Monday, January 6, 2014

Written December 23rd 2013

Merry Christmas (for real this time almost),

I have an hour each week for e-mail to you and the president.

I am in the area Hidalgo in Tijuana.

We slept on Monday in our area.

My companion is Elder Guadarrama from Mexico City. He doesn't speak very much English, so I am lucky that I have some background. Everyone says I am lucky and that not everyone got as good of a  trainer. Because there were so many missionaries, I think they had to not have the most excellent missionaries train. All the sisters are the first american sisters here, so they all have native companions, which would be really hard without any Spanish. He is pretty patient and good though.

As expected, there are lots of dogs here; they look like cows because they are always having litters, but, mostly they just bark and fight at night and make us cross the street to avoid them.

It is actually cold here (I didn't think so the first few days) but the houses don't have any heating, so I am frequently a little cold at night; even though during the day is way warmer than at home. The people sometimes wear heavy winter coats (so all that winter stuff was for this mission, not the mtc). I'm usually fine with a sweater, but sometimes it isn't enough. I wore those boots the other day because it rained a lot, and I was really grateful for them; one elder who had this as his first area told me that it isn't cold, but you just can't escape the cold, which is true. So you go inside and its still cold and your shower ranges anywhere from freezing to barely warm, but it isn't really enough. Some days I am hot and sweaty until the night, though.

I'm sorry if I've ever been an ingrate, especially about your package. the truth is for the first few days, I was completely homesick for every comfort you have ever provided me. My companion said if they don't do the re-imbursements for gas quickly enough, sometimes we don't eat except lunch (that is the big meal we go to people's houses for here). And that freaked me out, because everyday would be like fasting, so I was immensely grateful for the candy and stuff you sent me. Everything you've ever given me is great, so thanks. Also, people here aren't as impoverished as you would think, but I am grateful for all the dumb little things we can enjoy. Mostly their homes are just small and humble, but I think they have enough food (mostly). A lot of the kids though and some families you can tell don't have enough and wear mostly secondhand clothes). It isn't as bad as some people might think though.

As far as the food, I haven't eaten anything that wasn't really good. Which made me think that I wanted to share all the good things with you completely so that you could experience them in their fullness, but also just a little bit of the bad things so that you could understand, just a glimpse. Then I realized that is kind of what God tries to do with us, which is I think is good.

Anyways, the bread (at least if it's not like the kind from the supermarket) is so good here. We had sandwiches and also some members gave us some pan dulce that was hot and fresh and it was great.

One sister made us banana and milk blended together (probably some sugar too) and it was really good, it reminded me of at home when we would make the banana shakes. 

The milk we bought (I was reading it) and it is only 73% milk, which means like a quarter of every glass is vegetable oil and some other stuff; but I refuse to be picky for the rest of my mission, because it tastes fine and the first day I though everyday would be like fasting.

Speaking of which, as a zone or district or something, we fast every Saturday, but with everyone feeding us and such, we haven't done it yet (I tried to this morning but a sister fed us breakfast when we were doing laundry at her house). But, I decided I don't care; if my companion wants to (I won't fast from water) then I will, but I won't go out of my way to do more than the monthly fast, because the handbook says that that is sufficient generally and so I don't think we should fast from meal to meal once a week.

I am learning to use a tortilla as a utensil, so that is happening. Also, I try to wash my hands before  I eat always, but sometimes I forget if the member gives us a snack or something.

One sister fed us hamburgers, which were good (the fries were way better than at home) but the ketchup is different, kind of transparent and viscous like sweet and sour sauce, but it is fine.

The members feed us really well, always offering us second plates and occasionally they give us snacks (maybe they think of feeding us as feeding Christ, but hopefully I can strive towards that expectation). So we will be fine.

We bought some "milk" and cereal and bananas for 100 pesos at the store, but it is pretty far, so we have to plan well. The cereal is awesome; it was like one of the cheapest and is puffed wheat with vanilla flavoring, but it doesn't even have that much sugar, but tastes really good. Maybe they have it at the Mexican market there. 

I saw an owl fly by, so that is cool. I also saw mice in two people's kitchen in a row, but that is common, so I don't care as long as it is not into the food.

One sister gave us poncha twice, which is really good cider like stuff with fruit boiled in it; I will miss winter without it when I get home. Also atole, which is really thick cinnamon (a little) hot chocolate). 

We get ├Ągua" at every meal almost, but really it is not water but rather water with drink mix, so we eat a lot of sugar here. Sugar and starch, which is fine; I have the vitamins mom bought me. I saw a vitamin commercial that said 7 out of 10 Mexicans have poor nutrition, but don't worry.

I was thinking about that scripture about looking back from the plow or are you serving the Lord or are you serving time (what people say) and I don't think it disqualifies you to want to go home when things get hard or to have doubts; I really don't know what that stuff is about. Of course I am going to look backwards and forwards towards home, especially when I am taking a cold shower. I won't worry about it though. Not everyone else gets to leave cold showers either; so I will be grateful.

I hand washed some under garments (very, very poorly), because I didn't have enough for the week (I am one short of what I would have ideally, but I will just wear my s
Sunday ones for two days; unless they're extra sweaty or hand wash some). I washed them days ahead of time and they weren't drying, but by the time I needed them, they had dried; miracles are real!

We have to wear suits on Sunday to church; even if we're in Mexicali in the summer, so hopefully I can dodge that bullet.

I don't really understand Spanish, but usually enough to where I can have my companion explain something. And sometimes I just guess and it makes enough sense.

My companion said the dove is a symbol of the holy ghost because it is the only animal that the devil can't take the form of, but I don't think so. He also said cats are the only animal that are neutral, not good or evil. I don't bother correcting him (he said to investigators) because there is not point. it isn't a big thing of doctrine either.

I was going to tell you that I haven't had any diarrhea yet, but then this morning happened. I think it was from some salad we had, which was completely soaked in water; but who knows. I prefer that to unwashed (feces vs. diluted feces)

I was considering drinking a glass of tap water to see if it really is bad (I probably get an 8th of a cup on vegetables and dishes anyways) but a big jug of water only costs 29 pesos ($2.22), so for now I won't.

I played piano in sacrament meeting, which was good, I guess. I think piano lessons are a very distant luxury for even the wealthy people here; but I am happy if I can help, since they treat us so well (feeding us randomly and having patience with me and my bad Spanish). 

I have a fear of running out of toiletries all at once; if that happens I guess I'll prioritize tooth paste, soap, shaving cream, then shampoo then deodorant then mouthwash then lotion and hair gel.

I am sick, which is lame, but I desecrated a pair of exercise underwear to make a handkerchief so that is fine.

Ben, I saw a mural of Ice King on a wall around a school that some kids painted.!

In the internet cafes are also video games that you can play per hour. My companion asked what call of duty meant and I told him and he said that that is what we are doing as missionaries. Haha.

Also, we had a baptism, but it was like dads where I just came in and it happened basically. I have pictures though.

I love you guys and miss you all. I am doing okay, so don't worry. Love you; eternal families;eternal families I guess I will plan on talking to you according to what I sent you yesterday.

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