This Wednesday marks one month on the mission for me. I can hardly believe it! Time flies. On the other hand, it feels like an eternity since I was at home living the pre-mission life. The important thing is that I´m here, working in the present to earn the future. Hope that all of you feel the same!
Perhaps I could describe more about my every-day life in Lirquen. Our mission schedule is different here, so we wake up at 7:30 and return home at 10. The morning starts with an ab workout and pushups, about all the exercise I can motive myself to do so far. All the parks here have brightly colored elipticals, so maybe someday in the future we'll actually leave the house and do something more. Plug in the little water heater, spoon out some instant milk and a little sugar, and eat cereal for breakfast. Take a shower and pull my hair back in a ponytail (good thing I didn´t bring a blow dryer! I doubt I´ll do my hair very much here.). We wear our flip flops around the house, because the floors get dirty easily. Shuffle back into our room, flip on the little heater that we have under our table. Study the scriptures and Predicad Mi Evangelio, search for scriptures to share with investigators, seek answers to my personal questions, fortify my resolve to do this missionary work.
Companionship study- sing a hymn with the other Hermanas, pray, recite our purpose, read the Missionary Handbook, plan lessons, do my First 12 Weeks training (more reading and practicing), then leave the house to proselyte. Careful, make sure the neighbor´s dog doesn´t escape when we open the gate! Contact people on the street or make visits. I almost always start the contacts- Hermana Gonzalez is pretty quiet. Talk to the people, answer the usual questions about where we´re from, etc. Bear testimony, note addresses and find a time when we could visit. Try to tie everything to the Restoration! Working on that. After a while of that, it is lunch time! We eat with members every day, which is wonderful for many reasons. It is really helping me to get to know the ward, and it doesn´t hurt to have an easy entrance into at least one door each day. Chat with the members, eat delicious food. I try to ask the same questions I would ask any other family,- where the father works, how many children, how the parents met, how they came into the church, etc. For the most part, people are impressed with my Spanish. There is definitely a lot that I still don´t understand, though. But I do try to talk!
Meals usually start with some type of avacado- "palta" here. Love love love it. There are tomatoes with lime, salads seasoned with lemon, homemade breads. Main dish often involved some type of boiled or baked potatoe, maybe fish, maybe beef or chicken. The cooked veggies here are so delicious- I love them. We usually drink soda. There is almost always dessert, usually ice cream.
Share a scripture with the members. Leave, usually a little late. We need to work on cutting short our lunches! But you´ll all be proud to know, my eating habits are accelerating rapidly. Back out onto the streets, and then we knock doors or street contact or visit people we´ve previously contacted. Such is the work until about 9, when it gets a little more complicated- people don´t really like to open the door after it gets dark, and most of the people on the street at that time are drunk or hurry to get home. We´re working on using that last hour better.
If I were to make some general statements about the Chilean people, I´d tell you that they stay up late, and sleep in late also. They like to talk, and they like Americans. Most work in factories near Lirquen. Their houses are colorful, small, and situated close together. It seems like all of Lirquen is related somehow- everyone has a nephew or neighbor or grandson that is a member of the church. Most people are Evangelical of some sort, or Catholic. They eat a big meal in the middle of the day, then take "önce" at 7 or 8 at night, which means buying some bread from the local vendor and eating a little meal with the family. We´re not allowed to eat "önce"with anyone, so we wait to eat until we get home. By that time, I´m usually just ready for bed, so we don´t eat much then either. But I drink water all the time! Hna Gonzalez thinks I´m crazy, but it is ok.
Return home at the end of the day, hopefully feeling like we accomplished something good. Plan for the next day, get ready for bed. I think I may sleep in a sleeping bag for the rest of my life- I´ve been so cozy and I don´t have to make my bed in the morning! What a time saver. The nights are getting colder, so I wear two layers to bed, but I honestly haven´t woken up at all because of the cold or anything.
We take the bus to Concepcion on P-Day to pick up mail and use an internet cafe here, though there are also cafes in Lirquen. Concepcion is busy and very interesting. And the buses! Wow, they are fast and fun to ride.
Hmm, anything else? As for an overview of the week, it was another big learning curve, this time with my companion. We´ve discovered quite a few differences between us, and we´re working on bringing them together. In many ways, she is kind of disenchanted with missionary work. She doesn´t like to knock doors, doesn´t like to start contacts, doesn´t like to speak in front of people, doesn´t feel like she is a good trainer or example for me. She gets a lot of comments about being from Argentina, and that rubs her the wrong way. By some small miracle, she opened up to me this Sunday and talked to me about it, and we´ve set goals to improve. I pray for her a lot, and try to do what I can to help her. I hope she feels more successful this week!! This last one was really hard for her.
As for Sunday, this week we presented in RS, Preisthood, and the youth SS class about missionary work and making visits with us. I play the piano in Sacrament meeting, which is fun but nervewracking, considering I have no time to practice. The members are so nice and I love church. The Spirit is so strong, and it is such a testimony to me that the church is true no matter where we are! During church, I´ve also been pondering on the members and their strong testimonies. How can I help bring someone from Point A, Evangelical that already has their religion, to Point B, active member of Christ´s church? It is a long road, one I have yet to walk all the way.
I love you all and pray for you all the time! I hope that all is well and that you´re safe, happy, and hard-working.
All my love,
Erica in front of their house in Lirquen
Erica called this a "completo", which must mean a subway-type sandwich with "everything" on it.