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26 Jul

mom!!!

this week was good. chill. we taught some good lessons, found out that my hna moreno probably has kidney stones, did divisions with my favorite local teenager, estercita, who sends us funny texts in english, went to district meeting, went to church, visited enrique, and had a really nice family home evening with my favorite local family. the mom, norma, is an awesome seamstress who was cool enough to make me three reeaaaally nice winter skirts that i´m gonna wear when i get home. she made them with so much love. she went out of her way to find coordinating buttons and zippers… and i still haven´t been able to convince her to let me pay her. she also went out of her way to get a hold of a cd of the uruguayan soundtrack for the world cup for me to take home as a souvineer. my comp and i love these songs. they´re funny, cuz they´re soccer fight songs, but because uruguay is such a chill country, they´re more just like… gaucho folk music. aww, norma. she´s rad. and she´s starting to go to church again, too!

this morning, we went over to their house to borrow their oven, so hna moreno could make me a little bit of arabic food. it´s only fair after all the gringa food i´ve made her in these 9 months we´ve been together. when we called to ask if we could come over, they agreed, and when we got there, the grandma, etelvina, had made her own lunch just in case the arabic food involved all sorts of weird creatures that were not interesting for her to eat. but etelvina loved the food! and so did norma and her daughter melania! and i did, too!

but after 14 months of not eating arabic food, the spices hit me hard and made my face turn bright red. my guts don´t hurt, but my face is red. am i going to have to eat baby food for the rest of my life??? i hope not. but overall, the guts are behaving well.

we had interviews with the president this week, and he pretty much told me he´s planning on having me train one of the new gringas who´ll show up next week. which´ll be fun, i think.

but then it really got me thinking… analyzing my current lifestyle…oh, mom, i am so glad you cannot see the way in which i live! i got to imagining how i´m gonna look to a gringa with a fresh from the states perspective…she´s gonna think her trainer is a cavewoman. the house is always filthy. it came that way, and despite all the mopping one could do, it is filthy still. i eat a local quince jelly with crappy, not that good tasting crackers, and the local coffee imitation stuff cuz it´s hot and cheap and has flavor for breakfast. i have also taken to using the bidet, because toilet paper is expensive. i don´t really even remember how to cook without using bell peppers. i´m like…. uruguayan. the poor little sweetie´s gonna be confused by me.

oh well! i´ll live it up while i´m here. and then when i get home i will wash my sheets on a monthly basis again because it will be possible again. but it´ll be fun!

so anyway. like always, i love you a lot and pray for you lots, mom and family!!! keep all of your respective chins up! Heavenly Father loves you and me all of us and has lots of beautiful plans for us and our futures if we trust in Him. He knows all of our hearts deepest desires… things we likely cannot even put into words… and I can testify that he can makes these things real and ours if we let Him work withing our lives and hearts. The Lord´s power is limitless.

i love you!!!  i really cannot wait to see you in 3 months.

my Lebanese cook.

etelvina looks suspicious.

norma loves bichlavich.

melania really does like it.. she ate 5 of them. you just can´t tell by looking at her face.

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I Love the Temple!

20 Jul

dear mom!

this week, we went to the temple! to accompany another one of hna moreno´s converts to receive her endowment!

this is Frida. she´s a great old lady. she talks NON STOP. and we shared our hostel room with her. lucky for me, she has a really sweetly toned voice, so when i stopped paying attention to what she was saying, which was most of the time, it was like listening to song birds chirp. and chirp, and chirp. i really like Frida, though. she has a really great experience taking her endowment out, and i am really grateful to have been able to share that experience with her. i hope i get transferred to fray bentos this coming change. i´d like to finish my mission there with her and all of the other good people there.

i love the temple. i love what you wrote me about the temple, mom. one of the first things i want to do when i get back is go to the temple with you.

i love and miss and pray for you a lot, family! i know the Lord is aware of and loves all of you, and taking very good care of you.

here´s us looking like really united companions with the flowers.

this is yoselin. she is the coolest teenager in montevideo. she did divisions with us when we served in montevideo last october.

so yeah. another great temple trip. i´m really grateful for all the blessings the Lord always gives me. I´ve been really blessed to get to go to the temple so many times in my mission. and i´ve been able to learn so much, and feel such a good spirit in going there. i love the temple.

i want to visit all of the temples in utah. after october, i will begin working to acheive this goal.

in other news, it has been REALLY really rreeeeeeeaaaalllllyyy cold here, and i lost 3 pairs of my thermal underwear. which is hard, but i think it´ll only be cold for another month and i´ll be okay.

i love you! i´m glad the garden is going good. i would love to have your extra 25 degrees. it is miserably cold here. oh well. pioneers walked miles in weather colder than this. although they did have thermal underwear.

but yeah. i am alive, and this week was good, and i love you, mom!!!

We lost.

13 Jul

we lost.

que porquería.

oh well, it was super fun while it lasted, and holland didn´t take the cup, so over all, i´m still happy. although after this experience, i have decided that watching sports is only worth it when your team wins. when they don´t win, it´s extremely painful. (did i mention that this game watching i have been doing is authorized by the mission prez? cuz it is).

on the big game day, we went to a local family´s house, and painted uruguay flags on our faces, while the 12 year old daughter sold fireworks to her neighbors to take advantage of the situation. and man, those fireworks are dangerous! they´re like, huge, stadium fireworks, that they fire off HOLDING THEM IN THEIR HANDS!! so dangerous!

speaking of dangerous, i tried to buy raw chicken again this week. it came home rotten. grossed out and offended, i am not buying any more chicken in the next 3.5 months.

i go home in 3.5 months. so weird! i felt like the mission WAS life. now i have to go be a person again? weird. so weird. but if life must go on, i am going to be happy about it. but until then i´m going to keep enjoying this.

the work this week went well. our investigator came to church, and all of the less active families we visited came, too. we had a good turn out, which is very fulfilling. i love being a missionary and teaching the gospel of happiness. and it really is. the gospel is the best thing that could ever happen to me. and all of the other children of God on this green earth.

but yeah. other than that, the week was pretty chill. i still love bellydancing, and was thinking about joining a group when i get back. that is, if there´s one that will let me come and dance and not perform in front of anyone ever. we´ll have to see.

on the topic of bellies, my stomach has been a lot, lot, LOT happier. i feel great, as long as i strictly follow my diet. i have my energy back, and everything!

buuuuuut yeah. what else? not much. i´m just missionarying around over here, reading my scriptures and preaching the good word. that´s all.

i love you mom, and you are in my prayers. good luck in your classes! i love and pray for you, too, my siblings!

enrique came to church again! this time in a tie! the next time he comes to church, he will get baptised! yay for enrique!

this is my new favorite local family. this grandma is a hoot

me and a niña, getting ready to face paint.

this is la judy. she loves her country!

me and  hna moreno loving this country.

judy and I love this country.

VAMOARRIBA URUGUAY!!!

5 Jul

VAMOARRIBA URUGUAY!!!we are totally gonna win! i would write more commonly shouted phrases, but they´re in spanish, and i think there are only two people who read this who would understand them. i absolutely love, and feel really blessed to get to be here for the first time in 40 years that urugauy has gotten this close to winning the world cup. if they beat holland tomorrow, they´ll be in the final showdown!! it´s great to see how united this place is. everyone, and i mean EVERYONE watches the games. the whole country shuts down. then, when we win, the whole country takes to the streets with their flags and their dirtbikes and sings a gaucho-folk style fight song!!! we spent the last game locked up in our apartment, cuz, really… even the dogs watch the games… and in that time, as we payed attention to the score by listening to the whole country shout and set off firecrackers as goals were scored, my comp took the time to teach me how to dance.

to…. belly dance!! she´s half lebonese, so her mom started teaching her to dance when she was like, 5 years old. and actually, it´s not dirty. the lyrics of arabic music all talk about allah, and spirituality, and the muslim religion actually has a lot of the same values as ours. (and it didn´t start out as sexist as it ended up these days). belly dancing is like, the funnest thing i think i have EVER done. of course, i will not do this in front of very many people when i get home, but it is the best, most entertaining workout i´ve ever met.  so now i´m gonna buy some mirrors to turn our apartment into a 6:30 am workout time dance studio.

but yeah. after uruguay won the last game, our tax driver buddy sent us a text message that read, ´estoy a full en la plaza!! quieren que les busque?´ this means, roughly, ´i´m dancing like a maniac in the plaza! want me to come get you??´ my comp and i laughed really hard, imagening ourselves as missionaries in a late night street party like that. and of course we then said no.

but other than the world cup and bellydancing, the rest of the week was good, too. we went around and, along with meeting lots of new investigators, got working with some recent converts who´d gone inactive too. and enrique came to church!

the meetings were really good yesterday. really spiritual. fast and testimony meeting is almost always a good one.

Enrique came to church!

oh, and i started a culinary revolution in uruguay this week. thanks to that box of wonderful spices you sent me, and a recipe book that the mission president´´s wife made for us with a taco soup recipe. and it was delicious. i made 4 delicious and healthy meals this week. i think i´m actually becoming a better cook in this food-forsaken place. and my stomach is lots better!!! i feel healthy again!!!!! vamoarriba!!!

the only bummer is that this good tasting food is spoiling me, and now when we do eat with members, i´m not used to the gross local food anymore, and i feel just like i did when i was first starting the mission again. oh well. good, healthy food is worth it. i don´t mind. i even found safe, clean chicken breasts to eat!! without skin and guts and feathers stuck to them!!

and i got to do some good meditating, too this week. i went back and read my journal from the very beginning of my mission… then got to writing in my journal about everything i have learned and seen and am now… and wow. my entire mission experience has been a miracle. a straight-up miracle. there´s no other way to describe these experiences, and what the Lord has done with me. i´m glad to still have 3 months and something left to serve Him a little more. the church is SO true, and Christ really does live and direct the church right now. He really is conscious of everything that happens to all of us in our lives, and not even a hair of our head can fall and escape Him. He is here always to understand us and take care of us with everything.  to all those whom i love, draw close to Him, trust in Him, and you´ll be blessed beyond your wildest dreams. He knows our hearts, and exactly what we really need to be happy.

i love you mom and dan and christine and marshall, and i am always praying for you. i´m glad i´ll be seeing you all relatively soon, even if leaving uruguay might kind of feel like ripping my heart out. i think the sweetness of seeing you all will outweigh the bitter of leaving this place.

this is my picture of the week of hna moreno. here she is, sticking things in her journal while i was cooking. did i mention that all of the cooking i did… which included the taco soup from DRY pinto beans, spaghetti, stir fry… i managed to make in the microwave? yeah. i am cool! it took longer, so i took this picture while she was bored and waiting.

this is how some people buy fish around here. gross, huh? they just wander around with these in the dirty city streets unrefrigerated all day… and these fish come from our lovely and contaminated rio uruguay. good thing nobody´s ever fed me that. that would do me right in with my poor beat up system.

this is our bus driver on a cigarrette break. it´s totally normal they the driver will stop the bus and hop off to run into local corner stores and run errands while the passengers sit… and wait.

28 Jun

oh, the Lord IS taking good care of me– he really, really is. almost to a sort of funny extreme. all of this week, i was making comments to my companion such as–¨ i want dulce de membrillo.¨ immediately thereafter, someone offered us some. or, ¨i want yogurt.¨also given. it was pretty nice. ask and you really will receive.

yeah, hna moreno IS finishing the mission in 4 weeks, aaanndd.. i don´t want to talk about it anymore. it makes me so sad. after 9 months of cohabitation, i´m gonna miss her a lot. and she´s going to be in either argentina or spain. both of those options are different continents from the one i´ll be living on. but oh well. we still have 4 weeks!

please gently remind Dan to consider complaining about extreme weather only after he´s lived in bug-infested, uninsulated, dirty concrete boxes and bathed in ICE WATER and waken up every morning with his nose frozen and sore throat like i am… and to add high air humidity levels to all of that… it might make him think twice. people who live with wall insulation, thermostats, washers and dryers, garbage disposals, and carpet… have no room to be complaining. your condo is going to look like the ritz to me, come november.

last night, i went to wash the dishes, and as i began to rinse and squeeze our 1-week old sponge, a GIANT WORM-SNAKE THING CRAWLED OUT AND TRIED TO RACE UP MY ARM!!!!!!!

what on earth are these bugs, and where do they come from?? i don´t know. eew. eew. eew.

but on the bright side, we got our water heater fixed!

so yeah. here is a picture of a couple of our investigators, enrique and bilba. enrique wears sunglasses at night cuz he got his eyes operated on. but i like them. they go good with the gaucho beret. and bilba is cool cuz she´s taking art classes, and is pretty darn talented, and likes to show me her work. that white thing is a giant pasta machine that they´re keeping in their front yard.

sooo yeah. what else happened this week? URUGUAY WON 2 MORE GAMES!!! the world cup has been fun to witness around here. and i am very grateful that the US lost, cuz i now no longer run the risk of getting lynched in the streets.

it´s fun. people set off fireworks when goals are scored, and when games are won, they take to the streets in their cars, dirtbikes, and sometimes horses with uruguay flags and honk their horns and scream as they go through the city center in a caravan.

this is me at lunch in the city center last week. behind me is the CARAVAN!!   vamoarriba uruguay!!

how are you family? i´ve been thinking about you all a lot this week. like, way more than usual. which means a LOT. dan´s moving into his own place? rad!! congrats! you are a place owner!!  i´m really excited for teenie that she gets to be in utah soon. and as always, marshall is in my prayers big time. and so are you, mom! i was reading in the teachings of the presidents of the church- joseph smith book the other day, in the chapter about knowledge. it was super interesting. you should check it out. it talks about how joseph didn´t have more than an elementary school formal education, but in spite of that, managed to learn truths through the spirit and became a professor on scientific topics and math and languages in the school of the prophets. super interesting! that´s my new hope for passing math classes, come january.

haha, and thanks for rescuing my car. i´d just been worrying about her the other day. now i know why!

i´ve been able to notice a lot more blessings i´ve enjoyed in my life lately. like, being, generally, healthy, being a legal united states citizen, member of the church, having a great family… lots of blessings.

the church is true. i love you family, and i love uruguay even if it´s dirty and full of weird bugs. the people here are honest and kind.

just this morning, our buddy the cab driver took us for a free ride down the coast of  rio uruguay. it was really pretty, and relaxing. just cuz he´s nice and wanted to do us a favor.

I LOVE YOU MOM AND FAMILY!!!

22 Jun

mom!

how goes the battle? good. it´s good. did i ever mention that the battle hymn of the republic is a really popular hymn down here? seems weird to me, cuz it´s like, a 4th of july song in the states. but i guess everybody can appreciate a good few rounds of ´gloooooooria gloria haleluuuuuujaaaaah´.

first thing is first- we had transfers this week.

aaaaaaannnndd,

drumroll please……

HERMANA MORENO IS STILL MY COMPANION!!!! FIVE CHANGES TOGETHER!!! 8 MONTHS!!!!!

VAMOARIBBA!!!! (vamos arriba. or, we go up. a mission cliché commonly used at district meetings, and equally as commonly made fun of by me.)

this amount of time together as a companionship has been almost unheard of since the first fifty years of missionary work in the 1800´s.

but the Lord´s got lots of great things planned for us in our time together. i´m really excited.

in other news, my guts are better! my baby food diet, however boring it is, seems to be working! also they gave me pills that protect my guts and help me digest stuff, so that´s good too. i´ve only felt sharp pains once this week. and i have more energy!! i´ve been really blessed. so far every member who´s given us food has given us food that is exactly what my diet indicates. the Lord is indeed taking very good care of me.

also this week, we were blessed to get to go to the temple again to see some of hermana moreno´s converts get sealed. it was so nice. i love the temple so much. everybody who can go, i recommend that you do it. asap. there´s so many blessings in there waiting for you!

t

in other news, i bathed in ice cold water this morning. our water heater broke last night, and i just felt too dirty to go without a shower today. so, feeling inspired by some stories i´ve read about heber j. grant and perseverance, i mustered my strength, and with determination, took off my thermal pajamas, slipped on my ice cold flip flops, turned on the shower, leaned in, then gasped and then screamed as the ice cold water made my lungs seize for a moment. i then continued to breathe hard and scream until i finally couldn´t rinse my hair anymore cuz i felt my scalp beginning to freeze.

afterward, i enjoyed an endorphin rush and the feeling of being hard core.
but i don´t want to repeat this tomorrow morning.

we went to our sector conference, our last sector conference with president and hermana peterson, in paysandú on wednesday. i´ve really grown to love the petersons, now that they´re leaving. bad timing, but better late than never, right? in the end, they helped me a lot to get my gut problems figured out once they realized it was a real problem, and as i shook his hand to say goodbye at the end of the conference, he kept me there a minute, just to thank me. to tell me he knows i’ve suffered a lot in my time here, and that they acknowledge and appreciate that and are really proud of me–and that heavenly father is proud of me too. i´m glad things ended on such a good note.

after the conference, we got to visit my beloved family echenique!! and i got to see fran!! this 3 year old kid is the coolest. after i was transferred to salto, olga, the mom, told me he wandered around for weeks asking where hermana roach was. when i showed up at their house, fran was napping. then when he woke up and came out to the living room and saw me as his mom said, ´look!! look who´s here!! roach!!!´, he got so excited and nervous that he sat himself on the far end of the chair next to me, and covered his face with his hands so i couldn´t see him. as he peeked through his fingers i gave him a really big smile, then asked him if i could pick him up.

lately, there is very little more that can make me happier faster than the smile of a little kid. i love little fran!!

so yeah. this week? i was blessed. i´m really excited for this change. hna moreno and i have lots of goals we´ve set and a family of 5 we´re teaching. it should be good!

i love you and i miss you mom! you and the sibs are likewise, always in my prayers. may the Lord bless you and keep you all.

ps- i cannot get over the goodness of that package you sent! you are a GENIUS!! I´d been craving spaghetti for weeks, and now that i have the seasoning, it´s possible! and rosemary!!! mmm!!! and cheesecake! and those rad hair clips! and the chipotle sauce! the taco seasoning! the bbq type flavoring that i currently don´t remember what it´s called!! mom, you are the best. it was super thoughtful, and i still wander around with warm fuzzies. i send you a big hug. i can´t wait to give you a real one in 4 short months.

last night, i did a little bit of book art, just to see if i could. i could and i did. and it felt so good!!

Montevideo Uruguay Temple

15 Jun

this is me at lunch today! we got to see a little bit of the world cup from the sports bar TV. i´m totally following the world cup without any rule breaking, or trying. that´s the fun part of being in a country that actually acknowledges that it´s going on and shoots fireworks in the streets when goals are scored. the games are always turned on in all of the houses we enter.

so, my week? rad. i´m on my second trip to montevideo. we went on thursday, and the doctor poked me a bit, and sent me off for my ecogrophy, which he said he´d look at and give me my diagnosis. by the time we finished my ecogrophy and got back, he´d left town for the week.

so, i got frustrated and threw a hissy fit cuz traveling while sick isn´t much fun and that´s a six hour grey hound type bus ride that i was NOT in the mood for, so president felt bad for me and let me and hna moreno stay in the temple hostel with nice, never ending hot water showers, carpet, and a central heating system, and i went to the temple on friday morning to see the sealing of some of my comp´s converts!! i love the temple so much.

it was a really kind thing of the president to let me stay there and relax and calm down and recooperate a little bit. the mission is like, the worst possible place to feel sick. cuz all the time you spend in bed comes with a mini crisis of worry and guilt, knowing that it´s your job to be helping the children of God in your area get to know the gospel and be saved. so it´s been hard for me to relax enough and come to terms with this trial and recooperate well. to not feel crappy cuz i haven´t been able to be the ever-marching sister missionary robot i´d hoped to be. but i´m learning a lot from this.

and, for the first time in the year since i´ve been out here, i had a really good, really inspired interview with president, which left me feeling a lot better. and a lot more optimistic about the last few months of my mission.

ooooohh, and while i was at the temple, i totally bought more of those teachings of the prophets books, that i love so much. this time i brought home heber j grant, and joseph smith! and i managed to get the joseph smith one in english! which is good, cuz it´s thick. i mean, i can read in spanish preeeeeeettyyy fluidly, but english is still my native language. seriously. those modern prophets are incredible examples or exemplary people.

so anyway. we just finished up with the doctor appointment today—
and the diagnosis is—

the uruguayan food has atrophied my digestive system!!! the official word is, dispepsia hipoestemica, digestion lenta. (slow digestion) my large intestine is super inflamed.

so what does this mean? uruguayan food has been about as good for me as, i dunno, drinking drain-o. it´s full of viruses and parasites and it´s dirty and heavy and greasy, and well, my guts seem to be of a more delicate constitution.

so i asked the doctor when i would get better. he laughed and said, ´when you get back to the states and start eating the cleaner, healthier food that your system is accustomed to again. your digestive system simply can´t handle this stuff. that´s why you´ve been tired all the time, too. this diet i´m giving you might help you get by for the next few months, but you won´t get better until you get back to the states.´

so the doctor gave me a strict, strict diet of fat-free stuff and bottled mineral water and cooked vegetables and jell-o.

i am up to my ears in jell-o. it´s like, the national diet food around here. which is like, a cruel joke, cuz chocolate now officially sits on my list of forbidden pleasures. along with oranges. which kind of surprised me. who´d have thought there could be something harmful in a friendly little orange?

but yeah. overall, i´m happy. after wondering if i was experiencing liver failure or stomach cancer or hepatitis, i´m glad to know that, although they´re having a hard time struggling along amid this abuse, all of my internal organs are in functioning order.

so yeah. that´s my week. i love you and i miss you, family!! i send a huge high five and hug and dance of jubilation to teenie to celebrate the awesome news of this week!

and to everybody else i send lots of love too!