el penúltimo correo

Well guys. We are getting down to the end of this whole mission thing and I have a lot of thoughts and feelings. Way too many.

I´m sending pictures this week of us getting salteñas, a new Friday tradition, and from when we learned to make one of my favorite Bolivian treats ¨pasteles¨ this week. The picture is actually of me with a scrap of dough that I was practicing folding the edge of. turns out I´m not very good at it and the dear recent convert who taught me how had a good time making fun of me. Hehe.
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Basically,  I´m trying to get in all the Bolivian culture that I can. Also missionary work, but it wasn´t that easy this week since there were elections here and we had to stay inside for 2 days. (There wasn´t even church Sunday!) I cleaned the house really really well and we went to lunch (the only thing we were allowed to leave for) with some members that let us hangout and watch church movies with them all afternoon. It was weird to do nothing but super nice. Especially since the mom sewed up all 7 holes I have in one sweater while we sat and watched. It was the sweetest thing.
I´m really grateful for this time I have every week to write you and hear from some of you. Last week I read some things that stuck with me throughout the week. My dear cousin Ben (sorry to everyone else that isn´t getting a shoutout right now you should have emailed me advice) reminded me that it´s okay to be happy to finish my mission and in my friend Kaytee´s group email she mentioned how she is grateful for her mission and also for her future. So i focused on being grateful and making lists of all the things I´m grateful for both in the past year and a half and in this future that is so quickly approaching. And it was so good. And it makes me so excited to be able to share that with all of you in some form that is easier and more personal than a weekly email.
Love you all and have a great week,
Hermana Mitchell
PS If someone is looking for a shoutout next week this week I am seeking advice on how to feel good about whether I really have given it my all on my mission and if I´ve done enough.
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Thanksgiving!

Well I know you are all dying to hear about how we brought Thanksgiving to Bolivia so I will tell you. We made pie. What else? We had a nice ward activity and we made pie and brownies (because everyone here thinks those are the classic American food and are pretty obsessed with them) and the other Hermanas in the ward taught a nice little class on gratitude. It turned out to probably be more stress than it was worth, but it all turned out well. If the internet ever starts working well I´ll send you some photos. If not, ask me about it in three weeks because I`ll be home.

I know it´s probably taboo to mention it, like I´m counting my time or something, but it´s the truth. These days I´m constantly aware of just how little time I have left. When things are stressful and hard it’s a comfort to know that I won´t be dealing with these same problems forever. I don´t have to worry about missing much from home anymore because I know I´ll be there soon. But in many other ways it is more bitter than sweet. I have the same ache in my heart that I had when I left home.  I don´t like saying goodbye to places or people or the life I’ve formed and the person I am here. Somethings I’ll be able to take with me but other things (lots of things) I won´t. But like I said, I have three weeks so I’ll keep working on processing everything and hopefully when I see you I´ll just be happy to show you my pictures of the apple pies I made in Bolivia.
Love you all,
Hermana Mitchell

We moved!

But not into the yellow house. Some dreams are not meant to be. Turns out that the landlord moved to Argentina and didn’t leave anyone in charge of the apartment building. Fortunately, we have a different place which is not yellow but works just fine.

And moving pretty much made the whole week a complicated mess. We moved Wednesday and I am still living out of a suitcase.
But it has been a good complicated mess because one of my favorite investigators got baptized Saturday. (Not without complications because there was youth dance with LOUD music that night in the church building.) Also, we were able to put goals with some of our other investigators for baptismal dates including some that we thought had disappeared off the face of the earth. At the beginning of my mission I was always nervous to bring up baptism but I´ve realized that it is the best because people really start to change their lives when they know they are preparing to make a promise with God. And if they´re not willing to do that, it´s hard to help them.
I hope you all had a great week and that this week you have a very Happy Thanksgiving! We have big plans for bring Thanksgiving to our little part of Bolivia so stay tuned and pray that it turns out well.
Love,
Hermana Mitchell

Greetings from Bolivia

Okay before I forget, one other thing you need to know about greeting people – sometimes it´s just a kiss on one cheek and sometimes it´s a kiss on both and that gets you into some awkward moments sometimes because you have to guess if someone is a one cheek or two cheek kisser. but usually it´s just the Abuelitas that give two kisses.

Other cultural tidbit – have we talked about the returnable Coke bottles? You can buy a 2 liter (or maybe 2 and a half, I can´t remember) bottle of Coke that is in a thicker plastic bottle here and when you go to buy Coke the next time you bring the bottle back and buy your Coke cheaper. I think that they would probably pay you for the bottle too but everyone is always buying Coke so they just discount your next bottle. And then they use those bottles again. It´s something I had never seen in the states so I just thought I´d let you all know.
Something cool that happened this week was during exchanges that we had on Wednesday. The sister training leaders are in an area called Tiquipaya and I’ve been there a lot in my mission because they were our sister training leaders in one of my other areas too. The thing is that the last time I went there we knocked on a door and the lady lets us in and we talked with her for a few minutes. It seemed like she didn´t really understand much but we set an appointment for them to visit her another day. Well the other day I found out that since then her daughter has gotten baptized and her son is just about to! It was a good reminder to me that you never know how much good you do. I was able to talk to her the very first time there family met missionaries and it turned out to have a really big impact on their family.
Oh yeah and yesterday we had a multistake conference that was pretty historical. From the 3 stakes that went 5 different stakes came out of it. They changed the limits of most of the wards (we still don´t  know exactly what the changes are they just announced that there are changes) made a branch a ward and divided another ward in half. Two members of the 70 spoke as well as the temple and mission president. The best quote from the whole thing was from the temple president – ¨A conference without a choir is like a girlfriend without a kiss.¨ Good thing we had a lovely choir. Haha.
So this was a good week. Next week will be too because we are finally moving! Remember that God loves you and remember to read the Book of Mormon.
Have a great week,
Hermana Mitchell

Greetings

You might think that the subject line refers to the fact that I am greeting you but- plot twist! –  I actually just want to talk about the way we greet in Bolivia. I recently realized that it is pretty different from the way things are in the states and I think I will definitely miss it. Okay here are the rules:

1. For one thing, if you walk into a room with a bunch of people you had sure better greet everyone individually.
2. And if you want to leave an event – the same thing. It has got to be a pretty big party to get away with just sneaking out.
3. Also as a woman you greet everyone with a kiss on the cheek. Except as a missionary you just greet the women that way except I have definitely been kissed by a man before. oooops. it´s the awkwardest rule we have.
4. As a man you would just greet the woman with kisses and not the men. Bolivian men greet each other with this unique version of a man hug that consists of a handshake with back pats.
And you know what? I love the cheek kissing thing because it is a little more friendly and loving than a handshake but not as all in my personal space as a hug. It´s almost like a gentle high five with cheeks and a quick kiss noise. and I DON´T like the you have to say bye to everyone before leaving because sometimes you are running late but then get stuck in several different conversations before leaving a place. But i have to admit, I can´t help but feel a little offended if someone leaves without saying bye to me.
Anyways, this has been a very long ¨thoughts from Hermana Mitchell on cultural differences¨ because we haven´t done that in a while.
In other news, i am doing great.this week was probably just as crazy as last week and we still don´t know what is going on with the house, BUT! I have decided to trust in God and be calm and we had interviews with President Montoya this week and I am feeling good now. I hope you all can do the same and have a great week despite your circumstances. but really I just hope you have great circumstances.
Love you all,
Hermana Mitchell
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Picture of the mountains and of all of the daily planners from my whole mission. Shout out to Hna Pardo for making the last one.

This Week in Bolivia

Hey everybody!

Let´s try something new. We´re going to examine the week day by day. Don´t worry if it´s boring I probably won´t do it next week.
Monday – I emailed you all, everything normal, boring. (I mean, emailing is the best! But the day had nothing exceptional.)
Tuesday – we woke up early to make breakfast for the seminary students. then we hurried over to a zone conference. We had the craziest taxi driver and there were bloqueos we got there quite late. After that we learned how to make pique macho with a recent convert. Then we taught our first ever English class in the ward. Not in a single moment did we plan or study. It was a crazy day.
Wednesday – We were supposed to go see the famous yellow house in the morning but they called us at seven thirty to tell us that we had another zone conference! This time with a general authority, Elder Montoya. Other highlights from the day were reading the Book of Mormon out loud in QUECHUA to our new friend who neither reads nor speaks Spanish (but insists that she understand us reading in Quechua) and having an awesome first lesson with Neila, the sister of our baptism from the other week(Rosa). She is already reading the Book of Mormon so that makes things easy.
Thursday – again we were supposed to go to the house so our zone leaders could talk to the landlord about the details but… they had other things going on and we had to cancel again. One fun thing was that we ran into this lady, Hermana Ana Rojas, who is the mom of one of my all time favorite families! They are from my area La Floresta but our chapel is their stake center and so she was there and we got to stop and chat. I like to think that we were just as much of a tender mercy to her as she was to us.
Friday- visited the Quechua lady and Neila again, both are doing splendidly. We had to call our pensionista to explain where the church is in Quechua. AND we finally went to see the house with the zone leaders. And everything is almost good. She brought the price down for us and is even going to include electricIty in the rent the only thing is that her dad and sister also own part of the building so she couldn’t sign the contract without showing them first. So yeah, we are happy, but not out of the house problems woods yet.
Saturday – we had another conference! with Elder Montoya again! Learned a lot of things that we could be doing better. We went home and did our personal study and then independently went into the other room and laid down on our beds and cried to finish it off. It was that kind of a week. But! We are a lot closer as companions now! and we went and got pizza for our companionship study.
And Sunday- Uneventful, except that we had to say bye to one of the elder´s from our ward, Elder Garcia. One of the other stressful things that was going on this week was that he was in the hospital all week and in the end he had to go home this morning. We are pretty sad about it.
Sooo honestly this was not the best week. Lots of good things happened but we are pretty stressed about a lot of other things. Sometimes I am sad because I only have less than 2 months left in Bolivia and I just want to do the very best job but unfortunately I´m not perfect. but i was rereading one of my favorite talks yesterday and I remembered this really good quote –
¨The simple secret is this: put your trust in the Lord, do your best, then leave the rest to Him.¨ – Joseph B. Wirthlin. and really that´s all I can do.
I hope you all have a great week and that if you didn´t get through reading all this that at least you enjoy the pictures i am sending!
Love,
Hermana Mitchell
photos:
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pique macho (that´s a food)
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Some disobedient missionaries who lived in our house GLUED the words obediencia con exactitud to the wall. I guess technically it might not be a rule to not glue things to the wall but it is a rule to only use special kinds of tapes so I kind of thought it was a given. Kind of a bummer for the hermanas who have to move out of that house (us).

The Yellow House

Well. This week we have been house hunting. It is a whole headache but I think a good thing. Where we live right now has a couple problems that for some reason I was willing to live with until my comp pointed out that it’s not okay. Mainly that our kitchen doesn’t have a door and there is a cat that always comes and pees on our dishes. Before this week I thought that there was a lot of rejection in missionary work but now I know that there is a lot more rejection in house hunting. The good news is that right now we have two potential houses. And one of them in yellow. That is significant because I have a feeling that our new house is going to be yellow and every time we saw a yellow building I would be like ¨that could be the one!¨ And this house that we like a lot, a lot, is less than a block away from the church and super cute and we didn’t even realize it was yellow because the first time we saw it, it was dark and when we went back in the day and realized it was yellow. I was like ¨it´s a sign!!!¨ Also we had to tell our current landlords that we are moving and I was super scared to do it (the wife is pretty mad so, I had good reason…) but afterwards my comp told me that I had followed the steps of telling bad news like a pro. So thanks dad, shout out.

Other story. this week I felt like we should go visit a girl named Andreina. So i called her. she hung up. So i texted her. She didn’t text back. So we went way out of our way to go visit her and she let us in (the phone had some problems it turns out so it wasn’t really her rejecting us) and we had a first lesson and it was really really good. I teach a lot of people a lot of first lessons but this was a good one. And she prayed at the end with us, the very first prayer in her life. And when we went back a couple days later she had read her pamphlet and payed again and wants us to visit her cousin too. Something that is incredibly precious to me that I am learning here as a missionary is to trust in the spirit. I had every reason to think that it would be a waste of time to visit her but I am so glad I listened to the spirit and went anyways.
And last item of business, this week we had a BAPTISM. I don´t know if anyone has been paying attention but it´s my first baptism in 6 months. Almost to the day. But Rosa (this 20 year old girl we have been teaching) got baptized Saturday and I am so so happy for her. I know that I really didn’t do that much to help her out but I´m just grateful for the chance I got to witness her conversion. There is a quote I found this week that sums it up pretty well ¨You have a front row seat to the greatest miracle of all: the effect of Christ´s Atonement on individuals and families.¨ With Rosa, her boyfriend brought her to church, other missionaries taught her the first 3 lessons, I just got to fast with her to have support from her family (miracles are real) put a baptismal date with her (oh wait, she practically put her own date) and review some of the commandments. Oh and make cookies and sing at her baptism. So yeah I had a front row seat and nothing else. But it was a great view because she really gets it. She understands the gospel and she has a beautiful light in her eyes.
So I´m sending some pictures. One is our we-really-like-this-house-I-hope-we-get-it face, one is Rosa, and the other is an elder trying to teach me how to bowl last p day. I happened to score super well that time so he kept shadowing me the whole game. I still ended up with the lowest score in the zone.
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Love you all,
Hermana Mitchell
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