Monday, March 30, 2015

Tostadas in a Taxi


We got to go to the temple this last week.  It was glorious.  I absolutely love that place.  As I sat inside meditating, I decided to ask God a question.  Have you ever done that?  If you haven't then you should.  I asked Him what He wants me to improve and how I can better serve Him and his children in Oaxaca.  I opened up the scriptures and lo and behold ALMA 32 was starring me back in the face.

The typical chapter of FAITH.  It talked a lot about being humble enough to ACT and EXERCISE your faith.  God gave me a nice talking to through the pages of my favorite book and I left the temple feeling ready to GO and DO as He asked.  Then we had surprise interviews with president.  I felt calm and excited to chat with the guy.  He sat me down in the gardens behind the temple and asked me, "So Hermana Matesen, how are things going in your treo?"  I assumed that he must have me confused with someone else and explained to him that I wasn't in a treo, it was just me and Hermana Mitchell.  "Thats what I was afraid you might say." He responded.  I was confused.  He then asked me, "Hermana Matesen, you and Hermana Mitchell can work your little hearts out, but if you are leaving behind your third and most important companion you will never have success." 

Then it clicked.  "Christ is your senior companion hermana, or at least He SHOULD be." Ouch.  He was harsh.  But he was right.  He then asked an even better question, "  Are you doing the Lord's work HIS way or YOUR way?"  It made me really think.  This last few months my companion and I have been working SUPER hard.  Being obedient to the rules, talking to everyone, teaching dynamic and clear lessons, inviting and following up, serving and loving the people, but we just haven't taken a moment to stop, breathe, and ask God, "what do YOU want us to do? Where do YOU want us to go? What would YOU have a teach?" 

I usually just pick something that I think would be interesting and meet their needs and go for it. Doing things my way.  Not His.  President's words echoed exactly what I had just read in the temple. God seems to always send me my answers LOUD and CLEAR.  I think it's because He knows I'm an oblivious type of person who needs direct and clear communication.  He knows me and loves me enough to correct me. 

As president [mission president] talked to my companion I sat on another bench not too far off and thought.  I felt bad.  How could I have missed that?  When did I start leaving Him behind?  When did I become so confident in myself and my teaching abilities that I pushed him aside?  A tear or two of frustration and stress fell down my face.  "Heavenly Father, I'm just trying my best." I thought.  He knows I'm doing good, but He also knows that I could do BETTER.  He is always pushing me to do and be more.  It's hard, but I am forever grateful. 

After my companion finished talking to president she came over and gave me a hug.  He had basically told her the same thing and we both looked each other in the eyes with renewed conviction and hope and said LETS DO THIS THING!  We left the temple feeling pumped and ready to go. Back in treo.  No more leaving Christ behind. Time to have faith.  Not in Hermana Matesen, but faith in Christ.


So the wonderful thing about Mexico is people are always giving you food.  Just about every other house you visit gives you a mango or a taco or another random food item and by the end of the day we're both carrying around 2 or 3 bags of random Oaxaqueñan goodness. 

There is usually very little space in our stomachs to eat it so we use it as a creative way to contact by offering a snack to those who are close by.  The other night as we smashed into the back of a mildly smelly taxi.  I found myself practically sitting on top of a darling old lady.  I had a HUGE bag of tostadas that a random Oaxacan gave us, and I broke her off a piece and offered it to her.  She accepted the offering and we began to chat. 

As we were chatting, I soaked in the moment.  Tostadas in the back of a taxi.  We chatted and snacked on our tostadas.  I told her about how much I love living the gospel of Jesus Christ and how she should definitely listen to the missionaries.  We had to jump out of the taxi before we could get her address, but we planted a good seed with those tasty tostadas.


We got a random phone call the other day.  It was one of my converts.  She told me to guess who it was and I guessed right - first try!  We both cried as we told each other how much we loved one another.  We laughed about all the fun times we had had and she promised me she would stay strong.

As we hung up, my heart filled with love.  A little thank you prayer sent up to Heavenly Father for letting me help Him bring Nubia and German back to his fold.  So much love.  Indescribable love. Just a little phone call turned my whole day around.  I am making a difference.  Even when I don't feel like it.  God sends us little reminders everyday.  This-is-why-you're-here moment.

*so we are teaching this guy who makes the masks for the big league luchadores. It's super official. I'm seriously considering having him design and make me a special one. #NACHOOOOO

*Best pic ever!

Monday, March 23, 2015



As we made our way to one of our appointments this week we came across one tiny, skinny, little old lady trying to help another tiny little old lady into the house and they were not having much success, so we stopped and offered to help.  Her rickety old rocker was looking a bit iffy so we tried to steady it and help her up onto the curb and into her tiny house.  

This lady was a HOOT.  She told us her name was Gillermina and that she was 89 years old.  She has no teeth and big poofy grey hair that she has tied up in a big flowery bow.  Once we finally got her into her chair, she started chatting with us.  She goes to a Christian church and sang us a few lively hymns about her mansion in heaven. 

She clapped her hands and closed her eyes as she sang.  I don't think I've ever seen anything so endearing in my whole life.  At the end of each song she applauded herself and shouted BRAVOOOO!!!  In her tiny squeaky toothless way. 

She invited us to come to her church on Sunday.  We told her we had plans...haha we love her.  She is a kindred spirit.  We now pass by there every time we are in the area and play as her audience as she sings us a lively song about Jesus.  We've found her a few other times since and helped her get into her house and what not.  She really is a doll.  Always a cackling laugh and a BRAVO for us.  I love people.  I love Gillermina.


This last week we had a gathering of missionaries that left my companion and I frustrated.  To put things lightly, the behavior of these "representatvies of Jesus Christ" was anything but Christ-like. Maturity was no where to be found, and my companion and I had to turn into baby sitters to keep everyone under control. 

As we left the meeting we felt frustrated and irritated.  We asked the questions like "How could they act that way after so much time of service in the mission?" "Have they learned ANYTHING here in the mission?" "Do they understand who they are and who they are representing?" 

Then, trying not to judge, we knelt together in prayer and asked for the Lords help to be positive and get rid of any negative or judgmental thoughts and feelings.  But the whole situation really called me to reflect on my own mission and my own behavior. 

I began to ask myself a lot of questions.  Have I been changed by my mission?  Am I the same person today that I was when I showed up?  Am I just serving time or am I serving a mission?  We had a return sister missionary come with us that afternoon and she has only been home for a year.  We asked her what it was like to come home and all about her experiences on her mission. 

"You can really tell what kind of a missionary you were by the way you  live your life AFTER the mission." she commented.  That got me thinking even more.  It reminded me of one of my favorite scripture stories.

MATT. 4:18-20
 18 ¶And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

I love this story because Christ called and they listened.  They left everything they had ever known to be his followers.  Sometimes, as missionaries (and as people in general), when Christ calls its hard to leave our nets behind.  We still want to keep just a bit of where we were and who we were and we give him some of who we are and some of what we have, but we never quite give him our all. 

In a talk by Jeffery R. Holland, he tells this same story, but then tells of how after Christ's death his apostles go back to their nets and go fishing again.  They returned to what they so willingly left behind.  They returned to an old way of life, a much more comfortable way but maybe not the best way.  Then the resurrected Christ shows up and gives Peter a talking to.  And Elder Holland puts it perfectly: 

After a joyful reunion with the resurrected Jesus, Peter had an exchange with the Savior that I consider the crucial turning point of the apostolic ministry generally and certainly for Peter personally, moving this great rock of a man to a majestic life of devoted service and leadership.

Looking at their battered little boats, their frayed nets, and a stunning pile of 153 fish, Jesus said to His senior Apostle, “Peter, do you love me more than you love all this?” Peter said, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”

The Savior responds to that reply but continues to look into the eyes of His disciple and says again, “Peter, do you love me?” Undoubtedly confused a bit by the repetition of the question, the great fisherman answers a second time, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”

The Savior again gives a brief response, but with relentless scrutiny He asks for the third time, “Peter, do you love me?” By now surely Peter is feeling truly uncomfortable. Perhaps there is in his heart the memory of only a few days earlier when he had been asked another question three times and he had answered equally emphatically—but in the negative. Or perhaps he began to wonder if he misunderstood the Master Teacher’s question. Or perhaps he was searching his heart, seeking honest confirmation of the answer he had given so readily, almost automatically. Whatever his feelings, Peter said for the third time, “Lord, … thou knowest that I love thee.”

To which Jesus responded (and here again I acknowledge my nonscriptural elaboration), perhaps saying something like: “Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world.

My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?”

We can’t quit and we can’t go back. After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before. 

To all within the sound of my voice, the voice of Christ comes ringing down through the halls of time, asking each one of us while there is time, “Do you love me?” And for every one of us, I answer with my honor and my soul, “Yea, Lord, we do love thee.” And having set our “hand to the plough,” we will never look back until this work is finished and love of God and neighbor rules the world. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Do we love Him enough to leave our nets behind forever? Think about it. Whats your net? And what are you willing to leave behind to follow him?

I testify that CHRIST LIVES!  Isn't that the coolest thing you've heard all day?  He is calling you to follow.  Will you heed the call?  Drop your net and go.  And do it because of love.  I am leaving my nets behind more and more every day.  I'm not perfect, but I'm trying.  And I know that He is there helping me to let go of my nets and follow him forever. 

*Just chilin' with a member's goat.  He was a little camera shy, and this was the best picture I could get of him.

*Hermana Iron Man: we are currently teaching a family that works at children's parties painting faces and dressing up as different super heros and cartoon characters!  They let me try on the iron man mask at the end of the lesson.  The greatest part is the giant minion in the background.  Hahaha teaching a family of clowns is always an adventure.

Monday, March 16, 2015

For Thy Good


So it was a Tuesday.  Just a normal day.  We left the house on time and worked our little hearts out and once again didn't see anything too spectacular or special.  The people were polite and heard us out but didn't really seem too interested.  That night as we reported our day and talked about our numbers and all that, I hit me that everything we had been doing, all the hard work, the miles and miles of walking up steep hills in the HOT sun were not showing in the numbers.  The work was intense but results were few. 

Then my district leader launched into a story about all the success he has had on his mission and how many baptisms he has had and how he was going to have another this Saturday and blah blah blah. The disanimo hit me hard (again), but this time it was sadness and it was anger.  I felt mad. Frustrated.  Irritated.  I felt mad at God. 

How could He do this to me?  How come a million other missionaries who don't even work that hard and who aren't obedient get golden investigators and baptisms and I don't?  What am I doing wrong? What's the issue here?  What's wrong with this picture?  I prayed that night, and I told God that I was mad at Him, but that I would keep working my very best because I didn't come this far just to give up or not work. 

It was a short prayer.  I went to bed angry.  It's not fair, thought I.  Why?  Why can't I just have a baptism?  Or something??  The answer came the next day.  When I read a talk by Elder Eyring called Mountains to Climb.  It says .

"Many of you are now passing through physical, mental, and emotional trials that could cause you to cry out as did one great and faithful servant of God I knew well.  His nurse heard him exclaim from his bed of pain, “When I have tried all my life to be good, why has this happened to me?”

You know how the Lord answered that question for the Prophet Joseph Smith in his prison cell:
“And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
“The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?

“Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.”

God has a plan.  It's not about numbers.  Even though seeing the results would be nice.  He knows the why.  He's got a plan.  The day after my God-I'm-really-mad-at-you-but-I'm-going-to-keep-working- hard-anyway prayer, we had the best day ever. 

We went to go teach our 79 year old investigator and he had read almost a third of The Book of Mormon and told us exactly what it said.  We found a family with 7 children who LOVED us so much that their 4 year old spent the majority of the lesson kissing our cheeks and holding our hands.

It was just the best day.  It was like God sending a friendly reminder that He does love me.  That He is aware.  And that He is going to keep loving me even when I'm stubborn and silly and mad at Him. And I am so very thankful for that.  That He loves me, even when I'm mad. 

And He's going to help me.  Because I'm not giving up.  Ever.  Come what may, I will keep teaching my heart out, because in the end I know it's true and I know its not about ME or what I want it's about HIM and what HE wants.  He knows what He's doing.  I've just got to trust that.  And I do.  I love God BECAUSE he sends me hard things.  He knows I can handle it.  He sends the hard stuff because He loves me.

When these trials come, the adversary’s minions begin broadcasting that you did something wrong, that this is a punishment, a sign that Heavenly Father does not love you.  Ignore that!  Instead, try to force a smile, gaze heavenward, and say, “I understand, Lord. I know what this is.  A time to prove myself, isn’t it?” Then partner with Him to endure well to the end.  Spiritual confidence increases when you accept that “often trials and tribulations are allowed to come into [your life] because of what [you] are doing right” (Glenn L. Pace,)

I looked to the sky a few times this week and said just that.  This is a time to prove myself.  Ready.


So everyone knows the story of the Samaritan woman who gives Christ a drink of water at the well right?  Well theres a tradition here that once a year during the spring time they make that story a holiday and everyone makes really delicious juices and stuff and they give them away for free!  We drank A LOT of horchata and all sorts of other interesting Mexican beverages that day.  It was a fun cultural experience.


So getting people to church is always rough here, but GET THIS: On Sunday PEOPLE ACTUALLY SHOWED UP! what.  Roberto the 79 year old genius came and loved it - participating in all the classes and looking up all the scriptures they shared and just being awesome.  We also passed by for the 7 kids, but only the three youngest ones ended up being able to go. 

But we sure had fun.  The youngest one is probably the most darling child ever born.  Very loving and cuddly.  He had his little backpack all ready to go with his Book of Mormon inside and his hair slicked down with gel.  Roberto wore a fluorescent shirt and his fabulous sombrero.

We had quite the adventure trying to keep the kids entertained during sacrament meeting....snacks, drawing, having to leave to go to the bathroom, having to remind them to whisper, looking through all my folletos a million times over.  It was hilarious and exhausting.  Shout out to all you Mormon moms out there who have to keep your kids calm and entertained during sacrament meeting each week.  You guys are awesome.

This week was full of ups and downs, but as I sit here and write this I realize that it all taught me something.  It all helped me be better than I was before.  All things happen for a reason.  There are good things to come.  I can just feel it.

*my district. We've got missionaries from Mexico, El Salvador, Colombia, and the US of A.

*selfies in the back of a mototaxi. We've been taking the young women out to work with us A TON lately. Trying to get them pumped up to serve missions. this girl was hilarious!  Every question we asked her no matter how we worded it she would respond, "Pray, read the scriptures, and have family home evening." Every question. It was hilarious. And pretty cute.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Chosen People


So this last Sunday we decided to fast to find prepared people.  Or people who actually want to listen to us and better their lives and do something about that desire.  We've been working and working and talking with every person we see and applying all the stuff we're learning in Preach My Gospel.  We were just giving it our all, but we really weren't finding people who want to DO something.  So on Sunday we decided to fast to find "the chosen ones" or the people that God had prepared for us to find. 

During the fast, we came across a family we had contacted several months ago but had never been able to find at their house, and they accepted us.  The next time we went to visit them they had actually kept their commitments and had read The Book of Mormon!!!!  It's a miracle.  They asked God if it was the truth and then told us that they felt that it was true.  FINALLY.  

We left the lesson dancing, but then had to stop dancing because the sketchy street dog got freaked out and almost ate us.  We teach them at night because it's the only time of the day they are both at home, and we sit outside on their porch and there are no lights so we read the scriptures by cell phone light.  It's rather a funny sight.  Four people sitting on buckets and chairs and rocks and reading the scriptures by cell phone light.  Haha, I just love Oaxaca.


So here in Oaxaca there are these tiny little car like things that speed around everywhere and they are called mototaxis.  We take them fairly often because they are cheap and help us out when we are late and we always contact whoever is driving.  Just about all the mototaxis in the city know us by name by now, but we got into the mototaxi the other day and realized it was one we had never talked to before so we got to chatting and told him about who we are and what we do and all that jazz. 

He was polite and asked a few questions but didn't seem to show much interest.  Then as we hopped out of the taxi he called out, "What a second!" So we turned around, thinking we had given him the wrong change or left a water bottle in the back.  He then took off his sun glasses and the tough looking moto man started to tear up.  He explained that he was going through some rough times and just didn't know where to turn or what to do.  He even started to cry a little. 

We sat down on the curb next to him and just listened.  I asked him if he was a praying person.  He said sort of.  So we said a prayer with him.  Right there in the middle of the street.  We wrote down his info and we're going to give it to the Elders because it's outside of our area, but it was a really cool experience.

Just a big tough moto guy going through some hard stuff, and we got to be there to be a listening ear and to give him a word or two of comfort.  Sometimes the Lord asks us to be His hands, and sometimes He asks us to be his ears.


Oaxaca has the cutest old people.  Ever.  We found a 79 year old this week that walks around like a 45 year old.  He was so full of laughter and life.  He kept calling us "Niñas" and "Hijas" and other endearing terms.  We talked to him about prayer and he loved it.  He was super sharp and ate everything right up.  He could even read the little type without glasses!  I want to be like this guy someday.

*Mexican hair: getting fancy for church with a Oaxacan hair do.  All the little old ladies here put their hair in braids and then tie them up with ribbon.  It's darling. 

*Oaxaca = Good Food.  some tacos I ate this week. Made with pineapple. They may or may not have changed my life. {photo did not download}

*us at a soccer activity we had today. I'm the one in the white v neck in the front middle

Monday, March 2, 2015



This week we went and taught a darling family.  The parents really aren't interested, but the kids LOVE US.  They sit quietly and listen attentively to every word we say.  They eat it up and just love it.  They love to sing the hymns and they love to say the prayer. 

We started teaching their neighbors too, and they follow us to almost every appointment.  They just sit quietly and listen.  They soak it all in like little sponges.  The older one is about 7, but he acts like a full grown adult - offering us a glass of water, giving us the bigger chairs, telling his 2 year old sister to fold her arms and to be quiet while we talk.  He is darling and I love him with all my heart. Oh how I would love to just wrap him up and bring him home with me. 

His parents are always working and he and his little sister just wander here and there all day.  His little sister has big chubby cheeks and she always has a thick layer of beans all over those darling cheeks.  No one bothers to wipe them, so all the dust and dirt just sticks to them throughout the day. We asked her what was on her face one day and she mumbled, "FRIJOL." which is BEAN in English.  She said it so cutely and so funnily that we call her Frijol now.  I love Frijol.

Her grandma tells us that every time we leave she cries.  Maybe they will never be baptized and maybe their parents will never let them go to church, but I just hope that one day (someday) they will find the missionaries and remember the two girls with name tags that used to sing with them; that taught them to pray; that made them feel special and loved and important. And I hope they listen once again to this message.  Planting seeds.  Just planting seeds.


Me and Hermana Mitchell went on tour this Saturday.  Well not really, but it felt like it.  In our district there were three different baptismal services and somehow we ended up playing the ukulele and singing at every single one.  We started with one of the Elders' baptisms in the morning.  It was a family, and as we played Secret Prayer, she began to cry.  The spirit flooded in.  We sang the first 3 verses more upbeat and happy, but on the last verse we slowed it down and sang sweet and slow.  It filled the room right up.  Maybe I never taught these people, but at least we could help make their baptism something special. 

The second baptism was another family that the other Elders were baptizing.  We played at the beginning and made them all cry too.  So fun.  Then we ran off and taught a few lessons.  Then we came back AGAIN for a third and final baptism and sang once more. 

Once again, the family cried.  I looked up a lot as I played and I looked them all in the eyes.  I hope they felt the love, because I sure did.  Oh and fun fact: the last family that got baptized was actually people that Hermana Rivas and I contacted.  We sent the reference over to the Elders and they went and started teaching them.  The family wanted to be baptized since day one.  So golden.  All my crazy contacting and talking with everyone IS worth it.  I just know it.


We were in a lesson this week and the investigator began to ask us a lot of questions about who we are and what we do as missionaries and why we do it.  We explained it all to him.  He thought about it for a moment and then responded with a low voice, "Love. Thats a lot of Love."

It really hit me when he said it.  It is TRUE.  What I do all day everyday is about LOVE.  It's not about money, or duty, power, or fame.  It's about Love.  Why do I do what I do ALL day EVERY day?  Love.


We got special permission from president to go to a touristy place today and check out some natural hot springs and some intense crystalized waterfalls.  Basicially, it was just a bunch of cliffs with no signs and no railings.  Haha.  So Mexico.  We had a blast and took a bunch of cool pictures.  I love Oaxaca.  We work hard and we play hard.

*coolest district picture ever taken.

*we also went to the big crystalized waterfall in the background and took pictures on the edge! We're some of the first missionaries that they've let do this.  SO MUCH FUN!

*didn't realize how giant of a cliff I was sitting on until we hiked over to the one in the background....such a beautiful place.  God exists.  And He sure does love us.

*shouting it from the rooftops (or the cliff tops) THE GOSPEL IS TRUUUUUEEEE!!!!

*Heirve del agua.  A minealized (stone) waterfall/ hot springs.  We didn't get to swim ;(
but we got to take some pretty cool pictures and stand on some really cool cliffs!  I love Oaxaca.

*the family that got baptized.  Contacting everyone and their dog IS worth it.