Friday, October 5, 2012

First week in Mexico!

Hey Family!

How is everyone? It was good to hear from you guys! I am glad you all had a good week. I don’t have a lot of time today, unfortunately, but I will try to get everything in!

So the first day we stayed in the mission home.  I had an interview with the mission president, he is super nice! I got assigned to the Irapuato area. It is a city 1 hour north of Leon. I am not sure how big it is but my guess is 100-200 thousand people. The next day we had an orientation, and our trainers came to pick us up. We took a bus to our area; the bus was actually the nicest bus I have ever been on.

We are staying with some other elders right now because the apartment in our area does not have power anymore for some reason. It’s kind of fun but it’s a hassle to travel to our area sometimes, it takes a while. Our apartment is pretty small, we have a study room, a kitchen and a bedroom, and they are all really one room divided into 3. And then there is a bathroom. Compared to everywhere else here it’s pretty nice.

So we take a bus to our area every morning, I am 99% sure there are absolutely no traffic laws here. If anything bad happens on my mission I think it will be some sort of car crash, not being robbed or something like that. The way the busses work is really cool (there are about as many or more busses and taxis as there are personal cars). The busses just drive a route, on no set time really, they weave in and out of neighborhoods and pick up anyone who signals by sticking their arm out. There is a button you press when you want to get off and the bus just stops for you. It costs 6 pesos per time that we ride it, which is pretty cheap. I think that’s around 55c in US dollars. (We get 1700 pesos per month plus whatever our rent is; it’s about 140 US dollars)

The Spanish is really tuff, the first few days I understood seriously almost nothing! I still don’t understand a lot. I was told the people speak fast but it is amazing how fast they can speak. It all sounded like one big word at first. It’s starting to slow down a little bit, but it’s still really tuff. Most people say they understand everything I say, but I have a hard time getting it out. I would say I can pretty much follow the gospel conversations during lessons and meetings, partly because people slow down when they talk about that and I think partly because it is necessary for me to help the people, so I have been blessed that way. Outside of lessons I can now understand maybe 50% so I know what the conversation’s about but I couldn't tell you what’s happening.

The people here are awesome! Everyone is so nice and friendly and helpful. They like to laugh, and they live simply. All of the little kids think it’s really funny when they see me, but they all like me and want me to play games with them and things like that. (Marbles and Tops are huge here). There are stores on almost every street, just little ones. There are basic stores, tortilla stores, bread stores, etc. It’s really kind of cool. They just walk a couple hundred feet when they need something. There are not very many big stores like in the US but there are some.

The food is amazing! The tortillas are so good. They eat them with everything. They have a pasta type thing they eat a lot, chicken or some sort of meat. (Honestly most the time I don’t know what kind of meet it is). They love soda. They have like 4 main sodas, the big one is Coke. You can’t go 50 feet without seeing a store selling Coke, they also have Sprite, Orange Fanta, and a soda called Manzana Lift, it’s kind of like apple beer but so much better! They also sometimes have Fresca. The soda here is better than in America for some reason, maybe because it is the same kind of stuff as home. They eat a lot of salsa, limes, and crunchy tortillas too. I have loved it so far. And the miracle is I have not been sick yet!
No one here drinks the water, not even the ones who were born here, not even the poorest people. They have giant jugs that they fill up with pure drinking water. So that hasn't been a problem because it’s hard to forget when nobody drinks it. It must be pretty bad if you drink it.

We eat lunch with the members; we are responsible for breakfast and dinner, although sometimes they feed us dinner too. I forgot to mention, breakfast is my favorite, they have all sorts of breads, pastries, doughnuts, etc. They are made fresh and so, so good. And cheap too! Breakfast costs at the most like 10 pesos which is less than a dollar.

My companion is Elder Valdez, he has been here for 20 months. He is a native from Monterrey, Mexico. He is a good missionary and very patient which I am grateful for. I am learning a lot from him.

To answer mom’s question, yes I feel safe, the neighborhoods look pretty sketchy, I won’t lie, but I have never felt threatened or anything like that. Honestly the most scared I have been is in a taxi or bus.

We have been teaching a lot of people, that is all we do is teach. We don’t ever tract, sometimes we do street contacts. We do a lot of helping less actives. We have a few investigators with baptismal dates for the week after conference, 5 actually. A family of 4 and a boy named Paul who is 13. The lessons are super fun; everyone loves to listen and is respectful and for the most part very receptive. I input things when I can, but at the very least I can bear testimony about any gospel subject and I do it a lot. The ward is great, I really like our war mission leader, he is 25 and a return missionary. The bishop seems good I only met him once at church. The members are amazing, thoughtful and caring.

So one quick experience, my fist day here we had a dinner appointment with a family. We get there and they was one room, with a curtain in the middle separating children and parents bedrooms, there was a sink on the side and I think there was a bathroom outside but I was not sure. There was either dirt or concrete on for a floor. (Almost everyone just have concrete floors, no carpet at all, wealthy people have tile.) They fed us noodles in a sauce, and then what I think was chicken covered in salsa with tortillas and some sort of pastry at the end. They had 4 people in their family: a mom, a dad, a 2 year old, and 4 year old. They didn't eat... It was the hardest thing to sit there and watch the little kids wanting food and not getting any but we were eating. Yet if I refused or tried to give it to them it would have been offensive. (That was one of the things they told us in our orientation the first day). That was a family with so much faith. They were willing to give all they had to serve the Lord, even if they went without food. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But I was taught a great lesson about faith. I had to ask myself, would I be willing to do that for God? Could I give up everything I have? I know that family will be blessed and I am so thankful for their faith. I know this gospel is true; the Lord takes care of His people, and protects His missionaries. I am so excited to be here. I love having the chance to be able to help people and change people’s lives. I have already seen that happen a little and it was so cool to help in it. I would challenge you all to have faith like that family that fed the elders.

I love and miss you all

Elder Utley

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