Buenas tardes a todos! First, please forgive me for not writing much over the past two weeks. Last Monday, we had another Zone outing and other things came up that left little time to write. However, I knew that I would be Skyping with you on Mother’s Day. I loved our visit! Also, hello from a new area! Hermana Lambert and I have been transferred from our little mountain pueblas to an area on the west end of the Ixtapaluca Zone where we are covering a large area consisting of another hill. This has been a really great week. I LOVE MY NEW AREA. There are people to contact, doors to knock, hills to climb, combis to hitchhike, a rama (branch, or small Church congregation) to get started, families to teach, and lots of work to do. I am SO happy. Hermana Lambert and I buckled down and got to work Monday night after dropping our stuff off in the apartment (we were a little scared when we walked in but after a few feminine touches it felt more like home haha). The area is puro cerro - "pure hill"- which means we take a lot of combis (taxis) to travel up and down in the FIVE different colonias in our area. Or we just walk. My sweet little calf muscles are not going anywhere any time soon ;) haha just kidding. But yes, I am walking my little socks off. In fact, almost all of them have holes in them now. The area is very very very big. We cover five colonias that are full of houses and apartment buildings. We are working in C, H, F, C, and LR. LR is a fairly new colonia where the people have to "luchar para su terreno" which means they buy a piece of property at a cheaper price to begin with but have to go to government meetings every SUNDAY MORNING at 9 to do community service and earn points back - this makes it somewhat complicated getting people to Church because they can't miss these meetings...and our Ward starts at 8 am :( LR is pure grey cylinder block houses and dirt roads that have no names and Ranchos del Carmen. One time while walking in LR, I broke out in song on the street and sang "Where the Streets Have No Name" by U2 to my companion hehe. The street names in the other colonias are awesome because they are all Aztec names that are super hard to pronounce and we love it! We knocked a lot of doors and met a lot of new people and are making work for ourselves here. We found several families who were very excited to begin learning, and that makes me happy. We also met a sweet 20 year old kid named E who was super excited to receive us. He came totally prepared having read the pamphlet in advance. He began by telling us that he had a few questions and asked "so who is Jose Smith?"- my companion and the member present with us and I all just looked at each other and smiled and we said we could definitely help him with that question. He received the message of La Restauración really well but when we pulled out El Libro de Mormón he got so excited and ate everything up that we said. Before we even committed him to read it he said, "I can't wait to read this. I know it is going to answer my questions. I don't even feel tired now!" (He works in a bakery in El Distrito (Mexico City, Federal District) during the night and tries to get some sleep during the day so he was pretty tired but this woke him right up :) We are also teaching a young couple with 2 little children, a mom and daughter and brother, and a mom and daughter. It feels so good to teach families! This area has a nice mix of my two previous ones because it is big and has more of a city-ish feel but there are families to teach, not just random super-busy single people. My new saying is "lovin it lovin it lovin it! I 3 for the win” :) Hermana Lambert and I are in a district of puros Elderes (all Elders). We all eat together on Saturdays in the home of an awesome lady who was baptized a year ago. We have to travel a little ways to get to our lunch appointments because the Ward boundaries are huge the almost all of the members who live in our area are menos activo (less active in the Gospel at present).
We played basketball this morning as a district and I enjoyed kicking some trash out there on the court ;) hehe false I kicked no trash whatsoever but the Elders were very nice to let me play and it took me back to the glory days of Church basketball. Hermana Lambert relaxed on the sidelines and watched. We figured it would not be very wise to have her play the game that smashed up her wrist in the first place...not thanks to yours truly (we're going to get that checked out at the doctor tomorrow). Random note - I ate a fried fish bellybutton last night. I didn't even know fish had bellybuttons! Apparently they are on the insides of the fish stomachs. Checked that one off the list. I will try to send a picture next week (I had a ton of letters this week and this is the only email I have time to write today - Mom and Dad please thank both sets of grandparents and my awesome aunts and uncles and Sister M for their wonderful emails that I so appreciate!
This last little while of my mission I have really enjoyed studying 2 Nefi 2 and 9, two of my favorite chapters in El Libro de Mormón (Book of Mormon), because they talk about how perfect God's plan is and how necessary it is to have a Savior. I invite all who read this letter to take some time and read those two chapters. I know He lives and loves us. Se cuidan mucho y se olvidan que Él les ama perfectamente.
Hermana Yons (that was how my name was written on the note giving me the assignment to speak in Church in my old area and is often how my name is pronounced).
PS Mom and Dad, thank you for your letters this week as always :) Love you with all my heart and it was awesome to Skype on Mother’s Day...when the connection was working ;)
Parent Note: We had a great visit with little Hermana “Yons” on Mother’s Day via Skype. We thought we would include some of the information that she shared with us in a little side note. She is her same wonderful self and loves her mission life. She told us that she and Hermana Lambert were being transferred down the mountain. Apparently, they went from the farthest point away in the mission from “our wonderful President and Sister Stutznegger” to an area still far away but now in a much more urban environment. She talked about how she loved her mountain area and that she knows things will continue to grow there from an almost complete standstill when she arrived. She learned a lot while training Hermana Carrasco, and her ability to speak Spanish really increased during that time. She loves the language. She talked about how the area that she just left is very unique and that missionary work there can be challenging due to various factors. However, she expressed such tender feelings about the people there that she loves so much. They leave behind people who are now coming back to Church and activity in the Gospel, and people who are well on the path to baptism. She said it was very hard to say goodbye to the children who were attending the English class that they started. The children didn’t understand why they had to leave and brought little goodbye presents. She expressed love for the Church members who took such good care of them and helped them in so many ways. Two great Elders moved into the area and are going to continue efforts to spread the Gospel, especially in Rio Frio, and see if the area can continue to progress. She talked about things learned and the growth that she experienced in her previous area. She experienced inescapable cold for the first two months at that high altitude but learned to manage. She learned to carry water into her little house at times for showers...some cold and some warmer if they went outside to get the heater going or if they had time to use an iron to heat the water in buckets. She also learned to enjoy the benefits of a good old fashioned sponge bath and how to make due without a shower at times. She learned to adjust to breakfast of tamales and burritos etc. because their little shops did not carry cereal and other “typical” American breakfast foods. There were some hard days capped off by passing a dead dog with its legs in the air and a beer bottle in its mouth. There were other days that were capped off by a tender teaching moment and where they saw lives change. One constant is that she witnessed little miracles each and every day. She expressed the joy that comes from loving Church members who were always literally willing to give her anything and everything that they have. She is learning that one of the hardest things about serving a mission is saying goodbye to people who she will love and appreciate for eternity. Their last couple of weeks have been very busy and full. They even got to teach early morning Seminary during their last week in the previous area. She expressed love for the Mexico City area in general, and for her mission, and is sad about how fast time is flying.
Another Parent Note: The following is a recent letter from Hermana Lambert, Emily’s wonderful companion.
So it is official 9 de Mayo Prez is taking us of the hill and moving us to... wait for it... another hill!
I realize I probably haven't ever described what my pueblo is actually like. It is a very interesting mix of EXTREMELY tranquil and surprises around every corner.
There is a guy here who has a tiger. On our street everyone is a member (feel like I live in Provo) except for one house that has a virgin shrine out front and these investigators have a garden that stretches the length of the block. IT IS HUGE! and inside they have a bunch of peacocks including an albino and a bunch of other exotic animals and birds. There is a ranch here with 30 mini ponies! and then they have 150 normal horses. And by normal, I just mean big because these are not ordinary horses--Arabians, and Thoroughbreds and all sorts of fancy horses. Lots of people gallop around on horses here. For me it is super funny when some whistles at us as they ride by on their horse I feel like saying " I was checking out your horse not you!"
The pueblo is normally very calm but weekends above the highway! WATCH OUT they go crazy! There are parties everywhere. They shut whole streets down every weekend to host their parties. The good thing is that once we told some of our investigators we can't go to parties as missionaries, so she fills us up plates of food and has children deliver it to our house at about 9:30 Friday and Saturday. Party food over here is usually mole or mixote (I think that is how it is spelled. The fun thing about mixchote is that is kind of like a goodie bag. The bad thing is you can never be sure what you are going to get.)
Basically mixote is carne de res (beef) (which is normally SUPER GOOD) with a bunch of spices (I think they even put a curry-like thing in there) and nopales in a bag made of this certain plant they also make tequila out of. But you never know which part of the bull you are going to get. This week as we were eating at a members house in my "goodie bag" I got umm.. well... lets just say rocky mountain oysters with some other interesting pieces... I shudder just thinking about it I went home and brushed my teeth because I couldn't get the taste out of my mouth.
Happy Mother's Day!
Pic with President Stutznegger after a recent leadership council.
Hermano H, a German man who was baptized last year and recently coming back to Church. He is SO cute and So precious and his accents in English and Spanish are the best :)