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

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