Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009 -- Cultural Moments

Without exaggerating or being a pessimist, I can tell you that this was the worst week of my mission. No, it wasn’t because of rejection or lack of success. It was because I couldn’t work. I was home sick for a week.

Please don’t worry. I’m better now. I didn’t have anything serious, just a cold. But because of the influenza panic, I was told that I should stay home, because a runny nose and a cough can scare people to death these days.

Speaking of the panic, how are things in the states? Here, the schools are closed and we didn’t have church on Sunday. Our conference with Elder Gonzalez unfortunately was canceled as well. The streets are relatively deserted, and the majority of those we see wear face masks. (We, too, have been required to wear them when outside of the house.) It’s the first time in my mission that I really miss being able to read or watch the news everyday. I don’t know what’s going on, or how serious it really is. But President Mendoza knows and he tells us what we need to do to protect ourselves.

Since I didn’t leave the house, I don’t really have any stories from this week. I can tell you that I learned a lesson—it is much better to be preaching than to be in the house. I am sad that I had to lose a week of my mission. I hope to make it up by working twice as hard this week.

I don’t have stories, but I thought of a couple of cultural moments.

I don’t know how it is in the rest of Mexico, but here in Juarez, it is election season, and it is crazy. There is a corner of the main street where on one side of the street is the local headquarters of PAN and on the other side the local headquarters of PRI. But instead of seeming a political rivalry, it seems to be more like a battle of the bands. Each has his special music, usually a popular song with the lyrics changed to talk about the elections and they blast the music at full volume. There are also cars who are paid to drive in the streets blasting the same songs. (The words vamos a votar por Luis have been stuck in my head for days.) They are also competing at how many times they can post their candidates’ names in various parts of the city, whether it be on bumper stickers, posters, billboards, or painted on walls. The other day I counted 85 times that I saw the name Luis Garcia in 30 minutes.

I have to admit to you all that I have fallen in love. No, I haven't broken any mission rules, nor have I opened my heart. I could't help it. It was love at first taste. I have fallen in love with Jalapeño chillis. Here, in almost every meal, there is a bowl of Jalapeños, sometimes whole, sometimes sliced, and usually in vinegar. Jalapeños taste great with everything, and I have discovered that most American food tastes better with Jalapeños -- pizza and hamburgers for example.

* * * Chicken is one of the most common things that they feed to us missionaries. Everyone told me when I got here that I'd soon be sick of it, but I still love it. Chicken is the best!

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One of the things I did to keep myself busy this week was a lot of studying. In fact, I finished reading the Old Testament and started the New. I also finished a project I started eight months ago to summarize the Book of Mormon chapter by chapter (kind of like my personal chapter headings.) My testimony of the scriptures has grown. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I also know that the Bible is the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly. By reading them, we find guidance and comfort. By reading them, we become more sensitive to the Spirit, who will tell us all things which we should do. I'm grateful that I was raised in a family where personal and family scripture study were taught.
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P.S. I turn "11" today! I can't believe it.

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