Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Easter and Conference Weekend!

Visiting Hermana Santander’s favorite bookstore

6 April 2015 

I just want to start this letter by expressing my hope that everyone thought of me as John Daker´s biggest fan yesterday in Conference. Anyone who really knows me would. And just so you know, I was not smirking alone. All of my companions are familiar with John Daker and when the song started Hermana Santander reacted even before I did. 

After that irreverent note I can continue by saying that of course I loved General Conference. I listened in our chapel in Llay Llay. Although President Videla gave everyone permission to listen in English, the internet was slow and I gave up and just listened in Spanish with everyone else. What I learned most is humility. As I have been teaching less actives this week it is hard for me not to judge them and think, "Why can't you just do what you're supposed to? You know what's right!" I am learning that we are all mortal and we are all in the same boat struggling together in a fallen, imperfect world. I am not exempt. No one is. 

I was really looking forward to seeing President Monson on Saturday morning because I have been wondering how he was doing. I realized when the Liahona came that he hadn't written the First Presidency message. They compiled quotes from his past talks. When he didn't give a welcome on Saturday I was concerned. We are praying for his health here in Chile and love President Monson.

It was especially fun to listen to Elder Zeballos because he is in the Area Presidency of South America South and we have become very familiar with him, Elder Viñas, and Elder Gonzalez here in the mission, but Elder Zeballos is the only one from Chile. Elder Zeballos and his wife were the ones who came and spoke at our Christmas devotional on December 23 in our mission. I went over my notes again and felt like what he said at Christmas applies to Easter as well. He talked about three levels of Christmas:
1. Santa Clause (or the Easter Bunny). Lights, presents, chocolate, etc.
2. The baby Jesus. This level is where we sing "Silent Night" and think of the stable.
3. The Risen Lord. We remember the resurrected, adult version of Jesus Christ as He really is. We remember why He came.

The internet is not the best in our chapel and it cut out a lot. I am excited to download conference today and listen in English! I felt like I got the Cliff Notes version.

Once in a while I can hear English phrases underneath the translation. Sometimes the translation cuts out and they always start talking a few seconds after the talk has started. When President Uchtdorf started speaking German I began laughing and so did the translator. Most of the people in our branch can't tell the difference between English and German or at least aren't paying attention and they couldn't figure out why the translator and I were laughing together. Then the voice in Spanish, who doesn't understand German, pulled himself together and explained, "President Uchtdorf started speaking German as if he forgot that he was supposed to conduct in English." 

Hermana Santander made a joke before Conference as she talked to a sister who is going home this transfer. Hermana Santander finishes her mission the next transfer. The sister (Sister Clark, but not the one you all know) was worried that they were going to talk about marriage a lot. Hermana Santander said, "You hear what you want to hear. Obviously if that's what you're listening for that's what they're going to tell you." After watching the Women's meeting and the Saturday morning session Hermana Santander said, "Tell me it's not just me." "No," I consoled her, "they really did focus on families." It was all about families.

I had the chance to defend families last week! On Monday afternoon I found myself in a dental chair waiting for anesthesia to start working. The needle the dentist used hit a weird nerve and kind of hurt for a split second, but instead of worrying about that I was picturing what he had done according to what I had learned in my BYU anatomy class. I told him that I was studying neuroscience and he congratulated me. He has worked with missionaries before and said, "All of the Mormon girls just want to go home and get married and be stay at home moms." He said that women have a lot of potential in the workforce and that he hopes I finish my studies. He talked about money, cars, houses, and the travel that he and his wife enjoy because they married later in life and had kids at an older than average age. For me, money is not the primary reason for studying. I explained that my dream is to get married, have children, and be a stay at home mom upon returning to the States. I also explained that I don't think that is incompatible with learning. I love learning and I plan on continuing my education, obviously. The prophets and apostles counsel us to do both. Families are eternal. Intelligence is eternal. Money is not. Isn't it obvious what my priorities should be? Of course I am going to study, but my goal is not to enter the workforce and remain there.

I've been having some Shakespeare withdrawals lately. The fall weather here and General Conference remind me of Shakespeare festival in Cedar City and as I've been reading past Conference talks, my companion and I have noted how many apostles have Shakespeare citations. To make matters worse, my companion who studied in the University of Chile took me to her favorite bookstore in Santiago last week and made me homesick for literature. Can you say temptation? However, as I read the Book of Mormon on the bus I found myself very impressed with the dramatic plot in Alma 47. Please read it and tell me it's not the best Shakespearean tragedy you've ever heard. Amalickiah! The guy marries the king’s wife after he sends someone to kill him. Hamlet. And he's so deceptive! Othello! So the Book of Mormon helped me get over my Shakespeare withdrawals.

Flashback to a recent holiday: On Saint Patrick's Day I did get to pinch Hermana Santander! She didn't wear green, even though I warned her weeks earlier. When I woke up I put on a green ring from Mom's package and started my morning exercises. Hermana Santander asked me what it was and that's when I pinched her! She was so confused. The poor girl doesn't celebrate such silly holidays in her country, had just woken up, and had no idea why her simple question had elicited such a violent response from me. It was a good day. I shared pear jelly beans with her and she loved them. Our new member did too!

 As for your drug bust, I loved the drama with which you all told the story. We've had some conversations about marijuana here as well. Hermana Videla made a new rule that no one is allowed to drink anything that anyone gives them with leaves floating in it, even if they feel sick and a nice old lady member wants to give them something to make them feel better. Also, the sisters in Putaendo are teaching a referral who has quit marijuana and has a baptismal date!

Love you!

Happy Spring Break! And Happy Birthday to Julia! And to Jaylen Dodds! And Grandma Sabin in the Spirit World!

Hermana Eva VanCott

Correo Central

The creepy appearance of the dentist office from the outside

P- Day with the Hermanas at the Cementerio de las Carretas

My Los Andes sisters

Putaendo always has the best graffiti

"In the quiet misty morning."

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