El Abajo es Bakan; Big snakes not so much

Please continue Aurora Shenanigans. And photos. You really must buy a camera, Mother. It’s not fair that I don’t get any photos.

This week was a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions and new experiences. I’ve now changed my area, my zone, and my companion. This is a little bit sad, very new, and somewhat like starting the mission over again. The ward is fantastic. I thought my ward in Las Castanas was pretty cool, but now I have a measure of judgment. Let’s just say that Clavero is bakan, como dicen aca. (Bakan doesn’t have a translation in English. Its like. . . the best?)

This area is a lot poorer than my previous area. There’s a quarter that’s normal city houses but the other part is the river. It’s called The Abajo. The Below. For half the year it’s dirty sand and for the other half, dirty water. But that’s where we teach most of the time, where we have families and people progressing. And now the water’s rising, and the people are putting up planks that connect the houses together. Before I didn’t really feel like I was on an island, but now I feel it.

Yesterday we went to visit a Less Active, and when we went Abajo in the morning, there was no water, but at around 7 o’clock, the water was creeping into the streets. So we went by planks. While we were talking to the family, a huge rat ran across their back porch. I’ve seen rats the likes of which you can’t even imagine, mother. They eat toes. (Only if you leave rice between said toes, if I heard that story correctly.) But I maintained my cool. I didn’t scream or anything. And then when we were leaving, the family said, ‘Oh, yeah. Watch out for the snakes. They come inland when the water rises.” And I was like, “No. I choose to believe that you’re lying.”

But then like an hour later, walking down the street, all the kids near us started screaming and pointing and my companion starting yelling, “Hermana! Hermana! Hermana!”

Weeeelllll, huge, colorful, amazonic snake between my feet. I then lost all my cool and my companion and I fled while the children played with said big, angry snake.  

So. The snake thing was true, I suppose. But I live, as of yet, and continue to work. Hernana Pontón, my new companion, works differently than Hermana Rojas, so we’re figuring out how to adjust. There’s always adjustment time when we have new companions.

I hope all goes well with the whole house thing, with the kids, with Aurora. And I adore you all very, very much. Hasta la lunas que viene! 

Afraid of the rain? Alligator for breakfast

Jennifer! One of my top five favorite cousins!

I’ll have you know that I did walk on that bridge. Twice. And I’ll also have you know that I ate Alligator the other day. It was really tough, but also really delicious. Possibly from that very river.

Congrats on the bebe. Another intelligently sarcastic child added to the group.

I live in a constant state of sweatary. I don’t think that’s a word, but it should be. I sweat when I sleep. I sweat when I shower. I sweat when I eat. It’s gross. But we also had three days this week where it rained and I think it dropped below 70 and I was like, ‘No! I take it back! I don’t like this madness!’ So I think all my whining is a bunch of fluff. I’m also beginning to suspect that the Iquitanian paranoia of rain is rubbing off on me. When it rains here, everyone sits in their house, afraid to go anywhere. You’d think a people living in the rainforest would be a little more pro-rain, but they all seem to be pretty freaked out about it. Or maybe that’s just because seemingly EVERY Sunday it rains, and all the investigators are suddenly stricken with this mysterious rain-panic. . . Hmmmm.

I’m to change areas tomorrow morning. I’m afraid. I’ll admit it. I’m like a panicky newb starting all over again. Like ten miles down the road from my current area, but panicky all the same. Pray for me, Jennifer. Pray.

I adore you a ton. And I seriously hope that one day we live within a state’s radius of one another. One day. ..

Mother,

Hey! Happy Birthday! I’m so jealous of your pineapple upside down cake. I’m so, so jealous. If only you could send cakes internationally. . . 

I’m changing wards today. And I feel a little sad. I’m going to spend all day today saying goodbye to all my families, all the people I love, and this area that I’ve had for roughly five month. I don’t want to change, but I’ll be fine.

I’m sorry the house fell through. Maybe you’re supposed to stay in that house for a bit longer. To finish this school year with the kids. Are Richard and AesaLina moving then? They talk about it a lot.

This week I went to Lima! I almost forgot. A mass of us gringos flew in for a little over a day to finish up immigration documents, and we walked around the temple, slept in a nice hotel, and had a hot shower. It was really weird. And Lima, which I previously thought was the grittiest, grungy, dirtiest place ever, looked like slick city life after five months in the jungle. And the people of Lima are sarcastic, and talk fast, and don’t believe me when I tell them I had Alligator for breakfast—which I did. But we went to the temple and ran into my CCM teachers. It was really weird. It was like I’d never left. I can’t believe I’m going to complete six months. That’s. . .really weird. Reaaaaly weird.

I think I’ll be a bit sad this week. I can feel it. I’m going to spend today mourning my companion, my families, my house, my area. And then I’ll be fine. Once we start working, it’s this haze of fast walking and faces and lessons. There’s not really time to be sad once we start.

I hear people are getting married, and people are having babies, and people are preparing to have babies. Life continues without me? That doesn’t make sense.

I love you all! Say hi to Sam and to Nathan and to Joy and to Keith, and to whoever else you run into.

don’t eat too many dulces

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Mother,

You know, I glimpsed something on the news about this whole Russian-Ukraine bit. They also recently pulled out all the missionaries of Venezuela, and reassigned them all to different missions. We received two new Elders in our zone from that mission. It’s interesting and a little bit scary to watch political disasters away from home, but I also don’t feel any true panic. Not any foreboding unease. Perhaps that’s only because Iquitos is so disconnected from the world.

This week we’ve been focusing on the less actives. We have the promise that if we focus on the less active, we’re going to baptize more people. And this is true. We’re going to baptize the children of all the less active. In the mission, it’s sort of. . . bad. . .to baptize only children. Como dicen, they’re the chocolates. Dulce, but you shouldn’t eat too much of it. But now we have five children preparing for baptism–Christopher, Dubler, Joane, Yolanda, and Hugo. But we’re actually quite happy. They’re all quite darling. And children. Goodness, I miss my littles.

This week was a little bit bamba, as they say here. We had a plethora of activities, so we didn’t have a ton of time to actually go out and work this week, but it was a good week.

We have changes next Monday, which is crazy. Because that’s almost six month out of the house, and that’s a third of my mission. A third. Is that not so crazy? And I still like the idea of you guys coming down here. I could show you around, though not that there’s a ton of things to do, because. . . like. . . eat huge worms. That’s pretty much tourism out here. But still! Come down. That would be really, really cool.

I too don’t get sick very often. We had a mini-sister missionary council with Hna. Gomez, and I guess a lot of the sisters are always sick. I don’t really. . .get that sick. Every once in a while, I get this really weird pain in my back, but not my back. It’s in the area of my back, but it’s not my spine or anything. I don’t know what it is. It’s like something in the center of me has really, really sore muscles. And it’s not so bad that I can’t work. But my point is is that I don’t really get sick out here. And I’m so, so grateful. I think it’s because I ate not-horrific at home, and I make a point of eating apples and cucumbers and any other vegetable I can get my hands on out here. It’s a lot more expensive, but I think the tradeoff is quite worth it. Expensive food for my heath.

It’s pretty normal out here. I think I’ll be changing wards with this next cambio, but I honestly don’t know. They also say that I could stay. Some people have a solid six months in their first area.

I hope the world doesn’t erupt into war. And I hope all goes well with the house. And I hope everyone’s doing well. And that there’s no more pink eye and snotty noses and such.

Love, Hermana Compton

P.S. I’m sending photos, so I don’t really have time to write anyone else. So Marissa and Joy and Grandpa and Sharon and Jennifer and Aunt Cynthia and Elle and all the others writing, I love you all too. And thank you for your time and your letters, and I’m sorry for my flaky-ness.

The motorkars we ride in.

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Our whole zone

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A couple of the kids in the ward that I adore. Adore, adore, adore.

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And remember when I went weed whacking in the jungle? Our bridge to cross the river.

Weedwacking in the Peruvian jungle

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Mother, 

Oh, Mother. I think I’ve had a fantastic, wonderful, stupendous week. To make up for all the weeks that definitely weren’t all of those things. Where do I even start? 

Well, firstly, Wednesday morning we had service en the Zone. What kind of service? Cultivating. I don’t even know how to translate this into English, because I don’t think we have the equivalent anymore, but if I had to be a word to it, I’d say we went weed whacking.  With machetes. In the middle of a mini-forest. With a river and all. It was fabulous. I quite loved it. And while I happily chopped away, I couldn’t help but think that Alden would have equally loved it. Weed whacking in the Peruvian jungle is totally something Alden and I would do together for fun. 

It was really fun, but also really hard, and my right hand is still recovering from blisters, and the entirety of my body was sore for two days after, and I sweated through my close within the first five and a half minutes. But I loved it.

I have photos. But I don’t have an adapter. I’ll perhaps buy one today and upload the photos next week. 

The second thing about this week that was wonderful was that we had the opportunity to have a two day seminar with Elder C. Scott Grow and his darling wife. This was amazing. This was so, so wonderful. He spoke against many of the things that I find quite unappealing about the mission—how the people often get crunched into numbers, and how we’re thus led into this trap of trying to twist the people into agreeing with us instead of inviting them to discover the truth. I do not like this, this crunching of people. Neither does Elder Grow. I feel significantly more at ease with many of the things I didn’t understand or comprehend about the mission now. 

Thirdly, we had four youth in our ward receive their calls this week. Four. That puts this ward at six youth who have their calls and are waiting to leave on the mission in the next five months or so. We have a few families in the ward who have almost-officially adopted us. But there’s two families that we absolutely love. We adore them. They adore us. It’s a mutual thing. And their daughter’s going to serve in the Bolivia, Santa Cruz mission, and I literally feel like. . . I don’t know. Like my child’s going on a mission. Or like my sister’s going on a mission. Her name is Nadeth. 

So a wonderful week it has been. I’ve officially completed five months, and in two months, I’ll be able to call home for Mother’s day. I’m certainly not counting the days. (More or less, 62 days, in case you were wondering.)

I hope all goes well with the house. I’m actually a little nostalgic about this house, but I think all’ll work out, eventually.

 I believe I’m in the same boat as Richard. 90 percent of the time I feel fine with Dad, but 10 percent of the time, I do feel a wall of resentment, or perhaps a bitter second-hand shame for what he did. I think I’ll take us a while, but I can say that it’s better now than it was a year or two years ago. 

I must go now, but I love you all, and I miss you all.

Chao!  

 P.S. To answer your question–How’s Iquitos?–One day it was blistering hot. And the next it was downright almost cold. And today it’s cloudy. 

 

Uncle Jaye’s legacy; Carnival; Marissa, please post?

Mother, Keith, assorted family,

 

Happy 2 years! That’s pretty crazy that two years have already passed! Speak of time going quickly, I finish five months exactly this coming Sunday. Almost a third of the way done. That doesn’t feel real. That doesn’t feel real at all. I wish you come down and cook me a happy five month feast, but alas, I’ll stick to my artificial ham and cheese sandwiches.

I’m somewhat bewildered by this mild, friendly Utah weather. It’s unnatural, and you should all be really concerned. There’s almost certainly something worse around the corner. (I blame any claims of pessimism on Uncle Jaye.)

Out of curiosity, how much do I have in my bank account? And is Spencer paying the insurance in for my car? It’s automatically withdrawn from my account, I think.

The Spanish is coming along swimmingly. I can communicate now. That’s nice. I even understand jokes these days. I’ve heard I talk like an Argentinean. Or at least I use words that only they use. Actually, sometimes I have to have my companion translate what the other missionaries are saying because there’s little words that each country has that the others don’t. And I’m not learning the ones of Peru, but of the Argentine variety. Also, my spelling is even worse in Spanish than it is in English. And my English is now worse than it was before my mission. To put it mildly, it’s a disaster. A large, phonetically-incorrect, grammatically-incorrect disaster. Just like that sentence.

I will come home to a new house. This is okay.

Iquitos is Iquitos. It’s really big, and there’s lots of motokars scooting around.

Yesterday was Carnival. Not sort-of-Carnival  like the other weekends. It was the big deal. Before it was a water balloon thrown in our general direction, but the actual holiday is quite a bit different. They put up these long, bendy trees in the streets—literally in the middle of the streets. But first they tie things to this tree. Plastic pots and chair and stools and shirts and toys and whatever house-hold item they can get their hands on. The cool ones have a Peruvian flag at the top. They put the tree up Saturday and cut it down with a machete Sunday night, and everyone on the block goes crazy and rips things off the tree. I watched it all from my balcony last night. It’s sort of like the opposite of a Christmas tree. Thin, little tropical tree with all the presents on top.

 But then they have this really, really gorgeous rustic and yellow colored clay that they either A) roll into little watery balls and chuck at people or B) put the clay in a bucket of water and chuck the bucket of water at people. Either way, the clay gets on everyone and everything. They also get little seeds of a plant that are basically a fuzzy barb and throw that at people as well. You shouldn’t ask me why they do all these things, because I don’t know, and they don’t know—I already asked.

Amidst all this are the parties and the drunks and the music playing so loud you can feel it in your lungs.

We actually didn’t proselyte yesterday.  We ran to church, ran to lunch, and ran to our house and didn’t leave till this morning. It was a mission wide rule. The kids and the teenagers tend to target missionaries, I guess, and they’ve had security problems in the past.

I love you all! I wish you the best of luck in preparation with the move and with the kids and with family home evening. 

P.S. Ask Marissa about the urinal story. The urinal story is the best.