September 14, 2015 {Week 13}: I was transferred!

I have been transferred to Riberalta!  Riberalta is red. It’s red, everything is red.  But it’s actually cleaner than Santa Cruz so I feel cleaner.  There is less trash and fewer dogs and less people, and it’s safer so we can stay out till 8pm.  It’s a rama (congregation) with about 40 active members, but this past week we had 125 people attend church!  We work almost exclusively with menos activos (less active members) because you have to strengthen Zion before you can build it up!

We can’t drink the water… it’s beige.  And it stinks sometimes, so you just sort of keep your mouth closed and pray for the best.  My first shower there was no water pressure so I literally used water from the sink to rinse off.  Then the water shut off completely.  And of course, no hot water. Flipside, upside…the water’s not cold because it can’t get cold!  It’s basically like GA or IL summer weather, but there’s no air conditioning so it’s blazing hot.  I walk around with a sweat rag…. and I’m probably gonna buy a little fold out fan.  We each have our own big personal fan to sleep with at night, the past 2 days it’s been nice, but the first day… oh buddy…. I woke up in the middle of night(still can’t sleep, although I don’t wake up sore here) to find myself wet and cold… it took me a second to realize it was my sweat.  It was gross.  I should’ve only brought workout shirts.  That’s my suggestion for sister missioanries, don’t bother bringing anything else with you.

To get here we took a 40 minute flight to Trinidad then another 40 minute flight to Guayaramerin then another 15 minute flight to Riberalta, so a bit of travelling, but thankfully short easy flights. I traveled all by myself(only sister) with about 20 elders, so I stuck with Elder Tamara(a year in Equipitrol and now out here as my zone leader again!) and Elder Villafranca(his last transfer).

The area here is a bit bigger than Belen so I am going to ask the mission president if we sisters can get bikes, oh!  It’s puro motos!  Everyone has motorcycles, there are like no cars — so because we can’t ride motorcycles we want bikes!
I am with Hermana Piscoya now!  She is from the same MTC group as Hermana Huerta. I was a little scared at first because I’d heard she has a strong personality and so do I for the most part, but so far so good.  I’m gonna miss Hermana Huerta, we were like sisters. But I also have a dream of serving in every area in the mission where sisters can serve and if I want to do that I need cambios (transfers) every 6 weeks!  So I am totally cool.  Apparently they closed my previous area when they pulled Hermana Huerta and I and then that night they made an emergency transfer and put sisters BACK IN BELEN!!  Not cool.  I loved the ward in Belen. And I didn’t get any pictures with my best friends, la familia Salas!  I’m gonna have to go back to Belen at some point in my life just for them.
Now time for couple of rants/experiences. The way people treat their animals is such  a great reflection of their personality and upbringing.  There is a family here, whose children chase off their family dogs when they bark with sticks and hit them!  It’s terrible to see a little 10 year old hitting his dog!  Animals were given the breath of life by our Almighty God just as we were.  Animals are precious little things that deserve our respect and love.  We are given dominion over them, but that doesn’t mean they can be treated like dirt.  Proverbs 12:10. Heavenly Father knows all.  When you want to get married look at how a man treats his mother and sisters, but also how his dog responds to his entrance in the home.
I don’t understand why some Americans come down here and suddenly start harboring poor feelings for the United States!  I love my country– sure there are problems, but we the people can change them if we so desire.  One sister tried telling me and some latinas that we as Americans are selfish and self-centered and materialistic and that families are not important to us anymore.  She used the argument that here families all live in one house– grandparents with their children and their families.  This is true, but just because as Americans we don’t generally do that doesn’t mean we don’t love our families.  My famliy is spread all over the country but I love them!  They have brought happiness and joy to my life when we are together and my grandparents have been a huge blessing in my life over the years!  I am so thankful for them and their example, and the things I have learned from my cousins and my extended familiy.  (What I’ve seen a lot of here in Bolivia is a disrespect for their own things, a disrespect for other people’s things, and a disrespect for the Earth.) Every country is different. If you see the things about your country that need to be changed – go home and change them don’t complain to the world!!
Con mucho amor,
Hermana E Butikofer
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A couple of pictures from my last days in Santa Cruz.
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