Monday, February 24, 2014

Another Week in Mexico Week 5 February 24, 2014


This week has been pretty normal overall...(normal meaning no crazy ladies trying to break into our apartment).

Hermana Zambrano and I are working so hard everyday and we are finding a lot of people. We are leading our district in street contacts and new investigators by a landslide. The trick is getting them all to continue to progress!

Tuesday we went to visit a contact we had made to teach them for the first time. They are a couple and both are 85 plus years old. We taught them while sitting on logs in the street because the other families in their home didn't want us in their houses. While we were teaching, the man would ask my comp. questions about where I was from, if I was learning Spanish well, etc. Just because I'm a gringa doesn't mean I can't speak Espanol! When I started speaking to him in Spanish he was pretty surprised but still continued to act like I wasn't there. We started by singing a hymn and he listened (he can't read) and when we ended he said, "Thank you so much for singing that hymn but how am I supposed to learn from the words if you are singing in English?" We told him that it had been in Spanish and he refused to believe it...yes I can speak Spanish and can sing in Spanish too. We ended by teaching him how to pray and asked if he would offer the closing prayer. He agreed, folded his arms, looked up to the sky and said absolutely nothing. After about a minute of silence my comp. asked if he would please say it out loud. He agreed and again did the same thing. We literally sat there for 5 minutes in absolute silence while he stared at who knows what. Finally my comp thanked him for his wonderful prayer and we left. It took everything in me not to bust up during those 5 minutes!

We are finding all kinds of people who are very interested in the church. We have a new investigator named David. He is homeless, jobless, and left his family because his neighbor tried to shoot him. He lives on the streets so we teach him at the church. He quit smoking and drinking and is coming to church every Sunday. He tells us he is doing it for his kids because they aren't making the best decisions. His baptism date is in two weeks!
In a Moto Taxi on the way to Church
My companion and I have to return to our apartment at 8:30 every night. The normal is 9:30 but because our area is dangerous (and because I'm a white girl), we have to return earlier. Two nights ago we were walking back to our apartment and as we got to our front door my comp stopped and said that she felt like she needed to call one of our contacts. Her name is Marisol and we found her about 3 weeks ago in the street and she was very interested. When we asked if we could teach her sometime she said, "How about right now??" We walked with her to her house and her mom wouldn't allow us inside because she thought we would corrupt her house and family. We made an appointment for a few days later and left. We had tried about 30 times to teach her but every time her mom or her sisters would tell us to leave and that Marisol didn't want anything to do with us (which we knew wasn't true). When my comp. got the random thought to call her, but this point we had stopped trying to find her for about a week, but when we called she answered. She was crying and said that we needed to come to her house right away and help her because her mom had gone into a diabetic coma. We told her to call the police right away and when we got to her house the medics were putting her mom in an ambulance. Her sisters were NOT happy that we were there and told us to leave right away. We helped with what we could, made another appointment, and left. We are hoping for the best! 

Our Ecuadorian companions taught us how to make their food (greeeeeeeen bananas cooked and mashed with cheese and butter served over black beans) Sounds weird but it was REALLY GOOD!

So...the moms here LOVE my companion and the point where they want to make marriage plans with their sons....NO WAY JOSE!! Last night we were invited to dinner at a members house..or should I say, an "unexpected dinner date". We got there and the mom started ranting about how her son had made a special dinner just for us, and that if we wanted we could live in their house for free, and that her son could show us all of Mexico, and on and on and on. They always ask me questions like, "Do you want to live here in Mexico after your mission?" or :"Would you ever consider marrying a Mexican?" No ladies! I don't want to marry your sons!!! So moral of the story, if I get married while out on my mission..blame it on the moms! (don't worry's not going to happen!!)

That's all for this week! Hasta luego! Gracias por toda!

Hermana Ingram
In our "Mormon Taxi" after a big family home evening.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Week 4: The Real Life Barbie February 17, 2014


This week was...let's say crazy..

We had a crazy rain storm this week... I thought I knew what rain was..that is until I moved to Mexico City. We were with a family later in the night and right as we were leaving it started to rain. We weren't prepared for the rain at all and we had about a 30 minute walk back to our apartment. It was pouring! Within 30 seconds we were absolutely drenched from head to toe. They don't have a drainage system here which means that the water has no where to go but sit in the streets and build. The streets turned into rivers..all we were missing was a raft and some floaties and we would've been in for an adventure.

Well, to make a very long story companion got sent home. (Edited out by Mom here) But I got a new companion!! Her name is Hermana Zambrano and she is from Ecuador. I am already learning so much more. Not going to lie..the whole experience (with previous comp) was pretty frustrating. I left my family and home for that? Really? But I am so thankful for my new companion. She is a hard worker...and I love it! Finally I get to work hard! I've waited a whole 4 weeks to work!

Our first day as a companionship was awesome. We worked SO HARD. I came home that night with very bloody feet..not fun..but we are already seeing the results of our hard work.

I'm learning a lot here; and not just about the gospel. Living with a stranger is hard and when you add the 'stranger from another country' part, it's ten times harder. Cultures are just so different! And combining cultures is tricky sometimes. For example, my old comp. started crying one night because she was offended that I didn't want to give her a kiss goodnight every night...some things like that just crack me up sometimes.
Mexico City Southeast Missionaries
Sunday I gave my first talk! Before I got up I was praying my heart out that I would be able to say what I needed to say. When I got up, I was actually super calm! I gave my talk on the Book of Mormon and the words were flowing. I was really surprised I wasn't nervous considering we had 3 investigators there but when I finished, I looked up at the clock and realized that I had spoken for almost 15 minutes. That's hard enough in English! After sacrament meeting everyone was coming up to me telling me that my Spanish in just 4 weeks is a miracle. Hard work pays off!!

After church we were talking with some of the members when I noticed a little girl walking towards me with her head down. She looked up, saw me, and her face was priceless. She stopped in her tracks, eyes wide, jaw dropped, and stood there without moving for a while. Finally she turned and ran to her mom and started tugging at her shirt. Her mom leaned down and the little girl whispered something in her ear. The mom smiled and walked toward me. She got to me and told me that her daughter's dream had come true...she had seen the real life Barbie in person. I couldn't stop laughing.

As we were leaving the church, I went to open the gate to exit and a very dirty lady dressed in rags approached me and started to say all kinds of stuff that I couldn't understand. I closed the gate and she pressed her face against the fence, yelling at this point. I was trying to speak with her but couldn't understand a word she was saying. I turned around and looked at one of the Hermanas who, in broken English said, "Sick in head". The security guard of the church came over and told her she needed to leave but she refused. Luckily for us there was a second exit in the back that we were able to sneak out of to avoid her. The Hermanas explained to me that she was calling me some pretty bad names. No wonder I couldn't understand her! Just a tad different from the gospel words I've grown so accustomed to...haha.

Later, the 4 of us were at our apartment. At about 6:00PM we got our things together and started down the stairs to go contact and teach. We got to the door and about 15 people were crowded around it looking out the window. They told us not to go outside because there was a very crazy and very aggressive lady outside trying to get in. The windows are one way from the inside so she couldn't see us but we could see her. She kept standing up and slowly walking to the window and staring at us with really mean and scary glazed eyes. She would stand there for 5 minutes at a time and just stare without blinking or moving a muscle. Then she would slowly turn back around and sit down on the cement. A few minutes later she would stand up and do the same thing. It was pretty freaky. She did that for the next 4 hours. I was really bugged because we couldn't leave the apartment and teach. I was considering opening the door as she sat down, hurdling over her, and making a run for it but the other Hermanas definitely weren't up for that one..haha. We called our district leader and he told us not to leave until she was gone. Finally, at about 9:30 PM she slowly walked away and the other Hermanas were able to return to their apartment.

I have had so much more success this week! I love my new companion because she has the same work ethic as me...we do work! It's hard because I feel like I am having to learn everything over again..but it is such a blessing having her as my trainer. We are leading the zone in contacts and have so many new investigators. I can't wait to see where we go with this!

I love you all! Thanks for your thoughts and prayers! Have a great week!
¡Hasta luego! ¡Adios!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ciudad de Mexico Week 3 February 10, 2014


This week has been pretty crazy because there was a Mexican holiday and the people celebrate as much as possible. The streets are absolutely filled with all kinds of carnival rides and food stands. When you add about a million gets pretty crowded. There is literally not a square inch of walking space! But it's perfect for talking to people and getting lots of contacts! From our apartment you can hear absolutely everything throughout the entire night.
View from the roof of the apartment
No more washing machine... We do our laundry the pioneer way with a little water, some soap, and a wash board. We felt really bad because we were using a member's machine and it uses a lot of water....and they're really poor.

On the day of the holiday, we had to be in our apartments an hour early because of all the parties, drunk men, etc. While walking home we had to walk through a huge crowd gathered around a giant stage where a Mariachi band was performing. We wanted to stop and listen so bad!! We got to our apartment (which was on the same street as the celebration), ran to the roof, and watched the band from there. There was a man playing the accordion, another playing the trumpet, another playing the guitar, and they all sang in harmony. My comp., Hermana Valdez, taught me a few traditional Mexican dances (so different from any dances we have in the US) including one where you dance with a pineapple on top of your head.

Fiesta en la Calle
I'm learning how to cook the food here and it is so fun! The members noticed how interested I was and when we eat at their houses for lunch they always teach me something new. Corn tortillas from scratch, black beans....Yum! I may look like a 5'10'' white girl with blue eyes and blond hair...but I'm Mexican at heart! 

Yesterday we were walking back to our apartment after lunch and as we got to the door a giant bus drove by. When it was right in front of us the roof of the bus caught the telephone wires and they all came crashing down. There were live electric wires falling and swinging all around us. I quickly grabbed the other Hermanas and started running down the street. We stopped when it was safe, turned around, and watched the driver speed away with about 20 men and women chasing after him. When we got home later that night, none of the wires had been fixed or even touched. Watch your step!! 

Yesterday we ate at a member's and as we ate they were watching the Olympics. I couldn't help but peek over and look a few American pride got to me. As we began eating, I went to grab a tortilla and as I flipped the towel open it was absolutely covered in dog hair... I thought I was going to die! I looked down at my beans and that too was swimming in dog hair. I have never tried so hard to swallow every bite. Would you like some dog hair with a side of Mexican food anyone? A little extra protein never killed anybody did it?

Perros por todas partes
Saturday we all woke up at 4:15 AM. We had a big conference with all of the Southeast mission where Elder Christensen spoke. When we left the house, we were strictly prohibited to speak a word of English because it was so early and there were still a lot of scary people in the streets. When people hear English here they immediately think you have money. But no worries! My Spanish is coming along great! I can understand everything everyone is saying! The hard part is speaking it.. but it gets better and better every day! 

Yesterday, I went on a split with Hermana Benson. It was definitely a lot harder without our fluent companions but we were able to contact a ton of people in the streets and teach a few lessons. We sure have come a long way since the MTC! People were extra attentive to 2 white girls...maybe we should do that more often!

Hermana Benson Y Hermana Ingram
We have had a TON more success this week! I have been working my absolute hardest everyday and I'm finally seeing it pay off. Yesterday we were sitting in class at church when the bishop pulled me and my comp out. He was with a little man dressed in jeans and a torn up t-shirt. He told us that someone had given him our names and the address to the church and that he had been looking for us for the past week because he wants to become a member of the church. That never happens!!! I was SO happy! Later that night in our apartment someone buzzed our floor. We went down to see who it was and it was the bishop with a slip of paper. He told us that there was another really old lady that had been looking for us. Apparently she is really sick and immobile and wants to be baptized before she dies...2 in one day!! I couldn't believe it! Hard work pays off! It's so great to finally see blessings. These past few weeks we haven't had any success and it's finally starting to come. 

Adios!! Les amo mucho!

Hermana Ingram
Our Apartment
Lunch with some of the Elders

Monday, February 3, 2014

Week 2 February 3, 2014


I didn't get robbed this week!!! Improvement!!

Everyday we have a goal to talk to 15 people in the streets about the gospel. It's a lot different here because they willingly give you their full name and address. That would NEVER happen in America. I'm the first white girl to ever serve in this area...which explains why everyone stares at me like they have never seen a white girl in person before, because they haven't. We get a lot of creepy guys that approach us wondering what a white skinned, blue eyed girl is doing here. Most of them are pretty drunk and it's actually pretty funny. Don't worry...we don't teach them...we leave the creepy ones for the Elders. Today, a homeless naked man approached us....ya we sprinted away from that one... pray I don't see that one again. They always ask me where I'm from and I've started telling them that I'm from Chihuahua Mexico...they're drunk enough to believe me most of the time.

The language is pretty hard..but it's mostly hard to speak. Understanding what everyone is saying isn't too hard. My companion doesn't speak any English at all but it's good because it forces me to speak more Spanish.

Every Thursday we gather as a district at one of the churches and have "planeamiento semanal" or weekly planning. This week's was a lot of fun because one of the Elders brought ingredients to make pancakes and chocolate milk. It was a great way to get to know them all a little better.

Tuesday we taught a lady who LITERALLY lives in a cardboard box. Everything she owned was packed into the tiniest room made of cardboard boxes. This room was her kitchen, her bedroom, her closet, her bathroom, her office, her everything. We sat on little buckets while we taught her. She's an amazing lady!

There are a billion dogs here! Every family has at least one dog..not to mention the other million stray dogs that roam the streets. Some of them are actually pretty cute but the majority are really mangy. The long-haired dogs are the worst because they end up completely covered in dreads.

The 'pan' (bread) shops are my absolute favorite to walk by because they smell so good. Every morning the streets smell like freshly baked bread. They make it all from scratch and sell it to you right outside of the shop. The tortilla shops are also the best! They make corn tortillas from scratch by the 100s!

I had my first experience with doing laundry here! Luckily we have a really awesome member that lives below us that lets us use their washing machine. It's still a little different though because the machine isn't hooked up to a water line so you have to fill up the washing machine with a hose. After the machine goes for about 20 minutes, we take our clothes to the roof and hang them up with clothes pins on lines to dry. I've never been so grateful for a washer and dryer!!!

Every Saturday is the Tianguis. The streets are completely filled with little shops and tarps are strung across the streets from apartment to apartment. Hermana Benson and I were walking together and I have never heard so many cat calls in my life. There were literally 20 + men cat calling and shouting at us all at once. It is so hard to keep a straight face when that happens. Let's just say that we don't lolly gag through the Tianguis..we speed walk. This Saturday I saw 2 Books of Mormon for sale...THAT'S where they all go! They sell anything and name it and it's at the Tianguis.

Here in Mexico it's completely normal to call someone fat straight to their face. A lot of the time men will introduce their wives as "mi esposa gordita" (my fat wife). They always call me the flaca Americana (skinny American) and practically force me to eat extra food to try and fatten me up.

Today we went to the capilla and met with the entire zone. There are only four Hermanas out of 50 Elders. It was a lot of fun today because we got to play sports...FINALLY!!!!! We played volleyball, soccer, and basketball for hours! I was the only sister who really played..the rest of the Hermanas sat in the shade. We had a big picnic with all of them too. Towards the end, the Elders brought out a huge garbage bin full of water balloons and we had a ginormous water fight. What a blast!
My Zone. There are only 4 Hermanas
Hermana Benson, her companion, and me
The work here is definitely progressing! We only have 4 investigators right now...we will probably baptize a little 9 year old girl within the next few weeks..I hope. Her family are all members which helps a lot. I haven't been back to visit the little 3 year old girl yet..but a lot of kids have soccer balls and are pretty impressed that a girl knows how to play haha.

Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers! I love you all forever!

Hermana Ingram