Monday, October 27, 2014

Viva la Liga!‏

Pura Vida,

Hello, so this week went pretty well. Gunna hit up some of the highlights: Elder Solis leaves us tomorrow and catches his plane for the states on Thursday in the morning, so he has been super trunky.. which means he talks about going home a lot and is more lazy. It has been harder to try and work every single hour because of his trunkiness haha but we had a good week. We had a baptism Saturday, the second one that I've been here for. There weren't very many members who showed up. There were only about 8-10 people there, including us three missionaries, but it was good. The spirit was there. The person we baptized is named E; she's a friend of Diego. I'm not sure how much I have told you guys about Diego, but basically he's been a member for about 8 months now and he goes on divisions with us and drives us around. He's really cool. Only his nephew and him are members but Elder Parker and I are planning to really buckle down on getting his whole family baptized and then working off references from them. So, that's basically our big goal right now.
Que Mas, I bought a Costa Rica jersey today. Elder Parker tempted me to buy it, but it's really cool looking so I can't complain. He also gave me a Liga shirt for free, and it's pretty much new it's only missing a *r* for one of the words on the front but I don't mind. He has like 14 jerseys; he's buying tons of them. I have two now. Also, I should probably explain that Liga is one of the three biggest soccer teams here inside Costa Rica. Elder Solis and Parker are both originally Liga fans so even though I started my mission in Heredia and Heredia is one
of the three big teams, I chose to be for Liga haha. The actual name is like Liga de Alajuelense or something like that, but the short is just Liga or you are Liguista. The other two big teams are Saprissa and Heredia. Heredia apparently sucks but Liga just lost to them. So yeah, soccer is pretty fun to talk about here. Everyone has a team they follow and so you almost instantly become friends with someone if you follow their team. Surprisingly, a lot of people here in Heredia are Liguistas. I think it has to do with the colors of the teams because Liga is black and red, Heredia is yellow and red, and Saprissa is like maroon/pinkish and white. 

Highlight of the week: 
My companions and I did splits on like Thursday or something like that and I went with C. A.. He's a return missionary from a family we eat lunch with every Sunday and we got a reference from a member for a neighbor of their's who she said was a family. The big focus for us is families and so we decided to go talk to them. C tapped his coin on the gate and I gave the common greeting *when you knock on gates here you say like "upe, buenas" but in Guanacaste where Elder Parker just came from they say "upe, tuanis" so I use that here, which people find funny because it really only makes sense in Guanacaste. Basically they mean, excuse me, good day, and excuse me, cool people are here* and so the husband came out and wasn't very friendly but we managed to get him to get his wife who was technically the reference we received. When the wife came out she didn't look very excited to see us and was like a little annoyed but C started to say, "We asked all the neighbors who around here was the most popular and they all said you, R, so we decided to stop by because we're missionaries..." and her face instantly turned into a smile and she let us in hahaha. So we taught this family, that we found out was Catholic, all about prophets. The father literally said that he saw a need for prophets and they were like grateful for our message haha, which I found super funny because they're practicing Catholics. They quickly say they see a need for a prophet but don't have one. We're going back this coming Friday to teach them more. C kept telling me that we need them in the ward, that the dad would be the next bishop. I found this experience really cool and also pretty funny:).
repollo, chincharon and chilerepollo is cabbage basically. chincharon is fried pig rinds and the chile is just like vegetables that they leave soaking in something on their table.

Spanish for you guys!:
Algo que he estado pensando sobre es una escritura in segunda Nefi. No recuerdo donde esta en este momento pero lo que dice es que cada dicipulo de Jesucristo tiene una cruz como el. Y este me da una poca de revelacion, que necesitamos ser como Jesucristo, si somos sus dicipulos verdaderos, necesitamos ser como el, y hacer las cosa que el haria. Entonces, mi invitacion para ustedes es que les invito de ser como Jesuscristo, guardar los mandomientos, ayudar personas que necesitan ayuda, orar para cambiar su vida mas como la vida de nuestro Salvador. Y sigan los susurros del Espiritu para cambiar and mejorar su vida.

Translation= Something that I have been thinking about lately is a scripture in second Nephi. I don't remember where it is at this moment but what it says it that every disciple of Jesus Christ carries a cross like His. And this gave me a bit of revelation, that we need to be like Jesus Christ. If we are His true disciples we need to be like Him and do the things that He would do. So, my invitation for you all is to be like Jesus Christ; keep the commandments, help people that need help, pray to change your life to be more like the life of our Savior. Follow the promptings of the Spirit to change and better your life.

Hope you guys are enjoying life, thanks for all the support!  

**side note in our typing that I thought was funny: 
I'm going to buy a backpack probably. Elder Parker has a friend in the mission who dies this transfer and he's going to bring him a bag when his parents pick him up here, I think. He said if he does bring him one he would be okay with giving me his old one, which is pretty well used but I can sew it up no problem. It'd still probably outlast what I buy here:) I love sewing haha I'm soo good at it.

I sewed Elder Solis's shirt pocket, and Elder Parker's pants, and Elder Solis is dying so he gave me his kit haha it should last pretty long. I also sewed an umbrella for Elder Parker and fixed it and I sewed a button on my umbrella for where you roll it up and I sewed my BYU shorts, the ones that I ripped the crotch on haha. Elder Parker's pants have ripped 5 times, but I sewed it and he's had it for a week and he played basketball and soccer in them and they've been fine, so I'm basically a master sewer.

Catholic temples / churches by his apartment

pictures of the money

Monday, October 20, 2014

¿¡What´s new in Costa Rica!?‏

Hello there, Washington! I'm going to try and keep this general email organized. The main reason for why all my thoughts jump around and such is because it's so hard to remember what I did this week - time passes so quickly. In fact, I believe it was Thursday night that I went to write in my journal because I had forgot to Wednesday night and I sat down and just stared at my journal because I couldn't remember anything I did the day before. It's crazy how it works out here. 

So, this week was really busy. We had a lot of scheduled things we had to attend and they ended up taking a lot of the time we would have spent teaching and serving. In order to make up for the time we lost going to our zone meeting and the police station, we had to work extra hard on the other days. We tried to use every hour as best as we could and really take advantage of what time we had. 

Tuesday- On Tuesday we had our zone meeting so we had to wake up, skip our studies, and catch a bus to Belen, which is about 30-45 minutes out by bus. We had to travel so far because for our zone we swap buildings where we have our zone meetings every time, so last time we had it at our building, and as such this time it was in the Belen church building, which is just right behind the temple. Entonces, we also had to the opportunity to see the temple, even if just the outside =). Then we had about a 20 minute wait for the bus, a 40 minute bus ride, and then our studies! I can´t think of any good transition words. All I can think of is transition words in Spanish and so, in English. Anyways, after we got back we had to wait for Brother and Sister Coleman to come bring us a new stove, mattress, and closet. (No, the stove wasn´t a coleman.) Then we did our studies for 3 hours and then we went out to teach for roughly 2 hours and then we had to catch an hour long bus ride to San Jose and spend the night in the secretaries' home because in the morning I had to go and get my finger prints done for my visa. 

Wednesday- We woke up in the secretaries' home. Every elder that came in with me and their companions stayed there, so there were about 20-30 elders in this house. Some elders slept on the floor, not me though.=) Then in the morning the secretaries directed us to a van where the elders I arrived with and I got in and we drove over to the police station! The secretaries didn´t know this but we actually had to fill out another form before we could get our finger prints done, and two of the necessary things were weight and height in kilos and metros, so we all just kind of guessed on what we were. (I´m having a hard time remembering how to spell words in English. I´m not sure why, it hasn´t been that long.) So, we all got separated in the police office and we talked to the agents there and then we got our fingers printed! After that, they took us to the Mission Office where we met up with our companions and proceeded to go back to our areas. 

Those were really the two highlight days from this week! However, I didn´t mention this but last Sunday was fast Sunday and Elder Parker told me that we needed to go up and essentially introduce ourselves to the ward. So, we went up and did a full opening line in Hawaiian and tried to make a joke out of it but absolutely none of the ward got it. It was pretty funny just watching him try to be funny and everyone just stared at him blankly. I went up after him and basically just really tried to give the ward motivation. I told them that we were here to help them do the Lord´s work and to help them bring their brothers and sisters to Him and to help them follow Jesus Christ. We both thought it went pretty well. It was weird because I had basically thought out everything I was going to say before I went up and in my mind it was super powerful, but then I got up there and forgot everything and just kind of used pretty simple (but correct) Spanish haha. 

Que mas, hmm, I can basically understand 100% of the Spanish now. The only time I struggle is when they directly ask me a question; I think it´s just like being put up on the spot. But! The thing is, I don´t like listen to the words. I´ve found that if I try to understand what they´re saying I understand very little, I just kind of find myself listening and understanding; there´s 0 thought to listening and 0 thought to speaking. If I focus on trying to understand them or like the words they´re saying, I come out having no clue what´s going on. It´s like a subconscious thing, and when I speak I just kind of talk... I think of sentences before I open my mouth and then once I open it it´s just like I forget to think, words just come out. I often find myself not thinking to be honest, just kind of talking. So, if I like pause in the middle of talking and realize that I´m not thinking, I struggle to get back into it haha.. This is probably really confusing; it kind of confuses me. 

Spiritual Thought for this week!: 

There was a scripture that I read in 2nd Nephi (I believe) in my personal study and unfortunately, I can´t remember where it is exactly at the moment because I highlighted it in my English scriptures and I don´t carry them with me normally. But anyways, the scripture says, ´´And they lived after the manner of happiness.´´ This really stood out to me. I was kind of thinking about how my attitude has been lately, how my perspective has been, and I realized that I wasn´t exactly living after the manner of happiness. (Prelude thought, I´m going to connect this thought with another in a little bit) In the MTC, I watched the ´´Character of Christ´´  by Elder Bednar, his talk, and he said near the start that by the time you get to his age every member should have a collection of about 200 Book of Mormons. He said that each time he reads the Book again, he takes it and writes a topic he wants to study in the front of the Book and then he focuses on that topic throughout the Book, and he has about 200+ copies like that. (Connecting Piece) So, I decided that I wanted to start my collection. I got a Book of Mormon from the mission office last Monday and chose the topic of ¨Finding Happiness¨ and I´m going to focus this entire read of the Book of Mormon on how we can find happiness and what true happiness is. I encourage each of you who have read the Book of Mormon previously to get a new cheap copy, I think they´re only like $1 or so or something like that on the website, and then choose a topic for this read through and highlight the scriptures that talk about your topic or are related with your topic! If you have yet to read the Book of Mormon, I encourage you to open it up, begin with the introduction, and then read it from front to back. I promise you that if you will read the Book of Mormon, whether for the first time or for the 20th time, you will be blessed and you will learn how you can better align your life with the life of Jesus Christ. 

Thank you guys for all your support and messages and I wish you the best! (If there are any typos I apologize, the computers here are programmed for Spanish, so as far as I can see I have yet to spell a single word correctly.)

¡Les amo mucho y ojala que ustedes tengan una semana buena! 

**extra emails back and forth:
MOM: Hi Aaron! How's your week been? With Kara's help, I've finally got your blog up to the end of the MTC - so I'm going to try and get the rest of it entered today so I can post it all and publish it on Facebook for everyone to read
Aaron: It´s been good haha. I´m sorry if my general letters are bland as far as details go. I honestly can hardly remember the things I do the day before. But I´ve been writing in my journal, don´t worry.

MOM: I love reading every word of your emails, Aaron! Thank you!! Sounds like you've had a busy week then with zone conference and finger printing. Did you get to teach any lessons this week? Is this the week Elder Solis leaves or is that next week?
Aaron: Yeah, we teach lessons every week, but the problem is people here don´t have as much education. They don't really go to school until they´re older and so their answers aren´t very good, their understanding of the gospel. Their answers are always Jesucristo o orar (to pray) even if it´s like right after we give them the answer haha. The hardest thing is just trying to get them to keep their commitments. A lot of them know it´s true or say they do, they just don`t act. 
He leaves next week. Hey, watch this video later, it´s good. I´ve seen it so many times.

Depends, I´m honestly never exactly sure where were are. the mission office-secretary home is actually in Zapote, which is outside of San Jose, I think. We take a bus for 20-30 minutes to San Jose, and then catch another to Zapote, so maybe like 20-30 minutes but that´s because of traffic, stopping to pick up more bus riders, and the roads are just built by kindergartners. =P

MOM: Did you ever get your letter at the office? I sent that early enough that I thought you would get the letter when you arrived in Costa Rica. Also - I had it wrong - it's Dropbox not Google drive - lots of the missionaries use that down there Sister Wilkinson says - and several of the moms say they get pictures that way from their missionaries - they just take the card out of the camera and bring that to the internet cafe to upload the photos to drop box.
Aaron: Yes! Elder Parker grabbed it for me on Monday and I´ve read it twice now. The first time I didn´t realize you wrote on the back page. I love it, thank you! 
Hmm, I´m not sure how drop box works, I just googled it, but everything is in Spanish so I´m not like 100% what I read. Reading Spanish is different than listening. I can read the scriptures pretty well and Liahona talks, but it´s never a perfect understanding. It´s like 80%.

MOM: I'm glad things are going well for you, Aaron - did you feel the earthquakes down there? I saw you had several last week and that the volcano had an explosion or something? Looks like it's sort of your direction - did you feel that?
Aaron: No haha. I called on like Monday or something to report numbers to the district leader, and in Spanish he´s like, ¨Did you feel the earthquake?´ and none of us felt it. We were all awake, we´re on the second floor though, so we told him no and he said he felt it for like 10 seconds, and the other district leader felt it too.. I was so mad. I´ve NEVER felt an earthquake. I heard this one was like 7.5 or something though off the coast right? I heard about a volanco but only that it was like smoking or something. I can´t remember but from what the missionary said I thought he said the volcano thing was a long time ago.

MOM: Well the 7.2 I think was in El Salvador - but in Costa Rica (by you actually) it was a 4.5 and a 5.3 that happened and the volcano thing happened at Mt Poas and that happened that same Monday! They closed the tourist visits for a while because of it - apparently there have been a ton of small earthquakes (with the one in El Salvador being the largest) for weeks now on the west side of the country.
Aaron: Hmm, weird. Nahh haven´t felt anything unfortunately=(

MOM: It's a program that you log into - so I could set it up I think on our end and you would then log into it and upload the photos - your computer there should have it since other missionaries are using this program. I'm thinking it's probably loaded on the internet cafe computers.
Aaron: Yeah, I got on the website but I don't have an account. I think that´s what is necessary; whip one up for me, would ya? =) I can't do winky faces here.

Outside the mission office today, the rain storm and the loudest thunder I've ever heard.  This happens all the time inside San Jose-Zapote.

You can't see the rain which sucks, but it was crazay.

My Missionary Genealogy
Elder Lohberg, Elder Parker (trainer - so "mission dad"), Elder Moss (so "mission nephew"?). Elder Cuevas (also trained by Elder Parker - so "mission brother"?)

Lunch today, 850 colones, so less than $2
Gotta go, bye, love all you guys! Time snuck up on me this time!

Monday, October 13, 2014

6:30 Sunshine in Costa Rica‏

**We got several pieces of "an email" this day so I did the best I could to put it into some sense of order - we have been lucky enough to email back and forth a few times so you will see "answers" to questions at times. I will try and put the question in prior to his answers to help it to make more sense.

Okay, so for starters this keyboard that I´m typing on is really terrible and the spacebar hardly works so I´m honestly trying my hardest, especially to dodge all the Spanish keys ñ¿çñ¿ç¡. 

So, this week actually went by really quickly. Everyday we wake up, make a delicious breakfast of eggs and random other things. This week's extras included refried beans (it comes in almost like a juice carton but different, I´m not sure how to explain it). So, eggs + refried beans, white bread, hotdogs, or quesadillas. Usually it´s one or two of the additional things because cheese here is super expensive and we get sick of the hotdogs pretty fast so we try and mix it up so we´re not eating the same stuff every morning. After a killer breakfast like that we get straight to our studies! (Typically, we keep having things to do in the morning that kind of breaks up our studies, but we try).
gallo pinto brought to us from Diego
Gallo pinto is yeah, basically white rice and blackbeans just cooked together, with eggs typically and some sausage. We think that was horse meat but I´m not sure. No, it´s not spicy. I haven't had anything spicy here yet. Elder Parker said ticos are wimps. There´s two main peoples here ticos and Nicaraguans. Parker and Solis are my trainers, but Solis leaves on like the 30th for his home. Parker is from Hawaii. He´s been to Washington a lot, loves the buffets. Solis is from California, from Fresno I think. I actually haven't had that much rice and beans. We eat chicken (fried like KFC) pretty often, or just like the same state of chicken (all bone in) in like a crock pot, but not like a ton because food is expensive. Then we have like salads and hmm.. I don't know, we don't eat at members' or with people often, besides our cook. 
(Side note, the computer is telling me that every word I type is wrong because it´s in Spanish!)

After breakfast our days typically are planned with a bunch of lessons (I really don´t want to type because this keyboard is so terrible). Typically, we try and get a member. We´ve been using Diego or J. Diego is a convert of about 7 months and J was born in the church, and we go and do divisions. Divisions means that one of us goes with the member and the other two (because we´re a trio) goes off on their own, that way we can cover more ground.

Just gunna suck up how bad this keyboard freaking is,‏

only sending this to you because the keyboard is complete garbage and as such my message will be very poor grammar and such so I will let you fix it if you want haha. 
So, I don't know, I honestly don´t really have any highlights from the week. We went out and worked. I guess someone that I contacted last week we finally had the opportunity to have a lesson with but he basically told us he was locked out of his house so we did it at like a bus stop and I didn´t really teach much because with how my Spanish is it is hard to try and teach good principles like my companions. I´m not really that fond of how the older comp. teaches; it doesn't match mine too well, but I´m trying. Depending on who talks, I understand 100% of the Spanish, if they talk really lame and laid back though I don't get much of it.

*question: How much money do you get on your church card a month? How much do things cost?
uhm.. so I got about 140k colones because I didn't have to pay for the apartment rent. They gave that to my companions and then took care of it so all I had to do was buy food, pay for the laundry, and pay for water. Laundry is 10k each, water was only 3k, and food is pretty pricey. It´s mostly more expensive than the states, and anything that is imported from the US is super pricey. Living here is not cheap. 

Our cook cost us 75 mil, so 25 mil each; that was a pretty big hit to our money. I think my companion got like 240 for rent, so rent is over 100 mil. I think they both got 240 so it´s like 200 mil or a little over that, so like $400 maybe? I can´t remember.

**question: How does the money compare to the American dollar? What are the increments? Is it coin or bills?
mil is just how the money works. So 500 colones is a dollar, 1000 colones is a bill, it´s called 1 mil, and then it goes 1 mil, 2 mil, 5 mil, 10 mil, 20 mil, 50mil. Those are the bills, then they have coins for 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 500 colones. 5 is a silver coin like a penny size but thinner; it is worth about a penny and you really hardly use them unless you ride a bus that costs 255 colons. 10 is 2 pennies and it´s similar to the other but slightly bigger. 25 and 50 are like goldenish looking coins about the size of quarter but bigger and slightly varying in size; 50 is bigger. 100 is like the size of 2 quarters or so, it´s pretty big and it's gold too, and 500 is just bigger than the 100.  I don't have a 500 but here's the other coins:

**So, if I'm understanding the money right then 1 mil is roughly $2 US? Just trying to figure out costs then there.
Yeah water for 3mil. I think we pay electricity too but I´m not sure as of yet. Cereal is pretty expensive, just food in general is expensive. We don´t buy fresh fruit because you get sick. The only thing I can really talk highly of is that you can buy fried chicken for cheap.. which I´m already kind of sick of and there are like bread shops that sell breads filled with stuff like ham or a custard for Ç600 which is like a $1.20 and they´re pretty decent, so if we´re hungry we go and buy one of those. My companions kind of said that you will kind of learn to be hungry because in different parts in the country like Guanacaste and stuff its more expensive for living and you don't get as many store options like a Walmart or a PriceMart (kind of like Costco, costs 15mil for a membership for a year) and you have to buy all your food from a pricey place.

**Are your companions Zone Leaders? I saw a picture of you and Elder Parker that was posted on Elder Moss's blog.
They aren't zone leaders. Not sure where that Moss elder got it from; they´re just normal missionaries. Parker was a zone leader in the MTC like me.

**How do transfers work? How often are they?
Typically transfers are 5-6 weeks, yeah, but apparently the first week is 4, second is 6, and third is 8 for new missionaries.

**So a member cooks your do you do the laundry? Or does a member do that as well for you? 
Yeah, we have a member that cooks our lunches on certain days and a member who does our laundry.

**question: How much does a backpack cost? (he had previously stated he needed to buy one.)

I can get cheapy ones with bad zippers for like 8-12 mil I think, so like $25, and D thinks that you can get one with less bad zippers for like 20 mil, so $40. I´m going to look into it in the next coming weeks, probably after we go take our money out late at night next week. I will take some off my debit card. I´m pretty steller at sewing, I think. Elder Parker borrowed a member's umbrella and it ended up getting like broken and I sewed it and it looked almost perfect. He had string and needles that he took from his dad, his trainer. So I might buy some needles and thread in a few weeks, make my pants and everything last forever with my mad sewing skills! 

I got a picture of me at the mission home today because we had to go there for breakfast, so we had to ride buses for like an hour and a half almost. We had pancakes then took pictures, then we´re back in Heredia now. 
Elder Parker, Elder Solis, Elder Lohberg
Totally an Aaron pose ( :

**Are you going to be okay for money then? Food? Should I mail you something? Did you ever get the letter I mailed to you? I sent it I thought early enough for you to have it when you got to Costa Rica - sad you didn't get it ) :
Yeah, I think we´re okay with money right now. I´m not like a spendoholic, but I´m also not going to save the church's money if it means I have to go hungry haha. I will buy food as needed. I think we´re okay here in Heredia; we have good options store-wise. Don't mail food. I wouldn´t mail anything. Apparently tons of things get stuck in customs if they even make it there and then they want duties, taxes, and they just end up keeping what you send. I think we both know I can go a long time without food. :) Also, I only can check mail when I'm at the mission office or the district leader, and then they bring it back with them. I will be there next Monday, I think, so I can check for that letter. 
view I think from his apartment window - they are on the 2nd floor
**this was a random email we got from an email he was sending to his MTC district people I think and he thought we might think the info was cool too.
That´s the same thing with me too haha! Either super quiet, or super fast, names are the worst for me. I hardly get their names. And all addresses go off like pointing and then meters, or like this ´There´s a McDonald's, you know it? 100 meters south of that and then on the right across the street, it´s a black house with 2 small trees in front´, that´s if you´re lucky. Otherwise they just say `´alla!´´ and point in some random direction and they act like it´s super good instructions haha. (I sent this to my district people and I realized you might find it interesting too. It began by talking about our Spanish, and he talked about how they talk super quiet in Oaxaca, Mexico.

**question: So is it hard to find stuff then with those directions? How do the people react to you asking for directions? Are they willing to help you (friendly) or irritated like how the people were in France?
I need to go mom, love you so much! Only houses are hard to find; they all look similar. Stores are easy to get directions for. The people are like happy to practice Spanish with me. I say, ¨Hey, I´m learning Spanish. Can I practice with you?" they smile and say sure, and then I talked a tiny bit about who they are, what they like, where I´m from, and then I explain why I´m here and start trying to teach them. =) Sneakin´ em into heaven. That´s a joke, but typically everyone lets me practice with them unless they know the missionaries. I have had 2 people say no so far haha out of like 30+ 
I will write more spiritual stuff next week hopefully with a nicer keyboard! 
**mom: cyber {HUG}
  =) hugged back

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Elder Lohberg

Dear Brother & Sister Lohberg, 
My name is Senior Hermana Petersen & I'm from South Weber, Utah. Elder Petersen & I had the pleasure of meeting your son, Elder Lohberg, last week when he arrived in the mission field here. The foto below is when he first met his companions & learned where he'll be serving. I just want you to know that he's in good hands with Presidente & Hermana Wilkinson!! We're so glad to have him on board!! Thanks for your sacrifice, in supporting Elder Lohberg on his mission! 
Most Warmly,

Hermana Diane Petersen
Perpetual Education Fund/Self-Reliance Center, San Jose, C.R.
Mission Nurse Specialist Costa Rica Mission (I'm helping out the outgoing & new/young mission nurses. I take the phone calls from all the English-speaking missionaries).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Costa Rica is pretty dang exciting.

Sun from the plane. My God I will go where you want me to go.

I couldn't think of a better subject line for this...
So I got in on Monday, woke up super early, and did a crazy schedule to catch planes to get here. Got picked up by the mission president and we visited the temple (it was like 9:00 so that was about it), then we went to a home near by where we stayed the night. The next morning, we did interviews with the mission president and we got sent with other companionships to form trios or groups of four for that day. I went with two elders; one was a native speaker that didn't really know English and the other was a gringo with 1 month left. 

We went and visited a family that was in a poor part of town because their area was still in San Jose, in the main city, so we visited the poor area of town, which ended up being like a dirt/half gravel road that just branched off the main roads (which honestly are nothing to talk about either). When we got to their house, I had to like duck to get in and they let us sit, and honestly, I was a little afraid at first because I had already seen some smaller cockroaches and stuff at the elders' small apartment but it was fine. There was a little older lady who was super nice and her son and he brought out his whole family and we passed the picture version of the Book of Mormon around. We all took turns reading and it was really cool. Then we talked about General Conference coming up and how we were going to be able to watch the prophets and listen to them. After that they decided to give us some food, so they made like corn tortillas and then like, this weird cheese that is almost flavorless and then something called natilla. Natilla is basically like a semi-sweet sour cream, at least I think. I don't remember what sour cream tastes like, but I don't like natilla really either. So I tried to eat all of it and basically did and then they offered me and Elder Black more corn tortillas so we ate those too, then we had a fresco. Honestly, the fresco was insane; essentially, it's like a fruit juice they make out of specific fruits. There are so many fruits here that I have never heard of or anything. But yeah, so that lesson went really well. The dad wanted to arm wrestle me but he had bad wrists so what he had me do was we like put our wrists together and that's where we arm wrestled. He beat my left arm, no surprise (C), but he got like stuck trying to beat my right one and neither of us could actually beat the other with the right arm. It made me think of arm wrestling you, C haha. 

Anyhow, the next day we took buses back to the mission home (lots of buses here), and we had a breakfast of rice and beans and like eggs. It's pretty common here apparently but I have only had it twice so far. Then they started assigning new people to their trainers. I got Elder Solis and Elder Parker. Elder Solis is from California and he leaves the mission in 3 weeks now, so he's going to be dying and then Elder Parker has been here 10 months but he was in Guanacaste which is more like the country. Right now, our area is Heredia which is like city, no country really; kind of like city and some residential. We have a Walmart too, just went there today. So yeah, from what I have heard there are like 3 more dangerous areas and all 3 also end up being more hot and more humid. The three are Guanacaste, Limon, and some other one that I can't remember. 

Names here are hard. When we're contacting people at the parks in the city, I can hardly catch names because they have double names basically. Like Carlos Eduardo for example, but they say it fast and more quietly so... but yeah, so what has happened is we have had like 10 lessons or 12 so far, I guess, this week, can't exactly remember. Then we do a lot of contacting where you like talk to people in the street. 

Just to focus on people that we started teaching when Elder Parker and I got here, we were walking in a neighborhood one day when Elder Parker saw a kid outside the gate (all the houses have gates, but they end up being just for like, room for a car and then a gate) and so he went up and started talking to the kid and then he knocked on the gate. Typically, you bang something metal on it like a coin and say, "Upe, buenas." It's short for like, "Hello. Excuse me," and so she came over. Her name is T and he told her what our purpose as missionaries was and she let Elder Parker and I in. Elder Solis was with a 19 year old member named M, he's the ward mission leader, so Elder Parker and I went in and taught her and like 3 of her kids (some were like staying upstairs) about faith, repentance, and baptism. After we finished, I asked them if they would get baptized when they found out it was true. They said yes, and then Elder Parker placed a date for October 26, so that was really cool; however, we haven't been able to revisit yet because of conference and also her husband wasn't there. Apparently, he is Christian already, of some sort, so it's not like set yet. We'll have to see where that goes. 

But yeah, we had a baptism on Sunday; her name was D. I only was there for 1 lesson on Friday, I think, where we talked about baptism and the gift of the Holy  Ghost but it was still really cool. I forgot my camera again so.. no photos unfortunately; next week 100% guarantee. Also Sister Wilkinson like talked to me reminding me to get a photo in front of something green or something like that? You'll have to wait a long time if you want that because I'm in the city and there really isn't anything green haha. I think Guanacaste and Limon are the places that are more like what people think of with Costa Rica. Apparently, lots of tourists go to Guanacaste and uhm, that LDS singer from that singing show that went on his mission and is back now, he went there and made a video with the youth. Elder Parker was there and got his mission planner signed haha because he had nothing else. 

But yeah, this is nothing like what I expected. Lots of people here in the city. Cars here have like the right away and they don't stop. There's practically no laws for driving; people only stop because they don't want to get hit, so you wait for a break in cars, or run, or you like play like that frog game where you go after each car and wait for a bit and then keep going. Frogger? But yeah both of my companions are pretty cool. Time has been moving pretty slow and for a while I was like, "Wow, I'm going to die here." It's moved on, I think, but mornings are tough haha. Most apartments have like a video player, like the little portable ones, and so my companions plug in their music and play it. It's mostly like EFY songs but Elder Parker gave a member 1 mil (2 bucks) to download more music from one of the LDS singers, so some of it is actually really good. I think I'm going to buy a USB drive and copy their music for when Elder Solis leaves. So yeah, in 3 weeks Elder Parker will technically be my "dad." There's like a genealogy tree here in the field haha. Trainers are called dads, so they keep saying like "Oh, he's your uncle or cousin" or stuff like that. 

The Spanish was hard to understand at first. I was only getting like 75-80% of it; I think because the teachers in the MTC slow down their speech I needed to get like accustomed, but it's coming back now. Talking is still harder than listening but I'm not to worried at the moment. For the most part, I can say what I need to say. Whew, good thing Google saves drafts! We're at an internet café and my computer like closed the internet for some reason; all is well though. Que mas, uhm, I have seen cockroaches and geckos; they live in the apartments. They aren't in mine right now though but the geckos like kill the bugs and stuff so people leave them. Uhm, I saw some maggots cleaning the apartment today, not a ton but like 6-8. So I killed them. Uhhh, we have a recent convert named D, and he gives us rides. He drove us around like all day today after basketball; he drives really fast and it scares me. Both sides of the road are basically open here, and the police are a joke. I see them go everywhere and do nothing; however, there is like an FBI unit I have seen and they do not mess around. They have giant trucks and one time we were going for lunch in a member's car in between conference sessions and the truck flew up right behind us and blared it's sirens but we had no where to go because a lot of the roads are like basically 1 lane. So that was cool, uhh, I think I get an hour and half of internet time here but I've already used 34 mins. 

General Conference, we watched it in English. We just showed our investigators to the Spanish room and we walked off to a side room for English and listened. It was good; my favorite talks were Elder Bednar's when he talks about how the reason we share the gospel is because we have seen how it has blessed our lives and we want to share that with others. I loved the quote Elder Holland used, as well as his entire talk in general (all the talks were amazing, to be honest. Going to have to reread them again when we get them), but yeah, the quote: "What we do is but a drop in the ocean, yet if we did not do it there would be one less drop in the ocean" #missionarywork. I liked all the jokes about language, "Buenos dias" and the German joke by President Uchtdorf. Overall, it was just really good! 

Dogs here mostly smell bad. Cats are rarely seen, but they're smaller. Haven't seen very many birds but they don't look very cool (probably because I'm in the city). We went to a pizza place on like, Thursday or Friday for lunch, and we bought a half meter pizza, 6 bread sticks, and a 2lt Pepsi for 7500 mil, so like, $15. It was pretty decent, freshly made. Then today we went to a burger place and it was amazing. The one I had had 2 patties, ham, bacon, cheese, and lettuce and then they have their pineapple in a bottle so we put that sauce on too; it was fantastic. Then, you get a fresco so I had something called Cas, it's a fruit that I don't think you can get in the United States, but it was really good. It was a pricy lunch though; it was like $10 each. We were buying for D since he's been driving us everywhere. He droves us on Wednesday night to the ATM to get our money and then we peeled out haha. We do it at night and with a member so we don't risk getting robbed. So the money here is called Colones, it's like 500 to 1 dollar, but some things are pricey here. Soda is cheap, especially Coke. My umbrella was only like $10 and it's pretty nice. I might need more pants and shoes, which kind of sucks haha. I have been talking with my companions and Elder Parker blew through his shoes in Guanacaste because of the roads there, Elder Solis has too. Apparently the rain like eats the shoes from the inside out; your feet get wet and then the inside of your shoe like falls apart. However, I also heard of a guy in one of the areas here in Costa Rica, I don't remember where, but he repairs shoe soles for like $20 using airplane tire, so should I have the opportunity to do that I probably will. 

Yeah, I don't know; it's nothing like I expected here, so far at least in my area. Also there's a member that makes really cool leather scriptures cases, but they're more expensive. Elder Black said his were $70 for his design, and Elder Solis's were $30 he said and his are cool. He has the temple here on one of them and the other is like Captain Moronic [this should say Moroni, but Elder Lohberg's computer changed it to Moronic - we left it :)] with his flag and an army around him. They're sweet, so when I'm in that area I might buy those. Elder Solis said the member that makes the scripture cases, you like send him an email with the design you want, and then he sends em to you, for the fee of course.  

Oh gosh, I was getting out of a member's car and I slammed my knee into something metal. It felt like I had a bubble on my knee and there was like a little bump; it hurt and felt realllllyy weird. It seems to have gotten better though for the most part, still hurts a little to kneel on tile.

Elder Solis, the one who is about to die, said he made his camera make the picture size smaller so he can send more in an email. He said he'll show me how to do that for next time when I have my camera, but I'm not sure if that makes the quality worse or not?
About the picture, hmmm, it might have to be in my apartment. We don't take our cameras outside very often; too much risk of being robbed here in the city. Is that okay? Or hopefully in a few months I will get transferred to like Guanacaste, hopefully not Limon because that is more dangerous, but yeah then I could get a traditional Costa Rica one!

I kind of want to buy a backpack; everyone here uses them but I haven't found a store that sells them yet. Elder Solis says he knows one but they're more expensive here and you can't send me one or anything because most stuff doesn't make it through customs to the I'm not sure what to do.

Aaron: The bishop's son is really cool. We played ball with him and I went contacting with him the other day, it was fun. Honestly Mom, I wake up in the morning and for a while it's like, "What am I doing here? This is insane," and then my companions play their music and it gets better. It also helps that the ringtone for our cellphone, which also is our alarm clock, is the Pokemon theme song; it kind of makes the morning a lot better haha. Then I just get to work and kind of forget. When I eat good food or have a fresco, I forget about how weird this is, but every now and then I think about it and it feels like I'm going to be here forever.

MOM: I can still remember getting to my first area and thinking, "What am I doing here?" and freaking out a bit each day about what was going on - and I wasn't in a foreign country so I can sort of relate. As you get more used to the routine and the country - it will get better. I must say that I personally am doing better than I thought I would be doing with you being gone on your mission. I am so proud of you and time really seems to be going by fast to me - next Monday you will have completed 2 months already of your mission! CRAZY! Seems like we just dropped you off! I went to C's open house last night - she reports Wednesday - but was thinking - when she gets home - you will only have 4 months left - and we will have your travel docs by that time. It will go fast. I have made milestone markers for it - knowing we will talk to you in December etc - just looking for things to look forward to - but I know it will go fast once you get into the work more - Sounds like you've had a great week though teaching discussions etc. The geckos sound cool - keep them around for the bugs - bugs be nasty! If you need more shoes - you can get another pair - I probably should have gotten you 3 pairs instead of just 2. Have you used the bug spray I sent you at all? How bad are the mosquitoes?

Good idea to repair your shoes as you see them start to get holes in them - but try to keep your feet dry so if you need to get new shoes because of that do that because I don't want to see you get an infection in your feet because they are wet.

Aaron: Yeah! I'm hoping I'm okay on shoes and everything. Planning on busting out my glue the second I see tears or rips and then with my pants I'm going to get sewing stuff and just make everything I have last if I can haha. Hopefully it works out. My companions both had like 8 pairs of pants. Elder Solis had to buy more and they've both sewn some. Elder Parker went through two sets of shoes in Guanacaste so he found a place where he could buy black boots so he did that. Anyways I need to go mom, I love you guys so much and pray for your safety. Enjoy it there! Bye!