Wednesday, October 28, 2015

First Week in the Peru CCM

Hey everyone! So much has happened this week, I can hardly believe I've only been here for 1 week! My preparation days (p-days) are on Wednesdays. The centro de capacitaciĆ³n misional (CCM) is awesome! Oh, it is "missionary training center" (MTC) in English. 

The food is actually pretty great. We have rice with just about every meal, and now I start to look forward to it: rice, chicken, rolls, and Jell-o, or some variation of those ingredients. 

So the flight here was unbelievably long, but remember that's coming from someone who's only flown to California before. Anyways, the flight to Atlanta, I was the only missionary. I was pretty nervous so I didn't eat hardly anything. It was a nice flight so I slept a lot. I lost 3 hours going over time zones, so I landed at like 3:30, but it was only like a 5 hour flight. Then as I was meandering through the biggest airport ever, at least it felt like, I was getting some McDonalds (last typical American meal right?) and I met up with like 6 other missionaries. Then once we got to the gate, there were about 20 of us, all coming to the Lima MTC, or CCM. That flight landed at 11:30, and we gained an extra hour on that one (no daylight savings here), so that was a 6 hour flight. Complete with the wailing baby literally right behind me. Like on TV or something. But we got so much food on that flight. The attendants literally came around like 6 times. Anyway, we got only like 3 hours of sleep that night before the all-day orientation on Wednesday, which, like everyone says, was the looooongest day of my life. It gradually went by quicker each day, and now I can't believe I've been here a week!

CCM Campus

The weather here is awesome. Picture a typical rainy day in Seattle, like the point in the day when it's completely cloudy, and it's only a matter of minutes before the rain starts. That's exactly what it's like here, but all the time. And it never rains. We call it the "eternal mist". Only two days have we seen the sun and mountains around us, and today was one of those days. I can only take pictures on p-days too here so these are all recent. Mom! I got your letter! We can only pick up letters on p-days, but it's postmarked for October 24th, so it only took 5 days to get here! I can't send letters out until I get into the field, but thank you so much!

We got all our learning materials in English and Spanish. All the teachers are native South-American returned missionaries that work here now, so their Spanish is really good, and their English is really broken, so trying to understand the doctrine they teach in English is actually harder for me than in Spanish. I'm really glad a had such a good Spanish foundation in high school, cause other elders here took Spanish in high school and don't know hardly anything.

My companion's name is Elder Linares (not a Latino missionary)! His dad is from Spain, but he is super white. He's from Draper, Utah. He's a fun elder, and I'm just getting to know him. I get along with him well and I'm helping him learn Spanish.

Elder Smith and Elder Linares (my companion)
We get to go to the temple on p-days and do a session. It's literally only 10 minutes away from the CCM. The temple here is so beautiful. It was really interesting doing the session in Spanish. I was able to understand almost all of it, which was really nice.

Lima Peru Temple

Lima Temple from another angle

Our District at the Temple

The Temple store is literally a shack off the side of the street

There are a lot of North American missionaries here. There's about 100 missionaries here, and I'd say about half are North Americans. So we still speak a lot of English, but we occasionally do "English Fasts" where we don't speak any English for a set amount of time. We sit by Latinos at meals too, so my conversational Spanish is getting much better. The thing I'm having a hard time with is learning all the gospel vocabulary so I can give lessons in Spanish better.

The atmosphere of Peru is so cool. It feels like California because it's flat and there are palm trees all over the place, but there are occasional mountains in the distance, and it's Peru, so all the buildings are way different and people drive like maniacs! There are like no rules of the road, and while we're at the CCM you can always hear horns honking and sirens blaring at all hours of the day.

CCM is in La Molina

They don't ride llamas to get around Lima

On the way to the Temple

Typical street

I'm not feeling any allergies, which is actually kind of nice. We'll see how long that lasts. I don't think I've forgotten anything.

Soccer!!! Every day we have an hour for physical activity, and let me tell you, I have never seen 25 elders get changed so fast and on the turf. I haven't played in forever so I thought I wouldn't have a lot of fun, but it turns out a lot of us aren't stellar soccer players. But even after just a week, I'm getting a lot better. It's really fun and the Latinos are super fun to play with.

Mission field! (at least during break times)

After soccer on p-day

The Latinos in general are so much fun to be with. They're only here for the fast-track 12 day CCM experience, so I'm a little sad that they're leaving soon. There's an elder here who looks EXACTLY like Zac Efron, so one of the North Americans called him Elder Efron once, and now every single Latino knows him as Elder Efron. And every time I meet a Latino and they read my nametag, I kid you not, the conversation is something like, "Elder Smith, like Joseph Smith? Hey companion, look it's Joseph Smith! Is he your uncle or something?" Of course it's all in rapid Spanish, but my listening ability is getting so much better.

I really miss all of you guys! It's so fun being here but I miss the usual schedule of work, family, and friends. I feel like I'm at some summer camp right now, but in the back of my mind I know I'm not coming home for a while.

I 100% relate to Sabrina when she talks about her ups and downs! Sunday meetings were really helpful, because the talks and devotional video we watched really got me in the right mood.

I almost forgot to tell you, I'm the District Leader! It was a little overwhelming, they interviewed everyone on the orientation day, and at the end, I was chosen for my district. It felt super overwhelming the first few days and I was really stressed out that I wasn't fulfilling all my duties, but now I feel good about the whole thing and I think our district is getting along well.

This is my home for the next few weeks

Inca Kola (banana soda) 

Sweet llama wool ties

Elder Smith

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