Monday, November 25, 2013

The wall of Jericho is in El Salvador?

The Wall of Jericho is in El Salvador…Maybe?? I think. 

Last week our zone was at the church building...which has on one side a 30 foot wall, and starts coming down. At first us 20 missionaries were pretty stunned and we just looked at it. Then we saw a crane...doing some work on the other side...and knocking OUR wall down. We notified the workers of our annoyance with some mildly raised voices, but they continued. So, I’m not sure who is financially responsible for this, but we didn’t blow any trumpets so it’s not us. 
La vida in El Salvador is good everyone. There were some crazy adventures this week. I feel like I’d like to try something new this week. A top ten, because a top ten is always a good idea. Here are ten fun things about this country in Latin America that I have moved to. 
10. There are bugs everywhere. Not only outside...inside too. In my house. On my books. On my food. On my shower. In my hair. On my wall. In my backpack. On my skin. The weird thing is that I’m totally over it. It doesn’t bother me anymore--and this is a far cry from the person I used to be. I probably almost even enjoy their companionship. I’m truly never alone with my bug friends.
9.Geckos screech here. They live on our walls and they make weird calls at night. It freaked me out SO bad the first time. why?????

8. The people here love music. And they love to blast it at 80000000 decibels from their tin houses every day. On every street. This is taking music appreciation to a new level.

7. Gringos stick out like sore thumbs here. One time I saw a gringo who wasn’t a missionary and I almost passed out. Seriously, I think I got light headed. And whenever people see US they like to speak to us in English. Broken, heavily accented, barely recognizable English. It’s HILARIOUS every time. Sometimes I think to myself, ´when you opted to learn a few phrases in English, why did you choose to learn those particular words?’ Ever an adventure. Ever learning.

6.There are 4 million stray dogs in this city. That is not an exaggeration. I counted. Maybe. 
5. The people here love Christmas. It’s about 80 degrees and they have zero pine trees, but EVERYONE and their 4 million dogs have a fake Christmas tree. Its magical. 
4. God is heavily infused in their culture. everyone loves God. But they don’t know anything besides the fact that they love God. haha its pretty funny. On their bikes, their buses, their stores, their houses...stickers that say ´gracias a dios´in super sick fonts. I can’t get enough. 
3. They diiiig pupusas. So much. Pupusuas are literally sold on every corner. Not complaining!!

2. Well that is all I have so this is a faux top ten. But, we’ll continue. 

This week. my comp and I had a cita (lesson, or discussion) with this little old lady. She was enjoying some sorbet. Great! That is great. Well I swear to you. I looked down and looked up--in 1 second flat--and somehow, this grandma with superhuman powers has moved across the room and is standing over me and a spoon full of orange slime is shooting towards my face--moving unspeakably fast. And she’s your mouth!! I have a split second decision. Open my mouth...or no?? But do I really have a decision??Like not really. So I open my mouth. And in goes the sorbet. ON the same spoon Grandma had been using. Guys I was sooooo close to losing the contents of my stomach. It was NAAAASTTTYY. But I kept it down. 

So then a few minutes later Grandma tells me that there is a ´rata´under my chair. Remember that I am still learning Spanish. Now, I’ve never before been formally introduced to the word rata. but I was blessed with decent intelligence, and I used my faculties to discern that rata was very likely rat. I discerned correctly. So I get a little crazy bc I am used to bugs...but I’m not on good terms with rats. So I jump out of my chair...and I’m looking underneath for a rat!!  I couldn’t see anything. Finally...I see a little picture of rat pasted onto the wall. What in the?? Grandma starts busting a gut. I guess it was funny. I would give it a 4 on the practical joke scale though. Which isn’t that good. I love it when weird things happen though. 

Our ward (a congregation in the LDS church,300-500 people, is called a “ward”.  About 10 wards constitutes a “stake”)had a talent show this week! And I borrowed a guitar from one of the elders which was da boooomb. Except my fingers got blistered from playing bc my calluses are gone! And guys. I did my first ever performance!! Us four sisters sang amazing grace and I played guitar! it was quite the spectacle.  When the children saw us going home at night with a guitar they demanded a song. Now the neighbor children come banging on our door every night for a song in English. I dunno why, but they love it when we sing in English. It’s a good time I won’t lie. 

Also, we started teaching English this week. You have to know that I am in my element when that happens. I love teaching English. Our students are great. some of them are legitimately crazy. But crazy people are forever more entertaining than sane people. I walk into the room, and student Jorge shouts at me, 'you are the most beautiful pretty wonderful teacher in the world!! THANK YOU!!!!' Class wouldn’t be the same without Jorge. love him. 
So I just want to reaffirm to you all that I love this gospel. This week I was studying the final week of the Saviors life. And it moved me. I am always inspired to share the gospel after studying the life of Christ. When he was being crucified, the paschal lambs were being offered in the temples of the Jews. They didn’t understand. A pagan man, a heathen, Pilot--tried to defend Christ, tried to persuade the people to spare an innocent man...but the chosen, covenant people refused their Lord and King. It’s amazing to me! I just knoooowwww that He lives. That he died. That he lives again. I am learning so much every day about patience and being glad in trials and being long suffering. I wonder how different we would all be if everyone studied the scriptures...especially the Book of Mormon for 30 minutes a day. I wish I could describe how I feel about the Savior and his gospel. But hey...if you love him keep his commandments. 
I’m starting to fit in guys. I really am. companions hair started on fire this week but I don’t have time for that story. I love you all. I’m doing well I promise. HAPPY THANKSGIVING. It’s probably my favorite holiday. 

Also*****(the man they started teaching in last week’s letter)  is doing well. We have begun teaching his wife but we gotta get him to church!!!! He hasn’t come yet. 
Ok, the  dl (district leader…a missionary responsible for group of missionaries in the area) is breathing down my neck!! next week!!


 Hermana Hirschi


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

'Pikachu' and other surprising Spanish slang

At the San Salvador LDS temple

So, there is a word here in San Salvador...


 It means gosh. Or dang. Or wow. 

Get the gist??

I have the hardest time remembering this. So the other night I was with some great el Salvadorians, and I just said 'pickachu!!!' bc I couldn’t remember the correct word. Man, they loved it!! They thought I was a comedic genius!! So now that is sorta my thing. I love dropping pikachu everywhere I go. I’m hoping to replace the actual word puchika with pikachu by the end of my mission.. 

But what a week y’all. Always what a week. What happened?? Honestly I don’t really remember. All I know is that the person who said the days are long and the weeks are fast is correct. It’s crazy how fast the time is here. I feel like I have blinked and a week is gone. 

I have been thinking a lot here in El Salvador. Here’s the thing. In long conversations with’s like supermega difficult to follow along in Spanish for extended periods of time. So I have cultivated a new talent. Back in America if I had to entertain myself I needed something. A book, an iPod, a phone. something. Or I went absolutely nuts. But here? Here I have developed a little something I like to call 'Thoughtland'. Thoughtland is the best. Because now all I need is my thoughts and I am content for hours. I think about all sorts of things. Life. Love.

There are actually some benefits to thoughland. One is that I meditate a lot. And that mixed with being saturated in scriptures leads to a lot of spiritual epiphanies. Like this week. I thought about the world vs. Jesus Christ. And how I have to love Christ more that the world...but not only the bad things of the world....the good things too. True religion has to transcend culture, order for it to be the truth for everyone everywhere. And I thought about the rich man who approached Christ and wanted to know how to obtain eternal life--even though he already kept the commandments. Christ asked him to sell all and follow him. And he couldn’t do it. And I found myself evaluating my own life. Could I really sacrifice everything--my traditions, my culture, my country--everything which I love, to follow Christ? It’s a hard thing to do. 

I also thought about faith, and how faith is not blind at all because we have been given things to increase and augment our faith, namely the commandments. All the commandments help fortify faith--they back it up so to speak. Faith is an action, and when we keep the commandments, like reading the scriptures, our faith is made stronger and our minds our enlightened and we receive more. Ok, I’m doing a pretty awful job of explaining this. All I know is that each time I learn more about the plan of salvation I realize how  incredibly perfect and brilliant God is. It’s brilliant. Trust me. 

So the food here... let’s get to the down and dirty. It’s awesome. It’s actually been pretty easy for me to digest. It’s primarily rice and beans. Also platanos, which are soooooooooo crazy good. Mom, you gotta try um. They are divine. Chocobanas are also pretty popular round here, and those are good. The members feed us probably 3 times a week and the rest is up to us. We buy food a lot from the little stands...but it’s like a buck for a meal so it aint no thang. But it’s good. That’s all I know. The food here is goooood. 

It’s also very hot here, and I think I am continuously dehydrated. So be it. I sweat pretty often. You know. It happens. 

Ok I have lots more to say as per usual but I am out of time. Sorry crowd. This is a pretty rough email. But I want you all to know that people all over the world are the same. I mean really and truly. We all have traditions and cultures sure...but at the heart of it there are pretty few differences. I’ve really only been to 6 countries but its fine. And I love the people here. They are so fun. They crack me up each and every day and now that we can actually communicate a little I am eating it up. Meeting people is the best. 

 Well. I love you all. The church is true. Read the scriptures. Have a wonderful week. Cherish the cold weather. Choose the right. 


Peace out.

Hma Hirschi


Monday, November 11, 2013

Let the miracles begin!

Oh hey everyone. 

 I want to start this email off with a spiritual note, or song--more appropriately, because the most amazing thing happened this week. The sorta thing that you read about in the ensign or the new era or something. I can’t believe still that it happened to me. Honestly, I am just grateful the Lord let me be a part of his miracle. 

 One night, me and Hma A are looking for referrals. We are walking the streets lost--as per usual, and so we go up to a door to ask for directions as we do nearly 56 times each and every day. The door is open, and on the couch is a man--and I’m gonna stick him at around 41 years old. He is chilling with his shirt off, as do most Salvadorians, and I’m thinking, “oh brother. Another person who will nonchalantly dismiss us.” I judged amiss. (As I normally do mind you). When we addressed him, he jumped up, put a shirt on, and immediately came to the door to greet us. After asking for directions, we explained that we were missionaries. 

 “Can we share a message with you about Christ??”

 “Yeah sure. Come on in.” 

“???? Are you under the influence right now or what?” haha nope. Just a nice middle aged man wanted to hear our message. 

So we entered, and we started to teach him. He was catholic, but he was EXTREMELY receptive to our message. When we taught about Joseph Smith...the spirit was illuminating the room, and this man--he just understood everything. It clicked for him. We taught him about prophets and he was like “ yeah...yeah of course we have prophets today.” 

He actually WANTED to read the Book of Mormon. Cool. Well, at one point in the lesson he started ranting and I got lost. He was speaking Spanish and what hope do I have when they are going 200 mph? None. We finish the lesson and he wants to meet with us with his family. Awesome. I was stoked about all this. 

 Well then Hma A and I get home. Hma A tells Hma S the story. Hma S then tells me my own story filling in the details I’d missed during the rant. I learn that I missed A LOT in that rant of his. 

 E*** is the man’s name. What he told us was that he had missed a church activity that evening by only a few minutes and so decided to stay home. As he was home, he decided to pray bc he had a lot of problems with his life and he wanted help with knowing what to do. So he prayed sincerely, and he asked God to help him out. He said 5 minutes later, we knocked on his door. 

 And then he said—“I will believe everything you tell me, because I know you are answer to my prayers from God,  and I know he has sent me the truth through you. 

HOW DID I MISS ALL OF THIS!!!! ehhhh????

This was a true blue miracle. In the flesh. In my life. Before my very eyes. E***! You are amazing! Your faith is amazing! God is omniscient! The gospel is true! How am I privileged to witness this??

 All I know is that God will answer sincere seekers of truth. That’s it. That’s the only thing I know worth anything in this life. If we seek the truth, God will show us the way. Always. 

 Needless to say, I am stoked to teach E*** and his family. They are those who are kept from the truth only because they know not where to find it. Can we all just say that the Lord is hastening his work?? Good stuff. The best stuff. Right here in Sonsonate. 

 In other news, I am adjusting, and I am building character every day. I am starting to really appreciate this country and the people. And the language is coming! It’s so exciting! This week I can separate words! I can recognize them! My comprehension still has much to be desired, but at I am progressing and it’s so encouraging. 

 PS God answers prayers. 

In other other news, the children here... Ah I love them. And when they see me....I mean, not to be a braggart...but they come running, and cheering, and this is a pretty excellent reception in my book! I am not sure why the kids and I are such good friends round these parts, bc I never know what they are saying to me and I teach them ridiculous American traditions… like how to pound it, how to say holy cow and how to say--upon seeing me--'our queen' haha ok just kidding on that last one. But I love the little children. We have way too much fun together. 

What’s more. The gospel is true. Prayer is so real. I have never felt so close to my Heavenly Father in my entire life. Because I have never prayed so sincerely!  I am, as always, so grateful for the Savior...who gives me all. You know a mission is pretty intimidating from day to day. I’m supposed to talk to everyone and share the news with all work 16 hours a day and be totally selfless. On occasion, this is a pinch trying. And I am not sure I can be what I know I need to be. But I also have trust...I trust that the Lord would not call me to this task if I could not be shaped to it. So here is an important lesson. The Lord never calls us to fail. Never. He will always make up for the strength we lack. So real-time, in my life right here, right now...this is hard to accept and understand and rely on, because it’s raw and it’s real. But I can feel the Gods love when I pray...and I can feel the reality of the Savior when I study the scriptures. Umm has anybody read King Benjamin’s discourse lately? He tore it up! It’s so amazing. All prophets from the beginning of time have taught us about Jesus Christ. Just do as he does. Just read the scriptures. Just pray. What is asked of us is not always easy, but it is for our good. That I KNOW is true. 

 That’s all I’ve got this week. My skin is thicker, my Spanish is better, my faith is stronger. I love you all. Thanks to all who wrote me. You are super stars and heroes. Have a wonderful week! 


Hma Hirschi

 PS I almost forgot my first name this week. 

PSPS I ordered 12 Pupusas in one sitting this week. But I saved some of them. Now I have the record and the Pupusa ladies are my number one fans because I am their number one customer. It’s a good relationship.



Monday, November 4, 2013

El diablo es en mis zapatos!!!!

For those of you checking out Alaina's blog for the first time, she has been in Mexico for 6 weeks training for the mission field.  She arrived in El Salvador last week, and is adjusting to life there.  Missionaries are called "Elder and Sister" in the mission field.  In Spanish that is "Hermano and Hermana"  which she shortens to Hma. Missionaries are always in pairs.  They are called "companions" so when she talks about her "comp" she is speaking of the other missionary she is serving with.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments and I'll try to answer!- Jackie (Alaina's mom)
Hey there everyone. What’s up?

This week… I don’t think anyone can understand a first week in the field unless they’ve been there. It was hard.  Really. Really. Really hard.  So here is the first take away lesson.

Be careful what you wish for ok???

Wednesday I got my new companion. The other American sisters that came here with me got Americans. Now I had kind of wanted a native Spanish speaker. Maybe I have changed my mind. Because Pres. Hintze had a lil interview with me when I first got to the country, and just asked me about my life and the ccm and school and stuff, and my new companion is named Hma A(shortened for privacy). From Guatemala. She doesn’t speak a lick of English. I speak maybe 4 licks of Spanish. At first I was super pumped, because I knew it would make me learn Spanish really fast. This is true. BUT I LOVE ENGLISH. And I miss itttttt. Communicating each day is a serious challenge...but I am learning tons. I don’t really have a choice? I am doing my absolute best to learn this language as fast as possible so I can be the most effective missionary possible. But yeah. Just think seriously about your wishes in the future ok?

So we got to our apartment here in my very first area, Sonsonate. Guys, it is so raunchy. Dirty and nasty and a serious health hazard. haha. We also randomly have the worst apartment in the whole mission? Hma S and her companion live with us, and she has 15 months in the mission and said this is the worst by far she has ever seen. We don’t have running water....except for in the shower? And you can bet that that shower has 0 hot water. The toilet is a fun situation. It’s just like a bowl, and deceptively has a little flusher handle on it. The first time I used it I asked Hma A how to flush it and she just came running at me speaking rapidly and holding a bucket.  All I could think was: “please no. I don’t want to use a bucket. I just don’t. Please let an angel come down and allow this toilet to operate.”
NO WORRIES. We just have to fill our bucket up with water from our pila outside (kinda like a little font... photo of a pila in El Salvador on the right.)So, we just fill the bucket and poor it down the toilet and it flushes! Good stuff. This is the epitome of adventure. I can’t count the times I threw a prayer up for all the things I had in America this week. But all you, all you people in America, be grateful for what  you have ok?????? Oh my gosh, be grateful.

So sketchy apartment. But the hardest part has been the language. I hate not knowing what is happening ever. The people will start talking to me and then realize I know nothing and stop. It’s fine. But I love the kids here. They talk to me all the time. Also the country. I am in a very poor area. It’s dirty and they don’t have much. The houses are decent I first I was pretty revolted by their conditions. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I questioned how a loving God could allow his children to live like this.  But then I had an epiphany...are these not the people that our Lord and Savior visited and taught in his earthly ministry? The poor, the destitute? The infirm and outcasts? And I was immediately ashamed of my prejudice. The Lord is humbling me and teaching me so much right now. And he is blessing me beyond belief. Everyday I look back and see all the little miracles that happened that helped me move forward.

 And I am trusting in the Lord for everything right now. Literally everything. Because plain and simple...

I can’t do this.
Not alone.

Not without a firm faith in this gospel. How many times did I want to go home this week. AT least 40000. And I miss the CCM so badly. I miss all my friends from the ccm with my whole heart. But this is what I am here to do. So like, my 5th night here, I realized I had two choices.

1. I can be miserable and passive and just let this mission happen to me while I don’t know the language.

2. I can exercise all the faith I possess, and try to exert all my might each and every day and love these people and do everything I can for them.

I’m opting for number 2. it’s hard, but it’s also possible with Christ. I know He lives. I know it.
The first few days I couldn’t even try to figure out what people were saying. I was so overwhelmed and exhausted and confused. But then I realized I had to try. At least try. And last night, during each lesson, I discovered that I can understand every conversation. Every. One. !!!!!! Breakthrough! I have to concentrate so hard, and I don’t know every word, but I can get the gist of what’s being said. This is a great leap forward for me...bc at the beginning of the week the people could have been speaking a mix of Russian, Finnish, Mandarin and Navajo and it would have made no difference to me. So I am at least progressing! My goal is to be rocking it at about 4 months.

Alright. Some funny stories.

Thursday night we went to M****’s house, and we are standing on the door step chatting when I feel some EXTREME pain in my foot. Like a little fire. And it’s spreading, and spreading. And I am freaking out. So I look down trying to discern what on earth is happening to me!!  There are these nasty little ants going nuts on my foot! So I am swatting at them like a mad woman but then they got on my hands and started biting my hands!! Meanwhile, the woman and my comp are like...what is happening? And thinking I am clinically insane. And because I know about 9 words in Spanish, all I could think to say is 'el diablo es en mis zapatos!!!!' Haha and I proceeded to take my shoes off and jump around and kill those dang things. Turns out they were fire ants. What the heck! Those things are evil and so now whenever I see an ant I make sure to kill it. Some may call this petty, others may call it vindictive and still others may tell me that violence is never the answer. But I care not. I am making the ants species pay for the pain and embarrassment they caused me. No regrets.

Entonces. This was a rough week. I have never had to exert so much faith before. But I am doing it. I know this gospel is true. I can’t tell you how many times I cried out to the Lord this week, begging Him to carry me. And CAN TESTIFY. God answers our prayers. He loves us in our weakness and imperfection. I know that is true. I love you all.
You are all great. I love you all. I love families. I love pupusas. They are a food native to this area and they are dang good. I’m obsessed.

Ok. Literally I love you all more than you can possible imagine. Have a good week, and remember. God lives. And He loves you! And we already have a baptism btw. Yay!!

Much Love,

Hermana Hirschi

PS  Mom, I wrote thank you’s to everyone who gave me gifts, but I don’t know how to send them....but I am so grateful!!!