Come one, come all January 27, 2014

I honestly never know where to begin these emails….I wish I could just send you like a quick text or something everyday to give you a summary, that would be so much easier, wouldn’t it? Haha.

Well anyway, here we go.
Tender moment of the week: Last night we were climbing up the cerro (remind me to explain what the cerro is later) and passed by two cute little girls sitting on the steps. They were just staring at us and smiling as we passed, so I turned around to say hi. They were 7 and 5 and we talked to them for just a minute and then turned back to keep going. But then they ran after us and the 7 year old asked if we had a picture of Jesus to give her, because she wanted one to put in her backpack when she has a test. I don’t know about you but that just melted my heart! 
Okay and now something kind of funny. So I remember before I left thinking something along the lines of that I was not gonna let being a missionary make me awkward. And until the other day I guess I’ve already just gotten so used to missionary life that I didn’t realize how different it is…but anyway we are teaching the coolest guy ever. His name is Luis, he’s 31 and he’s super smart, the boyfriend of a lady in the ward. We always teach him with her at her family’s house. At the end of the lesson the other day Hermana Sassetti had to go to the bathroom so the girlfriend got up to show her where it was, just a few steps away down the hall, and they left me sitting there with Luis for literally like a minute but I was just like “ahhhh noooo I can’t be alone” and I looked at him and in my head was like “uhhh I forgot how to talk” and was thinking “come back, come back!” But later I thought it was funny how awkward I felt for just that short minute. After typing that out I don’t know if it’s actually that funny but oh well. 
One thing I love love love about Salamanca is that there are so many different types of people here. The elders have the part of the ward that’s more “tranquila” as we describe it. The houses are generally nicer and people have more money. And part of our area is like that, and there’s other parts that are way more crowded and crazy packed with people and it’s more humble. Some of our investigators are way smart and have lots of questions and wanna know all the facts. Some of them are way Catholic and think the Bible is perfect and all we need, and some others are way excited to learn that we’ve been blessed with more scriptures, the Book of Mormon. (Which in my opinion the way to be, I mean why would we complain to receive more of God’s word, how awesome is that?) Others have never been to any church in their life. Kids and adults…(by the way it’s so fun to teach the first vision to 14 year olds.) But what I’ve been learning is that the Gospel is for everyone. It’s been cool to have to teach so many different people with different needs but it’s great because we all have the same savior Jesus Christ and there is one restored Church that helps every one of his children come to Him. 
Crap out of time AGAIN….well okay next week I promise to send pictures! And I will actually write more like I say I will every week haha.
Love from Lima,
Hermana V

January 20, 2014

Okay so the CRAZIEST thing happened this week…it RAINED in Lima. I use the term “rain” lightly….a few drops of water fell from the sky. But wow it was awesome. Just a nice change from being fried every day.

Also, we have a huge problem, and it’s got to be the best problem any two missionaries could have. We have soooooo many people to teach! Seriously, people stop US and want to talk to us on the street. Heavenly Father puts someone in our path everyday, and we get tons of references. But it’s hard because it means our agendas fill up for the week in like a day and then we don’t have time to meet frecuently enough with the people we need to to be able to help them progess…..and let’s be real it doesn’t do much to teach a bunch of Lesson 1s and then go back two weeks later. I feel like we run from appointment to appoinment sometimes like chickens with our heads cut off and I don’t know what to do, cause we try to be like Jesus, ya know, and I doubt he ran around like a chicken with it’s head cut off when he taught His gospel.
Oh so funny moment of the week. We’re walking (we do that a lot) and this guy randomly stops us and proceeds to sing me the Star Spangled Banner! Hahaha I just loved it. So yeah, it is obvious that I’m not from here I guess.
Sorry this email is so short….I have a lot to catch you up on but I think I will go home and write it down so that next week I will already have it ready to go! I want to make these emails as detailed as possible cause I’m not writing in my journal as much as I should…woops. 
Love from Lima,
Ps. Somebody please tell Lindsay Townsend happy birthday from me! It’s today…oh wait…I mean Lindsay McPhee…she’s married now….right. Anyway HAPPY BIRTHDAY from your best friend who hasn’t heard from you for 3 months….hehe love love love you. Way to go for reaching 2 decades of life! 

January 13, 2014

Ummmm seriously? It’s Monday again? What?! Haha well I am officially one transfer down now….crazy. Oh yeah and I’ll be 20 in 3 weeks…what is going on with the time lately?!

So something an investigator said to me this week really hit me. He asked me and my companion why we were serving missions. I explained to him how I didn’t think I wanted to go at first and a mini version of the story of how I decided to go. After that he asked me if he could be honest with me and I said of course not knowing what to expect…but he said “If I really thought I knew the truth like you say you do, I wouldn’t have had to doubt for a minute about wanting to share it with other people.” And that just made me go “woah…” and I just said to him, you know what, you’re right! But the truth is I’m glad I had to take time to decide to be here because it made me strengthen my relationship with Heavenly Father and how important this really is. I couldn’t do this if I didn’t want to. 
A couple of weeks ago my companion and I started teaching someone she used to teach with her old companion but for whatever reason stopped having time to meet with the missionaries or something else, I don’t know. He is really great and has a lot of faith and has always prayed, but he would never ask God to help him know the truth. He told us he already knew everything we were teaching him was true, because he trusts us, and why would we lie to him? But we really encouraged him to actually read in the Book of Mormon and pray so that he could get his own testimony. Well anyway, we left him with a couple specific verses to make it easy. Well let me tell you, there was a huge difference in him the next time we came back because he’d read and prayed! All it took was for him to actually do something. And he is getting baptized on the 1 of next month. 🙂 At least that’s the plan….haha.
Also a new way we’re finding investigators is teaching English classes! The other hermana that used to be here taught English every Tuesday at the chapel. I mean I didn’t know what to expect cause I’ve never taught English before…but it was cool. Only one person came, somebody we contacted on a bus once. And he wanted to learn about the church so he asked if I’d teach him things about the gospel but in English. So it was a combined English/Restoration class! Pretty fun. 
Well of course there’s tons more but that’s all the quick stories I can remember for now. Ahh can someone just follow me around with a camera so that you can all know everything that’s going on? Cause there are so many amazing things happening, and I just wish I could share them with you all! Someday. 🙂
Hermana V

Monday January 6, 2014

Not as much to say this week, oh except THANK YOUUUUU. On Tuesday which was New Year’s Eve I got a second Christmas, my packages came! And a ton of letters! Wow, so much love. I loved everything! I am wearing one of my new shirts right now and those sour gummy worms were gone within an hour. I pretty much died laughing at Julie’s card. Oh and now that I have a voltage adaptor I can use my flat iron, yay! It was kind of funny cause when the zone leaders were handing out all the mail it was “Hermana Villarini, another one for Hermana Villarini, Hermana Villarini….” Yeah I probably reacted a little bit too excited haha. Not gonna lie it made me a teensy bit trunky for a few minutes and it was in the morning and I thought “Gosh I can’t go out and work now!” but actually, it’s easier because I know I have so much support. Not every missionary does. Say thanks to the Pearsons for me for the cute pillow cases oh and the Kershaws for their Christmas card! I was surprised by that one but it was great because I was reminded of Matt’s testimony that he gave in church the day after he came home and how hard it was for him to speak English with a Mexican accent and everything…and that makes me so hopeful to think about if I’m ever frustrated with Spanish. 

So a few random thoughts:
When I look at my tanlines, I can’t believe how white I used to be..and I’m STILL really white! 
You may not believe this, but I’m learning to listen and interrupt less. It’s a must for the mission – listening. 
Hearing people say they want to repent makes me so happy. I thought that one day and then realized wow, if I’m this happy, I can only imagine how Jesus, who KNOWS this person and suffered for them to be able to do this, how happy he must be when we want to repent! 
I realize everyday what a terrible member missionary I was before the mission. I had SO many perfect opportunities to share the gospel that I passed up, especially when we lived in Jersey. I remember one time I told the missionaries they could go visit my friend but not to tell them it was me who sent them! Silly…it’s something I want to fix when I come home. 
Another thing is that I used to think I didn’t have enough time for meaningful scripture study everyday. 1 hour seemed like an eternity! But I laugh at that now because it seems like hardly enough time at all. I want more! Especially since now I study to try and help the people we’re teaching…I could spend an hour on each one of them individually!
Sooooo many people think that it’s enough to just believe in God and Jesus and be a generally good person, and helping them understand why we need to LIVE this gospel and DO stuff like read and pray and go to church the golden word…bautizarse.. is important. It’s something I’m trying to study.
So remember that baptism that we were going to have that didn’t happen? Well it’s planned for January 18 now and it is FIJO. I am so excited because I love this girl. She is so sweet and she wants to go on a mission someday too! I’ll tell you more about her next week, and there’s lots of other people we’re working with that I’ll tell you about too! Love love love everyone. 
God be with you until we email again,
Hermana Villarini
PS. Happy 3 King’s Day! It’s not a thing here in Peru but I like to remember my Puerto Rican roots. 🙂

¡Sonrisa, pues! Dec. 30, 2013

Ahhh hello my dear family. I am very happy to start this email by saying, I am so happy to start this email! This week was great. 

Warning – parts of this email may or may not be in Spanglish. 

As always, I don’t even know where to begin. I had this little notepad where I’d written a few things I knew I wanted to tell you but I forgot to bring it so here comes another spacy email. 
First of all – highlight of my Spanish career so far. The other day we stopped by this less active member’s house. I hadn’t met the family before so we’re just chattin ya know and the dad asked me where I’m from. I mean I suppose it’s pretty obvious that I’m not Peruvian…but I told him to guess thinking he was probably going to say Utah, aka “la fabrica.” And guess what? His first guess was Venezuela…and then he said a couple other different countries in South America before I let the cat out of the bag that I’m actually a gringa. Haha it kind of made my day, and then it happened again with a different member. I think I’m having an identity crisis though. If people ask me what part of the US I’m from I still can’t decide if I say Utah or Jersey…but maybe from now on I should just say I’m from Peru. I forgot what it’s called but there’s a city in the more north part where the people are white and have light eyes. Yeah I’ll start saying I’m from there. 🙂
Christmas on the mission was different for sure. I loved getting to talk to you guys! In Peru, the 24 is celebrated more than the 25. Emily said the same thing but it seriously felt more like the 4th of July…hot and lots of fireworks at midnight. And we didn’t exactly get a lot of work done on the 24 or the 25 tampoco…but we went around to some members and investigators and sang Christmas hymns and shared little Christmas reminder messages. It was sweet. Oh yeah, and we ate LOTS of paneton…which is basically sweet bread with little pieces of fruit and raisins in it. Seriously I think everywhere we went this week we were offered paneton and Inca Kola. Poor Hermana Sassetti really doesn’t like paneton…haha. And at first I thought IncaKola (imagine bubblegum flavored soda) was overrated but I love it now. Oh but the awesome thing was a member in the ward gave us a ton of used kid’s clothes last weekend and on Christmas we took it to the part of area where there’s a lot of kids that really needed it with the elders and gave it to a bunch of the kids there. By the way, there’s elders in our ward too. The ward is really big and they cover the other half of it that we don’t. It was a pretty sweet experience to spend Christmas doing a small little service. 
Well we had a lot of time to make up for after the holidays and trust me, we made up for it. There are soooo many people to teach in this area and we have been a little bit overwhelmed with citas lately! I have really gotten to love Salamanca. I think I could stay here for my entire mission and be happy to be honest…the field here is white and ready to harvest, as the scripture would say. And the ward is awesome. And I feel like this week Hermana Sassetti and I really started to work together too. I love her and I love our investigators even more…I just can’t imagine leaving them! Which probably means once I’m done being trained here I will get transferred…boo. 
Really the only thing that’s missing is to actually have a baptism…the one we had planned for this past Saturday fell through. But we are teaching so many people, it’s gotta happen soon. My only worry is that because we have so many people to teach I don’t want any of them to fall through the cracks. It’s already happened though – we’ll have a first lesson with someone that apparently seems as it’s sometimes said “golden” but then they’re not there when we come back for the next lesson and we can never find them again. Sad and frustrating at times but lots of exciting things are happening too.
So get ready for my favorite story of the week. On Friday night after dinner we didn’t have a set appointment with anyone so we decided to go visit this one family that have been investigators for seriously about a year now. On our way this guy in the street calls out to us and started asking if we belong to this religion that he found in Chile years ago I don’t remember what it was called but it sounded like it’s middleastern or something. The way he was talking I think he noticed us because I was wearing one of my longer skirts and had my hair in a bun and that’s why he was reminded of that. And we said no but starting to talk to him about who we are. He was carrying something and asked us to wait for him a minute. He ran and took whatever it was to wherever he needed to bring it and then came back and we sat on the curb and starting talking to him and basically he begins to tell us that he wants to change and has been looking for God. He has a problem with alcohol but just went on and on about how he wants to change and for 3 months or so has been looking for something and he knows that this is it. Turns out he has a couple friends that are members of the church in Colombia and he said he wants to be like them because they are happy and the Church changed them. He told us he knew it was a sign from God that he met us. It was about 8 when we met him and we ended up talking with him until it was time for us to go home and set up an appoinment for the next day and he told us he’d be waiting and was excited. We took a member with us and long story short, before we even brought it up he told us he wants to be baptized. And he came to church yesterday and said he felt happy to be there. We’re going back to teach him again tonight and I’m really excited! He’s really smart. He’s 28 and lives alone here in Lima for work, his family lives far in another part of Peru close to Ecuador. He works by where the temple is and told us he really wants to go there….well lucky him we can tell him how he can do that! It was one of those “Wow that was totally Heavenly Father’s hand in this and not me at all” moments. I feel really blessed that I get to be part of it though! 
Also we were walking by this park one day and there was a guy sitting on the curb, I have no idea what he was doing just sitting there. And usually I really don’t like contacting random people but Hermana Sassetti looked at me and basically said “that guy, it’s all you.” So we walked up to him and she wouldn’t say a word and made me do all the talking…turns out his dad is a member of the church and he said he thinks it’s a great religion, sure he’d be happy to learn more about it. Before we left he even said “yeah, maybe I’ll be the next one in the family to join!” 
The biggest miracle I saw this week though was in me. I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers in his own timing, but can I just say I like it when his timing is really fast? I was studying charity one morning because I was thinking I needed some more of it and read in Moroni 7:48 where it says we should pray for charity with all the energy of our heart. And lots of other scriptures that basically tell it like it is and say if you don’t have charity, well guess what you ain’t got nothin. So I prayed for charity and that very morning in companion study Hermana Sassetti and I really figured out how we could work better together and I started to realize how great the area is and how awesome the investigators are and all of a sudden my heart grew just like the Grinch’s and I’m a lot happier! I had a really hard time at first with changing my own attitude because I kept thinking – the reason I’m here isn’t to change me! It’s to help other people change and bring the gospel to them! But learning to be like Christ is a lifelong process and if I want to help others get to know Him, I have to try better to be more like Him too. 
As always, I miss everybody sooooo much. Thanks for the prayers and love. It was so good to see your beautiful faces on Christmas – only a few more months til Mother’s Day! 😉 Haha but I’m not counting the days or anything…even though some of you may be! (Mom?) 
Love love love love LOVE LOVE LOVE

¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡Feliz Navidad!!!!!!! Dec 23, 2013

¡Mi familia! 

Wow, today marks exactly TWO MONTHS that I’ve officially been a missionary. Can you believe it? Cause I can’t…and what’s funny is that’s still less time than I waited between getting my mission call and finally coming here haha. 
This week was pretty good. We had a fun multizone conference/activity for Christmas and got to go to this awesome park with all these cool fountains. I got to see my MTC companions again so that was sweet. Being a missionary for Christmas is great because I have no choice but to focus on what it’s all about! Oh yeah, and we get to skype this week! Yay! 🙂
By the way, yesterday I gave my first talk at church in Spanish! One of the counselors in the bishopric came up to me at the ward Christmas activity on Friday night and was just like “hey, you’ve got the first message on Sunday about missionary work. 5 minutes, okay?” 
This Saturday we’re going to have a baptism and I’m really excited. It’s a 17 year old girl that my companion had been teaching for a while with her old companion, so I don’t know her that well but still! She is so sweet and I’m really happy for her cause she’s super excited to get baptized. 
Also we found this older lady named Josefina. We haven’t taught her yet but I hope we get the chance soon, cause she is the cutest little thing and makes me think of Josefina that used to babysit me when I was tiny.
Dang so much to say and I’m out of time once again. I really hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas! Don’t forget that the reason we have to celebrate is our Savior.
Love love love,
PS. Look! I found Nutella in Peru!!! Obviously I was super excited….haha. Oh and that’s my room in the background of the picture. Chevre, no? 🙂
PPS. Um, email me please? I kind of had a heart attack when I logged on today and my inbox was rather bare…very weird…