Monday, August 25, 2014

Of Pigs and Paradise

At a member's house
 I'm kind of digging on this new subject line format. Hahaha

This week has been a crazy one so let's hope I can fit everything in!
First, I'll address the subject line: pigs. My feminist side gets a little more irritated every day here. The culture here lets men get away with a whole lot of things they shouldn't, and women's primary role is to have children (from like age 15 on) and to do housework all day. One of our investigators, Mary, cried to us this week, explaining how women are viewed as lesser here and she's never felt like she was worth much. That really broke my heart. It makes me even more happy I'm doing what I'm doing because these people really need the gospel. All people do, but the women especially need to know that they're loved.
And to illustrate exactly what I mean with men having the right to do whatever they feel like -- one night this week we were walking around in the neighborhood where we live, which is super sketch (I'll get to explaining that) when three 18ish year old guys started to walk really close behind us. We noticed and were a little nervous, when all at once the three of them ran past me and two of them slapped my butt. Now, we all need to take a moment and appreciate that I only yelled, "NOT OKAY!!!" at them (in English, but I'm pretty sure they understood) and no swear words (because I know they know all the English swear words). It's a good thing I don't know many Spanish insults, because anywhere but here they would have heard some pretty nasty language. Anyways. So those are the pigs.
And of paradise, I thought a lot this week about why I love it so much here, because it really defies all logic. I'm in a third world country sweating to death and working 24/7 surrounded by bugs and strangers whom I can barely communicate with, but somehow I absolutely love it here. Already! Like I can't say enough for how much I love this place and how much I love this work. After a big meeting we had on Tuesday with all the greenies and trainers, I realized that I am actually doing really well. A lot of other newbies are having a very rough time adjusting. And somehow I am doing fine! The Lord has really made up for my weaknesses. I have honestly felt the windows of heaven pouring out strength for me. Spiritually, physically, emotionally - everything that should be really hard right now just isn't bothering me. I know I'm supposed to be here, I'm progressing every day, and I'm watching lives change. What more could I ask for?
In other news, we had exchanges this week and I was in another area with Hermana Rebecca Lee. She always looked familiar to me, and we figured out why! She went to BYU (like everyone here) and went to Rachel Jones at Studio 1030, so I probably saw her at the salon! Small world, right? (Mother's note: Michelle worked at Studio 1030 all last school year.) Anyways, she's only been out 6 weeks more than I have but I was able to learn a ton from her. One of her investigators told me I had the accent of a Latina. #Winning
Oh and about our apartment in a sketchy area. So we have drunk men that are outside our house almost every night and they come by our window and tell us they love us and crap. It's not good. So we had planned to move today, we had our apartment all picked out, but we found out last night that it has some problems and Hermana Collado can't approve it. So we're doing some serious apartment searching today. We would appreciate your prayers. And if you'd like to fast this fast Sunday to help us find an apartment I wouldn't be opposed. Thanks <3
Other thoughts:
One of our investigators with a baptismal date told us we were angels for them-- tear :')
My compañera is most definitely an angel. I love her so much.
Spanish is coming slowly but surely! :)

Well I love you all and I am so grateful for your thoughts and prayers! Have a great week!
Con Amor, 
Hermana Michelle Gubler

Hermana Bernards, Geraldo, Fanny, Yahaira, Michelle, and Yayling

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Of Mice and Missionaries

We found that at the Grocery store. Go figure.

Can you tell I'm out of creative subject lines?? hahaha
Jacquelyn told me before I left that I didn't yet understand how much I was capable of accomplishing in one day. There has never been a more correct statement. It really is crazy how much we do in just one day! I love being so productive!
Well, this week I had a  few of small thoughts. I'll start with those.
1. We have a serious mice problem. I hate mice. And the cockroaches and moths here are HUGE. Heaven help me.
2. My bed is a memory foam one and every time I get in it I want to cry because I'm so happy. #TenderMercies
3. We have a few investigators who currently can't read. I had to hold back tears when they told us that. I can't even imagine what it would be like to not be able to read. I sort of expected this, but it's harder than I thought to see it first hand.
4,. My feet swell up like mad here. It's so weird. They don't hurt (well, they don't hurt more than I expected, haha) but they are super swollen each night and not much better in the morning. I can't wear the Sperry penny loafers I brought because my feet won't fit in them anymore. Oh well. I can wear them when I get home I guess! :)
5. Cat calling and anything like unto it should be punishable by death. That is all.
6. I LOVE MISSION WORK. SO MUCH. I could write an entire email on this, but I'll just let it wait for another week.
Another funny story: So the people here have a fear of diseases spread through mosquitoes (not complaining) but every few months or so they have guys come through everyone's houses and spray this horrid gas to kill the mosquitoes that takes forever to air out. I don't want to say I felt like my house got turned into a gas chamber because that's a little insensitive I think, but yeah. It was odd.
This week Presidente and his family decided to surprise us and attend our ward! Yay! Especially since we had committed and reminded that morning 15 different people to come to church, and only one family came. -_- But oh well. I have this strange need to impress and make them both proud, even though I barely know them. It's a good thing I guess!
But anyway, in Sunday school we read some scriptures in Matthew and I only recognized a few words, and the teacher turns to me (knowing I'm brand new in the mission) and asks me what the scripture is telling us. Which is super great because Presidente and Hermana Collado were sitting right next to me. So I completely guessed and gave a simple answer about how we need to follow the example of Christ and serve others (which was actually a fairly decent answer I figured out after I went back and read the scriptures in English). But yeah. My most awkward moment so far.
We currently have so many investigators we don't really know what to do with ourselves. It's difficult because everyone here wants to hear "the word of God" so just about everyone is willing to listen. We have to kind of sort through and find the people who are willing to ACT. I've learned this week that going to church, reading our scriptures, and discussing the gospel do us absolutely no good unless we do something about it! We need to act on what we receive or progression is impossible. I understood this before, but I really understand it internally now.
One last cool story I think I forgot last week: I really don't have a ton going for me because I can't speak the language well, so my smile and my spirit is about all I've got. So I've really tried to focus on that. One of our investigators with a baptismal date (we have five!) told me in Spanish that she knew that I loved the people here just by the look on my face. That really warmed my heart because I really do love them, and I'm glad it's showing.
That's all for this week! I hope you all have a great week and always remember the gospel is true and the Lord loves you!
Hermana Michelle Gubler

Can we just take a moment and appreciate that Trix still are in cool shapes here??

Monday, August 11, 2014

¡Voy a Semana Dos en Nicaragua!

Michelle with Valencia's daughter, Bridgette.
¡Hola Familia y Amigos!

This has been the longest and craziest and one of the best weeks of my life. I don't even know where to start!
Well first, a lot that I thought I knew about Nicaragua was wrong. It rains occasionally, not everyday like I thought. Sandals are allowed in this mission (facepalm). There are huge grocery stores that have tons of American stuff so I really didn't need to bring all that toothpaste and deodorant and stuff. Oh well. There's more but I can't really think right now..
The people in this ward are AMAZING. We have had so many people reach out and not only offer but actually HELP with the work already. I went on my first splits with members last night (which scared me because without my companion I don't have an interpreter, but it was really fun). Also, the people in general in this area are amazing, we already had 5 investigators in church this week! And remember I said we started from scratch, so we were really happy. We have tons of pilas (Nica slang for cool, promising, hardworking, etc) investigators and I can see a lot of them getting baptized. I'm so excited.
I have to dedicate a little of this email to how the people treat gringas.. The cat calls are RIDICULOUS. Like I knew they would be bad, but it is seriously awful. We get called baby, chela (a not-so-nice word for "white girl") beautiful, and whistled at all the time. Not to mention the ones that make kissing noise and say, 'Marry me! I love you!' The other day I may or may not have yelled back at one who would not shut up... It's super annoying. It feels super degrading. Oh well. It's funny because people always talk about how Americans are rude compared to the rest of the world, but we really aren't. Our cultures are just different. I don't get cat called all the time in the US, but in the US if I stopped to ask for directions people wouldn't drop all that they were doing to help me find something like they do here. They're just different.
People say a lot of other funny things when we talk to them. Tons of people ask if my hair is naturally this color, kids like to touch it, and LOTS of people tell me I look like Barbie. And Shakira, she's big down here. There are two kids, José and Natalia who we run into a lot, and they really love to talk to us. She told me my lips didn't need lipstick because they were already the perfect color. So cute.
Random side note, you know how I said I wasn't sure if I would gain or lose weight down here? I definitely will be gaining weight. Here we go.
Also, I'm already really used to the heat. The AC in church on Sunday was SO nice, but I barely even notice the heat anymore. I'm really glad that adjustment happened fast.
Latinos cannot sing to save their lives, but I seriously love it. If I come home tone deaf I apologize, but it's not my fault. Hahaha!
Another side note, I only get my letters once a month and packages once every 6 weeks, so email is much, much better!! And if anyone wants motivation to write me, please look up Alma 60:6.
Today we got to go grocery shopping and I got to buy cereal and yogurt and gummy worms and I was thrilled. And we went to Pizza Hut for lunch and had pizza just like home. I may or may not have felt a little trunky (which is more mission slang that means you are missing home) at the food and the music from John Mayer and Celine Dion... But its good. I really love it here.
Well, that's all I have time for this week! Love you lots!
Hermana Michelle Gubler

Thursday, August 7, 2014

¡Por fin en Nicaragua!

Michelle with Sister Bernard and Mission President and Sister Collado
Sent by Nicaragua North Mission Home
I made it! There is so much to say I don't know where to begin. First, it is flipping hot here. I thought I understood heat and sort of understood humidity, and I didn't. When our district exited the plane in El Salvador our jaws all dropped and we started to laugh, like what did we get ourselves into? I love it though. I'm coping better than I thought I would for sure. I know it's because of the prayers. :)
When we got off the airplane in Managua we were all totally exhausted and ready for bed, then we realized it was only 10am. So lets just say I am really trying not to fall asleep right now! But anyways, we went over to the Presidente's casa, which is in this gated community because there casa is NICE. We had lunch, a bunch of health instructions, and met our trainers!! My trainer's name is Alex Bernards, and she isn't a native!! She's really great, and I'm just thrilled I can speak to her. (Mother's note: Michelle wasn't confident enough in her Spanish and wanted a proficient English speaker as her first companion.) She's from Layton. Then we ate some of the best chicken I ever had, and we headed off to our new area! I'm in a place called Villa Flor, which is in Managua (feel free to look at pictures on Google maps!) It's extremely poor for the city. Hermana Wilkins is two hours North and Hermana Muller is in Matagalpa (she's in a triplet again and they are both natives. Pray for her!) It was so hard to say goodbye to my district, especially since we can't communicate at all because we're in the same mission. Ill miss them. 

So we get to our casa after some craziness (addresses don't really exist here, so it's hard to get places) and it is literally a mess. We are the first Sisters ever in this area, and the Elders before didn't bother to keep the house clean or update the area book (the last entry was in February). We had no cleaning products or trash bags. The only thing they did was leave a little paper on the wall that said ¡Exito Hermanas! (Mother's note: Success Sisters!) There's only one tiny room with bunkbeds, a dresser deal, and two tiny tables, and then a bathroom with freezing water that only works in the morning. (And the freezing shower was SO NICE!) So after spending 2 and a half hours trying to make the place at least livable, we can function. We haven't unpacked though because we'll probably be switching apartments because the area this one is in is super sketch (there were a whole bunch of drunk guys outside our door last night). So anyways. Were definitely starting pretty fresh. I'm excited.
Last night we met a member who fed us, Valeria, and she had two kids who were so fun. She fed us these tostadas with this cabbage cream thing on top of it - Dad would be proud to know I ate it all even though it was pretty gross--well the two year old, Bridgette helped a little. ;) She's super pilas (which means cool and hardworking here, an Elder called me pilas yesterday and I was so proud) and she's definitely going to be an asset in figuring out where to start here.
As far as Spanish goes, it is not as bad as I expected. I actually still understand a fair amount, and if I don't understand Hna Bernards has my back. I'm confident it will come with time and practice.

I slept last night on my sheets with no blanket, and only in garments with a fan on full power last night and I still sweated like crazy. This is definitely going to take some getting used to! I am so happy to be here though. This area is so poor, most live in these little concrete block shacks with tin for roof. There are stray dogs everywhere, and everyone is selling something.  Water is a commodity. There's garbage everywhere, and there are so many different nasty smells -- I love passing by food stands because that's one smell I really enjoy. If I didn't have the Lord on my side right now, I would not be able to handle this, but my enthusiasm is still through the roof and I am taking it all so well. The Lord is definitely helping me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers because this would be impossible without them. 

Well, I took pictures of our apartment and of a few other things (OH yeah I met Hermana Savannah Kendall yesterday and I was so excited! I recongnize a lot of people here from the blogs!) but I totally forgot my SD card converter so they'll have to wait till Monday :(
I love you!! Thank you again for all your prayers!! Have a great week :)
Con amor, 
Hermana Michelle Gubler