Dear Mother, family, friend, assorted cousins of varying relationships,
The internet is despicably slow in the jungle, but they have spell check, so I think they’re on to something. Also normal keyboards.
So, it’s been a while. A lot’s changed. A lot.
I have a new companion. Her name is Hermana Martinez, she’s from Bolivia, and she’s wonderful. Also doesn’t speak a word of English. Well, I taught her grandma, but that doesn’t really count. She’s amazing. She’s patient, and pushes where I need pushing, and is generally an amazing person. She’s also right in the middle of eight children, except she’s the only girl. Sound familiar?
The hardest part is, predictably, the language. Of course. What I learned in the CCM and what I’m speaking here are hardly classified as the same language. Remember how we read that Iquitos has a rather unique accent? Well, it’s true. It’s beautiful, and I find myself talking in it all the time, but imagine for a moment trying to learn a new language where it sounds like everyone’s trying to yodel. I think it might be the equivalent of a Hispanic learning English in the MTC and being sent to deep, backwoods Alabama.
The good news is that this doesn’t feel any harder than I was told it was. I’m not panicking. I can’t tell if I’m really good at adapting to change, or I’m really good at denial. Either way, I’m okay. I have moments where I stop and think, ‘I have no idea how to speak this language. I have no idea how to adapt to this culture. I have no idea how to teach through the Spirit. What am I doing here?’ But then I’m okay again.
Teaching is my favorite. I honestly don’t say hardly anything. It’s not that I can’t say anything—I can, a little, a bit, with no grammar whatsoever—but that I don’t understand what’s going on in the conversation at all. How am I supposed to help meet the needs and teach a person when I can’t figure out what they’re saying? I have no idea, but I hope to figure that out soon.
Nov 24, Day 46, Week 8
Listen, guys. Family, friends, and cousins. I don’t know how to tell you this without oversharing, so I’m just going to overshare. You may turn back now and return another, perhaps less sharing week.
But let’s be honest.
Now you’re curious.
I’m glad you’re still reading.
I have the foot fungi. Gross, right? I don’t even know what kind it is, just that it was sprouting—sprouting, got it?—before the first forty-eight hours were up. Itchy little dots up and down my toes. It’s really ugly and I’ve been lathering it with foot cream my mother told me I wouldn’t need—mom.
Okay, now that you’re all done being grossed out, I’ll let you know that it’s not actually that bad. It only itches when I think about it, and I’m outside sweating half my bodyweight so I hardly have time to think about anything other than fans and cold camu camu, a delicious drink here made from mashed up mystery jungle fruit.
Of course I get home and remember that I have a left toe that’s roughly the size of an early civil war cannon. That’s when I whip out the foot fungi cream, but really, how often am I going to have mystery fungi growing on me?
(Hopefully never again.)
I also wanted to talk about other things, too. Mostly I wanted to talk about languages and how I’m drowning in this one. It’s slowly, slowly killing me. I’ll come back alive, after a while, but I suspect I won’t be quite the same.
See, I don’t have a personality right now. I’m a little shadow that follows a Bolivian missionary with curly hair. In Spanish, Hermana Compton doesn’t really want things, need things, or have hobbies or jokes or favorite foods or favorite words or stories to tell.
It’s been interesting to be almost completely stripped of my personality for 14 to 16 hours of the day. I pray a lot more, if only to speak to someone in English. I feel like sarcasm is some far away concept that I cannot even begin to fathom in Spanish. I’ve caught reflections of myself in passing and I’m genuinely surprised to find Melody there.
Anyway, mother, here’s this.
An address. Finally. It’s for the mission office.
Jr. Napo 478
Please send the parasite cleansing bottles in the cabinet by the sink. Stuff with enough cotton that it won’t rattle when people go trifling through my things. I know I wanted to ask for more things, but I honestly can’t remember. You better send it quick if I’m to get it by Christmas, which, by the way, is only four weeks away. Also put a sticker of Mary and Jesus on it, because that helps people think about like choices. Also literally everyone’s been Catholic for a century or two.
I love you all in varying degrees! Bye! Pray for no more jungle feet, and more language comprehension!
Also, I sweat. So. Much.
I go to bed sweating and wake up sweating.
And never eat vegetables. I don’t think they’ve been invented down here yet.
Unless you count rice. Rice is totally a vegetable.