Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Oh, how I love camping!

Hi all,

So I'm not exactly camping, but I was transferred to "el campo" (the countryside).  That is why I didn't email yesterday.  After transfer meeting we took a bus to the bus terminal and waited for two hours.  Then, we had a 5 hour ride to our area.  We got to our area at 11 at night. Crazy.  We seriously got so many new missionaries that almost everyone was transferred.  It makes me feel better not to be the new kid, but since it is my first full transfer technically, I am a refuerzo, too.  Nothing like being a trainee your whole mission to bring humility.  My companion has been out for 5 months.  She is great. I will send a picture with her after we have had some sleep.

My area is called 9 de Julio. I think that is the name of the town I am in.  In Argentina, they like to name parks, streets, cities after important dates in history.  9 de Julio is Independence Day in Argentina.  So, that would be like living in a town in the U.S. called 4th of July, kinda cool; I wouldn't mind living in a town with that name. There is a small branch here.  My companion said that about 12 people come to church on Sunday.  My companion is Hermana Sanchez from Chile.  Again she doesn´t speak much English at all.  And I still am not speaking much Spanish, so it is interesting. Especially because I cannot understand a word that she says with her accent.  It is not fast, because she talks slowly for me, but even words I know, I don´t understand when she says them.  Yesterday while we were talking, she asked what something was that I was trying to work on.  I told her that I  have been trying my whole mission to be better at taking correction because I am super sensitive and take criticism very personally, which restricts my growth.  She just smiled back and said that is why we are together because I have the same problem. 

So all I really know of my area so far is my pench, which is super beautiful.  I love it.  I am excited to see what missionary life will be here.  I have a feeling I better like it because I think I will be here for a while.  My companion has been her for a long time!  We are on bikes. hahahahahahaha. So ya picture that!  

Just like at the beginning of every big change, I feel super sick to my stomach, but I am a lot better than my first day in Argentina and know things will end up okay. Funny story. Yesterday when we were at transfers, Sisters Nielsen, Bangerter and I walked into the building to go to the bathroom, and the newbies were there. This super, super cute sister came up and gave me a big hug and said it is so great to meet you! And I had absolutely no idea who she was.  But it turns out she is from Henderson and went to Coronado, and her name is Hermana Foutz.  But she was like, I know you don't know me, but I feel like we're friends because I have been following your blog! haha. It was great.  We became great friends in like two minutes of talking.  She is feeling about the same way I was about three weeks ago when I arrived (overwhelmed and scared), and although I couldn't make her feel better from my amazing recovery story (because it is still one day at a time) I was able to tell her that it does get better everyday and that it was just as hard for me in the beginning, too. Sometimes people just need their feelings validated, and I think being scared the first bit in Argentina is okay.

Hey, I am almost out of time because we only have an hour on email today, but more cool stuff! Thursday is an Hermanas Meeting! And we get to go, so that is 10 more hours in a bus! But I am super excited to see my girls again! This month I am just going to keep moving forward.  I can´t believe that I will be 21 in about two weeks.  And that this week, I will have had my mission call for a year! In December we get to go to the temple! Yay! Thanks for the love and the prayers.  

Love you so much, have a great week! 


Hermana Chloe
Leonore.  A super cute recent convert! She is so, so, so cute.

Mimosa, the dog of one of our investigators
in Castelar.
Hermana "Elle" in Argentina
(Trying to fit in by wearing ugly shoes, not an ugly sweater.)
Hermanas in Castelar District!
Martin came to church!

Fleur (like from Harry Potter), the adorable daughter of one of our investigators

Fleur was not happy I was leaving.

Sister Morales and I found tacos!  They weren't great,
but they satisfied the craving.

Spring in Argentina :)
My new pench in 9 de Julio! We have a great view too!
Nice, huh? Another tender mercy ;)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Last Week On...Chloe´s Mission

Hi all,

(That title is to be read like the recap at the beginning of The Bachelor.)

Last week on. . .Chloe's mission, Chloe was crying on the streets of Argentina.  Distraught with not being able to speak the language, she was brought to the depths of anxiety and despair.  Slight glimmers of hope on the horizon convinced her that she could make it through another week...

Well people, this week was better than the last.  Not that that is hard or anything, but it is true! We have some amazing investigators.  Most of them are new and have only received one or two lessons, but we had 2 people at church yesterday and they are super solid.  Every day, as I get to know the people more, I love them more and realize that they are children of God.  And although the church is at a different place in this country than Utah, the work is equally important.

I have been thinking a lot this week about progression and family tradition.  Lots of people here say that they are Catholic because everyone in their family is Catholic, and they can’t and don’t want to change.  It sounds crazy, but I think we all use this logic a little bit. 

Por ejemplo:
We use the excuse that our parents do something so it’s okay for us.  But it doesn’t matter.  We all need to be constantly progressing.  It is like dance.  Anna is a way better dancer than I was at the age of ten.  The bar was raised she rose to the occasion, and now she is amazing.  She never told anyone, “Oh, I don’t need to work harder or do that because this is how good my sissy was at my age.” If we use this analogy with the gospel, think of how the church would be strengthened.  The generations of families in the church would be even stronger.  So instead of saying, “Oh, it’s okay to do this and this because that is what my family does,” we can choose to do something different because that is what our Father in Heaven wants us to do.

On Friday I talked to President Carter about the hard time I am having.  He said, “You want to know why I think you are on a mission Sister Walker?” I said, “Yes.”  He said, “I think you are on a mission to change the course of your life.”  And I agree!  Had I not gone on a mission I would probably have still lived a good life and would have been married in the temple and raised my family in the church.  But I promise that I would be no where even close to the path that I am aiming for, had I not made this life decision.  I am forever changed, and I still have 9 and a half months ;) I still will have anxiety, but I trust in the Lord’s plan.  I am not letting go!!! I am holding strong to the strength that I can do anything with His help! 

Just like we can't gain a testimony of tithing before paying it, I cannot gain a testimony of putting my trust in the Lord and his plan without first trusting Him.  I am going to trust Him and the blessings He has promised me.  I feel so strongly that the timing of my mission is divine. 

Thanks for the prayers, everyone.  One time this week when I was walking and tired and about to break down, I prayed that your prayers could carry me, and I felt that strength!  

I love you! 


Hermana Chloe

ps.  This whole mission in Argentina thing is about as unglamorous as it gets.  I sweat buckets everyday.  It is so hot and humid.  The sun is blazing. And believe it or not I am tan, but I dress like a grandma.  I am going to need some serious help when I get home to not look like a grandma anymore! (No offense to my beautiful grandmas intended. Even you two wouldn’t wear what I am wearing.)

pss.  I got ten letters this week! My zone leaders were so funny.  They said, “Wow, apparently Hermana Walker is still loved.” Special thanks to Ms. Ringen for the letter.  All of the letters were sent from the end of September to October 3rd. I got them all at the same time.  

psss. We are getting 38 missionaries this week.  Apparently ALL of the visa waiters received their visas!

 If you were wondering if that is my white watch, you are wrong.  That is my wrist tan from my watch.
My ten letters!  Thank you everyone!
Sister Morales taught me how to make tortillas! But this is at night, and I have been working all day and am wearing no makeup so no one judge me!

Monday, October 14, 2013

I'm gonna be real here for a sec., okay?

Mom, before I start I would like to tell you not to edit this letter. I want everyone to see what's really up here for a sec. Maybe I should include a warning like at the beginning of some TV shows, "Warning, this post may contain graphic material not suitable for all readers." Hahaha.

I have noticed a big problem people.  Our culture does something that I am not a fan of, and to illustrate it I am going to use an example from a cinematic masterpiece--Legally Blonde.

After Elle is dumped by Warner, she does the only thing she could possibly do! Decide that she wants him back.  How is she going to do this? Go to Harvard Law school, of course.  She works so hard, misses out on parties, and studies her butt off.  Blood, sweat and tears people.  And she does it!  Gets a 179 on her LSAT, completes her admission video, and heads to law school.  I want to talk about her first exchange with Warner after this.  When he sees her he asks, ¨What are you doing here?¨ 
She responds “Oh, I go here!” 
Warner replies, “You got into Harvard Law?”
Elle then says, “WHAT? LIKE IT´S HARD?”

Your kidding me girl!  You just worked so hard.  And now you are saying that it wasn’t even hard.  Come on!?!  I don’t want to seem like a complainer, but I hate the pretending that everything is easy and everything is ALWAYS okay.

People, I am having an Elle Woods moment (well one of them, I have many).  I am in Argentina.  This language doesn’t make sense to me.  The culture doesn’t make sense to me.  I walk literally hours a day.  I walked from 2 until 8:30 pretty much straight yesterday.  After being a visa waiter for over 7 months, I have been struggling with letting go of my Love and mission pride in Salt Lake East Mission.  Two days this week I had anxiety so bad that while I prayed to my Father in Heaven for help all I could do was cry.  Then, when I left the house it was all I could do to not continue crying, let alone smile at someone.

If I told you this wasn’t hard, it would be a lie.  I don’t want to be like Elle and tell you this isn't hard, because that would leave out all of the growth.  We are a church of unity.  It would be prideful for me to pretend that I am doing this all on my own.  During a breakdown Thursday during weekly planning, Sister Morales tried calling president, because it is really hard for me to express myself in Spanish when I am crying.  And I'm telling you that man must be a man of revelation, because he didn’t answer the phone or call back.  If he had, I might not still be here in Argentina.  I haven’t had a moment of truth yet, where everything fits and I know I can do this.  No sign or magic scripture.  But I have had tender mercies from the Lord.

Yesterday at about 4 we walked out of a house, and this dog was there.  So cute! The dog started to follow us.  I kid you not that dog walked around with us all day until he walked us home to our pench.  We named him Nephi because he was our Nephi.  Every time another stray dog came near us he would bark and fight ‘em off. Haha.  When we got to the pench, we made him two eggs and gave him some water.  I decided that it was the spirit of my favorite dog ever, Zack, coming to protect me and help me know I am loved. (No judging; you know I love my puppies and how they make me feel calm!)
Another awesome moment yesterday was in testimony meeting.  It was a crazy meeting, but the bishop stood up and bore his testimony.  It was so beautiful, and I understood every single word!  The whole time I had tears running down my face.  The spirit is the same in any language. After that I got up and bore my testimony and talked about how being in this ward has helped me see that the church is just as true in Spanish as it is in English.  Obvious, but for me, I truly realized that yesterday.

So that is how I am doing.  I don't care if you are the Bishop or the Relief Society president, when life is hard, don't pretend it's not.  Don’t just clue people in after you are done going through whatever has happened.  Admitting something is hard, doesn’t mean you don’t have faith.  It is a show of faith to admit when the Lord is carrying you.

No one wants to be “that” companion, the one having the breakdown. Poor Sister Morrales; she is doing her best.  She is really babying me, and I would like to tell her that I am not that fragile that I’m really a strong person who has been having a couple of really bad weeks.  But I don’t know how to explain that in Spanish :(

On a lighter note.  Here are a few funny things I have discovered in Argentina. (Because laughing is better than crying.) 

1. There are tons of ants here.  They are really small, but they carry giant pieces of grass and sticks and rocks and stuff.  It is so funny to watch a line of moving grass. Haha.

2. Also politics.  Dad I have a political idea for you.  Like the Argentines for your next campaign you can rent a plane with giant speakers and yell at the people of Boulder City from the sky.  It would be really effective. Haha.  

3. I thought that when I came to Argentina, after wearing my Sister Walker tag for so long that I would finally become Hermana Walker.  But upon arrival I have realized that I am now la Rubia (the blonde).  It is actually becoming a problem.  If I got a peso for every man who whistled or called out, I would make more than my fare share of 800 pesos a month.  I guess catcalling is just culturally more acceptable in Argentina. On Saturday, a man followed us for about 10 streets.  He called me beautiful and touched my face. Ewww! We told him we lived with our families, were both married and 28.  I had to end up calling the zone leaders, and they told us to go to a member, go inside and not come out until he left.  At that moment a bus drove by and we jumped on and lost him.  The zone leaders also gave me permission to slap the next person who tries to touch my face.  So that is cool!

4. Ironically considering Buenos Aires means good air, the air here smells so bad, but for some reason my face must love this polluted air because I have never had better skin.  I am also getting a tan. Well, I´m getting tanner. Hahaha.

5. There are so many language variations in Argentina that even my companion has difficulties, and she speaks Spanish. Haha. For example, my area is super nice so they would say, “recheta” (cheta is short for concheta or "posh") the Argentines add re like muy when they talk.  It is funny!

We live in a super nice Pench.  It is just a one bedroom apartment with no carpet, just tile.  We have a bunk bed.  The only difference is the bidet in the bathroom.  The Bishop’s wife and our ward mission leaders’ wives have done our laundry for us.  It is super nice of them, because otherwise we´d be doing it by hand.  

We pretty much eat milanesa, bread and pasta every single day.  I like chicken milanesa better than carne, but both are pretty good.  My companion and I are dying from missing spicy stuff right now.  When my days are super bad I buy an orange Fanta from a Kiosco; always makes me feel better :)

There is probably more I could say, but I don't have much more time.  Also, I have really enjoyed the Young Women’s meeting from April Conference, especially the talks from the second counselor (link to Sister Dibb's talk) and Sister Dalton (link to Sister Dalton's Talk).  Mom, read sister Dalton’s talk.  It has helped me through the last two weeks. The Church is true; I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me, and I love Him; His Son is my strength and I am upheld by His hand. Love you all.  I CAN DO HARD THINGS! That statement will get me through this week.  


Hermana Chloe

My bathroom

My pench (apartment)
Typical street in my area

The Castelar Zone

El libro de Mormon!

Cardboard Christus in our chapel :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

A few of you owe someone 20 bucks . . .

Because I have made it over a week, and I bet there are some of you who thought that wasn´t possible! Haha.  My life is very different now; I have a new reality.  My goals for next week are to love the people, the ward, and my companion more.  It is just so hard to love something that I feel so disconnected to because of the language.  It seems like the world is moving around me, and I´m just sitting back and watching.

Conference was amazing.  We watched Conference at the stake center which is our chapel, and there was a special room with Conference broadcast in English for the gringo missionaries.  There were three sisters and about eight elders in the gringo room.  All of the talks were such a boost, and I have no doubt that it was not a coincidence that Conference was the week after I got here.  I needed that comfort of Salt Lake. 

Part of my new reality is that I am no longer a celebrity. Haha.  In Salt Lake, the missionaries are celebrities.  Everyone wants to talk to us, take care of us, feed us. In Argentina people try so hard to walk away from me and won't let me talk to them.  People won't even give us the chance to let us teach them the gospel.  I am serving in the Castelar Ward in the Castelar Stake.  It is pretty great.  If anyone was worried (mom and grandmas), I am pretty much in the Park City of the ABAW mission.  My area is very nice; however, it is so funny how diversified one street can be.  In the U.S. a whole neighborhood will be one way, but in Buenos Aires a mansion is right next to a humble home.  It is so interesting.

Once again, I am white washing an area.  One of the first questions I asked President Carter when I got here was do you white wash a lot because that is all I have ever done when I entered a new area.  He said almost never, but they needed to open an area so here I am again, opening, white washing, and preparing for the miracle baptisms that the missionaries will have in 4 months.  Maybe I'll get to stick around for that this time.  

This week I can´t believe that I will have been out on my mission for 8 months! Crazy!! Crazy!!! Those of you who bet against me lost. Hahahaha. But now I feel like I am starting over, and I was so anxious to get here and now I think, wow, 10 months in Argentina is way too much. Haha. I´m sure I will get over that eventually :-) I hope.  

I have decided that it is kinda fun to do things that you know people think you can´t do.  Handle things people think you can´t handle.  That is what I am doing--trying to hang in there through all of the things that even I wondered if I could handle.  But I'm doing it! 

I love you all, and loved hearing from so many people today.  I can make it another week.  I am sure that things will get better as time goes on.  Even my first weeks in Salt Lake were hard.  Now I just have to redo that process all over again.  

Marc and Nic, you two are studs.  The dance looked so good.  I want you both to go back and listen to more Conference.  One of the first talks on Saturday talked about how Conference is for the youth as well and promised you answers to your questions if you will listen.  Take up the promise of our leaders and find answers to your questions.

You know everyone, I have learned that sometimes you have to trust in the Lord because that is really all that you have left.

Sister Morales and I found a place that sells tacos and has salsa.  We are going there for lunch today.  That will make things a little better. It is getting warmer here.  Everything is okay.  It has been a pretty hard week, but I know that it will get better as I learn more. Love you mucho!


Hermana Chloe

ps.  Camron told me how to send pictures so I will do that for next week.