9 de Julio, 2012
Blessings have been raining down on our heads lately... figuratively and literally. The area here is pretty much the opposite of how I thought it would be. It rains here at least 3 days a week, sometimes more. And when it rains, it rains hard. One time it rained so hard we had to take a taxi from the church to our house. In the total 15 seconds total that we were in the rain, I was so drenched I had to wring my shirt out once we got inside. I love the rain! I'm so glad I'm in Durango during the summer, because it is crazy hot and dry in Torreon, and they don't have the cool breezes we have here.
So a lot of the stuff in this letter is going to be about food.... I've had some good experiences with it so I gotta share. First off, I have invented what I call "el rey de los sandwiches de desayuno" (the king of breakfast sandwiches). You start out with a 2 or 3 egg omelette with salt, red pepper, and salsa verde mixed in with the eggs. Inside the omelette, you've got pan-fried chorizo, bacon, manchego cheese, and salsa verde. You put butter on the insides of the bread (specially bought in a panaderia, which is crazy good) and fry both sides of each cut piece. Then you put the omelette in the bread, and eat it with limes and salsa verde (I love salsa verde, if you couldn't tell). I ate this for breakfast every day this week, and it brought happiness to my soul, truly.
There is a Burger stand in our area called Gordo Burguer. We ate there last Monday and it was amazing. Mexican hamburgers are so much better than their American counterpart. They have jalepeños instead of pickles, and they ad a slice of ham, a pineapple ring, and bacon. So good. While we were at Gordo Burguer, one of the workers (because I'm white) was practicing his English with me. He asked for a Book of Mormon in English, but we didn't have one. We ordered one and are going to give it to him in a week or two when we finally get it. What better way to learn a language, right?
Another strange food that is common here is Nopales, that flat cactus plant. They are actually pretty good, especially with eggs and chile.
The women here really like to make beverages from all sorts of juices. This week I have had Mango juice, Tamarind juice, Papaya juice, and a mix of all three with lime and pineapple juice. Gotta love it. The papaya juice is unlike anything I have ever tried before.
I am now addicted to the Watermelon flavored Arizona's beverage. I kick back at least one every week.
Hermana Mejia (the doctor in our ward who answers all our medical concerns free of charge) is like a mama to us here. Today, she invited us over for pie. When we arrived expecting her to dish out a piece for each of us, she informed us that she made one for each of us. She then sent us back out on the road with 2 entire cheese pies in hand... gotta love her!
All in all, my diet has truly changed. I eat a lot of fruit here too, but I can't eat like an American anymore. Last week I made Mac & cheese and couldn't resist putting salsa verde in it..... it was super good! You all gotta try it. Seriously, I can't prepare any food anymore without eating it with salsa verde, and preferably with a lime or two in hand.
Other blessing.... Saturday we took a taxi from one of our area limits to the other side of the area at that limit. When we asked the taxi driver how much we owed, he said we should buy some sodas, on him. So yeah, free taxi ride. I'm sure he made more money that day as a reward haha.
Today, during our P-Day, we went to the church to shoot some hoops for about 2 hours before going to the grocery store next door. I can finally say I can shoot a basketball! I finally learned how, and I was making free throws and 3 pointers like crazy. My record today was 8 free throws in a row. Quite an accomplishment for me, as I have always been terrible at basketball.
The investigators are doing pretty good. Maria de Jesus had her 3rd lesson, and she is truly golden. I feel like I could never match up to her faith and willingness to follow Christ. She was supposed to have the surgery on her back today, so we will see if she uses her recovery time to read the Book of Mormon. She is excited for when she has fully recuperated and can be baptized, and so are we for that matter.
Last week, we went with the bishop to see Carlos Ayala (the man who contacted us). He wasn't available, but we checked out the area and came to the conclusion that it is safe to visit him, even if we can't get a member to come with us. We are still going to try to get someone to go with us, but if we can't it's ok. It's not that we are afraid, it's just that a few things have been happening that has caused the mission to be on high alert, and we just gotta be extra careful and listen to the promptings of the Spirit regarding danger. Neither of us felt anything dangerous, so we decided we are going to visit him today, after we e-mail our families.
We had a new cambio last week, and our entire zone got changed up. We met the new elders in our district yesterday. One of them is brand new, as this is his first area. I feel for him. I remember how frustrated I was the first week, when everyone was speaking crazy fast and I didn't understand a thing. But now this means I'm no longer a newbie! There are 2 elders in our zone who have less time in the mission and field than me, so I feel more like a normal elder now.
As for my foot, it is way better, but it still hurts when we walk. When we walk, we have to take a break every 2 blocks, according to the doctor's orders. And we have a plan for how we have to rest for the next 2 weeks (its a 3 week thing). We still work as hard as we can, we just take a little more time getting to our appointments and plans. We are going to order my in-soles/arc supports this week.
One last thing, Saturday night we got a phone call from the bishop asking us to give a talk in sacrament meeting. So yesterday we each talked for 8 minutes. I talked about the parable of the Lord's Vineyard (as told in the book of Matthew, chapter 20, verses 1-16). I read the first 10 verses of the parable and explained that the vineyard resembles the church, the laborers represent the members of the church, but so do the trees. One aspect of this parable that was revealed to me that many people don't focus on is the labor itself that takes place in the vineyard. The laborers have 2 tasks in the vineyard. First off, we, as laborers in the vineyard (members of the church), have the responsibility of taking care of the trees in the vineyard (other members of the church, mainly in our ward). We do this through home teaching, visiting teaching, service, inviting others to family home evenings, and an endless list of other things we can do. The second task that the laborers do in the vineyard is plant new seeds that will then grow into new seeds. This resembles bringing new people into the church. THIS IS MISSIONARY WORK!!! This clearly states that our job as members is also to convert others to the gospel, to bring those outside of the church into the church, not shun them as, sadly, I have seen a handful of members of the church in the United States do. The members of the church are also missionaries, and it is their responsibility to plant to new seeds. I then extended the challenge that before the end of this month of July, with the help of prayer and the guidance of the Holy Ghost, every member can invite a person/family to a family home evening in the company of the missionaries. I extend this invitation to all those who read this letter as well. By the latest, the end of the month of August, you should put forth the effort to do the labor of the Lord. All those who do this will receive more blessings than they have room for, and in forms that they may not have expected. Something I realized during my talk and said to the congregation is that "If we really believe in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we will apply it to our lives and experience the joy that comes from it. If we really understand the restored gospel the importance thereof, we will have the desire to share it with all those who we know, and even those who we may not know at the time."
Well, yet again I gotta go. I hope you all are doing good. I haven't heard much about what is going on in the outside world, but I hope it's all going good, that Obama's losing, and Romney's winning. Or at least anyone other than Obama. I have already seen many miracles in the mission, and they all show that this church is true. I know it, and I cannot deny it. Need I say more?
- Elder Tyler Riggs