Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mar. 21- Happy Easter!

My Wonderful Family and Friends,
Happy Easter week! I hope that everyone is doing amazing and really reflecting on the importance of this sacred week we about celebrating:) If you have not had the chance you should go and watch the #Hallelujah mormon message the church made for Easter and share on your social media:) Fun fact, the word that they use in Spanish for Easter is 'Pascua' and it actually means the 'Passover' and so that's cool:) 

This is us with a less-active member Hermano Felipe:) AND A HUGE PAPAYA! Papayas are normally a pretty large fruit, but trust me, this papaya is the size of like 4 papayas. I myself don't really like papaya at all, it has an aftertaste of feet, but they love it here. 
Selfie with Hermana Yael, shes a member in our ward who is getting ready to go on a mission herself:) 
This is me in one of those fun pear-chairs with my dog Chikis:) Shes actually the neighbor's dog, but I will find a way for her to come home with me;) I think that my love for dogs and cats has grown so much on the mission because I cant hold small children but I can cuddle small animals, haha. 
In one of the colonias in our area they decided that they are better than the other colonias and blocked off their streets with rocks and stuff. It is a little self-defeating because now they only have one exit and entrance, but whatever. They didnt want to share the park that the government paid to be put in.. You guys already know that my companion has trouble dealing with people who think they are better than others, so she really has trouble respecting the rock walls too, haha. 
This is the Familia Olguin, they normally accompany us for our appointments on Wednesdays:) They are awesome! They also took us out for tacos this Wednesday, too:) I later got really really sick. I should stop eating on the street;) 
(Notice the virgin shrine in the back ground, haha. They be everywhere.)
This is how we feel when it is 95 degrees out, we walk 20 minutes to an appointment on the fourth floor of the building and they are not there. 
Remember the green water in our baptismal font? Well, Hermana Felipe knows how to clean pools so he came to clean the water before the baptism the Elders had this Saturday! It turned out to be a huge process but it is worth it to see the beautiful relatively-clean water:) 
My job was to hold the keep the electric cord out of the water while it drained into the toilet, haha.(It was perfectly safe, Dad...)
The Missionaries of Barrio Insurgentes:) 
Yesterday two of the classiest ladies I have ever met accompanied us for our appointments in the afternoon:) It was magical pretending to be missionaries who have a car, haha. These Hermanas are named Estela and Raquel and know that the church is true.. their testimonies were really powerful:) Plus they know everyone, we had 4 lessons in an hour and a half! 
We were practicing with the 'smile-catcher' feature on my camera while waiting for the washing machine and clothes, IT WORKS!
There is a beautiful lake in Iguala that we found today:) I love this picture but I cant tell if its awkward or beautiful. You decide. 
Thank you Pinterest for the great ideas for companion pictures I found before the mish:) Haha, can you tell whose tag is older??:) 
As always, a jumping picture is a must:) 
This is the awesome family that took us to the Lake:) I couldnt believe that there was nobody there swimming or boating or anything. They were all just washing clothes or dishes.. or bathing.
''But, if Hermana Swallow comes then we have to take a jumping picture..'' %100 percent correct.
This is one of my second-Moms here, Hermana Maripaz:) She is amazing and I love her with all my heart. 
This was a good week, it is getting hotter and sometimes the hardships get a little tougher, but the work of God continues forth boldly, nobly, and independent:) Ready for an awkward Lillie story?;) 

So, humans have to use the bathroom sometimes, it just happens. Missionaries, too, even though we are outside of our house for like 10 hours a day, so we have to use the bathrooms of members, investigators, sometimes even strangers sometimes. This week I had to use the bathroom of an investigator we just started teaching... Well, her bathroom is on the second floor and the livingroom on the first floor. So I was up on the second floor by myself, thought I had sufficient privacy, when I FELL DOWN THE STAIRS. Haha, betcha didnt see that coming, neither did I. I guess she had just cleaned or something so I slipped and down I went, haha. But, I wasnt hurt!:) The angels on my left and right kind-of just guided me down, I think. Their job must be so full, I am always falling and stuff:) When my companion and the hermana came running to find me the first thing I said was ''Que verguenza.'' Which means, ''How embarassing'' Haha. It is my catch-phrase here.

well, I love you all so much, I hope you have an amazing week!:) Remember the real meaning of Easter!:)

Hermana Swallow 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March 14- I love the Lord:)

My Dear and Loving Family,
How are we doing?:) I am doing good. Life here in Mexico is amazing and I love being a missionary:) 

Me and Hermana Rodriguez showing some Area pride at the Zone Conference:) Fun fact, I bought that skirt at the market last week for 60 pesos! (like 4 dollars- NEW!)
The best part of the week was that it RAINED!! It was so beautiful. It is so hot here, so it is AMAZING when it rains because we can breathe;)  Plus I love taking advantage of getting to use my rain coat:):)
My companion was a little embarassed to be seen with me splashing around in puddles all morning, but she dealt with it;) She kept calling me her 'little chicken' 
I kept my bag with my scriptures and stuff under the rain coat to protect them and realized I looked like Cinderellas step sisters with their big butts;) Haha. 
Sheldon I have found the three-tined fork. I mean, trident. ;) 
Also- look at the amount of Enchiladas the Hermana gave me to eat. I nearly died. I literally played for the Lord to give me two stomachs. Miracles happen;)
HAHAH, sometimes Hermana Rodriguez just cant handle it when people give us false directions or pretend not to be home. She is a lot more suspicious of people than I am, it cracks me up. I will have a normal conversation with someone and believe them when they tell me that they dont have a phone number for me to contact them with and then as we walk away Hermana Rodriguez will be like ''I looked in their purse while you were talking to them. They have a cell phone.'' HAHA, I love it. 
They had a stake dance last week for the married couples and the next day the balloon arch was still up.. so I took a model pic;) 
I am getting pretty good at up-dos if I do say so myself:) I refuse to spend too much time straightening or curling my hair if it is just going up in a pony or messy-bun by noon, so I have been teaching myself how to spend time making pretty buns;) 

A selfie for good measure;) ''Eh, guerita, guerita!''- Says every Mexican in the street. 
About 3 days ago I woke up and I had like thousand tiny blisters covering my lips.. no idea why. Its not sunburn and they are not cold sores, they are just tiny blisters. (someone do a quick google search;)).. But I am so blessed because a couple weeks ago I got my birthday package from my Mommy and she included a little tupper of vaseline and I thought ''Why did she send me this random vaseline?'' and this week with my burning lips I have been like ''Vaseline is my best friend on earth.'';) THANKS MOM!:)

Well, I hope everyone has a wonderful week:) To close I would like to include a little tid-bit of personal study from the Book of Mormon:) We all know the story of Nephi and his brothers when they go back to get the plates, right?:) (1 Nephi 3-4) I love this story because when we share it with investigators they are like ''This is so interesting! I will go and do just like Nephi!'' :) But I have discovered something while reading and studying this story that I never realized before the mish and I am going to share it with everyone to make sure no one else is confused about this like I was... In the part where Laban is drunken and laying and the ground and Nephi is commanded to kill him the Lord tells Nephi that he needs to kill Laban because it is ''better for one man to perish than for an entire nation to dwindle and perish in unbelief''. I dont know about you, but my whole childhood life I thought that the Lord was saying that Nephi needed to kill Laban because Laban was like a wicked King or something and that the people of Jerusalem would dwindle in unbelief if he wasnt killed. this is FALSE. The people of Jerusalem were already wicked and fallen- they had rejected the prophets! The Lord was talking about Nephi's future children, the nation that was going to grow in the Americas! He was telling Nephi that to get the plates (the scriptures) was SO IMPORTANT that he needed to kill Laban because if Nephi didnt get those plates (scriptures) his entire nation and children would dwindle and perish in unbelief without the word of the Lord. Just look at what happened to the Mulekites. The scriptures are THAT IMPORTANT. Are we making them that much of an important part in our lives?:) 
I love the Lord, I love his scriptures, and I love being a missionary:) I LOVE ALL OF YOU!

Love, Hermana Swallow

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Mar. 7- Another Week Bites the Dust

Dear Family,
It was a good week!:) Not too sweet, not too sour- just a lot of work:) It is actually quite a success that this week turned out to be a good one because Hermana Rodriguez decided to do this soup diet with one of the ladies in our ward to lose some weight. So everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Hermana would feed Hermana Rodriguez this celery/lettuce soup while I got served all the other real food, haha. I tried not to look very happy while eating my tacos and spaghetti and gorditas because I didnt want my companion to hate me;) But she finished her diet strong, and she doesnt hate me too crazy much! A successful week!:) 

One thing that I like doing as a missionary is picking flowers and flattening them to dry for keepsakes:) I especially love this type of flower because it smells good and if you are careful it dries beautifully:) But since Hermana Rodriguez has decided to follow my example she has gone CRAZY. Everytime we pick one of these trees she picks between 5-10 and I hear my mothers voice telling me that if you pick a flower you are killing it. I am sorry for creating a monster, Mom. 
This is one of the wonderful families in our ward, Fam Hernandez:) He is the Young Mens president and she is the Relief Society President:) I feel like leadership roles usually come in couples in our ward-- the Elders Quorum President is husband of the Primary President, too.. and the Young Womens President is wife of the Ward Mission Leader. Interesting. 
We had a Stake Activity where the women in our ward of Insurgentes danced a 'Pioneer Dance' to a folk song:) It was really amazing seeing how even for people outside of the United States who dont have blood pioneer-ancestry still honor and respect those amazing Saints who made it possible for us to have the Gospel in our lives today:) 
This is our Mission Mamita, Hermana Ceci:) I now just call her Mama Ceci:) WELL, she is AMAZING. I told her that for my birthday usually I ask my Mom to make me meatloaf, but that here the meatloaf is a lot different than what my Mom makes and I dont like it as much. So Mama Ceci went online and searched until she found something that was like meatloaf and was from the united states to make me, it  was actually Shepards Pie with mashed potatoes and everything! And it tasted just like the one my Mom makes!! So I was a very happy camper:) So loved!:) 
These are Cecis siblings, they always ask me to take pictures of them, haha. They love my camera.
Sometimes you just work so hard you just die. You literally die in the church pasto.
This is Hermana Maura:) She is amazing, as well! She has two daughters out on missions and she recently got her endowment at the Temple. She is a huge example of stalwart strength to me:) A single Mom with her own laundry business, and a convert to the church:) She bought me this cute clay container:) 
Remember Papa Vincente, the 96 year old convert I took a pic with a couple of weeks ago? Well, today we went to see his actual house where he used to live and it is AWESOME! It was like an apartment complex with more than 60 rooms that he used to rent out. It takes up an entire BLOCK of centro:) But now it is super old and full of weird stuff. It made me think of my Grandpa Fishers house that was an old motel:) 
Papa Vincente used to be a Pilot and served in WWII, these are some of his pictures that he showed me:) He is so cool. And his handshakes are still the strongest ever, they nearly break my hand everytime, haha.
This is Hermano Max, he is Hermana Ceci's Husband:) So, I actually call him Papa Max most of the time:) Papa Vincente is his father. Today he fulfilled one of my childhood dreams and bought me a COCONUT!!! I was so downright excited. The brown hairy part that I am holding is actually what you find inside those large green ones that are behind me:) We got to watch the lady with the machete crack open the cocos to give us the water inside. It was awesome. 
Something that you can buy here in Mexico that they don't sell anymore in the States are Kinder Eggs:) They are chocolate eggs with a toy inside! They are supposed to be for children... but I love them with all my heart, too. For my birthday Ceci and Max gave me a whole BOX of kinder eggs that were full of Frozen toys:) I have now found every character and I love it:):)
Well, I love you all very much:) We are seeing some amazing things happening our here in Insurgentes, Iguala:) I love it here. If my skin would just get darker people would actually believe me when I say that I am from here because they can already tell I love it like home:) 
Love you!!
Hermana Swallow

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Feb. 29- ¨Hello, Stress, its nice to Week you¨

My dear Family and Friends!
It was a good week:) But it was a tad bit stressful. I am still kicking, no worries, and I learned a whole bunch:) Get ready for a picture explosion!

So, for starters, we started off the week with my birthday!:) It was a really good birthday, thank you all for the birthday wishes and love!!:) Since we had to go to Cuernavaca the afternoon of my birthday I didn't get to have a meal with a family or anything but the group of us missionaries still sang songs:) This is me and Hermana Muñoz (it was her birthday, too:)) 

 I am kindof annoyed we had to be in pictures together because she is gorgeous;) She is from Aguascalientes, Mexico and we are exactly the same age:) She started her mission the same time as my trainee.

On Tuesday we had the trainers and trainees conference:) This is Hermana Bessey and I with our trainees:) Hermana Bessey and I started the mission at the same time but as I am now in my 3rd area, she is still in her FIRST! When she finishes Hermana Martinezs training she will have been there for 9 months, haha. 
We ate in a fancy restaurant the day of the interina:) 
One of my Birthday presents from one of the other sisters were these weird earrings. These are all the rage in Mexico, I dont know if it is a thing in the States. Its a normal earring in front and a huge ball on back.
I still havent decided if I like them or not:)
On Tuesday afternoon we traveled to Apulyeca to have divisions with the Hermana Capacitadores:) They are awesome and it was great being with them! 
A nice bridge pic in rural Apulyeca:) It was actually pretty odd being in Apulyeca, it is like what you actually think of when you picture Mexico. Really rural. There was a lady bathing in the river and then she filled up her buckets and put them on a pole across her shoulders to carry up the hill (like in Mulan) and there was tons of people with donkeys carrying goods and building materials. 
Also, I found this field behind the chapel in Apulyeca where they are growing corn and pumpkins! Thats right, like we learn about in school how the Native Americans grew their corn (stalk plants) with their pumpkins and squash (bushy plants) to grow and support the one and the other. It is still a thing here!: ) Mom, you know why I was so excited about this, haha:) 
This was my first time drinking coconut water:) Or.. milk? I dont know what its called in English, haha. It was DELICIOUS! This is one of the Hermana Capacitadores, Hermana Vidal:) Shes awesome! She is from Peru and has climbed Machu Pichu!.. Also, this is how they sell drinks here on the street. In bags with a straw:) It is super clever but you have to be careful not to poke a hole. Real careful. 
One of the families we ate with this week remembered it was my birthday on Monday and threw a mini party:) I 
was feeling the love quite strongly:) 
This is Jesus, a member of the family Lopez Ramos:) He is awesome but he just kept giving me more and more of his toys for my birthday, haha. We eventually just had to leave;) 
One of the traditions here is that you have to take a mouth bite of your birthday cake and most of the time when you do it someone shoves your head from behind to smash your face into the cake. Thank you, Companion;) 
We were walking in the street when I saw that I could buy an icecream sandwich for 5 pesos. I thought ''What a steal!'' and had to buy one. But they just turned out to be ice pop-sicles with two graham crackers. Lame. 
This is Cecilia, Mom of Ceci:) She should be getting baptized in the coming weeks:) 

This is Ceci, she got BAPTIZED ON FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was an amazing day:) 

Mom and Daughter:) Also- this tithing picture is in Every. Single. Entrance. of the churches down here. I dont know why. 
Everyone always complains so much when I say I want a jumping picture but then afterwards they're all like '' You have to send that to me! I love it'' and I am like... ''I know.''
This is Ceci's whole family:) AND its an amazing story. She almost didnt get baptized on Friday.Ceci lives with her mom and siblings because her parents are separated. At around 1pm we went to their house to check on Ceci and make sure that everything was ready for the baptism at 6. While we were talking they mentioned that they had to come up with something to tell the Dad where they'd be all evening. I knew that the Dad wasnt crazy about the church, but we found out that afternoon that he didnt even know Ceci was receiving the lessons or that she was actually going to be baptized that evening. I asked why he didnt know and they expressed that they wished he did know but iddnt want him to be angry or say no. I initially shrugged it off and figured nothing would change. But as the day went on I just kept feeling worse and worse. Ceci is only 8 years old and technically both of her parents are her legal guardians. What would happen if Antonio (the dad) found out the next day and was really angry with the church, with Ceci, with the Mom Cecilia? Would he beat her? It wouldnt be the first time. But I knew that if we asked his permission he would most likely say no. I expressed my feelings to my companion and she shrugged it off. She told me that if I wanted the Dad to accept the baptism I could keep dreaming, and that if we talked to him we would lose the baptism. But its not at all about numbers, it was about the well-being of Ceci. We went home and I said a prayer... when I came out I realized that what I was feeling was the 'dog-feeling' and I knew my Dad has taught me what to do when I feel the dog feeling. So, I told me companion what I felt and she told me to do whatever I needed to but I could tell she was frustrated. So I called my district leader and bishop to confirm my answer and we went to Cecis house to tell her that we needed to talk to her Dad:) They admitted they were scared but that they would feel a lot happier if he did know. So, we all said a prayer as a family and walked to his house ready for the baptism, Ceci in all white:) When we initially started talking to him he did get defensive, but as the spirit gave us the words his heart was eventually touched:) He asked Ceci what she wanted and she said ''To be baptized!'' and threw her arms around him in a hug:) He started to cry and I knew everything was okay:) He asked if we could wait until 8pm to have the baptism so he could get ready and we accepted:) It was his first time in the church building. Ceci had a beautiful baptismal service:) the Lord is in ALL the details!

Well, I love you all so much! Remember to seek the Spirit and trust the promptings you recieve:) Even if it scares you or your companion thinks your crazy:) The Lord is in ALL THE DETAILS! I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen:) 

Hermana Swallow