Monday, April 26, 2010

Latinas vs. Norteamericanas

The big news this week is that we had a baptism!  Her name is Claudia Viana and we have been teaching her for a long time.  We just had to wait a long time for her to keep the law of chastity.  But she finally dropped her boyfriend and was baptized on Friday.  It was especially exciting because she wanted to have Hermana Cash at her baptism so I got to see Hermana Cash again.  It has only been two weeks but it feels like it´s been months.  It felt like Christmas.

So it is different to be with a Latina companion and sometimes I really want to speak English.  Luckily for me we are neighbors with other Hermanas and one of them is from Utah so when I want to say something in English I have someone I can talk to.  My companion never corrects my Spanish or maybe I just say everything correctly:)  I have learned a lot these last two weeks and it is just a little bit easier to say things that I want to say.  But still, I have a long way to go.  Our cultures are also different.  For some reason the Latinas like to put stickers on everything.  All the hymn books of the members are covered with stickers of Hello Kitty or Disney Princesses or something else like that.  So, this morning I woke up and my companion had taped a picture of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane on the bathroom door.  I thought it was an odd placement for a picture of the atonement, but whatever floats her boat.

This week we were walking down the street and a drunk kindly noted about us ¨Ella es latina y ella es norteamericana.¨ We thought it was a very profound statement.  She is latin and she is North American.  We hadn´t noticed before!  This week we also had a very long conversation with a contact.  He talked to my companion for a half an hour about how great the US is.  He said that we put our trash out and separate it with paper and plastic and that our sidewalks are wheel chair accesible and that we have clothes for each season.  Here they wear the same clothes all year round.  Well he mentioned a lot of things about the US and I just sat there and thought ¨Yeah, the US is pretty great.¨ But I didn´t want to participate in the conversation.
Now that Hermana Cash is gone I have come to realize that I have made friends with the members.  I feel so popular now because the members want to talk to me.  We went to a stake activity the other day and all the youth performed dances from different countries.  One ward did a square dance and our ward mission leader asked if we all dance that way.

Also this week I have come to know the emotional drains of being on a mission. Mauricio was our convert from February and he hasn´t gone to church in a month and we always knock on him door but he is never home.  This weekend we were walking to his house and he was sitting outside with some friends and he saw us, got on his bike and rode away.  The next day we were trying again and he was sitting outside with some friends, saw us and ran the other direction.  When we went to church, I was telling his friend what happened and I started to cry.  Inactivity is huge here and it is hard to see someone so faithful drop the church and want nothing to do with us just after a month after his baptism.  It´s a sad situation and it is too bad that he has his agency.

I got the letter from Eli the other day.  I was really excited but I don´t know any of the people he mentioned.  He did mention Omar who I wrote about weeks ago who was inactive and then is living with the gang member.  I thought it was pretty funny.

Well, I am happy to be here and that I can focus all my energy on the church and improving myself and others.  I hope that I am a different person than I was 5 months ago.  I am trying hard to be more and more Christ-like.  My goal is to be perfect by the end of my mission:)

Thanks for all your prayers.

I love you all very much.

Hermana Bush

Monday, April 19, 2010

The rain is not in Spain! It´s in El Salvador

So this week it has started to rain a little bit!  I like it and I am always prepared.  Every day I bring my umbrella it doesn´t rain and then every day I don´t bring my umbrella it rains.  So pretty much I can tell the forecast by whether or not I want to bring my umbrella with me.  It is kind of funny.  But then one day I brought an umbrella and a bag to keep my books dry and then it starting pouring really hard.  We were in a lesson and we had to end the lesson because the house had a tin roof and we couldn´t hear anything.  I was so excited to go out in the rain with my umbrella but then my companion said we couldn´t go out because she didn´t have an umbrella or a bag to protect her books.  I was bummed and we just sat there for a half an hour before it stopped raining.  Luckily for her it didn´t rain very long.

This week we got to help some lady clean corn.  Here in El Salvador they have different kinds of coffee: café de maíz, café de palo, café de soya and more!  But the only one that people can´t drink is café de palo.  I guess literally it is stick coffee.  So anyway, we helped some lady wash her corn to make café de maíz (or corn coffee which sounds so much better). I didn´t really know what to do so I just kind of swished my hands in the water with the corn.  Then what you do with the corn kernels is you burn them over a fire.  But the next time we went to visit her, she gave a bag of her home made corn coffee.  It smelled like burnt popcorn.  When we got home I was really excited to try it out.  So we made some and it tasted terrible!  Then my companion told me that I am suppose to add sugar.  So I added sugar till it tasted good.  So just so you know, a cup of corn coffee tastes really good with about 10 spoonfulls of sugar.  I think next time I will leave out the coffee and just have a cup of hot sugar water.
When we went to church this man was wearing a tie that had a picture of the Guatemala temple on it and underneath it said WWJD.  For all of you who don´t know, that stands for What Would Jesus Do.  My companion asked him if those were his initials and he said he had no idea what they were.  I told her that it is a phrase in english.  She looked at me and then looked back at him and talked about what it could mean for another 5 minutes.  I don´t know, maybe I didn´t explain myself well enough.

The language is coming along.  It is nice to have a companion that I can ask questions about the language and now I wonder how did Hermana Cash and I even function as a companionship because neither of us are close to being fluent.  But my new companion is patient with me.  She decided last transfer that she should try to learn english and that she wants to learn it but she doesn´t know that much.  I try to help but sometimes I have no idea what she says.

This week we are having a baptism!  Her name is Claudia Viana and we have been working with her for about 2 months.  She is the aunt of two members.  She was ready to be baptized a month ago but then we found out that she had problems with the law of chastity.  She has a little girl but we didn´t think that the father was in her life at all.  So, she has been trying to get rid of him for a month and she finally did and wants to be baptized on Friday.  We were really excited.  It is just to bad that Hermana Cash couldn´t be here to enjoy the moment.  We are excited to have another baptism.  I can´t wait because I can see how much Claudia wants it.

Well, I am excited to hear from everyone again next week.  Remember the church is true!  I have been reading all the conference talks from October and I can really see that I have changed and that my desire to be a better person has greatly increased.  I am happy to be a part of this great and marvelous work.

Hermana Bush

Monday, April 12, 2010


So the big news this week is transfers!  And I am...staying here in Chalchuapa and Casa Blanca!  But I got a new companion.  I am really excited to get a new companion.  Her name is Hermana Sing and she is from Honduras!  Hopefully I will be able to learn Spanish a lot faster when I can ask questions about the language to my companion.  I am really excited but I hear that she is a little bit forceful.  I have now been with her for 4 hours and this is what I know about her:  she is from Honduras but she has a funny name because her grandpa is Chinese.  I am still not sure how a Chinese man ended up in Honduras but I will find out soon.  She is a convert sort of.  All of her family is members and active but she didn´t get baptized till she was 12 and she had to take the missionary discussions.  She just didn´t want to get baptized before that.  She told me she was baptized in November of 1988.  I had to think about that.  I was born in 1988!  She is 34 years old and on her mission!  But this is her last transfer so I will have a new companion in 6 weeks.  So pretty much I am going to be here in these 2 areas for a long time.  I am sending a picture of my old zone on our last day together and then one of me and my new companion together.

So I have hear more about Eli here in Casa Blanca this last week too.  Eli should email me with a list of his converts here so that I can talk to them.  That would be fun.  But last monday we were walking home from our last appointment during the night and Hermana Cash and I were talking and all of a sudden I heard these faint footsteps running towards us and they were getting louder and louder.  I turned around and this guy who didn´t have any shoes was coming right at us!  My heart jumped and I ran to the other side of the street and Hermana Cash froze and this guy runs right past us.  And he goes up about 25 feet and turns around and runs right back at us!  And again passed us.  I was so scared!  But nothing happened and that was the end of that.  But there was another kid a little ways up who watched us get freaked out and he was really friendly and said that that guy is mentally ill.  But he said that he had met many missionaries before and said that he knew an Elder Stevens.  What are the odds!  I don´t remember this kid´s name but he was a little strange but friendly.  Then the next day I was with a family because we are teaching the live-in boyfriend of their daughter and we taught the lesson and they were talking about missionaries and so I asked them if they know Eli and of course they did and they said that Eli was here for a long time.  So, Eli, Familia Aguirre (Hermana Julia and Hermano Julio who own a key making shop on the highway that runs through Casa Blanca) say hi.

So this week there was a big soccer game in Europe against Madrid and Barcelona.  We went through the whole day and had no success and it was hard to find people in their houses and we were wondering why no one wanted to talk to us.  Then we found out that there was a huge game and that all the bars were filled and so no one was answering their doors.
So I am not going to lie.  It has been pretty hot here and I sweat a lot.  It is pretty disgusting when I take of my backpack and my back looks like I laid in a puddle.  You know that it is hot when all the natives complain about it.  But it has rained some here which is pretty exciting. Rain season is suppose to start in May or June (everyone says different months) and then it isn´t suppose to be so hot.  Everyone says that March and April are the hottest months here.  It is really hot at night times too.  Lately it hasn´t been to bad but sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and think to myself ¨I am hot¨ and then go back to bed.

So we have 2 baptism dates right now and neither of them are very good.  They are both named Claudia and both have a little girl out of wedlock so we have to work on the law of chastity.  But one of them has gone to church a lot (Claudia A) and the other one doesn´t have enough desire to go (Claudia B).  Claudia B has major problems with her live in boyfriend because he beats her and he has threatened to kill her more than once.  She even said that she was about to commit suicide by overdosing on pills but then she couldn´t because of her little girl.  I don´t know how we can help her because her boyfriend is really abusive and everytime we teach her she ends up telling us more about her life and cries.  Claudia A is ready to be baptized but her boyfriend is already married but separated and would need to get a divorce and marry her.  Or she could stop the relationship.  But her boyfriend doesn´t want to every get married again and so that creates a problem.  I think that she will decide to drop him because she said she wanted to marry someone that would go to church with her and he is not willing to do that.  So, we have a lot of work to do and a lot of problems to fix.  People here have a lot of problems with the law of chastity.  We have one other guy who is really positive and he is 39, no children, doesn´t drink alcohol and is willing to stop drinking coffee.  He just is waiting to know if it is the true church but his mom and brother are members.

That is about all the news here in El Salvador.  I am really excited to work with Hermana Sing and I think that we will see a lot of success here in the next 6 weeks.  It is pretty exciting to have a new companion with a new start.  It is funny because Hermana Cash went to another area to be with Hermana Stout, who came with me.  Hermana Cash has 9 months on her mission now and has not had a latina companion.

Well, the church is true.  It is amazing to see people accept the gospel and to make changes in their lives. It is obvious that people are being prepared because people are willing to accept the message of the restauration.  I am happy to be here.  I almost have 5 months on my mission.  TIme has really flown.  Dad told me that the Rockies are starting their season and I thought ¨How can that be because they just finished it?¨ And then I realized that it is already spring but it feels like you should be in the fall.  But I still have a ton more work to do here.  By the time I am done with El Salvador, the whole country is going to be members.  Or maybe just a little bit more people.  I love you all and I am happy that everyone is doing fine!  Good luck Mandy this week with your performance.

Hermana Bush

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Holy Week

¡Hola familia!
This week was a good week.  This whole week was the Semana Santa and every day they had either some loud music blasting or some sort of procession through the town.  In fact one night we woke up at 1 and 3 in the morning to a loud band passing by.  The best part about it was how bad the band was and it ended up sounded like a bad funeral march with an over active tuba.  Then for the Semana Santa on friday the decorate the streets with alfombras or with leaves and flowers and designs.  We left our apartment after lunch on friday and the streets were covered.  It was so beautiful and it smelled like fresh herbs.  It was so much fun to see and walk through.

So this week, I talked to some people who know Eli.  We talked to this lady that was selling pastelitos (fried dough around some potato thing) and she said her daughter and son are members in La Magdalena which is in the zone.  She said that that was years ago and then my companion said maybe she knows your cousin.  So I asked and she did!  She said that Eli (or Elder Estevens) baptized her kids and that he was always giving service.  I was so proud of my cousin.  She also said that Eli loved pupusas. Her name was Melisia or Melissa or something.  I wish I new more but she was old so her kids are all grown up and still active in the church. Then later on in the week I met Eli old cook Myra or something.  I was so excited to talk to her and I told her I was Eli´s cousin and she said something and then left.  It was a very short conversation. 

Conference was great!  It is strange how now that I am on a mission I loved conference.  The missionaries here said that conference is like a vacation because you just sit and listen and feel the spirit.  And it was like a vacation!  It was great.  We got to watch all of the Saturday sessions in english in a small room in the church.  On Sunday morning they had to use the tv for a backup room so we could only watch it in spanish but then we got to watch the afternoon session in english again.  I admit it was hard to focus during the spanish session so I didn´t get much out of that session but the other ones were great.  The theme for this conference was definitely the family.  I am so happy to have a great family!  I love you all!

Yesterday when we were passing for our investigators and recent converts we saw a miracle.  The mother of the difficult lady said we had to take them but we told her that we couldn´t take them back.  Then she said to just have a member that lives nearby take them back to the house!  We were stunned.  This is what we have been telling her for a month but she always says that we have to take them to church and bring them back and no one else can do it.  We definitely saw a miracle.  We also learned that the members have brought them clothes this week and so we can see that her heart was truly softened towards the church.
This week one of the wards went on a trip to the beach.  We were so jealous.  I am not going to lie.  It is hot here.  Every time we walk outside I start sweating like a pig and I have sweat marks all over my back and my armpits.  Luckily there is no one to impress here.  But two nights this week it has actually rained.  We had to walk through the rain and all the El Salvadorians tell us we are crazy and they want us to go to our house.  But I enjoy the rain and then no one can tell that I was sweaty because my whole shirt is wet.

So just some quick answers: I like to talk to the Elders.  I always forget that they are younger than me because they have leadership positions.  Also, it is hot when we play soccer but the fun of playing soccer over weighs the heat.  I would rather play especially because as sisters we don´t get to play all that often.
Today the zone is going to San Salvador again because each companionship had a baptism is the month of march so we get to go to that Chinese Restaurant again and eat with other missionaries and President Lopez!
Well I hope that everyone had a wonderful Easter!  I can´t imagine the feeling of spring.  It must be beautiful in the states with the buds and the flowers coming up.   I love you all.  The work keeps progressing.  We have transfers next week so we will see what will happen.  Everyone thinks that I will stay and Hermana Cash is leaving.  That is the most probable thing since she has only been in this area her whole mission.  Happy April.

Hermana Bush

The pictures are of our 4 baptisms last week of the four kids, our zone when we went to play soccer 2 weeks ago, my turf burned leg after my companion ran into me when we played soccer last week, and me walking in the streets with the alfombras.