First Week in Mexico

Hello Family!

Mexico is super different than I thought it would be. The traffic here is pretty crazy. They drive cars like we would walk down a hallway at school! There aren’t really many speed limits or stop signs here, they just use speed bumps, so everyone floors it, then slows down really fast in between every bump! I’m in a little pueblo called Conejos, which is about a 10 minute drive from Atotonilco. Houses here don’t have addresses, so I can’t tell you where I live exactly, just the name of the town. From what I understand, it is kind of like the sticks of Mexico. Everyone here uses a ton of slang and has crazy accents, so it is really difficult for me to understand the majority of the people here. My trainer is Elder Garcia from Oaxaca, Mexico, and he doesn’t speak English. He can understand a little bit, but he doesn’t speak it. Luckily, he speaks good Spanish and I can usually understand him pretty well. We walk A LOT here, so I just talk to him in Spanish and ask him questions about it all the time. He is helping me out quite a bit. Right now, I feel like I speak Spanish a lot better than I can understand it. The accent here makes it really difficult. Our apartment is actually pretty decent compared with the other apartments here, although it is pretty bad if you compare it with apartments in the US. It was filthy when I got there though, but we cleaned it up a bit today.

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View from the kitchen

The food here is really good for the most part. I really like the tortillas, chimichangas, spaghetti (not like american spaghetti), and rice. It is only spicy sometimes, but when it’s spicy, it is SUPER spicy. There aren’t any stores here except little snack stands, so we have to get a ride to the store once a month or so to go to Walmart and get stuff. There isn’t even a grocery store here. We have decent water, we can’t drink it, but I brush my teeth with it and haven’t gotten sick yet. Sometimes when people give us water, I have no idea where it came from, so I might be drinking tap water without knowing it. I got more sick the 1st week at the MTC than here. I have been just fine. I think I had mango, but it was in a salad with tropical fruit, lettuce, onions, pecans, and a bunch of other weird combinations. I wasn’t a huge fan of that but I ate 2 servings of it anyway. We actually have hot water sometimes, but the water and gas run out sometimes. We are out of water right now. The bugs here aren’t to bad actually. I haven’t noticed to many, but I have gotten a couple bites. The person who sent you the picture was named Brandon, and he served his mission in Tremonton in one of his areas! It has been raining quite a bit, but Elder Garcia said that is not how it usually is. It is a desert here, and there are lots of cactus plants. They are called Nopales and the tuna fruit grows on them. They eat the leaves and use the tuna to make agua de tuna. The aguas here are pretty good, they are basically blended fruit and water, and they are pretty refreshing. This week has been kind of hard because we haven’t had hardly anyone to teach and none of our investigators came to church on Sunday, and it’s hard for me to understand the Spanish here. The people are nice, but it seems like I’m mostly just listening to my companion have conversations with people, so I don’t really talk a whole lot to anyone which makes it kind of hard for me. I get to speak English on p-days though a little bit because there is an elder in our area that is from the states. He told me that the first couple weeks are always rough, so I guess I’ll just keep going and trying to understand people. A lot of people here say they are going to do something and then they leave and don’t do it, so it is super frustrating. Hopefully the next week will be better and I’ll be able to get settled into a routine a little bit. I love you!

Love,

Elder Black

Something weird I forgot to mention is that we pretty much just eat 1 meal a day here at about 2:00 in the afternoon, so I am pretty much always hungry, but I will probably adjust.

I forgot to mention, if you send anything it has to be regular US mail and it has to go to a different address than the mission office. It is:

Elder Jared Christian Black

Mexico, Mexico City North Mission

Apartado Postal #98

54740 Cuautitlan Izcalli

Estado de Mexico

MEXICO

In Mexico

Hola Familia!

Well, I made it to Mexico! It is pretty crazy here! It rains a lot here and some of the streets on the way here were flooded with about a foot of water! I just have a couple minutes but I just wanted to let you know i made it and everything is good. We had a good trip down and it is really cool. Coming in on the airplane i could see the whole city stretching in every direction as far as i could see! P-day is Monday so I’ll let you know how my week went when you hear from me again! It was good to talk to you all!

Love you!

Elder Black

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(At the Mission Home in Mexico with the Mission President and his wife)

One week to go

Wow! Sounds like everyone is having fun in Hawaii! Where did you try that fruit Nathan? Was that something that was in Hawaii? I remember going snorkeling in Hawaii when I was younger, I bet that was a lot of fun! Did you see any cool fish? Say hi to Andrew for me! That’s really cool that you got to spend some time with him! The PCC is awesome! Did you see some fire spinning and stuff like that?  I got my travel plans! I will be leaving at 2:30 am on Monday and my flight leaves SLC at 6:00. I’ll be in Dallas from 9:35 to 11:55, and then I fly straight from there to Mexico City. I’ll probably call during my layover, unless you want me to call at like 5:00. Just send me a dear elder about when I should call. Anyway, this week has been pretty good! I get along really well with my new companions, all 4 of them! I have 2 comps in my zone, but they are in a beginning class, so I go upstairs to an advanced class during the day and I have 2 other companions up there. It is kind of weird, but I really like it a lot. My new teachers are native Spanish speakers, and so they talk really fast, but I haven’t had any trouble keeping up. I have noticed that my understanding of Spanish has shot up just in the last couple of weeks. Sometimes after I get out of class, I can’t even speak English, because I have been thinking, speaking, and hearing Spanish all day! I really like my new teachers and my new district and I have been learning a lot! I started reading the book of Mormon in Spanish to study sometimes because I can actually understand it now, and I really enjoy studying the scriptures in Spanish! I am really excited to get to Mexico! I have been sitting around too much and I’ve gained a little weight. I weigh 213 now haha! I’ll probably lose it all as soon as I get to Mexico in the first couple weeks. I finally feel like I am starting to be able to find my way around the scriptures a bit, but I have quite a ways to go before I have them mastered. I am trying to memorize where there are verses that answer questions about specific topics. For example, we had an investigator yesterday who asked what Christ wanted him to do in order to get to heaven, and I was able to turn to the scripture where Christ is saying to repent, be baptized, and come unto him and persevere to the end. It was a really awesome lesson and we answered a ton of his questions about the purpose of life. That was one of my favorite lessons because it was more like a conversation than a lesson. I really like talking to people and helping them find answers to their questions. This extra time in the MTC has made me feel a lot more prepared for the mission field and a lot more confident with my Spanish and gospel knowledge. This week is going to be over before I know it. We have 2 more days of class, then infield orientation, Saturday we will pack and have some more class, and then that will be pretty much it for the MTC. Last Sunday was super busy. I went to so many meetings that I lost track of the number, but I can think of at least 8, then we went to the devotional, where we heard some good talks. The speaker called some missionaries who were converts up out of the audience and interviewed them about their conversion experiences over the pulpit. That was really spiritual and it was cool to see how God is working in people’s lives long before they even meet the missionaries. The meetings aren’t all bad though. Brother Tervort, one of our branch presidency members teaches most of the leadership training meetings, and that man is like a fountain of wisdom! I have learned some incredible things from him. He teaches using stories and parables from his own life, and it helps me remember really well what he taught. I don’t have time to write down what he said, but maybe I can tell you when I talk to you on the phone. I can’t remember if I told you about Marco or not but he was my favorite investigator, and he is going to email me and my companions on our missions. He said he has about 20 missionaries that he emails every week. He is a very spiritual man and I am excited to hear from him.

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(Jared with Marco)

We keep getting more and more people in my zone. I have come to really enjoy the welcome meetings where we get to welcome new districts into the zone. I remember my first one I was really nervous and wrote down what I was going to say, then got up and forgot to say a lot of the things I had planned on. Now though, I have no problems at all getting up and talking in front of people or anything like that. I’m not really sure when that happened! I think the Spanish has really helped me overcome that. I am actually more comfortable talking in front of people when I’m speaking Spanish than in English. I will probably have to give a talk in Spanish this Sunday, and I am kind of excited for it! The MTC has gone by really fast, even though I have been here a couple extra weeks! I haven’t been counting down the days, but maybe I should start if it would help time slow down a bit! I feel like I have been completely overwhelmed with stuff to do and meetings and classes and devotionals that I feel like I’m never getting enough done to keep up, but then I look back and see how much I’ve learned and it makes me feel a little better. I still have a lot to learn, but I have changed a lot and come a long ways since being here. I love you all and I’ll talk to you on Monday morning! Have a good week!

Love,

Elder Black

Another two weeks

Sounds like a fun trip Dad! That is cool that you got to do some touring.  Yeah, I meant pencil lead Mom. Mr. Dubois was one of my favorite teachers in middle school Nathan! That’s cool that you have him, tell him I said hi! So I will be here for 2 more weeks now. I was pretty upset at first, but then I realized that the Lord is in charge of this work. If He is keeping me here for some extra time, then I know that this is where I will be able to do the most good for the next 2 weeks. Most of my district left on Monday morning, but I have some awesome new companions. We are having a good time! I will be in an advanced class for the rest of my time here, so maybe I’ll be fluent in Spanish by the time I leave haha! I don’t know for sure yet what the reason is, but I will be keeping my eyes open. I will stay the zone leader for the rest of my time here and my new companions are now also zone leaders. President Davis, our new branch president, said he wants me to train them and show them the ropes a little bit. They are both in the beginning Spanish class, so I am trying to help them with Spanish as much as I can. We taught a lesson yesterday to a new investigator named Marco. It went really well! I have noticed that every time I teach, Spanish starts coming to me a lot easier and I can say pretty much anything I need to. I can already see the gift of tongues helping me out. We had a really good sacrament meeting on Sunday. It was fast and testimony meeting, and I sang a musical number with my district. We did the missionary EFY medley with sisters in Zion and we’ll bring the world his truth. It was really fun. We did the first part in English and then we switched to Spanish for the last verse with both parts combined. I really like singing in Spanish! We sing a lot of hymns in Spanish here, before and usually after every class and in all our meetings. I bore my testimony in sacrament meeting and I think that was the first time I ever have during fast and testimony meeting. I just did it in Spanish because it is easier for me to talk about the gospel in Spanish now than in English. It was really good and I felt the Spirit a lot. I have really been learning a lot about recognizing the Spirit and following promptings. Yesterday we did an activity in class where we pretended one of us only spoke Spanish and the other one only spoke English, and the 3rd person had to be the translator for the lesson. When it was my turn to teach, I had to think of what I was going to say in Spanish and then translate it to English before I said it, then the translator had to translate it back into Spanish! It was pretty funny haha! I can’t wait to be in an advanced class full of native Spanish speakers! I am hoping I will catch on quickly and learn a lot. Hopefully I can get fluent before too long! I think this is going to be a really good week! Have fun in Hawaii! I love you!

Love,

Elder Black