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