"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." 2 Nephi 31:20

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ciudad del Carmen

Family and Friends,

Did I forget to mention that this is hard? (And I'm not just talking about typing on a Spanish keyboard--so please excuse any typing mistakes in the next two years). Speaking of which, typing my password is so much harder now. Just a side note. This last week was probably the most taxing on me thus far. So much stress and uncertainty. And change. I have recently discovered that I'm not a huge fan of change (at the time), but end up liking it after a while. So, before I get started I want to say a few things. I am here in my first area in Ciudad del Carmen with Elder Andrade (a native of Mexico City). He was a Mexican folklore dancer before his mission, so our interests are...different. But he is trying his best to look out for me. I like with him and two other Elders. Elder Cuecuecha (also from somewhere in Mexico) and Elder Alvarez (from Guatemala). I don't need to say much more to get you to know that in the last week I have known practically nothing of what is going on. But you'll hear more of that later. I only get mail here ONCE a month, which I already worry about because it is something that I was highly dependent upon in the MTC when we got to check it everyday. Please still write me though, because having something to read from family and friends really helps get through. With that, it was really sad to log on today and not have any email. Especially since my Zone Leader promised me that I would and I shouldn't worry. But, I won't have time to read much, so if you have anything to say, updates or whatever, please just reply to whoever forwards you the email and they can compile them so I can read them all fast. Also, I am hoping to send letters to you all as well, but it costs about 4 dollars (apparently) to send one. So, I'll see what I can manage about that. Anyway, this past week:

Sunday, last day in the MTC: It was Mission Conference. Fast Sunday. I was already getting nervous the previous day and you could say I was already fasting (when I am nervous I struggling eating). Not the normal me, and its not too much fun not being yourself either. But, with Mission Conference and all we had a lot of Devotionals with our departure and all. But nothing seemed to have my complete resolution. Right before the last one, I said something like "The only thing that could help me calm down would be if the Prophet himself were here talking to me". Wouldn't you know... They changed what we were supposed to be doing! And ... we watched his birthday celebration (yes, a few weeks late). So, I kind of almost ate my words there. But, hearing Phantom of the Opera and all just made me miss home more (P.S. I miss you all so much, more than I'd like to admit). But, afterwards, we watched...can't remember the name of it right now. The one with the Missionary coming home from his Mission in Colorado. He's tlaking to a guy on a plane, I don't know. So that helped. And I rested well, even though I had to wake up early to catch my plane.

Monday, the day of travel. Ay. I was freaking out the whole time (in my mind, I was keeping it in pretty well, I think). But, I had Elder Cox just randomly talking to me the whole time. I was also freaking out because my travel group (of which I was the leader--which really meant nothing) was on the first bus to the airport and I was on the second and it took forever for us to leave. So, we never caught up until we were boarding. Lots of confusing things getting into Mexico. But, once we were there the Assistants and President Catañeda were there to pick us up. We stayed at the assistants' house in Villahermosa (they just refer to it as "Villa"). Right outside it smells like...something very undesireable.

Tuesday we went to the chapel in Villa and got our new companions. Mine is Elder Andrade of course. We spent the whole day traveling to our area after that (three hour bus ride) plus taxis on both ends to Ciudad del Carmen. Which is an island in the Gulf Coast apparently. I saw the water once. But still haven't seen the beach. So it's pretty normal for me. But I am the closest to you (Mom and Dad) that I'll ever be! (Not sure if that is an exclamation of excitement or fear, but take it for what you will). They showed Karate Kid on the bus. We aren't supposed to watch movie, but you kind of can't not (if that makes sense) because its right in front of your face. It wasn't too hard for me though. Cause it was in Spanish, so I had no idea what was going on. The first thing Elder Alvarez said to me was "What's up broski?" in the most uneducated English you could imagine. I have since learned that it is pretty good (especially since he has been teaching himself). So, I guess that is funny. 

A thought that keeps coming up in my mind is something I heard on my last Sunday in the MTC: "The Lord will shape the back to carry the load placed upon it". To me, it is very comforting at least. Especially since we don't have pillos here! So, my blanket is stuffed inside my pillow case. I think I might like it better that way even. I learned you really don't need a blanket here in the mission because it is winter here (technically I guess they say), but when the sun touches you, you are immediately drenched in sweat. I can't say I have never sweat this much before cause I have played in some hot lacrosse weather. But for this duration of's taxing for sure. Always thirsty. Also, Mexicans here apparently only eat one meal a day "Comida" between lunch and dinner. So, I have been starving pretty bad and learned to be appreciative that my stomach started shrinking while I still had food. We went shopping today and I bought stuff for PB&J's. Peanut Butter cost me $57. Which is in peso's, so just under $5 American still... Considering we get about $80 dollars [USD] a month to live on, it was a sacrifice, but my hunger the past week justified it. I also bought yogurt for the morning. It is a struggle to stretch the money, but you learn to manage hunger and thirst. We don't have cars or bikes in the whole mission. So money needs to be stretched. But, with the Lord we can do it. We had a baptism, but he, Manuel, refused to be confirmed on Sunday because his Uncle scolded him that morning. He since moved back to Puerto Rico, which is a city 30 minutes away... So, not much we can do there any more. Sadly. Anyway, I know you are all supporting me, but I'd like to hear from you guys. I really am struggling here. To understand what's going on and all. So, I'll push through to the next week for you guys. Love you all so much.

Elder Andrews

P.S. Pictures take forever to upload. I'll try again next time. It rained. The windows were open. My bed got soaked. Welcome to Mexico? It looks like I peed on my whole bed. I don't miss you that much. Unless you think it is tears. Then yes, I do. Also, it rains soooo hard here. Nothing is scarier than mangos falling on a sheet metal roof.

I forgot to mention that I have ridden in some of the shadiest vehicles. Sometimes I feel like a clown. Also, I was expecting the fruit drinks here to taste more natural. I had an orange one today that tasted like a bunch of Vitamin C dissolved in water. I wouldn't exactly say it was enjoyable.

Elder Andrews
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