Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wonder if he will be in the East or West mission.

This week was a wet one. Lots and lots of storms. I have never seen rain like this before. It comes down in HUGE drops and it never stops! Also the lightning is insane! It happens about every 5-10 seconds and is always accompanied by crazy loud cracks of thunder. Its super cool. Luckily the rain hasnt been a huge problem in my área, but there has been some major flooding in other áreas. It makes sense though, summer is the rainy season here. I also found out this week that there are only two seasons here in Costa Rica. Summer and Winter. Most people dont even know about the other two. I had a cool thing happen a couple of days ago during the storm though. I accidently forgot my umbrella when I left the house and it starting pouring during our first appointment. But the wierdest thing happened. Every time we ended an appointment and had to walk to a different house, the rain stopped. Then the second we got into a new house, it started again. I thought it was just a coincidence, but then the next day I talked to the sisters who were in the área right next to us and they said that they both forgot their umbrellas yesterday and the same thing happned to them! Crazy how the Lord protects you from even Little stuff like rain.
Last week I forgot to mention that I gave a talk in church. It was a Little intimidating, but I think it went pretty well. I had it all written out, and read it pretty much Word for Word, but at least I could get my point across that way. My companion didnt prepare anything for his talk, but it went really well. Hopefully I can get to that point where I can just get up there and give a good, understandable talk in spanish on the fly.
This week was pretty cool. I feel like im really starting to bond with the people here. I dont know if thats because I can actually kind of understand the language now, or Im just not afraid of looking dumb trying to talk anymore. This week one of our investigators got remarried in a catholic church and we decided to stop by her house afterwards for the party. When we got there she gave us soda and cake and introduced us to her whole family. We ended up staying for hours and had a good time! She introduced us to her family as her really good mormon friends. Her family had a good time making me say all these weird Costa Rican slang words. I still dont know what I said... I hope it wasnt anything bad. they seemed to love it though. haha
This saturday it was our turn to clean the church. The whole church has tile floor so it was a tonnnn of sweeping. Luckily a recent convert family came to help us and it sped things up a lot. The family has two kids named Katherine and Christian. Katherine is 8 and is the cutest Little girl ever! I had never met her before but when she saw I was the new missionary she ran up to me and hugged me (well my legs, because shes like super short (and Im not sure if im supposed to hug children but she surprised me and I couldnt stop her so its not my fault)) She and I had a great conversation about her and her english teacher and the United States. I love talking to kids because they are super patient with my terrible spanish and love to correct me. After we cleaned the church we went to the piano and I taught them how to play a couple of songs. It was a lot of fun. When we were teaching the parents the next day in góspel principles they invited us to go to the Zoo in San Jose with them next monday. I hope that Works out!
The misión meeting was pretty fun. I got to meet a lot of people. It is really cool seeing all of the different countries people are from! There are a tonnnn of latinos serving in this misión and I was pretty lost during most of the meeting because it was all in spanish. Everyone was really sad that president was leaving. I wish I could have gotten to know him better... The new president comes tomorrow though and Im excited to meet him!
Spanish update: Still hard. Still improving.
Hey did you get the card I sent you? I sent a graduation card to Elise weeks ago from the MTC. Just wanted to make sure. Keep praying for me! I miss you all so much! Hope all is well!
Love you Mom!
Hope you have a good week! Pray and read your scriptures!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Who knew he was such a clean kid?

Okay I have a lot to write and not a lot of time to write it... lets do this! (please bear with my typos)
First things first: I finally got a pillow! It has seriously made life so much better! I have been sleeping without one and was doing fine, until I woke up one day and my neck KILLLED so I finally went out and bought one.
Also... everything down here is so dirty. Trash everywhere, everywhere smells funny, I don't think most people know what a mop or a broom is, and that includes my apartment. And that is not easy for me... I like clean things. So this week I went to the store and bought a bottle of 409 and went CRAZY in the apartment. I spent hours cleaning and organizing everything! Elder Xicara said that I looked like a kid with a new toy. haha So now the apartment is a little bit cleaner and smells nicer thanks to my automatic air freshener. Plus cleaning has always been a good stress reliever so it was a good project for me.
The langauge here is slowly getting better... I had a cool experience a couple of days ago. We have been teaching this family since I got here, but when I first got here I could not understand ANYTHING that the wife was saying because she talked so insanely fast. But now this week when we went to teach a lesson, I could actually make out words! It was so nice! And she actually noticed and pointed out that she could tell that I actually kind of knew what was going on! hahaa
We had a zone meeting this week and I got to meet all of the missionaries in my zone. Surprisingly there are actually a lot of gringos in my zone! They tried to pick on me by having me say the prayer and do all these practices, but they were all shocked that I could actually speak clearish spanish! I love getting complimented on my terrible spanish because its really funny most of the time because I can't understand their compliments. Like a person will say, "wow I am shocked that you know so much spanish. I can actually understand what you{re saying and its pretty impressive." And I will just sit there staring at them like :/ what? Im getting pretty content with not knowing whats going on around me most of the time. I just embrace being lost. Im still studying the language like crazy though trying to make sense of this madness.
I went shopping today and it was so weird! The mall was playing all this really popular american music but none of it was edited! It was cussing like crazy but nobody cared because they couldnt understand it! I was not prepared for the cold at all so I bought a nice sweater. Also the clothes here are so cheap! like they are nice too! I bought a sweater that would usually cost like 60 in the US, a pair of blue pants (which are so cool! They are like stretchty skinny chinos but I can still wear them), and three ties for only like 20 bucks! And then I also needed a new backpack because I found out that my old one wasnt waterproof the hard way...
Tomorrow is the mission presidents last day, so we have big meeting with the whole mission. It should be pretty good! I dont really know what to expect though... I think I find out if Im going to the East or West mission tomorrow. Im pretty sure Im staying East.
Oh also... Im not sure of my address yet because of the mission split. I will probably know next week. Packages are safe to send... but there are some rules. Ill have them next week tambien. They take a while to get here... but they usually always do get here untouched. 
Also today I found out that I am serving in the "hood" of Costa Rica. Which makes sense... lots of sketchy stuff goes down in my area. I wont include any stories because I dont want to scare you, Mom. But if anyone wants to hear any email me and Ill let you know!
I hope all is well with you! Thanks for all of the prayers! 
Love you!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Second Week in Costa Rica, Pura Vida!

This week has seriously been so insane! I don´t even know where to start!
There are so many things that are different here. It is seriously like a whole different world. I didnt think I would struggle with the language as bad as I am right now. A lot of the people talk extremely fast and slur words together. And Costa Rica has its own kind of spanish too. There are words and expressions that people use here that are brand new to me! One thing that people say here a lot is Pura Vida. Pura Vida can pretty much mean anything down here! You can ask somebody "How are you?" and they will say Pure Vida! or one time I was teaching a lesson and asked, "how do you feel?" and the sister said "Well I feel pura vida..." and I had no idea how to take that. I guess its a good thing though! haha They also say Tuanis or supertuanis which means cool. OH also! Remember that finger snapping thing I did in middle school that you hated? Everybody does that here! If something cool happens they will yell OOSH TUANIS and start snapping their fingers together! Its so funny! The Costa Ricans are called Ticos. Usually when you want to say something is small you add -ito to the end, but sometimes people here add -tico to the end and it means the same thing! Its so confusing... Im sure there are still a lot more weird things about the language here that I have to learn.
Honestly, its so hard not being able to effectively communicate with the people here. I feel like Iike I have a lot to offer the people here, but am so limited with the language. Everybody I talk to is so shocked that I have only been here for a week because of how good my spanish is, but I feel like its so terrible. All of the members of my ward on Sunday commented on how great my spanish is, but I couldn´t understand their compliments and my companion had to translate for me... its annoying, but I know that with time I will get better. I just need patience. and help from God. lots of help. haha
My first day I went on an exchange with an elder named Elder Saalvadra from Columbia and Elder Shumway. We went to an area called Tres Rios and let me say.. I was not expecting to EVER see an area that was that poor. The houses were super small and had metal roofs and were falling apart. That area was in the rainforst and it started raining super hard and we were walking through really thick mud all day.
The people here are super poor for the most part, but are really humble and nice. One thing that is both good and bad is that pretty much everybody offers you food or a drink when you visit them. I have had some pretty strange things, but for the most part I´ve liked it all! Except for last night... I went to this members house to teach a lesson, and her house was suuuuppper messy. She made dinner for us that night and served it to my companion and me on dirty plates and cups. She gave us some weird hot drink that she had sitting in a dirty crock pot and served it to us in cups that had old, crsuty, dirty, rotten food chunks in it. It was so gross. Last night I was pretty sick, and I think it was because of that... I feel a little better now, but hopefully I´ll be totally good by tomorrow!
My trainers name is Elder Xicará. He is from Guatemala and he is super nice! He speaks a little bit of english. Thats nice because he can translate some words that I don´t know.
I have time to share one quick story. The first night I was out teaching with Elder Saalvadra and Shumway we went to a progressing investigators house. We taught a little lesson about baptism and it went pretty well. The investigators main concern was that she didn´t have a strong desire to get baptized because the spirit hadn´t told her that she needed to be. At the end of the lesson, Elder Shumway offered the prayer. It was short, choppy and in broken spanish. But when we looked up after the prayer, she was crying. She said that the prayer was so powerful, and she had gained a strong testimony of the gift of tongues and believed that the spirit touched her heart. It was a really cool experience!
Today I went to San Jose and went shopping for some things while I was waiting for some immigration stuff to get processed. San Jose is crazy! there are so many massive buildings and so many people! The drivers are crazy there! All of the restaurants are huge there too! I found a two story Taco Bell, so that was pretty much the hilight of my day! haha I also found a store that sold cheap fake watches... so obviously I bought three!
I don´t have time to write anymore, but I hope all is well with you all! 
Can´t wait to hear from you next week!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sweet update and pictures from the unofficial mission nurse.

Hi Sister Andrea,

 I'm a Senior missionary here with my husband & I moonlight as the unofficial mission nurse. Guess who I had the pleasure of meeting yesterday? Elder Abel. He's 1 of the 3 new "Gringos" that arrived. There were 16-17 new, Latino missionaries that arrived. They'all had a great breakfast of Costa Rican Gallo Pinto, I talked to the North American newbies for a few minutes about staying healthy here & Hermana Markle, the official Mission nurse talked to the Latinos. Then they learned who their trainers would be. I snapped a few fotos that I thought you might like to see. I don't recall where he'll be serving, but I'm sure he'll fill you in next Monday. The bottom foto is all the new missionaries, their trainers, President & Sister Wilkinson, the assistants to the President & the office Elders. The mission is splitting July 1st & we're getting 2 new Mission Presidents, so we have double the office Elders in the foto. The Office couple, the Burts must've been busy, so they're not pictured.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

He made it to Costa Rica!

Hola! I made it! I'm officially in Costa Rica! It is so weird here!
Some things that I have to get used to:
The language (obviously) the natives talk so differently!
The drivers- there is no speed limit enforced, there are tons of motorcycles everywhere, and you can drive pretty much wherever you want! Like for example last night our driver was going 100 inbetween two lanes on the freeway. It was kinda scary. Oh! And there are so many pimped out hondas here! Makes me miss mine... Maybe some of my stolen parts made it here? haha
The money is crazy! The exchange rate is so high! Right now I have 20.000,00 in my pocket and that isnt even really that much.
I don't have that much time to email. We went to the temple last night and im sending some pics that the mission pres' wife took. 
Its so sticky here! The humidity is definitely something I have to get used to!
The apartment I slept in last night was definitely interesting. dirty, small, tons of beds, but that's home now!
I'm so excited to be here!
The work seems like its going super well down here! I'm going out to teach later today! Wish me luck!
Love you lots!
¡Pura vida!
Elder Abel

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Last Letter From the MTC!

This week has been so crazy! I don't really know why... but it has felt super long! This will be my last email from the MTC because next wednesday I'll be in COSTA RICA!!!!! IM SO STOKED! I want to get out there so bad! Our district got our travel itinerary this week and it goes a little bit like this: 7:30 leave the MTC to go to the Salt Lake Airport. Then I fly to Atlanta, Georgia at like 11:00 I think? Once I land I have a two hour layover then I'm off to Costa Rica! Im not too sure on the times right now, because I don't have my itinerary with me.. but I'll make sure to let you know because guess what?! when I'm in ATL I get to call you during the layover! It's gonna be awesome! 
So last week it was cool because Elder Holland came and gave a devotional, but this week was even better! On Sunday, Janice Kapp Perry came and did the devotional! It was so cool! (If you dont know who she is, google her name) She has written so many songs in the childrens hymn book! She told so many cool stories and sang some of her songs and it was so cool! She seemed like a celebrity! THEN on tuesday, Elder D. Todd Christofferson spoke! He and his wife both had some great remarks about the importance of missionary work. It was really cool being able to have seen two apostles during my stay at the MTC. Hopefully one will come to my mission... fingers crossed!
I completed my goal and finished the Book of Mormon yesterday! It's crazy how every time you read it you find something new and it applies directly to your life! This time when I read through it I found so many helpful insights on missionary work! Now I'm trying to read the Book of Mormon in spanish... and let me tell you, it's quite a struggle. But I'm doing it! It may take 20-30 mins to read a chapter... but progress is progress!
My spanish is coming along quite nicely. This week we had our last "official" spanish class. So now I have been introduced to all of the grammar and things like that, now I just have to review and practice. A lot. I'm nowhere near being fluent, but I'm actually surprising myself at how well I can speak for only being here for six weeks. I had a cool experience with my companion a couple of days ago, where I was teaching a lesson about the spirit to one of our investigators. I felt really good during the lesson, and felt like I really helped our investigator. When the lesson ended and we walked out the room my companion turned to me and said, "You were on FIRE in there! Your spanish was amazing!" It was a nice little confidence boost. But, I know that I'll immediately be put back into my place when I step off the plane in Costa Rica. Oh well, I'm so excited for that! I want to be walking on Costa Rican roads. I want to be struggling with spanish. I want this opportunity to help others. I want to be able to grow!
It was sad to hear about Elder Perry's death... but it was cool hearing Elder Christoffersons' remarks about it, "Death isn't the end... its a graduation!" We might be able to watch the funeral here at the MTC, that would be nice. Hopefully I won't be gone when they choose to show it!
 Thanks for all your prayers and Dear Elders! I greatly appreciate them all! 
Hopefully I'll have some exciting stories to tell you next week!
Costa Rica here I come!
¡Pura Vida!
Elder Abel