Tuesday, October 29, 2013

An Unconquerable Spirit

Family and friends,
 
 
I can't believe that this is the last email that I will be writing as a full-time missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As cliché as it sounds, these two years have truly flown by. But I can truly say, without any doubt in my heart or mind, that these two years have been the best two years of my entire life. I have easily learned more during these 24 months than I did in the previous 19 years. I have learned what love really is. I have learned that Jesus Christ truly is our Savior. I have learned that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith really was a prophet, that Thomas S. Monson guides the Church today. Saying these words time and time again to people that I have come to love has rooted them deep within my soul. It has become a knowledge that is inseparable from who I am. It is a knowledge that is who I am.
 
If nothing else, I now know that we are all children of our Heavenly Father. I remember asking President Turk what was the greatest lesson he learned on his mission. He responded in a simple, spiritual way: "The fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man". I know this to be true. I have not been perfect on my mission. I have not loved everyone as I ought to have done. But I have improved. I have become a better person, and through all of it, I have been blessed with the opportunity to help others become a little better too. Doing so has been the source of the greatest joy I have ever felt in my short life. I know understand the thrill that our Heavenly Father must get when He is merciful or kind.
 
I love each and every one of you. Thank you for always emailing me, sending me letters and packages, and encouraging me throughout these two years. I have not been able to always respond to each one of you, but your love and thoughtfulness has meant a lot to me. I appreciate the example that each one of you has set for me in my life and in my mission. You will be forever remembered and blessed. I love you all.
I suppose what is most comforting to me at this point is knowing that the mission will not end when I get off the plane. I will continue being a missionary forever, though I might now have a nametag on, as Elder Andersen said, I will have it painted upon my heart. I will continue sharing the gospel with others and help the missionaries in my own ward. That's the great eternal round of the gospel. We will never have a scarcity of opportunities to become more like our Savior and King.
 
Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth! As the dews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them! (D&C 128:19)
 
Please feel free to contact me at my parents home after 11/6.
Love to All
Elder Trace Owen Levos

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Changing The Game

Hello all!
 
We had a great week here in Peru. We have been changing the focus a lot lately on how we work. A lot of the work now is focused on visiting less active members and helping them come back to church. We have seen various miracles following that method, and we are excited for the progress we are seeing in the ward.
 
Won't lie, all the members are making me trunky now! There are a ton of comments on things like: "Elder Levos, you're out of here soon. Your mission is already over," etc. Haha. It's all in good sport I suppose. They had us talk in sacrament meeting this past week, and it went well. I felt the Spirit quite strongly as my companion and I spoke.
Hope you enjoy the picture of me in the town plaza. Sorry that the group letter is so short.
 

Love you all,
Trace

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's All Fun Now

Hello all
Forgive me for sending you a blank email. Pretty sure I'm starting to forget how to even use computers. 
This week was quite rewarding spiritually, not just because we helped Celeste Giraldo make a covenant with God, but also because of General Conference! It was so interesting to see that so many of the talks were aimed at missionary work and also at how the members can help. I am excited to be able to be on the other end of the equation soon and help out as a member.
 
Everything is going great overall though. My companion and I are getting along great and finding lots of new people to teach as well. The ward loves us, and we love them. We've got attendance up to almost 160 now, which is a big deal. Members are starting to stuff me full of food now that they know I'm leaving soon. What's most exciting is that my pensionista is trying to get me some Peruvian peppers to be able to plant in the garden at home. They are ridiculously hot, so I'm not sure what we will be able to put them in, but it will be interesting.
 
I'm sure you're probably tired of baptism pictures, but they're all I have. I will try and take more next week. Course, I have said that almost every week of my entire mission...
 
Love Ya,
Trace



 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Joy

Hello all

We had a great week this week full of miracles and happiness. That sounds a little fruity when I type it, but it's true. First of all, my new companion, Elder Antuña, arrived this week from Trujillo. He is a really tall Argentine guy, and he is funny, let me tell you. Supe smart and really hard-working. All in all, a great companion, and a great last companion at that. We are doing well.
 



We also had the baptism of Brillit Villareal, as you will see in the pictures. She is a great young lady who's parents are both members, but went inactive for a little while. She was a dream to teach, simply because she knew everything and understood everything. There really are chosen people out there ready to receive the gospel. We just have to find them! That's where you guys as members can help out a lot.
 
Everything else is going great. The weather is finally warming up, so that's nice. It can get really cold being right here by the sea, but now that the sun's out almost all day I'm enjoying it a lot. Food's not so bad, lots of friends... I can't complain. The mission really is the best. Hope everyone is doing well. Enjoy your week!
Trace

No Longer On Deck. At the Plate Now...

Hello world!
 
Well, I can't believe it either, but it's official. I am now in my last change. Elder Hill deuced out of Chimbote yesterday and is going back to the USA today, so I am now officially the oldest missionary in the mission. I of course will be getting a new companion on Tuesday. His name is Elder Antuña, and he is from Argentina. As they say here in the mission, he will be the one to "kill" me. I don't know who he is actually, but the say he is pretty cool. I'm excited.
 
We had a baptism this week too, so we sent Elder Hill off right. Enhiel Jara was baptized, and he is officially the newest deacon in our ward. He is a great young man who, like I said last week, is a reference from another deacon in the ward. Just goes to show that you can do missionary work at any age.
 
Hope you guys like the pictures. I took one of the baptism, and also of Elder Hill's goodbye to the ward at the bus terminal in Chimbote. They were sad to see him go. Also snapped one of my pensionista's dog, Horus. I thought Mom would especially like that one.
 
 
Can't believe how fast the time has gone, but I'm going to push right up to the end! Love you guys
Trace

Goodbye, Friend

Hello all
 
Can't believe I'm writing you guys again. The weeks sure fly by now. I've never had time go by so fast in my life! I'm actually pretty bummed today because I'm realizing that it's going to be my last week with Elder Hill. He's going home this coming Sunday, and it's scaring me for two reasons: 1. He's been one of my best comps, so my new comp will have big shoes to fill, and 2. Once he leaves, I will be the next missionary to be outta here. Sad that we're already at that point, but I suppose that's life. Gotta just take what comes.
We are still working hard and doing great though. We have a lot of people set up to be baptized in these next three or four weeks, starting with Enhiel this week. He is a reference from another one of the deacons in our ward, so that just goes to show that even young people can sure the gospel with their friends. Enhiel actually reminds me of Garrett a lot. I feel like I'm going to teach and baptize my little cousin. The ward is starting to help us out a lot, and more people are coming to church too! We had a huge turnout at the stake conference this week, which was great since Elders David A. Bednar and Richard G. Scott both spoke to all of Peru via satellite. It was nice to hear their messages specifically to us.
 
I love you all and hope you are doing well. Don't have any pictures this week, but I'll be taking some with Elder Hill this last week and will send them along. Have a great week.
 
T

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Welcome Gift

Family!

Well, first of all I want to thank you guys and the Owen family as well for the amazing packages that I received this week. It had been so long since I had tasted Sour Patch, Cheez its, or any other sort of American treat, and let me just say, they were all delicious. Definitely gave me a burst of energy to finish the week strong. You guys are awesome!
 
In terms of the work, we are just trucking along as usual. We have found a lot of new people this week, and we have seen truly amazing results come from working with the ward. Elder Hill and I do divisions with the elders quorum every single Sunday now, and it has been a great way to get to know the brethren and also to meet lots of less active and inactive members. Most people think that a missionary's job is to solely baptize as many people as he can, but a very important part of our work is to strengthen the ward as well. It has been rewarding to help many less actives and inactives come back to church. In the process, one also finds lots of new people to teach.
 
Other than that, everything is going quite normal. Elder Hill ends soon, but we aren't even feeling it. Having so much experience together helps a lot. We both know what to do and when. We're going to need that with more sisters coming into the zone! There are a ton of sisters in the mission now...
 
Hope you are all doing well. Can't wait to see you soon. Enjoy the pic of me in the front room of our house.
 


Love Trace
 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Still Going

Hello all

It really is insane just how fast all of the weeks fly by. Feels like just yesterday that I was emailing you guys. But the miracle I talked about last week came to full realization this past weekend. Pedro was baptized and confirmed! He asked Elder Hill to baptize him, and me to confirm him. It was a great moment for us, for him, and for the ward as well. He was introduced to the Church by his girlfriend. It continues to impress me just how many people are introduced to the gospel not by street contacting, the Internet, or other materials, but simply by good and faithful members who help others see what they believe in and what makes them happy. Members, not missionaries, really are the lifeblood of missionary work. 
 
Lately, we have been focusing a lot on how we can help the ward, instead of just focusing on how many baptisms we can get. This strategy really has worked wonders. All the members in the ward know us and love us now, and they are all more than willing to help us out, accompany us to lessons, and give us references as well. Being friendly really does work I guess.

Hope you all are doing well. All the fall fun is beginning to start. I can't believe it's football season already! As you all know, the Cowboys will win the Super Bowl, and Texas the National Championship. I'll be there to see both.
Love you all, and Hook em Horns
T

Preparation

Hello all!

Well, not too much to report this week, but I did send a picture, so you will be proud of me for that at least. Elder Hill and I actually live in a super nice house (on Peruvian standards), and so here you can see a photo of me on our balcony. It is pretty nice, I won't lie. After a long day of proselyting, I do enjoy going back home to a nice room with a nice bad.
 
 
This week went by incredibly fast. Mostly at this point we are just preparing people to be baptized. The biggest miracle we saw this week was how much Pedro, one of our eternal investigators, has changed. I actually wasn't at the lesson that turned everything around since we were on splits, but supposedly Elder Hill just invited him to be baptized this coming Saturday, and he said yes! And this after having rejected us day after and when we invited him to a specific date. The Lord works in mysterious ways I suppose.
 
The ward is also really starting to support us, which is great. We have made really good friends with the bishop, and also with other ward members. The ward really makes missionary work go, so be sure to help the missionaries out in your own wards!
I love you all. Hope everyone has a great week, especially Tess who is now in COLLEGE! Way to go. Have lots of fun.
Trace

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Breakthrough

Hello all

Well, we had a great week with the baptism of Ada Luz. She chose me to baptize her, which was a real honor, even though the water was quite cold. The baptismal fonts are not heated in Peru, so in the winter AND at 7 pm, the baptismal water straight from the tap can be pretty chilly. But it went well. What was great was that the ward really helped us out a lot for this one. Almost 40 people showed up and everybody played their part well. Someone accompanied on the piano (not me for the first time I can remember), there was a special musical number (that one was me), some members brought a snack to share afterwards, and all in all it was just a great showing. Her whole family came too, and we are hoping to get them baptized ASAP. Just gotta get them married first!
 
 
Everything else is going great. Elder Hill and I get along too well sometimes. We have lots of fun. We now have a frisbee AND a soccer ball in our room, so that makes for some interesting study sessions. I'm quite sad that he is going home in 5 weeks. He is a good guy.
 

Hope you are all doing well. Enjoy the pictures of the baptism, Love you all!
Trace

I'll Die In Chimbote

Hello all!

Yes, it's official. Even though I already knew it was probably going to happen, it is now official that I will end my mission here in Chimbote. The reason why is because we received changes last night, and neither my comp nor I got changed, so I will definitely be the one that "kills" him, and then I will end my mission 6 weeks later. Time sure flies eh?
In more happy news, we will be having a baptism this Saturday! I'm so excited for Ada Luz Guanilo to be baptized. She really is a great young lady, and she has made so many friends in the ward that it is really impressive to my companion and I. Her parents are still working on getting married and whatnot, but we're getting there. Hopefully they will be baptized in September. Other than that, we are just trying hard to find lots of new investigators. Besides the Guanilo family, we aren't teaching too many people, which kind of stinks. We are still pushing hard with our Book of Mormon program though.
 
Everything else is going great here. Still cold and still missing Trujillo (just a little bit), but Chimbote is nice. It will be a great place to end my mission too.
Love you all!
Trace

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Grind

Hello all

The grind never stops in missionary work, and sometimes you just have to get through the tougher weeks to see the big blessings. We have had a lot of success lately, but this week was a bit harder. No worries though, because we will see the hand of the Lord soon enough!
The Book of Mormon program has actually been working out well with the members. I hope that you guys have been asking your friends the two questions as well! We have received a ton of references from it, and the members are getting excited about talking to their friends about the Book of Mormon. The problem is, we haven't been able to find too many of those people in their houses. We just have to be patient though, and the lessons and baptisms will come.
What really has me excited is that we are teaching an entire family!! I have never baptized an entire family in my mission, but this one really has potential. They still aren't married, and we are working hard on that (it is SO hard to get people married in this country, it's ridiculous), but we feel that it will come if it is the will of the Lord. The oldest daughter of the family is getting baptized no matter what on the 17th of this month, so we are excited. Pray for them!
 
Hope you all are doing well. Sorry for the lack of pictures. I will take some next week, I promise!
Love
Trace

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I'm Still Having Fun

Hello all

I attach that title to my email this week just in case anyone thinks that I'm getting really tired and near dead. I am getting tired, but I am still having fun as well. The mission is the best, but is certainly a marathon and not a sprint. I appreciate sleep a lot more than I used to.
 
 
We had another baptism this week, this time of a great young man named Bryam (not Bryan). He simply  joined the church thanks to the example of his two best friends, Paulo and Bruno, who are also members. The three of them always hung out, and Paulo and Bruno continually talked to Bryam about how great the church was until he joined himself! Seriously, you guys can never underestimate the influence that you have on your friends and family. That's why it's so important to share your testimony with everyone you can.
We are still doing great here. Elder Hill and I have a lot of fun, especially since we have a lot of time and experience in the field, we understand when it's time to have fun and when it's time to work. He is a great guy.
One scripture that really changed my week was Alma 36:24-25. Read it and think about the impact that we can have on other people's lives as we do missionary work.



Hope you enjoy the picture of the baptism and also of me in a giant grass field in our area. Interestingly enough, there is almost no grass where we are, so this is certainly a rare occurence.
Love you all.
Trace
 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Baptisms and Revelation

Hello family and friends!

Well first of all, we did have our baptism of Alonso, which was a great experience. His mom and sister came too, which made the experience even more special. Unfortunately, Alonso's family had to have the baptism in the afternoon, which is a time that most Peruvians are out at work, so not too many members showed up, but it was a baptism nonetheless. Next time we will work a little harder on spreading the word and planning. We have one baptism planned for this coming Saturday, so we are excited for that!
 
 
In other news, we have stumbled on to an idea that is changing our zone, area, and stake! It is a program that was put on by a Seventy a long time ago that has to do with sharing the Book of Mormon with just two questions. He gives a talk on how we can ask the following two questions to any person that we meet, and share the BOM easily:
1. Do you like to read?
2. If I gave you a book that talked about Jesus Christ in the Americas, would you read it?
You then just have to write down the address of that person, give the address to the missionaries, and they provide a Book of Mormon that you can write your testimony in. They then go and give it to that person, and are usually allowed in to teach the message of the Restoration. And that's where it all starts! Isn't it such an easy program? And let me tell you, we are already seeing some huge miracles thanks to putting it in practice. The stake president even invited us to speak at two different stake firesides last night to present the program. I want to invite all of you to do the same thing with just one person this week. It's not hard at all! Just ask the two questions, and you will see the miracles!
 
 
Hope you enjoy the pictures of the baptism, and of me discovering a bunch of American sodas in a store next to our home. I went nuts.
Love you all!
 
T

Chilly

Hello all

I think I complained about how cold it is here in every letter that I sent out, so sorry if I sound like a whiner. Haha. It actually is only maybe 57 degrees here during the day, which isn't very cold at all, but since I've been in Peru for over a year and a half now, my body has gotten used to Peru weather, and 57 degrees is quite cold for the coast, so throw me a sweater and call me a cholo.
 
We are actually doing great though. We have been trying to find a lot of new investigators lately, which hasn't worked out all that well, but we aren't getting down. If I've learned anything in the mission, you got to be positive. If not, that's where Satan steps in and tells you that you can't do it. We will be having a baptism this Saturday though, which is exciting. He's a whopping 8 years old, and his name is Alonso. He's a great little kid who comes to church every Sunday with the Primary president. She's a great lady.
 
Hope everything is going well with you guys. Try and give the old lucky Astros do-rag a rub for me. The reason why we suck so bad is probably because I'm not there to work the do-rag! 
 
Love you all
Alma 26
Trace
 

Monday, July 8, 2013

It's Cold

Hello all

I never thought that I would say that on my mission, but it really is getting kinda chilly here. I wear my sweater every day and sleep with two blankets every night. Since central heating/cooling doesn't exist in any building in Peru (besides the temple), a cement house can get pretty chilly at night. It's alright though. It's definitely better than walking under the blazing sun all day.
 
 
We had an interesting week. We finally got to meet President and Sister Marler, and they are both awesome. President Marler actually reminds me a lot of Bishop DeBusk. He is a happy, very relaxed grandfather. He still wants to work hard, but he really enjoys talking to people and helping them out. Usually my interviews with President Turk lasted about 10 minutes. My interview with President Marler lasted half an hour. Both are great men.

Anyway, Elder Hill and I are doing great. We have lots of fun, as you can see by the picture I am enclosing of me shooting  arrows at our white board. Sometimes you just have to relax a bit. The mission can get pretty stressful sometimes. I'm also putting in a picture of an awesome drawing made purely from chalk that I saw a few weeks ago. Peruvians have some quirky talents.
 
 
If you guys want to see more pictures from the mission, Hermana Marler has decided to keep the MPT blog going! The address is kurtandkathymarler.blogspot.com
Love you all!
Trace

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Happy 4th

Hey everyone

Hope you guys are having a great summer so far...can't believe it's almost halfway over...stinks for you guys who have to go back to class! Anyway, hope everyone has a great 4th of July first off. Are you guys going to be doing anything special? I am sure there will be a lot of smoked meat...though I suppose if Dad and Taylor are gone, maybe not! Eat a burger and a dog for me though.
 
Everything is going great here. It is actually really cold, since we are right next to the sea, and also right in the middle of winter, but that's life I suppose. It is still not that bad at all, to be honest. I've lived in Peru so long that I've become a weenie, and 60 degrees seems really cold to me. The new mission president is here though, so that should be really interesting! We haven't gotten to know him yet actually, but we will meet him and his wife this week when they come down to Chimbote. We are very excited!
 
Otherwise, Elder Hill and I are just working like monkeys and trying to get everyone that we can baptized! This new ward is actually really awesome, and bigger than any other that I've been in. The work is picking up.
 
 
Hope you guys enjoy the picture of me with my favorite family in Central. I miss them. Miss you all!
Trace
 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Chimbote

Hello everyone!

I passed my first week here in Chimbote, my new and most likely last area, and it is definitely interesting. First thing is that the area is ginormous. In Central, our area was a rather small sector of the city, meaning that it was very easy to organize things and proselyte quickly. With such a large area here, it's a bit more difficult! My companion, Elder Hill, has only been here for 4 weeks due to the short change we just had, so we are both flying blind here. It will all be alright though. The Lord always provides. It is really cold here though, since we are right next to the ocean, so that's not too much fun.
 
We had to say goodbye to President and Sister Turk yesterday. It was quite sad to be honest. They gave a hug to each and every one of us, which was really special. They are great people who have changed my life and the lives of many others. They will be leaving Friday night, and President and Sister Marler will be getting here at about the same time. It is definitely a mix of emotions.
 
So sorry that all the emails kinda stink this week. I won't be able to send pictures yet again this week because I forgot my camera cord. I suck, I know. I will be much better at time management next week. I Love you all!
 
Trace

Friday, June 21, 2013

I Hate Goodbyes!

Hello all

Yes, the sad news came last night, I will be heading out of Central after just 6 months in this blessed (and I don't say that sarcastically) area. I feel like I have been here for such a short time, but I suppose that's a trick that my mind is playing on me due to my overly long stay in Alto Moche. I am pretty pumped about my new area though. I will going to a city called Chimbote, which is about two hours by bus south of Trujillo. Ironically, the room I will be sleeping in was the first room I ever slept in on the way to Huarmey, my very first area. Full circle, right? I am also excited to be with Elder Hill, my new companion. He is from Utah, and is just a ball of energy. Should be fun. Can you believe that it will be my very last area though?? How the time flies...

We at least got to end the stay here in a great way, with a baptism of an awesome man named Carlos Arbildo. He is from the jungle of Peru, and is staying in Trujillo to study. His sister was murdered just 2 weeks ago, and then a week after that his favorite aunt died as well. Through it all, he has been strong with his commitment to be baptized. Elder Massey did the ordinance on Saturday, and I confirmed him on Sunday. I will surely miss him. There are a few other people that I will be leaving behind that will be baptized this month, so the change is certainly bittersweet.

I had a bunch of pictures to send, but we went to a really ghetto internet cafe today, so I can't really do it. I will send them all next week though.

Happy travels
Trace

We're Packed In

Hello all! (side note: if any on the sending list don't want to receive my weekly email, feel free to tell me. I won't be offended. Frankly, I would be quite annoyed if some missionary sent me their letter every week and I didn't even want to read it in the first place)

Anyway, it has been a great week here, especially with all the blessings from the Lord that we are seeing. We had 15, that's right, FIFTEEN investigators go to church with us yesterday, and 5 of those are committed to be baptized this month. I'm not sure if the Lord is just really pleased with us, or if we're just finally starting to figure out how to be good missionaries, but everything is going right. I just hope against hope that I don't get changed out this coming Sunday. This change was short due to President and Hermana Turk leaving, so I might get the outs 2 weeks early. I'm hoping for a miracle though. Who knows, I might stay after all! I am still definitely taking advantage of all the fast food here though, just in case.

Explanation of the pictures:

1. Me with the KFC bucket...actually I guess that is pretty self-explanatory.


2. My shoelace just snapped in half the other day. I guess I really am getting old.


CONGRATS TO TAYLOR AND CHRISTY!!!!!! I LOVE YOU GUYS!

Love you all!
T

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Two Down, A Lot More To Go...

Hey family and friends

My inbox was flooded from mail from you guys. So good to be able to hear from all of you, and sorry if I couldn't respond to each personally! We have just a limited amount of time unfortunately.

First off, we of course had the two miracle baptisms this week. You guys already know the stories of Rosa and Fernando, so I'll spare you the pains of telling it all over again, but I did enclose the pictures of their baptism day. It went well, and we actually had a lot of people show up, more than at any other baptism I've had here. Unfortunately, the bishop didn't kneel this time in front of everyone in the group picture (that's for you, Elder Richards).

Other than that, it was a rather typical week. I did get pulled in last minute yesterday to go to Casa Grande (rural area about an hour north of Trujillo) to play piano at their stake conference, which President and Hermana Turk were attending. I accompanied the congregation and the choir, which went alright until the director handed me some random piece at the end that was really hard. I butchered the piano part, the choir was completely off, and the missionaries came in to sing as well and started going a totally different speed. Hands down the most interesting stake conference I've ever been to.

Anyway, hope you all had a great week! I miss you and love you.
Trace


PS I'll send the other pics next week. Comp was going super slow

Monday, May 27, 2013

Miraculous

Hello all!

Can't believe another week has flown by. Time sure goes faster as you get older in the mission. We were really happy with the work we did this week though! We officially have two people that will be getting baptized this coming Saturday: Rosa and Fernando. They are both great people who were truly prepared by the hand of the Lord to receive the gospel. Rosa is a single mother who was actually referred to the Church by her friend who lives in the USA. She even watched all of general conference at a time that she didn't even know the missionaries! She came to church two weeks in a row and requested baptism. Fernando is a really humble man who lives with his aunt, something that's very common here in Peru, even when they're adults. He is very simple, but has a strong testimony about the Book of Mormon. Open your mouth and share the gospel guys! You never know where it will take the people that you share it with.



Otherwise, everything is great. We are trying to lay off the American food lately and eat more Peruvian food (much cheaper). I like it, but am a bit tired of eating the same thing every day. It's been really cold this week too! I even broke out the sweater for the first time in an entire year!
My favorite dish that I have been eating a lot lately is called aji de gallina. It is basically boiled chicken and potatoes covered in a yellow gravy that is made of crushed up saltine crackers, oil, and chooped up aji, or spicy peppers. It is really spicy and totally delicious. It sounds easy to make, so I plan on learning how so I can make it for Xmas eve dinner this year! Beware! The most common job here is to either work construction, or to make a little store of food and drinks in your house. THe supermarkets are for rich people only, but that's where I can find almost all the American stuff that I buy. About 80% of Peruvians are self-employed.

Hope you enjoy the picture of the house we live in!

Love ya
Trace

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Changes...And Still No Changes

Hello all!

I apologize beforehand that I have no pictures to send. Some weeks just go by without too much happening! We did have a great week though, with lots of investigators coming to church, and a bunch of new people coming out of the woodwork. We are so happy to be seeing the fruits of our labors lately. It has been hard to go so long without baptisms and whatnot, but I know that it is all in the Lord's plans. We will see what He has in store for us this change.

But changes did come, and there was no change for me! Elder Massey and I will be staying together for 4 more weeks here in Central, and then I will probably get the boot. The changes are normally 6 weeks, but this one is shorter since President Turk is leaving! We are so sad to see them leave, but we are also excited for President and Sister Marler to come. Things are changing around here.

Not too much else to say, but I will try and send pics next week. Love you guys!

Trace

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Fine Week

Hello family and friends!

First, it was so good to see some of you yesterday via Skype. I sure am glad that technology has caught up big time and that I was able to see you guys all 4 times during my mission. Can't believe it was the last call, to be honest...where has all the time gone? I guess we can't focus on the past though...gotta keep pressing forward to the future.

Anyway, we had a great week this week with TWO baptisms, ending a ridiculously long drought that we were having. I don't know if I already told you guys the story, but Elder Massey and I were simply walking down the street a few weeks ago on a slow SUnday afternoon, when we heard two little kids from a window calling out to us. That happens rather frequently here in Trujillo with two white guys walking together, but luckily my companion was sensitive to the spirit and stopped to talk to them. Their names are Josue and Karla, and turns out that their mom is a less active member from Lima, and neither of the kids had been baptized yet. Missionary miracle! The baptismal service went great, especially since the leaders of the Primary organization helped us out big time. The ward is definitely looking up.

WE also found another miracle this week...and not in terms of investigators. While looking for an investigator that Elder Richards and I used to teach, we stumbled into a little burger place that was in some Peruvian's garage, and found...wait for it...some white guy from San Antonio. Who didn't speak Spanish. Who was making delicious, cheap burgers. With American ingredients. And he had UT decorations on his wall. Can you believe it? Obviously, we bought an INCREDIBLE burger from him, and chatted for awhile about Texas. Couldn't believe that I would meet another Texan (who wasn't a missionary) all the way over here in Trujillo.


Anyways, I miss you guys! Hope everything is going well.
Trace

Monday, April 29, 2013

An Incredible Week!

Hello all!

It was definitely a week never to be forgotten, with the long awaited visit of Elder Bednar. I must say, he was quite the charismatic and funny man, something that I never really thought was in his style! He definitely gave us lots of great council though, particularly in the field of leadership, something that I had been wondering a lot about lately. He said that oftentimes, the Lord puts the weakest of the weak as His leaders, so that their weakness can be on display. When they become strong, others can see that if He was able to work that kind of miracle with the leader, He could do it with them as well! I felt the Spirit so much when he talked. I know that he is an Apostle of the Lord!

Otherwise, it has been a fine week. We are in the process of preparing a lot of people for baptism, but the work is a bit slow. It is a tough part of town here in the center, since so many people are quite wealthy and just a little bit prideful. They just don't know that everyone needs the gospel in their lives!

I don't have pictures this week, but I do have a scripture for everyone to read. Check out D&C 78:17-18. I hope that it will lift the spirits of all those who are troubled and sad. It definitely helps me stay positive.

I love you all, I'm low on time!

Trace

Monday, April 22, 2013

We Work, Work, Work...

Hello all!

Well my inbox was just stuffed to the gills this week because of all the emails I've received, so just bear with me if these community letters get a little shorter, since I've got to respond to a lot more people now. I'll get it down to a science, I'm sure. I'll also start trying to send more pictures to make up for it.



Everything is going great here. We are having some great results come out of all our work, but it seems that all of our potential baptisms are falling through! We can't really understand why, either. We seemed to have just so many super prepared investigators, but all of them have failed us lately. It sometimes gets really frustrating working around people's agency, but that's the beauty of the plan of salvation right? I've got to work on getting more patience. I'm really excited to get all of my worries calmed by ELDER DAVID A. BEDNAR this week. I still can't believe he is coming to our mission. President is sending out a lot of guidelines and different things for us to follow for when he gets here. I am so pumped! I have never met an Apostle before, and I'm sure it will be an unforgettable experience. I know he is a special witness of Jesus Christ!

Otherwise, things are going along as usual. It is starting to actually get cold here, but I really like that. It gets pretty tiring walking around in the sun all day. I have gotten completely used to the hustle and bustle of the city too. Trujillo really is a super young city demographically, just because there are so many universities here. We are looking for more future missionaries to teach!

Anyway, love you all. Hope you enjoy the pictures. One is of my comp and I, bored at the clinic (we had to take another missionary there who had gotten sick). The other is of me at Buenos Aires, one of the areas in our zone that has a sweet view of the ocean.



Trace

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Hey everybody! (in Ricky voice)

I hope you guys are doing great. The biggest news this week is the change in email rules from Church HQ! All the missionaries are pretty excited about it. We are now allowed to email any and everybody that doesn't live within the mission limits. So feel free to pass along my email address to all the friends and other family that want to write me, because now I can read it and respond to it! Pretty exciting eh? I am pretty surprised that the Church changed those rules, but it is cool nonetheless. I hope I should be getting more emails next week!

We had a great week here with my new companion. Elder Massey is a real country boy, and so we have lots of fun stories to tell each other and compare. He is a really hard worker, so we are excited to see all the progress in the ward and area. We are getting better, little by little. The ward was pretty sorry when I first arrived, but now it is looking way better. Attendance is up to almost 100 every week! (That is pretty good for Peru). We are working with some great investigators, and have seen a lot of members coming out of the woodwork to help us out as well. It is pretty exciting, I must say.

Other than that, we are just working hard to get as many people as we can to church. Church starts at 8 am here, so as not to interfere with the lunch hour at 1pm (sacred time in Peru). It is a bit annoying, because it is hard to get people up so early, but it's alright. I know the Lord will bless us for our diligence! Everything else is going great. THe weather is finally cooling down a little bit, and that makes this Ricky happy!

Hope you enjoy some of me and Elder Richards' last pictures together. We burned one of his shirts before he left. Crazy stuff.

Love ya!
T



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Changes Come, Changes Go

Hello all!

Well, it's that time of year again...changes! I stayed here in Central as expected, since I only have 3 months here, but as we also predicted, Elder Richards is outta here. I'll be sad to see him go, since we have made really good friends. He will be finishing his mission in just 6 more weeks, so I will miss him. He's been a really good dude. Good news is, I have another great companion! It sure is nice to be able to speak some English for a little while. His name is Elder Massey, and he is from North Carolina. I have known him for a long time, and he will be super fun to be with. He is a really hard worker, so that is exciting too. We're going to baptize the whole world here in Central Zone!

General conference was awesome. We had 5 different investigators come with us to the different sessions, and they absolutely loved it! I was able to see some sessions in English and others in Spanish, but I always tried to see them in English when I could. It is much better to hear the speaker's real voice, and it makes the stories better as well. I loved President Monson's talk on Sunday morning, and also really enjoyed Elder Holland's talk on Sunday afternoon. The priesthood session was dope as usual, and President Uchtdorf's talk really touched me. Which ones did you guys like?

Otherwise, things are going great here. We are trucking along and working hard. We are getting a ton of new missionaries once again in this change, so we will be opening areas and doing all kinds of other fun things. Exciting!

I do love the Easter candy, thanks so much! I have been using the jump rope as well...it rocks! I have been entering into the "6 months of sexy" as they call it here in the mission...basically where the missionaries who have 6 months or less left in their mission try to lose all the weight they have gained. That's me!!!

I am attaching a picture of my companion when we decided to play "Chubby Bunny" the other day. He was able to fit 11 marshmallows in his mouth. He beat me! Funny stuff happens when missionaries have a little bit of free time...






Love you guys!
T

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Fools, Ricky Rules

Hey everybody!

Well, hope that you all had a fabulous Easter. I'm sure the food was delicious as usual. We actually had some tasty fish yesterday, complete with rice and fried bananas. It's a Peruvian tradition to eat fish Good Friday, Saturday, and Easter Sunday, since that's what Jesus ate when He was resurrected. It kinda stinks after awhile, because they literally don't sell chicken or beef for those three days, but I took it well enough. I definitely won't be wanting to eat any seafood or rice when I get home though. I've had my fill of that here!

Good Friday is the big thing they celebrate here. Easter Sunday really brought nothing at all. It was a bit creepy to be honest, walking the streets this past Friday since there was literally NOBODY outside. We still found a lot of people at home though, since everybody ended up sleeping for the holiday. That seems to be the overall tradition for Peruvian holidays: sleeping. I love it too! My companion and I have started sleeping for two hours now right after studies end at 10am on Pday. It is glorious!


Everything else is going well. We are finally starting to enter into cooler weather, so that is quite enjoyable. The sun beating down on you all day can get pretty tiring. We are also super excited since Elder David A. Bednar is coming on the 25th of this month!!! I have never seen an apostle in person before, not even in the MTC, so I am super excited about that. It should be great. I'm just counting down the days.


Hope everyone is doing well. Enjoy the baptism pictures that I was finally able to send from three weeks ago. I'll try to have some cool ones for this upcoming week.



Love ya!
T

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Happy Easter!!

Hey everybody,

Well sheesh I'm sorry everyone got sick this week. Looks like it hasn't been too fun over there, but at least everyone is pulling out of it. Being sick in the spring is certainly no fun at all. I hope it's finally starting to get warm there. Texas March weather is often beautiful, as long as it doesn't stay too cold. I miss it!

I know you all will kill me, but the stupid computer isn't reading my camera again, so I have no pictures to send. I have been really bad about taking pictures out here, but I really do have some this time! I will get them to you guys ASAP. I wish I was better at taking photos. I'll try to do better.

Honestly, everything has been going great here. Not too much news to tell, but we are preparing a lot of people to keep progressing towards baptism. We actually have a good number of investigators now, and they are all great people who just need a little push towards the right direction. Keep praying for them! We did have a great lesson this week with a little girl named Stephany, who is the niece of a member. She lives there with her aunt, and is preparing to get baptized this week. We taught her a fun lesson on tithing, but I absolutely lost it when she read the scripture in Malachi 3 where the Lord says He will pour out blessings from the windows of heaven if we pay tithing. Instead of saying "Jehová de los ejércitos" (the Lord of Hosts), she said "Jehová de los ejercicios" (the Lord of Exercises). Kids say the funniest things. Needless to say, we all started laughing quite hard, and the lesson ended up going fine.

I haven't gotten the Easter box yet, but we still haven't picked up mail this week, so I'm confident that it should be there tomorrow!  I can't wait, since I'm pretty much plumb out of goodies now!  Here, Easter is a bigger deal than Christmas.  They call it "Semana santa" which means Holy Week.  Lots of Catholic parades and whatnot.  Pretty interesting.  They only eat fish on Saturday and Sunday though, which I'm not looking forward to!

I love you guys so much. I hope you are all doing great. It's incredible to see just how much everyone is growing up. I miss you all.

Trace

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Baptism!

Hello all!

Well, I am glad that you guys all had huge blast of fun fun in your respective west coast getaways! I must say that I was super jealous reading all of you fun experiences! The pictures were beautiful, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves to the max. Looks like we will have to plan some more travel time when I get back!

Here in Trujillo, it was business as usual! We worked really hard this week, even though poor Elder Richards was super sick. On top of that, he had to take a trip to Lima to get some of his documents renewed, so that wasn't fun for him. Going to Lima only meant one good thing though...he brought home Dunkin Donuts!!!!! It was the best part of my week, for sure. You end up forgetting all of the tasty American food that you miss. I definitely had been jonesing for some donuts!

We did have a baptism this week of a great young girl named Gabriela. She is 13, and reminded me a lot of Tess: a bit shy at first, but super cool once you got to know her. She had been introduced to the church by one of her friends, and just loved going there every time. Now her mom and dad are listening to the lessons and coming to church as well, and we just have to get them married before they can get baptized too! We are so excited for them, especially since I have never baptized an entire family before. I really hope it will happen. Pray for them!

I'm on a ghetto computer, so I'm not going to be able to send pictures this week, but I definitely will next week. Sorry they won't be as cool as all the nice ones you guys took! I'm glad you enjoyed your spring breaks so much though. It is awesome here in Trujillo as well!

I miss you and love you all. Keep the missionaries in your prayers!
Love
Trace

Friday, March 15, 2013

Nose To The Grindstone

Hello all!

Well, sometimes I feel that my letters must be pretty darn boring to read, but there's some weeks in the mission where you just work and work and work and nothing out of the ordinary really happens. This was one of those weeks. Elder Richards and I have been trying hard to find lots of people to get baptized, and we are having a fair bit of success. We found a great young family that has been coming to church, but since the parents aren't married, progress is a bit slow. Otherwise, we have just been working through the members and trying to find people prepared to hear the gospel! It is hard, but quite fun! I really do love the scripture I sent you guys last week in 2 Nephi 28:24 that says "Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!" It has become my motto lately. We can never stop working as long as we are here on Earth!

Anyway, everything else is going nice. We are finally starting to get out of the super hot weather (February is the worst month here), but I still find myself sweating like a pig with regularity. The area is great though, since we get to eat delicious food, and things are more attractive to look at. I plan on taking some pictures this week of me in front of the largest mosaic wall in the world. It is actually right outside our room, and encompasses the biggest university in Trujillo. I don't even know how many feet long it is, but it's huge.

Hope everyone has fun in all their Spring Break trips. Looks like you're all going to be heading somewhere exotic! Is the weather finally warming up nice? Is it getting hot? Hope you don't have a ridiculous summer like last year...but what that's what Texas is all about I guess. Hope you enjoy the picture of me analyzing the zone's numbers for the week. I'll try to take more interesting ones soon.


Love ya!
Trace

Monday, March 4, 2013

March Already?!

Hello family!

Bit of a hectic week here in the center of Trujillo, though not too much news involved with me personally. What was shocking was the fact that we received 35 new missionaries this week! Nuts! That is the biggest group that we have gotten in a LONG time here, and three of those new missionaries ended up coming to the zone, which was pretty exciting. It is always fun to talk to new ones, because they are so full of hope and faith (and it's entertaining to poke a little bit of fun at them...hehe). They are doing well though, and we are having lots of fun in the Central zone! The picture I sent is of all of us, sorry that it is a little blurry.


Other than that, not too much is going on at the moment. Elder Richards and I are just working hard to make sure that we get some baptisms and help the ward out more. The ward we are in is really small, and there a lot of inactive folk, so there's really always something to do, which is great. Working is really the only way to solve problems on the mission.
Hope you guys have a lot of fun on your trips this upcoming week. You'll have to come down to Trujillo one of these days! I miss you and love you all.

 I did get the replacement package, and the one Taylor sent. Thanks! I loved the salty things - I can get some American candy bars here but the pretzels, chez-its and chips are completely non existent.  Those are my favorite things in the packages every time.  Thanks for keeping me connected to home!
Love
T

PS The other thing is that I was able to eat at Chili's in the mall here. First basket of chips and salsa in over 16 months! I almost died of happiness...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lots of Changes

Hey all!

Well, there weren't a lot of changes here for me specifically, since Elder Richards and I stayed together for another change! We are really excited that we will get to have fun for 6 more weeks, and help the other missionaries in our zone to have a lot of success as well. Some left and others stayed, but everyone looks geared up to work hard and accomplish their goals. Elder Richards and I had some McDonalds breakfast to celebrate this morning, and while it was a bit Peruvian, it was still delicious!

The big news is that we found out who the new mission president is going to be! D. Kurt Marler and his wife will be coming here on July 1. I am pretty darn sad that the Turks will be leaving soon, but I'm sure President and Sister Marler will do great. Since I will still have three changes left when they come, I will get to know them pretty well, I imagine. They are from California and look really nice. We also found out that the Church created FIFTY EIGHT new missions!! That is nuts. There are going to be two new ones in Peru as well, in Iquitos (jungle region to the east) and Huancayo (mountainous area east of Lima). That will mean 12 missions in Peru, with (almost) two temples and one more announced! That's pretty awesome! With huge groups of new missionaries coming in, it seems like the Lord really is speeding up His work!

I love you all and will send some pictures next week! Take care!
Trace

Monday, February 18, 2013

Triple Dipper

Hello family and friends!



I laughed this week, because almost everyone had an email title that had something to do with how fast time was passing. It is going by fast for me too, unfortunately!

This week, we had the privilege of baptizing three worthy converts! They were great people, and their baptismal services were very spiritual. Last P-day, we baptized Felicita and Yelsi, who are two sisters that came to Trujillo to live with their aunt. They are from the mountains of east Peru, and are just about the politest (is that a word?) young ladies that I have ever met. They were very, very quiet, but read the Book of Mormon and prayed right away, and knew without a doubt that it was true. They requested baptism themselves, which is something that doesn't happen too often! They truly are amazingly prepared young women. The other baptism was of an older man named Domingo (which, funnily enough, is "Sunday" in Spanish). He was the friend of a member, and after having attended the baptismal sevice of that member' s son, he had a strong desire to get baptized himself! He likes to talk a lot, and he also likes to read a lot, which really helped us out! He even read the Pearl of Great Price before his baptism! Interesting guy, and a great future priesthood holder.



Other than that, the week was a bit typical. We are having a 7 week change (usually changes are 6 weeks) because of the changing of the MTC schedule and whatnot (did you guys hear that those who are learning a new language are only going to stay there for 6 weeks now instead of 9? Crazy!), so it feels kinda weird to have a whole new week ahead of us, but Elder Richards and I are excited about it. Hopefully we stay together for another change! We are having lots of fun.

Love you and miss you all! A special shout out to Bishop Stebbing, since I hear he is getting released from the bishopric in the Capitol Ward. Hope all is well. Thanks for all you did for me bishop!

Love
Trace

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

21 Years Young

Hello all!

Well, it was quite a fun week, as you can see from the pictures. My birthday ended up being a great one, since I got to eat smoked chicken and chocolate chip cookies with ice cream! It was like an American meal just for me, though it really was for all the zone leaders in the mission. There was even another missionary (Elder Massey) that had his birthday on the EXACT same day, turning 21 as well. So I guess you could say we were brothers from another mother. Twins. Anyway, after the delicious lunch and doctrinal teaching by President Turk, we went and played soccer for two hours, which is a bit of a tradition here among the zone leaders after the conference. Though I still can't play to save my life, I had a lot of fun, and was happy to be in good company with fun stuff to do all day. It was a great birthday.


Other than that, the week was pretty normal. We did have interviews the next day, which was fun, and as you can see from the pictures, our training meeting with the rest of the zone was interesting as well. We did lots of hands-on activities, the best of which involved the sisters throwing the angry bird stuffed animals at my companion as he waved his arms in front of the dry erase board, trying to block them. You gotta have some pretty out of the box teaching to keep other missionaries interested in meetings, that's for sure. We are starting to have soom good success though, and we're especially excited for the two baptisms that we will have today! I have never baptized anyone on a P-day, but it should be a great experience! The two sisters that will be making the covenant are so sweet, and have really grown a lot in the time we have been teaching them. That spiritual growth is possible for everyone, if they just read, pray, and attend church! All we have to do is invite them to come unto Christ.


Hope you enjoy the pictures. I really am starting to look chubby in the face...


Love ya tons
Trace

Monday, February 4, 2013

Older But None The Wiser

Hello family and friends!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes, first off. I can't believe I'm 21, and I guess I'll just say that I don't want to be! Starting to feel a bit older now...I'd like to go back to being a kid again, if possible. Luckily, I will be having a fun birthday this year, since February 6 just happens to fall on the day of zone leader council! This means that I will get to hear some mind-blowing doctrinal teachings from President Turk, enjoy some delicious lunch at their house with the other zone leaders (their pensionista cooks incredible), and then play some soccer afterwards! Really, you can't ask for a better birthday celebration in the mission.

Everything is going great here in the work. It's been way too long since we had a baptism, but lately we have found a lot of prepared people. Jelsi and Felicita are two teenage sisters who just moved to Trujillo, and are living in the house of a member. They have read so little of the Book of Mormon, but they already know the truthfulness of it from their prayers! I love that God answers us, even if we have just put in a little bit of effort to find the truth. They will be getting baptized next week. The other miracle we have found is Victor and Veronica, a married couple who we stumbled across while looking for future investigators from the area book. Victor was very interested in religion, and had investigated just about every church with his wife, but they weren't satisfied with any of them. They prayed to know which church was true, but got no confirmation or answer. So...we come by and give them a Book of Mormon. They are now reading together, and told us yesterday that "ever since we started reading your book, everything in our life has gone right." Does that sound like a Liahona story or what? They will hopefully be getting baptized on the 23rd of this month. What a miracle.

Anyway, I'm sending a picture of Elder Cerpa and I (I'm looking real chubby) that Hermana Turk took and put up on her blog. Check it out to find an interesting story that involves us, Taylor, and Elder Cerpa's older brother!

Thanks to Papa especially for the delicious package full of goodies! We have already eaten everything!
And Thanks so much for the birthday money!  I really appreciate it.


Love you all,
Trace

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Marinera Week!

Hey all!

That's right, it is Marinera Week here in Trujillo, so there has been a lot of fun things to see while out proselyting. The Marinera is a traditional Peruvian dance that is actually really cool to watch. The ladies always have big traditional dresses, and the men always have their big hats, and it supposedly takes a lot of coordination and skill. The pictures I'm sending are of the Marinera Parade that happened right near our room. Everybody came to watch, and since we were walking to a teaching appointment, absorbed in our thoughts, we crossed the street right when everybody was coming by! So, inadvertently, us two white guys became part of the yearly Trujillo Marinera Parade. Fun, eh?



The work is advancing well here. The ward is pretty small, but we are working on getting everybody active and helping us get some references and whatnot. Everyone goes wild when I play the piano in sacrament meeting though. Really nobody here knows how to play, and the people get really excited to be able to play with accompaniment. Thanks to Mrs. Denise for always being patient and teaching me so well! It really is paying off in my life, and blessing the lives of others who have never heard a piano played live.

It's starting to get really hot here, which isn't too fun, but I am loading up on the Coca-Cola, so I'm good! I swear, that soda is a cure-all. I really need to start getting into shape though, so I think I'll start trying to run here every once in awhile. We will see how that goes...


Love you all! Can't believe I'll be back there with everybody in 9 short months...Kinda makes me sad!
Big welcome home to Ian Lindsey. Cuidate, che.

Trace

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Summer Training

Hi family!

That's right, it is summer here in Trujillo, and it sure is hot! We didn't teach too much this week, since we had leadership training on Tuesday and Wednesday with President and Hermana Turk! It was an absolute blast, and I sure learned a lot. President gave a great talk on how we really need to look inside ourselves and do a self evaluation in order to improve in our lives. Great concept!


We also had a lot of fun cleaning a chapel as a service project afterwards. As you can see from the pictures on Hna Turk's blog, the floor was pretty slippery, and I ate it pretty bad. Good times. We also went and ate some frozen yogurt at Pinkberry, which they have in the mall here in Trujillo. That was a blast from the past! Delicious!



Everything is going great here. I'm learning the area well enough, even though I am still relatively in shell shock, since I'm now longer walking on giant mountains of dirt. I do miss the beach sunsets that I would see in Alto Moche as well. Those were beautiful. Pray for us to find some more people to teach! There's not too much going on here, and we need some people to get baptized!!


Hi to Garrett and Tanya! I love sharing your postcards with the other missionaries every week. They love seeing their home state, since most of them are from Utah! Haha. You guys are so thoughtful. Thanks!

Love from Trujillo

Trace

Monday, January 14, 2013

City Slicker

Hey Everyone!

I am writing you guys from the center of Trujillo! I still can't believe that I am here, to be honest. My new area is called Central, and it is literally the very epicenter of the city of Trujillo. I am downtown, and our area even covers the giant famous plaza in the middle of the city. Everything is great here, even though it is pretty darn hot. I have been able to eat McDonalds, KFC, and Papa Johns this week, which I know I have said in all of my letters to you guys, but I don't think you understand just how big of a deal that is. Really made me incredibly happy.

Anyways, everything is going great. Elder Richards and I are getting along great, and having a lot of fun leading our zone to success! Everybody proselytes right here in Trujillo, so it is fun to just be updated on everything. We talk about baseball all day, and the things that we miss from the USA. Can you believe I have almost 15 months?? Time sure flies.

I will be giving you guys some more pictures and stories next week. This week was more of one of just getting to know the area and getting used to walking on sidewalks again. I miss Alto Moche, but this place, let's be honest, is WAY BETTER. It's good being a missionary right now.

I know you will hate me for not sending pics, but I will definitely do that next week! I just forgot myt camera cord like a dummy. Seriously, I am going to take more pìcs now, I promise!!!

Love ya
Trace

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ciao!

Hey family!

I am headed out of Alto Moche, finally! I can't believe the time has gone by this fast, but it's true, 8 months has been enough time, and I am ready to go. I was SO EXCITED when I got my change though...I'm going straight into the heart of Trujillo, in an area called Central to be a zone leader with one of my really good buddies, Elder Richards! I literally started jumping up and down when President called to tell me. Elder Richards is from Washington DC and is a super cool kid. Central is supposedly a really rich area too, which should be interesting since all my areas up to this point have been super poor. I will finally get to walk on cement again!

Anyway, other than changes, nothing else really happened. We had stake conference this week, which was nice, but nothing out of the ordinary. It is starting to get hard to stay comfortable in church now that we are entering into summer. There is obviously no air conditioning here, and being in a suit in a hot chapel is not very fun. But welcome to Peru. I really do love it.

I'll be sad to have to say goodbye to everyone tonight, but I suppose that's mission life. I'm ready for the next challenge, and I know there will be more prepared people for us in Central! It will bre great.

Love ya, I'll send pics next week.

Trace

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013...The Last Year?!?!

Hey all!

How are we already at that point, that I am saying that I am in my LAST YEAR of the mission?! Kinda sad to be honest, but that's life eh? Anyway, I had a great Christmas, just because I got to talk to you guys! We just kinda ran around all that day, teaching about the birth of Christ, which was fun and all, but all day I was anxious to get on Skype and chat! You guys are the best, that's for sure. This Christmas I have really understood the importance of family. Seeing everyone together with Mom and Dad and brothers and sisters here made me a bit sad, and I realized (for the first time, honestly) that Christmas honestly ISN'T about the gifts and the cookies and the food, but it's about being with the family and making memories. That just makes Christmas 2013 that much sweeter. Can't wait!

We had a baptism this week, which was a great way to finish the year! He used to be a youth preacher in another church, so I would say it was a small miracle. His name is Smith, and I had the privilege to baptize him, since I've been teaching him for almost 4 months now. He was a tough case. I'm wearing the fake glasses that another missionary gave me for Xmas. Super smart, right? You can't even see my sunburn in this picture!


New Year's will be pretty boring. We gotta be in the house at 7:30, so logically no partying. This is probably my last week in this area though, so expect lots of goodbye pictures next week.

Love you guys, and HAPPY 2013!
Trace

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2012

Dear Friends and Family,

I would like to take this time to send you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I have thanked my Heavenly Father every single day for the opportunity I have had to serve a mission here in Peru. It has certainly been a bittersweet experience with lots of ups and downs, but overall, I have felt the Spirit of the Lord so strong in the work, and I know that is due to the exercising of one important ingredient that I lacked in my pre mission life: love. I know that the love for these people that I feel is due to the Savior, Jesus Christ, and just how much he loves us. It is hard to walk down the streets every day and see the situations that many of these people endure, but I know that the light of the gospel that we bring to this little town makes absolutely everything better. I know that if they listen and apply the things that we teach them, they will not only find peace and enduring happiness in this life, but they will find eternal salvation with all their family in the life to come.

I know that we are here for a reason, that these two years are not a waste of time, nor simply a time to do humanitarian work or "make the world a better place". We are literally preparing souls to return back to our Heavenly Father, and for the part I have been able to play in that process, I am eternally grateful. I know that He loves us in an eternal way that we cannot comprehend. He knows us personally. He has called a prophet to lead us today, President Thomas S. Monson, who is an instrument in the hands of the Lord used to guide us back to Him. I know, without any doubt, that the Book of Mormon is true. It contains the words of Christ Himself, and through following the principles contained within, we will find eternal life.

I know that if this Christmas we choose to love a little more, if we choose to forgive and forget, and if we choose to try and lift the hands that hang down, we will save lives, starting with our very own. The greatest blessing of missionary work is that the convert who has most benefited from my efforts and the blessings of the Lord is just one: me. I wish you all a merry Christmas, and with hopes that the Lord will bless each and every one of you to save the life of another this year. After all, it is the birth of the Savior that we are celebrating. Feliz Navidad de Peru.
Elder Trace Levos