Hola familia y amigos!
"And it came to pass, that Hermana Behan did consume much rice and grow fat, like unto the beasts of the field." 1 Caribbeans 6:3
I'm getting used to the food, but if I'm not careful, I'm going to "engordar" and come back to you with just that more more of me to love, haha. We eat whatever we want for breakfast, and then we have a big lunch at a member's house and are expected to eat all of it. We don't eat dinner, which is kind of sad, because every day around 7 I feel hungry sorry for myself. I ate a cucumber with peanutbutter for dinner the other day. It tasted about as good as it sounds. That and Ritz con Queso or delicious bread from Panerias.. But Hermana Najarro and I have sworn ourselves away from both of those things....too dangerous. I tried two new drinks this week as well! Tiste, which is a clowdy brown color, sort of an horchata like texture, and tastes slightly like beans and sugar and a hint of coffee (it's not coffee, no worries). Also Pinolillo, which Nicaragua is famous for. It's also a murky brown color with flecks of tan colored floaties in it, which are apparently pieces of toasted corn. It tastes like...toasted corn and cocoa powder, and water, which is all it is. It was expecting it to taste like dirt, so I'll take what I can get.
So, I just realized I titled my last email "Spanish Catch Phrase" and failed to mention what exactly that means. Spanish Catch Phrase is my favorite game here--it's when you don't speak Spanish but have no choice but to speak Spanish, so you use the words that you do know and mime, act out, draw or do anything you can to get your companion to guess the word you're thinking of. When you win, your companion understands you. When you lose, you feel really dumb. All of the time.
It's definitely another world here. Little old men riding carts pulled by broken down horses carrying firewood or other random things, mangy dogs and cats everywhere, women carrying baskets on their heads, dirt floors, palm trees and machetes, men wearing banana leaves to bind wounds, tiny little shops everywhere (most people have a little window show in the front half of their two-room house selling miscellaneous things..snacks, shampoo, ketchup (Nicaraguans love ketchup).. there are taxis everywhere and motorcyclists and bikes.. I don't know how they do it, but they manage to fit three or four people on one motorcycle or bike. Entire families just cruise down the street on the same bike. Mostly, I'm amazed at their balancing skills, but I'm also concerned that I'm going to be hit one day and get run over. It's a busy place to be. And also a poor place to be. One of the hermanas from here told me the other day that Leon is one of the wealthiest areas in the country, and I cannot even comprehend that. How can you get more poor than this? I guess you don't really realize how blessed you are until you meet people who have nothing.. and would share their solitary dirty, plastic lawn chair with you so you could sit down and talk with them. That, to me, is true Christianity. They're happy, too. I've been far too materialistic in my life, and it's refreshing to be with people who live life much differently than I think I even could have imagined.
The rain here is insane. Last week when we left the internet shack, it was pouring and, naturally, we didn't have our umbrellas. Completely drenched. It rained so hard today our ceiling leaked and termites may or may not have fallen from the ceiling onto my lap, but it's fine and I'm going to be okay.
Officially two weeks completed in the mission! I don't know if time is going fast or slow. I think slow right now, but that's just because I can't understand hardly anyone and that gets old really fast. My Spanish is slowly but surely improving, but I've got a long way to go. I'm sure if there was a translate option to view everything that I'm actually saying in Spanish to English, it would be pretty entertaining. Especially because I use the infinitive of words far more often than I should because I don't know the conjugations and it gets my point across. "We should to get to know the persons what are in the church to cook because I for myself like cook or to cook they cook it's good and important will you be baptized bye."
In other news, I got proposed to by a half naked fat man sitting on a bicycle yesterday. I get hit on pretty often. A drunk Nicaraguan man told me in English earlier last week, "I love-uh yooo!" Another called me his love, and another his queen. Quite presumptuous of him. At least we know for certain know I won't be a cat lady. I can just come back to Nicaragua and have my choice of older shirtless fat men on motorcycles.
Mostly we walk everywhere, but sometimes, mostly on P-Days, we take rutas (root-uhs). They're vehicles that kind of look like small dump trucks, but then they pass by and you realize they're actually filled with people. I don't really know why, but I love rutas. They don't wait for you to be all the way inside before they start driving, so it's always kind of exciting wondering if you'll grab the bar in time or fall out. They're probably about the size of our 12 seater MAV (Mormon Assault Vehicle) Van, and I counted last P-Day and there were 46 people crammed into the same ruta. 46 people. 46 different body odors. I was far more acquainted with the man standing beside me's armpit than I ever had a desire to be. I was so impressed with one woman, who brought an entire iced cake, uncovered, and managed to keep in completely in tact both getting on and off the ruta. I would most definitely have smashed said cake into my face or someone elses. Maybe even intentionally.
Killed a cockroach the size of a tablespoon in my house yesterday. I was also really sick earlier this week, but I am better. All I will say is this: thank goodness for pepto bismal. I thought I was going to die in the bathroom. But, I survived. That is all you need to know.
Pretty much out of time again, what's new? But I wanted to say how much I love the Nicaraguan people. They are so loving and open--everyone you smile at smiles back and wishes you luck in the work and that you'll be blessed by God, and just about everyone listens to us, even if they're not particularly interested. The only problem with that is that they often make promises that they don't keep. I think of the 12 people we commit each week to come to church, maybe two will actually show up. But..at least they're friendly about it. I actually have my first baptism this week, so I'll be sure to tell you all about it next time!
I can't believe I turn 21 this week. Definitely not real. I miss everyone, but this is exactly where I am supposed to be. I love this Gospel with all of my heart, and I am trying my hardest every single day to teach as many people as I can about it. I found great comfort in Doctrine & Covenants 6:32-37 today, and invite you to read it if you're having a bad day. "Therefor fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. . . Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." Some days I have struggled, but most days, I am just happy to be involved in such a great work. I literally chased down a family to talk with them the other day (they were crossing the road and it was my turn to initiate, and Hna. Najarro told me to just go for it. So..I just kind of ran after them and yelled "Como Estas???" until they turned around and looked at the crazy white person following them. They agreed to meet with us later in the week, though, so it was worth it).
The Church is true or I wouldn't be here with cockroaches and termites and heat and smelling weird all of the time. I love my Savior, and He will never forsake us.
Praying for ya'all. I love'uh yooooo!
Les quiero muchisimo!
<3 Hermana Behan