Merry Christmas all the way from good ol D.F. MEXICOOOOOOOO!!!! Hello everybody! I hope you are all enjoying plenty of hot chocolate and snow and everything Christmas in northeastern Nevada. Christmas here in Mexico is pretty fun and very different than anything I have ever experienced. I mean my goodness. Every night since Dia de La Virgen there have been fiestas and posadas in every street. In our apartment complex there is a group of people who gather together every night RIGHT below our window and hold their posada while we are planning. This is a nativity of sorts but it is all focused on La Virgen María. They start out by singing a song as they all light each other's candles. Then they gather around the alter and nativity set they have made and chant prayers. They pass around a white rose and each person says something they love about her and then they chant again. Afterwards the adults string up a piñata and the kids take turns whacking it to more chanting. There is plenty of coca cola and ponche (a cider type of drink with fruit that doesn't exist in the U.S. and it is really tasty) to be had. The festivities continue for a few hours. One night there was a party until 4 am. Fortunately Hermana Carrasco and I slept just fine but poor Hermana Wong couldn't sleep, thanks to both the party and me apparently teaching lessons/praying en español in my sleep haha. It has been interesting to experience this new culture during December. There are so many alters and nativity scenes set up everywhere. People go all out. I will try to send a few pictures and maybe a video if possible. We had our combined Fovissste and Oriental Wards party on Saturday and I had the great honor and privilege of hitting and breaking a piñata blindfolded! Never in my life before my mission did I ever think I would be in Mexico hitting a piñata.
This has been one rollercoaster of a week. We successfully scheduled a baptismal date with Ingrid for January 9th! (I most likely will not be here because President Stutznegger told me that I will likely change areas. If I do get moved I hope I can get permission to come back for her baptism.) My companions and I are very happy and grateful for that. It's a Christmas miracle! :) On the other hand, we have had a lot of difficulties this week, just stressful situations and a few problems with the ward due to miscommunication. Finally on Sunday afternoon I just broke down and cried. Everything finally just built up and had to come out, and with it being my first Christmas away from home I just let it out haha. It was kind of pathetic actually but we sat down on a sidewalk curb and my companions let me cry for awhile. We have been through a lot this week and it brought us all really close together. I am so grateful for my companions and the people I am meeting here in the mission. I have met a few of my best friends here. I am also learning so much too. In our district meeting tonight one of my zone leaders said something I really liked. In English, basically what he said was that the easy things pass but the difficult hard things are what matter the most to us. Ingrid for example. We have been working with this family for 3 months now and I have been blessed to witness the change that has occurred in their home. Now, Ingrid is getting baptized and Aide is totally on board with her daughter's decision. This baptism will mean so much to me because it is something I have worked on for a long time. It is the hard things that in the end are the most worth it.
I am so grateful for each one of you and the impact you have had in my life. There is one quote I would like to share with you. I am sorry I don't have it written down in English but it is from a talk by President Monson called The Best Christmas Ever from a few years ago. He says, "Si queremos tener la mejor Navidad de nuestra vida, debemos prestar atención al sonido de los pies calzados con sandalias; debemos tratar de alcanzar la mano del Carpintero. Con cada paso que demos en sus huellas, abandonaremos una duda y ganaremos una verdad." It basically says that if we want to have the best Christmas of our lives, we should give attention to the sound of sandaled feet – we should reach for the hand of the Carpenter. With every step we take in His footsteps, we abandon a doubt and gain a truth. I know that this is true. Our Savior Jesus Christ was born in the humblest of circumstances and suffered more than anyone ever has in the history of the world. He lived and died over 2000 years ago so that we might live too. I am so grateful for the sacred opportunity to work shoulder to shoulder with Him this Christmas season. I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, the best one you have ever had in your lives. Remember that true happiness comes from bringing happiness to others, as President McKay once said. I love you and, more importantly, the Savior loves you. Merry Christmas :)
Love Hermana Jones
A few of the Missionaries from my zone. We have been going a lot of contacting and tour giving of the church throughout this month and have had a lot of success.
This was us at the Temple Visitor's Center with Erick and his family. Ingrid and her younger sister, Kamilla, is with us as well.
Ward Christmas party. It isn't Christmas in Mexico without piñatas. There were 5 at this party :)
The altar that was outside our apartment window. Now there is a huge nativity in its place.
Me eating a torta de tamale -- basically a tamale sandwich -- and Hermana Carrasco eating an elote. Yes, that is the real Nacho Libre corn with mayo and cheese on a stick and it is SO GOOD.
Us with out "Mesa de Navidad" and our gingerbread house haha that is about all the decorating we can do in our apartment.
Also, me holding my Christmas Cactus with a little silver star on it :) The cactus was a gift from a few Ward members.
We love Hermana Stutznegger!
More Christmas pics.
I love the missionaries here. So many cool people.
The group of us missionaries who won an activity at zone conference. Champs :)
This was at the tiangis (large street markets). One of the Church members was packing up all of her stuff that she was selling so they loaded me up and I carried a lot of it back to her house. Apparently I am "strong" haha.
Some of the graffiti here. It is EVERYWHERE.
Area by my apartment where I often run early in the morning.