Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 11 Coach Apeña October 26, 2015

This past week there has been a bigger emphasis on the branch here in Morropon. I learn more and more about the existing situation I am in every day. Recently I have learned of the various problems in the branch. They are struggling for a lot of reasons but I think the biggest is the lack of unity and trust. They don't trust in the president and they don't trust in each other. So the 4 of us missionaries here are still trying to figure out solutions. I personally think we need to sit them down and tell them exactly what's going on and be very straightforward. Most of the members continuously complain to us about the President (who, along with us, carries this branch on his back) and all of the problems. I think they really struggle to see that Yes there are a lot of problems, but they consistently blame external sources and fail to see that they could use some improvement. But we are working on it!

In the backyard area of our apt building there's a big empty pool and a little hot tub out to the side. The other day my comp and I were studying when we kept hearing strange wailing like noises and shouts of hallelujah. I went and inspected and discovered that the Jehovahs Witnesses were having a large baptismal service in the hot tub that day! It lasted hours. I think the beginning part was a preparation of the water. The men were surrounding the hot tub with their hands in the air making all sorts of noises for hours. Then finally after lunch we returned and there were quite a few people getting baptized. The service was complete with a stage, a singer, and another guy with a microphone directing the service. It was a Jehovah's Witness day in Morropon. They spent the day parading the streets preaching repentance to the catholics with a giant loud speaker strapped to a guy's back. Then later that night there was a huge procession in the main plaza! It was pretty interesting to say the least.

I finally found a good explanation for my relationship with my companion. My companion Hermana Apeña is like every High School coach in those inspirational sports movies. Tough, stubborn, smart. She pushes me harder than I think any other trainer would. As we are walking up to a house for a lesson she will tell me "lesson one, you're teaching". Awkward silence doesn't bother her either. If I'm lacking confidence with my Spanish that day, sometimes we will be sitting in a house with investigators, and in hope for her to take over and teach the lesson, I will stare at a picture on the wall and stay silent waiting for her to talk.... just waiting.. Nothing! She will just be staring at me with this expressionless stare and all eyes are on me. It's a do or die moment. Even during lessons I will be struggling to explain a topic and turn to her and say "quiere explicar mas acerca..." Do you want to explain more about...? and she will respond with "Oh no esta bien!" No you're fine! During this moment in my head I'm thinking... actually that wasn't really a question, please help me! The other day an investigator asked me why men only receive the priesthood. I turned to my comp hoping she would answer but again the expressionless stare, and then I know I just have to go for it. Like I said, she pushes me so hard like those high school coaches. They run you and push you until you feel like you can't possibly go any further, and then they push you more . For a while all of the players see the coach as the bad guy who doesn't have an ounce of sympathy or compassion. Until they win the state championship. I have yet to win anything, I'm actually currently in the losers bracket. So there are times when we walk away from a lesson and I am completely bitter. Thoughts run through my head like.. I can't speak this language, you're my trainer, you're supposed to teach the lessons, why won't you help me? and she'll say "muy bien Hermana Ingram! muy bien you just taught that lesson!" And that's when my perspective changes. Whenever I get complimented on my increasing ability to speak Spanish I know its because of my pushy, intense coach. I know that I'm learning this language and how to teach a million times faster because she isn't afraid to leave me hanging or continuously correct my Spanish in every situation until I get it right. And so for that I'm extremely grateful and hopefully I can start winning soon, but paciencia es la clave! patience is key... a frequent phrase of the day from my companion. 

"Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature. There seems for be and unending supply of challenges for one and all. Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required." -Thomas S. Monson
Hannah didn't include any captions with the photos today but I could label the all "Cute"

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Week 10 October 19, 2015

2 months!!

October 12th marked 2 months! Pretty weird how time feels on a mission. Earlier this week a member of the branch asked for help with her laundry because she hasn't been feeling well. Her name is Hermana Maximina and we visit her frequently. Her husband, Hermano Raul, is a less active who we are currently trying to reactivate. They are one of the poorer families I've seen. If El Niño comes I am pretty sure their entire house would just wash away. My compañera and I sat on buckets and washed their family's clothes out in the hot sun. It was real work!! We were probably bent over scrubbing clothes for well over and hour. Once we had finished scrubbing and rinsing and rinsing again I couldn't stand up straight for a good 20 minutes. The women here in Peru are REAL housewives! They'll just walk to the backyard garden, pick some platanos from the tree and at the same time chop a turkey's head off...20 minutes later they'll have a meal for their entire family....all without an actual kitchen. Also, if you ask an older lady here how many children she has the number is almost always somewhere around 13 or 14. I'm amazed by these women! After hanging up the last shirt on the line Hermana Maximina had prepared us pescado frito and yuccas. It's become on of my favorite meals here (though to them this is only a snack) When I eat my fish I steer clear of the skin, fins, and head so I have not yet become one with the Peruvians.

Later in the night we went out and knocked doors. It's a mission rule that every missionary has to knock doors from 6pm to 8pm every day. We knocked on a door and in the front room was a family sitting in plastic chairs gathered around a tiny, barely functioning TV. When they saw me their eyes lit up and immediately demanded that I come in. Venga! Sit down! So my companion and I started to teach The Restoration and my poor comp. couldn't get their attention. She was at the best part in the lesson about Joseph Smith and the parents were too busy shoving their kids towards me to greet me. In Piura it's a cultural custom to greet everyone by "kissing" their cheek, or in reality pressing your cheek to theirs and making a kissing noise. I swear, parents teach their kids how to greet people before potty training. I'm completely used to it now except for the ladies who give me a big sloppy wet one right on the cheek and it takes everything in me just to let their sweat and spit dry there instead of wiping it off. We finished our lesson and were getting ready to leave. So I kissed the mom and the daughters and then stuck my hand out to the dad (handshakes here are like shaking a dead fish) and the next thing I knew I was getting a big sloppy kiss on the cheek from this dad. I was taken so off guard that I just froze and couldn't remember a single Spanish word. I only made it 3 weeks in the field without a kiss from a guy...NEVER AGAIN!
Hermana Helen is the girl wearing red
Hermana Helen is a 13 year old girl that wants to be baptized so bad! She comes to every activity and to church every Sunday. But her dad won't allow her to be baptized. She is my best friend here. Whenever I see her I get attacked and of course she gives me a huge kiss on the cheek. I think she is my biggest motivation to learn this language. I just want to have a relationship with these people and be able to communicate with them. Even though talking to her is a little bit difficult I still love her to death. Maybe her dad will have a change of heart and she can get baptized. (Please pray for that!) The other night we were in the house of Hermana Helen with her mom when a man showed up in the doorway and started yelling at us about how mormons are liars and Joseph Smith etc. etc. When he finally finished his rant my comp looked at me and said, "Do you want to talk to him?" I put on the most horrible gringa accent and said, "No hablo español y buenas noches." He replied with a sad attempt to say goodnight, "Goonaah, goo nigh, goodnight."
Our pensionista's son and their dog Tomas
On Sunday we set out early to get people to come to church. We walked to each of our investigators houses to pick them up and heard excuse after excuse. It's pretty frustrating when someone commits to something and then can't attend because "I have to wash my clothes" and then when we offer to help there is always another excuse. We grabbed a moto and rode it to Hermana Maximina's house and stood in the doorway and then very patiently waited for Maximina, Raul, Divina (their 9 year old daughter) and her grandpa to get ready and out the door. Once we finally loaded them all up in the moto, we paid the driver and then sent them off to the chapel. We were 20 minutes late so my comp and I gathered our skirts and sprinted to the chapel. Sadly we all missed sacrament meeting. I'm just happy we were able to get Hermana Raul to church.

I never knew how hard it would be to coordinate with people to set up a time for each lesson. I've learned that nothing ever goes to plan. It's also difficult that I'm a North American. I attract a lot of attention. People are so eager to have us in their homes but they never have a real desire to learn about tour church. So we end up wasting time with people that only want to hear about the US. Some nights we'll be knocking doors and the little kids in the streets will follow us around. I remember one time I knocked a door and a man answered. I started introducing myself to him and turned to introduce my companion and saw that we had an army of little kids standing in the doorway with us. "Hi, I'm Hermana Ingram and this is my compañera Hermana Apeña and these are our 14 latino children." I actually started to laugh because I couldn't help but think how ridiculous we all looked. People are constantly wanting me to speak English to them and I get a kick out of it because I can say whatever I want and no one understands. One thing that's difficult and also really sad is the lack of education here. I am still so surprised at the amount of people we find who are completely illiterate.
I love my zone!
My zone is a little bit insane. When they plan activities they go all out. We got permission from president to go to Canchaque for Pday! It's a high mountain town with waterfalls and hikes. Last night my comp and I went to go catch the hour and a half bus ride to Piura to have a sleepover. The bus was jam packed and they weren't letting anyone else on. So we drove in a Toyota truck with a father and son who are friends with the branch president. The elders were so kind to let us sit in the truck while they rode in the bed. I have gotten more and more confident with talking to people lately. Honestly there hasn't been a contact or lesson where I haven't talked. But I always have my comp to help me because she speaks my broken Spanish language. During the drive I decided to ask the father and son their names etc. and for the entire drive I carried on a legitimate conversation with them with out any aid!! It was so amazing and I can feel the progression. We went to the sister leader's house and slept over (well there definitely wasn't any sleeping) and then woke up at 3am and caught a bus to Canchaque. It was a three hour drive there and back.
The view was pretty amazing I have to admit. But was it worth it? NO! Here I am sitting on a computer 100 percent sleep deprived and in total it will be around 9 hours of driving time. Yikes. But I love my zone and they're so fun! I made an announcement that next pray the activity would be a sleep in bed kind of activity...

I MISS EVERYONE SO MUCH thanks for everything!
Chooowww hna Ingram
Me and Hermana Shumway (from Orem)
Happy colors! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 9 My Love for being a Missionary is Growing! October 12, 2015

This week started with a pijamada (sleepover). We rode the hour and a half bus ride into PIura and spent our P-day there (every pday I've been in Piura). Later in the night it was time to go out and knock doors. Our sister leaders, Hermana Workman and Hermana Vasquez, assigned us a street in their area. While we were walking there we saw a big group of people gathered on a street corner looking up towards a building. When we got closer we saw a man on the roof of a building and then a damaged electrical wire. I think he was trying to fix it possibly? Every 30 seconds or so the wire would flare up and it looked like lightning up on the rood You could hear the electricity. The vote amongst the Hermanas was unanimous and we continued to walk. None of us really felt like watching a man get electrocuted.

While my comp. and I were out and about knocking doors a man walked past us, saw me, said, "Hello, goodnight" and continued to walk. 15 seconds later he turned right back around and started drilling us with questions about the Bible. i.e. "Why didn't Abraham sacrifice his son...How was Noah called to be a prophet...etc." My comp. would start to answer him but he would immediately cut her off with another question or argue that she was wrong because "in the Bible movies..." We were standing there for 15 minutes getting nowhere with his unending questions and I had had enough so I asked, "Have you read the Bible?" and he loaded really surprised that I talked and said, "No" and then I said, "All of your answers to your questions are in the Bible, so you should read it." He was surprised and said, "You understand what I said?" I nodded yes and then we were able to say goodbye to him. I went to knock on another door when I noticed my comp. wasn't standing right next to me. I turned around and she was standing on the edge of the sidewalk with tears streaming down her face. I put my arm around her and she said, "I just wanted to yell at that man but we can't because we are missionaries."

That night we slept at the Sister Leader's house with Hermana Shumway and her mini missionary comp. (a local who was called by her Bishop to be a missionary for just a transfer). 4 of us had to squish on two tiny mattresses. Let's just say I didn't sleep at all that night. The Peruvians always get "cold" at night so they turned the fan off and I was a little toasty. The next morning we went to the multi-zone conference. It was something around 8 hours! I love seeing Pres. and Sister Rasmussen. I feel like they're my parents here in the mission. It was fun seeing and meeting missionaries and speaking English...
Typical street in Morropon
Back in Morropon- We are currently teaching this cute jovensita named Alexa. In comparison to A LOT of people here she is very receptive and smart. Teaching her is always easy and fun. The other day we were in a lesson with Alexa when another jovensita we've encountered before, named Naely, walked by. When she saw us through the doorway she barged into the house and started waving at me with her hand and inch away from my face. I half acknowledged her and then continued with the lesson hoping she's understand it was a bad time. It turned into a little bit of an awkward situation. She kept getting closer and closer while I was teaching and started going through my bag. So of course I was getting a little nervous and asked for her to give me my things. But she refused and we had to all sit there and ask her for my bag. She reluctantly handed my bag over. When we left, Hermana Alexa's house she followed us and walked right up against me, shoulder to shoulder, and continually commanded me to give her my bag. I kept getting harassed and just yelled, "Help me Hermana Apeña!" Hermana Apeña kind of put her in her place and she turned and went the other way. Whenever we see her on the street we duck and run.

Highlights of the week:
-We finally were able to get Hermana Alexa to come to church! She was super nervous to be there but I tired to make her feel a comfortable as possible. We are trying to get her to read the assignments we give her in the Book of Mormon and pray about it. So it's a wait and see situation.
-The other day we contacted our moto taxi driver and he right off the bat asked, "Well why are there so many churches?" It's so great when people ask questions because we have the answers! He completely oped his heart to us and told us about the trials in his life. It was the most I've ever talked in a contact. For the first time in my mission I had a sincere, strong desire to share with him our message...not because that's what I do as a missionary but because I wanted to help him so bad! Our message, if accepted, can bless people in every way. He didn't give us his address but we know the street he lives on. I told Hermana Apeña that we're going to knock every door on that street and find him.

-I found a favorite food! Very very surprisingly it's cow heart...antecucho. A man named Oscar sells it on the street Saturday nights. It's yummy thinly sliced meat grilled on a skewer. The antecucho with papas and carnote is so good! Wash it does with chichi morado (purple corn juice) and you're in heaven.
-We went on splits in our area with the sister leaders. For the first time I was in charge. I decided where we went and what we did. It was a ton of fun and every day I learn more and more about what the mission is really like. I'm excited for the future and my love for being a missionary is growing!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 8 Two Months and Time Keeps Moving October 5, 2015

Everything is great here in Morropon. It's kind of difficult here because I don't feel like we are really making that big of a difference. There are several reasons why this area really struggles. The people are Catholic by tradition. And no one is willing to give up tradition. Sometimes we'll be in a lesson and I'll say the opening prayer and the people will start repeating everything I say. Then we know, oh no they're super Catholic. Then I think, "I wonder if I started speaking in English if they would continue to repeat everything I say. Or we'll hand someone a pass along card with Jesus on it and they will start smothering it with kisses. Also these people are super content with their way of life. They are extremely laid back and sit on little plastic chairs outside their dirt houses and watch people walk by all day long. A lot of the men work out in fields and they only ever come home to eat and sleep so it's hard to find a time to meet with them. We have one investigator I can actually see potential in. Her name is Maria and she's a little bit older. She seems very open and willing to keep the commitments we give her so I'm praying for her! We are pretty worried about the branch. Elder Cruz predicts that if the branch shuts down in December they would all go inactive other than presidente, they either don't have the means or motivation to travel each Sunday to the next nearest branch.. 45 minutes away. So we really hope that that doesn't happen.

Other things, I hate lunch! Well no I just hate rice with a passion! We all get fed a mountain of rice. A MOUNTAIN. We have twice as much food than the man of the house. I don't understand it. I always walk out of there close to vomiting. I begged my comp to tell our pensionista that we can't eat that much food. So she did and Hermano Alan, the husband of our pensionista, got pretty mad. He thought my comp was trying to be mean to me and deprive me of food. Then when she explained that I really couldn't eat that much food he protested and said "No, the missionaries need to eat tons of food because they work all day long" Oh he drives me crazy sometimes. Once I have finished my mountain and am about to explode he asks me, "Do you want more?" and of course I say,"Oh no no gracias." But still he gives me more... I feel like there must be a different word for no thank you in Spanish because I seem to be getting it wrong. I've had to eat papaya a few times and I would take that over rice any day. So it's inevitable. I'm going to be chubby. I've decided that I'm not going to stress too much over it because the people that love me with still love me and continue to love me by helping me lose the weight when I get back (: But I haven't completely come to terms with it and still make my comp get up and go running with me. Well actually we just walk to the stairs that lead to the cross on the hill and she sits on the bench while I run stairs. Hey, it works. Hermano Alan is always wanting to talk to me at lunch time about everything, about America. Yesterday he said "America can't be as calm and peaceful as Morropon because everyone hates America and wants to destroy it. Aren't you scared to live there?" I honestly didn't know how to respond to that haha and especially not in Spanish. "Yes Hermano Alan I wake up everyday fearing for my life in Elk Ridge, Utah." 

So another thing,... there has been a lot of talk about the phenomenon EL NINO. -Que the horror music here.- Basically a weird thing happens with the weather where tons of water will be dumped in Piura. And it's pretty bad because these people never see rain and their houses are far from waterproof. No doubt there will be flooding and a lot of the houses will be destroyed. We had a zone meeting and talked about how the missionaries with 2nd floor apartments will have to let more missionaries move in with them because of the flooding. I'm not sure how I feel about it because my mission might turn into a service mission for a while if it does happen. But an adventure either way.
Probably the biggest thing I learned this week was the importance of communication. My comp and I obviously struggle with this because for one, there's a language barrier and we both are similar in that we don't like to share our feelings openly. So its been tough and the relationship has been poor. The other night I finally just laid it all out there in the best Spanish I could muster. Then she told me some really amazing things. One thing that really stuck out to me was that if we as a companionship can't be open with each other and have a strong relationship then we aren't going to help anyone. The spirit won't be with us and then we might as well not even try. The spirit is the teacher. So she then opened up to me about everything in her past and she has had a super rough life. I have so much respect for her. I'm going to do my best not to bottle anything up so that the second that there is a problem it can be resolved quickly. Hopefully we will see some serious improvement this week!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Week 7 Finally in the field September 28, 2015

One last pic with my CCM district
Okay wow! I have a lot to say but very little time! So I will do my best to cover everything!

Last week we had to say goodbye to the CCM and it was bittersweet. We left at 2am and had to say goodbye to Hermana Shick. Everyone cried....well except for me oops... but I was sad to say goodbye to her. She has definitely become one of my best friends. I really miss my district and the CCM, it was a lot of fun! So we were late to the airport and when we arrived at the gate is was boarding which means there wasn't enough time for me to call home! Sad! 3 missionaries called home for 60 seconds and it made me glad I didn't because they were bawling. It looked pretty painful. When we arrived in Piura right as we exited the airport there was a massive sign that said, "The city of eternal heat"...well in Spanish of course. And holy cow they aren't joking it is HOT here. You just have to be ok with the fact that you are always drenched in your own sweat. 

We went to the mission home and it's amazing! We were pampered with yummy food and.... monster cookies!! It made me think of my mom and that was bittersweet. Later that nigh we knocked doors with a temporary companion, mine was Hermana Bazan and she is super cool! She told me this mission is not a baptizing mission and missionaries complete their missions without seeing a baptism so that was kind of sad but I'm keeping my expectations high! The next day we were assigned trainers and areas. There were 5 of us new hermanas; 3 gringas and 2 latinas. Then there were 5 trainers; 2 gringas and 3 latinas. So we were pretty anxious to see which one of us gringas would have a latina companion. Hermana Lang said she had been praying for a latina comp so that she could learn Spanish faster. But surprise surprise I was the gringa with a latina comp. Her name is Hermana Apeña and she is tiny and a little fireball. She works hard but I have a hard time understanding her all the time. My area is Morropon and everyone wants to be in Morropon! It's beautiful! Green, lots of mountains. hikes, and waterfalls. I love my area. My comp and I just opened it and are the very first sisters ever to come here. The first thing we did when we arrived was have a meeting with the president of the branch. He told us that if we don't get some baptisms or at least 30 more people to attend church the stake is shutting down the branch.. Yikes! This area hasn't seen a baptism since January. The president looked at us with a little bit of desperation in his eyes. So I have expectations for some serious miracles here. So far I have invited 2 people to be baptized and both have said yes. The culture here is pretty laid back and lazy so we'll see how well they will keep commitments. It's super fun to be here but honestly extremely difficult because of the language more than anything I want to be able to communicate with my comp and the people but I can't yet. So I'll just keep working hard and practicing my Spanish! 

Other things.. 
-I AM SO TALL HERE!! Haha its hilarious! People ask me if I was a model in the US. I laugh out loud and I just want to tell them. "No actually I'm about a foot under the required height for that occupation." People ask me if my eyes are real or if I'm wearing contacts and say that I look like a Barbie. 
-This Sunday we had a good 15 people come to church so we are going to need a lot more people to attend. 
-In the mission we call gross old men snakes because they want to talk to white girls and they always have ulterior motives of course. The snakes ask me if I have a husband or a baby. I think it's to see if I'm available. Yuck!!! 
-Also everyday at 1:00 we go to our pensionistas house for the big meal. It's HUGE! I basically only eat one meal a day because it's all I need. I love my pensionista. Her name is Hermana Jaunita and she is so cute and has three cute little kids. Her husband runs a restaurant down the street from my apartment. I love all of the food here especially ahi de guyina. I don't know if that's spelled right but it's similar to Hawaiian haystacks. Also mariciones which tastes like a bunch of sweetened condensed milk with coconut. It's delicious! 

So I love being here but the biggest challenge is easily the language and it's hard not to get frustrated. Speaking and hearing only Spanish day in and day out is like constantly solving math problems. I feel like I'm simplifying an algebraic equation all day long! I get suuuuper tired but overall it's such a fun adventure. I'm looking forward to speaking the language. I know it will come with diligence and patience. Anyway, I miss and love everyone so much!

SOOO many typos so mom try to fix it all!! love you tons