So cool story of this past week is I got to teach my companion how to cook a chicken!!
It all started on a Tuesday... we went to a lesson, to teach a 21 year old kid named Cesar and he didn't have time. He lives in the country a little bit and they have about 50 chickens roaming around and about 15 turkeys!
Well so we were there just chatting for a moment with Cesar's mom who we don't know very well and out of the blue my companion leans over with a huge grin on his face and says "hey, do you want to buy a chicken?" and I responded with a bit of shock "haha no.." and he just kept looking at me smiling waiting for a better response. I looked at him, then at the chickens, then at Cesar's mom and started to laugh!! I looked back at my companion, still a huge grin on his face and said "why not!!" Cesar's mom then reached down and grabbed a plump white chicken and said with a big smile "this one!?" I just laughed, haha, and said "yea why not!!"
So we handed Cesar's mom 10 dollars and she took the chicken into the house put it between her knees and cut its neck and bled it into a 5 gallon bucket. She then boiled a pot of water and proceeded to dip it into the pot and pluck all the feathers. When she finished that she gutted it, kept the guts for herself and handed us the now very dead, featherless, gutless chicken, haha, and we went on our way.
I think I looked a bit ridiculous walking down the streets for the 15 minutes it takes to get home with a dead chicken in my hand, but at least we had dinner.
So we dropped it off at the house and worked the rest of the day. When we finished our day I took the chicken out and cut all the meat off the bones.
Then I cooked it and we ate it and my companion did the dishes haha!! It turned out pretty good!!
Well you might be surprised by the title of this letter but don't be too shocked, I promise I'm not racist!
Here in South America everyone is very catholic, most just because it's tradition. And they love to throw parties and do all kinds of crazy things. Each city has different folklore that the Catholic church stands behind and supports to keep traditions alive. Specifically here in Latacunga they have what they call The Mama Negra....
The story goes, or well one of the stories is, that a long time ago there was a huge earthquake and everyone thought they were going to die and this black lady walked out into the street and calmed the earth, and the earthquake stopped.
Another story goes that the mama negra was a lady who took in all kinds of neglected black children and she took care of them and fed them and gave them what they needed.
So now when they celebrate her, they close down almost all of central Latacunga and there are parades all day for two days. Then come a few more in a week or so, but these aren't any old parades with cupcakes and flowers... no, haha, they literally sacrifice animals and hang them on posts and parade these dead animals that represent the food the mama negra gave to the children, all around the streets. They look like shrines. Usually a pig hung on a cross as the center piece with chickens and rabbits and cuy strung to the legs and stuff and usually there are a few bottles of alcohol included.
But as they parade down the streets there are huge bands and lots of dancers and lots and lots of alcohol... lots and lots of drunk people. Its not necessarily the best for missionaries so we avoid it, haha.
When Christmas comes it gets even worse and we as missionaries have to leave the city for our own safety.
As my companion and I have talked about it, it's all just for the traditions of their fathers... no one really knows why, but its an excuse to drink and go crazy in the streets. It's basically like Lamanite tradition still alive today.
I honestly don't know a lot about the festivities, but members are telling us all about it haha so I guess you guys can look it up and learn more about the background. I don't know the real original story of what the mama negra is but its crazy.
Anyways, haha, this week has been a lot of fun, my companion and I cleaned up our carpeta de area and it is absolutely beautiful and we have been working really hard in it to get everything up to date and correct. We are also helping with our ward directory trying to get in contact with the 700 or so listed menos activos haha to help the ward get organized in their records.
Things are a bit disorganized in our ward and it's our goal to get it all up and running before our time here runs out. The goal also is for our ward to separate from the stake in order to become a district.. I'm not sure what all the rules are with that but the stake presidency has expressed that as a goal. Out of the 800+ listed members we have about 100 to 130 attending every week so you can say our numbers are not that great, but there is huge potential here and as my companion and I are having success more and more I'm loving it here more and more!!
The mission is awesome and I'm enjoying it a ton!!! Everyday is a new adventure!!
Love Elder Gonzalez