Monday, May 4, 2015

Family Email O'Clock

¡Dear Family!

Thanks for all the continued support! I hesitate to say P-days are the best day of the week because then it makes me look like THAT missionary, but... 

Beginning of the week: So this past Monday/Tuesday especially were probably the best days I`ve had in the mish thus far. Couldn`t even tell you why, because honestly we didn`t even do anything particularly different. But I was just feeling SO well adjusted and chill and everything was looking up. Honestly things don`t change that much here day to day/week to week, so mostly everything just depends on my mood. Which I try to control, but honestly sometimes I just feel better or worse for seemingly no reason. But like I said, I was feeling so encouraged. My emails last week were so great and I just felt a renewed sense of purpose in being here. Like I`ve said before, I KNOW that I`m supposed to be here, so it`s really awesome when that knowledge in my head connects to the feelings in my heart (aka my emotions). 

Youths: So as you know, I love youths so much and since being here my desire to work with them post mish has grown even more (yeah, I`m freaking already thinking about post mish. It`s hard to have a dying companion). But anyway, I just want to teach them ALL and I just really have a lot of love for them. It`s a little hard here because pretty much all boys between the ages of 14-24 (actually, just all boys in general over the age of 14) are EXTREMELY flirty and SUPER forward here. It`s actually pretty low key creepy sometimes. We get cat called literally 25/8 and guys are always saying pretty creeper stuff to us. It`s probz defz a good thing I can`t understand most of it, and Hermana Valenzuela only translates some stuff for me... ANYWAY, but that was sort of beside the point of me talking about my love for youths. So we found out on Wednesday afternoon during district meeting that the following night they were going to show Meet the Mormons at our stake center, and we were allowed to go if we brought investigators with us. So OBVIOUSLY we really wanted to go (I`d already seen it twice, but Hermana Valenzuela never had), so we pretty much worked all day Thursday inviting investigators to come. So mostly people are really unreliable here, but we needed someone we were SURE could come, because the Mish Prez was going, and he`d send us home if we didn`t have people with us. So there is a recent convert in our ward who has two daughters, and we keep trying to invite them to stuff but they are super typical teenager and are not interested. But we stopped by to invite them on Thursday evening and were being way persistent and super bold, but they were still kind of rejecting our efforts. So we told them we`d let them think about it and come by again later. So we walked down the street to talk about what our inviting tactics would be, and it was just a really funny dynamic. Hermana Valenzuela and I work really well together because I`m super bold and have tons of ideas/persistence, but literally NONE of the language to carry out my ideas. And she is super fluent and really personable, but doesn`t have quite as bold of tendencies or sometimes the ideas to put into words. So we`re just standing on the side of the road for like ten minutes roll playing how we`re going to get them to come, and she`s practicing with me, and I`m giving her the words to translate in Spanish, and it was just a super good time. The joke is that we are kind of the Moses/Aaron situation. So anyway, we go back and carry out our plans and I`m just standing there listening to Hermana Valenzuela talk to them (and she`s doing a really good job), and they agreed to come!! So it was really awesome because I know they wouldn`t have come if we hadn`t been so persistent. AND I knew they would like it because it was a huge social event and the movie is good and not even crazy doctrinal or anything. 

The movie: So all in all we ended up getting 9 investigators to come with us, which was pretty bomb since we`d literally only found out the day before. And one of them even had a truck, which was a HUGE score. We rode in the back of it all the way there, which was pretty sketch to me, but I guess it`s chill here... So I`m pretty famils with the movie since I`ve seen it twice, and I sort of wasn`t expecting to get that much out of it because I already know the stories/I don`t really feel the spirit in Spanish (especially with the voice overs they have on all videos in English). BUT I WAS WRONG. I WAS SO WRONG. Oh my gosh, it was the greatest thing ever. When it got to the story about the Costa Rican family (of which they normally have English voice overs), they just had their actual voices (because they speak Spanish, duh), and it was SO GREAT! I literally was tearing up so hard because I could understand some of what they were saying and the spirit was just really strong and it was so great. And then when it got to the missionary story at the end I was all emotional again because I`ve always been a huge fan of conversion stories, but everything is amplified x10 on a mission because I`M A MISSIONARY now! So the whole movie I`ve been feeling the spirit super strong (which was so awesome, because it`s pretty much the first time I`ve really felt the spirit in Spanish), and then it gets to the end of the movie and Glorious by David Archuleta comes on (you know), but IN SPANISH! I totally hadn`t even thought about that, even though I know he speaks Spanish on account of his mission to Chile. Anyway, so I freaking can`t even hold back my tears anymore and tears are just streaming down my face because it was so beautiful. Hahahaha I`m tearing up even thinking about it. So funny. I swear I`m not even that missionary, but really, it was great. Big fan. And I feel like the movie was more applicable here than even in the states, because here the church is so much less established, and the people just don`t get even super simple doctrine like they do in the states. I just want all of Paraguay to see it.

Friday drama: So there was a really tragic situation that went down on Friday at like 5am (which I`ll send you more info on later). But anyway, Paraguay is definitely VERY different from the US, and people just do health care differently/not at all, and kids are extremely neglected and it`s just really bad. And everyone just seems to not understand or connect logical things in their minds, and it`s so weird to me. Like even things in the gospel. It rained yesterday during church and honestly the attendance was pitiful. I`ve heard that of South American missions a lot, but it`s just really sad to see. Like, do they think that the commandments of God change based on the weather? Do they just not have a testimony? Not understand? Are just lazy? Because we teach clearly, people say they get it, but then they just NEVER ACT. It`s so weird. I feel like I`ve just never ever ever had a problem connecting that faith and action are inseparably linked. You receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. I feel like I was born with that scripture on my heart or something. But people here are just waiting for life to line up so they can start living the gospel. And obviously (at least to me), it`s the other way around. Anyway, it`s just a weird cultural disconnect, and it`s hard for me to understand it. 

Planning: SO this week I had a pretty inspired idea that has taken off very well so far (it`s still in its earliest stages). So I was thinking about how there`s really no ward culture here, and members really don`t do a ton and also how there`s not really anything for us to invite investigators to besides church. And I was thinking about how G6 has game night and stuff, and I just know other places have stuff, and I really was feeling like we should have something like that here. It`s hard, because we don`t have quite the numbers to sustain it, but I was just really feeling like we should try. So I expresed this to Hermana Valenzuela during weekly planning, and we decided that we`re going to try to teach an English class! I`ve heard a lot of missions do this, and it seemed like a really inspired idea for the area we are in. So we made signs and announced it at church yesterday, and already the response has been REALLY good. People here are SO interested in learning English. Which is actually kind of ironic, because a lot of times people are actually extremely rude to me for being from the US/speaking English... But anyway, I`m really excited. Turns out getting a teaching degree isn`t for nothing, amirite? Because I feel like for the first time since I`ve been here I`m actually qualified for something. I can speak English! And I can teach! So we`re going to do that every Thursday night and we`re hoping it turns out really well and helps unify the ward as well as gives us super awesome contacting opportunities. Also it`s been really fun to advertise for it and create English Class branding, because I freaking love those things, and it brings me back to the BYUSA glory days. We spent like an hour Friday night picking our colors and fonts and designing everything. It was quite fun.

Academic Advising: So another inspired reason that Hermana Valenzuela and I are companions is because she is finishing her mission and has NO idea what she wants to do when she goes back, has never been to college, knows literally almost nothing about college, but feels like she should go. HELLO! This is LITERALLY my area of specialty! So we have entire conversations where I just explain to her what a major is, what a minor is, what general eds are, what an associates degree is, what different majors are, etc. Honestly it`s so fun for me. She said she would always just tell people "yeah, I`m going to go home and just work on some generals to try to get my associates" and she had NO IDEA what that even meant hahaha. So I told her what a Bachelors degree is vs Masters vs Ph.D., etc. And it`s really fun for me, and it`s obviously inspired because the timing is perfect for her what with her leaving so soon and all. 

Well, overall things are about as good as they could be given the situation, I would say. I can`t think of much I would improve other than pretty much literally every physical situation you could think of and also knowing Spanish. But really, I feel extremely blessed with the way things have been going. It almost feels like the calm before a storm, which kind of scares me, but maybe that`s just how life feels? I don`t know. Although I`ve been told repeatedly that I`m si o si going to get a Latina companion after Hermana Valenzuela, so I have that to think about anytime I feel too comfortable... This whole struggle I`m having with SYL (speak your language) is going to really hurt me later... But I`ll cross that bridge when I come to it, I guess. 

Love you all so much!!! 

-Hermana Ross

p.s. Ok, so I know this is old news but WHAT THE HECK ZAYN LEFT ONE DIRECTION? NO CHILL. I`ve been meaning to address it for weeks. This is JUST the kind of thing I feared would happen while I was on a mission. I just didn`t think it`d happen so soon *single tear.* 

p.p.s.  I`m just going to copy and paste what I wrote to the mish prez about the situation I referenced above. It`s not how I would have talked about it normally, probably, but I was typing really fast. Anyway, it was a really tragic situation and extremely uncomfortable. I`m emotionally recovered completely, but it`s still a cultural bummer. This is 2015, COME ON. 

Now onto some bad news that happened this week... So on Wednesday we went to have a Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening) with a family that`s sort of set up in a bad place (the dad is a drunk and there are six kids who are really under loved and not taken care of very well). One of the sons (who is 3 years old) had a lot of ant bites all over him and he was really swollen and didn`t look very good. There were also fleas all over him eating at the bites and it was just a really, really unpleasant situation. So Hermana Valenzuela asked the mom if he needed to go to the doctor, and she said no because he had been improving and also the dad didn`t want them to go. But we said that if they needed we could find someone to watch the other kids while they went to the doctor, and we even called the primary president to ask if she could help, but the mom said it wasn`t necessary and the primary president said she was busy with work. Anyway, so we figured everything would be alright since the mom said he was getting better and it didn`t seem like a super urgent situation, per se. We were wrong, however, and we got a call at 5am on Friday morning from a neighbor telling us the son had died during the night and asking if we could come over and help take care of the kids while the parents went to the hospital to fill out paperwork. So we got dressed and headed over in the dark and it was just a terrible situation. And all the other kids didn`t know what was going on and didn`t understand that their brother was dead and it was high key depressing. So after an hour or so we left to come home and re-plan our day and such, and then they had a funeral later around 4pm that we attended and sang a song for. They had his body just lying on the table in a little casket and it was extremely sad and I felt really uncomfortable (especially since I couldn`t say anything/didn`t know what to say even if I could). It`s just such a bummer because it was SO preventable! He died of ant bites being untreated over the course of three days... And obviously Hermana Valenzuela and I had NO idea how serious it was or we would have done something more, but I just feel like it really could have been prevented if he had been taken to the doctor. 

 Imagine the caption: My sister went to Paraguay and all she got me were these pictures. Happy 17th  Broski!

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