Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Week 72 April 27, 2015

Leadership meeting
Tuesday morning Hermana Taylor and I took a taxi to Oriental to train while we were there. It's a lot of fun being with the assistants and the President and his wife. Taylor and I really seem to work well together which makes everything easy and fun! Later in the day we started divisions with Hermana Bennett and Hermana Tirado. I went to Juan Escutia with Hermana Bennett and Tirado headed to Planco with Taylor. I was SO impressed by Bennett! We were companions almost a year ago and she has come so far! During divisions with her we tried contacting an old lady walking her GIANT pitbull. As she went to shake the lady's hand the dog went from looking like the sweetest dog to the most blood thirsty ferocious dog ever. That dog just about took Bennett´s arm off! Luckily that old lady had a good hold in its leash...or Bennett would've been a gonner! The mission is such a blast! I learned a lot by being with her and it was great to see how the mission helps us progress.
Parasite Pills (2 boxes each) We are planning on getting rid of that BEFORE getting home...you're welcome family!
Thursday I got approached by a tattooed man who handed me a box. It made me a little nervous to be honest...he informed me that his aunt had given him a bunch of pies to sell. I told him I wasn't interested but he wouldn't let me hand it back to him. So, I told him I had a better idea. We had just left Adolofo's house which was just down the street. I told him to knock on his door and to tell Adolfo that the tall white girl had sent him to buy a pie. He finally agreed and I was able to hand him back the pie. Later, we went back to Adolofo's house...and there it was..a pineapple pie! I thought it was hilarious! Unfortunately it didn't taste very good... but it sure was funny!

We also talked to Rosa...(our investigator) and she brought with her her "pareja" (partner). They had broken up but now they're back together. He told us that he wanted to be with her for forever. That's great! All we had to do was take them to get married! But...there was a problem...she is married to someone else ( 8 years ago) and needs to get divorced first. Ok...so we'll talk to a lawyer and get her divorced! Turns out that that wasn't the only problem...HE was married to someone else too... And here in Mexico, getting a divorce is NOT easy...especially for a guy. So, we told them the truth..neither of them could get baptized... He started crying...he felt really bad that he was the reason that she couldn't get baptized. She started to talk and said that there was nothing she wanted more in the world than to get baptized. She couldn't even finish the sentence without bursting into tears. It was REALLY sad. I've never seen someone so genuinely heart-broken for not being able to get baptized. The only thing we could tell them to do was to keep reading praying, and coming to church. They would have to really trust in God for this one. And...they came to church together on Sunday! One day they'll get baptized and be sealed in the temple!
Training districts with the assistants
Friday we had a leadership meeting with the President, his wife, the assistants, and the zone leaders. Taylor and I had to give the training on "Revelation through the Book of Mormon". We talked a lot about the importance of the Book of Mormon in our lives and especially in the lives of others we teach here in Mexico. We also talked about the revelation we can receive by reading and studying the scriptures. We talked about Joseph Smith and how by reading a single verse in Santiago (James 1:5) the entire church was restored. And because he decided to study the scriptures and act on what he learned, each and every one of us missionaries have the opportunity to be here and change lives! That's pretty amazing! Can't you see the potential we have as people to receive revelation through the scriptures! It's huge!
Pizza after the meeting
Saturday we headed to the stake center for a stake activity that they'd been planning for the past month. They invited all the Young Men and the Young Women from the stake to have a "day in the mission". The idea was for them to live a day as if they were really a missionary and to see what we do each and every day. So, each kid was assigned to a missionary and they spent the next 12 hours with that missionary in their area. I was assigned a 17 year old and a 25 year old; both were planning on serving missions in the future. Taylor was also assigned someone and after studying with them, we headed to our areas.
Our companions for the day
They taught with us, contacted, ate, walked...they were able to see first hand what it was like to serve a mission. It was awesome to listen to them teach and watch as they talked to people. I think a lot of them were really surprised by what we go through...the insults, the whistles, the doors slammed in our faces, the huge amount of food they "force"us to eat, etc. I think they left with a new appreciation for missionary work and through the spiritual experience we had together, with a stronger desire to prepare to be missionaries someday. At about 7:00 PM we all headed back to the stake center with our "companions" and had a big testimony meeting. It was amazing to see those kids bear their testimonies...the spirit was really strong. A lot of them talked about having thought about serving missions before but that after having spent a day as a missionary, they were more than 100% sure that they would do it. What an amazing opportunity it was to help those kids have that desire. It was awesome!
There was a literal race on Sunday! I almost started tearing up when I saw the runners because it made me think of my speedy mom. (She would have kicked their butts!!)
That's about all for this week! I'm about to start my 13th and final "cambia" here in the mission...I'm going to give it my all! I love you all and appreciate everything you do for me! I feel your prayers!

Hermana Ingram

Monday, April 20, 2015

Week 71 My sister got her mission call! April 20, 2014

The view from Zocalo
Early Monday morning, with the help of the Santa Cruz family, we went to the "Mercado Sonora" which is a HUGE market just outside of Center. They sell just about everything...and for WAY cheap. So we went to buy a few things we want to take home with us. We also went with them to Zocalo for breakfast on the balcony looking out over the main cathedral. I sure am going to miss this place!
We ate from a molcajete. It was delicious!
Hermana Taylor and I have been finding a bunch of new and AWESOME investigators. It's amazing being a missionary. We are teaching people who have past lives that you wouldn't believe...ex prostitutes, drug dealers, murderers, etc. And it's not even scary! We sit with them and help them change! Sometimes I sit in a lesson in awe and think, "Here I am...in the middle of Mexico...teaching someone who spent the last 10 years in prison! And he wants to change!" There is nothing quite like it! What an amazing experience it is to be able to help these people turn their lives around!
I am really going to miss doing my laundry like this (I'm serious!)

Friday: At about 8:00PM I got a call from President Stutznegger...my sister had her mission call! From his house he face-timed my family and then held his phone to the face-time call so that I could listen in. It was awesome! I got to listen in on the whole mission call opening. I think I was more nervous than anyone! I was practically shaking and I was trying not to cry! Then my sister started to read the call..."Dear Sister Ingram, you are hereby called to serve in...PERU!!!" My sister is going to Peru everyone! It was tough to hear much through all the screams and cheers but I got the gist of it. I couldn't help but tear up...I knew exactly what and how she was feeling. I said bye and so did my sister and we hung up. So, she's going to Peru and she leaves on August 12th which means we'll have 2 months together before she's off for a year and a half....that part makes me kind of sad...but I'm really proud of her decision and I know it will be life changing for her. I'm proud of you Hannah! You're in for an adventure of a lifetime!

Hermana Taylor and I are seeing lots of blessings here in Polanco! We have about a month and a half left to give it our all and to make a lasting difference...and that's exactly what we're going to do!
Grinding cocao with Piedad and her husband
Once it's ground she makes it into chocolate pucks and sells them in the tianguis

He shines old rusty metal pieces for a living

Monday, April 13, 2015

Week 70 New Companion! April 13,2015

Drum roll everyone.....Hermana Taylor is my new companion! Hermana Taylor is from a small town called McGrath in Alberta Canada. She's such a great missionary! She's exactly obedient and works SUPER hard! I also have the privilege of being her first English-speaking companion. So, she may or may not have forgotten a few English words...or a lot;) Our conversations were in advanced Spanglish to begin with...eventually we gave up and we just speak Spanish together. It's a whole lot easier that way!
Gorditas (little fatties) for lunch

As missionaries learning to speak a foreign language we all tend to struggle writing, speaking, and remembering English. Between us English-speaking missionaries we communicate using Spanglish (consisting of about half English words and half Spanish words with a few modified words that are neither English or Spanish.) For example we use the Spanish verb, add an "ed" to the end of it and use it as an English past tense verb (planchar means "to iron" or as we use it in the mission "to chew out"..."he totally got planched!") There are also a lot of words that we completely make up or that we think are words in English but aren't: desanimado (feeling down) we translate to "disanimated", capacitor (to train or teach) "We need to capacity the Elders.", preocupado (worried) "My mom is really preoccupied about me.", animado (excited) "I'm so animated for you!", prestar service (to serve) "We need to prest 3 hours of service today.", pre star (to lend) "Can you prest me your pen?", I could go on and on. The problem is that we understand each other perfectly and sometimes we're absolutely convinced that we're speaking correct English! It isn't until we're with someone who doesn't speak Spanish that we realize that our English is horrible! The confused look on their faces as we speak says it all. Sometimes we speak such bad Spanglish that someone from home would have absolutely no idea what we were talking about. Example sentence: "Did you hear?! Elder T. got bajared yesterday because he was planching his district during his capacitations. His companion got subbed and moved to a super fresa area and is really animated about it." Did you get that?? If no...ya'll better learn some Spanglish before I get home so that we can have a decent conversation!
Mexican mom aprons (the "mom jean" equivalent in Mexico)
About 3 hours into our companionship, as we were walking to buy some groceries, a man approached us from behind saying he wanted to talk to us. As he got closer we could tell that he was extremely drunk and that he was trouble. We simply said, "Buenas trades!", turned around and started walking in the other direction. Normally, they stand there for a second and continue doing whatever it was they were doing. But this guy was set on catching us. As I looked back I noticed he was following us and we began walking faster...and so did he. Taylor and I quickly made a game plan and at the next corner we turned and sprinted until we were able to find a car to duck behind. We did so and watched as he stopped at the corner wondering where we had gone. Luckily he gave up and left. I guess he wanted Taylor to have a nice warm welcome back to Polanco! (This is her old area and now she is back)

Tuesday we had interviews with the President. Taylor and I had to be there the whole day to train each district as they came in. I had my interviews and they went great! President Stutznegger is a great guy and always knows just what I need to hear. Afterwards we got a call from a member of the ward informing us that a ward member had died and that they were having the funeral right then. It was pretty sad...he was a 26 year old boy who had special needs. He was such a great example to so many people in the ward. Everyone was devastated...but thank goodness for our knowledge of the Plan of Salvation!

Tuesday night we started divisions...Taylor went to barrio Heroes with Hermana Santos and Hermana Martinez (new Hermana with just 3 weeks in the mission) came here with me. Martinez definitely brought the spirit with her because she knew exactly what to share and what to say in each lesson. Once again....learning from the other sisters!!

Wednesday Edith Jr. passed her baptismal interview!! Later I talked to Sergio (her member friend who bore his testimony to her mom at work) and when I informed him that she had passed he started laughing he was so happy. I could tell he was so excited..even over the phone.
Training for the District Leaders
Friday we got to go do a small training for all the District Leaders in the mission. Taylor and I talked about the importance of having the spirit as leaders. I'd say we make quite the team! As I sat down the thought came to me how weird/amazing it is that we sit there with so many missionaries from so many countries and we all speak Spanish. That's amazing to me! We have some of the best missionaries too! These district leaders are going to make such a difference here in the mission. It's been amazing for me to see how much this mission has changed over the past 16 months. Let's just say that the Stutzneggers have worked miracles!

HAPPY 16 MONTHS! Taylor and I both hit our 16 month mark together....so to celebrate I made some peanut butter no-bake cookies. It was like a small taste of home! They were delicious!

EDITH GOT BAPTIZED! And guess who baptized her...Sergio! After the ordinance he was able to stand and bear his testimony and he practically left the whole room crying. Just think, all this because he had the guts to bear his testimony at work!

The baptismal water before and after blue dye

Later we had a ward devotional for a girl in our ward who is leaving for her mission on Tuesday. The ward mission leader, Elder Evans, Elder Choc, Herman Taylor, and I were able to sing 2 songs (I played the guitar) in the devotional. It was pretty fun. Afterwards we ate "tacos de canasta" (basket tacos)..the name says it all...they're simply tacos in a basket..I don't get the point... But what a great day!
Tacos de canasta
We are working hard! Hermana Taylor and I only have a short 8 weeks left in the mission....so we're going to leave it all out on the field! Thanks for your thoughts and prayers! I may be miles away....but I can definitely feel them!

Adolfo eating who knows what. (They don't waste anything here)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week 69 Semana Santa April 6, 2015

Some of my favorite people from the Heroes ward...and this week's small miracle
Tuesday we started divisions again. Hermana Benson came here with me in Polanco and Hermana Luque went with Hermana Sic (one of the brand new awesome sisters.) Divisions are such a great learning experience for us. I learn something new from each and every one of the sisters here. It was also a lot of fun to work with Benson...considering it's been over a year since we were companions!
I got my hair cut this week and they said I looked a lot like this scary mannequin head...so we all went cross-eyed to try and mimic her...they thought it was hilarious
We had a pretty long week overall. This week was the beginning of "Semana Santa" (holy week) here in Mexico. (Remember last year? They do reenactments of the crucifixion of Christ.) Friday was "Viernes Santo" which is the day Christ was crucified and is the most celebrated day of the Semana Santa. We got word from President Stutznegger that we wouldn't be working that day due to safety reasons. Let's just say that the Catholics don't exactly appreciate us out preaching on that day. So, knowing we would be incarcerated all day Friday, we bought food on Thursday to last us until Saturday. After lunch we decided to walk to the bakery to grab a few things. Unfortunately, to get there, you have to pass a GINORMOUS chicken factory. Everyday 5 semi trucks arrive stuffed full of dead, plucked, frozen, chickens. I've never seen more chicken in my life...THOUSANDS! In the early morning it's all fairly fresh (although I did see some men carrying boxes of chickens, spill them into the dirty muddy Mexican street, put them back into the boxes, and then continue to sell them) so, somewhat fresh and somewhat clean. Anyway, the problem is that the workers are REALLY slow at unloading the chickens. Throughout the day the temperature rises, the sun beats down on the raw chicken-filled semi trucks, and you can imagine what happens to the chicken....Thousands of raw chickens begin to thaw as the semi trucks transform into ovens. What happens next is the worst part of it all...raw warm chicken juice starts to pour out onto the street...the smell is ABSOLUTLEY horrid. By the end of the day the sidewalk and street is covered in raw chick juice...it's SO GROSS! So, we made our way to the bakery and prepared ourselves to walk through the smelly chicken factory. I led the way breathing through my mouth as to not smell anything and carefully avoided any chicken juice puddles. Then from nowhere came my companion....sprinting past me while gagging uncontrollably. It was SO funny! And yes...we made it to the bakery in one piece!;)
Friday...solitary confinement...missionary style. Today was the day Mexico was celebrating the crucifixion and the day they were doing the reenactment of the crucifixion. It's not the safest of days for us to be outside knocking doors and talking to people in the streets...so we spent the day in the house. The day was filled with lots of scripture-reading, guitar playing, church movie watching, etc. Add all that to the distant sound of crowds of people chanting prayers and singing hymns. There's just nothing quite like that!
Watching General Conference in English
Saturday: General Conference weekend began! There we were, about 15 English-speakers listening to general conference. The majority of us are going home within the next 2 months. All of us had written down a list of about 5 questions we were hoping to have answered throughout conference...and, since we're going home soon, most had questions about what to do upon getting home. First talk...marriage. Second talk....marriage. Third talk...marriage. That's when we had all had it..one Elder slammed his notebook down and said, "Ok! That's it! Is it just me or are they really only talking about marriage!?" We all started laughing in agreement. It was pretty funny!

Sunday was the last day of conference...I never want it to end! I remember there were times at home when conference was something I simply sat through because I had to. Most of the time I was just trying to keep my eyes open, just trying to stay awake. Now, I can't get enough! These are latter-day prophets and apostles for crying out loud! We'd all run to listen if Moses came wouldn't we? Or Nephi? Why do we take for granted the opportunity to listen to Thomas S. Monson? He's a prophet too! And what a blessing it is to be able to listen to him and the apostles every 6 months. It's amazing how they seem to say exactly what you're in need of and how your doubts and questions always get answered. That's because they're men of God and they're inspired! One of my favorite things about watching conference as a missionary is when they announce how many full-time missionaries there are currently in the world...then I think, "Hey! That's me! I'm one of those 85,000!" I always seem to feel the spirit when they say that. But this time it was sad...that was the last time I'll hear them say those words while being a full-time missionary...But it's something I'll never forget!
Ernesto Aylaya
The Lopez Family....I love this family!!
After the morning session I headed out to find my comp and I ran into Ernest Ayala (one of my converts from Heroes), the Heroes bishop, and the Lopez family (one of my convert families). Turns out Ernesto was about to receive the Melchizedek priesthood and he wanted me there. Not only that but Omar Lopez was also being called as Elders Quorum President! And not only that but Ernesto was also being called as Elders Quorum Secretary! I was SO happy! The spirit was so strong as they were called and set apart. So now, Patricia Lopez is the Relief Society President, Omar Lopez is the Elders Quorum President, and both of their sons are serving in their quorum presidencies and are preparing for missions. Ernesto is the cherry on top! To be honest I had been having a really tough week...and I was feeling a bit down...seeing the progress in them and being able to be there was like an answer to my prayers. Running into them in the moment was no coincidence. That was exactly what I was in need of!
Painting with Jorge and Adolfo (Jorge WILL get baptized before I'm gone!)
This is a woman in the ward that only speaks to me in English...but she doesn't speak English :)

Week 68 A Tender Mercy March 30, 2015

Ward Relief Society Birthday Celebration
It rained all week this week! Sometimes it's not worth your time and effort to try and stay dry. People give us a lot of weird looks because we walk through the rain as if it was a perfectly sunny spring day.

Overall we had a pretty successful week. Our investigators are really seeming to progress well. Edith and Edith Jr. are especially progressing and their testimonies are growing more each and every day.

We were teaching a lesson in the church Friday when we noticed a man at the front gate trying to get our attention. I got up to go see who it was and what he needed. Guess who it turned out to be? I couldn't believe it! It was my convert David Rojas from my first few months in the mission! He said, "I knew it was you Hermana Ingram!" I haven't seen him in over a year! I got talking to him and his life has gotten so much better. He no longer lives in an abandoned car on the street...he got a new job and was able to rent a room. He makes enough money now in his new job to eat too! I was SO happy to see that man!
Making ice-cream with Hermano Santacruz. This is how he earns his living.

I forgot to mention this a few weeks ago: After teaching one of the zones during zone conferences we headed back to our apartment with the President and his wife to grab some things we'd be needing to spend the night at their house. They drove us there and Hna. Stutznegger got out with us; she needed to use the bathroom and didn't think she would make it to the mission offices. We grabbed our stuff and headed back to the car to wait for her. She came back down and surprised said, "Keith (president)! These girls don't have a toilet seat on their toilet! We need to buy them one quick!" I laughed because it had never actually occurred to me that we didn't have a toilet seat (most don't here). So, Hermana Stutznegger, thanks for helping me realize just how long I've been here in Mexico City! And, sure enough, the President had us a toilet seat the next day!
Isn't this beautiful?
Saturday we headed to a ward activity at the church with our investigators. The RS sisters danced 4 traditional Mexican dances in beautiful traditional dresses. I wish America had a little more culture!!! Afterwards each ward organization had set up a stand explaining what each did. They did a really great job with the whole thing and our investigators loved it.

Pozole...my favorite!