Monday, November 25, 2013

Week #39 - Happy Turkey Day to all!

Hello, all you turkeys, you!!!  :) (to be said in the voice of Aunt Heidi ha ha :)  

So, want to know something pathetic? I totally forgot about Thanksgiving until the Hna Assistants sent out a text that said, "Happy Thanksgiving to all of us!" I was 1) really confused by the English text, and 2) really surprised that Thanksgiving had reared its glutinous head already :) ( I probably totally butchered glutinous, but I'm short on spell check since this computer is programmed for Spanish, and therefore tells me that everything is wrong,  no matter which word I write! haha :) Hope you all stuff yourselves silly, and there is Mexican food involved. Thanksgiving just isn't thanksgiving without some good 7 layer bean dip or enchiladas :) (Mom, I know you´ll side with me on that one :)  

Here in Argentina land, things are going good, and getting HOT. Okay, even I am getting a little sick of hearing myself say each week how hot it is, but really. I don't even know what to do with myself in the nighttime when we really only have 2 options: 1) close the door to avoid letting the bugs in and thereby roast to death, or 2) open the door to allow a little wind through and doom ourselves to becoming a Thanksgiving feast for all the mosquitoes. It's a fun little adventure, and I've yet to figure out the best compromise. For the time being, we just bathe in bug spray before we go to bed, bake in the heat, and STILL get eaten by all the bugs. What a deal, ha-ha :) Ah well. A mission is worth it :)  

Fun highlight of this last week - we had a conference of JUST the hermanas in the mission! AH, it was so amazing :) It was a total blast to see all the hermanas, and we got SPOILED with an awesome lunch, brilliant lectures, and just... it was fun to talk to girls, ha ha :) Really!!  Sometimes, it gets a little old being around elders all the time and feeling like us girls are nothing more than sin on two legs. However, the conference was awesome - pictures included!

Couple fun facts and/or funny stories of the week: 

1) I had to search for about 2 minutes to find the little slash (/) for that previous line of and/or 

2) While at the conference, I looked down to realize that I had somehow managed to rip my skirt straight up the slit - and pretty dang high up there, too. My first thought was a movie quote, from the movie that I cant actually remember the title -Stewarts help me out here - "Ah! What are you doing?¨ It stops the suit from riding up¨ Up, WHERE?¨ ¨Just.. up!¨ ..... I'm having second thoughts if I should even include that movie quote since it seems a little risque for a sister missionary.. I'm just going to move on. Summary, of the story is: my skirt ripped, and I ended up holding the slit together with several safety pins I collected from the cute little bows on the presents given to us by Hna Giuliani.  Needless to say... I baby-stepped it all the way to the bus terminal.  
The office elders serving as our waiters for the conference luncheon. 
Note the BIG paper bowties :) When they marched in all military style, the music from the
waiter-penguin scene in Mary Poppins came to mind, haha :)

Hna Goodrich and I - again, she's splendid!!

To explain the paper bag wedding dress...
For the conference, the hermanas divided into 4 different teams and each team chose a model for whom to make a princess dress with only the materials that we had. Not sure if it's purely discimination since I'm tall and blonde, and everyone here calls me "Barbie", but I was picked to be the paper bad princess, haha :) It was a total blast!

3) This week, we were walking through the streets when Hna Condori suddenly said ´No estoy cansada - Mi freaking CUERPO esta cansado!¨ It was pretty funny, because the only words that she managed to said in English was "freaking." Okay, it's probably not funny to anyone besides me, but I laughed :)  

4) A menos activo familia made us TACOS this past week! I have never missed Chalula so much in my life. Seriously.  

5) I taught Hna Condori this past week that "Estados Unidos" isn't actually the name of my country - it is actually the United States. Totally blew her mind, haha. 

6) We were walking through a park, when I saw a jolly looking man sitting on a bench.  I remember thinking, ´Wow! He looks like Santa Claus!´ No, but really! Big guy with a big white beard, and glasses. However, as soon as we made eye contact, he opened his mouth, and yelled at me ´DIOS NO EXISTE!¨or, God doesn't exist!"  I had hoped for something a little more jolly from Santa. Ha ha ... anyways, that was my first encounter with an atheist Santa Claus :) I just laughed and said, "Well, I believe that He does exist!" And we kept walking.  

To completely change subjects, I want to share something that I've been learning. During my mission, I have been learning a lot about how to actually deal with stress. I realized during my mission that I am TERRIBLE at this; not because deal badly with stress, but because I don't deal with it at all. :) I automatically opt for the ´blissfully ignorant´ option and continue, thinking that if I ignore it long enough and force myself to cheerfully continue along, that maybe it´ll just go away. Well, Folks, I'm here to tell you that this doesn't work. It's probably old news to all of you; however, I've been learning more about how Christ, Himself, dealt with trials. Yes, it is important to continue cheerfully, but MORE important is to learn how to grow from the trails that God gives us and we will never grow if we chose to simply ignore the problem in front of us. I shared this little insight with Carissa before, and she sent me a poem that I loved, by Pres Packer: 

If you can smile when things go wrong and say it doesn't matter,
If you can laugh off cares and woes, and troubles make you fatter,
If you can keep a cheerful face when all around are blue,
Then have your head examined, brother,
There's something wrong with you.
For one thing I've arrived at--There's no ands and buts
A guy that's grinning all the time must be completely nuts.

Love it :) It seems befitting this Thanksgiving Season to have the ´troubles make you fatter line´, ha ha :)  

Love you all! I love my mission, love my life, and love you. Have a good day! 

Hna Lake

Monday, November 18, 2013

Week #38 - Dead bugs and food poisoning!

Hey fam!!  

Sorry I was an 11 on the scale of 1 to loser last week, and didn't get around to writing a broad letter out. Sorry, be assured I've already repented, and will write an EXTRA good letter this week to make up for it :) I've just gotten into the habit of printing out my emails, because I really don't have time to do anything anymore it feels like :)  Anyway, this week has been AWESOME! Slightly crazy, really hot, full of bugs, and... overall, shnazzily wonderful :) Fun facts? I think so!!

I absolutely LOVE the Argentine sky!!!
So many times while on my mission when we have been working our tails off, I look up and marvel at the beauty of the sky above, smile, and get back to work. There are few things that can pick me up faster than a good sunrise :) I love it.
I strangely have a craving to eat cereal when I see a good sunset...

Flabbergasted at the complete lack of people in the street during the siesta when the whole city shuts down from about 2 to 5 and everyone goes home to sleep, drink mate, or... sleep while drinking mate - no really - I`ll bet they could do it!  

1) The mosquitoes have started to rear their tiny little horrible heads. Since the heat flared about a week and a half ago, they have invaded our pension in the night like nobody´s business. There was one night that we accidentally forgot to close our `screen door` (quotation marks, because it's not actually attached to the house, it's just a square of metal with mesh on it that we prop against the door) and, ooooh man!! I felt like I was in the Argentine version of Jurassic Park! 

The best part is? The little black bugs called mosques - they get into your house, swarm around the lights like little maniacs, then promptly drop dead about 20 minutes later after they've electrocuted themselves. Rather sensitive little creatures. Basically, the first thing I do in the morning is to sweep up the huge pile of dead bugs from the night before. It's jolly :) 

2) Ah, food poisoning. No clue what exactly I ate - we think some empanadas that weren't cooked right - but I was MISERABLE for a few days this past week. I felt so weak, nauseated, and was in a world of.. well, really, nothing, haha :) It took too much energy to talk, so I just laid there for a few hours, like a lump of lazy. Eventually, after a few hours and a whole lot of pepto bismal, I was back to normal. Still, an adventure :)  

Another cool fact of the week - though a little long to put in only one number, okay, all my fun facts are a little long - was that we had an awesome activity this last week. All the missionaries in our stake invited  ONLY investigators to a discussion and dinner that we were having. All together, almost 40 INVESTIGATORS came to the activity! For our area, that is a HUGE miracle. The best part? During the discussions, the investigators started to say things that they had learned, to bear their sweet testimonies, or to ask questions. I was AMAZED to see how they all got involved, and I just sat in the back and marveled. IT was a good day :)  Funny part of the activity? Two of the teenage boys - brothers - decided that I was the hottest things since nacho cheese (did I really just compare myself to nacho cheese? I feel like I need to go repent or something after that one), and began following me around during the dinner. I got so sick of it that I put the two of them to work. When they would follow me around, I would turn around and fill their arms up with a load of dirty dishes and send them off to the kitchen. They kept coming back, so I kept loading them up with more dishes, haha :) I think they finally learned their lesson though, and stopped following me around after the 4th or 5th load. On the plus side, we got cleaned up pretty fast, haha :) 

Funny little language blunder of the week - and oh man, is it a good one!!! Here in Argentina, I think I've mentioned this already, but they have SUCH a different vocabulary here than any other country. Really, `Castellano`is a quite different from Spanish at times. One such difference is the word `remera`which here, instead of camista or pollera, means shirt or Tshirt. The other day, I was trying to compliment Hna Ruiz, and told her `I like your ramera`... imagine my surprise when she doubled over laughing. I finally figured out what I had said. There is a SLIGHT difference between remera (t shirt) and ramera (whore). Haha, I got a good giggle out of that one :)  

This week, I think the Lord has been teaching me an awful lot about the simplicity of the gospel. It is incredible to see a small 11 yr old investigator bear her testimony, and nearly bring an entire room to tears. So simple, and such faith. I truly am grateful that the Lord works with the simple and the weak, because that's exactly how I feel much of the time :)  

I love you all!! Have an amazing week, don't get sunburned (or wait - its snowing for you all. Dang it.), and always appreciate the small and simple of your lives. Those are the best things anyway :)  

Love, LOVE! (and lots of it)

Hna Lake

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Week #36 - Argentine Ice Cream = HEAVEN!!

Good morning everyone!!  

For starters, you will all be happy to know that I am writing this email FIRST, so that I can actually get a good email off for the first time in... three weeks or something. Yeah, sorry about that. After reading and seriously giggling at my cousin, Sister Stewart's letters, I am forcing myself to sit down and actually write a good letter, ha ha :)  

Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JAYLEE AND ANDREW!!! Also, happy early birthday to Eden! Congratulations to Jameson, Andrew, and their vocal group for winning a spot to open for Vocal Point!!! I'm a little in shock right now. THAT'S AMAZING!!! Seriously, why is my family so cool. Ni idea.
Our week was AWESOME! Okay, really, every week for a missionary is awesome. And hard. But mostly awesome :) Lets go back to the basics and start off with a list of fun facts, shaaaaaall we? 

1) Halloween!! We celebrated by buying some yummy ice cream from Grido, the food of the missionaries :) Seriously, its dang cheap ice cream, and since missionaries can't really do anything too extravagant to celebrate anything... we buy ice cream! I got cream of almendra, (almond) and it was ridiculously, amazingly good. Like, really! 

2) This week, we were lying in bed, half asleep - well, I was half asleep at least. I don't really know what Hna Nunja was thinking because all of a sudden, she starts singing the following song under her breath: 

Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe? 

I seriously started busting up laughing, which I learned is slightly dangerous to do when you are lying down as I have a slight tendency to do `a knee jerk` when I start laughing really hard and nearly pegged myself in the face. This is really rather serious when you have legs as long as mine, ha ha. It was seriously hilarious, and I'm still giggling just writing about it :) 

3) Flood! So much flooding! Seriously, there was a HUGE rainstorm here about 3 days ago, and when the thunder boomed it set off all the car alarms in the street by our apartment. It was raining straight for about 14 hours, and flooded all our apartment. I feel like kind of a whiner writing about that since I just finished reading Hna Shaleah Anderson's email, ha ha :) For those who don't know her, she is one of my best friends who is currently serving in Costa Rica, and basically her every week includes killer rain storms and GIANT bugs. Okay, maybe I'm just whining, ha ha :)  

4) Yet another flood story! Every transfer, our schedule for Pday is slightly off, because we have a dia de limpieza (cleaning day) and clean our whole apartment on Monday. Yesterday, we were giving our apartment some serious love scrubbing, and our toilet kind of exploded. We went on an adventure to try and find a plunger, and finally succeeded, although it was.. slightly different than I thought it would be. Here, you buy the black rubber part separately, then stick a pole on the top - they don't come together. This would be fine, except the poles they use here are the same generic wooden one that you also use for brooms and mops. Soo... basically, I felt like King Arthur pulling the sword out of the stone as I was using a 6 foot long poled to plunge our toilet! ha ha. On the plus side, the water stopped flooding. And I'm pretty sure that plunger can double as a self defense weapon if anyone ever tried to break into our apartment. Maybe I should start carrying that little guy around when we work in dangerous areas.  

Not that we have dangerous areas. Moving on... 

5) Miracle of the week - we were literally completely out of plata (money) this last week and were not going to receive any more for a while; therefore, I didn't have any money to buy more than 1 jug of water for our water dispenser. Since it has been super hot here lately and we`re not allowed to drink the tap water, I was a little concerned. So, every time I filled up my water bottle, I said a little prayer that our Heavenly Father would lengthen out our water. Sure enough!! That one little jug - which normally lasts us for about 2, 3 days - was chugging out water for a little over a week. I love the little miracles of life. It makes me appreciate my Father in Heaven so much more :)  

Also, I was called to train again! Hna Nunja is going to a different area, and I`ll be training another newbie tomorrow! I'm heading to the mission home tomorrow, so stay tuned to learn more about who she will be! Wahoo!! 

Okay, lets just stop there, shall we? Overall, it was an amazing week :) Especially so, because I can feel myself growing and learning, and there is no better feeling in the world. And little lesson that the Lord taught me this last week - we have to be willing to turn EVERYTHING over to the lord, including our fears, our hesitancy, our doubts. We cannot be an adequate servant in the Kingdom of the Lord if we are not willing to become who He would for us to be. Shyness is not a Christlike attribute. If we want to work for the Lord, we must become like Him - and although I personally believe that Christ may have been a bit of introvert, I also know that He, like us, had to sacrifice that discomfort to be an instrument in the hand of God.  

I love you all. Have I mentioned that yet this week? Because I really do. Like really :)  

Love, Hna Lake