On my way!

So I’m allowed to email briefly today because I’m leaving…… TONIGHT! TO PERÙ! So pumped. I leave and get on a bus to go to the airport at 7 pm and then my flight leaves at midnight. We arrive in Perù at 6 am tomorrow.  Everyone in my district is gone except for us 4 perù kids and Elder Steiner.  Last night we sang God Be With You ‘Till We Meet Again and literally everyone was crying—-teachers, Elders, everyone.  I hope so much that I will see them all again in this life. Spending hundreds of hours with the same people, sharing your testimonies and your heart and soul with each other… I wish the best for everyone in my district and I am so thankful that I was placed here to learn and to grow with these specific Elders and Sisters.
Woah we just had an earthquake! That’s like the fourth one!
Anyway I’m so excited and so ready to be going. So ready to start the work. I’m so excited to immerse myself in the language and the country. I know it’ll be really hard at first but the Lord works his ways through the meek of the earth and He can mold us into the missionaries that we need to be for these people.  I’m not afraid of how hard it will be because I have His spirit with me :)
I hope you all are well. All of you seriously give me so much support and I’m undeserving of it. Thank you so much. I pray for all of you guys and hope that you are safe and well. If there is anything that I can do for you, let me know.
¡Con amor!
¡Hasta mañana!
Hna. Hollberg
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Last Week in the good old CCM‏

This week has just FLOWN by, it’s been great! I am just dying to get out into the field in Perù. I don’t know how people survived 9 to12 weeks in the CCM! I am just itching to get out and do some work! One of the big things that we’re taught here is that ”how you finish here is how you’ll finish in the field.” It’s really true. Some people get ‘trunky,’ where they start getting anxious to leave and they pack weeks in advance. My companions and I are working hard to be especially obedient this week because we want to make the best of this time that we can! You only get one shot in the CCM and it can either make you or break you. You can either take off with it and progress a ton or you can be disobedient and lazy and waste the precious time you have to experiment with teaching styles and learn the language. Now, after I’m just about to leave, I feel like I finally have the CCM figured out. It’s like ”Ok, now I’m ready to rock the CCM,” but it’s already over! I’m going into the real world now. Which is why I am so glad that we have training centers! I’m so glad I got all of that awkwardness out here, only in front of teachers and other missionaries. I am SO glad that I’ve figured out how to push through being tired and to use my time effectively. It’s funny because after six weeks here I can comfortably give a whole talk in Spanish and I can teach a 45 minute lesson easily, but all of the Spanish I know is church-oriented so when they drop me off in South America I’m going to be needing a lot of help navigating around. Basically, I know no Spanish nouns and verbs outside of really simple stuff or straight-up Gospel terms. But I’m not even scared! I am SO ready and SO excited to do this! Yeah!! I just want to be in my mission already!
So we had two more earthquakes this week. One of them I heard was in the 6 point range? I don’t know, that’s what I heard. I didn’t feel it, which bummed me out a tiny bit but for the most part I’d rather not experience it.
Two days ago, there must have been something in the food because honestly about half of the entire CCM (teachers, workers and missionaries alike) became violently sick at the exact same time, at 3 in the morning. I was one of the lucky ones that escaped but those who did fall ill said that it was one of the worst experiences of their entire life. Some of the Elders named the event ”the Waters of Mormon.” We have all gotten to the point where we don’t want to even eat food anymore. Last week someone found a zip-tie in their salad. Worst yet, yesterday an Elder found a literal cockroach in his re-fried beans. We pretty much only trust eating cereal for two of the meals each day. We long so much for easy, safe food that doesn’t surprise us every day (for example, honeydew slices with Mexican Whoppers candy in it???). I miss the security of the states so bad and I’m a bit sad that I’ll be going straight to Perù because of this.
I ran into my cousin Zach right after I read my emails last Thursday! Our schedules are completely different so we only will see each other on Sunday, for the most part, but it was really nice to talk to him. It’s so fun to have someone here I know!
My cousin Elder Zach Evans!

My cousin Elder Zach Evans!

Last Friday for our service project, districts 15-A and 15-B (mine) were assigned to wash a couple of houses. All of the buildings here are made of white-painted brick, and they show dirt easily so we have to scrub them fairly often. We had buckets of water that we were throwing at the walls and we used brooms to scrub the highest bricks. Doing projects with these 18 year-old Elders is always hilarious because they do goofy stuff on accident. For example, a few of them started throwing buckets of water at the walls before we closed the windows and totally soaked a couple of hermanas’ rooms! Oh boy… Also we had a hose for filling up the buckets, but one of the boys accidentally hooked it up to hot water straight from the boiler instead of the normal water outlet and a couple people got sprayed with super hot water. After we started yelling ”calientè, calientè!!!” one of the workers sprinted around the building and fixed it. In the end it turned into a water fight, and we were all soaked and laughing. It was so much fun!
Things have been pretty much the same around here. We’re still studying like crazy and having tons of fun.
Working hard or hardly working

Working hard or hardly working

basically-8-hours-a-day-in-here

basically-8-hours-a-day-in-here

Taking a time out for a minute

Taking a time out for a minute

Today we went to the temple again and it was very lovely. I understand more and more every day.  We’re teaching less now than we were a few weeks ago, and we spend most of our class time reviewing grammar, studying the fundamentals of the Gospel in greater depth and sharing our testimonies with each other. I am so grateful for my experience so at the CCM. I have really loved my time here, and I have loved all of the people I have bonded with.
Casa del ..
Wright, Capps, Me, Budnicki, Nielson, Walstrom

Wright, Capps, Me, Brudnicki, Nielson, Walstrom

Us with Hermano Torres our teacher

Us with Hermano Torres our teacher

Elder Wright the photo bomb king in the back

Elder Wright the photo bomb king in the back

Hermana Capps and Me

Hermana Capps and Me

Districts 15-A and 15-B

Districts 15-A and 15-B

Almost all of the women of branch 15

Almost all of the women of branch 15

My district is my mission family. I’m going to miss some of these guys while I’m in Perù. Oh yeah, I don’t know if I told you guys but Elder Scott in my district is the one who was on all of my travel information that I received before I entered the CCM. Along with him, I’ll be flying down with my current companions. It was such a tender mercy that we ended up together, all of us Perù Lima Central guys.
You asked me before about what specifically I think makes a good missionary — what it comes down to is having Christlike attributes. It’s not ”your mission,” or ”my mission.” It’s His mission. As a literal representative of Jesus Christ, you have to be constantly developing yourself and using the Atonement to become like our Savior. D&C section 4 is great, it really lays it all out there. The best missionaries are not necessarily the most learned or the most eloquent. They’re sympathetic, sensitive, genuinely kind and have a true testimony. They love the Lord with all of their heart, might and strength!!! A true missionary doesn’t struggle to be obedient to mission rules because they know that these are made for our protection, and that we will be greatly blessed and rewarded for our hard work. They know that ”obedience brings blessings, [and] exact obedience brings miracles.” The key to the work is love! I’ve mentioned this in my last couple of emails. Missionary work will always be hard, but if we are obedient, the Lord will fit his servants to the task that needs to be done. We will be strenghtened. Participating in this great work is probably one of the very greatest accomplishments of my entire life! My only regret is that I didn’t share my testimony more without fear before now. It’s too bad that some people don’t realize that everyone can be a missionary! I was so afraid of being rejected but the thing is, when you talk to someone you care about with the feelings deep inside your heart, and you express that Christlike love, people will have a hard time rejecting your message. I mean, they probably won’t ask to be baptized instantly. They might not be interested in the church. But sharing what means most to you never hurts, if you do it in the right way. I hope you guys won’t be afraid to share your testimony or show the light of the Gospel in your actions!
Something that I have really come to love this week is reading el Libro de Mormòn en español. It’s incredible. The way things are described sometimes paints a new picture of understanding in my head when I study. There are different meanings and connotations attached to every word in each language. I love getting a fresh perspective on stories that I have known, studied and loved my entire life. Also, believe it or not, it’s way easier to read in Spanish because there aren’t the ‘thy’s and ‘thou’s that can make things more confusing in English! :) There’s not really such a thing as ”olde Spanish,” unless you’re counting the use of ‘vosotros.’ In Spanish, saying ”vosotros” is the equivalent of saying ”you all” informally. It has it’s own sets of specific verb conjugations for every Spanish tense. It’s obsolete in Latin America, but used in Spain. We’re learning how to use it here because it’s used in the scriptures! We want to be able to read and understand the scriptures as best we can, of course :) Guys, you’ve gotta study the scriptures as much as you can. Every day. A person who studies the scriptures daily is going to have a truly converted heart for the rest of their life, guaranteed. Remember the fundamentals. Prayer is one of the greatest gifts in the whole world! Use it! God is our Father, and he wants to hear from us. He loves us so much. He will do everything he can to help us succeed. I know that he is very near to us when we pray.
I’m sorry I’m not writing as clearly as I have the last couple of weeks, I am incredibly tired for some reason but I hope you all know how thankful I am for you guys and for all of the support you give me. It means the world to me. Never hesitate to shoot an email over here in this direction, it will ALWAYS be appreciated!
Do all you can to keep the Spirit with you. Christ will be always there for you when you turn to Him. I know this. You’ve just got to invite the light into your life.
¡Les amo!
¡Nos vemos!
Hermana Hollberg
Additional Photos from this week:
Daily Planning

Daily Planning

Pink Day!

Pink Day!

Waiting for a devotional

Waiting for a devotional

There was a dog on the roof looking over the busy road!

There was a dog on the roof looking over the busy road!

Look in the distance at the hills!

Look in the distance at the hills!

Check out this view!

Check out this view!

The sisters...

The sisters…

Definitely not studying at this moment

Definitely not studying at this moment

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Me and Hermana Nielson matching for gym

Me and Hermana Nielson matching for gym

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I'm totally serious!

I’m totally serious!

¡Perservarar hasta el fin!

We’re in the middle of week 5 here in el CCM! Time is flyin’ by. It’s pretty crazy. I really want to just be in the field already though! So excited. I don’t know if I told you guys before, but I’m part of the 3rd generation here. This CCM is brand new and each week when new missionaries come is a new generation. The 1st generation that the CCM graduated just left this week! I’m going to be out of here and ready to go in only a little over a week!
**
That’s SO COOL that my cousin Zach is down here now! I was sad because I know literally nobody here and everyone else has friends and classmates here, but now I have a cousin here! I really really hope I run into him so I can give him advice about this place. During this devotional we had on tuesday, President Pratt announced that we were going to have even more people than usual because more people from the Peru CCM and the Provo MTC were coming. That must have been his group!
**
We still have no idea about where we’re going once we are done here because we don’t have our Peru visas. Everyone else here has had their next set of travel plans since day one for returning to the states or wherever. As for us four Perù misioneros (it’s nuts that all of us ended up being in the same district!), we could be going to Perù as tourists, we could be going back to the states for a while, who knows?  I literally have no IDEA where I’m going to be in less than two weeks, and that’s pretty scary. We are all PRAYING to be able to go back to somewhere in the states just to serve there until we get our visas, I can’t even tell you how badly we would like to spend even just TWO GLORIOUS WEEKS back on US soil. I think we’ll find out the friday before we leave, which might be monday, tuesday or wednesday in the week of the 26th. So you’ll probably just get a call from me from some random airport and I’ll just be like ”Yeah, so I’m in Minnesota right now, I got temporarily reassigned.”
**
Caroline—-one of the girls in my zone who is super adorable (Hma. Walstrom, she’s going to Everett, WA) just got an email from a friend of hers who is at the Provo MTC learning Korean and in it she was talking about what mission life is like and she said ”You’re going to suffer…. but you’re gonna be happy about it…?” Ten pesos to you if you get where that quote is from!!!! I thought that was so funny, we laughed about it for a really long time. Everything is funny in the CCM. Honestly. I hope you saw all of the silly pictures from this week. It was a good week.
 **
Speaking of pesos, everything is SO CHEAP HERE! It’s the GREATEST. La tienda (the store) just got Sprite (it was all sold and gone within 2 hours) and I bought some this morning. It was 6.5 pesos!! That’s almost exactly 50 cents! Mèxico is redeemed. Just a little bit though. I forgot how much I missed carbonation. I swear the only thing they have to drink here is spooky scary juice that’s extremely concentrated and dirty water. ¡Pero està bien!  This week I made the mistake of eating a dried, buttered kiwi. Trust me, never. Ever. EVER. Eat a buttered kiwi. It was the sickest thing I ever ate. And it was in some spaghetti noodles. Super random. Also this week there were some workers in our bathroom and they were fixing our sink, and Hermana Capps left a bag of open chips on her bed, and when we came back the workers were still there but the bag was EMPTY. We found a piece of chip under the sink later that night when we were sweeping. Evidence! It was hilarious.
Hermana Capps crying because of the chips

Hermana Capps crying because of the chips

On tuesday, we were able to be a part of the first ever worldwide MTC devotional satalite broadcast from the Provo MTC! We were one of maybe 5 or so global MTCs who were able to see it live. We met in the auditorium and waited 40 minutes to be able to see it. The apostle Elder Scott talked about prayer and revelation and it was probably the best talk/devotional I have ever heard in my life. Definitely in the top 3. I exhort ye to watch it. Mom. Do it. It’s FANTASTIC. So beautiful.
Waiting for the Devotional to start

Waiting for the Devotional to start

 

Photo bomb hardcore

Photo bomb hardcore

 

This week was REALLY GOOD. Do you guys remember how we were having a hard time with our ”investigator” Javier? Well, basically we talked with him some more and we straightened things out with him and were able to teach him a couple more lessons and last lesson (Tuesday) he told us that he felt like el Libro de Mormòn (Book of Mormon) was the word of God, and he could feel the Spirit every time he met with us! He went to church last week and he LOVED it; he’s been keeping his commitments to pray and to read and to ponder and find out for himself if our message is true or not! Best of all, he accepted our invitation to follow the example of Jesucristo and be baptized! It’s SO exhilirating. We are so happy that we were able to learn from that experience and turn it around into being this rewarding! It was hard but it was SO worth all of the work! For sure. Our other investigator that we’re teaching right now, named Paulina, is doing really well too! After every lesson we teach, the hermanas and I turn to each other and say ”That was the BEST lesson we’ve ever taught!” ¡Poder de las chicas! We also taught a Mexican woman in TRC last night and she shared us her favorite scriptures and they were both about the powerful women in el Libro de Mormòn and we were PUMPED! Yeah!
**
Most of the investigators here are just teachers playing the roles of people that they once taught, but they are SUPER intense about it. They are extremely serious about how they play their role and if the missionaries invite them to do something or read something, they will really read it or do it. My teacher said that she read 3 Nephi 11 like five times this week after class because she had to read it for the missionaries teaching her. We have had some amazing experiences here with teaching. When you get to play the role of an investigator, you learn so much about what it feels like to be taught. It helps us become the humble, charitable, kind and observant teachers we need to be. This week, we had a demonstration in class where one of the Elders (it was Elder Hatchett) played the role of one of his really close friends who was going through a hard time in his life and he had some concerns about the gospel. Hermano Torres, our teacher sat down with him and talked to him and tried to help him figure out what he should do. It was such a powerful experience. Afterwards, Elder Hatchett just broke down and started crying. Almost all of us were choked up, including Hermano Torres. Our teacher had shown so much love for this unknown person. I can’t even tell you how amazing it was. From that experience, I learned more that everybody everywhere is someone’s sister or someone’s son or someone’s best friend. Everyone deserves to be taken care of like that with that much love and that much genuine kindness. If anyone I know was being taught by the missionaries or even served by them, I would want them to be taken care of like that. I want to treat everyone I interact with or teach as a person who is a beloved child of a Father in heaven who loves them more than the world over twice.
 **
If I had to sum up what I’ve learned this week, I would say that charity has been the key point. I learned that the key to having the most powerful lessons is first, inviting and qualifying for the presence of the Holy Ghost and second, having true love and charity for the person you’re working with. It’s not Spanish. It’s not even having an extremely well founded understanding about the deepest most doctorines of the church. The most important thing is that the person has the opportunity to feel the peace the spirit brings and feels it testifying of truth.  True testimonies aren’t built just because you can’t find a reason that it’s untrue. True lasting conversions come because in the very deepest part of your soul, with all of your heart, you FEEL and KNOW that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. Let me tell you guys, us missionaries don’t teach lessons. We don’t convert people. It’s the power of the Holy Ghost. It’s the power of that love and that comfort and that peace in your heart that is there testifying to you of truth. I’m going to have to work hard here as a missionary because I want to be able to show so much love to these people, and show them how I care about them. Missionary work is NOT about getting people baptized. It’s NOT about going on vacation. It’s about serving people, and loving them with your whole heart. They make the decision to start a new life with all of the blessings that baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost brings. We can’t make that choice for them. And that’s why it’s hard. That’s why you feel the most joy you’ve felt in your whole life, along with some of the greatest disappointments and sadnesses you’ve experienced yet. You have to give your whole heart to the world. Give it all up. Put your life on pause for 18 months and love them.
**
Also, love for your companions is sooooo important. Living in companionships is really interesting. It’s crazy because my companions are SO different from me, like I wish I had time to tell you all of the ways that we are so different from each other. It’s hilarious. Both of them once said something like ”Yeah, I hate spending time sitting in front of a computer. Like, no more than 30 minutes.” I definitely spit out my water when they said that and laughed for a good five minutes. They listened to music that’s vastly different from mine, they watched completely different movies. They also have never read Harry Potter and don’t really care about it that much. Hermana Brudnicki is super into watching sports, especially football and she talks about the Packers all the time to all of the Elders. (She’s from Green Bay, remember!) She get’s super spirited especially when people talk about Brett Favre because he betrayed Wisconsin or whatever. I know so many football players now, it’s hilarious. Go Aaron Rogers….?? But I love these girls so much. I don’t think we would have ever been friends outside of this experience because we are so different in hobbies, likes and dislikes, but we are all so bonded. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to know them and be their friends. Also, with Hermana Nielsen and Hermana Walstrom. Being a sister missionary is awesome. I’d never give it up for anything. We have so much fun and we laugh until we’re almost crying every single day.
Hermana Capp, Hollberg, Brudnicki

Hermana Capp, Hollberg, Brudnicki

I sent a picture earlier from my Predicad mi Evangelio (Preach My Gospel) manual — It’s a picture of this beautiful painting of Jesus Christ holding a little black lamb in his arms.
only-the-coolest-picture-ever

only-the-coolest-picture-ever

That is legitimately my favorite representation of Him of all time. I am so thankful for the atonement every day. My life would be so empty if it weren’t for the happiness that the atonement brings. For some reason, people think that repentance is something scary and really serious, but it’s not! It’s lovely! I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to change and to grow and to start every day and press on, trying to be the very best person I can be. Everyday, I am thankful for this.
**
I love hearing from you guys and I love getting to see what you are all up to. Thank you so much for the support and the encouragement you’re all giving me out here. Tell Cos and Dorothy hi for me! It means so much to me that they would be interested in the crazy stuff I’m up to down here.  :) I hope everyone is healthy and well back home. RJ— I don’t know if you’ve ever read through Preach my Gospel since that came out after your mission, but you’ve GOT to do it. It’s amazing. It’s truly inspired. I’m so glad to be a Predicad mi Evangelio (Preach My Gospel) misionera. Please let me know what you’re all up to! I always look forward to seeing your emails and everything!
**
¡Hasta proxìma semana!
Hma. Hollberg
”You can make more friends in 2 months by being interested in them than you can make in 2 years by having them become interested in you.”
More Pictures!
Seminary Building

Seminary Building

 

Scripture Power!

Scripture Power!

 

On Wednesdays we decided to wear pink

On Wednesdays we decided to wear pink

 

first-weeklings...

first-weeklings…

 

elders-elders-elders

elders-elders-elders

 

Ready to go teach!

Ready to go teach!

 

Only the funniest thing ever but no one was laughing... I dried my sweatshirt over a fan and it puffed up and looked like a person.

Only the funniest thing ever but no one was laughing… I dried my sweatshirt over a fan and it puffed up and looked like a person.

 

How did they do this?

How did they do this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

¡Sì se puede!

Yeah so things are going well here! This week mother nature threw somewhat of a tantrum for us. I lived through my first real earthquake! It was NUTS. Yeah on Tuesday we were just studying in the classrooms with our district when we heard these huge sirens going off — kind of like those sirens that went of for air raids during WWII — and I asked aloud if they were the earthquake sirens and someone goes ”I think those are for wolves.” Sorry, what? I told him, ”Why would we meet outside in the safety points if there was a pack of wolves wandering on campus?” Everyone laughed. Ha so random! Anyway so we go outside and I guess there was a little earthquake like maybe in the 1 or 2 point range but I didn’t really feel it because I was walking when it happened. Apparently earthquakes are really common here! Anybody who knows me knows that natural disasters really freak me out, and boy was I shaking when those huge sirens went off… It was fine though. Then that same night we had the MOTHER OF ALL STORMS. I have the coolest video of the trees blowing and the rain and hail but it’s too big to send in an email. It was like a hurricane though, I swear. The storm just came out of nowhere and everything flooded including all of the drains and there were up to 3 or 4 inches of standing water on the sidewalks.
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It happened RIGHT when we had to go to a devotional so we just had to book it like crazy to make it, but we were running through all of this standing water and everyone was SOAKED. In the auditorium everyone was just laughing and pointing at each other. Also I don’t know if I’ve told you guys before but in the thunderstorms here, the thunder is sometimes constant for up to two minutes straight. It’s like people are throwing bowling balls on the roof and it’s really hard to hear what the teachers are saying in the lessons during a storm. Other than some crazy weather everything is pretty much the same.
The food is still weird but I have to say that the fruit is AWESOME! I’ve never had better strawberries.
Gross stale bread with frosting in the middle!!!!

Gross stale bread with frosting in the middle!!!!

Normal Lunch

Normal Lunch

I WOULD KILL FOR SOME OF YOUR HOMEMADE JAM RIGHT NOW.   You guys have NOOOOOO idea how much we all are DYING for American stuff like….. Syrup!!!! Peanut butter! Burgers! Anything but tacos!! So so so many things!  Ha Ha!
Special Lunch!!!!

Special Lunch!!!!

Creepy :)

Creepy :)

Sugar Bread example

Sugar Bread example

My Happy Place

My Happy Place

After three days of no hot water we finally got it all worked out so I’m happy! The birds here are huge, by the way, and they totally look like velociraptors. You can tell that they’re really smart.
Anyway, this CCM is so huge and packed now. When I got here, there were maybe 300 people but now we’re up to 800. We are now officially the 2nd largest CCM in the world, which is kind of lame because it’s fun with fewer districts and everything but it’s all good.
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Park!

Park!

There were some people filming stuff here for the church! We might be on TV in the World News Report between Saturday General Conference sessions this October! You guys should search Mexico MTC on there and tell me what you see!  http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/video-first-missionaries-complete-training-new-mexico-training-center
You guys, I love getting your emails about the stuff going on in your lives. Don’t feel like you’re stuff isn’t important to me, because it REALLY is. I LOVE hearing the little stories that are going on back home. They don’t make me homesick, but they make me feel like I’m supported and sort of ”buoyed up” for the next week. I love it. I wish I had enough time to respond to every email that’s sent to me but I don’t…. :( But please know that I read every one and I love them! Also, please tell me what’s going on the news over there. I heard that there are some terror threats and we’re getting really worried here and we want to know what’s going on!
I heard that there is a NEW Temple film! It’s not dubbed for español so I won’t get to see it for a really really long time, if I even do get to but you guys should see it! Also, sending those pictures of the slow loras was probably the coolest thing that has ever happened. I was the coolest kid. Right after I saw those I took a picture of one and las hermanas and I sprinted to the building where we knew Elder Steiner was, trying to find him, but he was in the Elders bathroom and he heard us yelling ”ELDER STEINER WE HAVE A SURPRISE FOR YOU!” and he just knew what it was going to be so he refused to come out for a few minutes. When he saw it we all started crying, we were laughing so hard. Last P-day was SUCH a good day.
Sliding

Sliding

Still Sliding!

Still Sliding!

Our district is so close, guys. We’re like a family. I can’t even tell you. I mean, most of the elders have just graduated high school and sometimes when we see them doing something really immature, we ask them ”Are you guys 18?” and they’re always like ”Yeah, why?” ”Oh, because you’re blowing on your nametag and playing it like a cazoo.” But at the same time, these elders have SUCH powerful testimonies, and they say so many really really deep things about serious things like the Atonement. The Elders in my District have such a fresh perspective on many spiritual topics and it’s so refreshing to study with them. Everyone here is like the spiritual A-team and it’s great to be surrounded by so many great CCM missionaries. Last week we all sat down and studied the book of Revalations and the connections to the Doctorine and Covenants, reading about symbolism and predictions for Armageddon…. It was SOOOOOOO COOOOOOOOOOL oh my gosh! It’s crazy to say, but we literally have to peel ourselves away from our scripture study sometimes to go to meetings and devotionals. I love studying my scriptures, they are such a blessing. El Libro de Mormòn is the best.
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I thought you all would laugh to hear that we are all starting to have nicknames in our district — I’m Hermana Iceberg, and my companions are Hermana Slickwicki (because once she made this really really awesome shot in basketball over this football kid’s head during gym) and Hermana Bustin’ Capps, or Hermana Capps Lock. There’s also Elder Shermanator, Elder Parkesito, Elder Mr. Wright, Elder Achett, Elder Courtesy, Elder FrankenSteiner… haha! So Funny! We’re still making up ones for the other Elders. These kids are like my brothers, I swear. Sometimes we have to tell them ”¡Que no sean niñas!” though. By the way, Spanish is AWESOME. I love learning more and more. I’m doing so well! We try to only speak in Spanish as much as we can. It’s so weird typing in English, teaching in English and especially PRAYING in English. It makes us trip up on our words, ironically!  By the way, I’ve been meaning to tell you guys that Hermana Brudnicki is from Green Bay! Woo hoo! She has an accent and we tease her about it a little bit but she’s SO sweet. I love my companionship. We get along so well!!!
Me and B

Me and B

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Like I said before, we study at least 10 hours a day. Being a missionary is incredibly demanding. You have to work when you’re completely exhausted, and about 5 hours past that. But it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I can’t tell you how many nights I just lay in bed and smile because I’m filled with so much joy. I’m like 400 times better of a person now that I ever have been in my life. I feel so strong and so connected. It’s not just that I pray more or I read the scriptures more but I’m literally a more patient, humble, teachable, grateful, kind person than I ever have been. I’m really working on developing these Christlike attributes so that I can be the best missionary I can be.
This week I’ve figured something new out for myself — we don’t prepare lessons, we prepare ourselves. Teaching isn’t like preparing a talk and then just sitting down with someone, expecting them to patiently listen to everything you say with no questions or comments. We want the person we’re talking to (member or nonmember) to do the majority of the talking. The Spanish really doesn’t matter — you don’t have to know every grammar rule to bear your testimony of how el Evangelio (The Savior) has impacted your life and get your message across! The Spanish is so that we can really listen to those we teach, and be able to hopefully tell them something that touches their heart, once we know what their concerns are. We don’t teach these people, the Holy Ghost does. I can promise you that. The most important thing is that the investigator feels that peace in their heart when we talk. It’s even more important than the information we give them (but that’s still very important too, of course).
Caroline, you are going to LOVE the CCM and LOVE YOUR MISSION. You’re going to be such a better missionary than I am, too. I’m on my fourth week here and I’ve seen what makes great missionaries and what makes the best missionaries, and let me tell you, you’ll be one of the best for sure. You’ll thrive and develop so many life skills here. The more time I spend here the more I understand what it means to be ”set apart” from the world. This is the only time that my name will be right next to and above Jesus Christ’s name, as seen on my name tag.
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Setting apart everything that you were living can be hard, but we seriously have the Godhead on our team here. I’m more than happy to be doing this right now. It’s like the story after the Savior’s crucifixion when the 12 apostles went back to fishing because they didn’t know what they should do next. The resurrected Savior appears to them for the first time on the shore of the lake, and Peter jumps out of the boat as soon as he sees him and swims to shore as fast as he can. When they all get there and they are sitting in a circle around the fire, Christ turns to Peter and says, ”Peter, do you love me?” Peter answers yes. Christ asks him again ”Peter, do you love me more than your boat?” and Peter says yes again, somewhat confused. The Lord asks him one more time, ”Peter, do you love me, more than your boat?” and Peter says something to the effect of ”Lord, I love you above all!”
Christ looks him right in the eye, with all of the power of God and says ”Then feed my sheep.
That’s why I’m here.

¡Hola!

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.
Picture of me emailing literally right now!

Picture of me emailing literally right now!

Sisters Hollberg and Capp

Sisters Hollberg and Capp

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.
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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.
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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.
Elder Wright and Elder Steiner eating 10 Listerine Strips on a dare

Elder Wright and Elder Steiner eating 10 Listerine Strips on a dare

Elder Park and Elder Wright

Elder Park and Elder Wright

–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.
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–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.
Slow Loris Eating Rice Ball

Slow Loris Eating Rice Ball

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
Chris this one's for you!

Chris this one’s for you!

¡Buenas tardes, hermanos y hermanas!

So I have been in Mexico City for officially 9 days now.
I don’t even know where to start for this email. I feel like I’ve been here for probably 6 months or so.
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First let me just say, receiving emails from you guys is literally like the best thing ever. It’s Christmas morning for us here and everyone is so full of adrenaline from hearing from home. Also probably from getting to take a nap in the afternoon. But mostly the family thing.
So this CCM has been open for practically a month. The buildings themselves are like 50+ years old and all but for the last few decades or so it’s been a really nice high school where the students live in houses and dorms on campus. The highschool was called Benemerito and it was probably one of, if not the best high schools in Mexico. The church has owned this property for many decades and the school was largely run by church members. It graduated its last class of seniors in June of 2013 and by the end of june it was dedicated as a CCM. It’s named after Benito Juarez, who was (as I’m told) a sort of Abraham Lincoln for Mexico in recent times.
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Basically he was just a really awesome president.  The campus is 90 acres total, which is more than twice the size of the Provo MTC.
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Psalms!!
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It is GORGEOUS with palm trees and really really awesome landscaping, with these crazy trees and bushes cut into all of these shapes.
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There is a huge wall that surrounds the whole place with barbed wire on top so nobody can sneak in. There are also 24 hour guards that patrol the only entrances and stuff. We feel so safe and it really helps us focus on our studies.
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All of the many, many workers who run this place are native Mexican and for the most part nobody speaks English, so you learn words that help you get around fairly quickly.
We study here about 10 hours a day, no joke.
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Bein’ Silly
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Marginally less silly but only for a second
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Estudiar Española
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We’re expected to speak in Spanglish at all times, using as much Spanish as we know, even if it’s virtually nothing. Parts of my journal entries are even in Spanish. Once we get better, we will have to ask teachers permission to use English. Teachers are really respected here, by the way, along with women. But yeah, on the first night, we received our six week schedule that has every 15 minutes planned out for the entire stay here. It’s crazy. But we’re completely independent. We are just expected to be where we are supposed to be and to show up to class when we should. Obedience is stressed and we’re given a lot of responsibility here so that we can function when we get dropped out in the mission when we’re completely alone. They know that we want to be here, and especially that we want to learn the language. It’s a very humbling experience. 5 days a week we get an hour of gym time which is AWESOME. I cannot tell you how awesome it is. We just go run on the elliptical and get out ALL of our stress.
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The weather here is very different. It’s not very humid at ALL, but it turns out, it’s the rainy season in the Mexico City area and it thunderstorms literally every day, predictably at about 5 in the afternoon. Without fail. And when it rains, it POURS. After the rain, the workers take little brooms and sweep gallons and gallons of water down the gutters into the drains. There’s water everywhere. It rained so much one day that it looked like something out of the movies with palm trees swaying, and there was so many huge drops of water in the air at once that visibility went down to like 100 feet, max. It looked like fog. So yeah, Hermana Capps and I have often walked into meetings or dinner completely drenched. All of the natives totally laugh at us, it’s a hoot. None of us Peru kids brought umbrellas. By the way, there are now officially FOUR of us going to Peru, and we’re all in the same mission!! The thunder can be literally constant for minutes at a time, and sometimes it sounds like people are throwing bowling balls around on the roofs, it’s so loud. Also, it’s like the Tracey Aviary here, there are so many strange birds with strange calls! And there are about 5 million mosquitos but I’ve yet to be bitten!
Ok, I’ve really got to tell you guys about the food. Oh. My. Gosh. There are some pretty kooky things around here.
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What is this even?

What is this even?

Kouing Aman

Kouing Aman

never finished this because it's literally too sweet (and I thought I had the sweetest tooth ever!)

never finished this because it was literally too sweet (and I thought I had the sweetest tooth ever!)

What are some of the weird things I’ve eaten…..  soup with chopped hotdogs in it, this weird cantaloupe thing with an oniony taste (sounds like ‘chai-yatta’ en Española) that’s super good with ranch on it, real chunks of coconut that are harder than a rock to eat but are pretty good, juice/gravy/smoothie/?? made out of real cacao beans…….. Many, many things. Oh dear, one of the weirdest things people do here is put PEACHES with MEAT. Like one day for breakfast I had some chunks of ham mixed with chopped peaches. NO. BUENO. Trust me. Also, they don’t have real syrup for their pancakes and stuff, they just use Hershey’s syrup. All of the bread has LOADS and LOADS of sugar on it
Millenium Falcon bread

Millennium Falcon bread

—one day I saw an elder scraping the sugar off of his bread into his cereal. It was pretty genius. On Sunday we had the BEST TAMALES EVER along with horchata, for a special treat.
Hermana Walstrom praying for her taco - not really!

Hermana Walstrom praying for her taco – not really!

I’m in a trio companionship right now with Hermana Capps and Hermana Brudnicki. We’re all in the same mission! Hermana B just arrived day before yesterday from the Provo MTC — she got lost in the shuffle between MTCs and it was such an ordeal for her to get here.
Hermana Capps and Hermana Hollberg

Hermana Capps and Hermana Hollberg

On the bus to the Temple

On the bus to the Temple

Tell Caroline that some Hermanas in my casa are writing a spoof song to Carrie Underwood’s ”I don’t even know his last name” (I think that’s what it’s called?) but anyway the spoof version is ”I don’t even know his first name” and it’s about having a crush on an Elder. Super hilarious. I wish I could remember the lyrics to send to you.
So we got to leave the CCM for the second time today, when we drove 40 minutes through the heart of the city to reach el Casa del Señor (the temple). Let me tell you, Mexico city is   s k e t c h y . . . .  No joke. Hermana Capps and Hermana Brudnicki and I literally woke up to gunshots this morning, at about 5:45 am! But going to the temple was amazing.
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At the Temple!

At the Temple!

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Please don’t worry about me — I’m really thriving here. I’ve made a lot of friends and I seriously have the BEST DISTRICT and maestro EVER. After every class my cheeks hurt from smiling so hard. Honestly, we are all SO BONDED. It’s awesome.
Ladies of Districto 15

Ladies of Districto 15

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There are so many hilarious stories that happened but I just don’t have time to write them all. But because we’re all in districts, someone made up this funny joke where across the campus, a person will do the iconic whistle from The Hunger Games and then people will almost always whistle it back. By the way, one of the Elders in my district is going to the Richmond, Virginia mission (Spanish speaking), same place as Caroline! Most of all of them are Texas bound though, interestingly enough! Everyone is so spiritual and it’s nicer to be in this environment than anyone could ever guess. The whole CCM has an air of peace to it. I respect a lot of people.
On Sunday I had literally the best sacrament meeting I’ve ever been to in my entire life. It’s crazy, they just tell everyone to prepare a talk and when the meeting comes around, the District presidency is just like ”Ok, next we’ll hear from Elder Wright” and you just have to stand up and go for it. I ended up having to speak about the Atonement and it went really well.
Time is so short to write but I hope all is well with you guys!
HEART! Hermana Hollberg
PS–one more story. Some Hermanas I know are rooming with some native Mexican Hermanas, and one of the American sisters was trying to tell the Mexican girls that she was going to wash her clothes in the sink en Española, but she accidentally said that she was going to wash them in the toilet. The Mexican Hermanas’ almost had a HEART ATTACK.
By the way, Mexican candy is OUT OF THIS WORLD.
and incredibly cheap!
best cheapest candy ever!

best cheapest candy ever!

¡Buenas Dias

Good Morning!
THis keyboard is really hard to type on because it is so different! I think I might have to stop using capitol letters because there’s pretty much only one shift button.
So I am here in the CCM right now.  {CCM means MTC in Spanish} It is B-E-A-Utiful. Yo you  guys should see my badge, it’s so awesome. Also I will send you a lot of pictures next tuesday on my P-day.
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When I got into the airport I met some very sweet sisters who were in the same position as me (didn{t have badges yet, same flight, etc.) Everyone was so excited and friendly to each other and I fit right in. Most of the sisters and Elders are going to Chilean missions. Maybe 4 of the Elders’ missions are in Texas though! I found only one other sister in my same mission — she’s 20 and named Sister Capp. There were about 7 sisters and 20 or so elders on our same flights. You wouldn{t believe how much we bonded in our 20 hours together.
On the flight to Atlanta I sat in the middle of 3 seats between an older woman and a man in his late 20s. When I first sat down, the man asked me a bit about how mission calls and the MTC work. The woman turned out to be a temple worker at the Oquirrah (spelling?) Mountain temple. she told me her whole life story. It was a long flight. Atlanta has more trees than I’ve ever seen in my life. While waiting for our flight to Mexico City one elder literally placed a Book of Mormon with a mexican woman in the airport. It was really cool, especially because he didn’t have his badge yet! This group of elders have a great sense of humor though, they’re a real hoot.
I was able to snag a window seat in the very last row in the plane on my way to Mexico City.
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It was an amazing flight, especially flying over a bit of the ocean. Mexico has mountains but they{re different — they{re a light terra cotta orange with sparse black vegetation. There are VERY many farms outside of the city, which is ENORMOUS and GORGEOUS! Los apartamentos y las casas are yellow, violet, red, turquoise, green, blue, orange… so bright! Every single rooftop is painted a rusty red, too. Even the entire sides of some multi-story buildings are completely painted red.> Everything is really close together.
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The roads are crazy. After customs, our group waited in the airport for almost 2 hours for our bus to the CCM (one hour away) because apparently there was some miscommunication in the Church Travel center and the CCM thought we were supposed to arrive at midnight (we arrived at like 6 mexico time). The temperature here so far is perfecto! Not too humid at all. It’s foggy. The city is facinating. They have these trains that weave next to the freeways that are BRIGHT ORANGE and boxy. The bus ride over here was super sketchy and it made me feel a bit sick — I saw maybe 400 and a half near accidents. Nobody signals when they change lanes. When we got here all of the CCM workers (who only speak spanish, pretty much) wouldn{t let us sisters unload our own luggage and such. They{re SUPER cordial and polite. It{s awesome.
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My companion today is Sister Bokovoy from my flight and she’s SUPER sweet. But I also have a second companion because poor Sister Capp, who’s in my same mission, was literally mistaken for an Elder in the system!!! She was assigned a male companion and her name tag says “Elder Capp”…… hahahahaha! So she’s sticking with us. She says it{s because her first name is Berrett.
I just ate the weirdest thing for breakfast today. There were these píeces of cut up fruit that looked like BRIGHT ORANGE cantelope and tasted like….. tomatoes and cantelope combined. It was not that great. I went up to a mexican hermana and said “¿Que es esto, Hermana?” and she stared at me like I was crazy and said “¿eh, papaya?” Turns out I know more spanish that I thought — it{s all coming out of the cracks now because my brain is on survival mode. Also because I{ve been set apart as una misonera!! I felt so proud, when this mexican man was unloading my luggage I was like “Dos azul y uno negro. Si. uno mas. Si. ¡Muchos gracias, hermano!” Pretty good for being like an infant here, if I say so myself.
I have to go do some stuff right now. We have ***classes*** omigosh.
I’ll right you guys on 2sday
¡Muchos amor!
Hermana Hollberg
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P.S.  Also, every 15 minutes is scheduled for the whole six weeks!!!And my house is p i n k   :)
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