¡Hola Familia y amigos!
I am in a strangely flippant mood at the moment, and the curtain that is adorning the window I'm sitting in front of keeps smacking me periodically in the face, which isn't helping anything. So, it will be interesting to me to see what I came up with at the end of this letter. Also the whole "Relying on my journal and just copying things down" thing just isn't going to happen anytime soon, or ever, because I haven't written a single thing in the last two weeks. It's because I'm a mom, and training is hard. Worth it, though. I just don't think I've ever worked this hard in my life. Expect spelling errors and sentences that make no sense.
Everyone do me a favor. Stop reading this email for a moment, open a new tab, and find the YouTube video of the song "Dar Te un Beso" by Prince Royce, and you will be able to experience for yourself the song I literally hear at least 8 times every single day. And then come back and keep reading. Or don't, and that's cool too.
I got asked out on a date yesterday morning as we passed by for all of the people who lied and said they would go to church and then didn't, which was entertaining. He was sitting down on the street corner shirtless and covered in tattoos, helping out his buddy (one of the fathers of the families we are teaching who was completely drunk....), and told me, "Chelita, tienes una sonrisa hermosa...quiere salir conmigo para helado o cena un dia..?" Or, "Hey white girl, you have a beautiful smile, would you like to go out with me for ice cream or dinner sometime?" and I, being the fluent Latina that I am, thought he was inviting both my companion and I for the opportunity to teach him, because we had just invited him to church before he asked me. So I responded cheerfully, "Sure!" and then, realizing the error of my ways, had to explain the normal, "Oh no sorry I'm a missionary and you're gross" thing, and that was that.
Julio Blanco has postponed his baptism, on account of the fact he was under the impression that if he was baptized, I would consider his proposal to marry him (oh yeah, Julio Blanco proposed to me, did I forgot to mention that? hahaha), and I had to make up a boyfriend I have in the United States. I don't know who he is, but he's really tall and witty and fun, and we're getting married when I get back. Sorry, Julio. After talking with him and teaching more about the Restoration, I think he's still feeling positive about getting baptized..but who knows, really? 73 and still a player. Ladies, if you're looking a man who doesn't have teeth but is ready for love, I have just the one for you.
It's dust season in Nicaragua right now, which means my lips are so chapped I am beginning to look like the Joker, and I'm breaking out like crazy. And the Nicas, charming as they are, will all casually remark, "Yeah. You have a lot of acne right now." To which I wish I could reply, "Yeah. Well....you're fat!" but I just have to respond cheerfully, "Ah, yes. Yes, I do. You're right." Even if I did comment on their waist sizes, they would probably just shrug and say something like, "More to love!", which I really do love about them. Brutally honest, but just . . . relaxed. It's not about appearances here, which should be obvious. I walk out of the house everyday after my final and only glance in the mirror that day with the last thought "Well..this is as good as it's gonna get." and I still get proposed to, so, that's always a confidence booster.
Spanish lesson for you: cartera = wallet. Caraterra = highway. What I said to Gonzales this morning, "Hey G, can't find my highway . . . did I Ieave it on your bed? Or on my desk?" G: "Uh..your highway?" "Yeah, my highway. Did I leave it on the fridge? I'm always losing it."
I found it in my backpack, by the way. Which is, fun fact, where it always is when I "lose" it. Life is a Wallet . . . And I'm Gonna Ride It All Night Long.
There were cambios (changes) today, but I'm still here with Gonzales, which was what I was expecting. My guess is (and I'm psychic, so . . .) is that I'll be here one more change (1 change = 6 weeks), and then leave. Where to? Who knows. If I could choose, it would be Matagalpa or Jinotega, because it isn't torturously hot and there are mountains. But that means I'll probably be in Managua or Chinandega, because I have zero desire to serve in either of those two places. Less so Chinandega, because we had to do divisions there on Thursday of last week, and I seriously thought I was going to go insane. Chinandega is viewed as the "fertile soil" of the mission because they normally have the most baptisms there, and it's about 45 minutes northward of Leon. And it is SO HUMID and SO BORING. It might just be that I was put with an hermana that day who didn't like talking and made me do all of the work, but the area was so small we literally walked down every single street and contacted almost every house in the span of 6 hours. By the end of the day, I was stir crazy . . . and I was only there one day!! Can you imagine being stuck there for 6 or 7 months?? I can't do it. Don't send me there. Please. It's more hot and there are mosquitos, too.. ugh. Point of this message: Chinandega = the worst. 10 bucks says I'm serving there next.
On a less sarcastic note, I'm honestly really grateful for the chance to keep working in Leon, and we will be baptizing our first family this Saturday. Hugo is the husband, and he has been inactive in the church for about 8 years. His wife, Yesenia, was suuuuper Catholic for the majority of her life, but after many lessons and many prayers, she has decided to be baptized. The missionaries found them and have been teaching them on and off for years, and we're just the lucky two who got to be there to invite them to be baptized and see them change their lives around. Hugo, after weeks of trying to get his life back together, is now worthy to baptize Yesenia, and she finally accepted that as much as she loves the Catholic church, she wants an eternal family, and the goal for them is to be sealed in the temple. So, this Saturday at 7:00, we will be lucky enough to witness the miracle of an 8 year long process, and I'm grateful for all of the dedicated missionaries before us who did their part and didn't give up on them. You just never know when it will be someone's time to accept the message of the Gospel.
I've really been pushing myself to get over my fear of rejection and just talking to everyone, and we've been having a lot of success and finding new people to teach everyday (fourteen this last week alone!). Tuesday of last week we made it our goal to talk with at least 10 different families that day (we normally talk to 5 or 6 every day and 15 other people), and our results were phenomenal. We didn't waste even a single second of the day, and I went to bed totally spent and totally happy, knowing that I had given that day my all. We contacted 76 people that day, including 19 different families. It was amazing, and a reminder to me that I need to be giving my mission my all.
Rosita told me about a tattoo she saw on an old woman this week displayed flamboyantly across her shoulders that said, "99 isn't 100," in English. I don't know why, but that unimportant little detail she noticed sparked a deep conversation between us about giving life all we have and the spiritual implications of our efforts here on this earth and how we'll all feel, once it's all said and down. 99 isn't 100. If we're not giving all we have, we're falling short. I don't know how I'll be feeling at the end of my mission (13 months left . . .), but I don't want to feel that I could have given more. I want to feel that I contacted 76 different people and 19 families, and couldn't have changed a single thing. It won't be easy, and I'm tired, but by the end . . . I want the 100.
Anyway. The Church is true, and I love you all. All of my friends keep getting married and I'm just getting more fat and tan. But, hey, I'm happy.
Missing you all, though. Was a bit homesick this week. But things are looking up and this is going to be a week of miracles, I'm sure of it.
Les quiero muchisimo,
<3 The future Mrs. Julio Blanco Chela-Girl