Hola familia y amigos!
I was told this week by two random people that I look like "the living version of Belle" and also Anastasia. I look like neither, but hey, I'll take the compliments. It's better than being compared to the actor who plays Peter Pan or Justo Lamas or the other men in the world I apparently look like.
There isn't as much to report on from this last week, but man has it flown. Seriously, I cannot believe I'm halfway through my time at the MTC. I love it here. I was under the impression people either hated the MTC or loved it, and I side with those who love it. Yes, I'm definitely going to be ready to leave, but Hermana Hawkins and I have really been pushing ourselves this week to study hard and focus, and it's been paying off. (Just a tad about Hna Hawkins: Such a cute girl, sooo so tiny and petite, beautiful voice, and she tells the corniest jokes I have ever heard in my entire life. Such as, 'Give a man a match and he'll be warm for a minute.. Light him on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life;' or, 'I used to play sports, then I realized you can buy trophies. Now I'm good at everything.' She has the most impressive knowledge of the lamest jokes I have ever been subjected to. When I met her in the airport, she told me a joke, and I actually had the thought, 'I am going to avoid this girl because that was just too much awkwardness to handle.' The Lord is a funny guy, because now we're companions, and I love her. We have both come so far in our Spanish, and we work really well together during lessons. No companion drama. Hallelujah.).
So, what's new and exciting in my life: I ate cactus! It looks like a slightly more rectangular version of green beens and tastes similar (maybe a bit more bitter and chewier). It also drools. Apparently it's the aloe? But it looks like straight up slobber dribbling down onto your plate. If you can get past that minor fact, though, it was good! We played volleyball for gym time yesterday, barefoot in the sand..and everything was going great until it started to rain. The rain started off as sparse, fat drops of cold water that we just ignored, but then it was a full on torrential downpour. We were all drenched (there was an inch of water in my shoes sitting on the sidelines), but continued to play anyway. Until it started to hail, that is, and a nearby palm tree fell down. Then we booked it through the mud to get back to our casas, and I slipped and fell on my stomach. Mud baths aren't all they're cracked up to be. I love the rain. Sometimes you just gotta smile and get soaked--put your arms out, head back..drink it all in. I love that it rains here everyday. I loved the rain in the UK this summer, too. Something about it just strikes me as symbollic to vitality and life.
This week we met with a man here (one of the workers) who custom designs leather scripture cases. His name is Melchizedek--cool guy, cool story. He is an incredible artist (the detail of his work is amazing. He can etch a perfectly intricate picture of the Savior or the Second Coming or Samuel the Lamanite or you name it on leather). It's kind of an underground thing--you have to be "in the know" to contact him (we met with him covertly durring dinner), but he is wildly successful. He said it started off as a hobby, but now he's been going it for over 17 years. I love it when people magnify their talents. Who would know? He looks like any other worker here, blue uniform, calmly sweeping somewhere or fixing something. It's just another reminder to me that people are so much more than meet the eye. I haven't picked out a design yet (we're meeting him outside of our casa after 10 next week), but I'm thinking I'll go with a Mayan design, to remind me of my time in Mexico. We went to the temple again today (beautiful, as always) and I love the subtle Mayan details in the temple. The chandelier in the Celestial Room (I think I can talk about this..?) is absolutely phenomenal. The bottom of it is an intricate 8 pointed star, and there are other 8 pointed stars in increasingly larger sizes stacked on top of it, eventually ending at the ceiling back to the normal size. I counted today, and there are 14 different star layers. Beautiful.
In other news, I bought weird Mexican candy today at La Tienda (the only store here that we all visit much too frequently) that I've never tried before. It's called "Pelon Pelo Rico," in Tamarindo original flavor (whatever the heck that means), and it is bizarre. It's like...a perforated push pop, and when you push from the bottom this rusty orange gritty goop stuff comes out of the holes. It tastes kind of like sweet hotsauce. I made the Elders in our district try it, and they were all disgusted. I guess I should be, too, but then..I find myself still eating it. I don't love it. But I don't hate it. I wish I could send you some and and get everyone's opinions on the matter.
We worked in the Laundry facilities for service this week. I wish I had thought to count how many sheets I folded...at least 60, if not more. I felt like one of the maids from the movie "Maid in Manhattan." It was fun, actually. It really made me appreciate all of the workers here and all that they do for us. This is such a neat location for an MTC. I feel so grateful to be one of the first groups to go through it, and I'm grateful for the sacrifices the Mexican students and teachers made by giving up their beloved school. The school in Benemerito was essentially the Mexican equivalent of having to give up BYU and make it into an MTC. It was a tremendous sacrifice, but I know that we are involved in a tremendous work. God truly is hastening the work. I don't know for certain what happened in the pre-earth life, but I'm fairly certain I fought pretty dang hard to be on the earth when the mission age change was implemented. I love missionary work. Yes, it's hard, and exhausting, and completely overwhelming at times..but I wouldn't have it any other way. I have a feeling that by the end of this 18 month chapter of my life, it won't have been long enough.
I think that's about it! Hna Hawkins and I had a chance to meet with the cuttest little old Mexican lady this week (Hermana Lopez) and speak with her about the gospel for half an hour. She spoke so fast I could only understand about half of what she said, but you could feel the spirit regardless. I think she understood the majority of what we taught her, too, so...I'd say it was a succes. I won't be surprised if I get to Nicaragua and feel like they're speaking another language, though. I don't even know how they talk so fast. It's ridiculous. Thank goodness the Spirit can convey what words can't.
Spiritual thought of the week for you: I was reading in Alma 22 today and I can't get the words from King Lamoni's father's prayer out of my head. I'm paraphrasing, but it's essentially, "Oh God, if there is a God, and thou art God....I would give up all my sins to know thee." all my sins. I love that, and I feel the same. I'll give up all of them. My petty remarks, materialism, catty gossip, selfishness...I'll give up all of that if it means I can know my God. The Church is true. God is real and He loves us. I think one of my favorite aspects of being on a mission thus far is actually engaging in frequent and meaningful prayer, and that is something I could have been doing all my life. Don't be like me. Wake up and talk to God and ask Him how you can serve Him that day. Talk to Him. Tell Him everything. He cares. And you don't have to be on a mission to figure that out.
Les quiero mucho! I don't know if there's a way someone could email me addresses, but I would love to send out some letters. I lost my piece of paper with everyone's information on it. Sigh. Typical.
Have a fabulous week. Smile! There's a certain hermana somewhere in Mexico who looks like Justo Lamas and Anastasia who prays for you every night.
<3 Hermana Behan
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