Tuesday, November 5, 2013

More Pictures!

Here is a link to several pictures NataLee sent:

Pictures on P-Day!

At a Catholic cathedral

We got smoothies!

Comparing Nicaragua to America

Hola familia y amigos!
   I'm still trying to get used to the price system here. Ice cream bars are less expensive than America- about 50 cents, but candy is more. A chocolate bar is $1.50 or more and gum is about $2. It stinks because I love candy. I think the fruit is also more expensive. It's like $2 for one apple. But a lot of the services I think are cheaper- like the buses.
    The kids here are really cute. I've been giving them pins that say "Soy amada" and stickers. 
   We wash our own garments, but take our clothes to a ward member to have them washed and pay her for it. This week I got my clothes back from her first time washing them and was horrified at what I found. My clothes had a funky smell about them, many of my shirts were all stretched out especially around the necklines, and there weren't nearly as soft as before- they felt starchy One of my shirts had been scrubbed so hard that in one spot is was practically transparent and will surely have a hole in it in no time. Also, I found a huge blue stain on my pajama pants. I was so frustrated. The first time she washes my clothes and they're already damaged! Why on earth did she need to scrub them that hard. There weren't any stains on them. Last time I have her wash my clothes. I'll let her wash my bed sheets, but from now on, I`m washing all my own clothes. 
   Here are some funny stories of mixing up words in Spanish. On the plane to Nicaragua, Hna. Behan asked for "Juicio de Naranjas" instead of "Jugo de Naranjas". So she said "justice of oranges" instead of "orange juice" haha. The other night, I was on exchanges and we were teaching a lesson to a bunch of primary-aged kids and one of them asked Hna. Howell who Satan's mom is, so she tried to explain that we're all brothers and sisters and Heavenly Father has a wife, but she's very sacred. But instead of saying "sagrada" which means sacred, she said "sangrada" which means 'bloody'. Hahahaha that child is probably so confused. I was talking to Hna. Howell in English the other day and actually said "wisdomable" instead of "wise". Ahhh, I'm forgetting English! I felt so dumb haha. 
   We've been teaching an investigator named Walter and he is stellar! His baptism was set for last Sunday, but we had to postpone it because he had some problems with the word of wisdom and living with his girlfriend. We visited him again this week and he is totally ready for baptism! He hasn't smoked or drank coffee for a week and he broke up with his girlfriend because she was a bad influence and didn't want anything to do with the church. He's been reading his scriptures and the pamphlets we gave him every night. Also, we have this thing called Hermanamiento where a bunch of people in the ward get together and have a short lesson and then play a game and non-members can come too- I think it might be called Ward Fellowship in the U.S.- anyway, Walter has been coming and asked we don't have more lessons/messages and said he wished that we could teach for like 3 hours. So cool! We set his baptism for this Saturday. 
   We went to Managua this week for a meeting with Prez. Collado and all the trainers and new missionaries. I like his teaching style. He uses a lot of cool videos and analogies to demonstrate ideas. We got to have Subway for lunch one day and pizza and cake the next! I was so happy! On the way back to Leon, 6 of us hermanas crammed into one taxi- I don't know why we didn't just take 2 separate ones- and then the taxi ran out of gas and died on the road. Then the taxi driver got out of the car, climbed into another taxi and drove away. He just left us there in the taxi! We were so stunned haha. We took some fun pictures and about 25 minutes later, the guy came back with more gas, but it was funny. 
   Something I forgot to mention last time: girls here marry at about age 16 and the husband is sometimes 20 years older! Strange. Also, I tried flower juice the other day. It was gross. I pretty much never wear makeup except for a little bit on Sunday and P-days because it's so hot here it usually melts off. Cars honk at you so much here! Even if you're not hailing a taxi they'll slow down and honk at you to try to get you to take it. Also, people are constantly in your face trying to sell you things on the street and they repeat the food name over and over in a voice that sounds like a siren wailing. It gets pretty annoying. 
  On the plus side, there are a lot of nice people here. We've had people offer us free triciclo rides and one of the Elders in our district paid for us to go out to dinner for Hna. Mendes' (Hna. Howell's comp) birthday.
   That's all for this week. I love you all!
Count your blessings,
Hermana Hawkins

Things are Looking Up

This week has been so much better. We eat lunch at a member's house and provide our own breakfast and dinner- stuff we buy at the supermarket and don't have to cook. Hna. Salina's asked our cooked if she could give me less food for each lunch cuz it has been too big of a portion for me so now it's much easier to finish my plate. I still don't really like the food, but there are something's I enjoy- chicken, fish, yellow platanos (kinda like bananas)
-Hna. Behan is in my zone and Hna. Howell is in my district so I get to see them pretty often! It's such a blessing!
-On the flight from Panama to here, I had a great gospel conversation with a man named Miguel and gave him a pass-along card.
-Prez. Collado and his wife seem very nice. They don't really speak any English.We went to their house the first day in Nicaragua and it was BEAUTIFUL. I felt like I was on vacation haha.
My companion has a great sense of humor and is really nice and patient. She helps me a lot with my Spanish. However, she's been really sick this week with an ear ache so I had to do exchanges so she could rest. I've had to pay extra money to ride in taxis and triciclos this week because walking in the heat makes the pain worse. So I had to use some of my own money off of my debit card just to pay for groceries this week. Grrr.
The money we use is called cordobas. 25 cordobas equals once American dollar.
The Nicaraguan accent is so hard to understand. They speak really fast and slur their words together and speak in vos (a form of the language we never learned cuz it's informal). I'm just trying to be patient with myself and hope I get better at understanding people with time.
There are plenty of people to teach here. We found 4 new families last week. Hna. Salinas is such a good teacher. She always listens and asks lots of good questions and share great scriptures and does all the stuff it says in PMG. I am learning a lot from her. She's from Costa Rica and has 3 siblings. She speaks really good English so whenever I don't know a word in Spanish, I say it in English and she usually know what it is and can tell me what it is in Spanish. I can communicate well with her because she doesn't have a Nican accent.
Eventhough I can understand the people very well, I enjoy teaching lessons.
I'm tired pretty much all the time. Sometimes days, I have to fight to stay awake in lessons.
The people here give you food to show love and they'll get offended if you don't eat it so you have to make yourself. Sometimes they don't even ask if you've already eaten. Like last week, I had two lunches and felt like I was gonna die. But it has been a lot better this week.
Women greet each other by putting their cheek up to the other and making a kissy sound.
People say "Adios" when they pass each other on the street instead of hola. Interesting.
White people are called cheles and people keep calling to me "Chela!" and "Chelita!" and calling me beautiful. It's a bit awkward.
My ward is good, but really small.
I'm grateful to have this opportunity to serve the Lord and hope I can do some good here.
Ta ta for now!
Love, Hermana Hawkins

-I thought my acne would be really bad here since I'm sweating so much, but it's actually almost completely cleared up! So that's good.
-The people here are tone deaf.
-A lot of women don't shave their legs or armpits.
-Hna. Howell saw an old woman peeing on the sidewalk. Gross!
-There are tons of stray dogs and cats here. I'm afraid to touch them cuz Hna. Salinas said they bite and I'm afraid I'll get a disease.
-Members here don't follow the modesty standards of the church very well.
-Women breatfeed their children in public- no blanket or nothing! Even kids that look like their 18 months old! Unpleasant.
-Some people start mumbling their own prayer as you're saying a prayer. It totally through me off the first time is happened and I thought they were saying the prayer, but it was just a personal one, not one for the lesson.
Yep, life is super different here, but I'm starting to adjust. This week was so much better and I think with time, it will get even better. I'm trusting in the Lord and trying to be patient.
I love you all! Thank you for your support and your prayers.
Hermana Hawkins

From Nicaragua

This has been one of the hardest weeks of my life. I think my biggest challenge is the food. You're expected to eat everything on your plate and it's TON of food. Even if I liked the taste of it, it would be hard to finish. Almost every meal is a stuggle. It's usually rice and some kind of meat and a bland tortilla and super vinegary salad and juice or soda. I got sick on Saturday and went diarrhea like 7 times. That night was almost unbearable. I had terrible stomach pains and hardly slept at all. I took some medicine and most of the pain went away and I was able to go out and work, but it was so hard to keep walking and I had to fight to stay away in lessons. I am so tired all the time and the heat doesn't help. That night my stomach pains returned and then I went to the bathroom and threw up several times. Oh how I HATE throwing up,but I felt so much better after. My stomach is not yet accustomed. I have gone from thinking I could do this and I would adjust to saying 'If I can just make it 2 months' to 'If I can just make it through this week'. That day I was sick I did not think I could continue. I thought I would quit and go home, but things are getting a little better and I know I can't give up on the Lord. He needs me here. I have so much to learn and there are plenty of people here who are prepared to hear the gospel. It's extremely hard to think about being here for 17 more months,but I'm taking it one day at a time and relying on the Lord.
Agh, I'm running out of time....
OK, let's see... this morning we had a giant spider in our apartment and I used a chair to smash it. We usually walk, but sometimes take a super crowded small bus or a thing called a triciclo which is a bike with a seat attached to the front that fits two people. It's cool, but traffic here is insane. So many time, I feel like I'm gonna get hit by a car. The other day we had just finished lunch and stopped by a members house. They brought out the biggest hot dog I have ever seen and handed it to me and then went to get another for Hna. Salinas. I looked at my comp as if to ask if I had to eat it and if she was going to tell them we already ate, but she just said 'Lo siento' to tell me I still had to eat it. I thought I was gonna die. BTW, this was the day I felt sick. How did she expect me to eat 2 lunches??? I forced down half, but could eat no more and had to tell them I couldn't eat it because I was sick and my stomach was sensitive.
The people here are super friendly and humble and my trainer is an amazing missionary. She is so patient and hard-working and I know I'm going to learn a lot from her. I'm so sorry I don't have time to write more. I should have written my email before reading everyone's emails. I'll be better with my time next week. I love you all.
Hermana Hawkins

Here is how NataLee responded to a few of our questions:

The food is the hardest thing for me. Almost every meal is a struggle. I really hope I can adjust. We got to a little internet cafe down the street from our casa to use a computer. I'll send pics of my casa. It's hot all the time, but right now is concerned "winter" in Nicaragua which just means it's the rainy season. It rains almost every day. The other night is started raining super hard outside while we were teaching a lesson and we couldn't hear anything. I was in the middle of reading a scripture and had to pause and wait for the rain to die down so the investigator could hear me. I don't know if I'd call my area jungle. I haven't seen any toucans or monkey and I've only seen one gecko, but there is an area that has more stores and stuff that I would call downtown. W

We eat rice at every meal and usually some kind of meat- chicken or fish or beef or something and also salad with lots of vinegar and usually a bland tortilla and juice or soda. Read my weekly letter to hear my hot dog horror story. My mission Prez. (President Collado) and his wife are super nice but don't really speak any English. Yes, we have a phone. My trainer carries it. We pretty much walk everywhere. Sometimes we take a super crowd bus or ride a triciclo. My ward is good. Small though. What does " clap houses" mean? We don't ever really knock on doors. We just find people who are sitting on their porch outside or call in to people who have their doors open or contact people on the street. I love you.
Hermana Hawkins