Por ejemplo: That picture of mom sledding really freaked me out, because I actually forgot it is winter time. It DOES NOT feel like winter in Mexico. That being said, there are people cuddled on rocking chairs in quilts. I mean.. it got a little chilly for a day or two.. but quilts? I just had to laugh. It made me think of Grandma making fun of those Californians that think they´re gonna die when it gets below 60 :)
Weather update: It is currently raining really hard. And our clothes were almost dry. Guess not. Actually, things here are damp most of the time. Or all of the time. Things have started to mold. And I am not talking about mere food items, although those have been victimized as well. No, we´ve had various articles of clothing, the plunger, a scripture case, and my zinc-things succumb to the nastiness. So if anyone has tips on how to prevent that from happening, let us know.
Mom asked a couple questions, so here we go:
Fruits and Vegetables: We eat them...just not with every meal. And sometimes there is a day in between, seeing as we really only eat one real meal a day. Most of my fruit intake comes from the DELICIOUS fresh squeezed juice (today was guava) and vegetables are usually cooked or cleaned with the bottled water. I think that a lot of the time the people are either too poor, or it is too much work to provide vegetables. Also, during the holidays they have this incredible thing called ensalada de manzana (Mom, that means "salad of apples." It´s okay.. I´m still here to translate for you). It is currently my favorite holiday tradition, but it is wreaking havoc with my insides. I mean, the lack of vegetation probably has something to do with it too.. but we´re all feelin´ a little unusual, if you catch my drift.
Do I need things: Mother, yes I do. But not bad enough to go and find them, because that is a complicated task here and ain´t nobody got time for that. The thing that I want most in my life right now is a fitted sheet, so if you want to send me one of those that would be great. I´m thinking that if I find a family in great need, I will donate one or two of my four flat sheets. They use those for a lot of things here, so I think that would be a great help. I just ask for your prayers that their hearts will be softened, and that these people will have desires to attend church! They have to go 5 times before they can be baptized, and right now this area is struggling quite a lot with that.
Which brings us to church: Church starts at 10 am and guess who the lucky ward pianist is?! HERMANA MORALES! haha... just kidding. It is me. The bishop got real excited when he found out I could play the piano, so every week at dinner he re-asks me if I will. It´s wonderful, and also really hard because nobody knows the real melody to any of the hymns and the keys stick. Even so, I have had a couple kids come up to me after sacrement meeting and ask if I could give them lessons. Maybe I could use this as a missionary tool somehow??.... hmmm... After sacrement meeting there is sunday school, and hna. Cuevas y hna. Morales usually teach the gospel principles class. I just sit there and focus really hard to try to understand what is being said. After that is relief society, where everyone talks at the same time. So I do my best to understand, but it doesn´t really work in that situation. In most situations, time doens´t mean a blessed thing...but in church, the Obispo starts at exactly 10 o´clock.
It´s funny you should mention pure testimony in your e-mail, because that´s exactly what testimony meeting yesterday was made of and it truly was life-changing. The people went up together as families, and one by one bore testimony that Jesus lives, that God loves us, and that this is the restored church of Christ. There was not a testimony over three minutes long, and there was no pause. It was wonderful. I felt so much love for the people. Hermana Morales looked at me and said, "Vamos," which here means "you are about to bear your testimony in Spanish in front of the whole ward." But you know what? I wasn´t even nervous. I have never not been nervous in that situation before, but I was so calm. It was like I loved the ward too much to not share my testimony, even if I knew everyone younger than 16 would laugh at my Spanish. There were so many friends and smiling faces in the congregation, and at least two of them were mouthing words that I could remember in my direction. Mexican´s are the greatest!
New Years was weird. We had to be in the apartment by 8, just like Christmas, because of all the drunkards in the street. We had bought a pizza to celebrate the occassion, but we couldn´t eat it because we had already eaten so much that night. So I think we just kind of sat and talked and laughed then went to bed.
I´m really excited the holidays are over, because that means we can get back to work. The last two weeks have been a tad difficult because everyone and their dog...actually, the dogs stay here and there are thousands of them...was on vacation last week. #noesta. So maybe prayers that everyone will stay home this week would be appreciated? haha... Goodness.
As for Spanish-- it´s coming. I feel like I´m so close to understanding how the language works, but I´m just barely not close enough and that´s really frustrating because I have a lot to say. I didn´t realize just how much I talk until I lost the ability to communicate effectively. President Morales visited us last Monday with a Christmas microwave, and while he was here he compared me to a baby. He said babies take a long time to talk, because they just kind of sit and absorb everything. They learn, they try, and THEN they start producing. So.. I´m in the baby stage. I actually can´t wait to be a toddler.
Well.. Shouts out to Aunt Jana, Aunt Lori, Aunt Susan and Chase for being born! Thought of you while I was trudgin the streets of Frontera.
Also shout out to Baby Browning for being Born! Man, that´s exciting. Picture? Grashus.
ALSO SHOUTS OUT TO NAFLIN AND BRAD!!!! Sorry I can´t call you or whatever on your birthday, but I´m sure you´ll be fine. :) YAY BIRTHDAYS OF MY BRETHREN!
I love you I love you I love you!!!!!
Hno Russell (Alfredo/Wayne),
Hno. Vargas (From Mexico City. Hilarious),
y Hna. Haws (Nancy)
Our other favorite district of elders!
The delicious cake we received for New Years, and the wonderful ladies that made it for us.
This is the Obispos way of making American food. It was DELICIOUS.
There is a tradition here that has something to do with baby Jesus in bread.. I don´t know. But I found two of them, and apparently that means tamales. So yes, Dad, sometime in the next month I will be learning how to make tamales. You´re welcome.
The young man in the middle is a recent convert, and the young lady on the left is a new investigator! She is really receptive and we´re really excited to teach her! The only problem is that her grandmother doesn´t like the church. :(