Monday, May 26, 2014

My First Week in Argentina!

Hermana S and Hermana Eubanks on the shuttle in Utah

Here are your weekly questions:

1.  What was your first impression of Argentina?

My first impressions went like this : Whoa, the trees are different. Whoa, that’s a lot of Spanish. Look -  graffiti! Oh wait. . . I can´t read it because it’s in Spanish. . . but that’s probably a good thing.

2.  How was the travel?  How did it feel to travel so far and for so long?

Uuuuuuggggghhhh -  the travel was awful! I ain’t gonna lie, I looked so rachet (that means terrible, for those who don't know) when I met the mission president.  I hadn’t showered, I was upset, my carry-on was lost (don´t freak out they found it and I´m getting it today, actually).   I had stains and sweat and stuff all over my clothes. Yeah, 36 hours of traveling ain't fun.

3.  Who is your new compañera?  What is she like?

My new compañera is HERMANA Pin!!!!!! She is soooooooo awesome! I found out who she would be before I met her, and as the missionaries arrived at the church I was waiting for her.   Our mission president would announce the missionaries as they came in.  They announced her and she walked in like a super star!  Then I was supposed to learn some more things but she needed to make a phone call and go to an ATM so, instead of learning things, I went on an adventure through the streets of Bahia Blanca. Hermana Pin is just like me.  Serious.  She’s from Utah, is 21, and she’s tall, tan, skinny, and hilarious. She rocks!  (Note from Mom:  I am no longer going to use an initial, but will use a word to represent actual names to protect their privacy.  I was finding the initials too confusing!)

4.  What is the name of your area?

Terrada. I´m on the outskirts of the city, I think. I´m not in the country.  (On the map it looks like Terrada is an area of the city of Bahia Blanca)

5.  Have you learned any new Spanish jokes?


6.  What was it like going to church for the first time in Argentina?

Happy and sad and weird. First of all, I had to bear my testimony, and it was embarrassing because I had no idea what I was doing, but I did it anyways like a gringa boss!  Everything was in Spanish, excuse me, Castellano. People don´t speak Spanish here, they speak Castellano.  Anyways, I didn´t understand a thing, but 3 investigators came! Hermana Pin said that this is the first time she’s had that many. It’s sad because there are maybe 50 people who show up to church. There are tons of menos activos (less active, or those who are members but don’t go to church). We pass by menos activos homes pretty often if we are finding in an area around them.  We say “pass by” because the verb we use in Spanish is pasar, which means to pass by or to visit.  (Note from Mom:  Amy and I had previously discussed how a couple of missionaries who are serving in Spanish-speaking countries always say they “passed by” so-and-so’s house.  We figured that in Spanish they must be using a word that translates to English as “pass by.”)

7.  Did you have to lead the music?  Ha ha!

Nope, I just sat there smiling and being confused.

8.  Have you and your compañera been able to teach many discussions this week?

Not a huge amount.  We teach maybe four or five a day.

9.  Were you able to perform any acts of service this week?

Yeah, we helped decorate for this girl´s 15th birthday.  15 is the big birthday out here, so we helped put up balloons and decorations and stuff.

10.  What do you think of your mission president and his wife?  Do they speak any English? (They are from Spain)

They are super nice! They speak a little bit of English, but not much. I got to stay the first night in their house, which was nice. They greeted us at the airport and helped us all the way until we got to our companions.

11.  What did you do in the mission home?

Sleep and shower. All the orientation stuff was at the mission office. Sleeping was nice! I had been running on like 7 or 8 hours of sleep for two days so I needed it.

12.  Evan wants to know the temperature and if it has snowed.

Dang cold and, no, it hasn’t snowed.

13.  What are the trees like?

Like giant ferns. It’s weird.  They look like trees but they have ferns for leaves.

14.  What sort of food did you eat this week?

Pasta.  Pasta.  Pasta, empanadas, and tons of bread. The food is really good, but it’s so rich that if I eat a bunch I feel really sick. I made homemade mac and cheese for lunch one day. Thanks for showing me how to make that white sauce. Oh, lunch is the big meal here, by the way, so I don´t have an hour for dinner but we have huge lunches.

15.  What is the funniest thing that has happened to you this week?

Mom, I don´t even know. I think it’s funny how every person I meet can tell that I know nothing. Funny things happen all the time, I just don’t understand them.  Oh, on my first day when Hermana P was dragging me through the rain to get to the ATM, this dog saw us and was like "Hey, they look like they have a purpose" so it followed us the whole huge walk to the ATM. Dogs check us out every now and then but that’s the only one that stuck with us.  lol

Things you should be grateful for:

1. Heating that you can keep on at night. I sleep in my sleeping bag, it’s the best thing ever.
2. Being able to drink water anywhere. I can´t just drink water here, I have to use that special water bottle that they gave me in the MTC. I´ve become a fan of juice because I have to.  lol  (Amy has never liked to drink juice.  She drinks water almost all of the time.)
3. English keyboards.  Lol  Typing this is hard.  Every word is incorrect and there are different letters on this keyboard.
4. Hot water that lasts more than 5 minutes.
5. Washing machines.

Yeah, I´m not complaining, I´ve got it great here, it’s just really different.  The houses that people live in are kinda sad, but they are all so happy.  Its super muddy here too, so I have to clean my shoes all the time.  lol

How is everyone??? I love you all so much!!!

Amy didn't send any pictures this week - but thanks to Hermana S's mom who sent me a few pictures, I have a few to post this week.

Hermana Eubanks and Hermana S

The MTC zone

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Last Update from the MTC

Hermana G

Here are the weekly questions:

1.  How does it feel to have your visa and know that next week you will be going to Argentina?

Weird. So weird. So, last week we were getting really concerned about our visas. We hadn't heard anything about them, so we started to pray for them every chance we had to pray. We say maybe 13 to 20 prayers a day, depending on our stress levels – lol - and I started praying for them with every prayer. That same day we got our flight info! Everyone is sad.   One Hermana in our district is always saying how she doesn’t want to leave. I love the MTC and all, but I'm ready to go. I'll miss my teachers and the people, but I want to be in the field so bad.

2.  What are your travel plans? 

I have to be at the chapel at 6:00 am on Monday (Hermana K has to be there at 2:30, so it sounds like Hna. S and I won't be sleeping- haha). Our plane from Salt Lake leaves at 11:00 am to Atlanta (!!!!!!!!!) and then we have a five hour layover there. We're planning on converting the masses during that time- haha. Then at 9:16 pm we leave Atlanta  :(  to Buenos Aires (!!!!!!!!!!!!). We'll arrive in Argentina at 8:20 am on Tuesday. 

3.  Did you enjoy our phone conversation on Mother’s Day?

Yeah! It was weird, sort of like a dream. Something interesting, on the first night one of the Hermanas in my district had a homesickness breakdown. So that night we just told her that we're her family now. That’s sort of what has happened. I have my family at home, but lately I've been with my MTC family here. So talking on the phone was strange because it was like a mix of my two families. I LOVED getting to hear from you! And I'm serious about that "Start saying you love each other before bed" thing. DO IT. HAGALO (Do it).

4.  Elder Holland really was the speaker at last week’s devotional.  After all those false rumors in previous weeks!  What did he speak about?

YEAH, HE WAS!!! What didn't he speak about, ha ha, that’s the better question. He mostly focused on us. He told us that the Preach My Gospel handbook was made to help missionaries remain strong in the church. He pleaded with us to take every moment of this mission as a gift.  He also told us that it’s not easy to serve a mission and it was never easy for the Savior here on earth. That really struck me. I'm out here learning a little of what it might have been like for Him. I'm out here to teach people to be like Him.

5.  Are you ready for some humidity?

YEEEESSSSSSSS. There are two good things about dry weather.  1) I don't sweat very much and 2) my hair dries in like an hour out here.

6.  The weather forecast in Bahía Blanca next week says the highs will be in the mid 50’s and the lows in the low 40's.  Since Argentina is in the southern hemisphere, are you ready for more winter?


7.  What was the funniest thing that happened this week?

Ok, I'm just going to list a whole bunch of stuff that has happened that’s funny that I haven't told you about yet.

One time a bee got in our classroom. So some of my district screamed and some of the elders from next door came in and tried to kill it. One guy dropped his scriptures on it and the bee disappeared. So we were all looking for the bee, then the Elder opened his Scriptures and the bee was smashed inside the pages. He killed it with the Word of God. Sharper than a two-edged sword!

Hermana K accidentally got her name tag mixed up with an Elder after Gym (we have to remove our tags for gym, so that’s how it happened). So in the middle of class Hermano Day, our teacher, starts explaining to her the activity and stops and says "ELDER MARTINEZ?" She didn't even notice that she had the wrong name until then!

So, I totally sing in the shower, and it has become a thing to listen to me sing and sing along. I was singing "Mad World" the other night and after the chorus I stopped and said, "Eh, let’s sing something happier." The second I said that I heard a ton of laughter from the other room. They had been singing along and heard me say that.

8.  What was the most profound thing you learned this week?

Probably what I learned from Elder Holland’s talk. I've been reading in Alma about Helaman’s army and all the wars, and I enjoyed reading about that, too. I want to be like Moroni, who, if every person was like him then the powers of hell would be shaken forever.

9.  As you prepare to end your time in the MTC, what thoughts can you share about your experience there?
MTC advice to all future missionaries:

     1) The food isn't really that bad, don't be a wimp.
     2) Just because they offer ice cream every day doesn't mean you should eat it.
     3) If you’re learning a language, then just focus on bringing the Spirit to every lesson. It will be tough, but          don't get frustrated that you can't speak the language fluently after your second day.
     4) Love your companion and SHOW IT. DO NOT LOVE SOMEONE ELSES’ COMPANION                  MORE THAN YOU LOVE YOUR OWN. THEY WILL NOTICE AND IT WILL WRECK                    YOUR WHOLE DYNAMIC. (This hasn't happened to me, but I sometimes I think it happens to                other people)
     5) Don't be stupid.
     6) SING. Seriously, don't be a loser who is afraid to sing. There are four things that I can get comfort                from here. Prayer, the Scriptures, my companions, and SINGING. Seriously, that first week we were          going crazy with stress and so we stopped working and just sang hymns in Spanish for an hour. It                  helped soooooo much. Sing with your district, sing when you're upset. JUST SING.
     7) The MTC is cool, and the laundry at Raintree is the best for all you West Campus Warriors.
     8) Don't skip gym time to study. I promise that your lesson will probably be worse afterwards if you skip          the one scheduled stress reliever you have.
     9) Oh, and learn the words to "Come thou Font" Since everyone here knows the words and sings it all               the time.

Overall my experience here has been pretty great. There have been some bumps and some Spanish breakdowns, but the time flies so fast here. If you just push past the first week you will have the time of your life. Don't let that first day destroy your resolve. One of my companions wanted to leave that first day and confessed to me that she almost did. If she had left, then this whole experience would have been totally different, more stressful, and probably not as good for me. You're going on a mission for other people. You're going to want to think about yourself that first week, but remember that you are here for everyone else but yourself.

Every night me and my district (minus Hermana K because she's in the shower) have "Story Time". It started when I read them one of the weird dreams from my journal. So every night they demand a weird dream. So last night Hermana C demanded that I make up a story with all of us in it, so over this week I'm telling an awesome, lame, action-packed story so that everyone can go to sleep at night!

That's all - be safe and tell everyone I said hi!

Me and Hermana S

Me, Hermana K, and Hermana S - Jamba Juice!

Harold el Pato (the duck)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Spanish Breakdown, Jokes(?) in Spanish

Here is my weekly update:

1. Is playing volleyball the only thing you do during gym?  Do you lift weights, use a treadmill, or anything like that?

 It depends. Sometimes we go and work out, but rarely. Lately they opened up a field so we've been playing kickball :)

2.  Which teacher is your favorite and why?

Ohh, I don't know. I like Hermano Day because he is really sincere about everything and he loves teaching people so much. But Hermana Arbon is super funny and sincere too! It’s hard to decide.

3.  Who was your devotional speaker this past week?

Elder D. Todd Christofferson. I think we are getting another of the 12 (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) tonight, too. The rumor is that it is once again Elder Holland, but that’s ALWAYS the rumor. I'm hoping for Elder Bednar.

4.  Is your brain spinning from all the Spanish?

 Yeah. I actually had a "Spanish Breakdown" yesterday. That’s a breakdown from struggling with the language. I got super frustrated because I was working one-on-one with a teacher, and I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing or saying, no idea what he was saying, and how I was ever going to learn this language. Lucky for me I have amazing companions and an awesome district and they comforted me through it. That’s my second Spanish breakdown so far. Everyone has them.

5.  Do you ever wish you had started learning some Spanish before you left for the MTC?

 I wish I know some vocabulary, but other than that, no. Really, they cover everything school taught me in the first two days. I don't regret not cramming Spanish before I left, but I wish vocab stuck some. That’s my biggest problem.

6.  Have you been enjoying the warmer weather in Provo?

YES. Thank goodness! I was so tired of being cold all the time! It’s still cold at night, but the days are nice and sunny. We study outside a lot now because of the great weather.   It snowed the other day here, but now it’s really starting to warm up. All these whiny westerners are acting like it’s all hot, but it’s in the 70s and 80s.

7.  What have you been able to see on p-day in Provo?
Ok, so we can go to the temple, main campus MTC, and this outlet place called Brighams Landing. It has restaurants, stores, etc. We went to this ice cream parlor that Evan would really like. They mix all the cream and ingredients together in a bowl, then freeze it right in front of you with liquid nitrogen! The store is called Subzero, and its super common out here. Today we are actually taking a special field trip. The BYU Museum of Art is having some really rare pictures by some famous artists about the life of Christ. Apparently these pictures have never been taken out of Europe or something, I don’t know, but this is a once in a life time chance to see them!

8.  Did new sisters come this past week?  Do they study in your same apartment area?  How does that work out?  Do you get to know them at all or are you like ships passing in the night?

Yup, there are 6 new sisters with us now! They are all really cool and all of them are headed to Mexico. They share a classroom with the Elders, but we hang out a lot. We eat meals together and go to gym with each other. Sometimes we visit them in their class, but that’s the most. One of them is with us now because her district are all out getting their visas in Salt Lake and Las Vegas. She's with Hermana S as a temporary companion.

9.  Since you are the senior companion – what does that mean for you?  Any extra work or responsibilities in the MTC?

 Um.... let’s see.... I call on people to pray in companionship study and stuff, and I initiate companionship study and sort of dictate the topics and conversation. Other than that I don't really do anything at all. 

10.  You said Hermana S is a Sister Training Leader.  What is her role in the MTC? 

 Honestly, I don't know much about being one of the sister training leaders. She has to go to certain meetings on Sundays, but I don't know what they talk about. Then she welcomes new people and I guess is kind of responsible for the sisters of the district. She doesn't have any direct power over us, like she never calls on people to pray or holds meetings, but she does interviews and stuff. 

11.  What have you learned from reading the scriptures this week?

 I've learned a lot about weak things becoming strong. I was reading Ether 12. That chapter is cool because it talks about faith, and then Moroni just cuts in and basically bears his testimony and talks about his insecurity about his writing. He says he’s not a good writer, and he is worried that the wicked will mock the Book of Mormon because of his poor writing, but God reassures him and tells him that he will make weak things become strong. It’s cool too because you can see how powerful Moroni's words are through the whole Book of Mormon! How many hearts have been turned because of Moroni 10:3-5?

12.  What is the funniest thing that happened this week?

Ohhh, let’s see. So yesterday I was changing back into missionary clothes and Hermana S was changing, too. So I'm putting on my skirt and I hear a thump, so I turn around and see Hermana S lying on the floor. So I said, "Are you ok?" and she starts laughing and says, "I was taking off my pants and my foot got caught and I tripped!" Then she reenacted it and fell again!

Also, we were having a role play, and Hermana S and Hermana K were teaching Hermana M, and Hermana M was expressing some kind of doubt and Hermana K cuts her off and says "DO YOU NOT WANT TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD?" It was great.

Oh, and Hermana S and I had a moment - ha ha. She was expressing a concern to me and in the middle she just goes "Oh Hermana!" and gives me a hug. Then she lets go and says, "You know, I think that’s the first real hug we've given each other. That was nice, let’s do that again," so we hugged again. It was funny the way she said it. There have been lots of hugs between us three companions this past week.

13.  Any new or interesting food in the cafeteria this week?

Nothing really. The meals have started to repeat themselves. Wait, I had this green jello fruit marshmallow salad stuff that was good but weird.

14.  Learn any Spanish jokes yet?

Que es la differencia entre un pera, y la novia de misionero? Un pera es pera, la novia no espera! Translation:  What’s the difference between a pear and a missionaries girl friend? A pear is a pear, a girlfriend is no hope. (Okaayyyy)

And Que hace un pes en la agua? NADA.  Translation:  What does a fish do in water?  Nothing.  (Not exactly sure about that translation…)

15.  How does it feel to know that in just three more days you will reach your one month mark?

Weird. Our district has been sadly realizing that these are our last days. It’s pretty strange, because we're really close, but we've only known each other for four weeks. It’s going to be tough saying goodbye to them in the field.

From a letter last week:

So, in Spanish the word for “sin” is “pecado.”  The word for “peace” is “paz.”  Now, the word for “fish” that you eat is “pescado” and the word for “fish” is “pes.”  See where this is going?  So, during a role play with Hermana S I tried to say, “Through the Atonement, we can be cleansed of our sins.”  But what I actually said was, “Por Media la Expacion, podemos limpiar de nuestra pescados.”  This translates to “Through the Atonement, we can be cleaned of our fish.”

I’m not the only one who has made this mistake.  Hermana C said, “El Espirito Santos de nosotros un sentimiento de pes.”  Which means, “The Holy Ghost gives us a feeling of fish.”  She meant peace, not fish!  Ha ha!

So, the other day we were doing another role play where we practice going up to people and asking them a question.  In the role play Hermana S and I were supposed to go see Hermana K, meet her, ask her a question, and either share a short message or schedule an appointment.  (Note from Amy:  Hermana K didn’t understand most of what we were saying and we were speaking only in Spanish, though I will give you the English version here)

     Me:  Hello!

     Hna K:  Who are you?  Why are you at my house?  Do you want me to release my dog?

     Me:  No!  No dog, no!

     Hna S:  Hello, how are you?

     Hna K:  Good

     Hna S:  Good!  What is the name of your dog?

     Hna K:  Ummm……Good!

     Me:  Your dog’s name is “good”?

     Hna K:  What?

     Hna S:  The name of your dog is “good”?

     Hna K:  No!  No!  My dog’s name is….is….”For”!  (That was the word written on a sheet of paper on the floor)

     Hermana S and I greet “For” the dog.

     Hna S:  What do you think is the purpose of life?

     Hna K:  What?  I have time, you can share your message.  I have five minutes.  I’m waiting for a taxi.  A car.

     Me:  Um….I think the purpose of life is to come unto Christ.

     Hna S:  Can we stop by later and share our message?

     Hna K:  Where is your church?  I will go tomorrow!

     Me:  Ummm… the church is….um….

     Hna S:  There!

     Hna K:  OK, thank you, good bye!

Maybe that doesn’t sound funny, but Mom, it was so hilarious.  Hermana S and I were literally on the floor laughing and we were crying from laughing so hard.  Hermana K didn’t understand most of it – she was just saying stuff.  It was great!

Amy will get to call us on Mother's Day!  We are so happy!

Once again, Hermana S and I wore matching colors without planning it!

Hermana S and Hermana K

Our District