Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Week 48 - Change Is in the Wind

Dearest friends and family,

Let’s do something different this week – how about a little Week 6 Day to Day, Play-by-Play?

Monday – P-day was super solid this week. A great mix of rest, working off some stress through exercise and soccer, and quality time spent with my missionary companions. We met up with Elders Castagno, Rodriguez, Bermejo and Welch around 10am to do a little shopping in town, including at my favorite store that sells everything imaginable. Basically it’s a mix of every garage sale ever. I love it. We bought some $9 jerseys so we could show up to our 1pm soccer game with the other missionaries in style. Although I didn’t make any goals this time, soccer was great and we definitely won. We finished the day at the cyber writing home and I was pleasantly surprised to find a few letters from friends I hadn’t heard from in a while which was a huge morale booster for me. Your letters remind me that I am not lost, nor forgotten and that is a super feeling to have. Thank you, friends. I love you.

Tuesday – Tuesday came and went super-fast! We got to help some really amazing people, including the Pabon-Amayo family. They’re a family of 5: a mom, kids, a brother in law and a cousin who are all listening and learning with sincere and real intent. In mission life that is a HUGE blessing and it’s been wonderful getting to know them. Another highlight of Tuesday was getting to take a photo with “Cuzo”. Let me explain. In the states, there are laws against drinking or doing drugs in the streets. Here? No. So there’s this awesome guy who walks around asking for change from people who pass by – I’m pretty sure his brain is damaged from drugs and I’m also sure he only buys cigarettes with the little money he collects. He also sings and dances and, I am not kidding, he is amazing! I can’t describe it well and I wish you all had a chance to meet him. After I handed him a few coins, I asked what he was going to buy with the change and he grumbled for a moment and then replied “Papitas”, laughing a bit in his gravelly voice. I told him “good, smoking isn’t allowed” and he smiled and slumped away. For me, it was an unforgettable exchange.

Wednesday – So Wednesdays and Thursdays are generally less scheduled and are really good work days for us. That said, Wednesday was tough. We had 4 appointments fall through and found ourselves rejected at every turn and every door we knocked. Feeling pretty out of it, while heading back to the house I suggested we cook something from the recipe book my mother sent me. Last week we made Mexican tortillas so this week we made Sloppy Joes! Everything turned out great and made for an exceptional dinner despite not having any measuring cups or teaspoons…just a lot of eyeballing. Mom, Elder Soto really enjoyed them and took a copy of the recipe!

Thursday – Thursday, July 20, was a national holiday here in Colombia in celebration of their independence as a nation. There were lots of flags flying everyone and I loved it. I love enthusiasm and patriotism. I feel like this would be a good time to mention that Colombia has a ridiculous number of holidays. There have been at least 5 since I arrived here in early May. Which country in the world has the most holidays in their calendar? My money is on Colombia.

Friday – Fridays are the best in Ipiales! In the morning, we plan our efforts and areas of focus for the week to come. In the afternoon, we meet with Hermano Christian to plan and better coordinate our efforts with the other members of the Church. On Friday evenings, we teach English classes and play soccer. No complaints there! This Friday all of our activities turned out really great and things went smoothly. I did fall in the morning and ripped open the knee of my pants (no laughing!) but otherwise it was a great day.

Saturday – Saturday started out amazing. We woke, studied and readied like normal when, completely out of the ordinary, we heard a knock on our door. This never happens so we were very confused. We opened the door to find Elders Welch, Bermejo, Castagno and Rodriguez smiling ear to ear, with supplies for making pancakes. What an incredible surprise! I love this district so much! After pancakes, we went and worked really hard like it was our last full day together in the sector. In the evening, we attended a baptism which was a really spiritual service. I love baptismal services. We finished the day with food and then went home to wait for news about transfers. And they just came in! The exciting news is that I am heading back to Ecuador, to a place called Cayambe which more or less sits between Otavalo and Quito. I am shocked and excited and nervous and ready for a new adventure. More info soon for sure. I will say I used to hate changes like this. I seriously would have been happy living my whole life in little old El Cajon with my friends and hobbies. But I’ve learned to embrace and love change. Elder Soto and I were chatting last night over our Joe’s and I told him I wouldn’t mind being transferred simply because I feel like I have this Ipiales/Tulcan/Sierra thing down and I’m ready for new challenges to help me continue developing, growing and progressing as a person. It looks like I’m going to get my wish.

I’ll be keeping you all updated. Have an amazing week. I love you all.

- E. Ericksen

Other tidbits:

  • No pictures this week as Adam had little time to get letters to us with all of the movement related to transfers. They did get stuck in long lines at the border for about 6 hours trying to get back into Ecuador. Apparently it's high travel / tourist season?
  • Cayambe is a smallish town of about 40,000 people that sits at the base of an almost 10,000 foot tall volcano. The city is about 40 north of Quito and the evening picture of the volcano below is how the mountain looks from Quito. The equator also runs right through Cayambe both the town and volcano. Interesting science fact: given earth's bulge around the middle and the elevation, there is no place on earth closer to the sun and stars than atop Cayambe. There's a number of incredible videos of people climbing the volcano like this. #anewlifegoal

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