Monday, January 27, 2014

An ox in the mire (or a cow in this case)

This Week:
buying anacos are pretty expensive....the cheapest ones are like 30 and can go all the way up to 120 depending on the fabric. its pretty hard to find anacos that are also long enough for me..BUT theres a market near our house on saturdays and i found anacos for 4 dollars!  i realized a few minutes later that they are used, but for 4 dollars i dont really care (yes mommy, i am turning into you) but i went home to wash them and one of them has a weird smell when wet. so im gonna wash it again and see if i can get that taken care of. 

a view of the not so stable wooden scaffolding

on friday we did a service project for a part member family. they asked us to help them build a concrete roof as they are going to build a second floor on their house. so we show up at 10, and they give us a chicken soup for breakfast. we went and helped them cut vegetables to prepare for the lunch, and waited for the pulley system and concrete mixer to arrive so we could start working. when we got there there were about 20 other people there, mostly family and i figured okay, 36 people is a pretty good number for a job like this. 

while we were waiting around one of the elders saw that there was an old lady trying to get her two cows out of the river/small creek/muck. so we go to help her but none of the elders wanted to get dirty so i was like well what are we waiting for??? i took my shoes off and hopped on in, trying to keep myself above the moss that had grown over the muck...well the farther out i got the more it changed from muck to muddy water and the moss got thinner. i ended up falling in up to my knees and elbows but finally got the cow out. it was pretty fun. 

by the time we got back from the cow adventure, it was time for second soup..they really like soup here. more and more peple kept showing up...each one carrying 6 three liters of soda and two cuberta (a pack of 36) eggs. it turns out in the small towns here, they invite everyone whenever anythign big happens (wedding, birth, construction, etc) and that is the accepted gift. soda and eggs. i swear by the end of the day there were at least 35 3 liters of soda...the family  in turn then gives soda and eggs to all those who came to help. so we made out with a 3 liter of a cheap version of sunny d and 10 eggs as our payment. anywyas so all these people show up, still waiting for the mixer and pully system to arrive. the machines finally get there but it takes about an hour to get them both set up and working. its like 2 by this point and its time for third soup.
the giant pots and sketchy grill set up.

because there were so many other people there to help, they gave the missionaries the job of lugging water to and from the nearby stream that i had fallen into just hours before. then came time to finish cooking. they gave a huge plate of rice and chicken and potatoes to every single person there. i have never seen pots so big. and they probably cooked 50 pounds of rice at LEAST. they decided they needed more chickens so i got to help kill two chickens, but my camera died so i didnt get to take pictures of that part =(...anyways it was definitely an interesting experience.

then on saturday a little girl from the ward got baptized (top photo) and they also cooked a large amount of rice and chicken and potatoes (can you imagine what i eat every day yet?) but not nearly as much as what was cooked before.

i also found out there is a parrott that hangs out near the church and says hola and te that was cool.

 then on sunday we were eating at our ward mission leaders house and their little girl was playing in their cabinets but no one was really paying attention to her...anywyas a few hours later we realize shes gone and we start looking for her and cant find her anywhere. turns out she fell asleep in the that was pretty funny
and today we went to some different waterfalls and i ended up falling in..again....

and we played capture the flag at a park there which was cool but there were a TON of mosquitos and i look like a POW from the knees down. 
thats all for now!
kaykaman ñuka familia!

Monday, January 20, 2014

The furry chicken

This week:
on monday we found two really cool, married families, with kids in baptismal ages and they have a car! (i.e. one in a million here) and we are working to get them to church now. for whatever reason church attendance seems to be the main roadblock here.  then on thursday we did splits with the hermana leaders, and i got to be with hermana quizhpe (one of my friends from my last zone). That was a pretty good time. we played a game where you have to use a random word during a contact,and if you dont use it you have to buy the other person ice cream. my word was alien and i used it succesfully. her word was giraffe, and failed to use it. thus i was bought delicious hand scooped chocolate ice cream by hermana quizhpe, and delivered by an overly flirty, possibly gay argentinan man.

on friday one of the less active families we have been working with baptized their first daughter. shes 8, so it doest count as a baptism for us but it was still a good time. this little girl is totally shy, and theres some sort of strike with the gas tank guys, so the water was freezing. the poor girls dress would NOT go down in the water, and she had to get re baptized 5 times. by the last time she was shaking to no end and her lips were purple. luckily the mom was thinking ahead and brought a large blanket for afterwards. 

on saturday i bought my first native blouse and belt set, and now im on the look out for the skirt. hopefully next week i can go to church in full anaco. 
                    also if you wanna say i ate rabbit in kichua its
conejota mikurkani....the more you know.

on sunday i also had a first time experience. we went to eat with our normal mamita, and about halfway through i realized that what i thought was chicken had fur on the skin and thus was not chicken. hermana chuquin would NOT tell me what it was! i guessed and guessed and guessed and she wouldnt tell me. finally when i finished they told me it was rabbit. not just any rabbit but one that they had raised (on the roof) and killed the day before. and they had another one upstairs if i wanted to go catch it. so my comp and i, the mom and dad and two kids chased a gigantic white rabbit on their room for 30 minutes, and never ended up catching it to take a picture.but i swear this rabbit was almost as big as rebel. 


then today we went to a crater lake called mojanda that is 3,700 meters above sea level (about 12,000 feet) and i thought we were going to die scaling a small mountain in a sketchy 12 pasenger van. but somehow we made it out alive and then went and ate mexican tacos in ecaudor....basically my life doesnt make sense, but its okay. it doenst have too, im a missionary.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Six months in and thankful

yes, it is true. i will be celebrating 6 months on friday the 17th...however my mission certificate...(a small card saying i am called to preach the gospel and it has my start and end date and president monsons signature) says that i finish the 13th.....but we will count from the 17th. 

its also nice to have to hike up a mountain to eat lunch on sundays
 after church and ward council. i have never been so hungry in my life,
 yet so grateful for any food they give you. at least there is a
good view afterwards (above).
in the otavalo zone they went from 16 missionaries to 26 in one transfer and they will be opening new sectors next transfer too. we walk to a chapel about 10 minutes away for district/zone meetings and our house was somewhat of a downgrade. its owned by members, whose daughter lives across the hall with their husband whos the 1st counseler in the bishobric (how do you even spell that word?)...missionaries have been living there for 10 years and it has fleas....but its better than alot of the investigators we teach so im not complaining. today we were up washing clothes on the roof where the place you wash clothes is...its more or less like a big cement cube with a hose on one end and a drain on the other....and all the old otavaleño ladies were laughing at how i washed clothes by hand and tried to teach me...its still a   work in progress. 

here is a picture of the imbabura, an inactive volcano near our house

This week:
i realized alot of things i am thankful for....

it rained on and off from monday to saturday this past week. trying to scale a small mountain via abandoned flooded train tracks in the dark is an interesting daily activity we embark on.
and thus i am thankful boots, my new alpaca fur socks, a sturdy umbrella (hermana aquinos did not last the week) and a small but powerful flashlight that clips onto my backpack (thank you christmas present).

we also found some piglets when we were out contacting. they were
very cute and very smelly and muddy. they seemd to enjoy the rain. 

we also get followed and almost bitten by dogs on a regular basis, so we now cary a mix of rocks and animal crackers to ward them off. 

the rain finally let up yesterday, which was a blessing

the bishop yesterday also asked us to give 10 minute talks, 20 minutes before sacrament meeting.
i gave mine in half kichua half spanish, and even though i butchered the kichua, the members seemed to be quite amused and pleased that i am trying to learn. 

lake san pablo and the side of the mountain that looks
like a heart (kind of, and hardly visible in photos)

today we went to the lake san pablo, we ate greenish hamburgers and harrassed some ducks.  it was a good time.

other than that not too much exciting things happened. were kind of in a slump right now as far is investigators go, but hopefully with double the contacting and member references we will be back baptizing in no time. 

kichua time!
imanalla ñuka familia manda!
manñapani jaua pachapi taitiko dios que kaipuya cuidaquangi
hashta chunga ishkai meses!
ñuka yakini
shuc punga kaman
ñañagu harlos

ps...i got the relief society card, and also the austins christmas card this week...both adorable and gladly accepted! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

First week in Otavalo

With new companion Hermana Aquino who is from Bolivia
the place: otavalo is a big small town. its not quite a city, but theres a hefty downtown area and alot of surrounding villages.
The Plaza de Ponchos market viewed from
 the other sisters apartment
there are a TON of tourists that come to the plaza of ponchos to buy stuff and to hang out with the natives. we live more or less in the city and can walk to our big chapel, the stake center and another chapel in less than 20 minutes. 

an average view of the valley from up the mountain

its in a valley surounded by super green mountains and a big lake on the other side of the mountain. (pictures attached) the sector im in used to be pretty big but they gave one of the villages to elders and split our down town area into two. we still seem to have a fair amount of people to teach. 

the steep, dusty, sometimes with gravel,
 animal and poop filled roads that we walk

even though its green the roads are still SO dusty. i shine my shoes every morning and by the end of the day they are completely brown again. we still have a little bit of the country in our sector which is up a SUPER steep hill that we climb almost every day. there are lots of dogs that like to bark and chase you, but i have yet to be bitten. and our house is right next to a catholic virgin statue thing so its always interesting to walk by the super devout catholics who are praying and lighting candles and stuff on the way out the door.

a hairless dead gineau pig...its whats for dinner.

The food: its pretty much the same as it was in mitad del mundo. i helped take the hair off of a cuy (gineau pig) but still havent eaten it yet. they also eat a thing called katso which is a fried beetle. buttt i missed the katso season by a month or two so ill have to wait until next november to extend my pallet to the insect category. 

the people: the people are by FAR the most amazing people i have ever met.  cultural coolness aside, they are so nice and will help anyone with anything. the members are even more amazing. they have to literally run to the stand to give their testimony because they ALL have testimonies so strong. they also offered to feed us without hesitation when we added 2 more missionaries. our ward mission leader and his wife are SO cool and have charity like i have never seen. they are so willing to help us and one of the other sisters  hurt her ankle the other day. after giving all 4 of us lunch and helping us find people to go to the citas (appointments?) with us, he massaged and wrapped the sisters ankle and offered to take her to one of his indigenous friends naturalist doctors. the wife is going to be my clothing buying guide and their kids are SWEET too. 

the culture: yes, i am starting to learn kichua. i can now (in rough kichua) greet, ask how old you are or what your name is, bare my testimony and pray. other phrases are included as well (thank you, sit down, come  here, im hungry, etc). im trying to write down as much as i can and practice every day. 

me in anaco

on tuesday
 the sisters put me in the native clothing called anaco and im OBESESSED. i never wanted to take it off. we ran out of time today but hopefully next week i can buy some and learn how to put it on. basically its a big sheet and you just have a woven belt that you tie on super tight, but you have to do it right otherwise it will fall off and you will be pantsless in the plaza de ponchos. there are women here who wear their anaco every day, and spend a TON of money on their hand woven blouses, and crystal necklaces. i will be opting for the more economic options. other than that its a pretty normal ecuadorian town. 
the ward mission leaders daughter.  they start
wearing anacos when they can walk....she is 4
and probably the most adorable thing i have ever seen.

This week: it was alot of running around trying to help the elders and other sisters open their sectors. 
on tuesday we had lunch with the old bishop, and it turns out his son translated the book of mormon into kichua and their daughter made my scripture cases (who knew?) we had to come home early on new years so i just unpacked and listened to all the crazy fireworks outside. one of our neighbors apparently has a sound system fit for an arena, and i thought our glass was going to shatter because the music was so loud. around 1 am though everything seemed to settle down and i was fast asleep until a presumably drunk man was ringing all the doorbells in our appartment building repeatedly between 5 and 8 am

and yes, i wear ponchos now and they
are the most comofortable thing in the world
then on thursday we were out contacting up the mountain and found a family of 13 that took the first discussion and accepted a baptismal invation, but didnt go to church and dont seem to be too excited with the whole thing anymore. but we will keep working with them this week and see what progress we can make. 

saturday i had my first tourist experience. i always wanted to meet a white person on my mission whos a member and be that missionary that daddy always harassed whenever we were on vacation. a nice lady from canada was visiting and had been looking for a church the last 3 weeks but never found one. when she saw us she got pretty excited and i explained to her where the church was and they came on sunday. it was pretty cool to get to speak english. 

sunday was fast sunday and almost all of the testimonies were in kichua, as well as part of ward council. the majority are bilingual and the chosen language is kichuañol (a mix of kichua and spanish) i could more or less follow the testimonies because the church words are all in spanish like gospel, testimony, miracle, etc.  im pretty sure if i stay more than a transfer ill be able to understand it pretty well. but we will see. then today we just went and played volleyball with the elders. we are 26 (English translation "there are 26 of us") in our zone now (the biggest in the mission) and in the valley of otavalo there are around 10 missionaries. apparently the church grew super fast in the 80s and its still a pretty dense mormon population. we cant walk 10 feet on saturday where they have the market and everyones saying "oh hermanitas come here im a member over there" and we dont know the majority of the people..

you couldnt send me the make up brush set? just kidding...make up is the last thing on my mind here. im showering 1-2 a week now a days with no makeup hardly ever. ive been trying super hard to not spend money and ive been pretty succesful so far. in the next few weeks ill be going with a few of the members to buy some traditional clothing but that should only be around 50-100 dollars in total. but we will see
 thats it for now...
hasta kashkama! 
ñañagu harlos