Called to the Peru Cusco Mission
Reports to the MTC November 17, 2010

Monday, March 28, 2011

New People....New Things

Life has a funny way of deciding that it’s going to screw with you.  And by funny I mean not.  At all.

This story begins late Monday when we arrived back in Lampa, we were dropping off our stuff in the cuarto before having dinner and ran into Lex, his parents own a small store were we use the cell phone to call investigators or leaders because our landline can only be used to call other landlines.  Anyways, Lex was with his cousin Jimmy and since Elder Condemarin and I didn’t really have anything planned for the night we decided why not play RISK with them.

The game went badly.  By which I mean at the end of the first round of turns Elder Condemarin and I were pretty much out of the game, but we got an appointment with both Jimmy and Lex out of it so it all worked out in the end.

Fast-forward to Thursday, Jimmy is pumped.  Like really pumped.  He has told both Elder Condemarin and me that he wants to be a missionary and to be baptized as soon as possible.  Elder Whitten (one of the zone leaders for Juliaca who was in Lampa for an interview for baptism for an investigator) went with me to an appointment with Jimmy while Elder Condemarin and Benito met with the interviewee for a pre-interview-interview.  As the night passed and the interview occurred we kept the split as it was just for convenience and that is when I found out I had a problem.

In about August I noticed that seeing when driving in twilight was a little difficult but ignored it figuring, ahh whatever it’s probably just a dirty windshield.  Then I noticed I was having trouble reading the menu on a whiteboard in our pension that was about 10ft away and figured that was just from glare.  Then I was getting small headaches by the end of the day and figured that was simply from the work…Now I figure all that was denial.

Anyways, I tried on Elder Whitton’s glasses for a second as a bit of a joke and suddenly the world was a clear as about 18 months ago…Yeah.  So Saturday after the baptism I went to an optometrist who said, “Well, it’s…not exactly good” about my vision when I asked him after my examination.

Guess who now has glasses…or will in about 30 minutes when I go to pick them up.  That in a nutshell was the week:  new investigators and new eyes.

And NEW QUESTIONS!

Does Peru go on daylight saving time?
--Thankfully, no.
Do you ever get a chance to go on splits?
--Sometimes on Sundays when we are visiting all of our investigators to remind them about Church, yes but other times no.
What are you doing for water purification?
--We have water purifying water bottles that do pretty well and drinks are pretty cheap so the occasional KolaReal (which tastes like a hybrid of Pepsi and Coke) or Pepsi to supplement the blandness of water.
Do you have mosquitoes?
--That’s the great thing at being at nearly 13,000ft. NONE.
What you do on Sunday after meeting block?
--Have lunch then get to work teaching.
Does your mission have any mission vehicles and if so to the missionaries get to drive them?
--I don’t believe so, but it’s possible.
I know this one sounds funny, but how are the sunsets?
--Pretty legit, pretty legit.
Have you noticed to the toilet when you flush it since counterclockwise?
--I have not noticed but maybe now I’ll check.
At night can you see the Southern Cross?
--…Probably…I don’t know how to find it and have yet to find a star chart here in Juliaca, maybe if I find myself in Cusco I can pick one up.

Well everyone thank you for the questions and the support, now that I look a bit more like Ira Glass if feel I can say that…and why do I keep making NPR references in these posts?  I don’t even like “This American Life” that much!  Blarg.  Anyways if you want to email me send you song requests to william.sowards@myldsmail.net or by snail mail at:

Elder Will Sowards
Jeron Ricardo Palm
Manzana A Lote 2 4to Piso
Urb. Santa Monica
Cusco, Perù

Thank you once again and remember that the green fish aren’t ripe yet.

--Elder Will Sowards
Lampa, Puno, Perù

Monday, March 21, 2011

Two, Four, Eleven

Hello All!  Once again I am writing from the downtown of the Rinconada District of Juliaca in beautiful southern Perù but this time with the shame of having forgotten to take pictures of the cuarto to send...and on a week were not a lot happened to write about I take full responsibility for the shortness of this post.
 
So, yesterday we had a very...interesting experience.  We discovered about last Sunday that Lampa is about twice as large as we were lead to believe (how that exactly works I don't even try to understand) but alas that is how it is.  Basically we had been working the middle of Lampa, we knew about the southern section that is across Rio Lampa (it's what everyone calls it, but I think it is actually named something else) which is pretty much homes of people who much of the year are "in campo" or working with their sheep/alpacas/evil-known-as-llamas but he north we didn't have a clue, again don't know how.  So Friday I was with Elder Aguilar, a new missionary and "hijo" (son, and missionary term for trainee) of Elder Christensen another missionary in our district, because Elder Condemarin was on an exchange with Elder Christensen (a usual thing for district leaders in order to see how the work is going in other sectors of the district).
 
Anyways, after a very long day of only contacting we had tracted about half of the north and all of the other side of the river (right now many people in that area are in campo so it didn't take very long).  We had appointments for Sunday and yesterday Elder Condemarin and I returned to a house in what I have just decided to call Sector South.  We arrive at the house of Nani (pronounced Nah-Ni) introduced ourselves and were invited in to teach.  As we sat down we asked if there was anyone else home whom we could talk with, she replied yes and her identical twin 4-year-old daughters joined us (Three).  Elder Condemarin introduces himself like we normally do, general info stuff to get to know someone, and I'm then about half way through when we see someone in a window behind Nani (we were sitting in a type of courtyard for the home) and ask her who it is, she replies her 15-year-old daughter, we ask if she would like to join us as well and she does (Four).
 
Her daughter is awesome to teach, she explains almost as well as we do what a prophet is when we ask her and when we ask some other questions which usually recieve the reply of, "...uhm...I have no idea..." she is on the ball.  We are maybe five more minutes into the lesson when we hear something behind us and there are four more people!  We invite them to join us and the do and are truely interested (Eight).  It's maybe three minutes later and we hear something else behind us, another three people!  In the end we end up teaching 11 people who are all interested and have a date to teach them again on Wednesday.
 
In other news from Lampa we have started teaching a shoe-repairman and his family and they are the greatest!  We are going to have a Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening) with them tonight.  They are just amazing, we left a disc of the missionary videos that the office gave us on our first day with them and when we came back the next day to check up on them they had watched ALL of the disc!  We gave them the other two to watch and they watched those as well within a day.  It's just awesome!
 
Anyways, I didn't recieve any questions this week but remember you can always send them to me at william.sowards@myldsmail.net (and if that gives you some problems as I've heard it has email me at wsowards@gmail.com and it will forward to me here.  Also, by snail mail at:
 
Elder Will Sowards
Jeron Ricardo Palm
Manzana A Lote 2 4to Piso
Urb. Santa Monica
Cusco, Perù
 
Well, thanks for reading and till next week, this has been Wait...Wait...Don't...Yeah...still not NPR.
 
--Elder Will Sowards
Lampa, Juliaca, Perù
 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Black Plague Down


We came into Lampa at about 1900 on Saturday, the streets were dark and all that illuminated the small streets were the headlights of the carro (Spanish for car, generic name of taxi) and a two scattered streetlamps.  The streets were deserted as we exited the vehicle; backpacks at the ready, Books of Mormon in hand.  The view was reminiscent of a Somalian street; papers littered the ground as well as other assorted trash.  We could see smoke off in the distance, the thought of it being a burning tire crossed my mind momentarily as we made our way back to our cuarto (room).

The last day and a half had been spent in Juliaca, we had a Zone Conference with President Calderon.  Received some great instruction and had our interviews.  I’ve got to say I really love our mission president, one of the best people I have ever met.  Due to Carnaval we had been trapped in Juliaca till about 1700 and had only been able to make it back in time for a lesson, maybe two.

We turned the corner from the drop-off to the calle (street) of our cuarto.  It was a bit darker; one of the streetlamps had failed.  We heard a scream followed by the skreeet of an aerosol canister full of fake snow.  A girl ran by followed by a pack of teens all wielding the canisters like 15-year-olds with AK-47’s.

So basically I had a imagery filled Black Hawk Down flashback that I now don’t really have time to finish.  But Carnaval is INSANE!  But happily is finally over.  Yesterday was also Alex’s birthday so we had a bit of a party for him, hence the pictures.

And once again your favorite part of the program the Puzzler…wait…not CarTalk…entonces…

What does your room look like?
….Yeah…I’ll make sure to send a picture next week and explain a bit.

How often do you see other missionaries/the Pres?
Other missionaries in our zone:  every Monday.  Outside of the zone:  We’ve yet to.  The President:  About every three months.

Do you eat at other members homes?
No, I’m not sure why but I think it has something to do with not wanting us to get sick from something.

Are you entering your dry season?
I think so, it’s only raining about every three days now instead of every single day.

Do you have a real bed or do you sleep on the ground?
We have a real beds but like I said the sleep bag I brought is THE GREATEST THING EVER

Is your bathroom in your apartment or is it down the hall?
Downstairs actually and technically outside, I’ll explain next week.

You have a tub or shower?
A shower, a very bi-polar shower.

What you do for music in your church meetings? Do have a piano or organ?
We have the voices of the 20-ish people that show up and that’s about it.

How are your shoes holding up?
Fairly well so far, but I can’t wait for the pictures of dying/dead shoes.

Do you do your laundry or to somebody else do it for you?
We have a person that does it for us which is great because I’d rather not spend all day P-Day washing my clothes.

Do you have any opportunities to teach English?
As of yet no, but we might start doing like an hour a week thing at a collegio (high school) in Lampa.

Well thank you for all of your letters and support!  The music was provided by Jim the…BAH…once again not CarTalk…but if you would like to reach me you can email me at william.sowards@myldsmail.net or by snail-mail at:

Elder Will Sowards
Jeron Ricardo Palm
Manzana A Lote 2 4to Piso
Urb. Santa Monica
Cusco, Perù

Until next week!

--Elder Will Sowards
Lampa, Juliaca, Puno, Perù

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cambios and Carnavale

So, last night we were up till almost 11pm waiting to hear if Elder Condemarin or I were going to have a transfer and…we are both still going to be in Lampa!  It should be an interesting six weeks being as that yesterday Carnaval began!

Why it exists I, nor anyone I asked, exactly knows but it is a national party for the entire month of March which involves three main things:  partying, getting as many people wet as possible and spraying people with foam.  There was lots of foam as it started yesterday…lots.  I accidently forgot my camera in the room today (should have double checked after the ‘I’m forgetting something feeling’) but I will send pictures next week.  But I will say this, there were kids everywhere chasing people with cans of foam.  It was like “Lord of the Flies” but less of a commentary on political systems in the Western world.

Now for the fun part of the program!  Question time!

Can you see glaciers on the peaks?
Possibly, there are two peaks that are always snowbound so those may actually be glaciers but I don’t exactly know for certain.

What is the ratio of gringo to Latin missionaries?
My guess is probably around 1/3 gringo to 2/3 Latin but that is just a guess, I can say that there are more Latins than gringos and there are zero full gringo companionships and three full Latin companionships in our Zone alone.

Do you have any sister missionaries in your district or zone?
No, and we are one of only, I believe, two zones that don’t have any sisters.

Well, thanks for your time and for your support!  It’s great to be out here doing the Lord’s work and having a little fun at the same time.  Questions, comments, concerns, chistes?  Ask me at William.sowards@gmail.com or by good ol’ snail mail at

Elder Will Sowards
Jeron Ricardo Palm
Manzana A Lote 2 4to Piso
Urb. Santa Monica
Cusco, Perù

And feel free to send me your address via email and I’ll try to write.  Once again, be safe, have fun and remember that large groups of children with aeorsole canisters are to be avoided for the month of March.  Hasta proximo lunes!