This has been a week for missed appointments. Sort of frustrating, but it shows us pretty fast who is interested and who is not. Now we just have to figure out where the interested people are. Most of our missed appointments were from people standing us up, but the memorable one this week was when we got chased out of an area by the Ghetto Bird. The Ghetto Bird is the police helicopter that tends to show up when something is going on. It spent a lot of time in Hna Ayala's last area, and we'd see it a little here but not very often. Well, Thursday we were in an area for an appointment and we saw the Ghetto Bird out and about and didn't think too much of it, it's not like we were planning on knocking doors in that area, just visiting someone. After being there a few minutes trying to find the house, suddenly the Ghetto Bird got really really close, and we saw a lot of police hanging out, and then another Ghetto Bird showed up. We left pretty quick after seeing the second helicopter. Still not sure what went on that afternoon, but we didn't see anything...
Most of our area is actually the nicest and safest of the two wards in our district. Most of the homes we go into a pretty nice and upscale, but we have one stretch of housing that we call "little Mexico" and that's where we were when the Ghetto Bird came. We try to stick to only being there during daylight hours, because it's a little creepy at night. But it's also a fun area to be in. It's almost completely Spanish speaking, and hispanics are far nicer than the white people we run into. They're way happy to sit out and talk and get to know you. White neighborhoods aren't nearly as fun. No one is every outside and they don't really want to sit and talk. So while Little Mexico can get a little sketchy, I absolutely love it there.
We've done a lot of just going out and visiting the members this week, trying to help them get involved in missionary work. It's been really fun to get to know the members in our area. It's pretty hard sometimes to get to know them because we aren't allowed to do dinner appointments. So instead we just schedule and drop by and share a quick message and have to leave. We've been trying to visit at least one family a day, and this week we will have gone by every family in our area. After that we'll start going back and seeing how they've done on the assignments we left with them.
In visiting the members we pick up some pretty cool stories. My favorite for this week was learning how Mexican men go fishing. They catch fish with their bare hands. Big fish. They grab them by the gills and yank them out of the water. We stopped by to visit a member of the bishopric last night and as we were talking he was telling us about how he learned to fish with his brother. It was hilarious. I guess when you grab a big fish by the gills it puts up a bit of a fight, and Hno Madrueno was acting it all out for us.
One of my other favorite stories from this week was stopping by and dropping of a birthday present for one of our favorite ward members/ families. This family has kids roughly the same ages (but not genders) as in our family and a few younger. Hno Carrillo is a real joker and loves to mess with people, so we decided for his birthday we'd get him back. For Christmas Grandma Okeson sent me a fake snow kit (just add water!) we decided to make a full jar of snow and drop it off. It was quite a hit. He couldn't believe it was "snow" but by the time we left he was having to defend his "snow" from all of his kids.
Okay, so I'm struggling with a little writers block (I really should start bringing my journal down when I write so I can remember things better) so today you all get a few pictures.
I thought I would show a funny picture that gave an idea of the height disparity in the areas where I serve. Friday night we went to a baptism for someone Hna Ayala had taught before coming here. She had me stand in on one of the pictures and I thought the results were hilarious. Hna Ayala and I make quite a pair, and we get tons of comments about our difference in height.
These pictures are from after the baptism Friday. The family that took us to the baptism also took us to one of their favorite restaurants. They said it was just like being back in Mexico. I certainly got stared at. Especially as I was keeping up in Spanish. After dinner right before we got off of the free way the car started making funny noises... we had a flat tire!!! Hno Daugherty changed the tire while Hna Ayala and I took pictures by the road.
I think for me I'm learning a lot about patience. Apparently when I started my mission God knew I had no concept of what patience was... now I know enough to know I don't have much of it. Mexican culture is very very laid back. "Lo que sea" is a pretty common thing I hear here, which translates roughly into a very non committal version of whatever/whenever etc. I'm used to things happening at a certain time and starting and ending and go in, get the job done, and get on. I'm learning that's not how it works here. Things are a little slower. I'm also having to learn to be far more social than I've ever been in my life. Mexicans love to PARTY! That was something I was super uncomfortable with at the beginning of my mission. I'm still not great at just getting in and talking to everyone and getting to know everyone but I'm getting better. My Spanish is also really getting better, now I just struggle with jokes and particularly with sarcasm. I can't follow hispanic humor yet. I usually just try to laugh with everyone else and then I quiz Hna Ayala after on what everything actually meant.
These 4 pictures are more pictures of a family in our ward. Today for p-day we went over to their house and helped the kids make scripture cases. It's a family of five boys 15 and under and then a single mom. We cut our pictures for them and then brought everything over with some treats. I was way excited about how much they liked the activity and they all seemed pretty excited with the results. Even Hna Perea wanted to make her own!
Well, I've got to run. Thanks for all your prayers and support! I try to write back for the letters I get, and I'm really really sorry for those of you who I've been slow getting to. P-day just seems to slip away, but I'm trying to do better and get more letters out.