Monday, July 13, 2015

Welcome to Juarez!

I'm in Mexico! I live in a little red adobe house! It's super legit!
I don't have a ton of time today because we have a zone conference later and we have to do a ton of stuff haha :)

My companion is Hermana Hernandez, and she is the best! I am so blessed to have her as my trainer! She is from Puebla, Mexico, and she has been in the field for 14 months! She speaks a good amount of English, so that's super nice.
Speaking of that- this is a bilingual mission. Everyone obviously uses Spanish, but native Spanish-speaking missionaries who serve here also have to learn English. They study it every morning when the rest of us are studying Spanish. We use English around our houses, and to open and close meetings, and Spanish everywhere else. So I get to help a bunch of hermanas with their English! It's fun, and it's nice because it helps them understand a bit of what I'm going through not understanding most of what anyone here is saying.
Like I said, we live in a red adobe house. It has two little apartments upstairs, and Hna Hernandez and I live in one, and Hnas Garcia and Panta live in the one next-door. We serve in the same ward, along with two of the Elders who work in the mission office.

So a story.
I had to be in the travel office at 5:00am to leave the MTC. My flight was supposed to leave somewhere around10:15, then my connecting flight from Denver to El Paso was supposed to leave at 3:50.
Well, flights were delayed and I got into El Paso at about 7:30!
BUT. It was for a reason.
Just after I finished calling home to talk to my family from the SLC airport, this sweet older woman came up to me and said, "habla espanol?" (I still don't know how to type Spanish accents. Sorry my Spanish will be kind of incorrect.) I was like "un poco!" So she started talking super fast and what I caught was that she doesn't speak English and she needed to figure out how to catch her connecting flight out of Denver. So I was able to help her figure that out, get on the plane, get off the plane, and find her next gate at DIA. It was a wake up call to see how little Spanish I understood...but I was able to help, nonetheless.

Spanish Lesson with Hermana Clark:
(Disclaimer- Spanish varies from country to country, and even from state to state in Mexico. Chihuahua has a distinct accent and dialect, and that's what I'm working on learning.)
"Capilla" means church. So does "iglesia," which is what I learned, but everyone mostly uses capilla here. I don't know how I never learned the word...
"La ruta" is the bus. As in "we're going to take the bus." And we take it quite a bit...

Speaking of la ruta, it's an interesting/terrifying/exhilirating experience!
Here's how you ride.
1. Stand on the side of the road and watch for it. When the bus you want to take is coming, you wave your arms like a crazy. 
2. It stops SUPER fast and you climb on super fast. As soon as the last person getting on has a foot in the bus, it starts moving.
3. Give the bus drive 6 pesos.
4. move toward the nearest empty seat and try not to fall on top of anyone (because the bus is picking up speed.)
4.1. if there are no empty seats, there are bars running the long way down the bus on both sides. Grab one.
5. Hold on for dear life because the bus will stop, go, stop, go....
6. When you are about a block or two from where you want to get off, you yell "BAJAR!" and the bus starts to stop.
7. Walk to the front so that when the bus stops, you can get off super quick.
8. Get off and say, "Gracias!"

It's been fun.
Also, if you know me well, you know that I don't jaywalk...j-walk...however it's spelled.... I like crosswalks and sidewalks.
Well, they pretty much don't exist here haha if there is a crosswalk, nobody notices. And a lot of sidewalks are broken, so it's easier to walk in the street. So we walk in the streets all day. And yes, everyone here, including us, will run across 8 lanes of traffic to get to the other side of the road. It's pretty different haha

Those cultural differences explained, a new cultural experience is not why I'm here. I'm here to serve the Lord and testify of Christ, and I get to do it every day.
We talk to people in the streets all day every day. We meet so many people, and though I only catch about half of what anyone says when they are talking to my companion, I get to learn a bit of each person's story. It is so cool. 
We are all children of God! He loves each of us more than we can comprehend!
I extended my first baptismal invitation yesterday to a sweet family, and they accepted! I was sitting in this lesson with my companion and two members who came with us, and I was vaguely following the conversation, but I didn't fully understand everything they were saying. Then my companion turns to me and whispers is Spanish, "Invite them to get baptized."
I'm thinking...I don't even know what their saying! I have no way to smoothly to that...
But I said what I knew how to say. "I know that baptism is an important step in coming to better know our Heavenly Father and to be able to return to live with Him. Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone who holds the Priesthood authority of God?"
And they were totally down to keep learning and move toward baptism.
It was a tender experience.

I wish I could tell more stories, but I think the whole emailing-time-management thing will have to come with time.
I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true! The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and God calls prophets in our day!
I love you all!!

~Hermana Hannah Jo Clark

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