(Note from Peggy: In my email to Braden this week, I titled it "I don't scare that easily". I was referring to his last letter when he teased me that telling us he went to see a judge probably scared me. After receiving this letter, I won't ever tell him that again. I had not meant it as a challenge....)
Well this was a really weird week. But first, the questions. It costs about 500 pesos to marry people here, which doesn´t seem like a lot in American money...but I could live off of 500 pesos for several weeks. Many people live in Free Union (living together but not married) simply because they are scared to commitment. It is much easier to separate from your wife if you are not married, and you don´t have the same type of loyalty as you would to a lawfully wedded wife. It is really sad, but it is a major part of the culture here. There is a lot of disloyalty between husbands and wives.
I am starting to get used to the system of transportation here. It´s kind of weird, because at home we would just take the car and drive where we wanted to go, and if we were left without a car we really wouldn´t know how to get around without help from a friend. Here, I can go wherever I want and never have to use a car. At home I never liked taking the city bus, but here it is much easier to use public transportation.
We see the Martinez-Avila family a lot, two or three times a week because they have a fast food business...hamburguesas, huraches, papas a la francesa, etc. They live in one of the areas where we work the most often so we visit them every now and then to check up on them. Jose Luis was called as 1st counselor in the Sunday School and Eulalia was called as Nursery Leader. They are doing well, and working towards their goal of being sealed in the temple for time and all eternity in 7 or 8 months. I still don´t feel old in the mission, I still feel like I don´t really know what I´m doing and I´m getting really comfortable with not knowing what I´m doing. Realizing that I can´t do it by myself makes everything easier. In 1 week I complete 7 months, but I still have 1 year 5 months to enjoy before I have to come home again. Not that I don´t want to see you all, but I like being here.
This week I learned a new word. Lynchar. There was an attempted kidnapping in Santa Maria (part of our area about 10 minutes from where we live) where they tried to kidnap a Mom and her teenage boy. The kidnapping went wrong and they ended up killing the boy and shooting the mom. Then they tried to escape, but we live in small town Mexico. All of the men from the pueblo went out searching for the kidnappers, and they closed the highway by stoning every car that passed by. We were working in San Sebastian, the next pueblo over from Santa Maria. They ended up catching the kidnappers, and they help them captive. At this point the police were payed off and so they didn´t do anything. There were about 200 people in the town square of San Sebastian in front of the cathedral yelling lynchales, lynchales. Here in small pueblo Mexico the people serve their own justice. They took the kidnappers to the town square, doused them with gasoline, and lit a match....All the people were out in the streets telling us to be careful and to go home because it was dangerous. We didn´t really know what was going on, but all the women were on the street corners gossiping, so we just asked them. We tried to go to the house early, but they had closed the highway by stoning the cars...so we had to walk in the dark along a deserted highway. Luckily some members saw us and brought their car to give us a ride home. The hermano had been beaten by the mob. It was little crazy and didn´t really seem real. But I never felt like I was in danger, I simply felt calm and actually was kind of dumbfounded that the police would just watch as the people burned the kidnappers alive. Luckily we didn´t have to watch that part.
Ok, cool experience number 2 for the week. (Note from Peggy: The preceding paragraph was "cool experience number 1?) Today we went to the Zocolo again, it is a huge town square in Mexico City where there are a ton of museums and a huge cathedral. We went to the cathedral to see what it looks like. It is the biggest one in Mexico City, and it is really cool inside. We saw a Mass, but only in passing. The huge walls and gothic statues and pictures of the saints reminded me a lot of Angels and Demons. Then when we were leaving a nice old lady asked us we would like to go to the crypt where they bury the arch bishops and other dignitaries of the Catholic Church in Mexico City. We obviously said yes. We went beneath the Cathedral into the crypt, and it reminded me a lot more of Angels and Demons. She took us to see the tomb of her husband and daughter, and afterwards asked special permission to show us the crypt of the arch bishops. The ceiling was pure gold and the tombs of 30 arch bishops (kind of like general authorities). The bad part is that I forgot my camera....and that it was a once in a life time opportunity because you have to have special authorization to even enter the crypt in the first place. We also went to the Palacio de las Bellas Artes.
Elder Ramos is doing well and progressing a ton. We baptized a woman named Norma this week. She is 19. I found her when I was still with Elder Llanos, and when we found her she was drinking and smoking and using cocaine. But she dropped everything to join the Church. Her Mom died 2 weeks ago and that was really hard for her, she relapsed into drinking and smoking, but we taught her about the temple and baptisms for the dead and she got hooked on something other than drugs. The change that people make in coming to know the Church is incredible...it is unbelievable what people are willing to do. They think that we as missionaries are soo good, that we know so much and that we have helped them so much. But we don´t know anything, we are just normal people preaching an abnormal message. They are the ones that change themselves, we just watch.
This week was a little hard, the work suffered a little bit, and our numbers are down. I always feel bad when we don´t meet then norms of the mission, because when we don´t we are failing the Lord in the goals that He has set for us. Pero hay que seguir adelante con firmeza en Cristo.
Melissa- Thank you so much for your letter. Teotihuacan is really cool, someday I will have to take you there. Keep learning Spanish. Yo le amo tanto, siga leyendo sus escrituras y haciendo sus oraciones. El Señor le bendecirá. You are a special person, don´t ever let anyone tell you differently.
Cameron- Thanks for your letter. Chemistry is the best!! Just wait until college, that is where you start learning the crazy interesting stuff. One day we can study together...but you gotta go to BYU first and I have to finish things up here in Mexico. Everything that you learn in Chemistry can and should be applied to the Gospel. The two go hand in hand-
Mom-- Who is Maria? (Note from Peggy: Maria is a lady he referred to in his last letter who had lost her husband recently. He must have forgotten about her.) I love you, work hard to find references for the missionaries if they deserve it, if not work hard to find people for the gospel because everyone deserves a chance to accept eternal salvation.
Love you all, I pray for you all every day.