Thursday, November 24, 2016

November 24, 2016

Dearest family and friends,

Wow, what a week! I feel like I've been gone forever! It's been a little hard, but also so much fun! 

The flight here went fast. There were about 40 missionaries on my flight! Mexico City is enormous and crazy and colorful and I love it! Of course, I haven't really talked to many of the Americans since, but there are a couple I see a lot, and its a relief to be able to speak in English! The CCM is beautiful! Palm trees everywhere, birds singing all the time. The sky is always hazy and its been really cold! But it makes me feel so much better to hear that there is a snow storm at home; I guess it really isn't that cold here!

Okay, first of all, nobody speaks English. Not my companions or friends, not my teachers, not my branch president! I LOVE my district. Of course, I am the blondest, whitest, tallest, only English-speaking person in my entire branch! My companion is Hermana Saltos, and she is from QUITO! I love her! She teaches me a lot about Ecuador, and when everyone tells me three different words for the same thing, I try to remember her word. The other girls in my room are Hermana Cardenas (Guatemala) and Hermana Castaneda (Mexico). Two other girls that I am such good friends with are Hna Bautisa and Hna Garcia (both from Mexico). The six of us have SO much fun together! 

Everyone in my zone is Latino. Everywhere we go, people are looking at me because the Gringa is with the natives -- in the comedor, in classes and devocionales, and walking around the CCM. My first couple days were so hard because I couldn't understand what anyone was saying. Everyone had to speak really slowly for me. Mostly I never said anything but "Que es esto?" and "no entiendo" and "si." But the gift of tongues is REAL, because now if I pay attention I can understand the majority of what they're saying, even when they're talking really fast with each other. Everyone is really patient with my questions. 

I have a morning teacher, Hno Gonzaga, and an afternoon teacher, Hna Luna. I LOVE my morning classes! I learn so much! My district seriously has so much fun together. So much laughing, probably not enough studying. Sometimes I get frustrated because you know,  rules, and these 18-year-old boys don't think much of rules. Also I think it has a lot to do with the culture. 10:30 bedtime? Nah, that's just a suggestion. I've had no problems with mission life and I've never loved early bedtime more in my life. 

The Hermanas get all the special treatment here. We cut to the front of the lunch line and we sit in the front of all the classes and devocionales. Its pretty great! The food here has been fantastic. I mean, it's not Mom's cooking, but still. Theres usually an American dish and a Mexican dish. Yes, I try the Mexican food too, but I avoid the meat that looks sketchy haha. 

It's hard for me to be writing in English right now! At night when I'm falling asleep, I try to switch my thoughts over to English and it's a STRUGGLE. In the morning I have no problems but have to get used to Spanish again. My only hard moments here have been of frustration and discouragement. I want to learn to be a good teacher and missionary, but it's so hard to really learn when I'm just trying to understand the words. I'm not used to being the worst student in the class. It's been a very humbling week. The Lord is teaching me patience. When I think about it, I know that its not reasonable to expect to be fluent NOW. On Sunday, I was pretty discouraged. We had interviews with the branch president, and he told me to be patient and read me some scriptures in Isaiah that really helped. I cried a lot. After the interview I went back to my chair -- we were sitting in a huge circle with the branch presidents wife, and she started talking about me to all the missionaries, so of course I was bright red -- also id been crying and that didnt help -- and all the elders thought it was SO FUNNY. So now, several times a day, they say "pongase roja" and wait for me to blush. ITS SO EMBARRASSING because of course I always do! I can't help it! I wore my poofy floral skirt, and at breakfast my companera leaned over and said to me "all the elders like your skirt" What?! I'm a novelty here haha. 

It's so interesting how at the end of a very very long day, we're having personal study in our classroom and i don't want to put down my scriptures! The spirit here is so strong, and I love the power and the spirit that accompanies the calling of being a missionary. 

Oh gym time is the best! Its funny because they dont like exercise and I dont like sports, so we do both! But i have had so much fun playing basketball with them all week. its great because im so tall! And they arent very good either and are nonjudgmental, so its seriously so much fun. I love how these natives are so friendly. I love how they all sing at the top of their lungs even though most of them cant carry a tune. I love how they share their experiences and thoughts and feelings. I try to change the subject when they ask how big my house is, or how much my camera cost, or things like that, because its awkward. 

teaching investigators has been fun! These last couple days Ive been able to take the lead in the lessons and ask the questions. Mi companera is good at talking but not super great at teaching, so now i love that I get to voice my opinion as my spanish gets better. 

Its funny how americanized some of them are! The elders were flipping water bottles this week and I thought of Jake! they would dab every time they got it to stand up haha. And Hna Cardenas was singing flo rida yesterday. so funny. 

I am so grateful that I come from a family and ward where I know what the doctrine of christ is. nobody knows what i mean when i talk about the enabling power of christ. I finally found someone who could tell me what it was in spanish, the CCM director! Haha. 

The sons of mosiah were out for 14 years and i only have 1 week, so ive got a long way to go, but I love being a missionary and Im having so much fun! Jake, we were watching the district, and there was an elder from Guam and I thought of you! You guys should watch it!  LOVE YOU ALL! 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Over & Out

The time has finally come! As of tonight, I will officially be Hermana Hasleton. I'm leaving for the Mexico MTC on Tuesday morning, and three weeks later, I'll be in Ecuador!

A million thank you's to my many friends and family members who have influenced my decision to serve, and who have been so incredibly supportive. A quote I've been thinking about all week: "How lucky I am to have something that makes it so hard to say goodbye." As much as I hate goodbyes (definitely cried way too much this week), I can't help but feel in awe of all of the truly influential people in my life. Thanks, guys!

I know that the Savior lives and loves us. The gospel is just that simple. I'm so grateful to be spending the next months helping others come unto Him!

Email me at Cuz I love you. And want to hear from each of you.

Mucho amor,
Hermana Hasleton