You don’t know how good you have it

So this week has been fairly regular. Not too much out of the ordinary, for Peru that is. I did think of home more than normal this week becuase we went and visited a bunch of families with small children. It makes me miss my own busy family, then I think about it, and it brings tears to my eyes. Not so much from missing my family, but seeing these families; these happy families living their lives in someplace so different from my home and what I consider comfort. For example: my home does not have a dirt floor; my home does not have a sheet hung up to separate the front area of the house to the rest of the house; my home does not have chickens running through it; my home is not made of concrete scaffolding holding cardboard and sheet metal up to make walls; my home does not have a propane tank placed in a hole in the floor underneath the Coleman stove to cook our food. And yet all the homes I visit have these things and they are happy. And we are here to make them happier, to bring a light into their lives that they did not know was missing.

So with the rest of life here and a little less emotion filled as the last paragraph. Gas stations are small tables by the side of the road that sell gasoline in glass coke bottles. These are the gas stations that are most often used by the motos. Speaking of motos many of them have a theme. For example this week I saw one with the Thundercats logo on the mudflaps, and another with the crucifix. It all depends on what you feel I guess. There are a few “lit” motos that ride around with a bunch of neon lights and whatnot. Those are kind of cool to see at night.

Every week we have a district meeting, a group of ten missionaries for those of you that do not know, we have a small english class. This is because Elder Gilliland and I are the only gringos, or white people there. Elder Mendez teaches this class and as I have mentioned before he keeps a list of slang words. So we taught him a few pickup lines, and “how to pick up chicks”. By far the most entertaining English class I have attended.

And for trying to talk to people. Ben and Tyler I need your emails. I do not have them and it is annoying to have not heard from you guys. Mine is simply jwestergard@myldsmail.net. Next is Naomi Ennis, go watch the movie Van Helsing, it has Hugh Jackman; trust me you will like it. Tyler and or Ben I need you to keep a list of music for me. Look for Big Sean, Drake, Eminem, and G-Eazy. Anything else you think is good go ahead and throw on there.

And for good scriptures to share:

Mathew 14;13-15 Christ just lost his cousin and he stayed to teach the five thousand that followed him even when he wanted to be alone.
Mathew 14:28-31 Peter had that little bit of faith but failed and was immieditely caught and saved. When our faith fails we will be caught too.
Ephesians 11:40 Joseph Smith Translation we need trials or we could not be perfected.
Ephesians 12:6 we are scourged to become clean.
Mathew 17:20 need faith but Christ was ready with an example.
Mathew 17:21 prayer and fasting increase faith.
Mathew 15:11 show our faith through our actions.

That was it for this week guys. Keep cool and I will see y’all in two years and talk next Monday.

I Thought They Wasted Water In The US

So this week has been a crazy week. We had a bunch success with new investigators, we had 13 new ones! We even have several new families so that is exciting. So on with my week.

I learned what that terrible purple olive is called by the Peruvians. And I mean this thing is nasty, as in I do not even touch it and when it is on the plate you cannot get anywhere close to it because the juice seeps everywhere. It is called Matar Gringos. And for those of you that do not speak spanish it means “White People Killer”. That is fun.

I have gotten along really well with Elder Gilliland, my companion. We are doing a lot better teaching together and working in unity. Another Elder in our district Elder Mendez, is from Lima and he is a ton of fun too. District is a group of about four or five companionships of missionaries in an area. Anyway, Elder Mendez is learning English and we help one another out with our prospective languages. Anyway Elder Mendez keeps a list of slang in the back of his daily planner, even if we are not supposed to use slang. I taught him, “trying to get jacked” and the meaning of someone who is a cougar, because a cougar is called a snake here. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So the reason for the title is that we were walking down the street one day and this little lady, maybe sixty years old bursts out of her mud and grass house, swinging the door so hard it knocks some mud off. Then furiously splashes water from a small bowl in her hand all over the sidewalk. I have never seen such vigor from a little lady like that. They water the dust all the time though to keep it down. Because our entire area is just really fine sand everywhere.

So some cool stuff happened this week too. We saw a shooting star, the best one I have ever seen that went all the way across the sky. I got a recipe for cuye in my hymnbook. Cuye is guinea pig by the way. I should also be having that in the next few weeks too. Oh and stop lights here, when they have them are timed. And for motos when it says you have five or six seconds left to wait that is when the motos go even with cars coming the other way. That is a ton of fun. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So there is one photo of a moto taxi that we use every now and again to get from place to place and have nearly run me over before. Another is me eating sugar cereal at ten thirty in my bed with shoes on. Just for my mother. The other is me and my companion in a moto taxi today. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Toto, I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas Anymore

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What is up guys! I hope that everyone is doing well and enjoying your summer vacation while getting ready for school. So this week there have been several huge things because it has been my first week out in the mission field for real.

We left the CCM at around three in the morning, drove to the airport, hopped on a plane, passed out for a while, saw some awesome clouds and then landed in Piura. And Piura is a desert. The area that I am in Sullana the only plants are some scratchy looking trees, and some grass. The rest is simply sand, that really fine sand that kind of feels like powdered sugar when you walk on it.

We also had a small encounter with a gay guy stating he wanted to be taught, however he had nefarious intent and he tried to lead us into a dark abandoned looking house, abandoned looking in Peru, imgaine that, and Elder Gilliland and I followed him until the Spirit hit us like a truck and told us to get out of there. So we told him we would visit another day and have no intention of returning there.

I gave my first blessing in Spanish yesterday. Before sacrament meeting a sister came in with her two children and the little boy was clearly very ill. So we took her, her son, and her daughter into one of the classrooms and I gave that little boy a blessing. It was an incredible experience; I could feel the spirit so strongly.

We met with the other elders in our district this week and we played some soccer at the ward building. My companion and I are the only Americans in our district but we speak english with them to help them learn it. Try explaining, “Let’s make like a baby and head out.” to a Latino elder. It is interesting. The ward building has a small basketball/concrete soccer field that we played on. Oh and every building has a huge fence and the nicer ones have electric wires at the top too. So the ward building looks a little bit like a compound.

For travel we either walk through the sand, I will have monster size calfs when this is all said and done by the way, or we take a moto. A moto is an oversized and motorized tricycle. Oh and the one stoplight they have in town is on a timer that you can see. And the moto taxis all go with three or four seconds left on the red so that is fun, especially with us in them.

One picture is our apartment. Behind me is a little nook that you walk around too and you have the toilet and the shower and next to that nook is our dresser where we hang our clothes. Another is a gatorade in a glass bottle that a member gave us last week that I saved for after my workout today. And I testify that everything tastes better from a glass bottle.

Until next time guys.

Prison Life Almost Done

Hey everyone! I am back for the last time at the CCM. I am doing just fine so far. My Spanish has grown in leaps and bounds and I feel at least a little bit more comfortable with my Spanish skills.
We had our first proselyting experience this week on Friday in Lima. We went out with a few of the full time missionaries serving in that area and we went contacting. Contacting is where we go door to door trying to find people in their homes or on the street that would be interested in hearing the message of the restored gospel. What a humbling experience that was. I was riding in a bus and I saw a woman cooking food for her children with a propane tank whilst living in a cardboard shack on top of another building in Lima. We say we have poverty in the United States, we do not. You have no idea what poverty looks like. These people live off of a handful of Soles per day. Go look up the exchange rate for Peruvian soles and US dollars.

My scripture study has been astounding lately. We had a class with the MTC president about studying the scriptures and it was amazing. Presidente Moore knows so much. That class has honestly changed my scripture study and changed my life. It is incredible. There is so much in the scriptures if you would just look at the footnotes and study with the spirit. What I enjoy doing is opening a prayer at the beginning of my study and continually talking with our Heavenly Father during my study and allowing him to guide me to what I need to find. I would like to invite anyone who is reading this to read the Book of Mormon. It is an incredible volume of scripture that can change your life for the better knowing what our Father in Heaven has done for others on this Earth and what he is willing to do for you.

We moved the ceiling tiles in our rooms and found that elders have written their names on the concrete walls for at least a few years so that is some of the pictures that are with this. It is kind of neat.

The other picture is me and my companion for the time at the CCM, Elder Thompson. He is from Colorado and pretty cool. He is super outdoorsy. And then the other picture is one of our district. Which is our class for our time at the CCM.

This is my last week at the CCM and then it will be in Piura. I finish the CCM next Monday and will hopefully be able to email just a quick one when I arrive but I do not know if I can actually do a blog post. It has been amazing you guys. I miss you but I am also super excited to get out of the CCM. Attached is a poem that I wrote about our time here.

I will talk to you all in probably another two weeks and by then I will have a week in the field behind me. I will see you all then.

Elder Westergard

The MTC

Tired and nervous our bus pulled up.
Unloading our excitement only to have it culled
arising only a few hours later
to work and learn so others may we cater

With small breakfast shackles were served, clack, clack
on our writs. We grabbed a tray for our first am snack
our time had started;
free will from hence, had departed.

We unpacked our bags:
Uniforms hung up and we were assigned our tags.
Classes began and our
struggles continued hour after hour

Our tenure had benefits, this was known.
Studying time was treasured, not from hence thrown.
Physical activity was a joyful time
If the teachers did not come out and stop us on a dime.

A week gone by,
the yard alone was where we did not cry in misery.
We enjoyed our game
until we for a lack of effort was our blame.

Christmas came a day too late
as it always does with it’s changing date
We were given on hour to talk if one came,
but not always were our loves in our frame.

We all scratch
yet move no muscles to match.
Watching our every breath
Our maestros threaten death.

Onto a bus our chain gang strode
yet we rejoiced we no longer abode
within the gray walls.
Finally we had answered our calls.

Our sentence nearly o’er
the last Christmas knocking on the door
excited we are; yet
even with uncertainty, doubt has us yet to get.

Our wrists raw from chains
we throw off these pains
for a longer leash
far away from cafeteria quiche.

And so we actually begin.
Is such eagerness a sin?
No, for we go to serve our God,
hour after hour.

Shaking up prison life…

Well this week has not been much different than the last. We are still working on our spanish and teaching the fake investigators in our cassitas that we have out back. I am doing well and surviving off the huge quantities of chicken and rice that they give us for lunch and dinner everyday. Saturday we had a little shake up to our schedule and we had a 4.8 earthquake that shook the little cassitas that we teach in and then we had the MTC itself, which is built to withstand earthquakes, shake. We all ran outside of our classrooms to the giant yellow circles in the parking lot that are the safe zones. That was a little fun. And then this week we were able to convince our teachers to go outside the MTC walls that we are not allowed to leave and buy us peanut butter. That was absolutely amazing. I still have half a jar left and I stole a spoon from the cafeteria so I could eat it back in my room. The teachers were not actually supposed to buy this for us but we did such a good job.

We are only allowed to get outside the walls on P day to go to the temple but other than that we are confined to the cafeteria, the dorms, the classroom, and the volleyball court. I am going a little crazy with so little to actually do here. But I have been able to go through the Book of Mormon with astonishing speed because of all our study time. I started it about a week and a half ago and now I am in Helaman 5. I think I am doing pretty well. The latinos are pretty funny this time around because the old ones left earlier this week. They keep asking me to speak french which is pretty funny.

It has been a ton of fun lately. Hope you guys are doing well. Later guys.

Pictures so far…

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I cannot get enough of this soda, it is Inca Cola, bubble gum soda, but it is basically a drug for some of the elders. As soon as the vending machine is filled he buys four or five bottles. I got the liter and a half bottle when we went to interpol last week for our residency, that was fun because we had to get up at four and leave at five to make sure we were first in line.

Yes, I am the shortest Elder.

We get to go to the temple in Lima on P Day (preparation day) while here in the MTC.

Here is a tie that I got from one of the native elders. I traded one of my old red ones for it. It is super cool.
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I will get the captions figured out on the pictures eventually!

Week Three

Sometimes I think I might try the food and then I think, eh, better not.

So this week has been super similar to the past two. My Spanish has improved significantly and I am doing much better in our mock lessons that we have everyday. We don´t actually do that much in a day but the waking up at six thirty, the measly breakfast that usually consists of a hardboiled egg and as much toast as you want. Also for your information cocoa puffs in Peru do not go soft no matter how long they have been in the milk. They retain the ability to break teeth even after fifteen minutes soaking in the milk. We had some really good rice yesterday which consisted of a block of rice maybe five inches by three inches and about an inch and a half deep. It was the best rice we have had, we have had rice everyday at least twice by the way. Then we usually have some ice cream bars that are unlimited and use to our full advantage. We also have a soft serve ice cream machine guarded by a short Peruvian lady. But getting seconds is fairly easy, all us white guys look the same and napkins in the bowl fix the problem about having a dirty bowl. I still have another three weeks in the MTC. All the Avansados left today, the older missionaries that arrived three weeks earlier than us. So the new ones come in tonight to wake us up at three am when they come in the room to set up shop.

We have played a lot of volleyball as I have said before and we are getting really good. We might have the next USA volleyball team here.

I will talk next week with you guys. See ya.

Elder Westergard