Monday, January 5, 2015

Last Letter

Well - my last letter. What do you say in your last letter?

Today will be the last time that I will have to use a public computer. Two years of letters from you guys. Im a spoiled child.  Thank you family.

I was talking to my companion this morning about how we spend two years trying to help people that for the most part don't really want to be helped, We try to show them how to progress but most are fine with where they are. After pushing against that rock for so long it puts in us a strong desire to progress and be helped. But it takes time and it requires a lot of patience. Here on the mish, most of our time and effort is focused on others. Now that I am going home, that desire can be directed almost exclusively towards my own progress. I am looking forward to exercising, reading, and working on some other stuff.

The mission has been a lot of what everyone had told me it would be. Difficult, dirty, fun, boring, satisfying, trying. Really good days and very hard ones.  Its weird to almost have it in my rear view mirror instead of my windshield. I am pretty sure that looking back on in several years I will see that  I will have received a lot more than I gave.  On this end of the adventure Im glad that I gave it everything that I had and feel complete gratitude for the many great people here that often gave more than they had to help my companions and I.  

My dad always told me that "people are not the means to an end, they are the end of means."  That life is about people. That has been very true about my mish.  The people are everything, and it has been worth everything to have been able to help out an old widow, or the young family that has almost no money, or the self destructive man that has every vice there is.  

Things that have changed about me
  • I chew mint gum now. (every other type still makes me nauseous)  
  • I'm now not grossed out by using dishes washed by hand
  • I have eaten every part of a cactus.
  • I wash clothes using just stick and a pop bottle
  • I speak with the ñ and double rr
  • I eat everything from popcorn to peanuts with salsa and I pretty much always have had a tortilla in my hand
  • I can make some sweet cement mix on the street outside your house
  • I know pretty much everything one can know about dog behavior
  • I have a pretty good idea about what my mustache would look like...if one day I can actually grow one
  • I have eaten fried pig skin
  • I have seen how to prepare intestines for a good ol´ taco

Mexico has been a home away from home. A very spicy, and well armed, and dusty home, but I really have come to love my hermanos here. And I guess like many of those great hermanos, my time has come to cross the border.

A New Year

Ha "not going anywhere for Christmas" Eh??  :) that’s great that you got away.

I have enjoyed your quotes and ideas and I have been thinking a lot about them in these last few weeks.  It’s probably because I am finishing off the mish and I have a lot on my mind. I have taken a considerable amount more of time in my prayers to just meditate and reflect. My comp also gets tired and goes to bed early so I have time alone to think at night. I honestly have had an incredible experience with it. I feel like I have received answers to questions that I have had and I have been able to understand myself better.  I have really focused on questions like: What makes me happy? What are my fears? Why do I fear? What are my goals? How have I changed? How do I want to keep changing? What do I want my relationships to be? What do I want to avoid? How do I not fall backwards? What are my weaknesses/strengths? When have I followed the spirit? When have I ignored the spirit.  

I feel that my understanding of myself is considerably better. An interesting concept is that when we are children we have these fears, and habits, and insecurities that we don’t really understand and that make us act differently than we would like.  I feel like I have been able to sort through them.  

One thing that I have realized on my mish and especially in these last weeks is how essential good communication is to having a healthy life. When I don't communicate well, I normally feel rotten and usually the situation almost always turns the wrong direction. If we are good on a basic level at communication with God, other people and ourselves, this can unlock many doors.

Thanks for all of the letters that you and mom have sent me. I will be looking at them for a long time to come. I still read every now and then the letters that I have received in the past. I understand your ideas in a new way every time that I read them.  =) thanks parents.

This Week:  was killer fun. It really was one of my favorite weeks of my life.

On Monday we went to the center plaza as a district and blew up a bunch of balloons and connected them to little cards of "he is the gifts."  We went around giving them out to the people. It was super fun to see so many people with balloons, especially the children all running around and playing with them.  

On Tuesday we went to the mission home. In the mish home, I met up some buds of the mish and had a killer time. Piñata! We had a gift exchange and I received cologne.   haha awesome (gave it to my comp when we got home, I think I will stick to the old spice). During the party  I yelled "silly string!" and started spraying my buddies with it!  They laughed and ran away.  We watched frozen - Cate looks like the blond one.

Wednesday: I talked to my awesome family!! woot woot. I always leave those calls thinking "they probably think that I am really mischievous here.  Burning the shirt at the year mark might have been my craziest act here. Well, I still have two weeks to get arrested. We will see. We finished the night at Nacho’s house

Thursday: We went to Torreon and met with several zones. Pretty much all of my comps were there.  We played sports for 4 hours. I was in heaven.

Saturday:  A sister had a wedding here. It was in her house and it was really small, but it was fun. We helped serve the food because nobody else would do it.    

I’m cracking up about the eucalyptus tree joke. I had to look it up. I didnt know that word.

Nacho is awesome, I try to convince them to go to Utah.  His brother lived there for ten years so they have visited there a lot.  

I got a letter from the ward, super nice of all of them, I don't have  lots of time so I think I will thank them personally in 2 weeks. I also got an awesome package from Kristin. I will send her a letter.

I have been craving Great Harvest bread.  

I hear beards are in now. Haha - I would definitely grow a beard...But I can't get the hair coming out of my face quite right.  

Without lying,  I do have to shave my mexi-stache every day "cause im a man" (Jim Gaffigan voice) But on the cheeks only one hair comes out every once in a while and when I shave it it seems to die screaming: "I was your only hope and you killed me!" or just "i’m melting!"  Then it seems to pop up a few months later on another part of the face. 

This is me saying My Password worked for class registration:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Yesterday at church we went to the young men’s class instead of going to the Elders’ quorum class (which makes me fall asleep) because the President of the YM’s wanted us to share some words.  Sweet. He really didn’t have to say much to convince me.  The president is 20 years old, a convert, and about to go on his mish. The YMs consisted of 3 youth; all good chaps.  The youngest is a very humble good kid that doesn’t hide who he is. He is who he is. When he bears his testimony his honesty brings the spirit.  He was the one that invited Luis (kid that just got baptized) and was largely responsible for the rapid progress.  The other two are older and also good guys but do try to be the cool kids.  The President is Mario and he had invited the mothers and fathers to the small meeting and he was super nervous. He had a blood vessel popped; I think due to the stress. He began talking about how the quorum had some really big problems, and I felt as he talked that it was a little dramatic, but the meeting turned out to be really great. These kids are not sinners and the parents did a good job in giving them praise as well as good counsel. We all got to talk a little and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. At the end Mario (YM Pres) acknowledged that it was a good quorum and then shared a story about his past:  

He said that when he was younger he had never realized that his father beat his mother. He said sadly that he didn’t understand how he was so clueless but that he lived in a bubble. The last time that it happened, he caught his father in the act and hit him until his father left the house, his father punched him back but once Mario got in the door, he wouldn’t budge.  Sometime later his father returned to the house. Mario warned him to leave and his father kneeled down before him and pleaded for forgiveness. But Mario said that he denied him. His mother told him that she wanted to talk to her husband. Mario was enraged and stormed out of the house. He didn’t go home that night. The next day, his friend asked him if he heard what had happened at his house the night before. He hadn’t. His friend told him that his father had died.  That he had said good bye to everyone in the family and then that night passed away.  Mario said how awful he feels about having been so arrogant as to not forgive his own father.  He said that he just wanted to have this meeting to say that as members of the church we can’t be arrogant. 

One thing I really liked is that he said that before he was member he had had serious problems he had to overcome and that he was embarrassed to even say it, that he would love it if his life had been and was perfect but that just isn’t how it goes. 

I felt a lot more respect for this kid after.  

Dad - while I was reading your comments about the private nature of loneliness, I thought about my first video call in May of 2013. In that time I  was feeling stressed and frustrated and as I closed the  video chat I felt good; but walking out into the dimly lit street I remember that my comp was asking me about the fam and I answered pretending to be happy but really felt confusion.  I remember thinking that I should have been filled with good feelings having just seen my fam and having a good comp, but really I just felt the overwhelming sensation of loneliness and sadness. Probably because it would be a long stretch before I would open a Skype page again.  

It’s weird to think about that because of the stark contrast to how I feel now. In this area I have lots of friends; children in the street, families that we teach, drunks, man that sells the beer to the drunks, teens, teachers, store keepers, poor , rich, super fat man, distressingly skinny little girl...etc.  I am friends with the members and the other missionaries and I will be soon getting home to a welcoming family and lots of friends.  I don’t feel lonely anymore, especially not spiritually. My core beliefs are as strong as they have ever been. I have a lot more spiritual knowledge now and that makes me feel more competent and helps me live better.  I have worked hard every day of my mission and I feel like the Lord has accepted my effort. It’s a good feeling.   


Because of Christmas and all of the activities that will be happening this week, the mish had transfers on Thursday, the other guero (which means white boy)  had transfers so I am now the only white boy in the entire city.  sweet

We went to the ward to play basketball today in the morning but because I am the only whitey I am a foot taller than everyone else, so we decided to play soccer instead.  They were the ones to choose basketball but soccer was more fun because they are really good at it. 

Friday was the day of Guadalupe, so they had this huge Guadalupe (Mexican version of the Virgin Mary) parade this week. We had to be in the house at six because they all get drunk. It was just outside of the house so we put on normal clothes and went out to watch 5 minutes of it. I put on a mustache so that they wouldn’t kill me.  Hopefully my shirt didn’t give me away. haha 

Yesterday we went to a small city, 15 mins from San Pedro, in the morning to hold sacrament services there; coolest experience. There are 30 members there that don’t come because of the distance.  Pretty much all of them are women, they didn’t all show up but a good group made it.  We had the services in a partly built mud one room house; super humble and great people. Also we had a big bread roll to use and not that many people so the bread chunks were big and yummy!  It took two bites for me to eat it all. My comp, the 1st councilor, and ward mission leader (that had come with us) and I all took some time to share a message.  I talked about Alma in the Waters of Mormon.  How we like them were a small group but that didn't make it any less right. How others were anxious to find them after so that they could validate their testimonies with baptism as well. 

We spoke again yesterday in the normal sacrament services.  I spoke on the responsibility of being a member.  

Hey and I also shaved my legs this week, it feels awesome.  I left some patches undone. oops - lack of experience. I remember Cate telling me how she had shaved off a huge chunk of skin on her shin.   ouch

Monday, December 15, 2014

Shoe Repair

My week:

The investigators here have to go to church 5 times before we can baptize them. Soo yesterday was the last chance that I had to get people to church to have them get baptized in that time frame.  Any new progress will require a baptismal date for the Saturday after I leave. That’s weird. I pretty much had to threaten this guy to get him moving. Ha investigators showed up..  nailed it. But we did get a pair of youth to come to church. They live at the home where we helped to take down their wall. 

We had a zone conference last week and I am super good buds with a handful of Elders in the zone so we had a killer time. 

There is this super strong glue here that now is illegal because everyone gets high off of it. Somehow my comp has it and I used it to glue my shoes together.  Ahh baby these suckers are going to last me. 

We ate dinner with a family and they served us Pozole, which is friggin delicious but makes you fall asleep

The wisdom teeth of my comp just shot through his gums this week so we had to go to the dentist.  I was joking around with the dentist while he was getting his mouth cut up.  The dentist was a funny one. She is 50ish with high heels and an attitude. Awesome

Every time we see a group of kids we play around with them or tell jokes for a few minutes. Ha ha – it’s the best.  Now everywhere we go kids that I don’t even know will pass us on bikes or in cars and wave.  

new jokes
"¿porqúe tenía una panza el foco?"   
   - porque iba a dar a luz

"¿porqúe tenía puertas tan grandes la capilla?
  -para que el altísimo podía entrar

There was a fire this week!  That never happens here because all of the houses are made of cement or dirt.  We saw the smoke in the morning and it was close to the house so we went running to see it.  It turned out to be the old abandoned theater in the center plaza.  Everyone and their dog was there to see it.   By the time we got there it was already pretty much extinguished, but the soldiers showed (thank goodness they were there so that they could shoot at the fire.) and started screaming instructions to tell the people that there was extreme danger and they had to back up.  The people were far away already and the only danger presented was that the 1000 year old fire truck would explode from old age.  haha I was cracking up.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving, Luis, and Benemerito

Thanksgiving is crazy here in Mexico!  They do .....nothing.  ha  love that

I’m super jealous about the Subway hike. Maybe we can do it again in 2015. 

Luis was baptized this on Friday! Crazy stuff actually, because Thursday night we realized that no one would be in town on Saturday so we had to do the baptism on Friday. He needed to have his second interview so we called him that night but he was with some friends watching a movie and he couldn’t do it that night. I guess it was scary because he told us later that he almost peed his pants.  Ha so we had the interview the day of the baptism and then we went to fill the font and found it filthy.  There was lots of dirt, bugs and even a scorpion. The drainage was so clogged that we had to bucket the water out and then pour it down the toilets. Finally we got it clean and started to fill it, but it came out cold so we lit up the boiler. The pipes were dirty and the water came out rusty brown and with flies. I had to make  a call to the bishop to see if he was going to show up with the baptismal clothes. While I was doing that the other elders saw the font and thought that the kids had made it dirty because the water was murky and started blaming them, because they didn’t know about the rusty pipes, chaos. But finally the Bishop showed up and it was go time. My comp and I spoke and we watched a video.  Luis is a great kid and the baptismal service, with all of its confusion beforehand, turned out to be fantastic.  I actually had a great time in the prep time laughing with the other elders.   

Several months ago the zone leaders combined and made a list of goals for the mission. One of them was to "honor the sacrifice of those from benemerito" (that was the school that is now the MTC). Everyone thought that that was weird and Youd and I were always joking about it. So I made him a small kit "to honor the sacrifice" which included candles and a balloon, and tinsel and a CD with the school song and a yoga type song from gladiator, and other things. Haha -  he made a small alter type thing on his desk haha.

I seem to fall asleep every week here at church.  I think they put melatonin in the sacrament. 

Shoes, Chairs, and Potato Sandwiches

Yesterday an older woman brought our food to church. It was two sandwiches with beef and potatoes.  She is the nicest lady and very humble.  She lives in a partially built house and is 80 something years old. She is pretty much a pioneer here.  She has collected every Liahona since the day that she was baptized thirty years ago. She goes with signs that she makes and ´preaches in the cemetery and the town center.  One son is the branch president. Great people.

My shoes have some pretty sweet holes in them but they will last these last 7 weeks. I am determined.

I fixed my chair with a cinderblock. Now it’s awesome - Super manly.  

One night we contacted a house looking for a woman that we had spoken to earlier. I think I was a bit tired because I was trying to say to her that we didnt want to intrude on her privacy because there wasn’t a man there and that we would return later. Unfortunately it came out something like " we dont want to violate you right now so we will wait and come back until a man gets here."  :D I fixed it after.  sort of ...  ooops.

We knocked down a wall this week in back of a less-active’s house.  Super fun. They both were baptized a short time ago. They don’t have any money. She broke her lower spine a few months ago because she had fallen off a roof.  They heard this week that she probably wouldn’t be receiving disability income.  We brought them food this week and sang hymns with them.  My heart breaks every time I talk with them because the situation just keeps getting worse. 

This week we also made Chorrizo which is pretty much sausage. Yumm - I wish megs was there. Washing your hands is overrated.