Hola, familia y todos…
- First off, I hope you all had a marvelous Christmas. Getting to call you guys on Christmas Day and see you all and talk to you personally…amazing. So yeah, we had more than a few technical difficulties…aargh, the sound…but it still was terrific. So for Elder Serrano´s call after me Hno. Julio (Hna. Yesenia´s husband) found a better-working microphone headset thingy, and it worked well, but by that time the connection was pretty much gone. I think with all the people calling via Skype for Christmas (missionaries and normal people alike), and the fact that we´re in different countries and all, kind of had us in trouble from the get go. Elder Serrano actually had to eventually resort to calling by telephone…but he got to see all his family (his grandparents were so awesome), and he was able to talk fine with his family, and catch up on a bunch of things, which was good. We had no complaints, when all was said and done.
- OK, Mom, so Hna. Herrera is wondering what kind of Ecuadorean you are. Haha, no, but she was surprised you hadn´t heard of pan de reyes. (She was a bit less surprised when I reminded her you´ve lived in the U.S. for quite a while, though.) From what I learned from talking with her, it´s quite possibly the same as your amazing Easter braid (which you should totally send me the recipe for…). As for panetón, I have more info on this. The official description on many of the bags/boxes is: “bizcocho relleno con pasas y frutas confitadas.” It´s like fruitcake, except amazing instead of awful. I have learned from Hna. Yesenia that it´s really tedious to make at home, so thus pretty much everyone buys it at the store. There are tons, tons, tons, tons,tons of different companies that make/sell panetón. A division here of Nestle; Gloria (a prominent dairy company here in South America); a company called Don Antonio; and so on. And once again…so good. And like Hna. Herrera told me, it exists in Ecuador too, at the very least right now, and is called pan de pascua. And you should totally look and try to see if they have it at Lee-Lee´s or something, because I don´t know if I´ll be able to live without it. (Next week, when we can go buy things for the month, I am planning to buy some, because since it´s after Christmas, they´re all on sale.)
- The week before last, our pensionista and Hna. Yesenia and all them made manicotti. It was very good…but also very tiny. They weren´t able to find large manicotti noodles, plus I think they might have gotten a bit confused or something…and thus it was Manicotti Jr. 🙂 Nevertheless, very delicious, a taste of home, and it was so awesome of them to go ahead and make a recipe I had from home. 🙂 We wanted to take pictures, but we didn´t get the chance…you´ll just have to imagine tiny little noodles stuffed with cheese. 🙂
- OK, so the doctor. Sorry to bury the lead there…anyways, my cough has continued, and while I was on exchanges with one of the zone leaders, we went off to the clinic. The doctor said my cough is the result of an allergic reaction…I had to get my blood drawn the next day to confirm this, which was not fun, but I handled it a bit better than last time. (When I had to hold Dad´s hand and ordered him to distract me. Sigh. :)) I didn´t hold anyone´s hand this time, partly because they told my zone leader to wait outside (since it was a lab and everything), but yeah…I guess I´m growing up. Anyways, the blood test (apparently) confirmed the allergic reaction thing (they didn´t say anything about what I reacted to…no dietary restrictions or anything), and they prescribed me Allegra and Zitomicin to take. I´m doing a bit better, I think. They said to come back in 5 days if my symptoms persist. My companion is also helping me out…our pensionista bought a bit of menthol cream for me to apply, and in what is very, very hopefully considered companionship bonding, he puts it every night on my chest and back. Aaand…someone call 1-800-So Awkward.
Before I close (I think I might actually be covering all I planned to say for once…), an insight from my studies, since it´s been a while. The other day, we were studying repentance and the Atonement for an investigator we have, and I received lots of terrific insights that day. I wish I could share them all with you, but for now, something that reminded me of a song (because it´s me…). In “Preach My Gospel,” it says about repentance, “Repentance includes forming a fresh view of God, ourselves, and the world.” Which oddly enough, reminded me of the song “I Can See Clearly Now”…”I can see clearly now, the rain is gone/I can see all obstacles in my way…” When we repent, we´re happier. We have more hope, more guidance, more faith…we´re like new. We can see our lives clearly…and all the obstacles that lie ahead, we can see as they really are…possible to overcome, with the Lord´s help. They´re just stumbling blocks…not the end. And more importantly, we can see our eternal goal…living with our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ forever and ever, with our families, experiencing eternal joy.