Monday, February 7, 2011

Mexico is not as hot as you think

Hello Everyone!! : D I love hearing from you all every week! It's been a pretty long week for me, and I'm grateful to know how you're doing and everything : ). It's been a good one, though!
I've been pretty good, except the cold. BRR!! I guess I'm not used to it, but it was suuuper chilly this past week. I was wearing my wool cap, my sweater, my gloves (I shared my other pair with Elder Muñoz), my raincoat with zipout liner, long sleeves, almost everything I had, out walking and proseltyzing. It got down to about -5 degrees Celsius, which I guess is around 23 degrees Fahrenheit, at night! Apparently it's been the coldest it has been in like 15, 20 years here. The worst was the buildings: they're pretty much all made of concrete, with no insulation, so it was 45 deg F inside our house, at the lowest point (I could see my breath!)!! We were fine though, thanks to 3 blankets each : D. And I got through it! It was an experience, one fun to look back on : ) (except I hear we're going to have MORE cold weather later this week! I hope not : /). It's part of being a missionary! Yesterday was quite warm though, with tons of sun; I need to start being more mindful of wearing sunscreen. Really, weather here is just as weird as it is in Texas. I'm glad to hear that you all made it through the cold OK on your side.
 So yeah! I sent you a letter last week, though a member who took it to the post office on Thursday, I believe. We'll have to see when it gets there! Would you like me to continue to write letters? I can keep doing it if you'd like, but emails are faster and easier for me. Just let me know! As for mail on my end: the zone leaders go to the mission office to pick up mail every Tuesday and give it to us the following Monday, at our district meetings (the whole zone does it at the same time, in the Moderna stake center). Which I suppose means that any mail that you send this week, if it gets here by next Tuesday (I'm not sure how long it takes to get to the mission office), I should get in 2 weeks : /. Too bad it takes so long, but I'm content with printing out emails and such. Whatever you'd like to do!
 What else has been going on? A ton, that's what! : D We didn't talk last Sunday, but we do THIS Sunday, so I need to start preparing for that; I guess it's every 2nd Sunday that we give talks. I DID play the piano though!! Our ward doesn't have a pianist, so I volunteered to play. I only played the melody with my right hand, one note at a time, but it helped with the hymns. Hopefully I can start practicing and preparing more for the hymns beforehand. It's kind of exciting! I enjoyed fasting as well. We did it a little differently: we started our fast Saturday afternoon, after our comida (the daily meal that Mexicans eat around 2 pm as the largest meal, as opposed to dinner. We eat la comida every day with members), since we would eat la comida again on Sunday around 2 pm. I really enjoy the opportunity to fast each month, especially for others or things I need. And our meal afterwards was super tasty! : D
One thing that amazes me about Monterrey is how people are so prepared by the Lord. It's actually easier than you might think to walk up to people on the street, talk to them a little about the gospel, and make a return appointment! We made 45 contacts last week, 3 of which really stood out. One, with a lady named Leticia, we met on the street, and we could tell she was having a rough day. We told her a bit about the church, and she told us of some problems that her daughter was having. We sang a hymn, and she allowed us to come visit her later that day. And on only her second visit, she accepted a baptismal date (though she didn't come to church; I hope she's still working to read and pray)!! Another, Miriam, was a simple contact outside her house. But when we came and visited her and her husband Abraham, she was really touched by our introduction, saying that she had prayed to God to know what she would do, and that we were like messengers from God. Both she and her husband committed to read the Book of Mormon, and I know the gospel could help them so much. The last, Juan Carlos, I didn't meet until yesterday (I think my companion E. Muñoz contacted him before I got here or something), when we had our first visit. However, he had already read several parts of the Book of Mormon (up to about Jacob, plus jumped around to other places), had already prayed to God about it, and received an answer! He understood everything, eveninfant baptism (read about it in Moroni), and committed for a baptismal date, on our first visit, for the 20th. His sister committed too, even though she hadn't read the Book of Mormon yet! Truly amazing. I'm also really impressed with Bernardo, E. Muñoz's recent convert, for his humility and desire to learn and keep going in the church.
My companion, E. Muñoz, has been great, too! He's from Mexico City, and was actually baptized when he was 14 (his sister and his grandma are the only others in his family who are members). He likes to sing pop songs of all kinds, is looking forward to marriage : D, likes to joke around a lot, and is a really hard working missionary. He's really been helping me with my Spanish, and he knows some English, which is a lifesaver for me and helps me learn better too, I think. He's been out for about 11 months. In some ways it was hard for me to adjust to him, because I'm so used to working with Elder Jardine and teaching a certain way, and he does things differently. He's really helped me out though!! He understands what I'm going through, is willing to try some of the things that I've learned, and really has helped me get used to Monterrey and having a new companion, doing things differently, in a different place. I've learned, too, that I can't expect him to be the same as my trainer, that we are equals in this process, and that I need to work to see the good things he does and try to suggest things in a helpful way. I really am blessed to have him as my companion.
My area is good too! Though living conditions are quite poor, the quality of the people that live here impresses me. The members are super nice and solid, even coming out with us to lessons pretty regularly. I don't know; I don't really like to talk about the living conditions here. Our house is actually pretty nice, though dirty (we're going to work on that today) and a little cold-feeling at times (all the floors here are tile or concrete, and our house doesn't have much decoration, which makes it feel a little sterile, but it's really a nice house). Unfortunately I don't know the address, sorry!
Whew this email is getting pretty long! I probably should wrap it up for now. I hope I answered most of your questions! I love you all so so much, and I hope you have a wonderful week. It really lifts my spirits to hear from you and hear of your testimonies. I'm grateful to be on a mission, and I hope you all are doing well too. Talk to you soon!
Love, Oliver

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