Tuesday, August 26, 2014

This week

I'm glad you all got home safely and had a fun trip to Canada.  I can't believe you met a grizzly bear on your hike.  Actually, with your luck that doesn't surprise me at all.

Quote of the week:
Elder V: ''How do you say 'tijeras' in English?''
Elder Dorrough: '' 'Scissors.' ''
Elder V: ''Oh, ¿como Little Ceaser's?''
We both died laughing. It's so funny that many Latinos absolutely do not hear the difference between 'business' and 'bees knees.' To them it all sounds like the Spanish ''i''.  Most Gringos have similar problems with Spanish, though.

All is well in Xalapa. Both M and J have their baptismal services this Sunday, I'm having a blast with Elder V, the members are so awesome, and Elder V is teaching me how to play football. I also went and bought a France ball at a super discount price because this kid loves football so much that we need a ball in the house and to take to play, because sometimes everybody gets together to play and then somebody asks, ''Wait, where's the ball?'' and then we have to pick something else to do.

Today we played football in a lava crater! On Macuiltepetl hill there's a rather large crater upon which the city parks department has put a synthetic football field. We played all morning and got some very good excercise. Elder V still isn't used to the altitude here so his lungs are adapting to hours of play. On another note, I'm actually getting really good at football. It's actually come to the point that when captains pick teams I'm the first guy chosen! Isn't that something? I'm not a super master at juggling or ball control or anything but I'm fast, I don't get tired, and I kick with my left foot. Well, with both feet, but I'm better with the left foot. In today's game I scored 4 goals! When I get home I'm definitely going to want to play football with the guys. Wait, we say soccer in the states, don't we?

I got a super sweet hair cut. This time I walked in with a picture and said, ''cut my hair exactly like this.'' In Elder V's World Cup Sticker Album I spotted an Italian player who is possibly my long lost older brother (because we look similar), Ignazio Abate. His haircut is stylish and European and also allows me to control my cowlick because it's with the 1 all around.

8 months... in 5 days I will be 66.7 percent of the way there. I'm pretty sure my return date is going to be 29 April. Nobody has told me but that's just my best calculation. It's also crazy thinking that my next area could be my last.

Also, one night this past week I remembered the day the Brazil ball went down the cliff and I felt so bad about it. It sounds silly, but my heart started to pound and I couldn't sleep for an hour remembering the sad sight of the ball bouncing just over the fence and into the land of unrecoverable...  And then that part about losing the second one also made me feel even worse... even though that was so long ago it still made me feel sad.

Dad says everything has grown a ton in the backyard.  I can’t wait to see it when I get home.

Until next week!  I love you.

Spanglish name for a ''cocina económica'' where we eat lunch most days. The only English most people here know here is from movies. Hence why such a random English word as twilight is easily recognized by the Mexican population.

Monday, August 11, 2014

This week

How funny to see Mom's pictures of the city where I started my mission. I still look back at that mission as a real mission. I'm really grateful I could be in Vegas for 5 weeks to know have good companions and get going on missionary work.

Well, this week was fun. We baptized G yesterday! His entire family showed up and his grandma made a million tamales for the refreshments. That kid is so spunky. His mom is so happy that he decided to get baptized. 

This week we definitely worked our butts off. We made sure not one moment went to waste in looking for new people, talking to all the people we could, visiting less actives, and so forth. While we had worked hard before this week we really did all we could. We were blessed primarily with a great satisfactory feeling on Saturday night and were able to see a great blessing on Sunday. Sister M  has given us many references before and we've taught them and committed them and everything, but nobody ever goes to church here. To our not-astonishment, her friend this week who had committed to go to church did not show up. But - somebody else did. And she lives in the same house! J just moved from Chiapas to Xalapa (to the M family conjunto de casas) to go to school on Saturday and Sister M took her to church. She loved church, made friends with 5 different families who are active members, got to learn how to say prayers, was given a Book of Mormon, and saw a baptismal service - and all that before we taught her last night! Easiest baptismal invitation I have ever made in my entire mission. She basically asked us to baptize her.   She wants to be baptised on her birthday later this month. Woo-hoo!

I know that wherever somebody is serving in Mexico there's always at least 1 prepared person to receive the gospel. At least 1. The good news is we should have 2 baptisms for the 31st. With all the rest of our efforts we will be putting in day after day I know the Lord will keep blessing us. Even though there aren't a lot of interested people in my little colonia we are finding all the people we can and loving the members and with that I am a happy Elder.

I'm eating up the French grammar book you sent me. The tenses are exactly like Spanish ones but you just don't speak in four of them. I wonder how many languages would be like that. Is German at all similar in that regard? Could there possibly exist more than 14 tenses? I can imagine some weird rules like conjugating differently for all females or conjugations for one, two, or three or more people, or things like that, but I'm not sure if another tense exists in another mindset. It's hard to imagine that.
Also, Anton sent me a German poem of his and the verb ''lassen'' is just like French ''laisser,'' but obviously it's with an n because it's German. Languages are so fun.

My goal is to be fluent in 4 languages before I graduate from BYU - English, Spanish, French, and German. I'm pretty decided after French I'll tackle German with classes at BYU and a friend to Skype and ask any question I want to. This reminds me! Anton says that he's likely going to visit us this upcoming summer with a friend of his who also went to the states for a year. His friend went to California so they're planning to tour the west coast. I told him when he comes he's totally welcome to stay with us and party.

That's it for this week.  Just a picture of a tiny version of the Liahona magazine (at the top) and one picture of G's baptism.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mis lentes nuevos

I am seriously going to be blown away by technology when I come back home. Here I am on a computer that still runs on Windows XP using a cell phone that's now 10 years old.

This chapel has the worst keyboard of all time, except for the island in Belize. Even the Casio keyboards are superior to this one. As soon as you sent me the Piano Guys music and I got moved out of Tuxpan I haven't touched a real piano since. There was a piano in Xanath but when I actually played it I found out it was horrendously out of tune and the primary room is always way too full of kids there for two Elders to slip in, so I never played it. One day I will play a real piano again. one day.

I'm getting along super well with Elder V. He's mature and easygoing and we laugh all day long. He's also educated, likes to read and study.

I'm having a very hard time getting investigators to church in this ward. I honestly don't think this tiny area is meant for 6 missionaries. Maybe 4, at the most. Since my time started here we have had a grand total of 4 different people come to church, and one of them was V who had already been attending for a year.  As long as I am out on the streets all day giving everybody the chance to use their agency to accept or reject I'm doing my part. Preach My Gospel states: ''A missionary's success is primarily measured by his or her determination to find and invite people to be baptized and confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.'' I don't see the words results or obligation, I see the words determination and the word invitation. So I'm good.

Xalapa is the greatest place in the mission to find cheap souvenirs. (I love that French loanword. Is that what that's called?) I found an official Club América Nike jersey for me, (the one I found proudly has the word 'crown' in Spanish written in huge bold letters on the back just like the real deal. I'm sure the people at BYU will love that one). I'll be on the lookout for more, of course. Now that I'm finding all the nooks and crannies of Mexican markets I'll be sure to find one soon. Another awesome Mexico kid's jersey for Zack (I bought it in a big size because I know he's going to grow), and other awesome Mexican recuerdos to give to the family when I come back. Your wool Huipil is still the coolest thing I've found, though. It's so beautifully hand embroidered and it took a sweet Mexican lady two entire weeks to make it.  The America jersey I found was the greatest steal of my whole life. I bought it for two whole dollars. 25 pesos. That's actually less than 2 dollars. I felt fantastic. Sure, used, but still the greatest buy ever because it's official.

Also! The alcohol completely removed the stain from my authentic Mexican fútbol jersey I bought. That was such a relief because I was so proud of that shirt. It's the one the team actually wears when they play. Thank you so much for the tip!

I took Elder V to McDonald's today. I told him it's a gift from my mom because she loves him. I managed to eat four hamburgers, a large fry, and drink a large coke. 1700 calories later I felt pretty satisfied. Fountain coke does taste a lot different than bottled coke.

Honestly, I feel like my mission on the mission was more to become completely immersed in a culture enough to replicate my brain several times and create enough space to learn more languages. 

I'm also here just to love the people. Members, investigators, random kids on the street, everybody.  The people here are so loveable.  

I have a very strong feeling I'll get transferred this transfer, we'll see if that leads me to a piano or not...

I’m thinking instead of McDonalds for dinner on the night I get back, we should all go to La Costita or to Rockwood or something and I’ll order the most authentic Mexican food I can find.  Then we can go to Winco and get Jarritos sodas and load up on Mexican treats.  Then for lunch the next day I would like to go to McDonalds.

Elder V dice que en nueve meses le mandemos una foto de todos en el restaurant el torogoz

Guess whose curse is still in effect. Ding ding ding! That's right, this time, I broke the lock on the door simply with my own existence. It was totally inexplicable and it had to be removed the old fashioned way. Ohhh yea.

The fancy eye exam glasses of L, who is a million times more cool and honest than the last lady from whom I bought glasses. The lenses had gotten WAY too scratched up and it was bugging me and giving me headaches every time the sun came out. I went for new lenses and she told me how the optometry market works in Mexico, how to get the best deals, and how to make your lenses last for a long time. It turns out the ''anti-reflective'' stuff they put on lenses here they do intentionally with the intent of getting people to buy new glasses every 9 months. They charge you 30 dollars more to coat them with something that comes off really easily, even when you just wipe dust off. Then they're scratched up and you have to buy new ones. (sure, the chemical helps so you don't perceive the reflection of indoor bulbs, but other than that... nothing) It also turns out that the people in Teziutlán lied to me because my prescription definitely stayed the same and didn't get better, so I've been seeing in low-def quality for 10 months. I thought so...

Fortunately our investigator M is her best friend so we worked out a special deal. I got new lenses for the glasses I have, AND she repaired my old Ray Bans!!! The metal got slightly stained from the soldering but that's a natural effect of intense heat. Also, I bought a pair of '30s/´40s glasses with the birthday money Grandma and Great Grandma sent me. Because with the great connection I made, it was a price I seriously couldn't refuse. It was an 80% discount and I couldn't say no because the glasses are definitely my personality.
Family home evening with silly kids! Who made the funniest face? I would say M wins, hands-down. We're going to baptize G this Sunday. He's 8 and a half and his mom has been a member for several years now. He didn't get baptized when he turned 8 because he is scared of water. I told him I taught kids how to swim and I'm a lifeguard... and I made him laugh a lot, so we 
convinced him.

A's family is so fun to talk with.
Me helping D to fly in his super man pajamas. Those are my new glasses. D was wiggling around a whole lot and it's not the greatest picture of me, but trust me, my new glasses look extremely stylish.
A member took us out to eat at a vegan restaurant this week. It was the first time I've actually gone to a legitimate restaurant all my time in Mexico. The member of course isn't a vegan but he wanted to try something fun. I do say, Mexico is probably the only place where the vegans serve you cactus as the main vegetable on your plate.  It was a fun adventure and I am so thankful for this member's kindness.