Tuesday, November 19, 2013

# 4 Letter from Ecuador

I can hardly believe it´s P-Day again. The days are long but the weeks go by so fast! I know it´s what everyone says, but things are very "rollercoaster" on the mission. One day will be amazing, the next day will be ... nothing.

Last Monday, me and my companion took on the task of finding me some black shoes, because the black shoes I brought are truly hideous. Here's the thing though - Ecuadorians have small feet. I think the largest shoes we found were an American size 8, which as you know is not nearly big enough. We went to store after store and all of the store owners tried to force my feet into size 8 shoes. Hermana Diez is convinced that we will find some shoes, but I have given up hope.  My Spanish that day was really good though, I was able to converse a bit and I explained many times that I do not dye my hair (I´ve gotten really good at deciphering this question).
The next day was district meeting and verification. These meetings are both the best and the worst. Verification is when we meet with one of the zone leaders and go over how my training is going in the 12 Semanas program. I´m supposed to initiate lessons and contacts and many things and uapsodfiuasdlkfjsdañlkfj I feel like it´s too much! It´s the same goals for people learning a language and fluent speakers. So  I have to do practices with the zone leaders (who are awesome, but it´s very intimidating) and I have to explain in my pitiful Spanish how things are going and I greatly dislike it. Also, we have lots of practices when we meet as a district, and because my companion is a machete of a missionary, our companionship has been picked every week to be the example companionship and give a lesson in front of the rest of the district. Let me remind you that the Spanish still isn´t here yet, and everyone else in my district speaks perfect Spanish. Also, when they give the directions and explain the practices, I don´t completely understand. So district meetings are the best because I learn a lot, and it´s fun to meet up with the other missionaries, and they´re the worst because I usually make a fool of myself in front of everyone, multiple times. 

After our meeting ended, the Zone leaders asked to meet with us and lo and behold Hermana Diez is the new sister trainer for the area! Told you, she´s a machete of a missionary. 
This means that we traveled to Guayaquil for the big meeting with our district leaders and zone leaders. We were going to put me on splits with someone or do something so I wouldn´t have to go, but it didn´t work out so I went, and I saw Hermana Seaver! I don´t think you know Hermana Seaver, but we hung out a lot at BYUI and it was grand. 

The meeting was difficult, because Presidente and Hermana Amaya speak Colombian Spanish which is different Spanish than the Ecuadorians and different Spanish than my companion. I´m trying to learn four types of Spanish right now (the fourth being gringo Spanish)! I picked up bits and pieces of what was going on, but for the most part I was just trying to stay awake. Sometimes Spanish is white noise to me, and boy do I get tired! Also, we did practices (we all know how I feel about practices) and Presidente Amaya lingered closer to our practice than I would have liked.  But it was a good meeting, and Hermana Amaya is a powerhouse of a woman. We were in Guayaquil all day, so we didn´t teach any lessons or contact that day. The hermanas have to be in their apartments at 8:30 because it´s dangerous, so yeah. We went straight home. 

That´s been something that has hindered the work. We can´t be out late, but that´s when all the people are out and about! Lots of them sleep all afternoon, and it´s almost impossible to do anything in the afternoons, especially when it´s more hot than usual. Also, knocking on doors doesn´t help, we really rely on member references. They haven´t been giving us much, so we´re going to work on reactivation and receiving references that way.

Let´s see... The day after the meeting was one of the good days. I swear, some days my Spanish is pretty good and the next day I don´t understand a thing. This was one of the days when I felt pretty good about my Spanish. We spent the day with a lot of youth. Luis! I need to tell you about Luis! Luis is 12 years old, and an incredibly deep thinker (not even just an incredibly deep thinker for a 12 year old, I mean this kid blows my mind!). His mom is a recent convert, but he never wanted to be baptized and he went to church occasionally begrudgingly.  Hermana Diez told me that he would run away and be really unfriendly whenever they talked to him, but we stopped by one day and asked if he was ready to learn more and he said yes. From what I understand, the mom of his friends talks to him about the Catholic church all day and another about Evangelicos, so he came to us with tons of questions like why does our church baptize by immersion and others by sprinkling, and how exactly do prophets receive revelation and what does it mean when we say we´re the only true church and how does the priesthood work and what is the Holy Ghost and tons of questions like this. He´s 12. But he´s ready to listen! He´s already heard most of the lessons so we just have to do overviews and answer his questions, and he had his baptismal interview and his baptism is this Saturday! He was very preoccupied about repentance, and so he requested a non-white Elder for his interview so he could talk freely, and our zone leader Elder Suarez is awesome and helped answer tons of his questions, especially about the priesthood, and he helped animate him for his baptism (I know the word isn´t animate, but I can´t for the life of me think of the word in English. I can´t speak Spanish, can´t speak English...). So yeah, that´s Luis. He found a picture book in English and he wants to give it to me because he doesn´t like English. He taught me all the jungle animals in Spanish. The kid´s got an attitude, but he´s sweet too. 

The next day was Zone meeting, where the zone and district leaders and the Hermana leader teach what happened in the big meeting with the President and yeah. I left this out before, but Hermana Amaya started out her section of the training by saying "Elderes y Hermanas, English is not an option. If you do not speak English, you will learn. In the next meeting, we will call on you to say the prayers, and they will be in English." (All of that was in Spanish by the way...) So to start out the meeting, Elder Suarez asked me to pray in  English, and then explained after the prayer that all prayers will be in English from now on. Anywho, I bring this up for two reasons. First, this prayer was hard. Since day one of the CCM, all of my prayers have been in Spanish. Personal, food, companionship, and all other prayers since then have been in Spanish. I could not remember how to use thee and thy and thou and I kept accidentally saying "y" instead of "and" and my grammer wasn´t wrong, but my sentences just sounded weird. I´m glad only one other person in the room probably realized how off things were. It was weird! The second reason I bring this up is because now I am teaching Hermana Diez English. She hates it haha and she gets so flustered because she doesn´t understand how to make the sounds. My favorite thing is to make her say frog, because she can´t do it. I´ve taught everyone this word, and I haven´t met a single Latino yet that can make the "guh" sound. It´s so fun to learn the languages together. I also taught a bunch of the youth to say "what up, how it do?" so this is usually their greeting to me. Here´s a fun fact worth noting, Hermana Diez told me that I´m the first gringo/a that can pronounce the r sound perfectly. Not the rr (even though plenty have trouble with this sound too), but only I can pronounce just the r right. Apparently when they listen to English speakers, what stand out is the hard r sound. I get complimented on my pronunciation a lot, so yeah, I got that going for me!
We had an investigator named Belgica this week too. Her son is a convert that is recently reactivated. She´s had all the discussions and even a baptismal interview, but didn´t get baptized. We´re working with her, but it is difficult because she lives in an especially dangerous part of town. It´s dangerous to go there even before the sun sets. Her son was robbed just two days ago and it wasn´t even completely dark yet. She also works until early in the morning, and we can only meet with her in the mid to late afternoon. We have to keep visits short, and if we don´t have a guy with us, we can´t go. David (Knows Coop, was David Archuleta´s zone leader) helps us out a lot and is an amazing missionary, and Steven (recent convert, baptized Ronaldo, is dating Emily) accompanies us on a lot of appointments too. Steven wants to serve a mission! He´s been thinking about it a lot and had a dream that he opened his call to New York. He´s only 17, so he´s got a little bit of time, but I´m so excited for him because he loves the gospel so much and he´s already doing a ton of missionary work with us. So things are slow with Belgica, the woman´s got a lot of things on her plate. 
Ronaldo also told us that he wanted us to come teach his little sister, Milena. We met her, and she came to church, and we set a baptism date!

She´s also going to come to FHE tonight (which is being held at a part-member home). Mondays are the best, I love our FHEs! Last week we played some bizarre game after and I was very confused and everyone was laughing but it was fun. Good times.
I´m rocking a fairly sweet tan already and my bangs are bleached white.
At lunch yesterday at the Torres´s house (David´s family), a granddaughter/niece was talking to me about how I look like a doll and was touching all the parts of my hair saying "this is yellow, this is brown, this is yellow, like a doll" and I have blue doll eyes. It was so cute, and after a sister or cousin or aunt or someone (there´s so many people in the house at once, I never know the relationship) went through my hair for a few seconds doing the same thing, and she´s an adult. My hair is also often put up to other people´s faces to see how they would look blonde.
My personal bubble is disappearing fast.

I love it here, I love the work, I love the people, I love the food!
The church is true, be good, I love you all, help the missionaries!
Hermana Rust  

Juice is so cheap here, and this entire gigantic aisle is dedicated to juice. I thought it was worth noting. This is in a big mall that has a grocery store in it....

1 comment:

  1. I'll bet everyone will understand you when you bear testimony! Don't worry.