Hearts of Cow; microbe-phobe

Today starts my 12th week in the mission. That makes it three months out of the house. That feels pretty quick. Yesterday at lunch, an elder said, ‘Hey! Hey, Hermana Compton, how far away is that airplane?’ and pointed at the ceiling. I was confused, but was pretty sure it was a joke of some sort, which was proved correct when he said, ‘About 16 months away.’ Aha. Ha. Ha. But in all reality, the days here move ridiculously quick. You wake up at six thirty and move and move and move and move and then you’re sleeping and then you wake up at six thirty again.

                We had another baptism Saturday evening. That makes five in the six weeks I’ve been here. That’s pretty awesome, but also I hardly ever talk in our lessons, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to reproduce that kind of success without my capasitadora.

                Speaking of which, she’s probably leaving sometime today or tomorrow. We have our cambios today, and if I’m being honest, I’ll let you all know that I’m terrified and also not terrified.  On the one hand, I can’t speak this language all that well—the average missionary before the age change had three months in the MTC, and another three months with their trainer. I’ve got a month and a half in the CCM and a month and a half with my trainer. That’s three months of language and lesson training cut out. So how prepared do I feel? Let’s not answer that. But on the other hand, I’m really good at putting away all the panic, and walking out the door.

I’m betting that I either get  a other six weeker companion or I’ll have to train a new missionary. I’ll report to you next week on how alive I still am, but in the meantime, please pray a ton for me, okay?

In other news, I have a story of trauma. The other day, three or four days back, I noticed a towel in the house. It was a pretty suspicious color—all blacks and grays and whites—but was sitting in front of our mini fridge to clean up a leaky chicken disaster. So I didn’t touch it. Because there was the leaky chicken disaster. And it was a really questionable color. And this is Peru. So who knows what’s growing in the towel, right?

But this morning I’m finishing up the dishes, and all the sudden the suspicious leaky chicken towel is in my hands and I don’t really know what to do, so I start shouting in alarm. Mostly in English, but a bit in Spanish as well. I kept shouting, ‘Burn it! Let’s burn it! I think it’s moving!’ But I didn’t know how to translate that into Spanish, so I went with, ‘Fire! We need fire!’  I think all Hermana Martinez heard was ‘I’m a gringa! I’m scared of germs and things that grow in Peru! Help!’

She sort of rolled her eyes and me and said, ‘Leave it there. I’ll wash it in a minute.’ But then I was all, ‘Ha! That sounded like a challenge. I think that was a challenge. Plus, I think this is a trial of my faith. I’ll do it.’ Except I can’t say all of that in Spanish either, so I was like. ‘No. I WANT to do it.’

And I washed that towel. With half our soap and all the pathetic strength my arms could muster. Now it’s less black, and but I still suspect there’s something living in there.

Now that I’m talking of the traumatic, I might as well tell you this next story as well.

So the other day we walked over to a lady’s house whom we baptized a couple weeks back. I have heaps of affection for her, and her name is Ines. Ines is a sixty something woman who cooks on a tiny, lopsided grill for a living. While we’re talking to her out on the sidewalk and a couple people walk up and want some food. Inside a large metal pot that’s been sitting out in the sun for the entirety of the day is two dozen cow hearts or so. And she takes the cow hearts and spears them on a metal skewer and pops them on the grill.

In my head I’m thinking of how questionable everything about this situation is and how grateful I am that I’m not the one eating the hearts of cows. Externally, I continue to talk in really sketchy Spanish.

But I notice that Hermana Ines is cooking more skewers of heart than there are customers. And I notice that she’s cooking exactly two more than there are customers. And I think, ‘Ah. She must be hungry.’

Silly me.

Mom, I ate all the cow hearts on my plate. I ate all of the questionable cow hearts. And do you want to know what’s even worse? They were really quite delicious.

Anyways. Yeah. Didn’t even get sick.

Also, not even surprised that we’re moving again. I still lay claim to my new bed, please pack my things nicely, and don’t let the littles siphon it off in the next year, okay?

With much love and adoration,

Hermana Compton

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Robbed

Well, I lost my bag rather eventfully. It’s by far the most exciting way I’ve ever lost something. Okay, let’s be honest, none of you are even a wit surprised that Melody lost something as important as her bag, which is possibly her life source. But let me clarify. It was stolen. Right from my shoulder. I shouldn’t feel happy about this by any means, but let it be known that the first important thing I lost in Peru was not of my accord or in any way my fault.

But yeah, someone popped the bag from my shoulder, a mini tug of war ensued, I lost, the kid ran off. Well. Kid. He was probably about our age. And I actually only had about half of what I usually have in my bag, so he got my good pair of scriptures—but I have an extra pair—a ton of pamphlets, my debit card, my license, and my companion’s Bible, which is usually with me. Later, after I’d gained about my senses and decided that this robbery was going to make a good story someday, I informed my companion that he’ll almost certainly be ready for baptism in two weeks or so, what with all the scriptures and pamphlets he has now.

I haven’t gotten my package yet, but I think it usually takes about two to three weeks. So it’ll probably show up in a week or so.

The churches here are definitely different. They’re still buildings, and all of the buildings are a pattern, but just not the Utah pattern. First off, there’s always a large gate around the buildings, and finding keys for interviews and baptisms is a pain. A ’many appointments we’ve missed running back and for across town trying to get a key that can unlock the gates. Remember how I lamented about the lack of hallways in Hawai’i. Peru seems to have this problem as well. The room for sacrament meeting is just one building with fans and benches and a podium. I believe we have a piano, but no one’s ever touched it, and I’ve been meaning to point out that I play a little, but it keeps, um, slipping my mind. Funny how that works.

The building for the classrooms is connected to the sacrament building by a bit of roof, and the relief society and classrooms and bishops office is all in one hallway. I don’t think they really have a gym. There’s a patio thing out in some grass? I think that’s the gym.

And there’s a good amount of people that regularly show up, but we actually have two areas in one building, so I think originally the numbers weren’t so great. Or at least weren’t good enough to have two wards.

 I adore you all a lot, and I cannot really believe that I’ve got over a month in Iquitos, and that would make almost three months out of the house. And that’s pretty crazy.
Talk to you on Miércoles.
Love, Hermana Compton
P.S. I could go with a mom hug right now. Virtual hugs should be a thing. Why aren’t virtual hugs a thing? Where’s my 21 century technology?

spoiled rich kid, depending on your perspective

Mother,

You reaffirm in me all the things that I already knew about myself. As in, I have no desire to go see the temple lights. Because I’m sure they’re really pretty and stuff, but also traffic and people and the cold nipping at exposed skin, and huffing around with a billion children. One might stay inside and read a book and forego all of the above. But I’m glad you took the kids. And you’re right. Sam’s spoiled rotten. To the core, that one.

And yes! I’ll take the expensive peanut butter! Merry Christmas to me! Also, did you put stickers on it of Jesus and Mary? You didn’t, did you? I know you, Mother. There’s a sticker-less package halfway to South America, and someone’s going to swipe my peanut butter. . .

Listen, I’m low on time today. The internet is horrifically slow here. But. I do have a refrigerator. It’s tiny, but operates. My apartment is actually really nice. The first day I got here, I was like, ‘This is a little sketchy.’ But now I’ve been in other houses, and my apartment is really nice. Really, really nice. Let’s just say that I have a door on my bathroom and a clean bed.

I walk a lot. But it all depends on the day. If we’re running late, which is always, we walk. If we’re really running late, which isn’t quite always, we take a motokar. But we walk all over town. Up and down the streets and I honestly don’t know how far because I don’t really think about it during the day. Surprisingly, and thanks to Grandpa’s generous donation, my feet are perfectly fine with all this walking. I feel so utterly spoiled with my rich-kid, extra support shoes, but goodness. They’re a blessing. No blisters, no aches, legs are fine. Thank you, Grandpa. Thank you, very much.

Laundry is sent to a family in the ward who has a laundry business. Some of the employees aren’t members, so the garments stay with us and get washed in the sink or in a bucket, depending on how lazy we’re feeling that night.

‘Buying groceries’ is a pretty specific phrase, Mother. Mostly we buy eggs and cardboard disguised as a loaf of bread, some yogurt and, if I feel like spending an arm and a leg, some cucumbers. That’s literally about what we have in our fridge on a daily basis. The rest of the time is lunch at the members house, and, if you remember correctly, is the half a field of rice with chicken and potatoes. It’s probably the worst I’ve ever eaten in my life, and I’ve lost a little weight, but only because I walk up and down this city at least once a day.

And I adore writing Joy. I literally get a letter from you, Joy, and Marissa every week.

I want to say more, and I’ve realized some really cool things about the Gospel this week, and I can talk a little better than last week in Spanish, but I have no time and other people to write.

I love you all very much, this gospel is one of love, and I think you’re all generally fantastic.

Oh, also to all the people reading the blog, to all the future missionaries frantically looking for someone in your mission, read Preach my Gospel. Read chapter three and read it again and again and again and again, and you can thank me later.

Love, Hermana Compton

In the rain forest; spoiled cow

Mother,

 Things happened this week. I can’t really remember what happened, but things. Turns out they don’t have salt out here in the jungle. They have what’s called Pure Manzana. Which is, if you can read that, exactly what it says–apple pure. I don’t know how that works, but it looks a lot like salt, and tastes sort of like salt, but I don’t know how that works for fungi feet. So basically, I think I soaked my feet in apple this week.

They don’t really have a lot of things out here. Like real cheese, or milk, or loaves of bread, or anything that can’t survive the shipping. I have found cucumbers and tomatoes, and they make this delicious cucumber and tomato salad here where they basically soak them in lemon and sprinkle ‘apple’ over it. It’s there version of a salad, I think.

Oh! Which reminds me! First case of food poisoning! Last Monday, after I wrote you all, the district went out and ate together. Hamburgers. Don’t trust the hamburgers. Anyways, I knew five minutes after I ate the burger that I’d be sick, and at around nine PM I threw up twice, slept in a bit, and was perfectly fine the next day. It was pretty mild, as far as eating spoiled cow goes.

The Spanish is a bit better. I can understand more literally every day. Speaking is a litttttle bit different. A lot harder. Not to mention teaching. But, good news, I’ve gotten over the whole ‘this is really difficult’ fit. Now it’s more of a, ‘just open your mouth and make a fool of yourself until you’re not a fool.’

We had another baptism this week. That’s two in two weeks, which I think is really cool, but also really just luck. I came when there was a bunch of baptisms already lined up for us.

Anyway, I love you a lots, and I’m actually okay without the cold. I think I’d rather hike in the heat than hike in the cold.

 

Love, Hermana Compton

 Image

City of Iquitos; Peruvian dogs

Mother,

 

The food is interesting. Well, actually, the food is really basic. We get rice and potatoes and some assortment of chicken. Occasionally some fried pepper with a chicken heart. It’s delicious, but heavy. Luckily, almost all the other missionaries have pintonistas—however you spell that—but we don’t, which means we get to eat our own breakfast, lunch at a members house, and dinner in our own time, which often means no dinner, which is fine because they feed us roughly half a cow for lunch. All is well in the food department.

The language is really hard, and I have to do two things every day to feel okay about how dismal my Spanish is. Number one is reminding myself that I have two weeks of solid Spanish speaking. And that’s it. A little in the CCM, but not really.  Two weeks. Second, is that Heavenly Father gives us hard things to make us better people. This is what I learned with Dad, and now I’m relearning it again. Good things will come from this; it’s just not going to exactly be easy for a long while.

 

For whatever reason, I have a really hard time talking to people that aren’t my companion. I can almost always understand the gist of what’s happening, but if someone looks at me in a lession and asks a specific question, or if my companion nudges me and tells me to talk, I have no idea what to say. It’s pretty discouraging, I’ll be honest. But I give myself a couple of months to get over the initial language blow.

 

I’m in the city of Iquitos, in the district of Iquitos. Our area is pretty huge—there was a bunch of area changes right before I got here, and so we had two areas squished into one. The city’s beautiful. It’s washed in colored houses and palm trees growing wherever they so please. They use tile here different than we do. It’s the wall and the floor, and it’s beautiful.

My apartment is in the rich area, which means we actually have a cement or tile floor rather than dirt or well packed sand. The poorer areas are poor. They have flimsy, rotted wooden walls with dirt and cement filling in the cracks. Everyone here ages at an accelerated rate. There’s a woman we’re baptizing this Saturday who’s thirty nine years old but could pass well over fifty.

 

Speaking of baptisms, we had a baptism this past Saturday for a wonderful lady, Hermana Marinela and her daughter. She’s thirty seven, has six children, lives in the dirt and sticks, her husband has left her to live with another family, and she works night shifts. And she’s wonderful. So, so wonderful. She has willingness and a desire to want the gospel in her life, and it’s been amazing to watch. Of course, I can barely understand her, and every time I try and talk to her, she just laughs and laughs. But her laugh is so infectious, and amazing, and I love her a lot.

 

I understand that man at Costco so much. I understand the feeling of being unable to communicate the most simple of things, and the utter frustration that comes with that. It’s nearly debilitation, and I have so much more sympathy for people living in foreign countries without knowing the language.

 

Also, you buy a not-broken bed after I leave? It’s going to be dead by the time I get home, so be prepared to buy me another one, yes?

 

I love you all a ton, and pray for you guys often. Please return the favor.

 

And send me my peanut butter.

 

With much love, Melody

 

P.S. I acknowledge that it’s Richard’s birthday this Sunday, and that I’ve missed various grandchildrens’ birthdays, and I wish them all luck and love and happiness and other generally good things. 

 

Also, we were contacting yesterday, which is basically where we walk around and invite people to church. 

 

I had this weird leg cramp and we stopped to talk to this ancient, ancient Peruvian lady with no teeth whatsoever—whom I mostly understood, be impressed—and I sat down and Hermana Martinez explained that my leg hurt.

 

The lady got really excited and got her dog. Now, in order for you to understand this, I need you to google Peruvian dog. They have a dog here native only to Peru. They’re like big black, fur-less rats that have a weirdly high body temperature. They’re always really warm, and if I didn’t know better, I’d say there were some sort of hellions from a horror movie. They give me the creeps.

 

Anyway, the point is that she held the dog to my leg and explained that Peruvian dogs are known for being able to cure ailments.  I walked away feeling less healed and more like I probably contracted various diseases.