Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Accent Shopping

Hi Friends and Family,
This week has been an interesting one. My time here in Agua Fria is turning out to be very different from my time in Aguila. The adjustment has been a little tricky, but I'm starting to get there. I've really really missed my previous companion, Hna Ayala. She and I worked very very comfortably together from the first day. We had similar work ethics and both really just loved to be out and working with the members and our investigators. Hna Aydelotte is a good missionary, but does things very differently and isn't very comfortable with change. So we've spent a lot of time trying to get used to each other. I'm learning a lot of patience... a lot a lot of patience.
The ward here in Agua Fria is made up of Mexicans and Chileans. It's about 2/3 Mexicans and then the rest are from Chili, minus one or two other families from various parts of Latin America. It's here that I've finally found the accent I want to pick up. I LOVE the Chilean accent! Every time we're in church and our Bishop gets up to speak (he's from Chili and has an incredible accent) I spend my time muttering very quietly under my breath trying to mimic his accent. I'm slowly picking it up. I figure if I can spend 3 or 4 months here I can really start to get a good Chilean accent going... we'll see what happens. The Chilean members of the ward all get a kick out of my attempt at their accent... so I guess I'm winning brownie points too.
Dad asked about the area... this area is very very white. There are very few Hispanics here and so we spend most of our time working referrals only. When we knock we can knock for 2 or 3 hours and only find one family who speaks Spanish. So it's not a very good use of our time. Tonight we're meeting with the bishop to see what we can do to try and get things moving more.
The main investigator we're working with right now is a woman named Carmenza. She's from Colombia (and also has a really cool accent) and has lived in the US for 16 years. She moved here 16 years ago to marry an American. Previously she was a lawyer in Colombia and worked for the government. We had a really interesting conversation the other night about being in a foreign country and trying to adjust to a different culture. You can tell she really misses Colombia and probably would go back if she hadn't been in the US for so long. She told us she is going to come to church this Sunday, and we're really excited. I hope she makes it.
Okay now questions from Mom:

What is the most effective thing that you do in your scripture study that you feel makes a difference in your testimony?

Well, right now I'm almost done with reading the Book of Mormon in 60 days. So that's been my big focus. Although, what we've been working on as a mission is really studying for our investigators and the people we come into contact with. President is really pushing that all of our study time should be 100% focused on our investigators. It's been very fun to see how as I am reading and thinking about the needs of the people I am teaching often things will jump out that can help them. I find myself teaching more and more from the scriptures and it's amazing to see how every question can always be answered by them.

How are the language studies going?

Language studies are going well. There's always room for improvement. When I was with Hna Ayala we would spend language study time with me telling her stories and she would help me with the vocab I didn't know and correct me when I said something funny. That really really helped my Spanish. Often when we are out and about she couldn't point out when I was saying something funny, but at home for that hour she would help me say things right. I've had to make a switch here in Agua Fria to studying more from books. I don't like it as much, but I'm making it work. It's a little tricky because I'm the Junior companion, but I'm far more comfortable with the language. Hna Aydelotte speaks very clean Spanish (probably more clean than mine) but I have a larger vocab from years with Sra. Blanchard and I'm also more comfortable just speaking. Most of the members think I'm at the end of my mission not the beginning. It's also nice because I'm able to really start picking up more and more vocab. I love it. The members here are really good about helping us out and they are more than happy to define words for us when we ask them.

Yes, I am still in the greater Phoenix area. All the Spanish speakers mostly stay in Phoenix. There are usually a few in other areas but not many. Actually, this area only has 5 of the 35 companion ships in the areas speaking Spanish. That's quite the contrast from my last area where in just one Stake (9 wards) we had 3 sets of English speaking missionaries and 12 sets of Spanish Speaking missionaries. Like I said, it's a pretty white area. As for getting warmer, earlier in the week it did hit 80 but then it cooled off again. Now we're sitting in the 60's which is nice. Actually, it's showing me how Phoenix is ruining me. It was in the upper 40's lower 50's last night and I was wearing my heavy coat and scarf and I was still cold... I felt pretty pathetic.

I think that's about all for this week. Have a wonderful week everyone!


Hermana Okeson

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