Elder Tingey's letters as he serves an LDS mission in Culiacàn, Mexico
Monday, May 30, 2011
She was deaf.
We've had a dynamic week; because of a zone conference and a few other things, our time was pretty complicated, and we didn't get as much done as we had wanted to. However, as the week drew to a close in the crunch time of Saturday and Sunday, things seemed to start suspiciously going our way. Sister and Elder De Hoyos of the Quorum of the Seventy visited this week, so we spent a morning in Los Mochis for a Zone Conference. There were a lot of helpful and edifiying things that I took from it. Presidente Cantù spoke about how we can never rest from our work because of whom we represent. I need to always be prepared for those I come into contact with: alert, observant, with a smile. "We must pay the price; there is no other manner," said Presidente Cantù. Sister De Hoyos explained the possibility of exact obedience. When looked at as a whole, being 100% obedient seems like a difficult task; we have a lot of rules and a cramped schedule. However, if you look at each rule individually, they're not so hard to follow, and they are certainly possible. For example, getting up on time - 5:30 a.m. here in Angostura - only requires a bit of will and self-organization.
She also mentioned the concept of: “The Kingdom of God or nothing.” Any sin, however minor, that we make is something willingly chosen that can genuinely limit our divine, eventual potential. I don’t want to do anything to limit myself, to stop myself from recieving the greatest consequences that I have the oppotunity to recieve. Elder De Hoyos gave us some interesting tasks to complete, such as rewriting a mission acceptance letter to the First Presidency of the Church, annotating the First Presidency message in Preach My Gospel, and memorizing the Articles of Faith. The message he shared was pretty unique; he was talking about our daily work in very down-to-earth way, giving advice about how to be more efficient in finding references, or how to teach specific principles. Zone Conferences are great, and very difficult to leave because of all the other missionaries that I want to talk with whom there's usually no time.
A lesson that I've had to learn repeatedly (and still don't seem to understand) is the importance of NOT judging, especially from a first impression. In Costa Rica, Elder Merrell and I were eating in a member's house and a woman entered and walked by us. I greeted her with a cordial, "Buenas tardes!" and when I didn't recieve a response, I just thought to myself that she was quite rude. Turns out, she is not rude, just deaf. Elder Merrell ended up teaching her for a while in the best sign language he could muster. I really want to become better a recognizing people's intentions - which are usually good - and understanding their motivations in stead of making conclusions based on unfounded observations of environment, clothing, economic status, or anything else.
In the weekend, we had to make the preparations for the baptismal service of Guadalupe, the mother of a recent convert, Agustin. It seemed like things were going to be extremely complicated because of the over-filled schedule we had, but a lot of little miracles happened and everything went smoothly. Among these little miracles: Elder Monroy and I were the area of the other companionship in our district for a baptismal interview, and needed to make it all the way to Angostura for a lunch appointment - for which we were already a half hour late - and then organize all of the travel for the service in Guamuchilm where there is a baptismal font that would be easier to enter than the one we have a in Angostura, which involes climbing up ladder-staircase rig. Elder Monroy said, "Elder, we need to pray for a ride." He said a quick prayer, and the next truck that came let us hop in, and then went straight to Angostura and nearly to our doorstep; it was by far the most effecient ride I've had in this area. En route, we said another prayer in gratitude for the perfect ride. There were a lot of other things that went really smoothly that day and in the following Sunday in order for Guadalupe to be confirmed as well. It's made me realize that I need to be better at recognizing my spiritual experiences. I think I often get caught up in observing the culture or trying to find experiences that will make for funny stories later on, and I get a bit distracted from what's most important. If I think back on the time I've spent in Mexico so far, few experiences pop out as genuinely miraculous or edifying, just because I'm bad at paying attention and reording those that I know I've had. So, I want to pay more attention to recognize what I'm in the middle of.
Every other week when we go out to Cerro de los Sanchez for the extended Sacrament meeting, we hop in the bed of Hermano Cornelio's truck with Hermano Ambrosio (or Bocho) and shout hymns against the strong winds throughout the small trek. It's really fun everytime; Hermano Bocho is such a jovial, funny character that I can't help but just laugh the whole ride. I'll try to explain the characters and relationship between Hermanos Bocho and Cornelio sometime, but I nearly can't do it justice. They're like a sitcom about two grumbly old guys that seem to argue a lot, but really couldn't be one without the other.
In the first month or so of my mission, I thought everything was pretty easy. I've realized that was because I couldn't speak or teach all that well, and I was very green, so I just followed along behind Elder Davis and Elder Brassard and didn't have much responsibility. As I've gotten further into my mission, the responsibility has been heaped upon me, and with it has come an understanding of why a mission is difficult. Each Sunday, it's like entering the field again a being nearly overwhelmed. I love it. It is so fulfilling to try my hardest each week, sometimes fail, and come out better for it.