My area is kinda in Santa Cruz, but Santa Cruz is huge. I think I'm in the third ring, (*see picture below) but I can't remember! We don't live in our area, so we take mecros (buses) and taxis. So we are constantly poor. We are trying to find a new house in our area. Also our current house has rats. So there's that motivation too! We are about twenty minutes from the mission home.
We have one investigator who is the father of a member. She is going on a mission in April, after having only been a member for a year. She's incredible. On Tuesday night we taught him and he asked us why we were serving a mission. In Spanglish (he understands English) I shared the scripture of feeding the Lord`s sheep and then cried as I told him that I just want everyone to feel the joy I feel from the gospel. He has a lot of questions about the church and sometimes it`s difficult, because Hermana Murga and I feel the spirit so strongly when we teach him and we don't understand how he can't feel it is true like we do. But, tonight we are having family home evening with them and hopefully we will make some progress. I think he knows it is true, he just needs some time. All in the Lord`s time.
You all would be amazed by the poverty here. The struggles down here are real, more real than anything I've ever seen. Everyone has experienced death, disease, and they all live in shacks. Sometimes I want to cry because of how hard everyone's life is. Yet they have so much faith and are so giving. It amazes me. One night we were teaching a less active family and the mom, who is deaf, has six children, and lives in one of the poorest houses in our area, showed me how the apostles must have felt when Christ washed their feet. My finger was bleeding because I constantly pick my nails and she saw that it was bleeding, went and grabbed some nail cleaner thing, and then grabbed my hands and started picking the skin around my fingers. She started telling me how I need to stop picking my nails because it is super painful and it was bad for my hands. This woman, who has next to nothing and has more problems in her life than I will ever have, was worried about me being in pain and my hands. But that's just the kind of people that are down here. They have taught me more about the Savior's love in two weeks than in any other time in my life.
I love my ward! Some of the people speak English and they are so patient with my Spanish. They always tell me my Spanish is really good and they are always surprised I've only been here two weeks. They say I talk like a native, so I've got that going for me! They are incredible members and always so willing to help us with the work. Our ward has 250 people in it and in Latin culture, everyone greets everyone, so church is super long, but I love it!
The work here is progressing and I love every minute of it! I'm constantly grateful for the opportunity I have to serve here and to learn from the people. Sometimes I feel like they are teaching me instead of me teaching them. My companion is awesome, the sweetest person ever.
I miss and love you lots, I won't write next week because its Carnival week and we aren`t allowed to leave our houses, but I`ll write on the tenth. Love and miss you all a ton. Hurrah for Israel!
The city of Santa Cruz is laid out in what they refer to as "rings".
Hermana Willes' area is in the third ring.
The marker is the chapel she attends church on Sundays.