Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Feliz Navidad

And a Happy New Year!!!

So here in Mexico the big day for holiday festivities is Cristmas Eve.  Thats when everyone eats and the fiestas happen.  To put it plainly, Christmas day is more of a hangover  day.  How quaint.  Anyways, X-Mas Eve we had meal after meal after meal.  But the highlight of the day for me...besides skyping with my family, was eating with Presidente Carreon y su familia.  It had a very homey feel, was deliectable, other Elders that spoke english were there!!!  

Im afraid I cant write anymore so I will try to make up for it in photos.  

This work is awesome!!!  And just think, if I like it this much when I cant even speak the language, imagine what it will be like when I can!!!!
Loving the work.
Eden and her missionary roommates.
Christmas Eve with Presidente Carreon and Zone Missionaries

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

So this is Mexico

So it turns out  the inhabitants of Mexico arent as short as I thought they were.  Still, Ive gotten many looks that imply Im a very strange, white, tall, American woman.  I will apologize now for the strange punctuation.  The keyboards down here are slightly different and I have yet to figure out where all the apostrophies and quotations marks are.  Also, we are only given an hour for emails on P Day so I wont be able to write much.  It drives me mad becasue there is so much I want to say to so many people but I dont have the time to write them all.  One of the many sacrifices of mission work I suppose.

So for those who are curious to know a little bit about Mexico, here are a few things Ive noticed.
*EVERYONE owns dogs.  Mean little things that never stop barking.  Anytime you walk by the front of a house brace yourself for a chorus of annoying yelps.
*Watch where you step.  Because of the grand amount of perros, there is doggie doodoo  everywhere.  Walking on a sidewalk is like my own strange Labyrinth, made from perro unmentionables.
*When inquiring where someone lives, don't bother asking for street names.  Just ask them what color the house is.

Next week I hope to write more but this will have to be it for today.  I literally have no time left.  Keep me in your prayers!

President Armando Carreon  and Sister Carreon

Monday, December 16, 2013

Adios CCM

This is it!  The safety blanket is coming off!  No more pretend investigators, no more gym time, no more pre-cooked meals, and no more English!!!  In two days I walk onto a flight to San Diego, sit in a bus for two hours as we cross the border  (fingers crossed there's a cow munchin' on hay in the back), shake hands with my mission president, meet my most-likely native and only spanish speaking companion, and begin serving the people of Mexico.  "Hermana Lance, this is quite the adventure you are stepping into.  How do you feel about it?"  ...Response:  I have no idea.  A strange mixture of excitement and worry.  The two sort of cancel each other out so really I'm a blank slate. 

My main apprehension is meeting my new companion.  I'm about 100% certain that she will be native and not speak very much english.  Even though my spanish is far from fluent, I can do the basics and feel like I will be comfortable-ish in a teaching setting.  But when it comes to having to get to know, plan lessons, and become best friends with my trainer...all in spanish.  Wish me luck.  I'm excited because it will be great in helping me learn the language faster, but communication might be tough for a little while.

In the meantime, I'm still surrounded by amazing people that I will hate to leave.  For those who know me, I'm sure you're familiar with the fact that I'm not a great hugger.  I don't do it often because I've been told far too often that I am an awkward hugger....gee thanks.  It's something that I'm working on.  Anyways, due to this I thought the whole no hugging rule between guys and gals wouldn't phase me too much.  WRONG!!  I've come to love all the Elders in our zone so much, there all like my little brothers.  A bunch of crazy 18-yearolds that make me laugh so much!  It's going to be killer to have to say goodbye with just a handshake.  I wish they all were serving in the same mission as me.  Fingers crossed we can get a MTC reunion together when we all get back.

A horrible thing about having to wait until P-day before you can write anybody is that you forget everything you thought about saying during the week.  But I blame a lot of that on being in the MTC and having a rather uneventful, repetitive schedule each week.  I love the MTC, but it doesn't exactly make for the most entertaining stories.  I'll make up for it in pictures.  In the mean time, keep me in your prayers because I'm off to Tijuana!!!!
Gym pods.

Goodbye freezing weather.

MTC friends for life.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

MTC Week 5

This week has flown by.  It's hard to believe that I have just 9 days left in the MTC.  Well, that might not be true.  My visa hasn't come in yet so there's a chance I'll either stay here or be shipped somewhere state side.  But don't fret!  I talked with the travel office and apparently it is very common to get visas right before you have to leave.  They have yet to have a Mexico missionary not receive their visa on time.  I'm not too worried.

It finally snowed in Provo!  Like a lot.  Which is making all of us missionaries excited to get to the warm weather in Mexico. However, I'm grateful to experience at least some snow this Christmas.  I haven't been able to stop singing Christmas songs since December hit.  I've got Bing Crosby's voice bouncing around in my head and I just know my mom has the Muppet's Christmas CD playing all day, every day now.  

Spanish is slowly progressing.  Grammar is my least favorite thing.  I know a decent amount of vocabulary now so that when I go into a lesson I can make up sentences on the spot.  However, the grammar is horrible.  I just put the Spanish words where they would go in an English sentence and say, "it's good enough!  The Spirit will do the rest."  Reflexives are a pain, not to mention Imperfect and preterit.  But with practice I know I'll get it.

I've got to share this one story though.  Hermana Washburn and I were sitting in a lesson with one of our teacher investigators, Pedro.  We were committing him to be baptized (a question that I had memorized in Spanish by my third week.  Not to brag....) and he said yes!  But then asked how we baptized people in our church.  Wasn't planning for that question, not that it was bad.... I just didn't know the vocabulary.  So time to start playing charades!   "En otras iglesias toma agua y..." and I began to sprinkle imaginary water in the air.  "...pero, no en nuestra iglesia.  Agua..." and I gestured as though there were a large body of water in front of me.  And putting my arm under the imaginary water added, "..todo en agua." And repeated the motion and words multiple times... like a moron.  But Pedro got it... and decided to through another curve ball at me, asking if we baptized in a river or lake.  Well after I explained that it certainly was possible to do so, we also had another place.  Once again, with large exaggerated hand motions, out came my butchered Spanish.  "Tenemos un grande.....uh...grande...."  I could only think of one word to relate a baptismal font to, and I really didn't want to say it.  So I kept miming and saying grande over over again, hoping my teacher would be kind and give me the right word.  No such luck.  It had to come out.  "Es similar con un grande....baƱo."  I don't know how Pedro managed to keep a straight face.  It was the most pathetic I ever felt in a lesson.  But the message got across.  I have a feeling by the time I'm done with my mission, I could have a professional career as a mime. 

Something that I've been asked most often about my MTC experience is the difference between WC and MC.  Since WC is fairly new, no one knows much about it.  Especially since it's now all Spanish speaking.  So to make it easier on myself to respond to the repetitive question, I have complied a list, with the help of others, about things you will only find at WC.  The majority of the are either inside jokes or about Spanish.  Lo siento.

You know you're on West Campus when:

-"Hola Hermanas" sounds like a cat call.
-People insult each other with, "Como se dice _____" (ex: pride, stupid, etc.)
-You hear "Esta bein" every 5 seconds.
-The most ordinary Spanish words are used as slang.  ex: Cucio! Dulce, and enfermo.
-You play four square in giant bubbles.
-You're greeted with, "Que pasa calabaza!"
-You look forward to getting a tapeworm to lose weight.
-You wonder why someone wont laugh at your joke... then awkwardly realize they are praying.
-Every time you hear, "Vamanos!" someone starts singing Dora the Explorer songs.
-You don't rush to the bathroom after eating cafeteria food.
-You receive napkin roses from apples.
-Everyone wears red on Fridays.

And you know you're not on West Campus when people say "Hello" and you don't understand what they're saying.

So there is a little glimpse into my WC life.  It's rather great. People are great. Life is great.  The gospel is great.  And whoever's reading this, you are great.  

Oh, I almost forgot a very important addition to the list.  You know you're a missionary when you fall asleep in nearly any position. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A MTC Thanksgiving

We got to sleep in till 7.  Hallelujah!  An extra 30 min.  Already the day was starting off great.  All of West Campus (hereafter referred to as WC) was bused over to Main Campus (MC) where we would spend all of the day.

At 9:30 am the festivities began and we were treated to a devotional by Elder Nelson of the Twelve.  What did he speak on?  You guessed it; a clever combination of gratitude and missionary work.  We then had some free time to roam about.  A group from our zone decided to enjoy the absolutely phenomenal weather and take a walk to the Temple.  at this point I would like to once again say how much I love our zone.  Everyone has awesome personalities, are goofballs like me, and are happy all the time (go figure, we're missionaries).  We have fun whenever we are together and sing all the time.

Anyways, once we got back from the temple it was lunch time, a.k.a. our Thanksgiving feast.  And when I say feast I mean a slightly more upscale version of cafeteria turkey and mashed potatoes served on plastic trays in a room overflowing with missionaries causing you to scoot up uncomfortably close to la mesa in order to make room for the never ending flow of people making their way through the maze of tables.  It was wonderful.  actually, I enjoyed quite a bit since our table was swapping awkward dating stories.  A form of currency I happen to be rich in.

After lunch we had some free time to write in our journals before heading off to some more meetings.  One of which being the Thanksgiving program.  Probably the cheesiest performance I have ever seen in my life.  a handful of missionaries were pulled from the crowed and reenacted the first Thanksgiving with a script I'm quite certain was taken out of a 1st grad teacher's lesson plan.  It was fun nonetheless and we just laughed at how ridiculous it was before settling down for the more serious portion of the program.

Now time for a shout out to my mom (who also spent Thanksgiving in the MTC during her mission) because before we went to participate in the service project we went back to our designated room to eat the sack dinners we had made.  20-something years have passed and the MTC still does Thanksgiving the same way.

Our service project was working with "Feed the Children" making meals for children in need to take home from school.  Wearing a bright read hair-net I don't think I've ever felt more attractive in my life.  For over and hour we filled bag after bag with lintel soup mix and I couldn't help but think of my own siblings who despise lintel soup.  They better be grateful they don't have to eat it for every meal.

To end the day we all gathered into the devotional room and watched Ephraim's Rescue.  A muy bueno film.  If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend doing so.  Especially if you liked 17 Miracles.   The best part is that when two of the main characters leaned in for a kiss, all the missionaries went crazy.  The elder next to me cried out that he was going to have nightmares that night from watching it. #missionprobs

So even though the movie ended at 9:45pm, we were supposed to be in our residents at 9:30, and the walk from MC to WC was 20-25min.  Us poor little spanish speaking missionaries weren't offered a bus ride home.  Fine.  We'll just burn off all that cafeteria food from all our walking.  Guess who's going to gain weight in the MTC.... not WC!

All in all, Thanksgiving was great.  Definitely better then two years ago when half my family was sick and we ate more microwaveable dinners then shown in Better of Dead (a must see 80's film).  Not too shabby in comparison.

I'd like to send a shout out to all those who have been so good as to email me.  I love reading anything and everything you have to say, but I'm never given enough time to respond to everybody.  So if you've sent me an email and haven't received a response back, lo siento!  I still love you and will do my best to respond the next week.  The Lord doesn't offer much time for emails... it's understandable.  Anyways, here's a random picture of us on P-Day!
Hermana Lance with her District Hermanas.