May 25, 2009
My dear family,
Well I guess I will start from the beginning again since last week´s email got lost. What is it with me and the first week? I hope this doesn´t happen every transfer!
I am in the San Pablo zone and in the Los Mares sector. I don´t know my address we never check the mail here. We receive all our mail at zone class on Tuesdays. Hermana Cuevas says that Teresa´s mom can´t call us or visit us. There are a lot of rules that she says that I am not sure are true, but most of them make sense so I follow them. Anyway, just send all mail to the mission office. The San Pablo zone is the farthest south zone and we border the west and east missions. I actually walked along the border between my mission and the west mission. Then on Saturday we actually rode on a bus through a little bit of the west mission. I waved hello to my dear friends from my MTC district; I think about them all the time and hope they are making a successful transition. Hermana Atkin is in my zone and I see her frequently. Every Tuesday we have zone class where I see her and we had training at the President´s house on Friday.
Oh I had so many questions that I asked last week and it was sad to get into my email and see that I didn´t have many letters. I am allowed an hour and a half on the internet. Also, I can write to anyone so tell everyone to feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben, do you know an Elder Quintana? We had lunch with the Elders last week and when I mentioned you serving in Kennewick he said, "Elder Arnold?". I of course said yep. He thinks his friend said something in an email about you. If you do know him tell him hi from Elder Ojeda next time you see him.
My trainer is Hermana Cuevas. She is from Argentina and I am the only North American with a Latino trainer. She speaks pretty good English, but all the time except when I don´t understand we speak in Spanish. Spanish is hard. The first few days Hermana Cuevas was surprised at how much I could say, so that made me feel good and ignore the fact that I couldn´t understand what anyone was saying. Yeah the first two days I could hardly pick out words. Everyone speaks so fast; I could understand a lot more if they would speak slower. Then Hermana Cuevas was surprised to find out I had no experience with Spanish before the MTC. So I guess I am progressing fast, everyday she says, "you learn so fast." It really has been incredible when I look at the two weeks together. The first week everyday was leaps and bounds better than the previous day. It has started to slow down now and I am growing impatient.
I initiate contacts and do some teaching in the lessons. The first two days Hermana Cuevas wasn´t too sure how much I knew and wanted to participate in the work. So in planning one evening I said teach me how to contact and I can do that. It must be stressful to be a trainer especially when your companion doesn´t know much Spanish. So I want to help her as much as I can. I participate in all lessons and feel like I am contributing a little to the work in this area. The hermanas that preceded us here were sick the whole transfer and we have had a lot of work to do.
We had two baptisms yesterday! First Guido. He is 22 and slightly disabled, his eyes are a part and he shakes when he gets nervous. But oh moses smell the roses he is smart. He remembers everything we teach him and has read the Book of Mormon. When we went to pick him up for his interview, he wasn´t sure he wanted to do it anymore because his friend had discouraged him from being baptized. Hermana Cuevas talked to him for a little bit and calmed him down and he came with us and had a wonderful interview. During our last visit before his baptism, Hermana Cuevas asked him who he wanted to say the closing prayer and he chose me because, "Hermana Arnold is so happy, happy because I am going to be baptized tomorrow, so I want her to say the prayer." His baptism was beautiful. I will always remember the smile he had on his face as he got out of the font.
Second, is Cecilia. She is 27 and I can´t understand much of what she says because she speaks so fast. During one of my first visits with her, we set a baptism date. She has had dates in the past and not gone through with it. She always completes her commitments and has been faithfully coming to church for the last few months. To start one of our lessons I said the prayer and when I finished she said, "I had the feeling during her prayer that I would be baptized next Sunday." I haven’t been able to do much teaching during our lessons with her, but I have born testimony and prayed a lot. I felt strongly to tell her that Heavenly Father is very pleased with her decision to be baptized and I was able to say it in Spanish with no hesitation. She was so nervous yesterday, when we picked her up and all throughout church. I had to link her arm with mine and lead her on the way to church. There are so many words I want to say to her but can´t because of my lack of Spanish. I am so glad she overcame her nerves and did what she knew she needed to do.
The atonement becomes very real when you see people get baptized. It is so wonderful that my two precious friends were freed from their sins yesterday. Because Christ lived and died with love, they were able to repent and have the opportunity to return to Heavenly Father.
The food here is so good! We eat so much for lunch that I don´t eat other meals. There have been two days where I seriously thought I was going to throw up because I had to eat so much. My sleep pattern is a little wack. I can´t stay awake during planning at night and then the hour after that before we go to bed. But then I wake up like an hour early in the morning and my head hurts because I try so hard to go back to sleep. For exercise I jump rope and do push ups and crunches. I was sore last week from the combination of so much walking and jump roping.
There is a family that we eat with a lot and they have been so wonderful to me, the Ceron family. Hermana Ceron said to send you greetings mom. They have a boy Matthew´s age named Leo, an eleven year old name Daniel, and a five year old named Carolina. The kids are very patient with me and teach me lots while I am there. It has been a hard transition to getting used to living here. It is very different from home, very different. The Ceron house is the only place where I feel completely at home. Their home also makes me miss my own home.
The first week was really tough, even last Monday. I have had this ache in my heart for my family. I plead and plead with Heavenly Father for this ache to go away quickly and that I would stop crying. That prayer was answered Tuesday and I have been much happier since then. I can´t believe I am so far from home and can´t communicate very well with the people. It has required a lot of faith and trust in my Heavenly Father. The Book of Mormon has become invaluable and I treasure the time I get to spend reading it everyday. It is my strength against all of the negative thoughts I encounter everyday. You must have felt this same need to trust the Lord as you didn´t hear from me last week. We all have to trust that Heavenly Father is watching over us in place of each other and this time will go faster than we think.
I love you all so much and hopefully you will write me lots of letters this next week. Good luck with the last week of school! Tell me all about the Washington adventure and how it was to see each other for lunch. Ben, we are truly doing the same thing now! When I get discouraged with Spanish, I often think, "Ben did this and so can I. I am going to tackle Spanish for Ben."
I need a lot of patience right now, hopefully you can all work on it with me. I send you love and prayers all the time,