Sept. 18, 2012
Soooo much has happened since I´ve been able to send an email! For one, I´m in Chile! So forgive me for typos, this keyboard is weird haha. Well so what was supposed to be an 18 hour trip turned into about 50 hours. Our flight leaving from LA was an hour late, so of course we missed our connecting flight from Santiago to Chile. We spent nearly the whole day Tuesday trying to get on another flight. We finally arrived that night in Conce, met the mission president, and had to be rushed out to our areas without the standard afternoon of intros and instructions. I´m about 2 hours south of the city of Concepción in a place called Los Angeles. My trainer is a native Chilean from Santiago, and we share our humble home with two others. Elder Gonzalez is from Peru and his companion Elder Alvarez is from Mexico. Our house is about the size of my kitchen in Las Vegas (maybe including the pantry), so it´s pretty humbling to be here. How blessed I´ve been! At times it´s kind of frustrating to not be able to fully communicate with my companions because they are all Latino, but we get by. Hopefully it will help my Spanish get better faster. Elder Gonzalez calls me ´´Elder Tin-Tin´´ because he thinks my hairdo is the same as the cartoon character. He´s probably my favorite so far. He knows the most random phrases in English--which really don´t do any good haha. For example, the only English he knows is,´´Hey baby, you smell good. Are you busy?´´ hahaha so I taught him, ´´Errbody on the flo gettin krunk´´ and ´´Chuck up them dueces!´´ Teaching each other phrases and words in each other´s language is really fun.
How to speak Spanish like a Chilean: cut off the second half of all your words, say ´´po´´ at the end of your sentence, and speak as FAST AS YOU CAN! Vuala, Chileno Spanish. What´s difficult is that all the vocab I´ve ever learned is more Mexican, and down here the dialect is completely different. Luckily, my Mexican roommate Elder Alvarez has been out about 6 months, so he can usually help me out a bit. I definitely had that moment from the movie ´´The Best Two Years´´ where I thought, ´´Oh Elder, that ain´t the language they taught me in the MTC!´´ All four of us are only 19, so our house gets pretty crazy sometimes. My roommates are looooongi (loco)! So we have lots of fun. It´s the end of winter here, almost spring, so it´s still pretty cold. We don´t have any heaters or airconditioning, so it´s super cold in the morning. I can´t even describe how incredibly happy I was when I found out that we could use a propane tank to heat the water for a hot shower!!! But we ran out a few days ago....ha.
Normally my P-days will be Monday, but today is a national holiday so no missionary work would have gotten done. However, at the same time, all the stores are closed so we can´t do any grocery shopping. We got lucky enough that we can email at this members house! It took us over 30 mins to get the computers working...haha. Speaking of September 18th, it´s like the 4th of July in the US but multiplied times 10. For example, school is cancelled for the week prior and one week after so that everyone can party. It´s made missionary work pretty difficult because everyone says, ´´No, maybe after the 18th.´´ Bleh. But the parties have been pretty crazy! EVERYONE loves to blast music 24/7, and they actually listen to a lot of North American music. That´s how most people learn English phrases, so usually when someone wants to talk to me in English it´s pretty nonsensical stuff...haha.
For absolutely every meal we eat completos (hot dogs), the most delicious bread ever, mystery meat, and Coca-Cola. I never cared at all for Coke or Pepsi, but since those are my only choices now, I´ve accustomed myself to them. I´m going to come home sooooo fat though! The sky is always smoky because of everyone burning little furnaces to stay warm. I love the smell of smoke, but not necessarily for extended periods of time. I woke up the first morning with a sore throat and extremely thirsty! But life moves on. There are dogs EVERYWHERE! I´ve never seen so many dogs in my entire life, even when I´ve gone to dog parks haha. What´s funny is they are either super huge or amazingly tiny! My favorite is our pet wolf Osíto and a palm-sized dog that one of our investigators has. There is trash and graffiti everywhere as well, but I think this is one of the nicer areas of town. I´m developing a pretty bad slouch because I always have to duck to either avoid a tree branch to the face, but mostly because I have to lean down to hear what people are saying. They talk super fast and rather quiet at times. The abuelitas are the hardest to understand. They are usually whom we talk to when tracting because they stay at home all day. They crack me up.
Ok, I´m really out of time, but one quick spiritual thought. In the scriptures, many times the Lord commands us to ´be of good cheer.´ It is indeed one of the commandments to be able to gain eternal life. He also gives us the key how: in 2nd Nephi 9:39 it says, to be ´´spiritually minded is life eternal.´´ If you pay attention, the first letters spell out SMILE. Be happy! I´m in a country where I can hardly understand what´s going on and people either love to tease me for my white skin or completely hate me simply because I´m North American. That and I´m Mormon. Ha. Anyways, point being, all I have at the moment is my testimony and a smile. That´s really all I can contribute until I can understand what people are saying. People actually tell me I speak really well, which I humbly might concur with, but being able to understand the Chileans is completely different. So I SMILE and generically testify, ´´I know that everything my companion has said is true, and that this message will help you better your life. If I didn´t know it for myself, I wouldn´t be here.´´ And I mean it. Saturday royally sucked because no one would listen to us, I was mocked, flipped off, yelled at, insulted (that much I understood), and ridiculed. But I´m not coming home, because I know the message we share is true. And I implore you to read the Book of Mormon until you can´t deny it´s veracity either. Have a wonderful week, and remember to SMILE!
Elder Long :)