Saturday, October 17, 2015

Oct. 12- The CHINCHE

My Dear and Loving Familia,
I am still alive and loving it here in Mexico:) This week was pretty lame story-wise, but I will tell you something that is happening, and then regale you with some more fun facts about weird things in Mexico, jaja:) 
So.... about a week and half ago I got this bug bite on my leg. And it hurt. I have about a thousand mosquito bites, so I knew this bite was different then those ones but I didnt know what kind of bite it was. I mentioned to Hna Garcia that I had a bite and that it hurt, but she just kinda shrugged her shoulders and said 'Lo Siento' (NO YOU DONT FEEL IT, jaja. ) anyways, so I just did what my Mom has always told me and circled the bite with a pen to see if it was growing. Plus the weekend this happened was General Conference and one of the other American sisters actually got Chickungunya (the really rough sickness the mosquitos spread) and so I couldnt talk about the bite much. It was kinda like that sketch of Brian Regan with the guy who walked on the moon, jaja, anything anyone said could be one-upped with the fact that she had Chikungunya. Anyways, so I just decided not to worry about the bite cuz no one really seemed disturbed about it. But it kept growing everyday. 
So, eventually one night when our district leader called us I told him about it, and he cared!:) jaja, and he told us to call the mission president's wife, Hna Avila. When we called her she told us we'd need to go to a doctor to get it looked at because there is this one kind of bug, the Chinche, that spreads a sickness that affects people's hearts in 10-15 years. POR FIN, hna garcia took me to a doctor in the ward after that talk:) And guess what? IVE GOT THE CHINCHE. Jaja. But really.. I guess it is a kind of large bug that comes and sucks peoples blood and deposits its feces (Thats right, Ive got chinche poop in my leg) and it can leave a kind of sickness in the people that causes heart problems or something.. To be honest, my vocabulary in Spanish for medical stuff is sketchy at best, so these facts are just what I picked up. Hna Garcia finally started showing some care, but it was because she had been living with a chinche in the house, haha #compassion. When we called Hna Avila to tell her she got real freaked out too and we were told to drop our citas for the rest of the day to start a deep-clean of the casa. Which seemed a little silly to me because we had been living in the house for about a week since my bite, but whatevs, Im glad to have a clean house now:) We never found the chinche, but they said it might not necessarily be living in our house , they sometimes travel long distances to feed... So, now I have to go to get a check up in 2 weeks to have a blood test and see if I have the sickness given from the Chinche. I received a blessing yesterday, and I know all will be well:) But, prayers are definitely appreciated!
Now for some fun Mexican facts!:) 
-I dont know if I already told you this, but here Dora teaches English to children:) And I think it is so funny. All the words she teaches in Spanish are switched to English in the program here:) Like, the backpack song in English is 'backpack, backpack... delicioso!' But here the song is 'Mochila, Mochila... delicious!' jaja. 
-They buy bread that is pre-toasted here. It is like buying stale bread, but whatevs.
-They sell and eat marshmallows like candy:) Like, you can buy a single marshmallow in a tienda and in houses people have bags of marshmallows to offer visitors sometimes:) 
-When referring to something that is going to happen in a week people always say 'in 8 days' and it drives me crazy because a week only has 7 days!! Like, when we tell them we have church service every Sunday they say 'You have it every 8 days?' 
Well, I love you all very very much! Keep looking up and find what the Lord is trying to teach you and show you in every moment:) In my agenda I write my tender mercies of the day, and sometimes they are large things like someone paying for our comvie, but sometimes they are small things that still show me God is mindful of me, like having a baby smile at me:) Te quiero!
-Hermana Lillie Swallow :) 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Oct. 5- Conferencia General!

My Dear Family and Loved Ones,
How are you?:) Wasnt general conference AMAZING??:) I am so grateful that we have a prophet on the earth today and that he holds the keys to guide through these last days of trouble and gloom:) I had a great week!
The week started with something amazing.. RAIN. It usually rains at night here in large thunderous bouts of flooding, but this week I guess there was a hurricane or something somewhere so we had almost 3 glorious days of cool overcast weather, it was amazing. PLUS, I got to use my sweet yellow raincoat:) The only downside to the cooler weather was the fact that our already-cold water was FREEZING for lack of the sun warming it up, jaja. I thought I had accidentally died when I took my shower the first night! Mental preparation was required for the next night. 
We had our second day of divisions with the Hermanas Capacitadores this Wednesday, and it was really good again! They are always so kind and such amazing missionaries and teachers! I learn so much. This week was rough, though, because EVERY SINGLE ONE of my appointments fell through when I was on divisions with them, jaja. I felt bad because youre supposed to show what kind of missionary and teacher you are.. and all we did was get rejected and contact and walk a lot:) But, that is a big part of being a missionary so I know they understand. They were really nice about it! Hopefully next time I can actually teach with them:) 
The best part of the week was GENERAL CONFERENCE!!! I am so incredibly grateful. The other american Hermanas in our zone came to watch it with us so we could watch it in English together in a separate room, and I am so grateful! I learned so much. We also witnessed another miracle:) 
WE HAD 6 PEOPLE AT CHURCH!! I am so grateful! We have worked so hard and we are starting to see some amazing fruit for the labor:) The Hermana who came to church because of the invitation I wrote on the back of her card, Marta, is progressing BEAUTIFULLY! She is so excited for her baptismal date in 3 weeks and says everything we teach her feels right:) She also calls us her 'preciosas' jaja.. I had a dream the other day about Lord of the Rings and I knew it was because of that. But other than that everything is going super great with her:) I felt bad that I was in the small room watching in English and not sitting with my investigators. Hopefully in April I will watch Conference in Spanish with my investigators:) 
I hope all of you have an amazing week! The Lord truly is in the details. Go and re-watch what you couldnt or what you werent paying attention to during conference and seek the inspiration from the Spirit to know what things you need to change or apply in your life:) You dont know what a blessing it is to watch it in English, to actually hear the PROPHETS voice, and not a person speaking over in a different language. 
I love you all!!!:) 
-Hermana Swallow

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sept. 28- Tengo Gozo en mi Alma Hoy!

My Dear Family & Loved Ones,
How are you? I hope and pray you are doing amazing:) It was another good week! The Lord is truly with us and in the details of our lives! I have officially completed 3 months of the mission! That is one third of one half, people! WOOOO!!:)
I have a newfound focus to help my companion learn √čnglish, did you know that is actually almost as important as us gringos learning Spanish? Preach my Gospel says so. And I have not been doing my part! But, now that Spanish is beginning (only beginning, I promise) to come more naturally, I am trying to talk more in English in the casa. So far I think the only word I have taught Hna. Garcia is 'awkward' jaja. And that is a testament to my life, right there. She doesnt fully grasp the word yet, but I have taught her the concept perfectly, jaja. When things happen she'll be like 'Esto fue su segunda awkward hoy!' (That was your second awkward today!) jaja. I seem to keep her entertained. The only other things I have taught her and the other latino elders in our ward are funny gangster phrases. It is so hilarious to hear them with their accents sayings stuff like 'Oh no you didnt!' or 'You must be trippin!' Jaja. 
I think my biggest tender mercy of the week was Womens Conference this weekend! If any of you women couldnt watch it, I encourage you to do so:) It was amazing! I was told that I would get to watch General Conference in English, so I was fully expecting the Womens Meeting to be in English for me too, which would mean some other companionships with American companions would come to our building so we could be in our own room with a computer in English. But, this didnt happen on Saturday and I was so sad! None of the other missionaries came, which meant I had to stay with my companion and listen to it in Spanish. She didnt understand why I was so disappointed, and just shrugged her shoulders at my distress. Jaja, this is something I sometimes I have sassy-ness issues with with the Sp√†nish language. Their form of 'I am sorry' is Lo Siento, which means, 'I feel it'. So when Hna. Garcia shrugs her shoulders when I cant understand something and tells me 'I feel it' I want to be like 'Uh, do you speak Spanish? I am pretty sure you DONT feel it.'  Nevertheless, I still wanted to be grateful for the opportunity to watch womens conference, so I said a prayer to Heavenly Father that I would be able to understand what I could and what the Spirit needed me to. And it was AMAZING! The songs are still in English, and I could feel the Spirit so strong! And the Lord showed his power by helping me understand and even helping me to take NOTES! Which is almost impossible most of the time because usually I can only focus on listening and cant write at the same time. It was an amazing experience of feeling the Lords love:) He is there in the biggest and the smallest of our needs:) I still hope I can watch General Conference this week in English, though;) 
Something super cool is happening in our area with one of our investigators:) Well, one day we were walking and stopped at a tienda and a boy bought us water. We found out he was deaf and mute, so we signed what we could to tell him thank you. We ran into him again another day and this time we were able to set up an appointment with him through written messages. We have an hermana in our ward who is a recent convert and her son is deaf as well and is not a member, but they both came with us to the appointment to help sign and translate for us. It was a super sweet experience:) Also, if you thought understanding from Spanish-English was hard, try translating from Spanish Sign-Spanish-English, jaja. We found out that our deaf investigator is actually a member but his family moved and he is the only member in his family and didnt know where he could attend church. When he found out that his friend (the son of the recent convert) was not a member, he bore his testimony by sign and it was amazing because both I and Hna Garcia could understand everything:) The Spirit really knows no bounds. Now the deaf boy we contacted,MIchell, knows where he can attend church and renew his convenants, the deaf son of the recent convert, Luis, is going to attend church because his friend will be there, and the Mom is going to help translate and sign for both boys- She who was only converted almost a year ago and already is an amazing instrument for the work of the Lord:) It amazes me that the Lord orchestrates and plans everything in the life of his children so wonderfully. 
I testify that He is doing the same for all of you as well:) You cant understand what he ALREADY HAS PLANNED for you, just trust Him and do what you can to qualify for those blessings:) I love you all, have an amazing week!:) 
Hermana Lillie Swallow
PS- We had 4 in the church yesterday!!!!!! WHAT!!!:) One of them was an investigator we havent been able to get ahold of for about 2 weeks, but he said he looked at his pass-along card and saw the invitation and remembered to come:) WIN NUMBER 2 FOR MY CARDS!!!!! Jaja:) My comp has started writing the same invitation on all of her cards as well:):):):)

Sept. 21- Small Things Bring About Great Things

Mi Querida Familia y Amigos!
WOW we are all so blessed and strengthened in the Lord! This week was.. hard. Like every week;) But So Great!! Because even when things are hard we know the Lord is just preparing us for more blessings! 
So, you know pass-along cards? Well, I thought I knew pass-along cards before my mission, but now I KNOW pass-along cards and the art of placing them;) We use them a ton when we are contacting (talking to random people on the street in the hopes that they will let us teach them). Anyways, when I first started the mish I felt pretty stupid just giving a card with a picture of Jesus and walking away from people. If they didnt let us make an appointment or give us their address, we would probably never ever see them again. And what did they have from our visit? a couple seconds of conversation and a random card with Jesus on it. Which is pretty great, but I wanted to do something more in the hopes of seeing more:) So, I started writing invitations on every card I gave. I found out how to describe where our church was and I started writing on every card where our church building was, when we had meetings, and that they were invited to attend with us:) Well.. I give out a lot of cards. So writing this note on everyone of them takes some of my time in the mornings and my companion teased me that it was a waste of time because contacts never come to church, but I felt like it was something small that I could do and I told her that 'Someday, someone will come to church because of my cards.' I felt very secure about this and knew that I would keep writing my invitation on every card even if it never happened until my 17th month:) WELL IT HAPPENED!!!!!  Whaaaaattt?!:) YES! 
A woman that we contacted about 3 weeks ago in the street didn't want an appointment with us, but she took one of my passalong cards with her. She told us that as she looked at that picture later (the one of Christ in the Americas)she felt something in her- something GOOD:) And when she read the invitation she knew she had to attend church to find out more! so she finally built up the courage to come alone yesterday, and it was nothing short of a miracle to me. An amazing TENDER MERCY:) She loved everything about church and kept telling us that she was feeling something and that she knew it was right. I was so amazed- AM so amazed. I pray that the Spirit will keep working in her and we can help her become truly converted in the Lord:) 
This week was also the Mexican independence day, the 15th and 16th. I guess they never have like one day for a holiday, its always like 2 or 3 days haha. The mexican colors Red, Green, and White were everywhere so our Zone dressed up to show some Mexican Pride! It was a bit awkward when we were around a bunch of people who weren't dressed up and the whitey (me) was showing more country pride than them, jaja. And I guess when Mexicans party they party real hard, so we had to be in our apartment super early both nights, it was so strange not working all day, but we have to be obedient:) 
Well, I hope you all have an amazing week! I love you very much and I feel the strength from your prayers and love!! Remember that through small things the Lord brings about great things! A small invitation on a card can bring someone to Church, a small smile from a stranger can brighten someones day! Think of what little things you can do:) 
Hermana Lillie Swallow
PS- I had another tender mercy yesterday as well, I FINALLY understood a Spanish joke in time to laugh with the group! Jaja. We were learning about the Word of Wisdom and The teacher was listing different types of tea we dont drink and he was like ''Te negro, te chino...'' and one of the hermanos said ''te-quila....'' JAJAJA! I love you have a great week!

Sept. 14- Divisions and Temples

Sept. 7- Wholly to the Work