I swear I'm not counting down or anything. But it is a bit of an accomplishment to have survived a week and a half here already. :)
This last week was great! Those first few days were really long and seemed to drag on, but this last week flew by. I feel like I was just sending you an email yesterday!
For those who don't know, my brother Austin just got his mission call to the Guatemala Guatemala City South mission! I am so excited for him! I guessed Peru or Argentina, so I was a little off...but not by too much. :) It feels way weirder for me to think about him getting his call than it does to think about the fact that I'm already on a mission. I don't know if that makes sense...but it's super weird for me to think of my little brother heading off to some random country and traipsing about through the mountains! But Imma proud older sister!
So, today I thought I'd share with you a few facts about Floridians:
- All of them have dogs. Or two or three.
- No one is originally from Florida. A lot of people here are from other countries, but it seems like the overwhelming majority of them are from New York/New Jersey. What the random? I know, right?
- Maybe I've been sheltered because I lived in Provo, UT for the last 4 years...but does everyone else in the world smoke?! I swear that like 85% of the people here are smokers. Everyone is always outside with their cigarettes.
- People here are not into fashion. Everyone here has a sort of "relaxed" fashion. I hardly pull out any of my accessories because it makes me feel way overdone, and everyone is always commenting on how "trendy" and "stylish" I am. One woman was like, "Are you from the west coast? You must be, because people from the west coast always know the fashion trends!" There's nothing wrong with that, obviously, but it's just funny to see how I'm starting to care less about putting together cute outfits just because everyone else's style is so relaxed and simple. To be honest, a lot of the people here don't really wear much in the way of clothing. I've seen quite a bit of skin.
Also, here are brief bios of some of the interesting people I have met in Florida:
(also, just FYI, I'll probably change most of the names of the people i talk about. you know. confidentiality and stuff.)
- Our maintenance man is named Trophy. All of his teeth are GOLD! Like a trophy, I guess. (No, his name is really Trophy. That's not one that I changed.)
- This guy, Manuel, who lives in our apartment complex. He calls the sister missionaries "angels." Sis. Spjut says he loves the sisters "a little too much."
- This cute older lady named Leanne that we are teaching. She just loves the sisters and we often stop by her apartment if it's after 8 and we don't have any other appointments. The sisters have been teaching her for a long time but she hasn't been able to ditch the coffee and cigarettes yet. Her diet consists of slurpees, milkshakes, and coffee and so I'm pretty sure she is slowly killing herself...but she's darling and such a sweetheart. We watched "The Last Leaf" with her the other day (it's an old movie put out by the church) and she was like, "Aww, this is SUCH a tearjerker!" She just loved it. She's always happy to see us. She loves going to church and wants to get baptized. Hopefully while I'm here I'll get to see that. :)
- We teach this cute 75-year-old lady named Genieva who is so happy about her life and about everything. But her son doesn't like her to have visitors (even though visitors are what she pretty much lives for) and so on Saturday when we stopped by to teach her she cracked the door open and whispered to us, "Oh, you can't visit me now! It's not a good time! Hurry!" and we had to quickly dash away. It was the funniest thing ever. She loves us, too...when we prayed with her last time we were there she thanked God "for bringing her 2 girlfriends back." And then she took us into her room and showed us pictures of all her family and told me that I looked Finnish.
- We met with this woman last week who started out by telling us about her brother-in-law who "never stops talking" and is annoying because he just always "talks AT you instead of with you." She then proceeded to talk at us for 2 hours straight. 2 HOURS! We could barely get a word in edgewise. Needless to say, we did NOT teach the Plan of Salvation like we had planned on.
- The ward members here are great! They are getting really excited about missionary work and quite a few want to come out and teach with us.
I'm wishing that I spoke better Spanish. I've run into quite a few people who don't speak English, even in the ward, and it's frustrating not being able to talk to them. I end up saying "hola!" and "bien!" a lot.
Also, I attended my first bilingual baptism yesterday. Half of the service was in Spanish. They had the best refreshments afterwards that I have ever seen at a baptism. We're talking rice, chicken, salad, cake, ice cream...Latins love to feed people. I hope eventually I get to spend some time in an area with lots of Latins who are eager to feed me. :) Also, random fact, but apparently a lot of Latins are afraid of the water when it comes time for them to get baptized. The ward was supposed to have 2 baptisms yesterday...but the first kid was in the font and halfway through the baptismal prayer he shouts out, "I can't handle it!" He couldn't bring himself to go under the water, poor thing. Hopefully he'll be more ready in another couple of weeks...
Anyways, one of the best days last week was when I got to go on an exchange with some of the sisters about an hour south of here. Sis. Spjut had a training meeting and so I got to go on an adventure into the ghetto of Del Ray Beach. And when I say ghetto, I don't mean like "New York" style ghetto...I mean it literally felt like I wasn't in America anymore. I really felt like I was walking the streeets of Haiti. It was so surreal! There were little Haitian kids jabbering in Creole at me and people would say things and I really had no idea what they were saying. (At least with Spanish I can kind of tell) The day was great because it was really fun to be with other sisters! I love Sister Spjut, but it was fun to have 5 of us all together in an apartment, making lunch & studying together. The sisters in charge had miscalculated how long it would take us to ride our bikes to Del Ray....so I was on my bike for almost 3 hours straight. Haha! It was a blast. We didn't even end up getting to teach anyone but we did end up singing primary songs with a cute little Haitian family that recently joined the church. In the end, the assistants had to come pick us up because we didn't have time to back all the way back. Seriously though, it was SO fun. And it was such a contrast from Port St. Lucie! It was weird, too, because in downtown Del Ray it's very touristy and there are all these little resort places, like fancy restaurants & such. We went from being surrounded by black people to a lot of white people sipping drinks (and smoking). I wanted to be like, Umm...do you realize that if you walk 2 minutes down the road you will be in the ghetto?I! The downtown area just seemed very fake compared to the streets I'd just been on. But I loved my little adventure and I even loved riding my bike, despite the fact that me on a bike is quite the hilarious sight. I almost got run over by a semi-truck at one point. That would have been less hilarious, I suppose...
Finally, on Friday night we had an AMAZING lesson with this great couple Andrea & Jared. The spirit was super strong and they are both so prepared to receive the gospel! It was so cool and I came out of there feeling super energized and I was just like, THIS IS WHY I'M HERE ON A MISSION! FOR MOMENTS LIKE THIS! It was really great. They had so many great questions and they were excited and it was AWESOME. It's cool to be able to teach people and recognize that yes, they are ready for the gospel and teach other people who aren't ready yet and just see that contrast. Also, I'm learning so much about the gospel and the Book of Mormon during my personal study! I have read the Book of Mormon so many times but I'm still finding all these new little insights as I read it! I feel like I'm geting more out of it than I ever have before.
Well, that's all for now. I am doing great. My thumbs still hurt a bit, I'm not sure if I should get them checked out? Oh, also I am COVERED in mosquite bites. It's gross. If anyone has any anti-itch remedies, let me know.