It is hard to believe that a whole six weeks have already gone by here in Mexico. Today is the first day of my second transfer in Mexico and my fourth transfer in the mission field. With this new transfer comes many changes.
With this fourth transfer, I am in my fourth area, living in my seventh house/apartment and I´ll be working with my seventh companion (or more, depending on how you count it.) It seems my mission thus far has been a mission full of changes, including a change of missions, and a change of countries. I feel like the common saying ¨the only constant is change¨ is a perfect summary of my mission so far. (Although I don´t completely agree with that saying—there is one who changest not (see the hymn "Abide with Me")). Changes are hard. I love my old area, my old ward, and my old companion, but I know that my calling comes from the Lord. Still, I feel like my work in Tres Caminos has not finished, that I will be going back before the end of my mission.
I didn´t move very far. My new area is practically neighbors with my old one. I am no longer in the city of Guadalupe, however. My new area is in Villa Juarez. It includes half of the ward of Juarez of the stake Andalucia. I am a little bit further away from el Cerro de la Silla, but I can see the whole thing from my new area. It is still considered a city area, but it is a lot bigger and more spread out than my last one.
My new companion is Elder Tovanche from Coahuila, Mexico. I don´t know much else about him as of now, he has only been my companion for 3 hours. But he seems like a great missionary, and I can tell that we are going to have a great transfer.
I have two funny stories for you. One happened only a few minutes ago. My companion and I took a taxi from the offices to our new area. I was enjoying the ride, looking at the scenery, and talking with my companion and the driver. All of a sudden I noticed that the taxi was slowing down for no apparent reason. Soon we came to a complete stop in the middle of the highway. ¨I have a problem,¨ said the driver. ¨the gas just ran out on me.¨ Luckily, we were only about a quarter of a mile away from the nearest gas station. So Elder Tovanchi and I got out of the car, and started pushing with the driver. Soon he jumped in and started to steer as Elder Tovanche and I pushed and ran. It must have been a funny sight, two missionaries in full suits running behind a taxi, pushing it. The two missionaries who share our ward and our house passed us on the way and started to laugh. It was a good ice breaker for my new companion and I.
My other experience happened last week with Elder Gonzalez. There is a teenage girl, a friend of a member of our ward, who we had been teaching for two weeks or so. Her name is Nancy (yes, I think of Mom every time we visit her.) For some reason, she had been somewhat cold to us in our recent lessons. This time, we could hear music in the house and we were pretty sure that she was in there, but when we knocked, nobody came to the door. (Not an uncommon experience.) After waiting for a few minutes, I asked my companion if I should knock again. He told me to go for it.
In the United States it is not an uncommon thing for people to knock in the pattern DAH-duh-duh-DAH-duh, hoping for a DAH-DAH response. (I hope you can understand what I am talking about.) It is a friendly thing that people do all the time [in the U.S.]. I decided to knock using this pattern, and to do so loudly so that it would be heard above the music. After I did so, I turned to my companion and was surprised at the shocked look on his face. "Elder Rowley," he said, "no haga esto, es groceria" (don´t do that—it´s very rude.) He then explained that knocking or honking a horn in that pattern here in Mexico symbolizes about the most offensive thing you can say to somebody. I was extrememley embarrassed. I don´t know if Nancy was home or not, or if whoever was there heard our knocking, but nobody came to the door after I knocked. It gave my companion lots to laugh about, however.
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I have some bad news. It seems like President doesn´t go to Texas as often as I thought. I still haven´t gotten anything from the P.O. Box, including my ballot, which means I won´t be able to get it in on time. But that´s ok. It means that when he finally goes it will be like Christmas come early.
One of my most powerful spiritual experiences this week was with a man named Jacinto. We found him because he called out to me in English, and I stopped to talk to him. (Lots of people call out random words when I pass by, and usually they are the only words they know, but I try to talk to them all, because if they do speak English it is a great way to build a relationship and talk about the gospel.) Anyway, Jacinto learned English in the states, where he worked for a few years. He is a good man, and I can see his need for the gospel, but I can also feel that he is hiding something when we visit him. This past visit was the first time we taught him in his house. When I walked in, I felt a definite sinister presence ( it probably didn´t help that my companion and I had just been talking about his experiences with witches and demons.) It was not a pleasant feeling. My companion asked if we could pray and sing a hymn. We sang "Abide with Me, 'tis Eventide." When we finished, there was a definite change in the feeling of the house. The power of the hymns is incredible.
I found out this week that the Apostles who are coming in November are Elder Ballard and Elder Scott. President Monson and President Eyring will be participating in the temple rededication that same weekend. It will be amazing.