Whoa, these Spanish keyboards are weird...
I made it! First thing's first, I'll tell you about when I got here. We arrived with President and Sister Callan waiting for us. They are super nice, we love them. We loaded our luggage and took a picture with all of us and the Callans outside the airport and then went to the mission home. (Driving here pretty much means you have a death wish, by the way). When we got there at about 7:30 or so, everyone introduced themselves and then they had food waiting for us - a chicken with a sauce (called milanaze) and mashed potatoes. Pretty darn good, I must say. Then we got to watch a baptism which was sweet. Then back to the main room for some presentations and information. We slept in a hotel that night, and then came back to the mission home for one more presentation. My package in the brown box was waiting for me, thank you so much! It's saved me. Then we met our trainers! My companion is Elder Ganga, I'll tell about him later. Then we found out where we were going, got to email you, and took the 7 hour bus ride here.
We are in a place called Ciudad de Este, or East City. You should look it up on GoogleEarth or find it on a map of Paraguay sometime. It´s pretty neat. A weird place though, huuuuge open fields. It´s like if a field had a field, we would aspire to be that. Serious open country, not a jungle like I thought it would be. The houses are like Belize style, all run down (according to American standards). This place is gigantic. There are small clusters of 3/4 houses, and then at least 100 yards between houses. It's ridiculous. Everything here is dirt too, no paved roads except the main road back to Asuncion and 3/4 rock-paved roads. It rains here (what the heck?) so when it does, your shoes sink halfway down in the mud. I've accepted that NOTHING will stay clean here hahah. I also think I've found out where flies come from. Any time you see a fly, know that it's got a family of 50 here in Paraguay lol.
The money is called Guarani here, like the language. 5000 Guaranis = 1 US dollar. Stuff here is pretty cheap, so we get 750,000 Guaranis a month which equals out to 150 US dollars, more or less. Crazy we can live off of that. But if I want to buy something not essential for the mission (souveniers, scripture cases, etc etc) I have to use my money. Which isn't bad because it won't cost me hardly anything here. But let me tell you...It. Is. Hot. And it's humid hot, so it feels like you showered with clothes on constantly. We freeze our waters overnight to bring with us, and then usually by the first 2 or so people that we visit, it's all melted into water lol. The shower in our apartment is cold at night, because after the sun goes down it cools, so that's my favorite part of the day is the cold shower at night. We also got A/C installed like the week before I got there, which I'm pretty sure is what heaven will be like.
Missionary work is beyond physically demanding. We walk many miles daily. We take the bus every day from our apartment to the area we're going to usually, and then we still have to walk about a mile to wherever we're going. And there isn't a flat piece of land in the entire city I don't think, so it's all walking up/downhill or sideways on slopes. I swear, I'm going to be rock solid and have tree trunks for legs 2 years from now. Sweet :]
My trainer Elder Ganga is from the very southern part of Argentina. He is great, we're doing really well together. He's been on his mission for 6 months, and in Ciudad de Este for 3 months. He actually opened up this area with the first Elder he trained 3 months ago. He's the district leader for this area, so I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that they made a D.L. my trainer? Who knows. Thank goodness for me, he knows English. He actually studied English and Welsh in London for a year, so that's pretty cool. He is really helpful with my Spanish and stuff, and he teaches great lessons. I got lucky with my trainer/first companion. He has (I think) 3 brothers and 3 sisters. He likes American music lol. He's great.
On Saturday, I was really sick. Mom, before you freak out, I'm totally fine now and it only lasted a day lol. It's the food. I had all kinds of issues and was throwing up all day and night Saturday. But I'm good now. The food here actually isn't too bad, my stomach just isn't used to it yet. I'll give it a couple weeks, but until then I'll be living off the Pringles and Oreos you sent me :D
The people here are so nice. Everyone says hi to you when you pass, shakes your hand, offers you something to drink and a place to sit, all that good stuff. Even if they don't listen to our message about the church, they're still very nice. Everyone here has a fence and a decent size front yard, so instead of going to knock on the door we clap and they come out. It's pretty sweet, I'll try to send pictures. But the kids here are so funny. They all know us as missionaries and call out "Hey Elder!" when we walk by. There's this one 8 year old girl Veronica (whose family are members) who always goes through my backpack and wears it around. She's getting baptized this Sunday by Elder Ganga. There's this other family we're teaching with 3 girls, and they dance with me and climb on me and stuff. They like to see the "North American" lol. It's a lot of fun. One of the 3 girls, Brisa, it's her birthday today so we're going to get her a brownie and bring it to her tonight. People here are very poor, so we figured we'd get her something. She's 7 today. Oh it's so funny, everyone here listens to American music and they have no idea what it's saying hahah. Yesterday I heard that "Tonight's Gonna Be A Good Night" by the Black Eyed Peas, some Green Day, and some other songs playing in some people's houses hahah. It's funny. One of our investigators, Nestor, was asking me about American music. He was naming off bands to see if I knew them. Guns n Roses, Korn, Offspring, Aerosmith, a whole bunch. They're so funny here.
We actually have a lot of people to teach here. The area is so huge we don't have time to visit everybody even once a week. We work in sections. The area is divided by kilometers, and we have kilometers 9, 10, 11, and 12. And then it's divided again down the middle where the main road is. So the north side of the road is called Monday and the south is Acaray. So, there's km9 Monday, km9 Acaray, km10 Monday, and so on. It's a lot. A lot of the time we're teaching less active members though. There are tons of them here, tons. The people like to listen to you, but they don't like keeping committments or having to go to church, so it's hard. There's a lot of work to be done in this area, which is a good thing.
We went to church yesterday (Nestor and his family, investigators too, came with us) and it was crazy. They have primary and stuff first, second Elder Ganga and I actually taught a lesson to a small group of people, and 3rd was sacrament. Oh my goodness. Ok so we were sitting there in the congregation, and somebody was speaking, and Elder Ganga leans over to me and says "Oh by the way, as soon as he's finished in about 2 minutes, you're going to go up and introduce yourself and everything". My face: O_O what?? That was special lol. It went well though I guess. Made some people laugh.
I've concluded that Spanish in the MTC was useless haha. Everybody here speaks so fast! They blend their words together too, and drop letters sometimes. The only thing I can relate it to is like how drunk people talk haha. I guess Americans do the same thing too. If we were to talk all properly and pronounce every letter and sound (like the British or something), it would be very different from how we normally talk. It's crazy. Everyone says I have really good Spanish, especially because I've only really been here for 3 or 4 days, but I beg to differ haha. A lot of times I can catch words here and there to get what they're saying, but usually I'm just sitting there totally lost. It's great. I can speak and say what I want to say pretty well, but when it comes to understanding people, forget it. I'm already starting to get more used to it though. Guarani is impossible also haha. It's seriously ape talk, all the words sound the same. They're just weird sounds. I know like 3 words, that's it. People have told me probably about 10 words in Guarani, but I forgot them all hahah. I guess I'll learn at some point!
Well, we have to use our hour of email time (we get an hour here instead of 30 minutes like at the MTC) to write the mission president too, so I've got to do that. But there's the first letter from Paraguay! Hope you enjoyed it, it's a super long one! Love you and miss you all, and I can't wait to talk to you again!
What I wouldn't do for an Awful Awful and a Taylor Swift cd...