Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Off to Ambato, the City of Parks, Flores/Carter Strikes Again

Dad, I´ve been waiting ALL NIGHT to tell you this!!! Hehe.


Thirty years later, the daughter of Troy Carter has a new companion named Hermana Flores from BOLIVIA.   (Editor note: When I was on my mission one of my best companions and the last one of my mission was Elder Flores from Bolivia )  And, my new area is Ambato. It´s very rare for a new missionary to be transferred out of a zone after only one cambio but the Lord knows what He is doing. I don´t know what I´m doing because Hermana Flores doesn´t speak a word of English. And I rode a bus 2.5 hours here with an elder, just the two of us, which was super weird, and he didn´t speak English either. To be honest, I don´t really speak English anymore. I had the opportunity to teach a lesson in English the other day because I was talking to a guy from Romania and he said he would understand me better if I just spoke English. Translation, my Spanish is still pretty bad. I have a nasty gringa accent and I am trying to fix that stat. But yeah, teaching him in English was difficult, I was stuttering like I was 4 years old. So basically I´m very much no'lingual. Yum. But, this will be good for me. Even though I´m feeling a little bit like I was dropped in the ocean and told to swim, again, I know this will be really good for me, and this time I´m determined to be able to find my way around. This never happened in Solanda. After 6 weeks. All the streets look the same and there´s like 4000 parks. "I live in the apartment by the park" oh yeah, okay thanks, you just described THE ENTIRE WORLD.

 Anyways, My new sector, Ambato, is basically at the tippy tops of the mountains and is a lot cleaner than solanda. I took pictures of Solanda but I accidentally left my camera in the house because I´m actually a scumbag. I am so sorry, cuz I had some great pictures from this week. Next week, I promise. But Hermana Flores told me that this area looks exactly like La Paz, so Dad, I´m basically living your life. I hope we can baptize over 100 people, although judging by my success in my previous sector, this is looking very unlikely.

i.e. I didn´t have a single baptism. We never even had one investigator who came to church more than 2 times. But, I feel like I´ll have success in this sector. Luke 5:4-6 describe how I´m feeling right now. Jeremiah 4:19-21 describe how I was feeling yesterday after lunch. And Helaman 10:4-5 describes how I am feeling about this whole change. This week I grew pretty close to Hermana L.... First. I prayed like crazy for charity. And then in the middle of the week Hermana F... got really mad at me for something...I´m still not completely sure what...but I bonded with Hermana L... top because I had nobody else to talk to. So I didn´t want to leave them, and then I love the ward a lot. Even though the members weren´t too keen on helping us they were all so loving and kind. My bishop is awesome, and he is going to visit you guys in December because he´s going to Utah to visit his sons. So I gave him our address and phone number, I thought you guys might like that. Obispo Pepinos, don´t forget :) But yeah, I was really comfortable in Solanda, but I felt like I needed to pray for new companions, and a new area. Even though I knew it would be a lot harder, and it is, because it´s like charades all day long, I know this will be good for me in the end. Very very good. I also felt the spirit a lot stronger this week, maybe I was praying for it more, I don´t really know, but I felt happier in the lessons, and like I loved the people more. Even though ALL of our investigators were secretly crazy. I´m not kidding. All of them. But maybe everyone is secretly crazy, a little. Also we had a baptism this week, the other Hermanas in our ward, and watching that was really nice, it reminded me of my purpose, and I felt really happy, I felt the spirit really strongly, it was all so good. So, I´m looking forward to seeing that here.

 We also had a zone conference. I decided that Hermana Ghent is going to be my mother here for the next 10 months because she´s basically as close to a mom as I have here. The mamitas with their crazy food just aren´t cutting it.

Quick diversion story about mamitas. One of them, who I actually love very dearly, served us a soup with chicken feet and cow stomach. And they asked me to set the table in the other room so I secretly dumped all my chicken feet into the bowl next to me, which turned out to be Hermana F.... She doesn´t know about this though, unless at this moment she is reading my blog, after her mission, in which case, now you know. Hehe....yeah. Sorry. The cow stomach was chewy and nasty and then afterwards I felt like I had a stomach inside my stomach. I´m not the one who came up with that analogy but the fact is that is exactly how I felt.

 Okay, back to Zone Conference. Yeah, I felt stressed the entire time because the other zone was having bastante more success than us. And when you´re being counseled by your leaders and you´re sitting there thinking, yep, I´m doing all this, but it just isn´t cutting it, you feel ashamed and like a bad missionary, and then you feel stressed. But, then Hermana Ghent talked to us very last about how we need to serve our missions for our families, our families now, with our parents and siblings, but especially for our future families, our spouses and kids. Which was my very first reason for coming. I took 3 pages of notes and afterwards I just went up and hugged her because wow, it was exactly what I needed. Basically, she is a gigantically great example to me, and I´m super grateful to know her. 

Well, pray that I´ll be able to watch conference in English, please. I´m going to be really sad if I can´t. If I can´t, could you send me an English conference Ensign? And then I can rave about all the talks 3 months later like a bandwagoner. Jk, I just want to study the words of the living prophets.

I think that is basically it, okay, it´s never it, but thanks for sending me the Ensign article, I´m going to read it! Pray for me!! And I promise next week I will send pictures!! Send me pictures of yourselves, too, and the new couch, tell everyone I say hi, how is the new Wolverine movie, tell Stockton that I really missed his email this week but his email last week filled me with lots and lots of gozo, oh and Ambato has the best pan in Ecuador (supposedly) and a fruit market right next to my house so basically it´s fruit and bread and sketchy meat for the next probably 12 weeks!!!

I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep being excellent missionaries!!! And tell Tulga that I say hi, and that the church is true!!!

 Love, Hermana Carter

Friday, September 20, 2013

Needles in the Dark

Familia! As you can see from the subject, it´s been an interesting week. First, here are my mission tweets for the past 2 weeks:

"I want this picture on the front of the 2014 mission prep manual: me, wrapped up in my snuggie, eating animal crackers and nutella during companionship study.

"Well, I had better eat this giant package of cookies" Me, before every fast

I literally just ate a block of salt. #diabetes

Remember that time when I ate 3 bananas during personal study?

Remember that time when all of our investigators actually came to church so they could get baptized??

Remember that time when a lady came into my house at one in the morning and tried to give me an IV? Good times. #livingnightmare

What´s worse that Isaiah in English? Isaiah in Spanish.

Tender mercy: Definition: When you leave your agenda on the bus and someone throws it out the window at you as the bus is driving away.

My thought process, como misionera: "Well, we´re meeting with President tomorrow, better wash my hair tonight."

Okay, so my week. Well I got sick Sunday night, but my comps both got sick Monday. We all ate something Saturday or Sunday, and yeah. The other sister missionaries in our ward (there´s 6 of us, 2 trios) got sick too so our zone leader got really worried. Anyways, he called  at like 10:25 pm and I answered the phone and he was like, "You guys are sick, we have a member who is a nurse, and we can send her over right now" and I was like, no way José, we´re fine, seriously, we just ate something bad, don´t even worry about it." so then 20 minutes later I´m woken up by Herman L... talking to someone on the phone, and then she told Hermana  F... that the nurse was coming over soon. We have a mission nurse who lives 45 minutes away, and we called her and she said we just needed to rest and we didn´t have to work the next day if we couldn´t. So I was like how the heck is a missionary going to take public transportation all the way here at 11:30 at night? That´s against a good number of rules. But then I fell asleep before I could ponder it any more. So then at 1 in the morning, Hermana  F... wakes me up and says, "hey, the nurse is here, we need to leave the apartment to go meet her" and I was like...leave the apartment into sketchy Ecuador at 1 in the morning? Okay, sure, that´s a good idea, not against the rules at all. So we leave, and not the mission nurse, but a lady and her 2...daughters, I think? are like hey! can we come in? It was the nurse I told our zone leader not to send. So she comes in and she´s like, oh, Hermana Carter, you can´t sleep on the top bunk, because it won´t work with the IV´s. Except it was all in Spanish and the word for IV is Suero. So I had no idea what was going on, until she pulled out the IV bag thing, full of some sort of liquid that I did not know, and I started to freak out. Basically I just sank to the floor and said, "no, nope, no, not going to happen" over and over. And Hermana F..., the saint that she is, was like, yeah, this is definitely against the rules, in just about every way. So the member left angry, and I was like, yeah, going back to bed, away from this living nightmare. So we basically stayed in bed for three days, being sick is normal for me so I was fine after Monday, but my comps weren´t. So Thursday during our zone meeting we pulled aside our zone leaders, and we tried to explain to the disobedient leader why what he did was completely wrong, and he just told us to calm down, and then he experienced I think about 50% of my wrath but I´m not sure because it was in Spanish. and then after his companion was like, thank you so much, I hope this helps. What?!

Anyways, health wise, don´t worry too much about me. All this week I ate rice and peanut butter sandwiches. I found nutella and bought 2 things. But yeah, my bowel movements haven´t been normal since I got here, and I asked the mission nurse today and she said it´s basically the same with her, and she has 8 months. Comforting. But the good news is that today I ate Subway. Yeah. Hahahaha I´ll be fine, it is strictly forbidden to get medical advice outside the mission, or take medicine not authorized by the mission nurse, such as random IV´s at 1 in the morning.
Okay, so the prueba of my life is actually not my health, it´s that zero of our investigators are progressing. Not only have I not had a baptism since I got here, I haven´t even been close. This Saturday the other Hermana´s had a baptism, so we went to support them, there was like 15 people there, including the 8 missionaries that were there....but yeah the time came and there was one very important person missing...the person getting baptized. Suffice to say, we haven´t had any baptisms in this ward. I don´t know why. I´m trying so hard to be obedient, diligent, work as hard as I can, what bothers me isn´t that we don´t have baptisms, it´s that our investigators don´t progress. Hermana F... told me that if the ward won´t retain their converts, they won´t receive anymore, and we have a bazillion menos activo people here, and we´re starting to work with them more. Speaking of the mystery family I mentioned last week, the brother still hasn´t returned, but we´re pretty sure we will, and we found and taught his sister, who is less active, she came to church yesterday, and she is willing to receive us. So that´s basically it. It´s the hardest thing in the world, because we´ve tried everything we can to have success, but nada.

Okay, other than that, I´m doing pretty good. Lo siento mucho for the times when my emails are negative, it´s not that I'm struggling in general, because I´m really doing pretty good, I´m basically over the culture shock, my stomach doesn´t seem to agree but thus is the life. It´s just that I´m struggling that day, or in the moment, because 99.9% of the time pday is more stressful than any other day of the week.

Okay, one last thing. First, I love all your emails. I hope the computer, and car, can be fixed. I love tender mercies. Like when we saw our one investigator who wanted to get baptized but couldn´t, randomly in the street, and she said she was still praying and staying strong. Dad, you are a hero for working with the missionaries. Mom, good luck with your triathlon. Stockton, keep plugging along. I had a dream the other night, right before we woke up, that we were all at Benjas in St. George and I was looking at the menu trying to decide what to get, and then my alarm woke up. When I get home, I´m going to eat sandwiches and salad for the rest of my life. Vegetarian for eternity. Speaking of sandwiches, we were teaching Crazy Rosa the other day, and I wanted to see if I could eat an entire PB&J without her noticing, and I totally did! Good times. My comps were cracking up.
Ooookay. Here is my one last thing. Thank you so much for your support. As always, it is my rock. One thing I´m afraid of is that when I have more time in the mission, like 10 months, a year, etc, everyone will forget about me. So please don´t forget me here, I don´t know why I have a fear of this, but I do a tiny bit. You guys are my rock. Give all of our family my love, and how dare you eat green chile burritos at Michelle´s without me.

I love you all so much!!! Have a great week!!!

Love, Hermana Carter

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

5th Times A Charm

Editor note: This was her 5th attempt at sending an email. Each time she tried to send the previous 4 it deleted instead of send.
Okay. this is me finishing my email. AH.
Okay, so to answer your questions, I talk in Spanish as much as I possibly can. I always talk in Spanish with my comps unless I don´t know how to say something in Spanish or I´m venting because my brain can´t process Spanish when I´m angry. We went to the offices today and everyone was speaking English and I was like woah, what is this, and I had a hard time speaking English, but I still have a hard time speaking Spanish so I´m basically no-lingual now.

Okay, to answer your question about the shower, I think it´s electric, but the church handles all of the housing affairs and we talked to them about it today in the offices but nobody seems to think it´s that big of a problem until you actually take a shower in our shower and then it´s like oh yeah showering in lukewarm water is actually really hard. But yeah, there isn´t much we can do, it´s a brand new shower. I'm learning to take it one day at a time. The other day I took a 4 minute shower, washing hair and all. So at least I´m learning useful things. Oh, and I got 2 of your packages today! peanut butter and I think the one with more dry shampoo. You guys are seriously the best, I love getting packages, mail, hand written letters are always nice. We print our emails off in the morning so don´t worry about them being too long, I like to read them during the week so please include lots and lots!!! As for packages, things you could send me...dry shampoo is always a winner, and healthy snacks. Haha yeah I´m asking for healthy snacks. Dry fruit, for sure. I´m trying to be healthy and not eat after 7, and during the day if I´m hungry I always buy bread...I´m going to be so fat after my mission. Seriously I eat so much meat and rice every day, when I get home I´m going to eat salad for the rest of my life. But yeah, healthy is always good.

Since the MTC I´ve been praying to find the people whose ancestors or family in the spirit world are praying for me to find them, and I think this is the case with one family we´ve found. I feel really strongly for them, more than my other investigators, but they´ve got me stumped. WE knocked on the door because we were looking for a less active member, and a kid answered the door, Daniel, and we asked if Jessica lived there and he said no, but we left him with the restoration pamphlet and the plan of salvation pamphlet, and then we taught him the next day, he´s probably the only person who has ever actually read the pamphlet´s, he understood everything but just doesn´t believe it. So then Sunday we stopped by to invite him to church and he wasn´t home, but his sister, Jessica, was. She´s the less active member we were looking for. So he lied to us, and really wants to take the discussions, but said he doesn´t believe in religion. I know this all sounds so sketch but we talked with Jessica and taught her a bit and she´s super sweet, we´re going to start teaching her and try to get her to come back to church, but her mom and husband died within 3 years of each other, and I think about that a lot, like are they on the other side trying to help us out? Anyways, I´ll let you know what happens.

Well, I have to go. I had a lot more interesting email before but...sorry. But I love your emails, please keep me updated on your lives, and tell my punk brother to write me. If you just ask me a bunch of questions, I´ll know better what to tell you each week.

Well, I love you all! I´m going to go home and spend an hour in the bathroom.

Hermana Carter
Picture of Quito's version of the Misty Mountains

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Tuff Week to Swallow


I´ll be honest, I had a goal before the mission to only ever have happy, peppy emails. And maybe it´s just because today was super rough. But, I think I´ll start with the happy stuff first and you can just forward and blog that.

So. The good. I think the best thing that happened this week was that our District Leaders worked with us for an afternoon, and whatever they did, a light bulb went on in my head and now I feel a billion times more confident in contacting and teaching. For whatever reason, I wasn´t being real, I was just following a script, because that´s what we had been practicing as a companionship. But yeah, I have a goal to learn as much as I can from my trainer, but then still be my own missionary. Part of me hopes that I´ll have two different trainers, so I can learn different ways of doing this and decide which I like best...but then I also really like Hma. F.... We get along really well, for the most part. We have a lot in common, all that good stuff. We just have polar opposite teaching styles.

Other good stuff...oh I made guacamole for our Zone today. Except they don´t sell salsa in Ecuador, so I subbed and just added tiny cut up onions and tomatoes and it worked pretty well...everyone of course loved it. But if you did send me a guac package that would be pretty great. And speaking of packages nobody went to the office today, so I think maybe on Thursday I might get some of your stuff. Yeah, you never need to send peanut butter again. They  have this magic store called SuperMaxi and they have basically everything there that I need. Granted, a lot of the stuff I need is expensive, but It´s still cheaper than sending it in a package. Homemade stuff is like magic, I love it. Except the guac today made me a tiny bit homesick, but it´s okay. I haven´t been distracted, at all. For everything that´s happened, I feel like my heart is 100% in the work. Oh!! Other good thing. On Saturday we had members work with us all day. It was probably the most successful day of the mission so far. Seriously, anyone who is reading this, if you aren´t out helping the missionaries, who do you think you are!? I wish I could stress how much the missionaries need the help of the members. Volunteer to have a FHE in your home one night or something, that´s the kind of stuff we need. Our ward mission leader reminds me of the guy in the movie Up.

I suppose I should tell you about my investigators, haha. Right now we have a married couple, they are a little bit older but probably the most receptive people we´ve had. The husband loves all stuff religion, used to be a Jehovah´s witness, which is usually bad news bears, and we´ve met lots of people who love religion so they´ll let us in but won´t actually progress, but he is actually progressing. He loves the BoM. His wife let us in because she was feeling spiritually empty but she is progressing, saying her prayers, all that good stuff. Love it!! Then we have another teenage girl who is sort of quiet but I can tell she is really gaining a testimony, and she loves coming to church. This week all the Young Women took her in under their blessed wings, and it was wonderful. I also play the piano for our ward now, on a little electric keyboard. Haha it is wonderful.

I decided something. Anybody who was born into the church, in the United States, is absolutely, remarkably blessed. We all have our challenges, but seriously I always took for granted living in Utah and living so close to where all the stuff was going on in the Church. People here dream and dream and dream of being able to go to General Conference someday, and for me it´s like...yeah maybe I´ll try to get a ticket a few months later. Also, I´ve seen what a difference it makes having temples close by. People don´t really make the temple a priority here cuz it´s so far away, and I see members, who have been to the temple, start to fall away because they can´t return often enough to be reminded of their covenants. I can´t wait to be able to live in a place again where we have 16 temples 6 hours between each other instead of having to drive 8 hours just to go to one. Anyways, I´m probably definitely going to for sure live in Utah when I´m older, or the very least somewhere close to a temple so I can go every week. I got pretty temple homesick this week because we were speculating about the new movie and reminiscing on the old. Haha. Good times.

Okay, to be honest, I don´t know who all is reading my emails...haha...but I hope I never offend anyone. That´s why I´m saying maybe sending this part out may not be the best idea because it´s about to get....let´s just say I´m going to start talking about more cold showers and abnormal bowel movements.

First, the food IS going to kill me. Dad, I prayed once that I would be able to enjoy the food, and the mamita served us Cerviche.  Aaaaah. Usually my "magic foods" are rice and tortillas. In the CCM, I would just shove whatever food into a tortilla and I could eat it. Here, I just mix it with rice and I can usually eat it. Except the Cerviche. Luckily Hrmna. F... had the foresight to eat all of hers and then switch me bowels, but yeah. My other "formula of survival" is to put the food in my mouth, take a drink, and swallow it whole. Every meal time is so stressful because there´s always one thing that I absolutely can´t stand, and I have to get creative in how I´ll clean off my plate. I get sick every once or twice a week, and unfortunately this week was today. It´s always at 2:30 in the morning, and the next day I feel like crud. But last week I bought a bunch of saltines, and this week I ate almost an entire package of Saltines because I was pretty sure that would help and basically it didn´t. But today was bastante stressful because we were completely broke, and we spent like three hours looking for a working ATM, and then every week our Zone thinks we need to have a zone activity on P'day, and it takes up like the entire day and we never get anything done. Good thing I don´t have very many emails today. But we didn´t have time to clean today and our bathroom looks like a war zone, oh and our water hasn´t been hot for the past few days. Unrelated, my hair hasn´t been very clean for the past few days. Yeah, basically everything went wrong today, and right now my body is trying to tell me that it wants to dispel everything I´ve put into it today, which is a lot of crackers and a crud ton of rice because Mondays I usually get to take a break from the strange food of Ecuador, but at our Zone activity they decided to take all day to make more of the strange food of Ecuador, ah I was so mad, so I just gave it to my companion and ate guacamole while my body made angry sounds at me.

Anyways, that´s my negative shpeel for the week. Sorry this email isn´t as upbeat as the others, it´s just been a really, really difficult week. But I pray for you all every day and please keep praying for me, heaven knows that I need it. I´ll send you some pictures too.

Thanks for all you do!!! I love you all so very very much!!!

Love, Hermana Carter