Monday, May 30, 2016

Semana 11 - It doesn’t matter, it is all “agua.”

This week we had intercambios (splits) I went to Arriago which is like 40 minutes away with Hermana Ruvalcaba, and her companion, Hermana Conde, came to Tonala with Hermana Juarez.  Intercambios are only for 24 hours but it’s a chance to see a new area and way of doing missionary work.  It was actually pretty fun.  We taught one of their investigators who is an “escogido.”  Escogidos are chosen investigators they want to know, they keep their commitments, there’s a light in their eyes and they’re just ready to accept the gospel.  It’s awesome this investigator seriously had the world’s biggest Bible.  When he pulled it out of his backpack (it filled the backpack) and then put it on his lap and it covered his entire lap and I had to try so hard to keep a straight face because it was ridiculously large. 

When I returned to Tonala we ate with a member for lunch.  During lunch her dog was acting all crazy and messing around under the washing machine (a rare sight to see) and she kept yelling at it to stop breaking the machine but then we saw a long tail pop out.  There was an iguana under it!  During the course of our lunch the cat and dog tag teamed together to catch the iguana while we watched.  Dinner and a show you know? 

Anyway on Friday we went back to the beach, Puerto Arista, which is 30 minutes away and absolutely gorgeous.  We piled 21 people into a van so there was a lot of squishing and lap sitting.  We went for Hermana Susi’s baptism.  My first one!  Everyone was wearing white and it was a really nice service.  It was super cool and made me wish my baptism had been at the beach.  It’s an amazing feeling to watch someone who you helped come unto Christ be baptized.  After the baptism we ate with a member.  At the time I thought I was eating a chicken soup that had a ton of weird skin (not my easiest meal to eat) but afterward Hermana Juarez told me it was cow stomach (tripe) and I actually almost died right there in the street.  Oh man! I’m so glad I didn’t know what it was while I was eating it.  Also I am grateful for the stack of tortillas that is present at every single meal we eat because I actually just shove everything into them and will my stomach to fit it all in. 

But really things are going better for me, because mission life is becoming more normal and I am adapting.  It’s still hard but I’m starting to have fun some times.  I think I mentioned that I ‘m covered in mosquito bites, it’s even worse now. I counted them all, 40 bites on my left leg and 41 bites on my right leg.  There are only 4 bites on the rest of my body and they just bite my legs.  I use bug spray but I sweat it off after like 10 minutes and there’s just so many bugs here.  We’re going to try to buy more repellent.  The new mission rules for areas with lots of bugs say we can wear pants because of the mosquito borne illness threat in these parts so I might start wearing pants for more protection. It’s just so hot though, I don’t want to! 

The Elders came to our casa with a ladder and light bulbs so now we have light which is really exciting.  Some more details about life in Mexico .  Everything is agua, horchata, jamaica, mango juice, melon juice, it doesn’t matter, it is all “agua.”  But we never actually drink real water at meals, it always a soda or flavored water/juice.  Pozol, the chocolate corn water I swore I’d never like is actually amazing.  I don’t know how but it is.  Remember to not touch anything you can’t see or before looking first.  Any surface can have bugs and never lean against the walls or walk with bare feet, even in your own casa. 

We learned about the “Word of Wisdom” at church and they said that includes “overeating” and all the missionaries laughed because literally every day we’re stuffed with food by the members.  My companion and I watch the missionary movies called “The District” (they film how a day is for a missionary) and we laugh because the work here is so different and doesn’t even compare. 

The pictures at the beach last week were at Puerto Arista and this week for P day we went to Boca de Cielo.  Hermana Juarez and I went with our district leaders, Elder Aviles, Elder Allen and with our zone leaders, Elder Cervantes & Elder Garcia.  Hermana Susi, Tonala’s 1st ward’s newest member, came too.  We got permission to go in a boat to cross the lake to get to the beach.  It was crazy beautiful and I took a nap in a hammock again.  I love the beach here, the water is so warm and we ran in up to our knees.  It’s usually deserted so it’s really fun and relaxing and a perfect way to start the week.  I hope all is well at home and everyone please update me on any big news!  Babies, weddings, mission calls, etc. I want to know!  

Con amor, Hermana Dangl

  Susi getting ready to get baptized at the beach.

 Shoe marks on my feet.

 Lots of bites on my legs.

 Taking a boat ride to the beach on our Pday.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Semana 10 - The beach is beautful!


Last Monday I mentioned laundry, so when we went up to the roof to wash our clothes, the water was nasty and brown so we couldn’t do our laundry.  It had rained and had been really stormy the night before and apparently that makes our water dirty.  All the water from all of our faucets was brown.  This was a problem and you can’t rewear any of your clothes between washes because they’re gross after like an hour of wearing them because it’s so hot and humid.  I’m mostly better now health wise but I don’t actually know if it is possible for my weak American stomach to ever totally accustom.  I haven’t talked a lot about our investigators, but we have two getting baptized this Saturday.  It’s super exciting. One of them is married, but her husband who is a member is working in Utah right now. She wanted to wait for him to get back so he could baptize her, so its been tough to set a date.  However we had an awesome lesson where her husband skyped in and we taught about temples at the end, and then we had a date set in stone.  Super Awesome!  

On Tuesday we had a multi zone conference.  President George and his AP’s (Assistants to the President) and all of the surrounding zones got together for a day of AC (air conditioning) and spirituality.  It was good and was a little reunion of some of my CCM (MTC) family.  Also Hermana Juarez told me my accent isn’t too bad, not sure if she is just saying that or not.  In a year or so when I come back you guys can be the judge of my Spanish.  We taught a crazy lady and there was a lot of finger waving and what not.  I opened my mouth to speak and she was like, “If you’re more comfortable speaking English you can. I lived in Canada for a couple of years.”  I think that was the #1 top condescending thing that’s been said to me thus far.  Probably because she didn’t even let me speak first, just saw that I’m American and assumed my Spanish was terrible (she assumed right).  This isn’t new for me to teach in Spanish, because we teach lessons all day every day in Spanish and somehow I survive.  Plus if I speak in English for a lesson then my companion won’t understand the things I’m saying. 

The #2 top condescending thing that happens is when someone says something to me and I don’t understand part of it, usually the object or noun.  For example, a member asks me if I like a certain type of food, but I don’t know what the food is so I’m sitting there thinking, I don’t know.  Is it more dangerous to say yes or no in this moment?  Is it the food I’m eating right this second?”  And the member takes this thought process as me not understanding so instead of saying it again or slower, they’ll use super simple English plus the word or type of food that they’re talking about and then I’m still confused and it’s basically a mess.  In general, the people here are very nice and they’re just trying to help.  It’s hard not to feel like everyone thinks I’m stupid when I don’t understand though. 

The funnies moment of the week was with a super old menos activo (less active member).  He was talking really quietly and slurred words together a lot so I was not understanding anything. No context, and then I realized he’s talking about a little butterfly walking on his leg and I was so confused but it was so funny and I really wanted to laugh because he kept saying “mariposita,” and using his fingers to show it walking.  We also got to attend a baptism and the kid had to be baptized three times because he kept not going all the way under.  Also the most terrifying moment this week was when I had something in my eye but couldn’t find it and it was really bothering me.  I guess the investigator lady noticed that I kept touching my eye because she asked me about it and then was like “a ver” which basically means “let’s see” and she walks over, opens my eye and gets really close. I thought she was just looking closely but she put her mouth almost on my eye and blew really hard a couple of times.  I guess it’s supposed to help but it was more gross and terrifying than anything else.  

The water in the bathroom with the good toilet randomly stopped working for a couple of days so that was rough.  It’s all part of the Mexico experience, I guess.  All in all, I’m doing well.  Things that at first seem terrible and strange are becoming less so.  Like when your water is brown for a week but by the end of the week you don’t even care and it’s just another part of life. Some things to note, it’s hard to describe things here, everything is different, from the way people greet each other to how full they fill glasses of liquid.  Here is a taste of my life:  The cars honk at nothing for no reason, completely unprovoked and I don’t know why, but it’s is the weirdest phenomenon and drives me crazy.  I am absolutely covered in mosquito bites on my legs and feet.  I wear two different types of bug spray one being 98% deet, and nothing holds the bugs back.  The thunder here is apocalyptically loud and it feels like the sky is falling when it storms.  People sell stuff from carts, but the best is the ice cream.  Tortillerias – they are shops that literally ONLY sell tortillas.  It’s amazing that no one wears seat belts ever.   A lot of people ride scooters or motorcycles but they don’t hold onto anything or each other and I am dreading the day I see someone fall off. 

For our pday (Preparation day) we also went to the beach and it was amazing!  It was so warm with a breeze and we were allowed to go in the water up to our knees. I took a nap in a hammock and it was basically the best thing ever! I hope everyone has a great week! Thank you for your prayers and support.

Con amor, Hermana Dangl

P day at the beach.

 At our zone conference.
 President & Srs.George with missionaries in our zone.

 Taco time!
 Study time!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Semana 9 - Washing Your Laundry Takes Hours!

Semana 9 – Washing Your Laundry Takes Hours!

This week was super long.  The days are long and the weeks are long. I know that soon enough I’ll feel differently, but for now everything is long.  Last Monday after I wrote, we did our laundry!  It actually took hours because you have to hand wash every piece of clothing.  Some of you might have experience with this but I would assume most of you haven’t had to wash all of your clothing by hand on top of your roof.  Basically, it’s like 2 separate basins. One full of water (it’s deep to the floor and comes up to my waist) and the other is just like a flat surface for washing.  So you use a cup to dip in the water then pour on top of your clothes.  It’s definitely an experience and might be fun if I was traveling or something and it was a one time deal but this is a weekly thing.  

Also we taught this really old woman and we’d say to her “you can make covenants in the temple,” and she’d be like “Ahh, claro que si,” which basically means “obviously,” so I don’t think she actually understood us.  Anyway, I’ve been kind of sick lately, and my companion Hermana Juarez says it takes three weeks for the American stomach to get accustomed to everything down here.  So it’s been fun!  The worst though is when we teach lessons at night and I’m swatting away bugs and mosquitoes so much that I can’t really do anything else.  No amount of bug spray is working.  I have a lot of bites. It’s surprisingly difficult to accustom to everything here.  It’s just a different world than I am used to.  For example, when I was served fish, it wasn’t a big deal to anyone else that the fish still had fins and scales and a head but for me, the internal freak out was very real.  Also, as I said in an earlier letter, the setup I have for my clothes washing is very similar to how the kitchen sinks in the houses are set up.  There is a big basin of water and then the sink part.  I was at a member’s house doing dishes and I saw something move in the water. This water is used to wash dishes, hands, etc. and it was a fish!  Kind of a big one too.  Apparently it’s for bacteria and algae but I think the fish poop and bits of tortilla the member was throwing at it was the worse part!  Haha!  Spanish is still really hard for me, but I’m trying my best to be patient.  I appreciate your support through reading my emails, writing me, and praying for me.  Con amor, Hermana Dangl

Last week the address I sent was for letters. 

This one is for packages.  
Sister Katelynne Dangl
México Tuxtla Gutiérrez Mission
Calle Jazmines #210
Fracc. Los Laureles
29020 Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas
I have heard to choose the cheapest rate and you can send them priority or regular first class.
If you use a private courier (DHL, UPS, FedEx) I think they ask for a phone number.

52 961-671-9761 phone number 

 Washing all of your clothes by hand on Pday.
Clothes drying from the rooftop.

 View from the rooftop of our house.

 Hermana Juarez and I drinking frapasol.
Wearing our Mexican blouses.
 A picture with some members.
At the coast.

Standing in a boat.

 Visiting with Elders from our neighboring district.

The town of Tonala

Monday, May 9, 2016

Semana 8 - First week in Tonala

First week in Tonala - Semana 8

This week has been a bit of a whirlwind, I am not going to lie. We took like 3 buses and there was a lot of waiting, but we finally made it to Tonalá, our area, on Tuesday night. Mexico City and Tonalá are like completely different worlds, I can´t even express how I felt getting off the bus.  The only thing that felt real was the heat and the sweat, honestly. This is the hottest area in the mission because it´s so close to the coast.  Also the people here slur their words the most out of anywhere in the mission, so as you can probably guess, I´m just loving life to the fullest.  But in all seriousness, the area is full of people to talk to and share the gospel with, which is good.  

(click here to see Hermana Dangl's casa and to walk the streets of her first area.)

My companion is amazing - her name is Hermana Juarez and she is from Michoacan (Mexico).  She is 23 and has a degree in nutrition. She speaks very very little English but is learning! She is so patient with me, with investigators, and with everyone she talks to.  I try to follow in her footsteps in many ways.  She pushes me a lot to talk with people, bear testimony, and invite people to be baptized. I think she pushes me just enough- sometimes it´s really hard, but that´s where growth happens.  I struggle a lot with having patience with myself. A lot of that frustration comes from the language - speaking to people in Spanish and then also having a lot of people speak to me and then I don´t understand them, or I only understand half - its very difficult. It feels like taking a page from a book and ripping it vertically and then trying to read and understand with only a part of the story.  It´s hard!  It makes me feel discouraged a lot because I desperately want to teach more, contribute more, talk to everyone, and get to know and love the people but I can´t understand them.  I am praying for patience in this constantly, but regardless things are going well.  

We have an investigator with a baptismal date and had 2 show up to church yesterday. Maybe that doesn't sound like a lot, but for me, seeing our investigators sit down in the chapel felt like success and progress. The members here are great.  We are still trying to meet with them all. The streets get kind of crazy sometimes and there are no stoplights or signs.   A lot of times cars will drive through the streets blaring ads from speakers on top of their cars.  Or a bicycle with 2 people on it will have one pedaling and the other holding a sign with numbers on it.  Apparently it’s for a lottery thing.  Anyway, it´s a whole new world.  I´m used to the way things are in the US and here things are very different.  It´s literally a life changing adjustment.  I think my favorite part (there are many) is that we have to refill the tank for the toilet every time and that the shower is just water falling out of a hole in the wall. But of course as always, it could be worse!  

I joke a lot that my "mejor amiga" is the fan because it´s soooo hot. The only time I´m not sweating is in the cold showers, but I´m getting used to it.  Like I´m not surprised anymore when we step out of the house and its 100 degrees and we are swimming to our appointments because of the humidity.  But it´s not bad here!  Just different.  The houses are all colored, for example, we ask someone where they live and they say on this street between this street and that street. And we ask what number and they´re like, oh I don´t know but it´s this color. Everyone will talk to you if you start a conversation. We do a lot of hymn singing for people in the streets and mini impromptu lessons.  Also, I have a lovely nickname!  Basically, only kids or men will call me this, but people in the streets will either stare or whistle or call me "Guarita"- which basically means little white girl. There are kids here who have never seen a white person before (according to my companion) so they especially stare.  The only other American or person who speaks English here that I´ve seen is an Elder from my district in the CCM that is in the same area as me.  I am excited for the adventures that Tonalá will hold for me!

Katelynne emailed Jeff and said, “You know how you always told me when I complained that it was hot that I didn`t know what hot was.  I can now say with a surety that I KNOW what hot is. It’s SOOO humid and it never stops.  I am always sweating and there is no AC anywhere (especially not our house). I am never not wet.  I`m always sticky and gross, from the moment I step out of the shower until I get back in the shower. Also it randomly rains and I understand so little.”

We were able to skype with her yesterday for Mother’s Day for an hour and we loved hearing her share her experiences and are so proud of her.  She went to the church where they had ac and was able to use the computers there.  It was so awesome, and when we talk to her in 7 months at La Navidad she will be in a whole different place.  She will understand the language and will feel more accustomed to everything.

She emailed Jeff her street and the color of her house and we were able to find it on google maps.  That is the picture that is attached.  Crazy cool!  We can actually look at the city she live in, see the dogs on the streets and where she is spending her time.  They don’t have addresses on the house, they locate them by color and proximity to other things.  Therefore you need to send her packages to the mission home.

Thanks for your support.  You can continue to email her at:

Her birthday is June 18th.

Mexico Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission
Apartado Postal 278
29000 Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas
 Her badge that is still black, she says it starts to turn yellow in time from the sun and humidity.
 The family with our Hermana Dangl via skype. We cried, laughed, and rejoiced.
 The extended family joined in and listened to her share about her new experiences.
 Her house is found by its color, yellow and purple, with no address.  We found this picture on google maps.
 The room where they study their language and the gospel every morning.  She is teaching her companion English and then her comp teaches her Spanish.
 The toilet and shower all in one.  She showers twice a day because she gets so hot!
 Picture from her last week at the CCM with her district and her teachers.
 The B on the hill is from the name of the school, Benemerito.  It used to be a private Mormon High school until 2013 when they closed it and converted it into the CCM (MTC)