Greetings from Mexico. Ok, first I´m going to try to answer all of the questions that you have.
First, we go to an Internet cafe in the centro of San Juan to print our letters in the morning. Then we go and do all the other things we need to do on P day, shopping, cleaning the apartment, then later in the day when we have been able to read and think about our letters we go back the Internet cafe and write our letters to family and to the Presidente. The ward we are in is a full ward. It has about 130 active members, we are trying to change that. It´s a mix of old and young, but mostly middle aged with little kids. The octagonal patch of grass you saw was just grass. There is a basketball/soccer court outside and grass and things to play with for the members. We walk everywhere we can, but our area is the largest in the mission, and we have to travel 1.5 hours or so to get to the end of it. We take combis...hippi van taxi things to get to a colony, then walk around the town. We really try to only work close to the chapel because people here are poor and will be inactive simply because they don´t have the money to make it to church. It is about a 10 minute walk to the Aurrera Bodega (Mexican Walmart) where we do most of our grocery shopping. Everything else we buy on the street because there are tons of street vendors. We are actually pretty spoiled here, we really don´t do any cooking. There is a calendar that is sent around Relief Society to feed the missionaries, and it is full.
The schedule is like this, 6:30 wake up, and prepare for the day and study. 11:00 we leave he house to go work, about 2 everyday we go to a members house and they feed us a comida, meal. Then we work straight until 9 when we need to be back in the apartment. We eat a little when we get back to the apartment but mostly cereal and bread. People here don´t have siestsas, they usually work 10 to 14 hour days and don´t have time for them. We don´t have time for them either. For food with members we usually first have a soup of broth with noodles or vegetable or something like that. Next we have a main meal of something that has meat. Tacos, flautas, mole...it is actually pretty good now that I´ve been here for 2 weeks. As far as soda and water, we drink the water. People usually buy huge containers of bottled water and then put different flavors in, Jamaica is one of the more common ones. Then sometimes we get dessert. People here really like flan, I really don´t like flan. But I eat anything now, and usually a lot of anything. I´m getting used to eating good things, and BAD things. Most of the food is really good. Most of it is pretty spicy, but I´m starting to like spicy too.
There actually are pyramids where we live. Our area is a huge circle surrounding the main pyramids at Teotihuacan. The biggest one is the Temple of the Sun, and another one is the Temple of the Moon . I think those are the ones from Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites. We were going to go today, but the other Elders in our district didn´t have any money. We will probably go next week, I will send pictures when we do. The main industry is the Pyramids, people work at the Pyramids, the restaurants surrounding them and the little shops and stores, or tents there selling Aztec and Mayan style gifts and things. Also, a ton of people have stores, for gifts, food, you name it, hair cuts, whatever. They live in or above their tiendas. There are also a ton of taxistas, because the traffic is soo bad that no one drives anywhere.
The truth is we are about an hour and a half from Mexico City. Teotihuacan is the name if the municipality, but there are a ton of little pueblas and colonies in Teotihuacan. There is a ton of empty space here, and we don´t really have any smog. There are a lot of roads that are not paved, so we usually get pretty dusty by the end of the day. The weather here is good. There are cactuses everywhere, they are equivalent to sagebrush in the Tri-Cities. Actually this place reminds me a lot of home which is good and bad. It is usually 70 to 80 degrees and sunny everyday. In the winter they say that it will get down to 5 Celsius, but I don´t know what that means since I don´t know Celsius.
The apartment is not one that other missionaries used. The area has been closed for 6 or 8 months. It is nice, an entry room/kitchen with a sink where we have our study everyday. We don´t have anything to cook on except this little stand a lone burner, but we don´t cook. Milk, cereal, bread, jam and apples is what I snack on, but we´re hardly ever at the apartment so it doesn´t matter. We have a bedroom and a bathroom, more than enough room for the two of us. I haven´t seen carpet since the U.S, because people here just have tile floors. I don´t know why. I get a long with Elder Llanos, but he is very demanding. Sometimes I get annoyed or frustrated, but in the end we get along. I love him, he is my ´´dad´´ or trainer and has taught me soo much.
Now, here is the exciting part, we have 5 baptisms planned for this Sunday! The family Martinez-Avila, and a little boy Ramses. The family Martinez-Avila were the ones that showed up to church all by themselves. They were golden. We taught the first lesson and everyone prayed, everyone received an answer except the dad, Jose Luis. His sister is in the hospital with skull fractures because his brother in law beat her and his business wasn´t going very well. So he was really confused and frustrated, but most of all he couldn´t let anyting go. He was blaming God for everything that was happening. He was looking for a change and knew that the Church was the answer, but he couldn´t receive and answer. So we had a lesson on humility, how God makes weak things strong if they let Him. I shared my experiences about my junior year in High-School and how that was when I was truly humbled, yet that was when I truly found God. I challenged him to let everything go for 5 minutes, trust God for 5 minutes, and pray. We gave him a blessing, and left. He received his answer! He now has a strong testimony of Joseph Smith and is excited to be baptized with the rest of his family this week.
Ramses is a 10 year old son of an inactive family. He is the only member of the family who has not been baptized, so we will be completing the family this week. He was just waiting for us, he wants to be baptized and has a testimony of the truthfulness of the Church. The truth about him is, he was going to be baptized when he was 8, the font water was ice cold, and he ran out of his baptismal service. I hope that doesn´t happen again.
As far as language goes, I´m struggling, but doing ok. People understand me more or less. I´m just frustrated because I have to focus so hard on the language that sometimes my teaching isn´t very good. It is very, very, very humbling to try to teach people in a new language. It makes you realize that we really can´t do anything without God, we are really only instruments to be played when He wants. Some days my Spanish is good, others not, but on the whole it is getting better. God is on my side. Christ died so that I could struggle through Spanish lessons. As far as participation goes, my companion and I teach every other principle in a lesson, and we both contact people.
Dad, thanks for the email it really helped. There will be bad moments in the mission, but never bad days. Something good happens everyday, we just have to be able to realize it. I admire you soo much for serving a mission, especially one that was in the States where people don´t listen very much. We taught close to 20 lessons last week, so at least people are listening. Missions are hard, probably the hardest thing I´ve ever done. But knowing that you did it makes it easier for me.
Mom, I love you. My homesickness is getting better. As far as things from the U.S., a hug from each of you would be nice, but that´s not possible. I don´t really know of anyting in specific, thanks so much for the support and prayers.
Darci, thanks for the letter before I left, and thanks for going to all those places for my razor. I love you. Thanks for being such an awesome example to me.
Cameron, Kolby and Melissa, practice the piano. There is not a single person in the whole ward here who knows how to play piano, so we use a CD. Pretty lame. I love each of you and pray for each of you individually everyday. Work hard in school and never be afraid to pray for help. He knows more than you do. You are all so blessed to go to the schools you do. There are lots of people here who don´t go to school because they can´t afford it.
I love you all so much.