Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wal-Mart: January 20, 2014

!Hola familia y amigos!

You know I honestly have no idea what I'm going to write about in this email, so bear with me if I'm all over the place.

Firstly, Hna. G really wants to learn English and I've been having so much fun teaching her. I can teach her anything I want! The power is almost too much.  So, naturally, I taught her how to say, "He's a jerk," "just kidding," and the usage of the words "random" and "awkward," because there aren't direct translations for those phrases in Spanish.  Her English is probably about as entertaining as my Spanish was at the beginning. She asked me today, "Can you borrow me?" haha "Um... no thank you, hermana."

Secondly: Training. So last Sunday night I received a call from my Zone Leader, Elder Whited (everyone pronounces his name White-head. Unfortunate, I know), and my thoughts weren't particularly inspiring. They were, if I remember correctly, "crap crap crap crap crap crap," followed by Whited's, "Hermana?" "Si, Elder?" "Congratulations! You're going to be TRAINING!"  and me, "Oh my gosh. Are you serious?? Gah I KNEW it!" followed by other words of wisdom or comfort or I don't know, I wasn't listening. I just knew I had to pack a bag with clothes for two days, say goodbye to Hna. Najarro and leave for Managua.  And that's what happened.

I predicted I would be training, but that does not mean I'm prepared for training. I've only been here for two changes! I still don't speak SpĂ nish! I'm directionally challenged (if any of you have spent more than a week with me, you know this. I didn't know where Wal-mart was after living in Carterville for 3 years and it's literally straight down the same highway and then you take a right. Yeah.), and our area just changed and is now larger than before.  They don't have street signs here.  A common direction is as follows: "Por la puenta valeska, seis cuadras al norte, dos y media varas arriba."  What the heck is a vara?? I still have no idea, haha. It turns out to be a good thing because I end up talking to pretty much everyone in the streets to find out where in the world I'm going, but to say I am a little bit overwhelmed is an understatement.  Everything is just in reference to something else.  "Ah, do you know where the purple house is by the bridge? It's right by that."  "Great. Thank you.  I will try to find said purple house although there are at least 15 in a one mile radius."   Oh well. I would prefer to be walking everywhere than driving any day,and my sense of direction has been improving dramatically (I know you don't believe me, Dad, but I promise it's true).

On top of that, I am now responsible for paying our rent, water, lights, etc, reporting numbers to the mission president every week, and making sure that I don't completely screw up Hna. Gonzales' expectations of the mission and teach her incorrectly, or lower her faith.  No pressure.

That being said, I can officially say I have gotten over my fear of public transportation, and I'm surprisingly fine.  I navigated Hna. Gonzales and I (by MYSELF) from Managua to Leon in two different buses and a taxi, and we arrived in tact. I ride the ruta like a pro, I know how to navigate the tube in London, I've taken the metro in New York, and various ferries and trains and planes and you name it all across Scotland and England and Germany.  And, if you were wondering, I can find both Wal-marts in both Carbondale and Marion, so, things are looking up in my life.

On the bus ride to Managua, I wrote: "Who is this poor girl I'm going to be training? Is she American and can't speak Spanish (in which case we're both doomed)? Is she Latina and angry? Does she want to be here? Will she resent me? Will she know how to teach? Will she know anything? Will we get along? Will it be easy to love her? Is she going to judge me because I have the Spanish vocabulary of a 7 year old? Will she be better than I'm hoping for? Will I love her as much as Hna. N?" I was pretty much just a huge anxious ball of questions.  But, turns out I had nothing to worry about, because Hna. G is darling, too. She's my daughter, after all, so that is to be expected.

Everything about Hna. Gonzales is super petite, but she makes up for her lack of height with her personality. Super spunky and also very opinionated (Spicy is a good word for her. Sometimes we have moments where I'm right and I know I'm right and she's wrong but won't let it go...but I'm learning to get over my pride and just accept it and move on.  I value our relationship more than I value my ego, which is saying something), and I'm reminded of the Shakespeare quote (I may be misquoting this, sorry Mr. Wakey), "Though she be small, she is fierce." I felt a weird sort of protective instinct over her on our first bus ride back to Leon. She was totally exhausted and fell asleep with her head on my shoulder, and because of our height difference I was bent into a weird "Z" shape with Hna. G on one side and a really fat guy smashing me in the middle from the other side (you know the bus seats that are only meant to fit two people? That's where we were sitting), but I felt in that moment a comforting sense of peace.  I have been pushed out of my comfort zone, but I know it's going to make me grow. I've been pushed to the edge, and I'm going to fly.  Or die trying. haha

I really miss Hna. Najarro, but I know that I'm supposed to be with Hna. Gonzales. There's a song lyric from the musical Wicked I have stuck in my head right now: "I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. And we are lead by those who help us most to grow, if we let them, and if we help them in return." I don't really know too much about Hna. G yet, but here is what I do know: She's one of 4 girls in her family, and they have nothing. Her mom irons clothing for a living in El Salvador, and was estranged from all of her family because she was pregnant out of wedlock. While pregnant, she was physically abused by the man she lived with, Hna. G's father, until she eventually left him. Turns out Gonzales isn't even her real name'--it's from a neighbor and she's using it for legal reasons. Right now, her mom is alone. She has one other sister on a mission in Panama, and another who is married. And she is here. She brought one tiny little suitcase, 5 shirts, 5 skirts, 1 dress, and 2 pairs of shoes, both of which probably won't last a month. She doesn't receive weekly emails from her family because her mom doesn't have the money or know how to use a she finished writing about half an hour earlier than I did.  She has been cheerful about it, but that night she broke down crying (we both cried) and I know that is such a huge sacrifice for her to be here.

And honestly, although it's only been 12 days now, I love Hna. Gonzales. She comes off as really bold and confident and silly and prepared, but she's scared, and sad, and alone. She's scared she made a mistake in leaving her mom all alone, scared of failing on the mission.. and I realized that we're all scared. I'm scared, too. But meeting her and knowing her background...I know that I have been so, so incredibly blessed. And I know that she was put into my life for a reason. She might not have family to write to, but I'll be her family. I love and admire her for how strong she is being in coming to Nicaragua and leaving everything else behind, and together, we're going to give the mission all we've got and see some miracles. I'm sure of it.

It's interesting, how that works out.... God knew I was comfortable and had reached a plateau. And now? I have no choice but to rely on Him. I cannot do this alone. My prayers, by necessity, have become a lot more fervent. It's scary. I'm still overwhelmed. But I can do this. My Spanish isn't perfect, my teaching isn't perfect, my directions are helpless, and sometimes, I just don't know what to say or where to go or what to do. Me, as myself, can accomplish very little. But with God? I can be lead. "I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord, over mountains or plains or seas.. I'll say what you want me to say dear Lord, I'll be what you want me to be."

This week had its ups and downs as usual. Two baptisms fell through, which was depressing, but then Roger received the Priesthood and made up for everything. We've found several awesome families that we're teaching, and I'm hopeful about the future.

And now, I am out of time.  I love everyone! keeping you all in my prayers,

Les quiero con todo mi corazon,

<3 Hermana "I don't know where I'm doing but I'm going to keep smiling anyway" Behan

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