We love this smile and are so glad we got to see it during our Skype session.
We had a wonderful talk with Alex for about an hour on Mother's Day. The pictures we took this time are not nearly as clear as they were at Christmas but they are still fun to have. The first thing his sisters noticed is that he has lost weight - enough that we could notice. He told us it's okay because he has a 6 pack :) He also told us that there are missionaries who have gained 20-30 kilos because of all the bread and the way they eat in Chile. Alex LOVES the bread & the food!! I asked him if they celebrate Mother's Day in Chile and they do. He said they don't really do anything different than what we do here. He and Elder Madsen were invited to a Mother's Day Barbeque and it was really good.
Alex was quite excited to show us his Llama tie and talk about all of us other Llama clothing he has acquired. He talked with quite an accent this time and there were several times where he did not know the English word for something and would ask his companion. If his companion didn't know or didn't hear him he would just try to explain it as best he could. It really was fun to not only hear him speak in Spanish again but especially fun to hear his Spanish accent while speaking English. He also told us that he dreams in Spanish and that his companions tell him he "sleep talks" in Spanish.
Elder Madsen & Elder Leavitt
Alex's new companion is Elder Madsen from Le Grande, Oregon. We were able to talk to him for a few minutes and that was fun. He seems like a wonderful young man and I know that Alex really likes him. He told us that his Mom had found my mission blog before he entered the MTC and has been following it. Isn't it fun that she's been following it and now our boys are companions? I think it's pretty neat :) His Mom and I are now facebook friends as well. Alex also told us of another missionary who came in not that long ago that he met who told him that he had followed the blog as well.
Alex with some members from the branch. It's their laptop the Elders used to make their calls.
Fred mentioned that our first phone call with Alex at Christmas he had just been transferred 4 days before that and now this call he had just been transferred for just a little over a week. It was great to find out more about his area. Alex kept telling us over and over how large their area (sector) is. He said that they could ride a bus for 45 mins. and still not leave the area. The area is a little warmer than when he was in Santiago. His area is surrounded by a big hill/mountain. He says it's an interesting area because they work mostly in little pueblos out in the country and there is mostly shacks and then you'll randomly run across a mansion. It's a center for grapes and everything smells like wine. He said that they have spending a lot of time exploring the sector as they do their work because there are no maps of the area so they are learning as they go and trying to make their own maps. Alex told us they don't live in their sector (which I already said is out in the pueblos). They get to ride bikes because their area is so remote and so large. He said that the pedal on his bike had fallen off at least 5 times since he's been there but he's grateful to have the bike. He said that dogs try to attack them while they are riding. He tries to kick them but they always jump back just in time. Alex told us that they have a 30 minute bus ride to go get groceries. They are not in a ward but are in a branch. There are 4 Elders assigned to the branch. The Church rents a house for the branch to meet in. There are 45 members in the branch. Alex says that the people in the area are pretty friendly.
Do you remember that I had mentioned that in Alex's other areas he had people tell him he looked like Ken the Barbie? Well in this area they think he looks like him also ha!ha! You know, we never thought that while he was growing up but we've now all decided we can see it :) In this area they also think he looks like Matt Damon. We have actually heard that one before. I guess some also think he looks like Jim Carrey but I don't see that one. I guess the members love to have him say a quote from Don Quixote (La Libre) that his sidekick Sancho says "No time to lose!" Every time he says it they laugh and laugh.
Alex laughing and rubbing his eyes after Alexis has his say "No time to lose!" They were all laughing so hard. We didn't really get it.
Alex told us a funny story about an investigator that they are no longer teaching. We took some funny pictures of him telling us in a very animated way. The story is too long to write but the basics of the story are that he was sick, prayed to be healed and Jesus came to him with a bowl of onions and told him to eat the onions and how he can now eat onions anytime of the day and that Jesus healed him with the onions.
Alex relating the onion story.
Alex told us that in Chile they have a bunch of random ideas (superstitions) that are interesting. The one he shared with us apparently isn't native to Chile but is something that other Latino countries believe also. Ben was telling us they were the same in Mexico. The one he told us about was the "crooked mouth" superstition. He was telling us that there are times that they will knock on a door and the person will come to the door with their mouth covered and will tell them they can't come out. They think if they drink something hot and then come out in the cold their mouth will become crooked. Alex said they will tell story after story about different people they know that this has happened to.
Alex showing us how they come to the door covering their mouths
so that the cold air doesn't get in.
Alex demonstrating a crooked mouth.
Alex asked us if we could send him some teeth whitening products because the mate & ecco wheat drink they drink are staining his teeth. He also told us that he is excited because it's becoming empanada season again and he loves eating them. He also loves a bread called amasado and he wants to learn how to make both. He has told us several times how good the bread is and while he was talking to us Alexis brought him some amasado.
Alex and amasado. He loves it!
Ben & Alex have always called Alycia "Sisha" and Alex was telling Alycia that "Sisha" is a word in Chile that means grape juice that is almost alcohol but not. I'm not sure how it's spelled but he said it's pronounced the same.
Some other random comments from the phone call:
*He told us he was the reigning chess champion in Lo Ovalle (his last area).
*His mission is the lowest baptizing mission in South America.
*He put the notes I sent him from his setting apart in his study journal and refers to them often. He said other missionaries have really liked that idea.
*One of the kids was eating a string cheese and Alex asked if that's what they were eating and that he missed eating that. He said that cheese is very expensive in Chile.
*He really hopes to get some Chilean Lapis their national stone. He saw it in the Temple and he just loves it.
*He was laughing as he told us that he saw a guy riding a bike with a rooster on the handlebars. I asked him if he got a picture but he said he didn't and that he doesn't just carry his camera around getting random pictures because it would get stolen.
*Throughout the conversation the three men there with them kept commenting on how beautiful Alex's sisters were. At the end when just Kira was still on one of them thought she looked like a Latin actress.
*Alexis then told us what a great missionary Alex is. He said he was a "10".
Alexis telling us Alex is great a missionary.