Monday, June 8, 2015

Week 78 Final email...Adios Mexico June 8, 2015

They say that the mission is like a big beautiful field of roses. I remember when I began filling out my mission papers; nervous, anxious, excited to see where I would be spending the next year and a half of my life.

July 2013
There I was with that big white envelope in my trembling hands. Everyone was silent as I read those words: "Dear Sister Ingram you are hereby called to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Mexico Mexico City Southeast mission." I remember my mom shouting, "What?! But they don't send girls to Mexico!" I couldn't believe it either; I had been called to serve a full-time mission in Mexico City and that adventure would start just a few short months later. Almost immediately my dad began searching pictures of my mission; houses upon houses upon houses. One thing was for sure, finding people to teach wouldn't be a problem! I would be learning a new language, eating who knows what, meeting new people, living a new culture, and, most importantly, teaching the gospel. Life as I knew it would take a 180 degree turn. But I was excited knowing that it would be an adventure of a life-time. There I was, looking out upon that big beauiful field of roses.
December 11th 2013
It was early, my bags were packed; I was ready to go. We slowly drove through the big black MTC gates, stopping alongside the sidewalk. I said my last goodbyes, gave my last hugs, and just like that I was off on that adventure of a life-time I had been preparing for. That was the moment I took my first step into that field of roses. That's when I realized that my journey through it was going to be a bit harder, a bit more painful than I had expected it to be.

January 20th 2014
I finally arrived in Mexico. What language were they speaking anyway? That was definitely not the language they had taught me back in the MTC... "Can you speak a little slower please?" How in the world was I ever going to do this?

I walked into my house. There were cockroaches crawling all over the yellow stained walls, a mountain of dirty dishes filling the sink, and rotting food covering the counters and tables. The place smelled like a musty, moldy, dirty, old house. I was not excited to spend the next few months living there.

I began to unpack my bags. Where were my things? I couldn't believe it...someone had stolen almost all of the contents of one of my suitcases. I took a deep breath; everything was going to be fine but I began to wonder what exactly I had gotten myself into. Was this really worth it?
Burning my shoes....if that's what you can still call them
The months went by and it continued to be tough but I started to get the hang of things. Why didn't people want to listen to us? Slammed doors and insults became an everyday occurrence. I was starting to realized that the big beautiful field of roses sure did look amazing from an outsider's perspective, but walking through it...well...that was another story. The field was full of thorns...each step hurt!

However, as the time went by I began to see some changes. I no longer struggled to understand the language. "Um, Sister _______ there's another cockroach on your desk." Who needed a hot shower when you could just heat a bucket of water with a hot iron? I began to find people who DID want to listen to me; people who truly were in search of the gospel. I began to recognize that each day was full of little miracles. As I was pushing my way through that field of roses I decided to look up and notice where I was: in the middle of the biggest most beautiful field of roses. I had had my head down that entire time and had forgotten where I was!

One, five, ten, sixteen months passed by. Day by day I continued. It was tough. There were ups and downs, some moments were harder than others but I kept reminding myself to look up and remember where I was.

Now my adventure of a life-time is drawing to an end and I'm just days away from returning to life as I knew it. I've grown to love so many people here: my companions, converts, members, my mission president, his wife, and many more. THEY'VE become my family away from home and I'm having to say goodbye knowing that some of them I may never see again. Never again will I be able to relive the experiences that I've had as a missionary here in Mexico. This IS life as I know it and I'm having to say goodbye to it for forever. I'm just a few steps from leaving the field. It sure hasn't been easy walking through it, but when I look back I realize that though difficult, it continues being that same big beautiful field of roses.

BUT it's not over yet! I've learned so much while being here and there's no way I'm going to let it go to waste. I've got an even bigger field of roses I have to cross called LIFE. If you would've asked me 3 years ago if I was going to serve a mission I would've said, "Absolutely not!" I was preparing to play division 1 college sports, I had other plans, a mission was the LAST thing on my mind. When I made my decision to not play college sports, I didn't truly understand why at the time. All I knew was that the Lord understood, He saw the bigger picture, and I needed to put my trust in Him. Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths." I KNOW that that is 100% true! I knew that God would direct my path and look where I ended the middle of Mexico! I will forever be grateful for the decision I mad to NOT go through with MY plans but rather to go through with HIS plans. I know that what comes next will be far from easy...but my experiences here in Mexico have prepared me...bring it on life!!
Saying goodbye to our ward building...

Week 78 Final email (1 of 2) June 8, 2015

This week was one of the best weeks yet! And what a great way to finish!

Tuesday our investigator Carlos passed his baptismal interview. He came out looking a little shooken up so we asked if everything was ok. He paused and said, "I'm just really going to miss the two of you when you're gone." It's really hard to explain the love you feel towards your investigators. It's something I have never felt before! We LOVE them more than anything and it's amazing to see them change their lives around!

Alejandro is glowing! I have never seen him so happy before!
We visited a lot of members this week to say goodbye. One of them said something that I'll never forget. She said, "Hermanas, I'm sure I'll NEVER see you again in this life. But I know that when we're resurrected we'll see each other again and we'll give each other a big hug." It actually made me tear up a little. It's true! That's going to be one big day of amazing reunions with everyone I've ever met here! I can't wait!

Friday it finally started to hit me that this is all about to end. I can't help but think, "This is the last time for this and for that..." I will NEVER teach these people ever again. It's hard thinking about that. But that's part of the mission!
Making Pozole
The secret ingredient
Hermana Lucero

We have probably never eaten so much as we did on Saturday. EVERYONE wanted to make us food...and we couldn't we practically ate all day! I did eat the best pozole ever though...THAT was worth it! Hermana Lucero is a chef and she made us her famous pozole verde. She promised me that she was going to email me the recipe...that way I can attempt it at home. The only problem is that she buys half of a pigs head, 4 pig feet, and a pig's spine to add flavor and I'm pretty sure I'm not finding that too easily in Salem, Utah. I was always told that the special secret ingredient to a delicious bowl of pozole was "amor" (love) but what they never told me was that it was ACTUALLY the head of a pig... I'm not sure I like knowing that.
Carlos's baptism
Bertha's baptism
At about 5 on Saturday we started the baptism of Carlos and Bertha. Carlos brought his wife, who I had never met before and Bertha showed up in the back of her husband's mototaxi along with her daughter Allison and her son Johnny. I don't know what got into me but from the moment we started I was fighting back the tears! It was HARD thinking that that was THE LAST time I would ever be baptizing an investigator. It's an amazing thing to see these people make such big changes in their lives. It's hard to express! Anyway, Gustavo (covert) baptized Carlos and Ramon (ward mission leader) baptized Bertha. Towards the end of the service, they surprised me and asked me to stand and bare my testimony. I knew that I wasn't going to be able to hold back the tears. I was looking at 2 miracles! We found Carlos because someone decided to give us a false address. We thought we lost him but kept searching...he has COMPLETELY turned his life around! Bertha was golden from the start! She was READY for the gospel in her life. Both of them started crying as I was up there. But what a great way to end my time in that ward!

On Sunday Carlos, Alejandro, and Bertha all got confirmed members of the church. I was beyond happy for them. And, to finish sacrament meeting we sang hymn #88 "Placentero nos es trabajar" (it doesn't exist in English). I couldn't even sing the words I was so emotional. I've turned into a big fat baby here in the mission!
Familia Beltran 
Hermana Isabel
Our English class
Carlos in his home where we teach him

Edith and her daughter Edith
Jessica (convert)
Hermana Maldonado (probably my favorite member)
Hermana Zenaida
Josefina (convert) 
Ana and her son Leonardo (convert)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Week 77 Great Week! June 1, 2015

The Sanchez of my favorite (and shortest) families here in Polanco
Tuesday morning we had to train the Hermanas and Elders that will be training this upcoming cycle. I find trainers as some of the most important missionaries in the mission. They set the foundation for how the new missionaries are going to serve the rest of their missions. So, it's important that they be some of the best missionaries...and by the look of that group I know that they'll be some of the best trainers and that the newbies are going to be in good hands.

Later we started divisions with Hermanas Sic and Benson. I went to Lucero with Sic and it was a blast. From the moment I met her at changes, I knew she was going to be awesome...and being with her Tuesday just confirmed it. We have some amazing sister missionaries here in the mission. Mexico is in for it!
Facebook Stalking???
Thursday. So, our investigator Alejandro called us and informed us that he would be going out of town for the next week and a half which meant he wouldn't be getting baptized this week...bummer...

Both Carlos and Bertha are progressing REALLY well. We taught Bertha about the Word of Wisdom and as we were explaining the things we shouldn't consume she said, "I don't know why God would tell us to not drink coffee...but if He says so...well...I know it's true!" She also mentioned that her husband tears up when he hears them say prayers at night...he's changing and we've never even taught him!

Friday morning was my last leadership meeting with the President, his wife, the assistants, and the zone leaders. At the start of each meeting we are handed a paper with what we'll be talking about listed on it, a calendar for the upcoming month, and a list of the coming and leaving missionaries. I was reading through that list and that's when I ran into MY name...what?! Am I going home??? That was like one big punch in the gut... anyway we spent a lot of the time talking about the normal mission business and to end the assistants gave a capacitation (training) on working with ward leaders. As they were wrapping up he turned to me and asked, "Hermana Ingram, what are your plans for when you get home in just a few short weeks?" I answered, "Well, I'll need to find a job...I'll start up my studies..." He asked a few more of the leaving missionaries and they all answered pretty similarly. He paused and asked, "Then why did each of you decide to come on a mission?" That REALLY hit me. At first I came on a mission thinking I was going to convert Mexico! I may have had a few baptisms here and there and I WAS able to see a few lives change. That was amazing. I learned a whole new cool is that!? But now I'm beginning to realize that it's more than that. To what good is it that I come on a mission if I go home the same person as I was before; if I go back to my old life? Remember what Peter and the other apostles did when Jesus died? They went back to their old lives as fisherman! It was as if they had forgotten everything they had learned while they were with Christ! Christ was resurrected, saw them fishing, and, from the shore said, "What in the world are you doing?! When I asked you to be my disciples, I didn't mean for just a few years...I meant for a LIFETIME!" He didn't call me to be a representative of Him for just a year and a half so that afterwards I could sit back, relax, and return to my old life. He called me to serve Him for a LIFETIME. And that's my plan. Of course I'm going to work, and study...that's a very important part of my life. But I'm going to serve Him and, well, love life while I'm at it!
Another one of my favorite families
Saturday was an AMAZING day! First, we went to the mission offices for our goodbye interviews. I honestly couldn't believe that the day had come! Anyway, my interview with President Stutznegger was 100% inspired! We talked about a lot of was awesome! He ended by giving me a blessing and then it was over. There isn't a doubt in my mind that President Stutznegger is a man of God. I am really going to miss him and Sister Stutznegger!

Later we got a call from Alejandro. He wanted to see us that afternoon in the church...he said he needed to talk about a few things. Wasn't he supposed to be out of town?? So later we visited him in the church. We had tried calling him the days before but he wasn't answering. To be honest, things weren't looking good. So, when we saw him I was expecting bad news. He started by telling us how bad the last few days had gone for him. He was supposed to go to Leon but as he was leaving his van broke down. So, he went back to his house and grabbed is second too broke down just a few kilometers down the road. He was NOT happy, and that's why he wasn't answering our phonecalls. After a long hard day on Thursday he told us that he was about to call us and tell us that he was done, that he didn't want to get baptized. That's when he noticed his Book of Mormon sitting on his kitchen tale and had the impression to open it and start reading. He said that in that moment he received his answer...he had known all along that it was true. To confirm his decision he began fasting. Then he said, "Hermanas, I'm getting baptized. I was wondering if we could fill up the baptismal font right now. Can we?" Do you have any idea how happy we were?! We were practically crying we were so happy! I don't think it was coincidence that BOTH of his cars broke down. He was supposed to get baptized this weekend. Whoever was praying for that guy...Thank you!!
Alejandro's Baptism
Sunday....ALEJANDRO GOT BAPTIZED! It was amazing! Elder Choc (one of the Elders that found him) was able to come and baptize him. After he came out of the water he gave Choc the biggest hug ever...he was SO happy.
The Pazole Party
Later, we came back to to the church and the ward mission leader (Ramon) had organized a big pozole party. A bunch of ward members came...we sure had a lot of fun.

WHAT A GREAT WEEK! I seriously can't believe that my time here is winding down...I only have a week to give it my all!