Monday, March 30, 2015


In no moment am I more sure that this mission is particularly for me than when we are sloshing through mud to get to an appointment. It feels like I am fulfilling all of my greatest dreams all at once, in that magical moment between one house and another, especially when we're in one of the more remote, undeveloped barrios, especially when we're coming from a particularly spiritual chat and really witnessing a hastening of the work. 

The sky is a quiet white blanket of ambient light....distilling into tiny atomized raindrops that coat us. The only sound is the steady clop-clop-clop of our too-big boots hitting our calves or sloshing into deep puddles, and the toads crying in the distance (they make a baby-crying is very human-like). We just slip and slide from barrio to barrio, two gangly figures dressed like Easter eggs. 

Yesterday was the fourth straight day of rain, and all the hours of mud-licious mudsloshing which that implies. Sometimes it's been all I can do not to burst out and shout to the sky with glee. We've been grateful for the cooler weather (Hair-mana Beecher calls it Oregon weather...55 farenheit with a wet wind).....grateful for the change in pace (the rubber boot-laden human body moves 35% slower through mud than when under normal conditions, yet works 20% harder...) 

I am very awfully grateful in general. It is, as Dieter F. Uchtdorf says, "not a gratitude of lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind." Our area carries on quite well. One pair of Elders got transferred to Corrientes, so we got some new ones. One from Utah ("la fabrica de misioneros" ["The Missionary Factory"]) and the other from Bolivia. A new sister arrived in the other district, making me realize I'm not new anymore (!!!!) We've found some amazing people this week. For example, one time we knocked on a door and met the cleaning lady, who lives in a different barrio that's still in our area, so she gave us her address. But as we were walking away, the man who lived in that house ran outside into the rain and stopped us and said essentially "I never thought you would come!!! The Mormon missionaries taught me 15 years ago but I was never baptized. I remember the peace I felt and the way it changed my world, and I want you to come by every week and teach my family." He has a wife and 3 kids who are 8, 10 and 13, and they are all lovelies. Getting to know them. 

Val & Co. are doing marvelous. She's started to realize what a gem Basilio is, all he does for her every day, and they are all being really grateful for each other and building each other up. We've discovered that Dora loves coming to activities and being involved in events, and that's been helping her a lot to adjust gracefully. She goes to everything:workshops, meetings, the English class we missionaries teach every week. Everything.

It's stunning to see recent converts help new investigators/converts (which I should be over by now, since virtually everyone in the ward is a convert). But man, having Hugo come to a discussion with an investigator this week, he had so much to share, we couldn't help but feel proud of him. When you're new, building up the people who are even newer is one of the best ways to shed your newness (i.e.: receiving the new missionaries this week was swell).

I do not know why, but my planner smells like yerba mate. Every time I flip it open, the smell wafts up from the pages and draws a single tear from my eye. One tear from each eye. And then the moment is mercifully wiped from my memory until it happens again. (Cut to me sitting next to a woman on a bus. She pours hot water out of a thermos into a tiny silver mate and offers it to me. I politely decline, putting my hand up, "Soy alérgica," ["I'm allergic"] I say with a faint smile.)

In all my excitement last week I failed to mention that the reason we had a multi-zona was to hear from Elder Nuñez, a church general authority from Chile. He had a heartfelt message and I found it very inspiring. Alma 29:1-2.....verses that make our hearts soar.

Life is good, lots of mud-buckets full of love to you all, talk to you next week!
Hair-mana Tolman

[From letter to family:]
It's amazing how fast the Lord will change you when you're willing to change...and when you have the privilege of being called on a mission and already speaking the language, and when it's the best mission on Earth with the best president, and the place and conditions I would have chosen to go to if I had had the choice. The best part about my first transfer [six weeks] was realizing I didn't need to see an angel or have some dramatic 180-degree-turnaround conversion, because the second I got here I realized I already had a testimony. I already felt strongly about the Restoration and I already knew God loved me. The rest was just filling in the gaps.

Everything gets clearer for me every day, and I'm not afraid of completing this mission, nor do I dread coming home like most of the missionaries do, because the gospel is true ALWAYS, and God loves us ALWAYS, and I know that this work, as marvelous and glorious as it is (and it IS), is just preparing me for the rest of my life. The inner strength and peace that God has given me out here is something I don't even think I thought was possible. I'm forever grateful for everything that led to me getting out here, because looking back, once it started happening, it all happened so fast. I can't deny that God was just waiting to get me to this mission on the fast track as soon as I dragged my sorry self to the start line. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

And Now for the Weather

Antonella, Hna. Tolman, Milagros, and Hna. Beecher
The girls are cousins.
We're helping out at stake choir when a girl [Milagros, in this photo] walks up to me and holds out her smart phone to show me. It's opened up to my missionary blog. This is an uncomfortable moment for both of us. "Look, I follow your blog," she says. I have never seen this girl in my life. "It's all in English," she says, "I can't read it." I explain that it is for those in my homeland. She said that's real swell. I nodded. (In reality she said "Ah, que lindo.") I tell this to you because in this moment, I noticed that my letters home have been appearing with titles. So I put a title on this one, "And now for the weather," which I will explain later on.

Waiting for the bus after the multi-zone conference.
This week we had another multi-zone conference with all the missionaries in Formosa province, which was a great chance to regroup and renew. It was good to see President and Sister Franco, hear more from them, and get together with everyone to remember Hermana Scadlock.
The transfer [every six weeks, companionships get shuffled] has come and gone (being the reason for our writing on Tuesday instead of Monday), and praise be to every particle of all-rejoicing dust in the air, Herm. Beecher and I are staying together in Italia. We can really hit the ground running this transfer.

Valentina & Dora's Baptism.
L-R: Hno. Barrios, Basilio, Dora, Valentina, --, Hnas. Beecher & Tolman
Valentina update: she was baptized this past Saturday along with her daughter Dora. 
Does it even bear mentioning how happy we felt that day?
Yes, yes it does. Valentina and her family are quite simply the reason I was in Formosa my first transfer. They were the first lesson I taught, on my very first full day as a full-swing missionary. I remember it well. I had put on some very thick sunscreen that didn't rub in very well, and I think they asked me what planet I was from. After the baptismal service we were all seated and chatting and eating sweet things I don't know the name of, and Hermano Barrios asked Val what called her attention when she first came to our chapel. She responded that for years her sons have been taking her to all sorts of different churches. She had been on the search for a long time, and the first time she came to this church, she knew she had found her peace. 
L-R: Basilio, Dora, --, Valentina, Hna. Tolman
Dora took us all by surprise. When I have said "the best and the worst of my mission so far," I have generally been talking about Dora. Why she decided to be baptized the same day as her mom, why she changed so much in such a short period of time: you would have to ask her yourselves, folks. All I can say is she was in a dark, dark place, and she's been snatched up out of it by a God who knew she would find him as soon as she looked. Basilio is happy for them. When we go over to see how they're doing he says "rey contentos" [VERY well] and shakes our hand twice. He has baptism as a goal too, because Valentina is the love of his life and he wants to be married with her in this church. 

Hna. Beecher cleaning the font.
A highlight of the baptism was Hugo's talk. We had invited him to give it, just 5 minutes on the Holy Ghost, which he accepted wholeheartedly. The baptism was at 6. When Hermana Beecher and I got to the church at 5:15, he was already there waiting outside the gate. He said he was excited to share this experience with them and remember "for old time's sake" (that day, he had been baptized 2 months and 5 days ago).He helped set up, he swept the church, he attached a rag to the end of a broom handle and mopped the church. The best part of all this is he had no idea whose baptism it was. It didn't matter to him, he was happy becuase it's something he believes in for everyone and anyone. After the actual baptism when he stood up with his glasses and his stack of books and pages and pages of notes, 90 seconds into his talk he was still talking about how he felt when we asked him to give this talk; he hadn't even introduced the topic yet. Hermana Beecher and I and the Elders all looked at each other with wide eyes. How Hugo sat down after 5:00:00 minutes on the dot having just given a brilliant, insightful talk on the gift of the Holy Ghost we do not know...all we can say is it happened.

And now for the weather....
Missionary brownies for Mabel's birthday
The first day of fall brought a cold wind to Formosa. Everyone said this is unusual... On Sunday night when we were celebrating Mabel's birthday, the aunts came over shivering, abrigadas [bundled up], and started up the oven before there was even food to put in it, just to heat the house back up to 85 degrees. (I'm making all these farenheit numbers up, I think you have the general idea). So yes, when it is hot, and then it stops being so hot, you eat different, you sleep different, you work different, it changes the whole game. People have switched from tereré back to mate for their daily refreshment.
I also mention the weather because the forecast for this new transfer [6 week period] is....AWESOME. It is advantageous to already know this area (and this is no small task. There are no street signs in these barrios, but the streets do have names, and we have learned them by tapping into the collective consciousness), and to already have a rhythm worked out, so we just know, and because we know, we know that whatever worry or discomfort comes this transfer, it is too late to ruin this transfer; this transfer is already the best, it's already the kind of transfer you're going to mention in a talk you give in church when you're 40 and your mission is but a distant memory. Speaking of a distant memory, Yanina (pronounced Ja-neen-a), a member's daughter, came home from her mission this week. She served in Querétaro, Mexico. She was incredibly calm. I don't know what I expected. It is a pleasure and a delight to have her back with us. 

Dust Cloud (a different day)
The third reason I titled this email "And now for the weather" is that yesterday as we were walking from one barrio to another, we looked up into the 7:00 sky, and beheld a great dust cloud. In the afternoon light, against the robin's egg-blue sky, it looked like a glow cloud....a great glow cloud like the one that looks down upon a desert community...

Choir Practice, with Hna. Beecher at the piano
So, this week has been a memorable one. We met Huck Finn. We met Buddha. We helped people to pray. If you can't find the words in Spanish, won't you try in Guaraní. As I have mentioned, we've been helping out with stake choir, which is fun and exciting, as this is the choir that will sing when the apostle comes at the end of April. If you want to know what it's like to help some average Latinos sing hymns in a choir, just think about what it's like to help some average Americans learn to dance the tango. It is just not culturally ingrained, you see. But we are doing great. Faith to move mountains. And we have a lot of fun. That 4-part harmony is in the bag. 

Speaking of music, shout out to my friend and sister Hermana Annika Burton, who just left the MTC to serve in Santa Rosa, CA. Her last week in the MTC, she wrote that a real live bat flew its way into the auditorium during a Relief Society meeting. She said at first they thought it was a bird....then it swooped down closer, during a dramatic song in Music & the Spoken Word. The choir sang, the bat flew through the crowd of ladies, "the screams and music melded together in perfect harmony," wrote Sister Burton. Beautiful imagery. I pray you keep your sense of humour in the face of whatever comes your way in CA, Hermana.

The Gonzales family, members of the Church
I will close this email sounding unapologetically trite and missionary-like. I love being a missionary. I love waking up in the morning and knowing what I have to do that day. I have to go talk to all my friends about something I treasure and love, and find new friends, which there is no shortage of, as working in Formosa is like walking through the brain map of a Nice Person. Everyone's out on their porch waiting for you. Sometimes you say hi and next thing you know, you're in a lesson. You didn't even have to ask; they just see you, pull up two more chairs, seat you, and give you the green light. It is surreal. It's not always that easy, but people tell me this is a specifically Formoseñan anomaly. 

Herm. Beecher's Spanish gets more polished every day. (Flash back to a few weeks ago when she prayed "Padre Celestial, te damos gracias por esta comida, por la nutria que nos da," ["Heavenly Father, we thank thee for this food, for the otter it gives us"] I help her with her Spanish, she helps me with literally everything else :-D. It's hardly a fair trade, but she is my trainer after all, and I am thankful times one billion for her. She is humble, she is strong, she is teaching me to teach the gospel with love and with heart. Could I ask for anything more?

Hope you're all doing welllllllll,
Love and kisses.
Hermana Tolman

Working with the Members! Hnas. Armoa and Gisela 
P.S. When we were walking on the street with Hna. Gisela, a guy pulled up in a moto screaming "I have to talk to you guys!!!!" It startled Gisela, like what do you want with these innocent missionaries??? But he said "You guys are Mormon, right? We said yeah! He said he had been painting a member's house when something came on her TV. He stopped painting to go watch and listen, because it was so beautiful. It was a choir. He realized it was music of worship. He says he fell in love with the music and asked her what it was, and she said it's the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! She told him about how they will sing in General Conference and he's invited to come see it broadcast in the stake center. He had stopped us just to tell us this and ask when Conference was. We were able to invite him to Conference, to the coming of the apostle (which we're doing the choir for, haha), and write down his address and have the Elders go to his home and teach him about the gospel, which he is very interested in (he lives in the Elders' area). Thanks for being missionaries and inviting people to Christ with your music, Mom and Melinda! Love you guys!!!

Happy Birthday to Mabel!


Monday, March 16, 2015

Angels Among Us

First things first: Hermana Scadlock's passing caught us all by surprise. I just want to vocally give my support to her family and to President and Sister Franco. To them it was like losing a daughter too. They were with her right up till the very end, keeping her family updated as well as the rest of the mission updated. We appreciated this a lot. The mission is in a very unified moment. We pray that Hermana Scadlock's family and friends will have people close by, that they will feel God's love and that their sorrows will be swallowed up by their faith in Christ and the overwhelming amount of love and support that I'm sure the whole church sends. If it feels heavy, just know that at the very least these 200+ Resistencia missionaries are all carrying a piece of it. I didn't know Hermana Scadlock all that well. We sat across from her and her companion Hermana Hanks at the last multi-zone conference, and what I do know is that Hermana Scadlock was a lovely creature with jewel blue eyes. Very very sweet and gentle, and mildly hilarious. 

Maybe this week hit me in the back of the head, because my brain finally arrived in Argentina. You know you've arrived when you're 100% in the moment, walking past a soccer game in the late summer glow, feet treading on the chapped crackly road, heading to the house of someone you can hardly wait to see. People are sprinkling buckets of water on the road to keep the dust down, the blood orange sunset glints off of the paint on crumbling walls and the gleaming sweaty soccer players' skin. We're weaving between kids on bikes and chipadores with baskets on their heads and motos that carry families of 4. 

Gaining the confidence of people here, we are more and more able to do things for them and be there when they need us.
 Hermana Rodriguez on my right and Hermana Armoa on my left.
These two women.....they are the backbone of the ward. Hermana Rodriguez is a teacher, an incredible chef, and she just radiates strength and confidence in everything she does. Hermana Armoa. Well....just imagine an angel descended from the skies and took the form of a sweet Paraguayan piece of heaven, and you have Hermana Armoa. Also note her sly, mischevous facial expression. She has that side too. These are my temporary adoptive moms. We will try to get a more serious picture before I leave (hopefully that won't happen just yet--crossing my finger for tranfers in a week).

Valentina & Dora
We've been spending a lot a lot of time with Valentina & Co. this week.Valentina is funky fresh. She gets spunkier every week. I wouldn't have guessed it when I first met her, but this woman is really, really unbearably funny. We'll be having a serious conversation and she'll just lean her head back and in a grave tone say something completely sarcastic. Then we all just laugh and laugh and then shake our heads and clear our throats and continue the conversation as if nothing happened. Then it happens all over again. Dora their daughter is doing so well, so very well--the change in her has been like night and day. Basilio as well--he has really warmed up and started to tell us about his life story, political experience, and relationship with God. This would only be remarkable if you knew how shy and distrustful he was. He has become as much of our family as anyone else here. Sister Beecher and I go by almost every day, and we 5 really feel like family when we're all together. 

They love church and so we love helping them get there every week. It's a relief and a blessing to know that when we take them, they can always arrive at a place where they can get help, feel support, and find their peace. And that they will have that after Herm Beecher and I are gone. (hip-hip hooray for ward members who take their callings seriously and actually make church a place where they DO THINGS to make a difference in the world and show Christian charity to whoever steps in that door. Wooo-haaa!)

Well, next week hopefully I'll have time to tell you more about Mayra, a 26-year-old art teacher who exercises a strange charm over everyone she meets (could just be because she takes showers and still has all her teeth) (that was a joke, Mayra is very special and we love her, we've been going by her house for the past 4 weeks); Laura, a woman who never stops smiling; Leila, a woman who has a gnarly moto-inflicted leg burn; Marcelo, the bread shop guy; and Yohana, a woman who received us last night under the unlikliest of circumstances, and other investigators.

Much much love,
Hermana Tolman

Centro [Downtown]


Monday, March 9, 2015

One Continuous Moment


It's all coming. 
The faintly Paraguayan accent. 
The keen sense of smell. 
The stunning shoe strap tan line. 
Muddy Shoes
Last night we passed by Javier. He was on a foldout chair on his porch, just sipping tererè and smiling. He had his day off and he´d just been meditating all day tranquiiiiiiilo. He always reads and thinks about the things we give him-- a rare and valuable attribute. Wanted to chat about it but it would have to wait; we had to run to Antonela Cano's house because it was her son's 3rd birthday. The importance and extravagance of Argentine birthday parties does not bear mentioning; please google it. We were caught up and almost carried away by the swarm of kids and blow up slides and dancing. Anto found us in the crowd long enough to say hi, make a long-anticipated appointment for later in the week, and pile up a plate of sandwiches to send us with.

We walked away kind of dazed with this huge plate of sandwiches and several handfuls of alfajores, and decided we should stop by Hugo and Mabel's since we hadn't seen them for a while. We got there and clapped, and Mabel came out.
"Ya llegaron las hermanas!" she exclaimed--"The sisters are here!".
She whicked us through to the back yard, where a table was set up with empanadas and refrescos. Everyone came out. The 20-something daughter who we had only seen twice came out. 15-year old Ari came out.
"Finally we can start our family home evening." Hugo said, coming out wearing a very nice shirt and spectacles and holding a set of scriptures, "We were afraid you wouldn't make it."

At this point Hermana Beecher and I looked at each other and realized how good it was we had decided to stop by...We looked down at the plate of sandwiches in her hands, and said "Yeah so sorry we're late. But we brought sandwiches!!"

And we all sat down around the table on this breezy moonlit night. This family that never in all their years together had ever sat down together and talked about religion, they had this strange, beautiful family night. Hugo and Mabel got talking about their faith, their joys, their sorrows. Herm. Beecher and I said very little. I think Hugo just needed our presence there. To set the tone. With foreign missionaries there, Ari and Agustina felt obliged to leave their phones behind and come be with their parents. And that was enough. We didn't need to share some elaborate sermon; we were all there for Hugo. He'd long since told us it was his dream to have his family all seated together, and to share his faith.

Yesterday was also El día de la mujer trabajadora! [Day of the Working Woman] Shout out to all you hard-working ladies in my life!

This week was kind of one continuous moment. It happened all at once. Wednesday night was the most brain-slamming rainstorm this place has seen in several years--the streets were like 4 AM, nobody out-- for one brief moment the world belonged to us. And to the storm; Herm Beecher and I may have had an instant where we were Janie and Teacake in Their eyes were watching God.

These people have devoured my heart. Waking up and being more concerned for them than for what we're going to have for lunch or how we're going to fit it all into 12 hours is a life that takes a lot of self trust and a lot of prayer.

Hermana Beecher has crossed several items off her mission bucket list this week, so she's pretty hyped about that. After enough studying together and living the ups and downs of life together in this mission companion quasi-marriage-of-convenience, I'm starting to see her vision. Things I couldn't understand at first. I continue to scramble to keep up and glory in the hot, hot, inferno sunshine.

Love you all, have a great week!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Bound for the Promised Land

The best/worst thing to hear as a missionary is when someone who's been out for a long time says "I wish I'd learned ___________earlier on in my mission."

Full disclosure--I am a believer in trial and error, and comfortable with the fact that this is a process. I've also learned that the majority of people who rave about how awesome mission rules are, did not in fact have a computer chip installed in their brain to make them feel that way. The mission rules were ACTUALLY written with the aim of making you a better missionary. This took me some time to accept. Once I saw it, I couldn't deny it. 
I've learned that, as afraid as I am of changing, and as much as I miss home, there are some things I'll fully give up, not just for 18 months, but for forever. All I ever saw was the empty space left behind when you take something out of your life; I didn't get why any sane person would do it. 

For those of you who are familiar with the Book of Mormon, I kind of realized that I'm like Lehi's family. I had this really groovy place in Jerusalem (my old life, everything I'm comfortable with, everything I know, really), and I left it behind, taking with me only what I need, and I´m going out into the wilderness. Maybe it's serving a mission, maybe it's in a more figurative, abstract way. 
God has promised me not just that I'll learn something new; he's got a whole promised LAND waiting out there for me, and if I find a way to get there, and if I follow God's lead not because of obedience--that very abused and charged word--but because I've come to love God with all my fervent heart, I'm going to see miracles I never so much as hoped for before. I already feel a joy that is so complete, it's more than just being healthy or successful or anything I ever was. I'm going to be blessed and I'm going to go far, but one thing that God never promised is that I'll get back my home in Jerusalem. When you're reading in Nephi, before they even hit the great water phase of the story, you are well beyond feeling like God is going to let them go back to Jerusalem as recompense for all their hard efforts. It would be a joke. Maybe some of them wanted to have never embarked on this journey in the first place, maybe some of them lay awake at night and longed for their sweet silky beds and super-delicious food, but anyone reading the story with hope knows that God has better plans for these people, and by the time they get where they're going, they're not going to want Jerusalem back. God didn't say "Allison, if you do this well, I'm going to give you a really great thing in return....I'm going to re-insert you back into your old life and all will be as if Argentina never happened!" No, on the contrary, I'm feeling like a lot will change, and Jerusalem is going to be just a precious memory. And I like that it's that way.

And to finish, what "Jerusalem" symbolizes is up for debate. This does not mean I am going to give up all the life I had previously built for myself, nor does it mean I have stopped writing satire since I got here. Secondly, enough with the bashing on Laman and Lemuel as if we're all clones of Nephi. As I read this story, I am every character. And I think it's a great and open-minded way to read it--to realize all the characters are a part of your personality.

Meanwhile, back in Formosa, let me take you to Friday. Friday was the best day. We clapped a million houses and talked to a million people, and everyone said the same thing, which would roughly translate as "I would love to talk, dear, but can't you see it's raining outside?"

"Yeah! Can we come in to your little porch thing and have a chat???"

"------it's RAINING. Come back another day, please, I'll be waiting for you."

"Alright. But how are you doing?"

(person looks up in desperation) "It's raining."

Barrio San Pedro

So the rain has cosmic power over us here. 

Friday was the best day because we let off a lot of steam walking around, despised and delighted. Imagine being the couple of teenage boys sitting on the sidewalk seeing two lady missionaries approach who thought they were alone. Wearing big black rubber boots and muddy skirts, the sisters hear music coming from inside a house and dance as they move forward through the mud (me in my signature undulating jig). We make it to the paved sidewalk the boys are sitting on and walk by briskly. "Holaquétalcómoestán," I say in a gruff voice. After we pass, we look back and all four of us laugh and laugh and laugh.


It was that kind of day, and the next day, after the roads dried up, all of our efforts on Friday seemed to start paying off. The universe showed its approval. Everyone we talked to was uber-responsive, random people we passed on the street said "Hermanas, I'm going to church tomorrow, see you there!" Investigators we thought were going to politely drop us, instead had spent the rainy day reading and studying and finding answers to their questions, and they were really energized to keep learning. 

That night we went to see David and Brian, ages 14 and 9, and they put on these homemade name tags and taught us about the Restoration. These kids are the only members in their family and they hadn't been to church for a very long time. After this role-reversal night, we all walked away feeling really, really happy and humbled by what we all taught each other.

Sunday morning is a queasy thing for a missionary. I like it when people come to church becuase they get to see what it's like and hopefully feel some peace and rejoicing. However, I tire of the fixation on "getting people to church," on reporting numbers, on these sorts of things. I am not here to raise up a batch of members who are dependent on missionaries to push them to church. If someone doesn't make it, the world keeps spinning and there really shouldn't be the amount of lamenting there sometimes is about people NOT doing things. If we can't do things out of enthusiasm and free will, why do things? God blesses us for what we DO manage to do. He doesn't merely damn us every time we don't get something done. 

I still like seeing people come to church. They make this transformation--one day you see them dirty sweaty and working; the next day, whether they show up in jeans and flip-flops or a suit and tie, they look unrecognizably fine and beautiful. So when we were standing there to give the warm welcome to anyone who came, and we saw David and Brian walk up to the door, squinting in the sun, wearing white shirts and looking impeccably clean. I was aghast. "No puedo creerlo! [I can't believe it!]" I called! We had a great Sunday. Herm. Beecher and I along with the other two sets of missionaries in the ward had a delectable amount of investigators show up, and they and us and the ward all came together in a miraculous expression of unity. 

After all that was over, perhaps because of fasting and the intensity/spiritual high of the past 24 hours, the armadillo we ate at the Barrios' house was one of the most delicious and gratifying meals I have ever eaten. (They called it tatú.)

P.S. Saturday was also the best because I turned one month old!!!!!!! 1/18 of mission completed!!

P.P.S. Guess WHAT. An apostle is coming to our mission April 24-26!!! We don't know who yet, but very exciting news. Everyone, members, missionaries, everyone is spiritually preparing. It's like being visited by Peter. It's like a very big---deal---.

I went on divisions with Sis Gull! 24 hours with this incredible woman!
She worked us really hard and taught me to be fearless.

Valentina and Dora
Sister Franco, Mission President's wife

Gisela---a ward member who is the Relief Society president and helpful to no end. She sometimes comes out with us to visit people who disappeared from church and see how they're doing. She also came to a lesson with Val & Basilio and was SO helpful in addressing their concerns and openly letting them know what it's like to be a member here. She was baptized less than a year ago. This is her teaching RS on Sunday.

Woman waiting for a remis (cab)
Ubiquitous Dogs

These posters are all over bus stops and things... 

...always destroyed by angsty,
 anonymous passersby...

There is beauty in the decay.

...or the weather...

It is magnificent.