Monday, April 13, 2015

Happy 136th, Formosa!

It is true; on the 8th of April, Formosa celebrated that many years of being a bonafide province! Another day off school for the kids!
This week had many irregularities, for which I was grateful, as it was an exercise in flexibility.
Hermana Zaneli
Hna Beecher went to consejo [leadership council] in Resistencia to fulfill her leaderly duties, so I trio-ed up with Hermanas Cruz and Zaneli. I mentioned Hna Cruz last week, so you already know she's great stuff. Hna Zaneli is from Sao Paolo, Brazil, and she is a trilingual walking dictionary-thesaurus. Her vocabularies in Spanish and English are quite extensive, and I don't even know what she sounds like in her first language, Portuguese. We worked hard in their area and I loved doing 3 hours of studies with them, having these two brilliant resources at my disposal to answer my questions. Both of these sisters are in their last transfer and have an 18-month abundance of tricks and charla [discussion] skills that I was able to learn from.

Formosa Zone

Shortly after that we had a zone meeting after which I directly left for divisions with Hermana Duncan (she is the only brown haired american in zone photo who isn't Hna Beecher or me). I really like Hermana Duncan because she is so unassuming and humble.
Hna Duncan at the Bus Stop
She just smiles, walks out the door, and starts finding the exact people who were waiting for us that day. We went via bus to a part of their area that was too far away to get to on foot. It is a magical place called San Isidro. It feels like an hacienda mixed with a Tim Burton movie. The sky was silver and cloudy. We worked all morning there. Had lots of those surreal lessons with people we'd just met. People who had just gotten up for the day, but were not offended by being called upon. They simply asked us to come sit with them on the porch steps and tell them why we were there. 

After divisions, the week normalized in time for it to end. On Saturday we were with Guillermo and his family (remember the man I mentioned in another email who ran out from his house and asked us to come every week and teach his family?). Right as we were about to get up and leave from another great discussion with him and his kids, he asked if we know a certain Hugo Rivarola. We scoffed. We laughed. We chortled. 
"Of COURSE we know Hugo Rivarola!" 
"Well," Guillermo continued, raising an eyebrow, "Hugo Rivarola is my brother-in-law." 
Hermana Beecher almost lost it. Her crazy over-energetic side came out, the one that is usually reserved only for water polo and defending me from aggressive dogs. She jumped up, sat down, put her head in her hands, sat up again, leaned her head back, and said to the ceiling, "¡No me diga! ¡AMAMOS a la familia Rivarola! [You're kidding! We LOVE the Rivarola family!]
Guillermo sat back and smiled, seeming quite pleased with himself for having kept this from us for the whole lesson.
Turns out he was at an asado at Hugo and Mabel's house on Thursday night (he probably got there minutes after we'd left), and they somehow got talking about religion, and he talked about 2 missionary girls, and Hugo and Mabel talked about 2 missionary girls, and then Hugo brought out a photo of him at his baptism that has Hna Beecher in it, and they realized they were talking about the SAME missionary girls.
Guillermo is indeed Mabel's brother.

In other news, we finally took a photo with Mayra.
Mayra and Camila
Camilla is a year and a half old. She is one sister-mission old. Do not let her surly facial expression in this picture fool you; in real life she is the smiley-est creature I have ever met.
So, maybe I'm not seasoned enough to give mission advice the way Hna Cruz and Zaneli do. But I can share what I have found so far to be useful, and it's very general and can be related to a lot of things other than mission-ing. The fact is, mission-ing is not easy. It is hard. We do not do it because it is easy. We do it because it is hard. I'm starting to sound like JFK..."We choose to go to the moon!!"
However, despite culture clashes, miscommunication and misconceptions, somehow missionaries get up every day ready for more. How is this possible? I often wondered during my first weeks here. Well, first off, you must inevitably realize that we do it for conviction. This Gospel is too strange-sounding and inconvenient for our belief in it to depend on worldly proof. We believe in it because we recognize it. But secondly, I have learned these things:
1. Meet people at their level. You're on their turf.
2. Stay centered. a.k.a. take care of yourself so that you'll be able to depend on yourself as a missionary. Live and treasure what you teach.
3. Embrace the suck. My dad always says that. If you embrace the fact that it sucks to get up early, work, follow a schedule, keep on going through days of walking and dust and fatigue....Then you learn to love life. Yesterday after a full, tiring week of travel and work and miles of walking, Hermana Beecher and I came home from church and made beef empanadas.
Hna Beecher & beef empanadas
Hungry is the best seasoning. I do not know if those empanadas were the blandest empanadas ever made by 2 american girls in their pension, because I'm still internally freaking out about how much I enjoyed them! There were no leftovers.
4. Remain calm. On a mission your work consists of people, and you see people in all conditions and in all phases of life, and you come upon them in all convenient and inconvenient moments. You can either feel threatened by people and let them feel threatened by you, or you can breathe and decide you're glad to see them. Just because they exist. You can not live through Wednesday just to make it to Thursday. You have to mellow out and accept what's happening where you are right now.

Well, there are my over-generalized and hastily listed things I've learned...I shall continue now on my quest for finding out why missionaries get up every morning, and you, dear family and readers, shall continue on yours. Until next week, enjoy these photos I took today in Centro, including street art and a dinosaur slide.
P.S.: If you are wondering whether I wear the same skirt every day....I don't. I do not know why all photos are always taken on days I wear this skirt. Excuse me.

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