Monday, December 2, 2013

Small miracles and a memorable Thanksgiving dinner

December 2, 2013

Dear Family,
The small miracles are awesome.  Yesterday, we had a dinner/teaching appointment with the family of a recent convert and a strong investigator, and it was about 10:05 pm when we got out of there.  By foot, we were an hour from our pension (apartment).  I did not know what to do, and we didn’t bring enough pesos to pay a taxi.  Although the mother was completely unaware that we were without pesos, she called a taxi, and slipped a 5 mil pesos into my companion`s hand when he shook her hand.  It was awesome, and we made it back well before 10:30.  My prayer was answered.   

The language is slowly coming along.  I am grateful for my companion and my sector.  

Chile is awesome.  It is really hot down here, and I have been told by everyone that the ozone is weak down here, and that without sunscreen you are going to burn.  I am not burnt yet, but I think I am going to get some sunscreen, even though I really don’t like using it.  The other option is a great idea, in accordance the rules of this mission, just not very popular among other missionaries.  Sombrero!  Traditional Chilean style.  I would love to beat the sun by wearing a big hat, but I don’t want to dress different than my companion.  I might buy a sombrero the next transfer. 

We had stake conference, and about 800 people showed up.  Two people took our bench, even though we put our scriptures there, we were saving the bench for investigators.  Only one investigator showed up though, and he sat in the choir.  We stood in the back for a while, and then put up some more chairs and sat in the row furthest from the pulpit.  It was hard to hear, and nobody in Chile tells their kids to be quiet, but it was a good meeting.  

I know that Christ is our savior.  I know that this church is the true church.  I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet called of God, and that he translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God.  The Book of Mormon is true.  I know that President Thomas S. Monson is the Lord`s personal representative, our prophet.  I know these things because the Holy Ghost testifies to me, and to you, that these things are true.  I love you all.  

I love you all more than the number of toothpicks you could make out of the Minnesota North Woods. 
Elder Withers

Dear Family,
What a week!  This week I completed one month in Argentina.  It was the fastest, and in some ways the longest month of my life....but mostly fast.  Sometimes it scares me how fast time is flying.  

Last P Day we spent decorating our apartment for Christmas and then exploring downtown La Paz.  Even though everything was closed for the siesta, it was still fun to take pictures!  The big cathedrals in the central part of town sometimes looks like Europe.  On Monday night at like 10:20pm, we got a call from the District Leaders saying we had to go to Parana for new missionary training, because this is my first transfer in this mission....and that we both had to be on the next collective (bus) that left at 6:00am....oye.  We did as we were told, traveled the 4 hours by bus.  The meeting was excellent, and at the end they brought out some of the mail that had been sent.  I got all of the dear elder letters (thanks to everyone!!) and the package with Christmas decorations.  I haven’t opened any of the presents but I absolutely love the decorations.  I will definitely keep those for the rest of my life, the tree and stockings for sure.  And reading all of those letters was like heaven.  My response to them all.....keep up the good work, and know that I love and appreciate you all!  

After the meeting we went to lunch and had some pizza and then to the terminal to start our journey back to La Paz.  When we got to the terminal, it was about 2:00pm, so we purchased tickets to leave at 2:25.  We went to the bathroom, into a cool little shop where my companion got a mate cup, and then we were headed to the collective (bus) to get on, but my companion had to go to the bathroom again.  So we made a quick trip to the bano, but bless my companions heart.....she just took her sweet time.  I was a little worried about time and making the bus but thought we might still be okay.  By the time we got to where our bus was supposed to be, we saw it pulling away onto the main road.  Oye.....ciao bus!  The Zone Leaders who were traveling with us said later that they tried to stall the driver, but it was no use.  Ha......oh the adventure.  It wasn’t really a big deal.  We just had to get another ticket and wait in the terminal for an extra hour and a half.  Nothing was really damaged except that we lost some time.

Then Thanksgiving comes around, and that day was a whole new set of adventures.  The day started out with our toilet breaking and an investigator dropping us, and our member lunch appointment cancelling....all within a matter of 20 minutes.  Before we even had our studies, we had no bathroom, no morning appointments, and no lunch to count on.  We took it all in stride, went about with business as usual and then for lunch went to work in cooking something with our gas stove.  

Also it should be noted that every lunch appointment cancelled on us this week, up until Friday.....every single one!  By Thursday we were tired of cooking the only thing we really know how to do here (which is fried chicken and instant potatoes) so we got adventurous and thought we could try making pasta.  How hard could it be?  We started out with boiling water to cook the noodles, and in a matter of 2 to 3 minutes they turned to soup.  The sauce mix we bought tasted like watered down baby food and we bought canned peas to mix in with the pasta, but realized once we got home that we don’t have a can bust.  We tried to mix the noodles and sauce together thinking they could be tolerable...but what a joke...they were almost worse together.  As a last ditch effort to save our Thanksgiving dinner we thought of blends so well with rice and basically everything else here, why couldn’t it go with pasta?  In retrospect I can see how horrible of an idea this was....but we were desperate and it made sense at the time.  What a disaster, it was so gross!  We honestly couldn’t stand to eat it.  We were about half an hour into our lunch time and still without we decided to toss it and just have breakfast over again!  Cornflakes covered in sugar.  The first part of this day went so horribly wrong in so many ways, and it would have been a fun experience if it were just any other day.....but the fact that it was Thanksgiving makes it so much more memorable. And while so many trivial things went wrong with this day, it was still a fun adventure.....and I don’t know if I will ever forget eating cornflakes for Thanksgiving this year.  At the end of the day, we went to Gridos for our favorite ice cream and got a big 3 scoop cone to end our Thanksgiving with a little bit of sunshine.  It was a fun day, and really forced me to look at all the things I am truly grateful for.  

And Friday, our favorite family to have lunch with went all out this week (sometimes they go extra fancy just because they are nice) and it was an absolute feast.  They always make us feel so special and we joked that our Thanksgiving meal was actually Friday this year (:  Even with the occasional ups and downs....we are doing great! 

I have gotten pretty good at playing charades.....when people can’t understand me, I try and use my hands to explain it.....and when I can’t understand others, sometimes they start using their hands too.  The process of learning how to communicate with people is progressing nicely!

I am going to send a letter by snail mail today; we will see how long it takes to get there.

Thanks for all you do for me.  I have so many blessings and am learning so much.  I love you more than all things I am grateful for!

Hermana Withers

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