Monday, July 29, 2013

Week #22 - "Fetch", "fah", and WalMart!

Dear... well, everyone :)

This week was NUTS! Seriously, I have so much hilarious content to relay, I don´t really know how my fingers of time limit is going to handle it. But! Here goes!

Outskirts of my area!

Fun facts of the week:

1) Elder Mongelos, a Latin elder in my district, has been seriously destroyed by all of his Utah companions - that man says ´fetch´ enough times in a sentence, that it would make a blue-blooded, Utah-Mormon blush. It´s fairly hilarious. 

2) There´s an expression here, similar to ´oh wow´ or  ´golly gee´(because we all say that so often, right? :) that is ´fah´. Say it out loud. Yep. You guessed it. Every time I hear someone say it, I cringe and think they´re saying the F-word. The best part is, the missionaries here use it more than ANYONE else. I seriously am convinced that missionaries use more slang than any teenagers in a given country. It makes us feel ´a part of the culture´:) 

3) I tried Malta this week! It´s similar to coffee, but... not coffee. Personally, I think it tastes a little weird, but it´s right up there with maté here. 

4) I learned that the President of Argentina (who is also a woman, by the way) made a law that you could only sell certain things in Argentina that were made here. So, consequently, things are occasionally fairly expensive, and always have a ´made in Argentina´ label on the back. 

5) This is crazy! Apparently, Toms actually originated in Argentina. I noticed that TONS of people here wear a shoe that is similar to Toms, and asked an other missionary about it. Apparently, the guy that founded Toms came to Argentina, saw this shoe (the canvas shoe that all the people wear as house slippers, or just when they can´t afford anything better - basically their version of flip flops) and brought it back to the states. It totally makes sense if you look at the TOMs logo - its the Argentina flag! Add that the list of reasons why Argentina is super cool :) 

6) Okay. I´m not entirely sure if anyone else has wondered this besides me --and maybe the Stewart family -- but for those that have seen Toy Story 3, do you remember the part where Buzz gets changed into Spanish mode? I have always wondered if in the Spanish dubbed version of the movie, if he gets changed into English version or not! Sadly, I learned this week that alas, he does not. Still Spanish mode. Phooey. That would have been hilarious :) Also, I am totally watching that movie after my mission to understand all that he is saying. If you want to join the party, someone start making a list! 

7) There are a couple words or phrases that are fairly specific or emphasized in Argentina only. For example, the word ´re´ signifies much or very, and they use it SO often here! Personally, I have come to love it, especially when the people get really into it, and roll their r´s till kingdom come :) 

8) We went to Walmart this week! Hna Borup and I started laughing when we walked in - you might be a desperate missionary if Walmart feels like home :)  

9) I´m seriously impressed by the women´s excessive talent in breastfeeding here. Like, really. I saw someone breastfeeding while driving a motorcycle this last week. I just laughed :)

The family at Martín's baptism! 
Carlos (who was baptized one month ago) baptized his 11 year old son.
Carlos received the priesthood in church the week before ... It was amazing :)

Sorry I can´t write more! Love you all!!! Know that I am wonderful, happy, and loving my mission!!!! 

Love, Hna Lake

Monday, July 22, 2013

Week #21 - Mayonesa, body burritos, and ONE VERY AWESOME COMPANERA!

Hello all!!!  

Well, we`re off into another week in Argentina, and man is it COLD! Mom, you really weren´t exaggerating when you talked about the weather here :) Then again, that could just be us, since Hermana Borup (in the other district) parades around in a cardigan and nothing more (okay, she is wearing more, but nothing more for the cold :) It´d probably be extra chilly, and slightly mission inappropriate, if she really wore nothing but a cardigan :)  On that subject of cold (no, I´m not done complaining about it yet), I´ve developed quite a knack this last week of perfecting  ´the body burrito´. Although it sounds like a funky dance move, don´t be fooled - it consists of literally rolling your blankets around you, then hopping over to your mattress to collapse for the night. In the end, pretty much nothing shows but my nose. It´s glorious :)  

Fun facts about Argentina for the week! 

1) The kids here are obsessed with either of two different things: Violetta (the Argentina version of Hannah Montana, and no, she doesn´t have violet purple hair or anything, because that was my first thought when I heard the name) or Ben 10. The boys here LOVE Ben 10, the cartoon network show. Stickers, shirts, shoes, you name it.  

2) Mayonesa. Different word, but same nasty stuff. Again, they love Mayonnaise here! If your mind can handle this - imagine a plate of rice with nothing but a cup of mayonnaise on top. (Okay, maybe I´m being a little dramatic here, but I am not a big fan of the stuff :) 

3) Our shower broke this week! It decided to throw a temper tantrum and start melting things. The plug, specifically. We´ve downgraded from a box on the wall with water and a shower head to sponge baths. Hopefully, we get it fixed soon, because I´m not feeling entirely adventurous right now. I like my hygiene, thank you very much. 

Also, I was wanting to do a spotlight on my trainer, Hermana Miranda.  I have wanted to do this for quite some time now, but have waited because 1) I learn a new miracle story about her life almost everyday, and 2) I´m not 100% confident that I completely understand said miracle stories as explained to me in Castellano, ha ha :) However, I´ll do a little bio sketch so you can get to know the wonderful woman I spend every minute with during my time in Paraná.

My amazing, Chilean cook :) Who I happen to live with. And spend every waking moment with. Lucky me! 
Hermana Daniela Miranda

1) She almost died when she was younger, but was miraculously healed by her mother's prayer of faith

2) She is the oldest of 4 children, and has 3 younger brothers, one of whom died at birth. 

3) She has a degree in criminology and worked as a forensic scientist for the Santiago Chile police department before she left on a mission.

4) When she was about 16, her Dad´s business partner ripped them off with some shady business, and her family lost everything. They were homeless for 7 years.

5) When Hna Miranda decided she wanted to go on a mission, she didn´t have any money to do so, but was determined to do her part. She brought all her belongings to the vendor streets of Santiago, and literally sold all she owned to earn money to go on her mission.

6) Shortly before she was supposed to go to Argentina, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She didn´t have the time or money to deal with it, and asked for a blessing from her Dad. When she went in for surgery, she had again been miraculously healed.

7) Her first week in Argentina, she fell and broke her knee; however, after all she had done to get on her mission, she was determined to stay, and hobbled the cobblestone streets of Argentina on crutches for a few months until she recovered. 

8) She can cook like nobody´s business. Seriously. So good. 

9) She has a green belt in Karate and Tae Kwon Doe.

10) She can break it down and do the Meringue like nobody´s business! (further proof that I can´t dance, I´ve no idea how to spell that :)  

Basically, she´s wonderful, and an amazing example to me :) 

Brief thought for the week - I´ve been thinking about the scripture in D&C 8:2-3 that talks about receiving revelation through our mind and heart. I realized that while this is the recipe to distinguish revelation from our Father in Heaven, the revelation to both mind and heart do not always come at the same time. There are times when we´ve grown up with the knowledge in our minds our whole lives, and in a moment, experience that sensation when it truly translates to our heart, and we understand -. we understand the miracle that Christ knows us all personally, that He really suffered for us, and that He truly wants us - US - to live with Him forever. 

When we truly have the humility and pray in faith to translate things over and recognize them with our hearts, this is when we can truly learn and understand the Atonement! What a blessing :)  

I love you all!!  

Hna Lake

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week #20 .. I've said it before, and I'll say it again!

I love my area of Parana!!!

I´ll admit, it feels strangely repetitive to be emailing each week. So much happens, and yet writing each week is always consistent. It´s a blessing, and a rather strange deja vu at the same time :)

Well, as can be expected, life in Argentina is wonderfully crazy, crazily fantastic, and fantastically exhausting :) Say that ten times fast. I haven't got a whole lot of time (again with the deja vu, I swear I say that same thing every week, as well) so I´ll try to hammer out some details about the week! 

First off, welcome home to Brayden! I actually have had a letter with your name on it for about.. oh, 2 months now, ha ha :) Sorry man, but know that I love you, and am so excited to hear how things are going now that you are home! Also, Mom said Jameson passed you up in height - not entirely sure why, but that mental image is hilarious :)  I love you man! Also, shout out to my cousins, Mattie and Tanner, who received their mission calls! Stockholm and Ukraine?!?! What a crazy life we lead :) I´m so proud of you both, and am beyond excited to see what the Lord needs you to accomplish while in those parts of the world. You´re both rock stars! (And Tanner, I really am serious about the long boarding lessons and add guitar lessons to the list, while you´re at it.) And Mattie? I´ll start a food storage of pasta as soon as I come home, and we can swap pasta salad recipes when you return from Sweden - I´ve already learned some good ones from Argentina :) And Mim? I have to send a hilarious thank you to you for the birthday wishes and poems you sent to me a few weeks ago! Ha ha, you accidentally sent them to the Rosario mission, so they have been holding your dearelder letters for me in the mission home for about 3 months now! I loved it though - especially your poems! They made me laugh, and I´m composing a sonnet in return. Expect lots of bad rhymes and smiley faces in the mail sometime soon - unless your mailman gets wise and throws them away before they can hurt anyone :)  

Hermana Borup and I, Goucho style!

OKAY! Fun-facts list!  

1) This is extremely important, hence it´s first. In Spanish, ´taco´ has two distinct meanings: 1) the delicious Mexican food involving lots of love and refried beans, and... 2) High heels! I love Argentina even more for combining two of my favorite things into one word! Ha ha, even more reason to love it here :)  

2) Pencils are totally worthless here because the humidity makes the paper textured like plastic. Wooooorthless!  

3) I´ve been asked about the food. Well... The best way to describe Argentine food is to clue you in on a game they like to play at every meal, every day, every home, every where, (insert more ´every´words here). It´s called ´let´s see how many carbs we can fit onto one plate!´ What a joy, right? Basically, variations on meat, pasta, bread, potatoes, pasta, bread, potatoes and meat... And pasta... And bread. However, despite the fact that the last sentence sounded all sorts of ornery, I actually love the food here! I was born for a country that is obsessed with caramel and pasta. WAHOO! 

4) For those with a deep concern for my hair (and I´m sure that´s a fairly large number of you), here´s an update since arriving in Argentina: it´s crazy!! Completely crazy!! The humidity gets all sorts of creative with my scalp, and sometime by the end of the day, I feel like a Dr. Seuss character. Ah well, - that´s why missionaries have an extra burst of the Holy Ghost right? It makes it so people don't cringe when they look at us sisters struggling in the humidity, ha ha :)  

5) A lesson I learned about myself this last week: I am an awful liar! And I mean, awful. You may wonder what context could I possibly learn that about myself? Well, imagine this - I´m in a room full of people going to town on the Spanish train, and I can only understand about 15% of what they are saying!  I plaster on a smile and pretend to know what´s going on. Hence, the discovery (or reinforcement that I´ve always known - I´m an awful liar!! Hence, I´m not fooling anyone and some of the members give me rather weird looks.  

Alright! Sorry I don´t have any more time! Know that I love you all, love this mission and love the Lord! For parting thoughts, feel free to take a look-see at the book of Ether, in the Book of Mormon. I´ve been reading it through these last few days, and am amazed by the examples found within these pages. Through a spiritual tangent/scripture chase, reading this eventually led me to
1 Corinthians 13, which is a chapter all about charity. Can I take a page out of my Grandpa Demars' book (always a good thing to do - love you Grandma and Grandpa!) and talk about charity for a moment? This last week, I´ve realize something: in our lives, how often do we go through the motions of charity, outwardly performing actions that fit the mold of a charitable thing to do, and yet lack the true conviction of a loving heart? This is the challenge of conversion, this is one branch of the path toward becoming converted: having the courage to love, especially when no one else can see the difference or change in attitude besides yourself. It´s completely internal. However, it is the internal workings that change our character!  

At Catalina's baptism! Such a stellar girl!

Love you all!!  

Hermana Lake

Monday, July 8, 2013

Week #19 - Walking TALL In Argentina

Hello all!!  

Well, first things first:  Argentina is FANTASTIC! Beyond fantastic, and so different from what I ever expected. I am assigned to work in the area of Paran (feel free to put an accent on the last A, because I´ve no idea how to do that on this keyboard :), in 5 Esquinas with Hermana Miranda. Hna Miranda is WONDERFUL, and is very patient with me as I constantly bombard her with badly formatted questions in Spanish, and play charades with everything I do :) She is from Santiago Chile, is the oldest girl in her family of 4 children, and is undoubtedly one of the most faithful people I´ve met. We´ve only been together less than a week, and have already seen many miracles! I am so excited for our time together, and hope it lasts long.  

The AMAZING view from our pension. There´s a door in our room that opens out to the roof, and it seems to be a pathway that continues for miles! I´ve already scoped out which route I would take if I ever needed to pull a James Bond and escape from the police :)

Despite the differences in, well... everything, lets keep things consistent and at least start out with a list of fun facts, eh? :)  

1) The shower in our pension is nothing more than a box on the wall with an outlet to plug in and heat the water. The shower itself is pretty fun, and an adventure every morning -- especially since it was made for someone much shorter than I am and I practically have to do aerobics to fit my head under the faucet.  

2) ALFAJORES! Imagine the Tim Tam cookies (family and roommates, you know what I´m talking about here :), then triple the layers and add dulce de leche. Folks, I´m in heaven!  

3) I´ve decided that Argentina and I are destined to be friends. The most popular things here are pasta and caramel. VOILA, dream come true :)  

4) Here, you never knock on doors, but clap outside their homes. I felt super strange when I did it the first few times, but now I´ve mentally turned it into a game of sorts, and tried to clap out some rhythms. So far, I´ve done a few veggie tales songs, and some country songs. No one else understands mu clapping tunes though, so it just adds to my appearance as a crazy American when I clap out some rhythm and start laughing at my own joke. Sigh. Ah well, people already think I´m nuts, why not add to the fun! :)  

5) Record of people I´ve seen crammed onto one motorcycle: 5 -3 of whom were adults. That´s talent right there, folks. 

6) My nickname in the ward here? Hna Barbie. I still haven´t figured out how I feel about having being nicknamed after a plastic icon, but ah well. Honestly, being so tall has almost become a distraction here! No matter whether they´re Hispanic or not, multiple times in a lesson, we´ll be talking with them when all of a sudden they blurt out questions about whether I play basketball or not. Good thing missionaries don't wear heels, eh? Id probably give the members a heart attack, ha ha :)  

7) In efforts to remember Spanish, I´ve started a little game with myself. When I need to remember or distinguish multiple words, I´ll put them all into a storyline! Here´s two I´ve thought of so far: 

Ayer, el cielo lloró, y lluiva llegó, y llenó una botella que llevó, se llamó llanara

(yesterday, the sky cried, rain arrived, and filled a bottle I carried named llanara) 

Hay una caballo quiene tiene cabello alla en la capilla (there is a horse who has hair over there in the chapel)  

Pretty good eh? I´ve also expanded my talents to a couple songs: 

(sung to the tune of the Dora theme song)

Come on, Vaminos! 

Enseñe la gente

Sobre Jesucriso

Porque nos ama!  

I´ve also learned how to sing the Bob the Builder theme song in Spanish. Stay tuned for my next CD, containing all sorts of children's theme songs :)  

MOM! Since being here, I´ve totally noticed things that I´m sure you picked up on your mission here! For example, that little ch sound you make to get people's attention? (Justin Bennett calls it mom's sprinkler) I was all excited about the first few times I heard people on the street doing there, until I figured the meaning is similar to a cat call on the street. Not so exciting after that, but it still made me laugh and think of you every time I heard it :) Also, the bread is TOTALLY as amazing as you said. I wish I could bring home a food supply for the rest of my life. Though that would probably have unfortunate consequences on my thighs. Maybe not :)  

Phew! Well folks, my fingers are going to fall off here. Moral of the story is, I love Argentina :) I am healthy (for now :), have a constant headache from trying to figure out Spanish, and have never walked so far in my life. And I love it :) There is nothing greater in the world than the Lord's work! Since I have been on my mission, I have gained such a testimony of the power we give or take away from our selves in the form of our attitudes. When we have a positive attitude and outlook, everything is fun, everything is less intimidated, and everything is possible :)
My adventure of washing clothes by hand for the first time! Feel free to hold a washer appreciation day in honor of this picture. At least go give your washer and dryer a little love squeeze :) Not nearly as effective :) It´s a good thing I´m not a Mom living in Argentina, or all my kids would be dirty little heathens, running around in muddy clothes since I´m fairly awful at washing them by hand!
I love you all! If anyone has specific questions about Argentina, send it my way, and I´ll do my best to answer in the next email :) Now, go pray for the faith to do something impossible! That´s exactly what we do as missionaries, and better yet, we have fun while doing it :)  


Hna Lake

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Week #18 - The time has arrived!

I would try to be all sneaky and coy, and add a little blurb about my visa, but I'm pretty sure most everyone knows and it would be rather anticlimactic :) Here's the latest:

(scene: Thursday night, Hna Lake was in Winchester on exchanges with Sis McKinney while Hna Smith was in Manchester with Sis Tenny.  Hna Lake/Sis McKinney had 4 different missed calls from Manchester, and they finally got ahold of each other around 9pm that night)  

Smith: Hna Lake. President called, and you totally got your visa!
Lake: Ha ha, hilarious!
Smith: No, really. I promise! I wouldn't kid about something like this!
Lake: Wait, really? How serious are you being?
Smith: Serious.
Lake: Swear on a Dr. Pepper that you're not teasing me! (Dr. Pepper happens to be Hna Smith's favorite drink -- ever!! :)
Smith: I swear on a Dr. Pepper that I'm not kidding at all!
Lake: Okay, swear on a Dr. Pepper and a Sundrop that you're not kidding. (Sundrop is another favorite, and I'm pretty sure they only sell it in the south. Personally, every time I see it, I can hear my Grandpa Demars voice in my mind saying "hm, looks like radioactive cat urine" :) Pretty accurate!)
Smith: I Swear!!
Lake: Wait, are we talking cherry Sundrop or a normal one?
Smith: Hmm, probably a cherry.
Lake: Whoa. You are serious.  

We also found out, I'm the only sister that got her visa this transfer - Elders Hill and Lindeman got theirs as well, which I'm super excited about! Both are Elders who are going to my mission in Rosario, and were my traveling buddies when we were reassigned to TN. Basically, I'm grateful to know someone else who going with me across the world - it'll be an adventure for sure! From what I know, there will be 4 of us heading out today - Elder Hill, Elder Lindeman, Elder Carlson (Buenos Aires North missionary who was serving in Winchester), and me! :) Super excited!  

Before I get too carried away, I got to tell you about all the AWESOME stuff that's happened this week! Since I don't have a whole lot of time, we're going to revert to my favorite trick ever - a list of fun facts for the week :)  

1) The exchange in Winchester was super fun, and it was good to see another approach to missionary work, especially considering the timing of everything. One thing I learned about Winchester - the approach to missionary work isn't the only thing that's different, there's also a different variety of road kill there. Bit more of the amphibian sort laying on the asphalt in those parts, frogs and lizards and all that joy. Delicious.  

2) For those who may have a desire to eat delicious chocolate covered coconut granola bars in their lifetime, I'm here with good news!! Sunbelt Factory (at least I think that's what the brand is - all I could think of, was that it was the same brand of granola that Jill Demars really likes. So... ask her :) has some good ones! Heaven. Covered with chocolate.  

3) Quote from the zone meeting on Friday came from Jackie, a Pentecostal preacher for 30 years who was recently baptized into the LDS church. President McKee asked her to share a few thoughts during the meeting, and it was so eye opening to hear from her. One particular point that stood out to me was, "God protect us from timid missionaries". She shared her story about how bold and persistent her missionaries were, and what a difference that made. If that's not motivating to pray for those 20 seconds of insane courage to be bold, then... I don't know what. You weren't listening or something. Shame.

4) Good way to end the last week- Joe and Alysa were baptized on Saturday! It was quite a journey to have the baptism happen, since Satan's been throwing every obstacle in their path to try and stop them! You know an investigator has potential when Satan has to resort to marriage licenses and hospitalized fathers to try and stop the baptism - good news is, it didn't work! They looked wonderful, and it was an amazing meeting :) 

5) Yesterday was another strange Southern weather kind of day - it was so hot (probably about the 90's), that when one of the "5 min thunderstorms" rolled in that TN is s fond of, steam was rising from the pavement from the rain hitting the hot surfaces. It looked pretty sweet, and I felt like I was walking onto Celine Dion concert stage or something. I wish. I checked, but didn't see any Celine Dion's in sight. Phooey.
Welcome to the Bible belt! Here, we see a native Tennessee crazy in his natural habitat, dressed all in white and carrying a giant wooden cross around town. Not entirely sure what the purpose was, but that determined man was marching around outside with for a few hours. Then again, who am I to be confused about spending time walking around for hours in support of Christ? :)

Clearly, it's been a wonderful week :) All is well, and I'm excited for this new adventure! Stay tuned - next you hear from me, I'm sure I'll be hopelessly jet-lagged, and getting hit by a train of Spanish :) Wahoo!  

Love you all!!  

Hna Lake