Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lots of Awesomeness and A New Native Companion! Plus more Pics!

June 23, 2014

Dear Everyone:

This week was pretty cool. Our investigators are great and we got 2 whole families to church this week and they loved it. They’re all so awesome. Both families live in one bedroom apartments and so does the member who lets us teach in her home, so they’re kinda crowded lessons but it’s awesome.

The member who helps us is Hermana Yajaira. She’s super awesome. She’s about 25 and has a two year old named Jose who is the funniest little kid ever. On our way to teach at her house the other day we got caught in the rain for like 30 minutes, and we were soaking wet but it was really refreshing from this heat. Also she made us dinner it was this awesome -- mole chicken with rice.

The members are really helpful here and super friendly. No, I didn’t get to baptize their investigator cuz she went out of town or some dirt, but it’s okay. Today we went to the Culiacan zoo! It was really fun, but it’s a lot smaller than our zoo, and their wolf was literally about to die. It was like skin and bones. But I got to pet a kangaroo because it’s really easy to reach into the cages ahah. I have lots of pictures to send and I’ll send them later today because were doing one hour of writing right now and the rest after lunch.

We had a super ghetto lesson with a new member named Primitivo. He works in the fields and farms and stuff, so we meet him outside the fields usually when we teach him, and there’s no chairs so we stacked up a bunch of rocks and sat on them. It was pretty cool. Also they have like a flea market in one of the colonies we teach in every Saturday and I bought dad and Josh crocodile belts for like 150 pesos each. They’re not real crocodile though, but they are made of leather and they’re pretty cool!

We almost always miss the buses because we have so many people to teach so members bring us home, but last night no one could get us and we were really far from home, so some random Mexican family told us to hop in the back of their truck and they would drive us home. It was pretty awesome. Today were going to teach a lady named Olga and her family. All of her sisters and parents are members except for her, and she says she wants to join the church but she won’t unless her whole family does as well, so I hope we teach well.

The church is pretty strong here. We have probably 200 or 300 in our ward. We don’t do any tracting, but we make street contacts so if like someone is pretty friendly to us were allowed to contact them and make appointments, but just randomly were not supposed to. We played volleyball in the street with some random teenagers because one of our appointments canceled on us. It was super fun. We played 2v2 but they play this weird version called cochi ball, which is where you can carry and stuff and basically hold the ball ahha. But we still did pretty well. I had some awesome spikes and blocks in my shirt and tie so that was really fun! Then they got us some water and gave us a ride home so we’ve got some friends here!

And on another day a family we contacted earlier in the week invited us in to help make tortillas. We were pretty horrible at it, but it was super funny because their daughter kept hitting on me and stuff, then here grandpa started playing super Mexican guitar and doing the classic Mexican raspy voiced singing saying “quidado con el!” which means be careful with him, haha. It was super funny. He kept singing random Mexican songs for like an hour because he used to be in a mariachi band.

We’ve been keeping up with the cup here, Mexico is doing pretty well and I think they’re playing Croatia right now, and we play Portugal today. Also some member saw us on the bus (she’s from another ward) but she gave us these two really cool Mexican soccer team drinking cups! So that was cool. Also I got to play with so many pitbulls this week! We visited a less active family and they have one who is 10 months old and she’s the sweetest dog ever. I love her, and she tried to follow us home too it was awesome. A friend of another less active family let us play with his pitbull too. They’re like my new favorite dogs. People are a lot more friendly here than in the U.S. People always invite us in for water or offer us food and rides. It might be because were missionaries, and they want some good karma but that’s okay with me.

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you the military and police here ride around in big truck caravans with like 6 guys with machine guns in the back all the time. It’s really cool we see them a lot but there are no shootings or anything. I havent heard any gunshots and stuff either, kinda disappointing.

The two families that came to church with us are super eager to learn more and they’re progressing really well. People here are so awesome, and we have friends like everywhere we go. Can’t really remember anything else cool that happened this week. All the days are kinda starting to blur together.

Anywho glad everything is going well at home! You’re all lucky you can go swim and enjoy your summer. It’s so tempting to swim here because its sooo hot! But it’s okay. Tell everyone I say Hi!

Love, Elder Latimer

June 30, 2014

Dear All:

Hey! This week was pretty normal and hot as always. I figured I’d update you on our investigators so I’ll just write a quick paragraph about each family/investigator.

Jose, Florinda, Rosellini, Jose Mili...

This family is awesome, there probably our investigators that are progressing the most. The dad and mom are Jose and Florinda and the rest are their kids, Rosellini is twelve and she’s pretty shy and quiet like her mom and dad but they’ve all been opening up more and getting more comfortable sharing things with us. They don’t have a lot of money. They live in like a 1 bedroom house sort of thing. It’s hard to explain, but all the houses in Aguaruto are like that. Jose the kid is 9 and he has a problem with one of his eyes and they don’t have a lot of money to fix it, but the dad is saving up for it. He works in the fields harvesting vegetables and stuff and he only makes like 70 pesos a day, which is like 6 bucks. But the church is helping them out a little bit to save up. Jose is awesome. He’s just like any other 9 year old. Then there’s Mili. She’s super cute and hilarious. She’s probably like 4 or 5, but she always runs up and hugs us when we visit their house, and she always wants to hold our hands when we walk her to class at church. Florinda is really quiet but really sincere and does everything she can to make her family’s lives better, and so does the dad Jose. It’s the coolest thing going to their house to teach because they have the Book of Mormon we gave them leaned up against the wall on a shelf really neatly along with all the pamphlets and pass-along cards we’ve given them. It’s nice to see how much they appreciate the gospel because it’s sort of all they have. Me and Elder Hurt also bought them a CD of church hymns as well as a hymnal with our own money (but it’s okay because it added up to like 7 bucks) because they all love singing so much. They love it. It was definitely a good investment. They’re all like native Mexicans, so like direct descendants of the Lamanites ahah, and the mom and dad both speak Spanish as well as one of the native dialects. They have all been coming to church and they really like it, and the dad is sort of coming out of his shell and talking a lot more. They’re not married but they’ve been together for like 20 years or something. People just don’t see the reason to do it legally here, but were working on that with them on that. That’s the main problem a lot of our investigators have. But they invited us to walk with Roselleni at her graduation thing for school because usually the parents don’t here. I’m pretty stoked for that. I think it will mean a lot to them. 

Jesus and Manuela
We usually teach them with the family above usually at Hermana Yajairas house. They’re pretty awesome too, but also not married. Manuela and Jose both didn’t come to church yesterday because they decided to work, but their baby came with Florinda so that was weird. But I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same in their position. They sell bon ice which is like otter pops, and they don’t make a lot of money. She said one day she sold like 30 pesos worth, and she only gets a fraction of that. So I understand their need to work. They both are progressing pretty well and keeping commitments for the most part, like reading and praying, but again the main problem is them not being married. And it costs like 300 pesos to get married here on paper, which is sort of a lot for them, I’m tempted to pay for it but I know were not supposed to. 

Norma, Camila, Lizabeth, Selina, Nito.
We found this family this week, they were a reference from some other Elders and we couldn’t find them for like a couple of weeks so we assumed they moved. Then one day they contacted us! They wanted us to come in and teach them. It was a really great lesson, we did the whole first lesson and they all loved it. But the dad is really reserved and not really into it. That’s how most men are here. President says if we focus on the dad the rest will follow because that’s kind of the culture here. When we extend invitations the women usually look to the patriarch for permission first ahah. But they’re a great family. Camila is the grandma, Norma is the mom of Selina and Lizabeth, Selina is 22 and has two little twin girls, and Nito is married to Norma. Kinda confusing. But Lizabeth is really funny I think she has a crush on my companion. She always blushes and giggles whenever he talks to her ahah its pretty funny. And Selina is kinda the same way with us haha. All the girls our age always ask us if were married, and then we have to explain basically were here for 2 years and can’t talk to girls so that’s always fun. After our lesson with them we were gonna walk home because the buses stop running at 8:30. But they insisted we stay and eat dinner with them. We had posole, which is like this really good pasta soup with beef, then Nito gave us a ride home, so I think they like us. It’s a lot easier to teach whole families than individuals, probably because our message is for families ahah. 

Olga and Eliseo
Their family is basically Mormon already. They do all the things they need to except for going to church because all of Olga’s brothers and sisters and mom are members except for her dad and her. She really wants her family to join the church, but she doesn’t want to join unless the rest of her family does. We haven’t had a chance to teach their kids yet because we usually teach at night and their kids are all out and about. So were working on the dad. He’s never ever gone to church or anything but he seems willing so well see. 

These are the main ones that are progressing, or that we think are most likely to progress. Not a lot of new experiences this week, we have been keeping up with the cup and Mexico lost during church yesterday so that was kind of a bummer but I had fun with it and rubbed it in the faces of some of the youth because the U.S is still in. Spanish is getting better I think. Some days go better than others as far as the language goes. It is really funny though when me and Elder Hurt are walking in the street speaking English then like we immediately switch to Spanish when we see someone else, when people see us do this they kinda freak out because they assume we can’t speak Spanish. Kids here love English. They always ask us how to say their names in English, but what they don’t understand is for the most part stays the same, even after we tell them that they keep asking haha. But it’s funny because Mexicans don’t understand sarcasm, so I tell kids I’m from Tiajuana or Brazil or Mexico City and they just believe me ahah. But yeah, things are great.

You should send me pictures from home and stuff, like of Seattle, you guys, my friends, etc. that would be great! 

Love, Elder Latimer

PS: These are the belts I got Josh and dad. I don’t remember if I sent pictures. I don’t think I did. But I forgot to mention our areas aren’t really dangerous during the day but apparently at night out in Aguaruto (one of our neighborhoods we work in) is where all the drug deals go down because it kinda borders farmland and stuff. But I feel pretty safe. Way more people are out at night because it’s not super freaking hot. It would be a fun place to hangout if we could. I think I’ll have this mission president my whole mission. He just got called like 8 months ago, I think.

July 7, 2014

Dear All:

Dad, that’s awesome that you get to go to BYU and study that for a little bit. That’s really interesting to me too. And Happy Birthday! I'll send packages soon when I have time. Today is gonna be kinda busy for us. That’s so awesome Kaleb Decker is coming to this mission! I’m so excited because by that time I might be able to be his trainer! But I don’t think the odds are that high. 

This week there have been some interesting changes, I’m getting a new companion, but I’m staying in this area. His name is Elder Moya and he’s from Mexico City, so I won’t be speaking English anytime soon for a while. Also I’m going to be the only missionary in my district that speaks English, so I’m hoping to get better at Spanish a lot faster! But I’m also a little bummed because my trainer Elder Hurt and I got along really well and had a ton of fun together. He's heading to La Paz in the Baja. 

My Spanish is getting a lot better too at least I think so haha. I’m a lot better at having conversations with people than I am at teaching I think. Because I can communicate all the lessons well, but I’m not at the level where I can use examples yet to explain things as well as I'd like to.

This week was pretty normal, as far as lessons and everything goes, yesterday we walked everywhere so we could collect every one of our investigators addresses that we didn’t have and so Elder Hurt could say goodbye to all of our investigators. It’s been raining a lot and lots of storms at night with lightning and really heavy rain, so in one of our neighborhoods we work in the streets were like rivers and a bunch of twelve year old girls were running through the rain singing let it go. It was pretty funny. 

I’m glad I get to stay in this area though because all the people and members are super awesome and so are our investigators. Also I saw my first drug deal on Saturday! We went to visit one of the youth we contacted in the streets while playing volleyball, and he wasn’t home and one of his crackhead friends went up to some guy in his house gave him 50 pesos and the guy gave him a little bag of cocaine so that was kinda funny. 

We had Jose and his family came to church again, but his wife didn’t come because she had a job interview so that’s okay because they need the money. And some lady we contacted in the street came as well and she just would not shut up in our gospel principles class. She would read aloud with the teacher but with a 3 second delay, and kept trying to teach the class when she didn’t know anything, and asking like 100 questions a minute. So she’ll be interesting to teach, but I think her and her family will get baptized this month, because they all want to for the most part, they just need the lessons. 

Pretty sure I got another stomach infection when we went out to eat the other day. We had tortas, which are like this amazing delicious huge Mexican meat sandwiches. I was not feeling so hot for the past couple of days and then I felt even worse yesterday because it was fast Sunday, but I feel pretty okay now so I’ll see how it goes. 

Also tell Kaleb’s mom that the cartel and stuff is only dangerous for the people actually involved in it. Like if you’re a normal person, you’re fine. I never really feel like nervous when we’re walking around or even on the highway at night, because everyone loves the missionaries. Plus the cartel has a lot of bigger fish to fry than stealing 20 bucks from the Elders.

Nothing really that crazy or interesting this week but things are going great! Miss you all take care!

Love, Elder Latimer

July 14, 2014

Dear All:

This week was pretty good. I am learning Spanish a lot faster, and I speak a lot more now. It helps having my brain always warmed up and ready to speak Spanish all the time because when I was with Elder Hurt I would have to make the transition from English to Spanish and that slowed things down a bit. But this week I met another guy who got deported from California and his English was perfect, and it was really cool because I actually forgot how to speak English for a minute or two! It was a lot of Spanglish but then I switched over to English so that was pretty cool for me.

I’m taking the lead in putting new appointments and teaching lessons as well, mostly because I know the area and Elder Moya doesn’t. But having a Mexican comp is boosting my confidence in Spanish for sure. Elder Moya is pretty cool. He took English in high school so he speaks a little bit but it’s okay because were helping each other. We made a rule that when it’s just us he'll only speak English, and obviously I have to speak Spanish all the time anyways. 

We get along pretty good when we’re working, but he bugs me a little bit at home. He’s kinda messy and has a really hard time waking up, and he'll go to the bathroom for like 45 minutes at a time. I’m pretty sure he’s just sleeping on the toilet but that’s okay. But other than that things are great with us!

We attended Rosilleni's graduation from middle school which was really cool. They had a bunch of little kids in traditional Mexican dresses and stuff do dances and sing songs. It was pretty interesting and fun, but then it was awkward because her parents (Jose and Florinda) wanted us to dance with her at the end, and we had to explain why we couldn’t, which was awkward. But afterwards, they had made dinner for us and we all ate together had fun and shared a spiritual message and left. 

But yesterday we took a bus to Aguaruto to go pick up investigators for church, and none of them were home, which was frustrating especially for Jesus and Manuela because they’ve promised us like 5 times they’ll come to church, and they always end up choosing to work. We might have to drop them. We’ll see. I don’t want to because they know it’s true, but they’re really struggling financially so I understand why they don’t come to church, but they’re not really reading the Book of Mormon either so the past few times I’ve just been putting a lot of emphasis and how reading the BOM and praying are the only ways to know if what we’re teaching is true so well see. Also, Jose says he doesn’t want to get baptized. He just likes listening to "la palabra de Dios," but he and his wife were pretty eager to get baptized and attend the temple a couple of weeks ago so well have to see what’s up. We were supposed to have like 9 investigators at church but only 2 came, which was good but it could have been better.

The two investigators that came are really interesting. Her name is Aida and she’s been taught by the missionaries before, and she contacted us in the street when I was with Elder Hurt last week. She’s really eager to learn but she doesn’t know how to shut up. Especially during gospel principles class at church, one of the investigators of the sisters had to tell her to shut up and pay attention ahah. She’s really eager to learn more though so here family will probably get baptized this month because they’re like our only investigators that are actually married! So that’s tight. 

But yeah everything is awesome. I love teaching people, and the mission. If you could send me more tabs for my scriptures that would be great because I’m running out and they don’t really sell them here. Also forward me Josh’s emails! Thanks!

Love, Elder Latimer

PS: I tricked out my planner and laminated it. Lots of elders here do it because there’s lots of little copy centers called papelerias. Also next p-day I’ll send you all a package of the belts I got for dad and Josh, and I’m gonna send Mexican candy. My favorite is these cookie things called chokis. They’re basically chips ahoy covered in chocolate but they’re really good. Also there’s this fruit, yaka, its really expensive like 200 pesos for one. It’s like the size of a squash and its originally from Brazil but inside there are like seeds of fruit or something, and it tastes like 10 different fruits mixed together. I really want to try it! Also that’s the back of my name tag. I got put into a secret man clan that some of the Elders do in this mission. So I consider it a great honor. Then the other sticker is of Arturo Vidal. He plays for Chile. I just have him there because the back of my name tag felt naked