Now THAT'S a Christmas letter! Lots to say!

January 2nd 2012

its probably a good thing i didnt have many emails in my box today (EN: Translation: Why did no one write me this week?) because i am writing all about the last two weeks...the last crazy two weeks!!!!! i dont really know where to begin entonces this letter will probably be a little scattered. sorry about that...

so here in El Salvador they dont really celebrate Christmas. i mean few people put up nativity scenes and even less people talk about the birth of Christ. however it is a time of party! Ataco is a party town, and if i werent in the mission i think it would be pretty much the coolest part of El Salvador. however i am on my mission and even though i still think its one of the coolest parts of ElSalvador, it is HARD to teach people when all anyone does this time of year in Ataco is work, and drink. i think the cantidad (not sure if this is a word in english or spanish, but im going to leave it) of drunks in the street doubles, or perhaps triples, in the month of December...and magically they all know us and want to talk to us...all the time. we cant walk down the street without someone yelling 'Elderes! √Člderes! venga! necesito su ayuda!!!! quiero cambiar mi vida!' or 'Dios le Bendiga Angeles de Dios!' or 'Voy a ir a la iglesia este Domingo!!! 7am!' its pretty amusing.... one actually followed us for a while trying to give us hugs.....hermana Bonilla was a little scared...I turned around and told him he had to quit drinking and go to Church...he stopped following us.
anyway, back to the point, christmas adventures. the celebrating that they do do here for Christmas takes place on the 24th of Dec. they all have a big family dinner and drink and make merry, about 5 or 6 families invited us to dinner, but we could only accept the invitation to go to three...but im getting ahead of, we'll number the adventures...

1. a 'Dog Story'
at about 3 in the afternoon we were visiting a less active member and as we were leaving, as in walking out of the gate, out of nowhere their dog bit Hermana Bonilla!!!! she yelped and jumped and the dog let go. at first she acted like it was nothing but as we were walking away i could see tears in her eyes, we rushed as fast as we could (we were stopped by a drunk man promising to change his life and go to church the next sunday) to the house of Hna Sonia, our recent convert nurse. we looked at the bite and it didnt look too bad, the bite didnt draw blood, but we were still pretty nervous. the Ataco Health Center was closed until Monday, so we were only able to clean it, when we went in on Monday the nurses were all freaking out about the bite and told us we needed to go get all the information about the dog, especially if it was vaccinated or not. when we went the owner told us that this dog was famous at the Health center because it always bites people! and that it still wasnt vaccinated!!!! there really isnt a crazy end to this story because after a week of watching the dog its behavior hasnt changed, which means it doesnt have rabies and my companion isnt foaming at the mouth, so i think and hope all is we got a good story and awesome pictures!

2. Eating....
the people here in El Salvador eat...a lot. they have huge portions and if you dont eat the huge portions they make fun of you and talk about how you never eat anything. so like i said earlier we had a lot of dinner invites for Christmas Eve. and the Christmas dinner really is delicious. everyone eats different versions of the same thing. they are called Panes Rellenos! its french bread rolls filled with this cabbage salad mixture, cucumber, tomato, chicken, radish, and then on top they pour this delicious sauce that i still dont know what it is called. the first house was Monica Figueroa and her family. this family is going to get baptized! teaching them reminds me alot of teaching the familia Velasquesz. they are wonderful and a definately one of the families that if you dont eat everything on the plate it means you hated the meal! but they were first so it was all good :) next we ran over to Alexander, a recent convert, he gave us three panes rellenos each and then when we finished them gave us another. we felt like we were about to die! and we could hardly walk away from the house. when we got to the velasques family we told them that we couldnt eat another bite of anything for the rest of our lives, so they made panes rellenos for us to take home!!! haha...i was an adventure. oh! and then we passed by the Figueroa home to say goodnight because they told us to pass by before we went home...and they gave us cake!...thankfully they had put it on a plate to take home. ! pretty much i love ataco!

3. Rats!
when we got home on the 24th, full to the brim with delicious food. Hna Bonilla went in the room to change and all of the sudden i hear 'AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!' , a really long and high pitched scream that only Hermana Bonilla can give...then she runs out and says 'hermana pappas! hermana pappas! there is a rat in my clothes!!!!!' a few days earlier when we got home there was a mouse in the house. but when we opened the door it ran away outside. Hna bonilla had been a little paranoid and tended to squeal when she thought she saw a rat. which happened i didnt really believe she had seen a rat, but because i am a loving companion is started sifting through he clothes. im sure you can imagine after 6 months of living in this house my things arent really perfectly organized, and niether were hers, but i did my best to find the 'rat' after moving all of her clothes out of the room, shaking each item, and 15 minutes of looking i gave up, thinking she was crazy. after a few minutes of her hitting random items in the room with a broom handle she heard a noise coming from the fan box...she called me and stood on a chair while i moved all the items away from to box and i started hitting the box with the broom handle...after a few hits we heard a scuttling noise, i hit it a couple more times and this HUGE rat ran out!!!!!!! we started screaming and laughing. it ran out the back door into the sewer grate....we started laughing and then all of the sudden ran out of the sewer and into our bathroom!!!!! climbed up the wall and onto the roof and we havent seen it since....!!!...the best part.....i got it all on camera!

so you all know that Marlon got baptized about 3 weeks ago. it was beautiful. it was perfect. and he is on fire. he wants to go on a mission so badly and is visiting with us and going to get preach my gospel. his girlfriend wasnt happy about his decision to go on a mission, even though shes a member, and he started reading scriptures to her aobut the importance of it! and now she is okay with it. on Christmas Jose was was a locura! because he didnt come to church in the morning and one of the members toldus that she saw him drunk on the 24th, like i said before the word of wisdom is THE sin of Ataco, so were a little worried, but we found him, he didnt drink, and he was baptized. he too is going to go on a mission. oh! and the picture....remember Alexis? from Sensunapan? when i saw the baptisimal pictures of Jose, i was reminded of Alexis...can you tell me why?
Monica was not baptized this week. her parents Miraculously gave her permission, but she decided to wait until this month...which really was the best decision because it gives her and her family a little more time to prepare. both of us and her felt like the 22nd is a good day. but she is still on fire! and her family is opening up, not only did they feed us on Christmas, but on New Years too (fried fish! have you ever eaten just a fish...fried! with head, tail, and everything! its delicious!) and when the family is feeding you...their hearts are definately opening up!

anyway, i think thats it for time.i am a little sad today. we recieved changes yesterday, and i am getting transfered...and not to Belize. niether i nor hna bonilla could sleep last night. we are SO sad! i dont want to leave. i love my area, i love my companion. she is pretty much the best! not just a companion but a friend. we work well together and we are finding people...even president told our zone leader that he likes our companionship...why change a great thing? so what if i have 6 months in the area? whats one more? anyway. not my will....its all good! iknow i cant see the big picture...but yeah....all is well. we are in 2012! i just completed my first entire year of being out of the states, not speaking english. waking up at 630 or earlier (who thought that could have ever happened!) life is good. i love you. God loves you. Happy new year...

p.s. what do we talk about in church the entire month of December? CHRISTMAS!!!!! what do we do in church when christmas lands on a sunday...TALK ABOUT THE BIRTH OF CHRIST!!!!...what did they talk about here...fasting and tithing....there ARE some traditions that i miss :)

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