Monday, September 24, 2012

September 24, 2012 - Chilean Independence Day: Sept. 18

Whew what a week!

This week was a holiday week, the week of Chile's independence day, the 18th of September. They changed our preparation day so that on the 18th we didn't go out and work, since no one would have talked to us anyway. So luckily we got to hang out in the church with the ward members all day! We woke up to the national anthem playing on our cell phone alarm and went early to the church, but still missed them singing the national anthem, raising the flag, and dancing the first cueca (the traditional dance here).

Me and my companion with pajaritos :)

After we ate a breakfast of pajaritos (little birds...a weird name for sweet rolls with merengue on top) and played with trompos (cool tops that you wind up and throw), played tejo or rayuelo (a man's game of throwing little discs into a box of dirt trying to hit a string that goes through the middle). Kids played with kites while we all ate mote con huesillos (cooked whole wheat kernels in peach juice with a sun-dried peach).

Me and mote con huesillo.

Then we went to lunch and had a barbeque. SO delicious. We ate meat and longanisa (like a bratwerst) with boiled potatoes, lettuce and tomatoes and mote con huesillos for dessert. We ate mote con huesillos EVERYWHERE. But it was great because I LOVE mote con huesillos:)

Me learning the cueca.

Then we worked for a little bit, and then went back to the church. Then the whole ward came to dance the cueca, a sister in the ward taught me how to dance, and we ate churipanes (a hot dog with a bratwerst pretty much). They had antikuches (shishkabobs) but we missed them because we had to go home.

Traditional huasa elegante dress.

The ward stayed at the church till 1am dancing and eating! What a fiesta:) (The highlight of the activity was that a young man who recently was baptized invited his family who aren't that thrilled about his decision to be baptized and they CAME!!!!! And said they were impressed by how happy and friendly the ward members were:) Yay!)

Us with our Ward Mission Leader.

To try to be festive, my companion and I dressed up the best we could like huasas elegantes (elegant Chilean cowgirls) in a black skirt, white shirt, with a black blazer (that is the traditional huasa elegante look). No one celebrates an independence day like Chile does:) There are still flags all over the place! In every house, on every car...its great.

Me in a street decorated with flags...
can you see that every house has a flag?

Now we are getting back into our groove after all the festivities. But there are still a lot of great things coming, because it is spring here!!!! This week I am going to teach how to make cupcakes in my cooking class and we are going to have a ward talent show this weekend! Stay tuned for fun pictures!

It is great to be a missionary in the work of the Lord!!!!!

With love, Hermana Bowns

Monday, September 17, 2012

September 17, 2012 - Dieciocho Spirit

Chilean Cultural Tidbits:

They love herbal tea here. If you are sick with anything, they will recommend an herb of some kind. The other day I drank a nice Oregano Water, super delicious and healthy! My companion had a tummy ache this week and a sister in the ward gave us a broken up branch to boil with sugar until the water turned pink and drink it. We have no idea what it was, but it worked!

Traditional September 18th foods: Empanadas (like a calzon full of meat and onions) and Mote con Huesillo (soaked barley with a sun-dried peach in peach juice), both super delicious and super traditional. It isn't even 18 yet and we already get offered empanadas and mote con huesillo in every house. Yesterday we ate 4 empanadas in 3 different houses within 3 hours.

Well we are in the middle of 18 (people here just say Dieciocho - that's 18 in Spanish) Spirit. There are Chilean flags EVERYWHERE. It is so patriotic:) People are in holiday mode. Eating, hanging out with family, listening to music loud, having barbeques, walking around in traditional chilean cowboy attire, flying kites, etc. Next week I will have lots of photos:) My companion and I tried to find dresses to participate in all the festivities, but we didn't end up finding dresses in our size:( Tonight my companion is going to teach me Chile's national anthem. Tomorrow early the ward is going to put up the flag, sing the national anthem and eat breakfast and play games, so I need to be prepared to sing along too! I'll tell you how it all goes down next week:)

Love, Hermana Bowns

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10, 2012 - Tender Mercies

Hello hello!

This week was an exciting week because it was my companions birthday!!! I am now an expert at celebrating birthdays, I have celebrated almost everyone of my companions birthdays with them...that's 6 in total. So I sent a member to by the gift so it would be a surprise, made her a breakfast of crepes with manjar, and blew up balloons with a happy birthday sign!!! All in secret, which is no small feat when you have to be with someone 24/7.

Cultural Chilean Tidbits for this week:

So in the states pink flamingos are common yard decorations right? Well here they are swans. Everyone has swans in their front yard. Usually it is some kind of plant pot shaped like a swan.

Cell phones are different here. Most people don't have a cell phone plan, they just pay as they need minutes but this means that there is an interesting phone culture. For example it is not uncommon to have someone call you from an unknown number (the phone of a friend) to tell you to call them at their phone number because they don't have minutes but they want to talk to you. Also when they talk on the phone they talk faster than normal to conserve time (a horrible thing for non-native spanish speakers). There is also a made-up word, "pinchar," which means to call but only let it ring once or twice before they answer as a way to say ´hey call me´. So people say "pinch me" (in Spanish, "me pinche"), which is really like saying page me. It took me a while to get the whole phone system:)

Perfume and cologne are more popular here. I have never before smelled so many great smelling perfumes or colognes walking around in the street. The best is when you salud someone with a kiss and a hug and their perfume lingers on you!

Tender Mercies

Well with my firm declaration last week that I would be happy no matter what came a week of trial! The trial of my faith for sure. But amidst long days of not being able to teaching, God sent tender mercies.

I wanted to tell of one tender mercy. We were knocking on doors and we spoke with a woman who told us about how she is having a really hard time with her son. He is partying every night, not taking life very seriously and she kicked him out of the house and she just let him back home, but she is worried that it will be just the same. We testified about how the Gospel helps families more than anything else and she said we could come back another day. I really wanted to talk to the son, but she said he was sleeping.

Well we walk out of the street and hesitate trying to figure out where we have planned to go next when i see the son come out of the house and walk down the street toward us, so we linger a little longer to be able to talk to him. He is really nice and says that he'll be there when we go by to see his mom. I see this as a great step in a right direction, partier/rebelious college student agrees to talk to missionaries...could be good!

When we go back they are sleeping:( But we go back another day and the mom lets us in. The son didn't want to come out because he was mad with him mom, but I am determined to help the kid. It was a really special lesson because we were able to testify about how the Gospel heals and helps us, and how God wants us to be happy. She said that she felt something interesting: a desire to learn about what we were saying:) In the closing prayer, which she offered, she thanked God that we stopped by to see her.

After knocking on so many doors and having people repeatedly say NO they don't want the most precious message this world has to offer, it is a miracle and humbling experience to listen to a prayer of thanks like the one that this woman offered in our lesson. It was a tender mercy and reminded me of the great value of what we share and teach!

We have the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been restored, every precious doctrine, and is a fountain of joy for those who accept and live it!

With love, Hermana Bowns

Monday, September 3, 2012

September 3, 2012 - Be Happy!

Hola hola!

Well I am finally getting situated in my new sector...I know how to get to the chapel and the grocery store!! Haha, I know more than that, but I am still getting used to such a big confusing sector.

I also just started teaching Cooking Class where I teach recipes from the US. Last week was Grandma Corkey's surprise cookies (cookies don't really exist here) week Muddy Buddies!

I also started up Piano Class here, the whole young men and young women group from the ward came! Awesome! I didn't know what to do with so many students and only one piano. But we'll see how many come next week, learning piano takes patience, practice and persistence, I hope they hang in there to be able to learn something useful:)

Chilean Cultural Tidbit:

You can buy a lot of things here in a bag that in the states they sell always in containers...for example, mayonaise, ketchup, mustard, hand soap, shampoo, manjar (which is like peanut butter), jelly, and a whole lot of other things. It's a little more messy, but saves space!

For Independence Day here it is an obligation to hang the Chilean flag on your house. Luckily someone gave me a Chilean flag as a gift. We are going to put it up outside our house today! The 18th is just around the corner and everyone is getting ready for the festivities:)


These past two weeks have been a little rough, getting adjusted to a new sector, taking on the responsibility of senior companion, etc. So this upcoming week my motto is to BE HAPPY! I have a lot of little quotes that I keep by my desk to remind me. Here are some of the things they say:

"Don't get down no matter what!"

''Some worry endlessly over this or that or doesn't please the Lord when we worry for not doing enough. Man is that he might have joy - Live that way!''

''Love the mission and have fun!''

Sometimes I get down when I feel like I'm not improving or not doing the best I can, but getting down is counterproductive and so this week I am going to be happy even if I am struggling. There is no point in pouting, its a waste of time. So I promise that when I feel dicouraged I am going to smile and think positively and keep working and striving to do my best! I invite you to join me! This week will be a week full of smiles and positive thoughts all over the world:)

Love, Hermana Bowns