Christmas in Mexico

¡¡¡¡¡¡Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo!!!!!!

Well, it was great to talk to you all on Christmas! I hadn’t quite realized how hard it is to speak English now! I guess I’m a little out of practice haha! This year was a great Christmas, and even though I couldn’t be there with family, I had an awesome experience here! The day before Christmas Eve, we had a Christmas devotional with 3 zones and they gave us pizza, salad (I like salad a lot now), brownies and vanilla ice cream. We did a tie exchange with all the elders and the sisters exchanged jewelry or something like that I think. Then we went in the chapel and they had a devotional where we watched a video about the life of Jesus, sang some songs, and did some activities. It was pretty fun! On Christmas Eve, first I taught a district meeting, which I still don’t like to do very much, but it went pretty well. Afterward, we did a gift exchange among the district. It was pretty fun! Haha it’s probably a good thing there’s sisters in my district because I wouldn’t ever have thought of doing something like that! I got a bunch of candy and a spinning top and the one I gave was a pack of hot wheels cars. In the night, we went to the restaurant of one of the members, Marta, and we went with us, and the missionaries from Cerrito (they called the president and asked permission so that we could all be there), and also all the kids of Marta and their families. We ate lots of tamales this week and ponche, lomo, turkey, apple salad, and spaghetti (not like American spaghetti). I found a new favorite food this week when one of the sisters in our ward gave us tamales with raspberry and pineapple filling in the middle. Super awesome! On Christmas day, we got up and I cooked an entire package of bacon, but Elder Medina said he wasn’t hungry so I ate it all! A few weeks ago, they told us that the district leaders all needed to plan a service project to do on Christmas Day. It’s a good thing I did my Eagle project, because this was basically like doing another Eagle project and it was good to already have done an experience like that! I decided that we were going to make blankets for the kids of a family in each of our areas.  Christmas morning we went with my whole district to the house of a member who is a seamstress and was going to lend us her scissors and a place to work. We did the service project in their house and they gave us tamales and ponche afterward. As a district and with the family that helped us, we were able to do about 60 hours of service combined I’m guessing. To answer your question Mom, it is a soft fabric kind of like fleece that we doubled over in two sections of two meters each and cut strips in the ends to tie them together. It was an awesome project and we were able to make 13 blankets to help out several families that are struggling a bit financially. When we went to deliver the blankets to the family in our area, it was an incredible experience! We sang several Christmas hymns with them and when we were about done, the father of the family, who could hardly speak because he was all choked up told us, otro himno (another hymn). The Spirit was there super strongly and I will never be able to forget the looks on the faces of those kids. They wrapped themselves up in those blankets and didn’t let go of them from the moment we gave them to them. This was one of the most amazing Christmases I have ever had! I love you all a lot and it was awesome to be able to talk to you! 

Love,

Elder Black

*Note from Mom:  It was so fun to Skype with Jared on Christmas Day.  It was late afternoon by the time he was able to call, so our anticipation built all day.  When the call finally came, we hardly knew what to say, but it was so good to see him.  Christmas Day marked 6 months on the mission for him.  We could tell he has been very immersed in Spanish, because he was having trouble speaking English.  He said during the blanket tying project that morning, he practiced speaking English with the newest American missionary so he would be able to remember how to speak English to us! So fun to hear his voice and see his face, even for only a half hour.

Tula & Atotonilco

Atotonilco and Tula Zones (Jared’s companion, Elder Medina, is on the front row on the far left.  Jared is near the back row on the orange part of the left arch)

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Christmas service project.

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District Christmas gift exchange.

Slow Before Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, I hope you all are doing well! It sounds like everyone is pretty busy with all the things going on! Take some pictures of the house all decorated up Tanya! Congratulate Lindsey for me! and also Sarah if you see her. That is pretty crazy! I wonder how many people will be married by the time i get home?  No it was just me and Elder Medina (talking about their last P-day activity). Our mission is pretty strict about no activities as a district or zone, and there was a whole district that got sent home a while back for having an activity. It’s pretty boring, so we try to have what fun we can. We are going to be able to have a service project as a district on Christmas day though, so that should be fun. I don’t know what the weirdest food I’ve eaten is Nathan, but it’s probably a competition between grasshoppers and cow stomach. The TV box is our window haha! There’s just a hole in the wall right there so I taped the box in the window so the air doesn’t get in. Who knows where the TV is though! The new district is pretty cool! We got some really good missionaries in this transfer. The new Hermana doesn’t speak any Spanish hardly, so we did the Sunday report in English and it was pretty rough! Haha it is really hard for me to speak English, but I think I probably can if I think real hard! Some things just sound funny and I’m not exactly sure how to say some things. Yeah, our apartment is super nice! The one of the elders of Cerritos is a dump and we pay the same amount in rent! Well it’s been pretty hot down here. We’re walking around sweating in the sun! It’s kind of hard to believe it’s December and I have to keep looking at the calendar to make sure it really is almost Christmas! Keep going with the Spanish Nathan! Maybe you can speak a little to me on Thursday! I will probably be talking in the early afternoon sometime, but if I can, I think I will try to get on as early as possible, so it could be about 12:00. Well this week has been pretty tough. We are having bad luck right now. The last three days of the week we spent walking probably somewhere between 12 and 15 miles per day. We didn’t find a single person of our investigators converts, or contacts and references in their house. Or if they were there they were partying with family and friends. I think the holiday season can be a little rough on missionary work. But we are working hard and I think I’m doing what I can, so hopefully we can see some good things happen in this week. Well, the email time got cut a little short today but I’m looking forward a lot to being able to talk to you all on Christmas! I love you lots and hope you all have an awesome Christmas!!!!

Love,

Elder Black

A Busy Week

Awesome job Nathan! When did the trimester get over? and which one are you in right now? Keep up the good work! We’ll have to have a good game of ping pong in a year and a half! Have fun and your parties Tanya! All your recitals went well then? Man Gingerbread sure sounds good! Yeah I had to buy me a beanie and some fuzzy pants! It’s getting cold! The thing about Mexico is that it doesn’t get super cold, but the houses don’t have heat and so the house is the same temperature as the outside. But we have enough blankets and also a space heater. The house doesn’t have too much power though so it doesn’t work awesome but its good enough! Send me a picture of the Christmas tree and the decorations! That’s cool about the Brother of Jared! I actually used that story with my district a couple weeks ago to teach them about how they can have more faith in their areas. It’s a really good one.

This week was crazy! We had almost no time to do anything! We had to make the trip to the offices 2 times this week, 1st for the capacitation of the new missionaries, and then again for Elder Medina to redo his visa. I talked to a bunch of missionaries from the MTC in Mexico who were also there for their visas and I almost couldn’t speak English haha! I’m definitely a lot more comfortable speaking in Spanish than in English now. It was fun to be able to pass on a little advice though! Also, the stake put on a dinner and devotional for all the missionaries in the stake on Saturday. It was pretty nice and we ate Mexican style Chicken cordon blue with bread instead of tortillas. I ate a ton of bread! Tortillas are good, but I eat like 10 of them every single day, so it was nice to have a change! Also, on Friday it was the Day of the Virgin Guadelupe, so we had to be in our house at 5:00. We had a little party and made tortilla pizzas and watched the mountain of the Lord from the Doctrine and Covenants movies while eating a ton of junk food! It was pretty fun! Miguel got confirmed on Sunday and we are still working with the new family from the Cañada. I hope they will accept a baptismal date this week! I think they probably will. We got the changes last night and half my district is leaving. That was a big surprise because we thought only one would leave. One of the Hermanas in my district is training this change so that might be kind of interesting to have someone fresh out of the MTC. We almost didn’t have very many lessons this week though because we had to do so much stuff. Well, I can’t really think of a ton more stuff to tell you about because it all seems about the same now, so send me some questions if you want to know something. Oh, but they served us chicken foot and organ soup again this week but I am lucky because Elder Medina likes chicken feet, so every time the Hermana walked out of the room and none of the other family members were looking, I shoveled the chicken feet into Elder Medinas bowl haha! and nobody ever knew the difference! I love you!

Love,

Elder Black

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Miguel’s baptism.

Miguel was Baptized!

Felicidades Andy y Alicia!!!!!! That’s awesome about the new cousin! Sounds like everyone is happy and busy! Good news this week, Miguel got baptized yesterday!!! It was almost a two month process, but he made it and now we’re going to go to work to keep their family strong in the gospel! Thanks for the pictures! I always love getting a little glimpse into what’s going on at home! Everyone looks a little different than I remember. Man, what I wouldn’t give to eat some of that homemade apple pie! We actually don’t eat a ton of beans. I ate more beans when I lived at home! A normal meal starts with either Mexican spaghetti or a noodle soup in red sauce that we squeeze limes into, or occasionally a plate of rice. Then they bring out the main course that is usually chicken (almost always) in some form or other, usually covered in salsa. I just meant that I didn’t really know the Hermanas before, they didn’t change. I don’t have any elders in my district though. 

We went to the house of the new family a couple times this week but we couldn’t find them with her husband there. They live really far a way but we are going to keep trying all week this week and hopefully we can find them. Sounds like a pretty busy Sunday Dad! Mine was pretty much the same except for I started doing things at 8:30 and didn’t finish until 10:30. We went to the offices this week and I got to go with Elder Garcia my trainer to his new area with him and his comp while my companion went to the Distrito Federal to sign for his visa. We have to go back soon though because he got his passport as a minor and needed something with his signature on it. For that reason, we didn’t have too much time this week and also we had a 4 hour meeting of the zone on Thursday. This week was super busy. Did you all watch the Christmas devotional last night? It was really good, but if you missed it go to christmas.lds.org. and watch it. If you want to use Facebook Mom, you can get on and share the video He is the gift, if it’s not already on there a ton of times. Good luck in all your recitals Tanya! Send me some pictures! Also that is super awesome about your temple recommend! Yeah I would love to go as a family when I get home! Don’t worry Mom I’m staying warm! Nathan, let me know what your up to and how everything’s going in school and everything. I love you all! Merry Christmas!

Love,

Elder Black

 

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Jared’s Caption – The mission wouldn’t let us get bikes… so we go brooms!!!!

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The Christmas package made it!

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All the missionaries in the Mexico City North Mission (Jared is one of the tall ones to the right of the tree).

Thanksgiving (sort of) in Mexico

Hola!

Wow, sounds like there{s lots of stuff going on! I got the package of Christmas stuff and the letter from the activity day girls! Thanks! The other one still hasn’t gotten here though. To answer your questions Mom, our floor is tile except for in the kitchen where it is rough concrete that is impossible to clean. Our fridge has stuff in it. I make a lot of quesadillas and tortilla pizzas and we have food now. We go to Walmart every once in a while to buy stuff. I haven’t really gotten sick to my stomach. Only about 3 times. Everyone gets diahrrea sometimes, but I haven’t really been sick much at all. I have a pretty good immune system I think. We pretty much have normal kitchen plumbing but there is no plumbing in the bathroom sink and there isn’t a divided off area for the shower, its just all in one room. Our house is sweet though because it has a couch! We usually have hot water, until the gas runs out and then we have to take a cold shower and buy more. Our water tank runs out about every Monday morning so we go out to connect the hose up and fill the tank. It’s getting colder here, there were a couple days where I wore my coat! We got out the space heater too, but it doesn’t work too well because there isn’t much power in our house. We just leave it on all day though in our bedroom and by night time, our room is heated up pretty nicely! I also bought a sweet hat this week and today in Walmart I bought some fuzzy pants! So I’m keeping warm all right. There is a lot of corn in Conejos, and we see people riding around on horses quite often. Mostly with baseball hats though, not too many sombreros! Ya, my comp has been a member all his life. I’ll send you some pictures of my house next week.

This week was pretty great! They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Mexico, but on Thanksgiving, we went to a members house that makes American food sometimes and we had American style spaghetti with parmesan cheese, carnitas with BBQ sauce, and sopes (tortillas con beans, cheese, chicken, lettuce, and green salsa). It was kind of a strange mix but it was pretty good! I also bought some ice cream at night and ate it in our apartment. They lady at the store looked at me like I was crazy though because it was super cold for them that day! It was my turn to share something after the food, so I did something about thankfulness. In the morning I had studied about that theme in my personal study time and it is really interesting because in Spanish, instead of thanksgiving, it says accion de gracias. I looked up a lot of scriptures in the guide for scripture study in the BoM and studies about how we show our gratitude. I found that the demostration of thanks (is that how you say that?) has a lot to do with service. God gives us everything and so we should show our thanks by serving him and we doing that by helping other people. After dinner, I shared a scripture about accion de gracias and then we did an activity where we went around the table in circles saying things we are grateful for and you couldn’t say something that had already been said by another person. It was pretty fun and their kids loved it! Later that day, something happened that made me really grateful. We had found a new family of 5 that we felt like could progress a few days earlier and we went back with them to teach a lesson on Thanksgiving and after the lesson the father of the family said that they were going to read the Book of Mormon and if they received an answer from God that it is true then they will get baptized! It was awesome! We had been praying and contacting a lot of people looking for people like them. On Friday was our zone conference and something that I liked a lot was about teaching our investigators to fish instead of giving them fish already cooked and ready to eat. We went to Tequisquiac on Saturday and Tania y Miguel finally could get married. There were a lot of stressful delays but I finally got everything planned and we were able to do it on Saturday. I am a lot more comfortable being district leader now and I even kind of like it sometimes! It is easier now that I am friends with the Hermanas in my district. Haha it seems like a long time ago when I got nervous to take the reports every night. I talk to people so much now though that it doesn’t even bother me to talk with anybody, even less with the people I know! Spanish is still going awesome! I have definitely been blessed with the gift of tongues. Sometimes I even forget that I’m speaking a foreign language. I have probably improved more in the last 3 weeks with my trainer gone than at any other point in my mission because it’s all on me and I am constantly talking! Well I hope you all have a good week! Have fun in school and work and everything!

Feliz Navidad!!!

Love,

Elder Black