Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Phone Call and Email

I made an Angel Moroni from the Playdoh in my Christmas Box! I had to play with it a little before I gave it to some child.  
(I like his Guatemalan shirt, he is looking like a local) ha ha
December 27, 2011

Hey Fammmm.

It was good talking to you the other day, as weird as it was haha.
I Loved everything you gave me, thanks so much. Ive been eating candy everyday for breakfast, and at night, and at every other time of the day. To tell you the truth, I already had one of those gospel art books that i carry around with me wherever i go haha. but you put so much work into that little book, thank you so much! im for sure going to use a bunch of the little laminated pictures though. Well what did on christmas, was, well like i said, i gave a talk in sacrament meeting, i came back some, ate candy, phoned you guys, and then went back out to work. of coarse we ate a few tamales along the way too, cuz everyone gives them to you around Christmas. we still have like 6 Tamales and a big pitcher of Ponche (a christmas warm drink with fruit in it) in the fridge, i think they'll get thrown in the garbage, I'm so sick of tamales.

Thats cool that Tyson is back already.  Whenever people ask me where I'm from in this time of year, i just tell them I'm Santas Neighbor, up north in Canada. the little kids think its funny.

Awesome that Claire got engaged... one less girl for me... haha jk, tell her i wish her all the best.
I liked how you sent me the year old cookies that i never did eat hahaha. we ate them as a district. and i like the canadian tire money sam sent me. and i like everything else i got!
Yesterday for Pday we went to antigua, and some members fed the whole zone, and there was so much food a deserts. It was a family that lives int he states, but have a vacation home down here, so they wanted to feed us while theyre down on vacation. it was really weird cuz one of the guys is going to Utah Valley University. It was a super super nice house, the nicest i have been in in Guatemala. and the best part, was when i washed my hands, it was hot water!! i was freakin out. it was awesome.

Ummmm i dont know what else to say, cuz we just talked basically.

Well basically thats all i have to say for now, i love you guys tons!
have a great week, hasta luego. (see you later)
From Guatemala, With Love,
Elder Hopkins
 The streets were littered with little burnt papers on Christmas morning from all the firecrackers the night before
Beautiful Guatemala-just a little river littered with garbage just like every other stream, ravine, and corner, haha

December 25, 2011

40 minute Christmas Phone Call – Tanner's comments are in RED - here is some of our  conversation 
As a side note - Tanner definitely has a little spanish accent when he talks.. He rolls some "r's" without realizing and definitely has a mexican (or spanish) accent.   It was neat to hear!
We called him
Hola Is this Elder Hopkins??

Feliz Navidad
So good to hear your voice! How are you doing?
I'm good, thank you, how are you?
What did you do for your Christmas morning?
We went to church and I gave a talk, and then opened some presents – I thought that I would get less stuff now that I am on a mission!
Was it hard to carry it all back ? It was a little bit hard, we went to the City called Chimaltenango cause the Zone leader is there and we went there to get our Christmas boxes, and you know how on movies and stuff you see tons of people in the streets downtown in foreign countries where its crazy crowded, like in India, well it was like that here yesterday, it was crazy, there were tons of people on the streets. The buses here are just school buses, and they cram pack them, 3 people to a seat and people all standing and of course we had to take the bus.

Loved getting your memory card this past week.

What did you speak on this morning in church?
I basically spoke on Missionary work but tied it into Christmas in that the best gift is the gospel and Eternal Life.

Do you and your companion get along great?
Yes, he's a good guy, we are getting a long good.
Do you have fun together? Yes, we have fun.

How far away is your district leaders house? We are the only ones in our town, we go to our District leaders in another town every week for district meeting, we aren't too spread out. About 15 mins.

How far away is your zone Leaders house?
It is in Chimaltenango, which is about 15 mins in bus also. There are other places in the zone which is about an hour away, Antigua is about 45 mins away in bus.
Sometimes we have a district meeting in Antigua, we do grocery shopping in Antigua. There are only little corner stores here for pop and chips but no real grocery stores.

What kinds of stuff do you make when you cook at home? We always eat lunch at that restaurant, because in our area we don't have a cocina (a cook), and we don't have time to make a lot of food, we don't have dinner, we have our big meal at lunch and then a snack when we get home at night.
There are corner stores here and I can get a bag of chips for a quetz = 12 cents.

The money is called Quetzel (after the bird Quetzel), the short term for money is Quetz. (similar to Canada's loony – also after a bird) Tanner says “exactly”.

Their national bird is the Quetzel, but they are endangered and aren't really around, I haven't met anyone who has seen one in unless they go to a reservation to see one. You know in the pictures of the church, the picture with Abinadhi and Noah, there is a Quetzel in the picture. (it has a very long tail)

Do you think and dream in spanish or mostly english. Both. I think in both for sure, but it depends on what I'm doing but I dream in Spanish too.

Then he says “one second someone is calling us, not on our phone, but at the door, its some members bringing some tamales to us”
(nice to know someone is thinking of the missionaries on Christmas Day)

Do you like Tamales? Tamales are their Christmas food and there are tamales everywhere! Yesterday, we ate so many we felt sick! Some of them are pretty good.
A typical meal is a piece of chicken, some rice, a little bit of salad, and a sauce with the chicken and a corn tortilla. Basically, just a piece of meat and sauce and rice”

What is your favorite food there? My favorite food is probably just the chicken with some sauce and rice and tortillas.. its pretty good (that's good cause that is their typical meal)

Before my mission, I didn't really like fried chicken, like KFC, I didn't really like that, but now I like it.

Something that we eat all the time here and that everyone makes cause its fast and easy, is scrambled eggs and black beans wrapped in a tortilla.

Just like a breakfast burrito from McDonalds here! You always liked the Breakfast Burritos from McDonalds! Yes, but the corn tortillas here are so different, there is nothing like them in Canada. They are so much better here.

Typical food for around Halloween here, is a plate of squash and brown sugar.
The Christmas drink here is called “ponche” like punch, but its a hot drink full of fruit.

Are you hungry right now? Not really, I've been eating candy all morning!

Lots of the things in your christmas box were for the rainy season, so I guess you will use them when it rains again. Yes, I will for sure use them.

Does it rain anymore? No, I don't have to carry my umbrella anymore. (when he says umbrella, he rolls the “r”).

Do you have some people you are working with right now?
Yes, we have a few people, we have some kids we will probably baptize in January. The parents are inactive members and the kids are 14, 12 and 10 and they come all the time and love it, but the parents haven't come back to church yet.

Is it cold at night? It gets a little chilly (he sounded so spanish when he said that)

Sam asks “Are there lots of cute Chicas there?”
It is very very rare that I see someone that I would think is attractive. Especially in the area I am in, its all the Indian Guatemalans from the mountains, where a lot of people speak a different native language. In Antigua there are always white people because it is a very touristy town. It's almost strange to see white people but I do in Antigua.
How well are you staying on your budget?
I'm using it well, I try not to use the whole amount each month, unless I need a USB stick or something. But I could be better.

When you go out onto your street, are all the apartments above stores? no there are a few stores, and a few houses too. We are near a main park. In all the towns there is a big catholic church, which has a main square and we are close to that.

What do people do there for a living?
Good question, a lot of people work in the mountains, they have a little piece of land that they grow corn and beans on, so they work on it most of the day. Its super super poor here, and the people will work all day to be able to eat, there are a lot of horses in our town, that walk around the street carrying bundles of corn, or beans or firewood.

What does your bishop do for a living? He works for a chip company and delivers chips and its a fairly good job because its an actual job. And our ward mission leader has only been home from his mission for a year, so he works in a little pharmacy.

How many people are in your ward? That come to church, about 120. Its a ward not a branch.

OK I've got 10 minutes left before I have to go!

What are your plans for the rest of the day?
Go out and work.

Any dinner or lunch plans? We always go to these one members house on Sunday for lunch, so we will go there.

Do you catch buses very often? No, not in our area, we only walk. There are these little 3 wheel taxis called Tuks Tuks and we can catch those if we are going to a farther area, but we usually just walk cause it may seem cheap but we use that money for 3 bags of chips for that, or a pop and a bag of chips, so I think its kind of expensive to catch them.

Do your legs get tired at the end of the day? They did at the beginning of the mission, but not so much anymore. But our area is basically on a mountain so we walk up and down big hills each day.

Do you do your own laundry? No, we take our laundry to a member to wash, but they don't have machines, they wash everything by hand and use crappy soap, and so my socks are always crusty when I get them back. So do you give your suit to them also to wash? Yes, I would have no idea where to even find a drycleaner, I've never seen one.

Any heat in your apartment? No, no heat, and no air, just a room made of cement blocks.

Do you have a good relationship with the people that own the store below you? Are they members? They are not members but we get a long well and they are friendly. We are never really here, cause we leave in the morning and get back at night.

Do you feel safe where you are? Yes, in our area, its super safe, I can take my camera out and take a picture and not worry. Its the Capital is where its dangerous, where you don't want to carry valuables.

How far away are you from the Mission Home? I have no idea, I have never been to the mission home, but the mission office, if I wanted to go there, its about 2.5 hours in bus.. Take a few different buses and then walk as well.

Well, I almost gotta go. Thanks for being awesome parents, for raising me good.

We sure look forward to your emails each week, they are a highlight for us. We are so proud of you!

Keep working hard, you are doing great! You have been out 8 months already, does it feel like the time is going quickly for you? I feel like I have been a missionary for a long time, but it feels like it has gone by quickly as well. Don't wish the time away, you are being blessed and are having such a wonderful experience. Find joy in all that you do and in helping people. We are all being blessed at home because of your service.

Do you want to have a quick family prayer before I leave in Spanish? Then you can hear my spanish, and I think its my turn for family prayer. Yes!
Tanner then gave a wonderful lengthy prayer which of course we couldn't understand but felt the spirit of it strongly.

Tell all the family members and all my friends that I love them!    And tell my friends to send in their mission papers right away!  
We love you, Bye love ya

Talk to you at mothers day!

Bye  No one wanted to hang up and Tanner hung up first, being obedient as his time was up!

Side note: I'm glad I sent a lot of extra things, a full stocking etc. in his box to give to his companion in case his companion didn't get much, and turns out his companion didn't get a package from home, but rather a package from the mission where people could send less fortunate missionaries a gift. So I'm glad he could get some extras from Tanner.

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