Monday, March 23, 2015

One week down in Oaxaca


So I officially have one week down and a lot more to go in Oaxaca! I think its safe to say that it has been one of the toughest weeks of my life. Easily. Haha but don't worry I love Oaxaca and these two years are going to be the best years of my life, and the best two years for my life. 

I have learned a lot of things so far, but the biggest thing that I have learned is that I don´t know Spanish. I follow my comp around like a lost puppy. We are both new to our area, which is pretty rare for that to happen. Usually during a change, one of the companions has been in the area for a while and knows their way around. Elder Erikson and I have had to start from scratch. We spent a lot of the week meeting as many members as we can in our ward/area. Our area is called Violetas 2 (Violets). I know why its called that because there are violets everywhere here. The roads and house numbers are super confusing and our area is pretty much on the side of a mountain. Every morning we need to climb this ridiculously steep hill to get to where most of the people are in our area. It has to be like a 45 degree slope for like 30 yards.
View from the airplane, flying to Oaxaca

So we´ve mostly met and taught lessons with miembros and menos activos (members and less actives) but we have a few progressing investigators and some street contact appointments coming up. It was just recently that they have had white missionaries called to Oaxaca. I thought that kind of funny haha. During the lessons, Elder Erikson starts teaching something and then when he looks over at me I know its time for me to say something. I have been doing the only thing I can kind of do. I try and follow what he has been saying the entire lesson then I try and bare my testimony about it, or just say a few simple things, anything I can come up with. I want to contribute more so bad, but I just don't have the language skills.

The toughest thing for me has been not being able to understand anything! Coming here I thought I would be able to pick up on most of what people are saying. Nope. They speak so fast and their accents don't help either. I get asked the simplest questions and it goes over my head. All I want to do is get to know the people, because they are such great people, but I can't converse for the life of me. It´s really been tough for me being so needy and lost all the time. Definitely a humbling experience so far. 

The Bishop and the Ward mission leader are super amazing. The Bishop reminds me of a Mexican Brother Bywater and The Ward Mission Leader is a real life Oompa Loompa. Hahaha he's 5 foot nothing, if that. They are the best though, and super helpful whenever I don´t know whats happening, which is all the time. Our Bishop has been a Temple President, a Mission President, and a bunch of other stuff. He is incredibly experienced. He also goes to Provo every year and he was ordained by Gordon B. Hinckley for something, I didnt catch what it was. 

Yesterday my compaƱero and I were asked to bare our testimonies during Sacrament Meeting. I shared the first vision and bore my testimony about Joseph Smith and the Libro de Mormon. I just do what I can haha. I said that I dint have the Gift of Tongues in my tongue and afterwards a nice lady told me I did haha. We are fed by a member every single day at 2. They have every meal a little bit later than they do in the US. Every meal we are first given some sort of soup (sopa) and then afterwards something with beans and tortillas. Coke here is HUGE. Its a strange day if we aren´t fed something with tortillas with a side of Coca. (Coke) Also, they never just have regular water with their meals. They call it agua but its some sort of water mixed with fruit juice. I have had agua de cucumber, agua de naranja (orange) agua de canteloupe and this one agua from Brazil made out of some flower. The Brazilian one is definitely my favorite. 

I´m going to try and wrap this up soon so I can post some pictures! Dogs are everywhere in the streets too. There are a lot of cats too but they are better at hiding. Haha there are dogs just sleeping in the middle of the street at every turn. I cant wait to learn Spanish so I can really start being an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I know I just need to be patient and work my butt off everyday, and the language will come. I know I shouldn't expect to be able to have a conversation after one week but it is really frustrating. 

We got our house all cleaned up and now it is actually really nice! There are bugs (mostly ants and cockroaches) everywhere in the house. But that's Mexico for ya. I shower with a bucket and later today I´m going to hand wash my clothes for the first time, yay! It´s definitely a lifestyle change. The last couple of days it has rained really hard but just for a few minutes a couple times a day. Its thunder-storming right now but it always stops for a while then it might pick back up. Also for the first P-day we went to Centro (the tourist area in the city) and I got a sweet Oaxaca style mochila (backpack). It was only 100 pesos (like 6 bucks). I´m definitely going to be bringing home stuff for all the bros in two years. My comp said he has sent home hammocks and stuff through fedex, and thats the only trustworthy way to do it. 

Thank you for all the prayers!

Con Amor, 
Elder Smith

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