Archive | November, 2009
30 Nov


I´m glad to hear that thanksgiving was nice, although small. I spent the whole day trying really really really hard not to think about all of your great cooking while i laid in bed, in pain, as my poor body made it´s best effort to digest yet another grease-drenched milanesa. But don´t worry, i´ve started telling people i´m allergic to grease, so i think things are going to start looking up from here.

I don´t really have any super exciting or interesting stories this week, either. It was a lot like last week. We just, studied, taught lessons, uh… Ooh! There was a huge thunderstorm last night, and as luck would have it, we´d already gotten back to our apartment before it hit. It was 7:30 when it started, and we did the math and realized it would not calm down in time to do more proselyting. So what did we do? We went out to the apartment complex lawn and got soaked. We ran and laughed in the rain. it was really great—until it started hailing hails the size of garbanzo beans and the winds picked up, and my comp told me that means there could be a tornado in these parts. Hails that big really hurt. So then we ran inside and drank herbal tea, and watched to see if there would be a tornado. If there was, we didn´t see it.

Um, what else? I wasn´t aware until yesterday, but i´ve been doing a Little bit of free time gardening in my apartment. I went to clean off our messy kitchen table to discover, behind a grocery bag, a sweet potato i had bought, decided against eating, then forgotten about. it had grown purple stems and leaves! I then put it in a place of honor in the apartment. It´s really a rad Little plant. You should be receiving a photo of it… someday. I´m glad you like the pictures. My comp is always printing things on p day, so as long as i´m with her, they´re gonna keep coming.

Uh, and what else? In one of our lessons this week, i was in the middle of explaining the apostasy when the investigator lady stood up from her chair, ran toward me with her hand raised, then smashed a cockroach on the wall that had been hanging out approximately 4 inches from my right ear. It was startling. And gross. I must be hitting that comfortable part of my misión where most of this has become routine.

I´ve been spending a lot of time Reading scriptures and pondering the universe, almost to the extreme of wandering around like a space cadet. Which leaves me with fewer external observations to share. But i recommend it. The scriptures are great and have got some mind blowing stuff in there, if you look for it. i´m learning a lot. So, go read your scriptures, ´yall!

Oh! I´m way glad to have been left with my companion this change. We´re good friends by now, and we´ve got some rad plans for christmas. We´re hooking the japonese gaucho up with a german and russian convert named Frida, from my comp´s previous area. She´s coming to town, so we´re gonna have an asado, grease free, cuz the japonese gaucho knows how i like it, and then that night, my comp and i are going to hang out of our apartment Windows and watch the fireworks. So i won´t be home with everybody i love, but at least i´ll be good and busy with my friends trying to set up a multicultural temple marriage.

Soooooooo yeah. I love you and i miss you! And don´t worry, the financial problems were resolved. We´d just run out of cash in an awful way, like, we almost didn´t have safe drinking water. But the members helped us out and we kept getting lots of miraculous text messages from people offering us food and water. Then some guy in the street gave me ten pesos, which bought me my bus ticket to get to the bank downtown to see if i had Money. And then the misión finally gave me my food Money, so everything is ok.

And yeah! I love you mom and siblings! I hope everything ´s aaaight. chau!


More Pictures!!

25 Nov

Ellen’s package came!  Can you see how completely enraptured I am? Do I look overcome with joy? Cuz I am. this probalby how I will look in the 2nd coming-If I don’t become inicuous? Iniquito? wicked? Yeah. that.

This is our window, and our landlord’s dog in Artigas.

This is the bane of my existance. Milanesa. Eeugh.

This is a street corner.  A nicer one.

This is the herd of children who used to hang out with me  and who ask probing questions.

24 Nov

Mom! Hi.

You hear from me on Tuesday cuz it was transfers week. But i have great news. I´m not going anywhere! And neither is my comp! I´m thrilled. She´s been feeling better and we work together really well, and she´s not crazy, and she speaks really good collegiate spanish. also the ward and the bishop here are great. the bishop actually like, fellowships investigators instead of just second guessing us all the time.  i´m excited to be here to find more great investigators and help this little ward grow. The spanish is going good. Last week, the bishop called and asked me to give a 12 minute talk in sacrament cuz, as he put it, ´you speak as well as your comp does anyway´. Which might not be entirely true, but it did come out surprisingly well. Seeing as it was my first real talk since like, primary? Oh, and last week elder Bednar came to talk to all of the missionaries in uruguay! I was totally sitting like, 3 yards away from him. He asked us not to put anything he said on the internet, but i will say that he said, ´growing a moustache does not mean you will go to hell´. I love it when apostles say ´hell´. I find it all kinds of endearing. But yeah. It was really good, and i learned a lot.

You should know that i´m spending a lot of my own Money because of a few factors. Like, this misión gives their missionaries the LEAST amount of spending Money in the ENTIRE WORLD. Then i had 2000 pesos stolen from me in my apartment (why they left my camera, i don´t know, but i am grateful.). then i had to buy sunscreen, which does not come cheap around here, either—and i like to eat breakfast. So, just this month, can you gimme some more Money?  Also i had to spend a chunk of cash this week on a suit jacket. Cuz the wife of the prez is crazy and called us and told us WE HAD to show up at this conference in jackets. So i bought this real nice laura bush number, and spent the conference secretly thrilled that i was secretly wearing a laura bush or female general authority halloween costume, a couple of weeks late. Uh, so yeah.

Thank you so much for sending me packages! They really are like, an ethereal thrill to receive and open, and eat the good gringo food within. And that´s alright about the scripture case… i´ll get along fine. But fyi, i have the normal sized non quad ones.

i wish i could be with you for thanksgiving. I hope it´s a real happy one. And i hope you can taste the food as if i were tasting it, after all the gross stuff i eat, and then enjoy it even more. Turns out i should be home next year in time for REAL thanksgiving. Cuz my 18 month mark is november 21st, and it turns out i can leave then if i want to. Which i probably will. So that´ll be exciting!

The church is true, and the lord hears and answers sincere prayers in ways that can sometimes be incredible. Cuz he loves all of us a whole, whole, lot. And i hope you know i only write things like that here cuz i really mean them. I just can´t keep these things that make me this happy to myself

Send love to the siblings and gimme teenie´s mailing address!


22 Nov

This is my favorite picture from our omni bus. I look like I am dreaming of that elder. He is one of the elders I wanted to punch in the MTC.

My sombrero!

This is how we make mashed potatoes. We put it outside cuz the natural gas here smells terrible.

A neighborhood.

Gimena, a local 13 year old, freshly baptized. This was in artigas

PS:  I am wearing six sweaters underneath, and that is why I look fat.


Our kitchen in our place in Artigas. The snap case is to discourage cockroaches and to keep our oatmeal safe from billions of little ants. The grey spots on the walls are molded over.

Beba. We had to call these elders to come help us get her to the font. She wanted to do it, she was just scared. She’s now way glad she did it.

Me and my companions in the MTC. The one to the right is the lunatic.

Beba! I love her. She makes 80-something look so good.

Hermana Roach

Birthday party in Artigas. Those candles are what we could consider full-blown 4 of July fireworks in the States. That rad kid in front is Henry Beatamcour. We baptized his brother to the right, Hernan.

This little beauty is the toilet of the south American equivalent of a greyhound bus. And I used it. Don’t tell me I am not hard core.

This was our swamp shortcut where I got that horrible mosquito bite. This is Hna. Villatba.

This is me in the Campo with some trees and a horse.

Me and my comp in pocitos. Behind me is a political rally.

On a member family’s balcony in Pocitos, Montevideo. This was our area. Our beautiful area. And we were totally allowed to go to the beach too, as long as we didn’t swim.

This was a lucky shot in Colonia. Behind is the Rio Negra. On my index finger you can see my nail bruise thing from smashing my finger on someone’s chair in Artigas.

The granddaughter of Beba. Maria Pia or ‘lapia’. She cannot walk but is really cute. And really smart for a five year old.

My last night in Artigas with the Tornato de Santa Rosa. It was a terrifying lightening storm to see in the middle of a field like that.

I do not know this kid’s real name. We always called her Juan Carols. She is pure evil, but really cute about it. Behind is her mom, Zula.


I am giant here. This is the lady who washed, then dried my laundry above a herd of chickens and her kids. These kids never stop running and screaming. This is a normal Uruguayan house. Well, a normal poor house. Which is pretty normal. The taller little girl gave me this bouquet.

This is me studying in my house in Salto.

The baptisms of Ana y Camila, the awesome 13 year olds I told you about. I mostly love this picture because of that toddler in the middle.

16 Nov

hi mom!

thanks for the package, mom! i love it! the chili and the candy and the children´s hymnal, and even better, the cd´s of children´s hymns. i have really surprised myself with how much i have thoroughly enjoyed those. i´m beginning wonder if i will take this musical taste home with me into my real life. i´ve imagined myself a few times listening to spanish kids hymns in my car, with my friends. my friends would still like me anyway, right? even with a lame quirk like that??

also, the local kids are going to LOVE these hlj (ctr) rings.

and a word of warning for anybody who´d like to be so rad as to send me stuff…

ellen, i got your package! and i love the breath mints and the hymnal and the newspaper!!! …but that´s all i got. yeah. we freaking got robbed.
i´m guessing my bumble and bumble was in there? apparently it´s a really hot black market item down here, and those postal thieves who purposely break into gringo boxes snatched it.

so, for future reference, ( if you wanna try again with the bumble and bumble i will love you forever, but if you don´t wanna take the leap of faith, i will understand) sticking pictures of Christ on the outside of the box is IMPERATIVE. also, writing something like, ´gracias por ser misiónera y triar almas a jesucristo´on the outside really makes ´em feel guilty, too. yes, these south american postal thieves are a bunch of idiots. third, just in case, put the shampoo in other bottles, without labels, so it is unsellable. and maybe do a collage of catholic art in the place of the label instead, so they can think it is holy water or something.

so yeah. lame. i won´t even mentioned how often taxi drivers like to rip the gringa off either.

um, in other news, for my Christmas box, i would love a new journal, softer cover preferred, and a scripture case. my poor english scriptures have a rough time travelling in a grocery bag during transfers. also, solid white albacore tuna, in water. i would really enjoy a couple of cans of that. oh! and a box of blueberry morning cereal would rock my world, too.

oh! and us stamps!! lots of them!

thanks for sending me stuff, ´yall. it really is like, the best thing ever to get your packages. i really, really, really appreciate it. like, a lot.

um, what else? i can´t believe i´m hitting my six month mark this week. i absolutely love it out here now, and i know it was no mistake that i was sent to serve here, and not only so i could learn that i´m capable of surviving without my fancy organic food that i so dearly miss. and love.

the people here are really humble and loving. it weirded me out at first, when everybody i met told me they loved me and thought i was a wonderful person within a couple of days of knowing me.

but now i´ve started doing it, and i like it a lot. it´s amazing how happy you can make someone by saying nice things like that. i hope to carry this habit with me back to the states, and into the rest of my life. i love telling people i love them. even better, i love knowing that i mean it.

we baptised a really great 14 year old named carlos, or tico, on sunday. poor guy grew up in a really rough neighborhood, but he´s got a really great spirit about him. we´ve started teaching the whole family, and the mom is really, really excited that we´re here to help her quit smoking. i´m pretty sure they´re all going to get baptised, and i hope i´m still in pysandu to see it. to see them start their new lives and be all happy in the gospel and all that. i hope you don´t mind mom, but i´m giving him that little spanish hymnal you sent me. he´s going to love it.

other than that, i met a japonese-uruguayan genuine gaucho last week. his name is aparecio. like many gauchos, he cannot understand a word i say because of my accent. but we have a grand time eating asado together just the same.

so yeah. guachos are real. there are men who actually wear those weird pants and the boots and the silk scarves and the hats and carry matés around. i have met many. but this is my first japonese one, and therefore, my favorite.

oh! and my comp and i did something 600 south downtown salt lake style the other day! we bought 8 five liter bottles of safe drinking water, then realized we could not possibly carry them ourselves a mile to our apartment. so we asked one of the people at the store if we could borrow a shopping cart. she genially said yes, like it was a completely normal request. we got to our neighborhood, and noticed that everyone who passed by was gawking at us. people on their dirtbikes were rubbernecking to get a good look.
so we laughed really hard, and i realized that the sight of two nuns ( or missionaries) pushing a shopping cart down my street might be something i would remember to tell my friends.

uh, what else? we met a really weird kid in the street who started hassling me to give him a drink from my water bottle. i did not want to, and my companion was a genius and thought to tell him i didn´t speak spanish. i then gratefully followed her lead and acted along. it was really interesting to have someone talking to you like you don´t understand them when you do, and it was really hard not to laugh. especially when my companion told him that these north americans are like a bunch of untrained animals and there was no way she could communicate to me to get me to give him my water without startling me.

i quite like this trick. i have used it 2 more times since then to get myself out of sticky situations.

so yeah. what´s teenie´s mailing address? i wanna send her some love.
i love you and i miss you and i pray for you and the other kids a lot. thanks for everything!

9 Nov

dear mom,

i am WAY glad i chose to be a missionary.

i should be getting your package this, or next week. for the christmas box, you should probably send it with a good 4 weeks to get here. just in case.

if you could send me some spicy gingersnaps, i would be in heaven. also some candycanes would help me to feel like it´s christmas when it´s a million degrees, and the kids are throwing pop-its in the streets. (as far as i can tell, christmas here is like the 4th of july in the states. fireworks, barbeques.. drunks in the streets…) i am stoked that pop its exist here, and fully intend to buy me some.

the pictures? tell ellen not to worry about putting it on my facebook, cuz the mish prez´s wife is a downright professional facebook lurker. but i would like for all of them to be posted on the blog, if possible.

your cooling vibes worked, and this week it didn´t get much hotter than 75 degrees. it was actually pretty cold a few days there. the weather here is on drugs, and for such a tiny country, it varies a lot, depending on where you are.

but yeah. i am really glad to be in uruguay, even if the food sucks.

i´m glad i am here because… i´m just like, i´m just really loving this mission thing now. this transfer was a hard one, but i´ve learned a lot. and i´ve figured out why exactly i´m here. and watching the light come in to people´s eyes as they come to understand that they are children of their loving heavenly father who has a plan for them in this huuuuuuge universe… man. you could feed me refried pencil erasers and sawdust, and i would stick around.

it´s also getting easier. not only because ellen sent me a package of wonderful food. i´m more comfortable now with the locals. and i like, really, really love them. we were talking with an 82 year old lady the other day, and from her bed she was staring at me a little funny, until she finally said, ´you are huge. you could probably carry 13 babies. you should have a big family.´and i wasn´t even weirded out. we talked genailly about how i think i would only like 4, maybe 5 kids, to which she responded wistfully that it´d be a waste of my gloriously huge birthing hips. i´m just glad she didn´t bring up breastfeeding. that still freaks me out.

i´ve had a lot of old lady fun this week. in our ward, there is an old lady who conducts the hymns in sacrament, who looks and sings like a muppet. i don´t even know which one, but she is amazing, and that is the only analogy i can think of. she sings with a forward, nasal, bright tone, and a huge warbly vibrato, passionately and loudly, contorting her face along with her emotions. i have a really hard time not 1, laughing at her too loud. and 2, not taking a video of her with my camera. good thing i have to be an example of reverence. it keeps me in line. enough.

but yeah. i would wager that i can use the F word now… Fluent. yeah, i would wager that i am now fluent, more or less.

this week was really great. my mission is finally starting to become what i had always imagined. and it is, really, the life.

but i still want peanut butter.

i love you mom and i am so proud that you are such a scholastic rock star and doing so well in your classes. tell dan grats on his church job, and to hack the system to put more money in my bank account out here. tell teenie i love her and i miss her and i sincerely pray for her and hope she´s well in every way. and tell marsh thanks for the wikipedia articles, and i will write him back and i love him and miss him too and all that good stuff.

have i mentioned that i hope to marry someday with a man who has lots of undone family history? cuz ours is all done, right? right. maybe you could send me some of ours to check out in the christmas package. that would be cool.

oh! and i realized this last week, i get to call you in a month or so! woo! i´m excited!

i miss you and i love you! caio.


2 Nov


1, i love pysandu. it´s the nicest, cleanest, prettiest small town in uruguay i´ve seen yet. i would compare it with bellevue (well, a uruguayan one), but there are no hills (thank heavens). we live in the nicest aparment i´ve seen in the mission yet, in a nice complex of brick and cement buildings and well kept grass lawns and pretty green trees. it looks like the nice parts of u of u campus. i love it. inside, we have CLEAN FLOORS, which, i hope the caps lock shows, is a huge thing. also, freshly baby pink and robin´s egg blue painted walls (hey, it´s fresh paint, i can´t complain…) and no toxic mold. and a big kitchen, and a nice, cool bedroom, and our own prehistoric looking laundry basin on our patio, which has a currently imhabited bird´s nest on it.
i realized the other day that i think i have officially developed uruguayan eyes. these houses are starting to look pretty decent. i´ma think pleasant grove is beverly hills when i get back.

also, my comp is feeling better, and we have a ton of super rad investigators. the members don´t give much food, and i´m ok with that, cuz its a little less vegetable oil and animal byproducts and mayonnaise and canned peas in my system.

everything here is super great, except that it´s almost summer. friday was the most painful day of my life. it was 40 degrees c. or, ONE HUNDRED AND TWO degrees f. and humid. thankfully, my comp felt sick that afternoon, so we laid on the floor in the apartment with the fan on and slept. i cannot believe i managed to sleep. i felt like i was being boiled alive.

when i woke up, i almost creid, contemplating living and working as a missionary in this climate for the next 7 months. it is hellish.

we went out to work that evening, and we were sweating drops. like, there were sweat drops in the dirt road behind us. then a nice lady invited us to sit with her in the shade of her tree, and we cooled down a bit. i got to playing with my watch, and saw that around the band, i had white remnants of the salt of my own dried sweat.

so i hope you didn´t send too much chocolate, cuz it has to ride up to pysandu on a greyhound type bus in hot weather. if you did, i hope for a miracle, cuz i could use a little halloween.

i spent saturday night a little bummed, thinking about how much fun a lot of people in the states were probably having celebrating halloween. here, in the cities, some people celebrate it, but in the country, it´s the day of the witches and evil so nobody does anything.
it´s not like i even really enjoyed halloween all that much in the states… but hey, i wasn´t crazy about peanut butter either.
on the bright side, the hot weather down here will bring more fruits, like watermelons and avocados to eat.
so yeah.

the other day, i got a really, really cute letter from one of my 13 year old converts in salto. she told me we would be best friends forever, and gave me her contact information. she told me she would miss my bad spanish, and would never like the new hermana as much as she liked me. then she told me she cried when i left. awwww. then i lost the card. i have no idea how, and am now extremely bummed. lame.

uh, let´s see… other than that? not much. i´ve started speaking to my companion and children in ´vos´form, and it´s pretty dang fun. i´m almost at the point in spanish where i have stopped resenting it for impeding my powers of communication. i can now tell stories and effectively make people laugh, which is cool.

oh, and i found out that in uruguay, telling people you study art is about as cool as telling someone you want to lock yourself in your basement and play warcraft for the rest of your life. they consider artists lazy, good-for-nothings. ha. rad. i´ll probably keep telling people anyway. i mean, heck. there are plenty of people here who can´t even read. who are they to judge me?

uh, so yeah. packages take, generally, 2 weeks to get to the mission offices, and another week to get to where i am. thanks for sending me stuff! i am really excited to get it, prolly next week.

oh, and i was totally right for buying tons of garments. i brought 21 pairs, and now i have 7.5. so it might be that all i want for christmas is underwear. people around here steal garments a lot. i have no idea why. oh, and some of them almond cookie gun cookies would completely enhance my universe ( more and more i find myself floundering to think of english adjectives, when i have the perfect spanish one in mind…).

so yeah. i love you mom and i miss you and good luck with your studies. it´ll be so rad when you´ve got your degree. wish dan luck, too! and health! and i am thrilled to hear that teenie is doing better and feeling better about the universe and all. and thanks for writing me and answering my questions, marsh! i will get back to you soonish!
i miss and love you all!