This is Crystal's Letter for this week. For those of you who would like to send her a Christmas card, here is her address. It costs 98 cents to mail a letter to El Salvador.
Hermana Crystal Bush
El Salvador San Salvador West/Belize Mission
Colonia San Benito
Boulevard El Hipodromo 537
San Salvador, San Salvador
Well here I am!
I am writing really late today because we had a zone activity today. We went to hike the Volcán de Santa Ana. At the beginning of the year I hiked a volcana named Isalco and this volcano is in the same area but it is a little bit bigger. It was super hard and now I am super tired. So before the mission I was not the biggest hiker and things have not changed. But it was very beautiful and it has a big crater with water inside. We had a good time and I had a really good time taking a little nap in the little bus that we rented. This week we got to see Claudia finally and it was really exciting because she just praised you guys. She had a good time visiting my family and couldn´t say enough about the dog. I think it is funny that one of my investigators has seen my house and the dog before I have.
Many funny things have happened this week but this might be the highlight. Last Sunday all of our citas (appointments) fell and so we went out contacting. Some lady let us in after some weird guy was asking me if I speak English or Spanish. So this older lady went to church years and years ago with a friend. So I asked what she remembered about the church or Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon. So she began to tell us a very interesting version. According to her this is what happened: Joseph Smith was a young boy who liked to run in the morning and on time he prayed in a park and an angel came to him and told him where to find the plates of gold. So, he went to the airport to fly to Brazil where the plates were hidden. He tried to get them out of the ground but he couldn´t so he hired 4 men to help him get the plates out of the mountain. Well, there it is. It is a very interesting take on the prophet Joseph Smith. We explained to her what really happened and she laughed and laughed about her version and then afterwards realized it was a dream.
So, right now is the summer vacation in schools here and since we are in the city we have been fighting with finding people in their houses because a lot are leaving to go visit family or do some sort ofvacation. I hope that everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving yesterday. Our ward mission leader lived in the states for 20 years and his neighbor is a recent convert (Hermana Jenny) and so she made a Thanksgiving dinner which was delicious. She even made turkey with rice and bread and vegetables and french fries. It was very delicious.
We are working hard here in El Salvador. I love my companion Hermana Salazar. We get along really great and she laughs at everything I say which helps a lot. We took a lot of pictures today and some from yesterday but I will try to send you pictures next week. And yes, the picture that I sent last week is in front of our house. Hermana Ramirez always said it was the midget house because in one room my head almost touches the ceiling. We have a lot of positive investigators but they all have problems with something and with most of them it is the law of chastity. We are trying to organize a divorce some marriages or some other options.
I am so grateful for such great friends and family. I love my mission. I love the people and I love our investigators. After a year in the mission, I took some time to reflect my experiences and I am truly happy that I am here. So many people tell us each day that it is such a huge sacrifice that we make and yes it is, but it is worth every day. I love you all.
Oh, and by the way, I read Abby´s email about the cold and she says that it is hard and that she always felt sorry for me and Eli sweating in Norway. But right now, I can´t feel sorry for her. I got really
burnt today climbing the volcano. Everyone says that November and December and January are the coldest months but luckily for me it has been hotter than normal. I am just going to work on my tan.
I love you.
Friday, November 19, 2010
This week has been a good week. Big news! Yesterday I completed one year on the mission. It is strange that it is supposedly all down hill from here because I still feel new on the mission. I still have a ton of things to learn and I still don´t know anything. It is strange to be a girl and go home 6 months earlier than the elders. This week we had some really good moments. We had an activity with our district. We called people in our ward to do divisions with us and then we went out to contact. And it was a very successful activity. We found a lot of people and the great thing about it is that members don´t really like contacting so, they gave references of friends so that they didn´t have to go contacting for 2 hours. So, we had enough work before and now we have a ton of work. During this activity, we contacted a man that is a friend of a member. He said that he is Buddhist. That is not very common here so I had to ask, ¨Where is the Buddhist church here?¨ Then he had to remind me that buddhism is not a religion it´s a practice. Well, at least we had a good laugh about it. He is a very strange person but willing to listen and says that he is not against changing his life. We have to be careful because someone people only will listen to us because they are curious and not because they want to learn. We have to maintain the eye of a hawk.
Another funny thing happened the next day that I hope I can explain. We visited some people and the mom said that someone was a ¨patologo¨. I thought about it for a little while thinking what is a patologo. And then it came to me, the word ¨pata¨ is a foot of an animal so he must be a foot doctor. And so I asked if it was a foot doctor and everyone started laughing. I thought it was very logical and they understood where I got that. But then they clearly explained to me what a pathologist is and the worst thing is that I know what a pathologist is and I know Claudia (our investigator) is a pathologist and tests tumors to see if they are cancerous. Well, it was a good laugh.
This week has been filled with meetings and waiting around for people. For Christmas, each zone has to make a video so we have been planning that a little bit in the mornings. Then we also had to go to immigration so that Hermana Salazar isn´t a tourist. I thought about it and I have gone to immigration 6 times on the mission! That is a lot of times. And I hope it will be the last time. We are working hard with our investigators. Laura (the daughter of an inactive guy) is progressing but when we talk to her she just doesn´t understand the importance of our message. She doesn´t understand God´s love and that Jesus Christ is our Savior. It is frustrating because we can be the best missionaries but people have to convert themselves and they have to put in the effort to accept our message. Sometimes I just want to shove it down their throats and then I remember that every one has there free agency. We are teaching this lady named Clara and she is so great. We found her contacting but she had gone to church before with her ex boyfriend. We taught her the plan of salvation and it was great because she understood everything perfectly. Every investigator should be like Clara (except that she can´t go to church this week). It is so funny because there are so many emotions in the mission. Right now when I was thinking about investigators I was filled with every emotion: happiness, sadness,
frustration... Hermana Salazar and I get along really great. She loves to laugh and so she always laughs at my jokes or the dumb things that I say. She is really nice and a hard worker. We are continuing the work here in Miramonte. I love you all very much. And Happy Thanksgiving.
Friday, November 12, 2010
One week more. So here is the big news: we had cambios (transfers) but I am still in the same place. But I had to say goodbye to Hermana Ramirez and Hermana Clark. Now I am with Hermana Salazar who is brand spanking new. She is from Honduras. She is just a small little thing too. I am sure we look really funny together. It is different to just be in the house with her because I got used to having 3 in the house. It is also funny because I can hear the difference in her accent. Most of the missionaries are from Guatemala and the accent is similar to that of here but she is new and so she still has an accent and still uses her Honduras slang which I don´t understand. I never realized the difference in words between countries but they use a different word for ¨store¨ and ¨kid¨. Pura catracha. That means pure Honduranean. She is my second companion from Honduras and only my third native companion. How strange. I have pretty much spent most of my mission to this point with gringas. I also had to teach my companion about the money down here. El Salvador uses money from the states and I just never thought that she wouldn´t know how to use it. It really just never crossed my mind until this morning when we were going to ride the bus. I told her it was 20 cents and she was staring at the coins and then asked me how much they were worth. It is kind of confusing because a quarter say ¨quarter¨ and doesn´t say 25 cents and a dime says ¨dime¨ and not 10 cents. And it doens´t help that it is in another language. I am glad that I didn´t have to learn a different currency.
Just a funny little story. I asked Hermana Salazar if she had any pets at home. And she said ¨Yes, my grandma.¨ I started to laugh and repeated ¨Mascotas¨ which means pets because I thought that she just heard me wrong but it turns out that her grandma lives with her and has pets.
This week has gone by fast because we have been in meetings almost all week and taking Hermana Salazar to meet the ward. Last week we found a family and we are so happy about that. The mom is the most positive. She is 26 years old and had gone to church a long time ago with a ex boyfriend but she told us yesterday that she went and loved it but didn´t understand the importance of the Book of Mormon and now she realized that if it is true, then that means a lot of things. She said that she wants this for her family. They have two little kids and she wants her family to have a better life. We are so happy and we are excited to continue teaching them. We are trying harder and harder to work with the ward. This email is kind of short but know that I love it here. The members are great and they are helping us little by little. Oh, another thing is that we are teaching this teenage girl named Laura. She is the daughter of an inactive member. The elders before taught her but dropped her because she never wanted to go to church. We have been going with youth to visit her and she committed to going to church last week and she went! She said that she liked it and that she is feeling her faith grow and that before we came she had absolutely no faith. We are excited for her.
I love you all! Thanks for everything.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Well, I feel like I just wrote yesterday. I am super excited for Mandy and her calling and that she finally made the decision to go. I got to (not had to) give a talk in church on sunday and of course it was about missionary work and so I got to tell everyone that my sister got her mission call to Germany and as a bonus I got to call home. Everyone was super excited for her too and thought that Germany is so exotic. We have had some great experiences this week and some funny ones too but I always have a hard time remembering what they were.
Claudia (I wrote about her last week) and Daniela (her 8 year old daughter) went to church last sunday and they enjoyed it. Claudia says that she considers this as a new beginning. The only problem we have right now is that she doesn´t understand our message about authority and so she still doesn´t feel the need to be baptized because she was already baptized once. But with time I hope that she can understand. She is going to Washington DC next week and to Baltimore next Saturday and so it would be so cool if she could meet my family. How weird is that? Last week we were teaching her the plan of salvation and Claudia was super interested. Hermana Clark started talking about the nature of our Heavenly Father and said ¨Nuestro Padre Celestial tiene un cuerpo...de carne y huevos¨. Everyone started laughing so hard. For those who don´t know, she said that our Heavenly Father has a body of flesh and eggs. Luckily Hermana Clark is a good sport and doesn´t mind making mistakes and doesn´t mind when we laugh.
We are also teaching a 16 year old girl named Laura. Her dad is inactive and the elders taught her before but dropped her because she didn´t want to go to church. But we have been going to visit her with people that she has really clicked with. With Laura we see that her needs are friendship before she will want to go to church. So she has been reading the Book of Mormon and has been making friends. When we asked her if she would go to church, she sat there and thought for a minute and then said yes! We were really excited and everything is set to go for this Sunday. Laura is a very awkward girl who is very shy and so she always tells us that people tell her she is weird and she has lived behind this shell for her whole life. But she is really cute and has started bonding with the young men and women from the ward. And she use to never pray but has started making a sincere effort to learn more.
This week was Halloween, Saints day and day of the dead and I saw absolutely nothing different! How boring. But the day after Halloween we went to visit an inactive woman and her kid. She went on and on about how we should visit this other member family because one of their kids dressed up for Halloween and how satanic that was. There are a ton of evangelical churches here and they are pretty radical about everything. The women have to wear a white hankerchief tied around their heads to cover their hair and they have to wear skirts always and they can´t dance. Some people here are surprised that we do dance, we wear makeup and we can celebrate Halloween. I wish that I could have seen the cemetaries on day of the dead because I imagine it as being very beautiful because the people decorate the grave stones with vibrant flowers.
Well, as always we are working hard. This is the last week of this transfer and so we are waiting in anticipation for who is going to leave. We will not be in a trio next week but we don´t know who will leave. I will keep you posted for next week! Thanks for every thing and I love you all!