Sunday, December 28, 2008

We hope you all had a Merry Christmas. Our house was a little quieter this year without Christa, Darren, Mel, Quincy and Stratton. It was just Mom, Dad, Emily and me. We had a nice family conversation on Christmas Day, though, and were all able to talk to each other. It was fun to hear from Christa! She has been in her first area for a few weeks now. It has been hard, but she is doing well. She lives with a woman and the woman's grandmother who cook and do laundry for Christa and her companion. The food has been a major adjustment for her. Breakfast consists of, in her words,  "mystery meat and tomatoes." All she wants is a bowl of oatmeal. (My mom is working on a package to send to Christa full of instant oatmeal.) She loves her companion who will be returning home to Northern Peru in March. To those of us who are not fluent in Spanish, she sounds awesome, but she says she still can't understand much and most people can't understand her! She is looking forward to the day when she will be more comfortable speaking. (I'm sure that day will be very soon!) She also told us some good stories about the transportation in Peru. She advised my dad to buy back his old Cadillac, move to Peru, join the locals in their transportation efforts, and he would be a rich man! Christa wanted to thank everyone who has written and sent packages. She does not have enough time to write back, but she wants everyone to know she greatly appreciates it. 

Here are some pictures we received from Christa on Christmas Eve. The first set are from the MTC in Lima that include the sisters in her district, the MTC President and his wife the Grobergs, downtown Lima at night, more sisters at the MTC, and a trip to the zoo.

The following pictures are from here first area in Arequipa. These include sunflowers (Christa's favorite), Misti (volcano), her neighborhood, her rooftop, view from the rooftop, nativity inside her apartment, her welcome to the mission sign!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yay! Our first email from Arequipa. We hadn't heard from Christa since she left the MTC in Lima and I think we were all going through withdrawals. Thanks to everyone who has been writing. We know she appreciates it so much.

We hope you all have a Merry Christmas. We'll update after our phone call on Christmas Day. We can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!

Received December 15, 2008
Por Fin!!!!!
I never thought I was going to be able to talk to you guys or hear from you ever again!!! I felt a little bad begging president groberg to email you guys when our pday got eliminated without warning, but now Im glad I did!!!! I have almost died not being able to send you guys mail or hear from you!!! It has been a rough couple of weeks!! I havent even had time to read any of your emails, but I wanted to send this as soon as I could!!! I hope you are all alive and well. I am definitely alive and in Arequipa!

I was the lone northamerican traveling with 7 latinos. They were really nice to me and made sure I made it on the plane and everything. When we landed in Arequipa President and Sister Davis and the office elders were waiting for us. We went back to the mission home and ate Dominos . Except I couldnt eat OR sleep because the elders thought it would be funny to tell us the Arequipa mission isnt allowed to use email!! I seriously cried and couldnt sleep all night. They also told us it took 2 weeks to get a letter. I was ill. Turns out it was a joke and the next day at breakfast (pancakes with nutella and peanut butter!!!) I found out. I should have been mad, but I was just so relieved I would someday get to email you guys-even if its been an eternity-I wasnt mad.

There were letters from Dad, Bob Gardner, Michelle, Jenny and Jessie and the interns I was with in Chicago and the Inghams waiting for me. Tell them all thank you!! And some of them had been sent on Dec. 4 and I got them the 10!!! So that was great news.

Anyway, Wednesday we had some training at the mission home, had a really nice lunch and I had an interview with President Davis and got my assignment. Im with Hermana Monteza and shes from northern peru. Shes the nicest person ever. I feel so bad for her though because she only has a couple months left and has to spend them basically babysitting me. I dont understand a thing!!! We are in an area in Arequipa called Alto Misti right by the volcano Misti. I love downtown Arequipa!! Its so cute!! My area is about 10 minutes aways and kind of reminds me of Carson City, Virginia City if that tells you anything. Im sure itll be good though. The weather is beautiful right now although it does get chilly at night. Blue skies here everyday, but I hear the rain is going to start soon. Good news dad-my companion makes me wear sunscreen everyday.

Anyway, yeah, Im in the field. All Im going to say is I hate learning curves. Ive never been very patient with them and maybe thats a big part of the reason Im supposed to be on this mission. I remember mom telling me when I came home from my first day of kindergarten and couldnt read how upset I was. I feel that way now. I just want to be able to speak spanish and actually be a missionary and its really hard just feeling dumb all the time. I know things will all come together, but I just wish I was already a couple months down the road.

Im a little sick. Ive had a sore throat and alternating stuffy-running nose. Everyone says its adjusting to the climate.

Anyway, the place we live is avctually really nice. Well, it doesnt have mirrors, but by Peru standards we live in a mansion. Mom, you know how you keeps saying you want to trade places? Well I have the news that will make you buy your ticket down here!! We live with a pensionista, Yenny, who cooks our 3 meals a day for us. Her grandma, mama Jica, reminds me of Aunt Jo. She always comes in and spices up the food. Anyway, they are really nice, I just wish I could understand them!! Also a lady came and picked up our laundry today!! So if I see you on my doorstep mom Ill know why.

Thank you guys for everything!!! Keep praying. I know you are already and I know its what keeps me going. I love you all!!! Talk to you Monday!!! This is my pday from now on!!!


PS Em there was a dog in sacrament yesterday. It was the closest we got to having an investigator show up. Thought youd appreciate that.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Here are the last two emails we have received from Christa. One was the week before Thanksgiving, and the other the week after. She will be leaving the Peru MTC in Lima this week and traveling to Arequipa. Hopefully we will hear from her before she leaves! She is so appreciative of all the letters she has been getting. Unfortunately she doesn't have time to write back. Actually I think it is a great thing that she is so busy she doesn't have time to write back!! Keep sending letters. It is such a blessing for her to hear from all of our family and friends. 

Happy Thanksgiving (received November 26, 2008)
Here in Peru its called Dia de Accion de Gracias. I like the ring of Thanksgiving a little better.
Last Wednesday Pres. and Hermana Groberg took us on a tour of Lima that night. So we were in an MTC van driving into downtown Lima when all of a sudden in the middle of an intersection, there was a huge gang fight!! There were at least 30 teenagers with KNIVES throwing bricks at each other!!! We just drove on by and Pres. Groberg said that was an added bonus for our tour. These are probably the stories Darren wisely chose not to share while on his mission, but he has more self restraint than I do. It was a knife fight for crying out loud!! This place never ceases to amaze me! So downtown Lima was actually really cool. Its the first time Ive thought Lima was pretty. We walked around and saw an old cathedral and went in during mass (thats for you Grandma!) The streets had armed guards everywhere though. Apparently presidents from all over the world (including Bush) were there for a conference. I got some cool pictures I hope to send home SOMEDAY when I have access to a computer that will let me.

I got my new companion. Her name is Hermana Rivera from Chiclaya, Peru. Shes really nice. Shes a little quiet, but I like her a lot. We are the coordinating sisters and we are still trying to figure out exactly what that means.

I met 2 native sisters that will be going to Arequipa with me, but Im still the only northamerican!! One of the other Peru missions only has 2 northamerican sisters!! Im pretty nervous about that. I just wish I could speak spanish! I know it'll come

Anyway, I did have a couple highlights of the week. A sister told me she was scared to play on the opposite team as me in soccer because she didnt want to get hit by the ball when I kicked it! As terrible as it sounds, that really did make my week. We also got to go to the temple this week. Everything is in spanish , obviously, so that was different, but it was really, really good. I needed it. I met a lady in the temple who speaks english and just got back from her mission to Arequipa! She said I was going to freeze!! Apparently Dad was right about it being cold down there. Good thing itll be summer. But she also said i would love it, that its beautiful. She told me to remember that Peruvians are different, but to remember I dont have to live with them forever and I should learn everything I can while Im here. Good advice I think. Ive heard from multiple sources that its also called the mission for the valiant because a lot of people in Arequipa are hard hearted. Why did anyone feel the need to tell me that???!! Oh well.

Happy Week After Thanksgiving (received December 3, 2008)
I actually had a really good Thanksgiving believe it or not! We woke up to tons of tables set up in the courtyard with beautiful tablecloths and flowers! Then they had a Thanksgiving program where we learned about pilgrims! I joked about dressing like a pilgrim for the day then realized I already do. Everyday. If my shoes werent shoes someone actually wore on the mayflower I dont know what they are. Then we had an actual Thanksgiving dinner!! Turkey, sweet potatoes and all! But no pie. Oh well, Ill still take it. Oh, I forgot. The night before a woman came into the cafeteria with cinnamon rolls she made for all the missionaries because she thought the northamericans would be homesick. I cried. Some random french woman bringing cinnamon rolls to us in peru. It was a good thanksgiving.

So yeah, a week from yesterday Im pretty sure Ill be flying to Arequipa! Im sure Ill get to email before I leave. My teacher made some calls and Ill be one of FOUR northamerican sisters in arequipa!!! Who would have thought a few months ago this is wehre Id end up? Mom, I think I feel exactly like you. Where is peru and how did I get here. I guess youre right and this really is where heavenly father wants me because every morning I wake up and honestly cant remember making any conscious decisions that got me here! It feels like I just got picked up and dropped off here!! Im hoping Ill start to get less surprised by the fact that Im here every morning I wake up.

I miss you guys so much!! I think about you, pray for you, and hope youre safe, healthy and happy everyday. I hope you can feel my prayers because I can feel yours!! I love you guys!!