May 26, 2014

This Week

Well, this past week has just been full of unexpected turns of events. I went to Virasorro for exchanges and worked with Hermana Andersen. It was so nice to speak a little English!!! Virasorro is a lot nicer than Santo Tomé, and I enjoyed actually walking on pavement instead of very rocky dirty roads. Unfortunately, my companion and Hna Andersen´s companion missed the 8 pm bus to Virasorro from Santo Tomé. To make a long story short, we ended up all having to spend the night in Virasorro. We all crammed into their apartment and tried to get a few hours of sleep, since their bus got in around 11, and we had to take a bus the next morning that left at 7. I am learning to get by on not as much sleep as I would enjoy haha. But it all worked out in the end, and I´m still alive, so that´s always a plus.

This week has started to turn COLD. And our apartment doesn´t have heating, so we´ve been going to bed with hats, gloves, scarves, sweatshirts, and lots and lots of layers of socks and tights. Hopefully we can buy a heater sometime in the next few days, because 55 degrees is now considered “warm” in the apartment. We´ve been using my hair dryer as a little personal heater haha. We´re pretty creative.

Also, today we came to Posadas because Hna Tapia had to visit the bank. Unfortunately, somebody lied to us and told us that the bus left at 12:30. Nope, it left at 12. So we got to the terminal at 12:05, proud of ourselves for arriving not only on time but quite early, and then we found out that we had missed the bus and the next one doesn´t leave until 6! So I am currently typing this email in the little cyber cafe they have here in the terminal. And I don´t have access to a printer, so I´m sorry everyone, I haven´t been able to read all the emails, and I won´t have time to respond to many either. We are going to take a 1:30 bus to Apostoles, and then maybe a taxi from there to Santo Tomé.

Something that I have started doing is writing down names of the desserts here. They are SO GOOD. I don´t know what it is, but their candies and treats are super delicious- it´s great that we walk so much because if we didn´t I´d have gained a lot (and I mean a lot) of weight by now!

I love being here, it just feels like one little adventure after another! I love you all and pray for you every night! Next week I should have pictures!
Hna Simmons

P.S. Ah I wish I had more time to write everyone. Just know I´m glad to hear the update from you and love you all!

fyi thank you mom for the (chocolate chip cookie) recipe! I saw that you sent it! Hopefully I can print it out next week and make some delicious cookies or cookie dough!

Question:  Do you and the missionaries in your mission have to take any kind of shots to protect against any kind of disease or sickness?

Answer:  Nope, at least not where I´m at. I just make sure to take my multivitamin thing once a day and I´m good. Thank heavens I don´t have to inject myself! I would probably pass out, I hate needles.

May 19, 2014

Here In Santo Tomé

First off, CONGRATULATIONS to Alden and my brand new sister Katie! And oh my word I cannot even believe that Elsa cut out! Whose idea was that??? But seriously, everyone looks so good and happy! And Katie! Her dress is stunning!  Thanks for sending the pictures :)

So, I’m a liar. I promised pictures, but the computer I’m using won´t let me upload them right now. I´ll try again after I finish writing my letters, but I’m making no promises. Sorry!!!

This week has been LONG. I´ve never walked so much in my life! But I love it because I’m getting in such good shape right now, it´s kind of fantastic. Also, the language is slowly, slowly coming along. Some days are better than others, and actually some people are better than others. Some people slur so much! And drop consonants left and right! Honestly, when I can´t tell what someone is saying I´ll just watch my companion and mirror her facial expressions haha. It probably looks pretty comical to everyone else since my facial expressions are all about 2 seconds too late, and probably quite exaggerated.

I don´t really have any exciting experiences to relate. We´ve just been doing a lot of walking and contacting with people the past few days. Oh, and apparently may is the "month of spiders" here, so that´s pretty great. There was a huge one on the wall above my desk the other day, and another just lounging around on my bed. They were both promptly put to death for their crime of existing in the same world as butterflies and rainbows and chocolate chip cookies. Spiders (and all the other weird insects here) just need to not be here haha.

Hermana Tapia and I were out contacting last night, clapping at every house (they clap at the gate here instead of knocking on the door). We got to one house and the lady seemed super interested in what we were saying, so we set an appointment to come back another time a little earlier (it was about eight and already pitch black). Anyway, so we turned to go and as we were walking away from the house, I felt the ground disappear from beneath my right foot. All I could think was "I´m going down, and I´m wearing my favorite black skirt!" haha. Apparently there was a little ditch in front of this woman´s house, and I didn´t realize that I was walking right on the edge of it- when it gets dark here, it gets DARK. So I ended up slipping and my foot went down straight into about an inch of mud. Awesome. But luckily the ditch was only about a foot deep, and it was only my right foot, so it could have been a lot worse. But yeah, it was pretty thrilling, and the lady came rushing out from behind her gate apologizing and asking if I was okay (I wasn´t- my hands were a bit scratched up and my shoes were disgusting), but I was embarrassed so I just said "yes, yes thank you" and we went on our way.

One thing I´ve realized while here is how accustomed we can become to things. And unfortunately, once we´re accustomed to it we don´t appreciate it as much. For example, I´m fairly certain that the moon here is about a billion times bigger and brighter than in the States. And there are so many stars! The night sky is incredible, but nobody here seems to care since it´s something they´ve always known. I do the same thing. When I was little I always thought "I have a pretty great house and a pretty nice family." When I got into high school and got a little older I realized "Wow, I´ve been really blessed in my life." And then I arrived here in Argentina and I realized that honestly I have been so spoiled all along! My family, my friends, the convenience of life in the United States, my teachers and education, etc... Everything! I always knew I was blessed, but I never realized exactly how much! Psamls 8:3-4 "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?" All blessings really do come from God, and it´s so incredibly important to thank Him for everything we have- from the view of the night sky to a spider-free bed! It never ceases to amaze me that Heavenly Father is so wonderful and powerful, yet He loves us enough to bless us so much. And His Son Jesus Christ loved us enough to die for us! Even though sometimes I feel so small and insignificant, They are mindful of me! And my companion! And my family! It´s amazing.

I love you all! And I´m going to try to see if I can send some pictures!
Hermana Simmons


Golden Corral sounds so good right now! haha It´s hard not having all the food or ingredients or utensils that I would like right now haha. But it´s an exciting adjustment. It´s kind of lame but sometimes when  I´m frustrated I just pretend I´m my own protagonist in a novel or movie and then it´s a little easier haha. Because if my life right now was a book or movie I would totally be cheering myself on, so that´s something that helps a little, as embarrassing and lame as that is haha

And oh my heck that Elsa cut out!!!!  That cracks me up! I´ve never been a huge fan of the whole missionary cut out thing, but I have to say, at least you picked a fabulous character to bear my name! :) haha

And I totally understand about keeping my mouth shut sometimes! Proverbs 21:23 used to be my motto! but It´s hard because here in the mission they actually WANT me to talk, even if I don´t always feel like it. And It´s hard because I already know that I´m going to make mistakes with the Spanish, but sometimes we just have to forget what we want or our own pride and just do what the Lord wants us to do. Sometimes that´s stay silent, and sometimes that´s open our mouths and speak.


Photo:  Proof that I am actually alive, here in Argentina :)

Photo:  on the bus from the Buenos Aires airport to the Buenos Aires temple! We had to wait at the temple for a few hours since our flights from Buenos Aires to Salta and Posadas were delayed due to the fog!

May 12, 2014

I’m living in Argentina!!!

Hey hey hey!!!!!

I’m writing this from a cyber cafe in a town called Santo Tomé. I’m in Argentina, and if I look across the river I can see Brazil. What?!? When did this happen? haha

So, May 5 we boarded a bus at 8:30 and rode to the SLC airport. From there we flew to the Dallas airport, and then to Buenos Aires. That was a 10 hour flight, and I wanted to die. I got about 4 hours of awkward, uncomfortable sleep, and we arrived in Buenos Aires around 8 local time (but it felt like 5 am to me). We were able to drive to the Buenos Aires temple, walk around, eat lunch (hey Jaron, I finally ate a “real”dulce de leche alfajore!), and shower. Then we went to the airport again and met up with a group of missionaries from the Argentine MTC. Another Hermana and I boarded a plane and landed in Posadas (only about an hour flight, thankfully). We were picked up by the Mission President, his wife, and his assistants. Then we went to the mission home, ate dinner, and got to sleep! I felt like I had taken two days and crammed them into one- probably because that’s what I did. I didn’t really sleep or eat real food from 8 am May 5 until 9pm May 6. But I’m here! And that’s all that matters!

Wow, and here is amazing!!

First off, there really are dogs and cats EVERYWHERE. They just run around free, begging for food and attention. It’s hard for my companion and I because we both love animals, but luckily we have enough self-control to just keep walking past them all :( It’s a little easier because the people who live below us own a cute little puppy named Lolee, so we do get to spend a little time in the morning when we leave and in the night when we get home with a dog.

It is so humid. As in, it feels like a sauna in the afternoon. And some of the trees here look like they came straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. There’s a species that’s fairly short, but the leaves are HUGE. As in, bigger-than-my-head, more-than-a-foot-across huge.

Now that I’m here, I understand what it feels like to be a foreigner. It’s not very fun to not understand what anyone else is saying. To not be able to communicate is super frustrating at times, but luckily my companion is super patient and nice. She’s from Chile and doesn’t know much English, so on the bright side I’m learning the language SUPER quickly, since I really have absolutely nobody to speak English with.

The people here are so great! Everyone is super friendly and nice and welcoming. The other night we were out contacting and decided to give a pass-along card to a group of people who were just sitting on their porch, talking and drinking their máte (Jaron wasn’t kidding, everybody drinks máte ALL THE TIME). When we got over there and explained that we were missionaries and just wanted to leave them a little card and invitation to church on Sunday, a man named José asked me why I wasn’t saying anything. I explained in my broken Spanish that I had just arrived from the states and still couldn’t speak very well. Without hesitating, he said, “well, that’s because you need to practice.” Then he quickly put two chairs in front of my companion and I and told us to start talking. He and his two friends (Lordes and Victoria) were super great! They had so many questions and we got to teach them a little about the Church. And when we told them we had to go-we have a curfew- all three of them made sure we wrote down their addresses and told us to come back! It’s so great seeing people who truly want to know more about Christ and really want to have a stronger relationship with Him.

Alright, one last slightly humorous thing. To put it simply, I am a very white person. I’m super pale, I have blue eyes, and my hair is kind of a dirty blonde, light brown. People notice right off the bat that I’m not from around here. In every single visit this past week, everyone has made a comment about my eyes! haha I never thought about them much before, but when nearly everyone in the country has brown eyes, I guess blue kind of stands out. Also, people feel like they can get away with saying anything they want around me because they know I can’t understand that much. The other day Hna Tapia and I were walking down the street, and we passed an older gentleman. I smiled and said “hola” like I do for everyone, and he said something back. As soon as he passed and we had turned the corner, my companion started busting up laughing. Apparently he said “Que tal, muneca!”  Which basically means “what’s up doll.” I was a little taken aback, considering this man was quite advanced in years and didn’t seem like one to use slang haha.

I love you all and wish I had more time to write! But here’s my quick thought for the week! Isaiah 40:31- those who trust in the Lord and rely on Him will find that living the gospel is not work, it is WINGS. When we are humble and depend on the Lord we can truly reach our full potential. Considering I walk basically 7 hours a day (that’s not an exaggeration, we literally walk from one end of town to the other, and back as we do visits and contacts), I’m so grateful that living the Gospel helps me to “run and not be weary, to walk and not faint!” I know that Christ strengthens us! I know my Heavenly Father blesses me so much! I know that this is the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I could not be doing anything of more importance right now than serving a mission and bringing the good news of Christ to the people of Santo Tomé!!!!

I love you all!
Hermana Simmons

yikes! Sorry no pictures this week! There’s no time!!!! I’ll try to upload them next week!

It really is amazing all the miracles and blessings we miss if we aren’t looking for them. Just being here in Argentina I realize just how super incredibly easy I had it and how crazily cushy and comfortable my life has been. I mean, I’ve always known that I’m blessed, but I think there is a huge difference between “knowing”  something and actually understanding. It’s like the difference between testimony and conversion. A person can have a testimony but not act on those promptings of the Spirit because they aren’t converted. I always knew that I was blessed, but now I have real actual experience to contrast with my life before. Now I understand exactly how much I’ve been blessed. Thank you so much (and you can tell Mom this too!) for all you do!!!!! All your working and saving and serving and help you have given me is seriously amazing to me!

Love Hna Simmons!

My MTC Branch.