Monday, January 20, 2014

January 20, 2014: Arica

Sorry that I haven´t been able to write in like two weeks, but we didn´t get a seond p-day in the MTC and then I had missed the normal p-day for my sector. Speaking of sectors: I am in Arica with Hermana Castor from Mexico!!!
Arica is the furtherst city north wise and is pretty close to Peru. I flew from Santiago to Antofagasta last Tuesday and then met my trainer and then we had a 12 hour bus ride to Arica! The bus is really nice though so it wasn´t too bad. Arica is pretty great. I will be here for sure for 3 months and then maybe longer depending on what the transfers are like. My companion and I get along great! I am so grateful for that. The MTC was great preparation for the mission and I am so glad because I am already teaching!! It is super exciting. We have 10 investigators that we try to track down everyday. One was supposed to get baptized this past Saturday, but suddenly had some doubts about a living prophet. We postponed the baptism and showed him the mormon message "dare to stand alone". It really brought the spirit and I think he felt it too. Hope he can resolve his doubts soon. Another investigator we just taught for the first time yesterday. She basically has no religious background, but believes in God. We were talking about the restoration, but she doesn´t even know Bible teachings. It is really interesting (also very uncommon) that she doesn´t have any knowledge about the gospel, but she was really receptive and we are going back to teach her this week. 
A lot of the people here do live together and aren´t married, so that's always something we need to teach, but it sounds like many people are open to the idea of getting married, which is good. We are teaching a lot of young people like 18-22 year olds. Many of their families are part members or they have some inactive relative or something. It's unfortunate, because the gospel is really centered on families, but their families are not interested in listening or reactivating. It makes conversion and remaining active difficult for youth. Also we spend a ton of time with less actives. They are pretty great and always are thankful for God and all their blessings, BUT they won´t come to church! They always have some excuse, but we will get them there somehow! 
Arica is hot, dry, and dusty. It was hilarious when I was flying from Santiago to Antofagasta. The view started out as super pretty, lots of mountains, not too much growing, but some stuff. Then we started flying over the Andies which, in this area, are totally dead, but really awesome to look at because they are huge. But then we started getting closer to Antofagasta, and there was nothing! We flew past the city which looks pretty modern, but then we kept on flying and flying for like 20 minutes. Everything was just flat dirt. Nothing! No cars, no houses, no people, no sign of anything. All the missionaries from the MTC on the plane were joking that we were  going to the easiest mission because we were only going to be teaching bugs and iguanas (although I am sure they don´t live here either, haha). We touched down in the middle of nowhere and I was certain that there was no airport. It seemed like you could land just about anywhere because there was nothing in the way. I have a picture attached of our touch down. Its just dirt.
Luckily it turns out there are people here, haha, and the airport is about 45 minutes from the city. The drive from Antofagasta to Arica was about the same as my first impression, although there were more hills of dirt to make it interesting:) Also it was a full moon so that was cool too. But yup, pretty much dead. In the letter from the president he had said " you can drive for miles and not see one living plant or animal". I knew he was right but I figured that was in reclusive areas or something. It would have been better to say " anywhere you drive, outside of a city, you will not see any living thing". 
 The people are great though and the houses are all bright and colorful which makes the view a little better. We have a mamita to wash our clothes and another one to make us lunch. Apparently people do not eat dinner here, because we have breakfast when we wake up, then eat lunch at 2pm, and then nothing until we get back to the apartment at 10pm. It's a little rough, especially since I was eating like crazy in the MTC. However, I am getting adjusted. We have a lot of time that we spend in our apartment since I am being trained, which kinda stinks because we are missing opportunities to teach, but that's alright. I do have to learn to keep improving. 
OH its soooo gross! Every night when we get back to our apartment at 10, there's cockroaches everywhere!!! I die! Its terrible. There are some that are small and a different breed, those I can handle (well kill:)) But there's always a couple huge, flying cockroaches that we have yet to murder. We are going to go to the store soon and buy some RAID so that they will die and quit coming in. Eww so gross.
For P-day we went to a beach which is about 30 minutes away from my sector. We went with two other companionships from an old sector of my companion. The beach is not the most beautiful apparently, but I loved it. We played volleyball and built a sand snowman haha. It was tons of fun!
Also the other photo with all the missionaries is from the car wash we held on Saturday.
Some elders from a different ward wanted to do it as a way to get references and new investigators, so we volunteered to wash and they taught the people in the meantime. However, it turns out that the most promising investigator they met is in my sector!! Haha, too bad for them. We have tried passing by the investigator's house, but no one has been home. Apparently, it's really hard finding people to teach on the weekends because people travel and go to the beach. So, maybe we will be able to catch up with them today or tomorrow. Anyways, I hope you are all doing well. I love you all so much and wish you the best for all the fun plans you have coming up this week! Love you

Hermana Biggs

We had a chance to email back and forth for a few minutes, so here's some questions and answers from that conversation:

Little fun facts: Wiki says there are about 200,000 people in Arica.  Arica features the rare, mild desert climate. Unlike many other cities with arid climates, Arica seldom sees extreme temperatures throughout the course of the year. Arica is also known as the driest inhabited place on Earth, at least as measured by rainfall: average annual precipitation is 0.76 mm (0.03 inches).  Despite its lack of rainfall, humidity and cloud cover are high. With humidity levels similar to those of equatorial climates the sunshine intensity is similar to the Sahara desert regions in the Northern Hemisphere (like the Cape Verde islands).

Are you in a a ward or branch? how big (area wise) is the stake? How many missionaries in your ward/branch and the stake?
We are in a ward called Tarapaca ward. Yesterday there were about 70 people at church, so its not too big. We have four missionaries in every ward. Generally a set of sisters and a set of elders. However, there are many areas where they are no sisters, so maybe I will eventually be a part of a sector opening for sisters. I am not sure how big the stake is but there are two stakes here in Arica.

What is the home like where you stay?
Oh it is alright. We have warm water, not hot, but warm. We have a small room with bunk beds for the four of us that are living there. We have a huge living room with no furniture just our four desks and a closet. The kitchen is small and the water leaks so we have to keep it off during the day or it drips, but we arent there part of the day so that's alright. It is pretty much the same style as the nicaragua house, just has the basics and its constantly dirty from all the dust-

Will this be the regular time you get to email? What's your pday like?  
P-day is every monday from 7:30 am to 7pm. Today we went to the beach before writing, so I am not sure that we have a concrete writing scheldule. We can basically go anytime between 7:30 and 7. So it depends on what we do activity wise. Next week we are going to try to write earlier though. Maybe at like 11 am

How's the food? 
The food is good. pretty bland, as in not spicy or sweet, but good. We eat a lot of soups and then have rice and bread and some sort of chicken or sausage. The Chileans love jello, so we eat a lot of that, but its ok. I like it too. I havent been able to buy any street food, so I just know what the past four or five lunches have been like in Arica. It's pretty good, but always hot food in the middle of the hot day so that's not so fun!

Do the members ever feed the missionaries?
Members feed us on Saturdays and Sundays. 

 I have to leave now but I love you all. Talk to you next week!

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