Monday, July 15, 2013

 July 1, 2013

Yeah- it's family writing day again! woot woot!
I will start by answering some of the questions you asked me.

We live in a little teeney house.  It's about as cheap as they come in the area that we live.  But I actually was surprised at how big it is for just two people. It has red-stained brick-like flooring that makes EVERYTHING red and is very difficult to clean.  We have one red couch that looks like it has been around since 1589. We have a little study room and a little bedroom with a bunk bed.  We have a little kitchen too, which, this week became a wonderful place because we finally have an oven and stove!  We have been using a microwave for a few weeks now.  The senior couple that does all of the housing brought it to us a few days ago and I made them lunch because Hermana Anderson was sick.  They were so so so grateful and said they would write you.  I hope they did!  We have our own washer!!  It's outside of our house and actually pretty nice.  Then we just hang dry all our clothes on a little rack.

Hermana Anderson was super sick for about 3 days this week and so I had a LOT of time to study. It was wonderful. Such an edifying and empowering experience.  To just have hours and hours and hours to study the gospel all by yourself?  It was awesome!

Preparation day is not that super fun.  My companion and I are the only missionaries in our area or really nearby in general as far as I know.  We go to Lider, which is like Wal Mart in the Centro of Los Andes. We write our family, clean and organize our house  and she sleeps.  I find other stuff to do because sleeping seems like the biggest waste of time I've ever heard of.  Everywhere we go, we travel in taxi colectivo.  It is super funny because its like a taxi bus.  People just jump in and we stop wherever they need and we need and it's just a preach-the-gospel party. 

I don't even know what most of the food  is called but it is all so good.  Mom, you would LOVE the vegetables.  Salad dressing doesn't exist here.  All vegetables are chopped, soaked in lemon and salt, and eaten cold.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, you name it. It is so refreshing and delicious.  The fruits are to die for.  Your typical apple here is like a piece of heaven.  We eat a lot of meat - chicken, this red crazy good sausage stuff, and one time we even had ASADO!  That was for father´s day and made by a professional chef who cooks for the prophet when he comes to South America. Yeah, he was in our old ward.  It was awesome.  Peanut Butter!!  Dah. It hardly exists here because people don't buy it. Don't buy it?  WHY? Like they don´t even know what it is. It's crazy. But it was in the store today and I spent about 7 dollars on two little cans.  WORTH IT.

Every street has a little almacen. A family decides to turn their front patio of their house into a little shop.  You can buy bread (it's like France where everyone runs to the little shop and buys bread fresh for each day) and any of the necessities.  Hna. Anderson always stops for a coke.  You have to drink the coke in the store because they reuse the bottle. 

My foot feels wonderful.  I wonder though, if you could find out if I can buy procardia and meloxicam over the counter or if I need to have it shipped here? I talked to a pharmacist today but I'm not super sure if what they have is the same and I wasn´t really willing to risk it because it seemed like she was excessively tentative.

As far as the weather goes, honestly, we´re doing alright.  The tricky thing is  when you want to get in your nice warm bed at night, your blankets are all frozen.  So, it takes a while to get warm. We can´t sleep with the heater on but we try and warm up our room as best as we can before bed.

 I met Elder Baldwin the day he left along with who I thought was the Hart's cousin... but it appears there´s no relation.  It was super awkward.

Other stuff.  All of the missionaries think there is going to be an earthquake soon because we have had warning after warning to be prepared with a 72 hour kit and places to go and whatnot.  They all seem to be waxing prophetic.  Because of that, I doubt that there will be one in the near future, but rather, when nobody expects it.  But who knows!  Also, it's super not good to have an earthquake because of the missionaries we have out on the islands.  If there is a tsunami... well... darn.  But good news!  Starting in September, the President is going to begin sending sisters to the islands. 

Funny thing:
You know how we have ice cream trucks that sing little songs and all the kids run out and beg their parents to buy them ice cream?  Yeah. Here, we have Gas Trucks.  Everything is powered by  gas.  They have songs and bells and whistles and they roam the streets all day... AND night... and everyone comes running to buy gas to keep themselves warm.  Most people have either a wood-burning or gas stove in their home to try and keep warm.  Luckily, it's still been pretty warm,at least during the day.  From what I understand, the real cold begins now and will last through August.  But, I wonder... people say a lot of things. It rains every once in a while, not all day everyday like people say.  But, the thing with rain is that there are no drains.  Anywhere.  So, when it begins to rain really hard, the streets, naturally, begin to flood. And lakes  begin to form. That make things a little bit more difficult for those of us walking the streets.

Yesterday, our whole zone got to watch the missionary broadcast from last week. HOLY COW.  WE WERE SO PUMPED!!!!!  We still are so pumped.  That was amazing!  If only all the members could see that!  I'm glad you all were able to watch it. My companion and I have decided to be way more direct with people.  Just today, we've asked, twice, Are you Mormon? Well YA SHOULD BE!  Haha.  We loved that.  Also, we loved the story about how they needed an LDS architect and so they converted one. We need a ward mission leader, and so we've decided to convert one. We committed the famillia Diaz (the one with the dad who chased us down in the rain) to baptism last night.  He says he's an atheist. And yet last night we got him testifying to US that God lives.  My smile was about to jump off of my face.  It's so funny.  There is no such thing as an atheist.  EVERYONE has felt the power of God in their lives, but sometimes it's just hard for them to recognize it.  Anyway, he's going to be our ward mission leader in a few weeks and we are so excited even though he doesn´t know it yet.

Our other main investigator is someone that I haven't even told you about! Her name is Maria Paz and we committed her to baptism in the first lesson, in fact, I think it was our first lesson here. SHE IS AMAZING!!!  She has been prepared for so long to receive the gospel. The elders found her knocking doors (yelling Alo at gates) but we are so confused... like they didn´t teach her or something. We´re not really sure what happened, but it doesn´t matter, because she is just so great. She is also 19 and we have been working closely with the Bishop´s daughter who is also 19.  They have become instant best friends. Actually the four of us have.  The problem is that the daughter, Ilolay, leaves for her mission this month for Concepcion. So we are trying to integrate here with as many other members as we can.  Maria Paz´s only doubt about baptism is that she fears that if she gets baptized the Lord is going to call her on a mission and she will have to pause her life... which He ABSOLUTELY will.  And she knows it and that's why she's scared.  Oh we just LOVE her.  She is going to help us with the work too. Her baptism is scheduled for the 13th and after that we´re going to do divisions with her and Ilolay and just bring the house down. In fact, she already accompanied us one day. We taught three families with her and she was on fire.
We have a few other investigators that we may have to dejar... or... leave, let go, not really sure how to say that.  But we picked up two new ones this week. Two women who are best friends and single and take care of each other but have lots and lots and lots of problems. It´s tricky because it's like they think that we´re a fix-all source.  One of them has lots of medical problems and thinks that because we are from the USA we should know how to fix her and her child and brother. She made us read all of her prescriptions and X-rays and MRIs and whatnot and we were like, uh, we know that God loves you?
This week, we got to travel to Santiago to the mission office for Phase One.  All of the newbies have a big special meeting and learn about the mission and special rules and such. It was pretty cool. I was the only gringa sister.  I'm not sure, but I would guess that at least 2/3 of our mission are Latinos.  Interesting fact:  our mission spends 500,000 dollars a month.  A MONTH.  And we are one of how many missions in the world?  The Church has money, true, but I have to side with Elder Nelson when he pleads that we contribute to the mission fund.  I wonder how many missionaries in my mission are covered in full.  I know that some of them come from absolutely nothing.

I am so excited to hear about all of your member missionary experiences recently. How you're fulfilling your callings in church, in the family, and as missionaries.  It makes me so happy to hear all about it.  I´m especially glad to hear that the ward is stepping up. When we all heard ¨The days of knocking doors are over¨ (in Spanish) yesterday, we were ecstatic.  Like Hallelujah kind of ecstatic. It´s true.  It can be such a waste of time.  And the real power comes from the members, from being friendly toward all of God's children.
May we all be filled with hope and faith as we search for ways to serve this week!

Love you all!

Hermana Thomas

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