Hello Family and Friends!
Well, this week Yautepec hosted its yearly carnival. And boy has it been quite the event. There are little kids dressed up in these intricate, traditional native Mexican costumes and dancing this little shuffle dance in the streets, with a large brass band following close behind. We live very close to the center of the pueblo so they have been passing our house all weekend long. This, coupled with loud fireworks that go off every 5 minutes that sound like bombs have made for a very sleep-deprived Elder Nielsen. But I am pushing through it.
Impressions of Mexico!
1) So...public bathrooms. So, on Tuesday we had money to go and eat so we decided to go to the Mercado and eat some Picaditas (tortilla, cheese, cream, onion, salsa, and beans). As the lady is preparing them, I ask her (as I usually do), to put the salsa on them that is the least hot. She gives me the first one. And to my surprise...it was not hot enough for me (I know...I am becoming Mexican), so I ask for the hotter one. This one was just right. But then, immediately when we finished eating, to save you from more details, I had to use the restroom (It actually went a little something like this... *Elder Nielsen grabs Elder Romero by his tie and says "We need to find a bathroom. NOW.") So we frantically move through the market looking for the public restrooms (mind you, this is my first time using a public restroom in the country) and we finally find them. Surrounding the bathroom are those revolving doors and a large iron fence. Frantically I look on the inside and start to read the sign. 1 Peso per person that enters. And 1 Peso for every square of toilet paper that you wish to use. So, I start frantically looking through my pants for spare change. Find the needed money. And place my 1 peso in the coin slot for entrance. I will spare you the rest. It is moments like these when I miss the United States.
I hope you all enjoyed that. I just thought that you needed to know.
So this week has been slow, missionary work-wise that is. We had two zone conferences in Cuautla (about 50 minutes away), I came down with a fever and a cold again, and we had to be home before sunset everyday because of the Carnival. So yes. But I have learned a lot this week.
During our Zone Conference Sister Kusch was giving her talk and she said something that really struck me. She said that our Heavenly Father does not want any of us to return home broken. That really struck me. Being in Mexico has taught me a lot about suffering. Drugs, alcohol, young, single-mothers with 3 or 4 children, poverty, death, violence, etc. have made a lot of people in this country "broken". I have seen firsthand a lot of tears, a lot of pain, a lot of people that frankly do not have any hope for a better future. I contrast these people that are not members with the church, with those that are. The members of the church struggle with or have struggled with the same problems. But they are so much happier. There is a light in their eyes that is not to be found in the eyes of those that are not members. They are truly allowing the Atonement to work through them and heal them. I truly love the members here. They are examples of strength to me. They have gone through things that we cannot even imagine and still place all their trust in the Lord. Many (actually 90%) of every ward or branch that I have been in are converts to the gospel. All I can say is that I am truly and really starting to love them deeply for what they have done and what they continue to do.
I have had a hard week. It has been very difficult for me. Some very real challenges. I do not know. I guess I just have noticed so many things that I need to improve. The progress that I still need to do in order to be more like my Savior. That is the part that really hits me. Whenever I think about my Savior, what he did, and what he means to me, I start to cry. I feel so inadequate to put his name on me sometimes and work on his behalf. I have truly felt weak. I want so much to be more like him in my words, my actions, and my thoughts, but sometimes it is so hard. Actually it is gut-wrenchingly hard. Because, I, just like all of you, need to drop old fears, habits, and ways of life. But that is why we have the Atonement. We do not have to do these things alone. We are not meant to walk this path in the dark. Yes, I do have a long way to go, but the path seems a little shorter when I think about how my Savior will walk and talk with me the entire way. It is so hard to be humbled. So hard to walk ahead without knowing if you are going to make it or not, but I believe that it is worth it.
I love you all very much. You mean the world to me. I truly hope that you are all doing very well. Keep pushing ahead. You can do it!