Every night when I write in my journal, I put a little bullet point in my planner so I will remember what I want to tell you guys on Monday when I’m writing. So I’m just going to go down the list.
First item. Pillows. We don’t have any. I’m not sure if this is a Mexican thing or a missionary thing. Either way it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day we just kinda throw ourselves in the bed, realize we forgot companion prayer, say a prayer, then throw ourselves back in bed, and go to sleep. I actually quite enjoy not sleeping with a pillow now. I also took the extra bedsheet that I have and fastened it to my fan (at the foot of my bed) and the wall above my bed to create a small tent to combat the continual stream of bugs in our room, and to maintain a slightly cooler temperature with the fan. Neither of them worked…but the tent is pretty cool. I even tried spraying the sheet with bug repellant but they’re smarter than that. I am proud to say that I actually took down a young lizard and a few different armies of ants in our bathroom with my bug spray. Every P day I charge around our casa with my bug spray, shooting everything that moves, and Elder R will try to wash the dishes or something but eventually just ends up laughing at me.
Next item. One morning Elder R and I were practicing teaching the first lesson, and I was kind of struggling over the words in spanish and he said “You know what, just teach me in English first.” (well, he said that in spanish, but you get the idea). I was a little taken aback. I have never even considered teaching in English. It made me so happy when I started teaching for 2 reasons: 1. I stumbled over some english words and phrases. 2. I felt the spirit soooo strongly and I could actually bear my testimony the way I wanted!! It was soo cool. As I was explaining the Atonement a little parable came to mind. I remembered in February when I came down from BYU to San Diego with my college. One morning my brother Timmy had a basketball game. I dropped everything and sped over there. Since I drove by myself I sat on a different side than the rest of my family, and Timmy was unaware that I was watching. The game was really tough and I remember seeing my little Timmy get tossed around and thrown down. At the end of the game he tried to make one last shot, but some punk kid pushed him and he fell. I remember he started to cry. Since the game was over I stepped on the court and walked over to him. When he saw me his eyes lit up and he was able to get up and run over and give me a high 5. Now, this story can be misinterpreted. I am in no way comparing myself to Jesus Christ, but think about it. He is our older brother. As we are doing our best to navigate our way through this crazy game of life, we are going to get pushed around. Thrown down. And we aren’t going to notice that Jesus Christ has been watching us the entire time. He loves us more than we can understand. After everything we can do, its not going to be enough. We aren’t going to make that last shot, and we are going to fall down. But he will come again. And he will come to us. And we are going to light up, smile, run over to him and give him a big high 5. I related this story in my lesson to Elder R. We were both in tears, and what he told me shocked me even more. He said “Why don’t you do that with our investigators in Spanish? You aren’t using the gift of tongues. Listen to the investigator and don’t worry about what you are going to say while they are talking. Sincerely listen, and when they are done, just start talking like you would in English. I promise they will understand you. The Lord will sort out your gringo spanish so they can understand. Stop thinking about the words, and start thinking about the investigator.” It was awesome.
Next item. I’ve started reading the Book of Mormon in spanish aloud to practice my spanish pronunciation. Elder Rodriguez laughs at me and calls me Kolipoki. I was honored.
Next item. You know how our apartment was trashed when we showed up? we finally found the darn carpeta de area (I think this means area binder or information or something…it just has all the docs and info we need for missionary work in Cabada). We turned to the area information page. Okay before I continue: cities here in Veracruz are divided into little areas/neighborhoods called colonias, or colonies. This past week we have been proselyting a lot in an area called Colonia L. Okay back to the story. So we turn to this info page and start reading about the colonias. We get to Colonia L and it says “Do not proselyte here…because matan gente” (matan gente means “they kill people”). To be honest I just started laughing. We has been proselyting there the whole week and have been totally fine. Maybe since we were ignorant to this information the Lord has protected us? Who knows. We just decided that we will schedule all of our Colonia L appointments during the day time, because we don’t want to just ditch our investigators there.
Okay here’s what Ive been looking forward to writing about. For privacy purposes I will call them la Familia Hernandez. They are a family of 10 that we found. Elder R and I were walking down the street and I was trying to convince him that everyone in Cabada is ready to hear the gospel, and he was like “Oh yeah what about that girl?” and I was like “Obviously. She lives in Cabada.” So I went up and started talking to her and she invited us to her house and boom! A family of TEN PEOPLE! They had received all the discussions about 6 years ago and had been to church numerous times. When I saw them I could just hear Uncle Boyd in my head “Atta boy. Baptize families.” And, well, we are baptizing them this sunday or saturday!! The original date was this sunday we might move it up to saturday. We are talking to them tonight. They are a powerfully faithful family. They live in a 2 room house about the size of a Carlsbad living room. In church this past sunday, the father of this family, Brother Hernandez got up and bore a breathtakingly powerful testimony on the law of tithing. It was the most amazing thing I have ever heard, especially coming from a man in his situation, who wonders if his family will eat tomorrow. I love them so much and I hope that I will be able to accompany them to the temple in a year or so, because thats the goal!
Next item. This story is hilarious. Okay so we were teaching this man who owns a relatively popular store in Cabada, and he’s been here for 30 something years, so everyone knows him. While we were teaching him this boracho (drunk man) comes up and starts talking to me. He asked me if I taught the word of God and I said “I sure do! Want a pamphlet?” He accepted and I handed him a pamphlet of the Restoration, which has a picture of Jesus Christ on the front holding a lamb. He sits down on the curb next to us and starts rocking himself as he stares at this picture of Jesus. He starts crying because he’s drunk, and then turns to me and expresses that “he wishes that someone (directly referring to me) would hold him just like Jesus is holding the lamb”. I am so incredibly proud to say I held in my laughter until after the lesson was over, and so did Elder R, so we could maintain the spirit that we had worked so hard to establish. But wow, we sure laughed about it afterward. I now refer to him as “mi amigo” because we oddly see him everywhere. Maybe one day, if he’s sober, well teach him.
Next item. Today while we were getting a haircut this man came up and struck up a conversation with me. I could kind of follow what he was saying and we had a hearty conversation, and then he started talking to me about his finances. I had no idea what he was saying to be honest, but he looked like a business man and he was talking about some large numbers and such. He was…asking for my advice…who knows why. And since I didn’t understand him I waded my way through that conversation with “No..”, “Creo que si!”, “No… no lo haga” and “Si!” and afterwards he kinda took off. I wasn’t sure if he listened to my advice and went to go close some business deal, but I hope my advice was useful and he has a happy financial future.
This little city, Cabada, is really truly amazing. We’ve started out with a bang because of this Familia Hernandez. Our zone leader actually called us to verify if our weekly numbers were accurate. That made us feel good. We are just trying to do our best and serve the Lord. There are people who need to hear the gospel and we are trying to do everything we can to power walk to all of our appointments and help everyone that needs help.
Last item: Could someone please try to find “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise” (hymn number 41) in the Spanish hymnal for me? All the hymns are different in spanish, and theres a lot less in Spanish than there are in english. So I wouldn’t be surprised if its not in there, but I would really like to sing that with Elder Rodriguez in the mornings if it does exist in the Spanish hymn books.
Here are some dos and donts to abide by when interacting with missionaries.
1. Do not talk for 30 minutes without interruption.
2. If the missionaries are late, please be understanding and flexible because there are people who exist who talk for 30 minutes without interruption.
3. Offer missionaries water or candy or the bathroom every time they come over.
4. When they ask if they can help, they TRULY TRULY mean it, so give them a service opportunity.
5. Give them referrals.
6. If a missionary is trying to learn English, TALK SLOW AND BE PATIENT
If you do this, the missionaries will love you! Hahaha these are slightly joking but all this happened to me this week. People actually get frustrated with me because I can’t understand them! Oh well. And yes people just talk and talk and talk. And then we get chewed out at the next appointment because we were late. Hey, honestly its all part of the fun. I love it out here. Even all the lizards and bugs and my hair part. And I love you all!!