Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Best Two Years: Xoxtla

Editor’s Note: After rereading previous blog posts, I’m trying to find a good balance between telling a good story, presenting the facts, and using my writing skills…yes, I do have some – somewhere. Point is I apologize if things haven’t flowed as well as you would have liked, if something hasn’t made sense, or if the format changes. I’m still trying to figure this out. One way I’m working on this is actually doing a draft, so there you go. Also, I really just wanted to put “Editor’s Note” in a blog post in smaller italicized font.

So it’s January 28, 2008 when I get to Mexico. If you can’t tell from going outside, it gets dark fast during this time of year…meaning I couldn’t see much on the car ride. I could see the outlines of things, some lights, big buildings, the soccer stadium, but not enough detail to get what was going on. President Freestone’s house was normal enough – it had carpet (most places don’t in Mexico). I don’t remember much other than we got in, brushed my teeth with bottled water because “that’s how you stay healthy” (false, you can brush your teeth with tap water, it is ok), and went to bed. We got up the next day and went through all sorts of orientation and interviews. I never thought there was so much formality to missionary work. I eventually got assigned with my trainer, Elder Olsen from Provo/Orem and then we went on our way.

We took a taxi and drove to my 1st area (called Xoxtla, roughly pronounced show-sla), which was right next to the airport, so I got to see everything I missed. My favorite part was seeing the soccer stadium again. Between driving fast, traffic, driving in the nice part of town, then to the industrial part, I never fully grasped just how different Puebla was until we got into the little town I was to serve in. It was a third world country extravaganza. I wish I would have taken photos so I could post them here and so you could fully comprehend what it looked like; however, I usually only took photos of people, and most of the photos from my first area are gone. I would tell you to google it, but after trying it myself, I don’t think google is totally sure how to find it. And that might just make my point of how small the town is.
My trainer and I opened the area. It had been closed for 2-3 years due to some questionable missionary behavior. The church had a branch there. It was always borderline ward, but could never quite get over the hump. I loved that area and most of the people there. We had a decent amount of success given the circumstances, and about a month after I left a large family we had taught was baptized. It was rewarding given the fact that we had so many promising people fall through for one reason or another. I won’t go into many details about the families, because these blogs would get to be way too long. I will relate some interesting experiences though, both of the spiritual and not so spiritual type (this applies for the whole blog, not necessarily here).

As far as little experiences go, I was starving most of the time in the area. Going from all you can eat in the MTC to a poor little pueblo was a huge change in food quantity. The quality also saw a hit, which I didn’t think was possible – MTC food was questionable to say the least. I eventually learned to like them, but eating cactus was one of the weirdest things I’d thought I’d ever eat (ya, not even close), and learning to eat tortillas as much as they did was hard. I did discover something amazing though. Mexican bread stores, and Mexican coke. Those are two of the things that I still miss most to this day (as well as tacos and other foods I don’t even know how to describe in English).

And here’s a not so spiritual story for you…I was kissed by a drunk man. Not once, not twice, but 3 times! We were with a member family and some of their friends that we were teaching and we were about to go have FHE with them when this drunk guy comes up and talks to us. I don’t know what it is, but those drunk guys love talking to white people. We said we’d talk to him another time if he’d give us his name and address, and when we left I called him hermano (brother in Spanish). He started going off about we can’t be brothers because he’s Mexican and I’m American, white and brown, etc. I told him we were all children of God, so we’re brothers. He said “If we are brothers, hug me” while opening up his shirt at the same time. That was awkward. At this point the family is watching us, the 2 daughters are giggling, and I think the parents are about to as well. To be a man of my word I went and hugged the guy and I got a big one on the cheek. I still shutter thinking about it. He then went and hugged my companion and gave him two wet ones. He went back to me, said thank you so much and got my cheek and neck, and then went back to my companion for two more. By the time we got inside everyone that hadn’t been kissed was laughing ; I was in shock and wanted to shave the skin off of my face. I’m pretty sure that was the only time I was ever kissed on my mission, thank goodness.

As far as a spiritual story, here is a quick rundown on the first lady I baptized. We had been teaching this woman for a while, and her two children were members. It was hard to get a hold of her, but the lessons were always good when we did. Once she said she knew the church was true, it became really hard to find her again. One day we talked to her daughter, figured out a day she would be home, and we took drastic measures to go see her – we got up at 5 so we could bike to her house. If you know me, I love sleep, and seeing as how it is limited on the mission, I was none too happy about this idea. Plus we had to bike when we could have taken a bus. But we eventually got there, and started talking to her… for the record, her name is Bertha.

So anyways, my companion did most of the talking because Spanish was not my strong point. We were trying to get a baptismal date for her and nothing was work, and I thought “hey, how about today” … so I told my companion to ask her and he did. At first she laughed and said it couldn’t happen. But the more she thought about it, she realized it would work out. It was one of the busiest days we had, and I never had a baptism again on such short notice, but it was an amazing experience. I ended up seeing her again some months later, and she was still active and loved the church. It was because of people like her that I loved my mission so much. She is one of those unforgettable people and stories that I look forward to sharing someday with my kids when Jocelyn and I start to teach them about the importance of going on a mission.

Well, this is going to be my last mission post for a little while. I have my final M com project this week, and then finals. Not that any of you will be too sad, but we will be taking a little break from the mission blogs. If you see any other activity on my blog, something awesome happened, or it was more than likely something specific for my M com class. Until then…

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