Elder Tingey's letters as he serves an LDS mission in Culiacàn, Mexico
Monday, June 18, 2012
I almost got turned into a tortilla.
El Dorado continues to be a a great part of the vineyard. We've seen some really cool miracles this week. Also, I love the area because it feels cliche. I think that whatever I'm doing is pretty much what you'd imagine Elder Tingey is doing on his mission in Mexico: riding on dirt roads through fields of corn, teaching people sitting on buckets in houses made of... stuff, sweating. It's the best!
Lights Out, Apostasy We had a funny experience during a lesson in one of the "Edward Scissorhands" style neighborhoods that are pretty popular here known as infonavit. Each night, the mosquitoes go on a rampage from 8:00 to 8:30, so whatever lesson we're in at the time turns into everyone periodically swatting themselves every few seconds, and me swatting mosquitoes off my companion while he teaches. We were teaching about the restoration, and right as a I started on the great apostasy, the power went out, and the whole neighborhood went dark. When my companion started teaching about Joseph Smith, the lights came back on. It's too bad we can't get that to happen during every lesson.
No BrakesThere's this giant John Deere vehicle that all of the field workers drive. I have no idea what to call it in English, but it's about the size of four elephants and has giant spikes on the front. It nearly takes up two full road lanes, but people seem to just drive it around as if it were a normal car. Earlier in the week, I arrived at an intersection where one was about to pass by, I pulled my handbrake, and the wire snapped! And I almost got turned into a tortilla. So now I've just been flying around town with no brakes all week. When I come to an intersection, I just say a prayer, and then pedal harder, and any cars that are coming usually just slow down for me.
Chile HandsIf anyone ever asks you to help them take all of the seeds out of chiles to make chorizo (it's like sausage, but completely different), be warned: that stuff is potent. I washed my hands afterwards - foolishly - and wiped the chile particles all over my hands. It basically felt like I had really bad sunburn on my hands for the rest of the day, even while I was trying to fall asleep. They say that eating spicy chiles makes you speak Spanish better, so I'm assuming that my hands being chilified will lead to a huge jump in my Spanish guitar skills.
Oh, RanchosMy district is just completely unrailed this change. We're now a trio - Elders Tingey, Amaller and Soto. (Team TAS!). One of Elder Soto's investigators is named Silverio. His wife, Máxima, was baptized on Friday, and he and their granddaughter, Ramona, are set to get all kinds of baptized next Friday. Silverio is 90 years old (he's older than the Great Depression!). He's had his arm suspended in a bandanna since I met him, because he recently got hit by a truck that one of his neighbors was driving. Silverio was knocked unconscious and the driver drove off. But then, the driver supposedly paid some people off so that the ambulance never came, and so that the civil registry wouldn't do any investigation on the accident. Elder Soto has been running around all week talking to lawyers and doctors and government workers just to try and get the poor guy a check-up appointment. But Silverio's a tough guy. However, I think he might be older than toilets, because yesterday at church I had to show him where the bathroom was after he tried to go out behind a tree next to the chapel.
San JoaquinWe rode out to a rancho called San Joaquin to contact a reference. It's way cool. I love little places like those. Everyone seems to have livestock. We just asked "Where does Laura live?" without giving a description or last name or anything, and were pointed to the right house right away. On the way back, we were riding down the dirt road, and an SUV stopped next to us with two muchachos. We through our bikes on top of the SUV and they drove us to our next lesson while we taught them about prophets and Adam and Eve (it was a jumpy conversation, because they were kind of drunk [but don't worry, we were only going like 5 mph]).
Three-Legged YahtzeeThere's a bunch of guys who play volleyball on this sand court every evening in our area, and the missionaries have had a running joke of telling them that they'll come by later when they yell at us to invite us to come play. So, I went over and made an appointment to play a game on our P-Day! During the whole week, kids were coming up to us like, "Hey, are you guys really going to play on Monday?" I figured it was gearing up to be a big showdown. When we got there this morning, nobody showed up. A kid came out and told us that everyone went to work in the sugar factory, so we just played three-legged yahtzee (for those of you Catalina Islanders that remember that game).
And Now, Missionary Relevant StuffOne of our coolest investigators is Luís. He's a few years younger than me, and we just found him while we were trying to find a reference that was "Maricela who lives in a green house in la Aviación". While knocking on all of the green houses, we found Luís! We taught about the doctrine of Christ and how to make some key changes towards repentence and turn his life around a bit. We brought him to the branch's family home evening, where I was asked to share an experience (I told everyone about how that fan hit me in the head, and related it to how the dangers in the world can harm us when we allow ourselves to become comfortable with them, even while knowing that they are dangerous.) Luís's uncle goes to a Christian church and doesn't like Mormons much, so Luís is kind of testing out his options right now.
We've been applying the recent advice of Elder Tenorio about specific prayers. It's an amazing tool for missionary work and has allowed to see some cool miracles this week. We pray for something specific, consagrate our actions to the Lord, and then act, doing everything we can to bring about what we've prayed for, while having faith that the Lord will prepare the way.
I had a really great interview with President Cantú. We talked about how important it is to do things with the right motives, because in the end, it's just between me and the Lord. Even when it seems like nothing is going right, and we're not having success, all I can do is choose the right. If I do what's right and do my best, the Lord knows, and he's happy with the work I've done. So, missionary friends, just focus on always doing your best, and it's sufficient for the Lord, regardless of what others think or say or expect of you. Keep on keeping on.