Monday, January 27, 2014

Mexico City Week 1 January 27, 2014

!Bienvenidos a la Ciudad de Mexico!

The plane ride into Mexico was absolutely insane! For most of the plane ride we were flying over the ocean and when the sun began to set, the sky was more orange than I have ever seen it. It was especially pretty because off in the distance, you could see the volcano in Mexico poking through the clouds. The sun went down and when we hit the coast of Mexico, all you could see were millions and millions of lights as far as the eye could see. I couldn't believe it.
Blurry View From the Air

We landed, grabbed our bags, and met up with the mission president and his wife. He told us to follow him and we walked out to the parking lot where we piled into a little van. He told us that he hoped we were really hungry because we were going to have a Mexican style bienvenidos. He drove us to a tiny taco shop on the side of the street and all 20 of us missionaries squeezed around the only table they had. The 'chef' cooked everything right there in front of us. On a long pole near a fire on the wall was a big hunk of meat and right above the meat was a whole roasted pineapple. The man would roll up a small tortilla, cut off a piece of pina, some meat, and bring it to us. This food is called 'tacos al pastor' and is SO DELICIOUS. 'Gringas' is another type of food that's pretty good. They laugh at us Americans when we order it because gringa means white girl. We also got huge mugs of ice cold horchata to drink...yummy!
Mexican Bienvenidos!

The driving here is LOCO! No one follows any rules whatsoever! We got to our apartment, grabbed our stuff and walked up to a metal door leading into a sort of porch (this is how every house is set up). We climbed the stairs, walked inside our apartment, and the smell was absolutely overwhelming... There was garbage everywhere! Nada was clean!
Old Apartment
When we started unpacking I kept thinking, "I'm going to have to live here for months..ah!!" I put my bags in my room, opened one and immediately noticed that tons of stuff had been stolen.  (all of my make-up, my hair dyer, alarm clock, probiotics, underwear, feminine items, all of the photos I brought with me of my family and every photo that I got at the MTC, all of my books and Spanish dictionaries, all of the books I had been given at the MTC, my precious Biscoff that my mom sent me) My heart sank, and I was on the verge of tears. Nearly half of my stuff was gone. I could not believe that within just hours upon arriving in Mexico, my things had already been keep myself from crying I kept thinking to myself, "Ok...the people here have close to nothing...I can survive..." and, "At least this will make a good story.." Oh the things I tell myself..haha.
New Apartment (We got to move!)
Am I in a 3rd world country? Yes! EVERYTHING is so different from what I'm used to in America.

My companion named Hermana Valdez. She is from Tampico Mexico and speaks zero English. Its pretty hard to communicate with her sometimes, but it's all good. Our roommates are Hermana Benson (my companion in the MTC) and Hermana Bravo from Ecuador. We are in an area called Parque and are the only missionaries in the area...hoping to convert enough people to make a ward here.

The cars: The majority of cars here are either Volkswagen bugs or vans. On a single street, there are usually around 10 bugs. A lot of the taxis here are Volkswagen buses that we pile into to get to church and stuff. There's a barrier between the driver and us and you have to speak and pay your pesos through a little hole in the barrier. To stop, you pull a little rope that connects to the front. And when you don't think that you can fit one more person, the driver will pull over and they squeeze right on in. Personal space doesn't really exist here..haha.

The houses:
The houses are side by side and are usually painted different colors. In a single house/apartment around 5 families live in all the different rooms; some downstairs and others up the stairs onto the second floor. The roof of each house is where people string their clothes to hang dry.

Every day when my companion and I go to visit/contact people, the men on the sides of the street cat-call like crazy! It's actually kind of they've never seen a white girl before. Everyone stairs at me...but hey...the more people that notice me, the more I can convert!

Lunch here is like dinner in America. It's the time when families gather to have a big meal together. Each day at about 2:00 PM, we eat at a members house and they make the best food ever. Tacos, floutas, sopa, homemade tortillas, jugo from scratch, etc. The food here is SO GOOD!

Here, the church is known for having a lot of money. We have to be very careful in what we tell people. We can't mention that there are computers or anything. Every chapel is surrounded by a 15 foot fence lined with razor blade barbed wire. How inviting..haha.

There is absolutely no hot water here. To heat water we either have to put a hot iron inside a bucket of water, or use a heating coil. WARNING: Do not put your finger inside a bucket of water when there is a heating coil in it! I learned that one the hard way. Each morning, I wake up early, fill each bucket with water, heat it with an iron or coil, go back to bed, wake up 30 minutes later, and put the buckets in the bathroom for everyone to use to shower.
Our Water Heater
The people here are the most kind, loving, and service oriented people I have ever met. They will do absolutely anything in their power to help you. They serve without you saying a word... They barely have enough for their own families and would still give you everything they had. They would feed you until you died! The Hermano that lives below us does so much for us. He brings us hot water in the morning to use to shower and his wife sewed us curtains for all of our windows. I can hardly believe how loving these people are. They make me want to be better.

Friday we went to immigration near downtown Mexico City to get our Visa pictures taken. We woke up at 4:00 AM and found a Taxi bus to take us to the Metro. We got to the Metro, bought our tickets, and walked through a maze of underground tunnels/stairs. Never in my life have I seen so many people in a single area. Literally hundreds and hundreds of men and women were crowded, trying to get on the metro. Every time the metro came and the doors would open, everyone would push and shove each other trying to get a spot. It was like cows being herded into a tiny coral. We finally managed to squeeze into the Metro. People were literally smashed up against the walls and against each other. What a sight..I couldn't help but laugh the whole time.

I got to go to the temple visitors center to buy a few things I needed. The temple is SO pretty! Unfortunately its closed..but I was glad to at least see the outside of it.
Mexico City Temple
The kids LOVE me here! I catch them staring at me all the time. One of our investigators has a 3 year old daughter. Our first time visiting her she brought me a basketball. I spun it on to my should've seen the look on her face. Now, every time we visit them she brings me the same basketball.

The garbage trucks here are chariot looking trailers pulled by horses...just a tad different then America wouldn't you say?

Let's just say that Mexican food DOES NOT sit well in the stomachs of American missionaries. I haven't had any serious problems...but every single American missionary in our mission is just a tad sick. Some of the Elders have had some serious not making it to the bathroom in time.. I'm crossing my fingers that that never happens to me. One Elder (while in a member's home) got up, and started running to the bathroom...didn't make it. The members thought it would be a great idea to gather all the hairdryers they had and try to blow dry his backside dry..of course that didn't work.. I can only imagine the embarrassment. Pray that that doesn't happen to me!
Local Fruit called Semilla
I had my first baptism invitation this week! And they said yes! It was in the first lesson and was pretty scary to ask, but I'm so glad I did.

Lunch on Sunday was insane! They gave us so much food. We started with a huge bowl of soup. As if that wasn't enough, they brought us each a plate of french fries and a HUGE hamburger. (they like to make us Americans American food sometimes) We began eating and I hadn't even eaten two bites when they brought me yet another hamburger. I couldn't believe it... Here, when the people give you food, you eat it, every last bite. Hermana Benson was whispering to me the whole time, "Si se se puede..." But it wasn't over yet...out came the flan and cookies... If I come home'll know why..haha

The mission is hard...but it wasn't meant to be easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it! It's so comforting to know that we have the Lord on our side, tenemos Dios! When things get hard, he is there for us, siempre! I am so grateful for the opportunity to bring this gospel to the people of Mexico City. Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers! I love you all!

Hermana Ingram
(or Hermana Instagram as they like to call me here)

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