Monday, August 26, 2013

Holy Cow. The Mission is very different.

SANTA VACA. LA MISIÓN ES MUY DIFERENTE.

Okay, so last email, I basically told everyone that I was super optimistic and OH YEAH HERE WE GO. PUMPED FOR MY MISSION. LETS DO THIS.

Yeah, I kinda wanna go back and punch myself in the face.

This is SO INCREDIBLY DIFFERENT. I really had no idea that the mission was this crazy. Already, I've had several experiences on my mission that I won't forget.

I'll quickly describe my arrival, and then get into a little more detail on what happens and stuff.

So, I left the MTC on August 20, 2013, having been there since July 10, 2013. After leaving the MTC, we got on a train and rode it close to Temple Square, where Elder Hilton, Elder Kessinger, and I got on another Train and rode it to the SLC Airport. There, we called our families and boarded a plane to San Diego.

We got to San Diego and as we got off, we ran into an Elder who was leaving the México Tijuana mission. We talked for about 20 seconds and then we went to baggage claim, got our bags, and started looking for the President and AP's.

We walked for probably like, 2 or 3 minutes, and we just couldn't find them. So, we were thinking: Maybe they were back at baggage claim or something. We didn't know. So, since I was the travel leader of the 3 of us, I decided to stop, go inside the building, turn around, and head back.

As it turns out, THEY WERE RIGHT INSIDE THE DOOR WE WENT INTO! Yeah. The Lord takes care of his missionaries. We saw them and they took us to Mexico.

My new companion is Elder Ponce. He's from Honduras, and he speaks VERY little English, so I'm forced to use Spanish all the time. It's so hard. But I'm learning so fast, you can pretty much say I'm learning twice as fast as at the CCM. It's pretty crazy.

Anyway, we went to our puny little house (I DON'T HAVE PICTURES RIGHT NOW! OLVIDÉ MI CAMERA! PERDON!) and I kinda unpacked, and then we left to go do a little bit of teaching.

Our first lesson was with two great people: Juan y Linda. They are pretty poor, and when we first walked into their home, I was humbled to dust to see how they were living. Basically, they have a kitchen, and then they drilled a hole in the cement, and they have a place for bedrooms. They have very little in their home, but they seem to be getting along really well.

I UNDERSTAND SO LITTLE SPANISH. I AM SO FRUSTRATED. I'll be sitting there, concentrating everything I've got on figuring out what they're saying, and all of a sudden, everyone laughs, and I'm sitting there like I'm some sort of weirdo, because I didn't understand what they said. It's honestly the most frustrating feeling I've ever had.

Elder Ponce is doing his best to remain patient with me. Sometimes he says something, and I just don't understand him. I am able to understand something like... 80% of what he says, but sometimes, I just can't do it. I pray literally every single prayer I say in private for the gift of tongues, because I just can't say much right now, and I really want to help these people. I can say, however, that I have received that gift numerous times. There are times where I'm listening to them speak Spanish, and I'm hearing it as English. No joke. They say something like "Queiro encontrar una camisa por mi hijo," and I hear "I want to buy a shirt for my child." I'm not even joking here. The gift of tongues is absolutely and totally real. Do not EVER tell me otherwise, or I will find you and stick a fork in your eye or something.

Anyway, we taught Juan y Linda, and afterwards, taught a lady named Sarah. Now THERE'S an interesting story.

Sarah lives in a place called Buena Vista. In Tijuana, there are things called "colonias" which divides the city. We live in the Colonia Otay. Buena Vista is just off of the hill that we are on. It's a VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY BIG HILL. We have to walk down the entire thing (I would say it's about 500 feet tall) to get to her house. That isn't so bad. But guess what we have to do to get back to our house?

WE HAVE TO WALK UP THE STAIRS BUILT INTO THE SIDE OF THE HILL.

It's so hard, and so long of a climb, that we have to take a break after every group of stairs. There are 3 groups of probably 50 steps each. It's so crazy strenous that I have to run up the last group so that I can't give my legs time to think about how much pain they're in. It's ridiculous, but the Lord wants me to serve with everything I've got, and that includes my climbing skills, bowstaff skills, computer hacking skills, and everything else inbetween.

I really really really miss home. I've been homesick before. I've really been homesick. I've been homesick to the point where I just can't stand it anymore and I start crying a little because I miss my home so much. NONE of that can even compare to how much I miss my home in Twin Falls right now.

I miss my music, my dog, my brother, my sisters, my mother and father, my trampoline, my job, my friends, my bed, my naps, my phone, EVERYTHING. I just.... I miss it more than anyone can possibly comprehend right now.

On the flip side, I am doing the Lord's work, and I know that I can find comfort in him. He is building me up. Riley sent me a really cool quote from his mission president:

"The Lord strengthened you by giving you everything, and now, the Lord will strengthen you even more by taking it all away."

One last thing before I sign off:

I had 4 baptisms! They were 4 children, aged 15, 13, 11, and 8. David Merino Patiño, Jesyca Guadalupe Merino Patiño, Emmanuel Merino Patiño, and Alicia Merino Patiño. I didn't teach them much, only one lesson, and their parents are already baptized and confirmed, but nonetheless! I was so happy for them. I caught a glimpse of what it's like to bring souls unto Christ. I just can't describe the warmth that I felt that day.

I miss you all. I think about you all at home about as much as a stalker. PLEASE be safe. I don't want to return having one less member of the family cheer as I exit the terminal. PLEASE.

Love you more than you will know,

Elder Carter

David Merino Patiño, Jesyca Guadalupe Merino Patiño, Emmanuel Merino Patiño, and Alicia Merino Patiño.

David Merino Patiño, Jesyca Guadalupe Merino Patiño, Emmanuel Merino Patiño, and Alicia Merino Patiño.

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