Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bolivia, Week 3

Hello hello!!

Well this week was better. Each day gets better as i get more and more accustomed to my new life and the things around me. I am learning how to print off emails, so I haven't read your email yet. so for the future, write any pressing matters you need me to comment on that week in the first paragraph. thanks so much!! jk I can't print! oops gotta go back and read hold on...ok so thanks for the emails! yes i got the david archuleta pictures but not till after she left! so i sent them to her mission this last week. haha i laughed a lot when i got them.

Wow ok. so first of all, Happy birthday Madeline! because mail is crazy you probably won't get my birthday card for another week or so. Sorry!! But thanks for all the mail i receive here!! I appreciate the support each week.

Congrats Trevor! I finally got a letter explaining the results of your audition. How fun and crazy!! Way to have a good attitude- i hope you're having fun and being a good example to all those people! wow how fun :) my favorite play in high school was probably pirates of penzance because of all the fun with friends backstage haha

So Im in santa cruz de la sierra, and hamacas is my ward area. by the way I've only been to less than half of my ward area and I've seen 11 different churches. Its insane here. whoever said that bolivians are all catholic had to have been here more than 2 years ago. this place is crazy with religion! seriously, they teach kids at school about religions, and about how the mormons are bad. sigh. we talked to this 8 year old boy who goes to church every week by himself, and he was interested in talking to us- he even got his friend to come over and hear too (his friend is 9). but they aren't convinced our church is right. ha. way cute. but weird because of all they are taught in school.

Ok so my theme scripture this week was Alma 17:11. If you want to know exact words that God spoke to me, read that verse. And i believe that mosquitos are part of long suffering. I use repellent often,  but we can only use it in the night hours because we are supposed to wear sunscreen during the day. Anyways i started counting the bites on a small part of one leg- i got to 20 and gave up. ive got around 100 or so im guessing. fun fun. :) Oh there is peanut butter here by the way! and also ants. you want ants, we got them. small, medium, and large. we also get them in long leg, thick, and creepy. also just get used to them always on you. its too tiring taking them off constantly.

so on pday this last week we got to go to the center to drop off mail. AH i loved it!!!! I was SO much more comfortable in the heart of the city with tons of cars and people and tall buildings!! I never knew if i liked cities or country better, but after monday i know i like big cities more! I loved it!! hopefully i´ll get to serve there sometime. I do serve in what is considered city. But its not big buildings, lights, and shops, and business!! its more suburbs i'd say.

also, i hate leaving the toilet lid up, but i have learned that its just nicer to you and your companions when you do this. You get to see our "friends" on the toilet from the door instead of right up next to them. so i leave the lid up. goood times.

Also, members are so much help in this work!! We are supposed to have a member at each lesson if possible. When we do have members, they help so much! Like on tuesday this 16 year old girl is really struggling to go to church stuff (she lives with her grandma because her parents died :( ) we brought Neyda with us- the daughter of Roxana who is my neighbor. She is 18 and has been a member for almost 2 years. she is the seminary teacher here. anyways she got this girl laughing and talking and praying! it was a miracle.                     

On wednesday i woke up to the sound of thunder!! I was excited! so i jumped out of bed and landed in ankle deep water!! haha. wednesday was an adventure. going to the bathroom or the kitchen was the best- the water outside was almost kneedeep in some places! this day we actually didnt go out at all- not becuase of the water. but becuase we had a conference with Elder Uceda of the 70! He was so great! the conference was from 2-8. It was so awesome. He even role played with us which was super fun and incredible. I loved Wednesday! also, I got to talk to other girls from north america! oh man this was a relief for me. they understood what i'm going through right now. Hma Morris is even from Cedar city and studied chemistry at SUU!! small world! there are 8 of us from North America i believe. Anyways according to them i'm doing really good haha. This week was better though so i'm grateful.

Thursday i realized that everything I've done in my life has helped me prepare for my mission. for example, the time i spent memorizing scriptures in seminary really pays off here (or not because i didn't memorize as many as i should have). but all the scripture reading and anything else i did before my mission is paying off here. its awesome. This day i also learned that "porque" not only means why and because, but your welcome as well. haha that was funny. love it.

Friday i realized that i am really going to need some TLC for my teeth when i get back. all this meat eating is nuts! I floss when ever i get an extra minute, but i'm afraid its not going to be enough. haha. Also we met with this family in the ward this day and talked to them about the importance of reading the book of mormon. people here love to read the Liahona, but struggle to read the book of mormon. when i told them of the blessings of reading the book as a family in my family, the mom said it was easy because i was born in the covenant. she is convinced her family doesn't need to read the book of mormon because they weren't born in the church. weird right? and sad...We are trying to help them out. 

Saturday we went to a park for a minute. parks here are called Mangoles because every park has tons of mango trees!!!! there's mangos everywhere here. but they are not ripe yet. oh also a rooster attacked Hermana Choque this day. They are so big and beautiful here! and apparently violent. Also the mouse came back this day. Our neighbor has 5 cats so you'd think wed be ok ha.

Sunday none of our investigators came to church this sunday. But we are starting to have more people as investigators!! haha. there's some interesting people here. So today is the birthday of Santa Cruz!! Everything is green and white because those are the colors of the city. Last night there was lots of music everywhere in celebration!!

Anyways that's all for now!! I love you all lots!!! Things are getting better and better!! I love God and his church!!! also thanks for the emails from Patrice and Anita!!!!!

much love,

Hermana Black

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bolivia, Week 2

Hola friends and family!

Thank you so much for your love and concern!!

Monday night, I experienced 2 miracles that really helped me out a lot. The first one was when we were walking at night. There was this giant dog out. A man came jogging past the dog (this is weird- people dont jog here. ever) right in front of us. the dog started going crazy and barking wildly. the man stopped the dog from attacking him, but then of course we were scared to pass the dog. But when the man saw us, he circled around and blocked the dog from getting to us as we walked by! Definitely he was an angel. Seriously he was right there at the right moment and I was so grateful to feel like the Lord was protecting me!!! Also, The lady who lives next to us who feeds us lunch every day is named Roxana. We had family home evening with them because they are recent converts, and we try to visit recent converts for 2 years after their baptisms. Anyways her husband promised that they would do anything for me that i needed. They are the sweetest family- only a year and a half in the church and the dad is in the bishopric, and their daughter teaches seminary! The church is young here in santa cruz. Anyways those were my miracles monday night and i know they were possible because of all your prayers!!

Ok some housekeeping stuff- i can EMAIL every week, but i can only send letters every 6 weeks. this day is today, so hopefully some people will get responses to their letters in the next 2 weeks. Also I am so glad i have a backpack! thanks for sending that mom!!! I actually just got the dearelder where you said you’d send me a backpack and to buy new scriptures. Therefore, i did not buy new scriptures because i just got that dearelder and i should have got it in provo... so email is best.

Ok anyways thank you family for all your love and advice. Seriously It helps so much! Also, my theme scripture this week was Revelation 2:10 which says, fear none of those things that ye shall suffer. Lots of other things helped too but this was my theme scripture!!!

Ok so after my miracles monday night, my next couple of days were awesome. OH! heres a little bit more about this place: the people are really nice, they always invite you in and give you drinks. But that's usually as far as it gets. getting them to go to church or do much is super hard. My companion is Hermana Choque. Choque in english: collision. so, people at church always say hermanas black and white! or, they push us into each other for a collision. haha. its great. She is really sweet and is from Bolivia. OH! I am in Hamacas if you want to googlemap where I am. :) Also, the main things we eat are rice and meat. Hermana Roxana is a super good cook- I always love all the food she makes. Because of this, she keeps making more and more traditional meals. She has cooked for lots of gringos and she said that they dont usually like very much of the stuff, but I seriously love everything! Also, we cant flush down toilet paper. gross right? haha. Oh and my house IS normal mom- I talked to some other sisters and they’ve had more cockroaches than I have. ha.But Ill definitely be oiling up the house thanks!

One of the things that helps me the most here is when I am myself. When people ask me what i did before my mission and i tell them about what I study, they always ask me to sing. I am getting super good at singing The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow. haha. I love it though. IT really helps me be more comfortable. Also, everyday i try to remember to smile as much as possible, thanks to some advice from Aunt Patrice. I ACT happy, and it helps me to be happier. Acting and singing are things i love, and they are helping me lots! And its amazing the effect smiles have on people. I can help someone soften their heart simply by smiling at them. They are polite so they smile back, and often their countenance changes and they listen more! So i know that smiling is powerful.

So we are supposed to bring members to every lesson if we can, so that people have friends when they go to church. If you have missionaries in your ward i encourage you to go with them to lessons! It helps us a lot. Also, If there are missionaries from other countries in your area, be nice to them. haha. Its so hard being so far away from my culture, language, and well everything! I have so much more respect for all people that have served missions.

Something else that is really helping me is to think only about the day that I am on. Its tons easier to think, "I can be strong today!" instead of "I can be strong for 15 and a half months!" Missionaries always say that the time passes fast. I really hope i start feeling this soon because right now it feels kind of like eternity. haha. Also Chi-Chis advice about being grateful for one thing everyday. Gratitude is so helpful!! I try to focus more on this.

Anyways I think I wrote a little about Luis in my last email- we invited him to be baptized. He said yes, but he hasnt come to church because he has work. He wants to go, but he has to pay 1000 US dollars a week for 7 weeks to pay off a debt. This doesnt sound super bad, but remember here one US dollar is 6.8 of their dollars. so its 6,800 dollars a week. we taught him about how God will help him if he follows the commandments. He is great and we are hopeful for him, but this is a very, very difficult challenge. Im grateful for Grandpa blacks story about how on his mission he taught a family about the blessings of tithing and then the power that had in the lives of that family. This is helping me as i talk to Luis. :)

Well this is the hardest thing Ive ever done. I am grateful for all of your love and help!!

Much love,

Hermana Black  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Week #9 - Bolivia!

Moooommmie!!!!! and family :)

Wow. where to start. Well I'm here haha. Quick last week in CCM: it was great- so cool to see Elder Christophersen! I sat almost right behind him. just being in his presence was super powerful. We sang after the first two speakers (I need thee every hour in espanol of course). then Elder Christophersen got up to speak. (i had to have a transator to understand him ha). He said the choir was so powerful, he asked us to sing the song again after he was done talking! Poor Hermana Cardon (Presidents wife) almost had a heart attack. haha she is so great. Well the CCM was awesome.

BUT! Now im in Bolivia. Wow. Be grateful Im alive. Like, seriously. We arrived on Tuesday evening. We got off the plane and onto this little bus and were given Subway [sandwiches]. haha that was weird. My companion for the flight, and my first two days in Bolivia, was Hermana Huenchur from Chile- the one who wants to study animation. She is amazing- i hope she gets in one day! Anyways the first two days it was meet the President, go to the police, meet my lawyer, etc etc etc. It is so hard for me just to get on a bus and not know where im going or why. one time we got out at a clinic. yeah they took our blood. it would have been nice to know that like even an hour in advance, especially because I accidently said i didnt want breakfast at the hotel that morning... hehe oops. good ol speaking spanish. also my President really wants us to focus on the work, thus if i understood correctly we only receive mail and only get to send mail once every 6 weeks!!!! so... sigh. I love you all, and see you in 18 months? ha. but anyways that day was amazing compared to the rest of my week. ha.

So on thursday I got my companion- Hermana Choque! She is super sweet and doesnt speak any english. :) She has been out for 4 and a half months, so technically we are both newbies. when we got to our house, it was all i could do not to have a panic attack. Its...well...awful. I will have to take pictures and send them. Just know that I was so terrified of the shower and toilet that I didnt go the first day. like at all. and I cried (literally) thinking about having to use the shower in the morning. I would have used it that night because i was dripping in sweat, but i was terrified of it. Also, if i get bitten by certain mosquitoes, i will get dange i think its called? anyways its where your whole body is in pain for two weeks to the point where you cant move. and if you take aspirin here and a mosquito bites you, YOU WILL DIE. Those are the exact words of my Mission Presidents wife. Good thing i dont believe in aspirin. Also this first night i was really scared of all the spiders in my room, because the last week at the ccm one boy got bit, and had to be rushed to the hospital. So if i die here in Bolivia, you´ll know what from.

Friday my first day in the field! I read Mosiah 24:15 which really helped this morning. I really tried so very hard to be positive all day. While i got in the shower i just hummed "just whistle while you work" (because well i cant whistle) and the line that really stuck out was "try to be just like a cheerful chickadee". But that day I was attacked by five dogs and a mouse ran past me in my kitchen... that was hard. so if i die here in bolivia, you´ll know what from. After i saw the mouse that night i just started saying "I CAN DO THIS!" over and over and over again until i believed it.

Saturday was mostly better. I invited someone to baptism! The lessons are great and what make this all worth it. I just wish i could be in lessons all day and not have to go home haha. Well minus the fact that a giant spider jumped off my neck in this guys house. Also that night in my kitchen, there was a cockroach!!! ah... not cool. The power phrase that came into my head this day was "you are not yet as Job". except this leaves a lot of possibilities.. for example when i tried to confide in my sweet companion, she said to be grateful i wasnt there when there was this reptile in the shower. I dont understand much, but she said it was similar to a crocodile and was on the roof somehow? anyways... If i die here in bolivia, you´ll know what from. But needless to say i have stopped praying like this: "Dear God, please anything but another mouse!" or "anything but another cockroach!" because well, actually theres always something worse. instead now i pray, "thank you for a companion who killed the cockroach." and try so so so so so so so so hard to be grateful.

Sunday i was looking forward to relaxing at church, but when you are asked to give a talk its kind of hard. the ward is sweet, and we had a family of investigators show up! Sorry im not writing a lot about the people here that Im visiting. this week has mostly been about trying not to have panic attacks. I fight this pretty much hourly. Sunday though, after church and lunch (lunch is provided everyday by our neighbor except for sunday its a member), the best power phrase yet came to me. it was simply, "Satan get out of my head!" I say this in my head and im instantly relieved of fears!! Also singing hymns works instantly as well. So The rest of sunday was good. everytime i start getting scared, I just yell at Satan to get out and things are much better.

Well out of time....

I love you all lots!!!

love, Hermana Black