Monday, September 29, 2014

{Week 42} Polanco - September 29, 2014

So this week has been fun! We've been seeing lots of Tender Mercies from the Lord. I love it here in Mexico and I love my ward. We have a few differences with a few of the people there, but it's all good - the important thing is that we keep doing our best. And last night (Sunday) we got the phone call! Hna Mercedes has cambios. Every other time I got a new comp it was under strange circumstances - sickness, finishing the mission, special changes, or changes on Monday just for the sisters. This is my first cambio that is 'normal' - as in they call us Sunday night and then Tuesday morning we'll go to the stake center with every other missionary that has cambios and the president will announce all the changes right there. It was really funny - when they called and told Hna Mercedes that she had cambios, they also told her that is was 'sin maletas' - without luggage. That means that she'll be staying in this zone. When the cambios are 'con maletas' -with luggage - then you are going to a different zone. But she didn't know that, and thought that sin maletas meant she was getting a new comp but not a new area, so I was the one with changes, and she was so mad! She was going on and on about how she already has 6 months here and doesn't want another cycle and stuff like that - but then I explained and she was very relieved lol. I'm sad to see her go. I'm glad she'll still be in my zone, but I'm going to miss her :( She's a great missionary and a great friend. We got along great and learned a lot together. I'll miss her!
Us in Gustavo's house - turns out he makes skulls out of sugar to sell for Halloween.
 There are only 20 sisters in this mission - 10 companionships. I arrived in Mexico the end of January with 5 other sisters, and then in the next cycle, 1 more sister arrived in the beginning of March... but since her, we haven't had any new sisters. And they say that no more are going to arrive until next year... which would be in February. When the elders have changes, there are a ton of places they could go and a ton of possible future companions. But when we have changes, it's not hard to figure out who will likely be our next comp and where we will be heading. We all love each other, but we're also anxious for some new faces!
Almost our whole zone - we're missing a few Elders.
So there have been some developments with Aaron - I'm not going to go into detail here. But for awhile we thought he wasn't going to be able to be baptized due to some circumstances. But now it turns out that maybe yes, maybe no... we're hoping and praying that yes!

And Gustavo! On Thursday when we went to visit him, he told us that his cousin hurt her back, so he wasn't going to be able to come to church for his confirmation because he had to go help her. But with conference next week, that means it would be 3 weeks without the Holy Ghost... so we taught him about the Holy Ghost and keeping the Sabbath day holy... but he still told us he wouldn't come. But then on Sunday morning, in he walks, bright and early, white shirt and tie! He got confirmed and received the gift of the Holy Ghost and it was so great! We were super happy. He's awesome - he's so happy he keeps buying us stuff and he's making us both a tiny piñata that we're going to go pick up in a couple hours. It's been great to teach him. Love being a missionary!
Me and Gustavo and a piñata.

And Fabiola is our new investigator. She's 9, and is the granddaughter of less actives and her mom is completely inactive. We've been working with her grandparents a lot lately and they've started coming to church again - and Fabiola just turned 9 so we've started working with her. She's super sweet - reminds me a lot of Katia :)

And Ana Maria is great. She just got a new job so she works all the time, but she comes to church every Sunday without fail. And she just finished reading the book of Alma - that's been awesome to see - she always has her Book of Mormon with her and is constantly reading it - and applying it! We were teaching her the other day about fasting and how that can help us when we have a special need and she said ''oh just like Alma the older when he fasted so that his son would be ok''. She's reading, understanding, and applying. She's amazing. (and her daughter is super cute!)
 Us with Ana Maria

Ana Maria and her daughter Geraldin
Adolfo is also doing really well - he keeps inviting his friends over to listen to us - the only problem is that his friends never live in our area, so we can't teach them and have to pass the reference on lol. He was sad when he found out we would probably have cambios - cried just a little bit. It's been so amazing to see the lives of people change here - I love it!

Random funny stuff that happened -
- We knocked on a door and said that we were ''misionaras''. So the guy came and opened but was disappointed to see us. He told us that he thought we said we were ''cocineras'' - cooks lol.
- And there were some little boys running down the street shouting ''Sangre! Sangre!'' (blood! blood!) They grabbed their dad and dragged him over to see where there was ''mucho sangre'' - but when they got there he just cuffed them on the head and said ''that's not sangre, that's salsa!'' it was pretty funny - All day long Hna Mercedes and I were saying ''Sangre! Sangre!... no, salsa!''
- last night Hna Mercedes and I both had trouble sleeping. We ended up chatting for awhile and then woke up again around 4. At 4:30ish I asked if she was sleeping - and she said ''No!'' and the way she said it was so pathetic we died laughing - then chatted a bit till we fell asleep again around 5. And then this morning we were sitting there waiting for the water to boil so that we could shower, and then after half an hour we realized we forgot to turn the stove on... oops! lack of sleep lol.

I've been studying charity lately - it's a great topic. It's the pure love of Christ, and Christ was willing to give EVERYTHING for us. If we have charity, we too need to be willing to give all that we can to help others. Mosiah 28:3 is great for that. I'm striving to be like and have this love for everyone.

So yeah! It's been a great time with Hna Mercedes, but I'm excited to see what changes come with my new companion. I love being here and am learning tons all the time. I love you all and hope you have a loverly time doing your stuff back home. The house and yard look great dad!

Be good, say your prayers, and have charity for everyone!

Love Hermana Taylor

MOM - I don't think I need more shoes, but if you wanted to send me a package of random fun doodads or gifts or whatever, I wouldn't complain :D
DAD - no one has even mentioned Quezoacoatle. They're always sharing the history of Mexico with us, but they never bring up that part, and neither do we.
Some Mexican money for your pleasure and enjoyment.

Gustavo bought these for me: notepad, post it's and a pen - go Avengers!

Hna Zenaida and I

Monday, September 22, 2014

{Week 41} Polanco - September 22, 2014

Carlee, thanks for your letter! That's awesome that you want to get your patriarchal blessing! And Jordy! I'm so excited I'll get to be there for your grad!
Mom, the only effects we had from the hurricanes was rain. And lots of it. :)

So... this week started out rough and ended great! We had several days this week where we were able to have a bunch of appointments in the morning, then we had lunch, and then couldn't find anyone in their house until 7:30ish! So we walked around for several hours everyday just searching out less actives and old investigators and contacting. We've been really tired this week due to all the walking - we arrive home and collapse.

But the week ended great, because Gustavo got baptized! He gave us a fright though - showed up late to Sacrament Meeting. We were all set to leave church after the sacrament to go find him and find out why he didn't come - but then the sacrament ended and as we were headed down the aisle to leave, he walked in! And he brought his mom and aunt with him! He lives with them, but they don't want to listen to us (yet!). We actually contacted his house about 2 months ago - his mom answered the door and was downright rude. But then Marcus (a member) gave us the reference for Gustavo (his cousin) and came with us to show us where the house was. We got in the door easy as pie, and taught the restoration - Gustavo told us from the start that he's not very disciplined and couldn't picture himself changing and joining a church - 4 weeks later, he got baptized! That was pretty awesome :) The church is true! The missionaries tried to teach him about 2 years ago, but every time they came he was drunk... now he doesn't even drink coffee! (That was a bit a of a fight - he's drunken coffee everyday of his life - but now he stopped!) The baptism was really stressful though - it was after church, and the bishop had told us very specifically that since church ends at 1:30, we had to start the baptism at 1:35. So we left Relief Society early and were running around trying to get everything ready, but primary ended late... (the font is in the primary), and we couldn't find Andres (the guy who was going to baptize him) and then the elders were supposed to have a baptism too so we were waiting for them to get ready... we ended up starting at 2:00 (oops!). But as soon as we started and especially when Gustavo entered the water, the spirit just got so strong, and I just got so happy! I LOVE seeing people make this covenant with their Heavenly Father. It was awesome :)
Us, Andres, and Gustavo
Hna Mercedes, Andres (the recent convert who baptized Gustavo), Gustavo's mom, Gustavo, Gustavo's niece, and me!

And in church this week, 7 people received the Melchizedek Priesthood - one 18yr old, and 6 recent converts! It was so great to see these converts that are so strong in their faith. Love it!

And last night we did a training night thing about missionary work, and we invited Presidente Stutznegger! So he came and did a great presentation and I think it got the members excited to share the gospel - and it was fun to see President and Sister Stutznegger for a bit. They drove us all home after. It was funny, because Elder Evans comp (Elder Martinez) was feeling really sick all night and was sitting in the front seat of the vehicle, so when we pulled up to their house he jumped out running for his house and disappeared inside (we think he was off to vomit or something...), and Elder Evans was stuck in the backseat, and Hna Mercedes wasn't paying attention and didn't move so he could get out and go with his comp. It was pretty funny!
Us and the Stutzneggers

Us and Isabel (she's making us each a skirt right now - by hand!)

AND on Sunday in the Gospel Principles class they were talking about eternal families and how we can be together forever, and what parents should do to raise their children in righteousness. And as they went through everything, I couldn't help but think of you two, mom and dad. You guys did a great job raising us. I love you both so much and am so blessed and grateful that you're my parents. Keep up the good work lol :)

I got my hair cut today. Just sayin'. It was pretty bad - the sun here is really hard on my hair and I had a ton of split ends.

And I've been thinking a lot lately about that scripture in D&C 121 - ''Many are called but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set upon the things of this world, and they aspire to the honors of men...'' (something like that. At this point I know that scripture better in Spanish than in English lol) I've already been called as a missionary, and right now I'm trying to do all I can to be 'chosen' and not just 'called', by trying to focus entirely on the work and not allow myself to get distracted by the music in the street, or the fact that I'm tired, or what I'll do when I get home. And I feel like I've been noticing a bit a of a change - the spirit has been really strong lately.

Aaron is doing great - came to church and everything. He's such a sweet old guy. And he's progressing really well. We love visiting him.

And we saved a life the other day. Well, sort of, not really. We were walking down the street and this old guy who was sitting in a chair tried to get up and fell, whacking his head on the bumper of a car - cut his head pretty bad. Lots of blood. So we went running to help his family help him, and I got to practice my nursing skills again. The next day we passed by to make sure he was all right - and one of his nieces agreed to listen to us for a bit. But then the old guy's wife came out and got mad and chased us off. Literally (''In this family we're Catholic and we'll stay Catholic!'') But it's ok. One day they'll listen :)

So... yeah! Fun life here in Mexico. Cambios are next week. It's very likely, but not certain, that this will be Hna Mercedes' and mine last week together. I've loved being her comp. It's been a tough three cycles, but we've seen a lot of blessings too. Love her to pieces!

Hope you're all doing well back home! Hope ya'll have a marvellous week, and we'll talk later! Be good, say your prayers, and spike that ball for me sisters!

Love you -
Hna Taylor
Rocio - a member who sells quesadillas and gorditas in a street stand. We eat here every Monday. She's making Gorditas right now :)

Gorditas! - I LOVE these. Super greasy and delicious.

Monday, September 15, 2014

{Week 40} Polanco - September 15, 2014

Happy Independence Day Mexico! Today, the 15th of Septiembre is Independence day here... but everyone works today and goes to school and everything. Tomorrow, the 16th of Septiembre is known as Dia Libre - Free Day - and no one will be working and all will be partying... So today is the actual Independence Day, because they won the war this day, but tomorrow is Dia Libre when they were free, so no one works or goes to school. They say the party will start tonight, and go all night, and then tomorrow they'll all be sleeping or drunk and there will be no one in the street. Usually we go to work on Monday night, but today we'll just hide in our house. Tomorrow however, we will be working because EVERYONE will be home - lots of people to listen to us!

It's been crazy here as they get ready for the party. The big things right now are fireworks and firecrackers - they sell them on every street corner and people are always setting them off in the street right in front of us. Sometimes we're walking down the street and then things start exploding - I feel like I'm in a minefield or a war zone or something! And the scary part is that it's generally kids ages 8 - 18 that are playing with them with no parents in sight! Yikes! But apparently tonight is when it'll go crazy - bangs every other second. We've been told we won't be able to sleep. Yay.

So we found the sweetest old guy while knocking doors. His name is Aaron, is 70 years old, and is in a wheelchair. He sits in the shade by his front door all day long, so when we knocked, he opened the door at once. I told him we wanted to share a message with him about Jesus, and he got so excited he let us in at once and started sharing his life story and his love for Jesus with us. About 6 years ago he and his wife were walking down the street and got hit by a combi (those vans used for public transport). His wife died, and he ended up in a wheelchair. And all he wants is to 'get good with God' so he can see his wife again. He's so sweet! The only problem is his memory is a bit off, so we have to teach him super simply and repeat things a lot. But he gets it, and he loves it, and he's got lots of 'ganas' to learn more. (I don't know how to translate ganas - it's like will power and desire and stuff). He was so excited to come to church with us - every time we visited him he reminded us - ''I want to go to church with you guys. Don't forget to come get me on Sunday!'' He was so excited that Saturday night he took a bath and laid out his clothes and polished his shoes - and then got sick. Sunday morning he had a huge fever and couldn't come. It was sad :( He lives with his kids who are never home, so we haven't gotten the chance to teach them at all, but his daughter answered the door on Sunday and told us how sad he was that he wouldn't be able to come. Pobrecito. He's great though, and I know he'll make it!

Gustavo is also doing great - he was out of town this weekend so couldn't come to church, but he's excited and looking forward to it! He was feeling a little unsure, because he wasn't sure if he had received his answer from God yet, but we had a great lesson the other day about revelation and how if we ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, and faith in Christ we'll get our answers, and how our answers generally don't come in a lightning bolt, but are generally feelings of peace, happiness - that 'burning in the bosom'. The next day, when we came to visit, the first thing he asked was what he needs to bring for his baptism! He's ready and excited, and it's been great to teach him. Now we just need to help him stay strong this last week before his baptism!

It's been getting chilly. Not Canada chilly, but Mexico chilly, and I'm used to heat now, so it's seems cold to me!

We had a zone conference that was great - President Stutznegger talked about lots of things and I loved it. They made us perform a skit - called us up at the last minute and dressed us up as mice lol. Six Latinos had to read a story in English while six Americans (and me!) acted out the story. It was about a cat who chased some mice, but the mama mouse saved them all by barking like a dog. Moral of the story, it's good to speak another language, and the point of it all was to teach the native Spanish speakers that they need to study English while we study Spanish.
President Stutznegger and I.
Some mice and a tree (photo courtesy of Hna Stutznegger).

Hna Mercedes and I after the Zone Conference.

Some Elders and Hermanas after the zone conference.

Last Friday night there was a stake activity - a Noche Mexicana (a Mexican Night) where there was dancing, food, and stuff. We went for about 30 min to see if our investigators went. We invited them all and several said they'd meet us there... didn't show up though. They set up a huge tent outside and lots of people were in traditional dress. It was cool!
The Noche Mexicana

 But anyway... life's great! Mexico is great, My companion is maravillosa, and the food is delicious! lol
Hna Mercedes and Me!
Hitting the 9 month mark has made me think a lot about how my first half of the mission went, and how I want my second half to go. I've set a couple of goals to help improve myself so that I can work even harder and more effectively and so that more people can have the chance to come unto Christ. It's been amazing to be here - I've been learning a ton of things, and I know I'm only going to learn more! It's been great!
Me and the famili a Uribe - a family of actives, less actives and non members that I love.
I love you all tons and hope you have a lovely week. Be good, say your prayers, and Suerte with your volleyball Jordy, Carlee and Jennafer! Love you all tons :)

-Love Hna Taylor
PS - Dad: A tortilla is like a soft taco shell, only made from corn flour and smaller. A taco is a tortilla filled with meat and stuff. A burrito is a big taco with beans inside. An enchilada is like a taco, but swimming in salsa. A quesadilla is a large tortilla in an oval shape filled with melted cheese (queso). A gordita is a fat tortilla that's cooked with meat inside it, then cut open like a pita pocket and stuffed with food. There are a billion other variations, but these are the most common, and are delicious!

Monday, September 8, 2014

{Week 39} Polanco - September 8, 2014

Well it sounds like you all had an eventful week! Happy Anniversary mom and dad, and I'm glad you all had fun camping and long boarding and stuff. Jenna, glad you're ok, and it was pretty funny to hear all the stories about your mishap! And Dad, miss you :) I loved our movie nights together and I miss hanging out with you. Carlee, you better practice tons, because I can't wait to speak Spanish with you! And I laughed really hard right here in the middle of the internet cafe when I found out you were switching to the tuba! After all the complaining you did about how big and heavy the trombone is, and now you're switching to tuba! lol Jordy, hope your bums ok. heehee lol. And Katia, you're getting so big in all those pictures from Mom! I miss my snuggle buddy.

Mackenzie!!! Happy Birthday Tomorrow! You're going to be 5! That's so awesome - I love you so much and will give you a really big hug in 9 months. :)

So this Thursday will be 9 months for me! That's crazy! it's gone so fast! I honestly can't believe it.

We re-arranged. I got sick of the bunk bed so we changed everything up. Yay!

And I got to play with some animals this week -  lots of fun!
A snake (it was just a little one) with Isaac - Adolfo's kid.
Me with Angel's frog (he's the grandson of a less active member) 

Angel with his frog (he's the kid that almost died on my lap awhile ago).

On Wednesday we went on divisions with the Sister Training Leader - that means she (Hna Monarez) came here with Hna Mercedes, and I went with Hna Nance to their area - which just happens to be my old area el Parque! So that was fun - I got to visit with a bunch of my old friends from that branch. Afterwards, Hna Mercedes and I talked for awhile about the things we learned or realized while we were in divisions and made a list of 10 things that we're working on as a companionship. It was a really good experience and lots of fun - I had a good time with Hna Nance.

So there were a whole bunch of random special changes the other day, and because of them all, Elder Evans is now in my ward! That's honestly really strange... to have someone from home here in the mission in Mexico with me... strange! But whatever - it's all good - I just keep wanting to call him Elder Taylor for his first name and not Elder Evans for his last name lol.

We had a pretty funny contact the other day. We were knocking some doors on one side of the street, and a guy on the other side of the street saw us and yelled '' Are you guys Jehovah's Witnesses?'' so I hollared back, ''No, we're Mormons!'' And he got so excited and came running across the street to talk to us! He said ''Mormons! I love the Mormons! They can have up to 4 wives! Do you have a pamphlet or something I can have?'' That kind of cracked us up, because he was like 70 or something, and we quickly explained that that's a rumor. He was like ''Oh then you're not Mormons, because they can have 4 wives and they have another book like the Bible and the headquarters are in Utah.'' So explained that he was right about everything but the '4 wives'. He seemed disappointed lol. But he took a pamphlet of the Restoration and walked away eagerly reading it! Maybe he'll give us a call... It was funny!

So Gustavo is great. Came to church again, and is always outside waiting for us when we have our appointments. We made a deal to help him stop drinking coffee this week, and if he doesn't, he has to buy us cake lol. But he's honestly doing really well. He feels like he hasn't gotten his answer yet, although he's reading and praying everyday and coming to church. The other day he was telling us that he's nervous - he knows that baptism is a big commitment, and he wants to be sure about it. He told us that right now he doesn't feel worthy to get baptized, so we talked a lot about repentance and the Atonement the other day, and it was a really great lesson - the spirit was strong!

And it's been great to see the converts in action! Adolfo, Ana Maria, and a several converts of the Elders are going strong and come with us to visit investigators a lot. And their testimonies are so strong! They've helped a lot of our investigators. It's great to see the changes that they've made in their lives, and how happy they are in the gospel. One convert who just reached 6 months as a member was just called as the YM's President, and his counsellors are both recent converts too. There are a lot of RM's in this ward - women and men - but it's these converts who are the strong ones who keep all the commandments, pay their tithing, come to church on time, provide references, truly magnify their callings, and ACT like they are truly converted. And little by little, the long time members are catching the spirit and starting to work more in their callings and in the missionary work. I'm not saying that all the members are fritos, there are lots that work hard too, it's just been great to see the testimonies of these converts in action.

Anyway, we have several investigators, but only Gustavo is progressing right now. And remember Alejandra? that golden investigator we could never find? Well we found her! Or rather, we found her name... on a list of converts from the last 3 years! She's already a member! And her husband too! THAT was a shock, and we are really confused about that whole situation... we're trying to find her again so we can reactivate her and her husband.

But it's been great. Hna Mercedes and I are really enjoying being comps, and we know she'll probably go the next cambio - she's almost got 6 months here, and I've almost got 4.5 months here. I'm just hoping my new comp isn't American, because English is my weakness - it's just way too easy to speak it, and if I get an American I know my Spanish will go down the drain! But I'll be fine with whomever the Lord sends me! I'm pretty positive that He knows best which Hermana I should be with :)

So... yeah! That's my week! Lots of fun here in Mexico - it's been cold and rainy lately. They say it's rained more this year than any other year. Woohoo.

I was wondering if you could send me Jaime's mailing address ... Por favor!

And bug Chelle for me - she hasn't written in awhile - since before the birth of her kid!

Love ya'll tons! Be good, say your prayers, and give Mackenzie a birthday hug for me!

Love, Hermana Taylor

Monday, September 1, 2014

{Week 38} Polanco - September 1, 2014

Mackenzie, I absolutely loved your letter. You are so sweet! And Jordy, I always love your letters. I've been thinking about it... and lets live together! That would be so fun! I love you tons.

I got the package - thanks mom! And I am so tempted to open that gift...
It flooded again!  Hna Mercedes and I.

Me and Isabel, a member that was with us. She took these photos on her phone then just sent them to us, so they're a couple weeks old.

So it's September now! And Sept 15 is the Independence Day of Mexico, so they've already started preparing and decorating. Mexican flags, sombreros that say ¡Viva Mexico!, and red, white, and green everywhere! And I already know that these Mexicans know how to party, so it'll be interesting to see what happens that day!

And one of our new investigators is named Gustavo. He's about 60 and the cousin of a member family, and makes piñatas for a living! He's a cool guy. So since it's almost the 15th, he's been super busy doing a bunch of piñatas. But he's always waiting for us when we come and he came to church on Sunday! And stayed for the whole 3 hours and for a baptism afterwards. And he's reading and praying, but says he hasn't received his answer yet, although he likes it. The only problem is that he drinks... a lot. But I know he can do it!

So this week we found several new people... but they're all 'super busy' and don't have time to meet with us. So that's unfortunate, but I know there are other people out there ready and waiting for us to knock on their door! ...which is where it get tricky, because we've already knocked on every door in the area, and several we've knocked 2 or 3 times. But it's ok! because there are 1-8 families living in every house, so if we just keep knocking eventually we'll get to talk to the golden ones!

This morning was so much fun! We had our reunion as a zone, and after a short training session, we played volleyball and ate hot dogs! It was so much fun to play volleyball - I had a blast.

Hna Mercedes got a bit depressed the other day. Her first while in the mission she was baptizing almost every week, and here we went for 8 weeks without a baptism until Adolfo came along (he's 40 by the way) and unless we find some more people and they start progressing, September is looking pretty bleak too. So we called our District Leader Elder Gerken and he came and gave her a blessing - and gave us some good advice and shared that last Sunday his sister died, and he told us some of the things that keep him going strong. I'm honestly not sad or depressed or anything, it's just been hard because we work hard and find people, but then Sunday comes and they're nowhere to be found. I feel like the master of the vineyard in Jacob 5, when he looks and sees that all the trees have gone bad and are only bringing forth bad fruit, and he asks 'what could I have done more for my vineyard?' I keep thinking what more could I have done, or what more can I do to help my area flourish and bring forth fruits!?  But the answer is found there in Jacob 5 as well, when the servant says 'spare it a little longer' and they go to work again, pruning and digging. It says ''and thus they labored, with all diligence, according to the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard.'' And the good fruit came and the bad fruit left! So that's what I've been trying to do, and that's what I'm going to keep doing - labor with all diligence, and keep all the commandments of the Lord. And if I do that, I know that the fruit will come!

I love it here in Mexico. It's crazy to think that I'm almost half done my mission. It's flown by. But I'm having a good time and I'm learning more everyday.

Compórtense bien, oren mucho, y que disfruten sus ultimos dias de vacación!
¡Les amo mucho!

-Hermana Taylor

Me and another member, also named Isabel. She's a less active that's started coming to church again.

Two of the cutest little Mexican girls ever - they're the nieces of Isabel.