Sunday, February 28, 2016

Feb. 22- Happy Birthday to Me!

Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you for all of the Birthday Wishes and love!! I love you all so much, I am so blessed:) It has been a wonderful day!

To start the week off I would like to introduce you to this little feller here, his name is spiney;) Haha, this is just a huge grub-caterpiller thing Hermana Rodriguez accidentally grabbed this week when she tried to regain her balance by grabbing a pillar, and put her hand right on top of this vicious guy. We found out that hes not poisonous, though, just painful:) Shes okay now:) 
So, I ate IGUANA for the first time!!! WHAT!:) Now I am truly mexican;) It is pretty much like chicken, it is a white meat. They made like a soup, so it was normal eating it except for the fact that iguana has a BUNCH of little bones or 'huesitos' that I had to keep picking out of my teeth and stuff. 

Hermana Rodriguez was less than thrilled to be eating Iguana. It was her first time too, and for a Mexican, shes a little bit of a city girl;) 
This little girl is named Cecilia, she will be getting baptized this Friday:) She is awesome and is progressing super well:) Her Mom should be following her soon!:) The little guy is Jose Antonio, her little brother, he is super nice and always willing to help me put away the dishes:) 
We bought this super cool pineapple two nights ago, it was delicious:) If you havent tried it yet, you should invest in some chile powder and sprinkle it on you fruit (minus apples and bananas) and it is DELISH. 
I decided to splurge and buy one of these Mexican dresses with the money my Grandma sent me for Christmas- thanks Grandma Swallow!!:) 
Annnnd, my birthday so far today has been AMAZING:) My amazing neighbors bought me a cake and these frozen candy toys, and my zone leaders had my package from home hidden in the house to give to me the day of my birthday:) I am so amazingly blessed and grateful on this day of my birthday, I love you all so much and am so amazingly grateful!

Have an amazing week and keep being strong and staying positive! keep praying and looking for missionary opportunities, they are everywhere:) I love you all!

Hermana Swallow -- the 20 year old:) 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Feb. 15- Happy Valentine's Day

My Dear Family and Friends, 
I love you! Get ready for a picture OVERLOAD!

This is me and Papa Vincente:) He is a recent convert of 3 months and really awesome:) He has one of the strongest handshakes ever and is 95 years old. He also speaks a fair amount of English and served in WWII. He is basically a beast. Also, another fun fact, you know now in the US we say 'Cheese!' when we take pictures? Here they say 'Whiskey!' haha. So that is what he is saying while I laugh in the foto:) 
They had a birthday party in one of the members houses we ate in so I decided to take a picture and pretend it was for me;) and here is everyones friendly reminder to email me next Monday to wish me a happy birthday;) 
This is Mahonna, she gave me a Valentines present and she is almost famous:) She has even been on TV because she is a singer- you can look her up on YouTube:) 
This is Hermana Coti and her daughter Josefina who is listening to the missionary lessons:) Hermana Coti is super crafty and one of the things she does is make selfie picture frames for parties out of styrofoam, and this nifty tool in my hands is a wire that heats up and you can cut the styrofoam like butter, haha. It is pretty fun to do:) So fun that I had to actually teach the lesson with Josefina all by myself because my companion couldn't handle it, haha. I was like ''We know Heavenly Father loves you, Josefina. You are a daughter of God!'' interrupted with Hermana Rodriguez, ''Wow! look at this one! This is so fun!'' Haha. 
The dynamic duo:) 
The Elders we share the ward with had a baptism this week and we went to help them set up and such, the water here in Iguala is super bad and it is super green, too. ''When you go under the water you sins will be washed away and you will come out completely clean.. and a little green.'';) 
This is Elder Jackson, he was supposed to be taking a picture of me but snapped a selfie instead;) He is one of the Elders we share the ward with. He is cool and from Cali! We started the mission on the same day and even chatted on Instagram before we left, and now we are in the same ward and training! Good times:) 
These are the two hermanas that god baptized:) Hermana Janet and her daughter Karen. They are super amazing:) I actually taught them before the Elders got here and robbed them from me because we split the ward in half:) But I was grateful to be at their baptism. I actually got called on to give the talk about baptism, haha. But its chill, if I have learned anything here it is how to teach on the spot and follow the spirit:) 
Beautiful Valentines gifts from my wonderful companion:) So much better than the awkwardness of Christmas morning. 

''Where did these presents come from?'' -Hermana Lizano

''Feliz Navidad!''- Hermana Swallow

''Hmm.'' -Hermana Lizano
*Hermana Swallow awkwardly walks away*
These are the cute neighbors:) This family, Familia Lopez Ramos, are the most amazing people ever:) I am so blessed to know them and have them as our neighbors:) 
Here instead of bunny ears they do ''cuernas'' (horns) I thought you might like knowing that, Dad:) 
I held a snake at the Fair today:) I am so brave:) 
Haha, just kidding, I was freaking out. 
They show farm animals at the fair here just like we do at home!:) 
Here in Iguala they have this large fair from the 12-28 of February to celebrate Flag Day (the 24th) since, you know, the Mexican flag was made here:) 
Companion Love:) 
The entrance to the fair:) 
All the flags. All the obvious tourist. All the toe point. 
Things are going really good here in Iguala:) It is steadily getting hotter and hotter, but I love it here:) Thank you for all of your prayers and support. I love you all like crazy. 

Hermana Swallow

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Feb. 8- I Love You

My Dear and Wonderful Family!
I hope you have all had another wonderful week! I am absolutely loving it here in Insurgentes, I am seeing so many blessings and learning so much with Hermana Rodriguez:) 

One thing that you learn as  missionary is the art of tetris in fitting your bag. And the art of carrying the cargo with a smile on your face;) I always like to remember that when my bag is really heavy I am still not pushing a handcart across the plains. 

This is the complete load outside of the bag. To be a good missionary you must carry... Your bible, your triple, your Preach my Gospel (thank goodness for minis), a copy of the Book of Mormon, at least 10 folletos of the lessons, your hymnal, your agenda (I would die without it), some copies of the proclamation to the family, your map because you still get lost all the time, your missionary manual, your wallet, your pocket size mirror, your kleenex for when the spirit hits, your germex for when the random bathroom visit hits, your flash drive for just-in-case, your passalong cards, your green card, your chapstick, your small collection of pills (anti-diarrhea, ibuprofen, tylenol), the cellphone, the keys, your camera because you never know when inspiration hits, your envelope of lesson aids, your pens, your book of church images, and your large water bottle. 

Everyone loves tupperware here, and all the cool kids use these tupperware bottles. I have always wanted one, but they are usually like 150 pesos (its only like 10 dollars, but we are poor missionaries) but this week a super super awesome member, Amsi, bought us some! I was so happy! Her dog is named Jaqueline and wants to eat me everytime I come over. 

I love my golden bottle because it makes me think of Harry Potter 4 and the golden egg, haha:) Unfortunately my companion dislikes harry potter and doesn't understand when I open it and make shrieking noises...;)
We took series of selfies one night to show how we feel when appointments fall. Especially appointments with less-actives. ''Really? We are trying to save you and you are not going to be home?''
Hermana Rodriguez- ''Whatever''
Me- Just sad. I try so hard to help these people and they just don't want it sometimes. 
A little bit frustrated. It is frustrating when people KNOW this is the truth and they KNOW they should come to church and they just don't want to. 
Buuuut, ultimately we are happy and positive missionaries:) We set another appointment with them and always do everything in our power to help them:) 

This is our investigator, Stephanie:) She is super amazing and progressing wonderfully:) She loves knowing that she is a daughter of God and that He loves her:) 
Its gonna be weird coming home and being considered short again;) 

Well, i love you all so much! I just am loving it out here and I pray for you everyday! Keep strong and always look for the Lords blessings!:) And, if you have an appointment with the missionaries, please BE THERE!;) Haha. Love you!
Hermana Swallow

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Feb. 1- Mi Semana :)

My Wonderful Family,
How are you all doing?:) I pray that you are doing well and had a good week:) I did, too!:) 

This is Hermana Rodriguez and I with one of our Investigators named Ceci:) She is 8 years old and is going to get baptized with her Mom on the 24 of February:) They are super special and are shining so bright in this gospel message:)

What is with all of the sea-food?? My Dad tells me that it is because I am closer to the ocean in my new area, but I have some suspicions that it is because I flip when the food still has eyes on it and the members think it is funny;) This fish here was one of the hardest things to eat so far on the mission, I basically just had to close my eyes... but then I would choke on fish bones so it was just a lose-lose;)
This is us looking really good in the house after a long days work;) We are eating tacos-al-pastor and they are just the most delicious thing ever. Our amazing next-door neighbor members brought them to us one night:) We are definitely spoiled!

Sorry that it was a pretty slow picture week, I will do better this week! I will now regale you with some highlights of the week without pictures:)

In an effort to talk (or contact) more people we made a goal as a companionship to chose a color everyday, pray to the Lord to send us people in that color, and make a promise to Him that we would talk with every person in that color for the day:) IT WAS CRAZY. Normally when you talk to people in the street you can get a couple appointments everyday, 2-3 maximum normally, because half the people just take your pass-along card while running, the other 25% listen to you talk for a while and then give you a thousand excuses for why you cant visit them in there home, and then finally the other 25% accept your message and tell you where they live so you can come back again:) Well, in our first day of the color-challenge we hunted down every single person in the color blue and prayed that the Lord would send us prepared people:) and we had 12 APPOINTMENTS in one single day! That is a crazy miracle, people! The miracle kept on for the week, but that number 12 just blew me away:) We will see what happens with all of our appointments in the week- absolutely every single space in our planner is filled with people to visit:) I AM SO EXCITED:) 

Well, in the mission you have to have a way to stay in contact with your leaders and the world, so each companionship has a super chaffa cell phone;) And guess what? I LOST OUR PHONE. It was a sad 2 days looking for it until a member found it in her car:) It is times like those when I am actually happy I am not at home to get in trouble for things;) It was just a bit awkward explaining to my missionary Leaders, haha. 

And here is an awkward-funny story for the week:) We are currently teaching an 86 year old man and while we were teaching him the Plan of Salvation and about the creation I asked him what his favorite part about the Earth was:) I told him that for me the Plants are the most beautiful thing and the flowers! My companion shared that she loves waterfalls, the member accompanying us shared that she loves sunsets and sunrises:) And he looked at us and told us he loves the women. Yup. 

Well, I love you all so so so so much and I hope you have an amazing week! I will keep you in my prayers:) The heat is climbing and the mosquitos are coming out, enjoy your snow and be grateful;) Love you!

Hermana Swallow