Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Mexican Life


I have been reading lately, in my studies, a lot about specific prayers.  And I invite just about everyone and their dog to say them, so I decided to give it a shot the other day.  We three all knelt down in prayer (as we always do before leaving the house).  

I prayed clearly, specifically, and powerfully that on that very day we would find someone who was prepared to hear and accept our message.  We left feeling animated and hopeful.  Two hours later, as we trudged up un unbelievably steep hill, lost (again) and tired, we were feeling a little less excited than we felt when we set out for the day.  

We ended up on a random dirt road up in the highest hills, and I decided to go into a little store to ask for directions (again).  We asked the girl working there if she knew the street we were looking for and she said no.  Then she looked at us for another second and in Spanish said, "You guys aren't from around here are you?"  We all laughed.  We get that a lot. 

She asked us where we were from and we told her.  Then in perfect English she told us that she was born in the U.S. and she's actually from Minnesota, and is in Oaxaca for three years with her mom working.  WHAT THE. 

On some random dirt road in Oaxaca we run into a teenager from Minnesota.  My life.  So then we started explaining who we are and what we do and why the heck three white girls are wandering around searching for people to teach.  We then sat down and started teaching her.  

She was eating it up - asking questions, making comments, and nodding as we spoke.  "Thats SO cool." she kept saying,  "that just makes so much sense!" she kept exclaiming.  She accepted to be baptized right then and there, and she is super psyched about reading The Book of Mormon. GOLDEN.  She is golden.  

And get this, she was the first person we found after saying that prayer.  Specific prayers my friends. They work.  God really is listening.


Our little friend Marcus, who is 8 years old (recent convert of 1 month), was dying to go out and teach with us, so we told him he could come to an appointment with us the next day at 4:30.  But he got so excited to go be a missionary, he showed up on our front porch at 7 in the morning, in his freshly ironed jeans and a white shirt. 

He brought his bag full of scriptures and was just so excited we couldn't tell him to go home.  We did our studies on the front porch with him, and then we left to go work.  Things started off well, but slowly turned sour. 

For example, when trying to teach one of our investigators about Joseph Smith he told them that Joseph Smith was in fact crucified.  NOT TRUE.  He also told an elderly Catholic lady that we contacted that she shouldn't pray to her idols because it's like praying to Satan.  Oh geez. 

It was an adventure.  An exhausting adventure.  By the end of the day we were all ready for Marcus to go home.  Hope someday he remembers that day fondly.  Haha.  My life.

*our little missionary, waiting for us patiently so he can go out and teach. 
  He is darling. Marcus is the best.


It seems as if every time there are special changes in the mission I am somehow affected by them. Another sister went home for health reasons, so the "powerhouse" (our threesome nickname) got split. So sad.  I love our little trio.  I am now in El Tule with Hermana Crystal - shy red head from Utah.  I'm finishing her training. 

She only has 7 weeks on her mission so she still can't speak or understand much Spanish.  So I work as translator a lot.  And she doesn't remember the area very well.  We wander around in circles for an hour in the blazing hot sun just to realize that the house we're looking for we've passed about 6 times and was where we started in the first place. 

I'm working on taking a deep breath and being patient.  We live in a bright yellow house and get this: THERE IS A SHOWER WITH HOT (ok "hot" is kind of a strong word, its more "warmish") WATER.  I took my first HOT ( well, warm) SHOWER for the first time in SIX MONTHS.  It was glorious. 

AND get this: One of the members in our ward owns a washing machine and we got to use it this morning.  whaaaaaat?  I am in Mexican paradise.  And this area is BEAUTIFUL.  Go google it or something because there are flowers and trees everywhere and the houses are all painted bright colors. It's awesome.  And our house only has a few cockroaches every now again.  WOOT!


My second day in El Tule, we were in church and we walk into the Gospel Principles class, and sit down.  The teacher launches into the lesson and 5 minutes into it someone knocks on the door and tells him he has to come to a meeting.

The teacher then hands me the Gospel Principles manual and says, "You can teach the class right missionary?  Ok thanks. Bye!" and runs out the door.  So there I am in front of 20 or more Mexican adults who are all looking at me to teach an hour long class. 

Thank goodness the topic was something easy: Service.  So I launched right on in.  And what do you know, I then continued to give one of the best lessons I've ever given.  I got every single person in that room participating.  Reading scriptures, making comments, sharing experiences.  We sang a hymn, I shared stories and examples, and everyone was WAY INTO IT!  It was awesome. 

The hour flew by and we all left that room as friends, having learned and grown together.  That's when I realized I've finally gotten the hang of Spanish.  It was me teaching that lesson.  It was the Lord.  The spirit was so strong.  IT WAS A MIRACLE.

Monday, July 21, 2014

When I Flew to Church

*ok...we didn't really fly, but we rode in a moto that looks like a helicopter.  It was the best.


Franklin is 97 years old.  He lives on a hill so steep that part of it is stairs because it's literally impossible to walk up - (my area is a ghetto Mexican San Francisco as far as the hills go).  He is like 4 feet tall and has an even tinier wife that always giggles when she talks.  They are fantastic.  

Franklin kneels every time he prays.  Whether it's for the food or to end the lesson - he kneels.  He is so tiny and old I'm always terrified he'll break, but he always does it.  We have to help him get back up on his feet because he is so tiny and frail. 

Franklin always wears his beanie with a shotgun and a marijuana leaf on it.  I don't think he actually knows his little beanie has a gun and drugs on it.  He is darling.  He called President Gordon B. Hinckley, President Hinkie.  

Whenever he says the name "Iglesia de Jesucristo de los santos de los ultimos dias," his voice slowly gets higher and higher in pitch and his smile gets bigger.  In the words of my companion, "he's got twinkly eyes." 

I love Franklin.  And sometimes when I don't feel like kneeling to pray, I think of him, and it makes it a little easier.


Got special permiso to go to the temple with our investigators.  We walked forever, but eventually made it.  As soon as we stepped through those gates I felt at peace.   There is power at the temple.  In the end we all cried and hugged.  It was pretty wonderful.
*we took our favorite investigators to the temple.  We had to ask for special permission and walk like an hour and a half but it was worth it.  They all cried. We hugged.  And we decided that the temple is a pretty cool place to be.

Flying to Church:

So there are these things here called motos.  They're basically kind of like a clown car but a taxi.  A member in our ward [church congregation] tricked his out and made it look like a helicopter. 

Usually you can cram about 5 people in a moto MAXIMUM, but we fit  9.  It was hilarious.  4 little kids in the back, 2 missionaries, a really old man in the middle, and me and the owner in the front.  We laughed the whole way, and as we drove past people, they pulled out their phones to take pictures. 

When we were on our way home we hit the SUPER STEEP HILLS part of town and couldn't make it up.  So we missionaries hopped out and started to push.  Just stop and imagine for a moment a tiny clown car that looks like a helicopter on an almost unbelievably steep hill and three white girls pushing it.  We sure were a sight to see.  We laughed.  Hard.  It was a happy day.


-I thought machete (giant big Mexican knife) was just a noun.  Turns out its also a verb.  Machete -ing.

- Because we're so new to this area we get lost.  A LOT.  We walked in circles, and we once passed the same street and a heard an old lady mutter "There they go again." hahaha our lives right now.

*made a green smoothie in a blue fuzzy robe.  I am you.  And it just makes me so dang happy. [mom]

*my awk missionary life - basically being a missionary is the best. "called to be awkward"

*for you mom - the food I eat and how i wash my clothes- just so you can get a better view into my life!  love you

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Hardest Battles

So this last week has basically felt like an eternity.  SO MUCH HAS GONE DOWN!  So here's what happened. 

I got put with Hermana W in the new and HUGE area of Atoyac.  We left for one evening to visit two people and then we went home.  We then spent the next 2 or 3 days in the house because Hermana W is pretty bad off health-wise.  

On the first day with Hermana W I received a call from the assistant to the president (kind of a big deal).  "Look Hermana Matesen, you are with Hermana W for a very specific reason.  You are one of the happiest and most positive missionaries we've got in this whole mission, and the president put you with Hermana W to save her from going home.  You are our last hope Hermana.  This girl wants to go home and we want her to stay, and it's up to you to show her how fun and spiritual and awesome the mission truly is.  We know you can do it.  It's a big responsibility, but the president is sure we've put her with one of the best we've got."  

Talk about pressure right?  I honestly did the very best I could to animate her and help her feel the need to stay, or at least to come back once they figure out her health problems.  But in the end my best wasn't good enough.  She went home. 

We had to be at the mission offices at 6 in the morning.  Before she left, our district leader gave her a pep talk through the phone.  I translated the whole thing and almost couldn't finish translating because I was in tears.  It was one beautiful pep talk. 

He said something that's a lot prettier in Spanish, but a rough translation is this : God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.  I know it was meant for Hermana W, but I felt l like it was for me. 

One of the afternoons I was with Hermana W, we were waiting for a bus when 4 or 5 people from my other areas and wards [church congregations] passed by.  They all greeted me with a smile and were so excited to chat and laugh.  A taxi man who I taught last month drove by and waved, and I yelled at him to remember to go to church on Sunday as he sped by.  I just felt peace.  I felt like I belonged.  The language is finally clicking.  I can understand.  I can converse.  I can be me.  I love being a missionary so dang much.

So once Hermana W went home, they sent me two new companions.  BOTH GRINGAS!  um what? ...and get this.  One of them had 3 days on the mish.  So now I'm senior companion in one of the biggest areas in the mission, that I am not familiar with AT ALL, with a newbie to train and another American.  Oh dear. 

I'm not loving the evil stares and having to constantly nag everyone to try and speak Spanish, but I honestly love my new comps already.  They are both such awesome people and examples to me. Hermana Coles  y  Hermana Gallardo.  Coles is from a little town in Utah, and Gallardo is from Washington. 

Basically, the last few days have consisted of a lot of getting lost, searching for people in the area book, and CONTACTING.  We have been contacting up a STORM.  We had a lot of interesting experiences...but I think we might have found a few with potential.  One of my favorites was when a drunk guy slurred out in English " I like your face."  Oh Mexico.  How I love you.

Sometimes it feels like a bit much to be training, being senior comp, and being in an area I don't even know, but God gives his hardest  battles to his strongest soldiers.  And I am honored to take on this challenge.

*our dvd player cuts of the names. came across this one and couldn't stop laughing. This is for all my other missionary buddies out there who may have put on a few pounds. Just think of it as heavenly fat....oh missionary humor.

This is Marcos.  He likes to snuggle and tell me about how he is going to serve a mission some day in the United States.  He likes to eat chocolate and hear about the 2000 Stripling Warriors.  

And these are my new companions.  I love them.

*what 6 in the morning looks like in Mexico. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Building Ships

This last few weeks have been a real challenge for me.  There was a lot of times I felt like the Lord was asking just a little too much.  I felt like Nephi in 1 Nephi 17 (READ IT).  The Lord shows up and basically tells Nephi, "Guess what.  After all you've been through, it's now time for you to build a ship."  "A WHAT?" replies Nephi.  "But I don't know anything about building ships.  I've never even SEEN a ship.  How on earth am I supposed to BUILD one?" 

Long story short, Nephi was scared and overwhelmed and all of his lame-o brothers told him there was no way he could do it.  They told him he was crazy and that he shouldn't even try.  But God sent Heavenly help.  He never left Nephi to do it alone.  There were times when Nephi felt like giving up because building a ship is NO easy thing to do (I've never actually built a ship but I'm just guessing here).

In the last few weeks I felt at times like God was asking me to build a ship.  I told God that I don't know how and that I don't know if I can, and He helped me.  Step by step.  He was there helping me to keep going (keep building).  Today we had changes.  I have left Tlacolula and I am now in Atoyac (the same area I was in my very first week in the mission).  And guess what?   I'M TRAINING A WHITE GIRL.  Um...WHAT? She has one change in the mission, so I'm going to be ending her training.  Another ship to build.

The funny thing is, I feel incredibly peaceful about the whole thing.  YES, I am asking the questions that Nephi once asked, "Um, God, are you REALLY sure about this?"  "I don't know anything about building a ship (training a white person)."

So now here I am in an area I don't know with a darling girl that doesn't speak or understand much Spanish.  Am I wondering how on earth I'm going to do this?  YES!  But this is my ship.  God told me to build it, and so here I go.  I know he'll help me.  There might be Lamans and Lemuels that pop up occasionally and tell me that I'm crazy and that I can't do it.  But its the strangest thing.  I feel so at peace right now. 

I KNOW I'm where I need to be.  I know this is the right place, the right companion, and the right time for me.  I can do this.  I can build this ship.  Because with the help of God, I can do all things.  I can train white people. I can build my ships.

I love my mission with all my heart.  I'm learning and growing and becoming a better me.  To all those reading this today, keep building.  God gave you your ship for a reason and He will never leave you to build it alone.  Seek out His help and He'll put the tools you need in your hands.  The church is true. God loves us.  Now let's go build some ships.
*This is the only photo that came through this week:  She received a hugging monkey in the mail.