So I think I’m finally starting to figure out why this country is so beautiful. It’s the genuineness found in every aspect of life here. The authenticity is amazingly refreshing. You can see it and feel it just spending 5 minutes here in the gorgeous landscape, talking to these awe-inspiring people.
For example, take our road trip to Otavalo this past Monday. You honestly can’t help but breathe in breath after breath of culture and tradition. We got to take a little walk down the main road of the town and then stopped by the Plaza de los Ponchos, which is the largest market of its kind in South America. I couldn’t help but buy a few things, of course, you know me. I was all over the hand-woven ponchos, the colorful fabric-laced shirts, and don’t even get me started about the panama hats! It was a delightful time and a seriously beautiful day as the photos show.
Another example of the genuineness of this country is the Caliz family. Hermano Richard has had a very hard life, growing up without a father, and having to watch after his little sister who passed away tragically. And then there’s Hermana Sondra, who is fighting as hard as she can to hold her little family together, as she looks after her 2 small children, feeding them whatever meager sustenance she can muster. Regardless of situation or circumstance, these two great people always accept us missionaries into their homes, offer us their only 2 (broken) lawn chairs to sit down in the living room, and share something warm to drink knowing that it is cold outside and a long walk for us back to cuatro esquinas. I love visiting them solely because, to me, with the little course corrections that Heavenly Father is helping them make, they have turned into an amazing, radiant pair, and an absolutely beautiful family.
There is a word in Spanish that I love: luchar. It means to fight but more than that – more of a “wrestle with all of your strength” type of fighting. Sometimes people here say it in regards to a struggle, like wrestling against a situation. I really love the idea of that – I can’t think of an English equivalent that has the same sort of meaning. Anyway, la familia Caliz are definitely luchando. They both have left some very personal habits behind in an effort to mend the gaps in their overall happiness in any way that they can and their efforts show how sincere they really are. Richard amazes me because he paints houses for work, which means he gets hit by cycles of having money and then not having money. However, he always finds other work and never lets his family down. He is also amazing at drawing graffiti (past life, see above previous personal bad habits) and drew my initials in graffiti letter font in my agenda. It’s actually one of my favorite things ever.
What am I learning in all of this? That we all need to keep luchando. That I need to keep luchando. There really is no excuse for me to stop. If Hermana Sondra can finish sweeping her concrete floor and turn over a trash can to rest for a moment to listen to us, I know I can do a better job studying my Spanish and coping in a world that lacks Sombrero’s (Mexican food place here in San Diego). Because, truth is, I owe it to her. If Hermano Richard can live with paint flakes on his hands 24/7 and forgot about the many friends and family he has lost in his life enough to kindly laugh at one of my stupid jokes, I can cope with getting up at 6:30am every day and foregoing time with you, my friends and family, for 2 years. Because I owe it to him. Continue luchando, my favorite people. I know you can tackle whatever is thrown your way. And remember that there exists a wide multitude of people out here, in this world we live in, that dream about the things we often complain about. Keeping lunchando because you owe it to them, too. I love you all.
- Carnaval is in full swing this week and it’s crazy. Everyone is out in the streets with water balloons, eggs and this shoot-able foam (like silly string that smells like fruit and cheap perfume) being sold in stores everywhere. We bought 2 cans of course and I’ve been sprayed plenty. Kids hang out of cars and throw water, paint, and more foam out of the windows. Lots of streets are closed. We’ve seen a few people that have gotten soaked, including a girl that was thrown in a fountain. Someone threw foam at me walking to the cyber to write you all this afternoon. It’s overall crazy and should finish tomorrow!
- We have been stuck in the house because our appointments for the last 2 days fell through and it’s not good for us to be out on the streets during Carnaval. We’re great and easy targets. But it was good because I used the time to study and finished reading the New Testament.
- Life is good in Ecuador. We are moving closer to the date when we find out who is going to Colombia and if I will be staying in the new zone here. Elder Morales went to Colombia today with the church travel person to declare himself a missionary and to get his visa and stuff processed. It’s all very exciting and word is we’ll hear who will be moving over next Monday.
- What else did I want to tell you? Oh yeah, people eat chicken bones here like normal. I don’t haha. But I do eat the cartilage though. They also serve us a lot of cream soups that don’t really have flavor and we put canguil in them o sea popcorn. Not bad. We continue to eat a lot here.
- Yesterday in church we were talking about orgullo (or pride in English) and this dude who was visiting from Venezuela stood up and shared the most powerful thing I’ve ever heard about how pride has destroyed his county. Also how the church members there have been too prideful to prepare exactly how the prophet has asked them and they’re suffering because of it now. It was a life changing moment for me. It sounds like things are pretty crazy in Venezuela right now.
|La familia Caliz|