Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Week 9: DOS MESES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Two Months)

I CAN NOT believe that I´ve been in Mexico for two months! I´m 1/9 done! Only 8/9 left! I have so much more to do! AAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

Hermana A was not baptized this week because she couldn’t get an interview until today. However, she is SUPER ready, and I´m SOOOOOOOO excited!!!!! Hermana A is the most awesome person ever.

We went to the Women´s General Conference [twice yearly meeting for women broadcast from Salt Lake City] with Citla this weekend, which was really awesome. I translated some of the lines of the songs into very interesting español for Citla, which was fun. I didn´t get too much from the conference since I listened in Spanish (Hna González mentioned figuring out a way I can listen in English this weekend, so I can get a little more out of it), but what I got I really liked. I really liked the talk about charity, and how they were all centered on the Atonement, and the Plan of Salvation. That´s all we need!! Citla took notes during the session, and every time I looked over and saw her scribbling something down I felt SO HAPPY.

According to Hna González, Zika makes your whole body ache. You can´t go to the bathroom because it hurts to sit on the toilet. But you get over it pretty quick, and it´s not lasting. It just kind of stinks.

I have three favorite things here: the people, when they pray, and when they share scriptures. We were talking with Miguel, a recent convert, and he´s been working on reading the BofM. He shared a scripture, and it was one of the coolest things ever. It was in 1 Nephi, and I can´t remember what it was exactly, but it talked about how we will never thirst nor hunger, because we follow the light or something. And I´d never noticed it! I went home and marked it, along with his name. I love these people. Converts have such powerful testimonies, because it´s all just simple truth. It´s pretty incredible. And then when people pray!!!! The things they express gratitude for, and everything. I love it.

It was Hermana González´ birthday this week!!! She´s now 27. It was probably one of the best days ever, but also, I thought I was going to die at the end of it. Because every single appointment we had, we ate. Our first (because we had weekly planning) was with Hermana Alba, and we had lunch with her. Which was delicious. Then, when we went with Hermana Chabelita, we thought we were going to an appointment with her daughter, but then we ended up at a surprise party! 

There was a RIDICULOUS amount of food, and you have to eat otherwise you´ll just offend everyone. And then we went to an appointment with Rosario and Isaí, and they found out it was her birthday, so they ordered a pizza. Then, to top it all off, we had cake with Hermana Paty. I honestly am proud of myself for never throwing up. It was hard, but I managed to survive the day :)

Renato and Estefania are kids of a less active member, and they´re awesome. I tried to get a picture of Victoria, the other daughter, but she was kind of shy and the only one I got with her was really blurry :( But they are AWESOME. I actually got quite a bit of what they said! Renato kind of reminds me of an older, Mexican Caulder [Tess’s nephew]. He really likes to talk, and he´s very animated.

Renato and us.

Estefania and us.

Hermana A (future member!) and us and Hermana Paty.

Sometimes, when it gets really hot, I remember that it´s almost October, and that the first snow, or at least the first literally freezing day will occur in just a few days (or already has). I feel like it´s going to be REALLY weird when it´s January and I´m basking in 80 degree weather. Or dying.

Well, got to go! The work is beckoning!

Hasta luego!

Hermana Owens

Monday, September 19, 2016

Week 8: Hola!!!!!!!


So, first of all, Hna Gonzalez and I were asked to give talks in sacrament meeting [the main Church meeting on Sundays] yesterday!!! We were leaving the house to catch the combi (the shuttle) to church, and we were called, because the speakers weren`t there! So, in about five minutes, I prepared a talk in Spanish! It was pretty stressful, but actually, once sacrament meeting started, I really didn't feel nervous at all. I talked about el Libro de Mormon, and I shared 2 Nephi 10:33 and 2 Nephi 25, when he says that the prophets write these things to teach of Christ. And then I rambled in really bad Spanish between each scripture. It was probably about five minutes, but it`s okay :) It wasn't terrible!

I don`t really know how to describe my area. I'm in Jardines de Grijalva, and I guess it`s probably suburban, but really poor. 

Jardines del Grijalva [on Google maps]

I wash my clothes in the sink, but only my underwear and stuff. My actual clothes we take to a launderer. Not laundromat, but a guy that measures the weight of our clothes and washes them and then the next day we come and get them. Also, clothes dry so fast. I usually hang them up at about 9, and then I can take them off at about 11. Ah, heat :)

We eat every day with members at 2. It`s such an unusual time, but it`s actually really nice, because I have yet to eat dinner, but it`s fine, because we eat at 2! I snack during study time, and then eat at 2, and then sometimes I eat something at 10. But it`s PERFECT. The food is so good, and every time the members are like, Pica! Pica! [Spicy! Spicy!] But then I wow them with my ability to eat spicy stuff. I`m a little concerned that they know I can eat spicy, and so now they`re going to pull all the stops. But I am ready! I got a recipe for tamales from a member, so I`m basically Latina now.

It`s crazy to me how friendly people are. There are definitely some people that want to hear less, but most people are happy that we're talking about church and Jesus (pretty much everyone`s Catholic here), and so they're happy to tell us where they live. Which brings me to another point: nobody knows their address. Sometimes people know what street, but usually it`s just, "Oh, I`m the blue house seven houses down from the Primera Calle." I am SUPER lost here. There are no street signs except for along the first street, so I know those, but everything else is just a mess of houses. At least every house is different, though, so it`s pretty easy to identify landmarks.

We are the only missionaries in our ward, but there`s another ward right after ours that has two other sister missionaries. 

I have yet to see any of the Elders from my district in the CCM [the Missionary Training Center], because they`re not in my zone, but I guess I`ll see them in transfers! Except Elder Fitzgerald, he`s in my zone. Today we had a zone activity, and we basically threw water balloons at people. [I'm guessing by "people" she means each other.] It was fun :)

The mosquitoes are actually kind of a problem. I PROMISE (Mother) that I use repellent, but my legs are COVERED in bug bites. And Hna Gonzalez` second week, she got zika. But, està bien! I`m not dead yet! :)

Best news: Hopefully, one of our investigators will be baptized this Saturday!!!!! Which makes me SOOO happy. Another person we're teaching only has to get married (she`s living with her boyfriend right now) before she can be baptized. His schedule is really erratic, so they can never really get it to work. But she`s ready! We have this path of faith sheet that we fill out, and she has EVERYTHING except baptism, and she really wants to be. She`s awesome. And her son is ADORABLE. We are also teaching a teenage girl who is awesome, but her mom won`t let her go to church, but we`ve started teaching their next door neighbors, so we`re hoping that maybe that will convince her that we`re not weirdos :) 

Listening to people`s stories, I am so incredibly amazed by the people here. And by church members everywhere. And investigators. And EVERYONE in the world. Everyone has their problems, everyone has things that they need or want but simply can`t have, and there are people that really believe in things and want to act on them, but there are things outside of their control that stop them from doing those things. But Heavenly Father knows the desires of our HEARTS, and He blesses us for our efforts, and what we do with the knowledge that we have. He is so loving and merciful!  I know that these people will be blessed for their DESIRE.

One other thing: the language is SO HARD. I can talk...it`s really BAD, and sometimes I can`t for the life of me figure out how to say something, but I can talk. But UNDERSTANDING is so hard. However, I`ve been reading that story, Footprints in the Sand, pretty much every day. I know that the Savior has been carrying me while I`ve been here, and that he will be for the entirety of my mission.

Me and a random building that looks very Mexican:

and Hna Gonzalez and me:

and us and some other sister missionaries in our district (we were all in Chiapo de Corzo [the oldest colonial town in the state of Chiapas]):

 and a good ol`rainbow:

[I think it is just to the right of the tallest tree.]

I need to improve my ability to take pictures with people. Ah, well.

Hasta luego!

Hna Owens

Monday, September 12, 2016

Week 7: ¡Hola de Grijalva!!!!!

Hola, familia!

This has been the craziest, longest, shortest, happiest week of my life! I have never felt so overwhelmed, but also, I am smiling ALL THE TIME. All the time. I have a list of things to tell you about, so I`m going to do that.

First of all, the first picture is my CCM "graduation," with our certificates stating that "he" received a 9.0 or higher in this English class. Hno Saucedo found them in a desk, and used them :) It`s pretty great. [You don't actually graduate from the Missionary Training Center, so this was just a funny thing their teacher did.]

Okay, now the field! I`m in Grijalva, in the Bosques district [in the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez]. This is the most beautiful place ever! When we were in our first zone meeting, we sang "In our Lovely Deseret" but the chorus started with "Misiòn Tuxtla Gutièrrez" and talked about how great it is to bring people to Christ. It`s my new favorite song.

I have now had pozol a couple times now! [This is a drink that is only made in the southern part of Mexico.] It`s kind of weird, it`s like grainy chocolate water, with a slight hint of throw up, and then at the bottom it gets really thick. But actually, it`s growing on me! I've also had melo, this fruit about the size and texture of an eyeball, but it`s SUPER delicious. The food is SO GOOD. I can also now flip a quesadilla with a knife, so put that on my list of accomplishments. They also have this SUPER delicious fruite, betabel. The bottom looks like a potato, and the top looks like octopus tentacles, but it`s super good and delicious and a really pretty pink purple color. People just have these growing in their yards. [Vance looked it up and it might just be a beet!]

Speaking of which, the second picture is a view from my front door. Everyone has gates, and then their actual front door, so everyone has little yards out front, because there`s no room in the sides or the back.

The next picture is my study area, I decorated it with pictures of the family and Jesus this morning.

And I take bucket showers! We don`t have running water from the hours of about 6 to 8, so we fill up buckets and then use a yogurt container to dump water. It`s actually pretty fun. The next picture is my bucket shower station.

It`s SO DIFFERENT here. After church on Sunday, we got a ride from some members,and there were ten people in a truck that comfortably fits five. I was sitting on Hna Gonzalez` lap [her new companion]. It was really uncomfortable and hot, but also really fun.

The  next picture is one of my proselyting areas! Riviera de las Flechas.

And then this is a view from our usual area, Jardines, looking out over the hills (cerros), and the jam packed city.

I forgot to take a picture, but there`s this tiny bridge I have to cross over this nasty, garbage-filled ditch thing. It`s a little sketchy, but it`s fun :)

I thought that I was being protected from the water, because we would drink water whenever we visited someone, but then I found out that everyone buys clean water. So there you go. You don`t have to worry, mother.

Nobody knows their address here! It`s so funny,  when we`re contacting, we`ll ask them for their address or phone number, and they`ll be like, oh I don`t know, but I can describe where it is. It`s just funny.

Hermana Gonzalez is THE BEST [her companion that is training her how to do missionary work]. She`s from Ciudad de Mexico, and she is a super hard worker. My second night, we were done and about to unlock the door, when she checked her watch and saw that we had three minutes until nine [they are supposed to work until 9pm], and so we went and visited someone quick. She`s 26, she couldn`t come on a mission earlier because she had stomach cancer and so had an operation, and she is so awesome. She doesn't speak a lick of English, so I've had to learn quick. I`m glad though, because I know I'm learning so much faster than I would if I had a companion that spoke English. I love her so much! She has so much patience for me when I ask her to repeat something again and again because I have NO idea what she`s saying.

The people here are the best part, though. I've met so many people, and I honestly still am not sure how to pronounce some people`s names, but I love them so much! There`s Citlally, who`s 19 and a mother of two, and Alba, a kindergarten teacher (which reminds me of another thing, the teachers are all on strike in Chiapas, and when we passed by a mall the other day, there were a bunch of soldiers and teachers, not fighting or anything, but just milling around. It was kind of intense.)

Oh, and Hermana Saucedo`s girlfriend said yes. [He was one of her teachers in the Missionary Training Center who proposed to his girlfriend while Tess was in the MTC.] He dressed up in a Mickey Mouse costume and stopped her on the street. Apparently she punched him, becuase she thought a strange dressed-up guy was hitting on her.

My ability to understand what`s being said is about 25%. I can understand Hna Gonzalez pretty well because I'm used to how she speaks, and I`m pretty sure she deliberately talks slower for me, but it`s pretty bad how much I can understand. I'm getting better! Also, Hna George [the Mission President's wife] called me the other day because I have a bit of a cold, and I kind of got confused initially talking in English. Which made me feel a little better, but also maybe I just can`t speak either language.

I am so happy to be here! The people are so wonderful, and patient with my inability to speak the language. I feel like the Spirit is everywhere, because of their humility. We`ve worked with four members a lot: Victor, he`s fourteen, and really nice (expect pictures of them possibly next week); his little sister Fernanda (she`s really sweet, and one of the first days, she just walked up to me and gave me two of her hair clips! And that`s everyone here, really giving. Another member, Hna Chavalita, gave me a keychain she`d made just to give it to me), Monse, a recent convert, and Emmanuel, he`s preparing to go on a mission and I think he also might be ward mission leader, but I`m not sure that`s possible. LIKE I said, my understanding of what`s happening is a little if-y.

And here`s a picture of the Tuxtla Gutierrez temple. The temple is right next to the stake building where we have zone conference [training meetings with the Mission President and mission leaders] and stuff. It`s really small! And really beautiful.

I also wanted to tell you guys about an experience I had Thursday. One of our investigators wants to be baptized, but when we taught her about repentance, she started crying, and she told us about something she`d done in the past that she felt absolutely terrible about. I was just amazed. I’d met with her three times previously, yet she trusted me enough to tell something REALLY personal. But it`s not because of me. I`m not Tess Owens right now, South Dakotan, student of BYU. I’m Hermana Owens, representative of Jesus Christ. It`s just kind of incredible, the privilege I have of being here and talking to people and inviting them to come unto Christ.

Well, there you go! Week one en el campo!

Hasta proxima semana,

Hermana Owens

Monday, September 5, 2016

Week 6: ¡Hola desde el campo! [Hello from the field!]

Hello padres!!!! I have safely arrived in Tuxtla Gutierrez, and it´s awesome! We´re still chilling at the mission home right now, having interviews with Presidente George [the Mission President], and I love it. I´ve been talking with two Hnas, Padilla y Lopez, and it´s super fun. I actually had to be translator a couple times this morning, because Hna George [the Mission President's wife] said something in English and then Hna Lopez looked at me, and I realized she wanted me to translate for her! It was very surprising, and obviously the translating was not particularly high quality, but we managed! I was very proud of myself.

President George told me that my trainer is awesome, she´s just finishing up being trained herself, and so I’m pretty excited. Also, I think my area is really mountainous/hilly. Estoy muy entusiasmado!!!! [I'm excited!!!!]

I think I´ll be writing you again on P-day, so hasta luego!!!

Hermana Owens

[Then she wrote again a little while later.]

I just wanted to tell you that my new p day is monday, and I don´t think I´m allowed to spend much time writing today, so Í´ll send you pictures next week. I haven´t yet met my new companion! The President is awesome, he seems really nice, and he really cares about everyone.

Also, there are two elders going to the Omaha mission! Spanish speaking, so you´ll probably never meet them, but still, I was very excited to tell them that plains are, in fact, beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful, Tuxtla is AMAZING. It´s so ridiculously green. I love it. And, at least right now, it´s not THAT hot.

hasta luego!!!

Hermana Owens

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Week 5: Packing

I´m leaving Monday!!!! four am, I will be heading out. I got a water bottle that comes with a filter, so I guess that´s the plan for the duration of my mission. It´s a little weird, thinking of what I could potentially clean out of my water, but ah well. i prefer not to think about that :)

One of our elders is in the hospital! He´s had stomach pains (and the runs) and I guess his GASTRIC RUGAE (I've still got it) [Tess took Human Anatomy this past semester and enjoyed interjecting the names of pertinent parts of the body into our conversations] have been essentially worn away with all the acid in his stomach, so he hasn´t been able to absorb nutrients or anything, but they´ve got him on an IV now, and he's doing loads better. The elders are on shifts to be with him for twelve hours, and when Elder Hawley came back (his actual companion), he said that they were preparing a lesson to teach someone in the lobby of the hospital, but then they had to leave. Thinking of leaving and actually being out in the field, I´m nervous/anxious/excited to do exactly that. I´ll be in the airport, sharing the gospel with people!! It´s exciting.

We taught TRC last night again, and we talked to Soledad again, the same sweet old lady from before, and we found out that she served a mission in Tuxtla Gutiérrez!!! I keep finding out about people´s connections to Tuxtla, and it makes me really excited.

The CCM presidente spoke on Sunday, and he talked about specific prayers. This guy is INSANE. He has the most ridiculous amount of faith of anyone that has ever lived, I think. When he was six, he prayed that he wouldn´t get wet as he walked home in the rain, and it worked! And one time, his wife fell down the stairs and broke her leg, but they couldn´t take her to the hospital, so he gave her a blessing, left her there for the day with their son, and then went to work!!!! And he just prayed that she would be healed, and when he came back, she was dancing with her son!!! Like, how do you get that much faith? He´s pretty crazy.

Whenever I tell people I´m from South Dakota, the Latino people just get a confused look on their faces. It´s pretty funny. Also, my SD claim to fame is still working: I´ve been practically everyone´s first South Dakotan, except for one girl.

We had our final lesson with Angel, hno Saucedo, and it was awesome! He said it was one of the best lessons he's had while in the CCM. We just took a chapter from the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 5), becuase his brother was in jail and he´s been having a really hard time, and so we talked about "living after the manner of happiness," and then we started at the beginning of the chapter and read each verse and applied it to his life. It was really cool, and I think he really appreciated it. It was awesome! I love having good lessons, it makes me really excited for el campo [the field].

I have a new favorite chapter of the Book of Mormon, Alma 13. It talks about how people are prepared by angels to hear the word of God, so that when they hear it, they´ll recognize it as the truth and be ready to accept it. I´ve loved reading el libro de Mormón while I´m here, because you can see how much God wants people to accept truth. He´s sending out angels to prepare people for me, so when I teach them, they´ll be able to recognize the truth!!! The gospel is incredible.

I´ve really liked being in el CCM, but I´m ready for the field.

The next time I write, I´ll be in some internet cafe in Tuxtla Gutiérrez!!! hasta luego! Actually, I learned a phrase last night, it´s kind of like "see you later, alligator, in a while crocodile" but it´s

"Qué pasa, calabaza?" (What´s happening, pumpkin?)

"Nada nada, limenade!" (Nothing much, lemonade)

So, there you go!!! hasta luego!

Amo ustedes,

Hna Owens