Sami singing the song she wrote

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sami's first E-mail from Chile - Oct 12, 2009

We finally got our first emails from Chile - Sami is serving in a city called San Carlos - it is NE of Concepcion. Her district meetings are in Chillan (south of her) and her Zone meetings are in Talca (north of her). As you can tell from her email, she has already had the chance to teach investigators (or at least listen to her companion teach them since her Spanish is not up to par yet).

The first email is one she sent to me:

Soy Hermana Smith. Escuchen a mis palabras, por favor. That was probably all wrong. No sé. Anyway...Chile is awesome. Super bien. I will be getting letters this Wednesday because of zone conference but besides that and interviews once a cambio (transfer) I´m not sure when I will get them. I think probably sometimes at our district meetings in Chillán but not every week.

I have about an hour for email. It is not a set rule but they don´t want you to spend all day at the computer. I use an internet café. I don´t think it is very expensive. My companion, Hermana Grahn, said that it is usually less than $1000 (pesos) for an hour.

Yeah, about that email with the picture.... I definitely did not remember your emai address which is why I put mine too. I was going to tell you my password today but since you are so proactive I don´t have to. :) I appreciate your enthusiasm and dedication.

El Presidente y Hermana Chavez are amazing! I am so excited to have them as my mission president people. The first thing Hermana Chavez told us when we got to Concepcion is that they don´t eat dogs in Chile. (Apparently this is a misconception many people have). By they way, I am not longer sure if some of the words I use actually exist so watch out for that. I am getting used to making intelligent guesses about Spanish words that may or may not exist and I think I am doing that with English too.

My companion is Hermana Grahn. She is from B.C.! (Victoria, maybe...) She has been in Chile a little over a year and I am so grateful she is my trainer. We only speak Spanish with each (except when I forget and start speaking English) Sometimes it is hard when we are with other Elders in our mission because some of them speak English to each other I think... But I probably am progressing fast. I can´t actually tell except  now the jumbling sounds more like words. I can understand probably about 75% of what people say but some people i can hardly understand because they talk so fast or slur their words so much. Hermana Grahn said that when she could understand all the members in the ward she could pretty much understand everyone else. I´m still working on understanding everyone in the ward...

There are 2 sets of sisters in San Carlos and we share the whole city and are assigned to the same ward (there is only one here). I think there are around 80 active members in the ward but I´m not sure. There are definitely a lot more less active people here. There are somewhere around 10ish people in my district and I don´t know about my zone but our conference on Wednesday is in Talca (1 1/2 hours north of San Carlos) so we will be gone almost the whole day for it. The Bishop of our ward wants us to have a special musical number in Sacrament meeting every week so I think I will be singing a lot here...(I am glad she will be able to touch people with her beautiful voice - hearing her sing in church is a spiritual experience.)

I think there are more questions in your email but I want to tell you about some of our investigators.

Michael y Mari - They are new converts from a few months ago, I think. They are awesome! We are going to their house tonight for Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening) and to teach a lesson about Lehi´s dream and how we can share the gospel with the people we love

Javiera y Tania - They are cousins and I think they will both be baptized next week but we won´t know until today. Javiera wants to be baptized but she doesn´t feel like she is worthy so we are going to teach her more about the Atonement to help here understand it better. Tania is really excited to be baptized and we might start teaching her mom as well (Tania is only 11 or so)

Alejandra - She is a miracle! She wants to be baptized on the 25 of this month but she smokes (you have to give up addictions and bad habits before baptism, basically follow all the commandments for at least 2 weeks before you can be baptized). We taught here about the word of wisdom yesterday and she said she will keep it. I can tell she really loves the Book of Mormon. I know she can give up smoking because I can tell she wants to follow the example of Jesus Christ more.

There are more but I have been here for a long time so I will tell you next week. It sounds like you are having fun in WA and various other parts of the world. I will tell you more about Chile. Someday. The houses and buildings are cold so I pretty much wear one of Hermana Grahn´s coats all day (remember when I didn't bring my winter coat? That was a bad idea). But I am going to buy one soon, maybe today. Anyway, I love you all and I love talking about the gospel. One day I will be able to talk about it in Spanish!!!

And I sat next to Hermano Amado on the plane. I don´t know his first name. (Hermano Amado sat next to Sami on the flight from SLC to LAX last Monday. He is a member of the 1st quorum of the Seventies. He is from Guatemala and is over the missions in Chile. He was in town for conference - he gave a prayer at the Sat afternoon conference.)

Hermana Smith

ps. Brian is definitely the rey de Craigslist. Mad props, my brother. (I told Sami about all of the cool things Brian has gotten free off of Craigslist recently)

The following email is one she sent to her dad:


Go ahead and send Sheena and Sydney. no one would notice a differece (our dogs - those who know them and my husband know why he offered to send them). I don´t think I´ve ever seen this many dogs in my life. I am working a little outside of Chillán in a town called San Carlos. I´m not sure how many people live here. Maybe about 40,000 but that is definitely a guess. There are 2 companionships of sisters here and we share the whole city and live in the same house. I love it here! The people are super friendly. I can´t understand everyone all of the time but I can understand more than I thought I would, which isn't that much I guess. :) The weather here is like Washington except most people don´t have indoor heating besides a wood stove but my bed is so warm thanks to the fleece blanket you guys sent me! My companion has been here in San Carlos for a couple months so we already have people she and her previous companion were teaching. The members of the ward are so nice! They are helping me learn Spanish better. In Chile they like people with light colored hair. Even though my hair is red they call me ¨rubio¨ which means blond. I´m not sure if I spelled that right...

The food is really delicious too. So far I have eaten a lot of bread, rice, and chicken. They only have one large meal every day and then they eat small snacks like bread and drink tea later. This is called ¨once¨, like eleven. Again, I don´t know how to spell so that might be wrong. We aren't supposed to participate in once (a rule), I´m not sure of the exact reason, maybe because it is so late and we could be teaching lessons.

Thank you for the information about the life-threatening location of Chillán. :) (There have been several serious earthquakes in Chillan - one in 1939 destroyed the town - which has hopefully been rebuilt to better withstand future quakes.)  My companion (Hermana Grahn) said she hasn't felt any earthquakes...since she got to San Carlos ;) But I guess we´ll see. After all, only time will tell.

I will be stocking up on food today so I will keep your advice in mind. (He suggested some food storage for emergencies)

I will try to get someone to teach me some (Chilean) folk songs on the guitar some P-day. Probably not today but I want to learn some too! The only songs I know with guitar are in English so that doesn't help me very much here.

¡Pues, hasta lunes!

Hermana Smith

ps. I think you would like Chile. Me encanta San Carlos.

This last email was to Sami's sister Jennie in Orleans, France.


My P-day is Monday but today is apparently kind of like a mini-September 18(?) so a lot of the stores are closed. Which is sad because I need to buy boots for the rain. It was only bad one day but Apparently it rains on and off in the spring too. My flight was good minus the times when the old man next to me was poking me because I could not understand him. He was really nice but the flight was long...

I did get your package with the headbands. I love them except the little decorations fell off of 2 of them. I really am proud of your craftsmanship. So fine. :) Really though, I love them and wore them every day which is probably why they are broken now.

I appreciate your stickers. They mean a lot to me. Really. Sometimes I think cute stuff is gross but not when it is from you!!!!! And other people that I like. I can hear a band right now with drums. Maybe it is a parade with the police!!! I feel like I know this song because I have heard it before but I don´t know. It also sounds like they are playing 3 songs at once...

How is France? Are the gross men treating you well? DON´T LET THEM TREAT YOU TO ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!! This is my warning and word of wisdom for you. I am very wise so you should heed my counsel. Have you found more permanent housing yet? How are the schools you are working in? What´s the story, morning glory? Digame.

Hermana Smith

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