Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas

CHRISTMAS

What did I do for Christmas? 
I ate pozole and preached the gospel.  
What is pozole? 
It's basically a thick chicken soup with a ton of corn and meat.  And we ate it with tostadas with guacamole.  It was delicious.  And super fattening.  And I was so full by the end of it I could hardly walk.  It was great. 

It was a different kind of Christmas. There were no pretty wrapped presents or nicely decorated Christmas trees.  There were no Christmas cards and very few Christmas lights.  But there was love. And lessons about Jesus.  And that was the best part.  It was a simple Christmas.  A Christmas focused on CHRIST.  

I got to talk to my favorite people.  My family.  I only cried a little...and they were happy tears.  I'm related to some pretty amazing people.

TAMALES

Someone fed us tamales on Friday and ALL DAY SATURDAY was spent in the house because I was throwing up.  I started throwing up at 6:30 in the morning and at 10:30 at night I was still throwing up.  Cool.  Little by little I'm introducing normal food into my diet again. 

Oh Mexican food.  You are so delicious.  And so painful.

A DROP IN THE OCEAN

So during my studies the other day I read a FAB talk by Elder Holland.  He talked about helping and serving the poor (poor in spirit and financially poor as well).  This tiny little part really inspired me:

A journalist once questioned Mother Teresa of Calcutta about her hopeless task of rescuing the destitute in that city. He said that, statistically speaking, she was accomplishing absolutely nothing. This remarkable little woman shot back that her work was about love, not statistics. Notwithstanding the staggering number beyond her reach, she said she could keep the commandment to love God and her neighbor by serving those within her reach with whatever resources she had. “What we do is nothing but a drop in the ocean,” she would say on another occasion. “But if we didn’t do it, the ocean would be one drop less [than it is].”9 Soberly, the journalist concluded that Christianity is obviously not a statistical endeavor. He reasoned that if there would be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over the ninety and nine who need no repentance, then apparently God is not overly preoccupied with percentages.10

Sometimes, as a missionary, there is a lot of pressure.  Numbers pressure.  How many baptisms, How many are progressing, How many came to church, how many.....blah blah blah.  It's stressful.  And intimidating.  And sometimes I feel like I'm doing the best I can, and the numbers just don't reflect that.  But this helped me to see that just like Mother Teresa said, this is a work of LOVE, not statistics.  If I'm working and loving.  Then that's one more drop.  And that's enough.

*more Christmas with some of our favorite members

*a spider that we found in our house.  I said that we should kill it but my companion said that it has a soul and a divine purpose too so she wouldn't let me.  She tried to catch it and set it free, and in the process ended up killing it herself.  I then had a very depressed companion for the rest of the night...

*Christmas Eve with the Hermana that made us pozole.  It's an all day thing.  She started working on this soup at 7 in the morning and we ate at about 3 in the afternoon.


Monday, December 22, 2014

The Best Gifts


DIVISIONS

Back to back divisions this week just about killed me.  I was all day Thursday with a DARLING Hermana from El Salvador.  She's just about to complete 2 years as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Her whole family is against her being here on the mission and they write her every week telling her to come home.  I asked her how she responds to that, 
"Well at least they write me now! Before they didn't." 
"What do you tell them?" I asked
"I tell them no" she laughed.
"Im not coming home until I've finished this journey." she said with a smile.
Love her.

We walked around all day long in the BLAZING sun and NO ONE was home.  Well they were home, but they told us they were busy, or that they weren't home, or another day would be better.  We probably walked about a million and one miles and climbed ten jillion hills.  What I really wanted to do was just be whiny and negative and complain for a good while but as a capacitadora (sister training leader) its my job to be an example - to animate and show my little companion for the day how fun and wonderful the mission is despite the circumstances. 

So I slapped on a smile and kept walking.  We talked and we laughed and we SWEATED.  I learned ten times more from that darling little sister from El Salvador than she could've even learned from me. 

The next morning we met up with other sisters and did divisiones AGAIN.  This time I was with a tiny Bolivian.  She's very serious.  And I adore her.  I finally got her to open up a little bit and we laughed and laughed.  We talked about our dreams and goals.  About our life stories.  And about the gospel. 

At the beginning of the day I was exhausted from the previous day of little to no success in the blazing sun and was feeling less than thrilled to have to put on a big smile and keep fighting, but God was listening.  He's really good at that.  He heard the sunburnt white girl in the south of Mexico and he sent her péople who were home and the energy to smile and enjoy the day with the darling serious Bolivian.

JAM SESH

So ever since my Mexicans have found out that I play the Ukulele I've been asked to play and sing in just about every venue.  For the Missionary Christmas Activity we had a mini show, and one of the sisters in the mission wrote a song about becoming like Christ and about 20 minutes before we went on she sang it to me.  I picked out a few chords, learned the harmony and the words, and we played it in front of a TON of missionaries.  It actually turned out really cool.  Someday I'll be posting the video on Facebook.

THE BEST GIFT

On Saturday we gathered together as a very LARGE group of missionaries to have Christmas.  We ate turkey and mashed potatoes and a SALAD.  Yes my friends, my first legit salad in almost a year. 

Then we played some Christmas games and laughed so hard we cried.  Then we had a Christmas show in which various elders beat-boxed, I played the uke, and we did a rendition of the 12 days of Christmas, missionary style.  So classic.  Then we had a devotional. 

A bunch of different missionaries from a bunch of different countries got up and talked about how Christmas is done where they live.  It was actually really fun to hear all the traditions, like burning a giant dummy dressed in people clothes and waking up at 4 in the morning to sing and dance with your neighbors. 

Then Hermana Madsen (the president's wife) talked about traditions that they did in their family.  All the talk of family turned everybody a bit weepy, but in a good way.  She bore powerful testimony of how someday we will have our own family and how we are going to be the ones setting traditions and making memories.  It was really beautiful.  Then Pres talked about Christ and got us crying some more.

Then came time for presents.  Pres dressed up like Santa and started handing out the packages.  I got several and tore them open immediately.  Everyone was over the top thrilled and it was like Christmas morning...but not on Christmas and not in the morning...

As we took pictures and opened boxes and shared food and candy, some one came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder.
"Hey Hermana, is your mom's name Julie?"
"Um ya! How did you know?" I responded a little surprised by the question.
"Did she send a package to another sister here on the mission?"
"I think she mentioned something about sending a package to another missionary, but I don't really remember..." I trailed off.

"Hermana," she said grabbing my hand and looking me right in the eyes, "that Hermana that recieved a package from your mom is the daughter of Jehovahs Witnesses.  This is her first Christmas.  That package is likely the first Christmas gift she has ever received."
I just stood there, soaking in what she just said.

"Tell her thank you Hermana.  Please tell your mom thank you." she said with tears in her eyes.
I looked around trying to find the Hermana she was talking about when she walked up behind me and asked, "Is this you, Hermana Matesen?"
She held up a picture of my people.  My very favorite people in the whole entire world, dressed up like shepherds and sheep and Mary and Joseph.
"Is this your family?" she asked.

"That," I responded, "That is my family." 
Then the tears came.  Big fat tears rolling down my face.
We hugged.  And we held on tight. 
"Gracias." she sobbed.
"Gracias."

"They love you," I told her."and I love you too." 
We just held one another and cried for a good long while.
Then this darling sister explained to me that she didn't think she was going to be receiving any sort of package or present that year, but the package that my mom sent was the greatest surprise she had ever received. 

Out of all the sweets, books, and cool pens I received that day - despite all the delicious food and the hilarious show, the very best gift was to hold that little sister from Chile and wish her a very merry FIRST Christmas. 

Oh how very thankful I am for a mother who taught me from day ONE to serve.  To love.  To give. I'm not sure who told my mom about the tiny missionary from Chile who wasn't going to get a package, but I'm sure glad someone did.  Because that moment we shared was one I will never ever forget.  Her very first Christmas.  And likely, her very first present.  How proud I was to point to that tiny picture and choke out between the tears,
"Estas son mis personas. Esta es mi familia"
Out of all the gifts I have ever received, the greatest is my family.
Julie, Brett, Meredith, and Max.  My people.

Every person I teach I show a picture of my family, and I name them by name.  I tell them that God loves us so much He sent us here in groups, to learn to love, to serve, and to forgive.  I tell them that, thanks to those 4 people, I'm in the south of Mexico.  I tell them that the gospel of Jesus Christ has changed us and helped us for the better and that they can change their family and turn it into something that lasts forever.

This Christmas, tell your family you love them.  And give them all a very big hug.  No matter how dysfunctional they may be.  They are yours.  And you are theirs.  Learn from their mistakes.  Forgive. Listen.  Love.

And remember the best gifts aren't bought in a store or on the internet.  The best gifts are the ones from the heart.

[3 photos did not download]

*me and mexican santa (my zone leader)

*found a friendly butterfly this week

Monday, December 15, 2014

JOY to the World

JOY TO THE WORLD THE CHRISTMAS PROGRAM IS OVER

The title of this paragraph basically sums up my feelings about the Christmas program we've been working on being over.  The last few weeks has been taken over with rehearsals galore and inviting everyone and their dog to come.  The first performance was in a Stake Center [large church] in the city.  The second and third performances were in a big fancy theater in El Centro, and the last one was in our chapel. 

At every performance I played my ukulele and sang a chill [casual] version of "A Child's Prayer," with harmonies done by me and my best buddy Hermana Rodriguez and three Elders in the background snapping and oooing and aaaing the other harmony.  It was actually really legite. We threw it all together super last minute, but it turned out SUPER awesome. 

We even made leis out of crepe paper and missionary sewing kits.  We swayed as we sang and we just had fun with it.  The audience loved it. 

So the really exciting performance was the one that took place in the big fancy theater in El Centro. Everything was so fancy and professional.  There were big spotlights and fancy sound systems.  The excitement was in the air. 

We did two back to back shows, and everything turned out really nicely.  The audience loved it and a bunch of investigators showed up!  We handed out little tarjetitas (I'm thinking the translation for that word is cards, but I'm not sure....slowly but surely forgetting English) and people wrote down references of their friends and family for us.

The show was divided into two parts.  The first part was a mixture of musical talents done by the missionaries, and the second part was the missionary choir that sang and narrated the birth and life of Christ.  It was pretty powerful.  Just imagine a TON of missionaries from all over the world coming together and singing their little hearts out. 

By the end half the audience was crying.  At the end of the show we left the stage and went out to shake a million hands, kiss a million cheeks, and thank everyone for coming.  I stepped off the stage and started wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and thanking them for coming when I heard my name, "MATISON! MATISON!" And I looked up to see NUBIA BAUTISTA - my first official baptism in my very first area.  My very first golden investigator. 

I sprinted up the stairs and ran right into her open arms.  We just stood there hugging as tears rolled down both of our faces. "Te amo! Te amo!" she said.  We laughed, we talked, we cried, and we hugged some more.  I couldn't believe it was her. "I heard you would be here and I had to come!" She said. 

She told me all about her calling [church job] as a counselor in the Primary [children's church organization]  and how she goes to the temple all the time and how she's sharing the gospel with her boyfriend over the phone and how she's telling all her family and friends about the gospel.  And it hit me.  I really am making a difference out here. 

As a missionary (and in anyones life for that matter), it's really easy to get down on yourself.  To ask, Why am I here? or Am I even making a difference in anyones life?  And then you meet Nubias.  Short, smiley, sweet wonderful Nubias, who say your last name in the most endearing way.  Who hold you and cry with you.  Who change your life forever. 

I didn't change Nubia's life.  She changed mine.  Any success, happiness, and conversion she has is thanks to her and thanks to God.  I just happened to come along for the ride.  And boy am I glad that God let me.  It was a magical missionary moment.  Truly and 100 percent magical.

THE TALK

5 minutes before Sacrament Meeting [Sunday church service] started they informed me that I am supposed to give a talk.  They were going to tell me sooner but forgot.  Cool.  So needless to say I had zero time to prepare anything.  So they announced my name, "Ahora Hermana Mate...hmmm, la hermana va a discursar."  hahaha they never finish out my name because they don't know how to pronounce it.

So I stood up there in front of our GIGANTIC WARD and gave a 10 minute talk with an intro, three points, and a pretty solid conclusion.  I talked about missionary work and service.  My three suggestions were LISTEN, HUG, and SHARE THE GOSPEL.  Each had a story and a scripture and it was a gosh darn miracle.  The whole "open your mouth and let it be filled" thing really works. Miracles happen everyday. 

*prepping backstage in our fancy little changing room... programa navideño 1

 *the giant theater!
 *waiting backstage, just about to go on
 *love Love love love.  Magical moments. I love this little short woman more than words in English OR in Spanish, can express.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Happiness Project

The HAPPYness PROJECT

This week we went and visited a member who has been going through a lot of
trials lately.  She needed someone to listen and we happily obliged.  She
started in, and somewhere in the middle she began asking questions. 

She wasn't really expecting an answer.  She just needed to get some stuff off her chest, but one of her questions really hit me hard.  It got me thinking. "How is it that other people around me are happy and I'm not?  How are they happy?  What are they doing/not doing?  How can I be happy?"

It got me thinking.  Normally when the question is asked, "What do I need to
do to be happy?" or "What brings happiness?" the general and easy answer is
the gospel.  But that is so very general.  This member goes to the temple
every week.  She shares the gospel with her neighbors.  She attends church
every Sunday.  She keeps her covenants.  She gives service.  As far as my
human eyes see, she is living the gospel. 

It had me stumped.  How is it that she's doing these "gospel" things and is still unhappy?  It is a choice?  Is it her circumstances?  Is it a trail that God is putting her through to test her faith?

Then at one point she turned to me, "YOU!" she pointed at me, "YOU are
happy!  YOU make people happy.  I've seen it.  How do you do it?  How are you happy?"

And you know what happened?
I had no idea what to answer her.  I had no idea what to say.  I have no idea how I'm happy.  That's just how I wake up in the morning.

Now I'd be lying if I said I'm happy all the time.  I am a human being.  I get grouchy.  And tired.  And hungry.  And disanimated.  But somehow I always make it out alive (and smiling).  But the thing is, I'm not entirely sure how.

I've begun studying the word HAPPY in my personal study time.  I have officially found and marked every single dingle scripture in the Bible that says the word happy.  It says things like "Happy is that man that..." and then puts something.

There was many different answers and solutions, but the two most common were:  HAPPY are the people who repent, or in other words, CHANGE and become a better self.
AND
HAPPY are those that believe, trust, and love God.

I'm still on my search for the answers.  And maybe I'll never find the perfect one, but I'd like to ask all the people out there who are reading this to take 5 minutes and let me know your opinion.  What makes you happy?  What do you think someone needs to do to be happy?  What is the magic answer for you?  Or do you think the answer doesn't exist?  Let me know.  Can't wait to hear your thoughts.

THE PARROT CHILD
Went to go eat with a member this week and met Diego.  Diego is her parrot.
But don't tell her that.  She thinks it is her child.  He has his own seat at
the table and drinks out of a glass.  He also eats tostadas with salsa and
quesillo.  He also got a dessert. 

It was all very hilarious.  The member was very serious about the whole thing, and it was all I could do the whole time not to burst out laughing.  Oh the people you meet on the mission.

FRANKLIN
Ran across my best buddy Franklin this week in divisions.  I took a picture with him and thanked him for how much he has taught me and how wonderful he is.  He teared up.  If a tiny itty bitty Mexican man of 97 years, wearing a beanie with a marijuana leaf on it, and walking around with a
crutch taller than he is, tearing up doesn't get to you... then I don't know what will.  I love Franklin.  I will never forget this tiny man who kneels for every prayer.  Every one.  He is 97 for crying out loud. And he kneels. 

Next time you feel too lazy to kneel for a prayer, think of tiny Franklin.  It helps me.

*Windy
wind blown.
Someone once told me that it is never cold in Oaxaca. That person was a liar.


*Franklin and his wife:
This is Franklin.  He is 97 years old.  He showed me his birth certificate to prove it to me and everything.  He is probably the most faithful and knowledgable member of the church living.  His little beanie that he wears ALL DAY EVERYDAY has a shotgun and a marijuana leaf on it.  And I'm pretty sure he has no idea.  

The picture doesn't even do them justice.  They are TINY.  I am bending over in the photo and I still tower over them.  They are from one of my old areas and I ran into them when I was in divisiones this week.  I asked for a picture because I never want to forget these darling tiny people.


*Not my friend
Don’t be fooled by the photo. This bird is not my friend.


*My peoples
Noche de Hogar
Forgot how to say that in English.  Family home night?  Something like that...


Monday, December 1, 2014

With Style

CONTACTING WITH STYLE

Last week my ukulele came in the mail.  It only took 2 months or so to get here (mexican mail system probs). When it finally showed, I spent literally ALL P DAY LONG playing it.  Played it so long and with so much love I wore all the skin off my finger and now its all scabbed up. 

We headed out that afternoon to a planned Family Home Evening with a bunch of less actives and members.  No one showed.  So we went and tried contacting a bunch of addresses we had written down from contacting that week. 

We showed up at a house and knocked on the door.  A little kid came to the door. "Is your mom home?"
"she's in the shower." he said.  Or in other words, she doesn't want to talk to two strangers who showed up on her porch to talk about Jesus.

Feeling a little disanimated, we decided to do something different for a change. "Can we sing you a song?" I asked.
"Can you what?" asked the boy, a little taken off guard.
"Can we play a song and sing it for you?" I repeated.
"ummmm ok?" he responded.

So there in the dark, in the middle of the Mexican ghetto, I played my ukulele, and we sang: I Know That My Redeemer Lives.  I made a lot of mistakes and we couldn't read the words that well, but in the end his mom who was "in the shower" came to the door and listened to the last verse. Then without any formal introduction invited us into her home to listen to the two strangers talk about Jesus. 

And we then taught the best lesson I've taught in a long time.  They accepted baptism.  And to pray. And to read the Book of Mormon. The little boy grabbed my hand, "When are you coming back so that we can learn more?" 
I'm excited to teach them again. 

Sometimes as missionaries, we fall into a really boring pattern.  We do the obvious and the normal ALL DAY EVERY DAY and it gets BORING.  So this week my challenge to all missionaries and all people out there reading this e mail is to shake things up.  Do things differently.  And make it fun.  Sing a song.  Be bold.  Change the same old same old to something better. And you'll see the blessings and the happiness roll right on in.

MONTE ALBAN

We went to some ancient ruins today.  It was pretty fabulous.  We all geeked out, like the missionaries we are, and related every rock and symbol to the scriptures.  It was very hilarious.  And very exciting. 

There were a million different people speaking a million different languages. We climbed a lot of ancient stairs and we all returned very tired and sunburnt. 


Monday, November 24, 2014

Will You Keep Up?


DIVISIONES

So this was my first week of divisions.  Divisions is when me and my comp split and I go with one of the hermanas of another area and she goes with the other.  And let me tell you, it sure was an adventure!

My first division was with Hermana Garcia.  Hermana Garcia is 27 and a lawyer.  Already graduated from College.  Super, super intellegent and dynamic.  She was MY sister training leader when I first got to the mission.  I must admit, when I arrived I felt rather intimidated.  She whipped out her planner and we went to work. 

We ran from appointment to appointment and she whacked her way through 6 pretty much perfectly taught Preach My Gospel lessons.  She did it all.  I sat there feeling very inadequete.  And because of my nervousness, I stumbled my way through simple Spanish sentences and felt self-conscious.  It was a humbling experience for sure.

 Because of all the appointments we had scheduled, we never stopped for lunch and didn't end up eating until about 7 at night.  Have you ever tried to teach the law of chastity in Spanish while being stared at by a really smart lawyer, with no food in your stomach, and a small cat crawling up your leg?  I have.  And let me tell you this, it was no walk in the park. 

Then when we finally got to the food, the Hermana that was feeding us informed us that the food was really spicy.  I said a prayer in my heart and went for it.  OH MY GOODNESS.  The spiciest food I have ever eaten in my whole entire existence.  Even my Mexican companion was struggling.  We were sweating, and crying, and I couldnt feel my tongue or my lips, or my FACE for that matter. 

We got home that night tired.  My comp-for-the-day was satisfied.  I on the other hand felt very, very inadequate.  I prayed, "God, are you sure about this?  Why on earth am I a sister training leader? What on earth do I have to show and teach this sister?  She's got it ALL  and then some."
Then the answer came. 
" YOU need to learn from HER."
Oh. Duh.

Maybe I'm not a leader because I speak the most perfect Spanish and maybe I'm not a leader because I teach the most perfect lessons.  Maybe I'm a leader because I need to learn from these sisters and let them learn from me in return.  A mutual love and growth thing.

The next divisions I had with a Bolivian convert who might be the most darling thing that ever happened.  I got us sufficiently lost, but we ended up contacting up a storm, buying an ice cream, and laughing our heads off.  All in all, a great learning experience for us both.

KEEPING UP

We had a mulitzona this week.  The president talked a lot about what to do if we get kidnapped and yada yada.  Oh Mexico.  But after all the safety talk there was a really powerful message.  There was a really awesome quote that I failed to write down entirely but basically it said this,
"The Lord is speeding up the work, are you keeping up?"

It struck me hard.  Am I keeping up?  This work is going to go on with or without me.  Am I fast-walking when I could be sprinting?  Am I talking to EVERYONE or just the 5 people I have written down as my goal?  Am I using every minute?  Am I giving it 100 percent or 85?  Am I being good or great? It inspired me to pick it up and go hard. 
In the words of the Madsen Family suburban, 
GO BIG.

TORTILLAS
 So my new found love of tortillas and frijoles is growing bigger and bigger everyday because my comp taught me how to make tortillas from scratch and they were DELISH.
Pretty sure Im opening up a taco stand when I get back. Prepare yourselves.


Monday, November 17, 2014

New

NEW AREA

A lot more hills.  Woot.  And not so woot... depends on how I'm feeling that day.  Lots of awesome people and moto taxis.  The ward [local Mormon congregation] here is HUGE.   There's like 200 people that come every week which is actually rather sad because there are over 900 members.  Yep.  We've been visiting a lot of less actives lately.  

I'm also REgetting used to being starred at, and all the pointing and wide eyes.  A white person around these parts is a VERY rare thing.  A white GIRL around these parts is unheard of.  The other day a whole bus full of people rubber-necked to get a good look at the white girl.  We just laughed.

NEW HOUSE

Has a balcony.  A view.  And a microwave.  WHAT.  Still haven't used it yet.  I have forgotten how. It's all just too fancy, I can hardly handle it.  Also, this house never runs out of water.  Double what. And it has a water heater.  Huh?  and a shower head that works.  And a toilet that flushes and a closet. Basically I live in paradise now.

NEW COMP [companion]

I am once again back with a Mexican and it feels so good!  Hermana Rivas is from a state called Cuahuila.  She is a VERY sincere and loving person.  We are going to accomplish a lot in this area, I can just feel it.  Two hard working and animated missionaries and a God that answers prayers is just a perfect recipe for success.


A short but sweet letter this week.  Promise to send something a little more exciting next week.  Stay tuned because there is ALWAYS some sort of adventure going on here in the south of Mexico.

*sunrise sunset (#fiddlerontheroofforlife) My new apartment has a balcony and we get to see the sunrise every morning. Its pretty dang awesome.


*me and my new comp.  Hermana Rivas from Coahuila Mexico!  She's going to teach me how to make tortillas from scratch tonight.  She's pretty much fabulous.


*the view from a members home.  MUCH cooler in the day time but....you get the picture.


*back to the hills....
Its climbs like this that make me wonder how on earth Im still gaining weight.
Its the tortillas. 
Las tortillas tienen la culpa.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Last Song


*Alejandro got dipped...not in chocolate but in the waters of baptism..

A BAPTISM

Alejandro got baptized on Saturday.  It also happened to be his birthday.  He was so darling and showed up early with his Book of Mormon in hand (he carries it with him everywhere.).  As we sat there and told him how very excited we were for him he began to cry.  Tears of excitement and joy spilled over, and we sat there together and just took in the moment.  

We met Alejandro the 25th of Agosto.  He was a reference from the Elders in El Centro.  They found him [by] contacting.  They sent us his number and we got a hold of him the next day and began teaching him.  He was golden right off the get go.  Truly prepared to receive this message.  He was eating it up.  Every word.  Every lesson.  Every hymn.  Each lesson, it just clicked more.  You could see it in his eyes. 

Then the 8th of November he was baptized.  When we first showed up he didn't even know who God was.  Now he is one of the most faithful members of the ward.  And all in about 2 months.  Miracles. Tender mercies. 

How very lucky and blessed I am to be able to help people turn their lives around.  It's not us.  It's Him.  We just get to be lucky enough to be there.  Oh how I love Alejandro. 

*we love him.

*selfie.
*more baptism pictures...best guy. ever.

CHANGES

They called us last night to tell us the shocking news.  BOTH of us are being changed [transferred]. They are sending Hermana Crystal to the coast with Hermana Mamani (the bolivian) and they are sending me to Guelaguetza (still don't know how to spell it...) as a SISTER TRAINING LEADER. Um what? 

That's a big responsibility.  I remember so very well all the Sister Training Leaders I've ever had and how very much I've looked up to them, and how very much I've learned from them.  It's a scary task, but at the same time it's just another opportunity to love and help more people.  I hope I can be the kind of leader that people can really look to for a loving example. 

Every change I choose a theme to live by, and this change was "Uno por Uno..."  I think that translates to "One by one.."  In third Nephi 11:15, when Christ came to the Americas, He descended from Heaven.  I imagine it was somewhat like Justin Bieber coming out onto the stage at a major concert.  The people swarmed in masses to come see and know. 

And He [Christ] accepted them ALL one by one.  Uno por uno.  Why didn't He just hold out his hands nice and high so everybody could get a good look?  Why didn't He just greet the important leaders or the righteous?  Wasn't he worried about time?

But the thing is, He is Christ.  He cared and he CARES about every single last one of us.  One by one it says.  Person from [to?] person.  So that they could know for themselves.  So they could feel it.  So they could understand.  And nothing has changed.  He is still the same.  He loves us and knows us and cares for us one by one. 

Not just the leaders or the rich or the perfect.  He knows us.  He knows you.  Your name.  Your strengths.  And your weaknesses.  And wants you to come and to know for yourself.  Maybe I will never see the living Christ and touch the prints on his hands in this earthly life, but He still calls to me daily to come unto him through my ACTIONS and know for myself. 

I want to be a Sister Training Leader that helps and cares for the individual.  One by one.  Uno por Uno.  Look up the verse, and read it, and then think about what actions YOU need to take to feel and to know. 

Also, when we heard about the big changes [transfer] we began to call our converts and investigators. We told them we loved them, and we wrote text messages to those who didn't answer.  Then we cried.  Big fat tears.  Because we love them.  Oh how we love them. 

It's like leaving your child.  All we do all day and all night is pray for them.  Plan for them.  Teach them.  Think about them.  Study for them.  And then we have to leave.  And its like a dagger to the heart. 

German sent us a really sweet message. And our investigator Emma told us she would never forget us and promised to keep reading the scriptures and praying.  Oh how I adore these people.  My heart.

*it's a message from German.  It  says "we are never going to forget you guys."

THE LAST SONG

So before you think I'm talking about the Nicholas Sparks book or the really awful Miley Cyrus movie, just know that was not my intention.  

As we waited in the big bus stop where everybody meets up for changes, I felt a tap on my shoulder. And I turned around to find ALEJANDRO.  He just happened to be walking past the bus stop and saw us.  We shook his hand a million and one times, took pictures, and talked about all our good times together. 

He whipped out his Book of Mormon (carries it with him everywhere still) and asked if we could sing one last song together.  He loves the hymns.  Every lesson we have with him we sing, at the very least, 2 hymns. 

So there we sat, in the middle of a busy crowed and loud bus station, and we sang.  With everyone starring on - we sang.  And you could just feel the love.  It was almost tangible.  It's a moment I'll never forget.  It was our last song. 

And we watched him walk away smiling and waving.  Oh how I remember him when we first found him.  Sad. lonely. Insecure.  And the man we saw walking away today was someone completely different.  He glowed.  He smiled.  He shined.  I love him.  And I know God led those Elders to contact him and that we were a part of his life for a reason.

*love. when Alejandro found us in the bus station

WHITE SHIRT AND TIE

German blessed the Sacrament this week.  He showed up in a white shirt and tie (a BIG deal for him), and I definitely fogged up a bit when I saw him.  Love that man.  So very much.

*district. he "last supper" at our last district meeting.  Love these kids.  So much.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Chicken Salad Sandwich

ALEJANDRO

Alejandro is our investigator.  He is hilarious.  On Sunday he showed up to church, and in the middle of fast and testimony meeting he stands up, walks up to the stand, and gives the most darling and sincere (not to mention powerful) testimony I've ever heard.  Then in gospel principles class when the teacher was getting to know everyone asked Alejandro,
"Are you a member?"
"Yep," replied Alejandro.
We all paused.
"Wait, no your not!" shouted someone from the back of the classroom.
"Oh ya, I'm not, I'm an investigator." Alejandro responded cheerfully.
He's so golden he even forgets he's not a member. 
So darling.

Hermana Crystal and I were talking about it the other day, and we decided that our investigators are like our children.  All we do all day is work for them, think about them, pray for them, plan for them, laugh about them, cry about them, and talk about how adorable they are and how much we love them. It's the best.

LISTEN

We felt an impression to go see a less active that never comes to church.  We sat down and asked how she was.  It was dia de los muertos so everybody was remembering and honoring their loved ones that had passed away.  Her mom died about two years ago and she needed a listening ear. 

She launched in and talked for about an hour and a half to two hours.  We sat and we listened.  We nodded.  And we laughed.  And we cried.  We probably said about two words the whole time.  She talked things out and in the end she came full circle and came back to the conclusion that she needs to go to church.  We nodded.  She then asked us to come by for her Sunday morning because she was going.  

Sometimes as human beings we think we need to talk to people, give them the answers, tell them how it is, find the solution for them.  But, sometimes we just need to listen.  Nod.  Smile.  Hold a hand. And maybe even cry a little.  And in the end they get there on their own because its not us that 's bringing the message.  It's not us that's changing lives.  It's God.  We're just along for the ride.

CHICKEN SALAD

The wife of the president of the mish invited us to lunch at her house.  AMERICAN FOOD!!  She fed us chicken salad sandwiches and crepes and I almost cried tears of joy.  It did however feel very odd to eat without a tortilla.

As I sat there at a table full of beautiful sister missionaries I was struck.  Every single one of those women were just such amazing people.  From different countries, situations, personalities, looks, opinions, but all of us were united as one.  All best friends. 

They all glowed with the light of Christ. What an honor it was to stand around the piano with them as our mission president's wife played hymns and we all sang together.  Women united to fight for right. Women trying to be like Christ.  I felt so very privileged to count myself as one of them.  We laughed and we sang and we took a lot of silly pictures.  Oh how lucky I am to serve a mission. How very very lucky.

*me and a GIANT bread that our members make in a wood burning oven. They sent us home with a mini version of this piece. It was still hot.


*double chinning it hard core.  Eating nothing but fried meat, beans, rice, cheese, and tortillas can do that to a person.  Is anyone else out there gaining the poundage or is it just me(xico)?


*there's the iguana that was in my clothing last week.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Coming to Know Him

COMING TO KNOW CHRIST

This last week we heard a knock on the door. 
"It's the testigos again." announced Crystal as she peeked out the window to check.
The Jehovahs Witnesses were back, but this time I felt bad.  "How many times do we knock on doors and people don't open for us?"  I thought to myself, "I've been trying to be a more Christlike person lately, and I've been praying A LOT for charity" so I decided to give it a go. 

I went out to talk to them and invite them to the Noche De Hogar [Family Home Evening] acvitity (forgot what its called in English) for Saturday.  I went, and as soon as I had made it out the door a group of three other people started bashing.  

They never once asked my name, how I was doing, where I was from.  They didn't bother mentioning the lovely flowers in the yard or asking me anything for that matter.  They launched right on in.  They lectured without love and they talked to me like I didn't know anything. 

The whole time they talked, I kept asking myself. "What would Christ do?  How would He react? What would He say?  What would He not say?  "Love them Ruby, just love them.  Let them get it out and invite them with LOVE."  I listened.  I smiled.  I nodded my head as they went on and on and on.

Then one of them interrupted and starting talking down to me. Talking bad about our church and what I do all day everyday.  I tried to let it slide off me, but it hurt.  After a good 20 minutes of listening, I politely interupted and told them we had to get to an appointment and invited them to the activity. 

The lady told me she would not be going.  Cool.  As I walked back into our house I looked up to see my favorite photo of Christ starring back at me.  Then it hit me.  Tears ran down my face as I thought about how many times people Bible-bashed and lectured Him.  How very many times people made Christ feel small and insignificant and stupid.  And the thought came strongly and clearly, "It hurt him too."  Every lecture and cruel comment.  Not because He hated them, but because He loved them. And that makes it hurt even worse. 

Sometimes I think we try to hold back our love or only give out parts of it because when we really love with all we've got it makes it a lot easier to get hurt.  But in that moment I came to know Christ. I guess before, whenever I read or heard of accounts of people giving Christ crap, I figured because He was the Son of God and perfect that it slid off him.  That it didn't hurt.  That it didn't sting.  That it didn't affect him.  After all, He was the Son of God.  He was perfect. 

But in that moment, starring at that picture of Him, it hit me that IT HURT HIM TOO.  And it humbled me a lot to feel that.  In that moment I felt His presence and I felt my prayers being answered.  In the words of a good friend of mine, "Never forget what He did for you, but ALWAYS remember what you can do for Him." (shout out to Jake VanB for inspiring me the other week with his e mail)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

So basically I have the best Mexican friends ever.  We started out the day teaching our WONDERFUL investigator Emma.  She made me a JELLO (woot) and bought me a little donut and a milkshake ( they're just TRYING to fatten me up I swear) and gave me a darling Bettie Boop wallet and a huge [?].  She also sang me the special Mexican birthday ballad.  I love her.

Then we went to visit Nubia and German - our CONVERT, and after the hymn they said, "Wait we want to sing another!" and as I searched for a good hymn they began singing the birthday ballad (the Mexican birthday song is way prettier than ours).  Then while we were saying the opening prayer they sneaked into the other room and set a beautifully wrapped present on the table.  German had made me a watercolor of a tree and Nubia had knitted me a flowered headband. I love them. SO stinking much.

Then later that night we went with our friend Martha to teach our investigator Alejandro.  Alejandro had boughten me a darling scarf and after the lesson they took me out to Mexican cheesecake and pie. They are darling. 

The next day we ate with the bishop and he bought me a cake too!  Also that night when we went to teach our dear investigator Rubicela, she had boughten me a cake too!!  Basically this whole birthday experience was a fattening one. But oh so wonderful.

It made me reflect on the things that really matter. For example: People. Friends. And the importance of surrounding yourself with good human beings.  There's a scripture in John that says,
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends . 
14 Ye are my friends,  if ye do whatsoever I command you. 

Christ is the perfect example of a great friend.  And He explains very well what a good friendship should be like.  It's a two way thing.  He gave his life for us, now its time to give our lives to Him. Oh how very thankful I am for good friends and for the love I felt on my birthday. 

IGUANA

So this morning it was kinda cold.  I decided to get my jacket.  I slipped it right on without a second thought and then I felt something on my back/shoulder.  Then I felt something scratch my neck and fall to the floor.  I looked behind me to see a GIANT LIZARD running around.

There was a gigantor lizard in my clothing.  I, of course, danced around like a crazy person and screamed (the neighbors already think we're nutty so it's all good). We caught it and took a series of videos and pictures of it.  We then showed those picture to a member and she told us that it was WAY too big to be a lizard and that it was in fact an iguana.  It's not everyday you find an iguana in your jacket.  My life.

*Nubia and German each made me a handmade gift. German made me a water color of a tree and nubia knitted me a flowered headband. They also sang me the special Mexican birthday ballad. I love them.  [photo failed]

*Martha (a member) and our investigator Alejandro took me out to cheesecake as a birthday surprise. The scarf is the gift that Alejandro gave me all wrapped in christmas wrapping. I love them.

*Love them. Martha y Alejandro.



*Martha's gift was fancy cookies and hot chocolate


*The bishop bought me a cake. It was delicious and they made me eat two pieces.


*Another investigator Rubicella bought me a cake and sang me the birthday ballad as well. I should have told her what I wanted for my birthday was her at church on Sunday...love her.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fearless

FEARLESS

This week I turn 20.  This week is hump day.  Nine months.  Lots have been asking,  "What have you learned?  How have you changed?  What has all gone down in that period of 9 long months?"

The one thing I've learned (well the one of VERY VERY many) is the importance of bravery and what it means to be brave.  To be bold.  To live it and to love it.  To kick fear to the curb.

As I was thinking about what I could write this week, I sat back and thought through all the stuff in my life that got me to the point of serving a full-time mission.  An experience in Young Women's came to mind.

In a Laurels class we all took turns sitting in the middle of the room while all the other Laurels wrote a word that described us and stuck it on us explaining why they chose that word to describe us. When it came to my turn I took my place in the middle of the room and my dear friends and fellow Laurels started going around putting stickers on me and explaining the word they chose. 

Then it came to Emily Nydegger (SHOUT OUT) and she stuck the word FEARLESS on my arm. Her word surprised me.  Fearless?  I had a lot of fears.  It was at a point in my life where all I wanted to do was please the crowd and go with the flow.  But she helped me realize, in that moment, that maybe I was braver than I thought. 

I think that's how we all are.  Braver than we think.  Stronger than we know.  And with talents and abilities that we have such a hard time seeing.

Something else I've learned on the mission:
-LISTEN. To myself. To the spirit. To others. 
-LOVE. With all I've got. Not holding back. Not expecting anything in return. Even when I'm tired.
-PEOPLE. It's all about people.
-SPANISH. I've learned Spanish. I can speak Spanish. And it's pretty darn cool.
This is all I've got for you guys this week. 

Let's go out and LIVE what we believe, whatever that may be, and do it fearless.



Monday, October 13, 2014

The Natural Man is Dying


THE NATURAL MAN IS DYING

This last week me and Crystal (Hermana Crystal) talked a lot about the natural man.  There is a scripture somewhere in The Book of Mormon that mentions that the natural man is an enemy to God, and we were discussing what we thought that really meant. 

Who is the natural man?  What is he like?  How do we not BE him?  As human beings we're pretty much used to being fairly focused on ourselves.  I'M hungry.  I'M tired.  MY feet hurt.  I'M lost.  We take care of ourselves, our wants, our needs, our desires, our opinions, and everyone and everything (including God sometimes) comes second, or third, or fourth. 

Being a missionary is rough stuff at times because one has to ALWAYS put others first.  We talked about it a lot and decided to set some pretty steep goals for ourselves as a companionship and for our area.  As we were writing these lofty and difficult (but oh-so-genius) goals down, Hermana Crystal mumbled something.  "Huh?" I responded.  She looked right at me and answered loudly and clearly. 
"The natural man is dying."

At first her comment confused me.  The natural man is dying...but how?  And who?  And....huh?  But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  We were killing him.  Every time we roll out of bed at 6:30 AM and onto our knees he dies a little more.  With every step, every lesson, every testimony, every scripture, every contact, he dies.  

There have been times on my mission where I have been tempted to cry out, "I AM TIRED AND HUNGRY AND HOT AND I WANT TO JUST TAKE A DANG NAP."  Or something along those lines.  Sometimes I don't want to put myself out there and bear my testimony to the people we walk past on the street because lots of the time they tell me no or they ignore me and keep walking. 

Sometimes I'm tempted to sit down in the shade and just take a minute for myself.  Sometimes I want to sleep in or listen to something other than Spanish EFY music.  But that is my natural man putting up the fight.  Well joke's on the natural man because just like Hermana Crystal said,  He's dying.  I'm killing him.  With hard work and heart.  With love and testimony.  With hugs and smiles and prayers. With fasting and saying "have a great day" to the man who told us off the other day.  Were killing him with kindness.  He is dying.  Everyday a little more.  Crystal was onto something there.  The natural man is dying.

TEN

I received an e mail last week from a dear friend and fellow missionary who told me about a goal that him and his mission had set to contact a minimum of TEN people everyday.  His lofty goal made me think.  Could it really be possible?  And could I, Hermana Matesen, do something that big? 

In our weekly planning session, as we came up with our battle plan to kill the natural man, we decided to bump up our wimpy and doable 4 contacts a day to 10.  I looked at Crystal, "Do you think we can actually do it?" 
"I don't know, do you?"
"I don't know."

We sat and we thought.
"Lets do it." I said.
And we did.  We put a big yellow number ten on our door and stuck sticky notes all over the house with the number ten on it to get us pumped and ready to go change the world.

"Ten." said Crystal.
"Ten people." I responded.
"Ten souls," she said.
"Ten of our brothers and sisters," I told her.
"Ten children of God." whispered Crystal. 

And with that we marched on out the door and made it happen.  We have contacted TEN or MORE people everyday since.  And we sure saw some pretty great results.  We told our district leader about it and that inspired him to tell the whole district about it, and now it's spreading like wildfire.  So to all missionaries out there who may read this, I hearby challenge you to kill the natural man and JUST DO IT (go with Nike on this one).  Ten.  Ten people.  Ten souls.  Ten brothers and sisters.  Ten children of God.

PARTY


Went to go visit some investigators, turns out they were throwing a surprise birthday party.  They dragged us in, sat us down in front of a HUGE MEXICAN BAND, and told us to request a song.  I did, and they began to play my favorite Mexican jam (Como te Voy Olvidar by Los Angeles Azules, go look it up).  It was hilarious.  We always seem to find ourselves in the middle of a Mexican party. Mexicans like to throw parties.  And I like to attend them and contact people.  It's a wonderful combination.

*its really hard to take a good stache picture when you can't stop laughing long enough for the mustache to stick.


[separate email]
*yesterday i sat in sacrament meeting and i had a very random and very strong pang of I MISS MY FAMILY.  It hit suddenly like a arrow through the heart.  They don't come very often, but when they come they come hard.  Sometimes I just really love you guys way too much. but then i recomposed myself and focused back in.  Do you get random missing attacks too?

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Rainbow Umbrella Strikes Again

*Crystal owns a lot of black.  I tease her about it.  She teases me about being too colorful and mixing and matching patterns.  As we left the house the other day, I burst out laughing because she was in ALL black and I was in ALL florescent colors.  I love that Crystal.


RAINBOW UMBRELLA

As some of you might remember, when I was in the MTC [missionary training center], I had a rainbow umbrella.  Everyone else had black.  I stood out.  And it was awesome. 

I am now in Mexico.  I still have a rainbow umbrella.  I now stand out more than ever.  And people ask a lot of questions like "Why are you different?"

I just wanted to follow up on the whole message of the umbrella e-mail [go here], and ask one and all, Are you being a rainbow umbrella?

Do you live your life in a way that your friends and those that know you would say that you are different, special, or out of the ordinary?  Do you seek to blend in or stand out?  Do you share your testimony with others or avoid bringing it up?

Something that I seemed to hear, read, and notice this week was a lot about being BRAVE.  It takes a lot of courage to be a rainbow umbrella.  Some people might stare and tell you you're weird.  Some people might tell you that your a little crazy.  Some people might ask you why you don't just go and buy a black umbrella like everyone else. 

Embrace the rainbow in you.  Let it show.  Don't be ashamed if you believe in God and in Christ and don't be ashamed to let it show.  Be brave.  And be different.

GENERAL CONFERENCE

Basically it was fabulous.  I don't know what was better - sitting and listening to someone else teach the lesson for a change, or all the inspiration received.  The two things that stuck out to me were (1) I DONT FEAR MAN and (2) that KINDNESS IS POWERFUL.

About the first point.  It's something a lot of us face.  We want others to like us, to approve of us, to follow up on Instagram and tell us our clothes are cool.  There's nothing wrong with being likeable or popular, but what are you popular for?  For being the nicest kid around, or for buying the right shoes?

That's something that I've struggled with on the mission.  I forget that I'm not inviting the people to come unto me, I'm inviting them to come unto Christ.  Because its HIM that can help them.  Not me.

But I will be bold.  I will talk with everyone.  And will SHARE with everyone that Christ loves them and can change their lives.  I will INVITE one and all to come unto Him and change their lives and their eternities.  Yes that makes me a little (a lot) more vulnerable.  Yes that leaves a lot more room to get hurt.  But it all leaves a lot more room for success.

About the second point.  Kindness really is power.  I can be bold, but if I'm not kind no one will ever want to hear what I have to say.  You can teach an investigator all the right stuff and at all the right times and with all the right doctrines, scriptures, and questions, but if you are not kind to them and if you don't show that you love them and care about them it never really gets you too far. 

Be kind.  But what does that even mean?  Telling someone you think their hair is cool?  Or helping a little old lady across the street?  For me, kindness is channeling Christ.  Doing as He would and being the kind of person He was.  Not only in words but in actions and in thoughts.  

I will follow the counsel of the prophets in these days and those of old.  I will pray for my enemies. The lady who was mean must be having a really hard day, I tell myself.  That person who said they would be there and didn't show up must have had a last minute situation come up.  I pray for them.  I love them.  And not just with words.  With my heart. 

My heart sometimes gets a little bumped and bruised along the way, but you know what?  Its worth it. Put yourself out there and be kind.  Be brave enough to be kind.  To not just those who are easy to love, but those who are really hard to love too.

SOCCER


We got together as a big activity of Elders and Hermanas to play soccer this morning.  I was so excited to be finally playing an actual sport that I was WAY too hard and came home throwing up and feeling so hot I thought I might die.  Heat exhaustion. 

So apologies for any strange and uninteresting things that flowed out of my fingers this week.  I still feel delirious.  Love you all, and thanks a million for all the support and prayers.  I feel them.

*We eat bugs now.  "Just eating some bugs.  Totally normal."

Monday, September 29, 2014

Surprise

SURPRISE BAPTISM

We've been working with German a lot lately.  We love him.  He loves us.  His wife says that every morning when he wakes up he asks, "Are the missionaries coming today?"  He took the missionary lessons from some Elders [guy missionaries] a while back and gave them a hard time.  They stopped coming by.  Then the Sister missionaries found him.  They began teaching him and his less active [in church] (for 15 years or more) wife, and they began to open up and let the light in. 

When the missionaries first invited him to be baptized he said no.  Then we asked him again a few weeks later, and his answer was a quiet but firm YES.  We had his baptismal date planned for October 25, but he was just so excited and pumped on the gospel that he asked us on Tuesday afternoon, "Look Hermanas, if I KNOW this church is true and feel like I'm ready, could I be baptized sooner?" We both looked at each other and then back at German. "Um YES!" we both said in unison. 

"You could get baptized THIS VERY Saturday if you wanted." I told him.  Then he got a look on his face.  He was seriously considering it.  "Pray about it, and call us tomorrow!" we told him.  Sure enough, the next morning, a text message arrived on our tiny cruddy grey brick phone.  And there in hard-to-read Mexican text-slang it said, "We're going to do it. Saturday's the day." 

We took a moment to scream like teenage girls and dance around the house.  Then we cried for a tad. Then we danced some more.  "Wait a minute," I stopped and said. "I have no idea how to plan a baptism." 

We went to Preach My Gospel [a guide to missionary service] and called our District Leader enough to bug him, and in the end we pulled it off.  We did it.  We organized an amazingly perfect baptism with talks, special musical numbers, and the Spirit.  The day of the baptism was magical. 

There really aren't words in English or in Spanish to describe it, but I'll give it a go anyways.  We showed up right on time and they were already there waiting out front in their Sunday best (they are THE most darling people).  We got everything set up and then went outside to take some pictures. 

We took a million and one pictures and laughed and laughed.  Inside jokes galore.  Then we went inside and got started.  By some miracle, we invited enough members [of the congregation] and investigators [people receiving missionary lessons] that we filled that little room right up.  There were two small talks and I gave the second.  I shared my testimony of the miracle it was that two white girls who both speak pretty iffy spanish could help get someone to baptism. 

I shared a scripture in Alma 26 about our great reason to rejoice.  I don't remember exactly what I said, but by the end of it everyone was crying and laughing and the room just filled with an almost tangible love.  It was like the room was glowing.  It was like it was on fire with some sort of unseen celestial power.  It was like a little slice of heaven. 

Then the moment came for German to be baptized.  Everyone got very very quiet and he stepped into the water.  Never ever ever, as long as I live, will I ever forget that sight.  German.  My investigator. But more than my investigator, my friend.  And even more than that, my brother.  A precious son of God. 

Hermana Crystal and I held hands and leaned so far forward we were practically falling out of our chairs.  I felt joy.  Pure joy.  The kind of joy that makes you want to jump up and down and shout and burst into tears all at the very same moment.  It was indescribable.  When he came out of the water and smiled, I thought I would explode of happiness.  It wasn't my baptism.  It wasn't my convert.  It was God´s.  He just let me come along for the ride.  And boy am I glad that he did. 

While German was changing,  Hermana Crystal and me, and two other ladies in our ward [congregation] sang A Child's Prayer in Spanish, with the harmony part as well.  It was beautiful. And powerful.  Then German came back in and had a few minutes to bear his testimony.  It was wonderful.  He bore powerful  witness of the gospel.  He told his reasons for being baptized that day and they were ALL the right ones.  He was ready.  He was prepared.  He was glowing. 

And then to end we sang, "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go."  We sang it, and I cried.  I cried and cried because I remember so clearly singing that very same song in the MTC [Missionary Training Center in Utah].   I remember singing it and having absolutely NO idea what I was getting myself into.  What pain, trials, hardships, joys, successes and life-changing experiences I would have.  I was filled up to overflowing.  Just like it says in Preach My Gospel, "more joy awaits you than you have every experienced."

God loves me.  God loves German.  God is so very good.

THE DAZER

My dearest mother sent me a dazer this week.  A giant clunky remote looking thing that sends off a high frequency sound that only dogs can hear and apparently repels and scares them off.  Hermana Crystal and I had a good laugh when it arrived because it looks like a time travel device. 

Then we set out to give it a try.  And get this: IT WORKS!  We were finally able to visit a ton of people that we couldn't before because of their terrifying and angry dogs.  It is awesome.  No matter that all the Mexicans think I'm crazy because I randomly pull a giant grey remote out of my bag, point it at animals, and press the buttons repetitively.  We are dog free baby.

HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY

So Mexicans.  They are very honest.  Blunt might be the right word.  Or maybe brutally honest.  If someone is ugly, fat, or has bad skin they state it like a fact.  "Oh ya, the really ugly one?" they ask. "Hey Hermana Crystal you have gotten really fat since you showed up."  or my personal favorite the other day, "Hey Hermana Matesen, you really need to buy a cream for your face or something because your companion's skin looks a whole lot better than yours."  Thanks.

It's hilarious.  But I'm starting it pick it up.  When I'm explaining people to others,  I say things like, " you know, the fat white one." and then they respond, "ooooooh her."  It's a bit sad.  But you get used to it.  

So if I come home just saying everything like it is and being overly honest someone just let me know.

*Baptism Happiness.  I love German. Resisting the urge to hug the crap out of him the whole baptismal service was quite exhausting.  The love was just too much.


*German and His White Buddies.  Never prayed and fasted for one person in my life.  It was worth every prayer.  It was worth every skipped meal. 


*We laugh. A lot. Sometimes so hard that we cry.


*the dazer.  Look out rabid dogs.  We gon find you.