Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  America kinds celebrates Christmas better, but I still had one of the raddest Christmases I have ever had.  The way they celebrate in Perú, or at least in Cajamarca, is all about Christmas Eve, or “Buena Noche.”  They gather together as families at about 9:00 or 9:30 at night and have a big dinner feast with turkey.  Then at 10 or 10:30 until midnight they talk about Christ and play games (and drink a lot.)  At midnight, they celebrate Christmas for like 2 hours, with music, dancing, more food, fireworks and other stuff.  Also, at midnight is when all the kids and people open their presents.  It’s weird ‘cuz they have a Santa, Papa Noel, but he doesn’t bring the presents or anything.  I’m not really sure what he does for Christmas here.  But yea, then at about 2 or 3:00 in the morning, they all go to bed.  They don’t really do much on Christmas day other than sleep and hang out as a family (and drink.)  The traditional Christmas food is turkey and this bread stuff called “panetón,” that they like worship.  It is pretty good.

Cajamarca Zone's Christmas Ever Feast

Cajamarca Zone’s Christmas Ever Feast

As for what we did for Christmas Eve was a bit different as well.  At like 5 in the afternoon ,we all got together, all 32 of the Missionaries in the Cajamarca zone and had a huge Christmas feast.  The zone leaders spent the whole day making like 150 lbs of mashed potatoes, salad, rolls and then 3 huge turkeys.  The food was way good and way filling. Then we had a gift exchange with all the missionaries.  I gave a Book of Mormon and a photo album, lol.  I received fireworks, that I can’t really use, and this dope Peruvian stuffed baby doll thing with a homemade missionary tag.  It’s so sick, haha. I am way stoked on it.  After the gift exchange, we watched the animated Disney version of “A Christmas Carol,” in Spanish.  It was pretty rad and I love that story.  After, we cleaned up and returned to our rooms and tried to sleep while people set off their fireworks and blasted their music.  It was a pretty fun day.

My present.. a Peruvian Baby-Doll with personalized tag.

My present.. a Peruvian Baby-Doll with personalized tag.

No chicken hearts.

No chicken hearts.

Some other things that have happened…

  • I got to Skype my family which was great.
  • We had the first big rain storm of the season here in cajamarca.  The streets turned into rivers and I was drenched hahahah, but it was all good.
  • I got pizza hut and hamburgers which was dope.
  • And I finally got the package my mom sent like more than a month and a half ago.

As for those we are teaching, they are all doing great.   We have some baptism dates coming up and we are all way stoked.  The people are so kind here.  It’s so rad to watch the gospel change lives.  I watch as people who have nothing temporally gain so much spiritually.  This is the best gift they can ever receive and I’m stoked to be able to share it.

What I have learned this week is what the true meaning of Christmas is.  It sounds so cliche to say this, but its true.  This was the first Christmas I wasn’t with my family.  The first Christmas I didn’t wake up to a Christmas tree or presents.  The first Christmas I really sought to understand why we celebrate Christmas.  I love the presents and the parties and the breaks from school, but the gift of having Christ provide the way for us is better than anything.  It was hard being away from my family, home and friends, but I know this is where I need to be and I’m just so stoked that I have every day to serve here.  Feliz Navidad y Feliz Año Nuevo.

Seebs,
Elder Turner

More pictures on the site and some videos, too.

These are excerpts of our Skype with Wyatt on Christmas Day:

Video 1:
Three things to prepare for a Mission.
Video 2:
Wyatt shares his testimony in Spanish.

 

Hermano Juaquin making me a cool bag for $3.

Hermano Juaquin making me a cool bag for $3.