Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Aug. 31- Mexico: Its a pretty strange place

Mi Querida Familia,
This was a good week:) I am finding that it is a blessing to be able to say that:) Things are hard, sometimes people are stupid, and I miss my family. But I am still happy:) I can never let myself be sad because the second that happens my feet start hurting, my bag gets heavier, and I cant handle the stress- its better that I give it all to the Lord and keep moving forward with a smile on my face:) 
We have yet to have an investigator attend church in these four weeks that I have been here, but I still feel like we have many blessings:) My comp told me that the only reason I am still happy is because it is my first area so I don't know that it is bad because I don't have anything to judge it against, jaja. But I truly believe the Lord is with us and we are doing His work and we might not see the fruits of our labors, but I am okay being like Johnny Appleseed and planting seeds to grow for future missionaries and for children of God to come unto Him in the future because of something we did:) But prayers are always accepted, thank you for remembering me:) Entonces, because things are pretty tough I don't really have any success stories from this week but I thought I would tell you some of the funny things that are actually normal in Mexico:) 
For one, we travel everywhere that is like over a mile or two by comvie, so we use comvies alot! A comvie is their public transportation that is just constantly running, so there are no time schedules. And they follow the same routes so there aren't real stops, just where you flag them down or ask to be dropped off:) A comvie is basically a van with benches along the sides, back, and one backwards behind the driver. Comvies are such an interesting experience, I thought I would describe them in the form of Jeff Foxworthy:) 1- If you have ever feared for your life, but were kind-of having fun as well, and also striving not to puke, you might be riding a comvie. 2- If there are so many people around you that their sweat actually becomes your sweat, you might be riding a comvie! 3- If you have ever wondered when you got on the roller coaster, but then realized you were actually on a bus- you might be riding a comvie. 4- If you have ever been sitting in a seat bouncing up and down and nearly falling off every 2 seconds but have nothing to hold onto but your faith (or that stranger you're sharing sweat with, but that ain't gonna happen), you might be riding a comvie;). 
There are also a bunch of lizards here. I have seen lizards only an inch long to over a foot! (That one might have been an iguana, but ain't nobody got time to get close enough to tell.) 
In church, the deacons pass the Sacrament to every person individually, so they walk down the middles of the rows to give it. Jaja, I don't know why I find this so funny, but I do.
We have tortillas at literally. every. meal. I have no idea why sometimes, but if I don't eat one the woman of the house will notice and then I will get in trouble;) 
You guys already know about the nursing babies thing, but I was shocked one more time on accident, jaja. I always try so hard to never let anything show on my face when I am surprised, but yesterday I was sharing a hymnal with a sister in the ward and noticed that her child had finally gone quiet and when I looked down, she was breast feeding and singing right next to me,jaja. 
There are lots of Dogs here. Lots. But luckily the scary ones are always chained or in a house:)
When it is somebody´s birthday that person has to take a bite of the cake just with their mouth into the whole cake, and while they do that people shove their whole face into the cake, jaja. I was so surprised! And sad. Because I didn't want to eat face-cake. 
They don't ever have toilet seats on the toilets. I have no idea why! Maybe its cheaper to not have one? But I remember the days when if my brothers forgot to put the seat down I would fall in because it was so strange to me, but no longer is this a problem. I have learned. 
And finally, they don't refrigerate eggs or mayonnaise. So weird. It definitely freaks me out, jaja. I am sure there are more things that they aren't refrigerating, but I am not going to look;) Remember the other week when I sent a picture of me with the corn covered with butter and cheese and Chile? Turns out, it isn't butter they smother it with- its MAYONNAISE. Unrefrigerated mayonnaise that is just sitting in their carts all day. So I don't like Elote anymore, jaja. 
Well, I love you all!!:) Good luck with everyone starting school and such! Keep being strong and remember being Happy is a choice, and it makes everything better:) Love you! 
Hermana Lillie:) 
PS- this is the inside of a comvie:)


My Dear and Loving Familia, 
Whaaaat! I have been in Mexico for two months Today!!!
So.... Remember Luis? jaja. He was the boy last week that gave us cake, we contacted, and he kissed our cheeks before we could tell him that it wasnt allowed. Well, we had an appointment with him this week an we had all planned out what we were going to say to him about how Hermanas dont kiss boys and Hermana Garcia had actually rehearsed with me, jaja. But then we were walking up to his house ready to tell him when he came out to greet us instead of waiting like was in our plan! In two quick strides he was to Hermana Garcia and as her mouth opened to tell him no he had already kissed her cheek! 'Missionary Down!' ran across my mind and then his eyes moved to me and in one stride he had breached MY perimiter! But I couldnt let this happen to me again because I am a missionary of the Lord gosh dangit! So he approached and I  didnt know my back could even bend back that far, jaja. I just shook his hand and then as he leaned forward I just kept leaning back while all but screaming that I had to tell him something, jajaja... I never know how to handle things delicately. Que sera, sera. He is moving away anyway, hopefully we planted a seed for future Elders to talk to him;)
We went to Cuernavaca for a health meeting last week, and that was fun! It is really great talking with other missionaries and getting to use English for a bit:) Also, do you know what was waiting for me at the office?? A PACKAGE!! Holla at my Aunt Tera! It was full of candy, so I shared with lots of missionaries and made lots of friends, jaja. We also had pizza the night we were in Cuernavaca and I feel like I got more nauseous from eating that than most of the other weird Mexican stuff we eat. Little Ceasers, need I say more?;) But the meeting about health was interesting, there is this huge emphasis on keeping us safe from Dengue and Chikunguya. They are like fevers or something that is passed on from Mosquitos. I faithfully put on my repellent every night and morning and I still get tons of bites, though! And everytime I think I've got the Dengue, jaja. 
So this week I finally met my first Borrachos! (drunks). I feel like tons of missionaries talk about their funny stories with drunks so I thought it was pretty funny actually meeting one:) But I actually met my first three in one day.. And I am so innocent/naive.. or maybe I am just stupid, jaja.. but I never know they are drunk until after when Hna Garcia tells me. I recognized that something about them was off but I didnt realize they were drunk, I just felt bad theycouldnt remember their own telephone number, jaja.. I guess I'll learn the signs! One of the drunks we contacted was actually an inactive member, so that was disappointing. But I'm glad we met him so we could help him!:) We have actually accidentally contacted a menos activo 3 times now, which seems so random, but the Lord knows who He wants us to talk to and help!
I was kind of struggling with this this week, just the lack of success and stuff we're having. No one comes to church, jaja... No one remembers our appointments, no one answers their phones, and no one wants to get baptized. When I got to this area we had 15 people with baptismal dates and they were scheduled for every week. We now have 7 with baptismal dates but theyre not really progressing. I was so upset that I was in an area that is struggling, not because I am upset that I have to work hard, but because I feel bad and like they deserve a better missionary than I am. But I read in D&C 100:4 and it says "Therefore, I, the Lord, have suffered you, [Hermana Swallow], to come unto [Galeana] for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls." And I remembered that the Lord is the one who has called me here and He trusts me to help this ward. It is still hard and I am still trying so hard to be my best for this people, but I know all will be okay! And I know that all of you are where YOU are supposed to be at this time, too:) I love you all so much! Have an amazing week! 
Hermana Swallow
PS- We took this picture while we were waiting for a bus, we dont just sit around taking pictures of ourselves all day, jaja..

Aug. 17- Your Favorite Guerita

My dear and loving family,
I have survived another week in Mexico! And it went so much faster and so much better:)
This week I was sitting in our Zone Conference listening to Elder Cienfuegos talk and I was struggling to understand the Spanish (its way harder when its a talk or something because they dont use their hands and facial expressions as much) and it was rough, I just wasnt keeping up well. Then it happened. I could understand! The words went straight to my mind with meaning and my heart started beating so hard! Then my eyes started tearing up, because I realized he had switched to speaking English. #queserasera jaja. It was pretty funny. I was sitting next to another guerita who is new like me and she thought the same thing. ´Gift of tongues!! .. Nope.´ It was so funny. Turns out I still dont speak spanish! jaja. But I think it really gets better every day:) I understand more, I talk more, and even if they always make fun of my accent, I think I am getting better:) jaja. 
Like I said, this week went so fast, and was good. Sometimes Im not even sure why its so good, because really, it should be awful sometimes.. but Im almost always smiling! jaja. My thoughts are drawn to a favorite movie quote that now sums up my life.. ´So, youre going to suffer alot.. but youre going to be.. happy.. about it´ (Ron Weasly, Divination Class, Hogwarts, Harry Potter 3: Prisoner of Askaban). jaja. But really, that is my life. Everynight when I sit down to write in my journal I start 'Today was a great day!' and then I think about it and it was actually really hard or really difficult.. but I still had a good day! Such a blessing, for reals. 
We had a zone conference this week and a multi-zone conference in Cuernavaca another day as well. Its always really nice to get together with other people of white skin and talk english, but I got tired of not working, jaja. I am here to bring souls to Christ and having to miss like 10 of our appointments to travel to Cuernavaca made me cranky, jaja. Atleast I learned stuff from the conference. 
I am sorry that I really am struggling to remember specifics from this week... after the zone conference my trainer talked to me for a while about avoiding the appearance of flirting (I think she just is angry when she cant understand my English #welcometomylife) but I promised her I would be more careful next time, and THEN the next day this boy came up to us while we were waiting for the bus and gave us cake and when he shook her hand he kissed her cheek (its normal in Mexico) and she didnt stop him, jaja. Hypocrite;) But then he shook my hand and I didnt know how to stop it either... BUt it is still her fault because shes the trainer, right? jaja.
Speaking of the kissing cheeks thing, I think you all would be so surprised at how much physical affection I have to show all day here, jaja. Every woman we talk to we have to kiss their cheek and hug them. I just copy whatever things I watch Hna Garcia do, but sometimes the ladies dont want to hug me and it is SO awkward to give an unrequited hug when I dont even want to hug people in the first place jaja. 
Well, I love you ALL!! Have an amazing week and give the missionaries references! jaja. This week I am going to try to eat more because the members always tell me I offend them when I cant get seconds on the food. Te quiero!
Hermana Swallow
PS- the pic is me and Hna Garcia with elote- its corn on the cob with a bunch of butter, cheese, and chili powder. Pretty fantastic, really:) Also, you can see the crazy plants here! I love it! This is an investigators front yard.