Monday, September 23, 2013

No rabies, and a new area

I am opening a new area out in the middle of rural nowhere! The branch is called Teteles, but my area consists of the entire area outside of Teziutlan on the mission map. It's gigantic! It's the biggest area in the whole mission! And I love it. I live in a village called Atempan and the other villages I will be working in are Teteles, Hueyapan, and Yaonahuac. Including a dozen or so 'pueblitos' in some of which the people don't even speak Spanish, they still speak Nahuac or Maya. It's quite the exact opposite of my 'Downtown' (centro) ward in Tuxpan, but I am so excited for this adventure!

I spent most of this week just plain getting to know the area. Thankfully, my skills at directions have been slightly improving on my mission... at least to the point where I know how to get home. We found one house by pure luck 2 minutes before we had an appointment. We just stopped by, read a chapter from the Book of Mormon, and showed the family that we loved them.

Guess what! Hueyapan is known as La Tierra de Sarapes. (Note from Mom--our family is obsessed with Sarapes). You know what recuerdo I'm buying in that village. And what I'm wearing home on the airplane. Ohhhh yeah. In one of the little villages in my area there is apparently an expert sword maker, and my Branch President said he'll take Elder S and I down there one P day.

My companion Elder S is the man. The first thing he said when we got to the house: ''El Espíritu Santo no puede morar en una casa sucia. Vamos a limpiar.' (The Holy Ghost cannot reside in a dirty house. We're going to clean.)  I was going to do that anyway, but we got off on the right foot because he thought just what I did. We are super good friends. I am exceedingly grateful the Lord has blessed me with the gift to be able to communicate with the people here. It is truly such a great blessing. When we were talking about our previous areas, he talked about how bad Poza Rica smells. I said I can't smell, but I've heard Poza Rica smells like Wednesday. (That's an extremely slang way of saying something smells really bad. Actually, don't say it in front of people who aren't teenagers.) Elder S fell over laughing his lungs out and said, ¡Este cuate sí habla español! (This dude does speak Spanish). It really does help me to get along better with my comp, being able to really talk to him.

I've really enjoyed just telling stories with him back and forth and talking about the home life and telling jokes and working hard and just having so many good feelings I haven't had since my weeks waiting in Vegas. I really like Elder S.  Today we got frustrated because we don't have money for food or transportation and we don't have a phone to ask why we don't have money. So I taught him about catársis. We took a machete and just chopped a tree to pieces. Then we felt better and went off to the cíber to write letters. I'm actually laughing right now because we decided we'd mow the front yard with the machete, too. It's Mexico. Why not?

Good news on the dog bite is that I don't have rabies.

As for clothes, I bought a very warm chamarra and a suéter to wear around because it does get pretty cold. Surprisingly, there weren't gloves or warm hats because they don't arrive until October, but whatever! My chamarra is pretty warm. I also bought an air heater because neither my companion nor I could sleep the first two nights. We got probably 30 minutes of sleep between the two of us because we were so cold. It felt funny drinking hot chocolate with a family instead of mango water... what a change of climate!
 My comp and me.  We both look a lot better after we have had some sleep--this picture was after one of the freezing sleepless nights.

 I thought for sure I wouldn't see any cedar trees on my mission, but here I am by my cedar tree.

This is my branch president.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Transfer to Teziutlan

I leave at 8 tonight for the city of Poza Rica, and tomorrow at 5 AM I take a bus to Teziutlan from Poza Rica. The cool part is, I was promoted to senior companion! Tomorrow I am senior to a Mexican missionary who already has a year in the field. His name is Elder S. I briefly met him before at a multi-zone conference, but I was unable to talk with him. In any case, we are opening up a new area in Teziutlan. I think it's a smaller city about an hour outside of Teziutlan. Apparently, it's even colder than Teziutlan. The city of Teziutlan is about 23 degrees in the winter... and short sleeve white shirts aren't going to cut it. I will have to buy a coat, several sweaters, warm hats, and gloves at the least because I'm going to be there the coldest months of the year. (I am going to buy the stuff in some store in Teziutlan with the credit card. Sorry for the extra charges, but they're necessary) It's the only cold area of the whole mission because it's way up in the mountains in Puebla. It's also the only zone that's not in the state of Veracruz.

One thing that I thought when my district leader said I was getting transferred was... I will have four consecutive transfers in four different areas in two different countries with 8 different companions. Whew... but, after some pondering, I do understand it. My greatest strength on my mission is that I just plain love people, and the members feel it. The Lord needs me to love the most people as possible, even if it's only for six weeks at a time. And that thought will carry me through the rest of the transfers I have on my mission. Hopefully I can stay in Teziutlan for more than six weeks and actually use all these stinking warm clothes I'm going to buy! But who knows.

So, the most interesting thing that happened this week... a dog bit me. A big ferocious excuse for a pet. Imagine The Beast from the Sandlot latching his fangs onto a missionary's calf. That's what happened. My comp and I were walking down the street, and I told him, ''Look out, it's the crazy barking dog!'' We tried to make our escape walking, but the dog ran up behind me and chomped on my leg. It was pretty cool pulling out my own muscle to clean up a wound, I admit, but it did kind of hurt. It was actually a really gross injury and I took pictures, which yet 
another P-day I cannot send... but it looked quite gruesome and I'm going to have a sweet inch long scar on the back of my right calf. There was another wound more minor that probably won't leave a scar, but we'll see. The good news is, the dog's teeth didn't break through my pants, and therefore no saliva or bacteria could have entered my body! Regardless, because the owners are lying idiots, a nice member from the ward has arranged for the police to put down the monster tomorrow and check it for rabies. If it has rabies, I'll get the shot tomorrow or Wednesday. It was certainly the most unique experience of my mission spending three days resting because I wasn't allowed to wear pants until it scabbed over. I have been taking penicillin and a hecka strong antibiotic to ward off anything that may have entered. At the end of this random story, please know that I'm okay, I just have a cool story to tell people about my mission and a manly little scar to show off. Maybe this week I'll get the rabies shot, maybe not. But seeing as the dog has been just as crazy all 6 weeks and it's still not dead, I don't think it has rabies. Also, the Lord prohibited the dog from actually making contact with my skin, which was a miracle. Not only did it save me a pair of pants, but quite possibly me from getting rabies.

Because I got bitten by a dog, I really didn't do a lot this week other than sleep, take medicine, clean my wound, and pray that a hurricane didn't come destroy my house. Fun times...

I was saying goodbye to one Sister of the last ward I was in and she just started bursting into tears. She said it wasn't that there won't be a pianist, that the whole stake is really going to miss me. She told me that I have a very special Spirit about me that people can feel, and that's the thing that makes me different from all the other missionaries. I almost started to cry when she told me that her family always prays for all the missionaries in the world, but for the rest of her life they are going to pray for Elder Dorrough. I have simply tried to love people as Christ would love them. It is the love in the missionary work that matters. It truly is the key. That's why the Lord prepared me to come here already speaking Spanish - I had too many people to truly love and I had to be able to speak from day 1 to do it.

The next time I write to you, I'll be in a different city in an entirely different climate with a new ward and new people, but the Holy Ghost and Christ's love are always the same. I hope to bring it to all the people I can.

Monday, September 9, 2013

This week

I definitely have had some fun this week. I'm once again at a loss as to what I should write, seeing as yet another p-day has been abnormal. That's why I don't send so many pictures... I just leave my camera at home, because I don't want it to get stolen leaving my backpack in some random place that we go randomly on this day of randomness and not preparing, also known as p-day!  I haven't had an actual p-day and from what I have heard, they are actually pretty nice.

In any case, I am here and I am happy. President Lopez gave us the greatest zone class ever. He basically said now that we actually have to get investigators to like church so that they come to church after they are baptized, we are going to start loving and having fun with investigators in addition to teaching them. Companionships are going to start having a party at the chapel every week with investigators, recent converts, and other members. The missionaries are going to organize games and fun and everybody gets to goof around in the chapel for several hours. He told us to get party music to play, to not worry about coming home on time, and just to make sure by all means that people like coming to the chapel, because if they come on friday they're going to come on Sunday, too! ... so the work has completely changed recently. President said that he prefers missionaries who have very few lessons per week but who baptize to missionaries who run around like chickens with their heads cut off, teach a ton of lessons, but don't gain true converts.

I really do enjoy playing the piano in sacrament meetings here. So do the members. It's so much easier to sing to accompaniment,  and they enjoy my help.

As a zone we went to the beach today, which was actually a pretty relaxing experience. Oh, gulf of Mexico. Who would have ever thought that I would actually swim in you on my mission? But I did. Because the Xalapa mission rocks.

This week I also came to the realization that missions do end. At the very start of the mission, it seems like the 2 years is an eternity. For some reason is just recently hit me that yes, the mission does end. I look around and see members of the ward who are RMs, and recent RMs, too. I can't quite describe it, but I do believe in that light at the end of the tunnel.

 That makes so much sense as to how I learned Spanish. (note from Mom--I sent Abram an excerpt from something I read about 2nd language acquisition that explained how he picked up Spanish so easily).  Mexican on the inside. A sister in the ward told me on Sunday, ''Elder, you are a Mexican.'' I responded, ''On the inside.'' She then told me that my mom confirmed her as my friend on Facebook and said she's going to talk to you. I told her Mom speaks enough Spanish to respond, for sure.

Any other random thoughts I have... yes! I absolutely understand why missionaries do nothing but watch TV the first week they get back. I get it. It's just a feeling you receive after some time in the field.

This Friday is the Church's independence day party, which is going to rock. I will make sure to take lots of pictures. We get to wear the fake bigotes and the giant sombreros and everything. I'm so pumped. I've got the Mexican spirit flowing in me.

I do find it so funny that a lot of people here have American names, but they have no idea how to say them.

On another note! If you could send some ''party cds'' in the package, too, that'd be great. President told us that what we play in those activities doesn't have to be according to mission rules. In fact, his music rules are already super lax... but he told us to get fun music to play so that there's sound in the background and people have more fun. He straight up told us to do that. A lot of people have these little USB music things, but that's a hassle for me. Ask Aubs or somebody what some good party music is. The 1direction CD or Coldplay's new CD or something? I don't know! But we all have CD players now because we're all supposed to do these activities.

Anywho! Love from Elder Dorrough. Until next week! Every week goes by faster and faster...

Monday, September 2, 2013

4 months and counting!

Yesterday was the 4 month mark... it seems silly to count a mission this way, but for a 2 year period you have to or you go insane... I'm one sixth of the way there! I can do 5 more of what I just did, easy.
... And that's how you measure time on the mission. From all the members I have talked to, they say the first year is like climbing a mountain and the second is like sliding down it.

I sure love my grandpas. I proudly carry the Breinholt (It is Abram's middle name) name with me still and I will forevermore. I am very glad the past year I had the opportunity to hear so many of great grandpa's stories. (Note from Mom--Abram's great-grandpa passed away last week).

This week was a very unique week for me. A member of Barrio was assaulted and killed on Tuesday night as he was working as a taxi driver. I don't know the whole story, but it was a very ugly way to die and leave behind 4 kids and several grandkids who all live in the same house and didn't get to see their dad come home. The funeral was the next day at the church and the Zone Leaders asked me to play the piano an hour before, the hymns during, and a postlude after. I testify again of the power of music. When I arrived at the church, I saw several dozen people distraught and weeping and afraid. I started to play the piano, and gradually fewer and fewer people were talking. Eventually as more people entered, the mood in the room turned into complete reverence as I softly played the hymns I felt were appropriate to help the people. The atmosphere for the whole funeral changed entirely, from focusing on the death to a joy and hope for the life after this one --and the whole funeral became totally different. I am grateful God gave me the gift of music, because music changed the lives of an entire community this week simply because I was able to share my talent.

We spent 3 hours moving the family of that member today. It turns out somebody high up in the Taxi slash drug hierarchy sent some guys to kill the member and last night they found the house where his family lived. It was an emergency service project to move the family for their safety. Things are a little scary here sometimes.

As a total change of mood! In fact, regard these as two different letters entirely.

I love Mexico. The culture here is such that almost everybody is very open and friendly in the streets. ''Buenas tardes'' are always responded warmly. Where else in the world do people still say good afternoon to each other?

I also like the Mexican flag. I went on splits with the district leader this week and he told me the story behind the eagle devouring the snake. Even though it was designed by some very apostate people, it's still a neat symbolism of good overcoming evil! I have so far a flag, a wallet, a rubik's cube solved so it has faces of green, white, and red flowers (boy aren't I nerdy), and a patch the army wears with the flag on it. Fun times!

I'm also collecting these toys called ''Tazos''. They´re basically plastic circles with a picture (of a movie or cartoon) on them, and kids play with them in the street by throwing them on the ground and flipping them over. It's hard to describe, but a really fun game. Each bag of chips here has one tazo, and my collection is... over 220 so far. I haven't eaten that many chips, though. Don't worry. ;) It's just that the kids here share any extra tazos they have. The children are all so sweet.

Mom, you rock. I was afraid to ask you to send me things because I saw other people with the USPS packages saying shipping was 60 bucks flat... but I forgot my mom makes the smartest purchases in the world. After seeing that it's actually not that expensive if you hacer compras inteligentes, I kind of want to ask for a package every month or so. It's super fun waiting for them and the time goes by faster! I love the CDs you sent.  Also more art from my siblings. I smiled so much when I saw the painting and the wallet. If you could copy the sheet music for the Minute Waltz and also get the music for John Schmidt's song on the Piano Guys 2 (track 6, I think, with a piano solo,) I would be most grateful. I have an hour after Church each day that I stay in the chapel and I can play piano during that time! Also, Sour Patch Kids! I miss American candy. I still don't think chile on sweets is a good idea. :P Thanks for teaching me how to be smart about buying things. My comp laughs that whenever we buy groceries all I do is a whole bunch of math in my head. ''This weighs this much and this costs this much'...' but because I do it that way, I have more money to spend!

There's your random collection of Abram thoughts for the week!

Love you!

Elder Dorrough