Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Don Jew Lob Bicycles?

Hey everyone:

It was so much fun to talk to you guys on Christmas! I know I know, I'm weirdo goober, lilt-in-the-voice missionary now. Quit judging me sarah! haha jk. That was crazy for me! Next time, I'm not going to do so much talking. I want to know what you're all up to!

This past week marks a new chapter in the Becca-as-a-missionary experience. I got a bike! And we rode it! haha. I took the ugliest picture you've ever seen (and you'll probably never see it because my face looks fat - it's hard when you have a helmet strap cutting into your double-chin!) with my helmet and my bike and my skirt. What an experience! I can't help but laugh at us as we ride along. We've got nylons on, skirts flying up to show more than a little thigh, and fat grandma ankles pedaling wildly in our orthopedic shoes. (is orthopedic the right word? substitute the correct one, if not) I finally couldn't help myself any longer and I started humming the wicked witch of the west theme song to my companion. Something about biking in a long black skirt that brought that to mind...too bad she doesn't wear a helmet. But I actually really enjoy riding. It's good to get the blood pumping.

Christmas was really fun here in the mission field. I have so much candy in my apartment right now! Thanks so much. And Jessica/MaryJane: those headbands are the cutest things I've ever seen. I'm so spoiled!

My companion and I get along really well. We're pretty different, but both pretty easy-going so it works out. Our biggest difference is probably our life-living pace. She likes to live life at a very slow pace, and I'm pretty much living on fast forward. So that has been a huge adjustment for me and frustrating a little bit at times. But it has been good for me too. She's helping me not die of a heart-attack or something from pushing it too hard out here. And she's very complimentary all the time and positive, which I really appreciate.

The language is. . . coming. I had my first experience translating last night! The recent convert we were teaching asked us to stay and translate for him because some guy came to collect money from him. It was so weird! I was so dumb because at first I turned to the recent convert and started repeating what the store guy had said in english again! haha I felt pretty stupid but then I figured it out. I just felt so silly repeating such simple phrases. I felt like they could understand the other language and I was just being redundant. I don't think my bilinguality has hit me yet. (yes, that's a word now)

Well a mission has ups and downs and I think I had one of the most traumatic experiences of my life this week. Our investigator Martha and her daughter Amy didn't show up for church. I was pretty disappointed because I had arranged a ride for them with a member and everything (and when you're trying to do that in spanish, it's a huge effort, believe me. ) but Martha called us after church and she told me that her boyfriend had hit her and she was embarrassed because her face was ugly. Then she started bawling on the phone and saying a bunch of stuff that I couldn't understand but I got that she wanted us to come visit her so I took a Sister from the ward because I wanted to make sure we could communicate clearly. When she walked out of her bedroom I just about fell to the floor. I've never seen anything like that. Her face was black and blue and she had huge bruises going across her throat and up and down her arms, hands, and legs. Her boyfriend didn't just hit her, he just about killed her. She was hospitalized and everything. I couldn't even look at her without wanting to throw up at the thought that someone could do that to someone else. I'm so grateful for the men in my life! I'm so glad that I trust them, and that they protect me. I've never really thought about it but that is a huge blessing. And I think it was also a huge blessing that I brought the sister that I did. She was awesome and did most of the talking for us. I was pretty much at a loss for words. She told us after that she's never seen domestic violence that bad. ugh. Maybe I shouldn't write about it - I don't like thinking about it. The good thing is, she said she knew we would bring her peace. And I think we did. Hopefully with him gone she will be able to progress faster.

Anyways, Horacio is doing awesome and trying to study a lot so he'll be prepared for the Priesthood. I think he's a little overwhelmed at that thought. He'll be great. You could add Marisol to your prayers. She's all of a sudden progressing really quickly. She's single and her kids are in Honduras? or El Salvador I can't remember. But she used to be battling with depression until she started coming to church with us. She's made a lot of friends and she knows she's on the right "camino" (everyone uses that phrase here. I don't know why, but it makes me laugh. it just seems overly-dramatic to my english brain.) But I hope she realizes that this is the ONLY right camino.

I hope you are all safe and enjoying your Christmas vacation and you should all make lots of noise for me on New Years! (I told my companion we were going to stay up for it and she said not a chance and I actually agree with her. I'm so tired all the time! haha not worth it.)

I love love LOVE you all!

love Becca

p.s. nobody asked me to speak any spanish on the phone. What is this? Don jew guys lob my language or notteeng? Dis leetle guy right here. He is. . . (not appropriate for missionary e-mail). haha love you!

Pictures! (Thanksgiving 09)

Thanksgiving at Hna. Ramirez's house!

All the sisters on sister's day at the mission home,

My bedroom

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mmm menundo...

Hello hello!

Guess what, I’m teaching a piano class for anyone that wants to come (which is like everyone) and I’m teaching it in SPANISH. Tonight is the first time I’m doing it so wish me luck. Everyone is way excited about it but I’m so nervous! It should be interesting. I never realized what a privilege it is to play an instrument. I’m the only pianist like I said before. So I’m also playing for the stake Christmas program. Ahh!

A couple thoughts on Pasadena: This is a city of strange smells. Mostly a vague, rotten egg/ old garbage smell that wafts our way from the lovely refinery that belches poisonous clouds day and night into our Pasadena air. Also, we’re a city of many cats. Homeless cats. And dogs (one tried attacking me and my companion on our morning run yesterday- you laugh about it now but that was one shot of pure adrenaline I’ll tell you!) and roosters. Yes. Roosters. They walk around on people’s lawns. Another interesting Pasadena fact is that lots of the people here speak mostly Spanish, but since they live in the U.S. they pick up some English so there’s often an interesting mix and you’d think I’d be used to it but it still never fails to surprise and delight me when I’m focusing all my energy on what someone is saying and then out of nowhere I hear a word like “microwave” but it’s in a thick Spanish accent. It’s really funny. And strange the way they can move in and out like they don’t even notice they’re switching languages sometimes. I think this whole learning a new language experience is fascinating. I never realized how much I love English. I take it for granted that I can use it so easily. And I never realized that a Language Barrier is a REAL thing. In a physical way. Even when I use correct Spanish and when I understand what someone says, it doesn’t hit me the same way English does. I can read a scripture in Spanish and then in English and understand them both, but the English carries emotion with it. I think that’s why it’s so important that we teach people in their own language, even if they understand English. Communication is SO much more than mere comprehension.

ANWAYS…English major, sorry. This week, the highlight of the week (or lowlight, depending on how you look at it) was eating menudo for the first time! I’d heard the word a lot and knew it was a food but started to wonder what was up when my companion wanted to take my picture before we started eating. She said I had to have it on record. I looked down into my bowl and in a red broth I saw large grey chunks of meat that had a weird texture to them… kindof like looking at a tongue. But the other side was completely smooth. Anyone guess what it was yet? Cow Stomach. That’s right. I put another creature’s stomach into my own. And it was in BIG chunks. Like bigger than my tongue. And it was all slimy and impossible to bite through. You just had to kinda rubber it down. Probably one of the worst experiences of my life. It tasted like warm blood. And to top it off, there were bones in the soup and slices of bread that you scrape out the marrow and put on the bread. Mmmmmm. I don’t know…I’m thinking of taking back everything I said before about the food here being so great. I thought eating pig skin was bad but this was WAY WAY WAY worse. I think it’s funny now but there was a moment at the table where I experienced pure desperation. I was wondering if it would be more polite to leave food in my bowl or finish it and throw up all over her table! I ate as much as I could and then snuck to her kitchen while she wasn’t looking and threw the last bit away. But I couldn’t get that taste out of my mouth all day and I wanted to separate myself from my own stomach because the thought of it in there was grossing me out. Haha. Sick.

Okay You said you wanted to hear about investigators and I don’t know if you really do or not but I”ll tell you about Horacio. Background: my companion gets really REALLY nervous to contact people, but one day she was getting out of the car and she saw this guy coming past the car on her side and she started thinking she should contact him but then she thought “no, I’m still gathering my stuff, plus he looks way catholic…” and stuff like that. But then she just went for it anyways and it was a really awkward contact because she had to kinda chase him down but he was way interested and she ended up teaching him the first lesson right there in the street. (this was right before I got out) So we’ve been teaching him ever since. He’s about forty five, grey hair, half of one of his front teeth is missing (in a vertical way), and he is very animated. He’s so funny. He always tells these crazy stories and he asks questions about EVERYTHING. But he has been to church a bunch of times and he got mad at us last Sunday for not telling him about the Christmas Devotional, so he came to that too. Last night, we went to teach him and he told us he’s in 2nd Nephi and then he started going back and reading scriptures that he liked and basically started teaching US. Haha. But I looked over at his Book of Mormon and it was all marked up! That was really cool to see. He is nervous to get baptized because he’s a really deliberate person and it’s only been a few weeks but we set the 19th of dec. as a goal (brooke’s wedding day!) so we’ll see how it goes. He’s fun to take to church because he always makes funny comments. I like teaching him too because he talks to me a lot. Lots of people we teach kinda ignore me because hna flores is native, but he really connected with me. He teases me too- he said he wants to hear a concert because he loves classical music. Haha.

Another family I’ve really connected with is Hna. Ponce. She feeds us every Wednesday night and she’s an amazing cook. The problem is, she loves to see us eat so we always leave stuffed sick. Seriously though, I’ve never had pain like that from eating so much. I couldn’t sleep last week so tonight I’m going to try to cut back. She is a recently reactivated member and she gives great hugs. She and her daughter Issa (37 ish) are the ones we interact with the most. But they just took me in…I dunno how to explain it. She always smells good and her house is CLEAN. I just feel comfortable there, which is rare in Pasadena – so many of the houses are just…not clean.

Anways, there’s a taste of who I’m seeing every day. I’ll save the rest for some other e-mails. You didn’t send me any questions this week but hopefully that fills you in a little. Oh one other thing, I LOVE my companion but I think it’s a terrible thing to put a dying missionary with a greenie! She’s going home in a week and half and it’s so hard to hear and think about that all the time. Start praying for me though, because this next transfer is going to be a big one. We lose five of ten hermanas and we get five new!

Thanks so much for all your love and support. I love hearing from you guys. Sorry I can’t write back as much as I’d like to. But I like to think about you guys on Briarcreek Drive (and solar circle, callm down sarah) doing all your usual christmasy things. It’s a happy thought. I’m there with you in spirit! And I’m having fun here listening to mo-tab Christmas music. We’re getting Handel’s Messiah down pretty well by now. I can sing pretty high when I sacrifice quality. Haha Take care! I love you all! And in a cheesy missionary way, I’m so glad we’re going to be together longer than just this life – I’m so glad we all are fighting for that, because some people don’t care enough to fight for it. But I CARE. I love you guys! Miss you

Friday, December 4, 2009

Good food, Better People

Hello Family!

First off, I'm sorry about last week - we had a temple trip on Wed, then the library was closed thursday and friday for Thanksgiving...then Saturday and Sunday it was closed for the weekend. So I did my best to stay in contact. But I want to hear all about Thanksgiving! How did everything go? Thanks for all your letters. You guys are the best.

I'll start off by answering questions:

Things are really good with Hna. Flores. (Nelssie is her first name) She is really cute and AMAZING at soccer. All the Elders are scared of her becuase she kicks trash on p-day when we all get together to play. She's a lot like me in that she isn't really aggressive when it comes to talking to strangers, so we have to really push each other when we go tracting or contacting, but it's nice because she's really understanding when I get nervous. She grew up in Mexico with an older brother and a younger brother and went to UVU for a year or two before coming out here. She was majoring in culinary arts so she's an amazing chef, but so far we haven't had time to cook anything. She said that's probably a good thing though, because we have terrible knives and she would just get frustrated. She makes a lot of the decisions because I don't know what's going on but I feel totally comfortable putting in my two cents if I ever have any. We work until nine but we try to get appointments at night so that we're not tracting. So far I haven't ever knocked a door after dinner time. Last night we had mexican gorditas, which was a homemade corn tortilla thing (a little thicker) with cheese melted on top and salsa on top of that. And everything is always served with rice and beans and tortillas on the side. We don't use utensils. You're going to think I've become an animal when I get home. Everything is with your fingers and a rolled up tortilla. haha. OUr apartment is two rooms and a kitchen. And a bathroom I guess. It's pretty dumpy. haha. old old old furniture, dirty gray carpet. really basic. I'll send pictures next week. We have a huge board on the wall with John 3:16 on it and all the missionaries who have lived there sign it so it's cool to see Elder Flamm and Elder Matheson's names. We also have a huge whiteboard where we write the names/addresses of our investigators - color coded according to location. So we're way cool. And we have a huge map of the area which I stand and stare at every day but never get any better at finding my way around. We have a couch and an armchair and as of a couple days ago we also have a four foot tall bright pink christmas tree! Feliz Navidad. We associate with the elders in our district the most. They need rides from us a lot. hah. We have district meeting once a week and our district leader calls us every night. P day we clean, grocery shop, do laundry, e-mail at the library here in pasadena, then get together at a chapel with our zone and do sports/write letters. It ends at six but we go to dinner at Hermana Ponce's house; she feeds us until we want to throw up! But she's an amazing cook.

Here's a little taste of memorable Pasadena: we work a lot in apartment buildings, and they all have the same layout by the way so it's impossible to know where I am. haha. but we are teaching a mom named Martha and her daughter Amy. They actually have a baptismal date so if Martha can get off coffee we can get them baptized! But we were teaching one night and we heard this weird noise so we asked Marth if she was alone and she said yes then walked over into the kitchen to investigate. She looked into her garbage (in pasadena it's just a huge paper sack that the city comes and collects) and then said, oh it's just a cockroach! And pulled a four inch cockroach out of the garbage! oh my gosh. My companion just about went backwards up the wall. It was the grossest thing. And then she just dropped it by the garbage can and let it crawl around for the rest of the lesson! I ccouldn't focus at all.

So far, our baptisms keep falling through. Well, at least getting pushed back over and over. But we went to a baptism for a girl in the ward and an investigator of our district leader. The investigator had to get baptized seven times because her dress kept coming up! haha. But we had a family there who is also investigating so that was kinda crazy for us...they had some questions afterwards, haha but I think we explained things. Hopefully we will get an investigator baptized this next week. Her name is Luz and she's been investigating since June so my companion is really wanting to see her get baptized.

I had to give a testimony in sacrament meeting! I was way nervous to speak in churhc. That was crazy. Luckily, I had some time to prepare so I wrote it out. haha. cheater I know but come on that's way scary. Everyone was way nice though. They all complemented me on my accent. I'm talking more now so that's a good thing. My spanish is still so pathetic but it will come. It better. haha I'm certainly praying a lot.

okay i'm sorry I feel like this wasn't a great e-mail. I"m too rushed. I"ll finish with letting you know that Thanksgiving was way fun for me. We ate two dinners with two different member families (we canceled our third dinner because we felt too sick to stuff any more food into our poor stomachs) But the first dinner was with Hna. ramirez and her daughter Diana. They live in our complex and they invited the other elders in our district over too so it was a party. We had turkey and mashed potatoes and green beans and rolls. Then we went to Hna. Ponce's and had the same, with Mexican stuffing and peach cobbler mexican style and rice milk? I don't know what to call it - arroz con leche. it was good but it was a lot of food! haha. AMazing how these people litterally open their arms and take you in to their homes and hearts though.

I miss you and I love you and I think about you all the time!

love love love Becca

xoxoxoxox chancho...I need to borrow some...esweats!