Monday, May 26, 2014


First off, I would like to apologize for the incredibly LAME-O e mail I sent last week! This week's will be better I promise.

Bored to tears:
So my last week in Etla was pretty interesting...Hermana Flores got really sick (broncitis) and we spent most of the week with the doctor or in the house resting. She's doing good now (after 4 doctors visits and hundreds of pesos in medication). We couldn't leave the house to work for 5 days. I thought I was going to die. I watched The District twice and The Restoration 3 or 4 times. I washed clothes, I cleaned the house, I made Hermana Flores food and brought her her medication when she needed it. It was hard. I wanted to be out working and teaching and helping people. I had to put all that aside and focus on helping Hermana Flores. It was hard but I did it.

How to kill a cockroach:
So we've already established that the house in Etla has A TON of cockroaches, but Hermana Flores still has yet to kill one. So the other night I attempted to give her a tutorial on how to kill a cockroach. After a few failed attempts she gave up...It was quite hilarious. There I was standing on a chair holding the broom and explaining the proper technique and steps as to how to properly kill a cockroach. She just laughed . And I laughed too. Hermana Flores is learning slowly but surely to appreciate my humor. She is warming up to me. She even hugged me the other day. WOW. Progress.

I have a necklace that says "be."
Nothing more. Just be. And the other day as we were walking the dusty streets of Mexico, I started thinking about what that means to be something. In this life we do a lot of things, we say a lot of things, we live our lives. But it's one thing to do things and to say things, its another thing to BE something. 

I thought about it. Not about what I'm doing or saying, but who I'm becoming. Everyday I can see the changes. I'm BEcoming a better me. I'm not just going through the motions. I'm not just saying the words. I'm not just checking the box. I'm BEing a better person. I'm BEcoming the person God knows I can BE. I'm not just serving time, I'm serving a misión. And I'm letting it change me.

EXAMPLE: I found 4 of my favorite candies in the fridge. Before my misión I definitely would've eaten all of them without a second thought. Instead I gave two to my comp.
Slow but steady progress my friends. It's the little stuff that counts. And I'm doing big stuff too. I'm changing. I'm thinking of others first. And I'm loving it.

Today was changes and I am no longer in Etla (the dear land of NACHO). I am in Tlacolula! It is a DESERT in the middle of nowhere. LOVE IT! But for real. There's tiled floor and a flush toilet (huzzah!). My new comp told me there is scorpions, but I'm not gonna let that get me down! It just adds more to the adventure. My new comp is Hermana Mamani and is from BOLIVIA! how cool is that? So psyched to have another comp that can only speak and understand Spanish because I can learn that must faster. I feel really content about where I'm at and who I'm with. And who I am. Basically I just feel really happy today. I'm progressing. SLOWLY. But I'm progressing. I love Mexico.

-Almost getting attacked by a baby goat that was going WILD (baaaaaaaa). I ran and hid behind a car and everyone laughed at me, but its all good, because I was laughing too.
-walking along our dusty Mexican street and a GIANT snake slithered across it. We're talking anaconda. Haha not really, but seriously this thing was about as long as the street was wide, and it was FAT! Heaven help us
-and for all those who have been asking, the basketball team is doing AWESOME. One of them and their family all committed to a baptismal date this last week. The dad even tried to give me an awkward side hug and I had to Dodge and duck to avoid it (my awk missionary life)

-Hermana Matesen

*awk = awkward

Monday, May 19, 2014


This last week FLEW by. This P day has been pretty wild too.  We woke up early and had a sports activity with all the Hermanas in the city, and after that ran around to a million and one different pharmacies to buy all the different medication my companion needs. Poor thing. After that we ate a delish and extremely fattening meal with our mission leader and his family and now we're here writing letters! Therefore...I haven't had one single second to think of what to say...

This last week I was reading in the Bible about the story of Moses. How God sent a bunch of nasty poisonous serpents and everyone was dying, but then God gave them a way to heal.  All they had to do was look up and see the serpent that Moses had mounted on a stick (this is more or less the story, I didn't understand it perfectly because I was reading it in Spanish). SO many of the people chose not to look. "Its too easy." they said. How many times a week do we hear "pray, read your scriptures, attend church." A MILLION. So why aren't we doing it? Because so many say, "that can't be the answer to all my problems, its too easy."

I have seen this time and time again on the mish. Its so easy. Read. Pray. Think about it. But so many don't do it. Its hard to watch sometimes but we're working hard and staying strong. This next week is the last week in this change and the mission president told me "hermana, yo pienso ustede es lista ser mayor." Translation: Sister, I think you are ready to be senior companion.

WHAT. My only concern here is that I really don't understand Spanish very well. Yes I can speak it  but understanding whats being said to me is a whole different story! Ive been praying a lot for the bravery and the strength to handle whatever is thrown at me this next week.

One thing I'm learning here on the mission is patience. Patience with my companion, patience with our investigators, patience with God, patience with myself. I'm learning to work hard. I'm learning to brush off mean words and angry stares. I'm learning to be a better me. I'm changing a lot. More than I realized. I recieved 15 letters when we had a zone conference this last week and as I read the words of my dear friend, it hit me how different I was. 

My friends were living their normal lives. Things were continuing on as normal. As always. And it was then, when I was reading about this life that I used to live, that I came to the conclusion that I've changed quite a lot. My goals are different. My perspective on life is different. Everything is different. 

But its a good kind of different. oh geez this e mail makes zero sense. I promise next week I'll get more sleep and write something more fun to read. Love you mom. I got 13 of your letters. It takes about 4 to 6 weeks for letters of any sort to get to me and takes about 2 to 3 weeks for a package. I got the package with the shirts and the package with the post-its and stuff like that. Thank you so much mama. I love you.

-picked up my pajamas to change into them and a lizard jumped out. I screamed and did a nice dance around the house.

-The elders that are serving in the mission office forgot to pay our light bill so we didn't have light for a day and a half. My head lamp came in handy!

From Ruby's mom:
I went to a Oaxacan Festival in Santa Cruz CA this week!
It was fun!  I got a teeny-tiny taste of what it's like to be the only white person, not speaking the language that everyone around you understands, and it was HOT.  I learned that in Oaxaca, it is all about love and food.  Ruby confirmed that the food pics are accurate.  That is what she eats!

Monday, May 12, 2014

One More Step

I am falling in LOVE with the old people here. I LOVE THEM. They usually don't have any teeth and they're all about 4 feet tall. They are so tender. 

This last week we went to visit our dearest old people Lidia and Ezekiel. I knocked the door and when Lidia opened it, I threw my arms open wide and yelled "Abuelita!" (an endearing term that basically translates into grandma). She took one look at me and burst into tears. "Mi hija, mi amor!" (my child, my love) she sobbed. She told us she had been praying all day that the Lord would help her. She has a mountain of health problems, the poor thing, and she suffers a lot physically. 

She told us she felt as though the Lord had forgotten her. That he had left her alone to die. Then we showed up. We yelled a nice lesson to her (she can't hear very well). The spirit was so powerful as we testified of the power of The Book of Mormon. We gave her one, and she cried some more when we told her it was for free. I hugged her good and tight, and she cried and kissed my cheeks. Oh how I adore my Lidia.

Anita, our dearest friend and investigator for weeks and weeks and WEEKS had doubt after doubt. Mostly about The Book of Mormon, but about other stuff as well. We worked through her hard questions of why and how, and last week we finally made a breakthrough! 

We've been telling her and telling her and telling her, to ASK GOD. He knows where the truth is and he can tell her. She finally asked. And guess what. She got an answer. She felt a peace, a contentment, and get this, she had a DREAM that she was a member. WHAT? We invited her to baptism and she said YES. 

She is to be baptized 21st of June. She is such an example to her whole family. She is going to lead them all to baptism I just know it. She has such potential. She is so strong and brave. I love her so much. She told us about how for years she was listening to all sorts of religions. And how we're different. She told me she remembers the first time we came and visited them. She told me she was upstairs in her room and she heard someone laughing. She came down to see who was having so much fun and she met me. Sometimes being really loud has its benefits. 

Followed up with my dearest basketball team. We have appointments with all of them for next week and taught one of them last night. Love them.
 wash my clothes in a cement sink in the backyard. Ive never had such an appreciation for a washer and dryer before.
climbed a tree 

Sometimes I think back on all the mission prep classes I took (three sets) and all the books and blogs I read (too many to count) and I realized that there is absolutely nothing in the world that can properly prepare someone for a mission. Serving a mission is REALLY hard. Serving a mission is REALLY wonderful. Personally, I think all those backpacking trips my Dad took me on were the best mission prep. 

I remember so clearly trekking through the high Sierra mountains with my heavy load and feeling like I literally could not take another step. I remember feeling like I wanted to throw my backpack on the ground, sit down on a rock, and give up altogether. Sometimes on the mission I feel like that. 

I've felt like throwing my heavy bag to the ground and giving up or just having a good cry. But then I thought back on why I kept going when I was backpacking. I kept going because I wanted to make it home. I wanted to be where it was comfortable and warm. I wanted to be with all of my family. And for that reason I kept walking. And for that same reason I keep walking here in Mexico. 

I want to make it home. Home in Heaven. With my family. And this time I'm not alone. Its not just about me. I want to make it home, and I want all of Oaxaca to make it home with me. One step at a time. One more step, I tell myself. One more lesson. One more day. I can do this, I tell myself. Podemos hacerlo, I tell my companion. And for me, thats the trick. Keep walking, keep teaching, keep loving. Because we've got to make it home. We've just got to.
Def ate a chicken foot this week and am dying because just about everyone were teaching has puppies.


-Ate a chicken foot this week. What whaaaat. Totally tasted weird but I told the lady who made it that it was delish and she almost gave me another. Whew, close call.

-Me and my comp have been talking all week about how we miss Cheerios and how sad it is that there aren't cheerios here. We were walking down the cereal aisle today and there they were. Like a shining beacon of hope. Cheerios. God loves us.

-Been making green smoothies and finally got Hermana Flores to try one. She liked it. BOOM.

-A mouse ran through our living room and we both screamed and jumped onto a chair clinging to one another. Then we laughed. Really hard. I really do love Hermana Flores and even though she thinks I'm totally nutty, I think she loves me too.

-Almost died this week by way of fan. We have a super old fan that's being held together by an old shoe lace and we turned it on while we slept because we were DYING of the heat. I guess in the middle of the night it broke in half and exploded with sparks and fire. My companion told me I rolled over, unplugged it and went back to sleep. I don't remember any of this. We now have a broken in half fan that's half melted hanging out in the corner of our room. Totally almost died, and I didn't even know it. Beware of the sketchy Mexican fan. Beware.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Notes by Mom - Mother's Day Call

Post by Julie Matesen, Ruby's mom.
A Few Notes from our family conversation with Ruby.
She could not see us.  We could not see her, except for about 30 seconds - one of us got to see her, ever so briefly.  Her mum.  Yep.  Me.

Questions to Ruby:

1.  Best Mission Prep?
*Backpacking trips.  Stressful and so awesome.

2.  What do you eat?
*Mostly tortillas with cheese and salsa.  Sometimes there is meat.  I think I'm gaining weight.  Lots of mangos and bananas.  All different kinds of mangos and bananas.  Usually fried.  I see corn on a stick a lot around here.  I have yet to buy one.

3.  How is your health?
*Really good.  It's a miracle!  Most other missionaries have "gripa" or stomach problems.

4.  What do you do on P-day?
*Wash clothes, clean, write our parents.

5.  What are your living conditions like?
*No running water.  A water truck comes with a hose.  I get on the roof and put the hose into a tank.  That is our water.  When it is gone we go 3-5 days without water.  A lady in the neighborhood sells drinking water.  I bathe from a bucket.  We hand wash our clothes in a cement sink in the back yard.  The house is very tiny.  It is very hot.  Lots and lots of bugs.  Mice too.

6.  What is your neighborhood like?
*Broken, bumpy, and dusty streets.  You have to watch where you are walking.  Lots of old Catholic churches.  Many people live in shacks made of aluminum walls.  VERY hot inside.  Tons of dogs everywhere.  They bark all night.  The people are very small.  I feel tall.

7.  What is your main source of transportation?
*Walking.  We walk everywhere.  My feet are sore all the time.  My shoes are holding up great.  We sometimes take taxis.  They are small, and they pack the people inside.  There are lots of moto-taxis - like a motorcycle with 2 seats on back.  Tons of people to try to fit on these moto-taxis.  Also, on bikes.  You will see a whole family on a bicycle and the person steering the bike is holding a puppy.

8.  Most important lesson so far?
*Learning to accept help
*Learning how to listen - to people and to God
*Learning to love the people.  I give lots of hugs.  I love the people so much, until my heart explodes.
*People here love to talk.  It's easy for me to zone out.  It's hot and I don't understand.

9.  Most unexpected thing?
*Never thought it would be this hard.  No possible way to prepare....physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually...

10.  What would you like us to send?  Packages?  What?
*Send letters.  I love letters.  I live for letters!

More: (comments and quotes)
*Trouble remembering English words already.  She has a Spanish accent!
*Max, Brett, and Layton were amazed at her Spanish abilities after only 4 months out.
*She kept saying, "There are so many miracles here."  "So many miracles!"
*A lady at church reminds Ruby to have good posture.  Thank-you lady.
*"Everyone around here thinks I'm crazy!  I talk to everybody.  I have to act things out and make sound effects for them to understand me sometimes.  I can't speak Spanish very well.  I am the only white person."  She sounds like the novelty of the town - white person with blue eyes.  "Famous."  People shake their heads and laugh.  She said it again, "They think I'm crazy."  People stare and point.
*"I'm friends with all the kids.  Even the people who don't want to take the missionary lessons.  I am friends with their kids."
*Only exercise is walking.
*No time for anything.  Even when waiting for a taxi, the time is used to talk and teach.
*Goal:  40 lessons a week.  Average: 30 lessons per week.
*Tons of people.  So many people.  Many problems.  Hard to prioritize.  It is very stressful.  Ruby says, "I'm doing my best.  I am giving my everything.  Doing all that I can do."  "Life here is different.  Problems beyond our ability to help."
*"Prayers carry me.  I can feel the power of your prayers!"

Monday, May 5, 2014

But the Eyes are Blind

This last week was full of ups and downs. We had some hard days and we saw some miracles as well. My new companion has a whole lot of different health problems and is kind of a serious soul,  and it was kind of rough at times. I'm thinking the reason she gets frustrated so easily and is angry a lot of the time is because she feels so sick. Right now she's in the process of deciding whether to go home or not. Please pray for her. I really am starting to love her more. I even got her to smile a few times this week and LAUGH! She's warming up to me little by little. 

This last week I read a quote that really hit me hard. Its from the book, The Little Prince and says "But the eyes are blind, one must look with the heart."

A perfect example this last week was when a member from our ward called us and told us to come to the church quick because his whole basketball team was waiting and ready to listen to a 10 minute message from the missionaries. He had somehow convinced a whole basketball team of rough and tumble looking Mexicans to listen to us for 10 minutes and nothing more. 

As we rushed into the church and stood in front of a room full of these tough and mildly sketchy looking men, my knee-jerk reaction was to feel a bit nervous. My Spanish still is not perfect and we had not had any time to prepare anything. We launched right into a lesson. I did most of the talking because my companion is pretty shy as is, and in front of large crowds she doesn't like to do much talking. 

We talked about God and prayer. As I asked these men questions, and really listened to their answers, and as we taught these simple and beautiful truths, the spirit flooded into that room. The ten minute lesson turned into 45 minutes, and every single one of them was engaged and involved. Asking questions, making comments, nodding their heads as I spoke. It was such an amazing feeling. During part of the lesson one of the men raised his hand, "I believe in God." he said, "I know He is always with us. He.s right here in this room.  I can feel it.  He's probably standing right here and we just can't see him." 

A big smile came across my face as I imagined God standing there in the back of the room listening along with the rest of them. And for a moment I could feel God's love SO powerfully. His love for me. His love for my companion. And His love for every single last one of those rough and tumble men. And I knew what that man was saying was the truth. God was watching and God was proud of me. Imperfect as I am, he knows I'm giving it all I've got. And all I've got is enough. The eyes are blind. One must look with the heart.

They all agreed to another lesson next week. Every last one of them. Miracles. I believe in Miracles.

This last week we've been teaching my dearest friend and investigator - Anita and her brother Jesus. They are 19 and 17 and SO AWESOME. Anita told us the other day, "You just sparked something inside me and now I'm reading the Bible everyday. When you're around I want to make better choices and do more for other people." 

Um. WOW. She came to church last week and is progressing lovely. She also told us her brother stopped drinking since we've started visiting with them. Wow. 

Everyday I learn a little more that none of these results really have anything to do with me. I'm doing what little I can, but God is doing all the rest. This is His work. This is His glory. He just needs someone to do the talking. And I sure can talk.


Funnies and other little bullets:

-We've been hearing a sound that sounds somewhat like the alarms that go off in the old movies when a town is about to be bombed. (Weeeeeeeeee). When I first heard it I thought it was a warning for a natural disaster and that we were going to die or something. Turns out it's just the sound the gigantor bugs make here. haha phew, no natural disaster, its just a bug thats pretty much a fly thats as big as my hand. How comforting.

-Smashed nice and tight in a taxi and the large Mexican to my left falling asleep on me. Hahaha my life!

-Chasing around all my little friends and playing tag and hide and go seek. One of their moms hugged me goodbye and told me, "Your going to be a really fun mom." 
Happy Mother's Day!