Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pachamanca for Christmas!

Hey guys!! Things are going good. I am glad you guys had a good Christmas. Things weren’t too bad here I guess. After I skyped you guys, I went back to Pampas with Elder Fitzgerald. That night we didn’t do anything....everyone else stayed in Huancayo and went and sang in the plaza in Huancayo and watched fireworks. Elder Fitzgerald had an appointment that next day so we went back. I read all of your letters you sent me in my package and they were the best. Seriously. Thank you guys so much! They are what got me through the holiday, with a few tears (don’t tell anyone). But still, it was good—thank you.

On Christmas morning we went to see this family who lives in Ocorro. Ocorro is this pueblo outside of Pampas that has like 150 people, and that’s being generous I think. We just talked with them and they fed us lunch. We ate pachamanca. It’s potatoes and meat and corn they cook in this like brick hut thing under the ground. Yes, the meat we ate was cuye (guinea pig). Haha. It was really slippery and hard to chew. But oh well. We shared a message with them and it was good. We came back really late because the car that was coming to pick us up got lost. But yeah, that was my Christmas!! You guys made it really great—thank you!

I don’t know what is going to happen these transfers. It will be interesting to see. I think that I am going to leave. Elder Fitzgerald will probably leave because he has 4 months here and I am finishing my training. The same thing happened with Elderes Torres and Rasmussen last transfer. I hope I do. I am ready for some change. I have got to admit that I wouldn’t mind going and serving in Huánuco. I have heard a lot of good things about it as well. But who knows, the next time I email you guys I could be in a whole different place!!

I am reading the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants every day. I actually found something kind of funny. It kind of shocks me how mean God is to Joseph Smith sometimes haha. He like yells at him and publicly embarrasses him…but it’s for a good cause. It just shows that even the prophet who restored the gospel lacked some things and wasn’t perfect.

I love you guys and hope everything goes well. I will email you next week!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Had a great visit with the family! One of the members has a business and he had computers/internet in the back, so we were able to Skype with our families! It was awesome! Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Multiple Blessings!

Hey guys! Well things are going well. We have been working a lot with that family I told you about last week and they are doing really good. We have been teaching them and the kid continues to want to learn, so that is good. I gave Hermana Villanueva a blessing because she was sick and it was awesome!

Yesterday (Sunday) we had Stake Conference in Huancayo. This last Saturday we had a baptism. It wasn’t technically my investigators but it was a family that Elder Fitzgerald and I have kind of been teaching together. Remember the brother that was having problems with his wife? It was his niece and her son that we baptized. You have no idea how happy they were. The baptism was kind of funny. It was at this like trout farm in one of the ponds. It was pretty dirty water but it was cool. Fitzgerald baptized Monica and I baptized her son Joaquin. They are really happy to be part of the church.

About 4 weeks ago we had a lesson with this brother. He was having a hard time because his family isn’t members. He is the only one. During the lesson, I felt prompted to promise him that through his example and works his family would join the church. Well, I was thinking about his immediate family; but not too many days later, he got a call from his sister who he hasn’t talked to in 14 years. They were in Pampas and wanted to talk. When they talked, they said they saw a change in him from the last time that they had seen him. He said he was a member of our church now and they got really interested because they liked the change. It just goes to show that the Lord really does fulfil his promises. I was totally thinking about his immediate family but sometimes (in my opinion most of the time) the Lord works in a different way than what we are thinking. I hope you guys know how blessed we are and the things we have to offer to other people. The kids don’t even know who Santa is down here, but everyone knows who Jesus Christ is. Kind of interesting right? I love you guys!!

Monday, December 15, 2014


Hey guys!!! Well this week was pretty normal again, sorry. This next Sunday is stake conference for us and the stake presidency and our mission president are coming! It is going to be crazy I am sure! There is an area seventy that has been saying to close down Pampas, but the stake president doesn’t think so yet. It should be interesting to see what he thinks when he sees me running the CD player we have for music. See mom, I never had to take piano!!

A couple of weeks ago we switched pensionista’s. It is not Hermana Luisa anymore. She is moving to Huancayo I think. My new pensionista is the lady I baptized, Hermana Albina! She is really nice and things are going fine.

This is the "Golden Forest" that we hiked to last week.

This last week there was a huuuuuge fire next door to our house. Someone’s house was on fire! We didn’t see it start because it was when we came home after the day. Of course there is no fire department so we started throwing water on it. Lots of buckets of water! The fire burned down the house (which was a little shack thing). It was nuts! Babies crying and everything. Thankfully it all worked out okay.

So lately we have been visiting this less active lady and her son. Her son is a major drunk and he treats his mom like crap. I chewed him out the other night when we had a meeting with them and he was high and drunk, but everything turned out well. Since then, we have had 2 more meetings with him and he has changed so much. Seriously I have been praying he will want to change and he does! He says he wants to help other people and a bunch of stuff like that. It is so crazy the changes people have when they start living the gospel seriously. It is so nice to see. It’s so much better for his mom as well. Tonight we are going to have a family home evening with them!

I got the Christmas package! I gave my companion his stocking. He looooooved that stocking guys. Seriously! They don’t do those in Bolivia, so I explained it to him. He said he is keeping it and taking it home. Don’t worry I am sharing my other things too.

It’s interesting watching the kids notice me on the streets. They look at me like I am some evil person haha. They are like amazed. I like scaring all the kids here, it is what gets me through the day—and yeah, I am definitely bigger than most down here. The poverty and schooling is kind of like Guatemala. They go to these little schools that are like huts, but it is okay and they seem happy. It’s really sad to think about the life these kids have had and are going to have.

I miss you all more than you can imagine. Especially during this holiday. I am going to miss sledding and eating waffles and strawberries….I am here for a reason and I know you guys are being blessed because of it, and you guys are beyond worth it! Things are going well here. I love and miss you guys so much. I am so proud of my awesome family. I pray for you all in your callings and activities.  I know how hard it is. Thanks for all the great advice. Love you!

Elder Durante

Monday, December 8, 2014

I'm a Legal Immigrant!

Hey guys! Well, I was in Lima last week to get my immigration papers taken care of and everything went well but migrations took a long time. No one from my group went to Lima with me. I met up with the new kids just out of the CCM who were going to Huancayo. One of the kids that was with me stayed in the same room that I did in the camp. It was funny because when I saw him he was like, “uhh....Elder Durante, don’t think I am weird or anything but I slept in the same bed as you in the CCM.” Haha. He saw my name that I wrote there; I also hid a spoon in the district room where we learned Spanish and they all said that it is still there!! I stayed in a hotel in Lima and while in Lima, there were so many white people trying to talk to me in English and I just kind of froze. It is hard for me to speak in English now, I felt handicapped! Haha.

I am in Huancayo this week for a zone Pday. Nothing new happened this week. Yesterday was fast and testimony meeting and it was good! I shared my testimony and it all went well. Today we are going to this like forest thing I think. I have no idea what it is but it should be good.

I hope you got pictures of the baptism from Elder Rojas. He said he would send them to you guys. We are teaching some people that are serious Catholics right now and they accepted a baptismal date for the 13th of December. They are going to have to work really hard to get to that date. I don’t think they will be ready by then because they don’t want to attend church (kind of an important part if they want to be baptized) but we are doing everything that we can. We are also teaching a guy named Alejandro C. He has a big problem with the palabra de sabiduria (word of wisdom). President Henderson said that our job here in Pampas is to reactivate and support the branch president, not so much baptism. The branch president has been here for 6 years and is about as frustrated as I am.

This week I also tried to teach my Latin companion how to pray in English. He seriously struggles so hard with it. Elder Arnez is the only member in his family and he has been a member for 2 years. It’s hard to help him but we are going to continue to work. I am so happy that I am getting the chance to write you guys right now. I am so lucky to have a family that is as spiritual and awesome as you guys. Tell the kids to keep working hard and they will be rewarded. Ok, I'm going to go shine my shoes or go to the bathroom, cause that's all I seem to do here in Pampas "Gucci". I love you guys!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Progress in Pampas!

Hola!! Well my first transfer/change is over. I have a new dad!!! That’s what they call your trainers here. His name is Elder Arnez and he is from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. He has been out 6 months longer than me and he doesn’t speak a lick of English. Haha. Elder Torres and Elder Rasmussen left, so elder Fitzgerald also has a new companion; his name is Elder Rojas and he is from Santa Cruz as well. I have a lot to write about and the computers are extra slow today so I can’t send pictures (I don’t think). Sorry.

First of all I received packages from everyone!!! Thanks sooooooo much I loved it. I thought I had developed patience until I saw those Swedish fish and then devoured them. Haha. I am playing with all my fun stuff. Thank you guys so much.

Last Pday we hiked to a waterfall and it was crazy pretty! It was in a place outside of Huancayo called Miraflores.

Alright guys I have a little bit of a surprise......I had my first baptism this last Saturday! Her name is Albina Diaz Huaman. She has been meeting with the missionaries for the last 8 years and she has finally gotten baptized. Her son was able to be baptized the same day but the companion of Elder Fitzgerald baptized him. I taught them some but they were primarily the investigators of Elder Fitzgerald and Elder Rasmussen. She asked me if I could baptize her, especially because Elder Fitzgerald had to conduct. The service was crazy. The branch president left the morning of the service without doing a single thing, so Elder Fitzgerald and I had to plan it all. It all worked out but it was hard. I baptized her in this nasty community pool place. The original place was totally full so we had to go to a different place for the baptism—it was an actual pool, kind of like a rec center, just Peruvian style and nasty. Seriously it was nasty! Afterwards, I was like all itchy and I had to go back to our place and shower. Elder Fitzgerald had to conduct the whole service so he wasn’t able to baptize anyone. The place is so disorganized here, it’s crazy.

Next week I am going to Lima for my immigrations, I think. I don’t believe that I will be able to write. I am going to try, but if you guys don’t get anything from me that is why. I will have lots of fun stuff to write about though when I get back. It will all work out I am sure. Oh, I have to go. Thanks for everything. I hope I can write next week but if I can’t just know that I love you guys!!! I can’t wait to hear from you guys again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Onward, Ever Onward!

Hey guys!!! Well not a lot has happened. I am feeling a lot better.  This week we had divisions with the zone leaders which was pretty fun. I went to Huancayo and taught with Elder Lopez. It was way fun. It was nice working with Elder Lopez in Huancayo because it actually felt like I was helping people compared to how slow it is in Pampas. I hope for better days.  We are in Huancayo today because the zone leaders wanted to have one last Pday as a zone before the transfer. I don’t think I am going to be transferred this time, but who knows! President could suddenly decide he wants to. I love the days we travel to Huancayo, even though the drive sucks, haha—it’s an hour and a half basically on a dirt road.

I am sending those pictures of the Wawas that we made. In the photo with me are Elders Torres, Fitzgerald, and Rasmussen. I gave Elder Rasmussen the nick name “The Rassinator” and he really likes it. We are the 4 missionaries in Pampas. Oh, by the way, I am the ward mission leader and I teach the gospels principles class every week. It is so hard to run the church. There is virtually no member support, but we pray and work hard and keep doing our best.

To answer your questions, when I got to the CCM we received some Spanish books, a dictionary, and a couple other little things. When I got to Huancayo I got a water filtration bottle, a blanket, and a debit card. The water bottle is awesome I use it a lot. We have a cell phone that we use to communicate with. I miss my cell phone, but I miss you guys more! Every month we use our debit card from the mission and we get to take out like $90 for personal use and $168 for “pasajes” which is travel expenses and things like that. I’ve been eating a lot. We have beans, rice, and some sort of meat usually. Our pensionista fixes everything.

One thing I really like is called, “pollo a la brasa”. It’s chicken and a bunch fries and we cover it in ketchup and mayonnaise—it’s really good.  Yesterday I got a package from Nana! It was filled with all kinds of food, haha. I really miss you guys. It’s gone by pretty slow lately. I am glad that everything back home is going well. That is so cool that Dane is doing well and Rachel has the school play coming up. I hope Kenna had a good birthday. I love you guys so much.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

To The "Rescue"

Hey guys!!! This week was alright. I have been having a lot of stomach problems. I hate it so much, it makes being a missionary so freaking hard. We had zone conference on Friday in Huancayo. I got to see the guys that I was in the CCM with. There is one elder that I’m pretty close with, Elder Tolbert, that I was able to see. He is from Cache Valley and went to Mountain Crest—he knows Anthony, Jack, and all them. While I was at the office, I got a package!! It was the Halloween package. Thank you guys so much, it made me so happy. I haven’t eaten hardly any of the candy because of my stomach. I have been eating crackers and all kinds of voodoo drinks—probably some of which are illegal (at least they would be in the states). I hate eating like this though. I feel like a woman. This week I also got letters from the Hunters and Brooke! I love getting stuff from you guys.

I am really trying to be more descriptive in my letters because I cannot send voice recordings here in Pampas; they take too long to load. But I do have a recording of all the questions you guys asked last week and I have all these pictures and stuff of making wawas but I can’t send them. Dang it! I. It was fun making the wawas, they make sooo many!!!! No joke, and the day of the dead was hard because nobody wanted to listen, they all went to the cemetery and drank. It was fun though because we made the wawas with that less active family we are teaching.

Speaking of Pampas. It might be getting shut down this next transfer. It makes me sad but I think that it’s going to be closed. We are having zero progress here and it sucks so much. I read a book this last week. Yes! I, Will Durante, read a book. It’s called, The Missionaries Little Book of Inspirational Stories. It seriously has changed me. I am applying everything that I learned. You have no idea how amazing some of the stuff is. I can’t believe my first transfer is almost up!!! I am so happy.

So in our mission, especially here in Pampas the mission president really stresses helping less actives. This mission used to be the Lima East mission and their theme was that “we baptize weekly”, and that’s true they did, but they baptized a ton that wasn’t followed up with and they became less actives. haha. so here if we get a "rescue" it’s basically considered a baptism. We have to teach all the lessons to a less active and they have to have an interview with the branch president. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s what we have to do. We knock doors and schedule meetings with less actives or investigators, but I got to be totally honest, this area it hard, we schedule 8 meetings a day generally and MAYBE we have 1. It sucks! No one really knows what to do here about it either. It is really depressing; they haven’t had a baptism here in 6 months. It’s going to get shut down I know it. People are nice but just don’t care. The mission is so much different than what I thought it would be. We are teaching this one less active family and they are going to be “rescues” pretty soon I am sure. Today I am feeling a LITTLE better. I stayed in for a day because my stomach hurt so badly. It’s really hard to be a missionary while you are sick-haha. Being sick gives you more time to think and I have thought a lot about home, but I read a talk today from Jeffrey R. Holland that really helped me.

Nothing new has really happened, my Spanish is better and things are going well. It has been raining a lot lately and I love my rain coat. It is my best friend. It will be interesting to see where I will be in a transfer or two. This week I have had a lot of time to think about you guys because we have been slow and I haven’t felt good. I really appreciate everything you guys do and I can’t wait to see you guys again. Please be grateful for every single thing you have, including toilet paper! People carry it here in their purses and cars because when you need to go, you drop your pants and go. Haha. Yeah..... it’s hard to get used to. I wish the best for all of you and your efforts. I will talk to you guys again soon!!! I love you guys so much, please never forget it.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Wawa Week

Hey guys. Well this week has been crazy! They celebrate the “Day of the Dead” and everything down here. It is basically just an excuse to drink. We got to make these bread things called “Wawas”.  We wanted to send pictures this week but the internet is being super slow! I will try to send pictures of me making the wawas next week. It was so fun. Super hard but fun!!! Last night I found out that I have a package waiting for me at the office. We have a multi-zone conference on Friday, so when we get to Huancayo, I will pick it up.

T’anta Wawas (“bread babies” in Quechua) are a type of sweet roll shaped and decorated in the form of a small child or infant. They are generally made of wheat and sometimes contain a sweet filling. They are made and eaten as part of ancestral rites in Andean regions of Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, the south of Colombia, and the north of Argentina, mainly on All Souls' Day. Companion breads shaped like ladders (so the souls of the dead can climb up to heaven), stars, crosses, or angels with wings to help children and babies to rise to heaven are also made. The breads are an important part of family rituals that are associated with Día de los Muertos (October 31), All Saints Days (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2) in Peru. During this time, native customs mix with religious beliefs and some families visit cemeteries carrying a feast for the dead that includes the wawas, tamales and roasted pig. There is a belief that the dead will return to earth if they see they are being remembered by their families and friends. A picnic, with a place set for the dead, is held at the grave site in the hope of enticing the dead to return. Celebrations in areas outside of major cities are even more tied to superstition and can be quite festive because some Andean villagers believe the dead will rise from their graves at midnight to join in the feast. While city dwellers are less enthusiastic, they too, visit the cemeteries and leave small offerings for their dead.

We are thinking about dropping Sheyla because she isn’t progressing. We are teaching this guy named Eliseo. His cousin just died and he is having a hard time. We taght him the plan of salvation and it was one of the most powerful lessons. I got to bear my testimny about KJ and it was awesome!

I really want to have some success. It has been pretty difficult and depressing. It looks like I am going to be the second counselor in the branch presidency I guess. I have included a photo of our pensionista, Hermana Luisa.

You guys are having such cool experiences. I love it. I hope everyone knows how much I love them. You guys are so amazing. I have the world’s most amazing family.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What bugs you?

Hey guys! I am in Pampas this week for Pday and I am having a bit of a hard time with the internet. We email at this café type place. am waiting for my voice clip to load and it is taking forever.  I took a picture of your questions and will try to answer all of them. Everything is going good.  My pensionista found mom on Facebook. She is going to email you during the week I think. My pensionista’s name is Hermana Luisa. She fixes 3 meals for us—lots of carbs. I am eating a lot! I am always hungry haha. Good thing there are little stores all over the place!!! We are eating so much bread though and I am getting bigger. I try and do stuff every morning. I am starting to look like a man. Yes.... that includes having to shave everyday haha. I really miss milk. I like my apartment. It’s nice.

Our church is literally an old cement house. I gave a message on prayer yesterday and it went well. You literally have no idea how embarrassing it is to bring investigators to our church especially when there are huge catholic churches in the plaza here. It is hard to baptize down here because so many people live together and aren’t married. We have run into that problem a lot! Looks like the 1st counselor is probably going to get a divorce. It is really sad and it’s hard to help him. Yesterday I was teaching this family and a girl asked me a question, she asked if it was normal for people not to want children? I asked her if she had her patriarchal blessing and she had no idea what that was. They are an inactive family and I think that the desire of her wanting this blessing is going to reactivate them.

It rained so hard yesterday and since we are in the mountains, the thunder was soooo loud! It was kind of scary haha. The dogs are still really annoying and scary. I took on this monster dog the other day. It was freaking huge. The bugs aren’t too bad here yet, but the fleas are the worst! We go into people’s houses and teach and then walk out with fleas.

Are you guys instagraming some of my photos? I have to keep my insta game strong haha! Well, I love you guys so much and I will try to answer all your questions next week!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Glacier at Huaytapallana

Hey guys! Well, sorry I am writing so late. We went to a mountain called Huaytapallana. It was so intense. I am in Huancayo again this week for Pday so I will be sending pictures if I can! I am in Huancayo because we went on a hike as a zone. The hike was a glacier. It was amazing, but hard. The hike was easily the hardest one I have been on. It was so crazy but beautiful!

I am feeling much better so don’t worry! I haven’t received any packages yet but I am thankful you guys are trying. It sounds like everything is going well. I have been attacked by so many dogs. They are so mean. I have drilled some with rocks. It’s totally acceptable down here and I love it—haha.

Pampas has dirt roads and cobblestone. We go into villages to teach and it is crazy poor. Like I don’t know how people live in it. Whenever we pray, everyone does these weird chant things and we have to tell them to stop. I also have been asked to bless a house for evil spirits, but luckily I didn’t have to do that. We are working with this girl, Sheyla, hoping she will be baptized this Saturday the 25th. Pray for her. She knows everything she needs to for baptism but she is hesitant. She is 14 and wants to be baptized but doesn’t know what to do. I think she is scared.

Pampas is really hard because there are a lot of members but none are active. It kind of sucks but there are some good people. There is a rule we can’t teach young women alone because of certain circumstances. I seriously have been put in so many weird situations. I am basically a counselor down here. I had a lady ask me what she should do. She has a tumor that is getting worse and she wants to have a baby. The doctors tell her she needs to have the baby now, but she isn’t pregnant and doesn’t even have a boyfriend...They call me “Doctor Will”. I have also given soooo many blessing for the sick. It is really hard for me to do them in Spanish so I need to study more. The Priesthood is crazy powerful!  Another challenge this week—I guess the first counselor of the branch presidency is having marriage problems and his wife wants a divorce. She is not a member. He is the only one in his family that is a member and it is hard for him. She hates him and is really mean. The church is so different here. I blessed the sacrament with a dog sitting right next to the sacrament table. I teach the Old Testament class and I also shared my testimony (in Spanish—claro!) because it was fast Sunday.

Thanks for everything you have done. I miss you! I love you guys and hope everything continues to go well. Thanks for your prayers. I have definitely felt them!!

Elder Durante