Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Advanced In CCM

Things are great here in Peru!  The CCM Training Center is great, but I will admit that after 4 weeks of being here, it is definitely feeling like a long time here....

So, the group I am in is now in the Advanced Bracket, meaning that we only have 2 weeks left here in the CCM Training Center, and then we will leave on a bus for about 7 Hours to Huancayo, Peru! We will be here at the CCM For General Conference which I am super exited about. The experiences down here are many and varied, but looking back I am grateful for them all. I can tell you that even though these showers are angry at us and change temperature from HOT SCALDING to FREEZING, I will miss them....

18 de Septiembre

I'm actually getting sick of Rice (Tons at lunch and dinner) and bread with every meal.  4 pieces per meal.  SO MUCH FOOD, how Have I not gained weight??  Pretty Good day, really enjoyed our teaching lessons today because as a companionship we are getting better at identifying what our investigators need personally.  Today we had a whole lesson planned, but ended up not even using it and addressing what her current issues (In Spanish of course) which make sit increasingly difficult.

I am really enjoying all the experiences here at the CCM in Lima Peru.  From 13 hours a day of Language-Ecclesiastical study, to proselyting in totally different parts of Lima, to the food, to the smog, water, weather, companionship's, lessons, language, P-days, temple, shopping, living in the same room with 5 other guys is all quite a learning experience.  I am thankful for all that I have somehow had time for in the last 3-ish weeks and hope I can be this productive if not more when I am out in the field.

19 de Septiembre

Need to start waking up earlier.  6:30 doesn't do it anymore!  We need to wake up at like 6 in order to actually make it on time for breakfast.  Oh yea, we had eggs for breakfast again. 
This image is taken from a
convenience store in Peru. They
don't refrigerate them and they are
in abundance.

So today we taught another district (for practice) that arrive at the same time we did in Peru.  I will be blunt.  We know more Spanish, or at least used more Spanish then they do!  I am proud to say that I can at least have a decent conversation with someone and discuss what our topic is.  After today, our district definitely received a confidence boost fro our Spanish skills! [This is one thing I can't wait to hear him speak Spanish, especially at the end of his mission.]

For dinner we had bistec [beefsteak] with arroz [rice], y papas [potatoes], and pan [bread].  Basically every dinner is the same.  bistec, pollo, and pork.  But tonight we had a piece of dry chocolate cake.  Slapped a ton of butter on it, and it was good! [I guess since buttercream icing is mostly butter, that would be good!]

20 de Septiembre

Proselyte Day!  So for 5 hours all of us a the CCM go to different areas of Peru (Within 1 hour of driving distance via large busses) and actually proselytize with another CCM Missionary and a member from the Ward Boundaries.  Today I was paired with Elder Saranco who is a Peruvian who is super awesome and is also learning English: We had a great time swapping stories in Spanish and me trying to tell him what he would like to learn about English.  All in all it went pretty well, and we taught 2 less active members homes and reinforced the need for them to go to church and that the members miss them and that the members will help them  if they ever need anything.  During the second family, I shared my testimony regarding the importance of going to church, and at the end I apologized for to knowing enough words to explain what  desired  but the man said it was ok because the spirit had told him what I was trying to say.  Heck Yes! *Side note:  Peruvians talk super fast and quietly and that part is super annoying¨.

It is amazing that even though there isn't an extra abundance of money down here, the members here insist to pay for your bus fare, even if you are totally capable of doing so.  The love down here for others is just incredible. 

21 de Septiembre

Well, they assigned the new Zone Leaders, and our Companionship was assigned.  There was only two to choose form, but hey... Zone Leader!  Startson Tuesday when the new batch comes in.  It is kind of sad in a way, people were pretty sure we were next so we suddenly started receiving all these complaints and issues with individuals or companionships.  We haven't even been called yet!  Looks like we will be bringing down Thor's Hammer pretty quickly! lol

Today's devotionals were awesome. 1st was from Elder Andersen, while the 2nd was from Elder Bednar, and his wife.  I got the most for me from Elder Bednar, and I have included in my journal notes from both.  What I loved in Bro-Sis Bednar's talk is their ability to listen and answer any questions we may have.  They recently did in a recent conference with Missionaries around the world an activity where they all were given a cell phone (in MTC'S) or an email address where they could anonymously email a question to Elder Bednar and his wife, and they would begin answering them live on the pulpit, as well as the following devotional.  It was great. One of the things I like he said was an act of faith for those speaking languages not of their own. "Your mouth is not filled and then you open it."

22 de Septiembre

Laid the hammer today.  As new Zone Leaders we introduced ourselves to one of the new districts and taught them the importance of the last 30 minutes of the day and how it is used directly for planning and I totally took on e of the Elders as an Example and showed the entire class what his planner looked like.  Surprise!  It was only 50% done.  I went on to discuss how the Lord will not bless you with the same amount of blessings he would if you had planned our your day. There is strnght in having your schedule because as you ask for help, you know that you have done ll that you can do.

Food is still the same.  Just in case you were wondering.  There is no escaping the rice.  I am convinced that the milk we have in the morning is just a rice concotion. [They do make rice milk. haha - it is funny how he can have Nestle Quik chocolate milk every single day without hesitation at home but can't handle the rice. And this to shall pass... oh as a side note to most mom's of missionaries, I am sure your food bills have gone down!]  

23 de Septiembre

Today we had a live devotional from SLC MTC and the speaker was M Russel Ballard.  Awesome talk about the reason we are missionaries and how we can progress by setting goals.  Kinda funny, because I spoke to another missionary that night about the importance of doing planners and picked on another 2 Elders again!  They didn't even have them!  Really starting to enjoy this whole Zone Leader thing, even if it is just at the CCM.

One thing I enjoyed from Elder Ballard's talk was ´Life is a processs of setting goals....Let your family know about your goals and how you have been blessed by following them....¨´ Gospel is all about families...of God'. [I'm amazed and  impressed on the amount of training that comes from the general authorities. I am also a bit jealous. It is my assumption that these broadcasts are all 'closed circuit' as I haven't been able to find any of the video or text online. As it should be but still, I am sure there is some great instruction from Salt Lake in these devotionals.]

These cookies come in different flavors
Pizza this night for dinner.  Never before have I been so happy that I was in the mid front of the line.  I promise if you ever leave the US you will miss peanut butter, eggs that don't run, Cereal, cold milk, and dumb little American Candies.  But, I have found these brand of cookies that are huge down here called Casinos... They are delicious as we are going to get... Reminds me of Mothers Cookies back in the states.

As a PS from mom, Andrew requested crunchy peanut butter. Already in his first care package.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

3rd Week I think???

Hello All!  Week 3 I think!?!?!  Days are getting so mixed up here, because the weekends don't feel like weekends, and Wednesday's are closer to our weekends... Ya....
So, as usual I will start off with what I have been doing in the form of a Journal entry.  Then I will comment on some stuff. 

11 de Septiembre

Back home today was Patriot Day.  Here is it just another day in Peru.  Eggs for breakfast. Yahoo.  Not much happened today, but a few notable things happened.  New roommates today, and they are pretty good, but I will tell you very nicely.  One in specific in this last batch will be very humbled once he actually starts doing stuff.  His voice right now is actually making me want to stop practicing Christlike Attributes.  But hey, on with the story.

Played Soccer today at the CCM [Spanish for MTC or Missionary Training Center] Soccer Field.  1st P-Day [Preparation Day] with everyone that is new so all the facilities are at MAX capacity.  Soccer was great, and one of the times I kicked the ball I released pressure on my foot, and put it mostly back to normal.  Yea!

*His voice is still going in case your wondering*. [Not sure what that last statement meant (maybe he was screaming while playing), but if you remember in an earlier blog/email, Andrew hurt his foot. Seems to be getting better. In fact, in a separate email to me, the pain is gone. Whew!]

So, to line up class a bit, all the Male Missionaries in our district decided we would do a flash mob - ish style parody (Like 30 seconds) of the song ¨´I whip my hair back and forth´except with our ties.  This would begin with the saying of the key phrase ´Me gusta helado´which translates to I like Ice Cream.  Of all the days for that today's topic at 7 pm was ´Gustar´and the example was ´Helado¨´ and the question was directed directly toward the keyword guy.  So, we all whipped our ties back and forth while singing the song, and we all just busted up laughing, when our Teacher (who is a native and didn't understand our reference) [That's okay, I don't know the reference either. lol] was partly scarred and confused on why were were all dancing and singing about whipping our ties back and forth.  Definitely brought some energy into the classroom.

We also started teaching lessons ourselves 2 times a day for about 15 minutes each.  This really helps our Spanish improve, but our English suffers.  While it has only been 2 weeks, I am totally understanding more Spanish, and am getting way better at being able to convey what I want to say.

Well, it is 10:19 PM here and I feel like going to bed 11 minutes early, so goodnight here from Peru!

12 de Septiembre

Teach People, not lessons.  This phrase has never meant so much to me tonight.  We taught one of our Fake investigators as usual, but over the days have noticed there was something we needed to know about here, but could not get to it.  Tonight after watching a PMG [Preach My Gospel] video, my companion and I both decided to sing to her the first line of ´Did You Think to Pray?´in Espanol.  While Elder Bell and I were singing, we noticed that our fake investigator was actually crying.  Come to find out, the rest of our lessons which was centered on prayer hit home with her personally, not the fake investigator part, but her.  It was all we could do to feel the spirit, and it is all we could do as  Missionaries to just want to help her and her situation.  Sometimes it is situations like these where we as missionaries need to realize that yes we want to baptize people into Christ restored Church, but as missionaries representing Christ we are here to help individuals and families come together and find peach through scriptures and teachings of God.  While we said the words and physically taught the lesson, the spirit of the Lord is who really taught our investigator.  Something that I know happened when our spirits had that emotional connected that cannot be obtained without help from the Lord.

I know that the Lord works in mysterious ways, and the events that led to this lesson were remarkable.

13 de Septiembre

Days feel like weeks and weeks feel like days here at the CCM, especially when you are fasting.  Oh, and guess what? Of course, on the day we do an additional fast, they have a special treat.  Doughnuts.  My downfall!  [So true] I'm so glad I didn't see them because that would've been terrible.  Not to much to report today, just progressing along with our language studies and teaching lessons of Spanish to each other.  Seriously, the techniques used here are miles ahead of what we ever used in High School, and I guarantee I will return (In two years of course!) and show RIMSD [Rim of the World School District, the school district he graduated from] how it is done down here in Peru.  Granted, we spend more time on it down here, but if I was taught with these materials and techniques, I would be far better off today.

I guess our collaborative Spanish skills have improved to the point where we are talking overall to each other in Spanish, and even making most of our jokes in Spanish.

Oh, and yes, we all miss families, friends, music, American food, seeing the sun (So much smog here) [His parents lived during the 1980's in Southern California, we might know what it is like to have smog. 3rd stage smog alerts anyone?] Netflix, and even work, but we are so busy here that there is no time to miss anything. I guess it is good that way.

14 de Septiembre

3rd Sunday here at the Peru CCM.  Food is still pretty good, but we are still having emergency runs to the bano.  Welcome to Peru right!?  We had two additional speakers today, one of which was a broadcast of Elder Christofferson about the worth of souls including our own.  Very wonderful talk.  And they other was a local representative which was translated for us, but I was able to pick up on most of what he was saying.

For sacrament meeting today our district was in charge of Prelude Music which was worked our pretty well, its amazing how even if you don't totally know the words, you can still feel the spirit of the Lord through the music.  Oh, and a bunchy of the hymns not only sound better in Spanish, but I think that some of them are even easier to sing.

Found My Mirror.  I am beyond excited for that because the closet I have doesn't have one.  I am going to try and send a letter via pouch [Pouch is one way that missionaries and their families write letters to each other, one piece of paper, folded a certain way and mailed to and from Salt Lake City, Utah and then distributed to either family or missionary. It is more reliable than regular mail and a bit quicker. His mom tried the pouch earlier this week, so we will how this will work out.] this week if I get a chance, but we will see....

15 de Septiembre

Long day today, but looking back we have been here for over 20 days!  I am not the Senior Companion in our companionship because it is now the last 3 weeks of the CCM.  Taught fake investigators today, and we seem to be getting better at picking scriptures in Spanish and then teaching them in Spanish.  I did I mention there is a freaking Elder in our area that we all want to be (Not Christlike to) and shove a bunch of his stuff and hide it in the washer?  Yup, he might wake up in the morning with some missing items.

Tonight, we also taught the ¨The Gospel of Jesus Christ¨in Spanish to the Latino Missionaries.  It is a good thing my companion and I both knew nothing about the questions they asked.  New VOCAB FOR TOMORROW!

We had a cinnamon roll that was literally the highlight of my day.  Butter, Icing, and Microwave.  Lets put it this way, It was so good, it was worthy of entry in this Journal.

And with that, I shall write tomorrow.

16 de Septiembre

There are some days where people have the ability to truly test your patience.  Days like today help most of us to realize that even here at the CCM where we pay to be here, and dedicate the next 18 months to 2 years for helping people, that individuals still have the capacity to be total poops.  But surah, surah, and we just need to realize that the day we arrive we were set apart from the world, and put on a higher plain of thinking, acting, and accountability.

This evening for dinner, we had.... Surprise. Chicken and Rice!  But this time I remembered one of my packets of Chick-fil-A sauce!  And that little packet was the envy of all.  I shared one bite with someone just so they could all be jealous.  Christlike Attribute?  Maybe not, but it was well worth it!

Later this evening we had a live broadcast from SLC, Utah from Elder Richard G Scott..  Awesome talk.  Mostly on the need and whys of Communicating with God through Prayer.  I will share a quote or two that I really enjoyed from it.

¨You have been called, and he will fit the task to your capabilities¨
In order to attain a goal never made, one must do things never before done.¨

When we pray, we need to make sure we are asking in confidence and asking the right questions so that we the spirit of the Lord reveals to us, we can have asurity assurity to the answer we sought.

17 de Septiembre

Today is P-DAY!  That is why I am sending this email!  Went shopping, picked up a Local Soccer Jersey, some Toiletries [When he first typed this, it was spelled wrong and I thought he bought Tortilla's. Makes sense right? lol] and some Local Equivalent of Shout! For my collars on my shirts. Hope it works!  Went to the temple, and it was awesome, as usual.  Love being able to go to the Temple and learn even more on becoming closer to our God.  I also participated in the Temple in Spanish Today.  Super Awesome!

There are some sketchy places here in Peru, but once you know what you are doing you can avoid them or know what to do when you get in a place like that.  I think I spent a total of $12.12 in American equivalent, but I need to find a local spot I trust to exchange some more... Might just have to wait to Huancayo, we will see...

Hope all is going good back at home, Peru is just great here, sorry for all the mistakes in spelling and grammar [I fixed a lot of them. lol.]  Not only are these keyboards in Spanish format, but My English is digressing as my Spanish is progressing. [That is a good problem to have.]

We have discovered that while here in the CCM we have done more Spanish in the last 3 weeks than we would have done in a year for classes back at home.  Over 200 hours in the last 3 weeks for Spanish Only Practice. Its awesome.  And I only feel fried every once and a while!  Seriously, the programs and teaching staff here are amazing.

Enjoy all your dairy back in the states, [In our home we used to buy 5 gallons of milk a week. Only last week, we needed 2 gallons. Andrew drank a lot of milk, mostly with his Nestle Quik.] as well as your unlimited supply of Chick-fil-A Sauce..: I think I know what ingredients I will be buying next week!

Elder Holmes
Lima Peru, CCM

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Week 2 - 4th-10th de Septiembre

4-5 de Septiembre:

I am combining these entries today because I had no time to write yesterday, kinda no time to write...
[The missionaries are on a set amount of time of 30 minutes that they can read, write and send emails out, while at the CCM (MTC/Missionary Training Center). Oh, don't forget that everything in BLUE is his mom, Jill, who is adding some clarification and her 2 cents.]

Today's fake investigator lesson stunk!  Not because of our material, but because of our language skills or lack thereof.  We read three wrong scriptures (don't forget we have to do live translation)  She almost fell asleep because she ¨´just got back from work´ (The Investigator is our teacher) and we stuttered so much someone would think we need medication!  It was terrible, this investigator has been very difficult, but has proven to us the point that there are still many things we have to learn in the Spanish Language.  Oh yea, and tomorrow is Proselyting!  For those who don´t know it is where we go out as missionaries of our Lord Jesus Christ and share the message of the Restoration of the Gospel, and the Importance of Families.  I am very excited, but also extremely nervous because of our apparent lack of Spanish. 

Today, we went into the Immigration office, and continued our Migration Status (Bless the
Found this great image online of traffic in Lima Peru
Church for doing all of our paperwork for us!)  They started the moment we got our calls!  I checked the dates!  Drove total of like 2 hours, and saw SO Much.  Dogs on roofs, dead birds, MANY Close car accidents.  Seriously, how is not very car broken down and in an accident!?  Driving is crazy here!  We put a lot of trust into our drivers lets put it that way...
[I think this answers why missionaries in this area do not drive or ride bicycles. It is for their safety and I am sure liability too. Walking, buses and trains are the way of transportation.]

Some Sketchy people, but if you look closely, there is a bit of awesome in everyone.  It is amazing to think that if you take any person on the face of the planet that ever has been, or will be has a story - Good or Bad- They have a story.  The only thing holding me back from helping these people is that until October, we don't move to Huancayo, and the obvious language barrier.  Other than that, I cannot wait!

6 de Septiembre:

Its time for 1st proselyting day!  New Temp Companion, and a new area for us to visit!  Let me tell you.  Whoa.  A photo does not do it justice.  Hundreds, if not thousands of these homes are in a massive state of decay.  All of the homes in this area are brick based, many of which are not maintained properly, and the roofs are tin metal, so it is inevitable for it to degrade.  Streets are constantly ripped out for construction-pipe purposes, some ever were over 10 ft deep with running sewer. Yum right? Oh, and the dogs were everywhere! All shapes and sizes, probably 1 or 2 for every house!  Dogs on roofs, and the streets are not as kept up as most streets back home.  For all intensive purposes, life must be very difficult in this section of Lima, the Capital of the Nation.  But even with all this adversity, poverty, trials, etc... These people love their God, and from what I see, will do anything they can to become closer to Him.  While I know I could find a way to live in these conditions if necessary, I am grateful that I have opportunities available to me I wouldn't have anywhere else.

**Side note: The Area we were in was a set of streets called Buenous Aires outside of the Inter District of Lima, Peru.  Totally reminded me of entering LA [Los Angeles], but with ALL Dirt Roads, need for fixed sanitation, and most of all... Probably a dog for every house. [It reminds me of the book we read to him, Go, Dog. Go!; big dog, little dog, lol]

7 de Septiembre:

2nd Sunday at CCM!  Fast Sunday, but it was awesome!  Not so much to report, but we had hamburgers and fries, and rice!  Yum!  Until they recalled the beef.... Because of something dumb.  It was to late though, I already ate, it... And I'm still alive! So not that big of a deal right? Watched some broadcasts today and also had a health class today regarding where to eat, and what not to eat... There are some nasty things to watch out for here in Peru!
[I have to laugh, sort of. They were taught on what to eat and where, but they had some bad hamburger at the CCM?? lol - But seriously, as only his mom would know, over the weekend, I felt impressed to pray for his health on Sunday. Not sure why at the time, but now reading this, that they may have been given bad meat.... listen to the spirit no matter what!!]

8 de Septiembre:

No Journal Entry - Nothing fun to report today, half of the class was gone at Interpol.

9 de Septiembre:

Went to Jail today.  Just kidding...It´s called Interpol, which means basically the International Police.  We had our dental records recorded for state purposes (I think they just check to see if I had teeth, no joke) as well as ALL Fingerprints and Profile Mug Shots.  Soon we will get our Andean ID Cards which will actually be Religious Citizens!  Cool!

10 de Septiembre:

2nd P-Day !  Went to the temple again, which was awesome. 

Lima Temple is so awesome!  One of the best things about the LDS Church (Outside of knowing that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored) is that the Gospel is the same literally wherever you go.  Very nice!  Bought some stuff today at Distribution using my Credit Card... It worked on my end! Between all the stuff I bought using the card, it should equal to something about $38 in American Money
[Mom checked and it was just under $29. Excited to see that it worked, it was a great test]... Not including Foreign Fees. [I guess he purchased some necessities and hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer will definitely make it into his first care package. ]

We are getting better at figuring out the public transportation down here!  It is crazy, but great for us!  50 soles, which is about 25 cents in American I think .. The ratio right now is 1 American to 2.85 Peruvian Sol.

Hope all is going well for those reading this back in the States!  We just got a new batch of Missionaries, (About 74, and most from North America, so we get all new treats for food!) Anyways, here at the CCM everything is taken care of for us here.  Basically we just study our hearts out everyday.  Language Study, Gospel Study in Spanish (No time hardly EVERY to study in English for anything....Listen to that future missionaries! They Expect you to know everything about the Gospel AND HOW TO TEACH IT!  All we do here is do what we should already know and apply it to Spanish.  

I am continuing to take pictures, but cannot send them.  Also, we have a missionary that just left, and he is native to Peru.  If you could Mom, please when you get a chance email me a copy of sheet music of Come Thou Fount in English please... He is learning English, and is really good, and just loves the Hymns to death, So I want to email that to him.
[Got it]

Also, I have been found out.  I conduct music like 4 or 5 times everyday for our district meetings.  Awesome. 

Time Flies when you look back at it, but in the moment, time is going so slow! I had a dream in Spanish, which I am hoping is an indicator that things are improving! Learning Spanish really helps here because we are also learning how to teach gospel and teach Spanish as well. If we had courses like this back home as a summer project, and how it is instituted here, we would all know it so well!

Food is the same still. Rice for everyday. Eggs for breakfast every morning. There is some interesting meals, but overall not to bad.... [I wonder if they provide them tortillas too? So many more options when you give them tortillas with breakfast burritos etc. Oh yum! But I guess it can get a bit boring.]

Since two weeks have passed, I am now official in the Intermediate Level with everyone else in my district.  Spanish is definitely improving, but it takes time and a lot of work!

Also, add this somewhere on the Blog.  We hardly every see the sun., I think I have seen it like 2 times the whole time we have been here.  Not because of Fog near the Ocean, but becks of SMOG.  Its odd, and I miss seeing the sun.  We will go outside during the day or night, and the condensation building up below the smog is so thick that we walk, and we get sprinkles on our faces, but it isn't raining or misting... Its so bizarre.

Hope you are enjoying modern conveniences at home in the United States, something of which is very rare here in most parts of Peru.

Elder Holmes
Lima Peru, CCM

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

1 Week Down!

Hey everyone! So, since I am limited on time, and the keyboards over here in Peru are in EspaƱola, my typing speed is heavily reduced. [Mom (Jill) here, I am editing posts so that it is easier to read and throwing in my 2 cents. :) ] So, I will just type you my Journal stuff that I want to share. Anything between the lines can be used for Blog Posts. I CANNOT Send photos until I am out in the field in another 5ish weeks. So.. Here we go.

Peru CCM (MTC) Photo Credit

1st Day in Lima, Peru CCM!

Whoa, Where do I start? What felt like a million hours on 3 different flights and finally ending up in Lima Airport I felt like I was back home in LA. After we got our Luggage figured out, all 20 [found out it was 22 missionaries] of us got on a bus or two and drove through Lima to the CCM [MTC - Missionary Training Center] and had a chance to witness Lima at night which was definitely a reality check that we are no longer in California anymore! Police were standing on sidewalks with Semi-automatic weapons, some awesome surveillance, and even jaywalkers crossing right in front of the bus! Eventually, we ended up at the CCM, where the entire facility is walked [I think he meant 'blocked'] in. Beautiful, and secure, like much of Peru thus far. We entered and got our assignments {at around 2 am local time} and found that we have a companion set in our dorm that are natives. We are using them as human translators [at first I read that as 'human shields', yikes, I need to read slower. lol] for words that are hard to look up!

Woke up around 6 AM, [I must add, he is totally used to that early time. He is an early riser] unpacked a bit, and the day began!  Breakfast, ID Tags, the works... so far I love the people, and my companion Elder Bell, who is a somewhat recent convert who is literally a super strong member. We received our goodie bags today which included many language books which will occupy much of my time as well as and additional water filter, Spanish PMG [Preach My Gospel Manual], Mission rules, etc... All good for us, but bad for our suitcases!  I barely fit on the 3 way here, the trip to Huancayo in 6 weeks will be very interesting.  Today might be the first day, but it feels like we have been here a week.  So, here is to many more days of Language Training in the hopes we can one day actually teach someone in Spanish and have it all make sense. ... So here is to the Next two Years!

2nd Day in CCM:

Hola!  Day two in the Peru CCM, and it was almost as long as the first.  Our native companions and us are communicating a bit better, but some things are still tough.  Wake up at 6 AM they said!  5:45 comes around and their large metal alarm clock scares the poop out of us and I stubbed my toe on the bed.  ANYWAYS, DAY TWO, AND I AM ALREADY SEWING THINGS....Today we started our official language classes which included computer training and a few hours of instruction for Spanish Daily.  Today's lesson included how to pray in Spanish, both personally and in a group.  So we now know how to pray!  Yea!  Well, I still need my paper and instructions, but it is possible now!  As a side note it was my companions Elder Bells Birthday today and we had a ton of candy in his bag, so we all had some but our local Peruvians saw it and about collapsed on seeing that much candy!  They are really loving it from what I can tell, which is great!  Food is mostly good, starting to find out we have eggs for every morning's breakfast.  NBD [I think he was saying Nothing Bad Yet] yet, oh Yea... Prayers for everything, maybe that is why my Spanish is improving so quickly!

3rd Day in CCM:

Just another day at the Peru CCM!  Day 3. My Journal entries for the next 5.5 weeks will probably get somewhat shorter as we are all doing now is language study.  But it is all good!  My companion and I went to do a fake/real investigator lesson with the security guy at the front gate.  We were very bad (in the Spanish part) and the officer was nice enough to compliment us on the parts we did right.  I will admit, it wasn't much, but we had to start somewhere.  I think right now we are doing about 7-8 hours of Spanish study daily in different forms of study. Whoa!  No wonder the language is already beginning to make sense, I'm spending more time now, then over 1 week back at home!  Not to mention the added inspiration to learn enough before we leave here sometime at the end of September. I know that for a fact our expedited language learning skills is being greatly enhanced by one thing, the Spirit of God.  Praying before every session, ending with prayer, asking specifically for Gift of Tongues, oh yea, and prayer together and singular in Spanish has something to do with it too!  So yes, basically Spanish for everything!  Food is remaining a mystery at every meal, but even with that I think we are all being fed very, very well, and are all gaining at least a little bit of weight.  Weird Food?  Yes.  Good food?  Mostly.  But overall it is still great here!

4th Day in CCM:

Well today actually felt shorter GASP.  All except for Tall [?] of course!  We had eggs for breakfast, again.  We have had eggs everyday since we arrived, and if it keeps up like this... I won't like those eggs from our chickens at home much anymore!  Tomorrow is our first Sunday here, so I am curious how our 1 million meetings during the day will go, whether it be in English or Spanish.  Hopefully, I don't have to give my talk in Spanish!  I had a conversation with another Elder (Elder Bush) about the length of time here at the CCM.  It seems almost physically impossible that we can accomplish all that we do each day within the hours we are doing stuff each day.  No, its not because we plan well, but we both think it has to something to do with our purpose here.  Its kind of a joke right now how God Slows down time within the CCM so we can get every possible moment needed to study the language, which is something we all desperately need.  What an honor to go to the Peru CCM from the United States! There is only about 120-150 missionaries here vs. the many many, many more at Provo.  Food, Class, but most of all the spirit of revelation and teaching is strong here.

5th day - Sunday! 

It's Sunday! You thought you had a bunch of meetings back at home on Sunday? Try living at a place where it is a training center all day, everyday.  Yup.  Meetings from Breakfast to Bedtime.  But they were pretty good today.  We watched the Restoration of the Gospel. [To view video; CLICK HERE]

Yup, we all cried.  I sincerely believe that when they showed the scenes of Brigham young and all the Church Apostles working together and heading west, I could literally feel strength and comfort and pure joy from my ancestors that crossed the plains. [One side note: Andrew's 6th great-grandfather is Apostle Charles Coulson Rich, who was an apostle to President Brigham Young, hence the comment he made.]  I really could.  I hope and pray that as I continue my work as a missionary and after I return that I can have that connection of souls again.  

So, no official language training today because it is Sunday, but Elder Bell and I practiced our Spanish during dinner tonight.  We might both be super greengos, but we are both advancing at the very least.  Its been 5 days, and we feel like because of all the tings we have accomplished we have been here for many weeks.  Still learning some of the CCM rules, it is taking a while to learn them all.  Today we also watched a recorded broadcast from May 2014 from the Provo MTC, and the speaker was Elder Holland.  From all of Elder Holland's talks, I have never heard him speak to a group people like this! If possible, look it up!  One of my favorite things he said was that salvation is NOT a cheap experience, so don't treat it as such.  He went on to say how inspired the Missionary program is and how PMG took years to develop, but was well worth it.

Basically that's it most missionaries are awesome, while others you can tell have the potential to be prideful.  Already!

P.S. I have used superglue 2 times already, [Andrew was insistent on taking superglue with him. Looks like I might need to send him more already.] and plan on using it again tomorrow.  I love America.

6th day:

Eggs for breakfast!  Rice for Lunch!  Rice for Dinner!  Well we had stuff with the rice but that's not the point.  Its far enough time in Peru where this batch of missionaries is trying to use the restroom and cannot.  It is probably all jammed with the bones in our meals.  Meals taste great!  But they are different enough that our insides do not agree.  Some haven't gone in 4 days.  4 DAYS!

So, always remember that if a teacher says be 5 minutes early, that does not mean 3 minutes early.  Elder Bell and I had to stay outside and get a lecture.  It was awesome..  P-Day is in 2 days.  Heck Yes. We also get to go to the LDS Peru Temple in 2 days!  Woo Hoo!  When we first arrived at the CCM I was wondering why the whole CCM is enclosed with HUGE Gates and very high (but very fashionable) walls.  Just like every single building in Lima, it is for safety.  I can tell you I am very grateful that the CCM is 100% Enclosed while we learn about the people and the area. I'm starting a list of things I think I forgot, so Hopefully I can get it on P-day.  I did however get a compliment today on being like the most prepared before leaving home as a missionary.  I guess the filters, superglue, duct tape, scissors, Camelbak and Guide to the Hymns in Spanish do come in handy!  I fixed a guys glasses yesterday. Yea!  I haven't even told anyone about the Solar Panels-Flashlights yet.  :)

We are also getting really into the knitty gritty of the language.  While most of this is in our mind course, much of what we are learning is very useful.  Talking with strangers on the street, and discussing gospel of Jesucristo is the main vocab.  When they said 12 pounds of language material, they meant it!   But this is the BEST Teaching style and material I have EVERY received.

7th Day:

The days are getting shorter here, not because we are having more fun, but because we are getting used to the schedule.  Today as companions Elder Bell and I taught a fake lesson to an investigator.  But did  everything including Pray and Pray in Spanish.  Took many hours, and the Grand Lesson was only supposed to be a simple 10 minute lesson, on how God Loves You-Restoration of the Gospel.  (We had to prety [I think he meant something like he had to customize the lesson] the lesson to what the investigator need to hear) It was awesome.  Our lesson translated fairly well, but the real help in translation was from the Holy Ghost - the master teacher.  If only the spirit revealed to us a bit more quickly though, our lesson turned into a 20 minute lesson simply because of a NO ENGLISH language Barrier.  We will follow up on Llucia (Her name) tomorrow after dinner.

Dinner.  We are still getting fed massive amounts of food.  Which is great, bit it is impolite to even here atht eh CCM to not eat everything given to you.  Wall, small, fat skinny, All the same, amounts - unless you want more!  Examples of food tray for the day.

Breakfast - Eggs, Rolls, Butter, Local Fruit Juice-Milk, Cheese, Chan, Breakfast Hot dog meat?
Lunch/Dinner - Fish or Beef, or Chicken, 4 rolls with tons of butter, Local fruit juice, TONS OF RICE, Dessert.  Always Dessert.  Jell-O, Inca Cola [I tried Inca Cola, not bad. Tastes like bubble gum cola] Flavored/Orange Too, weird but yummy fruit.

Lima, Peru Temple - Photo Credit


We went to the temple today!  Lima Temple is Awesome, but the bus ride there is less than desirable.  about 25 cents I think for each bus ride, but that isn't the cool part.  All the cars here basically swerve and merge as much as you take a breath of air. [Sounds like how flatlanders drive in the snow at home. lol] Buses were CROWDED, and we know very little Spanish so that was interesting.  Waterways going straight though town, and people digging trash out of it.  It is a truly humbling experience, even here in the Main Capital City.  No Pictures to send until I get out into the field, but trust me, I am taking them!

We also went to a shop or two here in Peru, and ate some Chicken Bread Thing served from someone's trunk of their car.  It was delicious!  And somewhat scary, but heck..: It's Third World... It was fun!  

Thank You all for sending me emails!  While I do Not have anytime to really customize them, I wanted to let you all know that you all mean a bunch to me.  So Thank You!

Elder Holmes
Lima, Peru
LDS Missionary