Monday, October 28, 2013

Chad switching to Spanish in his letters home

Mother’s Note:
Rebecca called us this evening on her layover in Miami.  She has an all night flight direct to Buenos Aires Argentina, arriving at 6:30 am Tuesday Oct. 29.  She will be on a big 777 jet and I can’t believe she is leaving the country.  I have enjoyed having her in the Washington DC South Mission, mail was easy and she was still on American soil.  She sounded upbeat, has not felt sick or anxious, and she sounded full of confidence.  She shared her testimony in Spanish, and it brought tears to my eyes listening to her.  She is amazing and so prepared for serving in Argentina.  I just love being a missionary mom.   

Chad’s letters are increasingly in Spanish, and I have put the translation in parenthesis.  I love that the locals tell him he has an Argentine accent.  I take all the credit… helping him in High School when he was studying for Spanish class.  (For friends following this blog… I served a mission in Argentina Bahia Blanca 24 years ago)   He also sent a few pictures this time which we will post. 

Dear Family,
¡¡¡Happy Birthday Lauren!!!  I wish you the very best.  Feliz Cumpleanos! 

This week has been crazy.  We found another house and already moved in.  It is in a really pretty area. Because it is far from most of our appointments, we will be using colectivos mas (buses more).  Por ejemplo, para llegar a la casa del obispo, necesitamos caminar 1 hora, o pagar colectivo.  (For example, to arrive at the bishop’s house, we need to walk an hour or pay a bus).  Colectivo (bus) is a taxi that has a route, they are really cheap.  For about 80 American cents, you can get to most places, and also there are buses that we can take for 60 cents.  Ahora adelante, hay solamente elderes en nuestro barrio (From now on, there are only elders in our Ward)  Un Elder en nuestra casa es de Bahia Blanca, Argentina. Se llama Elder Medina (One elder in our house is from Bahia Blanca, his name is Elder Medina)  He is from the city Bahia, Blanca.  He is a first generation member of the church, so you probably haven’t met his family, but who knows, maybe you contacted his grandma.  

I think the fields in the picture there are mostaza, which I think is mustard.  From Chillan to Yungay, there were fields and fields of pretty mustard crops.  

We have a baptism scheduled for this Saturday, but I don’t know if she has completely given up smoking, so we are going to see.

Love you all more than the number of Canadian geese in Boise’s Ann Morrison Park.
Elder Withers

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Rebecca's last email before going to Argentina on Monday

October 26, 2013

Dear Family,
Because my P-Day for emailing will be shot with traveling, I have been given permission to email a little note today.

The word on my travel plans?  I have to report to the mission office at noon....and I'm not really sure what happens at this step, but then someone from the office takes me to the airport with the 4 other visa waiters.  Once at the airport, I go through all the checking bags and security stuff, find my gate, and wait for takeoff!  My flight is apparently around 2:00 or 2:30 (I haven't heard official word on this....this is just the estimate from the assistants) which makes me slightly nervous for time.  Between travel from the office, and then airport stuff......I hope I can make it all.  The church is developing a reputation for cutting all travel plans real close on time.  I know how to run fast though :) and I will call as soon as I can.  I have no idea what time I will have in the DC airport, or if we have a layover somewhere along the way......but be waiting to hear from me!  Interesting to know, no one actually left on Oct. 22.....we are all flying (my MTC district and I assume many other visa waiters around the country) together on Monday.

Happy Birthday to Lauren this Sunday!  As in tomorrow!!!! How exciting!  You'll be a good 14 year old I'm sure (:  

This DC South mission is getting Facebook by the end of next week, and iPads in December.  At District Meeting when this was announced some people were like, "Oh...Hermana Withers, you aren't going to be here for those..."  And I was just like, "Oh, that ain't nothin...I'm going to Argentina!"  I am really excited for the missionaries here though.  Facebook will be a great tool for when it’s harder to have appointments or to find people.  And iPads are going to be so fun for lessons to show Mormon messages, pictures, and videos of the Apostles.  Exciting stuff!

We had interviews with President this last week, and he is so awesome.  Everyone else in the zone had all these specific questions they had to ask him about the mission, their companion, areas, and so on....and we talked a little about those things, but we mostly just had a nice conversation.  He is a great president and I honestly feel like his ability to discern my needs and receive revelation on behalf of this mission is a way Heavenly Father shows His love for me.  We rarely see President, and each week he only sends a line or two in response to everyone's email...but somehow you feel so loved and well known to President.  It's a miracle really!  

Thank you sooooooo much for the camera stick and USB with music!  They are both perfect, and the USB has the absolute best music ever.   Tell Valerie she did a stellar job and that I love all the songs.  Again not just sweet talking, it is the honest truth and as we have been traveling to meetings everyone is like, "oh I love this song,"  or "oh...this has such great music!"  It really is fun to have a change of pace with music, and she has excellent taste.  

Our little mile by a mile area is actually closing.  I am going to Argentina, and Hermana Woodbury is going to be companions with another visa waiter's companion.  We both have to pack, clean the apartment, and organize things like the area book and phone.  It's going to be so busy.  But two more days in America and then I am headed into uncharted territory!  It's going to be an adventure.

Thanks for everything.  Also, please be praying for me on Monday.  I don't want to get sick from nerves again (: I love you more than the number of dishwashers in all the apartments that go unused by Hispanics because they think they are too slow (:

Hermana Withers        




Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rebecca leaving for Argentina Oct. 28, Chad eating ice cream for lunch

Oct 21, 2013

Mother’s note:  Clarification on Chad’s comment about Sam playing soccer:  The rest of the story – We are living in northern Minnesota and the big sport around here is hockey.  Sam is a soccer kid and doesn’t skate.  So the PE teacher decided to do a day of soccer.  Sam did all his fancy foot work and scored 3 points.  So the teacher decided it wasn’t fair and told the losing team that they could pick a player from the other team… they picked Sam and he scored 3 points again.  So the score was tied 3-3 and Sam was everyone’s hero.  He said that he should have had a penalty kick though because they tripped him a couple of times.  He likes playing soccer here.  He has no interest in hockey. 

Dear Family,
Hello from the South!  Thank you so much for all the letters, I enjoy reading each letter.  Also, thank you so much for the awesome package.  I think it was the July package you were asking me about, I finally got it!

I am learning a lot.  I`ve had a hankering for ice cream lately, so at lunch today I had two ice cream cones and something similar to a small Oreo blizzard.  On Mondays, we go to the center of Chillan for internet service and buy our foods for the week.  McDonald’s has been where we are going lately, and It was really fun to eat nothing but ice cream, and all for about $3.40 USD.  I really have gotten to like certain things about Chilean culture, especially the bread.  The most common, and overall the best bread, and cheapest as well, se llama pancito (it is called little bread).  They don’t make them by the loaf, but by individual little circles of bread.  Roughly, the surface area of a cream filled donut, but not quite as tall.  They are really good, and you can buy a kilogram of them for a couple of bucks.  The daily schedule in this mission is pretty cool.  Wake up at 7:30 and go to bed at 11:30.  There are 3 meals in Chile, desayuno (breakfast), almuerzo (lunch), and once (dinner).  Yeah, the Spanish word for eleven is also the name of a meal in Chile.  It lasts the whole evening, and it makes tracting a little harder, because everybody says they are really busy.  You ask them what they are doing, and they say tomando once (eating dinner).  We aren’t supposed to partake of once, unless with investigators or in a noche de hogar (Family Home Evening).  We have lunch every day of the month with members.  

The letter ``s`` is of little importance if it is the last letter of a word.  gracias is pronounced gracia.  People completely drop the ```s`` if it is the last letter.  oso would be pronounced oso, but mas o menos would be ma o meno.  It is fun. 

Oh, the grand solution to mean dogs is amazingly simple:  pretend to throw a rock.  Yeah, it really works.  It is a 2 step process, you reach down (hands must touch the ground, but grabbing a rock is not necessary, they will turn and run if you do this.  All stray dogs have been stoned before, and when they see someone reach for the ground, they retreat.  Just pretend to grab a rock, and if necessary pretend to throw a rock.  A veces, (sometimes) when in scary places, I grab real rocks, but I haven’t needed to throw any yet.  My dog dazer is either dysfunctional or I need a new battery. 

I really enjoy reading all the letters that have been sent.  Thank you so much for all your words of encouragement.  I am glad that cross country has been enjoyable for Valerie and Lauren.  Tell Sam nice job on the soccer game.  3 to 3, Sam wins!  Hey Sam, I played soccer today, and it was really fun.  We played a game where there is a goalie, and there are no teams.  Each person is their own team, and when they score a goal they are out.  Is kind of simplistic and I am sure you can think of a way to make it better, or a better game.  

I Love you all, more than the number of gallons of coca cola consumed at South America church functions!  :)x999999999999999999999
-Elder Chad Carl Withers

Dear Family,
I finally heard back from the mission office, and I am not leaving until the 28th (I will be traveling with the 4 other visa waiters from DC South).  So one more week in America!  But I have no idea what time my flight is or when I will be able to call......sorry for that.  How do you want to do the calling thing?  From past experiences with church travel, I have learned that I might not have much time to call.  In a perfect world you could all just take a day off of life and stay home all day until I call (not a bad idea :)  

Woooohh.  Now that we are past all of that.  How was everyone's week?!?

We traveled all the way to Burke again!  We picked up my passport from the mission office (I looked at it and my visa is stapled in there!) and then went over to the police station in Fairfax to get my fingerprints.  It was very similar to a DMV experience.... I'm sure you can use your imaginations (:  I had to get 2 copies, and it isn't something the mission office knew how to reimburse me for (as in the nice senior couples are still greenies) so there is a $15 dollar expense on my card.  I told them it wasn't a problem though, because it wasn't too expensive and they already seemed stressed.

Yesterday we had dinner with a family that was funny.  We walked in and were slobbered by their dog.  Dinner was "soup" that turned out to be heated water with some salt, broccoli, and egg noodles.  The rolls were hot dog buns with cold cheese melted on to them (and their family tradition is to smother jam all over this bun/cheese thing.....but we didn't dare try that), and dessert was a cake that had heart attack and diabetes written in the frosting.  And their kids were off the wall nuts.  It was a funny experience, and we just took it all in stride...but I realized how grateful I am for parents who taught me manners.  And a Mom who enjoys cooking real food, and that you taught us how to clean and do chores.  I have been spoiled with member visits out here in this wealthy part of America, it was probably good for me to have a this dinner...to bring me back to home base and get me ready for whatever goes down in Argentina. 

This last weekend was something called a Rummage Sale that all the locals rave about.  A women's society collects clothes all year long, has a huge sale, and donates all the money to the hospital.  It was a HUGE sale and everything was dirt cheap.  We packed a lunch and went during our one hour break on Saturday, and it was nuts.  My companion found some stuff, and the other Hermanas found a mother lode, and all I could seem to find were the cat sweaters and dresses with pearls sewn on them.  I was fine with that, and didn't want anything anyway because I still have to pack what I have and get it to Argentina.  But after they bought their stuff, the plastic bags turned out to be Costco garbage bags......and it literally looked like they were taking out the trash for this place.  I decided that that is probably what they were doing, only that they had to pay for the garbage first.  (: Ha just kidding, it really was for a good cause, and I was surprised they were able to find good stuff despite having to swim through piles of junk first.  (:   
There is a recent convert we work with who is this funny old man from Mexico.  He took us to his favorite restaurant called Pollo Loco and got us this huge tres leches birthday cake.  It wasn't anybody's birthday, but it was fun anyway! (:

We have been teaching kids a lot more lately (ages 10-14), because we were teaching their parents or older siblings first, and noticed that there are more members in the family so we are including the kids too!  And the kids are moving so much faster, are more teachable, and setting a cool example for their family.  These kids live in a rough neighborhood, many have sad family circumstances, and when you talk about gospel topics in super simple terms, they get it and say things like, "One miracle I noticed is that I got an A in math for the first time" or "One time I broke my mom's new TV and prayed that she wouldn't get mad."  These are real things that these kids have said, and it is so cool!  They are good kids, they know they are pretty poor, that their parents are illegal immigrants; they are learning English, and trying to help their parents keep it together....and its making them really mature.  They are growing up way faster than they probably should be, seeing and experiencing a lot of hard things, and they still can recognize miracles.  To me, that in and of itself is a miracle.

Thanks for all of your love and support, and funny stories about your adventures in Minnesota (and in Chile!).  

I love you all more than the number of emails missionaries send and receive each week around the world!
Hermana Withers


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chad's Argentine accent in Chile, Rebecca preparing to leave Washington DC

October 14, 2013
Hello Friends!  
Time is flying here!  I am starting my 10th week in the field.  I don’t know how it can go so fast.  I don’t need a calling card, I have learned that the mission uses Skype on Mother`s day and Christmas.  I am doing well.

More than anything else, I have been learning patience.  My companion is a bit of a whiner, and sometimes it is frustrating when he does stuff simply to annoy you, or just makes jokes about you.  I really want to learn Spanish good, and he will start speaking Portuguese because he thinks it is funny.  I am trying to be patient. 

We are having some good success though.  We are going to baptize Abigail this Friday.  She has no living family that she is familiar with, so I guess we are baptizing an entire family.

Maria, baptized about a month ago, is staying strong.  She recently told us that her deceased husband was just about to be baptized, but there was a transfer of missionaries and the new missionaries in the sector must not have known about him.  He died about 20 days after the transfer.  When we passed by she knew who we were, and although she had been resistant to the missionaries in her home not much earlier, she felt that she should let us in.  She was hard at first, and I thought the lesson was going downhill pretty fast, I even started to put my scriptures away as I thought we were going to leave.  It is amazing how the spirit works, how the day before we found her, during our daily planning session, the spirit prompted us to tract in that area.  It is amazing that people really can change.   

Bishop, 4 years ago was an alcoholic, who said he would file for a divorce if his wife joined the Mormon Church. His wife knew the church was true, and she was going to join.  I don’t know what changed his heart, but he is an awesome person and I wish you all could meet Bishop Hidalgo.  To quote Elder Rees, assistant to the president who recently completed his mission ``You can lead a horse to water, but you can`t make it drink.  But you can make the horse thirsty.``  

My Spanish is improving, and I thank you for all your prayers in my behalf.  The vast majority of sentences I hear and speak are short and simple, so that helps.  When the sentence is longer and a little bit slurred with unfamiliar grammar I just say ``no entiendo``, or ``como?``  People tell me I have an Argentine accent, with the way I pronounce words that have double l, por ejemplo ellos.  In Argentina it would be pronounced ejos or eshos.  In Chile it would be pronounced eyos.  Alla, meaning there, would be aya.  The accent is starting to go away, but it shows up every so often.  I can’t think of anything else to put in the package.  Don’t be afraid of throwing in some candy and hand written letters from all 5 Idahoans living in Minnesota.  

I would like to sincerely apologize for being so hard to everyone for so many years.  Mom, I am sorry I hurt your feelings and made you cry.  Dad, I am sorry I hurt your feelings and made you cry.  Valerie, I am sorry I hurt your feelings and made you cry.  Lauren, I am sorry I hurt your feelings and made you cry.  Sam, I am sorry I hurt your feelings and made you cry.  I would like to apologize to Valerie one more time.  Valerie, I am sincerely sorry.  Ephesians 6:1-3 would have been good for me to read.

I love you all more than the number of grains of rice I have eaten here in Chillan,Chile.
Elder Withers

Dear Family,
Ha actually I am not near take off quite yet.  President hasn't even received any word on my flight plans, so I am still here workin hard!  We got a call from the mission office last Wednesday saying that church travel had sent me some urgent paperwork that needed to be signed, and that I need to get fingerprints again (ugh!).  We drove all the way to Burke, and about 2 miles away from the office....they called and said "nevermind" we don't have your passport yet, we will call you when it’s here and you can come back then. Bummer.  In order to get finger prints at the police stations here, they require two forms of ID.....and my passport is my other form, so we went all that way for nothing.  The mission office didn't know that, and they felt bad that we had traveled all that way, but they gave us a bunch of candy, so I guess it wasn't totally for nothing?  (:  My passport should be here by today or tomorrow, so we should be traveling there soon!  
Thanks for a Christmas package, you are the best.  Whatever you think looks good, I will probably like....so don't worry about the Christmas box....I will love everything.  I wasn't just sweet talking you about the skirt the first time, it really is my new favorite.

Out of the 6 missionaries in my MTC district, 5 of us have our visas.  And some of them have actual flight plans to leave on Oct. 22.........so maybe I will go then too!  That would be sweet, I will keep you posted though.   

Also crazy thing, my companion's best friend is serving in Concepcion...and my companion asked if she knew an Elder Withers....AND SHE DID!   An Hermana Jenna Snyder, is serving in the same ward as Chad.  Small world (:

Also cool to hear that you are having missionary experiences in Minnesota too.  The work is growing!

This week was wickedly cold and rainy.  It rained literally ALL WEEK LONG (we woke up to rain, it rained all day, we went to bed with rain), up until yesterday when the sun finally made an appearance.  We walked around in our rain boots and carried umbrellas, for what seemed like an eternity...but the sun finally came back, and it feels so good.  I have enjoyed the fall season too.  Seeing the leaves change colors, its all so pretty.  But I also feel lucky to have a ticket south for the winter.  I enjoyed all of summer, have had a nice fall, and am peacin out for winter to have another summer!  

Besides the adventure to Burke, this week really has been a typical, busy week.  We had a few dinner appointments with members, lessons with investigators, and a few meetings.  We are finally drying out too.  
I'm excited to go to Argentina.  This mental game of staying focused here in Leesburg is getting harder and harder.  The biggest transfer of my life is coming up though, and I am ready for it!  

Sorry that I don't have much more to write about this week.  It was a good one.  And also our investigators and members are awesome.  As time continues on, plans for things like Halloween, and zone interviews, and things well past Oct. 20.....I feel a little twinge of sadness that I won't be here.  This place is so fun, the missionaries are top of the line, and our president is so energetic and insightful.  If I never got my visa, I would be okay....because this mission has felt like home too.  

I know great things are up ahead!  Thanks for all of your love and support.  I love you more than all the rain puddles I walked through this week!

Hermana Withers

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Courage means being scared to death but saddling up anyway" -John Wayne

Oct. 7, 2013
Dear Family,
I watched all 4 sessions of General Conference and the Priesthood session in English with about 11 other ``Norte Americanos`` in a classroom in the Stake Center.  It was really good, and we were able to snack during conference just like at home, because we weren’t watching with the members.  One Elder brought a pizza. 

It is awesome Becca is coming down to S. America.  I felt a small earthquake about 2 weeks ago, and I saw the mirror shaking a little bit, but the other elders say spring is earthquake season and there are frequent small tremors.  I hope you don’t worry about my safety, because I am safe, President Porter said I would be when he set me apart. 

This will be a short letter this week because I have a lot of visa stuff to do today.

I love you, more than the number of times people say brrrr in a month in Minnesota. 
I love you x 10000000
Elder Withers

Dear Family,

This week has been crazy.  I think I probably say that every week, but this week really was this time.  

Transfers for this mission, were this last week.  We had received a call from our District Leader Tuesday night to let us know that neither of us were getting transferred.  So we thought, okay cool.  We continue on with the week, and get to Thursday.  

Thursday was a day we had decided to talk only in Spanish.  We have done it before, and it normally isn't bad....but this day Hermana Woodbury thought it prudent to point out every single mistake I was making in Spanish; which wasn't a ton...just some small things, but it started to wear on me a bit.  We got to about lunch time and I was thinking to myself...."How am I ever going to live in Argentina where my whole world is in Spanish?  Spanish is okay, but I don't really like it that much, I can never express what I am really thinking, and if I get my visa anytime soon....I will be toast."  After lunch we go outside to pump the tires on our ghetto single speed bikes, come back in and there is a text from one of the APs which says "Can you call President back right now?"  and a missed call from President Riggs.

We call President back, and he says... "Hey Hermana Withers!  I have you on speaker phone in front of this transfer meeting."  I say, "Oh, awesome.....???"  He then says, "Your visa came and......" he said some other things but Hermana Woodbury started going crazy.  He said "Now that's the kind of reaction I like to hear...I'm excited for you!"  Truth be told, Hermana Woodbury was the one putting up a show,  I was metaphorically peeing my pants in stunned silence.  I have had a few days to mull over in my thoughts about my visa....and I am so excited!!!  (: The fact that my visa came on one of the few days I let myself fall into a personal pity party is ironic...but I am excited to go (:  

By the end of the day, we heard down the grapevine from missionaries that were at the meeting....that I will leave about Oct. 20th.  The other 4 missionaries that came to DC south with me also got their visas, and we will all be traveling together.  Also my dear MTC companion got her visa and is anticipated to leave the same time, so I will get to see her again too!  I am so excited.

My current companion shared some things with me in companionship study the other day that I really like. The first being, that "confidence isn't the certainty of having success, but rather that failure doesn't determine our worth....we lose nothing by trying."  And the second is a quote from John Wayne that says, "Courage means being scared to death but saddling up anyway."  I have ideas in my head about what Argentina will be like....and I usually come up with an image of starving children in the streets, moms weaving rugs on a porch, dirt roads, and busy street markets.  If some of that is true, so be it....the Lord will make me equal to the task of adjusting to a new culture.  But it probably isn’t so bad as I let my imagination think it to be  (:  And also, every person in the whole world needs the Gospel........so there is a lot of work to do.  As members we don't really have time to be afraid and fear missionary work.  If we get rejected so be it, but as we prayerfully look for others in our lives and follow the Spirit in how to share the Gospel with them, miracles will come.  

This was a major theme in conference for me.  Maybe that's what I noticed because I watched it as a missionary (: but I loved it!  Member missionary work is important.  Conference was so great, and I loved hearing and listening to all of the messages.  We watched the first session in Spanish with an investigator, the next two in the chapel, and the last session we were invited to a member’s home.  It was awesome.  

I'm amazed at how fast my visa came.  It is an honest miracle, and I have said a prayer of gratitude every night for all of the people in SLC and Argentina who worked on it for me.  

My experiences in this DC south mission have been life altering quite honestly.  The biggest thing I learned while serving here is how to pray.  President Riggs is so amazing, and has taught us that prayer is a form of work.  To pray as if it all depends on the Lord and work as if it all depends on us.  And that the Lord will bless with what we really want, because if our will is truly aligned with God's...we will never want anything contrary to His will....and if we really want it, we will work hard to do our part.

As I have served here in Leesburg, I have served in the most unique, and one of the most isolated parts of the mission.  And the people totally make it worth it.  I have seen a kind of poverty that I didn't know even existed in America, and I have seen people quit smoking, commit to baptism, come to church, and want to read the Book of Mormon.  When investigators keep commitments, it's like Christmas.  I know all of these things will continue to happen in Argentina, but I feel so blessed to have witnessed it here too.  

We have 4 investigators who are progressing well.  One is on date for baptism, and the other 3 are really close.  It's so fun to work with people who are willing to learn and who want to make a change in their lives.  There were lots of miracles this week and I know that the Lord is in all the details of our lives.  

I have quite the mental challenge ahead of me for the next couple of weeks, as I try to stay focused.  Right now, it’s like knowing about a transfer way before it’s supposed to happen.  Thursday was kind of weird, but I have since tried to keep my mind as occupied as possible so that it can't drift off to thoughts about Argentina.  I still have to serve faithfully in Leesburg until then.  So far, I have been reading a lot more.  I read during breakfast, lunch, and dinner (when we don't have an appointment), and I listen to hymns while studying, and when we are out proselyting we talk all about our investigators and sing hymns in Spanish.  We did a lot of those things before, but the more reading thing is new (:

Thanks for sending the verb book.  That thing is the best ever.  I have used it every day since getting it in the mail (it came Tuesday) and it is so helpful.  Thanks so much.

I love you all lots.  I love hearing from you.  

Let me know if you need anything.  I hope all is well, and I will be in Argentina soon emailing you from there!  Crazy thought. (:

I love you more than how excited I am to get on a plane and fly south for the winter (:
Hermana Withers



Friday, October 4, 2013

Rebecca got her visa!!! Chad is not so sure about free haircuts

Just found out yesterday that Rebecca got her VISA!!!  Not sure when she will be leaving.  I will post travel plans as soon as we find out specifics.  For friends and neighbors following this blog, she has a first cousin, Elder Hill who is serving in the Argentina Rosario Mission and has been there since July.  We are hoping they see each other sometime and we look forward to hearing about an exciting reunion as they work with the wonderful people in Argentina. 

Sept 30, 2013

Dear Family,
The letter last week was quite a downer, I know.  That was how the week started, not how it finished.  This week was one of the most successful weeks I have had so far.  We found 12 new investigators.  Some of these 12 are more investigative than others, but one of them is really ready.  She has absolutely no family, an orphan without any uncles, siblings, grandparents or any family that she knows about.  It is hard to teach about how the gospel blesses families, and what an eternal family is when the person has no family.  We gave her a tour of the chapel, and then in the family history center taught the restoration, and she accepted the baptismal invitation.  She went to the baptismal service of the other ward to watch (she got there an hour early because she was so excited), and then went to the English class at the church.  She stayed the whole 3 hours in church on Sunday.  
Sunday was really good, and we met our goal of 3 investigators in church, which hadn’t happened for a while.  
Elder Vàsquez is pretty cool.  He already set up a Christmas tree in our study room, he says he loves Christmas and keeps his Christmas tree up year round.  He knows how to cut missionary hair and does it for free, so that is great.  Hmmm… interesting.  I wonder why it is free.
My Spanish is improving rapidly, and my leaders tell me that quite often.  It took a while for my ears to get accustomed to the fast and sloppy style of Chilean Spanish, but I can order a hamburger, tell a taxi driver where to take us, and talk to a member on the phone, and all in Spanish.  The longer the sentences that people speak, the harder it is because long sentences usually involve more grammar and I haven’t learned all the grammar yet.  I am able to say almost all of what I would like to say.
I love you all,
Elder Withers


Dear Family,
This week was great!  It was also a fairly unusual week.  We had so many meetings, and had to travel quite a bit.

We also went on exchanges, and I was the one who left little old Leesburg and experienced a driving mission for a day.  It was so different!  The sister training leaders are the ones who go on exchanges with us, and their area is huge, covering cities like Vienna, Arlington, Bea Vista and a few others.  They have to spend a lot of time driving (in traffic that is beyond insane) so they don't get to meet as many people.  But at the same time they are covering huge cities so they have more Hispanics overall to work with, even if they are far apart.  It was just a different experience, and I think I like walking better.  So with gallivanting in a new area, and going to Centerville twice this week, I spent a ton of time traveling!

There are two sister missionaries who were called to Rosario but then reassigned to the Washington DC South mission.... and when I got here they had been here for 8 months!!  Well, about 2ish weeks ago (whenever the Rosario mission has their transfer) they got to go because their visas finally came!  I was so excited and reassured to know that visas are still coming for people.

Thanks for the skirt and Cadbury eggs.  You have no idea how perfect that skirt is.  It matches tons of things I brought, has a cute pattern, and is some nice variety.  THANK YOU SO MUCH.  I love it.  And thanks for sending that book to me, I am so excited to use it.  Verb conjugations are my biggest problem.  I almost always use the right verbs and nouns with the right order, but for the life of me I can't put things in the right tenses....so I look like an idiot and then people get confused.  Just kidding, it’s not that bad (: My Spanish has improved so much this transfer.  I am not anywhere near fluent, but I can speak much better.  It has also really helped that my companion is a champ at Spanish.  She is 1/2 Thai, so she didn't learn it at home, but she went on a study abroad with BYU to Spain, so she is really great with helping me.  

The names Woodbury and Withers are quite a struggle for the Hispanics out here.  They say Hermana "Wudboory" and Hermana "Wheat Hairs."  Sometimes they want us to try and teach them to say it like we say it, and if they ask we try......but their tongues and mouths literally can't do it.  It's kind of fun to help people learn English...but I also feel grateful everyday that I know it.

To Chad - I can't believe you gagged down a whole glass of vinegar.  How did you do it?  At this point, you are totally winning the award for most bizarre thing eaten.  

The other day we knocked on the door of a family who we are teaching, and they had just started dinner.  They invited us in, told us to sit down, and they put a truckload of food in front of us, a can of coke, and a bottle of water.  It was so much food and really good but also I have no idea what it was....some sandwich thing stuffed with chicken (fat and bones and all...Hermana Woodbury was picking stuff out of her teeth for a few minutes), with a sauce and then radishes, tomatoes, and lettuce.  They had friends over too, so it was quite the crowd.  The men ate first, and as guests they made us eat with the men.  Then the kids ate, and then the women.  It was a little bizarre to not be helping in the kitchen or something until the other women could eat....but I am trying really hard to embrace and love different cultures even though I don't understand a lot of the things they do.

The Elders in our district had a baptism this week for a young guy whose mom was baptized a few months ago.  It was awesome!  It really went off without a hitch and we were able to get one of our investigators and her kids there, which was awesome.  During the in between time when they were drying off and changing clothes, the Elders asked us to teach the Restoration to the people who had showed up and were just waiting.  My companion did it in English and I did it in Spanish, and it was great.  If there is anything I know in Spanish, it’s the Restoration, my testimony, and how to pray (:

The general Relief Society meeting was this last Saturday, and the stake put on a dinner before the broadcast started.  We rounded up a member to come with us and promised that there would be free food and translation in Spanish.  We get to the dinner, and in Spanish she is like "What is this... American food?"  Me, "Yeah....do you want some soup with bread?"  Rosa says, "Ya hermanita, ya....ya ya hermanita ya."  She said, "Ya hermanita" like 7000 times that night and now my companion and I think it is so funny we say it too.  So she goes to one table, picks up a bowl and points to a soup, picks up another bowl and points to a different soup, swipes a stack of bread like she is worried it won't be there if she comes back, and she marches us towards a table.  She then mixes the soups together and says, "It's much better this way, before the soups were gross."  Ha....I thought it was good!

I don't know why I sometimes forget this, but of course not everyone loves American food!  One lady we run into all the time always jokes that all Americans ever eat is cereal with milk and macaroni and cheese.  Even though these Hispanics are living in America, they hold pretty tight to their culture and food and language.  

To Sam....guess what?  There is an Elder in my mission (he is one of the Spanish AP's) and he is from Peru.  He is a little bit older (26) and learned English here in America.  He said that when he was younger, about 12 or 13...his soccer team played against Messi's soccer team!!!!!  How crazy?  I just had to tell you that.  He said Messi's team slaughtered theirs but they still had fun (:

Apparently El Salvador is really dangerous right now...is this true?  Why is there such a motivation to leave that country?  I wish you could see how many El Salvadorians actually live here.  It's so many.  Everyone from their home country recognizes the church though. Sometimes we will ask, "Did you use to see young guys with white shirts and ties?"  and 99% of the time they say yes.

When we are texting members or investigators, sometimes it turns into a game of mad gab.  They don't really know how to spell, so they just phonetically type out the words....and we end up getting messages with words like "ola" "por k" "si kieren" and we have gotten into the habit of one of us reading the message really fast to see if we can make any sense of it, and the other carefully listening to put the whole thing together.  It's pretty fun (: 

I love you all lots....and I know that you are sacrificing a lot for me to serve a mission.  
I love you more than all of the cars in traffic (which is a like a hundred bajillion!) 

Hermana Withers