Monday, August 25, 2014

Another Week in the Field Done. 2 Down.

(Email to Friends)
Where to even begin?  TONS has happened this week.  Like an insane amount.  At least that's what it feels like!

First off the ward here is actually decent sized.  Around 100 active members, I think around 400 actual members.  Not the best retention rate.  But that's why I'm here!

Also, fruit here is ridiculously cheap.  3 bananas for 10 pesos.  That's like a quarter for all 3.  I think it's 20 for a mango.  Gotta love cheap, amazing fruit.  Or cheap amazing anything really.

There's been some insane storms this week.  Tons and tons of rain, and tons and tons of lightning.  Last night I heard a couple lightning strikes where the sound followed in less than a second.  I heard some car alarms go off because of it.  Way crazy.  We lost power for around half a day because of it.  The power here is sketchy anyways so it didn't surprise me much.

Our daily shopping store reminds of a cross of Winco and Wansgards.  It's the size of a Wansgards, with the warehouse type feel of Winco, but the products of a Smiths.  It's actually pretty nice.  It has anything you'd expect from a grocery store with a DR twist.

During some of our lessons we'll sing hymns.  I have a terrible voice, and Elder Moncada isn't so hot either, but it still invites the Spirit amazingly well.  I thought that was really cool.  I have never heard of that before.

Also tons of little store type things.  Like grownup lemonade stands, all over the neighborhoods.  Also these crazy trucks with super loud speakers go around selling fruit CONSTANTLY.  And people with big baskets on their heads do the same.  Also some fruit vendors on a street nearby.  Super Cool.

I'd have to say, I've discovered a new love for families.  Part of it is probably because I miss my own so much, and part of it is because of the potential I see in them.  I love teaching families.  I have firsthand seen how much different a family can be with the gospel, and really want these people to have that.  It's hard, because families are very hard to get all together at the same time to teach.

We also found an area this week called the "Colonial of Doctors."  It's VERY aptly named.  These houses are at least US sized, if not bigger.  When I say US sized I mean about the size of my house.  Not huge, but very comfortable and enough to live in.  It was very cool in this neighborhood, with yards, and the whole shebang.  Crazy stuff.  It's also huge.  We found that out the hard way.  Remember when I said it rained a ton this week?  We got lost for a couple hours in this place.  Reminds me of the valley with how far apart some of the houses are.  And it was absolutely dumping on us.  Crazy fun.  I love the rain, so it was fine by me!

Lots of the people here who aren't members actually have testimonies of the church.  They've born them to us many times, and I know they're real.  Unfortunately, they aren't converted.  They won't act on it at all.   It makes it hard to know who we need to work on.

Also really interesting, the church has only been in this country around 30 years.  So most people have only been members for around 10 or so years.  It's crazy how fast it's grown then.  3 missions here now.  I think 5 or so stakes.  Way quick.  #HastenTheWork

I also got a taste of some weird food.  Technically we're not supposed to eat with members (they have a potential to serve bad meat), but we did anyway.  It was sketchy.  A cornmeal/oatmeal/malt-o-meal type thing that was not sweet, with vegetables, corn, and some questionable meat.  I was NOT a fan.  I considered it punishment for eating out.  We got some really good sweet plantain type things after though so it worked out.

We also got another baptism date!  That makes 2 potential baptisms for September 20th.  One is for sure, the other one I question if he'll make it.  We'll see how it goes.

I think we taught around 30 lessons this past week.  Not hard to talk to people, it's just super hard to get them to act on what we teach them.  Plus we opened the area, so it was like 100 percent from scratch.  All our investigators are just barely starting.

I think that's all for this week!  It's been hard once again, but it's getting easier.  I'm just taking it one week at a time.

Love you all lots!  E. Potokar.

(Email to Family)
This week has definitely been better.  It's still been hard though.  Definitely still had its ups and downs. I'm definitely doing better. Sitting around Saturday was hard and sitting Sunday didn't help much either.  When I'm active it's better.  Sometimes I space out and it's hard to feel the spirit when doing that.  It's just hard to focus when I can't understand everything.

Also sorry I didn't go much into detail last week with the actual work.  It's hard to stay focused on it.  That's something I'm DEFINITELY going to have to work on.  Thinking of investigators and teaching more than home.  I hope it'll come as the language comes.  Thank you for asking for the details last week.  I don't want to finish my mission and regret thinking about home the entire time.

I also have decided to really crack down on the language.  I uploaded a page of my study sheet of things I have to do daily.  It's about time I actually really pushed myself to know this language.  It's slowly coming along.  I try to focus more and more.  I need to try harder to participate even with my terrible Spanish. Being a part of a conversation I don't have a desire to be in is something I struggled with in English, better yet Spanish! Haha. I'm naturally quiet, and the Spanish just amplifies that.  Also, I'm struggling with pronunciation in Spanish, just like I did in English.  Go figure.

On the topic of you guys coming after my mission, have you considered staying at the MTC here?  I know they have rooms for families going to the temple, but I don't know how exclusive they are about them.  They have kitchens and everything for ya too.

Elder Monique from the MTC really just impressed me.  He was a DL, did all the little things and was just incredible.  Unfortunately, he went to the West mission.  He was great at soccer as well and I really got to know him while playing. Also there's an Elder in our district who is like 20 minutes from his house in his area.  Some of his friends are in his area.  How weird would that be?

Also forgot to mention my interview with President Corbitt!  It was pretty much the first thing we did once we left the MTC.  You can tell he knows a lot and cares a lot.  I really like him.  A lot.  He said I looked obedient and like a leader.  I hope I can live up to that, but I'm not too worried. Did you get a picture of me with President Corbitt?  I'm not sure if I gave them a correct email.

Was it hard to get lessons to teach in Missouri?  How was their accent?

Also a weird thing, lunch is the biggest meal here.  That's going to take some getting used to.  Actually I'm already used to it haha.  Dinner is usually more like a snack.  We had bread with peanut butter and fruit cocktail last night.  I'll usually make grilled cheese or Top Ramen though.  Something easy.

We're doing good food wise.  Lots of rice for lunch usually with some kind of mix of salami, some kind of beans, eggs, or fried plantains.  I've learned how to cook fried plantains and fried green bananas.  Both are pretty good.  Taste like fries.  Also managed to make some mean pancakes.  How exactly did you add flavoring to yours?  And what's the difference of cooking in butter or oil?  Elder Moncada likes making pancakes in oil, which I find gross.  And any tips for scrambled eggs?  I uploaded my failed 2 eggs I cooked.  They didn't go very far.  I must be doing something wrong, or they're smaller eggs. The pan is beat.  All that egg stuck to it is from my two eggs.  I haven't been using any butter so I'll try that.

We have not had a ton of fruit, but I plan on buying more.  We do have a blender, but have yet to use it as well.  It's on the bucket list.  Maybe I'll use it for the pancakes.  And we have a waffle maker too, so that's on the bucket list to use.  You can flip it over and it's a Panini press type thing.  It doesn't work well with grilled cheese though. We do lunch as a foursome and breakfast and dinner as a companionship.  We eat out occasionally.  It's generally really expensive. We're not supposed to eat at members houses, so it probably won't happen again. It was sketchy.  They were pretty well to do, but the food was sketchy.

The washing machine cleans alright.  I can't really tell haha.  It feels cleaner I suppose.  We even bought some fabric softener to put in it.

This is a little long, but here's some more gift ideas.  They don't have to be ASAP: just watch out for them at the DI, garage sales or wherever.  iPod, Norwex towel, protein bars, a backpack (big enough to carry scriptures, a few miscellaneous small books, pamphlets, water bottle and umbrella: not too big), a belt, an easy hymns piano book (one that teaches you how to play.  The ward mission leader is consistently 45 minutes late to meetings and I'd like to learn how to play in that time), another journal like mine, and potentially a bigger umbrella.  But I can probably get the umbrella here.

We're also having an experiment with the President. Just Moncada and I.  He says we're his test subjects and it may become a mission standard. We're trying coming in at 8:30 for dinner. We were coming in closer to 9 which made it hard to eat, plan, and write in my journal before bed. We're allowed an hour, but no one uses it at this point and everyone is inside or doing something by 8:30. It gets dark at like 7:30 so it gets sketchy fast.

I LOVED the package. I got it the first week mail came in the field.  So you were pretty quick with it. We get our mail during our zone/district meetings on Thursdays.  I got it this Thursday, but mail didn't come last Thursday.  Can't say exactly how long it took to get here.  I think they charged my card about 120 pesos for it. I loved the pop rocks that have been sitting in our closet for ages.  And the lint roller was a need.  And I ate most the candy by now.  So good.

Also I didn't realize this until I was looking in that Ensign you sent me (which I LOVE by the way.  I've needed some reading material other than Jesus the Christ.  Please send me more in your next package if you don't mind!), and I got a devotional from Elder Cornish and Elder Martinez of the 70.  I had no idea there were of the 70! So that's super cool.

Also TONS of kids here.  They're always in the street at night.  They play some crazy baseball with bottle caps they flip. It's crazy.  Reminds me a walkie talkie every night.  It's how I imagine the 80's to be like.

I might have to give a talk in front of 4 zones and Elder Martinez of the 70.  They're going to choose 2 people from our district.  I would assume it wouldn't be me, but I have no idea honestly.  It's on Thursday.  They're choosing two of the 6 from our district.  We'll see how it goes.

(Did you go sightseeing today?) Nope.  None today.  Since we might have to speak in front of Elder Martinez and 4 zones, we got prepped for that.  I got another haircut, we made some copies of keys and just did some little things.  Elder Moncada is convinced he's speaking since he's a former ZL (he's probably right), so he's been kind of weird with his prep.  I'm hoping I'm off the hook since I'm so new, but we'll see.  I'll prepare one anyway.

Also the last couple of days have been crazy.  First Friday we didn't leave the house in the morning.  I thought we were just waiting for an inspection cuz we cleaned that morning, but it never came and we just left later.  That really irritated me.  Then we got lost in that Colonial of Doctors.  There were a few huge dogs that almost chased us there.  It was pouring so hard too.  Insane.

It hasn't stopped raining much in 3 or 4 days now. Tons of lightning. It's dries out quick when it's not raining! Ha-ha, it's been pretty nonstop the last couple of days. The rain usually doesn't keep us in.  Maybe holed up at someone's house, but we usually go out in it.  It's pretty cool.  It feels really good when it's just a drizzle actually.  I don't mind it, but sometimes it absolutely dumps.  Reminds me of that walk we went on in the rain one time.

Also the Elder's quorum is very similar to ours here.  They tend to argue quite a bit. Also interesting, they split serving the sacrament left and right. Instead of front and back like we did it.  Church was better this week too.  Not great, but better.  We didn't sit behind that little girl, but I did see her a couple of times and shed a few tears. One lady here reminded me of Grandma Kelly.  I haven't thought of her in a long time so that surprised me.  Shows just how good my mind is getting at making connections with home.

We also just visit people a lot.  Is that normal?  Like when contacting we'll share a principle and set a date to come back.  And we just visit with members some times.  One lady we're working on her husband, and he's not there sometimes, but then we'll just visit with her for a while.  I understand getting to normal and earning the trust of people is important, but I feel like we go over the top on some things.

How long were your lessons usually?  Ours are about an hour and I feel that's a bit too long.  Elder Moncada also knows the Bible ridiculously well, but rarely uses the BOM which I think is a waste.  He's also not a huge go-getter.  Like if something goes wrong, I'll ask him what we should do and he just says he doesn't know.  Come on now!  haha.

Elder Moncada is a great guy. He is the second youngest of I believe 5 kids in his family.  Two of his older siblings served and one of those is still serving in Mexico I believe.  He's been out 15 months.  He knows what he's doing.  There's a few things I'd like to change about his teaching (I'll definitely do it in mine once I know how to speak Spanish!), but overall he knows what he's doing.  He was a ZL, and I'm his four "son" or trainee.

We also have FHE with a family tonight.  I have a feeling it's going to be rough without the family.  It's little things like that that are really hard for me. It could definitely be worse.

Also remember how my shoes had tan threads on them?  I forgot about them and shined them black.  Don't know how I would've got around that though.  Oh well. Shoes have been great.  No problems at all.  The shoe trees has helped dry them out.

Also did you ask anyone about my Mission Belt and why it might be staining?  I tried it with a different bag, but it still stained my shirt.  I've got a ghetto belt now to try and hold everything together. I believe it has stained three shirts.  One is really bad, two aren't that noticeable.  Most of it tucks in or is folded over so I'm not too worried about it.  I also can't find a sock.  Mark that down.  I went nearly two months without losing a sock haha. I also usually hang my shirts out on a hanger which helps with the wrinkles.  Plus with the humidity I'm usually fine.  The Holmes shirts don't seem to wrinkle as bad either.

 Do you know anything about how Cole is doing on his papers?  Or if Nate has started his? Is there any way you could try and find Christian Larsen's mission email for me?  I'd love to email him and hear how he's doing. (Miranda Fielding received her call to the DR also.) Maybe I'll visit the MTC to see her.  Do you know when she reports?

Thank you for the updates from everybody!  I really enjoyed it.  How'd Lydia do with a full day of school?

The Ogden temple looks amazing! I can't wait to go inside.  I'm glad I can still see all of it even though I missed the open house.  We also get to go to the temple in September!  I'm looking forward to that. :)

I've started a separate account where I list one good thing a day.  I think I'll start doing a paragraph in my journal as well though.  Still writing close to a front and back of each page a day though.

That's about it. I think that's about all I can think of! Please let me know if you have any more questions. I struggled to actually remember to send you stuff Gospel related sometimes! Love you tons!  I'm definitely doing better.  It comes and goes, but I definitely am better.  Still miss you guys tons though.  Think about home a lot too. Miss you tons too!  I printed off your advice from last week and it's REALLY helped me through this week.  Thank you SO much.

Love you always.  Think of you and the family more than I should.
Love, E. Potokar.

View from the barber shop door.

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