Monday, August 26, 2013

Week #26 Hillary made a "Flat Stanley" appearance in Spokane for the day!

Sorry folks, but I consumed all of my time sending love letters to my family, and looking over all the beautiful pictures of my sister's wedding this past week!! 

In other news, Eden and Brian got hitched!!  

Also, I have the studliest family ever, and now have photo evidence to prove so :)  
Eden and Brian are married!

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Know that I am doing so AWESOME, and am totally motivated to go preach the miracle of eternal families to anyone within 20 feet. Consider that a warning to the bearded man sitting next to me - he's about to hear some gospel goodness :) 

Love you all!!  

Hna Lake

Monday, August 19, 2013

Week #25 - My mother cooks with eyeballs and horses!

Hey folks!  

Man, the weather is starting to warm up here in Argentina, and I am Loving it! (fries with that? As a side note, the people here love McDonald's. Still haven't really figured out why) Lets start out with a few memorable moments of the week, shaaaaalllll we?  

1) Okay. This is probably one of my favorite language blunders that have happened, yet, ha ha :) I was trying to tell Hna Miranda that my Mom always cooks with with ajo y cebollas - garlic and onions. However, I switched around the words and said that my Mom always cooks with ojas y cabellos - eyeballs and horses, ha ha :) I figured out what I had said as soon as I said it, and seriously got a side ache from laughing so hard! 

2) This week, we went into a store to ask the price for a table and bookshelves. When we were leaving, the man gave us all his business card, which is conveniently printed on the back of bookmarks. He gave all the other Hnas a nice bookmark with Christ on it, and then grinned and handed me one with a blonde little girl and some cheesy saying, telling me that it was a picture of me as a child, ha ha :) I put it in my journal.  

3) HA! Another funny language moment - we were on the bus, and I started talking to some cute little 11 year olds. I asked where they were heading to, and I thought they said ¨semenario ¨. I thought it was a Bible school or something and said ¨whoa! How fun! That´s awesome!¨ It wasn't until later that I noticed Hna Negro was making a really funny face, and actually had tears coming out of her eyes. I asked her what was up, and she barely managed to breathe enough to tell me that the girls hadn't said ¨semenario¨, they had said ¨cemetario¨- the cemetery. That explained why they looked so confused when I was so excited about them going to a cemetery, and why Hna Negro was crying from trying so hard to stop crying.  

These trees are HILARIOUS! First off, they are totally covered in little spikes. All the greenish bark is covered in little hard spikes, that make this tree very unlovable. Basically, remember the book ¨The giving Tree´ with the cute picture of the kid hugging the oak tree? That would never happen with this tree. Its very unhuggable. I tried. 
The whole group at the stake activity! The dogs kind of photo-bombed the picture, but I deemed it a rather fitting portrayal of Argentina. Pretty sure there are so many dogs here, its fairly impossible to NOT have a dog in the background. Maté and Dogs. Yep, Argentina :) 
Santiago's baptism! His family has been inactive for years, but they have slowly be re-recognizing the joy that this gospel has to offer their family. So, reactivation is on its way! First step - baptizing their cute little son, Santiago. It went great! (especially because the members love any excuse for a fiesta, and always bring loads of food to the baptisms, ha ha :) Immense amounts of dulce de leche and pan. Its jolly!)

Couple fun facts about Argentina!  

1) Here, there are cars that drive around selling cosas. They announce what they are selling with Giant speakers that blast really impossible to understand Spanish, ha ha :) These cars drive around all day, selling their things to people who here the speaker advertisements and come out of their houses. They sell everything from eggs, to clothes, to giant chunks of meat. The best part is, the voice is EXACTLY the same for every recording, so matter what they are selling. Its pretty hilarious :)  

2) People here listen to tons of music from America. There are singers from Argentina as well, but they love some good Hip Hop or Alternative American music. This last week, I sang the song ¨singing in the rain¨ with a random man in the park who happened to have a guitar. He started serenading us with a beautiful song about an Argentina fisherman, and then asked what American songs I knew. We had a fun little jam session, this toothless Argentine cowboy and me :)  

Clearly, its been an awesome week :) Also, WELCOME HOME to Mason, Grandma and Grandpa!!! So happy that you all made it back from your missions safely, and I'm super proud of you all!! Love you! :)  

This week, I've been thinking especially about the blessings of family, especially since there are so many wonderful blessings going down in my family right now :) May we always remember and treasure the things that are eternal and lasting in our lives. All else will fade :) 

Love you all! Also, for those that are eagerly awaiting an update on our shower status (I'm sure that is all of you, right? :), we are still shower-less, and rocking the buckets. On the plus side, I've gotten rather creative with my hygiene lately, ha ha :) I would tell you all to think of me the next time you took a hot shower, but then I realized how strange that sounds. Soo... clearly, I said it anyway :)  

Have an AWESOME week! Love you all!!  

Hna Lake 

P.S. Especially sending my love to Eden and Brian - I am SO excited for your wedding this weekend! Know that I love you both, and am thinking of you!! 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Week #24 Endure to the end ... it's not just a thought, it's a commandment!

Hey ya fam!

Well, this week was total nuts. Like, really. For starters, remember that trip in Rosario that I told you all about for my Tramites, or visa to stay in Argentina? Well, we were in the immigration building (waiting along with 200 other people who all decided to do the same thing that day. Shucks. On the plus side, I learned that there is an abnormally high amount of Chinese people in Argentina. Still haven't figured out why, since they don't speak English or Spanish that well :) I just laughed, and realized that`s probably how people feel talking to me! :). While we were waiting, suddenly the whole building started shaking, and the windows all rattled so much, I thought they were going to explode. Tons of people ran outside to see what was going on, and we saw a huge cloud of smoke - long story short, someone was working on a gas line in an apartment building, something went wrong, and there was a massive explosion. It all went down about 2 blocks away from us, and they made us evacuate the building. Sooooo, another road trip to Rosario in another week or so to finish up! :) Overall, it was really sad - last I heard, there were about 9 people who died. What a blessing that we were all protected! With the number of missionaries that were in that building, I´m sure there were all sorts of guardian angels staying busy! 

As always, short on time, so resort to lists! :) Fun facts of the week/Argentina!  

1) I tried some Argentina pizza this week - we`ve got two different varieties here. Pizza with cheese and hard boiled eggs on top, or pizza with cheese and slices of ham on top (imagine lunch meat slices). Surprisingly, its actually pretty good. Or maybe I'm just hungry. Probably both :)  

2) People here rarely wear helmets with their crazy motos, and whenever they do, they never actually wear the helmet ON their head. Rather, they perch it on top of their head, like a baseball cap. The first time I saw it, I just laughed and thought the person was nuts. Then the smile faded once I realized that literally about 95% of the people who actually wear helmets wear them this way. I really have no idea why, but its still hilarious every time I see it :) 

3) They put green olives inside and on everything. Super yummy, and way okay with me :)  

4) Seat belts. Never. I've been here a whole transfer now, and have yet to actually wear a seat belt. Not because I haven't tried - some cars don't even have them!  

5) Toilet paper/napkins. They´re the same thing round here :) Sometimes, even restaurants will plop a roll of toilet paper on your table for napkins. Totally socially acceptable here.  

6) I've started giving piano lessons! As always, its an adventure to try and communicate, but still a blast!  

7) This week, while we were teaching Hna Sosa, this pigeon popped into the window and started chilling in the lesson with us. We shooed it out, but he kept coming back in! We finally decided the Holy Ghost was making itself manifest as a pigeon, and kept teaching. Stay tuned on the first pigeon baptized in history :)  

8) EMPANADAS! I finally tried legit Argentina empanadas this week, and almost died of delight. Not really, but I seriously love them! Never fear - got the recipe, and will attempt to make them when I get home :)  

Overall, its been a good week! Adventurous, as always :) I've also been thinking a lot this past week about the phrase "perserverar until the end". Truthfully, this is so difficult sometimes, especially when there is often not an end in sight, and it takes so much energy to persevere! It is similar to keeping a muscle flexed, all the time. You can never relax, never give up, because that is when you start to slip. This can be ridiculously exhausting sometimes, but think of it this way - you'll end up being a seriously buff powerhouse by the time you`re done :) This is the trick to any trial - keeping a goal in mind, and always working towards that goal. Once you specifically define what it is you want to accomplish during this time of trial, you will suddenly find the situation transformed from a trial to a time of growth. Try it out - promise, it works :) 
The beautiful waterfall in Arroyo Seco! I loved the day with my Hermanas, and with the water - we had a good ole time, all of us :)

Love you all super much!! Tons of hugs and welcome homes to Mason, Grandma and Grandpa, all of whom will be returning from their missions this week! Also, loves to Eden and Brian for this wedding coming up this next week, and know I am thinking of you! Love you all - XOXO!  

Hna Lake

Monday, August 5, 2013

Week #23 - Hermanas and the Traveling Plans... and a few haters.

Dear All,

Good morning! Well, it's morning here in Arroyo Seco at least! For those who don't recognize the name Arroyo Seco (which should be everyone) that's because its not my area! We have been traveling TONS this last week (hence the email subject). Lets have a summary, shaaaaaall we?  

Thursday - Hna Lake left to Rosario, on a 2 hours trip in collectivo, to meet up with Hna Ahlmann, the coordinating sister there. (side note - this walk was especially hilarious because we happened to be doing service at the time, walking our neighbor's dog,, Hacinto. That dog is a massive black Labrador, and totally ancient, :) Despite his age, however, he happens to be EXCEEDINGLY curious, and poor Hna Miranda had her arm practically yanked off from having to drag him back on the sidewalk so many times -- the dog was madly determined to smell and pee on everything within a one mile radius. Many times, Id be trucking along, dragging my suitcase behind me (add that to this already hilarious mental image) and turn around to see Hna Mirand being dragged off somewhere, ha ha :) We made quite a sight :)  Her companion (Hna Arrogón) went to Paranà in exchange. We then took another hour collectivo bus to Funes, and worked there for about 24 hours. It was SO wonderful! Miracles beyond miracles - I was able to see yet another wonderful missionary, and learned SO much more about the missionary I want to be someday. She is direct and to the point, sunshiny, and such a joy to be around - I love Hna Ahlmann! While we were there, we walked a TON, contacted tons of referrals, and taught a couple of powerful lessons, including one with Boris. Boris has been taking English classes from the Hnas in Funes, and has been atheist his entire life. However, Thursday night, he confessed that he has been reading the Book of Mormon, and feels such joy each time, and expressed a childlike desire to believe in God. We challenged him to baptism, and he accepted! Another miraculous soul being saved, going down on August 30th. What a privilege to meet him!  
Hacinto the Dog!
Friday - Hna Lake traveled back to Paraná and was super happy to see her Chilean Mom once more :) I will always love Hna Miranda!
Sunday - Once again, right after Sacrament meeting ended (it's the third hour class here - Relief Society first, Sunday School, then Sacrament - in addition to saving best for last, I think it is also an effort to address the super lax view on time people have here, ha ha :) we booked it to the terminal once more, and boarded to head off to Rosario! After another long bus ride, we hopped on ANOTHER collectivo to head to Arroyo Seco, where Hna Miranda has a doctor's appointment today. We've been here for about 24hours now, and will be heading to the mission home tonight (another bus ride - seeing a pattern?) for some visa goodness, then heading back to our homeland of Parnanà on Tuesday. SO much traveling this week, but I'm loving it :) (can I have fries with that?)  

All in all, a week of plentiful traveling, without much to look at. Sadly, Argentina isn't all that pretty between cities, unless you've got a penchant for dirt or trash :) HOWEVER, the river was insanely high, and I'm not entirely certain why. I've asked a few members/people about it, and they always say something about Brazil... I think it has been raining there, and Paranà is connected to the Amazon. Although, one guy blamed the Pope. No idea why. 
Thanks to the Pope, the river is running high!

Also, to elaborate on the OTHER common factor of this week - I've got some hard core hater stories, ha ha :)  

1) We were walking in the street, and I started talking to this lady. She did the drill, asking where we were from and all that jazz, and then spouted off some question I didn't understand. She tried again - I didn't understand --Nope! Sparked nothing. So, I looked to my companion for help, and she answered whatever it was this lady asked. The lady then looked between my comp and I, laughed, and jabbered off about something. Later, after we had left, I was mulling over what she had said, trying to decipher it, and suddenly something sparked (better late than never, right? :) I started laughing, and Hna Miranda asked me what was so funny. I responded "Hna, I just realized what that lady said. She totally called me stupid, didn't she?" Hna Miranda just smiled and kept walking :) Basically, the lady had said something like Öh, I see. She (Hna M) is the smart one here, and you are just the stupid companion".  It was pretty hilarious :)

2) We were in the supermarket, just walking the isles, doing our shopping thing. This little old lady ahead of us, suddenly turned around and stared at me. And I mean STARED. To add to the hilarity, she is ridiculously short, and has something wrong with one eye, so she squints her right eye something fierce. She looked me up and down, and started to shriek "Sali! Sali de aca! Sali!"or basically "get out of here! shoo!"I was seriously confused, and Hna M said "pardon"? This old lady then started to go off about how I was way too tall and made her feel short, and tried to shoo me out of the supermarket, :) Seriously, this lady seemed like she was trying to cast out an evil spirit or something. The best ending to that story is, we talked it off, got her address, and have an appointment to visit her this week, :) 

3) When we arrived in Rosario (the second time), we were in the bus terminal, waiting for (yet another) collectivo. While we were chilling there, this old homeless man comes marching up, gestures at my B of M and starts jabbering off about something. I didn't understand what he was saying, and just smiled obliviously at him :) He got even more aggravated, and started looking at Hna Miranda, who was totally calm (because she recognized this guy was nuts) and said "she cant understand you". The man looked back at me, and started demanding that I recite some scripture from the Bible from memory. Again, I just looked at him, and he got ticked and started calling me all sorts of names, and told me to get out of Argentina, and marched away. Again, I just looked at Hna Miranda, and laughed. That guy was totally bonkers. 

Basically, its been quite a week! All sorts of crazy (and crazies), and uncomfortable bus seats. But alas! All is well here :) I am loving it, and loving the opportunity to meet other sisters in the mission. What a special bunch of Hermanas are called here! Truly, I love them, and love learning the fun little things about each one. I love being a missionary! 
With that note, signing off for the week! Always remember to keep your chin up - there will ALWAYS be trials in life, because that's part of life. There will always be bad days, and sometimes, there will be bad months or bad years. What's truly important is choosing to remember the good times amongst the trials. I truly believe that what you look for, you will always find! Always :) That's how our Savior lived - He who suffered the most - and look at what He accomplished? With God and a good attitude, nothing is impossible :)  
Psych, we're back on the computers for the next little bit, :) 
Hm, what else is new? I really am loving Paraná - truly, I am. I do get a little frustrated occasionally, because the members or people don't think I can understand anything they say, and consequently don't really want to talk to me. They always turn to Hna Miranda, and I get a little lost. However, I am so grateful for a comp that calls them out on it - in a lesson the other day, even when I would respond or say things in the lesson to try and prove that I could speak and understand at least a little, Zulma wouldn't really even include me in the conversation or lesson. Finally, Hna Miranda said "why don't you ask Hna Lake? She understands what you're saying ". I appreciated it. Anyway, language is coming along well, and I am working very hard to learn it! I have decided that I want to literally do ALL I possibly can to work on this language, so that I can confidently hold the Lord to His promise to bless me with the gift of tongues. Consequently, I have tried to speak Spanish at all times, have a goal to learn 5 new words every day, and to speak Spanish always, especially with other North American missionaries (they always congregate in activities or meetings, and speak nothing but English. It makes quite a barrier with the South American missionaries, and it is just rude). Because of this and my efforts to really push through, I have seen so much progress in the language! I'm convinced one of the greatest blessings of my mission thus far is an improved memory, ha ha! The Lord has helped me to remember the things I study, and brings them to mind when I'm searching for a word. It is quite wonderful.
The arriving missionaries and their trainers.
Besides that, I am learning, loving, and working through my mission. I have really loved getting to meet and know the other sister missionaries this past week. They really are so special! Perhaps it is because I relate to them more, but I have such a soft spot in my heart for the other sister missionaries. I love the investigators and members, but I would do anything for the Hermanas. I have spent this last week with Hna Ahlmann, Hna Acho and Hna Smith, all of whom are different people with different problems, but the same beautiful spirit. Hna Ahlmann actually really helped me define more of who I wanted to become as a missionary - I've always glimpsed perhaps one or two different characteristics in another missionary or companion that I wanted to emulate, but I've never met a missionary that I really wanted to be exactly like. Quickly after arriving in Rosario and meeting Hna Ahlmann, I realized that our personalities were so similar, that she helped provide me with a stencil, and an outline, of who I wanted to someday be. I always think of something you wrote in your mission journal mom, that said "I am still trying to define who Hna Demars is ", because that is often how I feel. I have seen glimpses of characteristics I want, but never a whole picture. Anyway, Hna Ahlmann helped provide that picture for me, with her sunshiny attitude, quick love, bold lessons, super impressive speed walking abilities (ha ha) and love for family and fellow man. Really, it was wonderful to be with her for a day, and we became fast friends. Sadly, she is going home at the end of this transfer (one week! So nuts!), but promised to update me on how she is doing. Who knows? Someday, I might take another road trip to CA to visit her :)
I've also been talking with Hna Smith quite a bit. She's a quiet Hna, who I have known since the MTC. We were also on the same flight coming to Argentina, and I loved her immediately. I remember smiling as I watched her amongst the hubbub when we arrived in the mission home. All the other missionaries were talking, laughing and being all sorts of active, while she quietly slipped into the kitchen and helped the cooks and Hna Giuliana prepare the food. I followed her in, and we made a yummy banana bread together :) She really is something. While I've been with her lately, it has been a game of finding a topic that she'll get excited and want to talk about - today's victory was Broadway musicals! We geeked out over Les Mis, Wicked and Lion King together. She is quick to serve, quietly doing her part. Truly, a wonderful girl!
I had a drunk old man propose to me the other day. We were going to an appointment and stopped to talk to him on the street (former investigator). As we were leaving, he grabbed me, kissed me on the cheek, and slurred something about calling me when his wife dies and he is a widower :) It is always an adventure here! People love the fact that I am tall, and always say 3 things:
1) Que alta! (literally, almost every time that we greet someone. No importa that I've been in the same ward with the same people this whole time, and its not like I'm growing or anything. Every time the sisters greet us and kiss us on the cheek, they always laugh nervously and say "que alta!")
2) Do you play basketball?
3) Are you a model?

Literally, those exact 3 questions, in that exact order, about 23 times a day. At least I've gotten good at recognizing those words, ha ha :) I always get a laugh out of the American elders though - they have all sorts of complexes when they are shorter than me. It is pretty comical :)
I SUPER love you!
Hna Lake