Monday, July 25, 2016

7-25-16

I am beyond grateful today. 

My heart feels very full as I have been able to call old converts, old people I used to visit,
less-actives, and hear they are doing well. I feel so grateful that I cannot describe how
blessed I have been on this mission to survive, to be apart of others lives and for them
to enrich my life more. Peruvians are quite the tear-droppers when it comes to saying goodbye.
I will miss them with all my heart, they all have such a wonderful colorful personality.

I still have about a week left so Im going to aprovechar al máximo. This last week that barely
passed was one of miracles for us. I want to be short because I feel like I need to write a lot
today because this is my last Pday... the beginning of a strange new life ahead haha.
This sunday, my official last sunday in the branch I am serving was incredible. I dont think
many people knew I was going because I tried to keep quiet about it because I dont like
all the commentaries of "oh youre going home!!" makes me anxious. But I loved observing
them and just appreciating the time with them in a chapel of God in a small pueblo on the coast of Peru. At the end of the day we planned an activity called Puertas Abiertas. En ingles, Open house. It was poorly planned and for the first 10 minutes no one was coming to the  chapel to check it out (the idea was to have many new people know who we are and what we do). But we decided to turn the situation around. A crowd of members accompanied me and my companion outside as us, and the members, like a mob of people "attacked" people outside telling them to come in in their charismatic peruvian way. Crowds of people came to the chapel to hungry members ready to show them what brings them joy in the chapel. It was a beautiful sight and at the end of the day I would say atleast 100 plus people came. Not too much, but enough for us to feel happy.

Another small miracle I have to mention. We are desperately trying as a district (6 missionaries) to meet a small goal of having new investigators every week. (note that I hate goals) but I truly have enjoyed this goal and working harder. It was sunday, last day 
of the week for us, it was 8 pm and we only had 30 minutes to get back home. We were
lacking to know one more person. We took a long pause on the street and I said to 
Elder Gavidia, lets feel the spirit here. Lets think where to go. Nothing came. We 
advanced a street. Trying hard not to feel doubt, we paused again. A name suddenly came
to mind, someone who lives far and is never there. I tried hard to believe that that thought
came from the spirit or something, and I said the name Paula to my companion and we ran
to her house. I shouted, Pray for a miracle elder!! We did and when we got there, SHE WAS
THERE. She let us in eagerly and heard a small message from us juntos with her son. God
heard our faithful prayers. 

I can only hope that the messages I have shared for 2 years have helped someone, one of
you my friends, or one of my families. These experiences have been precious to me and
I know that I will remember them all my life. I know that whether we be in a mission,
or just a person in life trying to get by, God is aware of us and listens to us, even when
we dont feel like He is (and believe me, I have felt that numberless times). I know
that He loves and and I know in my mind and in my heart that His church is on the earth
today not to annoy us and load us with guilt and more homework to do (things I have felt 
before) but His church is on the earth today to edify and elevate us to new heights. I am 
thankful to God for these experiences and for the ones coming in the future and hope
that I can just be a good person and that I can love myself and others more. 

Thanks for reading for 2 years and for writing me. I love you guys and will see you soon.

We made it.

Elder Caldwell

pics: things I will miss. the mountains. the families. the chance to share the gospel 24-7


Monday, July 18, 2016

7-18-16

this is my second to last message home from here.

thanks for everything. I am especially thankful to God for showing me my
weaknesses and helping me become stronger. There is a picture I wish
I could show you all. It is of a storm, and there is a boat in the storm and there 
are 2 people on the shore. another boat is going out to the storm to go to the rescue.
Ive been thinking much about storms. Every day as a missionary we go out to the
storm. In the lives of those we teach there is family problems, drug problems,
heartbreak, and more. We leave our apartment (the shore) to go out there and help
others come back home. As a missionary I know what its like to be out there and
in the storm, and sometimes still there are storms going on in our lives. It helps
us to know how to help them. Through our weaknesses and experiences, we help
other come home back to Christ. I know that where He is there is only light and 
happiness. We can share the burden with him. Be we in the storm or out of it, 
we can help others get back to shore, and we can go back home too. 

we are seeing little miracles here and there. not big ones, like baptisms. but
things that mean a lot to me. one investigator who we found when I got here,
if you remember mirella, went to church all 3 hours yesterday, and said a prayer
in a class. she is reading everyday. she is growing in testimony even though
she probably doesnt realize it. she still doesnt have plans to get married, 
but i know that ill hear good news in the future. I know that she will be able
to get back to shore. another lady, fanny, the one i talked about recently, told us
2 nights ago: "ive participated in many churches. no one has ever come back to 
me to talk to me to see how i was doing from those places. you guys are the only
ones after i messed up so much. thank you. i know that from those actions that
these things are true." the spirit was big that night and im thankful we went back
to see how she was doing. 

Love,

Elder Caldwell.

pics:
the peru nature

one of the families ill miss. castillo rojas. mirella is the one on the right

Friday, July 15, 2016

7-11-16

Hello!

 I am here enjoying the Viru weather. Soak it in!

This week I experienced a "wake up call" in district meeting on Tuesday.
Sometimes the things I dont like as a missionary are the numbers
and the cuotas and the goals we have to meet. But, sometimes thats
how things roll. We were talking about them on Tuesday and I was just
thinking of how I could better minister to the people here in Viru and I 
was pulling blanks. We had a practice of knocking on someones door and
the Elder who mimicked a typical dad who works a lot and makes little 
money impacted me.

Not sure why Im sharing this whole story, but trying to talk to this fake dad
and trying to enter into his house really showed me that I need to be bold,
that I really need to believe that I represent the Savior, but most of all I need
to be peoples friend. I cant be a robot and I need to be in the moment and talk
to the person like he is real. Sometimes we get into missionary mode and cant
really get out of it, we say the same phrases and expect different results.
but, I was glad for that experience. It woke me up as I sat there thinking how 
precious this time I have left, and how much time maybe I feel like I have blown
in this service. I need to go out and work and keep getting better. 

Elder Gavidia and I left that day fueled with determination and the spirit.
That day was maybe the only day I feel like I can say I talked with literally
everyone we could, and I really put my heart into it. I loved that day and am 
trying to make every other day be like that one. time to wake up. 

My message is short but I love you all. I read a scripture today that really
drove home: 9 "And do this that may provunto many that am thesame yesterday, today, and forever; and that speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And   because that have spoken one word ye need not suppose that cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man,   neither from that time henceforth and forever." 

Gods work will never end, it will never finish. He will always love us and will
work for us, even when we think we are done. He will give us an infinite 
amount of opportunities to try and be better. Christs Atonement is not
a limited time offer, it is for forever.

Love you.

Elder Caldwell

pics:

we were true americans last pday. even being in peru for 2 years cant beat
the america spirit. hahaha. we drank coke on our balcony and talked about life.

Monday, July 4, 2016

7-4-16

Happy Birthday America, I love you!

the 4th of july has hit. I walked into my pensionistas house this morning and started singing the 
star spangled banner, and asked them, "como amanecieron hoy en este día gloriosa de la libertad?" How did you guys feel when you woke up this glorious morning of freedom? My 
companion didnt know how to take all the excitement. I think he is still wondering what 
happened to me and why I am celebrating so much. 

On the real though, we have been experimenting a few things this week. My companion and I
back around 2 months or so I believe, we decided to drop this investigator that wasnt progressing, in fact she was retrocediendo. I have no idea how to say that in english anymore.
but the other day I was reading in 1 corinthians 13 and read about charity. It really impacted
me. Charity is an attribute I think that every missionary needs, especially since it is the
pure love of Christ. It means having patience, loving another despite their flaws (loving yourself
despite your flaws as well), sticking with the program, hoping for the best always and having a
good attitude. I read that and this investigator came into my mind. Her name is Fanny. She wakes up at 4 in the morning to get breakfast ready for her kids, sends them off, starts work early, gets home at 5 to make dinner, and then she is ready to collapse. We stopped visiting her because she couldnt read the book of mormon even despite our many invitations and challenges. 

We started visiting her last week, just to go over there, be friends with her and her kids, and read the book of mormon with her, to help her out. She has changed in this week a lot. Now, instead of collapsing to bed after making dinner, she reads. and now she is progressing because I decided to stop being so stubborn and frustrated with someone who I thought did not want to progress. Members are helping her as well, and are visiting her and inviting her to family activities. It has been a wonderful change Ive seen. I realize so much depends on whether or not we decide everyday to have charity and love everyone for who they are and have patience in all things, even though there is opposition.

I wanted to share that this day and now Im excited to go hang up my hammocks with my comp and celebrate the 4th of july with a coca cola in hand. Yeah doggy!

Love you!

Elder Caldwell

pics:

we had the fire like I said last week. the family was stoked to do it. they whipped out some corn from their farms, and some bananas and we fried them over the fire and ate them as we talked about faith, and how its like a fire. I love the chacra life.

Monday, June 27, 2016

6-27-16

times a tickin y tengo que trabajar duro.

I felt a lot better this week. God answers prayers! We opened our mouth a lot this
week and found refuge in some homes to teach the restored gospel.

I just looked over at what my companion Elder Kung Fu Panda was writing and it
made me happy to see that he is focused and dedicated. He was writing to his 
family quotes from Bruce R. McConkie and General Conference. I am blessed.
This week was funny. He is learning a little english and one night we were  walking
along the dusty Panamerican to somewhere and he said to me simply, "Walk is 
love. Walk is life." I just busted up laughing.

I feel the need to be frank and simple in all that I do, especially when teaching.
And writing this letter home. Im thankful for the Atonement and that it does
not simply erase our sins and burdens and weakness but helps us grow and 
master them. As my good friend Justin Moyer wrote to me "We are fighting Satan!"

I still got a ways to go but I love this place and the people. They enrich my life.
I dont have a special story I can recall right now but tonight for a Noche de Hogar
we are going to have a bonfire, its getting chilly here in Peru. We will talk about faith.

Ill send the pictures next week and more stories. I love you all.

Elder Caldwell.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

6-20-16

hi

not sure what to say this week. haha. if I could I would take a picture of my face right now
thinking about how this is already my last transfer in the mission. its ridiculous. 
but here I am, and I cannot stop this train. 

elder gavidia was able to push through his foot problems with the miracle of a lot of ibuprofen,
ice, and foot cream to put down the pressure so we are back to working one hunnid percent.
we have been reading a lot about prayer together and in the manual they give us, Preach
my Gospel it honestly just rules at talking about how to get better in our prayers. I think
awhile ago I shared a quote that I liked. Prayer is like sitting before a warm fire. you dont
have to be smart to sit in a fire, or anything. you just sit there and soak in the warmth. 
I felt the impression this week to stop thinking about myself already. stop thinking about
my problems and just focus on others as much as I can. Im going to try to do that in my
prayers and truly pray for those we are teaching and serve them. and for you all back home too.

there isnt any huge memory that sticks out in my mind to talk about today, just we´ve been
working with a lot of less active members here (and believe me there are a ton) and yesterday
I had to direct the hymns in the branch so as I was in front I was able to look at everyone. 
I was able to see a man we have been working with for 3 months now who hadnt come to church
in years. Hanibal. He was happily sitted there with his wife and child and it struck me to see it 
and realize that he truly was making a change in his life. He tried to escape after the 1st hour because he was embarrassed (haha) but we were able to go out to his car and persuade him to 
sit with as another two. He came. grateful for the little things right now. onto another week!

Elder Caldwell

pics:

out in the boonies. found the soccer goal that looks like the scene from Walter Mitty when he plays futbol with the natives.

Monday, June 13, 2016

6-13-16

my friendskis,

we keep truckin along here. haha, its sad but humorous how my companion and I are falling apart all of a sudden. Elder Gavidia twisted his ankle and now walks with crutches so he can heal (or he will have to go home) and i still have some sort job in the bible kind of trial with many things going on with health. we are dealing with it though and learning the virtue of patience and long-suffering. a friend recently wrote me and said something that really rings true right at this moment: "the mission isnt what I expected it to be, but its what I  needed it to be." I can say the same. and Im sure a lot of you can say the same about just life in general.

rough times but just bearing and grinning it seem to be the theme of the lives of our investigators and all the other people we teach as well. I had mentioned Mirella recently I believe who just found out she is pregnant from her boyfriend, and she is utterly alone. now she is having problems with her boyfriend and we were able to sit down with them last night, and the rest of their fam. they live on a farm right by a canal so it was a perfect landscape to teach them and help them visualize the dream of Lehi with the tree of life, and the iron rod. They told us they havent been reading absolutely nothing and so we compared them and put them into this dream. we told them of how easily the vapors of darkness can come and get us lost and how we need to grip the iron rod, or in other words, the scriptures. a spirit of reflection of life and the seriousness of the matter entered into the room and they were pretty quiet after we read that dream with them. they commited however to read the scriptures every day, and I really am praying for them.

im happy for you all and love to hear that you are doing good, thanks for writing me. we are excited to keep pressing on. love you.

Elder Caldwell.

pics:

last pday we went to a castillo (castle) made out of mudbricks straight out of Emperors New Groove. We loved it and took many pictures


Monday, June 6, 2016

5-6-16

herro,

another week in the life. Ive accepted the fact that time is going by faster than I want it, and there isnt much I can do about it. Thanks for all your letters of support and love this day.

There are a lot of things that went well this week. We had a really stellar one, working with members and my kid Elder Gavidia is learning to teach better and better. Its all a process. Things were really looking up and after a sweet training I was feeling a lot more motivated and happy. Haha, then yesterday happened and I had some sort of stomach bug and it all went downhill, had to stay in the room all day but thats ok, what matters is that its over and I am becoming the more refined and better for it.

I know I mentioned this yeah awhile ago, about a mormon message I really like about the will of god. I couldnt stop thinking about it yesterday battling sickness and some discouraging thoughts and how God sometimes cuts us down like how sometimes we trim our grass or gardens. Its so we can grow to be better and bloom. An experience we had I think 2 weeks ago that I wanted to mention but I forgot kind of illustrated that with a Less active man we are teaching, Antonio. We hadnt planned to visit him that night but everything dropped and I thought, well lets go see him. We got there and let us in immediately really happy to see us. That doesnt happen often in missionary work haha. But he sat us down and we read a scripture with him about the importance of going to church. He broke down and told us how things were going so bad in his marriage and that his daughter was sick and he was blaming it on himself and he told us that this was the thing he needed to hear, to go back to church and try it out again. He then told us that he had been praying for days now so that he could find us so that we could give his daughter a blessing of health because he didnt feel worthy to do it. We did and he was so grateful. I was grateful for him, and that he was so sincere. I know God had cut him down in that moment, and he is in the process of growing into something much better. He came to church on Sunday. Im rooting for you, Antonio. If any thing can be changed, it is due to applying the teachings of Jesus in our lives.

Im thankful for the experience of the mission to teach me my weakness and to convert them into my strengths. And to help others on the way. Im still in the process on a lot of things, but I know that there is hope and happiness ahead if we just turn to Him. 

Only got a few weeks left. Its go time.

Elder Caldwell.

pics

forgot to take pictures again. But here is one with our lider misional. He is a swell guy.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

5-30-16

yokefellows,

thats a scriptural term. Love you guys! I´m doing a lot better this new monday. 

there are a lot of tender mercies in life that we dont realize sometimes. I got a call
the other night from the doctor of the whole area, Elder Aysie I think and he gave me a lot of comfort. He basically talked me through a lot of nerves I was having and told me Im good and healthy (though still skinny) haha. Recieving that call from a complete stranger that I never talked to before and him talking to me and giving me words of comfort with a kind voice really helped me. I know that he had an impression or something to do that because in all ways he really had no reason to call me. Sometimes all we need to feel better is to be heard and to listen by others and to others. 

Last night Elder Gavidia and I had recieved the news that a very less active woman in our area, Julia, had heard recently that she had cancer, and that an operation was soon for that reason. We had been teaching her here and there, not with much frequency. We felt to go and give her a blessing yesterday. We went, and right before we went, we got a call from a woman in our branch. Asking us where we were going and if she could accompany us to Julia. We said sure! She came, and we met Julia. She was looking obviously a little nervous and unsure of her future. We tried to comfort her the best we could with our words. Then all of a sudden we heard a knock on the door and there was priesthood holders from our branch also there to give comfort to the hermana Julia as well. They sat down and we laughed at the coincidence that we were all there. Then another knock. The relief society president and her counselors were there also for hermana Julia. Now it was serious. they shared their feeling with her and there was a beautiful spirit in the room because we were all there just for her, to help out. The two men gave her a priesthood blessing and soon after we left. But it impacted me to see how many people cared. That even though she wasnt the most well known person in our branch or even the neighborhood, somehow the spirit had impacted us all so much to go and visit her that day.

Helping others and giving them comfort when comfort is needed helps and comforts us at the same time. Im thankful for the mission for trials and learning to get past them, and serving others. 

Love you guys! We will keep working.

Elder Caldwell. 

pics:
forgot to take pictures so I told Elder Gavidia take a quick picture while I eat some icecream today.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

5-25-16 crazy fast life

hey there skips.

its good to see your emails and feel the love. we are writing late today because we went to the templo de trujillo. it was a different experience for me, i really loved it. It was good to have Elder Gavidia there too, his first time in the trujillo temple. he´s doing great. still eating like a horse and sweating like one too. haha.

Ive been honestly having a lot of difficulties out here on a personal level. I wont go into details but it has to do with health and anxiety. Going to the temple though and searching the scriptures for alivio has helped me too. in our area of chanquin we are still fighting the battle. hard time to see people progress but we are trying our best with patience and love. we have been visiting a certain family ever since I got here to the area, and they started from basically ground zero on a relationship level. the parents are members, active, but all their kids had fallen away due to some hard times in the family and misunderstanding. one of their boys, who is only 19, had been living with his girlfriend in the house and now she is expecting a baby. they are so young. they are my age. we have been teaching them, so much. at first jon wanted nothing to do with us, but after visiting his parents and his girlfriend so many times, and inviting him to listen. he began listening to us. then the rest of his brothers, and his sister. now we are having family nights with the whole family, playing games, teaching small gospel messages, and seeing their ashes of their faith incite again. it has been a tender mercy for me to see this small but slow progress. the parents now are planning to get sealed. we hung up a family proclamation in their house, and now they are so excited to see and converse with us. Jon and his girlfriend now have plans to get married before the baby is born and we are happy for that plan. i know that keeping the commandments of God helps us to be happy, even though they are not popular to do so and sometimes a little begrudging. 

to end I wanted to share a quote from a talk i read last night that helped me. 

[In the Bible we read of Christ’s visit to the home of Simon the Pharisee.
Outwardly, Simon seemed to be a good and upright man. He regularly checked off his to-do list of religious obligations: he kept the law, paid his tithing, observed the Sabbath, prayed daily, and went to the synagogue.
But while Jesus was with Simon, a woman approached, washed the Savior’s feet with her tears, and anointed His feet with fine oil.
Simon was not pleased with this display of worship, for he knew that this woman was a sinner. Simon thought that if Jesus didn’t know this, He must not be a prophet or He would not have let the woman touch him.
Perceiving his thoughts, Jesus turned to Simon and asked a question. “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: … one owed five hundred pence, … the other fifty.
“And when they [both] had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?”
Simon answered that it was the one who was forgiven the most.
Then Jesus taught a profound lesson: “Seest thou this woman? … Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”24
Which of these two people are we most like?
Are we like Simon? Are we confident and comfortable in our good deeds, trusting in our own righteousness? Are we perhaps a little impatient with those who are not living up to our standards? Are we on autopilot, going through the motions, attending our meetings, yawning through Gospel Doctrine class, and perhaps checking our cell phones during sacrament service?
Or are we like this woman, who thought she was completely and hopelessly lost because of sin?
Do we love much?
Do we understand our indebtedness to Heavenly Father and plead with all our souls for the grace of God?
When we kneel to pray, is it to replay the greatest hits of our own righteousness, or is it to confess our faults, plead for God’s mercy, and shed tears of gratitude for the amazing plan of redemption?25¨)

love you guys. have a great week. im thinking of you.

elder caldwell
pics: temple, sunset as always, and the family i was talking about. la familia castillo rojas.


5-16-16 going and doing no más

hi,

week 1 of training. it has been glorious. I met my new companion about a week ago and he
came really prepared, I am very blessed to have him. He is from the jungle called Pucallpa,
Peru and his name is Elder Gavidia. He is so humble. Quick story with him. The first few
days I think caught him by surprise by how fast I walk. He walked pretty slow, and I dont blame
him because he is just starting his service. So I told him "Goal number one: Walk with
dedication and work with dedication. Walk at my speed. Its hard work but we need to show
God we want to work." It was slow at first, but day by day he started catching up and now
is walking like a pro. He always asked me "Am I walking better? Am I teaching the people better?
What can I do better?" His humility made me want to straight cry because he is so willing.

We truly faced a lot of opposition this week unfortunately but they are lessons learned. I honestly
feel so lucky because my companion never complains, it is a dream come true. Yesterday
was a crazy experience for him and I. We met some very, VERY devote evangelicals and we
decided to sit down with them and try to teach them. They resisted though and actually started
shouting at us and insulting us, trying to force us to listen to them and they were very dramatic.
I told them straight up, we are out of here my friends. This is enough. The crazy guy (not in his mind) actually tried to like hug me and put me back into my seat but I forced myself out of that
place haha. It was nuts, my companion was half traumatized but now we just laugh about it because we learned to be better. Im thankful to laugh about past failures and to move on from them
to be a better person.

Wish I could say more, its hard. so many things going on in my brain. Ill say more next week
about the adventures of Elder Gavidia and I. We are putting our all into it and im thankful for
him and his willingness to do so. 

Love,

Elder Caldwell.

pics: walking zion

chacra selfie

the night i met the next dragon warrior