Monday, November 24, 2014

2014-11-24 ¿Ya tengo dos meses? Y, ¿sólo tengo dos meses? (I'm two months old? Only two months old?)‏

Wow. Look at the time. I turned two months old on Wednesday. In the field, at least. Pretty soon I'll be old enough that I'll start including the time I had in the MTC when people ask me how long I've been a missionary. All told, it's almost been ten weeks!

As promised, here is the photo of my oddest snack (I'm sorry, I know it's a cultural thing, but for my culture that qualifies as odd) to date.
 



I've had the opportunity to go on divisions twice in the past two weeks with the district leaders. Really good experiences, and they've taught me a lot. I'm excited to go out and implement! Unfortunately, not one of our investigators came to church. Some let us know before, but one family that we were sure would show didn't. It's a little disheartening, but that's the way it is. We do all we can, and then leave it to God, who always gives us our free agency. As his tools, though, we'll continue to teach the importance of Sabbath day worship, to make sure everyone understands what is being promised if they can do their part. Check out Doctrine and Covenants 20. And 3 Nephi 18. And the other scriptures. All of them. Check out all of them. You'll thank me later.

I can't remember if I've mentioned... about a month ago, I went to Veracruz (port city, mission offices) and finalized my visa, so I should be good for my whole time here. At least, I think it was about a month. It might have been last week. Or yesterday. Time here is like for the Pevensies in Narnia. And, at times, like for Rip Van Winkle.

Food... the food's REALLY good here. I've had homemade tamales, tacos (here, they're very different. And, much better!) and, of course, the grasshoppers. Todavía me falta la iguana. Un día de estos...
It's true, there's a lot of chile here. Spicy is the norm. Also, there's a lot of lime. With practically everything. And, of course, the tortillas. Super delicious! Sometime soon, I need to try tacos al pastor. It's all the other missionaries talk about. Well, that and the Gospel.

A pair of sisters in our district just had a baptism on Sunday. His name is Jesús, and he's seventeen. I can't talk much about it, but he had a lot of trouble he had to go through to make it to this point. His baptism was a really special experience.

All right, that's all for now. Pray, read your scriptures, and don't let the bedbugs bite! Bite them first! With lime and chili powder!

Elder Rob "Güeroford"
 
The view from our apartment window

Homemade (not our home, of course) tamales! I know, a lot of food pictures...
 

Monday, November 17, 2014

2014-11-17 ¡Chapulín!‏ (Crickets!)

Greetings, all, from the beautiful Ciudad Mendoza.

First things first, I believe a while ago I said that I was in the northwest area of the mission. That was patently untrue, and I apologize. The mission is shaped roughly like a boomerang, and I'm smack dab in the middle, if farther out west. If you can find Córdoba on a map, then follow it out to the left and down a little, you should be able to find Orizaba, our stake's namesake. I'm a little farther out to the west from there.

This past week we had transfers! As a trainee I didn't, technically, but pretty much everyone else did. I'm now the only United States citizen in my district. United States of America, that is. Although this transfer (I THINK that's the English word for it... here they're called "changes") is only five weeks instead of six, so they'll come again a week or so before Christmas.

Everything's good, here! The work's progressing, and there's a family that's doing really well, with baptismal dates for December. They were a reference, too, from a member, so remember--do someone you know a favor and let the missionaries share the gospel with them!

Apart from the occasional military or police truck driving through, things have been relatively quiet. Oh, yeah, I don't think I've mentioned them, yet! Yeah, there's a large police presence here in Mexico. But it's not so much in quantity as in quality. As in, the police here literally carry around assault rifles instead of the pepper spray/pistol/baton combo you might see in Kirkland. Every so often, trucks from the military or the police (I've seen names from at least three different branches of the police... I'm curious about how many they have) with three or four officers in the back, in full SWAT gear (vest, helmet, balaclava, everything) with their rifles just pointing out the sides, scanning everybody. I hope they use their safeties. I suspect it has to do with drug traffic prevention, but I honestly have no information on that, just the ginormous guns. But they're really friendly.

And occasionally, stores will hire guards (I think they're privately hired, but again, I have no real idea) to, well, guard their stores. I once saw a man, again in that full SWAT gear, with ski mask and everything, carrying an assault rifle, guarding the front of a small bakery. I guess they have really, really good bread?

Aaaand, on to the title of the email. ¡Chapulín! My comp and I bought a couple of tortas (really good sandwiches--sorry, my Argentinian friends, not cake--they sell here) to eat in a park near the center of the city. A lady passed us, shouting out her edible wares, but we let her pass us by. At least, until I heard her yell out, "¡chapulines!" I turned to my comp, and said, wide-eyed, "¿De veras?" (Really?) He made a face, affirmed, and said, "Si quiere," (If you want to.) and gestured to the lady. I promptly ran after her and purchased my first ever cup of grasshoppers. No, really! Pictures to follow next week, if I can! A little bit of chili powder, a lime squeezed over the top, and you just munch on them. They were about an inch long, and very crunchy. Roasted, I think? I was so excited I didn't ask, just checked that they were no longer moving. Yes, I felt a little weird eating them, but how could I possibly let that opportunity pass me by? Ten pesos (less than a buck) for a small cup! Yes, that's the "weirdest" thing I've tried so far here. The food here is delicious, including their local insect life. But don't worry, Mom, I haven't tried any of the cockroaches in our apartment and I don't intend to.

I'm feeling more and more comfortable with doing the work here. It's still a bit difficult, at times, because going up and talking to strangers has always been against my nature, but this really is different. I have divine help, and I'm not here to make small talk. I'm here to invite others to come unto Christ to gain eternal life with their families. I study, I practice, I approach others, I'm rejected, I'm accepted, I teach, I explain, I invite, I rejoice with those that discover the happiness this message can bring, I'm devastated when they don't realize the importance of what we're offering, and my goal is to be better every day, a better missionary, a better person, a better instrument in the hands of the Lord. The only way I'm able to do that is by relying more and more on my Heavenly Father, to show me where I'm doing well, and especially where I'm not, to help me improve. I have a lot to learn, but I'm glad I have this opportunity to do so, the chance to really dedicate myself completely to this.

Con mucho amor,
Elder Rob Weatherford
 

Note from Kathy (Rob's Mom)

Sooo, just a quick note to clarify...Rob didn't have time to write a group letter last week.  Hopefully he'll have time this week, and I'll get it up here on the blog asap!!  So glad people are enjoying reading his letters!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

2014-11-3 Week... I don't actually know. It's not two years yet?

Dear All:

At times, sure, the time flies by, but it's hard to believe that it hasn't even been two months since I was set apart.

Bueno. ¡Hola hola, caracola! (Shoutout to my MTC comp, Elder Brown)

I'd like to start out with something that touched my heart. In a Sunday School lesson, in the Gospel Doctrines class, the subject was baptism. The Gospel Doctrines class is for both those taking lessons from the missionaries prior to baptism and also for recent (within a year) converts. During one of the discussions, one of the recent converts showed the class the photo of her baptism. It was a photo of her, her family, and the missionaries that converted them. She had it glued inside the front cover of her scriptures. When my comp asked her about it a little later, she showed us that in the back, she had a picture of the temple glued inside the back cover, with the message "This is the goal" written in Spanish. She and her husband will have been baptized one year ago this month. That was really beautiful to me, and I can't wait for them to experience the joy that comes with being sealed together in the temple for time and all eternity. That's the goal of missionary work. Not baptism, because that's just the gate to the path of exaltation. Eternalization... that's one of the most important messages I'm here to share. Families can be together forever. 

All right. For lack of a better segue, I'm going to just say it: From there, I'd like to move on to Dora the Explorer. I caught my companion singing quietly to himself one day, a song that seemed very (unfortunately) familiar. When confronted, we discussed it a little bit. He was surprised to learn that in the United States, it actually teaches Spanish! Apparently, everywhere else (or, at least in Argentina and Mexico) it teaches English! So, we have phrases, like, "Swiper, no swiping!" changed to, "Zorro, ¡no te lo lleves!" (Fox, don't take that!) ("¡Ah, rayos!") We also have Frosted Flakes (Azucaradas) with good ol' Tony the Tiger ("Tiger," pronounced "teeger," different than the Spanish word for tiger, "tigre"), who says, "¡Son grrrriquísimos! ("They're 'riquísimos,' they're really delicious)

Also, Mom - What I told you, about trusting more in the Lord than in myself and my language abilities, I'd like to explain a little more. Right now, for me, it has more to do with leaps of faith. I still study like crazy, and do all I can to learn how to speak and understand the people, but that's not trusting in myself more than the Lord. I need to work hard to be worthy of the gifts of the Spirit, including the gift of tongues. The times when I would prefer to keep my mouth shut because I don't know if I'll be able to communicate what I feel I should, those are the times when I need to trust God and open my mouth anyway, because following a prompting is more important than hesitating to speak even when I don't know exacly what to say, or even if I'll be able to express myself exactly the way I want to. I still struggle with it, but right now that's what relying on the Lord more than myself means to me.

Los quiero muchísimo,

Rob