Monday, November 28, 2016

Semana 37 - Embroidery & the Priesthood

Hello all,

The good news is that transfers are in and I have at least one more transfer in Mapastepec with Hermana Renteria.  

On Monday I learned two important things: 1st, how to embroider!  I'm trying to learn as much about the culture, food and art while I'm here in Chiapas.  As a missionary, you have a little family of members and investigators who are willing to teach you things, explain things and give you new, weird food, plus the recipe!  It's very different from being a tourist, and I love it.  Hermana Lupita, an investigator, is teaching me how to do embroidery, something basically all the women here know how to do and do often.  2nd, the importance of the Priesthood.  The power and authority that God gives to worthy men to act in His name for the salvation of His children.  These are two very different topics, but on Monday Hermana Lupita's grandbaby fell off a bed and by chance her return missionary son was visiting and able to give the baby a blessing of health and comfort.  It made me realize how important it is to always have (or be!) a worthy priesthood holder.  In Mapa, it's very limited and lacking and I'd say it's true that you don't really realize what you have, until it's gone. 

On Tuesday we visited Hermana J and she told us that that morning she had been praying about what to do, and which church was actually true.  That day we came to visit her and she told us she felt that that was her answer.  This was actually a super cool experience because we were going to have a District Meeting on Tuesday and be in Tonala but they ended up changing the day on us the night before so we hadn't planned on visiting her but we did.  

On Wednesday we did go to Tonala and the meeting was good.  I made some serious progress on my embroidery on the bus ride there, which maybe makes me sound like an old lady but I'm pretty stoked.  On Wednesday I also hit 8 months in the mission. 

On Friday we ate way too much food in Sesecapa and basically waddled back to the combi (taxi). Seriously there is something about being a missionary that makes people want to feed us, I have no clue why.  Afterwards we went to visit Hermana G., a less active and she wasn't home but by pure chance there were some goats outside so we stopped to watch them (instead of just walking past them like normal people do) and she came home in that time!  Whoo for the little miracles!  :o)  

On Saturday President Toledo drove us all around Mapa as we searched out less actives. We found a ward directory but with very skimpy addresses, for those living in Newport, it's like being given a name with the address, 17th St. without a number. Basically a LOT of work, but it was really good!  We found a lot of people that I hadn't known about.  I also had my first dream in Spanish (that I can remember) which is kind of a noteworthy moment for me.  Whoo!  :o)  

On Sunday we had a sacrament meeting full of less actives and basically none of the active members came which was a weird switch.  After church we contacted in an area that doesn't have street names or numbers and visited a less active who has 4 sons who are all named Luis.  Hermana Renteria and I are both procrastinators who work well under pressure, so you can probably all imagine how every Sunday is a mad rush to contact the whole world. We finished out the week strong and we made it out of the transfer alive!  Haha!  I hope everyone has a good week.  

Con amor,  Hermana Dangl 

 Learning how to embroider. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Semana 36 - Gift of Tongues

Buenos Dias! 

This week was good, we tried to work with the goal in mind of families and their potential to be eternal!  On Monday we had a super good lesson with a family that we’ve been teaching pretty much since I got here to Mapa.  They haven’t been coming to church or reading the Book of Mormon and we went with intentions to give them a “final lesson,” however, we ended up teaching the Plan of Salvation.  In the end, the daughter, L, had a total change of heart and was crying and told us she didn’t want us to stop visiting her.  I love lessons where you can see people realize what they need to do and to change.  When L offered the prayer, she was crying and was pleading for forgiveness and honestly it’s the moments like this one that makes it worth it to be a missionary.  

On Wednesday we found the golden family we had been teaching.  They had moved and they don’t have a phone so we “lost” them.  I also carried around a pumpkin in my backpack for a few hours because we made a candied pumpkin with a less active member, Hermana Veva!  It was super amazing and my life is changed now that I know how to make it.  Lots of pictures attached.  

On Friday we really learned about the importance of inspired questions.  There’s a huge shift in the lesson when we ask the right questions and the investigator actually opens up to us.  

On Saturday we visited around La Vainilla and I held a baby pig!  

On Sunday all the school kids paraded around in costumes with music and dances to celebrate November 20th, which is a day that Mexico celebrates its Revolution.  The war began on Nov. 20, 1910 to overthrow the dictator and is celebrated every year.  We watched a little bit of the parade from our balcony before church.  At church we both gave talks. . . if you had told me before my mission that the gift of tongues makes it possible to talk for 20 minutes about prophets and tithing (in Spanish), I definitely wouldn’t have believed it, but somehow it happened.  

After church we went on visits with Dilma in Jubileo and explored a new area.  It was amazing!   It’s out in the “country” and there are barely any houses so there was a ton of wind.  It was super beautiful, with green mountains, a blue sky and only a few houses.  I realize that this week wasn’t super interesting but I feel like the work we’re doing here is important.  There are sons and daughters of God here who are learning and growing and finding the need to repent and it’s honestly an amazing process.  Also as always the time is flying and we’re on to the last week of the transfer.  Whoo!  

Con much amor, Hermana Dangl

 Hermana Dangl holding a baby pig! 

 Parade from our balcony window for Nov. 20th.

 Making Dulce de Calabaza (Candied Pumpkin)

 San Francisco - An area out in the country! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Semana 35 - Teaching by the Holy Spirit

Hello all! 

As always, I can’t believe it’s already Monday.  If I were to sum up this week in only a few words, I would say “Teaching by the Holy Spirit.”  We were so directed this week to say and teach exactly what we needed to.  Hermana Renteria is past some of the hardest weeks in the mission.  After the first few weeks, she is totally starting to read my mind during the lessons, which is to actually say we are both receiving and acting on inspiration and revelation from God.  

On Tuesday we went up to Tonala for a district meeting which was actually really good.  We taught R, who has a baptism date set for the beginning of December. She’s 12 years old and has an open heart so understands and accepts the gospel easily and with faith.  She loves the missionaries and always tries to guess our first names.  

On Wednesday we visited the members of Bonanza, who informed me that Donald Trump won the election and asked me what I thought about it.  Really, everyone has been asking me about this topic.  I think they all know more about what’s going on in my country than I do since I’ve been gone and 100% out of the loop on everything.  

On Thursday I got to try a new dish that actually wasn’t bad.  Pig foot in bean soup!  I’ve been trying to embrace the traditional food while I’m here.  

On Friday we taught an investigator who we love but isn’t coming to church.  We went into it kind of unplanned because I honestly wasn’t sure what she needed when we were planning in the morning.  We ended up teaching the Plan of Salvation and all of us cried during some point in the lesson.  It was really cool and we were 500% listening to the spirit, and we taught the lesson without dying which is good because it’s seriously the hardest lesson.  After, we passed a girl in the street and I felt the prompting to contact her but ignored it (!!) and we kept walking to our appointment.  We realized though that we had forgotten all the materials we needed for the appointment.  So we turned around and passed the girl again, but this time we acted and contacted her.  Turns out, she’s a less active member and invited us to visit her.  Whoo!  

On Saturday we visited La Vainilla and afterwards had a good lesson with J, who’s preparing to be baptized in the beginning of January.  He’s totally ready but has to get married first.  

On Sunday our little branch piled into President Toledo’s truck and we all traveled to Pijijiapan for a conference.  Honestly the fact that people can ride in truck beds here is the most convenient thing ever.  In the conference Russell M. Nelson and Carol F. McConkie talked in Spanish which was cool and really impressive.  

That night we visited a less active recent convert and told him that his sister wants to get baptized, but she wants HIM, to be the one to baptize her. However, they haven’t been coming to church and have a few things to take care of so he can’t right now.   But they opened up to us and Hermana Renteria and I totally received revelation.  I flipped to Joseph Smith History, where he talks about the First Vision.  I opened my mouth to share it and Hermana Renteria  started talking about the same thing!  I read the part where Joseph Smith kneels down to pray and feels overcome by Satan, and how he has real power to divert us from  God.  But just as he was about to succumb, he saw a column of light, above the brightness of the sun.  As I read the familiar account of Jesus and Heavenly Father appearing to Joseph, I felt a power from the words I was speaking, testifying to all of us of the reality of Joseph Smith’s vision. This is what missionary work is all about, and it’s SO COOL when things like that happen.  

This week I also learned something important about Obedience and blessings. We have an investigator (many, really in this situation) who doesn’t understand why she has a lot of hardships.  However, she’s not coming to church, praying, or reading her scriptures so we shared: “I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” D & C 82:10.  God promises to bless us when we are obedient, so when we aren’t obedient, He isn’t obligated to bless us with anything.  Often He still does bless us out of love for His children, but technically blessings are predicated on obedience. Obviously obedience to the commandments doesn’t mean life is perfect and easy 24/7, but it does mean that God is bound to bless us.  That’s my spiritual thought for the week, and hope everyone is doing well!  

Con mucho amor, Hermana Dangl 

Mi Comision Misional... "Mis voz es su voz, mis actos son sus actos, mis palabras son sus palabras y mi doctrina es su doctrina." Bruce R Mckonkie (i.e., My Commission as a missionary: "My voice is your voice, my acts are your acts, my words are your words, my doctrine is your doctrine.")

 Hermana Renteria with our friend . . . . President Toledo's pig.

 Hermana Renteria and I coming home from La Vainilla.

  Rubi is going be be baptized in December.

The branch in President Toledo's truck bed.

 A rainbow in what we call "Calle Luis."  Why?  Because when we asked someone who lives on this street what it was called, she told us it doesn't have a name.  Thus, it's named after the investigator we are teaching who lives here.  His name is Luis and he has 2 brothers, also named Luis. 

 Altar from Day of the Dead last week.

 Our district! Cabeza de Toro

Rubi and her mom with the pumpkins that we gifted them.  A member gave us 3 so we gifted 2 :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Semana 34 - Traditions, new food, and inspiration

Happy Monday!  What a week! I learned a lot his week about some of the fun stuff Mexico does to celebrate Halloween and the Day of the Dead.  Last Monday was Halloween and there was a street parade with lots of dancing and music for Halloween and after the parade we had interviews with our mission president, President George. After the interviews they gave me a package from my parents with . . . . Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal.  Whoo!  Very exciting stuff, I’ve been in heaven. 

On Tuesday the REAL fun happens.  Nov. 1st and 2nd the whole world (or at least all of Chiapas, but more likely all of Mexico) is at the cemetery. Mapastepec was a straight up ghost town during the day, so we set out to the cemetery to find everyone.  People were there cleaning and painting and fixing up all the gravestones and putting out candles and flowers and whatnot.  That night all the kids set out to “trick or treat” but it’s a bit different.  Everyone sets up shop outside their houses on the main road and the kids in their costumes walk around in groups.  When they get to a spot to ask for candy they sing a song about candy and angels and in the end, they get their candy.  It is usually not candy, because the tradition is to make candied fruits which are basically fruit cooked or soaked in sugar and cinnamon for like a million years, I think. The most common is candied pumpkin or papaya, both of which are super delicious.  We couldn’t ask for anything because we’re missionaries but there were a few investigators who were out and taught us the song/chant and gave us “dulce de calabaza” (candied pumpkin).  You have to bring your own Tupperware and they fill it up.  People also put out offerings for the dead to come eat as they pass from this life to the next.  It’s all super cool and different. 

On Wednesday all of Mapa was at the cemetery again and it rained SUPER hard. On Thursday we had a really cool experience with revelation.  We planned on visiting a less active member.  Every morning we plan on what we are going to teach and whom.  This morning when we were planning for this member the thought “randomly” popped into my head to teach about the Word of Wisdom (the commandment that prohibits alcohol, tobacco, drugs, black tea, and coffee).  When we visited her I almost didn’t teach it, but I had the thought again.  She ended up telling us that she had been struggling with it and we had a great lesson where she committed to live the Word of Wisdom.  Super awesome!  The Word of Wisdom is hard for basically everyone but I hadn’t been thinking about it for this member so it was super cool to receive revelation in such a direct way.  

On Friday we visited La Vainilla and ate a very traditional meat called Chicharron, which is actually just cooked pig skin.  We visited around and had a super intense lesson, which wasn’t a Bible Bash but was toeing the line.  We headed back to Mapa and left straight away for Sesecapa to eat with Hermana Ines.  She made us “broccoli cake” because she knows it’s my favorite which was really nice. 

On Saturday we taught English class then ate with a less active member.  I got to try a new food I never thought I would try, but I figured, when in Mexico . . . you do as the Mexicans do.  Lengua!  (Pig Tongue).  I didn’t take a picture but it actually wasn’t too bad, it tasted like normal meat, just kinda of squishy and softer.  We headed out to La Bendicion and we were there kind of late so it got late and all the fireflies came out!  It was actually kind of amazing.  On Sunday, we had church like normal and after church we went to the house of a super old member and her less active son so they could take the sacrament.  All in all it was a good long week with lots of new experiences.  Yay for Mexico! 

Con much amor,
Hermana Dangl 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Semana 33 - A/C, Dia de los Muertos, and Raccoon Hill

Hello all! 

This week was a life changer for me, at least for my time in Mapastepec.  I’ve learned to 100% appreciate the little things, and this week that little thing is called “sleeping with a blanket because now we have air conditioning.”  But I’ll get to more of that later.  On Monday we did our normal P-day stuff, like cleaning, grocery shopping and hand washing all of our clothes.  It was Hermana Renteria’s first time! :o)  We start proselyting at 6 pm and we visited the family of a recent convert couple.  Their family members all have really different needs and challenges, but in the end the solution is always the pure doctrine of Christ, faith, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.  The gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.  On Tuesday we visited with Hermana G, a less active member.  We’ve been trying to gain her confidence for the past 3 months and she’s been opening up little by little.  We visited her with the Relief Society President and the spirit was present and she started to tear up and look away and it was a really good lesson.  

On Wednesday we totally saw a miracle.  Hermano Antonio accompanied us for some lessons and I felt like we should visit an investigator, named G but he wasn’t home so I was feeling kind of confused but our backup plan was a super old less active who doesn’t leave her house.  There aren’t records for her though and there isn’t anyone else to testify that she was baptized, so she’s actually not considered a member.  I didn’t want to visit her BUT we were close by to visit G and her husband waved at me so we stopped to say hi.  She told us she was feeling really sick and that the night before, she had dreamed that we passed by with a man to give her a priesthood blessing.  So Hermano Antonio gave her a blessing and it was super awesome that God guided us to her, especially in a round about way.  

On Thursday we went to Tonala for zone conference!  It was actually super good.  Our zone leaders gave us all little paper sheep and we wrote down what we wanted to change to be better missionaries and then made a little altar and lit the sheep on fire like a sacrifice from the Old Testament.  Obviously very symbolic but we all have to make sacrifices here in the mission field AND in life.  If we want to be more Christlike, more obedient, and better people.  When we got home we started to pack and clean el cuarto.  On Friday President Toledo, our branch president, and the zone leaders showed up on our doorstep bright and early to help us move all of our stuff to the new house.  The new apartment is a lot safer and nicer and like I said in the beginning of this week’s letter, it has a/c in the bedroom.  Wooo!  It was totally worth it to move, especially after we took everything out of the cuarto and realized just how many insect and spider friends had been living with us. 

On Friday an investigator, named A accepted baptismal invitation and after that her mom told us that we couldn’t visit them anymore.  It was beyond heartbreaking and I was totally ready to cry right then and there.  It’s totally different on the streets when we contact and people turn us down than when you’ve already been teaching and feeling the spirit with an investigator and (to quote the Book of Mormon) “the traditions of their fathers” impede them from accepting the restored gospel.  The rest of the week was more walking and contacting and what not.  We had some really good lessons this week but like always the biggest challenge for this area/Chiapas was getting people to church.  However Hermana Renteria and I have plans to baptize all of Mapastepec.  Wish us luck!   Hermana Dangl

Con much amor,
Hermana Dangl 

P.S.  This week I found out that Mapastapec is named after Mapaches (raccoons) and means “Raccoon Hill,” or cerro de los Mapaches.

Pan de muerto (Dead Bread?) haha

 Zona Tonalá 
 The mission for the mission that we created :) 
 Our new cuarto!  Check out the a/c on the wall!
Our closet!
Our kitchen.
Our bathroom.
Laundry area!