"I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold.
I´ve been in my mind, it´s such a fine line that keeps me searching
for a heart of gold. And I´m getting old..." -Neil Young
Okay, Where to begin. First off, I am using a super groovy keyboard so I don´t know how to check my spelling or make smiley faces, awkward faces, etc. So....whatever. I made a list of all the things I wanted to talk about but it´s two pages long. So I´ll do my best to answer all of your questions and blah blah blah.
This week has been INSANE. So many mixed emotions. Saying goodbye to my district was the hardest thing. I miss them like crazy. SO much traveling. NO sleep. I went 4 days on 10 hours of sleep. From Provo to Dallas to Maimi to Santiago to Viña del Mar to La Serena. I am in the furthest-north part of my mission. So, it's as north as it gets. I can actually see the Antofagasta, Chile mission from my balcony. It is SO beautiful here. We live in the country but really close to the ocean. We can see the ocean from our house. The weather here is totally Newport Beach weather. Overcast in the morning, burns off around 11-12, HOT in the afternoon and then cool in the evenings. It´s perfect. The people here have the most beautiful spirits-so loving and have lots of patience with me. This is a perfect mission for me. (smiley face)
La Serena is a little of everywhere that I´ve traveled. It reminds me most of Ghana. Lots of little houses close together. BRIGHT colors. Little shops everywhere to buy soda, vegtables, bread, etc. Everyone here thinks I´m from Argentina because I am short, dye my hair blonde and have `BIG HAPPY EYES`. They always tell me I have happy eyes. It´s cute. There are more dogs here than there are people. It´s so sad because you can´t touch them. Gah, they are so cute...well, most of them. Everyone here knows who the missionaries-Mormons are. There are 3 churches in JUST our area. The church is really big here. It´s nice. We work a lot with inactive members.
Everyone here listens to American music and it´s great. Shh...Lots of Billy Joel, Elton John and Neil Young. Lots of Neil Young, and you know how much I love that.
I wish I had all the time in the world so that I could write you about everyone we´ve taught thus far. We teach about 3-5 lessons a day. Lots of studying. My favorite part of the day is bar far Almuerzo (lunch). In Chile, they eat a very small breakfast, a HUGE lunch, and then nothing for dinner. You don´t even understand when I say HUGE. So, everyday a member or investigator has us over to eat from 1:30-3:30. The doctor from the MTC called the Mission Nurse, Hermana Huggie, and told her all about my stomach problems. Then Hermana Huggie called the Relief Society President and gave her a nutritional menu for me AND THEN SHE told EVERYONE that I can only eat veggies, fruits and pocco pollo (little chicken). Hahah. It is so perfect! I feel so blessed. My stomach is still being kind of funky. I seem to always have a stomach ache still. It´s not as bad as the MTC, but I definitely am eating healthy. When I look at all the pasta, bread, weird freaking steak that everyone else has to eat, I am thankful. Especially with the fact that I probably won´t be doing much running for the next 16 months.
One of the hardest parts of the mission here is NO CAFFEINE.
Um. Hi? When I first heard that, I DIED.
I said "Dear President, I made President Monson`s dinner every night for almost a year and guess what he had to drink EVERY NIGHT?
So, am I allowed to drink diet coke if I can get a letter from Monson giving us the "Okay" for me to drink diet coke? (awkward face)
Ugh! I have been 100% obedient, with a 100% headache.
My new companion is AMAZING. We are so different, but she is the ideal trainer. How blessed am I? Always. I definitely miss Hermana Smith (Hermana Garcia doesn´t always laugh at my jokes) but Hermana Garcia is simply incredible. She is from Texas, NOT latina, but speaks both English and Spanish. It´s so nice for so many different reasons. We get along really well. I am "killing her"--this is her last transfer. I wish she could be here for my full 12 weeks of training. She is ready though-she already has a wedding date. So, I can only imagine she is ready to get home. She still works hard and pushes me. Oh man, every night I am dead because of her.
There is Spanish and then there is Chilean. I know some Spanish. I know zero Chilean. People smile at me and that´s really all I need for now.
Our next door neighbor is Angela. She is a member and comes with us to lots of our lessons. She is blind but has her own massage business. We made a promise to each other that I would teach her English if she would teach me Español. Yesterday she asked me how to say "Excuse Me"...hahaha I taught her how to say it in Tina`s funny voice...."Thcuse me, Thcuse me". I will have to make a video and send it home. She likes it when we take her on walks. I love her dearly and want to help earn the money for her to fly to America and have surgery on her eyes. That´s her dream.
We had the most amazing lesson yesterday with Familia Aracena. Andree and Joclyn. They have been married for about 8 years. both members. except Andree stopped going to church about 3 months ago. We don´t know why but he definitely needs help. I met him yesterday for the first time and he is amazing! We get along really well. I guess I swore in our lesson so he loves me and thinks I´m hilarious. See! I told you swearing is fine (winky face). I am good about not cursing out loud anymore....in my head, yeah, that´s totally a different story. Anyway, we didn´t even teach anything we planned. I walked in there and knew he needed to watch The Mormon Message `Mountains to Climb.` (The one I told you to watch last week.) We watched that and then I had him read my missionary plaque scripture D&C 84:88. We were all in tears. We didn´t talk for almost 5 minutes. The spirit was so strong. Andree finally looked at me and said, "I know you can understand me...and I can understand your little Español. You don´t know what I am going through, but I know that you are supposed to be here. Will you come back on Saturday to help me get ready for church?"
Seriously. If that was the only spiritual experience I have while I am here for the full 18 months, I would be so content. THIS CHURCH IS SO REAL AND COOL AND AMAZING. I was so happy. I am stoked to be here. The language is so freaking hard. It really is. But I have a peaceful feeling always that it will come.
I wish I had more time to write, but I don´t. Just know that I am happy, content and have a strong testimony of this gospel. Thank you all for your love and support! Really. It´s unreal how much I love all of you.
Be happy, yo! Life is GOOD!
All my love,