Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Hey everyone!
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a happy new year! I spent Christmas in the CCM and they made it so special! At midnight there were TONS of fireworks everywhere! It wasn't just the little ones we usually have at home but the massive ones we have for 4th of July! In the morning our district opened up presents that we had from family members. They made a big lunch for everyone and gave all the missionaries stockings with our names on them. They were filled with candy! It really was a great Christmas and I'm grateful I was able to spend it with my district in the CCM.
That next Tuesday, the 29th, I left for Arequipa! Me and a couple other missionaries took a plane from Lima to Arequipa. Our mission president and a couple other missionaries picked us up from the airport. My mission presidents name is President Zobrist. Him and his wife, Hermana Zobrist, are amazing! I love them! We went straight to the Arequipa temple site after the airport. The church hasn't started building yet because of legal problems..but they will have the groundbreaking soon enough! After that we all went to the main plaza in Arequipa. It's absolutely gorgeous! After that we all went to the mission home and we got our companions!
My trainers name is Hermana Alvarez. She's from Bolivia and she's a convert just like me! She also doesn't speak any English haha so that's been interesting. It's better for me this way because I'll learn the language quicker! My first area is Ilo. It's a small town right on the beach! It kind of reminds me of Ventura. Hermana Alvarez and I took a bus from Arequipa to Ilo. It took about 5 hours. A couple Elders were at the bus stop in Ilo to take us to our room. One of them is from Idaho, his name is Elder Dennis. He's been super helpful! I'm grateful that I have someone to speak English to at the end of the day haha. The room Hermana Alvarez and I stay in is part of a members home. It's pretty small and we shower in cold water, but I'm just grateful we have beds to sleep in and the water is clean enough to use! The area my companion and I cover is new in the mission, so we are basically starting from scratch. We do a lot of street contacting everyday. As far as talking goes, my companion does most of that haha. I can understand more Spanish than I can speak. And even then, it's not that much haha. I know that it will come eventually! I just need to be patient with myself. I consider myself lucky because my companion is very patient with me! For that I am grateful!
Eating here is kind of sketchy, so to stay healthy all the missionaries here have whats called a pensionista. She cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner for us everyday! The food here is super great. Lots of rice and chicken!
My companion and I slept through New Years haha but we heard lots of fireworks go off at midnight. I can't believe it's 2016! I still feel like i'm in 2012.. Time just goes by so fast. Especially out here serving a mission. Our days are packed. We are so busy that we never have time to think about anything else except missionary work.
On Thursday, my companion and I had a lesson with Ramon. His family are all members except him. This is my first real lesson I have taught! Me and my companion taught the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. My Spanish was so bad that the people we were teaching laughed at me haha it was pretty funny. But I was still able to get my point across so that's all that matters! I shared a scripture in the Book of Mormon with him. It's 2 Nephi 31: 13. It's about the importance of baptism and how we all need to follow the example of the Savior and be baptized. At the end of the lesson, we asked if Ramon would be baptized..He said yes!! We were so excited! His bapstimal date is January 16th. There's no greater happiness than bringing people the the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
I have learned a lot so far in my 2 months of being a missionary! I'm excited to see what Hermana Alvarez and I have in store here in Ilo! This work is hard, but I love it. It's the hardest thing I've ever loved to do.
Until next time,
Hermana Celardo

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