Sunday, March 6, 2016

Hola Everyone!
    Wow! So much can happen in a week. I will start from the beginning at the airport where I missed my connecting flight because I didn’t change my watch to the different time zone. The airports are so different in Mexico with all the information in Spanish (of course) and it is really hard to understand anyone or get help. A lot of the workers really don't want to help you and can't speak English (even if it is an international airport).  I did make it to my next flight with a little bit of help from a worker who spoke English, but I didn't get into Culiacan until about midnight. While I was at the airport, I met a woman who was a sister for a church devoted to service and they are followers of Mother Teresa. She spoke English and was telling me that she was going home to see her family for three weeks. I asked her what she will do after that and she told me she will return to work and serve for another 10 years. She helps the poor and works with them so she didn't have any worldly possessions, has never owned a phone, and her clothes were blue and white and a little odd. She doesn't see her family for 10 years! 10 years then 3 weeks with family and then again! She will be doing this for her whole life! She's served in Mexico, Egypt, parts of the Middle East, and she doesn't know where they will assign her next. She said that this is a covenant with the Lord for her that she must serve him for her whole life. She has major dedication to the Lord and to serving others in needs and I was very impressed, but there is one thing she said that I didn't agree with. She will never stop to start a family of her own. She is never going to have kids. It was pretty heart breaking to me. She doesn't understand the purpose of families, or that she has chosen to never have a family and that is the first commandment of God to Adam and Eve. She believes in service to God and the poor, but there is one thing that is so important, and that is families. I hope one day she will understand this and how much joy and happiness that can bring into her life. I understand that helping the poor is good, but building up the Kingdom of God is more important. She can help the poor and serve the Lord, but having a family is also a part of that. It was an interesting conversation and then I boarded the plane to Culiacan by myself where I met another lady who lives there. She was having a bad day. She was having difficulties at work and her boyfriend she was going to marry cheated on her. We talked about prayer, about the gospel, and a lot of things and it was nice to talk to her as well. I got her information to pass on to other missionaries in her area because she wanted to learn more but I can't teach her because I'm here in Costa Rica. I hope she is taken care of and doing better. That night I stayed with the President and his wife in their home. It was weird being in a room by me. The next morning I had breakfast with them, and we went to the mission office where I met my new companion. His name is Elder Cano. He is from Mexico City and the word everyone uses for them is Chilango which I thought was pretty funny. He speaks a little bit of English, so we can understand each other. Here in Mexico, almost all the United States missionaries are put with native Spanish speakers so we can teach them English and they can teach us Spanish because the 1st Presidency of the church says they have to learn English even if they are here in Mexico. The purpose is to provide more opportunities for them that can help them later in life by knowing English. He is super awesome, but at times a little odd. He sings a lot of American songs and he always says, "thanks my homey" or "brother from another mother." He is a character, but we get along well which is less stressful for me. This town is like Blackfoot but a little smaller. It barely has any real roads and it is very different. I got my first bike and I haven't ridden a bike for many years. I didn't know how to ride one, let alone use it! When we are in the center of town we ride right next to traffic and parked cars because the roads are small. It's really dangerous here, I’m not going to lie. Being on a bike can be scary because there are no traffic laws here or even in Culiacan. There are small bridges over dried up creeks and ditches and on day two of me attempting to ride my bike over one of these small bridges, I instead  rode into the ditch. I didn't get hurt but I needed help getting out. There were two ladies watching and one of them went to get me a glass of water so we made two contacts that day because they saw me run into a ditch. My bike has been broken twice now, but I am learning to ride and it’s way different Haha.  My companion says that this area of Mexico is very weird. Here in Culiacan and Costa Rica it is very difficult to understand the people. They speak very fast, the fastest in Mexico. Even he has a hard time understanding them because they are so fast in speaking. Also, they use the most slang here. So, basically everything I learned in the MTC is not useful here. And I mean they are really fast. It’s crazy how fast they speak. So this week has been a quiet one for me because I can't understand them, but with time I probably will. Also, the food is way different than at home. They have this milk called lala and it is really like watered down milk and you don't have to put in the "refrigerator", but it's pretty good. So here is my eating schedule. For breakfast we have milk and muffins, then at 2 every day we eat with a member and then we might snack for dinner. So basically, we eat our main meal at midday. It's so weird! All we have at the house is tortillas, fake milk, some cereal, chocolate powder for the milk, and cheese for quesadillas and clean water. But the weird thing is...I love the food here!!! I've never had so many vegetables and fruits in my life, but I love them. I don't even know what they are all called because I've never seen them before. Also, I've had some pretty weird stuff here, but it is good. I don't understand them so I don't ask what it is. However, they give us a lot of food. Before I'm done with my plate, they put more on it. Practically every time I've eaten with a member, I'm so close to barfing because of how much food I've eaten. I've never eaten this much before in my life and I always eat it all. I'm probably going to be fat when I come back if I eat like this every day.  As you can see from the pictures, our apartment is a little run down. It is above a shop, pretty beat up and I think the bathroom is below the health code in America. There is no carpet, anywhere, I mean anywhere. No one has carpet. It's super dirty here in Mexico. There is dirt everywhere as well as lizards and spiders.  However, it's extremely hot and humid in the house and everywhere else. The bright side is that my acne on my face is one hundred percent gone! It’s so weird but it's all gone right now.  On Sunday we got to church early, everything was going fine and the President of our branch says to us that we need to bless the Sacrament. I have never blessed it in Spanish before!!!! IT was my first week! Anyways I said it right but it was not super-fast. Also, they have never had a pianist here so when we sing, it is without a piano. They are off tone and off key but besides that, church is good. The members are super nice to me even though I can't understand them and they can't understand me. It's good here. They do have some weird things they do. When people are driving anywhere they play music and commercials really loud! It's just different here and it’s not like it is at home. Today is Pday so my companion and I and our district of 6 elders were playing volleyball. Afterward we were talking and my companion and another guy went over to the fence and climbed up to the  trees and got coconuts and we smashed them against the ground. We opened them and then we started drinking the coconut water out of them. It was a little weird but fun and so I took one home for us and I got a picture of it. My companion is the district leader so we have to drive 45 minutes to Culiacan for his interview with the President once a week. This Friday we went and I thought I was going to die. The bus is old, looks like it belongs in a junk yard but it moves. The bus drivers don't stop for people. They slow down and you just jump off. Not to mention the crazy driving here. There are no driving laws, so it's fast and cars are super close to each other. The roads are damaged so we were bumping all over the place. I seriously thought I was going to die. It was so so scary! I can't even describe what happens here. Anyways, things are interesting and I have tons of weird stories. I'm doing fine here, but being so far away from home is a little different. I miss everyone. I miss my family, the daycare, and my friends, but I know this is where I need to be. I love the people here. I'm starting to understand them and I know that it will be hard but the Lord knows I can do it. Lastly, I just want to say that it is nice here. I'm the only white person here (besides Elder Jones who is in our district), but I feel that with time I will fit right in if I continue to work hard and do my best. I hope everything is going well for everyone back at home in the U.S. I love you all and I pray for your safety and help from the Lord. Stay true to the gospel and I know that you will find eternal joy and true happiness.
    Nos vemos la otra semana
            -Elder Bales

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