I ate chicken feet this week. It was disgusting. Nasty little chicken feet poking out of a vegetable soup, with the toenails still attached. You eat it by putting the whole thing in your mouth and sucking the skin (there isn´t really meat) off the bones. I tried really hard, but I couldn´t eat all of it.
This email might be a little bit shorter because we were having computer issues, so sorry. First things 1st, the questions from your letters. For laundry we take our clothes to a laundromat and they do it for us, but it is expensive. We would do it ourselves but we don´t have a machine or buckets or anything to do it with, not to mention time. For P-day it is usually just Elder Llanos and I. We are the only missionaries for 40 minutes or more. But today the zone all got together to play soccer and basketball, and if we want to do anything with our district we can usually manage it. We are going to the Pyramids next week! Also another tid bit, people around here say that Teotihuacan means the place where the Gods were born. Also people say that this is the land desolation from the Book of Mormon. That is way cool, we are teaching the descendants of the Lamanites in the land where the Book actually took place! (Note from Mom: Several years ago, Braden gave me a book called "Sacred Sites". It tells all about sites in the Book of Mormon and has a whole chapter on Teotihuacan. Look up 3 Ne. 7:12)
As far as the language goes, it is coming. I am still frustrated at times, but I am really lucky. I should not complain because there are others who arrived in Mexico not speaking hardly a word of Spanish. Apparently I am known around the zone and mission as the "gringo who speaks Spanish" so I shouldn´t complain. But the fact is I want to express myself in the way I normally would, and I feel that sometimes my speaking gets in the way of the spirit. But I know that if I am obedient and work hard, it will come. It will come on the Lord´s time and in His way. The Spirit will be conveyed to the people, and His work will go on with out any problems.
An experience I had that was pretty cool was, the other day I was really discouraged. I felt sorry for myself, I missed you all, the Spanish was hard, and I wasn’t learning the things I needed to. That night I knelt down and I prayed. I prayed for a half hour and poured my soul out. The next morning I did the same thing. I was truly humbled, I know for a fact that I cannot say a single word, take a single breath, without the help of God. I prayed for help through the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I didn´t feel any comfort, but what I did feel was resolution, determination. God isn´t going to just hand me Spanish on a silver platter, but I can get it. That day I focused really hard of Spanish, wording, fluency, clarity. God has blessed me so much everyday, and now I don´t have to think about Spanish as much, more about what message I should share than how to say it. I pray everyday for the gift of tongues and interpretation.
I also had my 1st interview with Presidente in the field this week. It is awesome and I love him so much. He has such a love and excitement for the Gospel. He really loves my companion too. He was an office missionary for a while because of health problems. Presidente told me that Elder Llanos is the best trainer he has, which says a lot. I told him we were going to have 5 baptisms on Sunday and he said he was a little disappointed. He thought we were going to have more than that! That taught me a couple things, one we need to work harder, two Presidente has really high expectations of me and E. Llanos. Sometimes it is a little overwhelming, I am to open an area that has been closed for 6 months because of a lack of success, I am to be the companion to the District leader, I was given the best trainer in the mission, and Presidente expects more than I thought possible. I don´t know what kind of work God and Presidente have planned for me but I need to work harder to be ready. Presidente said that (not promising that this would actually happen but yeah) he needs me to be ready to be a senior companion and trainer after Elder Llanos leaves in December...I have a lot of work to do. There are so many things I need to improve, so many things that I need to learn. But I won´t worry about expectations, I won´t worry about future assignments, I will put my head down and work. Come what may I will be ready.
I forgot my camera in the apartment, so next week I will send pictures of the baptism. It was awesome. I baptised them and E. Llanos directed the program. It was standing room only. It is amazing to me that people accept the gospel so readily, and make covenants that will have eternal consequences.
We had a miracle this week. We arrived to teach the Family Martinez Avila, the one that was baptised this week. We were going to teach them some of the commandments that they needed to learn before baptism. Jose Luis wasn´t there. Apparently he had had an argument with his wife and decided he didn´t want to be baptised anymore. He didn´t even want to come out and talk to us, he wanted nothing to do with us. We were devastated, but prayed all week for him. At the baptismal interview He showed up with his family, we thought he was just dropping them off. But the Zone Leader said "We will start with the head of the family" and took him back. We were shocked and a little confused because he wouldn´t even talk to us the day before. He had a change of heart, learned all the things he needed to to pass his interview, and was baptised on Sunday! We are going to set the goal of one year to be sealed in the temple! How awesome is that?!
I will write more about DIa de Los Muertos next week because I am running out of time.
Kolby- Thanks for the letter, I love to hear how things are going for you. I will try to answer you questions next week, but I didn´t really know what to expect in Mexico, so it was everything I imagined, yet totally different. We have a half hour to do exercise in the morning, but I usually write in my journal...so I am going to be in really bad shape when I get home. But we do walk pretty much all day. Usually close to 6 or 7 hours, so I do get some exercise.
Cameron- I just got your dear Elder from when I left the MTC...mail takes a while here. Thanks for your update. I hope Homecoming went well...a little piece of advise for the future, don´t do, say or think anything you would do, say or think if Mom was sitting right next to you. Congrats on your job, save your money you will need it in the future.
Melissa I love you. You are a daughter of God and He loves you more than you can imagine. Love Him back through you actions and you will be happy for the rest of your life.
Mom and Dad, I love you. Your trip to Vegas sounds like it went well. Keep setting the good example you always have for our family. We are going to be together forever, so we might as well be obedient now so that we can be happy in the hereafter. Mom I love you so much for the things you have taught me. Don´t worry about the Christmas package, it will come when it comes. Dad, you have always set a quiet example, but an example of action. Doing the things you need to in a quiet dignified way. Thanks, it has helped me a lot here in the mission.
Darci and Joe, I love you too, and I pray for you everyday.
I love you all, until next week.
P.S. it helps if you have questions so I know what to talk about, so any questions you have I would love to answer.