Happy New Year (a bit early, I know, but better early than late)!
I really don´t feel like Christmas has come and gone; half for the weather (still hot) and half for the difference from Christmas back home. First off, Christmas Eve (Noche Buena) is the celebratory day. Basically everyone is at home with their families having a good time and sharing spiritual thoughts and stuff, and then at likethey eat their dinner. Dinner always includes pork, chicken, plantain things they call pastel, giant loaves of semi-sweet bread, and what they call a russian salad, which is like a potato salad but with a sweeter, milder sauce and made mostly with hard-boiled eggs and apples. Dinner may also include rice, moro (rice cooked with seasonings and garbanzo beans), pasta salad, lasagne (not italian style: just seasonings, pasta, and beef or chicken), and various types of empanadas. Everyone makes enough food to feed near 25 so they can have tons of family over and can have leftovers for a couple of days. Christmas day everyone sleeps in (obviously, having been up until 2 or three in the morning), then hits the street in the afternoon and evening to spend the time with friends drinking and dancing in front of the corner stores (colmados), every one of which blares its music even louder than the usual 24/7 ruckus. That continues until 2 or 3 in the morning again, and then everything calms down until New Year´s when
I´m told the same thing happens again (for which cause the 24th, 25th, and 31st we need to be at home before 6 unless we are at a member´s house and they can give us a ride home.)
Élder M**** is getting transferred! I´m sad about that one--we´ve really become great friends and consiervos (fellowservants) out here in Los Tres Brazos. The ward is even sadder to see him go, though: with six months out here, he´s practically part of the ward. We were joking that he´d have a ton of investigators and members suddenly begin to appear in his new area (he´ll be a zone leader in la Zona Oriental. My new companion is Élder H****, and he will take Élder M****´ place as district leader. He has just under a year in the mission, and beyond that I know nothing. More on that next week.
This week the Lord has definitely been supporting my self-esteem a bit. I began to feel a lot of inadequacy this week looking at our low numbers, few progressing investigators, the departure of the guy who knows the members and knows his way around best, and the fact that half of our investigators are gone until the end of January visiting family. Saturday and Sunday, though, the Lord bolstered my spirit. We met two new investigators, one on Saturday who came to church on Sunday (after a quick 5-minute lesson because she had to go) and one on Sunday who had tons of questions, tons of desire to learn, and asked US for a Book of Mormon. After walking all over the place having short lessons and saying goodbyes with Élder M*****, I have come to realize how many places I do know how to get to. I have learned to cook enough to make something different for all 3 meals for 4 days straight. My dense study of the New Testament has given me all manner of insights on better ways to teach like the Savior taught and to love as He loved. We´re in a season for the next few weeks when it will be easy to teach families, since everyone will be at home, and because everyone is more friendly (and even more informal, if you can believe that).
All in all, I am looking forward with a great hope for further accomplishment next week, next month, next transfer, and next year. It will also be great to have some extra time New Year´s Eve to do some study of how I can plan better and study with more intent and focus.
See you in 2016!