Sunday, December 28, 2008

We hope you all had a Merry Christmas. Our house was a little quieter this year without Christa, Darren, Mel, Quincy and Stratton. It was just Mom, Dad, Emily and me. We had a nice family conversation on Christmas Day, though, and were all able to talk to each other. It was fun to hear from Christa! She has been in her first area for a few weeks now. It has been hard, but she is doing well. She lives with a woman and the woman's grandmother who cook and do laundry for Christa and her companion. The food has been a major adjustment for her. Breakfast consists of, in her words,  "mystery meat and tomatoes." All she wants is a bowl of oatmeal. (My mom is working on a package to send to Christa full of instant oatmeal.) She loves her companion who will be returning home to Northern Peru in March. To those of us who are not fluent in Spanish, she sounds awesome, but she says she still can't understand much and most people can't understand her! She is looking forward to the day when she will be more comfortable speaking. (I'm sure that day will be very soon!) She also told us some good stories about the transportation in Peru. She advised my dad to buy back his old Cadillac, move to Peru, join the locals in their transportation efforts, and he would be a rich man! Christa wanted to thank everyone who has written and sent packages. She does not have enough time to write back, but she wants everyone to know she greatly appreciates it. 

Here are some pictures we received from Christa on Christmas Eve. The first set are from the MTC in Lima that include the sisters in her district, the MTC President and his wife the Grobergs, downtown Lima at night, more sisters at the MTC, and a trip to the zoo.

The following pictures are from here first area in Arequipa. These include sunflowers (Christa's favorite), Misti (volcano), her neighborhood, her rooftop, view from the rooftop, nativity inside her apartment, her welcome to the mission sign!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yay! Our first email from Arequipa. We hadn't heard from Christa since she left the MTC in Lima and I think we were all going through withdrawals. Thanks to everyone who has been writing. We know she appreciates it so much.

We hope you all have a Merry Christmas. We'll update after our phone call on Christmas Day. We can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!

Received December 15, 2008
Por Fin!!!!!
I never thought I was going to be able to talk to you guys or hear from you ever again!!! I felt a little bad begging president groberg to email you guys when our pday got eliminated without warning, but now Im glad I did!!!! I have almost died not being able to send you guys mail or hear from you!!! It has been a rough couple of weeks!! I havent even had time to read any of your emails, but I wanted to send this as soon as I could!!! I hope you are all alive and well. I am definitely alive and in Arequipa!

I was the lone northamerican traveling with 7 latinos. They were really nice to me and made sure I made it on the plane and everything. When we landed in Arequipa President and Sister Davis and the office elders were waiting for us. We went back to the mission home and ate Dominos . Except I couldnt eat OR sleep because the elders thought it would be funny to tell us the Arequipa mission isnt allowed to use email!! I seriously cried and couldnt sleep all night. They also told us it took 2 weeks to get a letter. I was ill. Turns out it was a joke and the next day at breakfast (pancakes with nutella and peanut butter!!!) I found out. I should have been mad, but I was just so relieved I would someday get to email you guys-even if its been an eternity-I wasnt mad.

There were letters from Dad, Bob Gardner, Michelle, Jenny and Jessie and the interns I was with in Chicago and the Inghams waiting for me. Tell them all thank you!! And some of them had been sent on Dec. 4 and I got them the 10!!! So that was great news.

Anyway, Wednesday we had some training at the mission home, had a really nice lunch and I had an interview with President Davis and got my assignment. Im with Hermana Monteza and shes from northern peru. Shes the nicest person ever. I feel so bad for her though because she only has a couple months left and has to spend them basically babysitting me. I dont understand a thing!!! We are in an area in Arequipa called Alto Misti right by the volcano Misti. I love downtown Arequipa!! Its so cute!! My area is about 10 minutes aways and kind of reminds me of Carson City, Virginia City if that tells you anything. Im sure itll be good though. The weather is beautiful right now although it does get chilly at night. Blue skies here everyday, but I hear the rain is going to start soon. Good news dad-my companion makes me wear sunscreen everyday.

Anyway, yeah, Im in the field. All Im going to say is I hate learning curves. Ive never been very patient with them and maybe thats a big part of the reason Im supposed to be on this mission. I remember mom telling me when I came home from my first day of kindergarten and couldnt read how upset I was. I feel that way now. I just want to be able to speak spanish and actually be a missionary and its really hard just feeling dumb all the time. I know things will all come together, but I just wish I was already a couple months down the road.

Im a little sick. Ive had a sore throat and alternating stuffy-running nose. Everyone says its adjusting to the climate.

Anyway, the place we live is avctually really nice. Well, it doesnt have mirrors, but by Peru standards we live in a mansion. Mom, you know how you keeps saying you want to trade places? Well I have the news that will make you buy your ticket down here!! We live with a pensionista, Yenny, who cooks our 3 meals a day for us. Her grandma, mama Jica, reminds me of Aunt Jo. She always comes in and spices up the food. Anyway, they are really nice, I just wish I could understand them!! Also a lady came and picked up our laundry today!! So if I see you on my doorstep mom Ill know why.

Thank you guys for everything!!! Keep praying. I know you are already and I know its what keeps me going. I love you all!!! Talk to you Monday!!! This is my pday from now on!!!


PS Em there was a dog in sacrament yesterday. It was the closest we got to having an investigator show up. Thought youd appreciate that.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Here are the last two emails we have received from Christa. One was the week before Thanksgiving, and the other the week after. She will be leaving the Peru MTC in Lima this week and traveling to Arequipa. Hopefully we will hear from her before she leaves! She is so appreciative of all the letters she has been getting. Unfortunately she doesn't have time to write back. Actually I think it is a great thing that she is so busy she doesn't have time to write back!! Keep sending letters. It is such a blessing for her to hear from all of our family and friends. 

Happy Thanksgiving (received November 26, 2008)
Here in Peru its called Dia de Accion de Gracias. I like the ring of Thanksgiving a little better.
Last Wednesday Pres. and Hermana Groberg took us on a tour of Lima that night. So we were in an MTC van driving into downtown Lima when all of a sudden in the middle of an intersection, there was a huge gang fight!! There were at least 30 teenagers with KNIVES throwing bricks at each other!!! We just drove on by and Pres. Groberg said that was an added bonus for our tour. These are probably the stories Darren wisely chose not to share while on his mission, but he has more self restraint than I do. It was a knife fight for crying out loud!! This place never ceases to amaze me! So downtown Lima was actually really cool. Its the first time Ive thought Lima was pretty. We walked around and saw an old cathedral and went in during mass (thats for you Grandma!) The streets had armed guards everywhere though. Apparently presidents from all over the world (including Bush) were there for a conference. I got some cool pictures I hope to send home SOMEDAY when I have access to a computer that will let me.

I got my new companion. Her name is Hermana Rivera from Chiclaya, Peru. Shes really nice. Shes a little quiet, but I like her a lot. We are the coordinating sisters and we are still trying to figure out exactly what that means.

I met 2 native sisters that will be going to Arequipa with me, but Im still the only northamerican!! One of the other Peru missions only has 2 northamerican sisters!! Im pretty nervous about that. I just wish I could speak spanish! I know it'll come

Anyway, I did have a couple highlights of the week. A sister told me she was scared to play on the opposite team as me in soccer because she didnt want to get hit by the ball when I kicked it! As terrible as it sounds, that really did make my week. We also got to go to the temple this week. Everything is in spanish , obviously, so that was different, but it was really, really good. I needed it. I met a lady in the temple who speaks english and just got back from her mission to Arequipa! She said I was going to freeze!! Apparently Dad was right about it being cold down there. Good thing itll be summer. But she also said i would love it, that its beautiful. She told me to remember that Peruvians are different, but to remember I dont have to live with them forever and I should learn everything I can while Im here. Good advice I think. Ive heard from multiple sources that its also called the mission for the valiant because a lot of people in Arequipa are hard hearted. Why did anyone feel the need to tell me that???!! Oh well.

Happy Week After Thanksgiving (received December 3, 2008)
I actually had a really good Thanksgiving believe it or not! We woke up to tons of tables set up in the courtyard with beautiful tablecloths and flowers! Then they had a Thanksgiving program where we learned about pilgrims! I joked about dressing like a pilgrim for the day then realized I already do. Everyday. If my shoes werent shoes someone actually wore on the mayflower I dont know what they are. Then we had an actual Thanksgiving dinner!! Turkey, sweet potatoes and all! But no pie. Oh well, Ill still take it. Oh, I forgot. The night before a woman came into the cafeteria with cinnamon rolls she made for all the missionaries because she thought the northamericans would be homesick. I cried. Some random french woman bringing cinnamon rolls to us in peru. It was a good thanksgiving.

So yeah, a week from yesterday Im pretty sure Ill be flying to Arequipa! Im sure Ill get to email before I leave. My teacher made some calls and Ill be one of FOUR northamerican sisters in arequipa!!! Who would have thought a few months ago this is wehre Id end up? Mom, I think I feel exactly like you. Where is peru and how did I get here. I guess youre right and this really is where heavenly father wants me because every morning I wake up and honestly cant remember making any conscious decisions that got me here! It feels like I just got picked up and dropped off here!! Im hoping Ill start to get less surprised by the fact that Im here every morning I wake up.

I miss you guys so much!! I think about you, pray for you, and hope youre safe, healthy and happy everyday. I hope you can feel my prayers because I can feel yours!! I love you guys!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Peru MTC District

A sister in Christa's district sent us an email today with a quick note and this picture!!! 

Hey, this is Hermana Walther, but here´s a pic of our district!
The elders from left to right are Elder Camp, 
Hatch, Gonzales, Stout.
The sisters from left to right are Hermana Jones, Walther, Keele, Garner.

I love your daughter so much. She is so dang hilarious and is the coolest missionary in the whole mtc (both in provo and here). she just makes everything about being a missionary at least 17 times better.

Best wishes!
Miriam Walther

Sunday, November 23, 2008

We received an email from Christa on Wednesday this week. Here are a few excerpts. She finally received mail this week. Keep writing! She loves it.

"So I had a pretty interesting experience in the cafeteria the other morning. I grabbed a mandarin to go along with my yogurt and eggs for breakfast. I think you can guess where this is headed. One side of the orange was pretty soft, but it was FRUIT so I took it! I only ate the side of the orange that was firm. I finished my breakfast and was looking down at my plate when I noticed a tiny worm crawling around. So I go, "sick! Where did that come from?" And then my gaze met the rest of my mandarin on my plate. i used my fork to roll it over and saw TONS of tiny worms crawling around!! Thats right. So now I would like to hold out hope and think the worms only infiltrated half my orange, but I think we all know the keele familys luck isnt that good.

Proselyting was ok this week. I had a bit more culture shock. We hiked up the side of the mountain to tract and I felt like I was literally in one of those "save the children" commercials where if you donate .10 a day you can sponsor a child. So sad. But it was a good day too. It turns out that lady that ran up to me in the street last week ended up going back to church so that was exciting.

Anyway, we went to the zoo today for an outing!! It was a pretty trashy zoo, but it was fun getting out. We were supposed to see some ruins, but instead we went to pizza hut. Apparently the Grobergs had a wedding to get back for and didnt have time to take us to do everything. The pizza was much needed though so I guess I cant complain.

Good news! I got real mail this week! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! I got the food package and have been hoarding it. People get suspicious when they smell peanut butter on my breath (thats a hot commodity around here) but I change the subject and they forget about it. So thank you!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We received another email from Christa on Tuesday. Any intro I give it won't do it justice. Read and enjoy!! Remember to start sending mail to the new address after the 20th of this month.

"I definitely got that taste of Peru Ive been waiting for when we went proselyting on Saturday!! Mom, you know how you kept saying that Id get down here and say, "I wish you guys could see this?" Well you were exactly right!! At least for most of it anyway. So we took a bus about an hour from the CCM to a place called St. Isabela. The whole ride I just stared out the window-there were shacks built up every hill-just like in the books! And each one was a different color. Im pretty sure our bus killed 12 pedestrians on the way. Like I said, crazy driving. Then I looked over and there was a flatbed truck next to us with a bunch of crates of Coke and Inca Cola on it and there were people just laying on top of the crates as the truck was speeding by us on the freeway!! And to think I was worried about finding my seat belt!! So we got to the area and they gave my companion and I the names and addresses of 14 inactive families and from 9-5 we tried to track them down and invite them to church on Sunday. We had a member of the ward with us too. Before Saturday i thought I knew "un poco de espanol" but it turns out I was WAY OFF!! I had no idea what was going on the entire day!! But I just smiled and nodded and bore my testimony when my companion would turn and look at me, so yeah. The first part of the day was pretty frustrating because I felt useless, but then a random lady in the street ran up to me and saw my nametag and kissed me and held my hands and said a gringo had baptized her and how beautiful it was to see another gringo. After that some people on the street stopped to talk to us and asked what I was doing so far from home. So I told them and my companion ended up getting their address for the missionaries to visit. So the day turned out okay. I guess I started to realize that the Lord is making my weaknesses strong. No, hes not allowing me to speak perfect spanish, or even understand more spanish than Ive learned, but because I dont belong and cant speak, people are curious about why im here and it opens some doors sometimes. The streets were all dirt where we were and the houses actually werent too bad. Some were more pathetic than others. Like the lady with one room, bunkbeds and a camping stove, or the man we talked to in his shoe store made out of plywood and he literally only had like 3 shoes for sale!! So sad. But everyone was right, they are happy people.

I would have to say though that by far the most memorable part of the day had to be when I witnessed a rat getting BEATEN TO DEATH with a bucket!! (Em, stop reading now) So we were walking along and there was a commotion ahead of us and next thing we know there is a giant RAT running toward us down the sidewalk!! (No streets, but they have sidewalks) All of a sudden a man with a bucket comes out of NOWHERE and starts beating this rat!!! The rat was making noises I didnt even know an animal could make!!!So the man just keeps hitting this rat and it just keeps squealing!! I would pay money to have a snapshot of what my face looked like as this was happening. So then the rat stops squealing and everybody just goes about their business! Apparently thats nothing out of the ordinary!! So as we walk away I was honestly laughing out loud because I realized Im being led around PERU by 2 people I dont understand, walking around a weird little barrio, and I just saw a rat get beaten to death!! All I could do was laugh!! Thats when I came to the conclusion Heavenly Father played a trick on me to get me on a mission. The whole time I was feeling really good about a mission I think I was envisioning a call to a visitors center or church history sight or England or Ohio, NOT the event that I just described. Nonetheless, as hard as it is, Im happy to be where I need to be. Rat murders and all."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Address and Updates

After November 20 please send letters to the following address:
Hermana Keele
Peru Arequipa Mission
Edificio El Pera
Avenida El Ejercito 710, Oficina 7031
Cayma Arequipa

Sister Keele will be in the Peru MTC until December, but letters take three weeks to get there so...IF LETTERS ARE SENT TO THE PERU MTC AFTER NOVEMBER 20th THEY WILL NOT FORWARD THEM TO HER!!!!!! Please send letters to the above address for the rest of her mission!

Christa's new preparation day is Tuesday. She is able to have 30 minutes to email. I thought I would include some exerpts from her most recent email. 

"Im surviving!! Some days are better than others, but Im doing pretty good considering the fact Im in Peru!!! I have a great companion. She's Hermana Barzola from Lima and shes going to Trujillo, Peru on her mission. Shes the nicest person ever. She doesnt speak a word of english and so it makes understanding each other very tough, but she gives me lots of thumbs up so I guess thats a good thing. We have to go out proselyting in a Lima neighborhood on Saturday!!! Wha?????? I am terrified. I know I'll be extra glad I have a native companion that day!

There was an earthquake on Saturday!! It was small, but we were playing volleyball and all of a sudden everything was shaking and every dog in town was barking!!! It really was small mom, don't worry.

The food isnt bad. Its definitely not good, but its not bad. Chicken and rice everyday.
On Halloween they did give us ice cream and candy though so I hope you all only felt a little bit sorry for me.

I havent seen much of Lima yet so I dont have too much to report. They told us to prepare for culture shock when we got proselyting on Saturday so Im sure I'll have more stories then. Its surprisingly cold here! Apparently its still spring. Im hoping it warms up! We have only seen the sun once since weve been here!

An elder from the floating islands on Lake Titicaca played We thank thee oh god for a prophet on his wooden flute at a meeting we had the other night. I thought dad would appreciate that.

What else...We are in class pretty much all day where our teachers dont speak english. Im in a district with other north americans, but we meet up with our latin companions to teach and eat meals, etc. There are about 70 missionaries here right now. 14 sisters-8 of us from north america, and the rest elders from Peru, Bolivia and North America.

Watch TV and eat fast food for me!! Love you guys!!!!!"

I loved the last line! She hasn't changed that much, yet!!
More updates to come after Tuesday.
Keep writing. She LOVES hearing from everyone.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

We were able to talk to Christa a few times yesterday en route to Peru. She sounded good!! It was fun for us all to have a chance to chat for a bit. She arrived early this morning at the MTC in Lima, Peru. She sent us an email letting us know she made it safely. She also informed us of a few other things.
1)Do not send any packages to the MTC
2)Only send mail to the MTC for 3 weeks. If you send it after that she will not get it before she leaves for Arequipa.
3)Her new address is:
Hermana Christa Keele Arequipa Peru Mission
Av. Melgarejo 159
Urb. Campo Verde
La Molina, Lima, Peru

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Primero Dia

Here's Hermana Keele on her big day. The camera was misplaced by the family, hence the delay in getting these pictures up. Apparently Em hated the pictures with the rest of the family in them because she only sent me the ones with Christa and mom! We've received a few letters from CK so far. She is doing well! She leaves today for the MTC in Peru. We will post her new address soon. A direct quote from her last letter "Thanks so much for all the mail!!! I am in love with mail!!!" She does not have much time to write, but she loves hearing from everyone.

The following is a quote from President Heber J. Grant concerning missionary work. I read it recently and wanted to share it. "We as a people have one supreme thing to do, and that is to call upon the world to repent of sin, to come to God. And it is our duty above all others to go forth and proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the restoration again to the earth of the plan of life and salvation...We have in very deed the pearl of great price. We have that which is of more value than all the wealth and the scientific information which the world possesses. We have the plan of life and salvation...The best way in the world to show our love for our neighbor is to go forth and proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, of which he has given us an absolute knowledge concerning its divinity."

I'm excited for Christa to share the gospel with others, and I hope we too can be more committed to sharing our knowledge with those around us!


Monday, October 27, 2008

I just got my second letter from Christa today, and she sounds good! She goes to the Lima, Peru MTC on October 29, she told me that she'll send her address in the next letter, so we'll have that posted soon. Here are some more pictures.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Christa and her companion: Hermana Garner in class

       All of Christa's roommates/girls in her district, Hermanas: 
Garner, Keele, Walther, Jones

Christa and her friend from BYU in the cafeteria.

Cleaning the men's bathroom at 6:00 a.m. for her service for the week.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My letter

Today I got my first personal letter from Christa! I was so excited, but of course I also burst into tears. She sent a few pics of her at the MTC.  She's doing pretty good!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Today we got our first letter from "Hermana Keele!" It was pretty exciting, except my mom and I could hardly get through it.  She's doing pretty good, she really likes her companion who's going to Peru with her, but she still doesn't know anyone going to Arequipa, Peru with her. She's a little homesick but getting better, and more used to everything.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Christa's Address

Sister Christa Keele
MTC Mailbox # 267
PER-ARE 1029
2005 N. 900 E.
Provo, Utah 84604-1793

Thursday, October 9, 2008

One Voice

The song playing on this blog helped Christa decided to go on a mission.  At Christa's farewell Hannah Maxwell sang this song.  It was the best part of the whole meeting, Hannah has an amazing voice, and she made it a great day.  If we could have Hannah's version on here we totally would! Thanks again guys!


Well we dropped Christa off at the MTC on Wednesday October 8 which will now be recorded as the saddest day of my ENTIRE life. (sorry Darren, but I can't really remember yours:) It was a pretty hard day for all of us, and her last words were..."None of you can die in the next 18 months!) and she was "dead" serious! Christa leaves for Arequipa, Peru on October 29, we will have her address posted here, and on her face book account. I know she'd love to keep in touch with all of you, and hear what's going on!
Just by the by this is her little sister Emily, and me and my older sister Brittany, and our brother Darren and our sister in law, Melanie will all be authors on this blog.