Oxapampa is so beautiful. I’m so grateful for the people here, the scenery, the fruit- literally everything is incredible.
Last P-day, we got to go to Caterata La Tigre, a fantastic hike ending in a transcendent waterfall! I hiked it in Sperrys, which was maybe not the best plan. We also ate at a restaurant called Feliz Dia, which the elderes here are obsessed with. It really was delicious. We received a list of names of menos activos (less active members) from the bishop, so we spent most of the night at his house learning more about the people we needed to visit. The barrio has 502 members, but only about 30 or so are active, so lots of work has to be done here with the menos activos. The bishop’s family is incredible and so loving, it’s been great to get to know them better!
On Tuesday, I studied paciencia (patience) and discovered it to be a result of faith and humility. I never thought of it this way before, and I kind of love it. We contacted in the park and encountered a woman who went to church in Lima and didn’t know where the church was here, a member! We chatted with her for a while and set a cita (appointment) to visit her later. All good things. All of our plans fell through after lunch, so we went contacting in Santa Domingo. We knocked ALL the doors, taught a few lessons to some Evangelists, and ran into a woman named Betty who asked a lot about our religion. We FAILED because we forgot to ask for her address!!! Following this, we helped a mamita break branches of wood for her fire and helped carry them to her house. We are teaching an investigator named Nadia, a 14 year old girl who loves Korean music, hates school, and wants to be baptized! We taught her a lot about baptism and repentance and are working with her to choose a baptismal fecha, because she wants to be baptized with someone else, not alone. That’s pretty frustrating. We’ve still got a lot to teach her, but hopefully later this week we can set a fecha bautismal. She made me sing Phantom of the Opera for her, and I’ve got a fan here in Peru now!!! La obra misional es tan chevre.
On Wednesday, we did Doce Semanas (new in-field missionary training lasting 12 weeks) and then we had to send my passport to nuestras lideres del zona in La Merced. SKETCHY. We had to send it by taxi, so we wrapped it in a booklet and also in a picture of Jesus that stares into your soul. (It got there safely, so I guess Jesus made it work.) :)
Today was really difficult. We didn’t feel the Spirit for most of the day. We tried to contact to no avail, had no success, and really couldn’t find anybody. Our citas didn’t show up. We went back to the capilla and tried to figure out where to go, and honestly all we could do was pray. We felt like we should visit a menos activo named Yisela, and we talked with her for a long time about her trials and prayed for her daughter, who constantly neglects her son. It was really good and we could feel the Spirit again! We then went to visit our investigator Dessyi, but she wasn’t there either. However, we found someone else there! I will preface this by saying that Hermana Alva had a dream that we would teach a family in English and help them with something. Well guess what. We ran into a man who was Peruvian, but grew up in New York! He spoke English!!! He was looking for an apartment for his family in the same complex as Dessyi, and we got to talk to him in English about our church. We helped him call the number for the apartments and talked with his wife, child, and him! They asked if we could help them get a Bible in English, and we got his contact information to do just that. (We’re going to throw in a Book of Mormon too.) Hopefully we get a new investigator!! :) We visited Nadia again afterwards, and talked with her about the importance of the Sacrament. We also taught Mara, who shared with us that before taking lessons, she was Catholic but she truly didn’t believe in God. I was able to share my experience of conversion with her. The lesson went in a COMPLETELY different direction than expected, and I can say with confidence it was 200% by the Spirit. I’m so grateful for the ability we have to truly follow the Spirit every day. :)
On Thursday, we got Hermana Cadena back!!! We went to La Merced for a reunion de zona, and almost died a few times on the way there. There are basically no rules on Peru roads, and everyone passes everyone really dangerously… That should tell you all you need to know. At the reunion de zona, an elder, Elder Cunningham, came up and compared height with me to make sure he could maintain his position as tallest in the zone. He can, by about one inch. It was tan chistoso. Then, the five of us here in Oxa travelled back and listened to Vocal Point and the Lamb of God. Good times. :) Hermana Luz met us (a member) and came with us to some citas. We visited a menos activo named Rosa, who wanted to know why she was still here when her sister was gone. Her sister passed away a few days ago of a heart attack. She really needed to know that she has a purpose here on Earth that is not yet completed. She felt really comforted by our visit and gave us sodas as we left. We visited the menos activo we found in the park the other day, Ayde, and talked with her and her husband Julio, who isn’t a member! We taught the Restoration, played with their new dog (which we named Keiko after the Peruvian presidential candidate), and talked for a while. They are fantastic people and we have one new investigator in Julio! I’m excited to see their progress. :) We then went to Feliz Dia to celebrate my FIRST WHOLE MONTH in Peru, Hna Alva’s NINE MONTHS, and Hna Cadena’s FOUR MONTHS and return to Oxa! We then had noche de deportes (sports night) at the capilla and played voleibol y futbol, and during futbol I challenged Hna Alva for the ball and ended up absolutely laying her out. We laughed SO HARD and Elder Hernandez kept accusing me of trying to kill my "mom". It was hilarious.
FRIDAY. We helped decorate the chapel for the anniversary of Relief Society in the morning and had multiple citas fall through again. However, we got to visit with the mother of the bishop, a woman named Carmen. She is incredible. We talked with her and quickly realized she didn’t actually have a testimony, but that she was baptized because she liked the change she saw in her son. It was a good reminder to me that even people who appear the strongest can have difficulties. She feels lonely. EVERYONE has problems. We, as humans, are just really good at hiding them. We then went to the aniversario, where people shared their talents with us. All in all, a fantastic day. :)
Saturday began with service! We helped Hermana Silvia with her work. It was incredibly fun, even though it was helping make dolls, which I’m genuinely terrified of. We visited Nadia and talked about the importance of a testimony and set a fecha bautismal for the 16th of April!!! Then we had English class. Quite fun day. We then went to Luz’s mission call opening!!! Nostalgia was abound for when I opened mine. She is going to Mexico Mexico City East, working in the temple visitor’s center!!! :)
Sunday. Sundays here are fantastic. We went to church, I played piano and gave a talk on the Holy Ghost, and we had multiple lessons about Christ’s atonement. It was so good. We did divisions later, working with members on their maestras visitants (visiting teaching)! Our citas, yet again, fell through. People here are so willing to say yes to a time, but less willing to show up. This is frustrating, but I have to just remember that if they really want to know, they will make time.:)
TODAY is Pday de las hermanas, and all the hermanas in our zone are coming to Oxa to do … wait for it… the exact same waterfall as last week. But we do get pizza tonight, so there’s something to look forward to.:)
Oxapampa is amazing. The people are fantastic and loving. I LOVE the jungle. :)
Con todo mi amor y mis oraciones, Hermana Schmid
* Note from Karissa’s mom: title (Waterfalls, Appointments and More) and italics in parentheses above are the English translation using google translate. And, note that Karissa apologizes for being so behind on emails – she truly doesn’t have time to read them all. She feels and truly appreciates everyone’s love and support. Thank you!