Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hola Bolivia

Dear Family and Friends,

Well I am officially en el campo, actually for a week, but actually proselyting only for 3 days haha. When i first flew out for Santa Cruz we went through La Paz (where no north amerians can serve, boys or girls, because the bolivian gov really doesnt like the usa right now haha) and then to Santa Cruz, where we found out our luggage never left Bogota. So i went without a change of clothes or makeup or anything for 3 days. luckily hermana judd lugs around this HUGE suitcase her mom packed that i call the missionary store. So besides clothes i basically had anything else i wanted (well and her makeup is a tad too light so none of that either). Our mission president and his wife are the literal nicest humans in the world. they can speak less english than i can speak spanish, so practically nothing, but their spirits are out of control so great. they are from Lima, and have one adorable special needs son and a daughter about my age who is here with them. They treated us noobs like kings and queens. Every day we were taken out to lunch and dinner for three days, including a really expensive place that was like a brazilian grill, and we stayed in a little hostel place that HAD AIR CONDITIONING. any way, i was soaking it all in because a) now i eat nothing because apparently in this mission we do not eat dinner. and my companion speaks absolutely no english and im having a hard time explaining to her that i want more than saltine crackers for breakfast. literally that is what we have for breakfast. than one plate from our pensionista of hopefully not sketchy bolivian food at 1 pm and then NOTHING until saltine crackers at 7. what in the world haha. after i finish this email i am going to try to explain (again) why i need to buy some more snacks.
So anyway, my area is called Montero. I think i am possibly the only north american girl in the whole mission who is not in the city of santa cruz. there are only two other areas we are allowed in, Montero, and somewhere i can´t spell, and i know im the only one in Montero because its just me and my companion. And the other north american girls got north american companions to train them. Go figure why they put the least experienced one language wise with a latin in the middle of no where hahaha. i should not have told everyone i lived africa for three months, because the assistant to the presidente on the first day he picked us up from the airport was like, they usually only send the more "hardened" sisters out (dont know that i like that word ha) and then a few minutes later was like oh YOURE the one who has traveled all over. it was ominous.
But its okay because i actually love montero so far. it reminds me so much of where i lived in Africa, just not quite as poor, and not literally in the middle of the jungle haha. Some of our investigators are more well off, and some, like Inez, literally live in the dirtiest squalid conditions just like in Wiamoase. I literally carry a 2 liter bottle of water around with me everywhere. Mom, i couldnt tell if you were joking about the warm clothes - it is literally like the surface of the sun here. i have not been able to sleep yet of course. i remember now how hard it is to learn to sleep in a pool of your own sweat. and there is this latin myth all the latina hermanas tell their companions that if you sleep with your fan directly on you your bones will be sick or something. so none of them will sleep like that. so the first two nights i also didn´t even get a fan. But now i just hope she doesnt think i am disrespectful and i have it pointed at me full blast, but its still barely anything. we have to close our windows so that bats and bugs dont come in, so i live in an oven. my companion is more scared than i am. she said two bats have alread gotten in so now she is always scared. i was like let them in i´ll kill them geesh, at least you can drive to get a rabies shot. there will be no driving when we die of heat stroke in our own beds. speaking of creatures, the first day i got to our place there were two, 2-3 inch long cockroaches in our "kitchen". lovely. but apparently africa changed me more than i knew because i barely flinched. still prefer bats though.
our place is good and safe (dont worry mommy). we live in a compound with members and the walls are really high and the outside gate door has a lock. my companion is from bolivia, actually a place in our mission, but she is waiting for her visa to serve in venezuela. she has been in the field for nine months. so far things have been pretty good with her compatability wise, although obviously we cant talk a lot besides about the gospel. i am somewhat frustrated because the other girls have english speakers who can speak spanish fairly well, so when they want to know how to say something grammatically correctly they just ask. with my companion it takes like five minutes to try to explain in other spanish words what phrase i am trying to say, and then its still not right haha. i am just trying to calm down because its my 4th day. and ya its supposed to take like 4 - 6 months. i wouldnt be so frustrated if it wasnt for the teaching part though. i would down with just chilling and learning the language and enjoying myself if this was just a trip, but its a mission and i want to be able to help our investigators who have struggles and such and i want to relate to them and testify to them and right now i just really barely can testify somewhat in spanish. also i can understand what my companion says when we are planning but i dont know how to get messages across to her, and she is pretty set in her ways of 9 months, but some things are not what they taught us in the CCM. for example, she only uses the bible for like the first 2,3,4 visits. it was rammed into our heads to RELY ON THE BOOK OF MORMON. also she waits to extend a baptismal invitation for FOREVER. like one girl i felt we should invite because it was like her 7th lesson and she seems so willing, we didnt even. and my companion was like mmm next week. in the CCM they told us more than they told us anything else to always do it on the 1st or 2nd lesson so that they have that goal they are working towards and they have the agency in their commitments to decide if they want it. even in PMG it says 1st or 2nd. So i don´t know what to do because i can barely communicate and she is my trainer. Also, our investigators barely ever are around for our visits, and partly its because of latin time, but partly my companion never calls them to remind them of anything or just randomly sets a time to visit them without actually asking them. so then they are not home and we just go to some less active members home, which is good, but we visit FOREVER without actually teaching. I guess for now i am just going to take things as they go and keep praying.
This morning was fun because we got to go to our mission presidents house for a hermanas only christmas get together. montero is about an hour away so we were even invited if we could get a trufa, which we did. it was good to see some other english speakers and have them be encouraging that it just takes time and that they had had similar problems with the latinas with teaching sometimes. however a few of them are SO so (im sorry to whoever i will offend with this) Utah mormon girls, haha perpetuating the rep utahns already have, all the way down here in south america. like i can´t even believe how they were sometimes. and my companion calls them rubios because all of them are blonde haha, and apparently they have a rep for not liking latinas and flirting with the elders haha, they were like a little piece of byu right here in bolivia with me to warm my heart.
Anyway, i am going to keep moving forward and trying to rely on the lord, and strenghthen my own testimony in order to bear it with more fortaleza to others haha. i am so grateful for the gospel in my life, and it is so beautiful how it changes others. also, special thanks to paige for reminding me this work is about bearing testimony to children of God, not learning spanish. i am going to make that my goal to focus on for the week. also, my heart died when sister wightman sent me pics of paige and courtney, i loved them so much.
FELIZ NAVIDAD one and all and can´t wait to talk to you family!!!
if you want to send me lotsa christmas presents i´ll tell my mom my address on christmas! i actually don´t know it right now.

PS: does anyone know if my blog is being updated with my letters?? let me know.
love you guys,

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