Monday, August 29, 2016

Semana 24 - Iguanas, Tortillas, & Temple Trip

Hello friends and family,

Another week has passed crazily fast but every Monday feels like the past Monday was a million years ago. On Tuesday I hit my 5 month mark.  Wow!  We taught English class and then headed on out to La Vainilla, by combi 45 minutes away and it’s super green and pretty.  It seemed like all of the La Vainilla was cookin up Iguanas that day. If any of you have dissected a frog in science before it’s kind of like that, cut open belly over a grill. I was fortunate enough to pick two up.  First, one that was being cooked and another that was still alive, awaiting his doom.  I’m told they taste like chicken and fish put together but I still don’t know.  Iguanas are a pretty hot commodity here though.  I’ve heard you can buy one for about 200 pesos or if you have really good aim you can use a slingshot to catch them.  Very exciting stuff.

On Wednesday we took a bus to Tonala for a district meeting.  When I we got back to Mapa, it was miserably hot.  While we were eating dinner at a member’s house I was leaving wet marks on her table from my arms and we were both dripping.  You know it’s hot when sweat falls from your eyebrows into your soup.  On Thursday it was also crazy hot but in the afternoon the clouds literally dumped a lake on Mapa so that was nice. 

On Friday we had English classes and we have a new student who’s 74 years old.  It’s pretty great.  That night all the members met up at the church and we had an activity at midnight.  I think it’s the first and last time to play Temple Jeopardy at midnight but the combi (transportation mini van) for the temple was leaving at 1:30 am so we had the job of keeping everyone awake.  We got to the temple around 5:30 am for breakfast, and then entered around 6:30 am.  We had a lot of first timers which was super awesome.  We left Tuxtla around 2 pm and finished out the day strong with some lessons. 

Sunday we invited one of my favorite investigators over to eat with us at a member’s house after church and he accepted a baptismal date.  I was crying internally, it was amazing!  It also rained a ton but we forgot our umbrellas so we used sweaters and it was not very fun.  All in all, it was a good week.  Two phenomenons I’d like to note though.  First, is that when it’s raining, the people here are cold.  It is not cold out, but they put on pants, jackets, and shoes.  It’s very bizarre but they’re all so accustomed to heat that they get cold really fast. Also, the tortilla stereotype is 500% true.  Sometimes people ask us for money but it’s always so they can buy tortillas.  In prayers when the people give thanks for the food, it’s thanks for the tortillas.  There is a stack at every single meal and often we don’t use silverware or napkins, we use tortillas.  I am so not kidding.  There’s a Tortilleria on every corner, like Starbuck’s or 7-11’s back home.  Mexico lives off of tortillas.  One shock is real when I tell people we don’t have Tortillerias in the US.  A tortilleria is a store that exclusively sells tortillas.  That’s my cultural thought for the week.  Haha.  Until next Monday!

Con much amor, Hermana Dangl  

 Herman Dangl & Hermana Arellano in front of the Tuxtla Temple
 A picture with my favorite child here in the mission, he is so cute! 
 Soaked by the rain, and using a sweater because we forgot our umbrellas.
 Yes I am really sweating here a lot.  It is dripping off of my face.
 The iguana awaiting his time to be cooked.
Barbecued Iguana!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Semana 23 - More rain & free quesadillas

Hello all!

I should never have mentioned I liked the weather in my last letter because this week it turned on me.  It hardly rained so it was miserably hot, but when it did rain, it poured and flooded streets, which makes it kind of hard to get around.  On Tuesday it poured, it was like the clouds opened and dumped all they had on us.  We got free (FREE) quesadillas that were amazing.  I was hungry but we were technically still in proselyting time so we went to eat with the intention to contact the owner.  I decided not to buy a quesadilla though because it was kind of pricey and so to get out of talking about God with us he seated us and gave us free food. 

On Wednesday we went to Bonanza, one of our pueblitos in our area, and ate Super Spicy Meatballs.  Apparently in Ecuador spice doesn’t exist because Hermana Arellano was dying and was sick later.  The whole table was sniffing though, that’s how you know how it’s really spicy.  We were eating a lot of cactus salad and tortillas between bites of spicy meatball but it wasn’t helping all that much.  After we headed out to La Bendecion to search out an investigator but it probably took us an hour to get there because of rain. The streets in and leading to La Bendicion are 100% dirt and rock so when the streets flood, you REALLY don’t want to cross.  We were already soaked (even with ponchos and umbrellas) but we didn’t want to wade through the streets more than we had to and the entrance to La Bendicion was super super flooded and we managed to get about halfway down the street but our way was blocked by a lot of plants.  Some of the plants are spiky or can cause rashes and ALL of them harbor mosquitoes.  So we were super stuck and we tried waving down taxis but they took one look at the river between us and them and kept going.  We did finally make it through, but it turned out to lead to more water and alternate paths.  We took some really round about ways and got super lost in fields of cows and trees.  We were actually hiking up and down hills and stuff it was so bizarre.  We were walking and all of a sudden I had a thought that I should reapply bug spray.  I ignored it but it came back 2 more times.  So we stopped and applied and as we continued walking, the next bend was a path lined and covered with greenery and plants (aka Zika).  So that was cool that the Lord was protecting us with that prompting, even if in a very simple way.  We ended up teaching a little old couple and they sent us off with papause so that was nice. 

On Thursday the married missionaries who are here are finishing up their mission, so they brought all their furniture and stuff to our (tiny) room/house.  It is now a bit crowded in el cuarto.  On Friday we went to another new area, about 30 minutes away by car.  It‘s called “La Vainilla” and it’s also where the Branch President lives.  He introduced us to a new fruit and also to all of his neighbors.  It was great.   On Saturday we rested a ton because Hermana Arellano was sick.  On Sunday I gave a talk in church on Repentance and we had our highest count since I’ve been here – 25! Wahoo!  I quoted Spencer W. Kimball in my talk and I only have the quote in Spanish but it’s really good so I’ll paraphrase. “There is no other real way to repent, no privileged path that leads to forgiveness.  All men must follow the same course, whether they be rich or poor, educated or unprepared, tall or short, prince or pauper, king or citizen.”  That course is Jesus Christ.  There is NO other means by which we can repent and receive forgiveness but by His name, His Atonement.  In Alma 34: 31-32 it tells us that TODAY is the day or repentance, the day to change, the day to prepare to meet God.  Do not procrastinate.  That’s my spiritual thought for the week and hope all is well at home.

Con much amor,  Hermana Dangl 

 Our messy cuarto on Pday we are cleaning it.

Laundry time! 

 A new fruit called Guayava - you eat the seeds. 
Lime Papaya
 Where our branch meets for church.  That is the keyboard that I play, but it doesn't work very well.

Our district of missionaries.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Semana 22 - Rain & Thunder = Cooler Weather

This weekend we had the best weather I’ve seen in Chiapas.  It’s been raining quite a bit and there are times in the day or night when it’s actually nice out.  It isn’t overbearingly hot, there’s not a lot of sun, and I’m used to the humidity by this point so that’s not a problem. It’s great!  To make things even better, I went on a brutal rampage and killed basically all of our crickets so now it’s just us and the salamanders, and all of the other bugs that enter.  I know, my life is super exciting. 

This week we also got to visit Tonala which actually was very exciting.  I weirdly felt like I was coming home, returning to the oven of Chiapas that is my first area.  We had a zone meeting at 10 am so we had to leave el cuarto (it’s a “house” but only of one room so I’m going to refer to it as “el cuarto” from here on out) at 6:30 am.  We used to live 7 minutes from the church in Tonala and now it’s a day full of traveling because it’s about 3 hours away to get to the zone meeting.  Afterwards we ate in Tonala with a member from my ward there named Yazmin and her mom.  They’re super awesome and we got to help them make the quesadillas (best in the entire world) and the salsa.  Amazing!  Then we returned to Mapa, which was nice because it’s less hot thanks to the rain. 

On Friday we hosted a Ward Activity based on the Articles of Faith and it was raining very apocalyptically.  The thunder here is crazy loud, I don’t know why.  After we contacted in a new area, which is easy to do when your area is like 4 areas, and it was super jungley.  The people were really nice though and one lady brought us out papause which is a weird bumpy light green/grey fruit that’s super pink inside.  Another contact in the same area gave us a papause as well so we all had a ton.  Our Branch President Toledo accompanied us for all this.  I’m going to miss the fruits of Mexico when I come home, that’s for sure. 

On Saturday at like 2 o’clock in the morning Hermana Arrellano got up and turned on the light and tried to start companion prayer because she dreamed that the alarm had gone off but yeah no because it was 2 in the morning haha.  It was probably one of the funniest things that happened this week. 

On Sunday it rained the entire afternoon.  I actually resorted to wearing a poncho because it literally would not stop raining.  I’ve learned by now that Chiapas is about the extremes, either hot or raining and sometimes both.  We did see a miracle Sunday though!  When we contact people in the street, it’s all about extending invitations.  Invitations to learn more, for us to visit them, to come to church, English classes, what not.  A contact from an area called “La Bendicion,” (the blessing) was he came to church!  We invite literally EVERYONE to church and no one ever takes us up on it but this guy did.  It’s a classic escogido (chosen) move.  So we’re hoping it goes somewhere all in all, Hermana Arrellano and I are doing good and I’m happy here in Mapa. 

Until next week, con much amor,  Hermana Dangl
 Hermana Arrellano from companion from Equador and I on a bridge.
 After the baptism of Hermana Lulu last week.  
 In our room studying! 
 Papause - bumpy light green/grey fruit with a pink inside.  Delicious! 

 Ward Activity - Articles of Faith Game 

 Wearing my rain coat because it wouldn't stop raining! 


Monday, August 8, 2016

Semana 21 - Bugs as roommates & baptism in the river

Friends and Family,

I hope all is well at home.  I realize I left out like a million things in my last letter due to lack of time.  So I’ll unload all the stuff I forgot to say about last week first and then get to the week that just passed.  Okay, new companion, new room, (not a house) though technically a house, new area that is HUGE.  Highlights: rains a lot and one day when it started to pour, we hid out under the sun shade of a Cerveceria (Beer store).  We contacted the worker and sang a hymn and midway through a truck full of people pulled up and started piling out and unloading stuff, but really fast because it was raining.  There was one man directing everything but he did it with a turtle in one of his hands, for reasons I will probably never know.  We left and braved the rain very soon after this. 

Another highlight traveling in a combi (mini bus) to visit a member and finding out she has a garden of weird fruits, some of which I mentioned last time.  She also grows mini pineapples.  Another highlight we got to make empanadas with a member and they were amazing.  We actually eat a lot less stereotypical Mexican food than you’d think and a lot more of rice and chicken dishes.  So they were really exciting to eat and make. 

This week  a LOT of different stuff happened.  First off, I think I mentioned that our area is HUGE.  Sometimes we have to travel and take a lot of combis.  On Tuesday we traveled to Bonanza to visit Hermana Lulu, who was actually baptized this past Saturday.  Yay!  We ate Pozoli, a soup of corn and meat, usually from pork.  It’s very typical of Chiapas, which is the state of Mexico that I live in.  When we got back that night we found out that our cuarto (room) no longer belonged to us but rather a horde of large, LARGE, red ants.  It’s not a joke when people say that the bugs in Central and South America are BIG, it’s true.  Bugs are everywhere here.  We currently have quite a few crickets living in our walls too, and they very graciously serenade us all night, every night.  Sometimes the salamanders (they live in the curtains) join in too so it’s like a full on symphony.  We’re blessed, I know!  :o) 

On Thursday we traveled to Bonanza again. When we returned though, we got stopped by the Migration Police. Hermana Arellano says they’ve never asked her for her green card even though her combis have been stopped plenty of times.  For me however, it’s EVERYTIME.  They don’t even try to pretend like they’re random selections like the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) does, they just zoom in on me and demand my papers. It’s very fun this time though because I forgot my green card in my cuarto (room) in Mapa and apparently my brain because I know better.  My companion didn’t have hers because they never ask her for it but they asked me who I was with and I told them who my companion was and so they asked for her card too.  Of course, even the thought of two young girls—missionaries running loose in Mexico without their papers is too much to handle, so we got to accompany the officers to their office about 30 minutes away.  When they got there we were chastised a lot but we obviously weren’t the dangerous illegals they supposed us to be so once they (easily) found us in the system we were all good. I think my favorite part of all this was that when they told us to get out the combi, the other passengers were like, “No, they’re sisters who teach the word of God,” and the officer was like “Yeah, but they didn’t bring their papers,” and some other passengers were like “Nooooo, the sisters preach the gospel and are good people.”  We didn’t actually know any of these other people cramped into the van with us but apparently they knew us. 

On Friday we went to Sesecapa to visit a member, the one I think I mentioned who grows cool fruit.  I tried 2 more new fruits I can’t keep up with all the names but it’s kind of become a bit of a game.  On Saturday, was the baptism of Hermana Lulu! The baptismal font is actually outside at this church because it’s actually a big house they turned into a church, but the water that came out of the faucet was pretty brown (like I can’t see through it brown) so we moved the baptism to the river.  This water is also brown but it looks a lot prettier and it’s moving so that makes it better. 

Sunday, Lulu was confirmed so she’s officially a member!  All of her family members are already members, so her kids were all super excited for her to join them.  After we taught 2nd hour Gospel Principles, President Toledo, the Branch President, surprised us with the generous gift of also teaching in Relief Society for the 3rd hour.  Missionary work totally prepares you for this kind of stuff, but is also kind of stressful to not have plans and gotta be ready to teach at any moment though.  President Toledo literally passed us the The Liahona (Ensign-New Era-Friend) magazine and went to teach Primary.  We couldn’t teach primary this week because there were some little kids and as missionaries we can’t man handle the children. It all worked out though.  After church we went to the area called Jubileo to eat and proselyte.  It was kind of jungley which was cool.  I tried a fruit that is all bumpy and green but inside is very pink and mushy.  I also learned how to cast a net to catch fish.  I didn’t catch anything because it was just in their backyard.  We came home and I killed a family of crickets who were trying out to join the symphony.  We have a pretty strict zero tolerance policy here.  All the bugs like to come out and play during the day and then at night when we come home we spend a good amount of time killing them all.  I saw one of them run into a crack in the wall, which is usually game over until they venture out again but my desire to actually be able to sleep won and we pulled that sucker out of the wall with tweezers.  We get a little bit desperate here, obviously.  That’s basically everything that’s happened this week in my life.  Missions are very weird and sometimes really hard, but sometimes really fun and sometimes stink but other times are really awesome!   I hope everyone has a great week!  

Con mucho amor, Hermana Dangl

 Lulu's baptismal day! 
 Hermana Arrellano - Lulu - Hermana Dangl 
 Lulu getting baptized in the river. 

 New companion - Hermana Arrellano

 Combi (mini bus - public transportation)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Semana 20 - Mapastepec = Rain Everyday!

Hello all,

I don't have a lot of time to write, but this week was a whirlwind.  Last week I think I mentioned transfers so on Monday I said goodbye to Hermana Limon, Casa Bonita (our pretty house), and Tonala.  I also said goodbye to being a missionary in training, which is your first 2 transfers in the mission. This is both really scary and really exciting.  My new companion Hermana Arrellano, is from Ecuador. She’s 23 and has 9 months in the mission.

I am in a new area, with new people, and new members. Our area is the whole city of Mapastepec but on Sunday there were only 17 people in church.  Two of those people where my companion and myself. I am now the ward pianist on a keyboard and we also teach the gospel doctrine class and the 3rd hour of Primary to the children, which had 4 kids in it on Sunday. Wahoo! We give talks every other week as well.  
Basically, we need to hit the streets like mad to bring back the less actives and convert new people, especially potential Priesthood Holders.  Right now, the only one is President Toledo, and he actually lives outside of the city about an hour away. The "Casa de Oracion" (because it’s a house converted into a church because there isn't enough activity) and is close to our house so we give English classes every Saturday and Tuesday.

More about Mapa: It rains A LOT. Every afternoon it rains and sometimes even more.  I feel like it’s almost always sprinkling, and then pouring later on.  However, this does make it a bit cooler which is amazing! This week I discovered about 5 new types of fruits, including Mango Piña (amazing), some type of orange coconut, Quil (looks like a HUGE sugar snap pea), Rambutan (pink with green hair) and cacao. There are more but I can't remember them all.

I was also a little sick this week but I'm pretty sure it’s not connected to the random fruit picking and eating.  My life is forever changed. Also our house is actually one room and after Casa Bonita and how huge it was, I'm not even mad. We want to petition for AC though haha.  Basically, I'm doing all right and just trying to adjust to a new area.  I will send more information next week because I'm time crunched, but I hope everyone is doing well!

Con amor, Hermana Dangl 

                           Wearing our zone tshirts with Hermana Connolly, from my zone.
                Mango Piña (amazing), some type of orange coconut, Quil (looks like a HUGE sugar snap pea), and cacao.

                                                                        Rambutan (pink with green hair)