Week 108 Back in the California Soil

This week I started my travels for home in California on Tuesday. I took a very late bus from Tacna to Arequipa. We passed by sun at and waited there for 3 hours. Due to the fact that it’s so near Chile, people like to smuggle illegal contraband into Peru. For that reason we were stopped, and all of our bags were searched and any illegal items were confiscated. Luckily for me, I had no problems and passed right on through. I got to Arequipa 8 hours later, and showed up to the house of my ex-pension. Wow, what time has gone by! Seriously, when I got there I couldn’t even speak or explain how I felt. They called me Grigin for a nickname. I got to see all of the kids that had grown up! They don’t all remember me, but either way, it was one of those experiences that I will never forget. From there I went to the Casa de la Mission (Mission Home).

I had my last interview with President Zobrist. Man was it a great one. It wasn’t what I expected, as much as it was what I felt. I really learned how much he loves us and confides in us as missionaries, and as returning missionaries. One of the most famous quotes he shared with me went something like this: “Elder you’re here to learn, and you’re learning.” Sounds simple but think about it for a sec… and then apply it. After about 45 minutes, we finished and I went on my way to see some more of the people that I had the chance to get to know in Arequipa.

I ended up at the business of my good friend, and husband of the pension, Eduardo. We had a great talk, and from there I ran over to zamacola. As I got there, they had a party and a good amount of the ward members were there! It was great. I got to spend the night at their house, with the other elders who live with them. Let’s just say I didn’t get much sleep!

The next day we had our super long talk with the mission president about the things we need to do when we get back… like go to school, get educated, get a job, and get married. You guys know, the famous returning missionary talk. It was great as we came up with a game between all the gringos where we were going to let someone answer the question and the other three of us would testify of each other. It made the comments great, along with the class.

When all was said and done, we got some time to go exploring in the Plaza de Arms. During that time, we bought souvenirs and stuff for our families and friends. We really had a great time! There is probably a reason why Elder Adams, myself, and Elder Klienlien weren’t ever in the same zone… The day was a blast, and I think we probably made the best trio there was! As we got back to the mission home, we had to get our bags down to 23 kilos and 18 kilos. That was an adventure that took us until 3 am to do! We finally went to bed and then woke up at 6 the next morning. We took a bus to get to the airport and then hopped on a plane.  It took us to Lima, and was a great flight as we were all sitting there sharing we all of our stories. It’s crazy to think the kid that I started the mission with in the MTC on my first day, is the same kid who I was finishing with that same day in the airport!

We got to Lima and from there, we had a 14 hour lay over…. why? I have no idea! But anyways we went to take some cool pictures and live our last day in Peru to the fullest! After another delay, we ended up 2 hours later entering the plane. So to say the least, we were all dead tired!

We got on our flight to Atlanta, and man I have never seen so many dark skinned people in my life! I thought it was just a stereotype, but it’s true, they all have the same accent! It was kinda scary. So we practiced our Spanish, my three compadres, so they couldn’t understand us! It’s fantastic to be able to speak about people in another language!

After that, we took off on our different planes and we enjoyed the climate of the United States again. I had another flight to Utah with one other elder, and then from there I had my final connecting flight to Orange County. Luckily, both went smoothly and without any problems.

Getting off of the plane, I knew there would be no going back at this point, and hoping that my family and friends were waiting down the steps, I stepped back onto Californian soil! The smell of home was in the air! The trees and real cars, the smell of real American food all sunk into insignificance as I took the escalator down, finally reuniting myself with my family for the first time in over two years!

Mom!

Mom!

Dad!

Dad!

Braden!

Braden!

What I’ve realized is, that the material things of this world are present, but drift into nothing, when placed before them is your family. The hug of a Mom and a Dad are two of the most unforgettable things I will forever cherish!

An amazing welcome home from family and friends.

An amazing welcome home from family and friends.

And yes, the first thing I did was go to Cafe Rio to eat a salad! And after that, a b-line to my truck. Mi camioneta. Yes, she waited. Even though my brother’s getting his hands on her here and there, she will always hold a dear place in my heart! I started the motor and I gave her a couple revs. Man is it great to be back home!

Big Red!

Big Red!

But, it is family over material things.

It’s been one heck of a journey in Peru and I hope to share the true message with each of you in our own due time.

The mission seems like a blur at times, and at other times seems to be so crystal clear. The experiences I’ve faced, the trials and tragedies I’ve overcome, have all just gone on to strengthen my testimony.

I will finish this with my simple testimony: Se que mi padre celestial nos ama y quiere que escogimos nuestro propio futuro. La iglesia que representaba y represento hoy en Día, es la única verdadera. El Libro de Mormon son otras palabras de Dios. Amo Jesucristo, su ejemplo y su expiación. En el nombre de Jesucristo, Amen.

RM Parker McPherson

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Week 107 My Final Peruvian Letter

My last letter called as an Elder de La Iglesia de Jesucristo de Los Santos de Los Ultimos Dias. I’m officially no longer in the system. On my companion’s inbox, it says his companion (me) no longer exists. My card to pull out money has been cancelled, and my name no longer appears in IMS. Basically, I’m a ghost with a plaque.

This will be my last letter from Perú. This week was full of meetings. Seriously, reunions and meetings, and after that, get togethers. Ful chamba as they call it here. The best part was that I got to see everyone in the zones near me to say goodbye, due to a conference that we had with a few other zones. A precious time to remember.

Zone Conference Fun!

Zone Conference Fun!

I’ve had some strange dreams this last week or so. Those dreams where I end up at home, but something unexpected happens. I’d rather not share them, so I don’t jinx myself too bad. Other returned missionaries have passed though it, so you get me. It’s the whole RM (returned missionary) thang.

This morning we woke up at 4:30 to go sandboarding. There is only so much to do in a desert like Peru as a missionary. To get there, we took a brother’s 4×4 truck. His name is Hermano Ramierez. He is one of the best guys that I’ve ever met. The guy that is the closest to Christ. And yes, it’s the same truck we almost rolled the other day as well! We then headed to the mountain. It’s only about a 5 minute drive over sand and dirt terrain to get there, so it made for one heck of a ride at 40kph. We made it to the hill, and charged it. We made it only about 100 yds up, and stopped the truck.

Sandboardiing chairlift!

Sandboardiing chairlift!

We huffed the rest by foot. Then it was about a 30 minute hike up a dune. (Like hiking Oldsmobile Hill in Glamis, but bigger!) The boards we had were super ghetto. Only in Peru. They weren’t the fastest things, but they got moving if you knew how to control them! We had a blast up there! And nobody got seriously injured, so that’s a plus.

Sandboarding outside of Tacna!

Sandboarding outside of Tacna!

One of the last people I got to see was Ivan. The kid who moved to Iquitos and got baptized there, after we got the permission here, and taught him all the lessons. He told us that the missionaries there weren’t the same. “All they did was baptize me with 10 others, and then never even visited me again!” Were his words. Well that shows that personality as a missionary and in life is a must. We must be people, not machines.

Saying goodbye in my talk this past Sunday made me tear up. I’m not close with the ward, but the fact that I will never be there again, and that it’s all coming to an end, hit me! I didn’t break down in tears, but there were tears on my face for sure.

Can’t wait to see all of you at home this Saturday at the airport (John Wayne at 3:50). Everyone’s invited!

Elder McPherson

Over and out, literally.

Week 106 Paciencia (Patience)

This week was a paciencia (patience) builder. It all started with an activity we planned to do here in our zone. The activity was pushed by our penchion, and provided by them. Our activity was based on all the different regions of Peru: from the jungles to the deserts. Each of them has their own special dances and ways of dressing. Everyone was to pick out an outfit, learn the steps to their specific dance, and read a little passage about who they we representing. As we were announcing it to the other missionaries in the zone, a few put up a barrier and told us they weren’t going to participate. In the zone there are only 10 elders and two sisters and four of them decided they were not going to participate. It was kind of disappointing seeing that we were trying to do something for the zone, and then having just a few of them try to shut it down. I got it into my head that we were going to have it, and everyone was going to participate. My companion and I were really trying to push every aspect of it; to build it up over the next couple days that remained. One by one, they started to change their minds. It wasn’t easy, in fact, very frustrating at times.

After we had picked out all that we were going to use later that night, one elder backed out.  So we tried everything, but his excuse was his numbers were low, and he needed to work in his area, and because we were doing it on a Friday night and not on P-day… valid excuses, but excuses nonetheless…. We pushed him so hard to do it that I think he felt over stressed and faked being sick. So we took him to get injections because he was acting as if he was practically dying… He faked so well that he actually made himself sick. Instead of going out to work in his area, he stayed in the house, and lucky for him the activity was in his own house. He was able gain enough strength to watch apparently and when we did our final routine, he joined us as we were all jumping and listening to Happy Day together….

Gotta love desert!

Gotta love desert!

The zone has, I think, done a turn around with their behavior. Before they were all like little kids. I think a lot of that had to do with how relaxed I let things go at first. Now they understand, I believe, that there is a time for work, and a time for play.

This week our penchion, who we live with, had family over, his brother to be exact. It felt like a pre-family reunion. His bro and wife are returned missionaries, so they gave me the classic lecture to not be trunky, and work hard in the days that remain! I feel like I have gotten that speech from everyone.

The ward that I am serving in right now is frustrating at times. Just to share one experience that happened this past Saturday, as I was getting a drink of water, the bishop of my ward started to talk to my companion while he was packing up his utensils from the conference. All of the members were around, and all of our missionaries as well. The bishop proceeded to tell my companion that he is a liar, and this and that, all in front of the crowd of people from the just finished conference. I walked in and the bishop ignored me, so I decided to step into the conversation. I tried to take control of the situation, and step into another room to discuss the issue, but he wouldn’t budge. (This wasn’t the first time this had happened, so I was ready for it.) I proceeded to share the answers as plainly as I could to the questions that he asked. We both started to raise our voices, and it started to get heated. He went after all he could complain about the missionaries. How they were sinners, and who knows what else. That we weren’t good leaders because we permit this and that. And how in his mission he did this…………. You get the idea, the list goes on and on. I held it together until some of the members started to tell me that I wasn’t working, and I was trunky, and that’s why the ward isn’t progressing. So I took a break outside and cried. All of the missionaries came around me to show their support, which helped me get it back together. As soon as the bishop came outside I was calmed down. I raced over to talk to him again. We talked for a good 35 minutes after that, and realized why he had blown up, and more or less the reasons why people came to conclusions without knowing what really happened. We figured out the problem and he even admitted to being the cause of it. I saw tears in his eyes, so I know it hit home.

I swear, the more time that I have in the mission, the more I realize the less I would have learned on the outside. Paciencia is the key to a lot of the results and success that we want in life. But to get to the level we want, it takes experiences. This week was full of them.

Every week we make a companerismo de la semana, where we choose a companionship that did good that week. Then we draw a picture based on who it was. The picture says it all. I think that they both look exactly like the fotos! Everybody has skills, we just need to learn to use them in the right way, and man this elder can draw!

Do we look like the drawings?

Do we look like the drawings?

Elder McPherson

-for just a few more days!

Take care!

Week 105 Feelings: Sad, But Happy!

Welp, I officially hit the 2 year mark. I now have only 19 days left. While I feel like it’s all coming to an end, I also feel like it’s just starting. A strange feeling, sad but happy…

Travel plans for home!

Travel plans for home!

As a Zone Leader I feel more focused to motivate people in the zone to keep working. We have been trying to be real and not fake, as I see so many of the other leaders in the mission. To be someone who focuses on those others and not just on their obedience. To do so, I went on 3 day divisiones (splits with different missionaries) this week. I got to work with the other elders in the zone. One was really having problems fitting in. He is a little different then the rest, and he is new to the zone. He doesn’t have a lot of time in the mission, and is a little bit more timid to butt in, or speak up. I think after the divisiones we have had, he has opened up with us a little more, so he seems to be improving.

This week has also been full of pranks and being crazy. We did a full blown, black gospel church silhouette in our room with some of the other elders. It was fantastic as we blasted “happy day” all through the house! A little sacreligious at times but the laugh was worth every bit.

Somebody was a little sleepy!

Somebody was a little sleepy!

I decided that my companion looks like an Oompa Loompa from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So as we speak, I am getting him a sticker made that has to do with his own kind. He’s short, a little chubby, and got the same cheeks as his brothers the Oompa Loompas!  He’s going to get a kick out of it!

Last P-day we played soccer and this one kid was really starting to get on my nerves. He wouldn’t shut up if he scored a goal and would be a loud mouth about everything. That type of person who doesn’t realize that it’s a game of fun. If any of you knew me before, or have ever seen me play hockey you may know what I did. I decided to go into hockey mode, and it became full body soccer, and the rest of my team was with me. It turned into a great full body contact soccer game. I’ve learned from hockey to keep my cool better than before, so it really paid off. Thanks to Coach Danny and my dad for helping me keep calm, I now truly appreciate it! The kid reminds me of Stephen from the LH hockey rink. If you know him, you will understand what I mean!

We played the board game CLUE, and it took me so long to remember how you play, but since then I have become pretty good, so if anyone wants to play CLUE when I get home, I’ll be all over it!

Have a great week ya’ll!

Elder McPherson

Week 104 Two Years Done, 26 Days Left!

This week will be the two-year mark for us! Pretty incredible to think that this entire time I have not seen any of you guys! All of you who read this are just imagining what is going on. Maybe like a fairy tale or a side thing to read, with a few pictures to go along with some of the stories! Living it is something completely different! It’s something remarkable that you guys were there to guide me to that one decision. There is no way I don’t think that I could ever gain the experiences that I have had here, any other way! Thank you to all of those who helped guide me in one way or another, to get me to where I’m at right now!

This week there was two birthdays! It was crazy! We egged and floured and bathed one of our elders, Elder DeAngelo, and the other newbie, Elder Maldonado! It was a fun week with a lot of showers!

Happy Birthday Elders!

Happy Birthday Elders!

I also got a birthday dinner! Someone got us some trout and it was cooked over a super hot rock! Fantastic!

Happy two year "birthday" to me!

Happy two year “birthday” to me!

The gym has been top priority since my return will be in the near future! 26 days to be exact! I’m trying to not get to trunky, but it’s kinda inevitable!

Staying in shape!

Staying in shape!

This week we had a consejo de barrio, or better said, ward council, and it was like the Bloods vs. Crips. We had people going after other people with words and actions. Pretty funny to watch as I kept my cool and let it all just play out. Nobody drew blood, but you could see steam coming out of some people’s ears! That’s how life is though! We learn from the experiences mas dificiles. Overall it wasn’t a very effective ward council. Relief Society sisters vs. Elders quorum, ha ha ha, the funniest thing ever!

 

We just talked to a man after contacting some doors this week, and he said about 4 or 5 minutes ago he had just finished talking with the Diablo. Really? So we were intrigued, and figured out that he needs some help, so we are going to visit him this week!

 

We live with a family here in our house, and he has a Mitsubishi truck, a 2016 4×4, silver 4-door diesel turbo. It’s pretty quick, and he knows how to drive. So we took his truck to a little off-road coarse built for dirt bikes, and drove like mad men! It was so fun to get that off-road feeling again. We hit things that I thought were impossible! On one part we almost rolled! Literally put it on two wheels, and aired the front out. We hit a side of a cutout hill and that’s what pitched us as we were headed into a wall. We turned into it, to save the truck from rolling and it worked! We just missed the wall and after that we headed home!

 

Peruvian  off roading.

Peruvian off roading.

One heck of a week! Make your life worth living!

Elder McPherson

Week 103 Yet Another Fantastic Week!

You guessed it! Yet another fantastic week! Especially since I was put in a new leadership position, and I was put with a new companion for the last little bit!

Some parts of the day make for good relaxation. It feels like paradise here. For some of the frustration days, we lay out in the shade (if not I get toasted to a nice shade of pink!), usually right next to our infamous Lulu la llama. She’s kind of a stuck up princess! She escaped today and we had to bring here back it. That was hectic! I had to pick her up John Cena style, and get her back in the house! It was about a 100 yard walk caring the llama as she kicked! Those llamas they can make themselves like rocks if they want to! I was carrying her, and she, I kid you not, doubled in weight!

Chillin' with Lulu!

Chillin’ with Lulu!

Walking down the street, people were selling stuff, and this figurine caught my attention! It’s all handmade, and very well done. I had to get it, so I did. It’s a candle cover thing and looks all lit up on the inside at night!

 It’s a candle cover thing...

It’s a candle cover thing…

That same night we saw a truck with the worst body alignment I’ve seen here! Worse then on our truck at home! But this one looks to be damage to the frame! My companion is right next to it as he lost his camera earlier this week!

Custom frame?

Custom frame?

We traveled to Arequipa this week, all for a Zone Leader conference, the same as always. There were a lot of puffed up people full of stories. I tried to keep reserved and focus on my friends most of all! It’s weird to think there are only two people in the mission who are the oldies, and that I am one of them! I’m even older (in the mission) than el Presidente and his wife. Elder Adams, my companion from the MTC and I are the only elders to extend their mission.

I met an hermana this week and we know a lot of the same people, grew up in the same stake (maybe same ward), went to the same parties, were born in the same place and yeah, kinda random. We are thousands of miles away and I don’t know how we knew each other! Her last name is Waldron, and she is about a year younger than I am!  And she finishes at the same time as me. But her dad is coming to pick her up here, otherwise we would even be in the same airport terminal coming home.

Hope all is well at home and with all your families!

Lawn Camping!

Lawn Camping!

Oh, and last night we went lawn camping. Just because why not?

Elder McPherson!

Week 102 Six Weeks to be the Best Zone Leader

Well this P-day, after playing soccer for a good two hours on a private artificial turf field, we decided to hike a mountain. Literally! We just came up with the idea to climb something random, so we went to the mountain near our house! It was a full 25 minute jog to the top of a super steep hill! We were all crazy tired and happy to make it! Most of us that is… We took cool pictures and then on the way down was one of the funnest things that I’ve ever done! We literally skied down the entire thing, letting momentum take us and hitting whatever rocks formed lip! We had some crazy 15ft jumps at time. We got down in 2 minutes! It was so worth the hike.

Hiking the hills.

Hiking the hills.

This week was pretty calm! We had 9 investigatores in church and it was crazy! So cool to see the work progressing! But we received word that my companion and I in our supposedly last area, and my last transfer had a change. Even though we have to leave this area, I’m still going to be able to work in my area because I moved down a little more into the city. Oh, and I also moved to the Zone Leader position. How or why? I have no idea, but that’s how it is! I’m still going to be able to work in my old area that they are closing, but my companion will not, as he is moving to Ilo.

This week we put together a great returned missionary activity. All of the returned missionaries brought items and stuff from their missions! I even got to see some familiar faces in a photo from the Pocatello Idaho Mission. This was done on the ward level! It was very cool! I brought my stuff to because I count myself close enough! It was so much fun to get to see everyone! They were all so proud of who they were, and what they had done! The spirit was strong as well!

At our last day in the area, my companion and I got to see a cool rainbow as we walked out to one of the farms of a recent convert! Business plans maybe in the future!? Anyways…

The work is good here! I have got 6 weeks to be the best Zone Leader and to have fun for the rest of the mission!  We’ll see how it goes! And congrats to Nat Beatty for getting her mission call to Ogden, Utah!

Elder McPherson

Week 101 Who’s Counting?

Wow! We are literally counting the days at this point! It’s kinda crazy to think that it’s coming to an end in less than 50 days… but who’s counting…

I took some pictures of some really cool graffiti that I see here almost every day! I will try to see if I can attach them to the message when I get home today and can send them when I have more time.

Cool Graffiti!

Cool Graffiti!

More Cool Graffiti!

More Cool Graffiti!

This week we did service in my area. In one of the most outcast, farthest parts of my area! It was crazy hot and everyone was asking to borrow my sunscreen… ugh, WWJD? So I shared! All I know is that I’m not burned, so that’s all that matters!

As we finished a reunion as elders, we walked out of a church and saw Herbie fly by! Literally, Herbie the Love Bug! Same paint job and all! I was lucky that I had my camera out and ready to go, and got a glimpse of it! On the inside, all you can see is some fat guy, which made it that much better!

Herbie Lives in Peru!

Herbie Lives in Peru!

The sunsets her have been pretty cool! It’s like being in the desert during a sunset here! You can see everything: all the colors and their accents. I guess that I have it lucky because only we can see it from our area! The other areas are too much in the city! After along day of working, it’s nice to take a breath and watch it as it sets behind the horizon!

Sunset in Tacna.

Sunset in Tacna.

We got new shirts as a zone, and I love them! Cool colors and all! And I think my name fits me! Ask a Spanish speaking returned missionary to explain what it means!!! My friend Elder Praag put TRUNKILO. Which is a great fit for us old missionaries!

My new shirt at sunset!

My new shirt at sunset!

We have been working with a really cool family named Masco! They hopefully will be getting all the papers settled for marriage this week, so please pray for them!

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Oh, and just to let you know, the kid Ivan, who moved to Iquitos, got baptized and confirmed! And in his own words translated: The missionaries here are not like you guys, they are more or less, but you guys are the bomb! Feeling his love from hundreds of miles away!

Elder McPherson

Soon to be Parker again

Week 100 Full of Good News!

This week was full of good news! Ivan, the kid from the last letter that I wrote, moved to Iquitos. He got settled in, and after much planning with the missionaries they never showed up! He finally contacted them this week. He had another baptismal interview with the mission president there, and he passed! Needless to say, he was baptized this past Saturday. There was such a change in his countenance when he was on the phone. He is so much happier. The next day he missed his confirmation in church, but he will get it next week! I know this kid will do great things in his life, he just needs to be kept on the straight and narrow path, just like all of us!

Well, we happened to get 15 lessons with members this week, and we are rocking it! We have found a new family who looks to be interested in learning more about the Gospel, and found a family who has listened to the missionaries forever! That’s going to change soon, as they are going to be teaching others once they get wet!

Working with other missionaries can be rough, but we all know from Joseph Smith that: “YOUR SUFFERINGS WILL BE BUT A BRIEF MOMENT.” If the prophet had to learn that, then so do I. Life is full of opportunities, we just have to know how to take them, and be ready for the next one that comes along.

Sorry, it’s a relatively short letter, as was the week for us.

Elder McPherson

I’ll be home soon!

Week 99 Si no vive para servir, no sirve para vivir!

This week we went to the beach for P-day with the other 3 zones here! It was so fun! Really, a great activity. We launched some water balloons and we were all surprised how far they really went! We easily cleared three streets! I don’t know if we hit anyone or anything, but man those water balloons hit with an impact!

A zone picture on the beach is a good idea right?

A zone picture on the beach is a good idea right?

This week we also went metal detecting again with a kid named Jesus who lives in our area! He’s an awesome kid, he has just got some 3rd child issues, along with separated parents. Anyways, we found silver and a bunch of bullets from the 1800’s along with a 12 gauge shotgun shell. I guess just the other day he found three buttons and coins in the same place! My companion has some bad knees, and he was starting to struggle near the end, but he made it through!

This week my companion has been having a lot of issues… I don’t know if he doesn’t get enough attention from me, or what it is, but he is groaning about his knees, has a groin issue (to say the least) gets headaches, and his tooth has been causing him to complain. We have taken him to the dentist and the doctor and injected him with stuff, but it just seems like everyday its something different. I love the kid seriously, but sometimes I don’t realize how blessed I am in the mission to not have to deal with these problems he is passing through.

Elder Garcia not feeling well.

Elder Garcia not feeling well.

We were talking yesterday a lot about agency, and how we have the ability and the right to choose what we want. And about how what we plant now, we will reap later on in life, but it depends on us!

Sunset in  Peru.

Sunset in Peru.

My life got put into perspective last night as we came to know a reference named Juan. He is about 45 years old, and he has cancer. He was sharing his experience, and how he had already fought it off once, what he thinks of family and God, while knowing that he will die soon due to the brain cancer they just found a month ago. It brought back a lot of stories and memories that I have from Fred McMilon. What a stud he was, and how much I still look up to him! But being able to live this life to the fullest and helping others out is what it’s all about! There is a saying here in Spanish that just cant be translated, so I will put it here and leave it up to you if you want to translate it: si no vive para servir, no sirve para vivir.

Life is full of different experiences, we just have to choose to be ready for them! And that’s as spiritual as I want to get today! Take care everyone

 

Elder McPherson