El Cubano: The Cuban. That's how everyone knows him because he's, well, Cuban. What does that mean? I can't understand a thing he says, that's what that means. The accent is awesome, just unintelligible. Anyhow, he was a taxi driver around here but it looks like he's left that vocation to open up a restaurant. Pretty much anyone can open up a place here in Ecuador and sell what they'd like - don't worry, we only eat at the trustworthy places. And since this guy is only a few minutes down the road from our house we go there every once in a while. For $2 we get a normal lunch - a soup first, and then a plate afterwards of some kind of meat, rice, and veggie, plus juice. I always walk away pretty darn content. And he gave us free pizza the other day. It was good pizza. Most of the pizza here is pretty lousy. One day we're going to have to teach this guy.
Manchitas: The most over-fed dog I have ever seen. She's the property of a recent convert and I think the first time I saw her (the dog) I nearly died. Some people I'm sure have actually mistaken her for a cow on occasion.
And a few words for you:
Machete: When somebody in the church needs to correct someone else it's called a machete. The verb being machetear. I just love the imagery. I've been present during a couple pretty rough machetes and even given one or two myself. I'm not very good at it because I'm too darn nice but some people really are. Sometimes we just have to be direct with the people we teach! But it has to be done with the Spirit, as explained in D&C 121. And it can be really effective and useful. It just has a brutal name.
Apostatar: As missionaries we can't always employ the kind of humor we used back home and so we eventually turn to a scripture-nerd type humor. One of the most delightful things to accuse someone of is apostasy or apostasia. Literally it is the turning away from the truth. It's something we teach about as missionaries. But we also love to accuse each other of it. It's really only funny to use because we can't be funny about other things I think.
House of Mirrors
This week we had interviews with President Richardson, which was great! We have a great mission president and he does a lot for us. I'm going to be trying harder to follow his counsel. Sometimes we think, "Man, the ZLs have really gone bananas this time" or "Seriously, why do we have to be trained in this, the APs know we know it already" or "That's a cute initiative idea" and discard what our leaders tell us. But we know this church is directed by revelation and if we accept that and also accept that our leaders are put there for a reason, then we'll want to follow that counsel. Because if we ignore our leaders that's....apostasy. Huh.
We need to commit to doing the things asked of us. We need to make the ward's goal our goal, not just something we have to sit through and applaud for at the end of ward council. Or the stake's goal. Or the prophet's. And as we do so we can really find success.
Anyhow, Hermana Richardson is another awesome example for us in this mission and as I talked with her waiting for my companion to be done with his interview I learned a great deal. One thing she explained is an example that really stuck to me and I think it might be the best analogy I've heard yet for mission work.
It's like a house of mirrors. One we can't escape. We walk in and are surrounded by mirrors - some normal, some distorting what we look like, but the consistent thing is that we CAN'T. LOOK. AWAY. As missionaries we have to constantly be looking at ourselves and reevaluating ourselves. Outside of the mission we can go for a car ride, watch a movie, listen to music, but here in the mission there is no escape. We have to face ourselves. And for perfectionistas like myself it is an incredibly painful experience.
But, I can tell you, it is also the greatest opportunity to shape yourself into who you want to become. The only place that a missionary can look to for help is really the Lord. And so with all that one-on-one time you get to learn a lot about yourself and can truly learn incredible things. And become an incredible person.
I hope that made sense. The way she explained it to me really struck me. I can't wait to see the kind of person I am when I come back. We've all seen it in returned missionaries. It's a difficult experience at times, but one of the best, in the end.