Thursday, August 25, 2016

Week 4: ¡Hola!

Thank you for the package!!! The veggie straws are a hit in my room, because they don´t believe in salt or pure chocolate here, so we have been really enjoying having some salty food. Thank you very much!!!

First of all, to explain how the food is: of the ten of us in the district, I am one of two who is yet to go to the doctor. And honestly, I could probably go to the doctor, too, if it weren´t for my Owens pride of not needing a doctor. I get beans, rice, and chips at every meal, and will continue to do so at every meal until it kills me. Which it potentially could :) But seriously, it´s great. They have pizza every Friday night to welcome the newbies, and hamburguesas every week, so I´m getting some American food, too :)

My triumph of the week was that we were at home, and somebody rang on the doorbell. I opened it, and it was two Latina sisters, and they asked where casa 21 was, and I told them! I was proud of myself: I 1) understood them and 2) could converse with them!! I was very happy about that.

We found out that the CCM President was the mission president of Tuxtla Gutiérrez!! Also, he spoke in General Conference [our twice yearly Conference from Salt Lake City] a couple of years ago: Octaviano Tenorio, 2007. It was a really good talk.

Something kind of funny was we taught one of our investigators about keeping the law of the land, or "la ley de la país." It was a good lesson, it went well, and then at the end Hna Morrison prayed. But then she said in the prayer, "gracias por la ley de la pies." I thought maybe I´d just heard wrong, but then later that day she wrote that down on a paper, and I realized I was right! We got a good laugh, because instead of the law of the land, she said she was grateful for the "law of feet." It was pretty funny.

Sorry this is kind of short, but the mission is going well!

hasta luego!

Hermana Owens
This is me, Hna Morrison, and the other companionship living with us,
Hermana De haan and Hna Olsen.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Week 3: ¡Hola mi familia!


I have some big news for this week. First of all, our maestro Hermana Saucedo proposed to his girlfriend yesterday! We haven´t actually seen him since it happened, but we´re assuming the best until we find out otherwise. We helped him figure out how he was going to propose. It was pretty fun.

News 2: Some Latina Hermanas moved into our casa, and so we spoke to them a little bit their first night, so obviously we asked them where they were serving, and two are going to Tuxtla!!! We screamed a lot, and hugged each other and jumped up and down and everything. It was pretty fun. My plan is to get a picture with them tonight, so that I can show you potential future companions :) And then yesterday at lunch, our district sat down, and we discovered that we just happened to sit by the one Latino elder going to Tuxtla!!! [There are about 1000 missionaries there, so that’s pretty amazing!]  It was awesome, so now we know who we´re going to be traveling with. The elder was worried that he was going to be traveling to Tuxtla solo, but he was extremely excited to discover he got to travel with a bunch of gringos.

Noticia 3: One of my favorite things we did was TRC (I´m not entirely sure what that stands for, but I think it´s something along the lines of Teaching Real Converts or something). I had no idea what to expect when we first went in, but we talked to this sweet old lady. We thought we were supposed to be teaching her a lesson, but then we asked her what sort of experience she has with religion, and she said, "Oh, I´ve been a member for fifty years, and I love going to the temple." Afterwards, our Maestro Hermano Alvarez told us that the purpose of this first TRC wasn´t to teach necessarily, but just to get to know people so that you can learn to love the people. I can guarantee I won´t have a problem loving the people of Mexico. Soledad was the sweetest lady: she told us about her grandkids and then sang a couple songs that you sing with your children. I want to learn them, they were so fun. We next talked to Luis, a 26-year-old guy that was baptized 5 years ago. He shared his testimony and a few of his favorite scriptures, and it was wonderful. I am really looking forward to TRC now.

We also taught Angel and Cristian again this week. It´s been weird: I am completely aware that they´re just fake investigators, they´re just our teachers, but for some reason when we start teaching them, I just kind of forget that. The Spirit has really been showing me the importance of charity and love for the people I will serve.

Hermana Morrison and I taught Relief Society [a Sunday lesson for the women of the Church] this Sunday, about faith and hope, and it went really well. It´s so easy to see the importance of faith here: the amount of stuff I´ve learned is incredible.

One of my favorite things is reading el Libro de Mormón. I´m relying less and less on my English Book of Mormon, and understanding more and more of the book itself. I remember Seth saying he loved reading the German BoM because of the translation difference, and I totally understand now. One thing I read this week that I really liked is in Mosiah 18, when Alma says that you should be "willing to comfort those that stand in need of comfort," etc. because in the Spanish it says "despuedo a consolar estos que necesitan consuelo," which translates to "be ready or prepared to comfort those that need comfort." I felt like saying you’re ready to comfort shows more proactivity, that you´re not just willing (Oh, if something comes up I´ll get started on comforting you), but you´re prepared to help (You need comfort? I´m here for you!) I just liked it.

Hermano Alvarez is from Tuxtla, and he told us some stuff that we have to look forward to while we´re there. Apparently they have these treats, kind of like a granola bar, but instead of oats and grains and good stuff it´s just a little block of compacted ANTS. I think I´ll try to avoid that particular treat if at all possible. Something else that he said is delicious is something that they only make in Tuxtla, nowhere else in Mexico. It´s called pozol, and it´s a corn-based drink, with chocolate. It´s really cool, which is why they make it in Tuxtla, and I guess they drink it all the time. I´m pretty excited to try all the food.

I told Hermana Morrison how to be "a good egg" is the highest compliment an Owens can give, so now we use it to describe our district a lot. Almost everybody is from Utah, except two are from Texas and one's from Tennessee. I like to say that everyone's from Utah or the South .... (Dakota haha). Everyone except one Elder studied Spanish, and he took French.

[She had developed some very bad blisters on her heels, so I asked her about that in my letter to her.] My blisters are fine now, actually. I just chose the wrong shoes the first day, and then it took a while for them to heal, but I now have heels of steel.

The food is pretty good, but I don't know if it's because we have beans at pretty much every meal, but EVERYBODY has a problem with it going right through them, although a little painfully. The food is good.

Also, I don´t know if I´m going to have more time in the mission field to write letters, but I have yet to crack open the old stationary set, just because we are always at class. Fifteen hours a day of class!!! It´s pretty tiring. But it´s good. I´m really happy being out on my mission!!

Listening to the testimonies of the people in TRC, it´s pretty cool how they have a testimony of the same things I do. I actually understood a vast majority of what they said! I´m so glad that I have the opportunity to share the gospel with people.

¡hasta luego!

Hermana Owens

I kind of forget that I´m in one of the biggest cities in the world in el CCM. It´s the biggest MTC in the world, at least in size, and it´s so funny looking outside of the fence, to where the outside world is so close, but not at all. This kind of reminds me of the Berlin wall, with a no man´s land between us. They really care about keeping us safe!

We asked Hermano Alvarez what these pillars were,
and he gave a really sheepish grin, and then told us
that it was a tribute to the sewage system.
I just thought it was kind of funny, so there you go.

I know that there´s a story behind this strong-man statue,
but I don´t know it. Maybe I´ll ask this week.
It´s just kind of people´s favorite part of the CCM.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Week 2: ¡Hola! Numero Dos and Despues el templo [after the temple]

We´re going to the temple today! I´m pretty excited.

Hermana Morrison is wonderful. We had to teach yesterday, but because of number differences she and I were split up, and it was SO HARD. The "investiagator" would ask a question, and I´d sit there for like 5 minutes trying to figure out what to say. It wasn´t terrible, but there is definitely a reason that we are supposed to go out with a companion. Hermana Morrison is such a happy person, and she's so good about practicing her Spanish.

We also taught another investigator, our maestro Hermano Saucedo. It was going okay, but he didn´t seem that enthusiastic, and I just felt this wave of I don´t even know what, concern or something, but I just knew that he HAD to accept, it was so important, and I love him so much, and I just started crying! If I´m crying about a fake investigator, I´m not sure I´m going to have a dry-eyed lesson out in the field.

My district is great. I feel like every day my love for all of these Elders and Hermana Morrison grows. I guess a story that would kind of sum up the Elders in my district is that we played a game creating sentences in español, and my team name (I did help create it) was los fuegos brazos de Dios-the fiery arms of God. We were the dream team.

I forgot to mention this story. Hermano Alvarez, our night teacher, and Hermano Saucedo went to the same high school, but they didn´t know each other at all, and so we asked how big their graduating class was. He was like, "I don´t know, why would I know that?" So then we told him we all knew how big our classes were, and he was like, "Americans are always counting things." Which was funny, but then Elder Bauman asked him "Do you guys even do math?" and he responded, "No, we´re Mexican!" Honestly, I thought just his observation about Americans always counting things was funny.

I feel like I've been learning or realizing so much about the Atonement since I've been here. We watched a video with Elder Holland [one of the leaders of our Church] speaking about Christ´s life and death and resurrection, and it was so powerful. He said that every time we are rejected, and wonder why being a missionary has to be so hard, we need to remember that it was never easy for Christ, and that every time it happens, we are shoulder to shoulder with the best missionary that ever lived. It was pretty powerful. If there´s anything that I´ve learned in the last two weeks, it´s that everything in the church revolves around missionary work and eternal families. I´ve been highlighting in green anything that guides a missionary how to live their life, and basically everything in my Book of Mormon is green. It makes me pretty happy. 

I´ve been pretty amazed by how much I can remember. El don de lenguas es real y incredible! Two weeks ago I couldn´t pray in Spanish, and now I actually can understand about 60% of what´s happening around me! Only because los maestros [the teachers] talk REALLY slow-when I hear actual Spanish I understand about -40%, but está bien. I will learn.

Yo sé que el Evangelio de Jesucristo es verdadero. Yo sé que yo soy en Mexíco porque yo tengo un objetivo aqui. Yo sé que vida eterna es posible porque Jesucristo morir portodas las personas. Yo sé que nosotros recibimos muchas bendiciónes de Dios, porque (my personal favorite statement en español) Dios nos ama! Yo amo la iglesia, y mi familia. Yo soy muy feliz ser en México.

Gracias for being a wonderful family. I´m sorry that I don´t really individually write anyone, but I love you all!!!!!!! Muchos.

Hasta luego!

Hermana Owens

[We were blessed to receive another letter from Tess later that day!]

¡Hola otra vez, mi familia!

We just got back from the temple about ten minutes ago, and I am so happy! I just felt so much love for everyone while I was in there.

I was also thinking about the law of consecration while I was in there, and I just realized that this is probably one of the few times in my life when I really will be living the law of consecration almost completely. A year and a half where I give up everything I have and am to the gospel -- my time, my talents, my money, everything! And it just made me really happy to think that I´m fulfilling that law.

I´m so grateful for the temple. Last night in class we talked about how we can relieve stress, and I think the temple is a pretty great stress reliever. I never wanted to leave.

I also attached some pictures of the temple: it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. 

Yo amo ustedes!

Hasta luego,

Hermana Owens

The district! From left to right: Elders Coon, Hawley, Fitzgerald, and Jones, and Elders Bauman, Porter, and Nielson, and then me, Hermana Morrison, and Elder Meyer. Los Fuegos Brazos de Dios!

A really badly lit picture of Hermana Morrison and me and the temple.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Week One: el fin

[Just a little note: Until leaving for Mexico, Tess had never studied Spanish at school -- only two years of high school German.]

¡Hola, mi familia! ¡Como están?                                

There you go. I have used just about the entirety of my knowledge of Spanish in the greeting. But seriously, I have learned SOOOO MUCH. The first day of class, I knew approximately zero percent of what the teacher was saying, but now I understand about sixty percent. El don de lenguas es real! (The gift of tongues is real, for all you non-Spanish-speakers out there).

Anyway, this has been such a busy, exhausting week! My companion, Hermana Morrison, is the best. [Missionaries must stay with an assigned companion continuously 24/7. Also, missionaries are called Hermana (Sister) and Elder.] She´s from Springville, Utah, but she´s going to Puebla for her mission. [Puebla is a city and state just south of Mexico City.] In fact, everyone in my district except for Hermana Morrison and one elder, Elder Hawley, are going to Tuxtla Gutiérrez. So my mission is basically going to be a district reunion the whole time, which is nice. [Companionships are grouped into Districts, which are then grouped into Zones, which are then grouped into Missions. Just a little explanation so some of her comments will make sense!]

We only had one person take a picture of our district, so I´m still waiting for that picture.They're all great, I love them so much! We´ve actually been playing volleyball during our gym time, and it hasn't sucked playing with them!!!! I think that says a lot for them.

I feel like I have so much to say, I don't know how to get it all down, and I'm just kind of jumping around from one thought to the next.

On the flight here, I did not die, obviously. There were no other missionaries with me until I was sitting in the Houston airport, and I saw this really nervous-looking guy in a suit, and when he sat down he pulled out a journal. I got a good laugh because of him: I don't think any other 18-year-old guy would pull out a journal while waiting for a plane. We got there way later than the other missionaries--apparently there was a bus-ful of about sixty missionaries that arrived all at the same time earlier in the day.

Going through customs was kind of stressful. smiling and nodding doesn´t really help you to understand why some guy behind a desk has stamped your visa and 12 other papers willy-nilly about 17 times. I´m still just hoping that I won´t be kicked out of the country. :)

The drive here from the airport was extremely stressful. If there were six inches between me and the car in front of me, I would be surprised. And then there were people walking between the cars, selling burritos, and this girl stood up on top of a car and started juggling, for pesos. It was weird, but cool.

One of our teachers is actually from Tuxtla, and he said that it´s beautiful. Really green, and there are waterfalls everywhere, and it´s basically the best and most beautiful place ever. I'm pretty excited to go and see it.

What I´m most excited about is teaching, though! We´ve taught a fake investigator, Pablo, a couple of times, and it´s so great! We taught him a lesson last night and he was kind of hesitant, but then I had this question pop into my head. "Pablo, tiene usted un deseo guardar los mandamientos de Dios?" "Do you have  a desire to follow the commandments of God?" And the teacher (Pablo) got this look on his face, and I was worried that that was an offensive question, and I kind of stressed about it, but then afterwards el maestro said that it was a good question, it made Pablo think. That was the highlight of my week, most definitely. I feel like I've been able to have the Spirit with me so much since I've been here. I'm so glad for that, and I feel like it's really a blessing that's come from being around so many good people. I'm so excited to teach, I love the Mexican people so much already!

At the CCM, they have potable water, so we can shower, drink from the tap, and all that stuff here. The tap water isn't very good, but it's safe, so they also have water dispensers with changeable jugs about every ten feet. It's pretty nice. I’m still not sure how I'm going to drink when I'm in the field, though.

In my room is Hermana De Haan and Hermana Olsen. they´re both great: Hermana Olsen has very similar taste in music, so we like singing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat together :)

The weather is PERFECT here. My hair has actually been relatively manageable since I've been here. Tuxtla is way more humid, though. Oh, and another thing that the teacher from Tuxtla said was that sometimes in the more rural areas you have to watch out for monkeys so that they don't attack you. Fun! There´s no air conditioning, but if you open the windows at night, it's perfect. Except that there are always a lot of sirens going off.

I am very happy here, it's been a really neat, if exhausting experience. I have two hours today that I don't have ANYTHING scheduled, and I honestly have no idea what I'm going to do with myself.

Well, I have a few more pictures to send, but I think that's everything for this week! I thought I'd have more time to write and stuff, but this kind of just flew by.

Yo amo ustedes!

Hermana Owens

This is the safety green circle. If there's an earthquake
or something, you go to one of these circles near your house
and stand in it until somebody says it's safe to come off of it.

The security around here is pretty crazy.
They're very concerned for our safety!

The Thomas S. Monson building.

The CCM sign.

This is inside the Thomas S. Monson building, where we first came
when we got here and where we teach Pablo. It has all the flags
of the spanish speaking missions there are.

A view over the gate into Mexico City. It's so cool, houses crawl up every mountain around here, so there's this line of houses, and at night it looks really cool, because there's a whole bunch of  lights floating off into the sky. It's awesome.

Mi casa. Every house is a different color,and
walking down the street, it's really happy looking.

Hermana Morrison and I!!