Tonight my companion and I
will celebrate New Years 2014 by eating 12 grapes. A Guatemalan tradition I guess. It sounds
good to me because I like grapes and I like traditions. So there is an
My companion and I
My week..It was nice. Everyone in Belize says 'nice' btw.
Like when they're talking about something where Americans would use
'good'--they say nice. It’s kind of creepy to me for some reason but I am
working really hard to get over that. I may have to start counseling soon. I don’t
SKYPING WITH MY FAMILY WAS THE BEST THING EVAAA. just so
everyone can know that the Hirschis are the best!
So another juicy fact about Belizeans. They like Christmas.
BUT. They don’t eat pie...instead they eat cake. Cake and sprite--chocolate
cake to be exact. Before my mission I was something of a connoisseur of chocolate
cakes. I was always team cake. I almost despised pie. But how the tides have
changed. I ATE SO MUCH CAKE THIS WEEK. And it brought to mind a certain beloved
childhood film. Do any of you remember the movie Matilda?? About the magical little
girl that goes to the school with the evil lady? I know my details are a bit
foggy...but remember the part when Bruce has to eat a HUGE chocolate cake by
himself bc he stole one tiny peace? And the principal makes him eat the entire
thing? And how the film supports child abuse more or less? But then how Matilda
stands up and cheers him on while he is finishing the cake? "BRUCE BRUCE
BRUCE" well that happened to me this week. Albeit only in my mind. But it
happened. Because the 26th I ate at least 3 cakes. Solo. And at one house a
lady offered us some cake, and of course we always oblige people. But the
problem lies in serving sizes. Whenever people give missionaries food it’s
enough to sustain a country for a minimum of 2 months. The kind women brought
us chocolate cake--the size of my head. I thought I was going to die, but I put
that cake down. Granted it took me almost 45 minutes, but I did it. And I could
hear Matilda chanting my name the entire time.
Also I drank wood juice this week. At the insistence of a
very kind investigator named E*** is a true champ and he loves all the
herbs that grow naturally in the forests of Belize. He also loves to take the
bark and brew concoctions and drink them for his health. When he swore to me
that the juice would fix all my health problems I was tempted to ask for
scientific research, and studies without bias, but I refrained. Instead I drank
the juice. And it nearly killed me. E*** laughed but continued to promise me
perfect health. That night I was very sick--hahahah I am FOR SURE putting my
money on the wood juice for cause of illness.
Shoot guys. One more thought and I gotta peace out. So this
week during tracting, I realized that many people find what I do as a
missionary to be offensive. And they let me know that they think it’s rude that
I approach strangers to share what I believe. It’s seen as presumptuous and
invasive. And at first...this really bothered me. Because anyone who knows me
knows that I don’t like to offend people. I am a peacemaker. I hate making
people uncomfortable!! But then I thought of something (100% inspired). Christ offended
people so strongly with His direct proclamation that He was the Son of God that
they killed Him.
I don’t think anyone in Belize is ready to kill me just
yet. Haha maybe I'm wrong. But I’ve got my fingers crossed.
So then I learned something again. Truth is truth and to
many people it will be offensive and harsh and overbearing. But. I know that
Jesus Christ is the head of this church and that every person can know for
themselves as well! And I love that part. We can all know for ourselves. So. Let’s
not be afraid to share the gospel--always remembering that it is such a gift in
our lives and that Christ died declaring His divinity and paying the price of
our sins and hardships. And also remembering that our invitations made to
families and friends to learn about the gospel will always be understood as an
act of love.
Happy New Year’s all. I hope you have a crazy fun time
celebrating. Make some resolutions. Make some goals. Go nuts. Within the bounds
of the laws of the country and God.
Ahh Christmas. I love it. So
much. And I also love it when it’s cold and there is snow, and family, and pie,
and presents, and a fire, and music, and Jesus Christ, and the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Its unbeatable I'd venture to say.
I am SOOO looking forward to
calling my family tomorrow!! And to my family that I can’t call: know that I
love you beyond words and I am so pumped that we get to be together forever.
Christmas forever!!! One day.
So this week. I am getting a
feel for the people here in Belize...the culture....the traditions...the
problems. I feel like I have seen more
of the world in one week than I saw in my entire life in the united states.
Hence, I feel that I have left Toyland and quite literally entered Gotham City.
Minus Batman. Which is a serious shame because we could legitimately use his
help around here. #NOTKIDDING. ok enough of that. Hashtags aren’t even
recognized as an acceptable mode of communication in the American culture
anymore. I know. I know. But I have been out of the loop for officially three
months now and I am not cool.
(First...maybe there should be a warning for tender audiences
here?? Consider yourself warned)
It’s been a little hard to see some of these things happening in Belize.
Alcoholism is rampant. I’ve seen drunk men passed out in the street in their
own mess. I’ve talked to a man who had a gang threatening to kill his family. I’ve
taught a woman whose husband beats her and her children. I’ve met with a family
who didn’t have any money to buy food or water the next day. I taught a young
man who killed someone in self-defense the night after we saw him. I’ve seen grown
men--under the influence of drugs--come up to me and BEG me to help them change
because alcohol, drugs, pornography DESTROY. They destroy families. They
destroy happiness. I am living in Gotham city. But jokes aside. I’ve seen
horrible things!! And.
Every single nightmare I witnessed this week could be
avoided with one thing. The gospel of Jesus Christ. Prepare yourself because I
knew Satan existed before I left on my mission...but now...now I have seen him.
I have seen the results of his handiwork. I want to literally punch him in the
face. with my fist. and some knives. Because people listen to his lies and the
lies of the world and they destroy themselves. So I’m getting on my soapbox for
4 sentences. Here we go.
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LIVE HAPPILY IF YOU LIVE CONTRARY TO THE
WILL OF GOD.In other words, if you
disobey the commandments of god. On the other hand, it is impossible to be
unhappy if you follow Jesus Christ.
One man, this week, approached
my companion and asked US if we could meet with him. He said he’d been out of
prison and since then he'd started drinking and his family was ruined and all
he felt was pain. He wanted to change. Then he asked me a question...he said
'in your religion...do you believe that people can really change'
It was the single best
opportunity I have ever had in my life. I gloried in it. I looked B in
the eyes and maybe bore the purest, simplest testimony I have in my short life
'Absolutely. That is the gospel
of Jesus Christ. He died for us so that we could change...so that we could
escape any burden, if we will turn to Him'.
IT WAS AWESOME. Missionary
work! Helping people! The gentleman quietly responded that that was a good answer and
that we could meet Christmas day. Cool! It was a neat experience. I wish all
people were that humble. alas...
I’m learning a lot. And realizing a lot. And understanding
that only by living the commandments of God can we be free and have joy. Doesn’t
seem too complicated?
I apologize for the preaching antics.
My companion is awesome. She is from Guatemala city--also a
very dangerous place and she has some craaazy background stories. She told me
how she had been robbed a lot in Guatemala...but one time 2 teenage boys
approached her when she had a cake and a soda for her friend’s birthday. They
motioned to her that they had a gun in their pockets and demanded that she hand
over the cake. Do you know what she
did? Of course not. SHE STARTED BEATING THEM WITH THE UMBRELLA SHE HAD IN HER
BARE HANDS. If anyone knows me at all they will know that this is my kinda
humor. I am still laughing. I can’t just imagine...my little 5'1 Latina
companion going NUTS with an umbrella in hand and a cake under one arm and a
soda under the other. Hahah anyways she is pretty tough and you are dang
straight she saved that birthday cake for that friend. So I always feel safe
with her around.
I wish you all had the opportunity to sit down and chat with ****. He is
also an ex-con...and boasts a variety of talents. He found the church and has
quit all drugs and is the most awesome missionary ever. He comes and works with
us often. But he doesn’t have hardly any money and also will go some days without
eating food--because he first always feeds his three year old son. These people
reduce me to tears. There are a lot of problems here...but also a lot of really
incredible, Christ-like people.
So moral of the story. I’ve
seen a lot of hardship that comes from not following the gospel of Jesus
Christ. But I also revel in the fact that hardships have humbled a lot of
people who are ready and willing to change. It’s hard--but it’s possible.
Nothing is impossible with God.
On that note...Merry Christmas.
Remember Jesus Christ who suffered all. Not only do we have the gift of
repentence and change...but we have the gift of knowing that a God has felt all
our pains and knows EXACTLY how to succor us in our hour of need. I love this gospel.
What’s new right? I hope you all enjoy your Christmas with your family and
remember that to have a happy family is to live the principle that Christ
First, I’m going to employ the tried and always true list approach because I’m a freak for lists. Here is some gooood stuff about Belize friends.
1. Everyone here is trilingual. This is absolutely incredible to me because no matter how amazingly uneducated a person may be in this beautiful Caribbean country, they know 3 languages....THREE. I’m struggling for two-- and they're spitting out Spanish, English, and Kriol in one wild conversation. I kid you not--I will start teaching a lesson in English, and halfway through, we’re suddenly speaking Spanish and my brain REVOLTS. I start spewing out Spanglish like a complete moron. hahaha ok it’s not really that bad, but my brain is pretty upset about the transitioning. It’s really very hard. I don’t know why but your brain gets into a track and when you have to go back and forth its nearly painful. one day...
2. Everyone here also enjoys the pastime of smoking weed. I know approximately zero things about weed but I am learning...haha. All I know is that in a lesson last week an investigator told us he smoked 11 rolls (maybe packs? or containers? or bins? I don’t know what the dope smoking mechanism is called!!!) every day. We had a member there with us who formerly smoked weed and so I just watched his every reaction to try and discern how I should react to the drug stats we were being given. So when the member was stunned at our investigator saying he smoked 11 'things' a day, I tried to mimic his facial expression, and would offer a deep and contemplative 'oh yeah man that is a lot of dope...' to help aid the conversation. But in all seriousness. It’s a huge problem here and we are trying to help people understand that it is wrong to smoke weed and that they will destroy themselves! It’s a work in progress.
3. So… my coma subject line. I feel like I have come forth from a coma. Why? Because everyone here speaks English and I finally, FINALLY, understand what is going on. It’s literally, using no exaggeration whatsoever, like I have awoken from a coma. I love teaching in English. I love knowing what people are saying to me. I LOVE COMMUNICATION. It’s a gift from above. But I’m simultaneously obsessed with Spanish and I miss hearing it 24/7. No worries. My Latina companion is under contract--I told her she must speak to me in Spanish at all times.
4. Sis Simon says my Spanish accent is very good and that I speak almost perfectly!! I just need a bigger vocabulary...you know I’m working on it. But that was the validation I have been looking for for 3 months now. What a sweet relief. #blessings
Ok. Kriol is the bees knees and I will learn one day. The accent is literally beautiful.
WHY IS THERE NEVER ENOUGH TIME IN THE EARTH FOR ANYTHING EVER.
On that note I need to wrap this baby up. I want to share a quick little story. But first, I want to share my testimony. again. I know, I know. I share it all the time. But I can’t get my fill folks. I’m insatiable. I LOVE THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. It fills you with so much life! and joy! and love! and peace! Its indescribable. And I love sharing it. Even though I have 439,834,502,847,509,427 things to learn still.
But here’s a fun quick lil story…There is a member of the church in Sweden. At the time of this experience, she was a new member or a recent convert. She was riding her bike to her aunt’s house one day--and this was a long bike ride, 90 minutes. On her way home...the winds started and it was mostly uphill on the way home so she is really struggling and also feeling very alone bc many of her friends and family had ostracized her after her conversion to the church--mainly bc she no longer participated in activities that they enjoyed. So this woman-Natalie for our stories sake--is riding in the wind, uphill, struggling. She decides it is time to test God, time to see if He is real. She stops and offers a prayer, and says, God if you exist and you are listening to my prayers--I want you to do one simple thing--stop the wind. Then Natalie jumped on her bike and kept going. Uncannily--the wind did not stop. So she gets to the top of the hill, right by her house, and cynically gives a thanks to the heavens. Immediately after she heard a still voice which said, 'I didn’t stop the winds, I gave you the strength to overcome them' after which Natalie noted she had made her ride in 60 minutes and not 90.
Ok, so I loved this story. Not to prove God exists. Nothing like that. But to demonstrate that we need trials. We need struggles. We need hard things in order to make us stronger. And the Lord always gives us strength. Always. HE. WILL. NOT. ABANDON. US. He loves us and all his children. EVERYTHING CREATED IN THE UNIVERSE...EVERYTHING...was created for us. For the purpose of our joy. To teach us to become perfect.
Christ lives. He died. And now he lives. What can we do for him this Christmas? I know I have a lot I can give to the Savior. There are a lot of things I can do a little better. So with that, Merry Christmas... if I don’t write again before the holiday, I add my solemn witness that He lives and that He loves us and that God is our father and that the truth and the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth today. Also john 21.http://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/john/21?lang=eng
ALL MY LOVE
HERE WE GO WITH THE BELIZE PUNS… for the rest of my
I am in Belize. and I am in love with Belize already. I wish
I could describe it appropriately. But I will never do it justice. Never in 6
billion years. Just satisfy yourselves to know that it is stunning--absolutely
When I first found out I was going to Belize...after only
six weeks in El Sal, I was in utter disbelize. (haha sorry that one was sooo
lame). I literally thought the AP (Asst. to the President. This is another young missionary) was lying to me. but then I got a plane
ticket. (for first class btw??? first and last time in my life I will fly first
class. But it was enjoyable)
The Pupusa ladies
I was actually really sad to leave my area. I love the Hma's
in my house. I love the crazy neighbors we had. I love the Pupusas and the
orange juice and the Spanish. I love my ward. I
just LOVE IT .
But. Belize. It’s spectacular. It really is. We have a cute
little house which is about 80,000x nicer than my apt in El Sal. When I walked
off the plane it wasn’t one of those big fancy ramps right into the airport, it
was a staircase like the one the Beatles came off of in that one picture that
everybody knows. So I’m coming off the plane like 'HELLO WORLD' and its
tropical and there are Creoles everywhere and they are speaking Creole and I am
just having a genuine ball only walking down the stairs. The majority of my
dreams came true in that moment bc Belize is a combination of the Caribbean, Africa
and Britain, Asia, India. (if you’re confused on why...google Belize. The
diversity here is amazing) Seriously how does it get better?
My new companion is a Latina also. But she speaks English
too which is so nice. Turns out that communication has some real perks.
But before I get too far, I want to share some experiences I
had right before I left. First off. When I got the news I was going to Belize, I
was super pumped to tell Hma Stewart--my bff. (We live in the same apt but she
is in another area). We became very good friends in the past six weeks and she
just came back to El Sal from Belize so I was looking forward to sharing my
Hma Hirschi and Hma Stewart
Well the Scott Hirschi is my blood demanded that I pull a
fast one before coming outright with the news. So when we were all home that
night together I acted very sad and informed Hma N and S that I had some
news (Hma A was in on this with me). I proceeded to sit down, and maintained a
somber attitude. haha then I started crying (this is a skill I didn’t formerly
know I possessed, but I can cry on demand??) and after a few minutes I told the
sisters that I had to go home. Then I slowly looked up and cried 'PSYCH IM GOING
TO BELIZE!' and at this point I’m pretty happy. But. BUT. Hma Stewart was
crying!! Oops. I got her good guys. I got her good. Probably a little too good
Then a family in the ward wanted to have a little goodbye
dinner for me before I left. I obliged them and showed up for dinner. There
were about 10 of us enjoying this dinner, when suddenly one of my friends, Samuel,
who is about 25 years old, decides to change the subject of conversation. So he
says to me, I kid you not, 'Hma Hirschi how much do you weigh?' OUT OF THE
BLUE. And I think I stared blankly at him. Then I said, 'Samuel, you just
committed a criminal offense in the United States' and the American sisters
laughed with me, but everyone else was like, 'oh yeah, how much do you weigh??'
And then. AND THEN. They started shouting numbers out, guessing my weight!!! What
sin is this!?!?
After that we had a super interesting conversation about
cultures. Because in the US, you don’t ask a woman that question ever. But in El
Sal, it the topic of dinner conversation. They just don’t really care about
their weight too much. They consider it endearing to call someone
fat...'gordita'. So there is a fun fact for you. Maybe that experience was the
most surprising culture shock so far.
Also... sorry for the organization in this email. Everyone
in Belize speaks English, Spanish, and Creole. Creole is like degenerated English
but it is a legitimized language and I can’t understand them very well. We’ll
see how much I pick up.
I’m excited to be here. It’s raining today and it makes me
miss Seattle. It was so hard to leave El Sal but I also trust that this is
where the Lord wants me and I can’t wait to work with the people. I know this
is the work of the Lord. I saw part of a movie last week on a bus while I was
traveling to San Sal. It was about a man who was trying to save his marriage
and he kept serving his wife in little ways...but whatever he did she rejected.
She wouldn’t take the flowers, drink the coffee he made, or eat the dinner he’d
prepared. So this guy is chatting with his dad about his frustration and he
says, 'how can I love someone who rejects me?'. And the dad is trying to help
his son understand our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ...and then I got to
thinking... How many people reject the Savior--even after all he has overcome
for us, and still He loves them. With a perfect, unending love. We are so
impatient with people--especially when we try to serve and our efforts go
unnoticed or unappreciated. But I know that I need to remember that it is
possible to love those who reject us. Because the ultimate sacrifice was
rejected--the perfect being who suffered all our pains and sins has been
rejected--and he still loves every single sheep. Every single human being.
Hahahaha ok, ok. No one get up in arms. I only wrote that title
for my email because I thought it was funny. BUT, I am learning a lot about
humility in the mission. More than I would care to learn. You feel me?
But first, hello everyone! I hope you all had a marvelous
week with your families during Thanksgiving, and that you didn’t hesitate to
consume 10,000 calories on the fourth Thursday of the month of November. I
wonder if in 3000 years when America is no more, and people study our
traditions, if they will explain thanksgiving that way. 'They slaughter millions
of turkeys and gorge themselves on the same Thursday every year'. It’s pretty
strange from that perspective.
Ok shoot. Sorry for the side story.
Humility. Here is one secret about the mission.
It crushes your pride. I remember when I didn’t think I was
particularly prideful. Then I came to the mission and 18 year old boys started
telling me what to do because they were my leaders and I felt the flame of
insubordination burn within me.
And then, slowly yet surely, I felt my pride get crushed out
of me. I think I’m still in the process of being crushed?? But I hope that one
day I will be truly humble. I also hope that one day I will not have to heed
the advice of 18 year boys anymore. All in good time right?
Holy Hannah, I had some adventures this week. Let’s start
with the bug bites.
I’ve had bug bites before in my lifetime. Haven’t we all??
But in this country the bugs don’t bite...THEY FEAST. And they crave my blood.
I wonder if you know what it’s like to have 20 bug bites on each leg. I wonder
if you know what it’s like to wake up at 3 in the morning because your legs are
BURNING for need of beingscratched. I wonder if you know how incredibly
awkward it is to sit in a lesson, and try to casually bend over and then
nonchalantly rip into your legs with your nails for sooome relief of the
itching. And then it’s never casual and its never nonchalant and then there is
an inevitable comment about how white I am and about how the mosquitos love white
people’s blood. And then they always give me alcohol to rub on my legs and then
it always burns because just 8 seconds ago I was scratching until I bled.
FYI--DEET IS GOOD FOR NAUGHT. Because my legs itch nigh unto
death. (Scripture speak. Does anyone remember when I did p90x and I started
talking like Tony Horton? I used his phrases and his intonations, his hand
movements--everything. Well now all I do is the study the
scriptures...basically....and the terminology is seeping into my everyday
conversational language.Good. Bet you
didn’t see that one coming did you El Salvador??)
I’m just being a big baby. I can live through a few bug
bites. But then again maybe not...because I’m pretty confident in the fact that
I have contracted at least 14 diseases already. Dengue is calling my name. I’m
only alive because I’m a missionary.
Another adventure. Here in Sonsonate they have a little
treat called the December Winds. The weather here is without doubt bipolar.
Monday, it was about 98 degrees. Tuesday, I got outside, and there were winds
blowing at 4000 miles per hour!! So if anyone has the movie twister you can pop
that into your VHS player and you can get a good look at the life I am living.
Haha the first day of winds was just absolutely mad. I was wearing my pleated
skirt that day. For shame, because that thing can FLY. And fly it did...at
every gust...every 2.34 seconds. How I battled that skirt...and how I lost.
Buuut! AT least it is a lot cooler these days which isa lovely respite. But
the first night with the winds was truly mortifying.
I was lying in the top bunk, on the second floor of our
apartment. And the noise of the winds woke me up because they’re so
ridiculously loud and they bang things around! And I was legitimately
petrified. I knew--I just KNEW--that thewind was going to rip our roof off and
that because I was on the top bunk, I was going with it. Well I was right. Just
kidding. Our roof stayed put, but the moral of the story is that the wind in
this country is unreal!!
Ok one more really funny thing. I was trying to help this
little girl learn English. (Btw our class is a hit. We have a lot of students
are we grow every week. And now I am teaching the beginners by myself which is
super challenging because I’m not exactly fluent yet in Spanish.) I’m trying to
teach this little Niña. And I swear...she did the most amazing things with our
grand English words. Por ejemplo, I say:
Ok, Yasuri, say 'has'
and she replies 'hasckgch'
(In my mind… 'wait what? wait how did you do that?')
Yasuri, no. its 'has'
and then she looks like she’s going to throw up,
How is that even possible??!?!
Every word I gave this girl in English...she made it German.
Every one. I remain completely befuddled as to how she accomplished this feat,
but she did. Yasuri is ten years old. I am holding out for her, but I seriously
doubt her ability to learn English right now. I’ll keep you updated on this
nail bitter, no worries.
I guess my adventures are never ending in this land. We also
had a little thanksgiving celebration as a mission on Friday. President spoke
to us and we ate turkey and pumpkin pie. I bless the hands that purchased that
pumpkin pie from the super selectos here in San Salvador. It was not homemade,
but it was divine.
So this week, as I was reflecting on missing my family
during the holiday, I was blessed to read about the original 12 apostles and
their ministry. Basically, after the death of Christ, Peter and the other 11
apostles went about doing the same thing I am currently doing...preaching the
word. Declaring their witnesses of Christ. Stephen the disciple died first for
his testimony of Christ, but before any of their deaths, the apostles suffered
incredible hardships. They were tortured, rejected, and abused. And the amazing
thing is that they counted themselves blessed to beworthy to suffer in the
name of the Lord. They were grateful for the afflictions they carried in the
service of our Lord and Savior. And my attitude shifted a little…about my bug
bites, about missing my family during the holidays. Am I making a few miniscule
sacrifices? You bet ya. But I am beginning to feel grateful that I am worthy to
suffer these things for the Lords sake.
Sometimes it’s very hard to walk down the streets and to
genuinely feel your testimony of Christ burning and to not have people listen
or understand the importance of what you have to offer them. But we hit the
streets anyways...because I have faith that there are people who are ready for
the gospel. And I’m beginning to develop a true love for getting out there and
working each and every day. I love working with people. I love making people
laugh. I love teaching and testifying. I love trying to improveevery
This email is so long. But everyone, take a peek at Alma
32-34 (In the Book of Mormon...it’s online too http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm?lang=eng). Ok I know none of you will,
but those chapters are so prime. The church is true. I love you all. Have a
wonderful week. Count your many blessings. Share the gospel. It’s hard...but