Thank you SO MUCH for your e-mails! Mom, I haven’t gotten anything in the mail yet, but rumor has it that letters from the States take about a week and a half to get here. The CCM is an astounding place! All of the missionaries here are preparing to preach in Spanish, so a comradery has really been developed between everyone. It’s a fantastic thing because you have the opportunity to practice your Spanish with everyone! As I said in my previous and very brief e-mail, my companion’s name is Hermana Madsen. She grew up in West Jordan, UT, but her family now lives in Orem. She has been home-schooled all of her life, excluding three years of high school and two semesters at BYU, but she still lived at home for those. She has been an interesting person to be placed with, indeed, because she led an extremely sheltered life. For example, in just five days, I have already had to teach her what “hashtag“and “pound it (fist bump)“ mean, what it means when someone digs something (an elder told her that he digs her curly hair, but she thought it was a bad thing), and what Twitter and Instagram are. I feel like I have already learned so much about who I am upon interacting with her and the other missionaries. My favorite hermana is Hermana Janes, who share the room with us and her companion, Hermana Evanson. She is from Maryland and is absolutely hilarious. We get along really well and simultaneously keep each other sane.
A few things about the CCM: it was formerly an LDS benemerito (which doesn’t really translate to English, but is a sort of boarding or preparatory school) and is complete with fifty houses, each containing approx. sixteen missionaries, and some dorms (but only elders have to stay in those, jaja). We live in Casa 13, which is an adorable turquoise color and is conveniently close to La Tienda, the general store here. The entire compound is surrounded by a ten-foot cinder block wall topped with four feet of barbed wire, so I think we’re probably safeish. We hear sirens from the city every night, usually multiple times, but it helps remind us that we’re still on Earth. We all eat together at el Comedor which has delicious Mexican food three times a day. Everyone says that we’ll get sick of it, but I doubt I will. We have fruit fresher than Vanilla Ice here (significantly fresher), and I have now tried mangoes, papaya, and some mysterious yellow, pomegranite-looking fruit (possibly passion fruit or guava? You should Google it for me and send me a picture so that I can know – these are the things that keep me up at night). We have a wide variety of it every meal, and I am eating plenty of it. They even have salad sometimes, Mom! Only twice so far, but at least we know I won’t keel over anytime soon from scurvy or any other various diseases. The water here definitely has a distinct taste (bitter, but safe to drink – we made sure), but I pretty much don’t notice it anymore. It is a wonderful place to live!
We taught our first lesson in Spanish on Friday (HOLY COW), and let’s just say that it was a rather largish train wreck. Though I think our ‘investigator’ understood most of what we said. We have since taught two more lessons to the same guy, Esdras, and have progressed immensely. It is truly a testament of the power of prayer – I have never prayed so much in my life to understand someone!
My branch consists of twelve missionaries: Elders Robishaw, Wolfe, Frodsham, Blaylock, Pollock, and Berg; and Hermanas Jones, Buhman, Janes, Evanson, Madsen, and Burdett. I have some wild coincidences within it though! Elder Berg was in my student ward at BYU! It’s so wild! We and another member of our ward met up in the Dallas airport and had an adorable little pow-wow about our former lives. Also, Hermana Jones is Brother and Sister Gale’s granddaughter! She was not on my plane from STL – I was the only one – but now she just happens to be in my district! She’s fantastic. Elder Frodsham is our District Leader and is truly an example of obedience, dedication, and hard work. He and Elder Blaylock are definitely having a lot of success! Elder Wolfe and Herm. Madsen are also headed to Fort Lauderdale (Woo!), which is an exciting thing, denoted by my interrupting interjection. I was called to be senior companion on Friday (scary and surprising), but then received a surpise on Sunday morning during our district meeting. H. Madsen and I were called into the Branch President’s office and were notified that we were going to be the Sister Training Leaders for our WHOLE BRANCH (approx. sixty missionaries). We are responsible for reporting to the Branch presidency each week about all of the Herms in our branch – how companionships are getting along, any problems, and other important stuff like that. I think the most important thing will be to just be a friend and someone they are comfortable talking with about their issues (I think equivalent to a Zone Leader? not sure). I am completely overwhelmed and humbled by this assignment pray that I can do a good job.
The CCM is truly a humbling place. Despite many teacher, natives, and employees telling you that your Spanish is excellent and claro, you are brought to reality when you try to communicate with an investigator and try to help him feel the Spirit. Prayer is indeed a real thing, and I have to pray every day to be able to learn, focus, study the right things, and to love my companion. Often it’s difficult, but I strive not to let it show and be positive.
Some quick tidbits:
°An elder projectile vomited literally three feet in the middle of an Elder Bednar devotional right next to us. It was awesome. Especially because it didn’t hit us.
°Yesterday during a service project H. Evanson and I dropped a bucket of water of an Elder on accident (we were cleaning the top of bleachers and he was cleaning underneath). Whoops! Also during this project we were supposed to get water from the boys locker room, but we walked in on a guy about to take a shower. An awkward conversation in broken Spanish ensued.
°Side-note for Frankie Q.: CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR CALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so thrilled for you! I really thought that you were going to Africa though. Also, you’ll never guess who arrived on the same day as me: ZAMBONI! I haven’t seen him put any ice cream in his pants yet, but we’ll just have to wait and see (for those of you who haven’t heard this story, I’ll tell it to you if you remind me). He looks way different with an Elder haircut.
°We have found the words haberdashery and budgerigar in our English-Spanish dictionary, but have absolutely no idea what they mean in English! Another Google search for those definitions would be nice.
I’m so sorry, but I spent too much time typing to upload any pictures – I’ll send some next week!
This work is truly amazing and is the hardest thing I have ever done. I don’t think I have ever learned so much in just six short days. What keeps me going is that it is also the most rewarding. There is nothing like feeling the Spirit as you attempt to communicate in Spanish with someone who needs answers to eternal questions. I love this place and am trying hard not to die!
P.S. Today I wore my black panther shirt for a friendly p-day kickball game. It made me feel really awesome.