Friday, March 6, 2015

Landed it!... finally... Part 2

March 6, 2015
Landing in the Bogota Airport
¡Bienvenidos de Colombia!
That's kind of weird to think about... I'm still struggling with the idea that I'm not in America for the next 18 months. So I had quite the adventure getting to Colombia. After missing two flights, losing my luggage, standing in lines for hours, I finally made it to Colombia! (My luggage came the next morning...) 

Oh and in the eyes of the Church, I was technically missing for about 4 hours... Oops... What happened was I got on my plane all fine and dandy in Boise and flew to LAX (crazy busy airport). We landed a little early and there was confusion in the terminals, so we ended up sitting on the plane for 45 minutes, aka my entire layover. I rushed to my next gate only to find I got there right as it closed. They had overbooked the flight and there was no way they would let me on. Panicking, I borrowed a nice gentleman's phone and called the phone number that we are given in case of problems like this. The lady that I talked to got me another flight that was in two hours and told me to locate my suitcase. I requested my suitcase (I have been told on countless occasions that if you don't get on the plane, your suitcase will not either...). I went down and out of security to go wait for my suitcase. 

After 45 minutes of waiting and inquiring about my suitcase, I was notified that my suitcase did in fact make my flight to Georgia. Frustrated and realizing that I probably wasn't going to make my flight, I tried anyways. They ended up switching me to another airline where they could not find my ticket. They had me wait in one line for 30 minutes and in that time, I borrowed yet another lady's phone (she wasn't really happy about that one) and asked what I was suppose to do. I talked to the lady and she said to keep trying to talk with the airline and they would work on their end to figure out what to do with me.

I ended up getting moved to another line. When I finally got to the front of that line, I talked to a really nice airline lady who told me that my ticket was voided. In my mind, I was thinking, "This is ridiculous, I can't keep doing this!" My eyes started to water as I tried to think. The lady could tell I was in distress. She said that I should talk to the church to see what they're going to do. I asked her to call because I didn't have the heart to talk to them anymore. She started talking to them and then handed me the phone because they wanted to talk to me directly. I was transferred to the head guy over missionary travel services for the church. He said that they had been trying to locate me for a couple of hours, added my mom to the call, and we figured out my flight. 

I ended up switching to yet another airline. At this point, it was 1 pm and I was exhausted from trying. Making my way through security, I arrived at my gate and collapsed. They had me fly through the Houston airport. When I landed in Houston, it was 6 pm and we didn't board my last flight until 11:15. I sat in silence. Time came to leave and I called my parents real quick to say hi and bye. The flight went well and I got to Bogota at 5 in the morning.

Now when flying, missionaries are given very specific instructions to locate their suitcases before they leave the airport. Following these instructions, I tried to find my suitcase before I left security. No success. I gave up and went to find the person who was suppose to pick me up. I found her and attempted to explain to her in what little Spanish I knew why I did not have my suitcase. She did not understand any of it, talked to some people, and then I was left with a senior couple and another missionary who was from I want to say Uruguay. We got in a van and drove to the CCM. It took an hour to get there (without traffic, the CCM is only 10-12 minutes away from the airport).
Arriving at the CCM with an elder from Chile
I arrived at the CCM (MTC in English) around 7am, Colombian time and immediately went into orientation for filling out papers and getting things ready to begin training and learning. I met with President and Sister DuVall (my CCM president and his wife) to go over shot records, health problems, and a bunch of other things. I got my name tag, so I'm offically Hermana Duff! (pronounce Dooff). My district is Nefí. In the group of missionaries that came the day that I came were 3 other hermanas and 4 elders. There are also 3 other elders and a hermana that had been here for two weeks. We're basically family now. I'm in a trio. My compañeras are Hermana Hull and Hermana Harris. Funny story about Hermana Hull, she got my passport and I got her passport two weeks before we were suppose to come to the CCM.
Pres. & Hrma. DuVall, Hrma. Duff & companions Hrma. Hull & Hrma. Harris
Two days felt like we have been here for 2 weeks. Basically I'm in a never ending Spanish and Seminary class for the next 6 weeks. It's actually not that bad. Food is actually pretty good here. Unlike the Provo MTC, the Colombia CCM has only one main course option and a couple fruits/vegies/salads. We eat a ton of rice and plantains but hey, it's not that bad. I eat everything that Í'm given. The cooks are super nice. They try to cook American type foods every once in a while.
The Latinas wanted to take lots of pictures on Pday
During our gym time, we play a lot of volleyball and soccer. Apprently up until our group got there, soccer had been taken away because missionaries and teachers got too intense. I'm slowly learning how to play volleyball in Spanish. We practice teaching "investigators" and taught for our first time tonight. It was rough but we mangaged to pull through.

We played lots of volleyball
Any time I need help pronouncing words in Spanish or try to figure out how to say something in Spanish, I always ask the Latinas. They're always willing to answer questions. I've been making friends with the Latina Hemanas like Hrma. Zerpa, Vidal, and Ruiz. Oh, there are 63 missionaries at the Colombian CCM right now, 22 of them are hermanas. About a quarter of all the missionaries are American or Nortes as they say.
First Round of Latinos
It was fast Sunday today. About 44 of the missionaries were able to bear their testimony which President DuVall said was amazing because of how much time we have to do so. During the afternoon/evening, we have Gospel discussions with President and Hermana DuVall (in English). And we get to watch a church movie before we go to bed. Oh, there are 4 sets of bunk beds in my room, seven hermanas.

The life of the CCM is becoming a routine. We get up, get ready, study scriptures for an hour, breakfast, grammar class, personal study, lunch, grammar, TALL (computer program to reinforce what we learn in grammar class), gym, dinner, Book of Mormon class, investigator teach/preparation, get ready for bed, and sleep. I've been making friends with all the Latinas and I can almost name all of the hermanas. We goof around and they like to tell me that my Spanish is improving a lot! Good to know!
Distrito Nefi at the Bogota Temple
So every Tuesday, we all go to the Temple to do an endowment session. It was so cool to do a session in Spanish and I got in for the most part. It rained a lot today, so we weren't able to play volleyball outside. Fun fact, Colombia's rainy season is from March to May... Oh goody ;)

It's always fun to chat with the Latinas. We may have a language barrier that is slowly coming down but we can always have fun. Hrma. Romero calls me Hrma. Duffina.

So the Latinas are only here for two weeks and then they leave for their missions. They got to go to the temple this morning so breakfast was really quiet. We have to leave for the temple at 7am because traffic is insane in Colombia! Later in the afternoon, we had a gentleman from church headquarters come and talk to our teachers about new methods of teaching languages much faster. The Nortes were the guinea pigs and got to practice with the teachers for a little bit. It was actually really cool and helpful. We also got to see a video that the church put together that will be shown all over the world in a few months. How cool am I now? Chiste... Even better news! A bunch of the Latinas and some of the teachers say that my Spanish is coming along really well and my pronunciation is excellent! They told me I am now a Latina!!! I am no longer a gringa!! (a Norte speaking Spanish with horrible pronunciation)

Today is my Pday where I get to email. Since the CCM is set up so Latinas get cycled through every two weeks and Nortes get 6 weeks, Pdays work a little differently here. So I am emailing today, my next Pday will be on Tuesday and then won't be until the 20th. Kind of weird but hey, it's works for them so that's what we're doing.
Half of the hermanas on Pday
So you guys can see that I am doing well and learning a ton! My days begin at 6:30 and end at 10:30. I hope you all have an amazing week and hope to hear from y'all soon!

Until next time,
The Strawberry Blonde Hermana

PS. I get to go actual prosyliting tomorrow morning!! I get to leave the CCM and explore Bogota! Kind of...

Hrma. Romero & Hrma. Duff were best friends
Silly hermanas
Hrma. Merino & Hrma. Romero
Hrma. Carrasco & Hrma. Ruiz
Elder Salvatierra & Hrma. Maynez

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