I figured that nothing I could write formally would do this any kind of justice. So I decided to write one final poem that hopefully lets you all know how I feel about all this. Here it is:
I left to serve a mission, because Christ asked me to,
I said I'd give up all I had, if He would see me through,
I put away my music, and all the friends I had,
The zombie games and movies, and that car that barely ran,
Christ said, "leave it all behind, for only THAT will do,
I'll strip away your weaknesses, and show you what is true,"
I left and thought I'd given all, until the first time came,
Christ showed me I was holding on, to things of lower grade,
Pretty soon came halfway through, I thought of how I'd done,
Of all the things I'd given up, to be a righteous son,
Less and less came letters, but more and more came prayers,
I'd grown so tired of drunks and liars, and funny "gringo-stares,"
I cried at night, and thought at day, to Christ and what He'd done,
I wanted Him to be my friend, I prayed for Him to come,
A year had come and then had gone, and come and gone again,
I found myself now face-to-face, with a quickly-coming end,
I thought of all the things I'd learned, in only two short years,
Traits I had developed, and all my conquered fears,
Christ made of me what I could not, and showed me how to be,
What I myself could not have been, if all were up to me,
I rejoice in all His mercy, I live through all His grace,
My Master and the Savior, of all the human race,
For He is full of glory, and He is full of love,
He's held me true for two years through, with guidance from above,
It all has been as if a dream, since I first heard my call,
To walk with Him a season, and give to Him my all,
The dearest time of all my life, must shortly have it's end,
I leave with many promises, and one Eternal Friend,
Who paid the price to save my life, because He loved me so,
Who saw me through the hardest times, and showed me where to go,
What more could I say, when all has been said,
Yet not a worthy thing,
Was ever heard in all my words,
Nor all that I could sing,
He lives; and I love Him,
And I will thank Him forever,
For loving, and living, and dying for me,
And for calling me on a mission.
So there it is. The last letter home. All I have to say is that I could never say enough, but that if I had to pick one thing from among the many things that I could say, it would be that I love Him. Jesus Christ is Savior of all the world. I know He lives. I hope everybody who reads this can desire to know Him better. The more we know and understand His character, the happier we become. I testify of this with all my heart. He never gives up on us. There is always room for growth. There is a road back from any detour that we might have taken in this life. I beg everyone to please have the courage to take that same road back. Because it's the only road that can make us happy. Don't doubt your value. God wants EVERY ONE OF US no matter who we are or what we have done, to be with Him forever. All He wants is to have His family back. Let us give Him that. We are all of such great worth. Let us not waste ourselves on the empty things of this world. We have the rights to something better. If you don't like the way your life is, CHANGE IT! It's that easy. One decision. change our hearts to "want to obey" position. Nobody can do it for us. The Atonement is real and it works. Don't doubt in it. Do not lose your hope in better things to come...
1. Which area of the Trujillo Mission will you miss most?
Santiago de Chuco, or Casa Grande
2. What are Pres Marlers words of advise for you coming home?
2 and 3. They haven't talked to me yet.
3. What are Sister Marlers words of advise for you coming home?
2 and 3. They haven't talked to me yet.
4. What is your favorite thing you have learned on your mission?
5. What advise will you give your companion you are training about his mission?
Throw yourself into this work. The Lord will never let you fail. (remind me to tell you that story when I get home)
6. Do you have a last meeting with all the missionaries where you and all the outgoing missionaries speak?
yes. It's a sob fest
7. Will you stay in the mission home the night before you fly out?
8. Do you know Elder Dority well? I see you will be traveling home with him. He must be from SLC?
Yes. and He knows Joylynn. he says she was his teacher
9. Are there any traditions in your mission?
............. can I answer all this when I get back? Every one of these questions requires years and many pages to answer........ ha ha ha ha ha ha.
........ I'll take that as a "yes."
one hour of internet to tell about a whole week is like trying to drink a thick wendy's freezer through a coffee straw.... it just doesn't get the job done.
I will see you next week.
*** Chance comes home on March 24 and wont be able to email next week. I will post pics of the airport reunion.
ALL MY PACKAGES ARRIVED THIS WEEK! THANK YOU VERY MUCH! And Handleys...... quit joking about that mini van. I pray every night that I don't ever have to see it...........
I am continually sunburned and yes, my hair is ridiculously blonde now. Alto Moche is an oven.
So I have a running list of funny things I am going to do when I get home...... I think you'll enjoy them........ you will want me leave for another 2 years by the end of the first week........ I think you have become unaccustomed to my humorous idiocy. You know that I am only going to speak spanish during the REAL soccer games. Oh yeah.......
I only have one more "write home session" after this one, you know?
I have to go now. I love you. Tell dad and Courtney I said hi.
1. Are you in pain from your toes?
Naw. They've been this way for so long now that I don't even notice them anymore. They have at least a solid 15 months like this. Ha ha ha. I think they'll go back to normal when I don't have to walk for 10 hours a day in the sand........ that probably has something to do with it......
2. Can I make you a foot dr appt for the following week?
Sure. But only if you promise that they will not do what the doctor here did, and remove my entire toenail. It was super painful. Ha ha ha
3. What are we going to do for general conference? It will be our first one together in 2 years.
I really would like to watch it from home......................
I feel bad because I really don't have much to say at this point...... just that I love all of you, and that I am excited to see you all again. Please go easy on me when I get back. Can we eat Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner that first night? with whole milk? I am so tired of food. Ha ha ha ha ha.
How is uncle Ted doing?
How is the temperature? Do I have to come back to snow?
Do you guys feel the same utter and complete peace that I do at this time? or during this time, I should say. There is a certain peace about this all. It's like the end of a huge war when the dust is clearing, and the sounds of bombs have stopped, and there is just utter silence before the people shout for victory........ know what I mean?
I gotta go. Love you bye!
Thanks to Sister Marler I get pictures once in a while. This is what she posted on her blog last week:
Elder Leavitt and Elder Tway with their "short" companion Elder Boekweg.
Not sure why Elder Boekweg does something funny in every picture,
or makes a funny face....
...but Becky Boekweg, this one is for you, it wasn't easy, but I got this terrific smile!!!
Questions: 1. How is the "invasion"
It's good. Oh man I must be terrible at these letters.....
2. Are you still with Elder Rivera? Will you be till the end?
3. Can you look at BYU.edu to see what classes you can take?
I don't know......... I will check
4. What time do you come home on the 28th?
I don't know
5. Have you ever had a baptism in a regular font?
Of course I have.................... I REALLY must be bad at letters.......
6. Do you have any families right now that you are close to?
Yes. The family of the bishop. Our other family had to move away because they were tired of getting robbed all the time..... ha ha ha
7. Are you still writing to your friends?
No....... I don't. I figure they are like me, and don't have much time to respond anyway. But I plan on writing those still in the mission field when I get home.
8. Do you do splits in your area with members?
A recent rule passed says that we can't do splits anymore. Something bad must have happened in the mission with that.
9. How much help do you get from members?
It's decent here. The church is new in this part of Perú, so the members struggle a lot. Most of the members of ward counsel are in actives themselves. Thats how it's been my whole mission. It's a frustrating work, but these people need help that way. EVERYONE in Perú is inactive, has recently been inactive, or soon will be inactive. Ha ha ha ha. Very few members actually get a hold on the true nature of the Gospel here. That it is something we can never leave behind. This call to be a member is forever. But in a world where there are many churches on every block, it's hard to see the church as something "different." Trujillo has an activity ratio of 2/10. Meaning, that 2 out of every 10 registered members is active. It all has to do with what happened in the 80's and 90's when people thought it was a good idea so hike out to the farthest camp and baptized a hundred small children who have no support, and expect that they would stay active after there were no missionaries in those far-out reaches. That's what President Uceda explained to us. Missionaries came in for a long time thinking that they needed to go home with a huge list of converts. What they were missing was that a CONVERT should be focused on becoming CONVERTED instead of BAPTIZED. It's just that the vision was different then. We understood the work differently. It has evolved and become even better than it used to be. It is the same great work, just phase 2. "the rescue."
10. What kind of a church building are you meeting in there?
A standard Peruvian chapel.
11. What is the name of the city you are in?
12. Did you get your bday package? It was in an envelope so I didn't think it would have to go thru customs.
YES! Thank you so much! Dad's beard is ridiculous. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. And Grandma Boekweg, thank you for your letter! You will have to let me know when we can go. Grandpa Thorpe, thank you very much as well. I look forward to interviewing you for a family history project. For that matter, you will all get your turn.
I almost cut my finger off this week. I was being dumb trying to use a Gillette razor to cut off part of my pen that doesn't let me put it in my pocket, when it slipped and left a centimeter deep slice wounds across the tip of my left pointer finger. I am lucky the skin didn't detach completely, or it may have been a problem with guitar in the future. Ha ha ha ha. Idiot............ It bled a ton.
I am going to the Trujillo Temple dedication? Sweet!!! Thank you so much for this.........I am so grateful for this opportunity. I am looking forward to it so much.
I should probably tell you that I am EXTENDING MY MISSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I asked President for a whopping 3 days more. I will come home on the 28th now in the morning. Just in time for the homecoming talk the very next morning! That'll be sweet. I'll be fresh. I am extending because Elder Leavitt was going to be the only missionary that went home that day (thanks to an extension that president asked from him to train the next office guy.) I don't know what I'll be doing for those three days, but it really isn't that much of a difference. I might go back to the office and help Elder Leavitt train the new health guy, because I used to do it too. So put three more days on your countdown!
My package has not arrived yet. It must be stuck in customs or something. Maybe it will come this week?
I really don't have much to say this week.......
Mom...... I love you.
Got to go again. But I love you very much. I'll see you soon. Tell me what you want from Perù. Thank you for making miracles posibles.
Last night, my companion shined my shoes for me while I took a shower, and as I picked them up and stared at them, I realized how worn they were. I realized that I have walked a VERY VERY VERY long distance in them. I cried. I don't want this to end. I have never been so happy and so sure that I had a purpose. My soul has never felt such a profound thing..... it's sadness, but happiness that I will get to see everyone again.
It sounds like Brayden is already a general authority. I could write his biography on LDS.org right now if I wanted. Ha ha ha. Everyone seems happy. So Brayden and Sadie are engaged, eh? Right on. CONGRATS, GUYS! I have waited for this day for many years...... ha ha ha ha.
I only have 5 more letters home........ and then I AM home................ And I have absolutely no idea what comes after that. I sure hope I can figure it out quick. I don't want to waste any time.
I have thought a lot about the temple this week. There is no greater blessing than those that are had in the temple. We can in no other place find a promise so eternal. We can be with the people we love forever. Without ever having to worry about losing them. We all need to focus more on those blessings. Go to the temple more. Remember more clearly that it is for that very reason that we are here in mortality........ and that's my thought for the week.
Happy Birthdays, cousins! ¡Feliz Cumpleaños, primas! Me parece que debo escribir eso en ambos idiomas para que todos me puedan entender. MJ- Vamos a hablar mucho cuando estè en casa yo. Me tienes que ayudar a recordar lo que he aprendido aquì para siempre. ¡Te contarè historias de la tierra de tu papà! Seguro que èl tambien tendrà aùn màs historias que yo, y yo las quiero escuchar en ¡PURO CASTELLANO! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Grandma Boekweg - "Cancha" or Popcorn, is a highly popular snack food here. They eat it at all times during the day. Morning, afternoon, night, etc. So yes, we do get to eat popcorn every once in a while. There is an abundance of corn here in Peru
I have to go now...... but I love you. Until next week, and until next month when I can talk forever if you want, I guess I'm signing off. Isn't that the most frustrating thing? Ha ha ha. I have consistently hated that in the mission. I wish I could type faster. But it won't be a problem for too much longer.
Questions: 1. Did you get your travel plans and what time to you arrive here?
No mom..... ha ha ha. not yet. I promise I'll send them when they arrive
2. How is your training going?
Extremely well. Elder Rivera is changing a lot.
3. Did you meet Sister Marlers daughter and family?
Yes. It was so strange to hear little children speak English. I haven't heard that in a LONG time.
4. How is life in the invasion?
It's.................... uhhh.............. inexplicable. So so poor.
5. Will you be transferred again before you leave?
Negatory. I'm "dying" here.
6. Do you need anything? I still have time to ship it to you if you do?
Nah. By the time it gets here. I'll just have to pack it up and carry it home.
7. Did you receive my bday package?
8. What is your favorite part of your area now?
Still the invasion. "the dunes" they call it sometimes.
9. What is your weather like on the coast?
We've been having a tiny bit of rain these past few days. Mostly overcast. But it's usually very hot and very very sunny and very very, very humid. Oh man the humidity kills. It's so gross. I just want to be dry.....
10. Have you had any baptisms in the invasion?
No. Most people there cannot afford to travel to the church. So we have very little success there. People also usually can't read, so they can't gain a personal testimony of the Book of Mormon easily. They also usually have no desire to progress.... interesting, huh? Here in Perú, the success is found where they money is these days. I'll have to explain that to you when I get home.
Aunt Colleen's email last week was incredible. I love her. Send her my thanks. Tell her I'll teach her Spanish if she wants.
Its so fun to hear about the Gonzales family, MJ and Gus. I am so thankful that I won't lose my Spanish. But this means that I will always need to speak to them in Spanish. Are they down for that?
Happy Birthday Kelly!
That's if for this week.
Love you all,
Thanks for the long letter today. I like them long. I hope all is well back in Lincolnshire. Land of peace and snow.
I wanted to share this with you all this week:
Jesus Christ is the infinite and eternal Savior of our souls. What He did can never be repaid by any amount of work or really anything. I can't imagine the love He has for us. Do we realize that He, being an embodied spirit was willing to endure the excruciatng pain of being nailed to a cross for us? I know that He lives. I know that He loves us. I know that He never abandons us or leaves us alone to fight the adversary when we seek Him. He cannot. Because He is the only way to beat the opposition. We cannot do it without Him. Every sin, and every mistake would label us forever as "unfit" for the kingdom of God. But luckily, thanks to one Man who was able and willing to pay the crushing debt, we can take control of our lives, and drive them in the way that leads to God and happiness. There is no other way. We can search in vain for years or even lifetimes for an effective substitute, hoping that some form of mundane entertainment or amnesia will wash away what we ourselves cannot; but we will never find it. I testify that the only power that has the capacity to remove whatever feelings of saddness, or guilt, or burden that we may have is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We cannot argue any other way, because nobody who has ever sought peace in another way has ever found it. It simply doesn't exist anyplace else! We can intend to mask our problems, coating them in prettier words until nobody will point a finger, but I think that deep down, the afflicted will always know that there is something wrong. Some seemingly unsolvable puzzle that never disappears. I invite everyone reading to do what Jeffrey R Holland invites us to do and "give place to the enemy of our souls no more." Don't let the adversary win. He doesn't have the power to force us into saddness. We have to choose it. If something is wrong, FIX IT. Repent. Ask forgiveness. Work hard and with a plan. Do whatever is necessary to get rid of those feelings, because they are not worth carrying.
Our Savior stands ready with open arms to receive every soul that is brave and smart enough to come unto Him. He makes no exceptions. All are invited. We have the chance to weekly renew our repentance process, and remember Him. The Sacrament. Please participate, or the infinite sacrifice of our loving Savior goes to an ironic waste. He cannot heal us if we don't let Him. And we are the only force standing in the way.
Congrats, Brayden. I am hopeful for many more exciting things in the near future.
Sorry I don't have time to write more. I thought hard about that paragraph. I hope it helps someone who needs it this week. My heart is continually drawnout in prayer for all of you. I undertand that scripture now. I love you all so much. I wish everyone would know what true peace and happiness is. It only comes through obedience.
Tell Brayden I love him. That man means a lot to me. Tell him to wait to catch up on adventure time with me. I want to study the plot with him. He will know what you mean.
The "happily ever after is starting to take form, I think." Brayden comes home this week.............. How strange.
My cool Bayern Munich jersey. You like it?
I am SOOOOOO STOOOOKKKKKKEEEEEEDDDDDDD about the temple dedication. 21 of June
My beard is so powerful now..... I am one of the missinoaries that has to shave every single day without fail, or else you notice it...... ugh
This is me knocking a "door" here. Ha ha ha. The invasion is so poor. I love it there. Nobody knows how to read. The people are SO humble. It's some of the only true humility I have ever seen, I think. It's my favorite part of my area.
Welcome to Alto Moche. Ha ha ha. Actually, this is the invasion of Alto Moche. They build their houses on a hill right next to Alto Moche and live there for free. It's poverty on a level that we don't know exists in the states. Our government passes out houses for free that are 80x better than these. No floor, no roofs, and walls of sticks and tarps..... no water. No electricity. No nothing.
Like this.......... Imagine the poorest place you 've ever heard of, then multiply it by 1,000...... and THAT'S my area. I have so many stories to tell when I get back. We're going to need 2 whole years just to catch up again. And I could never fully convey how things are here........ It's so different. I hope someday you get the chance to see poverty like this. Makes me wonder why humans worry about mars and dumb things like that, when our own world is doing so poorly.
We live up higher on the hill. In a house with a floor and roof. We have electricty, and water most of the time. It's has gone missing a few times, though.
1. Did you already get your travel papers?
They are purchased, but I don't have them yet.
2. How is the work going in your new area? We have been praying for you and your companion.
KEEP PRAYING, IT'S WORKING. It's going great. We have several promising investigators.
3. Do you need anything for your bday package?
Nah. Irish Spring body wash, maybe. I've been thinking about how awesome it used to feel to use that wonderful stuff. "electrify", of course.
4. What are you doing for pday now in this area?
Today we are going to explore Incan ruins..... I'll take some pictures. should be cool.
5. Do you think you will find a homemade soccer ball in this area?
No.............. But if I do, I'll get one.
6. Start thinking about what classes you want to take at BYU cuz I think registration will happen Friday Mar 27.
Oh man...................... no way...... ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. German 101 again for sure.......... and I don't know what else........
Thanks for the updates on the world......
Is it too late to buy 3 baby pigs? I was thinking of ways to earn money to come back to Perú for the temple dedication, and I think I could make enough with 3 or 4 pigs....... at least, for the plane tickets......... I am so desperate to go..... it is going to KILL me to have to leave right before the major event that I have been waiting for for 2 years............
Tell me about Tooele........... Send some pics.
The picture is what happens when your area is mostly sand dunes, and it's really, really hot and humid and you have to walk all day. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Funny, right?
I want to take pictures of the invasion area, but I am afraid I will get my camera stolen........ it's pretty poor there, mom............ you would have to see it to believe it..........
You can see the ocean in the background there in the distance....
I am EXTREMELY blessed here, because at the end of every single day, I get to see a sunset over the south pacific ocean. For free......... it's an incredible sight.
I am in Alto Moche. I think the Book of Mormon started here. The moches are the really ancient Nephites, I believe. I'll have to explain it all when I get home. It's cool. Alto Moche is known for it's HUGE beetles that come out in the night and make a ton of noise. One night, one flew onto my neck, I screamed in fear, and threw it off me into the dirt, and a group of nearby children laughed their heads off at me. I had no idea what on earth it was!!!!!! apparently, they are not harmful, but thy sure are gross...........
Don't worry about me I have angels that walk in front of me, behind me, and to the sides of me. I have less to worry about than you guys in Tooele. I have seen divine protection many times.
I have to go now. See you later! Love you bye! Enjoy the pics.
He is from El Distrito Federal, Ciudad de Mèxico, Mèxico. As Mexican as a man can be. He's cool. He likes hot food, and is 19 years old. He will be heading home in 2017........
**Thank you Sister Marler for the pictures!
Elder Rivera and his trainer, Elder Boekweg.
Elder Boekweg started with a selected reading from Preach my Gospel.
2. Will you get another mission pres for the other Trujillo mission in July?
Yes. Presidente Rios, who is currently a bishop in Chiclayo
3. What have you found out about your new area?
LOTS OF SAND. It's a beach. It's is also by far the poorest place I've ever had, and by far the most dangerous....... last night, we were walking home, and the power went out. Complete blacknes, except for the moon. we started to hear breaking windows and animals screaming. It got nuts. I picked up a big rock...... y'know...... just in case. Ha ha ha.
4. What are you staying in? With the comment about the people living in tents I wondered if there were apartments for you to stay in?
We live above a small fruit store. Smells good...... finally. Ha ha ha ha. THAT in itself is a big blessing. But there is another part of our area that we are exploring that the people just live in houses made of four cut down tree posts, and tarps for walls stretching inbetween. Crazy, right. This is poverty that surprises me even after having been here for a long time...... a person could not have less than these people have...
5. Are there businesses in your new area? How do you use internet?
Same. Little tiendas that have internet
6. What are the responsibilities of a trainer?
an extra hour of studies every day........................................ and in general just showing the new guy all the ropes. It's cool. Even my comp from Mexico thinks this place is poor. ha ha ha ha ha. He's rich though, I think.
7. You didnt mention any of your other Christmas presents, did you like them?
I loved them. I have my banjo picture by my bed. I did not expect it. I was expecting you to at least wait until my birthday for. But I knew if I was persistent, I might eventually get it. Ha ha ha ha ha! It only took me a year and a half of asking.
BYU tie is my offical "pday tie" I love it
Alien slingers are sweet. Ha ha ha
8. Who did you give the other presents to?
Oddly, nobody I was with needed them this year. We were blessed. So Elder Gonzalez got them.
10. Still eating seafood by the ocean?
Yes. Ha ha ha
Things are pretty crazy here in Alto Moche. We have huge Incan ruins in my district. In fact, some of the Elders have to proselyte basically on top of them. Ha ha ha. People still live there.
I need you to pray for my comp and I to find new people to teach. We are opening a new area, and are building from the ground up.
DAD: I NEED WHEELS. Don't forget the truck or car or whatever. I cannot be homebound when I get back. I definitely need to drive. Your time is running out. Ha ha ha ha ha I love you though.
My "kid" (his new companion) calls me "the nazi" all the time. He says I look like one....... pretty much everyone tells me the I don't look "gringo," but German. Is it true? They say there is a difference, but I don't notice even one. Ha ha ha.
The lady just tapped my shoulder...... my time is up.
I love you all! I'll send pictures next week, hopefully! (Though I make no promises)