Tuesday, December 30, 2014

La Segunda Navidad

The whole month of December has been filled with road trips and concerts.  Just like for Easter, the mission got together another group of missionaries to form a Christmas choir.  3 Sisters and 4 Elders.  All of October and November we met together to practice and arrange the Hymns we would sing.  Some turned out better than others, but considering that we're a bunch of 20, 21 year old misfits, I think it turned out okay.  We had 5 concerts in total.  3 in different Stakes in Tijuana, 1 in Rosarito, and another in Mexicali.  If it wasn't for these concerts, I don't think I would ever step outside of Tijuana.

Christmas Missionary Choir.

Quick story about the concert in Mexicali.  There wasn't enough time to return to Tijuana that night so we had to stay the night with the missionaries who serve there and attend their services the next day.  Let me tell ya, there are a couple loose screws in that Ward.  It was fast and testimony meeting and the Spirit was strong... but then, with a smile like he had a secret,, a young adult stood up at the pulpit.

"Primeramente quiero decirles que hoy....es mi cumpleanos.  Muchas gracias.  Hoy cuplo 26 anos.  Tambien acaban de intregerme nueve informacion de (insert names of a young couple in the Ward here.)  Todos sabemos que son novios, pero mas que eso estan enamorados.  Uno de la otra.  Lo que no sepan es que en el ano 2015, ella no sera a novia de el.....va ser la mia!"  Followed by a quick testimony that these things are true and a reminder of when the church Christmas activity is.  All of the choir missionaries were cracking up!  But it didn't end there.  Next we went to Gospel Principles, where the Sister Missionaries were teaching about the Millennium.  At the end they asked if anyone had questions or comments and one member raised her hand.  She shared a story about when she was a missionary 23 years ago and saw strange lights in the sky at night.  Long story short, she has a strong testimony that there is no reason to fear the sights of  Aliens.  They are just other children of God, our fellow brothers and sisters on the other planets checking up on our progression to the Millennium.  I'm just glad I didn't have investigators in that class.

Other fun facts about the concerts.  In Rosarito there is a popular restaurant known for it's GIANT burritos.  We stopped by after the concert for dinner.  Folks, I pride myself on never having left food on the plate during the mission, but I couldn't even finish HALF of a burrito, they are huge, but oh so good.
the rosarito burros!!!

The concerts in Tijuana were nice.  I was able to return to old stakes where I served and see old companions and members.  One time, after taking us out to eat after one of the concerts, and due to a suggestion by Presidente  Garcia, the restaurant's Santa Claus asked us to sing a song for him.  So smack-dab in the middle of Sterloin Stolkhom, with what felt like millions of iPhones recording us, we sang "Carol of the Bells" for Santa.  Check that off of my bucket list.

But the best part of it all was the Spirit that could be felt.  Whether with a big crowd or small, sound system or not, cracking voices or clunky keyboards, the Spirit was there.  Music has a beautiful way of speaking to the souls and hearts of mankind in a way that words cannot compete.  Which is why I usually prefer to sing than give talks.

As a Thank You/Christmas present to all those who participated in the choir, the President took us to the San Diego temple.  The timing was perfect.  For several months I had been thinking a lot about, and craving to go to the Temple.  Taste of that reassuring peace once more.  And so the 20th of December we went, crossed the line, and my feet touched U.S. soil otra vez.

Me with Marlen and Diana and their Xmas presents from the temple
There's not much to be said about the Temple that I haven't said before.  It's absolutely breathtaking and was the perfect remedy to recharge my battery after 13 months of hard work, physically and spiritually.  As a side note, my percentage of understanding the language has dramatically increased since my last Spanish session in April.  And as a second side note, before crossing the border to Mexico again we made a quick stop at Deseret Book where I happened to see (but not read) 2 sequels to series by Gerald N. Lund and Chris Heimerdinger. *cough* hint, hint * cough* of which I will be expecting when I get home.

Tijuana is a strange place to be for the holidays.  It is so close to the border that the people know about every holiday, American and Mexican, but hardly do anything to celebrate.  An excuse to eat, drink, and be merry, but as for traditions, there aren't anything.  A couple people put up lights and a tree, and the only places where you can find Christmas music are grocery stores.  Every other house is blasting Bonda from their windows or car radios.  The only common sight you can find are 10 year old boys playing with tiny firecrackers in the street.

The more I think about it, the more fitting I find the situation.  As I mentioned before, all of December the mission has been focused on the "El es la Dodiva" initiative.  Showing with all the true meaning of Christmas.  A message of peace in a world filled with stress, competition, criticism, and worries.  A message that Christ came.  That He taught, healed, counseled and saved.  That He does so today.  When He came there were no neon lights, just the stars in the heaven.  No shinny wrapping paper, but swaddling clothing.  No tree, candy, Santa, stockings by the fire, or Christmas feast.  Just a choir of angels singing hosanna to a few lowly shepherds....not even a Micheal Buble Christmas Album.

Last Christmas I didn't have much time to analyze the situation.  With barely a week in Mexico I was a little more focused on learning the language and Preach My Gospel Lessons.  This year however, as I write, my mind has been reflexcionando.  As a missionary, I don't have a tree, stocking, Michael Buble, or anything close to a Snowman.  There is nothing to do but focus on the real meaning of Christmas.  It was a gift of love.  Pure and eternal.  And it costed a lot.  Del parte del Padre y del Hijo.  The least we can do is be grateful and accept it.  Always remember Him and show our gratitude and love by keeping the commandments.  The feast really isn't necessary and as I've tried to tell my Mom time and time again, nobody even likes the "Frog-eyed Salad" anyway.

Christmas Eve!
Even though it's my second Christmas in the mission, I'm sure it's the most realistic that I'll ever have.  I've felt frustrated, like Joseph at the Inn.  Sore feet, like the donkey caring Mary.  And lots of self evaluating, heartfelt pondering as I'm sure Mary did all the way to Bethlehem.  But hope is always there.  The hope of all the world came, and for that we have a season to rejoice, and share the good news with all the world No matter what comes our way, let us carry this hope in our hearts, and let us all press on.

Feliz Navidad Everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Time to talk about companion number 7.

  • 23 anos
  • Her family learned about the gospel when she was 1 year old
  • From the Dominican Republic
  • First companion who is taller than me... by a centimeter..
  • LOVES bread.  She'll stick three slices with cheese in between in the microwave, then cover it in mayonnaise and cream.... that's what she considers breakfast.
  • Just completed 4 months in the mission
  • Is studying architecture
  • Has a bad habit of popping her knuckles
  • If I had to describe her personality with one phrase it would be, "A sassy black girl who speaks Spanish"
Our house is freezing!!!

Bundled up for some companionship study time.

Christmas Day Nail!
Hna. Jimenez and I now have a month working together and I've really enjoyed it.  Even though she had just barely finished her training when we became companions she is chalk full of animo and ideas.  Not gonna lie, sometimes we but heads with our different ideas, but we both want whats best for the area, so it always turns out alright.  Shes a good counterpart for me.  I tend to get a little impatient and want to GO! GO! GO! WORK! WORK! WORK! if a bus doesn't show up on time, fine! We'll just start walking!  but she reminds me to take a step back and rationally think things over.  As a team we've seen little miracles and that's what keeps us going, reminds us why we are here.

As for unforgettable experiences together:

Once upon a time, in a testimony meeting (I'm sure you know where this is going).  The priesthood was passing the sacrament, everyone was silent...with the exception of a few baby cries, when a cellphone began to ring.  Quickly, the phone stopped ringing and everyone supposed that the owner turned it off.  Think again!  In the middle of the silent chapel, thoughts turned to the Atonement of the Savior were interrupted with a booming voice, "Bueno?  Estoy en la iglesia.  Hableme en una hora."

Missionaries turned to look at one another.  Several in astonishment, others trying to keep the laughs from bursting out.  In the end, all keeping silent..... just waiting for the services to end and explain things to investigators.

Only in Mexico...

Friday, December 19, 2014

Here's a little advertising for you.

In case your local stake presidents, bishops, or missionaries haven't announced it yet in your areas, the church has started a "Christmas Initiative" this month of December.  It's called "He is the Gift".

The church has gone crazy in publicating this initiative.  They've bought Facebook, YouTube, billboards in Time Square, and a bunch of other media sites so that everyone can hear about and watch this 2 minute video.  As missionaries, we are running all over town making sure everyone gets to hear about the video.  Why?  Because its got some serious spiritual power.  I have no doubt that there will be people who will randomly come across the video and have a desire to learn more about the church because of it.  We have found new people to teach just this past week because of it.

Okay, so now I'm asking you, if you haven't already been doing it, to start sharing the news as well.  Its easy.  Just hand out the pass a long cards.  The missionaries have bucketloads of them.

I promise you will see the blessings

or if you'd like the spanish version:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ninas Pequenitas

One lunes, exactly 5 weeks ago, I mentioned a lovely family that we found and began teaching.  La familia Paz Gomez.  For the past month this family has been my pride and joy as well as my tears and sorrows.  One Sunday night, dark and chilly, Hna. Cabrera and I were walking around with our Ward Mission Leader.  Our appointment wasn't home so we went to plan B.... who wasn't home either.  However, the son of our investigator, cigarette in hand and mumbling into his scarf, kindly helped us schedule another appointment to stop by.  After which, our mission leader asked him for a reference of anybody that could benefit from our message or that has had problems recently in their life or family.  We pulled out of him the name of Miguel, his neighbor. With a Muchas gracias, que tenga bonita noche, we moved over to Miguel's house.  It was dark, the lights were out, and seemed like nobody was home, but with a voice like thunder Hno. Chava (the ward mission leader) yelled out for Miguel.  A window opened, a head peeked through, a voice called out  'Hay voy!'   And we waited.  In 2 minutes Miguel came down, we contacted,  and put an appointment for the next day.

Little did I know how much I would come to love this little family.  We haven't been able to baptize Miguel and his 'wife' yet because they aren't married, but their two angel daughters si!  Pray for this family with all you got por favor!

Marlen y Diana and their little sister Joseline.... she wanted to be in a white dress too.

Chillin' with the Lamanites

Another transfer come and gone.  Another companion (Hna. Jimenez se llama), another start.  It always amazes me how fast each transfer goes by... and considering that I only have 6 months left... scares me too.

Speaking of those 6 little months, last week I was so busy trying to upload pictures that I didn't leave myself very much time to write, and I know everyone has been anxiously waiting to hear great words of wisdom from a 1 year old missionary.  So I'll end the agony now.

I don't actually feel any different... besides the fact that I speak another language now.  I guess I can check that off of my New Years goals.  But yeah, besides speaking Spanish, eating chili, and wearing a skirt everyday I feel the same.  Actually, not true.  I've noticed a few changes in my behavior.  For example: How I walk.  I don't want to be prideful or anything, but before the mission I had a very elegant walk.  In jeans or sweatpants, no.  But when I put on a dress and high-heels, the grace naturally came out as I walked.  It's true.  You can ask my grandmas, they'll vouch for me.  But gracias to one year of climbing the mountains of Tijuana, that elegance has disappeared.  It ran, hid itself, and I honestly have no idea where to find it.  All of my companions and several of the ward members have told me that I walk more like a solder than a girl in a skirt.  What can I say?  I take pleasure in hearing it now.  We've got lessons to get to, hills to climb, people to find.  I don't care if I'm in a skirt, I will rock-climb if necessary.  But all my companions laugh and I can't help but be a little scared for the day when I try to walk in high-heels again.  I think I'll need to attach training wheels.

But besides changing how I walk and talk, I've learned a lot in this past year.  My eyes have been opened to what mission work really is and I've learned to love it even more.  Not trying to be cheesy or anything, but the thought of being back home in mi casa in just six months makes me more sad than glad (sorry mom and dad).  I love the Lord.  I love this gospel.  It is the only way to find REAL happiness in this life and the life to come.  I wish I had more time to serve, but meanwhile, I'll use all I got to serve among these lamanites.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hermana Cabrera

A few fun facts about companion number 6.

Cabra means Goat, so our ward mission leader calls her Hna. Goatera
Birthday is October 16
22 years old
Just hit the six month mark of her mission
Born in D.F.  but lives in Oaxaca
Her mom is an English teacher so she knows how to speak quite a bit.
When I say or do something that she thinks is a little outrageous she says, 'Sista please'
Converted to the gospel when she was 17
After she joined the church, she then converted her whole family
Loves to make memes
Laughs at everything
Thanks to me, her new favorite English phrase is, ´why I otta!´
Really easy to scare
When something doesn´t please her she says, 'Not Happy' in a cute little Mexican accent.
Her hair is super short and curly and she always pulls it back because otherwise she 'looks like a sheep' ... her words, not mine.
I´m teaching her the art of the 'your mom' jokes

She is hilarious in a geeky way, which means we get along great.  In her words, we are a 'forever alone' couple (in other words, we are both so awkward that we will never be able to get married after the mission and we´ll have to return and serve as companions again).  We are always laughing as we walk to and from lessons and have to calm ourselves down as we prepare to knock on the door.  I´m her first companion since her training and she often says that I´m her step mom... awwwww.  She´s also really klutzy.  Always falling down or tripping which is really bad because our area is all hills.  So we´ve developed the habit that every time we go down a crooked staircase or rocky dirt hill, I stick out my arm for her to hold on to and keep balance with.  I feel like a youth helping her grandma, but it´s team work.  Not to mention that every time we walk up a steep hill she has to grab on to my backpack to keep up with me.

I have really enjoyed my time with her.  This transfer has flown by.  We´ve had to struggle a bit in our area but we´ve also seen some great miracles together.  With her and Hna. Pacheco, I now have two tour guides for when I go visit Oaxaca.

Friday, November 7, 2014

"This is Halloween"

In my book, Halloween is the best time of the year.  The air is crisp and refreshing.  Candy surrounds you in every store, and you have the excuse of dressing up as nasty as you'd like and people will actually complement you instead of telling you to take a bath.  Each year it gives me great pleasure, and the wonderful thing about Tijuana is that it has such an american influence that everybody here celebrates it.  ...well, not everybody, but close enough.  Our neighbors decked out their house with all the trimmings (music from "Nightmare before Christmas included).  It was awesome, but at the same time... very difficult to sleep with.  All this past week Hna. Cabrera and I have been singing, "This is Halloween, this is Halloween.... I am Jack!  The Pumpkin King..."

Sadly, as a representative of Jesus Christ I couldn't go all out on a costume this year like I usually do.  Contacting in the streets would not be as effective with a painted face, ratted up hair, and blood-splattered clothes.  So my companion and I did the classic missionary costume and switched our name-tags.  In the morning, during our studies, we put on fake mustaches.  And our District meeting was livened up a bit with candy and costumes. Actual Halloween night, due to the locals tendency to drink alcoholic beverages in large quantities, all the missionaries of Tijuana had to be in their houses at 6pm.... which gave me plenty of time to eat the giant bag of chocolate candy that I bought the P-day before...

As for actual mission work.  Agua Caliente was not very kind to me when I first got here.  They didn't have any potential baptismal dates, ninguna de los investigadores estaban progresando, and we had many hours just walking around hoping to find someone to contact because no one was home.  But about two weeks ago a miracle happened.  We met Miguel and his family.  It's a long story that I will have to write another day but to put things short, Miguel needed us.  He has had a lot of problems in his life but now wants to make a change.  Said that we came like angels sent to save him and his family.  Now he, his wife and two oldest daughters have baptism dates.  A whole family!!!  I am so excited for them.  We have seen grand changes in just these two weeks of teaching them.  With the gospel, their lives are becoming better each day.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

"Did you not tell them they were the Lords chips?"

It was the end of August and I was still back in the area of Las Fuentes.  We were 6 missionaries riding on a rickety old Mexican bus, heading back to our areas after a zone conference.  I was happily sitting in my seat with a long awaited birthday package on my lap and a few letters in my back pack.  My comp and I were chatting with the other four elders about the talks, capacitaciones given during the zone conference, what would happen in the next transfers, and if I was going to share the candy that was surely in my package.

The roads in Mexico aren't exactly roads, and they are placed in really strange areas.  Wherever there isn't a house, they'll put a road. At this moment we happened to be traveling along the edge of a mountain (Tijuana's full of them).  On one side, mountain.  On the other, sudden drop off.  But that's normal in Mexico.  The roads might be crazy but the drivers are highly skilled.  However, all of a sudden our light conversation was interrupted when the wheels hit some rocks.  The bus began to loose control and people began to shout out.  My heart began to beat faster and rise up in my chest.  For one split second I thought "this is it."  It felt like it took several minutes, but in only a few seconds the wheels caught grip of the ground once more and we continued on our path as though nothing happened.

I soon forgot about it, but as we stepped off the bus one of the Elders brought up the subject.  He said that in such situations, casi nunca (almost never),  the bus can get control again.  Usually they go spinning off the edge.... not to sound too dramatic.

But this bus carried 6 servants of the Lord.  He wasn't going to let anything happen to us. 

 I love being a part of miracles.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Today we had transfers.  Now that I've finished training Hna. Pacheco it's time that I move on to another area.  And after 6 months in Las Fuentes I'm ready for a change.  So today, the president paired me up with Hna. Cabrera and sent us off to Agua Caliente.

Q: But Hna. Lance, after 6 months serving in one area how do you now feel leaving it?

A:  Good question.  To be honest, mixed feelings.  40% Relief, 30% Excitement, and 30% Tristeza

Q:  Interesting combination.  Could you explain more?

A:  Sure thing.  
Relief because after 6 months in the same area you've reached a point when you've tried everything.  Walking down the street you pass by at least 10 people that you've contacted and been rejected by.  Everyone is an ex-investigator, and those crazy members never seem to change.  It's releaving to know that I've done my part and now someone else can come in and help with new ideas.
Excitement because now I get to BE that new person.  New territory.  New faces.  New members to work with.  I can give new ideas and perhaps help the area progress more.  And like in every area I've had before, I can become a better missionary here.
Tristeza because I have to leave Fuentes...

Q:  Intriguing... after half a year in Fuentes you're still sad to leave it?

A:  You bet'cha!  That place became my home.  I literally walked down every street in that area... or to better put it, climbed every hill.  I learned a TON about how to be a better missionary, disciple of Christ, and even more important, I grew to know my Savior better there.  There is a reason I will forever call Las Fuentes my Gethsemane.
Not to mention the members.  Sure, there were a few wackos and algunas que are "Sunday members" y nada mas.  But there were several who really became my family.  Converts that I've been able to help grow and have seen progress.  Less actives that were starting to gain their testimonies again.  As to the investigators, they are always hard to leave.  I've worked so hard on some of them to help them gain a testimony. For example:  I started teaching Rosalio and Lupe with Hna. Bautista.  About 4 months ago.  They were progressing mas o menos.  Read the BOM, loved our visits, but never went to church.  Then Hna. Pacheco came and they went on vacation to visit family in Chiuauah (I think that's how you spell it).  A month latter they came back and called us saying that they wanted us to stop by again.  So we started teaching them again... but Rosalio had a lot of doubts.  He like to listen to us, but thought that being strong in his faith meant that he shouldn't doubt his Catholic upbringing...... long story short, yesterday we went to visit them and Rosalio said that he wanted to be baptized.  I nearly cried..  I can I leave them now?

But here we are.  New area.  New start.  Lots of hills... Wish me luck!  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tender Mercies

Time to share a little missionary wisdom:

Usually, when RMs share their missionary experiences they share the most spiritually pumped moments.  The times when people break down crying, emotions are high, and miracles are popping up like daisies.  Something that's worthy of 100+ likes and 67 re-postings on Facebook.  It creates a pretty picture of missionary work, but as I've said before, a little morphed.  Unlike daisies, mission miracles are more like tulips in a parking lot.  There is a lot of digging required, water, and protection from passing cars.  And then hopefully you get one, beautiful, blooming flower.  It's worth the work, but exhausting.

So how do you not get discouraged every time some punk-kid runs over your sprouting seedling with his bicycle?   When I arrived to this lovely country called Mexico I learned pretty quickly to count the tender mercies of each day.  It began with Spanish.  In order to get through a day of not understanding anything around me I often turned to the skies for comfort.  Finding the same constellations in the night sky as I did for my BYU astronomy class, hearing a random English song played on the radio, feeling a gentle breeze wrap itself around me.  These were my consoling messages from the big guy upstairs.  The, "it's going to be okay" and "you're only in a different country, not a different planet" and "be patient, the language will come" moments.

I continued to progress with these little nudges.  Now the bicycle has changed.  The punk-kid has been switched out for a soccer mom in her SUV, running late to pick up her kids from practice.   But I've been doing this for 11 months now.  I'm far from perfect, but have a little experience to share with the other hermanas.  A few strips of caution tape to put around the tulip.

In the mission, and in life, the jaw dropping miracles will be few, but the tender mercies will come by handfuls.  You've just got to look for them.  Learn how Heavenly Father speaks with you individually.  He speaks to me through the sky.  Paints a masterpiece in the heavens to cheer me up and let me know that at least He thinks I did a good job.  Sunsets, and other little victories keep me there, kneeling by my run-over, dry, tiny seedling, sprouting out of the hard pavement.  The tulips are few, but they make for a pretty table setting in the end.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


During these past two and a half months of training Hna. Pacheco I've been reminded a lot of my own training nearly ten months ago.  It's like it happened just yesterday. . .

Flashback #1 Brian's Prayer

21 years old, Brian was extremely interested in religion for someone his age.  We had just finished teaching about prophets, he had just finished explaining how Hna. Torres and I would become worshiped saints for the work that we were doing as missionaries...  I will be anxiously awaiting that recognition en el ultimo día.  Anyways, we decided that it was time to end the lesson so we invited Brian to give the closing prayer.  As always, we taught that prayer should be just like a normal conversation instead of recited sentences.  Brian took that a little too seriously...

"Buenas tardes Padre Celestial, que tal?...
.... que tenga bonita día. Amen"

English translation:  
Good afternoon Heavenly Father, what's up?...
...have a great day. Amen

Flashback #2 Street comments

We walked side by side in casual conversation, making our way to our next appointment.  A strange man passed by us like millions of other strangers do each day, but as he did, without taking a pause, said, "Con todo respecto, que chulas muñecas!"

English translation:  With all do respect, what beautiful dolls!

Flashback #3 Clueless flirting

We had passed by countless time trying to find the Lopez family (less actives) at home but always found it filled with all dogs and no people.  Finally, we found one of their sons home and were able to teach him.  He seemed quite interested too.  Ready to learn more about the Book of Mormon and understand it better.

My comp then began marking his Book of Mormon for him to read for our next lesson.  While she did that he turned to me:  "So do you like to watch TV?  The Big Bang Theory?  How about movies?  Do you like reading?  There is a great library downtown.  Do you like dancing?"  I was sadly and hopelessly ignorant of what he was doing.  Not understanding a word of his Spanish but smiling anyways.  He continued: "I work for this restaurant.  Great food!  You should come sometime and I'll pay." Then turning to Hna. Torres, "You can come too."

Flashback #4 Brian's invitation

My last week of training, a little over a month since "Brian's prayer."  We hadn't seen Brian since that last lesson about prophets and Catholic saints, but as we were walking to the church building he pulled up in his motorcycle.  It went a little like this:

"What a coincidence seeing you again! ... yeah I've been really  busy with school and work... ..when can we meet up again?  ... yeah Thursday works great, but how about another day too?  ...how about to go out for a cup of coffee, the movies, something like that?  ..Can you guys do that?  ....no,.. okay,.... well it was great seeing you again!"

He didn't show up that Thursday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Random Mission Pictures

"Have you done anything good in the World today?"

A REALLY full bus of mexicans

The district
I don't really know what ethnicity i am now...

Feet of a Disciple.

Welcome to El Barrio Las Fuentes.  Us missionaries will  be your guides to salvation

"Get That Corn Outta My Face!"

Every day I realize more and more that it's going to be really hard for me to leave Mexico.  I love the people, language, culture, and FOOD!  This past week, with the independence of Mexico, I was thrown even more into the country and it's awesomeness.  We had a stake activity Friday. "Noche Mexicana."  Basically everything incredible about Mexico wrapped up into a few hours.  But before I get ahead of myself, let me say one thing:


For those who are unfamiliar with the term "elote" let me enlighten you.  I'm sure we are all great fans of the joyful movie "Nacho Libre."  If you are not, repent.  In this knee slapper of a film there are quite a few scenes in which Jack Black and his sidekick are eating corn on a stick.  That, my friends, is elote.  I have waited 10 months to finally try it, and last week it happened.  Quite literally it is boiled corn on a stick, covered in mayonnaise and chili.  It's actually pretty good. Mision Mexico Tijuana: Accomplished.

Something you can say about nearly every country except for America is that they can dance well.  Mexico is definitely one of those countries and if you want to get a bunch of Mexican Elders trunky, just lock them all together in a room playing really good dancing music.  It was hilarious for me to watch how, with every song played, they would simultaneously cry out in desperation.  I had to join them too.  I've never been a big fan of the classic stake dances of the U.S..  Pretty boring in my opinion.  Everyone either jumps up and down, or if the song is slow, shuffle their weight from one foot to another in a very Frankenstein-like manner.  This disgust for the "white-girl-dance" is what lead me to enroll in a dance class at BYU.  Now I'm finally in a country that likes to dance, and dance WELL, and I can't even join in the fun.  That is true torture.  The bright side of things is that now I have a handful of Mexican dance-tutors to choose from for after the mish.

While we're on the subject of Mexico and food, I ate bugs last week.  Grasshoppers to be specific.  It's a Mexican snack more in the southern part of the country.  You fry'em, toss a little lemon juice on top and Bon Appétit!  Taste just like sunflower seeds.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


80's songs have a way of saying exactly what I'm thinking.  Often, as we are walking in the street, or after something strange happens, lyrics to 80's songs come popping into my head and I can't help but sing them.  My companions have no idea what I'm saying, but it certainly helps me express myself.
 Lately... actually, all of these past two transfers, I have found my self singing the chorus to one of my personal favorites "All I need is a miracle, all I need is you."  

We've been struggling a little bit out here in the desert of Las Fuentes.  It's been quite dry literally and spiritually and I've been praying that this "drought" could end soon. After 2 months of waiting, this past week we had a little drizzle.

Clementina & Fabiola:  Hace 2 semanas Sonia, our recent convert came up to us during Relief Society and told us that she had a friend that she wanted to take us to. That Wednesday we followed her to the house of Clementina, without questions she and her daughter Fabiola let us in, we taught lesson 1, and they accepted a baptismal date.

Pedro:  As well, two weeks ago he showed up at church with another recent convert, Cipriano.  We made an appointment to visit him Thursday, lesson 1, another accepted baptismal date. 

Claudia:  After a failed attempt to visit a contact, we were walking, trying to think of where else we could go when a man who had casually sat in on one of our lessons about 3 months ago (but said he had no interest) called out to us and said that he had mentioned our visit to his wife and she wanted to see us.  Now she has a baptismal date too.

Blanca:  We went to visit an investigator named Marta.  She wasn't home, but there was Blanca.  As we walked in, the first thing she said was (my translation into English) "Hey, I want you guys to start coming to my house to teach my family."  Just like that.  And I thought, "...well if you insist...."  

Sometimes it's good to be thirsty.  Helps you enjoy the water more.


Misión MÉxico Tijuana

Friday, September 12, 2014

Walking in His Shoes

Life would be a lot easier if I wasn't a missionary.

Usually I consider myself a pretty optimistic person.  Always finding something to laugh at or a reason to smile.  Being sure to always write about the good stuff that happens in the mission.  that's been going on for the past 10 months now.

I've decided it's time for a reality check.

The mission is not all fuzzy feelings, miracles, and baptisms.  I believe every RM and devoted fan of "The Best Two Years" would agree with me in that statement.  Far too often we tell those future missionaries, "Oh, the mission will be the best time of your life!  It will be hard, but so fantastic!"  Why don't we ever talk more about the hard parts?  Why don't we talk about the rejection?  Or mention all the tearful prayers in the bathroom so your companion doesn't hear?  How about those ward members that think your inadequate, or being stood up for appointments.  And then there are your investigators, who you've learned to love and worked so hard for, that tell you they don't want any more to deal with you.  Why do we avoid mentioning these moments?

Others then say, "The missionaries have such a great portion of the Spirit with them."  But forget to add how hard we have to wok to be worthy of that Spirit.  I have never before been so self-conscious of my sins.  Take away every little thing that could impede me from having the companionship of the Spirit.  It's exhausting.  "Should I have said something different?"  "Is it bad that I'm slightly enjoying overhearing the neighbors playing Bruno Mars "Treasure".  "I shouldn't talk so much to the members after church, we should go contact instead."  "Am I praying right?"  "Is this the right lesson to teach?"  The list goes on and on.  The call is to be a representative of Jesus Christ.  The only perfect being to ever walk the earth.  How easy it is to pose the question, "What more do I lack?"

And so, as I walk in the blistering sun, dust covering my aching feet as we walk away from the tenth "Soy catolica" of the day, don't be surprised when I say that often the thought comes into my mind, "Life would be a lot easier if I wasn't a missionary."  But let me tell you, that thought is always quickly followed by another.

"His life could have been a lot easier too." 

The Savior had a choice too.  He had is agency.  He could have chosen another life.  But He remembered His calling.  He was rejected, spit upon, laughed at, and scorned.  Let's not forget that at one point, after experiencing so much rejection, He even turned to His apostles and asked them if they would leave Him too.  And as for being worthy of the Spirit, His whole life mission depended on it.  Not one single mistake could He make.  

Yes, my life could be a lot easier if I wasn't on a mission.  It could be a lot easier to sit at home, eat cookies, and see what's new on Pintrest.  

The mission is hard, because His life was hard.  The only things we can expect from a mission are not soccer jerseys, foreign candy, and a second language.  If we plan on stepping in His shoes, picking up His calling, and slapping His name on our chest every morning we better also expect to experience a little of the emotional, physical, and spiritual turmoil that He had to experience.  It's not fun.  It's not easy.  But it's love.  Love for Him and what He did for you and every other person that has and will ever live.  

If I learned anything during my time in Jerusalem it's that Christ was a lot more human than we think He was.  He wasn't  perfect because He was naturally born that way.  He had a choice.  I have a choice.  There's a reason why we've chosen this path.  It's hard.  But it's also the best thing worth doing in this life.

"Behold this is my work and my glory, to bring to past the immortality and eternal life of man."


After 10 months my shoes finally quit on me.  They're really great and help me with my flat feet so I did my best to try and save them.  First I attempted krazy glue but that didn't work. Next step was the Plasti Loka that they use for patching up holes in the plumbing.  Thats what the green stuff is.  To avoid the apearance of gum on my shoe I decided to cover it up with good ole' sharpie.  Today we headed out and I was so sure that the Plasti loka would hold, but not five minutes of walking and it ripped open again.  It's hopeless.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

That one time I got sick in Mexico, Part Tres

Raise your hand if youve ever been to Yellow Stone Park in Jacksonville, WY.  Now, if you raised your hand try to remember if you went to see Old Faithful.  That hole in the ground that people go to watch water spurt out of.  Its pretty neat to watch from a safe distance and with an ice cream cone in your hand.  Grand forces of Mother Earth at work.

Imagine that coming out of my mouth.  

I didnt even make it to the toilet.  As soon as Yellow shirt stepped out of the way there was no holding it back.  My eyes quickly located the shape of a toilet and I just aimed for it.  Hoping that the majority would make it into the bowl as I dropped to my knees.  Not even bothering to close the door behind me.  Old chicken wings, tortillas, ...used toilet paper surrounding me in that tiny, 3 by 4 cement bathroom.  Who cared.  Evil things had to get out of my stomach, and when I was done, with the little dignity I had left, wiped off my face with something that looked relatively clean, fixed a few stray hairs, and opened the door which I can only assume my companion so kindly closed for me.  As we walked out of the tienda I did my best to look really interested in all the piles of eggs and socks, hoping to give the impression that we entered the tienda with other intenciones than emptying my panza.

Just like before, I felt fine as we entered the street once more and headed in the direction to visit the now baptized, but then investigator, Sonia.  As we arrived I asked for a glass of water to help me chew the Pepto Bismol pills that my companion had bought me while I was.... occupied, in the tienda.  Medecine taken, we began to teach one of the most comfortable lessons ever, The Law of Chastity.  My comp started it off and I soon followed in with the doctrine.  As the Spanish words were coming out of my mouth, I felt that usually friendly, pink medicine turn on me.  I felt my face loose color once more and quickly finished my part as elegantly and calmly as possible before  excusing myself to the bathroom and letting Hna. Bautista finish of the lesson.

Three times a charm people.  

I dont think you need any more details than that.  I did my thing, calmly returned to the lesson, and we continued through the day.  In every lesson people mentioned how much paler I looked than my normal white girlishness.  I was miserable in every lesson despues (after) and nearly singing holy praises when we finally got home.  Attached is the lovely picture that my comp took as she laughed at my pitiful state.

"Death on a Stick"
So there it is. The one, and only, time I got sick in Mexico.  Knock on wood. I hope you all have enjoyed this trillogy nearly as much as I have enjoyed writing it.  Perhaps I will make it into a movie when I get back.  It could do better than Twilight, thats for sure.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hermana Pacheco

Neat thing about my birthday is that it fell on my mission Hump day as well as a P-day.  Talk about three birds with one stone.  Anyways, a slightly embarrassing tradition that the sister missionaries have here is that at the 9 month mark of the mish (or halfway point) they take a "pregnancy shot".  It's slightly clever, but more than slightly awkward.  Now don't start scrolling down to try and find my pregnancy shot because it's not there.  I was saved from taking this possible blackmail picture by actually giving birth to my first daughter!  Yep, at nine months I started training Hna. Pacheco.  Pretty cool how the timing works out.  At the same time, my trainer, Hna. Torres, gave birth a second time.  So I have a sister and Hna. Torres has a nieta!  We took a cute little family photo together.
Hermana Torres' Companion, Hermana Torres, Hermana Lance and Hermana Pacheco

So my time is short, but here are a couple fun facts about my tranie:

19 years old. Birthday: primero de Diciembre 
Hermana Pacheco
Is from Oaxaca Mexico
Has no idea how to ride a bike.
She joined the church with her younger brothers when she turned 12 years old.
Her parents aren't members, but since she's been out in the mish they have started attending church.
She drinks more milk than a baby calf
Eats more bananas than King Kong
And if she had a choice, she would eat frosted flakes all day e're day
She carries a small hand towel in her bag to wipe of the sweat from the heat.

Tired in her first week.

Tijuana Temple being built.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Guess what day it is...

Our refrigerator is filled with cake.  It's like a dream come true.  The best time to celebrate a birthday is during the mission.

I didnt expect anything special to happen on my birthday, other than it would be a P'day and I would be able to relax a little bit.  but Thursday we received a message from Miguel (who was baptized in July) asking if we could stop by Sunday night.  That was normal.  We nearly always visit him and his family Saturdays or Sundays to help him and his progress in the church as a resent convert.  He has the best of questions too!  Curiosity about patriarchal blessings, the 12 tribe of Israel, organization of the church authorities and other juicy church doctrine.  However, this night, instead of walking into a Spanish, doctrinal discussion, I found myself waking into a fiesta!  Miguel strumming on the guitar, Hna. Beatriz and Hna. Sobeida cooking gorditos in the kitchen, cake and presents on the table.
Miguel's Family

Best birthday ever.  The Elders even stopped by to join in the fun.  Laughing, talking, sharing stories, and food is always a great combination... no wonder they always have refreshments at ward activities.  Anyways, after eating gortitos it was time for the cake.  It was pastel de tres leches, my new favorite.  And they even had all 21 candles lit while they sang the Spanish version of Happy Birthday (a song that, to me, makes no sense what so ever.  It talks about king David and monkeys Im fairly sure).  After blowing out the candles (all in one breath I might add) everyone began to chant "Que lo muerde! Que lo muerde!"  And as I went in to bite the cake, Roberto, son of Hna. Sobeida, foolishly followed the counsel of the Elders and shoved my head further in.  They use the excuse that its another birthday tradition of Mexico...

Roberto in action!
Regardless, it was a fabulous night.  Even though I was in a completely different country than my blood family, I got to spend my birthday with other family.  I felt very loved and happy.  This is what the gospel is all about.  Bringing people together and uniting our spiritual family. The Paredes family is very close to my heart and it will be horrible when I have to leave Las Fuentes for another area, but that is the joy that the gospel brings.  That we will be able to see all of our friends and family again.

The next day, Monday, my actual birthday was quite simple but delightful as well.  After finishing our daily chores we had permission to visit the Macro Plaza and roam about.  Browsing the merchandise, but typical Hna. Lance, never having enough guts to buy anything but food.  What can I say?  You can never go wrong with food.  

When it was time to start working again in the afternoon we stopped by to visit Lupe and Rosalio, two investigators.  And guess what, they had scrambled together enough to have a cake there waiting for me as well!  It was a Hello Kitty cake, which I personally found quite humorous. 

The only downside to celebrating a birthday as a sister missionary is that all the men want to "felicitarle" with a hug.... sorry bro, but the mission rules say no.  Thats always a toughfy to explain.

Reached my Half Way mark on August 6th!