Monday, January 30, 2012

Milagritos (miracles)

When I sent Elder Mercado off from Mochis back in December, I thought it was unlikely that I would see him for a while, seeing as how he'd be boarding a plane to South America and staying there for a few words, preaching the word and whatnot. To my great surprise and pleasure, his home ward meets in the came chapel as Colhuacan! So I got to see my old companion off at his farewell talk my first week here, that was strange, but even stranger was meeting his family. When my companions tell me about their families and friends, they seem really distant and fictitious, so meeting the whole Mercado family has been surreal. I ate at their house, and I remembered that Elder Mercado mentioned that his younger brother plays guitar.
"Hey Limhi, you play guitar, right?"
" you want to play it?"
"Yes, definitely, yes. (Here I come, all four songs that I remember)." When I end up getting separated from companions, the stories of their family and friends become a big cliffhanger. Will Amy ever write Elder Crabb back? Find out... after your mission.

Our house here is huge. And, there's no water. It's been fun. To shower, we fill up buckets, carry them upstairs, wake up early to toss a heating rod in, and have nice warm showers. As for dishes, I just eat things that don't really require any washing. So many sandwiches. I fully admit that our big scary house creeps me out at night, and my fears that monsters are chasing me when I have to run up the stairs have returned. It's why I've always had the strange habit of jogging up staircases. The reason that we don't have water is because some hooligans - our neighbors - keep stealing parts of the plumbing from the roof to sell the copper (now at 90 pesos a kilo).

One thing that is really starting to weary me - and something that will not ever run out while I'm in Sinaloa - is the amount of drunkards that accost us in the street. There are tons. About 20 this week. Sometimes they're funny, but mostly we just have to carry a good bunch of Word of Wisdom pamphlets everywhere. One particularly tipsy guy approached us this week to tell us how proud he was of us. He was "shaking" Elder Sandoval's hand, and said, "...the world lacks-" when mid-sentence, a passerby interjected, "The world lacks you not putting your batteries in backwards." So, street contacting is weird.

We decided that this was going to be the week of miracles. We set a goal to have one daily miracle. So right down with the rest of our "key indicators" (how many lessons taught, how many referrals recieved, etc.) we had a daily counter for miracles. And it worked. Right after we set that goal, one of our investigators challenged another investigator to get baptized during the lesson. And she accepted! Cool.

I've finally had to start moving my belt buckle down a notch after eating a big meal. Fare thee well, eternally static girth.

Also, we walk a lot. Aren't there a whole bunch of unsold segways sitting in a warehouse somewhere? Do you think the church would be up for buying 50,000 or so for all of the full-time missionaries?

We saw a woman in the street trying to carry a cactus, so, street contact + service combo = new investigator. When we got to her house, her niece had locked herself out. So, once again, my "long arms" (relative to those of the little Mexican ladies) were once again used to break into a house with a broom. Seriously, it's like the fifth time that I've done that. It makes me have a lot less faith in how safe the door locks are here. And of course, she gave us some jalapeños as a reward.

Erick is going to be baptized this next weekend. He's a super cool kid from a recently reactivated family (who lives 2 houses from the chapel, come on). We were teaching him and his siblings the Ten Commandments. His younger brother, Elvis - yep -, is super funny. I feel like it's going to be hard to explain this jokes, but here we go. He always calls the Día de Reposo (Day of Rest) Día de Posoli (Day of... a Sinaloense soup dish). In the lesson, Elder Sandoval said, "How did they punish robbers in ancient times?" and Elvis responded, "Push-ups!"'s funny, alright?

Sunday morning, we're calling all kinds of people, riding around in a pick-up truck, waking up sleepy investigators, and trying to get everyone to church, but to no avail. Until we got to church, when we saw that six other investigators had made it with their member friends. Moral of the story, we show our faith by doing everything we can to get people to come to church, and investigators show up completely irrelevant of our efforts. One of those investigators is Blanca, who is what we call an escogida. She ran into a friend, another investigator, at church and greeted her by saying, "This is the true church!" We put a baptismal date with her yesterday and she has already signed up to help us out with lunch for all of the Mondays this month. She's progressing really well.

So, basically, it was a really good week. We've seen plenty of milagritos, and we're teaching a good pool of progressing investigators. I ended up having to recount the Senior Prank story again this week. It now ends in a verySandlot fashion, when I explain who went where on missions and whatnot.

In closing, if you want a self esteem boost, read Luke 12.

Picture 1: When you do service in Mexico, they give you jalapeño peppers.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Making Tortillas

Picture 1: This is the first time anyone has ever let me help make the tortillas.
Picture 2: Mini-companions: all the fun of a regular companion, now in a convenient size!

Things are going really great here in Colhuacan. We've just been working hard all week and we've found a bunch of new people in the very small area of the ward. I really love Culiacán. I'm surprised each time I come to a new area by how different everything is, and this area is no exception.

We had a great lesson with a new investigator, Hermano Armenta, this week. He was explaining that he has some sort of medical problem in which his bone is pressing up against his optical and audio nerve... or something... Point being, he can't hear very well. I was just yelling very, very clearly in Spanish for an hour, only to find that he also can't see well, and so he can't read the Book of Mormon on his own either. We're working with a lot of part-member families and trying to help the ward to activate the less active members. All of the members I've met, especially the bishop, are awesome and super pumped. However, they are very few. We're working on that.

I was asked to speak for the first time in quite a while - three months - so I basically gave the same talk I give in every ward which was also my farewell talk. It changes a little bit each time.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Saved a kitten

Picture 1: Elder Sandoval
Picture 2: This is a little kid named Elder! Oh, Mexico.

This week, I had two first-time experiences. I saved a kitten from a
tree (apparently they really do get stuck up there). Also, I was
offered marijuana. After asking a guy for direccions, we were walking
away from his house, and really casually shouted, "¿Ocupan mota?" with
all of his neighbors watching. Nope, thanks.

Transfers. I'm now in Culiacán, at last. My area is called Colhuacan
(and there are a bunch of pictures of my good friend Elder Richins
baptizing people in the house, so apparently he was here too). My new
companion is Elder Sandoval from Puebla! He was actually in my first
zone back in the day. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Jared, Lucero, Dia de los Reyes

Picture 237: Christmas has doubled my tie collection!
Picture 239: I feel like these ties were sent with a message: "Dear 20-year-old Elder Tingey, no more of that skinny tie business. Here are some man ties."
Picture 256: My double muñecos from the rosca de reyes.

I sent off another packet of letters. Fingers crossed for Mexican postage once again.
Elder Mendoza and I ran into a kid named Jared this week. He is the mini-Mexican Trey Tingey. Our first lesson basically went like this: "I've already gone to church a bunch with my aunt. I even went to the temple in Mexico City. Can I be baptized?" Yes, Jared. Yes you may. He's a super cool little kid, and most of his family members are less active church members. He would be perfectly content if we came by to teach him and his sister every day.

We found a basketball court right by our house, so I bought a basketball and we go practice for a while in the mornings. Maybe that seems kind of out of character for me, but I like improving things I'm terrible at. And I didn't realize how bad I was before because I normally just pass the ball to other people (Elder Pearson). Like, really bad. Like, 10 baskets in a half hour.

I got the Christmas package! Thank you kindly, family. My favorite part was the tiny Bop-it for my companion, because watching him try to figure out what the bop-it guy is saying is hilarious.
We're really focusing this week on an investigator name Lucero. Her brother is on a mission, and most of her family members are recent converts. She's eighteen and has two kids (one who is named Elder, strangely enough). We had a really cool lesson with her. We basically just taught that she's not a kid anymore, she's a mother and needs to set an example. She said, "You two scare me, because you're convincing me." Not us, Lucero, but the Holy Ghost. She came to church on Sunday and loved it.

Each area has some kind of landmark that we use to help people find the chapel. In Costa Rica, it was a water tower, and in los Cabos, it was a giant colorful castle. In Angostura, it was the Apostolic church. But here in los Mochis, it's a huge sugar factory. They just started the factory up again, so now it smells like Willy Wonka's factory inside the church building. Hopefully, people will just wander in looking for candy now.

I never thought my ability to ride a ripstick would help in my missionary efforts, but it's come in handy. Thanks, Mom, for letting us ride inside the house.

There's a holiday here that has to do with the three wise men that visited Jesus as a child. Apparently, it's a really big deal in Mexico City, but here, they mostly just eat a big sweetbread called "rosca de reyes." It has creepy little bare-bummed figurines cooked inside called "muñecos." If your piece of rosca has a muñeco, you have to buy tamales a month later on the day of the Candelabra or something. Unfortunately, I managed to eat the only piece that had a muñeco in it, and I got stuck with two muñecos! Bad, bad luck.

Something I've really been considering this week is what it means for me to "pay the price" like I have been called to do. Sure, as a missionary I have to sacrifice certain things, and maybe I have to walk a whole lot. Those can be things to complain about, but real sacrifice and really paying the price means maintaining my eye single to the glory of god, trying to be the best missionary I can be, trying to improve my area the best I can. Those things are much harder than setting aside music that's not in the hymnbook for a while. So, I shouldn't feel content simply because I've worked a full day or knocked 100 doors, but because I really gave it my all.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Palabra de Sabiduria, Beso

Elder Mendoza is now my third companion whom the Sinaloaenses have tried to greet with a kiss. I don't know what it is about all my companions, but apparently they are irresistable. I only get handshakes.

New Year's was pretty nuts here. And when I say nuts, I mean drunk. There were loads of drunkards who apparently all want to go to church that accosted us during the festivities for 2012 that lasted about 48 hours. A member family gave us turkey and ribs and salad (with croutons and dressing and all that jazz), all things that I don't remember the last time I ate them. Everyone here loves any excuse they can find to throw a party, and the kids love any excuse that can find to play with fireworks. The amount of fireworks is startling, but the fact that five-year-old kids were throwing them at each other is more so. Is it weird that I had to convince one of our investigators (a fourteen-year-old girl) not to drink alcohol at a New Year's Party?
We're working with a good pool of investigators. It's been really difficult to get people to church with all of the holiday craziness and a schedule change for the sacrament meeting. We're working hard, and I'm particularly excited for the New Year.