Wednesday, September 24, 2014

2 for you but 3 for me!

Hey guys. Well, I am officially an “advansado”! (“Advansado” means you have been in the CCM for 4 weeks) I am seriously so excited to get out of the CCM, but at the same time I am kind of nervous. I am ready to make relationships with real people and have it be the real deal. This week was nothing too special. The only thing we did out of the ordinary was that we went proselyting—for my second time. Normally, the second time you go proselyting, you go with a Latino to be totally immersed in the language and then the third time you go, you take a “principiante” (new missionary) and have the role as the senior companion because they haven’t gone yet. Well, guess who got paired with a “principiante”? Yup, me. When this happened I was like, “okay whatever”. But when we were planning what we were going to do for that day, I got called over, for a second, by one of the head honchos. He asked me (in front of everyone) on a scale from 1 to 10 how well I understood Spanish. I said around a 7. Then my teacher jumped in out of nowhere and says, “No, he is an 8. The guy does great!” and then they gave me ANOTHER “principiante” to take with me. I am seriously forever to be stuck in a trio.

I have come up with a theory about my situation. Conspiracy? When it comes to preplanned things, my name seems to always be in conjunction with trios. I have come to the conclusion that there was one kid who was supposed to go to Huancayo with us but never showed. He was supposed to be my companion—I hope he is okay. There is no reason for me to be in a trio. Teaching went well though. I definitely felt the spirit a lot more this time; probably because I had to do a lot more of the talking. Lucky me! Then I found out that it was our last time proselyting before we head out into the field—because the third time we are supposed to go, it is going to be General Conference.

I still haven’t been feeling the best. I am having a hard time breathing. It feels like there is stuff in my lungs. I cough nonstop. Oh well. That was definitely the highlight of this week. I love you guys so much!!! Happy Birthday Dane!!!!!! I am so sorry that I am not there buddy. I hope it’s absolutely amazing. Please keep all the missionaries in your prayers. We need them. I miss you guys so much. I can’t wait to write you all again next week! Love you!

Elder Durante

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Worth of a Soul

Hey guys. This week has gone by really fast, but at the same time very slow. I have missed you guys a lot this week! I miss seeing you all every day. It’s seriously all the same here and that is so crazy!! I got super sick this week by the way. This week was definitely the hardest. I am writing in my journal and flossing every night! The clothes we packed traveled great! I still have a suitcase fully packed. It’s hard being in a trio, but it’s nice to have 3 people’s opinions. One of my comps is from Cache Valley and the other from Indiana. They both got 34’s on the ACT—haha. There are 8 in our district. Our district leader just changed. It was Elder Bell and now it’s Elder Bush. I go proselyting again this Saturday! Oh, I let some missionary named Elder Jensen cut my hair! We committed our first pretend investigator to baptism!

Probably the best thing that happened this week was we listened to another prerecorded video of an apostle. The apostle who spoke was Elder Christofferson. He talked about the worth of souls. There are a couple of points that I found pretty interesting. The first one is what determines the worth of a soul. Elder Christofferson said that the worth of a soul is its capacity to become like God. Isn’t that what we are all trying to do? Satan is bent on destroying or slowing down the progression of souls. If he can get us to think that we aren’t worth anything, he has done his job. There is a quote from C.S. Lewis I really like, it says, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal." Within us all live possible gods and goddesses. I really like this because it dawned on me that the majority of people judge people strictly off their looks or living conditions. Just because other people have less than us doesn’t mean they deserve any less knowledge of who they really are. I could be the reason they decide to makes changes in their life. Elder Christofferson said when people feel the love of Christ through you; they will begin to feel the infinite worth of their souls. We need to get them to know themselves like God knows them.

I hope you all know and feel of my love for you guys. I pray that you guys will be safe and be successful every day! I’ve been able to pray in Spanish for the last couple weeks or so and it’s honestly my favorite thing to do. I have received so many answers to things I have prayed and fasted about already! It’s super fun to hear about all your experiences and adventures. I wish I was there for them but I know that this is what I need to do. I love you all soooooooo much. I will talk to you guys again soon! Only 3 more weeks here! Wooohooo!....then I will have a little more freedom and can send pictures! Thanks for all you guys have done and still do for me.


Elder Durante

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Papers Please?!!

Hola familia!

Holy smokes I can’t believe it has been another week since we last talked. So much has happened—I miss being able to tell you all about it as soon as it happens, but I will do my best to tell you now! On Friday the 5th, we had to go to immigration to sign some papers for our residence here. When we arrived they didn't have my papers or passport. So, I followed them all into a waiting room where all the missionaries waited to go get their papers signed. While I was waiting, I was kind of separated from the group because they had forgotten my things at the CCM. About 15 minutes in, I found out that I had to go back to the CCM…alone! That is a whole different experience I will tell you about in a minute. But, because I was separated from the group during the waiting period, I had the chance to talk to this guy and his cousin! (in Spanish by the way). They were Catholics and didn't like the church here because of all the singing and loud stuff?!  I found out that he is a firefighter close to the CCM. He and his cousin really liked what I had to say about our church and wanted to check it out. I didn't know the address to our nearest church so I gave them my email and the address to the CCM.  After I did that, it was time for me to leave. I shook both of their hands and told them we would be in touch.

I was then basically thrown into this car BY MYSELF and got a ride back to the CCM. It was seriously scary though! They had me like sign this piece of blank paper (I think they found it on the street) and then told me to get into the car. I was kind of freaked out. I sat there thinking of weapons that I had and ways to potentially end this man’s life if needs be. The guy was a maniac driving and he went a totally different direction than we had taken to immigration-which didn’t help me stay calm. I then had to go back by myself to sign the papers everyone else did on Monday, luckily that went smoothly.

That next day we went proselyting. It was seriously ridiculous how poor the part of Lima was that we were in. The Lima south mission is sooooo poor. It was easily Guatemala poor, maybe even a little worse. It was like disgusting how many dogs we saw and how many piles of crap that I almost stepped in-some of which I don’t think were just from dogs, if you catch my drift. The companion I was with was an airhead. He would have died like 5 times if I didn’t move him from getting hit by one of those small “tutu” taxis. The people’s addresses were spray painted onto the sides of their houses, like graffiti, so it was really hard to find the less active members; but the people I did talk to were so receptive. They are so willing to take 20 minutes out of their day and listen to you. Not to mention give you the little food that they have—which we couldn’t eat because we did a 24 hour fast this last weekend. I gave out my first Book of Mormon and everything went well with the teaching. It was seriously humbling to see the kind of filth people live in and to see how happy they were. I love you guys so much though. I pray and think about you all so much. I love praying in Spanish. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I am seriously speaking it so well. Teaching is going awesome. I try to help the missionaries in my district that aren’t doing too well. I look forward to every P-day that I get to hop on for an hour and see how you guys are doing. I know you all are doing big things and are becoming the people you need to be. I love you guys and hope you all realize how blessed we are to have the things we do. Since we have so much, we too must serve others.

Yours truly,

Elder Durante

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First letter from the MTC!

This has been the longest week of my life. So much has happened. We got to the CCM, also known as the centro de capacitacion misional, around 2:00 in the morning--4 and a half hours later I was awake and on the move. We do a lot of the same things everyday. We wake up, shower, get ready and then go to breakfast. The showers here have no consistency whatsoever. They either feel like you are taking a shower in the Underworld with Satan, or you are in the Arctic. But, it's Awesome! After we get ready, we eat breakfast. There is no variety.  We get 2 eggs and 2 pieces of bread--breakfast of champions! Good thing I love eggs. After we eat, we generally have some sort of studying. Its either personal study or companionship study. Right now I am in a trio companionship with Elder Whitaker and Elder Compton. We are nothing alike--oh well. I am sure I could learn a thing or two from them. There are a lot of cool guys here, some that even know kids that I played baseball with. After studying, we have Spanish all day with little breaks called "flex time" here or there. Spanish is going well. I am ahead of the class but it is a good review. We do different activities to learn teaching techniques and ways to study. Lunch and dinner are better than breakfast. We have rice with every meal, and bread.....lots of bread. They are really strict here and it kinda sucks. I have a really cool district though. I am in Manti 1 District 107. I live for the hour of physical activity that we have everyday at 2 pm. I play soccer on this turf field we have. It is actually pretty nice. The games are intense and I love it.

A highlight of this week was when we watched a pre-recorded devotional with Jefferey R. Holland. He spoke on missionary work, and how we are disciples of Christ. Disciples of Christ have to walk where Christ walked. We don't have it nearly as bad as Christ did but we are both missionaries. If it wasn't easy for Jesus Christ, the son of God, why should it be easy for me. I sure do miss you guys. I would come back in a heartbeat because of how much I miss you all, but you all are receiving blessings for me being out here and you all are worth it. Plus, there are people in Huancayo, Peru that are waiting for meI can't send pictures until I am out of the MTC/CCM!  Trust me there are a lot of dumb rules! We went to the temple today and it was awesome! I went through in Spanish so that was cool! I love you all so much! I can't wait to hear about all your adventures and tell you guys some of my own. Until....?

Elder Durante