So nice to be writing to you again! This week has been so very interesting. Good, but also very difficult.
So I am pretty sure the mission is basically some kind of a time warp. I left Utah in six inches of snow and there were Christmas lights going up at the MTC and now here I am in the beginning of a very HOT summer. I´m pretty sure there´s no possible way you all had Thanksgiving this week, because it definitely doesn´t feel like November here. Some people are starting to decorate for Christmas here, but it´s almost laughable to me, tinsel and baubles on fully-blooming rosebushes! We have a little tree up in our house, but there aren´t any decorations on it yet.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we hosted a Noche de Gratitud on Saturday for the two wards in our building (Hermana Bowns and I and the two sisters who live with us, Hermanas England and González). We had everyone write down three things they were grateful for in different categories, like "Things in Nature" and "Modern Inventions" and such and then we played a gratitude version of "I Have Never" which was a hit. We asked people to bring treats made from squash (pumpkin does not exist here and the idea of squash being a dessert was strange to most of the people we talked to) or chocolate. We bought squash to make cookies but didn´t have time so we´ll be doing that today! Anyway, we had a great turn-out and lots of our investigators were there and that was how we celebrated Thanksgiving.
I had a few weird food experiences this week. I told you the food is mostly normal (except that the vegetables are cooked to within an inch of their lives and everything is swimming in margarine and mayonnaise), but that we have to eat ALL of whatever we´re given. Well I was really put to the test! On Wednesday, I had to conquer a hard-boiled egg. I DETEST hard-boiled eggs. The smell of Easter is enough to make me sick. But there it was, on my plate, and I had to eat it. It was rough. I was trying to inconspicuously gag and choke it down, and at one point I almost lost it, but I ate it and I didn´t throw up. It was awesome.
So after that I figured that pretty much the worst thing that could happen with food had already ocurred, but I was wrong. Saturday was a real adventure! A lot of people here like to give us like breaded chicken patties, and that day the member had cooked them in boiling water or something, but apparently not long enough. At least not mine. It was almost completely raw. I just didn´t know what to do! The member´s chicken didn´t seem to be very well done and she just kept eating it, and my companion´s appeared to be cooked. So I ate raw chicken for lunch and prayed and prayed and prayed that the Lord would protect me from salmonella. Do you want to know what raw chicken tasted like? It pretty much tastes like chicken. I don´t know why, but that was surprising to me. And I have not gotten sick from it so far, so fingers crossed. I gag a little whenever I think about it, but I know the Lord is watching over me and helping me to be able to function because I am trying to be polite and obedient.
My feet hurt a lot. Mostly because this week we walked and walked and walked and contacted and contacted and didn´t get in very many places. We know that we must be doing something wrong, so we are re-evaluating the way we are doing things. I for one have a goal to be more obedient (I´m always running late!) and to try harder to speak the language whenever I can. I know that the Lord cannot give me the gift of tongues, nor can I teach by the Spirit, if I refuse to open my mouth and SPEAK. But I am just always so afraid that what I say will come out wrong or won´t be pertinent to the lesson, or something like that. I need to get over it and do whatever the Spirit tells me to do, but you all know that I can be pretty stubborn and prideful, so I think it might take some time, but I´ll keep working on it.
I don´t have much more time, but I do want to tell you that though we don´t have a lot of success, we are teaching some really awesome people. We have met with a really awesome couple (not married, but not living together either - hooray!) named Carina and Camilo. They ask the best questions and our lessons with them always go much longer than we intended because they have so many intelligent wonderful inspired questions to ask. Like when we taught the Restoration, Carina says, "So, what doctrines were restored?" and "So how do you deal with the fact that the Bible has been corrupted? Did you prophet re-write the Bible?" People just don´t say stuff like that! Most of the time they don´t even get what we´re trying to say, much less understand it well enough to connect those dots for themselves. We really love them, even though they haven´t come to church yet....
We also met a really special girl named Fransisca. We contacted at her house because her grandma was an antiguo investigator and I tell you, that little girl is so wonderful. When we came in to visit, she saw that we had the Book of Mormon and remembered that at one time she had seen one in her house. So while we were talking to her grandma (who we think is starting to have pretty bad dementia, because she couldn´t keep track of the conversation and asked us several times where we were from) she starts looking all over the house for the Book of Mormon but couldn´t find it. So I gave her mine and she was so excited. She sat down and started reading it right there. I love her so much already and we´ve only met with them once.
The last investigator I want to tell you about is named Angelica. She is a woman we contacted one day when she was sitting on her front porch. Our contact with her has been brief, but I am compelled to teach her more. Whenever we talk to her, she just looks at us with this sad longing look in her eyes. It´s like she´s looking into my soul, trying to find out what I have there to offer her. I pray that we will have the opportunity to keep teaching her because I just want so badly for those sad, sad eyes to be filled up with light and joy the way I know they will when she comes to know and accept the gospel.
Here is this week´s commitment: Find someone to serve EVERY DAY! Pray for opportunities to do so and take advantage of them! It doesn´t have to be anything big, but it will make a big difference in your life and in theirs. :)
Anyway, that´s all I have time for this week. I love you all and my heart was full of gratitude for you this past Thanksgiving week. I pray for your health and safety and happiness.
P.S. Pictures of me singing karaoke at a ward activity (I won some flan), me during planning, me and Hermana Bowns, me with my first "completo" (basically a big hot dog, though it wasn´t very hot and it was covered in tomatoes, guacamole and about an inch of mayonnaise which I wiped off), and me finishing my first completo.