Here I am in Mexico! The past two weeks have probably been the most stressful, exhausting, rewarding, busy, and incredible days of my life. I have a great deal to write about. First of all, I was part of a group of missionaries that were the first group in 6 months to receive visas to Mexico while in the MTC. I don't know if that refers to us being the first in the whole MTC or the zone or whatever. But, either way, it was very unexpected. My entire district in the MTC is now in the field, including Elder Kearl, who received his visa the day after I did.
Anyway, we said goodbyes, did last minute pictures and stuff, and then finally went to bed on our last night in the United States (haha... my companion and I liked to point out these moments like "Hey! This is our last shower in the U.S.!")
So here is how the day, when we were to leave the U.S., played out: Elder Kearl and Elder Ames would leave together at 3 in the morning, and Elder Lancaster and I would leave at 5 a.m. At 2:45ish, we all woke up and said one last goodbye to Elder Kearl and Ames...then we went back to bed and Elder Lancaster and I woke up once again so that we could leave. Here is what happened. We woke up so late. And we were not ready. We had about a half hour to finish packing and other stuff. I don't know if I have ever been more scared in my life than during that time. We absolutely had to move as fast as we possibly could. And we did. And we made it! I was exhausted and stressed after this. On the bus leaving the MTC, the driver told Elder Lancaster and I that we had to be his little helpers. We had to watch the road, make sure that the driver doesn't fall asleep and kill us all, and that sort of stuff. I really wanted to just sit there and relax, but we were given this extra duty. God wanted to test my patience I suppose, and I don't blame Him!
The drive to the airport was relatively normal. But, I was very scared. I was scared of the mission field and lots of other stuff. I was REALLY scared of the airport. While in the bus, I did not know how much money was on my debit card, or how much my bags weighed. I was scared I wouldn't be able to pay for my bags and figure out the whole airport business.
When we got off the bus, I helped unload the truck full of other bags. There were many, because there were lots and lots of missionaries leaving the same time we were. Then, everyone split up and Elder Lancaster and I had no idea where to go...so we did the typical thing...pick a crowd, and follow it. We did that. We found some elders that we knew who seemed just as stressed and confused as we were, and we worked together to find the baggage line. I had enough money. My bags were both a little over 50 pounds, but they let it slide. After this, I realized that Elder Lancaster had run off with others...he tends to do this sometimes, just go where he wants. So I was alone. Eventually I found the line to the terminals. In that line, I talked to some people, said hi to many people, and talked about the gospel with one man...he had no interest haha! I reached the terminal, met up with other elders, had breakfast, called home, and got on the plane to Phoenix. On almost the whole ride there, I talked to someone about the gospel and invited him to read the BOM. I did not have a BOM with me at the time, but he said he would look it up. Then we arrived in Phoenix and left for Mexico City. On this plane, I gave away two BOMs...one was to a young man who had been working for his family in the U.S. for 9 months. This flight was his first time home to his family since 9 months ago...and he was 17 years old, I think - if I remember right. He was baptized, but told me he had fallen away a little. He did not have a BOM, so I took one from my buddy and fellow missionary, Jaron Whitfield, and gave it to this young man. The second BOM I gave was to a man next to me on the plane. I wrote my testimony inside and gave it to him. We talked for awhile. He did not know very much English, so I talked to him in both Spanish and English. He committed to read only part of the book. Then we arrived in Mexico.
The assistants to the president greeted us. To my great relief, I saw my two friends, Elder Ames and Kearl waiting there as well!!! I was so happy! My stress was so high and seeing them really helped me.
We all went outside...oh my gosh the air is filthy....you can just tell by breathing...it is so dirty. But it's okay! We were picked up by two brothers in vans and drove to the presidents house. T The roads are absolutely crazy...I mean, crazy. The lines on the streets mean practically nothing in some areas, and as my new companion told me, the red light does not mean stop...it means stop if you want to stop! Ah!! It was so nuts....honking was rampant. One person even smacked another person's car for doing who knows what!
We arrived and were greeted by President and Sister Hicken. So you know, I am with other elders during this whole process. Elder Kearl was in a different van, but we met once again at the house. We were talked to, had interviews, dinner, and then bed. I was so, so, so, so tired. I even started to dose off while the president was talking to us, and he called me out on it - haha! Dinner was absolutely fantastic. I am not a huge fan of enchiladas, but these ones were godly. Absolutely delicious. In the morning, we took pictures and then left to the chapel.
At the chapel, we were trained on how to use our mission budgets. After, we met a LOT of missionaries, which were all under the direction of President Hicken. There was maybe 160 or so of them. (Note from Elder Anderson's mom - This was probably a transfer day. That's when new missionaries are introduced into the field.) We received our new companions, and mine is Elder Cardona. He is so cool. He knows some English, but not much. We have been instructed to help our companions speak English. That is very important. After this meeting, my companion called a cab, which by the way was extremely tiny - haha, and we arrived at the apartment. It is on the fourth floor. I did not enjoy hauling my luggage up those stairs! Our apartment is pretty cool. When we arrived, I unpacked a little bit and then we went to work. We had a lunch appointment with a member. I know almost nothing that she was saying. I just sat there and threw in my 2 cents every now and then.
There are many things I want to say, but there are too many to remember. I will cover some of the highlights of this first week in Mexico. First, here are some unique things I have discovered in Mexico.
1. I am absolutely loving the food. I have had some nasty meals, but certainly not many. Almost everything has been incredible, and I love it. 2. The roads are nuts. I am assuming that jaywalking is nowhere near being illegal. My companion and I do it every day to cross the street...just go when there are no cars! Some cars speed up when we cross...that's a little scary.
3. There are dogs everywhere!!!!! It is so weird and cool at the same time! Some are really nice and others are definitely not!
4. The language fascinates me. I am progressing in rolling my R's, if you know what I mean (like in the word "perro"). It is interesting what is hard for others here to say in English. For example, one man I met could hardly tell the difference between the sounds of the words "Dad" and "dead". Many struggle with the words "thirsty" "thirty" and "dirty". It is hilarious watching them try. And it is funny for them how I struggle to roll my Rs. That is more important that I thought. If I try to say dog in Spanish, but don't roll my Rs, some people think that I am saying "but".
By the way, my P-Day is Monday.
I love the people. Here are some lesson highlights--
1. We showed the Joseph Smith movie to a man and his wife and little daughter. He had many questions for us. His name is Victor. He has been taught a lot before I arrived. We invited him to be baptized, to which he eventually agreed for the 17th of March. During this meeting, I bore my testimony to him and began to cry. I totally lost it - haha! The tears just flowed.
2. We have had many lessons with people and have made invitations to read the Book of Mormon, come to church, endure to the end, pray, etc. We have handed out pamphlets on cars in the streets and Book of Mormons as well. That is fun. There is a rule however...and I struggle to accept this rule. We cannot contact, unless we are specifically directed by the Spirit. Otherwise, no. This is hard. I want to talk to everyone! I want to contact everyone and teach everyone! But unless the Spirit specifically directs, we have to stick with the plan of working with members, and strengthening "menos activos" (less actives) and investigators, and such. I am learning about this.
I have little time. I can talk about more stuff later.