July 28, 2014 (Week 8)

I forgot in my last email to tell you about my ward. I am in El Castillo in the Gabriela Stake. It is a tiny ward. Maybe 100 regularly attending members, so we have to pick up the missing pieces a lot. They are really good people, though. It still feels like church. They just got a new bishop, and he reminds me a little of Dave Higham, except Latino. Their old bishop actually died a few weeks before I got here. A heart attack, I think.

I am very close to the mountains now. They look a lot like Utah, except twice as tall. Every time I tell people I ski, they tell me there is a great resort not to far from here. Makes me good and trunky. I heard though that you have to pay per ride on the lift, and it`s something stupidly high, like 20 dollars per ride or something.

Chileans are a very noisy, very friendly people. They have a greeting which everyone does that I am still getting used to. In North America, if we don`t know each other too well, we will stick to the simple hand shake and call it good. But in Chile, you shake hands, hug and pat each other on the back twice, then shake hands again. This isn’t just a one time thing. It happens every time we say hola and every time we say ciau. Anyone who knows me well, will know I am not exactly a feely kind of person, especially with strangers. This greeting is making me crawl out of my comfortable little bubble in a hurry, though. I’ve hugged more strange men in the last two weeks then I think I ever have in my entire life.

Another highlight in Chile is the propane salesman. The way gas works here is everything runs on propane and when you run out, you call a company and they drive a truck over with more. (That is that big charge on your card. It will be refunded to me, and I`ll keep the extra cash.) I am quite sure that they would be illegal in North America, because the way that they advertise their companies is driving around with speakers on the tops of their cars, yelling at people that they have propane. Some just yell facts, but one, gasco, actually made a song for themselves.

Speaking of yelling, I`ve thoroughly enjoyed the evangelicals. Elder See told me that they believe that the more noise they make, the better God can hear then, so they stand on street corners yelling into microphones. Very weird.

Elder Mathewson

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