Sunday, January 2, 2011

Letter #49 - December 27, 2010

Hey Mom,

Yeah, it was nice talking to you and a bunch of other people as well. I didn't really say much about my week, and for those I didn't talk to, they'll probably want the weekly update. =)

Monday,

Well today after I left the cyber, my comp and I were in the bus terminal and we were left to buy our tickets to return to Salto. It was about 6:00 or 7:00, and a lot of people had buses that were leaving. Almost everyone had bus tickets already bought for them, but unfortunately my comp and I were wrong in assuming that ours were too. We tried calling the offices and our leaders and checking if we had bus tickets for us at any of the companies that we travel with, but we didn't. Almost everyone had a bus that left at like 7:00, but we couldn't find one that left until like midnight. Since busses leave in groups kinda, we basically missed the first busses of groups that were leaving, and so therefore had to wait another 5 hours to be able to take our bus. Anyways, we basically hung out in and around the big terminal in Montevideo for 5 hours. We talked to some other Elders whose bus left a tiny bit later, my comp read the Conference Ensign, we spent a lot of time in a book store, we window shopped, we chilled outside in a park, etc. Finally, midnight came and our bus was ready to go back to Salto. It was kinda cool, because it was a 2 storey bus, and I've never ridden in one of those. I slept good on the way back as I was still pretty tired from taking the bus down the night before and not getting much sleep.

Tuesday,

Today we had district meeting in the morning. I got a letter from the Schlachter family, so their 'writing priority' has significantly gone up. It was a Christmas card, and there was a little bit from all of them, so that was nice to get. I also didn't get any packages, but my comp got 3 huge ones. He actually felt embarrassed haha. They included some more mini activities to do and some presents from his family. Today was kind of hard to get back into the groove of things. Usually we only have until 6:00 free on P-Day, so we still do a few hours of work in the night. And we always go to bed at 10:30 and are up at 6:30, regardless of the day. Since we stayed up until midnight because we had to catch our bus on Sunday, travelled through the night, spent the whole day in Montevideo without doing any work, stayed up until midnight again to catch our bus, travelled all through the night back to Salto, slept in (actually an accident, we were both dead) on Tuesday and missed our studies because we had to book it to District Meeting or we were gonna be late, it was actually really hard to get back into the routine haha. It was okay though, after a few hours of walking around in the sun hoping that people were home, it got better.

Wednesday,

Today we had our interviews with our Mission President. We had a gift exchange that we were going to do as an activity, so I had to buy mine beforehand. There was a 100 peso ($5) limit, so it was just a small fun thing. I ended up buying a mini chess board, a fake cell phone, and a huge chocolate bar. So, anyways today was interviews. Just the zone of Salto all got together, and the assistants and President and his wife came. I said the opening prayer which I was kind of nervous about (in front of Pres and the APs), but I think it was near-to or perfect Spanish. I actually asked a Latin about it later, and he said he didn't notice anything wrong, although that also could largely depend on how much attention he was paying haha. After that opening stuff, President left to start having individual interviews with people, and the assistants did a presentation about setting goals. How the principle of setting, reviewing, and working towards reasonable goals that make us stretch can help us achieve much more of our potential, in any aspect of our lives that we choose to apply it to. Near the end of it, I had my personal, 8 minute or so interview with President. President was pretty nice, and he talked with me for a little about our area, my family, and what was going on in my life. It seemed really short as it always does, but it was still nice talking to him for a couple minutes. After the interview, we played the present swap game. Everyone (like 26 people) put their presents in the middle, and then a leader randomly picked where we started, and someone opened a gift. The next person could either rob that person, or open another gift. Each gift could be robbed 3 times and then it froze. Due to the amount of people and lack of randomization, some people got a huge advantage depending on where they were sitting in the circle. I ended up with a bunch of chocolate, which is something I robbed to keep. Most of the gifts were chocolate or cheap toys, or something little like that. After the present game, we did a nativity scene, where I played the role of a Shepherd, so that was fun. And, after that, President came in dressed up as Santa Claus and gave all the missionaries some little treats. Everyone got to sit on his knee (kind of funny, there's some big missionaries), and he asked everyone what they wanted for Christmas; I said snow haha. We also got home baked stuff from the Hermana, and we all got a huge 2011 calender that's sick that has all the missionaries picture on it. It was pretty good, I had a lot of fun.

Thursday,

Today we had lunch with our neighbours since it was Thursday, and they always give us lunch to take back to our house. Since it wasn't quite ready when we went to their house, they decided to have us eat with them today. They live in a house behind ours, and it's the daughter of our super nice landlord neighbor, and her husband and kids. It was pretty cool eating and talking with them. He's actually an English teacher, so he was talking to us in English. I don't know how well his wife understands, so I was talking in Spanish even though he was talking in English. Some conversations are interesting like that. Today was the 23rd, so only a few days before Christmas. However, we still managed to have 5 lessons, so that was really good. We also had our ward missionary meeting today with the 1st councilor from our ward, although I'm not actually sure what the meeting is actually called. The meeting took forever tonight as there was a baptismal interview first, etc. We also didn't have our English class as our meeting went right through it, so thankfully nobody showed up haha.

Friday,

Today was the day that I called you in Raymond haha. We also had 5 lessons today somehow, so that was pretty cool that we basically got to see most of our investigators before Christmas. Anyways, so we worked through the day, and then we came back to our house a little early so that I could call home. I called Raymond and talked to my Mom, Grandparents, a couple aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and then everyone on speakerphone. It was nice talking to everyone. After I called, we went over to our neighbor's house who cooked us supper. We ate with her until 10:30 when we had to go back to the house, and I actually called home again because I didn't feel like I got to talk for very long before being rushed over to supper. After talking for like 45 minutes more, it was like 5 minutes until midnight, and all these people started letting off all these fireworks. Since anyone here can buy, sell, and light off fireworks, and because midnight of the day before a holiday is pretty big, all these people were letting off fireworks all over the place. It was pretty sick, and I got a lot of it on video. Eventually people started running out and it all died down, so we went back into the house and went to bed.

Saturday,

Today was my very first Christmas ever away from home. Last night I had set out my stocking and presents, so this morning I went and opened my stocking. It had a lot of good stuff, including some chocolates, socks, card games, a tie, and some small missionary things. Afterwards, I went and took a nap at like 7:00 after opening up my stocking, as I don't think that I fully recovered from travelling to and back from Montevideo two nights in a row as well as staying up until midnight the night before. Anyways, I figured I'd be out for like an hour, but my comp woke me up shortly after 11:00 to tell me I had to get ready to go to lunch. I was pretty surprised, as that was far later than I'd ever slept in the whole mission, and I had figured I lost the ability to sleep in any later than 8:00. So, it was kinda surprising, but really nice at the same time haha. After that little pre-noon nap we went to lunch, where we had an asado cooked for us, as well as some chicken that was cooked in the oven. There was also a couple basic salads. We ate with just a family in the ward, so that was nice of them. We didn't stay for very long after, as my comp needed to call his family. Afterwards we had a little time in the house so I opened the rest of my presents, and then we went to a baptism that the sister missionaries in our ward had. After that, we came home and I called Dad at Grandma and Barges. I talked to everyone individually there (minus Dave and Barge), a little over speaker phone, and that was pretty much it. It also ended up being a bit of a late night today as of when I started and ended my phone call. But, it was a pretty good Christmas.

Sunday,

Today was a pretty regular day. We went to church, none of our investigators showed up (ughhh... we even tried calling and going by some of them). Today at church, the person who got baptized yesterday needed to get confirmed, and she had asked that I perform it. So, I spent all of gospel principles making sure that I had her full name as well as the first part memorized haha. Anyways, when it came time for the confirmation, the bishop announced that someone else was going to do it, who did. Apparently there was a lack of communication somewhere. Whatever, at least I got the first part memorized now haha. Today was a pretty average day for work, although something kinda cool happened in the night. We were walking back to our house, and some guy who was 18 came up to us and asked us for a favor. I assumed that he was just going to ask us for money or something stupid, so I almost ignored him and continued walking, but thankfully my comp stopped. He actually asked us if we could go by his house to give his younger sister a Priesthood blessing who was sick. He was actually a member (along with the rest of his family) but they're not super active and they moved into our area from another ward only a couple of weeks ago. So, he took us down to his house, we talked on the way, and we gave his sister the blessing. I felt kinda bad for being judgemental, and it's really a good thing we didn't completely ignore him haha. It was also pretty cool that we just ran into him on the street, and it was nice to be able to do a bit of service for someone like that.

Monday,

Today is not P-Day, as we had it a couple days early on Saturday (Christmas). So, we worked in the morning, ate lunch, and then we went to the cyber, which we maybe weren't supposed to do. However, none of the cybers were open on Christmas, and our next P-Day is this Saturday (new years) when all the cybers will be closed again. So, me and my comp are just chilling out in a cyber right now writing our families on a working day. Hmm haha. So yeah, I guess that's where we're at.

Other:

Okay, so the family that we ate lunch with on Christmas has the last name of Alcain. Turns out that's actually a Basque (sp?) last name. I know that I have some tiny part of me that's Basque, but I don't remember how. How do I have some blood, and what's the last name of the person?

I don't feel like I personally thanked Dad or Grandma and Barge very well for their Christmas present to me, which I kind of regret as two way communication between us is on hold for a long time. So, since they both read this or get this read to them, I just wanna tell you guys thanks for the present!

Also, I don't know if Uncle Marvynn or Aunt LaVeeda read this, but if they do, sorry that I didn't talk to you. I did get your letter in the mail, and I'll be writing you in the near future.

Oh yeah, how are you doing as far as downloading that music for me? Have you fallen really behind in this crazy Christmas season? haha.

To your letter:

Yeah, I did get to see how Christmas is celebrated here. It's really not all that different, other than what I kinda mentioned already. Gifts aren't as pricey, there isn't snow (or even cold), and big Christmas trees have been replaced by their smaller versions to better fit into houses.

I did try the Hershey's kisses, and I really like them as well. They didn't really get melted on the way, but yes, they are in the fridge haha.

Hayley did tell me about the tie and how she saw it. I actually had forgotten about it, so I kinda laughed when I opened that present.

Brother Terry Toth also wrote me this week, and all the young men included a little part of the email. It was pretty nice to get a letter from all of them, it's nice to know that I'm not forgotten about, and that hopefully I can be a good influence to them because I'm here serving a mission. None of them included a question, but next time that you see them, can you please tell him that I got the email and thanks? Thanks! Also it was kinda cool, I didn't know Mark Kozak knew Spanish, and David Furlanich and Gerardo Balderas wrote me in Spanish too. There was only one word in all three of their letters that I didn't understand, and turns out it's not even a word according to Google Translator haha. So, yay me haha.

I was going to include videos of me opening my present, but the file size was waaaay too big haha. I guess you have to wait until after the mission to see my confused look when I open Hayley's gift haha.

But anyways, I guess that's it for this week. Thanks for the email and support as always. It was nice talking to you (and everyone). Thanks for everything,

Love you,

Elder Fikus

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