This past week was so long but I LOVE Peru!! The people are absolutely amazing. Getting to know some of them and getting my feet planted here has really helped the adjustment. They are so incredibly generous and loving and they take care of us like their own kids. I'm glad you invited the missionaries over! So funny, there are 6 of us in our ward here too! Give them all big hugs (of your genders of course ;) ), we always appreciate it :) Magdalena is beautiful. Our sector is SO tiny but we have the coast! The ocean is beautiful and we're not even near the best part. We're going there for Pday (Preparation Day - They do laundry, shop, tour, etc.) today! PS I'm writing in jeans and a hoodie in public and it's awesome :D Hna Capps is great, we get along well, she's a great companion. Of course Dave Calderwood is from Magdalena!! That's amazing! The knife he gave me has really come in handy by the way! I'm figuring out the map still, that'll take a while. Our area is a good mix, lots of nice places but also lots of humble places too, and I'm in one of the nicest parts of the mission. Yep, the mission office is in San Isidro but they're moving it to our chapel here in Magdalena. There are 10 stakes (Groups of congregations)!
Haven't fallen down the stairs yet but there's a 98% chance that day will come :) Pretty clean, cement floor but they're putting tile in soon. As far as Lima goes it's a nice place! I saw a cockroach and some pretty nasty spiders but nothing too crazy. Lots of dogs wander around the city, some with owners and a lot without (which means a lot of places smell like poop and you have to watch out so you don't step in it D: ). The food is great!! SO MUCH RICE. But great. By the end of my mission I'll pop open and spill rice. It's funny how they do a huge plate with rice then dessert might be arroz con leche... more rice! Haha. Nothing gross yet in the food department :) Maracuya is the bomb, it's a fruit juice, kind of like orange juice but way better! It's really sweet, tough to describe but I love it! Manzanilla tea is really good too (not against the rules :) ) Awww good luck to the Bartos!! Oh Emmie. She's awesome. I loved getting her email. Mail is super expensive here, even in soles, so I'm sending your bday cards all in one envelope and you can open them as the days come :) I'm not sure about packages, but they're ridiculously expensive... It stinks but I'll probably send you guys cards then bring the cool stuff home at the end. What do you think? I'll ask around but it might be easiest to just wait till I get home... No worries! How is Chris surviving boot camp? Happy Birthday to him!!! Too bad he can't celebrate it a whole lot. I'll send letters to him to you guys then you can pass them on, that'll be cheaper mailwise. But still pass on the address, I'll send him letters to keep his butt in gear in boot camp :) Ha wow, a life box. (At boot camp they send home all of their personal belongings in one box to their family) That's weird, funny, sad, huh. Interesting. Haha. That's cool he gets to call! The temple was one of the new videos, just voiced over in spanish. Funny because the words don't line up with the actors. But that's how all the church videos are here. It was tough to understand all of it, it's all in vosotros form, scriptures too, which is annoying because we use usted! I was grateful we went so many times before, I was able to keep up then just asked for help for the rest. It was amazing! I loved it. I'm glad you're staying busy!! And I'm really grateful you have so many awesome people to take care of you. Woohoo new sewing machine! The old dino can rest in peace now. I'm excited for your secret project! That's awesome, I'm sure Em loved the skirt. (I made Emilee a pencil skirt - the other styles were babyish to her) Cuz she's all grown up now ;) It's a weird kind of homesick. I miss you guys all the time, but it's not the kind of homesick where I want to come home (sorry...) I know this is where I need to be at this time, for me and for lots of others here. And for you guys too <3 I know Heavenly Father is taking care of you all and will continue to do so for the next 17 months and a week (not 2 years :) ). Reading the book you guys made is so encouraging and it motivates me even more to represent! We have some awesome investigators and less actives. One of my favorites, Flor, is nuts. Like writing on the walls nuts. But adorable. She's genuine though, and she loves us and our visits. We have a FHE (Family Home Evening - Family time) with her tonight to help her set a goal to go to the temple. B really wants to be baptized. G just had his reactivation interview and is good to go!! We're helping him get ready for the temple too. V is one of my favorites!! She's sassy but genuinely wants the gospel in her life. Funny story, we were teaching her about the WoW (Word of Wisdom - Health and Lifestyle) and literally right after the lesson she gave us a snack and said 'and I'm going to have my coffee' all sassy like. Funny palm to forehead moment. Her twin granddaughters are adorable!! They sing and dance for us and never run out of energy (kinda like Emmie). They're 3 years old. There was a little 8 yr old at church last night, J, and I was giving her a hard time about not knowing her name since she didn't have a nametag. So, we laughed then we took a picture with her wearing mine :) The kids make me miss home but they also make me love the people even more. } One of my favorite members, Hna Cairo, has a daughter serving in Mesa right now! And Hna C just got called on a welfare mission here in Lima! So we took a pic with her and her plaquita :) She's awesome! It's actally really cold here! I bought gloves from a lady who knits them on the sidewalk and I wear them to bed too... The cement floor and bad seal on the window keeps our room chilly! I'm trying to pull out my best Chicago toughness but it gets pretty cold walking in the wind all day! I love my jacket! The mist is pretty cool. No rain but misty enough to make you freeze! And get everything wet. Paper stays pretty soggy haha. Bryan (Heslop) will be proud, I've been wearing my watch upside down like a weirdo :) It got too annoying to keep spinning it around so I caved. I love how people always greet with a kiss on the cheek, it's one of my favorite things about them. The houses are really colorful, it brightens up the city a lot. The work is go go go! It's exciting when people are home and we can teach. Spanish is coming easier now, still slow but poco a poco. Funny story but I felt bad... I met Geno this past week and he made the comment in front of everyone that my spanish was better than Hna Capps... awesome boost of confidence for me but Hna's been here a year so I felt bad. A lot of people tell me I speak really well, so that's been comforting and I'm figuring out the Peruvian twists as I go. They like adding ito/ita and all that to the ends of words, like chiquitito and hermanita. I like it! I really hate the word misericordia. It means mercy, but every time I see it I think of misery... So yeah, we can be saved through the misery of Christ :P Haha. I love spanish. You guys are amazing. It really is motivating to think of all of you cheering me on and to think of all the blessings you've already received. Especially with Chris leaving. I know that's gotta be so tough for you, but it will be an awesome growing experience for him. And for us too. Amor para siempre! Natalie
""I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy." Alma 29:9