Tuesday, May 14, 2013

2013-05-14 Skype with Elder Howlett for Mother's Day

Elder Howlett’s Mother’s Day Skype
Elder Howlett called from his bishop’s house.  He said that there are 26 elders in his zone and explained that a district is smaller than a zone.  His (new) area is called “Villa Graciela II” and is in the more mountainous part of the old mission.

His companion, Elder Ruiz, is from Iquitos, Peru which is in the jungle.  He jumped right into the conversation.  He’s really friendly and outgoing.  Elder Howlett says he acts kind of like a kid sometimes and can’t resist wet cement.  Elder Ruiz said that we all look the same—except Dad looks like the mission president (who’s also white and bald) and Sam looks like Macauley Culkin in Home Alone.  Most importantly, Elder Ruiz has very discerning tastes.  He told me that I’m beautiful and have a beautiful voice and that he likes my smile.  He also mentioned that I am very white—he should see me in the winter.  “Plus also,” People have monkeys as pets in Iquitos and there are also turtles and anacondas.  When Elder Ruiz listed a tiger among the animals in his city, we asked, amazed, “Can you touch them?” Elder Ruiz responded, “Ai NO!”  It turns out that the tiger is in a zoo.  Elder Ruiz told us that they also eat monkeys, and jokingly said he’d send us one to eat.  We were all grossed out, so he said we could just keep it as a pet.  He also said he’ll send us a parrot that talks, since we’d like one of those, too.

When I asked what the mission home was like, Elder Howlett said that they’ve never been there.  He also mentioned that their apartment is very near the big Christus statue.  He can actually fit under the shower head, but he’s always afraid that he’ll get shocked by it, so he keeps his head tucked down and his neck always hurts after his shower.  He was really surprised that no one has carpet.  When I asked him about electric outlets, he replied, “Outlets are not the same here.   Dad, what do we have in the US?”   John answered, “110,” and Steven responded, “Oh yeah, it’s 220 here.  Anyway I need new speakers, ‘cuz I plugged mine in and they worked for 2 seconds until they fried.” 

I asked if they were still getting bread and hot chocolate delivered in the morning and Elder Howlett said they are still receiving it and that the bread is very good.  When I asked if they pay for it or if the people just do it to be nice, Steven answered, “I’m not sure—I never really know what’s going on here.”  I guess he figures he’ll worry about it if it stops coming.  He says that he thinks they live on the property of some people in the ward (just in a separate building) and he thinks they bring it.

He irons his clothes—he doesn’t like that, but he kind of likes getting the wrinkles out—a little OCD maybe?  Talking about doing laundry, Elder Howlett mentioned that they had “a little metal thing with ribs on it” (a washboard) For all you who’ve never seen one--look up a picture.  You scrub your clothes against and it works the soap in and the dirt out.) He said his companion is going to teach him how to use it.  (I’m not sure what there is to teach.)  He says he’s going to try it once and then pay to have it done if he doesn’t like doing it himself.  How do we think that’s going to end up?

Elder Howlett said that their area pretty small geographically.  They walk everywhere except to meetings etc.  There are trufis, which are very crowded, but cheap, buses or vans that hardly cost anything, but he doesn’t like them either—he says they’re too confusing.  There are little Bodegas all over.  Every 3 houses or so, in the residential area, there will be a garage door open with certain stuff for sale inside and that the people live in the back.  He said that they specialize—one will sell paper and writing implements, another will sell food, etc.

Elder Howlett mentioned in his last letter that they were supposed to be looking for a new apartment.  They’re looking for an apartment with a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom for 800 bolivianos max.  They’ve only looked at one and it was 1000.  I asked how hard they were supposed to be looking and he replied “I don’t know.  I don’t know what’s going on—ever—like ever at all.  I love it when we get to get together with the other Americans like for random stuff.  Like at the baptism there was another American, and once a week we have meetings with the zone and there are 3 other Americans from the MTC that I know and so I like that, cuz no one knows what’s going on, but we get to talk to each other and understand each other.  Yeah, not a clue—ever—what’s going on…”

He basically thinks that everybody takes everything NOT seriously enough.  It drives him crazy that no one does anything on time and that they don’t keep their commitments.  Their baptismal service started an hour and a half late.  They haven’t been to a single appointment on time—the people aren’t usually there anyway—and if they are, they act surprised to see the missionaries and haven’t done or read what they said they would.  They were 1 ½ hour late to dinner the other day and the pensionista told them that if they were late next time they’d miss out, but they were 40 minutes late the next night and still got dinner.  Elder Howlett said that his pensionista has already told the story, TWICE, about the rich snobby Americans who look at her food and say “I only want a little of your food.”  He said, “All these tiny Bolivians eat SO much food!  It’s too much.  I don’t like it.”  Who EVER thought we’d hear him say such a thing?! He also told us he’d had some chicken throat soup (yummm…)—but that his didn’t have any chicken throat in it.  Apparently, one of her kids doesn’t like chicken throats in his either.  (Thank you, Fabio!)  They ate food from “Chicken Kingdom” (like KFC) at the bishop’s house the other night and he really liked that. 

They don’t give Books of Mormon to people unless they are solid investigators and there are lots of members who don’t go to church, so they teach a lot of them as well as investigators. 

They helped someone move and he had a parrot on his shoulder/back the whole time he was moving boxes and stuff.  Elder Howlett thought that was pretty cool. 

There are little restaurants all over and you can buy a whole meal for 7 bolivianos (1 dollar).  Most nights, Steven has a coke because he thinks it helps him stay healthy.  “Coke cleans you out, so whenever I have something that I think might make me sick, I buy a coke,” he said.  Compared to the meals, a coke is pretty expensive--5 bolivianos (71 cents).

He says that everything stinks and that there are animals all over—flocks of sheep being herded, ‘attack geese’, dogs roaming in packs…

I asked him how they email and he said there are little internet cafes everywhere.  There are always lots of kids playing games because it’s so cheap—only 2 bolivianos/hour (.25).  He said the computers are nice, but the internet is slow.

Elder Howlett’s mom 
P.S.  I would LOVE it if people want to tell us what brought you to Elder Howlett’s blog.  Just put it in a comment.  I would also love to answer any questions you may have (also, just write it in a comment, I keep an eye on them.)

P.P.S.  I'm going to keep a running list of countries from which people have viewed Elder Howlett's blog (in alphabetical order).
Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philappines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam

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