Tuesday, April 20, 2010

First week in Chile

I´m in Chile. A week has passed since I left the MTC. I feel like it´s been my whole life. I had no idea how long the days could seem when I was in the MTC. How silly of me.

I´m in Iquique, which is in the north. Our area (sector in Spanish) is right right right next to the beach, and our apartment is literally on the beach. But it´s not a tourist beach, which is good. There are homeless people that live there. It´s sad. Also, ít´s not really dry here, because the ocean is right next door. I use sunscreen and my hair is always frizzy. Haha.

My companion is named Hermana Quiroz and she is from Honduras. I can understand her speaking well. I can´t say the same about the other people here. I imagine it´s really funny for people to hear me speak and try to speak to me. Honestly, I can pretty much say anything that I want to but when people respond and I try to follow, I lose it. Entonces, it´s probably so weird for people on the street to listen to my spiel about the restored gospel and then see my totally blank face when they give me their excuse for why they don´t want to listen (honestly, though, there are a lot of people here who accept to listen to our message in their homes, it´s great). I´m hoping that with time (little time, preferably) I´ll understand and be able to communicate better because honestly, it´s killing me. We talked in the MTC so much about how important it is to listen to people and teach to their concerns, and I would just LOVE to do that. Unfortunately, I can´t understand what their concerns are! Bah.

But really, we have a lot of work here and it´s great. In fact, we had a baptism on Saturday! Basically, Í´m a super good missionary and am converting people by the masses. JK. It was already lined up before I got here (obviously). But we have another this Saturday, and another one next Saturday if Miguel quits smoking. We´ll see.

Hermana Quiroz is funny, she knows NOTHING about English except she always says the word ¨fetch.¨ It´s the word of choice in the mission, I think, I´ve heard just about all the missionaries that I´ve met say it. Also, the same 30 minutes a day that I study Spanish, she studies English and it´s really hilarious to me. She hasn´t gotten far but if we´re together another transfer after this one I´m going to teach her English. This transfer I need to concentrate on learning Spanish. Seriously, with my ten years of studying Spanish I am suffering so much, I can´t believe that people go out on missions knowing less of the language than me and survive! Bah.

Our trip here was horrendous and now that it´s over I don´t really want to talk about it a lot. It took four flights. All the missionaries going to Concepcion Sur (there were like 15 Americans) and Antofagasta (six of us) were on the same flights all the way to Santiago, where we split up. But when we got to the airport in LA some guy from Highland took it upon himself to shepherd us around to the international terminal, and thank goodness he did because it involved lots of leaving the airport and walking around on random streets and several different buildings. We never would have found it ourselves. We flew to Lima, and then stayed on the plane while they cleaned it and stuff, and then flew to Santiago. It was the middle of the night when we arrived and had to wait in a million long lines, drag our luggage around, find where we were going. Ugh. Then we flew to Antofagasta.

I think you might have received pictures of me with the president and stuff? I looked awful. THEN, we spent the night on a bus to get to my area! Luckily, when we got there we slept until like 10 am (miracle) and by the time I finally woke up, unpacked, and showered, I felt a lot better.

Our apartment is pretty much what I expected, but we have a heater for the water for the shower. BUT it ran out on Friday morning before I showered so I´ve taken a few cold showers. I keep telling myself there are worse things than taking cold showers, like not having any missionary work to do, but during the shower time it´s hard to believe. It hasn´t gotten too cold here yet, but winter is coming. I don´t have enough short sleeved shirts, it takes a week to get our laundry back (a woman does it). That´s a problem.

One funny story. I didn´t get a planner in the mission office, someone had mine but forgot to give it to me, and so my companion called the zone leaders to get it to us and they said to meet us at 7 on some street that´s probably the border of our areas or something. So Thursday morning we´re just going about our business, getting ready for the day, and we get a phone call and the zone leaders and they´re like where are you?? We´ve been waiting! Apparently they thought we were going to meet them at 7 am! But that´s the time we wake up (we sleep from 11 to 7)! They came all the way to our street and met us to hand off the agenda, but I guess it involved three sets of Elders running from the edges of their areas to get it to me. Hilarious.

By the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO CHASE on Wednesday. I thought about him all day. I´m sad I didn´t get to talk to him on Monday, like I said last week, we didn´t have time to call in LA because we were just hurrying to get on the plane (which was actually a bus that we sat on forever waiting for that to take us to the plane and everyone was extremely mad that we weren´t calling our families). But I hope it was a great day.

Now for a wonderful theme. The Mother´s Day phone call. It´s in three weeks, right? Que bueno! I can talk for an hour.

To end, I discovered the brightest scripture in the world the other day in personal study, and it´s Ether 12:4. How beautiful! I hope you are all doing wonderfully and I miss you I miss you I miss you! Emails are fine but I ónly have an hour to email so you can also send letters by the pouch for Dear Elder, I get that mail weekly I think. Which is really good.

Have a good week!
Hermana Coppins

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sending letter via Pouch Mail

People can send me regular letters through pouch mail, if it's single sided and just taped closed, not in an envelope. The address for that is:

Sister Kamian Coppins
Chile Antofagasta Mission
POB 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130
USA

Arrived in Chile!

Hey, I got to Chile! The trip was painful and it's still not over (feel free to excuse my punctuation mistakes, I'm using a Chilean keyboard and it's not easy), there's apparently a possibility of sleeping on a bus tonight. So tired. My mission president only speaks Spanish, and luckily I feel fine about it, but the other missionaries I'm with could be a little happier about it. P day is Monday, so I'll write again then I guess. I have a slightly revised address, will you email Kelsey and tell her to put it up on my facebook as this?
Hermana Kamian Coppins
Mision Chile Antofagasta
Casilla 70
Antofagasta, Chile SA

email: kamian.coppins@myldsmail.net

I love and miss you guys so much! Also, when we got to LA we had to really hurry to make our connecting flight (honestly, this story of getting here is ridiculous and hopefully I have time to write you about it on Monday, because basically it involved several random people shepherding a huge group of missionaries going to Chile all around a few cities/airports) so I couldn't call Chase and I was going to try to call Brian again but couldn't. Sorry! I hope you're all doing well. By the way, I got a few Dear Elders that people sent to this mission instead of the MTC mission, including one from Tagg, one from Janece, and a couple from Derek. So sorry I didn't write back earlier!
Until Monday,
Hermana Coppins

Last email from the MTC!!

I have a few important things to say and then hopefully I'll have time for some other things.

First of all, we got our travel plans on Friday! It was a glorious moment in our lives and unfortunately it was right before this meeting and we were all so nutty (a word that Elder DeVictoria often uses that I find hilarious) that it was so hard to concentrate. But! I'm leaving the MTC at 6 am on Monday morning. Meaning, last chance for mail is Friday. Well, for Dear Elders. Friday by noon is the deadline for me to get them here. If someone wants to risk sending a letter in the mail that would get here by Saturday, it's possible, but it is risky. After that, all letters should be sent to Chile! I sent Kelsey an email with all that information. I'll forward it to you, Dad. But, about the phone call. I can call between 7 and 9 am on Monday morning, roughly, and then I have a layover in LA and I might be able to call between 12:30 and 1:30 Utah time then. This all depends on how long it takes to check in and everything. But, I don't really know who to call/what to do about that. I think Dad said he's going to be out of town, so every single person in our family will be in a different location. I don't know how much time I'll have to make calls, but I'm pretty sure I remember everyone's phone numbers, so unless someone e-mails me with a better solution I'll probably just try to call as many people as I can. Mom, do you want me to call the home phone to talk to you and Tagg? I'll call you first so Tagg can miss as little school as possible (that is, if Tagg is going to be there). Anyway, there's the heads up about that.

Okay, the other huge thing is THANK YOU MOM for the Easter package! My roommates loved it, we had our Easter egg hunt on Thursday night (perfect timing, because Thursday night is party night), I loved the shirt and belt and got lots of comments on my Easter outfit, and thank you for all the other things in there that I needed too. Thank you soooo much, we all really appreciated it. You are the best :)

And thanks everyone for the letters this week! I heard from everyone except Chase and Annie, including Tagg for the first time. Tagg, for some reason I didn't get your other Dear Elders but I think you can check on the website letters you've sent so you should see if they're there. But seriously, I love you guys all sooooo much and I really missed you this week. Especially during General Conference, when I swear EVERY TALK was about the importance of families. It was amazing, I felt sooo spiritually uplifted by Conference, but honestly, I really missed you all during it. I hope you all watched and took notes and if you haven't you still can! There was not a single talk that ended without me being in awe at all the things I learned. And I was so grateful for everything you guys have all done for me and how much love is in our family. I MISS YOU. I really do. But Sunday during District Meeting we were doing the Ring of Fire again (where we say nice things about each other) and Elder Spencer, the current District Leader said that he can tell that I really miss my family, but that I heard the call of the Lord to come on a mission and I answered it, and he respected that. Totally true. Not in a bragging, I'm really awesome because I'm on a mission way, but in a "I really miss my family but I know missionary work is important" way. I love you, but I also love what I'm doing.

And what I'm about to be doing in one week, aka doing ACTUAL missionary work in CHILE. Sometimes I can't wait to bust out of here, but sometimes I'm pretty nervous. As stuffy and not-real as the MTC is, it's comfortable, I know people here, and I can always revert back to English. Whenever I leave myself to my own fears and start thinking about what I'm going to be doing and compare that to be my own ability, I start to get way freaked out, but I only let that happen for about one second before I realize that I'm doing the Lord's work and I'll be doing it with His ability, not my own. It's amazing how quickly my fears flee when I remember my faith. That was another common theme I noticed in Conference: trusting in the Lord is the ONLY way to go through this life happily. Our faith will always carry us. How wonderful!

Two more brief things. First, our teachers have decided that our Spanish efforts are just not enough and so they've instituted a game for the last week in the MTC called "El Nativo." Basically, every day someone in the district is chosen as "the native" and they are supposed to act like a native spanish speaker, aka, not speak or even understand ANY English. At the end of the day, we all vote on who we think it was. Whoever has the most points at the end of the week gets a prize, so basically all the time we're supposed to be pretending to be natives to convince everyone that it's us. It was pretty fun at the beginning (we started last weekend), but it's gotten a little contentious (like everything always does in this district) and some people have kind of stopped trying. But, it has helped us speak Spanish A LOT more, though not all the time. My day has yet to come, but I'm going alllllll out. And honestly, every time we do this ONLY speak in Spanish thing, it gets easier. I'm not toooooo worried.

My travel group to my mission has 7 people in it, and by a miracle the other day I was walking through the gym before Conference started and met the 5 Elders coming to Antofagasta with me. There is one other sister who I've met before. No one was as excited as I was to meet them, proabbly because they're all already really good friends and have always known they'd be traveling together to the mission. But now at least I can recognize the people that I'll be spending about two days with. By the way, my travel plans end in Santiago at 5:30 am next Tuesday. Basically, I have no idea how I'm getting to Antofagasta but I'm assuming it involves a bus and a really long second day of traveling while wearing the same clothes. I am so excited to just GET there.

Okay, I love you all, and besides these phone calls that hopefully go down, the next time I'll write will be FROM CHILE. :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

i'm leaving in two weeks, that's all i know

I'm still reveling in the miracle that is being able to produce my own paragraphs in this e-mail. Who knew paragraphs could bring such great joy?

A few funny/interesting things and a few spiritual things this week. Gotta go fast, time on P-day is always running out. First of all, my companion Hermana Nielson and I happen to wear the same size clothes and shoes, roughly, and since like week two we've been planning on switching our clothes one day to see if anyone noticed. We did it last Wednesday and it worked out really well. H. Nielson has this ridiculous sleeveless dress/jumper covered in roses that she usually wears with a pink button down shirt underneath. She also has foot problems and needs to wear these really wide shoes with orthotics in them. Wore it all. Hilarious. She wore my sunshine yellow sweater (this BRIGHT yellow sweater I have that I usually wear on days when it will be really noticeable, like when we're singing in the choir so it will be on camera, etc) and this skirt that I kind of wear a lot. She always wears knee highs and I rock the black tights quite often, so we switched those, and though I have both glasses and contacts and she has glasses, she normally doesn't wear hers and I always wear mine. Entonces, she wore her glasses and had her hair up in a little bun and I wore my glasses and wore my hair down. Basically, WE LOOKED EXACTLY LIKE EACH OTHER. It was really hilarious. I'll send a picture eventually, hopefully it can be posted on the blog somehow, because it was really convincing. Only our Elders really gave us the reaction we wanted, everyone else just kind of passed it off, but when we walked in the room and the Elders were sitting down they were SO weirded out and added it to their book of weird things that happen in the MTC. I've been in that book more than once. I don't know if that's good or bad.

Thursday was our teacher Hermana Decena's birthday and we had a party for her. In the giveaway bin in our dorm someone found Happy Birthday streamers and we bought her a metal chalk holder because she always wraps a paper towel around the chalk so her hands don't get all chalky. Basically it was a really fun birthday... but actually we just gave her the present and then had regular class. But I think she appreciated it.

Saturday night we were having orange chicken in the cafeteria and I had this big piece that I bit into and then noticed that it was COMPLETELY pink and raw in the middle. Unfortunately some of it was already on its way down my throat. Gross. When we went back to class we had a sub from Chile and he asked how we were and I told him maybe sick because I ate raw chicken. He asked where I was serving and then told me that I would probably eat a lot of raw food on my mission. Then he said the Lord protects missionaries and I'll probably eat a lot of things that would make me sick at home but I'll be fine. Ha! He told us lots of things about Chile, but mostly just the same old stuff that I've heard about my mission: tons of substance abuse, winters are hard because it's REALLY hot during the day but FREEZING COLD at night, and it's not pretty at all. Mostly I just want to GET THERE and develop my own opinion about my mission instead of always being told bad things about it. Ugh. I've heard through the grapevine of people who loved serving in Antofagasta though, so I have hope.

After last Tuesday's devotional [I'm having a total mind blank about who spoke or even the topic], I decided that I'm going to read the entire Book of Mormon before I leave the MTC and once again ask for a witness that it's true, so I can go out into the field and just absolutely proclaim the truth of the Book of Mormon. It's been going well so far, I'm already in Mosiah chapter 20something and I've been learning a lot. I've never read it quickly before and I'm really catching a lot more of the story aspect of it. It's been a really good experience so far and I recommend it for all of you, though I understand it's not as easy when you don't have an hour and a half + every day to study.

So last Friday we had our LGM about Following the Spirit and I was kind of hoping for some secret key to following the Spirit as a missionary that I hadn't discovered yet, but mostly it was just more of the same stuff that I've always heard. But right after that we went to the TRC to teach our lesson for that week, which was the first lesson in Spanish (for the last time in the TRC!) and it was an amazing experience. Even though as always it was just a member pretending to be an investigator, this guy seemed more like a real investigator than any lesson we've taught other than in the TE with our "progressing" investigator, Georgina. He was Jewish (I know, it's a stretch to pretend like we're going to encounter Jewish people in South America) and that was kind of intense because we've never even considered teaching the first lesson to someone who didn't believe in Jesus Christ. But right before we met the investigator and found that out, I had reviewed the list of scriptures we usually use for lessons and read one that I normally don't read, in 1 Nephi 11, about Nephi's vision of Christ. As soon as we started prepping for the lesson I realized that scripture would be really useful, and to teach him about how Lehi and his family had left Jerusalem and had been Jewish but since Lehi and Nephi were prophets they saw visions of the things that were to come in the future. I'd never described the beginning of the Book of Mormon in Spanish before, I'd never even used that scripture, but the Spirit was totally guiding us on what to teach and how to say it. It was AMAZING. As we kept teaching, neither of us had any idea about where the lesson was going until we needed to teach something else and then it would just instantly come to us. It was my first real experience of teaching with the Spirit and once again, I cannot wait to get out into the field and teach people with real concerns by the Spirit and help them come into Christ.

I've been having lots of disappointments with the RC lately, aka people never answer the phone when we try to call them back. The first person I talked to that was interested, Tammy (I think I mentioned her a while ago) hadn't answered the phone for weeks but I called her Saturday, intending it to be the last time if she didn't answer, and she answered and was just so happy and excited all over again. The missionaries went over and gave her a Book of Mormon but her sister hurt her back and she's been spending all her time with her sister so she hasn't had time to meet with the missionaries. She mentioned earlier that she did Bible studies with her sister, and I suggested that she read the Book of Mormon with her sister. She said she had been thinking about that! Ah, it was so wonderful. I'm supposed to call her again Saturday, but the RC will be closed because of conference, so I hope I can get a hold of her another time.

Speaking of General Conference, I am so excited! Not about sitting in that ridiculous gym with bleacher seats for a million hours, but it will be totally worth it. I hope you are all looking forward to it and are planning on watching all the sessions. Our first counselor in our branch presidency recommended that we all prepare questions to take to conference and he promised that we'd get them answered. Intense.

Anyway, I love you all, I hope you're doing well. I didn't hear from Ashley or anyone in our family besides Mom (I did get that e-mail from dad) this week, that was kind of a bummer. But I love you anyway! Only one more e-mail from the MTC, and the next time I write I'll have my travel plans and can tell you when I'll be calling. Love!