Sunday, January 31, 2016

Jan. 25- What a Week!!

My Dear Family and Loved Ones,

¿Que tal? How was your week? I hope it was wonderful and full of blessings!:) To start things off, I am with my TRAINEE!:) Her name is Hermana Rodriguez, she is from Tijuana, Mexico, and she is 23 years old. Whaaat? Yes, I am supposedly training someone who is 4 years older than me;) Haha, I was a little nervous when we first started, but she is super awesome and we have had a good week together. I am learning SO MUCH from her, I feel like I have never worked as hard or seen as many miracles as happened this week:) It is amazing!

 This is me and two of the other Hermanas who are training in our Zone:) We were in a trio a couple of days before our trainees came, they are named Hermana Miranda and Hermana Lopez:) 
 How many missionaries can you fit in a taxi?;) We have now hit 6, it is actually a pretty normal number for poor missionaries:) But the taxista always tries to charge us more because the 'weight' affects his car more. I am getting better and better at calling them on their robbing;) 
 This was my beautiful companion Hermana Miranda, I just had to take a picture. She looked so serene. ('Shes the Man';)) 

 Me and Hermana Rodriquez chilling in front of a house, everyone uses these chair thingies here. They are like metal pear-shaped frames with stretchy plastic weaved through to make a super comf chair. 

 I have discovered that I have a fear of things I have to eat that still have their eyes. It is just not okay. I ate shrimp like that on Friday and these lobster thingy things yesterday. I have the hardest time not making faces and figuring out how to eat them, haha. 
 I told you before that Iguala is the ''Cuna de la Bandera'' it is where the national flag of Mexico was born-created. It is also home to one of the largest (or possibly THE largest) flags on earth. Today we went up the hill this famous flag is on and saw it up-close. And it is GINORMOUS. GRANDOTA. HUGE. And beautiful:) 
So you can appreciate its size better, I am standing right next to it in this foto, that little stick-thing at the base beside it;) It weighs more than 250kilos, which is like.. 500 pounds? JUST THE FABRIC!

This is the group of us that went, minus the adults:) a family in our ward took us with the Elders and it was really great! 

My traditional (possibly cliche) jumping pic. I am getting so good at these, haha. 

Well, I love you all so much. I miss you like crazy, but I love being here in Mexico, too:) It is my home and I love the people here. I have now taken to telling the people I am from ''Casas Grandes, Chihuahua'' and half of the time the actually believe me:) Have an amazing week, and remember that this is a work and a wonder:) Are you taking part?:) 

Hermana Swallow

Jan. 18- First Week in Iguala

My Wonderful Family and Friends,
How are you all doing?:) I pray that you are well and staying awesome!
My first week in this new area was pretty.. uneventful:) We had a bunch of trainings and conferences this week and because my area is a little farther away it takes a lot of time to do all the traveling and stuff. So, unfortunately, we didnt have the chance to do a lot of actual missionary work but it was good, too, to learn from our leaders and be prepared to work even better with the time we will have this week for sure!:) 
I still dont know who my new companion is that I am going to train, I will meet her today in the afternoon:) But, I don know that she is Mexican:) I am excited for this new adventure, and I know everything is going to be great!

There seems to be a lot of mosquitos out here in Guerrero so we got this cool new mosquito nets for our beds! I was really excited and happy to have a princess bed when we got them.. but then I started having dreams about getting caught in giant spider webs. 
 One weird tradition thing in the mission is cutting missionaries ties when they are about to go home:) This is Elder Montier, he was my first ever District Leader! His Dad actually lives in Tremonton and he is going to visit him soon, so if you see this guy walking around without friends in Tremonton... talk to him. Haha
 Hermana Miranda, my companion for this week:) 
In the super fresa buses we have to take they have to put your name in to save your seat and one of the tickets they gave me put my name as Elder Swallow, haha. I was pretty stoked.
We had a pijamada (sleep over) one of the nights of traveling with a bunch of sister missionaries:) The next morning I woke up at 5 to play soccer, because I am Mexican now, and I MADE A GOAL! My first ever goal, people!

a side-note on this pic: I hate taking pictures when i am the only white girl. The flash just drowns me out and I look even more white. #mylife
Me and Hermana Bessey:) We were facebook friends before and started the mission together and now she is going to train with me, too!:) 
I guess the city of Iguala is super famous because the first Mexican Flag was created here, so there is this hill with a HUGE flag on it, but it looks tiny in my picture. 
Here is a better picture of the flag:) #MexicanPride

The family that we live right next to is called Familia Lopez Ramos. They are AMAZING. I have never had members take such good care of me before. They are always giving us food, rides, blankets.. you name it. I will never be able to pay them back, but I am going to keep trying:) 
Well, I hope you all have an amazing week! Keep praying for missionary opportunities. The members are the real missionaries- show the Lord you are grateful for the blessing of the Gospel in your life by sharing it with someone you care about:) 
I love you!
Hermana Swallow

Jan. 11- Email Time!!

My WONDERFUL Family:) 
This week has been crazy-sauce:) I had serious changes. 1-I am now in a different state here in Mexico, the state of Guerrero. Its still Mexico, but there are still some cultural differences that have thrown me a bit;) 2- I am OPENING an area. Normally with changes you arrive to an area that is new to you, but the companion there that receives you already knows the area. They know who is being taught, what transportation to take, where you live, the basics. To Open an area means that neither you nor your companion have ever been there before so you are basically starting from scratch and getting lost everywhere;) and 3- I AM GOING TO TRAIN! What?! Next Monday I am going to recieve a brand new missionary (I dont know if she will be American or Latina) and I am going to train her :) Now do you understand why my week has been crazy-sauce?;) 
Now, for the foto train:) 

Me, Hermana Percastegui, and Hermana Lizano chilling in the back of a comvie:) 

My lovely district in Cuautla after our last district meeting before they kicked us all out of Cuautla:)
 I apologize for my crazy eyes in this picture, but I was really tired and I LOVE tacos al pastor:) 

This is me drinking a Coke from a glas bottle- the classy way;) Everyone drinks soda here. And every soda is Coke. 
 These are Eluterio and Maria, they will be baptized in Cocoyoc in a few weeks and I am so excited for them. I wont be there, but I am grateful for the time I had to teach and get to know them:) 
 This is another family in Cocoyoc, so loving and fun:) Hermana Marcela, the Mom, always gives me like 3 glasses of juice. I used to like juice. Now I dont. But I still love her;) 
This is a bunch of us sisters from the Zones that got switched to the Mexico, Chalco mission:)  
These are the two new missionaries that are going to be in Cocoyoc! We had the opportunity of teaching them a bit of the area in an afternoon we were together:) The one with the super curly hair is from Brazil! So crazy, she is the first person I have ever met inthe mish that is learning Spanish from a language other than English;) 
This is me and Hermana Smith on the bus that took us away from Cuautla:) She was with me in the CCM, and we have stayed pretty close all through the mission:) But now she is in Cuernavaca and I am here in Guerrero.
This is Hermana Miranda, she is my companion for this week as we wait for our new companions:) We are both going to train, we are both going to open areas, and we are both new here in Guerrero:) She is AMAZING and I am learning so much from her, en serio:) 

Our new house and our new ward are AMAZING! I have been so welcomed here, but something that is a little funny is that we dont have a sink, haha. I thought it would be a nice culture lesson for you-alls;) This is literally a tank of water that we use and this concrete wash-area where we can wash dishes and our clothes. 

About a week ago I was praying and chatting with my Heavenly Father and was thanking Him for some of the trials and challenges I have had here on the mission, because I can really see how they've helped me. I told Him that if I was ready, I would like some more Mountains to climb. And now I am here :) I know that everything is according to His will, and I am so excited for this new adventure here:) Prayers are welcome, and I feel your love and support:) 
Keep looking for the joy and opportunities in every adventure! I love you!:)
Hermana Swallow

Jan. 4- Happy New Year

My Wonderful Family and Friends,
Does anybody appreciate or like these new emails made of the pictures? Because I can go back to the way before, just tell me;) 
WELL, this week was interesting. 

For starters some of our awesome members let us borrow their bikes for a little bit one day, and that was fun:) Hermana Lizano claims she loves bicicyling and would always be on her bike in Peru, but she kept falling and even ran into a parked car, haha. #Win 
So, the BIGGEST news of the week is that now I am in a Trio again:) Hermana Percastegui is our new companion! She is amazing. Her companion had to go home due to knee problems, so now she is working with me and Hermana Lizano and we are trying to work the two areas. This is a pic of Hermana Percastegui and a super groovy old dude who was sitting in front of us on the bus, haha. 
See that nasty thing on my plate?? It is a FRUIT here. It is a piece of a fruit, actually. It is called Zapote, and it looks literally like crap, haha. It doesnt taste too bad, it was just REAL rough getting over the look and feel of it, ha. That old lady in the back of the picture is so funny, she is like 137 years old and kept asking if the missionaries were still in the house and when they would leave, haha. 
This is the bar that we live next to:) Nobody freak out, we are safe. It is just funny that when people ask where we live we're like ''Next to 2 Amigos'' and they're like ''Hmm...''
To try to work in both areas at the same time, I spent all Saturday in divisions with members in our area:) It was a REAL adventure. I felt like a child getting babysat all day as the women in our ward switched off with who would accompany me:) They are so amazing, and so willing to serve! This is me with my morning companion, Hermana Mejia:)
This was my afternoon companion, Hermana Fani:) She is a recently returned missionary of 9 months and a newlywed of 3 months. She is the exception, not the rule;) 
It has been a bit rough sharing two beds with three companions, but we found this inflatable bed in one of the houses and I willing pumped it up manually. It has been a huge blessing:) 
I was goofing off and Hermana Percastegui snapped this pic of me;) JUST COME TO CHURCH, PEOPLE!
This is something I never thought would happen in my life... but I am forcibly making Hermana Lizano hug me for the pic, haha. I just get so annoyed that she refuses to show emotion all the time. 
My beautiful companions and this awkward white girl on the side;) 
Well, I hope you enjoyed that show of pictures:) Now I have an experience to share. It is a little embarrassing, but I feel like it would benefit you and my future posterity.
​Well, one day last week we were having a rough day. I felt like Hermana Lizano was just in a crappy mood and I couldn't do anything to please her. It is usually rough when this happens because I feel like the only thing that can fix the situation is communication, but Hermana Lizano gets more annoyed if I talk. #Paradox Anyways, we kept working. Well, about half way through the day it started to stink. Literally. I knew that Hermana Lizano was the one stinking, and I was trying not to make a face or embarrass her. We kept working and the smell was there. I was wondering when the last time she showered was, and how she couldn't notice how bad she smelt. We eventually ended up going home early because she wasn't feeling good, and I was fine with that. But I realized that even the house smelt bad! I decided to ignore it and just write in my journal. But I realized that Hermana Lizano was in the bedroom and that I could still smell the stink-- Turns out, I had stepped in Dog Poop mid way through the day and that the stink was ME. Que pena. But, It was an interesting parable of life. I wondered if maybe the one with the stinky mood was also me, and I was just assuming it was her. So, if life starts to seem a little rough or people start bugging you, take a personal check to see if maybe YOU are the one who is stinking and need to lighten up and be more positive:) Haha, and that's my story.

We are going to have changes this Friday, and it is weird. My area will now be a part of the Mexico Mission of Chalco and new missionaries will be coming in to fill up our spots. Who knows where I will be this time next week?:) I will be sure to let you know:) I hope you all have an amazing week and keep looking up and being positive and happy! I LOVE YOU!

Hermana Swallow

Dec. 28- Happy New Year!

This is me Christmas morning with a traditional Mexican Christmas drink called Ponche. It is a bunch of fruit in water with sugar cane:) And they serve it really hot because they think it is funny when the white missionary burns herself and flips out. 
This is my BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL family on Christmas day:) I was so grateful for the time I had to talk to them. I think I might have cried more than I talked, but I was so grateful and happy:)
After talking to my family, I looked like a WRECK but we went to another members house to have another party:) I think it is because they didnt want us to be sad and homesick alone in our apartment:) This is the piƱata we broke, it was made of clay! So sick! They let me fill it with the candy to mark off another thing off my list of Mexican things to do;)

This is me eating Kanya (sugar cane) It is delicious. I get that it literally is straight sugar, but it is just so good. You just bite it and suck the juice out and then spit out the fibers. You literally just drink sugar. I love it. Dont tell my Dentist;) 

This is the entrance to one of the members houses. But I also think it might lead to Narnia some of the time, or possibly the Shire. 
This is me and Hermana Zelaya:) She is from Honduras and is really amazing. She is in my district and she and her companion share the same building as us, but are in another ward. But we still see each other a lot:) She has some knee problems and actually has to go home this week to figure it all out, but she is an amazing example of strength and positivity to me:)
Here in Mexico they celebrate on the 6th of January the three wise men. I am not actually sure what to call it, actually.. they just say that this day is when the wise men pass through on the way to baby jesus and they also leave other presents for the children on their way:) One of the traditional things they eat for this holiday is Rosca, which is bread with a baby Jesus toy hidden in it. Whoever gets the piece of Rosca that has the baby Jesus has to feed everyone tamales on February 2 :) I have no idea what the meaning behind the tamales or the date is, but we celebrated early with another member and I ended up getting the baby Jesus, haha. 
Today for Pday we went to this beautiful tourist place called Tepozlan, and it was so fun seeing all the different vendors! One guy was giving out samples of the drink he was selling and the samples were in this baby clay mugs. I wanted the mug and not the drink, but it was not to be, haha. 
This is me by some of the vendors and the beautiful mountains in Tepozlan:)
Me in front of the old Catholic church in Tepozlan;) 

And everyone says you have to try the 'Tepoznieve' (Ice cream from Tepotzlan) so we went to get some today and I got a three-for-one pic of me with the Weird skeleton lady, the tepoznieve restaurant, and the creep couple macking out. Woo-hoo;) 
I love you all so very much:) I hope you have a wonderful week and that everyone can think of some good New Years Resolutions. Maybe you can ask yourself ''How can I be a better Disciple of Christ this year?'' ''How can I serve in my calling more fully this year?'' ''What would I like to study and understand more about in the scriptures this year?'' or ''How often will I commit to serving in the temple this year?'' 
I love you, have a wonderful week:) Happy New Year!
Hermana Swallow