I am a little behind, so I need to talk about the workshop. I only ended up with nine finishing it which was a little disappointing and kind of made me feel like I had done something wrong. With so many students, it was hard for me to pay attention to all of them, but I talked to Hermano Nunez about it and he reassured me that it just happens sometimes.
Thursday´s phone calls went really well with the group and all of them made phone calls, some of them got past the gatekeepers and got some really useful information. It was really cool! Afterwards a few of my students stayed after to chat with me and thanked me profusely for what I was doing. It feels so good to know not only that they are going to be successful, but that they FEEL like the workshop was worth their time. I was really grateful.
I rushed home after the workshop Thursday, packed a bag and headed for the airport. I took a shuttle to the airport so it was nice and hassle free. On the flight I sat next to a Colombian man who was hitting on me the whole time so I made up a boyfriend so he would leave me alone. He invited me to Colombia...I commented that they didn´t exactly love Americans there and he assured me that it was only in ´certain parts´ that they didn´t like Americans...I´m pretty sure he was just trying to lure me into going to Colombia so he could kidnap me and make money off of it. He also kept trying to pull my guitar down so that I could play for him...Crazy
The flight to Lima is about three and a half hours, so I got their with quite a bit of time to wait for my connection to Tacna. I got my boarding pass and then went upstairs to get some Peruvian money (Soles) and find something to entertain myself. Well much to my surprise, my debit card decided that it wasn´t going to allow me to pull money out. I was a little worried, but I figured I would worry about it later and just exchanged my Chilean pesos for Soles. Well much to my surprise, I then realized that I had to pay an entrance fee to get into Peru. I started to get pretty worried about it, so I walked up to the counter and asked the man if I could pay with a credit card. He said no and that the tariff was about 100 soles...I had 49. This is where I really started to freak out. I explained to him my situation and asked him what I could do. He shrugged. I couldn´t believe this was happening. I walked away pretty close to tears when this man walked up to me and asked me where I was going. I said Tacna and he told me that the tariff for flights within the country should only be about 20 soles and to go back and talk with the cashier and if I still had to pay 100 soles to find him and he would help me. I almost cried. I went back and the cashier apologized, I paid my 20 soles and when I turned around the man that had offered to help me was gone. It was really amazing because I had just read the conference talk about angels among us and I just felt the spirit telling me that the Lord was looking out for me.
I got to Tacna at about 7 am. The airport is pretty much four walls and a conveyor belt which was kinda fun. I stood there waiting for my luggage and Susan (Hillary´s mom) came running in and gave me the biggest hug. She was then reprimanded by the security because aparently she was supposed to wait outside, she just kind of stared at him because she had no idea what he had said. It was so funny. When I saw Hill I couldn´t believe it. She is SO skinny! I gave her the biggest hug. It was so nice to see her. We went to one of her former investigator´s house where we had a quick breakfast, I took a quick shower, and then we were off to Arequipa. The drive was BEAUTIFUL! I don´t think I ever remember driving through a desert so it was really amazing and I took so many pictures (coming soon). I also took a nap since I hadn´t really slept the night before and then we just chatted the whole time. It was so funny because Susan told us we could talk about the boring stuff in Spanish but all of the juicy stuff had to be said in English. :)
We got to Arequipa and had a big lunch with some of her investigators and her former companion with her new companion. The new girl was american and had only been in Peru a month and a half. She was such a cutie and I promised her that the spanish would come. At the lunch was another investigator of Hill´s that is waiting for permission from her parents to get baptised. She cried so hard when we left. We ate ceviche there which is SOOOOO good and Papa a la Huancaca or something like that that was really good. We went to a lesson with the sisters so that Hillary could say goodbye to them and it was really cool to see her teach. I got to help as well and the spirit was really strong.
We stayed the night with another companion of Hillary´s in another area of Arequipa sister (don´t ask me how that is allowed, it seems her mission was much more lenient than mine) which was fun but also kind of weird. Apparently they are opening an area and so they didn´t have much to do so we just hung out with them that night. We woke up at 4 a.m. to drive to Juliaca to meet up with some members there and head to Lake Titicaca in Puno. I was so tired the whole drive but it was another beautiful drive and I took a ton of pictures. (So many that my camera battery died very soon after) We got to Juliaca, checked into a hotel, changed our clothes and then headed off to Puno which is just about a half hour from Juliaca and one of several cities founded around Lake Titicaca.
My first view of the lake was absolutely breathtaking. We got to the place where all of the boats were contracted out to take you out to the uros (floating islands) and we had to negociate really hard to get the man to take us to the island where all the members live that they talked about in conference. The island is called Apu Inti and we finally got them to take us for about $3 each. I brought my guitar so we played guitar on the boat ride over and then we got to the island and they gave us an amazing presentation. The islands are about 12 feet deep and literally float, but they are anchored down so they don´t move. If someone doesn´t work on t he island, they simply cut there house off from the rest of the island so that they have no lazy people. The cool thing about being on the island was that they talked to us about how the church came to them. We met the first member who´s husband was the one giving us the tour and she shared her testimony with us. It was so powerful! They have three young men from their island currently serving missions. It was absolutely amazing.
After los uros, we went out to eat and I ate Alpaca meat! I also tried a little bit of Cuy (gerbal) which was also pretty good, but I REALLY liked Alpaca. I highly recommend it. Then we walked around the city for a little while longer and headed to bed.
Sunday we visited members and converts after church and then there was a big going away party for Hillary. It was amazing how much they loved her and all the things they said. I talked with the sister missionaries that are currently serving in her ward and one of them knows a friend of mine. After that I was whisked away to the airport in Juliaca to get back to Santiago. I had an eight hour layover in Lima which was miserable because I didn´t have much to do, but I found a corner to sleep in and everything. It was funny though because I got really groggy and then I had to try and be awake enough to hear my flight called. Landing back in Santiago was so strange because it felt like I was coming home...except that Santiago is not home. :)