(this is the letter to go along with the pictures posted earlier today)
Hey! Just another week here in the mission field.
For some reason, in the last few days, Hermana Zumba and I have found quite a few spiders who have decided to move into our apartment/room. Yesterday, Zumba woke up to one sleeping on her pillow with her, just a few inches from her face. The horror… Also I’ve found a few in my clothes drawers, which definitely led to us literally throwing out every skirt and blouse and being scared until we finally found them spiders again and squished ’em. Fun!
Front page news story for today: Last night it rained! Citizens of Lima are in shock. Rain is cool. But also… when it rains, everything kind of smells worse…. haha… Yeah…. No fresh clean cement smell here. But it sounded nice!
We’ve had 2 temblors (little, almost completely harmless earthquakes) here in the last week. The first one was on Tuesday and we happened to be in the fourth floor of an apartment building so we felt the building sway/move pretty strong. I’m so glad that I’m starting to get more accustomed to the temblors now. I know that before my mission, I would definitely have panicked. I kind of did when I was in Mexico. But now. Eh! I can’t remember if I told you guys this before, but I was talking to someone a few weeks ago and they were like, ”Yeah, I am legitimately more afraid of rain than I am of earthquakes. Rain will destroy Lima, we don’t have the roofs to support it!” It was a definitely spit-your-food-out-and-gawk kind of moment. But it is true — in the poorer parts of Lima, many of the houses don’t even have roofs. There’s not really much point to having one, so why pay for it? But yeah, when the temblor hit Tuesday, it was the first time that Hermana Zumba has been through one and she was as white as a sheet. Poor girl. But I guess it’s one of those things that come with time. The other one was on Saturday but we didn’t notice it. Apparently it was pretty strong in Chosica? Someone said that.
Right now, in the mission world, there has been a huge new movement to include family history research in the process of finding and teaching investigators, as well as retaining and reactivating members. We’ve been going through a series of training sessions on the Family Search website, and it’s admittedly been a little fun! Guys, believe it or not, but family history isn’t a grandma thing anymore! All the kids are doing it these days. Y’all should get into it because it’s actually really cool! Even though the majority of our family lines are done, I was digging through the information that’s there from some of my ancestors and I found some really incredible stories. A lot of them are spiritual and a lot of them aren’t. But it’s like this cool new world that I never bothered to discover! It’s one thing reading about people in history, but it’s wholly another when you get that spooky realization that the people there are literally your family. I also found a picture of my great-great grandfather (of whom I always remember Grandpa Hollberg talking about) that kind of oddly reminds me of the facial structure of many members of the Hollberg family. Hermana Zumba says I have his nose. See attached photo.
Daniela got baptized on Thursday! It was a really neat service. Her daughters came too. Her husband couldn’t get work off to come, but she’s going to bring them all to church on Sunday. We’re excited!
This week, I had this kind of realization. Regrettably, for the last few weeks, I’ve just felt pretty drained. Kind of tired of just trying and trying — always trying to fit into the culture, use the language, work with the people, etcetera. I’ve felt tired of trying to be a Peruvian, and I’ve missed being truly myself with my own language, my own set of social rules, my own humor and fun, my own things to do…
The mission has this interesting way of kicking up every single weakness you might have right into the windshield of life. If you are not very patient, you will face a world of scenarios where you need to be patient. If you are selfish, you will be stuck right next to the people who are better than you, and you’ll have to depend on them to survive in the mission world. If you aren’t very self-confident, you will face everything around you telling you that you aren’t good enough. And why? I think I understand it more now.
It’s like a science experiment in a lab, really. Imagine taking a compound, breaking it down into its elements and taking out less important components until you find the element that really does the work and defines the characteristics of the compound. Or, in other words, until we find the YOU you. The YOU that sits right there between those 2 ears in that noggin of yours. Then, after your 2 years or 18 months are up, you get rebuilt again. All of those components get put back on, but the core is refined and sharper than ever.
Some people say that you are defined by what you do. I say that’s true, but to an extent.
In the mission, all of those things that you once had as hobbies, as pastimes, what you studied, what you really worked for… They’re all temporarily put on hold. You get dropped off in a place so wholly and utterly different than anything you’ve ever known. The only thing that’s the same is YOU. The YOU you. You are the one who chooses to react to your environment.
The past few weeks, I’ve misunderstood this. But the truth is, I really still am that girl who loves art in all form, especially dance. Who is confident. The me in my noggin is still the me who did those things and laughed at the same jokes. But right now, my focus and objective of my time is other. It’s not all about me. Before, my time was about my today, my future. Now those things are paused, and my time is about them; helping them. But I can still be confident. I can still have fun. I can still be me. I am still me!
The difference in the mission and in my normal life isn’t who I am, but how I respond to my environment. Here, you have to create your own fun instead of relying on being entertained. When you’re upset, you have to figure out what’s causing the problem and fix it so you can get back to work and back to helping those around you. It’s like a super self-help-workshop where you just have to figure out the meaning of your entire life and who you are over a period of a 18 months or 2 years.
I know that I still have a long way to go. I know that writing this and really gluing it in your heart and mind are different. But this is my goal for the transfer. To get this really down.
Before my mission, I was really proud of what I had accomplished and where I was in life. And I still am. But that doesn’t mean that I have to miss what I did back then. There’s a difference between being proud of your accomplishments and proud of who you are. Not saying that I was a bad person or anything. It’s just that when you’re truly proud of who you are, you will naturally become proud of what you do. When you’re proud of who you are, you will do the things that are good; the things that make you truly happy. Because, in this sense what you do doesn’t define who you are, but rather it shows who YOU are.
I really hope what I am trying to say came out right. I don’t know if I did. I don’t have time to read that over again and revise that. But anyway, I’m doing a lot better now having realized this. It was one of those things where you just kind of meditate it all out and then you’re like, ”Oh, I get it now.” That was an anticlimactic sentence. Anyway—-
Yeah. Stuff’s good. We like ran out of all of our investigators so we’re starting from ground zero again. Gotta find some new people to teach. It’s alright! We’re unstoppable!
Love you all!