Thursday, September 5, 2013
Today´s the day! P-day!! I´m so excited that I finally get to email you all. :)
It is so COOL to be in Mexico! Sometimes I look around me and realize I´m in another country and I feel really excited. We spent so much time figuring out the weather in Chile, but we never looked up what it would be like in Mexico! The elevation here is 7,000 feet! I drink so much water, it's insane! (but I promise that it's clean, filtered water. :) ) Also, we are in the middle of Mexico's rainy season. It pours every day around dinnertime, sometimes through the night, sometimes just for a couple of hours. But it didn't rain at all until the third day that we were here. Soo....not expecting the rain to be so crazy, we thought we would be fine with jackets and umbrellas. We got drenched! My leather shoes took 3 or 4 days to dry! Also, most of my missionary books got waterlogged...the water seeped through my purse! It is crazy rain. But we are getting ready for Chile, I suppose!
The first day here was super overwhelming. After I emailed you all, I got my information packet and they just told me, "Okay, go find your casa!" hahahahaha...it's a big campus, so I was kinda freaked out. But when we went outside, there were hermanas everywhere who wanted to help us find our house and get ourselves situated. I say it was overwhelming because they were all talking at once and they kept telling us, "The first day is going to be the longest day of your life. And don't be surprised if you cry yourself to sleep. Just push through it until Sunday. It gets better!" All of those things sounded weird to me. I knew this was going to be hard when I signed up for it, and I'm so up to the challenge!
My companion, Hermana Young, and I could not be more different. She is a year older than me but she never went to college. She stayed at home and did school online. She is from California. We work really hard to get along, but sometimes it's a big struggle. She has a serious boyfriend back home, and she's homesick all the time, so I try to help her feel more welcome and feel loved...but I can't tell how well that is working.
Our district is so much fun (albeit kind of crazy). I am the only one in the district who has been to college, and for that I am truly grateful. All of the others have had a tough time with homesickness, and it hasn't been quite as hard for me. In our district, there are 8 elderes and 2 hermanas. All eight of our elders are 18 and just graduated high school! How unbelievable is that? Elders Orraj, Adams, Benavides, Pistorius, Harmon, and Rayfield are going to Chile Rancagua. Elders Gleed and Gibelyou are going to Chile Osorno with me and Hermana Young. I also met Elder Washburn and Elder Johnson, both going to Chile Osorno, but they are in another district.
Our teacher, Hermana Olmos, is honestly fabulous. She is such a great example to me. She is from Mexico and just returned from one of the missions in Mexico nine months ago. Her spirit and testimony are amazing, and I love having a Spanish teacher who is a native Spanish speaker! You guys were all right when you thought that Spanish would come to me quickly. One of the counselors in my branch presidency, Presidente Garduno, and Hermana Olmos both asked me where I learned my Spanish! President Garduno told me that he thought I was ready to go into the field already, and Hermana Olmos offered for me to move up to the intermediate class. I opted to stay in the class that I am in. I really like the elders in my district, and I think it's important to stay companions with Hermana Young because she needs somebody to help her feel less homesick.
We have adventures in the MTC everyday that make us laugh until our abs hurt. :) When we had interviews with Hermana Olmos, one of the elders in our district told her that he was trying to be "mujer" instead of "mejor"...which is a huge difference, because "mujer" is woman and "mejor" is better. He was so embarrassed...but it was so funny. One day, I exploded a serving-size bag of corn flakes. I picked up corn flakes off of the floor, off of my tray, out of my water, out of my milk, off the table...Elder Johnson came over to help me and Hermana Young clean up the corn flakes. It was pretty funny. It got funnier when I got to class and found corn flakes in my purse and hiding in my yellow scarf...I was just thinking, "adventure is out there" from the movie Up.
Hermana Young and I have been teaching a practice investigator named Carlos. Today will be our last lesson with him! So far, we have taught him four lessons. The lessons have gotten progressively better. At the beginning, they were pretty rough. But as we have been gaining more confidence, Carlos has been throwing wrenches into our plan! One day, we had planned to teach him about the Restoration, but when we opened the lesson, we realized we would be teaching something very different. We had already given him a Book of Mormon, and we asked him what he had been reading....and he referred to Alma 39, where Alma explains to Coriantumr how bad sexual sins are. So, we taught the law of chastity (which was really hard to do in Spanish!) and then we explained that commandments come from God's servants, the prophets. We told him about the Atonement of Christ, and we bore our testimonies. It must have really struck a chord with him, because he accepted to be baptized! Hermana Young and I were so excited. I can't imagine how exciting it will be when we have a real investigator who commits to baptism! Yesterday his question about the Book of Mormon was why God told Nephi to kill Laban. That was harder than the chastity question...oh my gracious. :) We learn a lot from teaching Carlos.
Sunday really was amazing. It was Fast Sunday, so it was even more special. Hermana Pratt, the MTC president's wife, is our Relief Society teacher. She is so spiritual! I learned so much from her and completely refreshed myself on my purpose as a missionary. She taught with a quote from President Uchtdorf's talk at the Young Women 2013 broadcast and verses from 2 Nephi 31 and 32. She explained that even though we are learning Spanish, the language that we really need to be learning is the universal language of love, or the tongue of angels, according to Nephi. If you would read 2 Nephi 31 and 32 with the universal language of love in mind, it will have a whole other level of meaning for you! I had the opportunity to bear my testimony in Spanish, and it was so amazing. I felt the Spirit really strongly. I just LOVE Spanish!! My other favorite part of Sunday was the video we watched: "The Book of Mormon: How Rare a Possession." It was incredible, and really reminded me how blessed we are to have God's truth in our lives!
Today we went to the Mexico City Temple. It is absolutely stunning! The entire session was in Spanish, but I understood a lot of it and felt the Spirit really strongly. The temple is an amazing place. It's about an hour from here, and the difference between the temple and MTC grounds and Mexico City would knock you off your feet. I am so grateful for the gospel. The other exciting thing about today is choir practice! My branch president has assigned me to be the branch choir director. We'll see how it goes...it's a new adventure!
I am doing okay. The food here is pretty good, relatively normal. ;) Lunch is the biggest meal of the day and there are always beans, rice or pasta, bread, fruit and vegetables, meat, and a dessert. (I don't eat all of that, don't worry!!) Breakfast and dinner are smaller meals, with only some of the things that are at lunch. I came down with a cold on Saturday night, and I ran out of my little packets of Kleenex part of the way through Sunday. They don't sell Kleenex at our little MTC store, so I have been blowing my nose on toilet paper...thankfully, the elders in my district are super sweet and understanding. They feel bad that I'm sick! I love them so much. Hermana Young was worried about me, so we went to the clinic. I knew it was just a cold, but I figured I would tell you about the doctor because he was hilarious. He told me that I should come back if I blew out anything that looked like pineapple yogurt or gummi worms. Who compares mucus to food? lol. I'm getting better. I think it was just from adjusting to a new climate.
Logistically...it takes about 2 and a half weeks for a letter to travel from the States to the MTC. So they told us that packages are kind of out of the question since they take so long to get here. I'm supposed to travel to Chile on October 8, 2013, and return to the States on February 24, 2015. A sad logistic piece...I took tons of pictures today, but my camera cord is in my room and I can't run back to get it, so I'll have to share pictures next week. Also, I didn't think to buy paper at our MTC store so I could print out emails...so I have 8 emails and I won't be able to read them all! But I will read them next week and reply as soon as I can.
The title of my email means, "I am grateful." Every day I am grateful to be here at the MTC. Every day, I am grateful for the scriptures, my family, the beautiful mountains, my district, and this amazing gospel. I love to pray in Spanish because I focus more on what I am saying and I feel very close to my Father in Heaven. I know that He hears me. Every day, I know that I made the right decision by coming on a mission. It washes over me with joy and excitement! I cannot WAIT to get to Chile and have the opportunity to share Heavenly Father's marvelous message of light and truth.
I miss you all and I hope that you are doing well! I love you so very much and I pray for you every day.
Abrazos, Hermana Latham