June 1 2009
Familia y Amigos,
Thanks for all the letters! I can´t wait to read them later today. Last Monday was a little traumatic because I couldn´t get pictures sent and my emails didn´t get printed either. So you can imagine my state of mind after that and then I got robbed on the migro(bus). I had my backpack and sat down with it still on. All of a sudden I felt something come out of my bag! I turned around to see a young man seated behind me and thought he just bumped my seat, but Hermana Cuevas saw that my bag was open. I had put all of my valuables inside my coat so I wasn´t too worried and upon inspection thought nothing was missing. But at the next stop the guy jumped off the bus and started running. He had my planner in hand. So I lost all my contacts, outlines, lots of hard work was contained in that planner. It hurt inside to know that people really steal and don´t care much about the feelings of others. It was also a wake up call for me to be careful of my belongings. I was so grateful that I had listened to the prompting that morning to put my money and my camera inside my coat. I bought a new bag downtown and it is a waist bag so I can keep it in front of me and have my eyes on it all the time. I really like it; it puts the weight on my waist instead of my back and feels much better.
I am becoming happier everyday. I don´t walk down the street in awe of everything anymore. Spanish is up and down. One minute I feel like I am on top of the world and can speak and understand. Then at other times I feel like I know nothing. The cycle often repeats itself many times throughout the day. I have spent a lot of the past three weeks thinking hopefully about the time that I will speak Spanish fluently. On Saturday I caught my first glimpse of reality to that dream. On Saturday Spanish seemed so natural, like it was just becoming part of me without me really realizing it. Usually I say my personal prayers in English because I have a lot to say and it takes too much time to think about it in Spanish. On Friday night I was praying as usual and all of a sudden realized that I had started praying in Spanish without even thinking about it! What a miracle! I cannot believe how much I have learned in three weeks, like Ben said months ago, the gift of tongues is real!
We did exchanges on Friday and I spent the day in my area with Hermana Atkin´s trainer, Hermana Padilla. She, of course, didn’t know the area so I had to lead the way and that was good for me. I am so used to knowing where I am at all times and here I have been completely lost. So I used the map and we didn’t get lost! Also because I knew the people we were visiting, I had to speak more Spanish than usual, which was good for me and I realized that I know enough that I need to be speaking more. I taught most of the lesson on tithing to Jesus. Jesus is a nine year old and his whole family is members. Since he is nine it is our responsibility to teach him and get him baptized. The first time we visited with him, he was not enthused at all. But now he is very animated when we visit, participates in the lesson and reads his assignments. Jesus truly is our luz. Ok so I guess I have to explain that sentence. Luz is light and Jesus es mi luz is a hymn. Every time we teach Jesus we sing a song that contains Jesus in it! Haha. We never do it on purpose either. Jesus is going to be baptized June 14 with Jose Zuniga.
I remember some things from the first email I sent that got lost. When I meet people here they often say, "Hey Arnold" and then laugh. I am really grateful for that cartoon and never get tired of hearing that joke because it helps people remember my name. Also when I say I am from Utah many respond with, "Ah la fabrica de la Iglesia." They say this because fabrica is factory and Utah is the factory of the church.
The food here is so good. The last two days we have had fish, fried in some sort of batter. Yesterday it didn´t settle too well and that was the first time I have had any problems here. We arrived home a little early because I was in so much pain. My favorites are of course empanadas! Last Thursday a member brought us sopapillas in the morning before we left for zone conference. Oh moses smell the roses they were good. We are going to have some this afternoon with Hermana Ceron, I can’t wait! Dessert often consists of a mixture of fruit, which is amazing. The grapes are huge here! Speaking of zone conference we had thanksgiving dinner for lunch, since it is late fall here. It was a little weird to have turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie in late May.
Zone conference was really amazing. I understood about 95% of what was said. I can understand really well when North Americans are speaking. As a new missionary I had the opportunity to bear my testimony, which I love doing in Spanish. Many people said my Spanish is really good, but I have lots of practice with bearing my testimony so they don´t really know the extent of my Spanish. Oh I saw Elder Fuller at zone conference, he went to Provo high and graduated the same year as me. It is so crazy that we are down here in Chile together. My first week I was at the house of Hermana Sandra and his name was mentioned and I was like, no way you know Elder Fuller, I went to high school with him. So yeah he served here near my area.
I can see the structure of my sentences changing to ones that you would say in Spanish. Can you see it Ben? Before sharing testimonies, Hermana May introduced the new missionaries as a group. She read facts about us and one was that one of us has a brother also serving now. That is you Ben! I wish everyday that we could serve one day together, go contacting, teach lessons and enjoy time speaking Spanish together.
It looks like I don´t have time to email pictures again. Someday I will figure it out. No tears today in the internet cafe! Big step for me. Days are still hard sometimes and I miss home often throughout the day, but I continue because I have had amazing moments here and I know that if I hold on just a little longer things will get better. I can’t believe I was hugging dad just three weeks ago and I can’t believe it has been three weeks; that is kind of a long time. That was such a blessing and surprise. You are in my thoughts constantly. Lots of events throughout the day remind me of you.
Sending you muchisimo love,