Wednesday, June 18, 2014

First Weeks in Mexico and Pictures

Here are some recent pics from Elder Latimer!  His letters follow the pictures below:



June 2, 2014

Dear All:

It’s crazy hot here, like over 100 degrees each day,so we sweat a lot, but our shirts don’t really get drenched because its evaporates really quick. My companion, Elder Hurt, is from Missouri and has been out for 1 year and a month. The mission president and his wife are awesome and so are the other missionaries in our district. They’re all pretty funny, and we get along great.

Spanish is very intimidating here. Not only because they talk fast in Mexico, but they talk even faster in Sinaloa (the state), and they talk even faster in Culiacan!! I can understand the majority of what’s going on, but it’s difficult for me to answer specific questions because they don’t finish their words and slur everything. But I’m getting better every day.

My area is called Bachigualata. It’s in Culiacan but not so much downtown. The members here are so awesome. We eat lunch at a member’s house every day and lunch is the big meal of the day here. Also, people hug on the wrong side. Members or other Elders will hug you with their heads to the right. It’s weird.

It’s super ghetto here! Everything has graffiti on it, and lots of people put broken glass all over their walls to keep people from breaking in. A member in the ward got shot last week when someone tried to steal his truck. People here love the missionaries though. We say hi to everyone, and we always get invited in for water or juice or something. The food here is great, for the most part. My first lunch here we had some gross bean and rice/water soup and some kind of spaghetti. They don’t use marinara sauce, but overall it was fine. But the next day I got a stomach infection and went to the hospital. It wasn’t a big deal. The missionaries here go to the hospital for everything. I was better by the next day.

Our apartment is really nice.  The other day we had two dogs try to chase us, but one was a chihuahua so more like 1 and 1/4 of a dog. It’s really funny because you just have to bend down and act like you’re picking up a rock to throw at them, and they just run away. There are so many dogs here.

We have a baptism date for this older lady named Silvia. She’s so awesome and friendly, and there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll baptize her. It’s going to be me or the member that referred us to her, but it doesn’t matter to me because I’m afraid I’d do it wrong in Spanish. We got two more baptismal dates last night from this older couple whose granddaughter is a member. We just randomly contacted them and they’re really interested. We still have to teach them the lessons though but they committed to be baptized on July 7.

The kids and youth here are awesome, and I like to talk to the little kids because our Spanish is at about the same level. I also bore my testimony in church on Sunday. It was pretty scary but I did fine. Soooo many more people here bear their testimonies on fast Sunday than back home. When the bishop allowed people to start coming up literally 20 stood up all at once and walked up. It was like that for a lot of the meeting.

We teach a lot of less actives. That’s a big deal here. Sorry my letter isn’t very linear, just so much has happened and I’m trying to remember it all. I’ll add pictures now. 
That’s sad about Jace it makes me feel bad. Tell him I say to just take an old sock and fill it with rocks and smack the kid with it. 
Elder Latimer

June 9, 2014

Dear All:

Things are great! And yes, the airport is in my area, I’m feeling a lot better. It’s a pretty common thing here [getting sick]. It’s not horrible when you get it though. You just poop a lot ahah. And it’s not that dangerous, at least I don’t feel it is. Everyone talks to us and is pretty friendly.

That’s crazy about the shooting at SPU, that would be a scary experience.

This last week I got my face shoved in cake by some members because it was my birthday last week, and it’s like a tradition here in Mexico. It was really fun. I love all of the members and our investigators we get along really well and laugh a lot. It’s great being here. The language is getting easier, and I’m at the point where I understand pretty clearly everything that’s going on, there are just some really specific words and topics I have trouble with because I’m not familiar with the vocabulary.

I do lots of cheesy magic tricks to the “ninos” here and they love it. Everyone always asks me if I’m super hot because my cheeks are naturally rosy. Sorry if I spell a lot of stuff wrong in this letter. It says I’m spelling every word wrong and spell check is wack. Anywho, we have like 13 new investigators this week and 8 or so accepted a baptismal challenge, with 4 of them with specific dates I believe, and the other ones we weren’t able to challenge. I can’t really go into detail about a lot of them because we have a lot, but one I like a lot is Hermana Silvia. She’s this older lady with like 5 chihuahuas which are really friendly. She’s basically the Mexican version of Grandma Dowd, they look alike and have the same personality. She’s nervous about being baptized because she has bad knees and doesn’t want them to get hurt. But she’s super awesome. She did also think that when we do baptisms for the dead we use their actual dead bodies... but I’m glad we caught that and got to clear that up! That would be crazy.

Everything is great. I don’t really have a good picture of myself for the plaque just use the one of me in front of the map at the MTC. I like that one.

Anywho there’s lots of puppies here because there are so many stray dogs so it’s fun to play with them. We also play soccer in the street with the little kids every now and then. and we laugh a lot the people here love to laugh and have a good time. A lot of the children are really badly behaved though because their parents don’t correct them on anything they just yell at them to shut up. Also this week I saw how deeply traditional some people are, especially Catholics. This one lady told us that if Jesus Christ appeared in her living room and told her to get baptized into our church she wouldn’t do it because she’s Catholic. Kinda weird but a lot aren’t familiar with the bible at all and worship the Virgin Mary, and don’t know a lot of famous or common biblical stories. But some are very familiar which makes them easier to teach.
We picked up 2 new families this week that a member referred us to and they all agreed to be baptized but we don’t have specific dates for half of them, but they love the message and are excited about it. We have another family too, a father and son, the son is really interested and he’s like 22. The dad is pretty interested but not as excited as the son.

The youth here in the church are awesome. One priest comes with us pretty frequently to help us teach so we can have a member present. He’s super cool and we laugh a lot. I have lots of pictures to send of cool graffiti and a baby gecko I caught!

One of the elders in our district has like every Disney song in Spanish on his iPod its really funny, especially “let it go” from Frozen is hilarious in Spanish. I don’t know what else to write. I’m probably forgetting some awesome stuff but oh well!

That’s great that Jace is doing better. I miss being home, but it’s so fun being here. The days go by really fast, and were pretty close with the members and investigators here.


Elder Latimer

June 16, 2014

Dear All:
That’s crazy about Jonathan and Joe [they are moving up in school], I was thinking about that the other day. Happy Father’s day! I was saying we should get to call home then too. But at least we get to write!

We heard that Jehovah’s Witness missionaries don’t get to talk to their families at all. There is zero contact so that sucks. But that’s cool you got to teach a [missionary] lesson mom! Sometimes you get weird lessons though. Like we've been teaching this really great family they only have one kid though, and she’s a baby. Their names are Jesus and Manuela. They’re super awesome. We always teach her with this member named Yajaira, and her two year old Jose. They’re both so cool and fun. Anywho, Yajaira had her nonmember sister come so we could teach her too, and her sister just talked about evil spirits she’s been seeing in her bathroom for like an hour and she wouldn’t shut up. Ot was pretty annoying. But Yajaira’s kid, Jose, is super funny. He had his dad buy a whole thing of juice boxes "por los Elderes!" So he gave us juice boxes and little bags of Cheetos afterwards. He’s a very thoughtful two year old.
The majority of kids here are so horribly behaved! Imagine your worst kid in primary or in church then make that the average child here. The parents never correct them and just give them free reign. I have too many stories to share about that. It’s pretty annoying though especially during lessons when they let their kids just run around screaming at the top of their lungs and don’t say anything. But once they hit about 10 years they get a lot better.

So since I tell people I'm from Seattle they all think I know “icarly” because apparently that’s where that show is set, and last p-day after O wrote you guys we were in Aguaruto and some kids yelled "hey gringos! Which one of you is from Seattle? I was like, “me!” and they asked if I knew icarly, and I said were best friends and they like freaked out. Ahah. I don’t know how word got around an entire neighborhood that Im from there but it’s pretty funny.

Hermana Silvia just up and left for Texas for an entire month, so I can’t send a picture, and the investigators have to come to church 5 times before they can be baptized and none of our investigators showed up Sunday so that sucked. But I get to baptize and confirm one of the sister missionaries investigators this Saturday! I’m kinda nervous to do it in Spanish but it’s exciting. I’ll send you pictures of that. I have a lot of really cool pictures this week but my computer is retarded and keeps shutting down every time I try to upload them, so I’ll just send them next week.

Also the food here is crazy good, you can buy 8 pounds of bananas for like a dollar fifty! The fruit is really cheap, and the yogurt here is like milk. It’s so good you can just straight up drink it. Some members couldn’t feed us the other day because they were sick so they gave us money and we went and got Chinese food and we got like 5 pounds of food each for about 5 dollars and like a liter of jamaicah. I understand why Mexico is the fattest country in the world now. But I’m actually in pretty good shape right now, because we walk it all off in like over 100 degree weather. Some days it gets pretty gross because we sweat so much, but it’s pretty normal to sweat through your shirts here.

We committed a couple more investigators to baptismal dates, but we’ll see if they come to church. A lot of them either can’t afford it or are just lazy, usually it’s the latter. Also a lot of kids here think I’m from Brazil, so I kinda just go with it.  And Mexicans do not understand sarcasm at all so sometimes I jokingly tell people I’m from Tiajuana and they believe me, and it’s not very funny ahah.

We had a storm last night, it rained really heavy and really hard and me and my companion ran outside and enjoyed it! Very refreshing from this 100 degree weather. Also we contacted some lady in the street who was washing her car, and she had this dog chained up and it jumped at me and tried to bite my face, but I didn’t move for some reason but luckily the chain stopped it about 6 inches from my face! So that was exciting. Also, some guy who was selling ice cream called over to us in perfect English saying "hey Mormons come here I wanna practice english witcha!" He was really funny. He was born in Mexico but lived in California his whole life and he didn’t know he was illegal until his ex-wife got him deported because he told her he wanted child support so he could take his new girlfriend out to eat ahahhahah. I laughed really hard at that. He said he used to go to our church he said "yeah man, John Smith and the gold plates pretty freakin cool!" But he said he’s not interested he just wants to be a good guy ahha.
People here always ask us how hard it is to learn Spanish, and we say it’s not that bad and English is harder. Then they insist Spanish is really hard and English is easy, and we say okay speak some English then. And 100% of the time they can’t say anything, and if they can its “hello” or “bye” in a really horrible accent.

Also yesterday at dinner I paid a sister missionary from Guatamala to eat dog food for 50 pesos which is like $3.50 ahhaah. She almost puked. It was so funny and I got it on video. Funny thing was I ate one too for nothing, and it just tasted like a really dry cracker.

Also we got more investigators this week. I forgot the number but it’s around 5. It’s gonna be difficult to get a lot of them baptized because it’s pretty common here to not get divorced and just start living with someone else. And a lot of people are too lazy to get married or divorced when it costs like 300 pesos.

My Spanish is getting better. It got a lot better when I just decide to talk naturally without translating a whole sentence out in my head before I speak. My companion helps a lot too. Also we found a tarantula in the street, 3 iguanas, and a couple of squirrels fighting an iguana, and a donkey. Also I saw the most stereotypical Mexican thing I have in my whole life! I saw a Mexican driving a tractor in a white tank top, drinking a beer and eating a burrito. It was so funny I laughed for about 5 minutes.

Our investigators and members here are so awesome they always give us random food to take home, and always offer rides. The other day we were walking back from the opposite side of our area and the busses stopped running and it’s like a 5 mile walk back and it was really dark, but this guy pulled over and gave us a ride! He was catholic and had like 50 rosaries in his car. We’re not supposed to accept rides but it was that or probably get mugged at like 11 at night because it would have taken an hour or more to get back. So we were pretty blessed. I wish I could call home and explain in better detail about stuff here, but it’s awesome and I love it!


Elder Latimer