As for cultural experiences, I ate a chicken heart this last week. I found it swimming in my bowl of various chicken parts. It was actually pretty tasty. Tasted like chicken :) Everyone was laughing at me as I incredulously looked at it; they wanted to make sure that I just put the whole thing in my mouth and eat it. Hahaha ooohhhhhh poor naive Hermana Jones :)
We had some really neat experiences this past week. One of which was a noche de hogar, or Family Home Evening, we had with a family here. There is a sweet older lady who has been a Church member for 4 years and has been striving to help her family accept the Gospel. She invited one of her daughters and granddaughters who are also Church members, one of her daughters who is a member of another faith, and her 3 daughters who want to be baptized. She also invited her 20 year old grandson who lives with her and is very atheist and studying philosophy. The one daughter and grandson were not too thrilled to be there and we could definitely sense that. Hermana Carrasco had a plan regarding what we were going to teach. However, the morning of our lesson, we both felt that we needed to teach about the Savior’s Atonement instead. We got some Clorox and red food coloring and did a little demonstration to aid in teaching about the Savior's Atonement. We started out with a glass of clear water and explained that it represents us when we are born - pure, clean, and innocent. Yet, as we continue on through life we make mistakes. As we taught, we wanted to involve the children in our lesson so we asked them to give ideas of things we might do that are not in line with our Heavenly Father's commandments and desires for us. We added a little more red dye with each example. The grandson took this opportunity to make some snippy comments such as "forcing people to do things they don't want to do" and "not being respectful or tolerant of peoples' beliefs." At that, the grandma said "not listening." So, that was all a little uncomfortable and my face was probably beet red, but we continued on as I pondered the great irony of his comment. Then we poured the Clorox into the red water and as it bleached out all of the red dye and stains, we explained how the Atonement cleanses us. We read about the doctrine of charity in Moroni and, as we did so, the daughter of another faith had tears streaming down her face. We then invited each family member to write down what they could do to develop this Christlike love in their lives. The grandson had grown quiet. We later heard from the active grandma that he had written that he needed to be more humble and listen to others more instead of proudly making comments. That filled us with so much hope. We ended with the video "Gracias a Él" or "Because He Lives", offered another prayer, played a game, and ate burritos. I feel so blessed to witness these small but profound changes that occur because of the influence of our Beloved Savior. He lives and He loves us.
My companion and I were put in charge of having a ward Family Home Evening last night (Monday, February 1) and talked about the great importance of accepting and magnifying callings (opportunities to have an area of focus in serving others in our ward families). I shared 1st Corinthians 12: 12-27 about how we are all members of the body of Christ and need to work together to make sure a ward is healthy and functioning. I took the opportunity to share with them about how I have played soccer and ran track for a good majority of my life and explained how happy I feel when my body can run, play, and function like it is supposed to. I told them how sad I felt when I couldn't compete and perform like I wanted to because something wasn't working right. The simple truth is we need one another and all play an important role. Also, as we serve, we realize an increase in love for those that we serve and for our Heavenly Father. We feel a deepened connection with them and Him. We recognize that WE receive great blessings when our focus is outward.
Also, random note, a few weeks ago I gave an impromptu talk in Sacrament Meeting on Alma chapter 19 about Abish and her courage to share the Gospel. I feel so grateful to Heavenly Father as I think back to when I first began my mission and how inadequate I felt compared to now where I can talk and teach in front of a large group in the Spanish language. The Lord qualifies us for our callings and magnifies our efforts and blesses those we serve (President Eyring's talk from this last General Conference Priesthood Session is wonderful). More stories and pics next week. I love you all so much and pray for you.
Love Hermana Jones
Alicia and Salvador
Hermanas Carrasco, Tirado, Lambert and I enjoying a van ride to the Temple last week.
My wonderful district members!