Greetings from Guatemala! This will be my last week writing from the CCM... And today I have the announcement that I have been put in a different district! Several of the people in my group left early for their missions, and we were down to four. That's not enough people to merit a class, so they split us up. My two companions, who I had come to love so dearly and now miss much - we shout Spanglish to each other when we pass in the hallway and now sneak hugs at every opportunity - got put in one of the districts of the 29 missionaries from the U.S. who arrived last week, along with our sole elder.
And they really did put me in a Spanish-speaking district! So I'm repeating some of the lessons but it's good practice anyway still because it's in Spanish. At this point, I can understand 90 percent of what teachers say and participate in class well, but I only get about 40 percent of informal conversations. So it's been good for me (and probably very annoying for those around me) to be living with people who only speak Spanish and to have a companion from Honduras, named Hermana Betancourth. She is SO cool. I will have to devote a complete blog post to each of my companions, if I ever get time. (Also there is one other person in our district who speaks fluent English - she's 19 too, from Australia, but with Chilean parents.)
Anyway, our district is awesome. We laugh a lot and have some incredible spiritual moments. A lot of the elders are the very first missionaries in their family, one was baptized a year ago and has already done a mini-mission, and one gave up a professional soccer contract to come on a mission. But, despite how amazing and incredible everyone is, it was kind of a shock to go from a very English, U.S.-like environment, to one that was really and truly Spanish and Central American.
And here comes the 'profound' reflection: Beginning when I started college or maybe a bit before, I started to realize that things don't much matter. That as long as you're surrounded by a group of people who love you, it doesn't really matter whether you live in a bunk bed in half a dorm room or the laundry room of your parents' house or on a whole bunch of peoples' couches. I thought I had accomplished something, come to one of life's bigger conclusions, to have figured out and truly come to believe people were the most important, that physical environments and things could change, but that people could be the foundation.
Then, all of a sudden, I was here, for the first time fully enveloped in Latin culture, something I have wanted for ages, and I found myself missing American ways of exclaiming 'oh, I found the page number' or the heights of my American friends when they give hugs. And then I realized that love is just like things, as far as missing it goes. In that, if I am fully and completely enveloped in the arms of my Savior's love (2 Nephi 1:15), I am centered and sane and inwardly happy enough to accept the elbow bumps and permanent smiles and spontaneous hugs of my fiery little companion as if they were the arms of my very own mother - at least for these 18 months. That's because Christ is my Savior and my companion's and my mother's - and all the love that we on this earth are busy (or not as busy as we should be) giving each other is just a shadow and a type and reflection of his, meant to teach us how to be a little more like him. So I will take what love comes my way these 18 months and always, and will give out absolutely as much as I can for as long as I can and as well as I can.
Okay, I'm trusting my mom to clean that up and put some paragraphs. Sorry, it's not as good as I'd like to make it if I had more time, there's a group of rowdy elders outside waiting their turn at the computer. I promise lots of details next time about the Guatemalan countryside, because by then I'll have traveled by bus across half this country to my wonderful, beautiful, love-it-already mission!
Much love, much faith,
Hermana Ison :)