Monday, January 25, 2010

¡My first week in El Salvador!

It was a great week and it was fun to be able to talk to everyone on Monday night. Leaving the MTC was sad just because I was leaving everyone at the MTC but it is finally nice to be doing the real work! The first day when we landed was really strange and we had only gotten about 3 hours of sleep on the plane. We got in about 7 in the morning and our mission president and his wife were just waiting there for us with big smiles on their faces. They are so nice but they only speak Spanish so we couldn´t talk much. They fed us breakfast and lunch and then we went out contacting. I went with Hermana Stout (from the MTC) and then Hermana Schmidt who has been here for 1 year. It was so scary and we had to take a million buses that were crowded with people. But it was a good experience to break me into the mission and I am glad that day is over. Hermana Schmidt doesn´t speak Spanish very well and she wasn´t conjugating her verbs and I was relieved when a missionary told me that she is famous for her terrible Spanish.

The temple that is being built is in my mission! So that is exciting and it should be done in December or January.

So, what you have probably been waiting for. My companion´s name is Hermana Cash and she is from Sandy, Utah. She has only been out for 6 months. Her Spanish is better than mine but we are both definitely still learning. We are working in two areas: Chalchuapa and Casa Blanca. We are about fifteen minutes away from Santa Ana. Both of our areas are huge and so we have to do a lot of walking. Hermana Cash said that our mission president must really trust us because we it is a lot of responsibility for two gringas who can´t speak Spanish. We have already walked so much and I already have blisters on the bottom of my feet. By the end of my mission I am going to have well-calloused feet. Both of areas actually have ruins in them. The more famous ruins are in Chalchuapa and they are called Tazumal (or maybe Tazumel). We get to walk past them almost every day and it is really beautiful. I am probably going to make my companion take me there next p-day.

So my first day the areas were very interesting. I can´t really understand what people are saying to me and I only know so many words. But one day I know that I will be able to understand. The first day we decided to count how many times people commented on my last name and in just one day I got 35 comments. Everyone wants to know if we are related to President Bush. I think I should just carry a sign around that says "Even though I am white, I don´t know President Bush". But for now I don´t mind saying that I am not related. In 18 months I might get annoyed.

There is so much work here to do! We have 6 baptism dates and 1 baptism on Thursday. We are teaching this man named Eduardo who was a drunk (they call them bolos here) but he wants to change his life. He is about 65 years old and he really likes to talk but most of the time I can´t understand anything. There are a ton of people here that are missing most of their teeth and with them, I can´t understand anything. I like talking to the people who have a full set of teeth.

On Friday we went to the church and there was a man there named Everardo and he asked us "How can I be a member of this church?" Me and my companion were in shock. He has already read some of the Book of Mormon. We started teaching him and he had so many questions. We taught the Restoration and the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chasisty. He said that he didn´t drink or smoke because he thinks it is bad for him. At the end, we asked him to pray about the things we had taught him. He looked around the room as if he was hiding something. And then he said, "Well, I will but the thing is I don´t have any doubt." Our jaws dropped. We don´t know where he came from but we decided that he is a spy from the First Presidency to see how we are teaching things. He wants to get baptized on February 13. We taught him again yesterday night and he had questions about the sacrament but he has so many questions that it seems like he is already a member.

I got to play the piano yesterday in church and one of the investigators thought it was the best thing ever. I think he is converted just from my piano playing because he talked about it for 10 minutes.

Oh yes, and when we were walking around a poorer area someone was talking to us and they asked me if I am from El Salvador. I think that my height and my pale skin gave away my true nationality: El Salvadoranean. We got a good laugh at that.

My Spanish is coming along. It will take a long time for me to feel comfortable but I know that I am blessed that I can say things that I want to say. My companion always tells me that I am doing so well so it is nice to have someone to encourage me. And I am not worried about being able to speak Spanish because I know that that will come and there is nothing that I can really do besides practice.

Just an FYI: we don´t have a cook here and my companion says that is rare but they fired their cook because she was ripping them off. I don´t really mind either because we can make stuff in our apartment.

Well, there are so many things to say but this email is already really long! I am happy to be here. It is already really hot and the natives say that the hottest month is March right before the rainy season. I really like my two areas because part of the area is a little pueblo and then we have outskirts of the town that are more like the country with people that live in houses made of sheets of metal so we have like two different worlds. It is really fun.

I love you all!

Hermana Bush

Thanks for emailing me all about your lives. That is exciting to be almost ready to move! I can´t believe it is happening all so fast but it will be nice to finally get it over with. I can´t wait to here from you next week!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

One Week Left!

I have one week left! This week hasn't been a terribly eventful one but it has still been good. I want to say first of all Happy Birthday to Mandy.

Last week was hard because we made a district goal to only speak Spanish the entire week and it is really hard because their are other people in the MTC that don't speak Spanish. But we had to make some exceptions like in the temple or with new missionaries. We actually did pretty well at the beginning of the week. Of course, everyone talked a lot slower and probably a lot less than normal but we were proud of ourselves. By the end of the week if we didn't know what a word was we would spanishize it instead of trying to explain it but that is still good. There is another district in our zone who came in the same day as us and they can't even go one day without speaking a lot of english.

This week we got to be Host Sisters to the the missionaries coming into the MTC. It was a lot of fun and I got to show 2 sisters around: one going to Independence Missouri and the other going to Florida. I had a lot of fun, especially because this was one of our exceptions to speak English so I was more talkative than normal. We are excited because we get to be Hosts again tomorrow!

This last week we also had a district goal to teach 20 lessons. And, we made it! It was hard to do 20 lessons and we had to sacrifice a lot of our own study time to do it but I am glad we did. We learned a lot about teaching and how we can improve our teaching abilities.

Since we are leaving in a week, we had to go to a health and safety meeting which was really helpful. In the meeting I learned that I should drink a lot of water, be safe, not to eat uncooked food especially with bugs in it and not to pick my nose. Now I am ready to go!

Finally, I wanted to tell you about how much I don't really like the RC (Referral Center). We have to call people who ordered things like Book of Mormons, Bibles or DVDs. And now we have to do all our calls in Spanish. Last Thursday we went and some lady answered the phone and she was talking and I had no idea what she was saying but I would say, "Oh, que bueno" or "Lo siento". I think she told me that she has a lot of Mormon friends and that her mom is dying and that she lives in California but is in New Jersey and is going to move to Columbia. I am actually surprised that I know that much about her life because I had no idea what she was saying. I am just hoping I will be better when I am talking to someone's face rather than on the telephone. Cross your fingers for me! But it was a fun experience even though she didn't want the missionaries.

Oh, and I got my haircut today at the MTC hair salon and it was free which was why I went. I just didn't want my hair on my neck as I am sweating away. Now I am ready to go to El Salvador!

Thanks to everyone for all the love and support I received this week! I have really spiritually grown and I know that as I serve the Lord, I will find happiness in the work as I see the lives of other people changing for the better. I am really excited to finally leave the MTC next Monday. I love you all!

Hermana Crystal Bush

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2 more weeks!

This week has been very good and has gone by really fast.  I only have less than two weeks left before I go to El Salvador!  This week since I am officially the music person in the zone, I had to go to three different districts and teach them how to conduct.  Two of the districts are advanced, meaning they are already fluent in Spanish and are only here for 3 weeks.  They were so bad at conducting and it was so funny to watch.  But, I had told one class that they were better than the other class.  At dinner that night, we were all eating and one advanced Elder starting "fighting" with an Elder from the other advanced district.  They were trying to see who was better.  One said that they should have a push up war and then they came up with other things.  Finally one said, "Well, I heard you were bad at conducting.  Show me a 4/4." Then he led a 4/4 really badly and so everyone laughed.  So he said, "Well, I bet you can't to a 6/8." And that Elder waved his hand in a precise 6/8 and the cafeteria went up in applause.  It was so funny to watch.  I don't know if you will think that is funny but I thought it was hilarious.

Another funny thing that happened this week that you might not think is funny was at our Tuesday devotional.  So, I brought a book to write notes in to devotional and I was labeling the top of page with the date and who was speaking.  It was a member of the Quorum of the Seventy named "Ralph F. Ballard".  So that is what I wrote.  After 10 minutes of sitting there, my companion looks over and said "Oh, his name is not Ralph, it's Allen." I don't know where I got Ralph but we had a good chuckle.  But she said to me that it was okay because she had written down his last name as Ballard when it is actually Packer.  And then she looked at my paper and realized that she had gotten his last name off my paper.  So, I don't know what I was thinking but we starting laughing really hard.  His name was not Ralph F. Ballard but Allen F. Packer.  At least I got the middle initial right.  I guess this just goes to show that I feel tired all the time.

I hope that everyone had a fun New Years Eve.  On thursday nights we normally have gym from 8-9 at night and so we were really excited to celebrate the New Years Eve in the gym but when we went to the gym, they had canceled our gym time.  We were sad and instead went back to our rooms and had a big New Years Eve party with the 12 sisters in our zone.  It was fun and then at 10 we celebrated the News Years with the people in Baltimore:)  And of course, we promptly went to bed at 10:30.

On Saturday, our district came up with a goal not to speak English at all this week starting on Monday. So, yesterday was the first day and it was really hard.  It is hard not to be able to communicate what you want to say.  But we are still going on strong.  Hopefully we will be able to make it to Saturday. I wish that I could think in Spanish because it is hard to be constantly translating in my head. Someday...

This week has been a great week spiritually.  In class we have been learning about the attributes of Christ and I have been personally trying to improve myself.  I can say one thing, I have never had a stronger desire to be better.  I know that if I come closer to Christ, and follow his example I will be a better missionary and be able to affect more lives.  I am so grateful to be here learning at the MTC.  Hermana Layton and I decided that we had to learn a language because we have learned so many things these last 4 weeks that we wouldn't have learned if we weren't here at the MTC.

I love you all!
Hermana Crystal Bush