Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Aug. 10- One Week Down

My quierida Familia,
I am still safe here in crazy Mexico:) This week has probably been the strangest of my life, but I am doing well! 
So, you know how everyone jokes about the Best Two Years and how 'that wasnt the language they taught me in the MTC'? jaja. I can now attest to that. But, I feel like it is still the language they taught me in the MTC, but they taught me in slow motion. And now everyone talks in fast forward!! Loco:) But I am learning so much! I still feel like I cant say much of what I want, but I can bear my testimony and that is something:) My companion actually makes me do contacting on my own, so I am getting pretty good at making small talk about what I like about peoples outfits and how cute their children are, and then awkwardly asking if they want a card about Jesus Christ and if we can come to their house, haha. 
So, there are no white people here. I guess its just weird because in the States there is a bunch of races, but here EVERYONE IS MEXICAN. And everyone stares at the Guerita:) (I guess thats means gringo, Im the guerita if you didnt notice:) Yeah, so everyone we walk everyone just stares at me and I just say ''Buenas tardes!!'' jaja. I think its actually because Im white that we get contacts sometimes. I like to think that I am fulfilling my missionary purpose by faithfully putting on my sunscreen everyday, jaja. 
Because I feel so awkward while people stare at me, I try very hard not to stare or look surprised at anything I see crazy here in Mexico. I'm getting pretty good at going with the flow. After my mission  even tommy wont be able to jump out and scare me because I practice so hard everyday to never change my smiling facial expression and to always act like I know what I am doing jaja:) Oh, a random cow crossing the road? how nice. Wash my hands in this weird bucket over here? I do this everyday.. You would like to nurse your child right here in the street as I am talking to you? go right ahead, haha. I am learning:)
Our casa is pretty good:) When I first got here I thought it was such a dump, but now that I have visited a lot more places here I realize how extremely blessed we are. And this morning I devoted a couple hours to cleaning the bathroom and turns out its actually the color blue, jaja. My comp says that Elders lived here before the Hermanas and thats why it is gross, so I will do my best to keep cleaning what I can:) We dont have hot water, but thats okay. Everything else is extremely hot here, so I just tell myself I like it, jaja. Plus, if you get really cold while showering, your towell feels really warm when you get out! win-win!:) We each have our own little refrigerators, and I love mine:) I dont really cook much, because the members of the ward feed us lunch everday and it is pretty late in the day so really I just eat cereal and fruit for breakfast. We have a washer, but it is kinda like a thing that just swishes around water, jaja. I am grateful, though. Other missionaries dont have anything.. and we have tons of string around our house to dry our clothes:) On pday our back patio thing is like a jungle of clothes:) 
My companion is very nice:) Her name is Hermana Garcia and she is from the state of Mexico, so I guess just close to Mexico City. She doesnt know like any English, jaja. But she promised to practice because I am supposed to teach her english. Her last companion only taught her the words like 'Idiot' 'shut up' 'poop' and 'I hate you.' Jaja, which is... potentially problematic. I guess they had a silly relationship:) She works really hard and I am learning a lot! Whenever she is trying to explain something in Spanish and I honestly cannot figure it out, we can call our District Leader to explain to me, jaja. Elder Montier and I are getting pretty tight because of this. Plus, because he is a guero as well he knows how hard it is to learn the language and he can honestly tell me that I am doing good and stuff.Whereas my companion.. I am her first trainee and all of her other white companions could speak the language well, so she doesn't really understand when I struggle, jaja. But she is very nice and patient:)
I love you all very, very much and I pray for you everyday. There are many tender mercies to be found, and I try to look for them everyday. I struggle with the language and the new culture, but I know the Lord is here in Galeana and aware of me:) And of YOU! Anytime I need to talk to someone in English, He is there:) He understands all of us perfectly and I am so grateful for his matchless love! One day I will be able to coherently express it to His children here, jaja.But for now I will just keep smiling:) I LOVE YOU!!! 
Hermana Swallow
I forgot to take pictures this week, mostly because I am too scared and don't know when it is appropriate to take them, jaja. But here is me in our casa at my desk:) It is proof that I am alive, I suppose:) I love you all!!!

Aug. 3- MEXICO

Mi Querido Familia y Amigos,
Bless you, all of you, who emailed me this day. I prayed so hard that I would have some comfort through emails this loco, loco day. I AM REALLY IN MEXICO NOW! It has been a very long day, and I am finally in my area with my brand new compañera! I have been assigned to Galeana with Hermana Garcia as my trainer:) She is very nice and we have been getting along really well:) I think she will take good care of me here in the city! 
I guess whenever I pictured myself on a mission I was always in rural areas teaching on dirt floors and under palm trees.. and now I am in this large and loco city, haha. I am more than a little frightened. As I we walked down the streets I just kept thinking "What have I done, What have I done, What have I done??" But everyone in the training told me that it is extremely normal to feel out of place for a while, please keep me in your prayers.
Also, I'm not sure what kind of 'Spring' they think they have in Mexico, but it sure doesn't feel like eternal primavera to me, haha. I am sweating in places I didn't know I could! Also, I guess our area is one of the hottest in the mission. #sorpresasorpresa jaja. 
I know that blessings will come after the trail of your faith, and if I when I prayed about it it felt right then, it is STILL right now. All will be well, and I will strive to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord:) But definitely keep me in your prayers. I love you mucho y mucho!!
-Hermana Lillie Swallow

PS- speaking of the trail of your faith, remember last Thursday and Hermana Warners broken and blistered feet?? Well. she decided to exercise her faith in the Lord and said a specific prayer on Thursday night that at 7:07am on Friday morning she would look at her feet and they would be better and she wouldn't feel the pain anymore. AND IT WORKED. You could still see the marks, but she wasn't in any more pain and we were able to return her wheelchair that morning:) Our God is a God of miracles, and I know He is mindful of me out here in Mexico and of YOU.  

Monday, August 3, 2015

July 30, 2015- Last Days at the CCM!

Mi Querida Familia,
In 3 days I will be leaving the CCM. This is not a drill. I repeat, this is not a drill! 
I am SO excited! And extremely frightened. But, que sera, sera! I feel like I am not ready and I need to know more Spanish and Gospel stuff... but I definitely don't want to stay here at the CCM any longer, haha. I am ready to learn what it is like to be a real missionary!
So, this week something pretty crazy happened at the CCM. I like to call it 'La Gran Epidemia del CCM.' Or, the 'separating the wheat from the tares.' you know what I mean?;) Haha, but seriously, there was this crazy virus that came through and hit every district. It was like the last days up in here. You'd be talking to a friend in the morning only to find them stricken by lunchtime. Life at the CCM was like a battlefield. I carried around my hand sanitizer (thanks Mom and Dad!) and warded off anybody who looked the least bit fatigued. I would also choke down cups of orange juice every meal time. #stayingsafe #apocalypse
Haha, it really wasnt that big of a deal (plus they told us not to make you guys scared, haha) but when you live in close quarters with a bunch of people and everybody is always shaking hands and whatnot, what do you expect? Luckily it was only like a 24 bug and everybody is completely fine now:) But they guessed about 100 of the 500 Americans here got sick within 2 days, so crazy! The enfermeria was really run over with all the activity. And sick people would get to ride in the golf carts to their casas and stuff, I tried to get in a couple times, but alas- it was not meant to be! haha. Thankfully my companions and I were all safe! And the CCM really is a nice and safe place for mothers to send their missionaries and nobody need think this was a really serious thing because I'm not supposed to share negative things;) 
Another crazy thing happened this week, with my companion Hna Warner. We were playing volleyball in the sand pit (because I'm athletic and cool now) and the sand was really hot. I guess she plays on the balls of her feet, or the sand was really hot where she was, or something because she shifted badly and now she has no skin underneath both of her big toes! So crazy! She also has another blister about the size of a quarter on one of her feet, so I think it was so hot her big toes got huge blisters really quick and then she rubbed them off while running? No se. She is so tough, though. She is going through some pretty tough stuff, but she is so strong!! #Jobstatus! Also, who knew that Job had 42 chapters in it? Also, is that a real story, or just a parable or something? Somebody let me know about that.. 
Haha, anyways, I'm sorry I can't think of much else to write! All I do is study all day and get yelled at for speaking English, haha. But come Monday I will be solo Español for the next 17 months! I leave at 5:30am on Monday morning by bus to the Cuernavaca mission:) Because we're going by bus we don't have to worry about baggage weight and stuff, and that is a huge blessing! Hermana Warner and 4 other American Hermanas will be with me, and some other latinas tambien:) 
I love you all please pray for me and my FIRST WEEK in the campo next week!!!!!!!!!!
-Hermana Swallow

PS- I got my hair cut this morning:) Only positive comments will be accepted;) Love you!!

July 23, 2015- Prayers are Answered!

Querido Familia,
This was another great week! I cannot believe that I only have 17 months left in my mission.. that just seems so odd. But at the same time I am so glad my time at the CCM is drawing to a close so I can get out and see what the Lord has need of me for! Next Thursday it will be my last Pday emailing you from the CCM- so crazy! I am so grateful. I still don't know if my Spanish is improving. It is easy for the people who came from knowing no spanish at all to see how they have improved, but it is harder for my district to really feel like we are progressing by my maestro assures me that I am, which is nice:) 
One thing I think I have definitely been learning alot of is the Spirit! It may sound so silly to you that I am just now learning these things, but this past week I have finally realized some of the simplest foundational teaching things. Like, the lessons arent meant to be taught with the focus on the lesson- you need to teach specifically for the needs of your investigator. Principles are the same, but application to lives are different with each lesson. And the Spirit really does witness and testify of Jesus Christ and lead the lessons. Yesterday we had TRC, which is when Mexican volunteers come here to the CCM and get taught so we have practice with members and real latino speakers, and yesterday while we were chatting with our members I felt like we should change the scripture we were going to share to one that I read earlier that day. I didn{t want to change our lesson because I knew my companions were going to be caught off guard, but I did it anyway and it went awesome!! I felt so happy.
One of the coolest things happened this week, and I felt so incredibly special. Every Sunday here all the native english speakers get together to watch a church movie in English. When I first got here I hoped with all my young girl heart that we could watch Legacy one of the Sundays. I even prayed about it while I was struggling getting used to being here and being away from home, haha. Eventually I realized that it really didn't matter what movie we watched so long as I had the Spirit but last week one of the CCM presidency members, Presidente Call, sat with us at lunch and was asking if there was anything he could do for us. All the girls were asking about wearing flip flops and getting churros in the comedor.. but I asked if we could watch Legacy one of the sundays before August 3rd:) He told me that they watch the same 6 movies every transfer so every set of missionaries gets to watch the same movies. I was disappointed, but he wrote it down to talk about in his meeting, and I told him all would be fine! THEN, this past Sunday, we had a lesson on asking specific prayers to the Lord so that we can receive specific answers and I was trying to think about experiences I have had praying and receiving. Every Sunday we also have a devotional all together earlier in the day and last Sunday instead of a recorded speaker like usual WE WATCHED LEGACY!!! Haha, I was so excited I started crying. I love that movie so much! But it wasn't so much about my love for Legacy as it was that I realized I had received what I had prayed for. Even though it was an extremely silly prayer, Heavenly Father thought it was important enough to have them change the schedule of 500+ missionaries because one of his Hermanas had asked:) I am still so grateful and aware of His love for me. Plus I love that movie even more now;)
Along with learning more spanish and more gospel doctrine, I also feel like I am becoming a pretty fair player in Ping pong and Volleyball! We play almost everyday in gym time and I have ceased running away from the ball every time and Hna Warner even told me I hit a couple pretty well yesterday, haha:) By the end of these next 10 days I'll be a pro!
I hope you all have an amazing week! Pray for specific blessings or help so that the Lord can bless you specifically according to your faith:) LOVE YOU!!!!
Hermana Swallow
PS- we went to the Mexico City Temple this morning but since its under construction we just took pictures and enjoyed the Spirit from the outside:)

July 16, 2015- Package JOY!!!

Here is the pic of me and my second package that apparently was from the kids! I am so grateful  and loved! I loved your letter with everyones  messages, haha. Mitch- your section about the awkward moment when you get a package and your comp didnt made me LAUGH OUT LOUD! It was so true. My comps were so fed up that they hadnt gotten anything, hahaha. I am so grateful, and definetly shared with them! I love you!

PS- the reason im in gym clothes in the pics is because we can only take pics in our casa other than pday and we only go to our casa during the day to change into gym clothes! Love you!

Thank you and Dad and the family SOO MUCH for the letters and packages!! I am so grateful and full of love! I took pictures so you could see what they looked like and how happy I was! I got one package on Monday and then the letters and the other package on Tuesday! I seriously love you guys so much and am so grateful!

July 9, 2015- Week Two DONE!

My Dear Family,
This second week here at the CCM went SO MUCH BETTER! Man, the work really progresses when we stop thinking about ourselves and starting thinking about others! I am so grateful that the Lord really has blessed me with an attitude of optimism and strength!
This last Sunday was fast sunday! I was kindof annoyed because I love the food here, haha, but it is always good to fast. I started off my fast that I would be blessed with the gift of tongues (and that Emma{s delivery would go good.. I had no idea she had already had Samson.. so my fast worked I guess.. haha, youre welcome!) anyways, so I was fasting for the gift of tongues (like seriously every single person here at the CCM) and I realized something. Why on Earth would the Lord just bless me with such a gift if I didn{t deserve it? I knew He would bless me with it if I worked hard enough, not if I fasted hard enough, so I decided to change my fast that I would be given a DESIRE to work hard, haha. Satan is not trying to tempt me to drink alcohol or break the law of chastity, he is tempting me to not work hard. Lame, I know. So everyday I try to do better! It seriously is interesting, I feel like I talk my best spanish the second I stop worrying about it so much. Last night by like 830 I was falling asleep on my feet in class, but my teacher asked me to be an investigator and then switch and teach him for the class. And I realized I spoke like the fastest and best Spanish yet while I was half asleep, haha. So that is cool.
Guess what happened this week? haha, I finally got sick. Everyone here always complains about the food making them sick and stuff, so far the only thing the food has done to me is make me fat. Because I eat alot of it. Because its delicious! But I also work out everyday. Anyways... so, I was just going about my Monday when BOOM! My stomach decided to try to kill me. I guess I got some sort of virus. I decided that it wasn{t a big deal but when my teacher asked me what was wrong and I told him I wasn{t feeling hot he MADE me go to the doctor. But, I was grateful because they were very kind and gave me nice little pills to feel better, haha. And I do, and I am so grateful I do. Maybe my companions just needed to do some service, haha. Hermana Warner actually told me that she had prayed for an opportunity to speak more in our lessons (Hma Keller and I tend to teach the most) so she said she was grateful that I was sick so she could help in the lesson more. But.. she still didnt talk much in the lesson we gave and I still had to do a bunch, haha. Hopefully she will feel more confident soon. The secret is to cut off Hma Keller when you sense shes in a rant, haha.
Being in the CCM has been pretty good, this week we got to welcome the new recruits and it was fun seeming older and wiser. We actually got a girl from my YSA ward in Logan who was actually my neighbor so it was fun to see her! Sometimes being in a trio is hard because it seems like one person is being left out. What with being sick this week my companions had a lot of bonding time and I was feeling a little left out. We also went running and while I valiently ran the entire time, they totally left me behind, haha. Esta bien. But then our district leader asked me them to teach the district meeting lesson without me.. and I was like "Excuse me?" So, I guess that{s whatever. I am really grateful for the opportunity to make lots of other friends here, especially in our casa. The Lord knows what he is doing, and if anybody had to be in a trio I am glad He trusts me to trust Him!
This morning we went on a trip to migration to finish getting our visas approved and done. It was pretty interesting seeing more of the city! It goes from the nastiest slums I{ve ever seen to the prettiest modern city. So strange, but I can{t wait to see what Cuernavaca is like in less than 4 weeks! 
I love you all SO MUCH! Have an amazing week and remember to look up!
Hermana Swallow 

July 2, 2015- Hello Family!

Hello family!! I apologize in advance if my spelling and grammar are bad... I have one hour, a strange keyboard, and weird spanish&english brain. 

So... I've been here at the CCM for an entire week now! It has been muy bien! I'm sorry that it sounded like nobody heard from me, I thought for sure I had sent the email when I got here! Thank you for all of the prayers and support, I love you all so much.

Whenever anybody told me that I needed to prepare for the Mission more because it would be hard, i was like- but I"m LILLIE! Haha, how young and naive. This has easily been the hardest week of my entire life. The other missionaries don't even seem to worry about their family, but the first night I cried like a baby! I realized it is a huge blessing to me to have a family that I love so much to miss so much. 

I have been placed in a trio companionship (as if adjusting to one companion would be hard- we get to adjust to having two;) But Hermana Keller and Hma Warner are great, and I am grateful to have them here beside me. Hma Warner is the short one, she is so funny and really lightens our companionship. Hma Keller is the blond, and she... is basically ME. Which can cause some tension since I'm a pretty hard person to get along with;) But things have been going good, and we are really learning how to follow the spirit to know how to serve one another and work as a team!

We were placed in a trio companionship probably because we're all in the intermediate Spanish class. I think our district is the only one that is. Not that it means anything, we still are learning the basics of Spanish because I don't think our maestro knows how to not follow the book. But that's fine because we have a lot of additional study time to do what we are on the level do to. I feel like I could be doing more additional study... but ask me how to invite someone to be baptized, the missionary purpose, and the first vision and i''ve got those down perfectly in Español! 

The second day we got here they told us we had an investigator to teach and we were like, 'Whaaaa??" and then they told us we had to teach him completely in Spanish and we were like, "Quééééé?" ;) His name is Fabian and we have since taught him 4 times, and he has agreed to baptism on August 1st! But, we found out he was a teacher yesterday when we saw him eating lunch in the comedor and I was a little annoyed that I had invested so much personal time and prayer for someone who was already endowed. Or maybe we can tell people I've already got my first investigator through the temple...? ;) 

The CCM here in Mexico City is seriously a place set apart for a divine purpose. The spirit is so strong, and the purpose clear. It used to be a church highschool, but then they converted it to be the MTC here in Mexico when the time was finally right:) Mexico City is like the most jam-packed city ever, but here we have 90 beautiful acres of classes, plants, and beauty. And, the water comes from a large well they have on campus so you can drink it here! Tell me that God doesn't work miracles, and I will prove you wrong:) This campus was prepared like 50 years in advance for us to learn Spanish here and learn how to teach as Christ would.

I can't wait to be out in the field.. but I only have 5 weeks left here at the CCM and I am grateful! When things were really hard last week I cried to my Branch Presidente in our personal interview about how hard the work was, and how much I missed home. He told me that I need to stop thinking about myself and start serving others. I was like "But, I'm not in the field yet..." and he told me that I have been given two companions to focus on and help, one extra than any one else here! It was a little hard for him to tell me I was being selfish, but I realized that I didn't come here to Mexico for me, so I should stop thinking so much about ME. Things have gotten ten thousand times better since I've had this realization. 

I'm going to try to send some personal emails now, so I love you so much!! Have an amazing week, and I'll write again next Thursday!

Con Amor,
Hermana Swallow

Here are some more fotos I took earlier today:) I love you soooo much!
The green circle is where we go if there is an earthquake, its our safe spot.

Lillie's Adventures and Address

Lillie has asked me to post her group emails to the blog each week so that when she comes home she can have a record in one place of her adventures.  I think that is an awesome idea because that way more people can be a part of Lillie's adventures!

She is leaving the CCM today for her first area her new mailing address for letters and packages is-

Hermana Lillie Swallow
Mexico Cuernavaca Mission
Avenida Palmira #35
Colonia Palmira
62490 Cuernavaca, Morelos

To save a little money you can also sent her letter to the Pouch Mail System:

Today's Posts will be her emails over the past few weeks from the Mexico City MTC (CCM)
Love, Teresa a.k.a.  I love my missionary MOM