Sunday, December 8, 2013

Attack of the Insects: November 11, 2013

¡Hola familia y amigos!

I. Hate. Insects.  I hate them hate them hate them.  And this week, they were out to get me.  

I killed ten huge cockroaches in our house this week. TEN.  All the size of tablespoons or larger.  Ugh....I don't even want to know how many are actually in our house. And then we picked up our laundry from Johanna's house across the street and returned to our house, I noticed some food or something had been spilled onto the mesh laundry bag, and ALL of my clothes were just teeming with these tiny little ant/weevil like insects.  I know it's silly and dumb, but I just...cried. hahaha I just feel so disgusting here, all of the time.  I love nature and being outdoors, but I also like to smell good and feel clean, and here I just feel so GROSS all of the time. My hair is gross, my skin is gross, I smell weird, my clothes smell weird, there are ants all over my books, and now a little colony of new friends that live in my clothes. I needed a minute to compose myself, and then I was fine.  I still love it here, no worries.
We did some yard work for one of our investigators, Julio Blanco (we always refer to him by his full name, not sure why. Maybe because it sounds like the name for someone in a soap opera) this week, who lives directly next to the Church.  All we did was move a pile of really long sticks to an upright tee-pee shape under a nearby tree before the rain hit.  It started to rain slightly but wasn't too bad, except for the fact that the sticks were crawling with ants! We didn't realize right away, and Hna. Najarro had 15 or more ants fall straight onto her face and all over her clothes. We kept finding ants on random places on our bodies utnil 6 pm. Bleh.  My greatest insect story this week, however, occurred at two in the morning two nights ago.

So, I'm not one to usually have nightmares, but for the last week, that is all I have had. Every night (including one dream where all I did all night was work out math problems, which is, for me, a nightmare) a new night mare. Two nights ago, the dream was worse than usual. I woke up with my heart pounding at 2 am and didn't know why, but was eventually able to coax myself into falling back asleep.  In my dream, someone was breaking into our house and sneaking into our room. Just as I was dreaming that he entered our room, something jumped on my shoulder. In my dream it was the man grabbing my shoulder, but, in reality, something had actually landed on me. Before I even realized what had happened, I heard someone yelling, "OH MY GOSH, OH-MY-GOSH, OHMYGOSH!!!" and realized it was ME! I had also literally jumped from my bed to Hermana Najarro's without consciously doing so, and had curled up next to her in the fetal position sobbing.  I was completely irrational at that time in the morning, apparently.  I tried to explain to her what had happened in broken Spanish, and she turned on the light to identify the culprit of my scare. I had no idea what it would be--it was pretty heavy when it landed on me. A gecko? A mouse? Cockroach? Something worse? Hermana Smith?  

I moved my sheets aside and there it was, the biggest grasshopper I have ever seen in my life.  I know...not exactly scare worthy, but it was seriously half the size of a graham cracker! (haha, I just realized how pathetic that sounds. I woke up crying because a bug smaller than a graham cracker jumped on my shoulder).  Anyway, I scooped it up with my sheets and threw it out of the window, and that was that.  After that it was hard to fall asleep, but around 5 am, I finally did.  But man....I really resented insects this week.  How did it even get into our house?? We live on the third floor!  That is what I want to know.

Anyway, moving on to better things....

I taught my first English class this week! Every Saturday from here on out at 4, I will be teaching English (mostly to non-members), as a way to do service as well as invite more non-members to church.  I ended up having eight students this week, which I thought was a pretty good turnout.  English class is entertaining for them because my Spanish isn't that great, and entertaining for me because, all levels of English aside, their pronounciation is terrible. I had them repeat after me, "I like your shirt," and, bless them, they have a really hard time pronouncing the "r" in shirt, and it was really, really hard not to laugh.  Most of them got it, eventually, except for Fernando, but I think that might have been intentional on his part.

(Warning: the next part of this paragraph is not suitable for children). The other incident involved the word "morena," or "brunette" in English. I wrote the word morena on the board and asked if anyone could translate the sentence "Yo soy morena" into English, the correct answer being, "I am a brunette." Luis raised his hand, and in a questioning voice said, "I am a nigger?" hahaha I don't even think it's appropriate to write home about this, but everyone started laughing. No, Luis. You are not, in fact, [that word].  I explained that the "n" word is highly offensive in the U.S., but..yeah. It proved to be a rather..colorful..English class.

We actually got to eat dinner several times last week (woo hoo!) with one of our newly converted members, Francel, and her mother, Patricia, who is not a member and makes tortillas for a living. It is so fascinating to watch her work--she's a pro. She can have a conversation with us while keeping eye contact and simultaneously knead out the tortilla dough with water, quickly and deftly divide it into perfectly shaped dough balls, pinch off the excess, and smack it down into a pristine circle, all in 15 seconds or less. Then it's onto the stove top over the fire.  We ate a thick, warm tortilla, beans, and a weird cheese I've never had before.  It kind of has a sour aftertaste to it and is crumbly and pretty strong, but not too bad.  That night I just experienced one of those surreal moments where you look around at your surroundings and can hardly believe where you are.  Sitting under a tiny tin roof in the pouring rain in Nicaragua, eating tortillas near a steaming pot of corn boiling for the tortillas for the next day.  It is such a different world here, but a great one.
Turns out I might be in Leon for a really long time.  The previous Mission President here rotated missionaries every three or four months, but Pres. Collado prefers us to stay longer to make more of an impact with the people here.  So, I am fairly confident I will be here for 6 months, at least.  Initially I was kind of disappointed, just because I want to see as much of Nicaragua as I can, but the longer I'm here, the more I love it.  I love the people, the location, the city, the food--this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

Nicaraguan fact: I don't know why, but everyone uses bags here to drink from.  Hermana Najarro and I love to buy "Bolsitas," or little half frozen bags of milkshakes from a woman named Francisca--our favorite is "mani," or peanutbutter.  You just bite off one corner and enjoy (they're pretty small, tiny enough to fit in my palm), and cost 3 cordobas. We calculated that 25 cordobas is one dollar, so 3 cordobas is about 7 cents.  The ruta only costs 4 cordobas, about 8 cents, and taxis are 20 cordobas per person (not even a dollar). Apart from the fact that fruit and cereal is ridiculously expensive, life here is pretty cheap.  So, in short--everyone go buy a peanutbutter blizzard at DQ and think of me. You can even put it in a glad bag if that would make you happy. And while you're at it go sit in a sauna to make the experience more authentic. Maybe even sneak some ants into the lap of the person sitting next to you.

Other Nica Fact: They refer to things as "the ley" (or, "the law") when they're really awesome. It's kind of like the Spanish equivalent of the English phrase "It's the bomb."  They also use the word Tiuanis (Tee-wan-ees) to describe something that is cool or neat or that they like (sort of interchangeable with the use of "that's sweet" or "that's sick" in English). 

Another fact is concerning hand shakes.  Nicas will shake your hand, but if they're doing something with one hand or it is dirty, they'll either offer you their wrist, other hand, or even elbow if necessary. So I have shaken quite a few forearms and elbows in my time here.

I love our investigators, but they are quite an interesting bunch of individuals. Adalberto (an older man who reminds me slightly of one of those huge, ancient turtles you see in zoos) cancelled his baptism for the third time last week and we have no idea why. Everytime we talk to him he seems genuinely excited for his baptism, but then there's always some weird excuse when it actually comes time to go through with it.  This last time, we had the font filled and speakers ready and everything, and he never showed.  Hermana Najarro cried, but I wasn't expecting him to show up for some reason and so was fine.  Hopeful for this week, but I'll let you know next Monday what ends up happening.

After we finished the service for Julio Blanco, we taught him a lesson about the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity.  We saw him smoking the other day, but when we asked him if he smokes, he denied it and says he hasn't in years.  We committed him to follow the W.O.W. from here on out, and we're hoping he actually stops smoking so he can prepare for his baptism on the 17th.  The funny thing is that we assumed the Law of Chastity wouldn't really be applicable to him, because he is 73 years old--his glory days are over.  In fact, I have never seen his teeth and am not entirely sure that he has any.  But, come to find out, Julio Blanco is a PLAYER! He has a girlfriend who is only 22 years old!! 22!! He is old enough to be her grandfather! He says they have no Chastity issues (uh..hallelujah), and are planning on getting married. I find it creepy and hilarious.  I need to meet this girlfriend of his to believe it for myself.

Anyway, there are many more but I am completely out of time.  I love you all and love hearing from you! More to come next week,

Les quiero muchisimo!

<3 Hermana Behan

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