Hermana Graham: "I swear I keep killing them and they keep coming back to life and have more babies every night."
Me: "The Mexicans?!"
Graham: "The mosquitos!!"
I woke up this morning, looked in the mirror, and realized I looked like the blonde guy from "Dumb & Dumber." Crazy hair, and bags underneath the bags on my eyes. It was a bit of a disconcerting realization.
This was the week of Mexican Independence Day! Which meant a fiesta for los misionaros! It was such a fun week to be in the CCM. They gave us various traditional dulces/sweets throughout the week (most of which were pretty gross. More than half of Mexican candy is straight up granulated sugar with caramel or chili powder in it.. Or these weird taco looking things that look and taste like colored styrofoam) and we had our "fiesta" on Saturday night. They brought in a group of traditional Mexican dancers, and their dresses were beautiful. So vibrant and fun--they reminded me of the ribbon candies we have around Christmas time. I want to buy one and flaunt it around my casa. The men wore brightly colored shirts as well, and they did some sort of weird, traditional chicken dance (they kept their arms bent in wing-shape behind their backs and hopped around). I have no idea what any of it meant, but I liked it. At one point during the festivities, they had three ten foot columns of fireworks shoot up from the stage and nearly light the woman who was singing for us on fire. When the fireworks went off the Mexicans in the audience went INSANE. Seriously. Yelling and whooping and dancing and going crazy. If I didn't know they were Elders, I would have thought they were drunk. There was also one random, really tall Asian guy standing in the middle all of them yelling things too. I wish I had taken a picture, it was so funny.
The following night there was the actual cry for Mexican Independence, so we all stayed up way past our bedtime (11:30, so rebellious) to hear the President cry out for peace and independence and Mexican pride, and everyone yelled "¡VIVA!" after everything he said. I really don't know what he said. He could have said "And tomorrow we will go to war against America!" and I would have had no idea. I loved how proud the Mexicans were of their country, though; it was a neat experience to be a part of. Although we barely get to see anything outside of our little gated community, we just can't stop the vibrant Mexican culture from sneaking in through the gates. The music, the rich colors, the flavors and noises and warmth can't be kept back. The CCM President told us to run back home after the ceremony, however, because there was a chance we'd be hit by one of the bullets that were falling everywhere. Fireworks and gun shots all night long. A plume of smoke enveloped the entire city. It was the perfect time to be in Mexico.
The not so fun part about staying up late, however, is having to wake up at six the next morning. By the next night, we were all dead. I mean like past the point of exhaustion, "I can't do this someone should just let me sleep for the rest of my life" tired. That night, my plan was to get in bed and just pass out. Instead, there was an exacerbatingly annoying mosquito whining somewhere near my face. I dubbed it the Mosquito Diablo (or devil mosquito). I couldn't drown out the noise. We turned the lights on and couldn't find it. I was so tired I almost started to cry. It finally disappeared around 2 am, but at that point, I already knew the next day was going to be tough. It was a really rough day, not going to lie. It hit me that next morning just how long 18 months really is. 80+ hours a week of nonstop studying, praying, teaching, and working. I love being here, I truly do, but it is easily the hardest I have ever had to work. It is physically, mentally, spiritually, and personally demanding. Our teacher, Hermano Mayo, picked up on how tired we were and was really encouraging. He told us, "When you're tired, remember why you're tired and who you're doing it for." I'm here to serve and teach people the gospel. I know the hours I miss out on sleep will all be worth it in the end. I can already see how they are worth it, and I'm not even in the field yet.
I think if there's anything I've learned this week, it's that God loves us more than he loves our current state of comfort. I've taught lessons that went really great this week, and others that I walked out of feeling miserable. There are some lessons where I just feel like saying, "Well...that was awkward and weird and uncomfortable. Can we come back tomorrow?" It's turning out to be quite the adjustment to just teach with boldness. Hermano Mayo encouraged us to invite investigators to baptism as early as the first lesson. I couldn't quite grasp that at first--I think I was overly conscious of not trying to scare people away or weirding them out. Turns out there's really no point in worrying about coming off as too weird, because we already are weird, and they let us into their homes anyway. Seriously, what group of 20 yr olds choose to cut themselves off from the world to study the Gospel for 14 hours a day? We're freaks. I love it. Might as well let people know exactly why we're here.
I haven't gotten over my awkwardness here, unfortunately. I taught an entire lesson to an investigator in Spanish about how "faith is like a sleeve," not a seed, but they seemed to take it pretty well. "Plant your sleeve, and exercise faith, and let your sleeve grow into something marvelous." hahaha The worst day last week was when I let my companion, Hermana Hawkins, try to do my hair. We decided it would be a good idea to braid it while it was wet and then take it out in the morning. Well..come morning, we did so, and instead of the fabulously crimped hair I was expecting, I had an affro. Probably a good six inches around my head on all sides. As if that wasn't enough excitement for one day, I dumped an entire bowl of milk and cereal on my dress right before Church, slipped and fell in front of 18 Elders, broke my shoe in the process, and almost walked into the men's restroom. I had my foot in the door. An Elder behind me was kind enough to shout: "Hermanas! HERMANAS! NO!" Sigh.. not my best day.
I did discover a fun candy here called a "Bubu Lubu" (pronounced Boo-boo Loo-Boo. Humor me and say it out loud. It's fun.). They remind me of the Russel Stover chocolate covered marshmallow bunnies Yaya always gives us, but with a layer of fruit, too. We couldn't remember the name and kept adding on extra syllables to it. Bubaloobaloob. Boobalerdooloobolydoob. Boob. Ha. One of the Elders in our district noticed I was having a bad day and said, "Girl, you look like you need a Bubu Lubu." We quote that all of the time now.
Apart from a few little hiccups, life here is good. Yes, the water tastes how I imagine toilet water tastes, and there are sometimes when I feel like I'm going insane, but it's all bien. My Spanish is getting better every day, and I memorized the 1st Vision and several other scriptures in Spanish as well! The other day I actually said, "I'm bored. I'm going to memorize this scripture." In any other situation, that statement would be the pinnacle of pathetic statements.
Lastly, I just wanna say that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland rocks my world. I look forward to the devotionals we have every Tuesday and Sunday. I had a moment during Holland's devotional last week (just a recording of him, not the real guy, unfortunately) where I just felt..empowered. I have to be converted to the work before I can even hope to help out somone else. It's a process. There are a lot of things I'm "giving up" to be here. A lot of memories I'm missiong out on. A lot of slurpees left unslurped. But it's all worth it. Holland, speaking of Peter and how Christ told him to leave his nets full of fish behind and follow and love Him, told us, "You need to decide tonight whether you're on a course that's committed to loving God and following the Savior. . .It will never be the same again.. It's a new life, new day, new time. You cannot go back. . . Never turn your back on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It isn't just 18 months. . it's never over. You've left you're nets, and you're going to feed the sheep. Be a disciple of God for all time and all eternity. It is the greatest venture of your life, which will shape the rest of your life and the life to come." The fact is, "Christ changes men, and changed men change the world." Holland, tearing up, cried that this church means everything to him. He invited us to teach from our hearts and from our souls, because we have this "in the very marrow of our beings." He invited us to "go out there and astonish somebody." So, for everyone reading this (if you've had the patience to get this far, sorry this is so long), I don't know what it is in your life that you're unsure about or doubtful about...but I want to encourage you to take the leap. Jump. Astonish someone. The Lord is on our side, and He will not let us fall. We will not fail. D&C 68:6, "Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the son of the Living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come."
I said this in my farewell talk, but I just love thisquote by C.S. Lewis so much: "I believe in Christ like I belive in the sun. Not because I can see it, but because by it, I can see everything else." The same thing goes for God's love. It it was one of the first things we're taught to teach investigators, and my testimony of His love has grown so much this past week. I know that He loves us. Everything that has happened in my life thus far, the good and the bad, is for our benefit and is a testament to me that we have a God who loves us. There are 34 million people in Mexico City alone, and God loves each and every one of them. Hermano Mayo said it best when he said: "I don't care if every door gets slammed in my face, or if it rains everyday, or if I'm different from all of my companions. I don't care. God wanted me to do this, and I'm gonna do it."
I'm going to do it, too. I love you all so much! P-Day is like Christmas and emails are like presents, so please keep in touch! Time is extremely limited, but I promise I will respond to everyone eventually.
Have a good week! remember to smile. And watch Dumb and Dumber and think of me.
<3 Hermana Behan
NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.