Monday, July 29, 2013

Another week in Tuxpan

Yesterday was the best sacrament meeting ever. My companions and I actually showed up to Church on time so I told the Bishop I would play the piano.  Everybody was singing, and I mean everybody! The past weeks without a piano, nobody really sang except the Bishop. I am so grateful Grandma taught me how to really play hymns in sacrament meeting - the closing hymn was Called To Serve, and in Spanish there are 4 verses. Each verse I played slightly more powerfully than the last and the Holy Ghost filled the room as every person in the congregation started singing with more and more power. When the last verse arrived I was playing 5-note chords with my left hand and everybody was singing like there was a Spanish MoTab and the Holy Ghost manifested such exceeding joy to everybody in the room. It was incredible. What was awesome was that before we sang that hymn, I got to give my first talk in Spanish. My topic was La Obra Misional (missionary work.) I wrote nothing down and gave the whole talk as the Holy Ghost dictated what I should say. Everybody in the room smiled when I talked. I got to share my love for the Mexican people to the whole ward at the same time and it made me happy just to do that. As soon as I finished I jumped off the stand and went over to the piano. The whole experience just felt awesome and much different than my past few weeks.

After Church we had three baptisms, two children of a less active member who is returning to Church and an investigator named Brother O. Brother O is my sign from the Lord that as soon as I am in a normal companionship with just one companion that I things will be normal. With Brother O I got to speak unrestrained and teach the lessons adapted entirely to him and I got to bond and talk and grow with Brother O. I got to share with him my personal testimony of the Book of Mormon and read it with him. I got to visit him and see  how his life is going and adapt the principles we need to teach to his humble circumstances. Above all, I got to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord in helping Brother O come to know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church upon the face of the earth. In his words, This Church has to be the truth. There is no other option! Whereas two weeks ago he had never even heard of the Church, now he reads from the Book of Mormon and the Bible daily and knows by the Holy Ghost that prophets and apostles lead and guide us today. 

Anywho, one thing I can say is I'm glad I have Elder M to talk with. (Note inserted from Mom here--the other companion in this trio is NOT a bundle of fun).  He has helped keep me sane. This Sunday was a tender mercy from the Lord that showed me what I will be able to do when I have a different companion.

Also, 6-year old C is my best friend at Church. Attached is a photo of me goofing around with him. He is such a special little spunk. His mom gives me cookies every week to express her gratitude for making her child so happy on Sundays. The Lord sent me to Mexico because culturally I can actually bond with the children here. Having grown up as the oldest of 7, I'm just used to wrestling and flying and bouncing off of walls and running around playing tag with children. Only in Mexico. Only in Mexico. No matter what happens to me here, I am grateful the Lord sent me here for that.

If possible, I would love the Piano Guys two CDs. Mission President loves them for listening. Definitely approved. Also, the Muppet Christmas Carol soundtrack! I would ask for sour patch kids but they wouldn't make it down here, so I'll just wait 21 months for them. Oh! Sheet music for some of the David Lanz Christmas hymns! Other random things you think of, too.

The Lord is taking care of me and I see tender mercies every day.

Elder Dorrough

Monday, July 22, 2013

There's a Costco in Xalapa!

I am so glad I get to live without technology. I don't know what everybody's deal is with cell phones and iPads when you can sit down and have a conversation with somebody or read a book or do something real. It's sad to see families here that don't do a darn thing but watch TV all day, but I know that in the US it's a lot worse. At least here they watch TV together and not on separate devices. 

This week I took a two day trip to Xalapa to finish up my Visa paperwork! Xalapa is about 30 degrees cooler than Tuxpan and it shows. The funniest part of the trip was arriving in the bus station and one of the Missionary Secretaries called the phone I had. I answered in Spanish and after figuring out where I needed to go, the secretary asked, Who is this? Elder Duro. What? Elder Duro! I thought they weren't sending any Mexicans down with you guys...? And then I laughed and starting talking in English. The other missionaries say my accent sounds just like a Mexican who moved to Texas. I am so grateful the Lord prepared me for my mission by learning conversational Spanish. The other Elders who got their Visas were telling stories of horror because they have absolutely no idea what's going on and nobody here speaks English. It made me realize that the Lord blessed me by prompting me to learn Spanish 5 years ago.

We must always follow the promptings of the Spirit, no matter how small they may seem. The Lord does not speak in the wind or the fire but by the still small voice.

In Xalapa, we had Costco pizza for lunch. Guess how many slices I ate? Nine! That's correct. I ate more than an entire Costco pizza in one setting, thereby setting the mission record. I might be small, but I miss America too much to care that my body doesn't want more pizza at the moment. It's Costco, for crying out loud. I love Costco.

The situation for a lot of missionaries here may change soon! There will be 30 missionaries coming next transfer in two weeks with zero available missionaries to be trainers... so there'll be a lot of changeups here soon. How mission Presidents logistically work out all of this stuff is incredible.

One thing about my experience so far that even my companions have noted is unique is how much stinking spaghetti we have been offered at meals. Probably half of my meals so far have had spaghetti. I have only had to eat it twice, and once I started gagging so stopped. The Mexicans think it's really weird that I'll eat straight habaneros or goat meat or balut whatever but I'm so scared of spaghetti. My comps say usually they eat rice and chicken. Like every day. Spaghetti is usually a rarity, and they don't even know what's going on! It's just the Lord testing my endurance, I guess. :P

I figured out that black beans I CAN eat, but the other kind that's not black but brownish I can't. One Sister fed us a meal and said the beans were a different kind, and THAT bean is the kind that disintegrates into grainy inedible mushiness. Black beans are totally cool with me. It's the texture of the other one that gets me.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

This week in Tuxpan

Sorry I can't respond to all of your email! I just have too much to say in such short time. I'm glad the family is having fun and thinks about me.

Tuxpan does look quite a lot like San Ignacio, Belize!... but everything is in Spanish. That's one thing about Mexico that's different than a whole lot of other countries - nobody here knows a lick of English.

Those Danner Romeos were the greatest missionary purchase of all time. Those shoes are absolutely indestructible while being both waterproof, breathable, comfortable, walkable, and non-irritative all at the same time. They will definitely last me all two years on the rough, rocky, broken roads of Mexico. With normal dress shoes, my companions have gone through about 5 pairs each 19 months into their missions. I'm very grateful for my Danners.

(Note from Mom--we bought the best missionary shoes ever from Danner.  Here's a link for anybody heading for a mission south of the border.  Worth every penny, and free shipping!).

The thing I miss the very most about America is warm showers. The water here is probably about 1 degree centigrade and impossible to shower in. I manage, but it's painfully cold. I also miss carpets. I also miss how organized the Church is. In Mexico, they basically take the one member of the ward who has been sealed in the temple and call him as the Bishop and the 5 other active members constitute the ward council. Everybody else is on a free-for-all run coming to Church or not. My ward has less than 12% attendance in sacrament meeting, which is really pitiful. That's something the Lord has called me here to help improve.  With His divine assistance, I know I can do it.

It's a bit unique seeing the military drive around all day in Ford pickup trucks with a 50 caliber machine gun on top.

Thanks to both my parents for teaching me to just get to work. It is a universal plague to put off doing something and I am grateful that my parents have raised me up immune to it. I work hard because I know life is all about work! It makes the mission much easier having been taught how to work beforehand.

Tuxpan is called the armpit of the mission because it is so hot and humid. My shirts get drenched everyday in my sweat - which the Assistant Elder L told me is awesome because it is literally by the sweat of the brow that we work and grow in Mexico.

I finally figured out what the word TACO actually means... it means a soccer cleat. I bought a pair of tacos for super cheap. Now I laugh every time people talk about eating tacos, because the type made for playing are not edible. Just a funny little thought.

Funny Spanish phrase of the week: ¡No manches! (Don't stain it!) Which is the equivalent of saying, holy crap! I can't wait to recall all the slang I will have learned in two years...

Also, don't let anybody ever think there is such a thing as boredom. I saw Mexican kids slide down a muddy hill on cardboard boxes. If that doesn't sound like fun to do on a day you're not busy, I don't know what does!

Tell Dad to please clean my guns, because I forgot to before I left. Also tell him that I like telling people he's a freaking fast runner. The Mexicans use the word freaking a lot. Literally, just Freaking! It's funny Spanglish.

Tell Aubs to make sure she is ready to read! College is a lot of reading. Let her know it'll be a blast if she manages her time right.

Tell Jake I'm sorry he hurt his trasero working in the yard. Also let him know that landscaping is great preparation for a mission.

Tell Joel he should keep working on his Japanese. You never know what the Lord is doing to prepare His children!

Tell Noah that he is the spunkiest human of all time. A lot of the random things I have done on my mission remind me of him.

Tell Savanna that she needs to make it to the Olympics. Can she do a standing front flip now?

Tell Zachary that he's the man and that everybody says he and I look like twins. Tell him he needs to play soccer or basketball, because he's so cool.  --Also, in one of the pictures you sent of all the family in Belize, he is apparently (though quite accidentally) making a very offensive hand gesture to Mexicans. My companions laughed their heads off and I'm careful not to show it to others... --

I love you all! Thanks to everybody for thinking of me and praying for me.

Elder Abram Dorrough

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pictures from Tuxpan

All the streets, except for the main one, look like this.  It's a party!

Me, seated at a house we had lunch at.
 I love Mexico.
 A photo of hilly, jungly Tuxpan.
 My companions walking down a street in Tuxpan.

Monday, July 8, 2013

More from Tuxpan

These past two weeks have been... interesting.

The filter works!! The water bottle filter that I was given in the MTC is 100% functional. One night last week right before bedtime, my thirst increased to the point of death. (Maybe not, but I wasn't going to sleep without water.) I decided to risk trying the sink water through the filter. The results? Not any sickness at all.

By far the greatest experience I have had so far is taking part in healing a 6 year old boy named C. After Church, I felt somebody grasp my hand. It was a little Mexican boy I hadn't seen before. I leaned down to talk to him and he asked me for a blessing. He had a cold. He was very exhausted and his nose was visibly stuffed. I said of course I would give him a blessing. I told him we would need to find another Elder to assist me, and Elder Aldama and I went to another room with C's Mom and siblings following. The whole time, C would not let go of my hand. He sat down in the chair to get ready and I told him this was my first blessing ever in Spanish. Nobody had oil, so we blessed him without any. After opening the blessing, I pronounced the words of the Spirit: That upon opening his eyes, the cold would be completely gone and he would regain all of his energy. That was all I felt the need to say. As soon as I ended the blessing, Carlos popped out of the chair and gave me a huge hug. His nose was completely unstuffed, his headache gone, and he was running up and down the hallway with the other children. Because the faith of a child had been combined with Priesthood power, the illnesses and weaknesses of man could hold no power over either of us.
I love you!

 ¡Camarones! Shrimp tacos for lunch. That was the spiciest food I have ever eaten that was not lamb vindaloo. Holy smokes.


I am currently in the city of Tuxpan. It´s the nothernmost part of the state of Veracruz and the farthest possible area from the mission home. It´s actually a pretty big city. I think there are 300.000 people or so! It´s been about 95 degrees and 95 percent humidity. What fun!

Guess who is still in a tri-panionship? Elder Dorrough is! Out of the 26 or so Elders who arrived Monday, three were assigned to trios with some Zone leaders... and I am one of them. I will have been in a trio for the first 5 months of my mission. The Zone Leaders and Assistants are always in a one gringo to one native ratio to help deal with any issue that arises. My companions are Elder P, from Puebla, and Elder M, from Utah.

The house I stayed in until yesterday was basically a poop hole. Literally. Even for Mexico, it was bad. 5 elders shared a bedroom and a bathroom, with a tiny little space for studying. I took pictures of how gross it was...but I forgot my camera today. I am with other Elders today because my companions had to go to Xalapa for a ZL meeting, and I forgot to pack my camera in my overnight bag. Oh well! You´ll all get double pictures next week!

Mexico is definitely a blast. I'm going to start off with my favorite part... the peoples´s reactions to the fact that I actually speak their language. And not only that I speak their language, but also that I speak it like a Mexican!

The Bishop: "Is your mom Mexican? Is your dad Mexican? Did you go to a Mexican ward?"
An investigator, after about 5 minutes of the lesson: "Were you born in Chihuahua?" In Chihuahua, there are white blonde Mexicans.
(After that one, I decided to just start telling everybody I am from Chihuahua so they believe that I speak Spanish.)
A native Elder: "Are you Mexican? No? Because you sound exactly like a Mexican. Your accent is strongly Mexican.
A member: "You don´t have even the slightest hint of American in your voice. You sound like you live here."
The ward mission leader: "Not only do you say the vowels correctly, but you say the "eres" and "doble eres" precisely right. Americans can never do that."
An investigator: "Oregon? You mean Obregon!" (Obregon is probably the most dangerous city in Mexico.)

Something else I like about Mexico is how cheap everything is here. A 500 ml bottle of coke is 40 cents. Food costs nothing. The rent is a joke. It costs two dollars to take a Taxi all the way across town. Of course, it´s all in pesos, so it looks expensice with the same $ sign, but everything is so barato. I don´t know how these people make a living charging me 3 bucks to eat food it probably took them half an hour to prepare, but I´m cool with it. The missionaries in Mexico probably get the least food money out of any other mission, but it doesn´t even matter.

The local elections are going on now, so there are a bazillion cars with posters and loudspeakers driving around. They´re pretty obnoxious and fun to joke about.

Probably my favorite slang phrase here is "¡Qué fresa!" (That´s a strawberry!) Which basically means, whatever is being compared to a strawberry is super cool. Also, "¿Qué trampolín!" (Oh, trampoline!) Which is like saying "Wassup, dawg?" Just imagine the slang I´ll know in 20 more months...

Yes, I put the electrical tape over the "ugh" in my name. (This was Mom's suggestion to avoid Mexicans being confused at the pronunciation of a last name with 3 letters you don't say)  Elder Dorro is rocking it in Tuxpan. It´s much different than the stateside missions... lots of baptisms, teaching 40 lessons in a week, walking from house to house, keeping lessons super short because you have too many of them... but it's fun.  I love the people.

At morning sports today I made a goal as the goalie. It was pretty funny. I also climbed up to the top of the Church roof and over a wall that also had a fence to get the ball kicked out of the park twice. The Mexicans now call me "Captain América", which makes me laugh because Captain America is my favorite


Elder Dorrough

Monday, July 1, 2013


Hey, Mom. I received a phone call from President Black on Tuesday in which I was told some good news and some bad news. The good news was that I am going to fly to Mexico on Monday. The bad news came when he said that my grandfather had died. After he called back somebody to check if it were grandpa or great-grandpa, he told me he was 66 years old, had just played a game of racquetball, and came home and his spirit left his mortal body. I knew it was my special Grandpa.

I just want to let you know what has comforted me for the past week: I had the best goodbye with Grandpa that a person could ever ask for. I got to spend a lot more time with him in the few months before my mission than I had spent with him ever before. Easter weekend was the best. I got to talk with Grandpa about the gospel for probably 10 hours one-on-one. We talked a lot about the scriptures and read a few verses in Spanish, German, and English to talk about how the Bible verse really should be translated. One of these verses is my favorite part from Handel's Messiah: "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the Latter Day upon the Earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." I feel those words give me spiritual strength as I realize Grandpa was prompted to discuss that with me for that specific purpose. The Saturday of Easter weekend I got to go to the Salt Lake Temple with my Grandpa, which was something I always knew I had to do. He helped me learn so much. The Sunday we spent all day together, and early Monday morning when he dropped him off, the very last words I told him in mortality were: "I love you, Grandpa." "I love you, too." The Lord blessed me with the best mortal farewell I could have asked for from the best grandpa ever.

I pray for your comfort especially. My thoughts first turned to you when I received the news. I am emailing you know because I won't have time on Sunday to email.

I don't know if Grandpa had willed anything or not, but I would like one of his ties to remember him by.  Just a sentimental thing to keep the memories of the best grandpa ever.

I love you, Mom. I hope everything is okay with you because we have a sure knowledge of God's plan for each of us.

Finally in Xalapa

Finally, the gringo is in Xalapa! There are actually a few dozen gringos in Xalapa, but only one is Mexicano on the inside!

I do not have a lot of time right now. We are all just hanging out at the mission office finishing up travel papers today. I do not meet my trainer until tomorrow. I might have two companions again, but we shall see! One of the Assistants told me that all missionaries do language study - either the Mexicans study English or the Americans study Spanish. So one hour each day I will be teaching English! If Elder Davis and I are companions later on, that may be the only exception of which I know.

I had no idea I would be able to email today so I do not have my camera with me to take pictures. It is strange typing on a Spanish keyboard because basically all of the punctuation is replaced with Spanish symbols when you actually type the colon or apostrophe or whatever.

I am glad I got to talk with you for so long for free yesterday. That was perfect timing for a long phone call.

I had fun joking around with President and Sister Lopez last night. The picture we took was silly because he was pretending to be DURO, even though we will say it Dorro. Sister Lopez was amazed that a white person was able to speak Spanish so quickly.

I talked with a man named Pablo on the plane ride from Dallas to Veracruz. He works for the company that publishes the Spanish bibles. We talked the whole ride down there and he said that within two months I will speak PERFECT Spanish. He could not believe when I started asking him in Spanish how to fill out the immigration forms, so we kept talking the whole way! He is from Ecuador and recommends it as a vacation spot in addition to Belize.

Anywho! I have made it safely and soundly. I love the humidity and I love the people. I cannot wait to get serving again! P day is Monday, so I will email you on Monday about my first Mexican adventures.

I love you!