Archive | July, 2009

Life in Uruguay

27 Jul

OH mom, i love you and i miss you so much. urugay is definitely second world. we live in a pink house with cement walls and a tile floor and two space heaters which we can only have on for 3 hours a day. its 55 degrees out during the day and way humid, so it feels cold and it sticks to you all day. nobody has heat, but for fires. at night, i sleep with two sleeping bags and two thick fleece blankets, with 3 long sleeved shirts and a hoodie pulled tight up over my face, and 3 pairs of leggings and sweat pants and two pairs of socks and wool gloves to bed. getting up to pee in the middle of the night is the WORST. then in the mornings, we go running. and i still wear most of those layers of clothing. then i get in to our filthy shower in my flip flops (everything here is cooooovvveeerreed in dirt. everything.), and turn on the electric shower head. that thing would be sooooo against housing codes in the states. its got all kinds of rickety home done partially exposed wiring dangling all around it just waiting to get wet. we are not allowed to leave piles of clothing around the house. not only because of the cockroaches, which are just sort of accepted at roomates, but because we are trying not to invite SPIDERS THE SIZE OF OUR FACES in to burrow for warmth. i am not kidding. long live south america. on the topic, the food here is indeed horrible. but at least it is greasy. yesterday a ward member did me a huge favor by giving me three huge pieces of deep fried i dont even know what (it tasted like beef, kind of, and had the texture of a dry portobello mushroom, and was deep fried and cold and the oil was wet on it) and then a huge helping of cold potatos and mushy cold cooked broccoli smothered in mayonnaise (a local favorite). then we went to our next apppointment, and he made us each eat half of a torta and a liter of fanta. and i thought, ´gee, i should love to not eat for a few days after this´. the weird thing is, they have more decent looking food available in stores. like for breakfast, i eat oatmeal and fresh fruit (which often has a funny taste cuz we have to bathe it in bleach to try to kill parasites before we eat it) and they have wonderful, safe, tasty yogurt here. but i guess they love fried cow liver or whatever and mayonnaise. they also love to eat armadillo and carpincha(described by my comp as an ROUS from princess bride). they head out to the frontera and hunt them. i shall surely be eating both of these creatures, probably this week. dulce. there is garbage in the streets and dogs all over, but there are government paved roads and sidewalks in places, which is nice. oh, and people DO wear bright colors here. portugese? learn portugese? thank heavens, no. people speak it, but i am still so bad at spanish that i cant tell either way… i just dont understand them. it is suuuuuuuper frustrating. even when i try to talk, people cant understand my accent. i guess i sound like a huge gringa. on the bright side, the people here are really nice and sweet and patient with me, and they think it is cute when i pray in usted, cuz i do not know anything right now about speaking in tu. and on the brighter side, people LOOOVE to hear me sing. so i just sing people songs and look stupid and they like me, which i guess is all i can ask for right now. but sometimes its hard to sing in their smoky houses at night. without building codes, a lot of these fireplaces dont exactly help the smoke out of the houses. i miss the states so hard core right now. i now completely understand why everybody wants to live there. real food, insulation, no trash and dog crap everywhere, fruit without the bleach taste, water heaters… and i miss all yall, all my family and friends, too. i have yet to find somebody i really click with out here. i doubt i ever will. its awfully lonely most of the time. so please write me, even though itll take a long time for me to write you back! on the brighter side, the sky here is beautiful, and you can see all of the stars. i am allowed to drink coke. the ward here is reeeeeeaaaallly, really friendly and totally accustomed to having missionaries that cannot speak spanish. (i hate that i cannot speak spanish. watching people all day, it looks so easy, but then when i try, i sound like president bush.) i know the spanish will come, but its still frustrating, cuz i like to talk, and my companion isnt much for talking when we are alone. oh well. thank heavens for p day. oh, and the locals gave me a nickname, cuz they cant say roach and apparently my first name rhymes with the word for horse lard. cielo. which means sky. or heaven. so i like that. every woman i meet kisses me on the cheek. i still feel weird about it. we have a lot of people to teach and everybody is really nice and receptive, so the work seems to be going pretty good. in spite of how hard a lot of this is for me to get used to, i am really excited to get to help these people find the joy in the gospel. thanks for the stuff! you can send things in the pouch in a normal envelope, people do it all the time. just send me like, a tooon of stamps. i want one of the littlest moleskines, lined. and maybe a crew neck, long sleeved black sweater. during the day i wear 2 pairs of leggings, wool tights, and 5 shirts and a coat and gloves. it is so cold here. so yeah. i am sure you keep me in your prayers, but keep me, keep me, keep me there. pray that i can lose my sense of taste for the next sixteen months. i love you!

Artigas, Uruguay

23 Jul

1, i am here, in uruguay, in artigas, up at the border of brazil, and i just finished my first day as a real missionary with less than 3 hours of sleep last night. i havent really gotten to sleep in a few days. whatev. a couple of things, before i forget, i need american stamps, and lots of them, with which i can mail my friends snail style, cuz i can no longer sneak about myldsmail. so if they wanna write me, they can use the urugoest gmail account and they will print it and send it to me and i will snail back. lame, i know. so mom, can you send me a ton of us stamps via pouch?

dont bother with the interweb on the jody dress. i still have a month and a half of cold. and it is pretty cold here, but not super windy, at least. well, it was way cold and windy and rainy in montevideo, but up here its a little more mild. and dont sweat about the power converters either, i think i am aaaight.

man, this is the freaking twilight zone, and i am probably nigh unto completely incoherent right now. but yeah.

we flew out of beunos aires tuesday morning, and we had to get up at three. i didnt get to sleep at all that night, cuz i was so completely stoked out of my brains to be getting out of spirit prison. then we traveled, and the mish prez took us to the beach in montevideo to take a picture of us. it was like stepping into heaven. there was a fresh breeze, flowers, i was not in argentina… then the prez and his wife are amazing and they fed us potato soup and brownies, which is the best food id had since i left salt lake, and we went to a session in the temple… and it was way hard to stay awake, trying to get through it in spanish.

then we were in meetings, and had to fast the next day til noon to have a health check to live in uruguay, wherin i was treated likeunto a horse. they dead seriously checked my teeth.

and then we had lunch and met our trainers, and my prayers were answered. she is not a dork. she likes sufjan stevens, my instrumental bjork, and knew where i could find herbal tea.

we had to wait 6 hours in the mission office to get on our nightbus for the 8 hour ride to artigas. we arrived at like, 6 in the morning, and i of course, didnt sleep more than 3 hours. then we got dressed and studied and started our day.

but its been good. i kind of freaked out a bit cuz i realized how long im going to be here and how horrible the food is… and it is like, horrible. and `people looooove to feed us. its just greasy, greasy, meat, potatos, sloppy cabbage and broccoli and carrots smothered in mayonnaise… even the cake here is like, flour and oil. it was way rough to pretend to enjoy it. i hereby aspire to lose my senses of taste and smell. my trainer said shes gained 20 pounds being here for 4 transfers. greeeeeaaaat. i get to eat things i dont like and gain weight. color me stoked.

but it has been amazing teaching real lessons, and everybody here has been super nice, and its really awesome that we have so many investigators to teach. and i understood probably 95 percent of everything everyone said today… i think i did anyway…. and if i did, thats a miracle.

so yeah. we have to go to another cita. i am safe, and well. and even with the food, this is waaaaaay better than spirit prison, and for that, i am grateful.

i love you, mom! please still try to write me, friends! i love you rest of family!

oh, and my new p day is monday. friends, write me on sundays for me to receive gmail emails most promptly. to those of you you have myldsmailed me, you will get a response in full.

ps.. the prez has no rules against my cool music and coke. god really does love me.

Uruguay Montevideo West Mission

22 Jul

Dear families!

We just wanted you to know that your son or daughter has made it safely to Uruguay. They look great! We are so excited to work with them and we know they will be an immense blessing in the lives of many. Thank you so much for all you have and are doing for them. Here is a picture of them with President and Hermana Peterson, taken this morning. Your missionary should be writing you an email, Monday.

Elder Jimenez

Secretario Ejecutivo

La Misión Uruguay Montevideo Oeste


5 More Days

16 Jul

5 days. i have five more days in spirit prison.

and then im going out into the real mission field to be a real missionary, and i am scared shiz-less. (i have become incredibly fond of book of mormon referenced jokes. it was inevitably what was to become of me.)

but yeah, without proseliting, there isnt too much to write about. i have 5 more days of eating cereal. 5 more days of ten hours of class. five more days of easily procured fresh water. so its a little bitter sweet. 5 more days of being around people who at very least, if they dont speak english, are sympathetic with my bad spanish.

one of the teachers here just got a new cell phone that takes good videos. so my teacher thought it would be rad to videotape us in one of our practice lessons. on viewing, i was happily surprised. not only because i did not look like i have gained weight in here, but because my accent, and my spanish, i thought, was pretty good.

then the teacher replayed the video and paused it to correct me on my every grammatical folly. we paused roughly every 15 seconds. i speak like an utter and complete caveman. this spanish grammar is whack.
and i am now completely aware of my impending doom in… five days.
oh well. the elders were just as bad as me. but my companion is, apparently, a genius.

so yeah. our travel plans are as follows… we fly to uruguay at 4 in the morning on tuesday. i keep praying that mi nuevo compañera will not be a dork. that is all i am asking… just not a dork, por favor.

oh, and i speak a full on spanglish like, all the time now.

so yeah, all we do anymore is practice teaching ten hours a day. and it gets sooooo old and boring. all of my investigators already have a sort of uncanny knowlege of the gospel. i try to keep it real, and i am now known as the meanest investigator in the mtc. they say if they can baptize me, they are allowed to ship out early.
all i ask are simple things like, ´so if the bom is a testament of america, are there ones about africa and asia too? god loves the people there too, right?´ poor elders. at least it makes it a little more interesting, right?

oh, and we had our group picture taken. i look kind of weird, but my comp looks nice. mostly cuz she is nice.

but yeah, other that, we try hard to keep it interesting around here. the elders have taken up magic tricks, and hassling our teachers about their love lives, which is usually pretty funny. our night teacher, hna P for internets sake, is super sweet and shy and its real easy to make her blush. she never speaks her mind. at least, not til the night one of the elders tried to give her dating advice. he was relentless until she finally said, … youre going to try to give me advice? in an incredulous tone.

but yeah. i have grown to love the elders. they are my new favorite little brothers.

uuh… so the stuff i want? i dont even know where it is. but for now, all i need is…

a new power converter, likeunto the one that exploded.
another indestructable missionary mall skirt, brand wall st, black, size xl (the l rides up and and yeah. i havent gained weight. i just want to fit leggings, five pairs, comfortably underneath) the white blouse i left in your closet, i think, and some sort of perfume with which i might smell better than my shower water (not required) another little moleskine journal, lined peferred.

oh, and, ellen and all of my stylish friends will gasp, but…

a jody dress. like those indestructable flowery mr mac or dillards or mish mall dresses. dont hate. it is going to be hot. i dont have to look hot to save souls. dont hate.  try to find one that isnt suuuuuper ugly. i will get you shipping info when i know what will be up with that.

say hi to everyone for me! and grats to david and his wife!

9 Jul

i love you! and i still miss you a ton.

my real companion for this 9 weeks had been hermana vogel. she is sweet and wonderful and our being together was definitely inspired, as she is real patient with me as i try not to be an uppity little punk when confronted with so many new little rules. but i have gotten a lot better with this obedience thing. she is funny. we have a good time. i will be sad when, in TWELVE DAYS, when i LEAVE THE MTC, we wont be comps anymore. but that will be my only point of sorrow in leaving this place.
dont get me wrong, the staff is nice, the food is safe, and we have toilet paper, and i appreciate that, but i am pretty much over being in class for ten and a half hours a day with a bunch of 19 year olds. but dont get me wrong again, many of them, most of the time, act pretty decently. but yeah. i will love to be a real missionary and have real people who really need my help.

i am sorry not to have been able to be there for the 4th. i will likewise be sorry to be missing out on other holidays, such as thanksgiving. i spent about 2 hours in class last week daydreaming of your thanksgiving dinners. oh, the things i am sacraficing for the spreading of the gospel.

but yeah. i am ready to go. it didnt help last friday, when first thing in class, our teacher showed us a learninig progress chart for our class that showed we had already learned everything they intended to teach us— 2.5 weeks early. it was not particularly motivational.

it also doesnt help that, cuz of the GRIPE … pronounced gree´pay, or the swine flu, the whole of beunos aires is shut down, including church services for the locals and school and… proseliting for the inmates at the mtc.

a part of me nearly died when i found that out. so i will be cooped up in here for all of the next 12 days.

it also doesnt help that for lunch today, because its argentinas 4th of july of sorts, the chef made us traditional food for lunch—

menudo. you know, like, cow stomach soup.

when i looked down to my bowl, i whispered to one of the elders its identity. he turned pale, and scolded me not to make it publically known, in hopes that others might ignorantly enjoy their exotic new lunch. eventually we all figured it out, and i spent my lunch sneaking the chunks of stomach into napkins to casually slip into the trash. i just couldnt do it. yet. i mean, i will probably have to in the feild anyway, so… why start now?

we went tracting last saturday for our last time in argentina, and it was sort of lame. we had one good conversation first thing in the morning, and for the rest of the day, everybody just hit on us. it was all men in the streets. and they were all straight up hitting on us. i am not flattering myself. they were gross, and it was kind of frustrating.

speaking of flattering ones self, i nearly told an elder not to do so the other day. his comp made a joke about us attacking him. he said he had locked his heart and could resist us. i bit my tongue pretty hard.

i do finally really feel like i am in a foreign country though. mostly because i am becoming more acquainted with the culture. our teacher taught us the other week one of his favorite figures of speech.

´i have been working like a negro´. or n-word. both are commonly accepted, and not considered racist in the least.

also it is ok to call someone the anticristo or tell them to va a infierno (go to hell).

sweet. i love latin america.

and my spanish is coming pretty good, i think. i understand most people most of the time unless they are talking in technical terms, like medical or trades or whatnot. and i can DEFINITELY talk about the gospel. my teachers tell me i talk fluidly like a latina. i hope they are sincere.

uh, what else? oh, there are new n americans, and a poor girl from riverton is in our room. every time i say anything to her, even if i think its tame, it startles her and rocks her country music little world and a part of her dies. i feel bad. oh well. somebody has to tell her about frida kahlo, right?

other than that, i have a list of things i would like to have sent. but i will wait to ask cuz i have no idea where i will be in a week and a half. pray for me that i will go somewhere cool. where i will not have to learn a dialect just yet.

i pray for you and the other kids all the time, and i want the best for all of you! i miss you!

love, allison.

ps- oh, and another hilight of the week was when the elders in my district and i had a class-wide competition to see who could go the longest speaking nothing but spanish. i won. and everybody else crapped out in 3 hours. i am all kinds of proud of myself. and one of the elders had to buy me an alfajor. alfajores are little cake and dulce de leche gifts from heaven that sustain the sugar-starved north americans in their hell-oh, i mean heck(!)ish time at the mtc. we get to buy them at the hostel by the temple on p days. i love them. google them for pictures and a better description. we barter with them and war over them like some tribes have over seashells and other such precious goods. those layer caked dulce de leche dreams are really a symbol of hope for us all.
this place is still endlessly weird.

Alfajores:

2 Jul

this week has been way better than the past few for a few reasons.

my crazy third comp got shipped out to her mission. finally. she was a sexist, self oppressing freak. ok, thats a little harsh, but not entirely untrue. she talked like, non stop. about silly things. anyway, its a relief to have her gone. once she left, we got a new third comp. that cool really short preuvian girl. and she didnt speak a lick of english, but in my struggling spanish, we became good friends. she used to work in the premeire hair salon in lima. she taught me a lot, and make me a lot more comfortable speaking the spanish i know. it was fun. in talking to her, if i didnt know a word, i would just say the english most latin based equivalent i could think of in a spanish accent, and probably eighty percent of the time, it worked.
we went tracting with her, and it was really cool. not only just because we were tracting… i look forward to proselitismo days like i used to look forward to christmas. i can barely sleep the night before. the place we went to was cool too. it was poor almost like unto our first area, but much more charming. the sun was out, the houses were nice, the wild dogs in packs seemed friendlier, people were blasting music, there were neat little shops… it kind of reminded me a little of mexico. it was festive in its own way.
anyway, with a native speaker, it was rad. i barely said anything, cuz they talked super fast and i couldnt quite keep up, but it was so interesting to watch how the locals interacted with her vs. us. they were a little more short with her at first, but that little hna t was a powerhouse in heels on those trash littered dirt roads. when people would tell her no, she was stern, and got them to listen, like a parent would to a kid. and they really did listen. and she had answers for everything. so we just followed her around in awe.
the other best thing about her is that she found me a place to buy a brownie and a coke. and i died and went to heaven then and there. it was a wonderful, inspiring mission experience.
then i braved my first local, non church building toilet. ohmygoodness. it was miracle number two when my comp happened to have a little travel roll of toilet paper. something i had scoffed before upon seeing them in target stores in orem.
but now i could not be more grateful for the existence of such a thing.
on the topic of second world toilets, the one in the mtc is not much better, except it flushes and there is a roll of paper. all of the plumbing is exposed, which means our bathroom usually smells slightly nicer than an outhouse on a, granted, cold day.
but then we came back from class to find an air freshner, and i fell to my knees and praised glade. and the custodian. who is a funny guy, now that i understand his spanish.
and all of my english writing is reading more like scripture, and i wonder sometimes if im bordering on sacrelige. oh well. that is all i read in english now.
and the spanish is going really well. i can now, almost, express myself. slowly but surely, i can.
we got new missionaries when the old group left, and we got a bunch more n american hnas. which should be fun.
and we got the shortest latin elder EVER. he is the proportions of a 7 year old, no joke. he must have some sort of growth hormone deficiency. but hes a way cool guy.

oh, and can you pass along a thanks to grandma and grandpa roach for the card they sent? and thank grm m for the sewing kit? i used it and it was dandy.

so yeah. 3 weeks left. the elders have been behaving better, which is nice… but ill still be all kinds of happy to get out of here and on to my real mission.

i love you! i miss you! i pray for yall a lot!

oh, and post on my blog that if anybody wants to write me in the mtc, they had better send it along in the next week, or i might not get it ever. ok bye!