Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring in Pheonix

Dear Family and Friends,
Well, after moaning last week about it still being winter, I think spring has finally arrived. We've been sitting in the mid 70's to 80's all week and it's been really really nice. Hermana Aydelotte keeps reminding me not to be too excited because it means that in the next month or so we'll start breaking 100. Yikes! It's been an interesting week. As I said in my last letter we had a mission conference this past Wednesday. It focused on the Book of Mormon, since by that point everyone had finished their 60 day read of the Book of Mormon. It was very fascinating to listen to the different experiences and things people learned. The focus was on the fact that each person can have a very personal experience with the Book of Mormon. There were many wonderful examples given, but I thought I would share a very humorous one. President asked people to give example of key things they learned from this reading of the Book of Mormon. About half way through an Elder raised his hand and told about how one morning he was reading in 2 Nephi 27. He said he was really tired that morning, and after reading verse 4 of the chapter he fell asleep. He then said when he woke up he read verse five which reads:
"For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity." The Book of Mormon certainly has something for every moment.
This week has been a series of missed appointments. We found lots of new investigators in the last week, and this week we had lots of lessons set up, unfortunately not all new investigators are created equal, and so many appointments fell through. This week will probably be a lot of finding and then looking for those whose appointments we missed. We did have one very cool experience this past week with a missed appointment. We showed up and no one was home, so we decided to go knock the doors on the street near by that we hadn't finished last time we were in the area. We ran into a lovely older Mexican lady who let us in and we had a really really good lesson with her. We have more set up and we'll see what happens. It's always so interesting as a missionary to see how things don't always work out how we had planned, but they do always work out for the best.
I thought I would write some cultural things for you all. It's interesting being in a bilingual mission. Trent probably also has some insights on this. There are mission wide rules that everyone is to follow, but I've begun to notice there are small changes to make allowances for cultural traditions. One example would be the parties. In the English wards they have been asked not to have parties after baptisms... in the Spanish wards we've been asked to just try to get the party moved to some one's house. Mexicans LOVE their fiestas. Just about anything is an excuse for a fiesta. The ward I'm in now loves to do group family home evenings. I got to go to my first one this past Monday. Well part of it. It started at seven and from what I heard they didn't finish until midnight. We left at 9 when the party was really getting going. It started out like a regular family home evening: prayer, songs, lesson, closing prayer, but then it was after that the party started. The family who hosted made Postole (which is my all time favorite Mexican food, it's a soup with pork, some Mexican grain that I don't know what it is in English, and then lots of Salsa with cabbage, onions, and cilantro on top) and then they all had a Karaoke in the living room. What skills they don't have in tonality they make up for in enthusiasm.
Another fun cultural thing is the dinners. Across the mission there is a rule that missionaries can't eat at a members home unless they have invited a friend. That rule is more or less ignored in the Spanish wards. Hispanics LOVE to feed you. And they love to feed you a lot or food. It's been quite fun to go over to their homes and get to know the families and spend time with them as we've enjoyed all sorts of different meals. It took some time to get used to though, because by and large the families eat before we come over and then they all just sit around the table and watch us eat. It left me feeling a little like Marie Antoinette at first, but I think I dealt better than she did. Now I've learned to just get them talking and telling stories while we eat so I don't feel so awkward. Once I figured that out I've started to really enjoy our dinner appointments. I've learned all about life in Mexico, conversion stories, and gotten tons of help picking up new words. I'm not sure how useful some of the words will be after my mission because I'm now starting to learn words that only work in certain parts of Mexico, or even better, spanglish that is widely accepted here but probably not anywhere else.
Love you all lots and have a wonderful week!
Hermana Okeson

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