Monday, October 28, 2013

Piojos & La Madre de la Casa

Dear family, 

The big news this week is what ended up happening with transfers. Well, first, Hna Matteson got sent to Ocoa, which is pretty much the paradise of the mission (i.e. mountains, rainforests, waterfalls) and it actually gets pretty cold there. And of course, I received my new companion! Her name is Hermana Sanchez. She is 22 years old and has 7 months in the mission. She is the only membe

r of the church in her family, and before her mission, she was studying Industrial/Organizational Psychology at a university in Santo Domingo. So, as you might have guessed, she was was born and raised her in the DR.This means that I've officially gotten my first Latin companion and essentially given up English for the majority of the day (except when I'm talking to Hna Nodal, Hna Preisler, or writing to you all). 

Speaking Spanish this much is really good practice for me and I'm sure that my Spanish is going to improve more rapidly this transfer - becuase Hna Sanchez always corrects my Spanish (in a helpful way), and whenever I have a question, she's always right there to answer it. She's also really great about answering questions I have about the culture and customs. 

For the most part, there's not really an insurmountable language barrier. Our concversations go pretty smoothly. Of course, my Spanish has a long way to go, but whenever I'm unsure of a particular word, I just talk my around it, describe it until she can guess it, or I sometimes just say it in English and it's close enough that she knows what I mean. In lessons though, sometimes its a bit hard for me to keep up, not because I can't understand what's being said (I understand virtually everything and she also speaks very clearly), but becuase she is so good at explaining things so well and so completely that I sometimes struggle to find a meaningful comment to add to the conversation using only my somehwat limited Spanish vernacular at hand. (I'm also naturally less inclined to speak up even in English, so there's that, too.) But on the plus side, I'm learning a lot of really great ways to explain things. 

Becuase neither of us are in training our daily schedule inlcludes 1 less hour of studying each morning, which means that we leave for proselyting a hour earlier each day. And becuase we're a mixed companionship, our daily language study now consists of a half hour of her helping me with Spanish and a half hour of me helping her to learn English. 

Another change with Hna Sanchez as my companion is my diet. She has been teaching me how to cook Dominican food, and becuase companionships usually eat together, that is pretty much all I've eaten this past week.  Some of the dishes we've made include morro (traditional rice and beans) and fish, boiled yuca with onion and egg, empanadas, habichuelas (beans) poured over rice, and fritos (fried plantains) with salami - all super good, by the way. And I've also now tried pretty much all of the random 5-peso snacks that the colmados sell, as well as the super popular wheat-based soda called Malta Morena (Hna sanchez says it gets better the more you drink). 

She has also been demonstrating how to clean the Dominican way, which admittedly has made us Americans feel a bit ignorant and dirty, but she's kind and patient about it. Plus, I don't think that our apartment has ever been this clean, so I'm not going to argue with it. 

Some other funny things that she does includes trying to sing along to all our EFY songs in English, playing with my hair (becuase it's the "good kind"), and grabbing my hand when we cross the highway. This, along with her cooking and cleaning skills, has earned Hna Sanchez the designation of 'madre de la casa.'

Annoying things that happened this week:

- Last Monday (Hna Matteson's last day in Azua), we found out that we all had lice. Actually, it was mostly Hna Matteson. The rest of us didn't really have that many. but long story short, we ran around to over 5 pharmacies around town to find champu de permatrina (lice shampoo) and vasoline (to put in our hair to suffocate them). I then spent the better part of what remained of the day picking literally hundreds of bugs out Hna Matteson's hair one by one. I felt like one of the monkeys that you see grooming eachother on the National Geographic. On top of this, all of this was taking place suring a violent storm. I mean, thunder and lighting so powerful that people outside were literally screaming and running for cover. At one point, in a shower of brilliant orange sparks from the powerline outside our window, we lost our electricity and ended up having to move outside into the pouring rain becuase there wasn't sufficient light inside to see all the bugs. At least I'm proud to say that Hna Matteson and I were able to appreciate the humor of the situation even as we were both soaking wet and wrist deep Vaporub and dead lice.

Until next week, 

Hermana Kaitlin Olsen

P.S. Please thank Grandma and Grandpa for the Halloween package they sent! They are so sweet!! <3

The new companion, Hermana Sanchez

Christmas comes early in the Dominican Republic

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