Happy 2016! I had actually forgotten about New Years until my companion told me that we had permission to spend the night with the other 4 Hermanas in our zone! So we had a little sleepover and watched my first Disney movies here on the mission and used my mom´s hilarious Star Wars blower do-das. This country has a reallllly bad alcohol problem, so we had to be in the house early cuz drunk driving is not cool to deal with, and the neighbors did fireworks and music and shot guns into the air until 3 in the morning, so it was kind of nutsy but fun! The computer is having problems so no pictures this week, but I´ll send them soon.
Transfers happened!! Baby bird left the nest and basically landed in a whole new mission. I´m in the richest stake in the mission, and it seriously is the opposite of Ocoa. Ocoa was dirt roads with people always sitting in front of their tiny houses because they have nothing to do (the elderly were especially sweet). If people were home, the door was open--I never had to knock on doors, and people always invited us in. Everyone was so nice! There was always music playing in the streets because there are bars and mini grocery stores the size of a bedroom, called colmados, on every corner. In Los Angeles, it´s straight apartment buildings with no friendly people to talk to outside of them, no music, flat roads made of cement, nearly everyone has cars so LOTS of honking (I've never heard so much of it in my life) and crazy driving. We have to take ¨taxis¨ and gua-guas to get to a lot of places because we work in different residential areas that are kind of far away. Most of our contacting is through intercoms of apartment complexes--it´s like being a call center. Everyone works during the day, so it´s basically just the maids that are in the homes. But guess what? There´s a store that´s JUST like Costco!! I walked in and about died, I so did not feel like a missionary. Everything is more expensive in the capital, so we´re extra careful with money, but it´s kind of like being back in the States, just where no one is Caucasian. Oh, and it´s much more hot here, but ironically, there´s more grass than in Ocoa--I haven´t seen grass in almost 6 months! (Ocoa was all trees and plants, but no grass, weird, I know).
WE HAVE A FULL-FUNCTIONING WARD!! Like they know what home and visiting teaching are, people fulfill their callings, and there were 80 people on Sunday (which is awesome for vacation time). We share the ward with our district leader and his comp, and them plus the zone leaders make up our district. Both zone leaders are new because President Nuckols took out the old ones and HALF of the zone this transfer. San Geronimo has a bad reputation of being the rebel zone, and it got too bad, so President changed a lot of things, and I´m anxious to turn this place around. There are 14 Americans and only 4 Latinos right now, and we were all together this afternoon for lunch.
Los Angeles, my area, is known for being a really tough area. When I came in, the Hermanas had just dropped 80% of their investigators because no one was progressing, and all of their numbers were so low. No one has a baptism date. I´m going to change that; I made sure we got 11 new investigators this week and 12 more contacts than the pulse number for contacting, the most I've ever gotten on my mission! (¨Pulse¨ is what President expects us to reach every week for numbers). I know it´s about people, not numbers, but goals help us work harder and be more effective. I´m excited to bring new energy to this area and start fresh with almost all new investigators. We don´t work with less-actives nearly as much as we did in Ocoa, so that´s different, too.
My companion: Hermana Black from Springville, Utah! She was raised in California first and has a year out here. It´s been a roller coaster with us two this week; we had some very rough days, and living in a 2-man house was definitely not helping, but then we had some good days and talked for hours. We´re doing much better now:) We´re an obedient companionship, which is great, and we work really hard--I've had a job since I was 13, and she´s been working since she was 14, we're both leaders and are trying to bring all of our experiences into the field to push super hard and have success. I knew that I was about to get a lot more challenges thrown at me, but I didn't quite expect for stuff to happen the way it did. For example, I am now the lead Spanish speaker in the companionship. I´d heard that Hna Black had a hard time learning the language, but I hadn't realized to what extent. It´s not easy, and I don´t have a Latina comp to help me with my Spanish, so I´m extra depending on the Dominicans right now. This will be the transfer to really strengthen my ability to understand the Dominican Spanish--I don´t have a choice to not perfectly pay attention to what they´re saying. But it´s going to be okay, and I´m really trusting in the Lord right now.
So yeah, life is nutsy, but I´m surviving! I´m doing more than that--I´m persevering! And it´s all going to be okay because I know why I´m here and where I´m going. There´s no reason to fear with the Lord on your side, especially when you have the Spirit with you. This life isn't supposed to be easy, but we´ll be blessed in the end for how well we handle our trials. We can all do this! We can make it through whatever we´re experiencing because it will all be for our good! I have faith in that, and I´m grateful for the Gospel of hope and happiness to provide the way for us to return to our Father´s waiting arms:) Love you all and wish you the best in the wonderful new year!