Monday, August 12, 2013

Creepy Crawlies & Clothing Optional

Dear Everyone!!!!
I loved all of your letters this week, they were especially wonderful! I laughed a lot :D Your support and encouragement are such a blessing!! A special thanks to Andrea and Kendra for your thoughtfull letters :) I also loved your letter, Jessica, about London - it sounds like it was super fun and I LOVED your descriptions of the areas and the people and what you did! It made me miss London and, of course, you. haha
Ok... So, here's what my typical day looks like. We wake up at 6:30am and have a quick over-the-phone devotional with the 2 other elders in our district. From 7 to 8am, we eat breakfast and get ready for the day, then we have an hour of personal study followed by an hour of companionship study, Next, is an hour of training activities and an hour of language study.

Our lunch is from 12 to 2pm. Those 2 hours are actually a combination of our lunch and dinner times for the day. This is because 10am to 2pm are the hottest hours of the day and also because people like to take siestas around this time as well. The past few days we’ve been using this time to try to cook some Dominican recipes from people we’ve met, including morro (a traditional preparation of rice and beans) and Dominican spaghetti. If they turn out well, I'll copy them down and cook them for you all some day. Speaking of recipes, Mom: if you have the time, the four of us would love if you could send us a few simple recipes (that don't contain baking powder, baking soda, or shortening). Because, let's just say, we could use some variety in our diet.  You can just email them and I can print them out. Thanks :D
After lunch is where the real work begins. I get to spend the rest of the day covered in dirt and sweat, walking until my feet hurt, and smiling until my mouth hurts. But I love it. Our area of Azua is still fairly undeveloped, so as of now, we've mostly been trying to find new people to teach, which I really enjoy because I'm not just coming in and taking over the work that previous missionaries have left. Also, I'll get to see our investigators progress from the very beginning. So, as we start to accumulate some progressing investigators, I'll tell you more about them.
We've met a lot of new and interesting people over the past 2 weeks. To name a few, there's... Wilky, Santa, Pinki, Dorka, Chickie, Chico, Chanco, Chuchu, and more than a few Juans and Marias. We've met some of them while going door-to-door, but we've also met a lot while they're sitting on their front porch, at a street corner, or under a tree - usually doing nothing in particular (although, one time, we helped a man building a chicken coop). I'm starting to get the impression that some people here just sit around a talk for a good portion of the day.
Their second priority seems to be keeping cool. I'm inferring this mostly by the fact that people here hate wearing clothes and generally wear as little as they can get away with - especially the younger children, many of which opt to go without clothing altogether. We even have one investigator that we haven't actually ever seen with a shirt on. Also, running directly beside one of the main streets in our area, there's a canal (that everyone calls a river). It is always full of people bathing and they wave to us as we walk past. I swear, we must look like we're wearing parkas as we walk down the street.
People think it's hilarious to point out how sweaty we are, and always tell us that we should get out of the sun or carry an umbrella. And when women see all of the lovely pink bug bits on my legs, they say: "Mi amor! Menthol! Menthol!" I'm not sure whether that is to keep the mosquitoes away or stop the itch, but I assure you that I am using repellant both day and night.
Hmm... our recent converts are doing well and are always fun to spend time with. Adabertino likes to make sure we've tried all the local produce. A few days ago, he gave us each a stalk of sugar cane that was nearly long enough to use as a walking stick and laughed as I struggled to bite off a piece. Carlos is writing love note to a woman in the ward and always asks us to transcribe them because he like our handwriting and we check his spelling (like a typical Dominican, he tends to drop the 'S's from the ends of words). And did I mention that Tomas has 12 fingers? Yesterday, I asked him how old his niece was and he held up a hand. I wasn't sure whether he meant 5 or 6 (turns out it was 5).
What else can I say about teaching the people here? Well... I'm quickly learning to teach through all types of distractions, including - but not limited to - blaring music from the surrounding area, chickens under my chair, cows peeking in through the window, cockroaches running over my feet, and mothers pulling down shirts to breastfeed their crying babies, We teach while sitting on buckets, on crates, on walls, logs, front porches, the side of the road, and even baseball fields. It certainly keeps things interesting.
Interesting things that happened this week:
- A dark moth the size of a small bird flew inside the apartment and some of other hermanas screamed because they thought it was a bat.
- One of our fans was so old and rusty that it caught on fire. We got it out pretty quickly and it was fine.
- We were kept up later one night by several dozen children banging on drums and dancing in the street below. They were actually quite good and when they saw us watching them, they put on a little show.
- Also, several people have asked about the photo of the tarantula I sent last week. The story behind that Carlos helped us lure it out of its hole in the ground with water and a stick and then pushed it onto my Book of Mormon for sizing. Needless to say, it got quite angry with us.
Until next week,
Hermana Kaitlin Olsen

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