I am in Paradise. Literally, I think I died on the airplane and woke up in heaven. I don’t even know where to begin, sooooooooo much has happened already. Ok. So, I left the MTC right after Conference and the MTC had a special fireside with Vocal Point! So that was totally awesome and they still remembered me so I got to go talk to them afterwards. [She previously helped film or record one of Vocal Point’s performances, or something like that; I only remember that she was able to work with them and she loved the whole experience.] I only got 2 hours of sleep that night because of packing and then leaving super early in the morning. We traveled forever, it seemed, but in reality it was like 30 hours, but then when I finally got here we had to travel 5 more hours by bus. I was super scared to be a travel leader because I’m terrible with directions, but we all got there safely so no worries. haha. It was amazing how pumped I still was after not sleeping 2 nights in a row but we got right to work. I got my first chance to share the gospel in Spanish on the airplane. I sat by this man from Peru. He is a fisherman, has 4 daughters, and loves the sea. When I asked him if he had a religion, he replied, “The sea is my religion” in this wistful poetic way that made me love him immediately. He’s like 75 years old and still in tip-top shape. Anyway, to make a long story short, he wants to read the Book of Mormon now so I have to get the missionaries in Peru to visit him. He said he would love that and gave me all his info. Super cool.
Ok, back to Paradise. Chile is the most beautiful place I think I have ever seen. Our area is nestled between the sea and the green, green mountains. Also my companion, Hermana Lovell, is the greatest EVER! We are best friends already. We are both gringas but her Spanish is way better. We are kinda a shocking sight for people here to see these two ridiculously happy white girls talking to everyone about the Gospel. It’s fantastic. So, it took me some time to start to understand people here. Chileans talk funny. We live with two other Latino sisters and they told me they couldn’t understand anybody here for the first few days either and they speak Spanish! I’m getting better and everyone says my Spanish is really good. Speaking hasn’t actually been much of a problem. I know my Spanish is rough but people can understand it so it works for now and it gets better with time. The gift of tongues is so real, by the way.
There is so much I could write about, the different animals EVERYWHERE, laundry flapping in the wind, the women walking arm in arm, the men that honk and yell things at us, the adorable little Chilean kids in the streets, the colorful houses, the plants growing all over everything, the sea, the way people greet each other with kisses on the cheek, the little markets everywhere, the amazing members, and the fresh delicious bread and vegetables they feed us. I don’t even know where to begin or what to elaborate on!
We have had some weird things happen this week as well. We were teaching this one lady and there was already a really strange feeling about her, but all of the sudden, in the middle of our lesson, she starts singing. My companion and I didn’t really know what to do so we just waited for her to finish and tried not to laugh (it lasted a couple minutes). Strange things happen at times.
We were having lunch with a member the other day and she brought us out these plates full of what honestly looked like poop. My companion and I glanced at each other and hesitantly tried to eat whatever it was. Sooooooo nasty. I barely swallowed one bite and almost threw up. We politely asked what kind of food it was and she said chicken. If it was chicken, we are pretty sure she just fried a bunch of organs or something. Anyway, it was funny because after a few bites the lady looked away for a moment and my companion and I both moved our napkins to our laps at the same time. We calmly conversed and pretended to eat for like 20 minutes and every time she looked away for a moment we moved more of the food to our laps. Finally we got out of there and fed the nasty organ food to the dogs in the street. That was a close call. I don’t know what we would have done if we didn’t have napkins.
Also our shower is kinda funny. It only has two temperatures, scalding or ice. Most of my shower I just stand outside of the water and then when I need to rinse something off I change the temperature from hot to cold and can usually get a good 15 seconds of bearable water while it switches between the two. Lots of funny things like this, but it’s awesome here. It’s really humbling to see how little people have. A lot of the Latino sisters have never had light bulbs or electricity before and what they brought in their suitcases is all they own. People have really humble houses. For example, some of our investigators live in the same apartments as us. We have 4 sisters in one apartment and they have 2 families living in the same size apartment and both families have kids too! Crazy.
Really, the most amazing thing of all is being able to teach people and feel the Spirit tell me exactly what to say. It’s amazing to watch people’s conversions as they totally change their lives and come to recognize the love of their Savior for the first time. They love to learn that the Savior visited the Americas, too. They are so amazing. We were teaching this woman, Flor, who is getting baptized either this Saturday or the next. She smokes, but as soon as we taught her the Word of Wisdom she said, “Well, I better stop smoking.” We didn’t even have to invite her; as soon as she realized what she was doing was bad she stopped immediately.
We have another family that’s getting baptized Saturday, a mom and her daughter. The husband is a member already but hasn’t been active for a long time. Absolutely love this family. We watched The Testaments with them and a bunch of other people and afterwards bore testimony. Lots of them were crying. Also, the part in the movie where the earthquake happened reminded them a lot of the earthquake here a few years ago.
This area got hit pretty hard and most of the people here can still remember it or are still suffering the consequences. Mostly the city has been cleaned up really well, but remnants of houses that fell down or old broken walls still remain. The one thing that people remember the most is that a bunch of youth were having a huge party on this nearby island when the earthquake and Tsunami hit and every one of them died. This seems to be the most prominent memory for people here because they could all hear the screams for miles and it was pretty tragic.
Anyway, I wish I could just film every second here and show you how amazing missions are and how beautiful Chile is, and how warm and wonderful the people are! Today for P-Day we got a bunch of missionaries together and went to the beach. We ate sandwiches and I played soccer with a bunch of elders. I cant get over how amazing it is. There was nobody really around and the beach and the rocks were so beautiful and this thick fog was everywhere. Does it get better than this? I think not. I just got here and I already never want to leave.
So thanks for all the emails that I got from everyone and I apologize for the millionth time that my replies are so short. Read the blog!!
I love you all so much!!!