Monday, August 25, 2014

The Activity


The other day our leaders called me to let me know that we would be having a Zone Conference in the city.  So we ran to the right corner of the neighborhood bright and early, we hoped in a taxi with about a million other people smashed in there.  Then we hopped out in front of a giant grocery store and ran across several huge and very busy roads.  Hopped on a giant sketchy bus and sat down next to some Mexican thugs (doo rag and baggy pants even exist way down here). 

Somewhere along the way in that giant and crazily driven bus, I realized how crazy my life is right now and how incredibly normal it felt for me to navigate my way around a giant city in a foreign country in a language that 7 months ago I had no idea how to speak. 

I knew how to direct the Taxi man to where we wanted to go.  I knew how to hop on and off the sketchy bus.  I knew how much we needed to pay and how much time it would take to get there.  

To get to the meeting and back we caught 3 different buses and 2 different taxis.  I chatted it up with the people on the buses in efforts to contact, and when we got back to our area and headed off to our next appointment I felt content. 

I sure have come a long way.  I used to get panicked when my companion would go to the bathroom because then I'd be left alone to talk to the people all by myself.  And now I'm doing it!  I'm leading, I'm teaching, I'm navigating, I'm contacting, I'm teaching.  I'm being a missionary.  I'm being a good missionary! 

I am the very furthest thing away from perfect, but I'm TRYING, and I'm seeing progress.  It's funny how sometimes my greatest revelations and epiphanies seem to happen when I'm smashed in the back of a smelly taxi, while the driver drives like a CRAZY person.  

It's in those moments that I'm glad I'm a missionary.  I'm happy to be Hermana Matesen, sitting in a sketchy bus, and making small talk with Mexican thugs.  My life is awesome.


So there's a lot of mean dogs here in Mexico, and I've pretty much gotten down how to avoid them.  I trained my comp, in my dog whispering ways, and just told her to look ahead and walk calmly and quickly away from wherever the dog is. 

It's usually worked for me thus far on the mission, but the other day. in our efforts to contact a less active that chatted our ear off about yoga and the indians for a good half hour, two giant dogs came running out of who knows where, and I took off speed walking and Hermana Crystal got attacked. 

OK, "Attacked" is kind of a strong word, but one of the dogs bit her.  In the butt.  I heard her yell when it got her and the mother instinct came out.  I ran at the dogs and yelled as loud as I could.  I threw a few rocks at them and then grabbed my comp and got THE HECK OUTTA THERE. 

I was mad.  I hated those stupid dogs.  Then Hermana Crystal and I realized the humor in the situation and how a Mexican dog had in fact just bitten her butt and we ended up laughing our heads off for the next 15 minutes or so.  Our lives.


So I've been to quite a lot of church activities in my time, but I had NO IDEA how truly difficult it is to plan and put on these sorts of things.  We planned a Dessert Night and we were inviting EVERYONE and their dog to come.  We got everyone committed to bring a dessert and to bring a friend.  We had someone bring speakers for the music, someone bring a projector for the video,  and someone bringing napkins and cups.  We thought it out nice and good. 

The activity was supposed to start at 7:00, but from my ´past experiences with Mexican parties I assumed everyone would show up at 7:30.  I was wrong.  We got there at 6:40 and there was already 8 people sitting outside waiting for someone to get there and open up the church and over half of those people were INVESTIGATORS!!!!  We were pumped. 

We jumped right on in and got all of them involved helping us set up chairs and tables.  Then the bishop showed up at about 7:20 even though he said he would be there at 6:30...  We were running around trying to welcome everyone, and at the same time were trying to set-up everyone and at the same time trying to figure out what we were going to do, and in what order... but in the end, we finally got everyone sat down and the projector set up and we turned on a short Mormon message called, Gracias A El.  I think its called Because of Him, in English

We showed it, and while it was playing I realized I hadn't really prepared anything to say afterwards. So the movie ends and I stand up in front of about 50 or so people and the words just came.  I bore STRONG testimony.  And then dearest sweetest bestest Hermana Crystal, who just moments before had been bitten in the butt, and who is not a speak-in-front-of-crowds person, bore the sweetest testimony ever.  WOOT!  

Then they dived into the desserts.  We didn't even get to talk to about half of the investigators who came because so many showed up!  We were going wild writing down addresses and phone numbers and getting appointments for the week.  It was a success. 

It was far from perfect, but in the end everyone went home full of cake and happy.  I am happy.  I want cake.  There were a few nay sayers who had some negative comments to share with me afterwards (don't you just hate negative people?) and I kindly hugged them and thanked them for coming.  Everyone else left happy and with a plate of Jello to take home. (EVERYONE brought Jello.  Oh Mexico. I love you)


The next morning at church we had FIVE - let me say it again,  FIVE INVESTIGATORS AT CHURCH.  That, my friends, is this ward's [church congregation] new record.  And I got to teach Gospel Doctrine [Sunday School class] again because the teacher didn't show up (surprise), and it actually turned out pretty well again! 

Mario showed up.  Mario who we've been inviting to church for weeks now finally came!  He is listening to the Jehovas Witnesses and us, and he's in the process of deciding which is the best path for him.  He told us when we come by it feels different. 

I was so dang happy to see him I almost broke those dang rules and hugged the man.  God is listening to my prayers!  He is making miracles happen.  Gosh Dang Mexican miracles.

*It rained.  I threw on a mixture of colorful rain gear and then trudged through a muddy field and then found out the people we were going to visit didn't have time for us.   At least I got to put my red rain boots to good use!

*Our Noche de Postres was a success!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Party


My companion is fantastic.  She has a speech impediment and can't say her Rs very well.  She has bright red hair.  She uses essential oils.  We laugh.  A lot.  We practice our Spanish vocabulary as we walk through the streets of Mexico.  Sometimes she makes me oatmeal in the morning.  Sometimes I make her an egg.  We are exact opposites, but at the same time we are the same person.  I really love her. 

The other night, as I was just about to fall asleep, she suddenly spoke, "Hey Hermana, are you awake?"
I mumbled something unintelligible, and she said "I just want  you to know I look up to you a lot."
And then she rolled over and went back to bed.  I love her. 

Yes, she is painfully shy.  Yes, she forgets all of her Spanish in teaching situations.  Yes, she has a lot of stomach problems.  But I love her.  She is my very first mission CHILD!  She is growing and progressing everyday, and it is SO gratifying and fun to see it.


Went and taught our dearest friends and investigators (the same lady that called me THIS GIRL) about the Apostasy and Restoration.  It went PERFECTLY!  My companion was rocking it.  I was rocking it. The spirit was rocking it.  It was wonderful.  We left the lesson walking on clouds. 

And right there in the middle of that back country dirt road we stopped and we prayed.  We prayed a nice big thank-you right to Heavenly Father.  And in that moment I could just feel Him smiling down on us.  So aware of the shy red head and the loud brunette, trekking their way through a small pueblo in the south of Mexico trying to preach a life-changing message in less that perfect Spanish.


We were walking our way down a dirt trail and through a few fields to visit a less active family.  We passed a BIG Mexican party on our way there.  Loud Mexican music, kids running around in the yard, everyone sitting around and chatting and laughing.  We passed right by, and continued onto the house.

They weren't home.  So we turned around and headed our way back.  And then someone called out our names and we realized the less active family was at the party!  They waved us over and seeing this as a perfect opportunity to contact [people], I dove right in. 

They told us to sit down, and before you knew it we were sitting there in a circle of a dozen or more Mexicans, eating cake and cracking up.  We chatted about who we were and what we were all about. Somehow I related the Jello we were eating to the joy of the gospel, and then (just like that) we were bearing our testimonies of the Gospel for everyone to hear. 

It was the greatest.  And even though the Mexican Pop song was bumping loudly, and even though there were little kids running here and there and everywhere, the Spirit entered that little patio, and I knew they all felt it. 

We may not have been able to add another number to our list of key indicators. We may not have found anyone new in our area to go teach or who want to get baptized.  But in the end, they were all our friends, and they asked to take pictures with us. 

Maybe someday when they're going through a hard time, missionaries will show up on their front porch and they'll see that black badge [missionary name tag] and remember those two crazy white girls who showed up at a Mexican party and bore their testimonies.  Maybe.  After all, I've always loved a good party.

Monday, August 11, 2014

This Girl


So being a trainer is kind-of super hard and kind-of super awesome.  It's kind-of like being a mom.  So here's what went down.  We showed up at the house one night, at about 8:50, and the landlord was there in her fancy dress and golden jewelry.  She needed the rent.  So I turn to my companion who is in charge of the keys, and she looks up at me with panic in her eyes.  She has lost the keys. 

And there stands the landlord who does not look impressed.  We then realize the keys must be in the house of a new investigator that we went to visit earlier, who lives way on the other side of town.  So we start running.  Oh and, by the way, it's raining this whole time. 

We finally get there and the investigator is not home.  I am stressed at this point because the Elders are going to call me at any moment and ask if we are safe and in the house, and I'm going to have to tell them that we lost the keys. 

Finally the investigator shows up, we get the keys, and we start sprinting for the house again.  So, all over Mexico, there are these sketchy speed bump things, and my companion definitely didn't see one and fell.  HARD.  I heard her go down and immediately thought she must've broken something.  She landed in a muddy puddle too, the poor thing.  

Bad mom.  I'm a bad mom.  She cut her hands and knees open, but other than that, everything was fine. Miracles.  Angels.  

We finally get home.  My companion is limping, bleeding, and dripping with muddy water, and all the while I'm trying to talk to the Elders on the phone, pay the waiting landlord, figure out what the contract she wants me to sign says in Spanish, and clean my companion's wounds.  It was stressful. 

I cleaned my comps wounds out with hot water and alcohol and all sorts of other stuff that can be found in an REI first aid kit.  All is well now and boy am I glad that no one broke anything.  My comp is a trouper. 


This last week I sat in a lesson [missionary].  Just a regular old lesson.  I sat on an old stool about a foot tall and set my bag on the dirt floor next to me.  We were teaching with a member [of the church] present.  His name is Candido, he is old and works on a farm and has a hard time staying focused, but just has the sweetest and purest faith. 

The other person there was Obet.  He's about 22 years old and recently got in a pretty ugly car wreck that almost killed him.  This incident woke him up, and he decided to leave his life of drinking and parties and search for God.  He asks a lot of hard questions, but I LOVE IT!  He really is investigating. He really wants to KNOW. 

The third person was his mom who doesn't read and speaks more of a special mountain dialect than Spanish.  So there we were preaching the good word.  The whole lesson, the goat right behind me bleated loudly, which made it so I had to yell occasionally. 

I tried to maintain good eye contact, even though there were ants crawling all over my legs.  And I tried my best not to chuckle, as my companion in her darling and broken Spanish told our group of listeners that Jesus Smith [Joseph Smith] saw God.  Oh geez.  

And there we were - the strangest combination of people you ever did see.  A red head.  A farmer.  An Ex Partier.  A dialect-speaking mom.  And a 19 year old missionary.  And ya know what the greatest part was?  The spirit was there.  

Yes, the goat yelled (or whatever it is that goats do).  Yes, my companion's Spanish didn't make complete sense.  Yes, Candido would randomly interject random church doctrines that had nothing to do with what we were talking about. Yes, Obet asked a lot of hard questions and threw a lot of doubts at us. 

But even with all that going on,  it was a great lesson.  You could just feel it.  The love.  I just knew God was smiling down on us and having himself a good chuckle.  

I love being a missionary.  In the end, Ana (the mom) prayed in her dialect because she doesn't know enough Spanish.  It was beautiful.  Then they all asked us how to say Jesus and God in English.  We told them and they repeated it over and over in thick accents. 

I love them all so much.  I even love that silly goat that wouldn't shut up.  It's little lessons like that one - I want to bottle up and keep in my pocket. 


So last Sunday we had ZERO investigators in the church.  It was sad and we were bummed.  But this Sunday THREE WHOLE INVESTIGATORS CAME!!  And one of them, during Relief Society, raised her hand when we were talking about the divine gifts that God has given each and every one of us, and said that she's not sure that God gave her any gifts and talents. 

She then launched into the most hilarious and tender rant I've ever heard.  She looked over at me and pointed at me for all to see, "I'm not like this girl." she said.  "This girl's got a gift.  She's got the words. I just don't know what it is, but every time she talks to me I just feel like I want to keep going, keep trying, and be better.  I don't know what it is, but THIS GIRL has got something special." 

Sometimes as a missionary its really easy to feel like you're not making much of a difference.  But occasionally moments like this happen.  And then you realize that maybe you didn't baptize a million and one people.  Maybe you didn't change ten million families forever.  But maybe you DID help one lady in a tiny farm town in the south of Mexico feel like she could keep going.  And then you realize, maybe, just maybe, it was all worth it.

*that one time my hija ate it hard and I had to bandage her all up.

*had to tweezer some rocks out of her hands...good thing I had my head lamp and my REI first aid kit.

*me and my child took a nice awkward missionary self-timer photo. We're basically the greatest pair because we both have a healthy appreciation for Marcell-the-Shell-With-Shoes-On and we both use
essential oils.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Missionary Fairy

*Sometimes I see a sky like this. And sometimes, its really awesome.

*just a little peek into what daily life looks like for hermana matesen

This week was kind of REALLY LONG and kind of REALLY HARD.  Being senior companion is a lot harder than I thought it would be.  My comp still doesn't speak or understand much, so sometimes I get feeling like I'm in it alone, but that is NOT TRUE.  

This week was full of UPS and DOWNS. So lets break it down list style, so you can all get a little taste of what went down these looooong last 7 days.


-Showing up to an appointment where the investigator started in and basically confessed to me every bad, awful, evil, and ugly thing she has ever done in her whole LIFE plus all the bad, awful, evil, and ugly things that anyone has ever done to her.  It was the most exhausting few hours of my life. 

I tried interrupting or trying to tell her we had to go but it didn't work.  So I just listened.  I just let her get it all out.  I nodded, I listened, I bore my testimony.  Because what else could I do?  I asked to go to the bathroom part way through.  I walked behind the pile of dirt where the bathroom was.  I prayed, "Heavenly Father, what on earth am I supposed to do to help this woman?  For crying out loud, I'm just 19 years old, and I still don't speak perfect Spanish!"

 I went back, finished listening and then I just gave her a good, long and comfortably-awkward hug.  Then we left.  I've been praying REAL hard for that woman because heaven knows she sure needs it.

-Going to visit our best investigator who has really been progressing and the only investigator that is actually coming to church and instead running into his wife who invited us in and then continued to chew me out pretty bad.  After being yelled at for about 10 minutes or so, I apologized and we left.
The funny thing is the whole time she was yelling at us about what bad people we were and what an awful person her husband is, all I could focus on was the fact that she only had one tooth.  And it was starting to come loose, and it wiggled and waggled all over the place as she chewed us out.  

We left feeling kind of discouraged (thankfully my companion didn't really understand her so she was still in relatively good spirits), and then God sent us one of the best lessons I've had in weeks - with a new investigator that we found last week.  The good stuff always seems to show up right after the bad.

-Literally every reference we try and contact has some sort of evil dog that sits in front of the door and makes it impossible for us to contact them.  I officially state, as of now, that I  Ruby Vera Matesen will never own a dog.  Ever.  You can add that to my statement of never ever will I again eat jello when I get back from the mish.


-A family of investigators gave me a pretty sweet sombrero because they saw how sunburnt my nose was getting.  Not gonna lie, I looked pretty fabulous in that sombrero.  And of course it was the one day I didn't bring my camera with me. 

Just try to imagine it for a second.  Me, big sombrero, walking down dusty dirt roads, and preaching about Christ in Spanish.  Are you smiling yet?

-Bonding with all the sisters in the ward who also use essential oils.  It was a great bonding moment.

-A bunch of our appointments fell through so we decided to contact.  We made some great contacts and as we walked away my companion said, "Hermana Matesen, I just dont know how you do it." 
"Do what?" I asked
"Charm the people! Everyone you talk to LOVES YOU.  You are the MISSIONARY FAIRY!  You cast this little magical spell on them, and they can't help but love you!!" 
I was cracking up. Missionary fairy.  It just sounds good doesn't it?

So as you can see this week was rough, but it was also really quite beautiful.  I LOVE my new companion Hermana Crystal.  Me and her are soul sisters.  Sometimes we lay in bed at night and crack each other up for a good 20 minutes or so. 

Two white girls preaching the gospel in the south of Mexico can be pretty hilarious sometimes.  Oh how I wish you could see us.

Love you all SO MUCH.  The church is true.  I just know it.

your favorite missionary fairy,
hermana Matesen

*where I study