Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Week 53 (59) January 26, 2014

Hermanas Ingram, Bennett, and Benson

This week has been pretty uneventful. Just a normal week in Mexico City! ​

This week we once again have been focusing on helping the recent converts progress. Our goal is that each and every one of them can enter the temple as a family in a year. It's a lot of hard work but there is nothing more gratifying than seeing them progress. Speaking of progress...The Lopez family is blowing everyone out of the water! Hermana Lopez just got called as 2nd counselor in the Relief Society presidency, her husband got called as 1st counselor in the Elders Quorum presidency, their sons Ivan and Luis are both in the young men's presidencies. How awesome is that!! Just looking at them you'd think they had been members for years now!

Ernesto Ayala is preparing to receive the Melchizedek priesthood. (He has had the Aaronic priesthood for a while now.) His only downfall is that he hates wearing ties! (I'd say that's a pretty good downfall to have;)) But, I finally got him to wear a tie this Sunday!!
Ernesto and his tie
Tuesday I had to go to immigration to renew my Visa. And, I didn't have any Visa problems! So I'm good for another year here!

Thursday we helped the Ayala family move furniture. I'm sure the people in the streets were wondering what a white American girl in a skirt was doing carrying furniture down the street...they kept giving me weird looks. But it was fun! Ernesto insisted on giving me a ride on the dolly....of course I let him.

Culture note: Medicine. You wouldn't believe the remedies people come up with here. Bad cut or scrape? Lemon and salt will do the trick....it only hurts a little...NOT! A lady once told me that her mom got cancer from drinking a hot drink and an ice cream in the same hour..no joke. They believe Coke to be medicine...stomach ache? Coke. Feeling dizzy? Coke. Sore throat? A cup of vinegar will do the trick. Do you get sick frequently? Cactus smoothie. The other day I was told that watermelon was super unhealthy because it contains a lot of "grasa" (grease/fat). What?! And if you need a prescription, why go to the doctor when you can just prescribe yourself and buy it in the Tianguis for a few pesos?

I love you all to the moon and back! Only about 4 months to go! I'll see you all before you know it!! 
¡Les extraño!

Hermana Ingram

(FYI...we have heard from two American girls who have received calls to the Mexico City Southeast Mission. They won't arrive until after Hailey gets home. This is exciting because we had heard that they wouldn't be sending anymore "güeras")

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Week 52 (58) January 19, 2014

Another week gone by! And a long one at that! This week we have been really focusing on helping our converts continue to progress. We've been able to teach them about temples and about family history work and they love it. It doesn't end with baptism!!! Now they have a new goal: enter the temple. In their prayers they even ask for help to prepare to enter the temple one day to have an eternal family. It's hard to understand without being in my position but it makes you cry to see them with that desire to progress.

Monday we woke up, got ready, cleaned a little. Earlier in the week Blanca and Rafael (converts) told us that we could stop by and ride their bikes to the grocery store so we had been looking forward to it all week. My companion was SO excited. We headed out the door, knocked on Blanca and Rafael's door, and took the bikes out for a spin. We thanked them, waved goodbye and of we went. It felt sooo good to be on a bike again! I headed out first and a few seconds later turned my head around to make sure my comp. was coming too... You know how it is when a child is first learning to ride a bike...they get on with all the confidence in the world, they get going with dad running by their side, everything's great until dad lets go...all confidence that was once there quickly gets crushed as they start to fall. And they fall as if both hands are superglued to the handle bars and both feet to the pedals. That's what I turned around to see. Turns out my comp didn't know how to ride a bike. So, both disappointed, we returned the bikes. My poor comp..she was devastated...but it made for a good story!

Culture note: Let me tell ya....Mexicans eat anything and everything. They don't waste a single thing. If it's edible, they eat it. They eat cow, pig, rabbit, snake, goat, shark, iguana, sheep, monkey, etc. Not a part of any animal is wasted: heart, liver, kidney, stomach, intestine, brain, ovaries, lung, pancreas, testicles, you name it, they eat it. Eye balls, ear, tongue, feet, snout, tendon, nerve, vertebrae, bone marrow, EVERYTHING. And on the streets here you can find just about all of it. Some of the local favorites are brain quesadillas, intestine tacos, and tongue soup...YUMMY!! Oh and intestine filled with boiled blood...even more delicious. Bugs are also a part of Mexico's menu: crickets, grasshoppers, ant larvae, etc. My motto: DON'T ASK WHAT IT IS YOU'RE EATING. Trust me...it's best not to know.
Yes...those are chicken heads.
Things have been going really well here in my area. I absolutely love this area...the members, converts, everything. Blanca and Rafael are probably progressing the fastest...and if I could predict the future...Rafael is a future bishop ;) They're super hip people! In their prime time they were total hard core rockers. I always knew they were part of a band (they still are) but it wasn't until this week that they told us just what type of band. I'm talking ACDC, Led Zeplin, Kiss type band here...and pictures too!
Rafael in his glory days
Culture note: There is a type of food here called a "gordita" which translated means "little fatty". It's a fried thick tortilla which they cut into and stuff with meat, cheese, lettuce, salsa, etc. There's a reason it's called a gordita. They other day we were talking bout how weird the name was. Can you imagine? "Um, can I get a chicken fatty please?" There's no way I would buy that in the states!!

Thursday we had interviews with the President. It's always a great experience. We have the best President in the world!

Friday we planned a big ward movie night and we made movie ticket invitations and everything. We even provided drinks and popped about a kilo of popcorn (that's a TON). We watched the movie "Ephraim's rescue" and a lot of people ended up showing up. What a success!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Week 51 January 12, 2014

Monday we got permission to go to Teotihuacan (the pyramids) with Hermanas Taylor and Luque. It was freezing!!! Well,...freezing for Mexico City I guess. We were able to find a guide who was a member and he gave us a tour Book of Mormon style. It was actually really amazing to understand that Christ had walked where we were walking. We climbed all 3 pyramids. The main pyramid, the Sun Pyramid, is the biggest of all three. On the top and directly in the middle they say that if you stand there and concentrate really hard, your "soul will be re energized". There are quite a few true believers of the myth...people from all over the world stand there and meditate..sometimes even doing yoga. It's actually pretty entertaining.
I couldn't leave without giving it a try! So, my soul is officially rejuvenated ;) 

Here are more pics of the pyramids:

We headed home in a bus and got home just in time for our zone meeting. We had an ugliest skirt competition for the Hermanas and an ugliest tie competition for the Elders. It was pretty fun.
Who wins?
Tuesday: Happy Día de los Reyes Magos! Here in Mexico they celebrate another day similar to Christmas but a tad different. Not only do they ask Santa for gifts on Christmas but they also ask the 3 kings (from the Bible) for gifts. So, in the middle of the night, the 3 kinds come and leave presents for all of the children. And they do a better job than Santa! Where were the Kings when I was a kid?! All day the streets were filled with kids with their new bikes, soccer balls, dolls, etc. They also have the tradition to eat "Roska" and to invite friends and family over. A roska is a type of bread that they eat exclusively on "Día de Los Reyes Magos". It looks like a giant oval doughnut decorated with little gummy-like strips of candy. They bake little plastic baby figurines inside which is part of another tradition. When cutting the roska, if your slice has a baby in it you have to make tamales on the 2nd of February. We got invited to 3 different roskas. In the first two I didn't get a baby but on the last one I did. At the time I didn't know it meant that I had to make tamales on the 2nd so I was super happy to have gotten the baby. Then they told me what it meant...I don't know how to make a good tamale yet!

Culture note: Electricity. You don't know power lines until you've visited Mexico City. Here they string the power lines like in the states, from one telephone pole to another, but rather than having a few wires, there are at least 30 running in every direction. If you need some extra electricity, well, you just tap into one of the 50 wires outside your house. It isn't uncommon to see live electric wires on the street or hanging down in your path. There are stories of people walking through puddles on rainy days and getting electrocuted... And do they fix it? No!! They leave it there for up months or even years! Watch your step!

Wednesday we were knocking doors and we found a family of members who had just moved in from another part of Mexico...and they have a daughter that isn't baptized yet. What are the chances of finding them the day they moved in?!

As a missionary it is amazing to see how protected I am. Almost every person I have met here has been assaulted multiple times. Whether it be on the street, in a convi, or on a micro. It has happened many times to them. There are full grown men that get robbed and assaulted in the middle of the day! And me?! I'm a white, tall, blond, blue-eyed, American for crying out loud! Every time I tell anyone that I've never been assaulted they can't believe it. We are told that we're invisible to them...that they don't even realize that we're there. There are stories of missionaries on convis, robbers get on, and rob everyone there except the missionaries...invisible. God really does protect us here.

These past few weeks I've really grown to see some of our converts really progress. There is nothing better than watching them learn. And they have such a desire to progress! We've been focusing a lot on preparing them to enter the temple someday and having that be their goal and they love it. I can't quite explain the happiness you feel to help them truly progress in the gospel. I'm sure going to miss this area when I leave! I've seen so many miracles here! Success really does come with hard work and obedience. It all depends on how much you really want it!

Here are some pics from the bus ride to the pyramids:
These photos are not edited. They must have added a new coat of paint for Christmas??

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Week 50 Happy New Year! January 5, 2015

Sunrise over this concrete jungle...as good as it gets
Wednesday was New Year's Eve and we had to be inside our house at 6:00PM. Our neighbors once again had a huge party. Fortunately I've learned to sleep like a rock so that wasn't a problem. While all of Mexico was drinking and partying, as missionaries, we were drinking too...Coke of course!!
How we celebrated the New Year
At midnight I did get woken up by what sounded like the start of World War III; thousands of fireworks going off simultaneously. It was insane! I was also fortunate enough to once again be woken up to the sweet sound of drunk man karaoke. Oh! And I opened up my Christmas package to a stocking full of letters from family and friends. To be honest, it made me cry. It's amazing how much the mission has made me appreciate my family. That was the best Christmas present of them all!
This Christmas present got to Hailey on New Year's Day
Thursday. Happy New Year!!! Not that we could really celebrate or anything..we were stuck in the house all day for safety reasons. Can you believe it's already 2015! I left for my mission in 2013!! Where does the time go!? Here they have different New Years traditions: At midnight everyone eats 12 grapes which represent 12 goals for the 12 months of the new year. Also depending on the color of underwear you're wearing determines what you're in search of in the new year. Red = love. Yellow = money...etc. So, lately the streets have been filled with grapes and underwear!

Saturday we taught a lady we had contacted earlier in the week. She looked a little crazy and when we went into her house we realized that she was. She had about 100 cats running around everywhere and I'm sure you can imagine how it smelled. And even worse is that she fed them raw meat. There was raw meat everywhere; on the floor, furniture, outside and everything...literally everywhere! On the stove she had boiling a huge bucket of meat along with a few more pots filled to the top with more meat. (The cooked meat was for her "special diet" cats.) I've never seen anything like it before. She looked a little like the old lady with the apple from Snow White...luckily she didn't offer us any food! We quickly realized that she wasn't all the way there, ended with a prayer, and got out of there, dodging all cats...and raw meat of course.

We ended Saturday at the Family Ayala's house. When we got there Ernesto was eating a big bowl of meat with salsa verde. When we took a closer look we realized that it wasn't just any meat. He was eating Mexico's finest: Pig snout (hair included). He grabbed a tortilla and placed the snout inside. I couldn't let him eat that thing without a picture.
Pig snout tacos...Yum!
Sunday we were able to baptize a little boy named Omar. He comes from the family that hasn't accepted missionaries in years and through him we have been able to start teaching them again. The ward couldn't believe it...his entire family showed up. It was a small miracle!
Omar's Baptism
Afterwards we went with some converts of ours to the visitor's center at the temple. It was awesome! They still had the Christmas lights up and they thought it was the prettiest thing they had ever seen in their lives. (Wait until they see Temple Square!!)

It's amazing how that place seems to inspire people. The 8 of us squeezed into a taxi on the way home and about a few blocks before we got to the Stake Center, a car to the right of us tried to make a quick left turn, completely cutting us off, and there wasn't anything the taxi driver could do but hit him. So, I've officially gotten in a car accident in Mexico City. The other guy was a little drunk and anything but happy, claiming that it was the taxi's fault that the back of his car was completely bashed in. The taxi driver apologized, kicked us out, and we walked the rest of the way home. What an adventure!!