Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's great to be alive!

Mother's note,
Chad's letter came with a few random Japanese characters, and I have no idea why.  I think you can still get the meaning of his thoughts.  We got short emails later in the afternoon... not sure if the email/internet service is reliable.  The best way to write Chad now is dearelder.com (and it's free).  The mail strike is over, but he hasn't gotten mail for weeks - just email.  

Dear Family,
"Hey howdy hey!  Cambios (transfers) are this Thursday.  I don’t know if I will have the same companion or not, or whether I will be in this area or not, so that is exciting.  The strike is over, por fin (finally).  It is finally warming up here.  It is in the awkward stage of cold in the morning and evening and hot in the day.  I usually wear a light coat every day, but that can get really hot when the weather is warm.  

Yesterday, there was a lady, Marta.  Right from the beginning she told us she was suffering depression because of all the deaths in her family. didn’t count, but there have been a lot of recent deaths in her family, and she was really sad. e used the Book of Mormon, 2 Ne 9: verse 11 and a verse or two after verse 11. o quote and translate loosely, “So Christ really suffered all my pains? could read this whole book. Ie already been baptized as a Catholic, can I be baptized into your church? t was amazing, she was crying, the spirit was so strong, and she said she felt the Holy Ghost. was so happy to share with her the Plan of Salvtion. was able to testify that I know that I will see my Uncle again, and it was an awesome spiritual experience.

The people here are poor too, and someday I might write a book about all the people I´ve seen here.  Hasta luego."
Elder Withers

Dear family,
This week was great!  It was superrrr duperr busy because we had all sorts of meetings and the baseball game but it was great. Because a lot of people here smoke and drink, teaching the Word of Wisdom and helping them overcome addictions can get tricky...so President is having all of the missionaries in the mission take the church's addiction recovery class.  The senior couple missionaries teach it and we walk through the whole thing.  It is really interesting, and is basically atonement 101.  So we had that this week, and then we also had a launching leaders class.  A different class but also taught by senior couples.  And we had zone training.  And then it was the game!  

The game was sort of culture shock, I'm not going to lie.  We left our apartment at 4:00 in the afternoon, and drove about 40 minutes to the nearest metro station, which was in Vienna.  The Hermana who was driving that day, isn't exactly good...so you take rush hour traffic, the GPS giving commands, her companion giving out a scream every so often, her horrendous driving....and you have a near death experience.  She almost wrecked twice, and by the time we finally got there Hermana Woodbury and I felt like kissing the pavement.  We get into the station, and it was a dingy little place with lots of people.  Public transportation is never glamorous, which is always a fun adventure!  We hopped on the green train, and were on our way!  We had to switch trains about halfway through to the orange line, and then we arrived at the stadium.  The subway ride was about 40 minutes overall.  And there were tons of missionaries on it.  The Elders, in their white shirts and ties were all standing in the middle holding to the overhead railing, and us Sisters were scattered throughout on random benches.  The normal civilians were honestly staring at us the whole time and some asked "where is your group from?"  "What are you doing here?"  "Why are you all so young?"  We just said, "Hey, we're from all over the world, we've been assigned to represent Christ in northern Virginia, and we have an opportunity to go to a baseball game!"  It was funny.  Once we get inside the stadium, all we could see were guys walking around with beer bottles, women walking around with beer bottles, and vendors selling beer bottles. There was some super twangy country music playing in the background, and the National's mascots (random presidents...so their mascots are inflated bobble head people!) walking around.  We mosey on up to our seats, take a seat, and enjoy the game!  Truthfully the game was boring.....all I know is that we won 6-1, but it was fun to see other missionaries.  They  also gave us $5 bucks for concessions, so I had an ice cream cone, and then we went home the way we came!  It was a fun night, but we didn't get home until 1:00am....so we were dead beat tired the rest of the weekend, but I think I have caught up on sleep. 

Something kind of funny, Hispanics love rugs and door mats....but they put them upside down.  So the ones that say "Welcome" are flipped, and instead of inviting guests into their homes, they welcome themselves outside.  Funny :)

You know how Chad would always listen to the Spanish radio channel, and how we would always make him change it?  Those channels are actually appreciated here, and it is still funny to me. Every time I hear someone belting it out in their car to these songs I just think of Chad and how much he would love that.  It's starting to grow on me too.

We sometimes help kids with their homework in the evenings as service because their parents can't read/don't speak English enough to help them.  So that's kind of fun.  We also sometimes help mom's translate forms and show them where to sign and what to send back for permission to stuff.  

Also, yesterday was apparently the El Salvadorian holiday, so there were some fiestas going on, and for a while we could hear some hilarious karaoke coming from some where.  Either hispanics can't sing, or they were hopelessly drunk, but either way it was really awful singing.  

Our zone, the Ashburn zone, is on absolute fire right now.  We are the only zone on track for our yearly baptism goal, and we taught over 100 lessons last week!  It's a fun place to be right now.

There is one member who always calls us if there is a storm coming, a personal weather man essentially...and its awesome.  We really have no idea what to expect weather wise each morning, so that's really awesome.

I am still learning lots of Spanish.  I finally feel like I have some sort of handle on it and feel much more comfortable having a conversation and teaching the lessons.  One book I wish I had gotten at the MTC though, is called 501 Spanish verbs.  It has all the conjugations for all the verbs.  I am just learning Spanish way slower here because I still use so much English, so if you could send a copy of that to me soon that would be awesome.  My companion has one and it is super duper helpful.  Thanks a million.  

I love you all soooooooo much.  More than all of the people that we squished into one subway on Friday,
Hermana Withers

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