|This is our pet, Tina Fey, she lives across the street. |
So drum roll please....my trainer is Hermana Escobar from El Salvador!!!! When I first met her I was so scared. I sat next her saying nothing. Then she finally said “I speak English...” hahah and we were off on our best friendship. I am so relieved she speaks English but at the same time it’s hard to remember to speak Spanish. Also she gets frustrated when I struggle to say something in Spanish. Finally she says, “What are you trying to say?” hah but she is so great and I love her. When I met her I quickly asked what our area was called (like I would know it or something), Coronel Oviedo, or zone 13. President had told us the day before that only 3 zones were really compo or like farm land, 11 through 14. I was so stoked to be in the compo. Our whole mission is 4 hours wide. I don’t know how you would put that, from Asuncion to the farthest part is 4 hours. Our area took 3 hours to get to outside Asuncion on a big bus. Immediately my trainer fell asleep and I was left to look at Paraguay speed by as we bounced along on the bus. It was so cool. I watched the city fade away in the distance and then it would be pure jungle and then a city would randomly pop out of nowhere. After 3 hours we finally got to the terminal. We got off and loaded all my bags into a tiny car that looked like it was 100 years old. They drive psycho here and the whole time I feared for my life. Our area is perfect. We live like two blocks outside our area in a city and then you start walking and the longer you walk the more compo it gets. It’s way cool. I have never been to a place quite like Paraguay, which is one of my favorite things about Paraguay. After being in Argentina for 6 weeks Paraguay is such a breath of fresh air. The cab dropped us off at our pention.
Ok so if you were worried for my safety need no fear. Paraguay is the safest place, really. I asked all the missionaries and no one has ever been robbed or felt in danger. And, unlike Puerto Rico and Argentina the houses don’t have bars and multiple gates. Actually, many don’t even have a front door or glass in the windows. So anyway when I saw our pention I was feeling scared because I felt like Paraguay was not going to be safe. After entering a gate we walked down a hall then we unlocked a metal sliding door with a huge bolt. Then we locked that and you are technically in our house. You walk up the stairs and open another normal metal door and then you are inside for real. So again, I am very safe but here it’s not even necessary, I think they are just overly cautious.
The first day we came home and planned and headed out. I was so scared..... here are some things I didn’t expect about Paraguay. Everyone, after I say I am from America, says “oh, so do you speak Guadani...?” ummm Well, considering I don’t even really speak Spanish, no, I do not. And Guadani is the craziest language I have ever heard. It sounds like Asian or something mixed with Spanish. They never just speak Guadani, its Guadani and Spanish. And their Spanish, they never finish the whole word. So as you can see, I went from Argentina feeling like I could teach a whole lesson in Spanish alone to here feeling like I can’t even understand when someone asks my name! Most of the time I just fake it and pretend I know what is going on, smile when my comp does and laugh.. but then they ask a question and they are looking right at me... and all I do is stare at them and say como? (what?).... it’s very embarrassing. Sometimes my comp tells me what they say but a lot of time she doesn’t and I just feel so dumb and I want to cry and I wonder why am I on a mission. But then I remind myself oh ya, it’s because I love my Heavenly Father so much. ha The other thing that I didn’t expect is that people are friendly. I thought Argentina was friendly but no... here we walk up to a house and clap at the gate but almost always the whole family is sitting outside. I really don’t know how anyone makes a living, they always seem to be home just sitting around all drinking out of the same mate cup. Anyway so then before we can even introduce ourselves they open the gate and pull up two chairs and start talking so fast and I am lost. Later my comp tells me what they said, sometimes she doesn’t haha. But basically every lesson we teach is 45 min at least. We really need to work on it. Yesterday we talked to this old man for an hour and he was speaking Guadani the whole time and it was really hot and I was so tired and I kept falling asleep, it was really bad. I have had that problem a couple times. I get so tired of listening and I just start to fall asleep. I am working on that as well. The first few days all I would say is, “Hi, how are you? I'm Hermana Ball.” and my comp would say the rest. Then I made a goal to bear my testimony at each lesson even though when I do they just look at me like they have no idea what I am saying, but that’s ok. It’s hard to contribute to the lesson when you don’t know what’s going on at all. But we have never had someone say no to a lesson or letting us come back. This is a curse and a blessing because we are constantly teaching but it’s hard to tell if they are truly interested or not.
So the first night we went to bed and I was feeling like ya this place is not so different then America, I can do this. I hadn’t seen any bugs or spiders in our pention. I was feeling really good. Then.... the next morning when my comp was showering I picked up a box with different food in it and I screamed. The whole box was full of probably like 100-200 cockroaches (even though I expected them to be as long as my finger and they are about the size of a quarter) it still freaked me out so bad!! I started frantically whacking them with a broom as they scampered away into unseen corners of the pention. My comp came out and was like “What’s wrong?” By this point, of course, there were only like three and she looked at me like, really? and went back to what she was doing. I felt way dumb, but it really creeped me out. I couldn’t eat like the rest of that day. By the third day I was so hungry that I stopped caring. They only eat breakfast and lunch here so if you don’t eat a lot at those meals you starve. I feel hungry all the time but I think it’s just because I am eating normal portions again, unlike the huge feasts of the CCM. I hope I don’t sound negative. I really, really love it here. My first two days were just a little hard but now I am completely adapted.
So we study til lunch and then we go out prolitismo and man it is so hot in the middle of the day. They just keep saying its primovera (spring, it’s just spring) and I am like sweating so bad. Sooo I am scared for what verano (summer) will bring. I have a whole new meaning to “they live like 30 min away”... a 30 min walk on a dirt road in the middle of the day is very different from a nice ride in an air conditioned car. hahah But we just sing hymns and try and enjoy it. My favorite time of day is dusk. It gets cool and the sunsets are soo pretty and then when the sun goes down the stars come out and they are soooo pretty, but even when we are walking on a dirt road in the jungle there are street lights. It’s very strange, so it’s hard to see the stars and my most favorite thing when it’s night is that the fireflies come out or mua mua in guadani!!! I hadn’t seen fireflies in forever. We were teaching a lesson one night and it flew across my face and I just got soooo happy!
The weird thing about Paraguay is that even though it is sooo poor almost everyone we talk to has a cell phone. They can’t give you an address to where they live, but they have a phone number. haha We always draw little maps to remember where they live. I would be so lost without my comp. It’s so confusing here, everything looks the same to me. The other thing is everyone has a motorcycle. Even if its way old they have one and it’s common to see 2, 3, 4, 5, people on one bike. The most I have seen is 5. A man with two little kids behind him and two in front. It’s so weird, a little infant will be clinging for dear life in front of his mom. The other thing is no one wears helmets and there is no real age limit. So I saw like a 6 year old, seriously, I am not exaggerating, driving a motorcycle the other day, it’s way creepy. Sometimes we look at them whizzing past and, well, I begin to covet ahha. But it’s good. Because we walk, we talk to lots of people.
Sunday rolls around and one of our investigators, Pedro, came!!! We were so happy! We are teaching him today and hope he can be baptized in 2 weeks. We will see... anyway we are sitting in sacrament and I am just out of “what’s going on?” and my comp leans to me and says “the bishop just asked all the new missionaries to come and bear their testimony.” I wanted to cry. But I went up and I did it and it probably made no sense, but I did it! I told them I knew this was the true church and that’s why I am here and I said that I love them and that I know Christ loves them and I am excited to be serving here.
That’s the other thing I didn’t realize, I am so use to never seeing the missionaries in Utah because they have like a whole stake they are over, but here we have 3 sets of missionaries for 1 branch. It’s crazy! Church was really different. The power was off so all the classes were taught in the dark. I was asked to read a passage in gospel doctrine. That was really hard but luckily everyone had a book so they could read it too ha.
The other hard thing is my comps previous companion, Hermana Arrnell was apparently amazing and everyone always looks at me and says where is Hermana Arrnell and they miss her and I can’t speak Spanish to make them like me so they just always look at me like why are you here?... it’s hard.
The roads go from asphalt to straight dirt, it’s weird. And cobblestone, they like mash up rock and then put the dirt on top. Basically my feet are always red. I can never tell if I am tan or just still have a layer of dirt. haha
Saturday one of the members came teaching with us. It was really hard because he talked a lot giving me even less time in the lesson to try and say something. But I did get to do the first vision she always has me do that and I messed it up so bad and I wanted to cry because in my mind I was thinking she is going to say yes to be baptized. I knew it and then I heard her say no and I was like it’s because you didn’t hit it home with the first vision. As we walked away I wanted to just curl up and cry forever. Later that night at planning we were going over numbers and she said people with a date and I said 0 and she said no 1 and I was like como!!!!!!!!!!! and she said ya remember that lesson we taught and it was the one I thought I ruined. Ya, she said she will be baptized if she receives an answer. I was sooo happy! But then she didn’t show up to church so I was crushed, but we visited her and her husband was there and we shared about the el Libro de Mormon and he was sooo interested. I talked a lot in the lesson and he accepted a date too!!!! So that is our golden family right now.
Anyway the change before was Hermana Arnall’s last change and now she is home. Apparently they didn’t work hard so we only had one investigator when I got here, Pedro, but when we gave our numbers last night we had 22 new which means we have taught 22 lessons since I got here. That was crazy to me. Anyway things are hard. I am just doing my best to learn the language and teach. I love you allllllllll sooo much. My heart hurts when I think of you.
I am sorry if this was so scatter brained, ha but I love you.
oh PS: I only have an hour to email so maybe if some of you could hand write me that would be cool. If not, it’s ok. I can still print here. I just have to pay money, anyway that’s ok.