Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Una carta de la nueva catracha!

Hola mi familia and friends!  

Wow.... I have SO MUCH TO SAY!!! But I don`t know how to even begin. These past few days have been incredible. I love it here. I love the people, I love the atmosphere, and I love the work :) 

Right now I am serving in an area called La Paz. My area has 5 or so different residential areas included - Oro Verde, La Paz, Los Flores, El Campo and one more that I don`t know how to say nor how to spell... haha - The members in the ward here are wonderful. They are all so excited and willing to help with the work. For the first few days we stopped by different member´s houses so they could get to know me and meet me. They all welcomed me with open arms and lots of patience for my Spanish. One of the first nights, we stopped by a members house and they found out that I was new and had never tried "baleadas" So she started whipping them up right then :) She taught us how to make the tortillas. It`s quite the art! You have to roll them out into circles and then slap them back and forth in your hands so that they are evenly distributed. At first mine was a square... then an oval... and then a circle! I got the hang of it really quick and it was way fun! A baleada consists of a tortilla, frijoles (fried beans), eggs, meat (usually ham, or a hot dog type thing), and sour cream. They`re very good! And not too difficult once you get the tortillas made. We eat at a different members house for lunch every day. The food here is very delicious. No complaints here! Lots of meat and vegetable combinations. My goal is to learn lots of dishes to cook for you all at home! 

I love my companion, Hermana Baltazar! We work really well together. One of my favorite parts of the day is companionship study. We learn so much from each other! One thing I really like is that we decided right off the bat to be obedient in every aspect possible, and I`ve already seen blessings from doing so. Sometimes the rules can seem small and insignificant, but one thing that I have learned while being here is that missionaries need the spirit as much as possible, and more rules means more opportunities to demonstrate obedience. With this perspective the rules become blessings, not burdens! We also are enjoying ourselves like crazy :) It`s hard and exhausting sometimes. It`s HOT and HUMID like I`ve never experiences before. But we have smiles on our faces, laugh, and love the time we have here. The other day we were walking around in an area called La Lima, when all of a sudden Hermana Baltazar started yelling and waving her arms. Something had either bitten or stung her in the hand! I wasn`t sure what it was, but it was still in her hand so I pulled it out and it was all gooey and gross. Her hand started swelling and her veins turned bright blue in her fingers. Her fingers were as stiff as a board as well. We ran into some elders and they turned to me and said, "aren`t you supposed to be the nurse??" haha I had no idea what to do!! Eventually we figured out that it was just a bee, so we put some ice on it and it was fine... Even though she was in pain we were able to laugh about it and it was a funny experience :) Of course the first medical emergency happened to be my companion! 

I`ve experienced a lot of new things while being here. We wash some of our clothes in what`s called a PILA. It`s like what the pioneers used only it`s made out of stone. It`s actually kind of fun! I tried banana soda, used my umbrella for shade instead of just for rain, had to "turn in" my bag at the front desk of the grocery store because they aren`t allowed inside, yelled "BUENO" at the front gate of houses, slept without ANY sheets and a big fan blowing on me all night... 

My Best Friend!!!

....and experienced an entire three hours of church with no English whatsoever. I had a giant headache after because my brain was fried, but the language is coming! Right now I`m forgetting english words, but don`t know the word in spanish yet, so it`s a struggle to talk at all... haha Last night a member was sending a video to a friend who only speaks english and she wanted me to say some things in english and boy was it a struggle to even know what to say... haha

I am loving the work. We walk most places, but sometimes catch the bus. The buses here are little 12 seater vans ran by a private company. It gives us good opportunities to talk to people though! One thing about this place is that everyone is always working! It`s hard to do tracting because most people aren`t home. One thing that has become obvious in only five days is the IMPORTANCE of references from members. It is so important! Most of our investigators that we are teaching right now are references from their neighbors and friends. We had 5 investigators come to church on Sunday, and every single one of them had a member to stop by their house in the morning and encourage them to come.  I am so grateful for the members! It would be so much more difficult without them. On Saturday we had an activity with the ward about missionary work. We brought 3 cakes and said that who ever could give us the most references would win a whole cake. We received 24 new references! Seriously, I feel bad that I didn`t do more to help the missionaries while I as home. They need references, people to accompany them to lessons, hold family home evenings with investigators or less actives. The list is huge! I will definitely try to do more to help them when I get home. 

Another thing I learned this week is the importance of service. Everyday we try to find opportunities to serve. This past Sunday was the primary program and the primary president was preparing all week for it. So we helped her make these ribbon headbands for all of the little girls. It was fun! And it was a great opportunity to get to know her and her family more. One day when we went to contact a reference in El Campo and when we got there, she and her mother-in-law were making tamales to sell. So we jumped right in to help! It was fun, and it gave us time to talk and get to know them. While they were cooking over the fire, we started to teach them a discussion. 5 minutes in, her husband and kids got home. They joined in to listen. About ten minutes in, the husband said "oh yeah! I`m already a member of this church, this sounds familiar" He and his whole family were baptized 12 or 13 years ago but had long since gone inactive. Now, we are teaching their whole family :) If we hadn`t stayed to serve, we would have missed her spouse entirely. I love how the Lord works!

We are also teaching several people in Los Flores. This area is a lot different from our others. The houses are more like one room huts, and the people are in a lot more humble of circumstances. It`s amazing the difference a few miles can make. But I seriously love it!

I hope all is well at the homefront! I`m slightly jealous to hear that the weather is starting to cool down... I`ve quickly learned that I better get used to this hot, sticky, sweaty, feeling because it won`t ever go away! Exercising in the morning is a whole new experience! I`ve already started taking measures to stay cool, such as cutting out the liners of my skirts... haha but despite all that, this really is a beautiful place. I really do love you all and pray for you daily! Thank you for your prayers and support. They are greatly appreciated :)

Que le vaya bien!

Hermana Bennett
A.K.A Barbie (that`s what a lot of the chicitas call me... haha)

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