Saturday, January 30, 2016

Week in Review - January 24, 2016 - January 30, 2016

Good Morning,

Well every week I love reading all of your guys emails to see what is going on at home. There are many times I just love reading your guys emails and then I have no idea what to send you guys.  While there is always something going on here at the Office or something big or something to do, I'm not sure where to begin, or if it will even call your attention.  But we will see what we did this week.  

There has been some emergency transfers, and some additional Immigration paperwork. This week I received from the Area Offices over 50 passports, and over 80 Foreigner Identification Cards to process.  Yea!  I am getting pretty good at these things though, I'm way faster at doing these documents then I was when I first got here.  And everything makes  sense.  I understand some of the Peruvian Legal junk when it comes to immigration's, or all the other crazy things I have to do here. That is a nice thing.

I have taken to making a User Manual for the Office Secretary (partially because our Basic Manual suggests that we make one) that includes all the basic information we do here. Woah, It took me about a week to get that to where it is, and It is still missing some info, but is basically there.  With a New Mission President and our Audit coming soon, we have to get back into ship shape... Not a whole lot of stuff, but a bunch of little stuff to do.  Seriously though, with all the stuff I am learning here, it has passed through my mind a few times how it would be to work on the logistics side of the church later on.  

[We mentioned to Elder Holmes that we will be sending a box of cookies to Peru.] Girl Scout Cookie Season!  I got that one!  There was another Elder in the office that didn't understand that reference.  I have come to the conclusion that there was probably one or two years where I bought enough cookies to send the girls to camp.  It will be very odd to come back home and see all the prices.  I will not want to buy anything!  Are you kidding!  3 Dollars!?  I can buy that for one sol (30 cents) in Peru!  I ain't paying that!  That will be an odd change to go through.

The dollar continues to rise here in Peru.  When I got here a while back in Peru... The conversion rate was about 2.88 for 1 USD.  It is now 3.46.  I have been here for a while...

Ok funny note... I went to a local corner store... As there are many, I can go wherever I want... I went in and tried buying a mini packet of Parmesan Cheese.... Its kind of a hard find, but here in Huancayo in the Center, it is a bit easier.  So... I went in  and asked... Do you have any Parmesan Cheese?  No, the woman replied.  But I have Jam.  Would you like Jam?  No.  I want Cheese!  You don't have the powdery Parmesan cheese?  No.  I have Jam.

Well Thanks.  Have a good day.  

What is with that! I don't think she got confused, but sometimes they are just like that and it is very weird!  These are some of the things that I will miss from Peru!

Sorry I don't have more to say, this week was a pretty Paperwork filled week. Nothing special to inform. 

Love you all!

Elder Holmes

Monday, January 25, 2016

Week in Review - January 16, 2016 - January 23, 2016

So, being in the office you are a part of many different aspects of the Work of Salvation. Mostly the logistical but very necessary part of the Church. Sending people home early for reasons of health or other reasons are something more common than thought. The paperwork behind these occurrences are less than pleasant on the immigration side, and sometimes they are documents that have to be done RIGHT AWAY which requires standing in a lovely public bank line for possibly up to 1.5 hours.  Oh how lovely.  This week I did that by gauging the time.  It began to DOWNPOUR Here, so we took advantage of that and went out.  Here in Peru everybody is afraid of the rain.  Amazingly when we got to the line it was way shorter. i think we were only in that line for about 20 minutes.  It was great.

This week we have started the negotiations on the house and invited a few guests over... Namely the landlady and the landlord.  Woah.  Not going to lie, the first meeting I had scheduled with them to meet in the office they scared the poop out of me.  He is the director of the main university here in Huancayo, and has even won (but not entered, not sure why) the vice president office here for the Junin Region.  They are our landlords.  Woo.  hoo. And as past blog posts have mentioned, the house in which we stay has been repaired few times, and needs a lot more help and love and continence that is Impossible for us to do. So, we have begun negotiations to renew the contract early, fix up the house with their permission and funds, and get it all done soon to figure out if we will still be here in the house or not.  When I began to be frank with them in the office meeting, they were very pleased as Elder have not spoken with them for over 1.5 years, so this was the first meeting we have had with them in quite a long time.  And since we pay a year in advance using the church areas system from Lima, Peru they really haven even seen us monthly for the rent bill.  

Just got back from meeting with Mr. Moses and his wife Gracy. (no joke, thats their names....) and they weren't as angry as I thought they would be.  I was literally DREADING this meeting we were about the have at the house.  Yes, they told me about all the plants that are no longer alive, how the house used to be... yadda yadada ya...   But we went to the house with a representative of Church Buildings Management (FM, or here known as OyM) to assist us.  Technically they have nothing to see with the house because it is rented and not officially church property, but we bring them along as council and assistance with the contract.  In the end it all worked out.  We informed them that we are looking into leaving early based on the circumstances of the house, but either way we will be making sure the house is all fixed up before we leave.  New Floors, New Plumbing system, new windows... The works. They will start coming in next week to begin repairs.  

I am sending photos from the last two weeks since I think I didn't send any last week. Last week we went to the Mate Park.  All they do there is make Mates and sell them .  That is what the whole park is about.  Nothing else.  Pretty fun, and needless to say... I bought a few mates.  
Elder Holmes and a Mate - I hope he didn't buy
that one.... ha-ha

Mate Park

Mate Park

Mate Park

Today for P-Day we went back to the Trout Farm in Ingenio. The best trout. Ever. Took a few pictures there and then called it a day.  Pretty simple, but totally worth it.

The Lego Guy is back - thanks to the family back home!

I don't think much more happened this week. Emergency Transfers, Immigration Paperwork LIKE ALWAYS, a few calls to the International Help Desk of the Church.  Global Support.  :)

Hope all is well at home for all of you.  I'm doing great here.  There are some times.... Well, many times that I am very tired here... But in the end.  I love it.  Things are good here.

Hope all is good with you guys.

Elder Holmes
Huancayo, Perú

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Week in Review - January 3, 2016 - January 15, 2016

At the Mission President's home - All the office staff in the
mission office, Elder Holmes in the background.
Sorry I didn't write last week, it was kinda for two reasons.   It was beyond busy, and two is that there was nothing new to really write you all.  I will kinda explain why..

So, the reason we were planning to go to Lima was to do immigration documentation for the Entire Mission, because it is the new year and it is a requirement that we pay a tax for each missionary in person.  To avoid the whole IN PERSON Thing, we did Power of Attorneys for the whole mission in my name and in the names of a few other individuals so that we could do this extensive process for them.  However, when President was informing the area presidency that we were all leaving the mission and going to Lima to do the paperwork, and President was as well to do his own paperwork for another reason in immigration, they only responded saying that President Henderson had permission to go.  This debate of how we will do these documents went back and forth until it got up to Elder Hugo Montoya and then he contacted the Area Offices and got us what we wanted.  Woah!  But, as a result of that only President needed to go to Lima and we hung out here in Huancayo.  Its ok though, I had a mountain of paperwork to do for the following group coming into the mission and the group leaving to go home.  

Basically, my job here in the Office as the Personal Secretary consists of a bunch of immigration paperwork, mini legal stuff if it shows up here - like our house which I will explain in a bit, as well as any other item that finds itself on my desk.  Special Interviews, Elders or Sisters going home early for many different reasons, Area Homework Assignments, etc...

For example, as you might have heard, we have received informal instruction from the Church that all of the transfer dates after March have been moved forward 1 week because of new changes in the MTC'S worldwide. So in all of our records in Global Visa Management, or IMOS or anything else we use here in the mission, they have to be updated so we can have the ability to purchase plane tickets, and many other items that we cannot do if they are not updated...  

One side note about that, I received a training this last week in the form of a Webinar - of which they used the California Redlands Mission as an example for how to use the new and updated program of IMOS. I got to see the missionaries in my home mission, as well as our Ward and Stake Assignments when we were doing the webinar.  This webinar was worldwide and I had to take advantage of it.  So I called in with our webcam and microphones.  It took 4 different chances to finally make it work from here in Perú, but I got it to work!  Asked my question, and it was heard worldwide!  Woo!  It was saved on the records of the training videos so I can go back later and watch it if I desire to do so...Fun little bragging note to be able to say.  haha.  I think with my question that I made, I might have stumped them.  We will see in the next version of the program that comes out. Version 3.4501  Elder Holmes Edition.  hahaha

Another topic that we are trying to address this last few weeks is that of our house.  Where we live is considered the Mission House.  Where the office elders live and sleep, and also where all missionaries that are finishing their missions or coming to the mission stay and eat and sleep. This house is also used for the days each month in which the zone leaders come to the office and receive training for one day and then return to their areas.  So, in maximum this house needs to have a maximum capacity of beds for 35 persons.  Finding a decent house of this size is a difficult challenge in any circumstances, even a bit harder here in Perú. The house we are currently staying in we are spending a pretty Peruvian penny every month and the house truthfully isn't worth what we are paying for it, we many times do NOT have water, even with the two spare 600+ liter each tanks.  The power shuts off constantly in the mornings, and the house itself is so old it needs a remodel that we simply cannot give it.  So, I am adjusting the Peruvian Contract that we have with the house and just this week began negotiations with the Landlady so we can break the one year contract early.  This is the 3rd year that we are renting this house and it is time to leave.  We believe we have found a new house, but in order for us to make that contract we have to cut the current one.  
One of the most fun parts of this is that the house is fairly destroyed based off of elders that come and visit, break something and then leave without telling anyone.  We have pulled up wood tiles in multiple rooms, additional water pipes installed by ex-elders that are against the contract, broken windows, broken doors, etc... It needs some help and love, something we are trying to resolve by leaving early, paying a bunch and just cleaning our hands and running like wolves after that contract is signed.  Ugh... Fun, but at the same time a bit stressful.

Another legal thing we are finding ourselves in is a problem with our office building.  As seen above, we have a HUGE Tower of a building being built AGAINST our building.  the Mission office.  Just as a note, Setbacks DO NOT EXIST HERE.  They use our own walls to built up their buildings.  It is just crazy.  Anyways, right where all that stuff on the roof is is right over President Henderson's head, and yes, stuff does fall with surprisingly frequency.  So, we are also working with that as well.  

Food Note.  So for all the training we have to buy food.  I usually go to Real Plaza and buy all the food.  But as always, maybe as part of the new culture involving being on time with Fast Food Orders, we are trying to help them come more on time as we make probably the biggest orders they have ever seen, and with much frequency.  I mean really though, when they come over 1 hour late, that is when I just become a bit angry.  So, I call them.  I talk to their owners in their stores in the food court.  All of them.  My name has gotten around, and they know that the Gringo is coming it could mean he will buy a lot of food, or he will get a bit angry and ask for free food or free stuff because of their tardiness.  Well its working... 

They are all calling me ahead of time now, and if they come late, they bring free stuff, we even had this last week the manager of KFC come to our office and apologize for coming late in the past and that they are trying to fix their errors and make it better for the future. And they have given me 9 additional liters of Inca Kola for free because they wanted to help mend the wall with us. Great!  If anything they are learning that the hour is to be respected, especially with the hour of food!  

All in all that is what is going down here in the Office.  A bunch of immigration paperwork, sending people home early, coordinating Flights, eating packages from my grandparents (yes, I got them all, thanks!) and from Home as well, new Lego guy to replace the other one left behind on Huatapayllana.  yup.  Pretty Normal.  

Hope all is going well for you all!

Elder Holmes

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Week in Review - December 26, 2015 - January 1, 2016

[We had asked Elder Holmes a few questions and here are some of his answers?]

Tell me a bit about Paneton there in Peru? We see it here at Target, TJ Maxx and the grocery store. Click Here to see what Paneton looks like. It reminds me of my great-grandmother's recipe for Norwegian Christmas Bread. Looks very similar.

There is Paneton here in every store, and if you go to the super markets, they are lined down the isles, more than 1 isle is devoted (BOTH SIDES) to just Paneton.  Its crazy how much everybody loves it here, personally I'm getting tired of it... 

So are there transfers coming up and new missionaries arriving soon?

Yes, there are new missionaries that come in next week, and yes it is super busy here with all of that and getting the missionaries that are finishing this transfer out of here.  The transfer is on the 12th, so we have to get all of that figured out as well.  SO MUCH IMMIGRATION PAPERWORK.  And so many little things to plan with the newbies and the older guys in the mission.  Trainings, paperwork, food, sleeping, everything... but it works out well.  

When you travel with the Mission President and his wife throughout the mission, do you stay at members homes or in a hotel?

When we go traveling (Which isn't very often) yes we do stay in hotels.  On this last trip I stayed in the following hotels.. - The Jungle Hotel - The Huanuco Hotel

And during these stays, we do eat out, sometimes with President, but mostly by ourselves as the office....

For example:

[I'm not sure about the other browsers, but if you use Google Chrome, it will recognize that the web pages are in Spanish and it will prompt you and asked if you would like the web page translated.]

Side Note here in the office.  There has been a change up in some of the order here.  I have a new companion, but he is also from the office.  We did some change ups within the office, based on time and a few other factors.  For example, something that this new change up includes is that the Assistants to President will be only in the office about 2 days a week. The rest of the time they will be in their own area (new area, they are leaving today to learn about their new area in another part of this city, Huancayo)  

The secretaries (us) also are involved in this, but slightly different.  They understand we spend way more time in the office, based on our responsibilities and other items of business we have to take care of. So, I have a new companion (Elder Compton - Financial Secretary) and Elder Islas is now with Elder Collantes, and they also have been assigned to a new ward. So, the only ones staying here in this ward would be us two.  Once we hit February, we think we will have a bit more time that we might actually be able to get out and proselyte. I really hope so, but we shall see based on our crazy schedules.  

We all still live together, and will be breakfasting together, but the other meals are taken care of with Pensions in our areas.  So, that in itself is a planning nightmare, ha-ha, but all should come out better in about 2 weeks after the official transfer. But we have officially made this the transfer since yesterday.  And I thought the transfers for me wouldn't get any crazier.  Woah.  

Side note as well, this next week we will be going to Lima to do Immigrations paperwork for the whole mission.  Every year the foreigners have to get their foreigner cards renewed, and it is a strenuous process, and less then pleasant, and if done incorrectly means that all the missionaries have to travel from their areas in our mission, and leave to go to Lima for about 4 days in total.  We would have to shut down the mission for like a week, and we cannot have that.  So, here we go to Lima.  We will be leaving on Wednesday Morning by bus, and will be coming back by plane to Huancayo on Friday just in time to get all the other paperwork ready for the next group coming in and leaving the mission on the 12th of January.  Do we ever sleep?  haha [There is a blog post from his mission president about a year ago, that shows the type of airplane Elder Holmes will fly back in and the actual small airport. Scroll down a bit and you will see the pictures and read about flying in high altitude, which he will be flying in. Click Here to read. It sounds like an adventure. Can't wait to hear how it turns out.]

So, with this Temple trip, it looks like we will get the opportunity to go to Lima and also visit the Temple.  It should be a trip for the books, we will also be going to the Area offices to get the paperwork started and finalized for our missionaries, as well as make a few purchases that can only be made in Lima because these items simply don't exist here in Huancayo.  

New Years was a blast, there were fireworks ALL OVER THE PLACE and even a few entered the houses of our neighbors, so when that began to happen, we decided it would be best to get off of our roof, [The roofs in Peru are flat and are considered another floor in their building.] and go inside the house, because they were launching for all sides of everywhere!  Ahhh! 

Also, we should know who the new mission President Is this week, and you guys should find out at the end of the week on Mormon Newsroom or on, whichever comes first. Woah, that will be weird, new mission president for one transfer, I won't have a problem of that, but it will just be weird to explain all the things to him, and show all the stuff that has happened in this mission in the process of opening an area that was just little towns in the eyes of the church, and now is growing and getting ready for something more... [The announcement should be next week, but the 'change of command' won't happen until July 2016.]

Hope your new years was successful, and you are all enjoying the time you have with your families, I miss you all, and It is starting to hit me how much time I have, or left, as there are people coming home, getting married, and starting families (Amanda Washburn, I need to talk to you!)  I'm just having a blast down here in Perú!

Elder Holmes
Huancayo, Perú