Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Lessons of Thanksgiving

November 27, 2014
Our first Thanksgiving in Mexico – notes for next year:

          Make twice the mashed potatoes and half the gravy – Latino’s love their “papas” but don’t know what to do with gravy.
          Don’t put butter on the table.  Rolls are eaten plain.
          Sweet potatoes are white – no amount of cinnamon or brown sugar will turn them to the beautiful orange color.
          Chorizo is not a good replacement for Jimmy Dean’s sausage in dressing.
          Buy a metal potato masher.  Plastic will not hold up.
          Have a working garbage disposal instead of just Elders.
          Latino’s prefer their beloved Jell-O plain.  Addition of fruit, cottage cheese, marshmallows and whipped cream means it won’t be eaten.
          No amount of homemade chocolate chip cookies will be enough.
          Don’t give everyone flu shots following dinner – it’s a downer.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Americanized Mexico

November 23, 2014
Keith keeps saying that this is not the Mexico he served in 44 years ago.  So many things have changed here.

Americanized Mexico:
·         We sat with some friends eating waffles and pancakes the other morning.  The only Mexican thing on the table was the fruit milk.  Pancakes have become a great love down here – I even see them served at Church functions.  And of course you can buy Krusteazs.
·         100% of my Christmas decorations were purchased at Home Depot, Walmart, or Miguel’s (Michaels in the states)
·         IPhones are a common site
·         Churches have wireless abilities and projectors are hidden in the ceilings.
·         Carl’s Jr., Domino’s, Burger King, Papa John’s, and McDonald’s are not hard to find.

Still just Mexico
·         Vendors greet you at corners, even on the freeways, selling their goods
·         Jell-O can be purchased on any street – they do this whole layered thing even with nuts.  They hand you a glob on a napkin and you eat away.
·         Guards protect each church
·         Old VW buses as used as “combis”  to transport citizens everywhere
·         Agua Frescas – drinks made with everything from wheat, rice, and fruit are sold on the street.

What I am still longing to still find: siestas.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Me an answer to a prayer?

November 12, 2014

Today was airport day.  We had six Elders to deliver and they left in batches of 2.  The first batch of 2 – Americans - flew out at 9AM.  We picked them up at 6:30 AM and headed to the airport.  All went well.

We returned to the mission office to pick up the next set.  They were both leaving around 11AM.  Along with that we needed to take Elder Baldeon (Peru bound) to the Immigration Office to correct a VISA problem so he could fly home at 2PM.  We have 2 terminals in the huge Mexico City airport.  Our two 11AM flyers (both Mexican residents) were going out of Terminal 2.  The Immigration Office resides in Terminal 1.  We arrived at Terminal 2 to find a line of about 30 cars waiting to park.  When the lot fills up, you get in line and wait for someone to leave (I know there could be many comments here which I will just skip saying..)  Since there is always a time factor, Keith decided to drop me and the 2 Mexican Elders at Terminal 2, and he would go and work with Immigration Office in Terminal 1 with Elder Baldeon.  Through broken Spanish and English, I got both Mexican Elders in the right place.  I still had 15 minutes before Keith would return to pick me up and I was hungry.  I stopped at the OXXO (like 7-11) and grabbed a mango milk (wish the US had this!).  I looked down the long concourse of the terminal and saw 4 vacant seats so walked over and sat in one.  Just a few moments later I heard the word “miembro” and “no dinero.”  I looked over to see that a “suited” young man had sat in the 4th chair and he was talking with 3 others.  I wondered if he was a missionary since I wasn’t at the right angle to see a name tag. I stood up and walked over.

Elder Marrquillo was trying to return home to Guatemala from the Cuernavaca mission in Mexico.  When he tried to enter the plane he was stopped because he didn’t have the proper immigration form.  He ran to correct his problem but the plane left him.  He was in the act of praying when 3 other members of the church noticed his name tag and stopped to talk with him.  He was explaining to them that he was stranded in Mexico City with no money and then he saw me walking over.

In his prayer he had told his Heavenly Father that he had just completed a mission and was headed home.  He had no help and no money.  Could His Heavenly Father help him?  And there I stood within seconds of closing his prayer.  What a blessing to me!

His new ticket has been arranged, paid for, and is ready for use tomorrow morning.  He is staying in our mission office tonight.  Heavenly Father loves His missionaries.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The revolving door of the mission

November 10, 2014

We are just starting our fifth month on our mission.  Every six weeks we welcome new missionaries, and send other ones back home.  On Monday the new missionaries arrive and we train then.  On Tuesdays we meet with all those being changed, including the new missionaries.  Changes are announced and everyone cheers and greets their new companions.  Tuesday night we have a big good bye dinner at our home for those returning home the next day.  Wednesday morning we are on the way to the airport and bus station to say our good byes to the missionaries returning home.  Elders (boys) serve for 24 months.  Hermanas (girls) serve for 18 months.

We are a revolving door!  We arrived in July with 191 total missionaries serving in our mission.  Since then we have received 67 more and sent 39 to their homes.  The goal of the church is to have each mission with a compliment of 200 missionaries.  Therefore, we expect to lose more missionaries than we gain during the next six months.

There is such excitement as we stand at the airport like we did today.  We waited anxiously for 10 North American Elders to pass through customs.  They are always a little scared but some try to hide it.  They are always tired because they have left the Provo MTC at 4 in the morning and traveled all day.  They are unfamiliar with customs and the forms but just have to figure it out.  And then they pass through the opaque glass doors into a culture and language they have never experienced before.  We greet them there.

There is equal excitement for the Latino missionaries who have been at the training center on the other side of Mexico City.  We arrange a van to go and pick them up.  They arrive less fearful because they are not facing a new language.  However, many are away from home for the first time and have never “been in charge” of themselves.  We received 8 of these Elders today.

Every six weeks we have to identify new trainers.  As we pull missionaries to train, we must then place their former companion with a new companion.    With a net increase of 12 missionaries this time, we had to find 6 new apartments and furnish them.  Furnishing includes everything – beds, refrigerators, stove tops, eating utensils, cooking items, desks, tables and chairs. We had to arrange training, prepare materials, order credit cards, and insurance cards.  You finish one transfer, take a 2 week break, and start to work on the next transfer.  We don’t do this alone – it takes a team!  Our team is us, and 6 Elders.

Four months on a mission and 37 trips to the airport so far.  Turn, turn, turn….

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

English after Spanish

November 5, 2014
I can often tell how long a missionary has been in Mexico by the words they use when they switch back to speaking English.  I was talking with Elder Schaap the other day.  He was discussing all he is doing and I laughed as he continually used two words.  These words are seldom used in English – one has rather a different meaning.  However, because so many Spanish words are similar to English words, Elders who have been in the country for a while use them when they start speaking English.

Capacitacion:  The name of the Language Training Center in Mexico is “Centro de Capacitacion.”  This equates to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.  Therefore missionaries will often speak of “capacitating” (kah pass e tate ing) when they start to speak in English.  “We need to capacitate.”  “We are meeting to capacitate.”  “We will lead the capacitation.”  It took me several months to even figure out what they were talking about!  They mean “training.”

Disanimated:  “She is disanimated.”  “The Elder is disanimated.”  While this word exists in English, we usually prefer to use the word “discouraged” or even “unenthusiastic.”  This also took a while to figure out because I always associated animation with cartoon characters.  I would look at the Elder who was speaking and try and figure out how an animation could become dis-animated. 

I suppose (or rather hope) that I will likewise be making these errors in the future.