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

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