours, because it's close to the office. By the way...because of the General Authority visit (Elder Montoya), Elder Melendrez and I will be going to Cajamarca here in 2 weeks, so that'll be fun! It's been a while since I've been there, it'll be nice to breathe some fresh air. We got a nurse, but still a little scary. The package came!! Thank you so much for the chewy sprees and the letters! By far the best part haha, but thank the YW group for me for doing that. It was really nice of them. Good to hear about the family. I love you so much!! More than room checks and kittens! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Week 99 - "Hello!" - July 23 - July 29 (Primavera)

Week 99 and he is still making mistakes.  Ok - just keep reading and you will find out that it might not be such a bad thing to make mistakes every once in a while.  So excited for Jonah to have a great new companion who is ready to work hard.  

Hey, not a lot of time to write, we were busy cleaning our room basically the whole day, which was good because now our room is so dang clean! Uhh! That's a big blessing there haha. Anyway, this week has been fantastic, and bitter-sweet. I'll get down to the nitty gritty.

On Sunday, Hermana Yemely was baptized and it was such a great experience. All her family are members and they live where Elder Nuñez is now at, in El Milagro, so they came to the baptism. When her mom, younger brother, and younger sister saw her, they all ran to each other and embraced and cried. It was such a happy day for them, and you could see the love in their eyes. It was a very moving experience. The baptism went great; we had a single return missionary baptize her, hoping to maybe set the two of them up together hahahaha, we'll see how that goes haha! That would help her a ton to maintain active in the Church haha. Anyway, it's a tactic.

On Monday, Elder Nuñez left and Elder Melendrez came. I love Elder Nuñez so much, he's been such an incredible companion and we've seen some pretty amazing miracles together. Recently, we have found several chosen people that Elder Melendrez and I will hopefully be able to baptize in these next few months. I'm so grateful for Elder Nuñez and all that he has done for me as my companion. Now it's time for a new era in my mission. Elder Melendrez is so incredible! He is so focused and diligent and hardworking! We are going to have a blast together and I'm so excited for the results that we will have together. I feel like his is training me more than I'm training him haha, he's such a wonderful missionary.

One quick experience from this last week. The secretaries had a baptism on Friday at 9:30am, and it was rescheduled at last minute, so we were not able to invite anybody to it, so in a last minute effort to get people to go, we sent off a text invitation the morning of to every single investigator in our phone contacts. Seconds later, someone responded and said that they were excited for the invitation and would definitely be there. When I looked at who it was...I didn't recognize the name. Taking a better look at it....I still didn't know, so we called, and it turned out to be a less active that I had accidentally marked as an investigator. She said that she was wanting to return to the Church, but felt embarrassed, and didn't know how, and was so grateful for the invitation and knew that it would be the way back. I was dumbfounded....and grateful as well that I had messed up and marked her as an investigator. We scheduled a appointment with her as well for that same afternoon. She arrived early to the baptism and told us that she wants to bring all of her kids to church on Sunday, two of which are non-members. That afternoon, we came to the house, taught a lesson about the blessings of the Restored Gospel and invited her daughter to baptized for the 12th of August, which she eagerly accepted. It was sucha powerful experience, and marking it wrong in the phone was definitely the best mistake I have ever made haha!

I love you all so much! I gained a strong testimony of a scripture in the Book of Mormon in Ether 12:27 this week:

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.'' 

Even our mistakes are planned. Trust in God, and everything will work out. Love you all!!!
Jonah and Elder Melendrez

Hermana Yemely and family

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Week 98 - "Great Week!" - July 16 - July 22 (Primavera)

This week was the final transfer prior to Jonah finishing his mission. It looks like Jonah will be ending his mission in the Primavera area continuing to work as an AP.  One of his favorite companions, Elder Nunez, has been transferred and Jonah will be working with Elder Melendrez.  I am sure he will be another favorite companion to work with.  Sometimes the AP will finish the mission working in a non-leadership position but Jonah and Elder Nunez were both finishing at the same time so he will stay and train a new AP.

So this week has been a wonderful one!! Thank you all for your birthday wishes, I had a great birthday here in the field! I was honestly not expecting anything to happen, and tried to tell as few people as possible haha, but Elder Nuñez, Elder Morote, and Elder Moore got me a really nice birthday cake and we celebrated a little back in the room. It was super nice of them, and they did a good job of keeping it a surprise. Anyway, we've been keeping really busy with all of the transfers..I think it's now safe to share what is going to happen.

So Elder Nuñez and I are both finishing together so we knew that we weren't going to be able to stay a 5th transfer together. So for this next transfer, Elder Nuñez will be heading out to a new area, and I will be receiving a new companion. Elder Nuñez is going to El Milagro with an excellent missionary, Elder Vassau! He's going to have such great experiences serving out their and will probably be somewhat relieved to not have a leadership position....especially since he has had one since he had 3 months in the mission haha. He's pretty excited to focus on only his companion and his area. So that means that Elder Melendrez will be my new companion here in Primavera! Elder Melendrez is such an incredible missionary, and I'm excited to start working with him this Monday. He has about a year in the mission and is a powerful missionary. I worked with him around 2 weeks ago on an interchange and we had a wonderful day and saw many miracles. From what I know about him, he's from Lima, from San Juan de Miraflores, he's a convert from the age of 15, and right now he is 26 years old. He used to be a salsa singer (the dance, not the chip accompaniment haha), his parents aren't members, and he's given up A LOT of things in order to be here as a missionary. He's a pretty incredible person, and I feel honored to be his companion.

In this past week, we continued helping Hermana Yemely (the lady we found from last week with Elder Latimer), and just yesterday, she passed her baptismal interview! So everything will take place as planned for this Sunday, and next week, I will send fotos of the baptism. She is SO excited to get baptized and has been inviting a lot of different people for Sunday. We've been taking advantage of date, and are inviting all of her neighbors and other investigators to come and see. I always like to see the expression of people's faces to hear that baptisms are sacred, but public events, and that any person can go and see one. It's always a really special experience to witness a baptism, and if you haven't ever seen one, or haven't been to one in a while, I invite you to go and see one again. There is a very sweet spirit that brings much peace and warmth..for those who are members, it will remind of you your special day as well. I still remember my baptism haha...I remember that I was smiling so much in the water, that when Dad put me under the water, a got a mouthful of font water. I said that the water didn't taste so great, but that I still kept smiling. I remember the talks about baptism and the Holy Ghost that Mom and Grandpa gave, and I still remember feeling something different during the whole day. And I remember those things as I attend baptismal services, and it's always a special occasion.

During the past couple of days, we have also been a little busy with the transfers and everything, making lots of phone calls, and having a great time with the other Elders. Just about an hour ago, Elder Plazas just got here, who is going to be replacing Elder Morote as one of the secretaries. Changes are always hard but good. Haha, nothing gold can stay Ponyboy.

I love you all so much! Sorry for the lack of details of the crazy week, but we're always on time crunches here. One other piece of extremely exciting news is that the Familia Vasquez, my first converts in the mission from Baños del Inca are getting ready to be sealed in August!! So that means that Elder Rios and I should be able to go the sealing next month!!!! Man, it's going to be so stinkin cool!! I will give more details about that when I learn the actual date. So excited!

Talk to you all later!! Or as Elder Moore from Texas would say, see ya'll later!!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Week 97 - "hello" - July 9 - July 15 (Primavera)

Jonah celebrated his 20th Birthday this week. Send him a great birthday wish - 
We love to hear his wonderful stories and find it hard to believe that he will be telling us some of the stories in person pretty soon. He has only one transfer left in a few weeks so we will see where he will spend the last weeks of his Mission. 

Hello!! So this has been such an incredible week!! We found some pretty incredible people and we're super pumped to be able to teach them and see how they progress. Almost all of the investigators are doing really well and we are helping several people to be baptized for the end of this month and the start of August. It's been a great week of hard work and special experiences.

Here are few different stories of things that happened this past week. Hope you enjoy them!

    We had an interchange with Elder Rios and Elder Parkinson, and it was wonderful! With Elder Rios, we found someone that is currently having an identical conversion story as he did. Elder Rios was baptized in about a month after talking with live missionaries on   The story of María Paz started about 3 weeks ago when Elder McKamey and I contacted someone outside of their home and offered to unload the things in their car. They seemed impressed and accepted, and later he invited us to sit down in his home and we taught him the Restoration. It was a good lesson and he seemed reasonably interested so we planned a day to come back. The next night, we received a referral of someone that had looked on and had asked to receive the missionaries and also wanted a Book of Mormon. Eagerly, we went to contact the referral, to find that it was the girlfriend of the young man we had contacted the other day. She was so interested in what we shared with her boyfriend that she wanted us to visit her and her whole family of 5. We have only been able to teach her so far due to the family's schedule, and we did that with Elder Rios this Wednesday. She accepted to be baptized on the 6th of August, but mentioned that she would be going to Cajamarca this weekend, but quickly committed to going to church with her family while in Baños del Inca, my first ward!! We are excited to meet the rest of the family next Wednesday.

      While with Elder Latimer, we had two appointments and they had both fallen through, so we started talking to the neighbors. Elder Latimer had served in Primavera for one transfer and remembered that he had taught someone close by to where we were. Interestingly enough, as soon as he said that, two cars pulled in front of us, the drivers got out yelling at one another, and it looked like they were going to fight, so we quickly got away from the scene, forgetting what Elder Latimer had just said. A couple minutes later, I remembered that he had mentioned that and so we decided to go and knock the door. When we got to the door, we figured that for some reason all of this was happening, and so we knocked the door, I was fairly disappointed that no one was there. But that was when lady passed by, stopped, looked at us, and almost kept walking, but we stopped her asked if she lived in the house that we had just knocked. She said no, but then asked us ''If I live around the corner, what chapel do I need to go to?'' That's when our eyes lit up. 

It turns out that she had investigated the Church for more than a year and was finally going to be baptized, but something happened in the family and she moved away for about 3 months. 2 weeks ago, she moved to Primavera searching to resolve the family problem and be baptized. We taught her outside of her house and learned that she has an incredible testimony of the Book of Mormon, the Church, and all of the commandments. She had already paid tithing for several months before we met her that day and had a miraculous experience due to it. She eagerly accepted a baptismal date for the 23rd of this month and is also excited to share the gospel with her father, who is not a member yet. So many different things happened that day so that we could find her, and I know that not a single one of them was a coincidence. God prepares His children and He puts us where we need to be to find them.

Alright, well, not a lot of time to write, but I sure do love you all!! I love being here and am excited to continue to work hard! Have a wonderful week! Love you!

Us with a family of investigators the secretaries are teaching. They invited us over for lunch and to play some board games. They are so great! The dad is getting baptized the 29th, and hopefully the rest of the family soon.

The Bentley's invited us over for breakfast and it was SOOOOOO good!!! Then we were laying around on their comfy couch. Good morning :)

Gianluca!! He's the young man in the grey sweatshirt getting baptized on the 30th this month.  This is us playing soccer.

Elder Nuñez jajaja, he always cuts my head out of the pictures. He says I shouldn't be so tall