So I guess I’m in Peru!

EYYYY WASSUP
Wow I seriously don’t know how to even begin this email there is so much to tell!

My companion’s name is Hermana Suqui (pronounced SOO-kee). She is 26 and from Ecuador. She is super strong and she has a super fiery spirit.
Hermana Suqui and Hermana Hollberg

Hermana Suqui and Hermana Hollberg

We’re opening up a new sector called Pueblo Libre 2, located in Jesus Maria (a part of Lima). This section is relatively nice compared to the rest of the city for sure. It’s still quite a bit spooky. On the first day here, I was just so overwhelmed by the culture and so tired from that crazy red-eye flight and how I had to go straight into a full missionary day right after we landed, that I had a minor breakdown the first night… But it passed and I soon accepted the living conditions here. We live in a two room house/apartment/building with a teeny tiny bathroom. Everything is sketchy and relatively dirty. I’ve just learned that I’ve gotta laugh it off and accept that I’m going to be here and that I’m going to love it. It’s a part of my life now and for the most part, it doesn’t bother me anymore. Occasionally, I’ll get a little spooked though. For instance, it’s crazy — every single apartment building (and some houses too) have huge 12 foot cement walls around them with — in all seriousness — electric fences on top for another good 4 feet. Any other building has huge spikes, broken glass…. It’s pretty hair-raising to see. The culture is really different.
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The Spanish is coming along. Just imagine getting dropped off in some super super foreign world with someone you can’t talk to at all and having to go out and teach people you also can’t talk to. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Your brain goes into survival mode. You’ve got to stay patient with yourself or you’ll shut down. Usually by 3 or 4 in the afternoon I’m mentally EXHAUSTED. I almost fell asleep at the pensionistas house (boarding house keeper) WHILE she was talking to me. It’s super hard but it’s super rewarding.
Pensionista and her sister along with me

Pensionista and her sister along with me

Speaking of the pensionistas — because everything here is relatively cheap (standard of living is much lower) the church is saving a lot of money compared to other missions. So they use the excess to provide jobs. They hire very poor widows who live basically in shacks on the roofs of apartment buildings to feed the missionaries every day at lunch, tuesday through saturday. So we go over to this little old woman’s house every day for lunch and she feeds us. She is so sweet.
I know everyone says this but you don’t even know until you’ve experienced it — the driving here is OUT OF CONTROL. Like, every day I think it’s my time to kick the bucket. People literally don’t have the right of way here. If you’re in the intersection and a car is coming, the car will speed up to get you to run out of the way. It’s certainly an adjustment. The majority of vehicles here are for sure taxis and buses. The buses don’t have schedules, but they have conductors who stand halfway out of the door and basically shout where the bus is going. It’s really scary to see them leaning out like that, especially when the bus is flooring it down a busy road going like 50 km/hr.
You guys — you should totally read 2 Nephi 29. I don’t have time to talk about it but READ IT.
The most popular drink here is called Inca Kola: it’s bright yellow and tastes like BUBBLEGUM…. but a carbonated soda! Super great. It’s also called ‘ORO’ (gold). There are a lot of crazy things here to eat. The food is FANTASTIC. Oh my LANTA. Seriously. Believe it or not, I actually LOVE the potatoes here. All kinds — they have so much flavor! I don’t know if it’s just because I’m leaving cafeteria food and coming to real home-made stuff or what, but it’s great. I’m having all of the little Relief Society ladies give me recipes to their favorite dishes. When I’m married and have kids, I’m going to make the coolest Peruvian food the world has ever seen. My pensionista makes me the same drink every day because she knows I love it — it’s like a hot water with anise in it. Kind of like tea or hot chocolate. It’s SO great.
SPEAKING OF: I literally just did the spookiest, scariest thing in my entire life. I ate a fried rat.
I ate a fried rat

I ate a fried rat

here's looking at you, kid!

here’s looking at you, kid!

It was HORRIBLE. Oh my heavens, SO SCARY. It looked like Satan. The dish is called ‘cuy’ (COO-ee). I only did it because it was on my bucket-list here. It took me about 20 minutes to even start eating it because I was so scared, but the Elders wouldn’t let me out of it. While I poked it with my fork, they were making squeaky rat noises and it was HORRIBLE. AGHHHH. Yeah. It actually wasn’t that bad (not a lot of meat on it anyway) but I’m never doing it again because it was so freaky. It was at a little restaurant and the waitress came by and said, ”Why haven’t you eaten it yet??” and she just leaned over me, took my knife and chopped the poor thing’s head off. Traumatizing, really. I asked her to give it to this other Elder because there was no way in HECK I was going to get anywhere near it. What an experience.
Also this is random but they sell whole loaves of bread here with the crusts carefully cut off and it’s hilarious.
I’m craving just normal food like crazy. The nicest restaurant in our area is a KFC. It’s like 2 stories and super fancy. Tonight I’m buying us hamburguesas! They probably won’t be that great but anything close to American food would be nice. I need some therapy after that rat ordeal today. The other day I made us french toast for breakfast! It was so exciting.
French Toast on our little stove/hotplate

French Toast on our little stove/hotplate

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It’s funny to see that a lot of little shops and bazaars try to use english but it’s always really lousy. For instance, today I saw a bus that had painted on the side ”Spedy Buss”, with all of these sparkles on it, all fancy and such. I laughed for a good minute or so and my companion was super bewildered.
Everyone kisses each other on the cheek when they greet here. The first time someone did it to me I was super shocked but by the end of the day I was used to it.
Shoutout to Maria — yo you should send me your email so I can respond to your letter!! Thank you so much for sending it to me I love it SOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!
It’s crazy to think that up in the States you guys are all sweltering in summer heat while we’re down here drinking hot chocolate, huddled around space heaters in these tiny, frigid cement houses. I think about all of you often (but not too often to be distracting to the work, of course!) and pray for your health and safety.
I’m out of time but I’d like to tell you how much I’ve learned this week about being a representative of Jesus Christ. I wish so much that I had time to tell you all that I have studied. Next week I will. A few days ago, we got pulled aside by this woman in the street—-she took us into her house and talked to us for a few minutes and it was really nice (she is an active member). She said that she had been a pensionista often in the past for missionaries but she never accepted compensation, even when she had no work, because missionaries are representatives of Christ and when she has them in her home it’s almost as if He himself is there. Like the scripture ”if ye have done it unto the least of these my bretheren, ye have done it unto me.” It really put things into perspective for me. It was lovely.
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Hermana Seclen, Hermana Custodio, Hermana Suqui, and I

Hermana Seclen, Hermana Custodio, Hermana Suqui, and I

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Just some wild parrots in Mexico City, they are in all of the palm trees!

Just some wild parrots in Mexico City, they are in all of the palm trees!

Hope you all are well! The teaching is going well! Don’t hesitate to write me if you have any more questions!
Hna. Hollberg
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2 responses

  1. you got this hannah! before you know it you’ll be smacking those roaches bare handed! been there, done that. just think of it as the one time in your life you get to smell a little funky and not worry about it:) love you and am so proud of you for just doing what you’re doing every day!

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