"Being together is like catching a sunbeam; each new memory we make reflects light hinting there is more to see and know."

April 14, 2015

Week 8 ~ "Our daily discipleship will determine our eternal destiny"

Sometimes our days get off track centered on personal worries or cares or self. Being on a mission really helps us focus every day on our discipleship to Jesus Christ, what we are doing and how we can better serve him. This is such a great experience to be in Peru and share our testimony often, see the Gospel in action, and work with the Saints here. 

We spent a good part of the week planning and organizing our training sessions with the Assistant Area Auditors. We will be meeting with our assistant auditors in Ecuador in May in conjunction with the open house of the new temple in Trujillo. What a blessing that will be to the Saints there! We will be meeting in Santa Cruz, Bolivia next weekend and will stay an extra two days to celebrate our wedding anniversary and my birthday. There will be a report on that visit next time. We are planning a meeting in Colombia to include the Venezuelan Brothers since we are not allowed in that country as US citizens. We will have three more individual training meetings here in Lima with the different areas of Peru. Actually, we have 15 assistant auditors just in Peru. We look forward to meeting personally the men we communicate with by email and phone and who serve so faithfully in their callings, helping and training some 200+ stake leaders in their districts regarding the collection and distribution of sacred funds.

Friday we went to dinner at Chili’s with the Acosta’s at Jocky Plaza. It was a little drive but the Acosta’s are great to be with. They are so unassuming in their manner and service and we enjoyed talking about his travels and experiences as an assistant to the Ambassadors in South America and Africa, including all the title, pomp and ceremony of that calling, the uniform, the red carpet, the parties and diplomatic performance. He was also a mission president in Mexico. Our little Manny Acosta, a three-starred general serving for 30 years in foreign affairs. Now he serves as an aide to the Area President, and his wife Lydia is mother to us all. Such firm dedication, faith and testimony! They live right above us and we love them. After dinner we went grocery shopping and didn’t get home until almost 10:30!

Joe and I had plans to go to the Larco Museum downtown Lima Saturday. We have heard how wonderful it is and full of artifacts from the past civilizations in the area. But, as we were ready to go, we get a call inviting us to the beach. Now, how can you turn down an invitation to the beach!! So we quickly packed a picnic lunch and put on our sandals and sunglasses to meet up with the Gonzalez’s who have a van. It was loaded with our friends from the mission, the Kendall’s, Cannon’s and Bart’s along with the MTC President, Jose and Sister Monica Gonzalez from Colombia. We drove about 1.5 hours south of Lima to the most beautiful beach in all of Peru, Playa de Santa Maria! We truly felt like we were back in California, beautiful warm water, sand and resort neighborhoods. It started out foggy but soon gave way to a sunny day with a warm breeze. I even got a little teary-eyed when I sank my feet into that cool sand and heard the surf and seagulls. Even here so far from home, I felt a piece of home! We spent most of the day playing in the surf up to our thighs, walking along the beach, visiting and resting. Just wish we had a frizbee! Got home about 4:30 tired but rejuvenated, bringing plenty of sand home with us in our shoes, pants and hair!

Joe's Journal Entry
One day this week at the office I w­­as putting my food in the fridge in the cafeteria when I began talking to Isabela Carrera, one of the cleaning ladies.  She told me about her life and I was touched and amazed.  I learned that she lived in a little pueblo about two hours from the office.  She gets up at in time to catch a bus at 4:30 am every morning and to work by 6:30.  She then works until 4:30 pm and takes a bus home again, day after day.  She told me about her conversion and how her Pappi had taught her many things about religion from the time she was a little girl.  He had been raised by a step father who taught him about the earth and the seasons and spiritual things.  Two things her father taught his children really stayed with her.  One was tithing, that if you made10 soles you paid 1 to the Lord.  He said if she ever found a church that taught the law of tithing it a true church.  The second thing she remembered was that the name of the true church would be named after Jesus Christ.   She remembered her father’s teachings and for the next number of years (she is now 66 yrs. old) she grew up and lived her life watched and observed.  Then one day in 1986 she met the missionaries and began taking the lessons.  When the Elders taught her the principle of tithing she began to cry and knew she had found the true Church and it was named after Jesus Christ like her father told her.  Isabella was baptized and later her husband and all of her children.  She now has a total of 10 children, 9 daughters and 1 son.  One of her daughters passed away.

She told me that when it was time for her and her husband to be sealed, they were in their home asleep the night before they were to get on a bus for the temple.  She began dreaming and had a vivid dream about the temple and specifics of the endowment even though she had never heard anything of the temple ordinances.  Her dream was very detailed and as it continued she was beckoned by a man dressed in white telling her to wake up.  She suddenly awoke and realized she had overslept and had just enough time to catch the bus with her husband for the temple.  They got there in time for the session and when she went in, she again cried and remembered her dream with a detailed account of the endowment which was exactly the same she had dreamed the night before.  Amazing story.

One more story about Isabella.  She told me when she was a little girl her mother got very sick, so much so that she was hospitalized and then suddenly slipped into a coma.  She was “gone” for nearly 7 days.  On the 7th day her Pappi told his children that “Mommy” had died.  Suddenly Mommy awoke and she saw her children crying and asked what was wrong and if Daddy had spanked them.  They told their mommy they were crying because Daddy had told them she had died.  She then told them where she had been.  She said, “I left my body and went toward a light and then there was a beautiful place with flowers and trees and I was on a path that was like gold.  There were many people on the path with me and they kept leaving the path.  Some went to the left and some went to the right.  I didn’t know which side to go to, left or right, so I stayed on the path until I found myself alone.  I kept walking and suddenly I saw a man dressed in white and shining brightly. I walked up to him.  He smiled, and I felt great great peace and love.  He told me that I wasn’t suppose to be there yet and I needed to go back along the path and to the place where my children and husband were.  He said your children are crying for you and need you.  I turned around and began walking and then suddenly I awoke and saw my children crying.”  Isabella said that she always remembered her mother’s story and years later when she joined the Church she understood what her mother had seen in the spirit world.

I was so touched listening to this good and humble woman who works so hard for so little but knows who she is and her purpose in life.  I felt I was standing on sacred ground with this sweet humble elderly woman with bad knees and arthritic fingers.  She radiated light and love and understanding.  I can learn much if I will listen and feel God’s love flowing through these dear, humble people.  


  1. Joe, thank you so much for sharing these two stories. They both took me back to my mission in Colombia. The people are dear and so very humble and full of gratitude. You and Dianna look fantastic!
    You are both in my prayers.
    Éxitos y felicidad cada día!

  2. Love those beach pictures. And the story of Isabella from Joe's journal are amazing. So wonderful to hear of how the Savior is constantly working in the lives of all his children.

  3. We had no idea that Hna. Isabel had 66 years. We honestly thought she might be 45-ish. Neither had we heard her testimony. Thank you for taking the time to share those thoughts. Con amor, Los Hansen