Friday, May 30, 2008

Me and My Escuchante (Volunteer Listener)

Today (May 30), I gave a missionary lesson to a volunteer listener ("escuchante") who played the role of an investigator. I have now given parts of the lessons to about six different listeners, all Spanish-speaking returned missionaries, with five of the six from Latin America. The listener today was Loordes, a young woman from Honduras studying civil engineering at BYU. I chatted with her (in Spanish, of course) for about 10 minutes while waiting for my tutor Rodrigo to get things set up for our tutoring session. She is such a bright, charming young woman. We told each other about ourselves and joked and laughed--especially when I couldn't think of a particular word in Spanish. (Here we are after the lesson.)

Before the lesson, Rodrigo gave Loordes specific instructions to give me some hard questions during my lesson with her, which she did. Because the questions were about the gospel, and because I have a good Spanish gospel vocabulary, I was able to answer her questions satisfactorily.

But then, with Loordes still present, the three of us had a lengthy discussion about chemistry--the description of the field, the various sub-disciplines within chemistry, the types of reactions (both chemical and nuclear), and the definitions and descriptions of various chemical terms (compounds, ions, alpha particles, nuclear reactions, protein structure and function, etc.). The two of them asked me lots of questions and fed me vocabulary words when I guessed wrong about a word that I didn't know. This turned out to be a great exercise in pushing me beyond my comfort zone. I love these types of exercises. They are exactly what I hoped would happen during my pre-mission language study at the MTC.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What Is My Level of Spanish?

I would like to think that I am at an advanced level of Spanish, but I'm not. I just took two different online tests to assess my level of Spanish knowledge. On one of the tests ( of the five levels (newbie, beginner, intermediate I, intermediate II, and advanced), I finished at the intermediate II level (I missed one too many questions to be at the advanced level). On the other test ( of the four levels (beginner, beginner-intermediate, intermediate-advanced, and advanced), I ended up just shy of the advanced level (88% of a needed 90%).

Even though the two exams were very different in construction and in topic selection, I saw a reoccurring pattern: My vocabulary is fine (the two exams weren't particularly vocabulary oriented, or I would be wanting in all but a few areas of conversation) and my overall grammar (verb conjugations, use of subjunctive, general syntax, direct and indirect pronouns, etc.) is good, but I don't know the advanced idioms ("modismos") very well and I'm a little fuzzy on some of the finer points of grammar.

In my conversations with Rodrigo, my tutor, I make plenty of mistakes--including a lot of mistakes that I wouldn't make on a written exam or in written prose.

So what does this mean? It means that I need to keep studying. I'm going to continue studying Spanish during our mission and hopefully take a Spanish class or two at BYU when I get home.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Our Missionary Picture

Our bishopric is preparing a missionary plaque for us, just like they do for the young missionaries. Here's the scripture we have chosen:

"...[T]hat thy servants may go forth . . . armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them; and . . . they may bear exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth, that they may know that this is thy work . . ." (D&C 109:22-23)

We also wanted an updated picture for the plaque, so here's the picture I took today (May 25, 2008) in our back yard:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Peoples of Peru

Here are some of the people I met and photographed during our trip to Peru in December 2000 to January 2001.

Efraím of Pakarimuy, near Lake Titicaca, holding bird eggs that he and his family will eat:

Rosa, a friend of Efraím, holding her little black dog:

A girl from Juliaca (near Lake Titicaca) with a baby that she babysits:

A woman of Juliaca:

Two boys of Ollantaytambo (between Cusco and Machu Picchu):

Peruvian mother and daughter at Tambo Machay (near Cusco):

Scenes of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is, of course, the most famous place in Peru. I have been there twice, once in May of 1964 after being released from my first mission, and again in January 2001 after participating with my wife and two daughters in a humanitarian expedition in southern Peru. Here are some of the pictures I took of the ruins in 2001.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Announcement of Our New Mission President

The Church News of May 17, 2008, announced the new president of the Peru Lima East Mission. He is Juan Leyva, 47. His wife is Rita Leyva. They are from Trujillo, Peru, a city up the coast of Peru from Lima. President Leyva has been a stake president and counselor, bishop, high councilor, and missionary in the Peru Arequipa Mission. President Leyva works for the Church as regional manager of LDS Employment Resource Services. Sister Leyva has served as a stake Young Women president, ward Relief Society and Primary president, counselor in the ward Relief Society presidency, and as a seminary teacher. President and Sister Leyva have three children.

I think the Leyvas will take office about two weeks before we arrive in the mission.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What Will I Do as a Missionary in Peru?

Yesterday, my MTC tutor gave me the assignment of writing down what I will do in Peru, using Spanish verbs in future tense. Here's the list I wrote, followed by an English translation of the list.

  1. En primer lugar, seré representante del Señor Jesucristo en llevar a cabo la obra del evangelio en la misión Perú Lima Este.
  2. Lo que querré hacer más que nada será predicar el evangelio a fin de invitar a personas a venir a Cristo.
  3. Aceptaré cualquier asignación o tarea que me dé el presidente de la misión.
  4. Tocaré el piano en las reuniones donde no hay otra persona que lo haga, por ejemplo, en las reuniones del sacerdocio. No tocaré el piano en las reuniones sacramentales porque estará my esposa, quien toca mucho mejor que yo.
  5. Daré discursos en reuniones y conferencias, cuando se me asignen.
  6. Apoyaré a los miembros y líderes de los barrios y estacas cuando sea posible. Procuraré alentar a los miembros por medio del ejemplo y las conversaciones edificantes. Procuraré apoyar a los líderes por cumplir asignaciones y por la enseñanza de principios de liderazgo.
  7. Habiendo experimentado muchas oportunidades de enseñar el evangelio en mis barrios de la iglesia y en la Universidad de Brigham Young (Relg 324–325, Doctrina y Convenios), enseñaré la doctrina contenida en las escrituras cuando se me dé la oportunidad en el Perú.
  8. Continuaré estudiando el evangelio y el castellano.
  9. Trataré de hablar castellano con me compañera todo lo posible, de acuerdo con la petición de mi esposa. (Es la idea de ella.)
  10. Oraré y ayunaré para recibir los dones del Espíritu necesarios para ser un instrumento eficaz en las manos del Señor. Alma 17:3. “Mas esto no es todo; se habían dedicado a mucha oración y ayuno; por tanto, tenían el espíritu de profecía y el espíritu de revelación, y cuando enseñaban, lo hacían con poder y autoridad de Dios.”

English translation:

  1. First and foremost, I will be a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ in carrying out the work of the gospel in the Peru Lima East Mission.
  2. What I will want to do more than anything will be to preach the gospel in order to invite people to come unto Christ.
  3. I will accept whatever assignment or task that my mission president gives me.
  4. I will play the piano in the meetings where there isn't anyone else who can play, for example, in priesthood meetings. I won't play the piano in sacrament meetings because my wife will be there and she plays much better than I do.
  5. I will give talks in meetings and at conferences, when I am assigned to do so.
  6. I will support the members and leaders of the wards and stakes whenever possible. I will try to support the members through example and uplifting conversations.
  7. Having had many opportunities to teach the gospel in my wards of the church and at BYU (Relg 324-325, Doctrine and Covenants), I will teach the doctrine contained in the scriptures when I am given the opportunity in Peru.
  8. I will continue studying the gospel and Spanish.
  9. I will try to speak Spanish with my companion (wife) whenever possible, according to her request. (This was her idea.)
  10. I will pray and fast to receive the gifts of the Spirit necessary to be an effective instrument in the hands of the Lord. Alma 17:3: "But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore, they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with the power and authority of God."