It all started with the smoothie stand. It showed up in the main street, just shy of the Catholic church and the city park, ten days ago. Street vendors with tacos and tortas and beer shortly followed. Then kiosks selling candy and knick-knacks.
San Martin only has like three main roads, and one and a half of them are now taken over by the fair, which sounds cooler said in Spanish: la ferria.
The crowning adornment of the now transformed town was the five-day long construction of a ferris wheel, There's a big one for adults, made of metal with peeling paint, fluorescent lights, and giant speakers blaring rap music tied on the sides. It towers over the little town, it's base literally one block from our front door.
Completing the picture are some tents where you can play foosball and car racing games. There's also two little ferris wheels for little kids that teenage boys push because they don't have motor, and an assortment of merry-go-rounds for toddlers, a couple of stands with a rip off lottery, and a frightening table where anyone can buy all kinds of tequila.
We've also been witness to parades with dancing horses. One of our investigators, who's 13, competed to be the fair queen.
All in all... it is quite an epic experience. I've basically been living on smoothies and pizza and cotton candy. And it's been quite interesting to have to walk through the fair everytime we want to go anywhere.
Like, for example, on Saturday...
For two months, we've been teaching this lady named Sandy, who's really cute and petite and listens to We the Kings and Red Hot Chili Peppers and sells whole chickens in a room they rent in one of San Martin's side streets, cutting them forcefully with a giant knife if somebody just wants the leg or breast. (We always teach her there in the store; I think I've come to be an expert in dissecting chicken just from watching.)
She's six months pregnant and living with a guy named Juan Luis, who got baptized like seven of ten years ago but stopped coming to church like five years ago. One day the wife of our ward mission leader was passing by and he told her she should have the missionaries come by because he wanted to start coming back to church, now that he's about to be a dad and has his business going and everything.
So we started teaching him and even more to his wife, who wasn't a member but did have a strong desire to be baptized. She accepted everything really well. They even found a girl to work in their business on Sundays so they could kind of keep the Sabbath day holy. And at first they weren't so sure about getting married, but, in what was kind of a miracle, they prayed and accepted that they ought to do what God wants.
So they decided to get married! The wedding was Saturday, and it was beautiful!
But it was a lot of work getting it that way. It required like 117 balloons, yards of crepe paper, an impatient lawyer from Reu, help from Yosselin, and too much time taken out of proselyting.
We had to carry multiple things through the fair, starting with a giant round cake pan full of batter, going from panederia to panederia searching for someone to bake it for us. Then we basically ran to one of the aldeas, and ran back, carrying 15 feet of PBC pipe. That was fun to take through the fair. Honestly, I think it was great advertisement: everyone watching the Mormons carry their random items in a hurry to the church.
But it was fun, and in the end it was all worth it. The couple got married and were so, so happy.
Almost as happy as the elders, when we let them race-pop 117 balloons.
Sandy got baptized on Sunday morning, in the worst-attended baptism I've been part of. Only 7 people were there, but it didn't matter because the Spirit of the Lord was present.
I am so grateful to be a missionary, for all the adventures and for the everyday moments too.
Life is a beautiful thing. (Especially when there are smoothies, which we're going to go buy right now...!)
Love you all!