So……… I guess I’m almost finishing up week three now! It is absolutely insane. I really dont know how to begin these letters home because there is SO MUCH to recap. Like I think I said before, the days are like weeks and the weeks are like days. I am doing really well, the spanish is coming along incredibly quickly. Two nights ago we had a devotional (it was a REALLY big deal because it was an actual person — not a DVD recording from Provo) from a newly ordained member of the Seventy from the north of Mexico. He spoke in English to us even though it’s his second language, but they had a native interpreter following everything he said and repeating it for the native Mexican missionaries here. If I concentrated, I could understand honestly just about everything he said which is HUGE for how little time I’ve been here and because he was native and was speaking really quickly. It’s really exciting but at the same time I wish I could just learn faster!!! Spanish is the best, I can’t believe that I’ve never know it before. Mis compañeras and I actually have a hard time saying stuff in English sometimes (for instance, prayers) because we’re so used to using the language. It’s EXHILIRATING.
Living in Mexico City is…….. really, really sketchy. Everything is sketchy. You just get used to it. Cockroaches in the showers, laundry turning your clothes weird colors, hearing fireworks (or gunshots?) at all times of day and night, sirens, honking, policemen with huge guns, weird things you buy from the store (yesterday we bought some hairspray and it had a picture of una mujer y una niña on the front but it smelled like cologne?), the FOOD (oh my gosh, everything that’s supposed to be hot is cold and everything that’s supposed to be cold is hot, and there are hot dogs in everything)….. This week was pretty rough as far as water goes. The water is already sketchy—on day one here they gave us all those filtering water bottles—but two days ago our water got shut off for some reason in the house and we didn’t have any for a while, but when it was finally back on the water that came out was DARK BROWN, and there were mosquitos floating around in it.
Our toilet was full of dirt too, same with the showers. We have this deal with some of the elders in our district where we make ice for them because we have a mini fridge (long story) in exchange for our dishes being done and that night when we went to fill our ice tray it looked like someone had taken a pepper shaker and shaken it in the water because there were big black flakes/chunks in it. So we filtered it. But yeah…. then since yesterday morning we haven’t had any hot water at all so we all took the coldest showers!!! It was nuts. Hma. Brudnicki actually just washed her hair in the sink this morning because it was so cold. We have some pretty crazy stories about stuff like this, but honestly, I’ve never been so consistently happy in my life. We are all having such a blast down here, and we laugh so hard that we cry pretty much every day. There are a LOT things that we miss about the United States (and I mean A LOT — I took SO much for granted I can’t believe it) but we’ve just gotten used to everything being weird I guess. Living here isn’t exactly comfortable but honestly there is nowhere else in the world I would rather be. I’m not homesick but I think about you guys a lot and I pray for you. I really hope you all are well.
Like I’ve said before, we have SO many hilarious stories of things that have been happening… Let me just write a few:
–As far as spanish goes: So we’ve been teaching lessons to ”investigators” since day two now (completely in spanish, it was so scary the first time because none of us knew ANYTHING in spanish and they told us we had to teach a 40 minute lesson on the second day!) and we’ve taught maybe ten or so lessons like that and they usually go pretty well, but I have to tell you that I’ve said some funny things on accident, along with some other people. A couple lessons ago I was trying to offer a pamphlet to my teacher and I accidentally said ”¿Te quiero? Oh WAIT no no no no that’s not what I meant!!!” Basically I told him that I loved him. He was like ”¡Oh, muchas gracias Hermana!”’ all laughing at me and such. Also in that same lesson he was telling me about how he went to his cousin’s baptism and I meant to ask him if he felt peace while he was there but I accidentally mixed up the words for ”peace” and ”fish” (they’re really similar to pronounce!) so I basically asked him if he felt the fish at the baptism. He laughed so hard at me. That’s not as bad as one Elder though —- OH MY GOSH: he was really happy and he meant to say to the investigator ”I’m so full of JOY!!” in spanish but he accidentally said ”I’m so full of GAS!!” (gozo = joy, gaso = gas). That one definitely takes the cake.
–On tuesday we were learning the ”Comand” tense in spanish class which is basically sentences like ”Come here” and ”Listen to me” and we were all going around in the classroom and practicing making simple little sentences like ”Please read this scripture?” and ”Don’t call your mom,” just random stuff like that. Then our friend Elder Steiner (who is hilarious) just yelled in spanish ”GET IN THE VAN” in his best Batman voice and it was SO FUNNY we just about DIED, especially because the verb he chose was ”to arrive” so he pretty much just yelled ”ARRIVE IN THE VAN!!” It’s our current district inside joke, I’m laughing so hard right now just remembering it.
–Our best prank/surprise for our teacher: Ok so Hermano Torres is super into Pokemon (he’s a pretty recent Returned Missionary) and he lets us draw Pokemon stuff on the board, but the other day he had to step out because he was pretending to be an ”investigator” for two Elders so he was gone for about 40 minutes. Elder Wright (our district leader) went and put on his suit jacket and name tag and went up to the board and started teaching us a lesson on Capitulo 14 in Predicad mi Evangelio titled ”¡Necesita Agarrar Todos!” and it was absolutely HILARIOUS. Caroline, you have to translate those phrases that are written on the board — I’ll send you guys the pictures. You’ll laugh so hard when you see what they say. Hermano Torres liked it so much when he got back that he made Elder Wright start all over and he filmed the lesson with his laptop. We actually learned a lot of new vocabulary from doing it, though, so it was all in good fun.
–Yesterday we had some free time and we were playing MASH with some of the Elders in our district and we were writing down ideas of pets for the game and Elder Steiner just goes ”OH MY GOSH, you have to write down a SLOW LORIS” and we had no idea what that was and he started to tell us about this YouTube video called ‘Slow Loris eats a riceball’ and we couldn’t even understand what he was saying because he totally LOST IT. It took him about 10 minutes to compose himself, he was laughing so hard and tears were falling down his face. Then at dinner last night he walked past us hermanas and Hermana Capp just looked at him and went ”What was that thing again, a slow loris? Did you say it was holding a tiny little umbrella?” and he just LOST it again. He had to go back to his table with his companion and put his head down while he was just heaving with laughter. He couldn’t even speak for a good 5 minutes. It was THE FUNNIEST thing I have ever seen. He told us we can’t do that to him anymore though. But anyway, whatever it is you guys HAVE to watch that video and tell me about what it is because we have no clue. Write me back and tell me what it is.
I have about 35498 more stories that I could write but I only have about 15 more minutes left to send my photos and everything so I’ll just wrap up with some spiritual things. So like I’ve said, we’ve been teaching a lot of lessons to investigators recently. These last three days, the Hermanas and I have really had a breakthrough, but it wasn’t in the way we would have expected. We just started teaching a new ”investigator” named Javier. (He is a church member now; he comes in to help missionaries train and to further his own understanding.) He is not like the other people we’ve taught so far because he is REALLY inquisitive and he asks really deep questions that are hard to answer in Spanish. He has definitely been the most challenging investigator so far for us. To make a long story short, we have had a hard time this week because we have felt disappointed in ourselves and really frustrated at the lengths of our abilities. It drains every bit of physical, emotional and spiritual energy you have. Last night though, we had an AMAZING lesson though that changed everything. And get this — most of it was personal studying. The Hermana’s and I received so many answers to our prayers and we have felt so guided. After 15 minutes of reading the scriptures and pondering I had a whole page of notes of thoughts that popped into my head and I knew what I was going to do in the next lesson, whereas an hour before that we were all devastated because we had no clue how we were going to approach our next meeting with Javier. One of the impressions I had was that we should pray with him in the lesson together, and at first I was scared because I didn’t know how to approach it because I was worried he would reject our invitation, and right when I started thinking that our teacher Hermana Plowman was like ”Ok, Elderes y Hermanas, I feel impressed that now we should do some role playing and practice praying WITH our investigators in the meetings. Hermana Hollberg, will you be my companion for a class demonstration?” (all in Spanish, of course.) Guys, the church is true.
I know a lot of people say this but being here is for SURE the hardest thing that I have done. I haven’t thought that or understood that until this week. But I can’t tell you how often I pray in my heart how grateful I am that I am here. I have learned SO much I can’t even tell you, and honestly half of it, if not the majority of EVERYTHING I’ve learned has been from the Spirit. Learning how to recognize it, follow it, learn from it. I honestly can say that I have felt guided in my learning here. Guys, read the scriptures every day. Read Jesus the Christ. It’ll change your life. I feel stronger than I have ever been in my whole life.
I hope everything is ok back home. I really do pray for you about 5 times a day. Don’t worry about me, I’m being taken care of.
Muchos amor, Hma. Hollberg