Archive | June, 2009
25 Jun

mom! im glad you like my letters. i like to write them. you are the only person i get to talk to without discretion. i said ´pissed´in class last week, and everyone gasped then lectured me. this place is endlessly weird.
i was all kinds of excited for our appointments last saturday, but the prez changed our areas again, so we didnt get to see them through. we gave the info to the elders that had been assigned our area, and all of the appointments stood them up anyway.
then it was cold and rainy and we were all a little cross, but it wasnt all bad. we talked to a few people, and i am amazed at how much better my spanish is every week. i guess i should be pissed if i werent seeing drastic improvement, seeing as studying spanish is all ive been doing 24/7 for over a month now, but its still cool.
my spanish abilities were tested even more when practically all of the people told us tragic stories and asked us really hard questions. like this one guy we were talking to, he said he didnt believe in god, and when we asked him why, he raised his mangled right hand that was missing three fingers, and said, ´accident´. and another guy who said something similar, and showed us a picture of his dead cop son on his cell phone. it was like that all day.
but i learned a lot, so it was still good, i guess.
other than that, i am still bored, and i have a love/hate relationship with the elders. like a big sister. sometimes they are cute and sweet and well behaved upright young men… and other times, they are antsy, ignorant, uppity little snots.
oh, and good news. i am not gaining weight anymore. because im not eating the greasy sausage with mayo on top anymore. im eating a lot of fruit and vegetables and salads. and offending the chef a little bit… but… oh well.
and bad news. i asked some of the latina sisters about the food, and i was informed that the food here is better, fresher, and less greasy than the rest of the food in argentina and likely uruguay. apparently, local pizza is covered in cheese, and for a flourish, they pour oil on top. more oil on top of the pizza. color me stoked.
and we were given instructions on how to get parasite removal pills before we go home in a year and a half. color me all kinds of stoked.
but yeah, other than that, i have hit the halfway mark and i am really bored.
that charge you saw on my card last week was when i went to distribution and treated myself with the prettiest little red leather spanish bible. i got my hermana name engraved on it. i love it… even if the joseph smith translation is coming out soon.
it is a little rad though to be stuck somewhere with few enough interesting things to look at to get me more interested in really deeply studying the scriptures. i love the topical guide. i bounce around researching different topic for hours on end in class sometimes.
but yeah, not much else to say. but i love you and i miss you!

More MTC Fun

18 Jun

im a little bummed marsh doesnt have swine flu, but thats probably for the best. tell dan to keep on trucking, and im glad hes doing well. tell christine to explain herself for not answering my questions about her engagement. oh, and no pics at least while im here. i cant upload them anywhere.

its been a looooonng week here in the mtc. i realized that im just over the halfway mark, which actually makes it harder to want to stay.

we went tracting again, and went to a very rich neighborhood indeed. my comps at first got all grumpy and assumed everyone would be mean. which they sort of were at first. then after lunch, my comps got over it, and we finally started talking to people, and the people were great. i understood them so much better, and we ended up giving away a BOM and 18 pamphlets, and making 4 appointments to come back this week. it was so cool. so exciting. its so great to talk to real people with real problems and bring a little joy into their lives.
oh, and we accidentally tracked into a brothel. it was a tender mercy of the lord that i got to see my poor little companions faces. i laughed hard for quite a while.
the peruvian hna is the cutest thing ever. she, among with all of the latin sisters, is really sweet and patient with our low comprension. and she has tattoos. and shes like, 4 nothing feet tall. i quite like her. even though she accidentally blew up my power converter.
oh, and the week was also made hard by the new information i got. apparently a large pecentage of the men in uruguay are chauvenistic… you know whats…. and its normal there. so itll be hard for me to get married female investigators to go to church, if their husbands would rather have them making them dinner. oh, and its going to be like, rinky dink tiny little country nowhere towns. thats real exciting.
i took a shower this morning, and when i turned the faucet on, it came out smelling faintly of a mixture of sulfur and sewage. and i of course got in anyway, cuz thats kind of normal here. and this is cleaner, better water than the rest of argentina.
oh, and i think i have already gained a couple of pounds, and im probably looking forward to more, cuz we are in class ten hours a day every day, and when they feed us, they feed us greasy fatty sausage and other meats with mayonnaise on top. this place is a wonderland for my cholesterol.
i almost talked the mtc presidents wife into letting me ship out early last night, cuz im getting to be really over the mtc. i know i should appreciate having free, safe to eat, pre bleach bathed, non parasidic fruit to eat, but…. in a classroom with six 19 year olds for 12 hours a day every day of the week? that was ok for the first three weeks. but i think every week theyre getting a little stupider. the ignorant sexist remarks have been one thing… but telling me that my art major is unsubstantial or, in their words, fluffy,….? oh man. oh no you didnt.
but im not shipping out early, because that would be foolish, cuz i still cant even understand the spanish scriptures when i read them. id be doomed out there.
the elders did redeem themselves a little though, by making me laugh so hard i cried in class yesterday. 2 of them play pranks on eachother all the time, most of them only kind of funny, but definitely better than watching conjugation exercises. one was sitting in front of the other. i saw the one behind get that look in his eye, and toss his pen cap in front of the one in front. he asked him to get it.
as he leaned forward, elder behind dumped water on his chair to make it look like elder in front had wet himself. and it was just amazing. and my comp and i laughed til we cried.
it might not have been that funny if i were being a normal person right now, but im not and im in the mtc and its boring as hell here.
oh, and my no swearing streak only lasted for 25 days. i accidentally said helluva lot to my crazy comp. haha. oops. oh well.
ok bye!

MTC

11 Jun

Hola!

spanish is coming alright, i guess, its just getting stressful. im technically on an ayuno de ingles ….english fast…. right now, which is all well and good except i think i only know like 150 words. so i talk like a really messed up toddler.

last weeks tracting experience was waaaaaayy better. the elders who usually work the last area we went to were apparently pissed when they found out theyd sent the sisters there, so this week, we went somewherre totally different. a normal suburb. it was really nice.

all of the houses were really unique and thoughtfully and artfully decorated. and these roads were paved. and in the same neighborhoods, there were all sorts of people from all different walks of life. youd see a huge brick mansion, and nextdoor, a tiny little stucco studio type hut. which is way different from the states.
but the richer people were a lot ruder. they usually just stared us down as we passed.

the only nice people we met were also crazy. they were also poor. or more likely just looked like it. it was this weird old packrat lady with tons of messed up decroded old stuff in her yard. we decided that even freaky people deserve the gospel, so we talked to her, and she of course, invited us in to her dog pee soaked abode. she blathered for 20 minutes about how she is catholic and doesnt believe in god, until her husband, who i thought would save us came in, and kept us there for another 45 minutes about how he is a member of the church. we told him seven times we didnt understand him. finally i figured out how to tell him we needed to leave. i got to practice it ten more times. finally we sort of just walked out. so no baptisms just yet.

we got a new roomate, a latina sister from peru. i swear, she is 4 feet 5 inches tall. no joke. but shes real sweet, and she is helping out with my spanish a lot.

uh, what else?

I dunno. i have 6 more weeks here. its going by pretty fast, but i still wouldnt mind if time sped up a little more, so i can spend more of my time actually helping real people who wont freak out when i say darnit, crap, or drink a coke. besides my companions, who i can ignore.

other than that, i would love to recieve letters from friends. cuz i have more than half an hour to read and respond to them. and i miss you all a lot.

i love you all! bye!

Buenos Aires

4 Jun

i love you! and i miss you so much!
all i can say about the school thing is, palabra. which is WORD en español. this mission thing is definitely the same way. if i didnt know for sure that this is what the lord wants for me id have flown home at almost any cost. but i really am happy here. happier than ive been in a long time, maybe ever. which is weird, because i still hate cereal and not having coke or ice to chew on. or any privacy, ever, at all.
my companions are ok, the crazier one just talks a lot about stupid things, but i still havent wanted to punch her. praise the lord. but id still ditch them if i could.
dan took a girl on a date on a hike with a picnic in tow? wow. rad! thats a great date. i would be charmed out of my brains if a guy did that for me. i hope she was indeed charmed out of her brains.
we went tracting on saturday, and it was terrible.
apparently they sent us to the absolute most desolate, ghetto, dangerous part of argentina for our first jaunt at tracting. on the freeway on the way there, there were piles and piles of litter. like, entire flats and crates from trucks, broken up, in all of the medians. in the town, there were approximately 8 to 11 dogs for every person they saw. it was raining. we were on dirt roads. it was nearly impossible to differentiate between what was mud and dog crap. we stopped trying after about half an hour. it was freezing cold. i wore long underwear and wool tights and socks and boots and a sweater and a scarf and a rain coat, and i was still freezing. we were only out for five hours, and its fall here. i am going to die.
when we got people to talk to us, it was also a generally hopeless affair. all i could say was, we are missionaries from the lds church, and we want to share a message. god is our loving heavenly father, and the gospel blesses families. then i would look to my comps, and they would say everything they knew, and then the person would start talking at a billion miles an hour for a few minutes, until they stopped, and seeing the looks on our faces, said, you dont understand me, do you? then our deer in headlights faces would fade, and we would say, yeah, sorry, we dont understand or speak much spanish. can we sing a song?
so at least i can still sing. but not as well in spanish. but the spanish is coming alright… its just these conjugations that are paralyzing me. but ill get it eventually. or just talk like a caveman. whichever.
but yeah, i am freezing here, all the time. in class. in bed. which is, currently, my everywhere. i need more sweaters and wool tights, but im not going to ask you to send any, cuz at least while im in the mtc, all packages that get stuck in customs, which seems to be most packages, are pronounced dead or nonexistent by the mtc prez. he wont help you get them.
but yeah, tracting was hard. i can now understand why people warned me about getting discouraged. hopefully uruguay is nicer than that though. there was a stream in the town and it was full of old diapers and clothes and dog crap, and the water that ran through it was a horrible murky blueish white. it looked like a shantytown scene from one of those sponser a kid commercials.
but it did help me to start to regard the mtc as the ritz, as i sort of do now. the food isnt great, but its apparently a lot better and safer than what ill have in uruguay. and the water still smells bad, but at least somebody else double filtered it for me.
but im still bored and craving a brownie and a coke. oh well. hopefully there will still be coke when im out of the mtc. besides, it looks like coke will be safer to drink than water anyway. to combat boredom, within the bounds of what wont totally and completely freak my comps out, ive taken up riding the banisters on the staircases. which can be dangerous, cuz skirts are slippery.
so yeah. other than that, the sunsets and sunrises are beautiful. i now know that this is so because argentina is a very dirty and polluted country.
i love you! send everyone my love!
ciao!
oh, ps… women here kiss eachother all the time. ive been kissed more here than well… yeah. lots of action.

A Real Letter (May 27, 2009)

3 Jun

Dear Everyone-
Sorry you haven’t heard from me in a while. The internet here apparently isn’t very reliable. And if it doesn’t work on Thursday, we miss our chance for the week. How are you? I miss you a lot.

This place absolutely is Spirit Prison. They make us get up and eat cold cereal at 7. They make us sit in class all day, with short breaks for food and exercise, until 10:30 at night. I haven’t sworn aloud for a week now. In fact, I was lectured by the MTC president’s wife for saying “crap” and “stupid.” I’m not kidding. It is by the sheer grace of God that I haven’t utterly and completely blown a gasket and hitchhiked home from here. In fact, oddly enough, even while being forced to make my bed and wear nylons, I am, in a really strange way, pretty happy here. Even if I don’t feel like I have anyone to talk to, cuz I don’t have anything in common with anybody here.

The MTC is in a small building right behind the BA (Buenos Aires) temple, which is also tiny. There’s about 100 Elders, 60% North American and 40% Latino, from all over. Right now I am one of 3 gringo Sisters, but we have 11 Latinas coming in the next transfer. I sincerely hope that the older sister in our trio gets put with someone else. She’s a little crazy. I haven’t wanted to punch her or anything, but I certainly think I could do without her just fine. The other sister, the one I flew out with, is sweet and mellow, so I wouldn’t mind being her companion for another 8 weeks. Yeah, I will be in the Argentina Spirit Prison another 8 weeks! If I didn’t feel so strongly that this is right for me, I would surely be losing my mind. Oh- there have only been gringos in the MTC since September.

I would happily sell the third sister for a can of Coke or a brownie. There isn’t much by way of sweets to speak of around here. On Sundays, we get Fanta Mandarina, which is good, and there’s a lot of Dulce de Leche stuff, but I have been craving sugar still. This is probably good for me, I guess. Otherwise, the food has been good. Lots of meat and potatoes, and the spaghetti is greasy and gross, but the mangoes and sausage are amazing. If the main course at lunch is sick, there is always the salad bar with beets, and fresh off the cob corn and artichokes and tomatoes. And bread. There is always bread.

But yeah, although I am handling prison life remarkably well, I still seem to be smashing my face against window screens to see what is outside. There are beautiful sunrises and sunsets. The weather is a pleasant warm, crispy early fall. And I don’t need hair conditioner here. When I am not at a window screen, I straight-up elementary school style daydream- about ditching my companions and exploring BA, or Seattle, or swimming, or going barefoot, or saying a favorite curse, or painting. OH, to paint. I have been doodling up a storm, but it just isn’t cutting it. I want so badly to get my hands dirty.

But anyways, I am happy, here. I really am. The reason I am here and not in the MTC in Provo is, according to the MTC president, is so I can learn Spanish 10x better, like, immersion style. Although, I really don’t feel like I am in Argentina, except that everyone is brunette and speaks Spanish, or as they prefer to call it, Castelleno (Cast-ey-SH-anno,) My instructor in the mornings has a nearly indecipherable lisp. But I think I am learning quite a bit of Spanish pretty quickly. So far I can only talk about church with horrible grammar, but still, for one week’s effort I’m feeling ok. It’s a pretty language, and as far as I can tell the locals are real, real nice. Although all I’ve met so far have been Elders, MTC employees and temple workers, which would be nice anywhere.

Oh, one super rad thing about this Spirit Prison is that on Saturdays, we get to go out into the city, to street contact! Practice on REAL people!! So amybe after this Saturday, I’ll be able to tell you more about BA.

We had a lecture about mission health today. It was terrifying. If Uruguay is 2nd world, I’d sure hate to see the 3rd. Basically, I’m coming home with a parasite and athlete’s foot. And HEP C. Oh, and I’m going to be really well acquainted with dysentery. Speaking of, they served Lengua, cow tongue, at dinner last night. I tried it. It was HORRIBLE! It haunted my dreams, and I woke up with the taste and even more horrible texture in my mouth this morning.

And the Elders are actually cooler and more mature than I’d previously given them credit for, which is good, cuz we’re around each other in class A LOT.

Anyway, I love you and hope you are doing well! You can write me or try your hand at emailing me.

I love you!

– Allison