Monday, November 25, 2013

Poco a poco

Nowhere in the rules does it say don't make friends with the local police, so that's what we've done. We commenced our friendship when we heard somebody shout ''Elderes'' (which usually means an old investigator is calling us) and we turned to see it was a policeman! Not alarmed, we started talking to him and he said once a long time ago he saw a pair of Elders and they said they'd go to his house but never did. Oh, well! The next day we stopped by the city hall and made friends with all the city police. They all listened to Lesson 1 and said they are interested and we handed out the Book of Mormon to all of them. They actually are reading and praying and they don't work every other Sunday, so we know that 'poco a poco' they are going to come into the fold. I'm totally content with sowing where the ground has never been sown. The coolest part about having police friends is that they give you free rides whenever you ask for them. I wish I could send you my video of how the view is from the police truck in the back! But getting rides from the cops is super fun.

Something my comp and I did this week to try to find new investigators was give a presentation at the big annual Teteles AA meeting. Of course, in rural Mexico a large meeting in the cultural center means 150 people, but it went really well for us and we both got little plaques of recognition for helping out. And of the 150 people we invited to Church... nobody came this Sunday. But, there are now at least 100 families who have never heard of the Church before who now have a pamphlet and our phone number in hand who know the nice boys in white shirts who say drinking is bad and will be more open in the future. We are sowing where it has never been sown, and I am content with that.

I again express my gratitude for Elder S. He has made the past few months of my mission fun and enjoyable despite all that goes on here. He has likewise appreciated me because we have been very successful in making our own circle. In two weeks with transfers it's likely we won't be together still.  He is seriously the best.  Me cae bien.

This photo was after we gave our fun presentation on ''self esteem.'' We basically took scriptures and replaced the word ''autoestima'' for ''faith'' or ''goodness'' or other such words and made a great, Music and the Spoken Word neutral like presentation out of it. It was a fun task to compose

This is the Branch President's son. He invites me to come eat dinner at his house every night! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Greetings from rural Mexico!

Glad to know all the family is doing well. I remember how excited I was to come back home after just 4 months... I can't even imagine 2 years...

How the mail works here is we only get it once per month when the Zone Leaders or somebody goes to Xalapa to get the mail at the beginning of the month. So if a package is sent usually 3 weeks before the first week of the next month, I get it then. Otherwise I wait until somebody goes to Xalapa again. The good news is my brownies made it this month even though you sent them on the 21st! So I hope I can get them before this transfer ends in case they transfer me, which I hope they don't.  But you never know!

It has been a pretty fun time here. Yesterday I gave a talk in Church that the Branch President told me about a grand total of 5 seconds before I was to speak. I decided to share my feelings about not only reading the scriptures but also feasting upon them and the necessity thereof. Afterward, the Branch President got up to affirm my words. He said Mexico suffers from a horrible disease – ignorance. He continued to explain that the reason people here still worship images of an invented deity many years after the Spaniards left is because they simply don’t read the Bible. And members of the Church will really come to an understanding of all things simply by actually reading the scriptures.

In my talk I apparently was also too colloquial (I was never taught formal Spanish, sorry) and used a ‘strong but not vulgar’ verb when describing how people should be reading their scriptures in compared to how they just plain don’t. The President also commented on that afterward and told me ‘’If your skin weren’t so white, everybody listening would think you’re a Norteño from the way you talk.'' He commented to probably not use the verb ‘tragar’ (which I think means to swallow in an animal-like context) from the pulpit again, but he laughed about the whole matter because I’m an American so it's whatever. In March of this year Elder Richard G. Scott (who went to Argentina for his mission) gave a talk in southern Mexico and used the word ‘stupid’, which is vulgar in Spanish. Everybody got shocked, but the point got across. The members said I did the same thing, so there you go.

Something fun I did this week: Hitch-hiking! That’s right, because when your mission is ‘coda’ (cheap) like mine, you have to save money somehow. So far we’ve made good friends with the whole police station here in Teteles so they give us rides when we need them. I taught them how to say ‘’We’re the cops’’ and ‘’Put your hands up’’ in English and they’re all giddy about it. One of them is going to give me one of his police jerseys as a souvenir. How cool is that? We also accidentally hitch-hiked to a Church Conference with an Area Seventy on Sunday. We thought the van was a public transportation combi, but it turned out it was just a regular family in a 15 passenger van. They said they’d give us a ride anyway because they were going to the supermarket that’s right next to the Stake Center and because people in Mexico are all really nice to white boys in ties. Of course, we gave them a copy of the Book of Mormon and we’re going to talk with them later this week. I like handing out that book.

Our FHE parties on Friday nights are also turning out to be a lot better. A few weeks ago one of the members stole 150 pesos from an investigator and everybody freaked out, a family went inactive for probably all eternity, and nobody came to the next two FHE parties. However, by the power of prayer, the investigator started coming back to the FHE parties and for the first time came to Church on Sunday! It’s a major accomplishment to bring somebody to Church in this area because the Sabbath day is an unknown concept to the people here. Sunday is party day, apparently. Anyway, we’re having a lot more people come to play random fun games with the Elders on Friday nights.

One of my investigators has asked a special favor: He is collecting all the US States quarters and he was wondering if you could help me finish his collection. Massachusetts, Delaware, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nebraska are the only ones he is missing. Also any of the random territory quarters you can find. Be on the lookout and when you send them, hide them amidst cookies or something! He is one of the coolest dudes I’ve met in Mexico. He worked in the circus for 8 years in the states so he speaks English pretty well and he also has a nerdy foreign currency collection. He says if you are able to send the quarters that he’ll reward me. He already gave me several very old Mexican coins from the era before they changed their currency with the economic crisis in the ‘90s, which I appreciated a lot in my nerdy foreign currency collector way I do.

 I love you! Talk to you next week!! So close to Christmas!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Oh, Mexico

I didn't print off letters this morning because I was busy learning how to cook from a chef of a 5 star restaurant from Playa del Carmen in the part of Mexico just north of Belize. He is a missionary, but before the mission he was a pro chef for 6 years. Then he got baptized and left on his mission at 25 years old! Anyway, he taught me how to cut avocados and tomatoes (which I'm not scared of anymore after all the wicked things I've had to eat in Mexico... my only fear that still exists is mustard...) and how to just do all sorts of fun things. It was the zone P day activity, but really it was me, my companion, and the chef making food for everybody else who doesn't even say thank you. But it was alright because the food was excellent and Elder U is hilarious.

Another thing you can do to make memories in Mexico is help your branch mission leader artificially inseminate his cows. In few words, it is the most interesting service I have ever given. It just made me laugh that I'm out here in the middle of nowhere Mexico with this cute little Mexican farmer helping him produce more cows for his farm and it's just totally normal for him to be out there in his overalls all day on the farm milking and everything. I like my area.  Oh, Mexico.

Another thing you can do to make memories in Mexico is talk all day long with your companion. Elder S is hilarious. I cannot count the laughs that we have had. The funniest thing we do is label things as ''jaladas'' (the word means something like rip off or ridiculousness.) For example, somebody informed us that God can only ward of the devil with a cross in hand. Another example is the road 'improvement' here in rural Mexico... they just threw pavement on top 'al azar' and now the road is one to three feet higher than the curb. Excellent for dropping off people in Taxis or Combis. Another was the professional locksmith who said the door handle we bought couldn't be installed... so we talked with our neighbor who brought over a screwdriver and put it in. We tell so many funny stories at night. I just really like my companionship. It rocks.

Another thing you do to make memories in Mexico is just love the people. I'm glad there's no rule prohibiting that.

I am doing well and things are great.  I love you and miss you.

This is what it looks like when you have 5 Mexicans and one gringo in a Taxi.
Cooking lessons for P day