Hola, familia, amigos, y todos…
- So remember how I said last week that if I got transferred, I´d probably be writing later? Well, part of that is true right now. I got transferred…but I´m writing at the same time I usually do. To explain…let´s rewind to a few hours after I wrote last Monday. Elder Serrano and I were on our way to play volleyball with the zone the last time this past transfer. When we got there, we got a few surprises…only the zone leaders and another companionship were there. And the zone leaders had some shocking news for me…I had an emergency transfer to Arequipa. To say it took me by surprise would be an understatement…sure, I was preparing myself to maybe be transferred in a week, but I had no idea I would be getting transferred so soon. I´m pretty sure the expression on my face after they told me was pretty tense…a million thoughts and emotions were running all around my head. We hurried back to our room so I could pack…and it was just so weird. And I still wasn´t sure what to think (or how to feel). It felt pretty darn surreal. And after that, we met back up with the zone leaders…it was about 6 in the evening…and bought my bus ticket for Arequipa. The bus was supposed to leave at about 7:30, but it dillied around a bit and we ended up leaving around 8 or so. The ride took forever (we had to stop a few times…), and I got into Arequipa at about 2 or 3 in the morning. (Sound familiar? Crazy to think this was my second time riding to/from Tacna and Arequipa in the middle of the night.) I found a good taxi to take me to where my room was (about 20-25 minutes away), we had a bit of trouble finding the room (I had the address, but neither of us knew exactly where it was), and I got in the house at about 4 in the morning. The husband of our new pensionista was my temporary companion until my new companion, Elder Grijalva, got in that morning at breakfast after being with the zone leaders. And there I was. In a new area with a new companion.
- So, my new area…it´s nice. We´re working in a branch called Apurimac. (It´s a pretty large branch…we have heard that it might convert into a ward in the coming weeks, when we have our branch conference.) I´m still getting used to it…I have no idea where half of the things are and whatnot, but I know it will come with time. It´s very different from Natividad in some ways…it´s pretty darn huge. I´m no good at estimating distances, so I couldn´t tell you how big it is exactly…but yeah. Natividad, we could walk everywhere pretty easily. Here, we still have to walk everywhere…but we have a lot of space to cover. Arequipa feels a bit different too. It´s summer right now, but Arequipa has pretty much a fairly level temperature all year around…about 70 or so in the daytime, from what I remember looking up before my mission, and a bit cold at night. I got here right after it was apparently raining for a bit…we´ve seen some clouds, but the sun has been out most of the time…and the Arequipa sun is a bit brutal. From what I´ve heard, it´s one of the toughest suns in the world, thanks to the elevation of Arequipa and some other random scientific circumstances that I´m not sure about. I´ve handled the weather pretty well, though…I´m putting my suit (and sweater!) on at night, I´ve started to use my sunscreen and Chap Stick a bit, and I haven´t gotten burned too badly or anything yet. Our area is pretty high up, pretty much at the foot of the pride of Arequipa, a mountain/hill called Misti. Whatever you do, if you meet an Arequipeño, do not call it a hill (cerro). For everyone that lives in Arequipa…it´s a volcano. And they adore it. And apparently get really offended if you make fun of it. 🙂 Our area being high up and large, we have a residential association called Tres Balcones de Misti (Three Balconies of Misti) that´s about a 20-minute walk/hike from where we live. The first time we hiked up this week…aargh, I´m way out of shape. Remember how I used to go on hikes and survive? Yeah, it´s been a while. Thankfully, the other time we went there this week (with our branch president), we got someone in the ward who drives a taxi to take us up at least most of the way.
- My new companion´s name was Elder Grijalva…and he´s from Quito, Ecuador. You may notice I said “was”…sorry for burying the lead here, but this morning, he got transferred. He had been in the area for 4 transfers (about 5 or so months), was a district leader here, and now he´s on his way to an area in the outskirts of Arequipa. (Mom, apologies that I finally had an Ecuadorean companion, but only got to have him for 6 days. :)) He was a good companion…very different, and I wasn´t sure what to think of him at first. Still, he was very fun, he´s a very good missionary, and we had a nice (short) time together. So I realized after he left this morning that we never got a picture together…dang it. You´ll just have to imagine how he looked like. (Speaking of pictures, I´m going to try to get a hold of some way to send them this week, and next week I´ll work on starting to send them. Let the suspense build.)
- Before I get to another big piece of news, something that will shock you. You know how I say you should sit down before you read certain things? You´re going to have to sit down and strap yourself very tightly in your chair. You will not believe me. So while visiting with a very nice family in the branch here, they offered us food. But not just any food. It was torrejitas…basically, little cakes of flour and mashed banana, fried. I knew perfectly well what they were (they told us beforehand), but since we were visiting, I was new, and I thought I might as well…I started eating them. But that´s not all. I liked them. I kid you not. Mom, before you start calling the presses, I still hate bananas. But at the very least, there´s at least one way I´ll eat them. (I think banana bread is another. I used to freak out whenever I started eating it and found out it was banana bread, but now, I think I´ll be fine with it in the future.) Feel free to make them when I come home…I think you´ve made them before…they looked familiar.
- Random side note, to build up the suspense before that big piece of news I have to tell you…so in my new zone are two familiar faces. Elder Valerio and Elder Armijo, from my district in the MTC, are both serving here. It´s great to be united with them again…I knew Elder Armijo was going to be here, but I had no idea Elder Valerio was here too. It was a nice surprise Tuesday when we were at district meeting.
- OK, so my companion got transferred. This you know. This morning at 3:30, they called to tell Elder Grijalva who was being transferred. They told him the info about his new area, and sleepily, I heard him say afterwards…”Elder Randall is going to train?” Yep, that´s right. I´m training a new missionary. I have no idea who it is…I´ll meet them on Wednesday. Just like emergency transfers…I have very mixed emotions, but overall, I know it will be a good experience. “Come what may, and love it.” That´s just what I´ll be doing this week, starting this crazy new experience called training.
OK, so as always…oof, out of time. I haven´t gotten to nearly all the things I meant to cover…it´s been a rather big week (I missed talking about a lot of really cool things…for example, we visited with a Seventy, Elder Waddell)…but I´ll try to catch up a bit next week. Mom, try to see how things are going in Natividad with your Facebook connections. Tell the Curasi family I said thank you for everything they´ve done for me. Random side note…Mom, can you send me your lasagna recipe? My new pensionista wants to make it, and I definitely want her to make it too. For now…I´m doing well. A lot of new experiences lie ahead. It´s going to be different. But I have the Lord at my side, and I know I´ll be fine. Come what may…I´ll love it. That´s what the Lord wants me to do. 🙂