Dear Mom, Dad, and Jessica,
It was soo great to talk to you all yesterday!!! It still feels a little surreal (as you could probably tell from me just smiling stupidly for the first five minutes of our conversation). We didn't talk about anything big or important, but it just felt natural, like spending time together. I know that I'll treasure every minute of our conversation for the next five months when we get to do it all over again!
Bueno. I thought know I could give you all a rundown of what I did yesterday on Christmas Eve and what my plans are for today. Yesterday, of course, I began the day with... personal study, where I finished reading Jesus the Christ! Then Hermana Lujan taught us all how to make pianono (sp?), which is a traditional Argentinean dish.
Then I couldn't wait any longer - I had to open my packages! Finally! They had been sitting in the back room tempting me since before Thanksgiving! And it was so much fun! I'll be thinking about you every day as I enjoy all the goodies that you crammed in there. I loved it all - it's hard to pick a favorite thing! Also, please tell Grandma and Grandpa and the Brimhalls a HUGE thank you for their packages as well. It was sooo sweet of them! It really was like Christmas morning, and it's like you all knew exactly what I needed! I hope you know how much that meant to me!
And of course, immediately as we pulled out the crepe paper and snowflakes, we had to put them up! So we blasted some Christmas music and went crazy, covering the house in green and red and white. It looks so festive now - it's exactly what we needed to get into the Christmas spirit. And there is still so much crepe paper left over, we're probably going to use it to decorate for the ward Christmas dinner at the church on the 27th!
For lunch, we decided to go to our favorite (only restaurant), called La Esquinita, where we met up with the 4 elders in our district. We ordered American hamburgers, pushed some tables together under the canopy, and the elders watched football on the TV tree and yelled so loud that even the Dominicans were looking. It was like a little taste of America...almost. And of course, you know what happened after that because I was talking to you! It was the best part of my day by far!
After I left the internet cafe, it was a bit hard to refocus on the fact that I was still in the DR and not actually at home with you all, but all the same we walked over to Domingo's house to read a few chapters in El Libro de Mormon. As we left he gave us a fresh bottle of dulce de china (white part of the orange stewed in sugar, cinnamon sticks, and raisins) that he had made earlier that day - apparently he's known for it.
We tried to teach a few other people, but no one is really interested in listening to the missionaries on Christmas Eve night (Noche Buena). Everyone is cooking a huge meal or dancing in the streets. It can actually get pretty crazy. This is because, ironically enough, Christmas is the one time of year that Dominicans are the least willing to talk about Christ. December is a month of spending money, going to parties, and other hedonistic pursuits in general.
So, all four of us ended up at our ward mission leader's house. His birthday is on the 25th, so we stopped by a reposteria (bakery) on our way over there to buy him a little cake. We all tried to sing a Christmas hymn, but the music was so loud outside that the glass coffee table was vibrating and the vase of flowers of sliding around. We had a lot of fun, though - talking, laughing, singing along, and eating tres leches until almost 9pm when we made our way home (down the street).
This morning, the other hermanas opened their packages and we rocked out to some more Christmas music. And now I'm here at internet again! After this, I plan to go home and back some more of Grandma Padley's tarts in preparation for our Christmas dinner. Each of us is making a "traditional dish" from our countries... well, kind of. Hermana Sanchez is making fritos, Hna Lujan made pianono, I'm making the tarts, and Hna Nodal is making cake from a box...haha. It should be good, though.
After we eat, we plan to watch the DVDs you sent and munch on the treats from our packages. We all super stoked! And finally, tonight we're all planning on going out to ice cream as a district. Basically, our Christmas plans include a lot of eating (we're all going to be stuffed). Let's just say that there isn't much else we can do in Azua. haha. But it’s all part of the experience, and I'm sure this will be a Christmas I'll never forget.
Safe travels! And all my love,
Hermana Kaitlin Olsen