Subj: ¡Saludos de Tierra Bella!
¡Hola de nuevo amada familia!
Hello hello again! The year is wrapping up, and as it is the last Sunday of every year, the ward tries to sing an end-of-year hymn that nobody knows. It's even harder without an accompanist. Unfortunately there's no ''Ring Out Wild Bells'' in Spanish, so we tried our hand at ''Another Year has Passed.'' There were light snickers here and there, usually after the universal pauses at the end of each phrase.
The weather's cooled down a bit these last couple of days, so that's been very nice, we've been able to sleep and all those lovely things that come with not getting toasted. T'was most excellent to talk words with you all on the Christmas day, I will make great effort to make sure next time if the phone can call the U.S., and let you know beforehand. Interesting note of the Spanish language: the past imperfect form (doesn't have specific beginning or end) of the word ''to speak'' is hablaba, pronounced Ablahbah. It caused chuckles to arise within me.
My stomach's trying to take a break now, with the Christmas week, every house we entered was determined to feed us silly. Christmas eve we had a slightly bigger lunch than usual, and then passed by a less active family that loves the missionaries at about 7:30, and they fed us gingerbread cookies (the song ''Last Christmas, I gave you my heart...'' was playing and I did weep on the inside. Not even the other half of the world is enough to hide from that song for just one year!) and other Christmas treats. Then we went to the Gonzalez family where we had a full-on Christmas feast, complete with roast beast. And chicken. And two large heaps of mashed potatoes. Then the next morning was breakfast as normal, lunch was Christmas dinner from the microwave. (Same amount as the night before). Then we stopped by to visit Yasna later that night, where we again ate a plate of steak, another kind of steak, (huge mind you) and chicken again. And of course rice everywhere. These last couple days we've been 'invited' to eat the left-overs of every single house we visit. I've decided to start running every morning instead of just my aerobics-jumping jack-stair routine.
Hna. Blanquita was able to get confirmed yesterday, ¡por fin! She's had something come up every single Sunday the past month, the most recent being her severe burns on her hand. But she was able to make it!We've started working again with Juaqin, Leandro and that clan. It's an interesting case, it's one of the very few where the men and boys in the family want to be involved with the Church, but the women are more or less opposed. The good news is that Leandro (10 years, uncle of Juaquin, 9 years) and Juaquin are gung-ho about the church and reading the Book of Mormon, they have their mark-a-day sheets that they're diligent with, it's just tricky getting them to church, as doing so requires accompaniment of parentals. Also, one of their neighbor friends is excited about it all as well!
The other day we were with Hna. Blanquita talking about the blessings of obedience, and I felt impressed to read the scripture that says ''I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say...'' but had no idea what the reference was, at all. I only knew that 130:20-21 talked about the law irrevocably decreed, until my companion said ''My companion has a scripture about obedience'' and very very strong the reference 82:10 came to my mind, which is exactly the scripture I was hunting. The promises of having what they need brought to your memory is real and incredible.
Transfers are in: Elder Carazas is being transferred to the beach, far away north, and my new companion is going to be Elder Law. Brief history: Elder Law is the younger brother of Hna. Law (now Hna. Beeston, who was one of my teachers for a week and half in the MTC), who was in this very mission a few years ago. Tierra Bella was her last sector. From what I've heard from her, he's a fantastic missionary. From what I've heard of my district leader E. Jensen, who was his trainer, he's a fantastic missionary who knows how to work hard, plan and study well. From E. Nelson (current companion of E. Jensen) who was in the MTC with him, he's ''The man, the bomb, etc.'' So I'm very excited to get to work with him!! It will be interesting because we'll be able to have a bit of extra insight into the sector because of the contact he has with his sister.
New Year's we've been invited to spend with the Presidents of the Soc Soc (Relief society) and Elder's Quorum, who are wedded. There has been promise of ''cordero de palo'' which is roasted lamb, greek style. On a stick, o'er a pit. :) We're only allowed to stay out until 10:30 however, so we won't get to participate the real festivities. All is well.
Cultural notes: Almost every meal has a plate of salted tomatoes available for mixing with food, as well as a bowl of chopped lettuce somewhat soaked in lemon juice and a bit o' salt. The condiment of choice, which is used for almost everything, no matter what it is, is mayonnaise. However, this mayonnaise is glorified. I don't know how or what's different, but sweet biscuits it's fantastic. Few people have cars here in Tierra Bella, let alone pickup trucks, so very often you'll see someone on a bike with a 10'-15' board or pole, if not several, balanced on his shoulder.
Enjoy your new year! The Church is true, God loves you, so do I!