Anyways, I guess I will start with when you dropped me off at the airport. I was super nervous until I saw the large group of missionaries waiting for the plane to leave. The flight was long, and I already told you about my hour and a half wait in customs, so that was fun. The first day was a pretty long day, but I loved meeting my companion and the other hermanas in our house. Mexico city is crazy!! I already told you about all of the houses being cement, and colorful, graffitied, and scrunched super close together, the city was super grungy, so when we entered the CCM it was a big contrast. Inside the CCM it is muy bonita!! There are beautiful tropical trees and flowers everywhere, everything is always so clean (everything owned by the Church is usually clean). The first few nights it was super hard for me to sleep because if you don´t leave the window open our room gets SUPER hot, but with the window open you can hear all of the cars honking, police sirens, dogs barking, trains, and gunshots. Like I said, Mexico City is pretty crazy. However, the CCM feels absolutely safe. There is seriously such an amazing spirit here. Everyone is so nice, and they always say "hola Hermanas" whenever we walk by. The Latinos are the best!! So nice!
The first full day we took a tour of the CCM, and had a couple of lectures about the rules here. After that we jumped right into our language classes. Yep, they are all in Spanish. Our teacher Hermano Castro is the best! He just got home from his mission about four years ago, and he makes class so fun. We always play games to learn about Spanish, but he also has a very strong testimony and I love studying the Book of Mormon when he teaches. I was actually surprised at how much Spanish I could understand on the first day, I guess high school Spanish might have paid off a little better than I thought it did. Or maybe, the gift of tongues was already kicking in. Luckily, most of the teachers also speak English, so when necessary they revert to Spanglish. I feel like I have learned A TON of Spanish in the last week, but I know that I still have such a long ways to go. After our language lessons we usually spend an hour on the computers doing T.A.L.L., a computer program that helps us learn Spanish. We all struggle to keep our eyes open the entire time, but it´s supposedly very helpful. We also have gym time for about an hour every day. They have exercise bikes, weights, basketball courts, volleyball, tennis, ping pong, fuzball, and outdoor track, and an indoor track, so there is a plethora of things to choose from! Me and Hermana Hirschi usually enjoy doing weights, running, or playing basketball with the other Hermanas. We are going to play volleyball with our district later this afternoon so that should be fun. Aside from lessons and gym time, we always have lots of time to study the scriptures. I have come to love the Book of Mormon more than ever, it is the BEST!
Meal times are always great as well. El Comedor is a large cafeteria that all of the missionaries eat in. There is always fresh fruit available, and salad-which is super yummy! Other than that it varies depending on the day. Usually they have two options, an American one and a Mexican one. I love the Mexican food! Sometimes I don´t even know what I am eating, but it usually tastes good. They also tend to have the South American style HUGE lunch, and small dinner. It was fun because on the fourth of July they put out red, white, and blue tablecloths and made Hamburgers for lunch. They also made red, white, and blue fruit pies and sang the National Anthem. Other than that, the fourth of July was just like any other day here in Mexico. Some of the other food that is great is bueno bars. Basically a wafer filled with nutella, and dipped in chocolate. Yeah, not sure why the U.S. has not caught on to that one yet. The other thing we love to buy from La Tienda is Choki´s. Brownie Cookies. Yep. We have had to exercise some serious self control.
We live in a little house, that has 5 bedrooms in it. We never really use the kitchen or the living room, mostly just stick to our room. Hermana Bowers and Hermana Orton are the other two sisters sharing a bedroom with us. They are crazy, but they are fun. Both of them are pretty good at Spanish, so that helps a lot. Hermana Orton went to Utah State before she came on her mission, she is loud, and sassy, and super funny. Hermana Bowers went to BYU and lived in another Heritage building. She knows a lot about everything, so she is our go-to dictionary. She likes to be a leader, and she is super fun. I love them both! The elders in our district are lots of fun as well. It is weird because a lot of them are straight out of high school, so they don´t have a lot of experience being away from home. Even though they can be overexcited at times, they also have very strong testimonies, and they always make sure the Hermanas are well taken care of. They are the best!
My companion....I don´t even know where to start. She is amazing! She is from Rexburg, and she also attended BYU before her mission. She lived off campus, and she did not have very much of a social life, so I think she is really enjoying having lots of friends everywhere. She is pretty shy, but once she comes out of her shell, she is so much fun!! She has the sweetest testimony, and she is always looking out for those in need. I am grateful that she is willing to work hard and be exactly obedient, she is a great example of that. I feel like she is definitely one of the sisters that was talked about in my setting apart. I just can´t say enough about her, we work well together, we laugh together.....anyways, it´s pretty great.
We actually experienced a super cool tender mercy on Tuesday. On the second day here in the CCM we were introduced to our investigator, Elizabeth. (Elizabeth is actually one of our adorable Latina teachers, Hermana Martinez). Elizabeth is having a lot of problems with her husband, he left her and has a girlfriend, and she is left to care for her three children by herself. (Even though Elizabeth is not an actual investigator, the situation comes from a real investigator). Anyways, it is our job to teach her the gospel, and help her to see how it can help her to improve her situation. Our first and second lessons went pretty well. However, as we learned more about being a better missionary we realized that we needed to allow Elizabeth to talk more by asking her questions. On the day of our third lesson we worked super hard, trying to put together the most meaningful lesson we could. It is difficult because the only resources we have for Spanish are our teachers, a couple of textbooks, and a little English-Spanish dictionary. However, we did everything we could to prepare, and we prayed for help. During the lesson we tried to ask Elizabeth lots of questions, but there was one problem. Her answers were all in Spanish. She ended up with lots of questions about the gospel, that we were´nt able to answer because we didn´t know how to say it in Spanish. Me and Hermana Hirschi came out feeling frustrated and discouraged. After a long day of hard wok, we did not feel like our efforts paid off. The Spirit was not in the lesson like we would have liked, and we could hardly even stammer through a prayer at the end.
There was only one more set of Elders that was going to be giving Elizabeth a lesson after us. Our schedule says that we are supposed to return to the classroom and study until 9:30. The rest of our district decided to return to their casas after their lessons, but Hermana Hirschi and I decided to stay and study because that is what the schedule says. The tender mercy came when Hermana Martinez (Elizabeth) unexpectedly returned to the classroom with the other two Elders. She expressed disappointment that the rest of our district had already gone home, and she was really pleased that we had stayed. She sat and talked with us and the other two Elders for a while, and helped us practice our Spanish for 45 mintues. She was so kind, and so encouraging that we both came away feeling so much better. We were so glad that we had obeyed our schedule, even though it seemed like it was something that was unimportant. Exact obedience definitely pays off.
Total we have had four lessons with Elizabeth. Yesterday, Hermano Castro stressed the importance of commiting our investigator to baptism, and we memorized the baptismal invitation. Me and Hermana Hirschi had asked Elizabeth to be baptized in two of our previous lessons, but she declined both times. Yesterday, we decided that we needed an amazing lesson so that she would feel a change of heart and desire to be baptized. Once again we worked really hard all day preparing a lesson. We decided to talk about the Doctrine of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, Holy Ghost, endure to the end). We said so many prayers, and pleaded for the Spirit to accompany us so that we would be able to commit Elizabeth to baptism because we knew we only had two lessons left with her, and we really wanted her to say yes! Our lesson was awesome!! My favorite one so far. We both testified a ton, and the Spirit was very strong. I felt so much love for Elizabeth, and the whole time I was just praying that she would have a change of heart. And.........She agreed to be baptized!!!! We were so excited! We were the first companionship in our district to commit her to baptism. After the lesson, Hermana Martinez (Elizabeth) told us that it was an absolutely beautiful lesson and that the only thing we could improve is our Spanish. We were so thrilled.
I don´t think I will have time to write a group email, so if you would be kind enough to send out a snippet of this to any friend and family you think might appreciate it, that would be awesome! I only have an hour to email, so I will try to space my time better next week. I am sorry my email is so scatterbrained, but just know that I love you all! And I love being a missionary!! It is super hard, but at the end of everyday I am happily exhausted. I absolutely know that Heavenly Father knows each of us personally, He has helped me more than I could have ever imagined this week. I know that our Savior died for us. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and I know that living the gospel is the way to find true happiness. I miss you all very much, thank you for your emails, they made my day.
All my love,