I got off the plane in Veracruz around midnight, we took pictures, and arrived at the hotel. All of us were D.E.A.D. tired after traveling all day. We went straight to bed. We woke up the next morning, packed up and headed to the church offices to learn everything we needed to know. Then we headed to the chapel across the street and met our companions/trainers!
My companion is from Mexico! :) She is learning English (everyone in the mission needs to know both) but she is THE BEST. She has only been on her mission for 3 months, and just in this area.. so once she is done with me she will have been in the same area for 6 months of her 18! She fell during her first couple of weeks on her mission here so she had to be careful with walking. Because she really hurt her foot, she pretty much has only been on her mission half the time she really has due to her injury for the first part. I'm thankful that she understands enough to get around because I'm terrible with directions here.
Mexico is EXACTLY what you picture it to be but at the same time its the EXACT opposite. I LOVE it here in Veracruz. Everyone warned me about the humidity, but this Texan can handle the heat (although we do love whoever invented fans). Taxis and buses are everywhere and we use them when we need to pass to the busier type of streets because its safer than walking. By safer I mean you're at least INSIDE one of these death traps, ha ha. But really though, the buses are so rusty and torn up you wonder how they even get them to work, and then there is a MILLION people on it... oh, and did I mention that the minute your foot steps on the bus it is already going, so... HOLD ON TIGHT!! Taxis are better, but they also drive like crazies...so its all good.
We have lunch with members everyday, and so far I have had tacos, tortilla chips, beans, mangoes, pears and apples with yogurt and granola, soup, rice, meat, jello, I think that's all. I don't know what it is but everyone here makes water with a fruit and it is literally heaven on earth.
We taught so many lessons my second day. We have TONS of investigators. The church is EXPLODING here.
Abril is the first person we taught. She is 18 years old and she has such a strong testimony of the church. Her father will not sign the baptismal papers and allow her to be baptized. She is trying not to upset him because then he will not pay for her school. She lives in a place called Predios. Predios is not where the poor people live, it's where the dirt poor people live. Literally, shacks are built out of cardboard and scraps of metal to be made into a house. Families, children, babies, grandparents, people of all ages live here. It is the saddest thing. She offered us some water and I saw that it was the last that they had. The dirt roads are littered with babies clothes, shoes, bottles, diseased cats and dogs. I even saw a dead dried up frog. The people are so humble and it really did open my eyes to see babies living in these conditions.
We didn't have light in our apartment because they had forgotten to pay, but luckily, I had a flashlight, so we could do our studies at night in the dark. The next morning I woke up and did my daily routine before getting ready to shower. But while I was showering, in the freezing COLD water, I felt something weird on my leg. I dried my eyes with my towel and saw a lovely cockroach climbing up my leg. Once I had killed that there was an even bigger one on my towel. Need I say more... that my shower was pretty much done at that point.
We went back to Predios and talked with Abril and her aunt. Her aunt is a member and was not feeling too well so we went to check up with her. We sang a hymn and talked to Abril about her dad and his change of heart. She bore her testimony in Spanish about how the church is true. She knows it with all her heart, and she wants to make the right choice but she kept saying " No puedo, yo quiero pero no puedo" I cant, I want to but I cant. Tears filled her eyes and I shared a scripture with her and asked her to put her name in the scripture to personalize it more. She did and she felt the spirit so strong when I bore my testimony that her fathers heart can change through faith and hope.
Catolina is a WONDERFUL old lady. She is a recent convert and shes in her 80s-90s. She is the cutest little Mexican abuela. She always tells me I'm a gorgeous gringa and she ALWAYS asks me to say the prayer. Literally, whatever I say she repeats (in the prayer) it is SO HARD not to laugh because she tries to say it at the same time that you are so shes not echoing but its impossible. Shes so sweet I love her to death.
Diana Laura is around 14 or 15. She is so cute and her dad knows a lot about the church but isn't a member. She came to church and after the second hour found us and practically said, "When can I be baptized?"
Carmen and her family live in Predios. And just when I thought that area couldn't get any worse, it does. They live in the gutters of predios. We literally have to walk in the gutters to get to their house. Good thing I'm a tiny one because I have had to fit in some tight spaces here now that I think about it. They are such a sweet family. We taught the kids and even some of their friends that were over.
Barbara lives in Predios and shes a little old lady too. She lives with her brother (i think) and he got baptized last week! Whenever we teach her we have to have pictures and speak slowly and repeat and repeat and repeat and then we ask what we had taught and she says "no se en verdad" I don't know honestly.... then you repeat and repeat again haha! She Is a cutie. Her only set back is that her mom was a devout catholic and she doesn't want to upset her mom but Hermana Guerra explained that her mom is in a place with God and knows of the truth. It brought tears to Barbara's eyes and she said, "I know its true, I can feel it."
Urbano lives in Predios and is also old. His wife is a member but he has a problem with smoking. He was going to be baptized but he continued to smoke so we are working with him on that.
FOUR of our investigators came to church on Sunday! I also got called to help play the piano in primary! I'm beyond excited to help out in the primary because its what I love most.
The earthquake that happened, we felt. I at first was freaking out because I thought it was just my eyes going crazy but then we found out there was an earthquake and we definitely had felt it.
Everyday we speak with everyone on the streets and gain new contacts. Ive learned a lot since I've been here. The random pops you hear at night are in fact gunshots, the taxis honk to see if you want a ride and at least every other car is a taxi, bells mean ice cream/ shaved ice. People on motorcycles are selling tortillas and they honk their horn going up and down the streets every day. There are people in cars with stereos on top selling the equivalent of donuts. Ive pretty much seen every animal and insect known to man. Yes there were 2 cows by the Pizza Hut one night and a drunk horse. Also, the music here sounds a lot like F.U.N., One Direction, Bruno Mars, and that's because it is. They listen to regular American music but they also have their own. I'm already getting a pretty sweet missionary tan and its only been a week here... No one here expects me to speak español so its pretty funny when they talk and I understand what they are saying.
There is more I am missing but I cannot think of what it is now. The weather is perfect, but Ive never craved a swimming pool so bad in my life. Miracles happen everyday and I'm so thankful for it. Days go by super fast here which is weird because its already been a week, and it feels like a day.
I love you all and hope you all know you are in my hopes and prayers!