January 16, 2014

Week Five (CCM) -- finally in the groove of things here

Area: Mexico City MTC

Companion: Hermana Julia Dunne

Dear Familia,

Another awesome week in the CCM. The time is just flying now. It feels like it has not been a whole week since I've written you. In fact, it feels like I have only been out here for a little while ... but I have already been on my mission for a whole month. Wow. It's nuts because our district is one of the "oldest" ones here. Here at the CCM, there is a rule that Hermanas always get to cut people in line for food. I really don't feel like that is necessary ... sometimes I would like to talk to the Latinos that are in line with me. That rant is for a different day haha. Anyways, this morning, I was chilling near the back of the line with Hermana Jones and a few elders said, "Hermanas to the front!" We shrugged our shoulders and sauntered forward. I heard one of the elders say, "They must have just gotten here." I smiled and turned around, saying, "Yes sir! We are five week noobs!" The look on his face was priceless. Time here is like a hierarchy. If you have been here for five weeks (like we have) people start to look at you different. I told some girls at the Nutella bar this morning how long I've been here and they said, "Holy cow, you've been here for soooooo long." It's nice to be in this position, but it will make going to Chile and starting all over again much harder.

Another couple of ways that I can tell I've been here for a while: the older couples that serve here as Branch presidents know who I am. They ask the girls and I to do things all of the time. This week, we were asked to sing a musical number on Sunday. We sang I Know That My Redeemer Lives and I felt the spirit so much. I really do know that Jesus Christ lives. This fact keeps hitting me like a wave -- over and over again I feel in my heart that it is true! Way two -- My Spanish scriptures are starting to look like MY SCRIPTURES. I have been trying to leave my English scriptures at home and to only use my Spanish ones ... it has been so satisfying. My understanding of Spanish is super increasing! I still feel like it is not enough though. The more I am here, the more inadequate I feel. I might have said that in my email last week, but this week it was even more true. I am starting to realize that my knowledge of Spanish and the Gospel are super minimal right now. Also, I feel like as a Sister Training Leader I have not been incredibly useful. However, I love both very very much and I am willing to work as hard as I can to prove that fact.

This week, I have been trying to increase my charity for other people. I really do love people. I try to serve them as best as I can. But my "investigators" that are actually my teachers are super hard to love because I can't get over the fact that they are my teachers. However, this week as I prayed to have more of a capacity to love others, I found that love. I found charity for those that I was teaching just randomly and I found love for my teachers and their investigators. In one session, Hna. Uribe as Valentina informed us that her mom died. I paused for a minute and I really, really felt for her. Our lesson became much less important and I started to focus on her needs. It made all of the difference for me in my teaching. Suddenly, I was able to feel the spirit directing me to know what to say. This happened again as I taught Hna. Gamble about the Plan of Salvation and AGAIN as I was teaching a TRC lesson.

I am not sure what TRC stands for, but it is kind of a joke in the CCM. People don't take it seriously because we are usually just teaching other people from other districts. There is one district that I have become really close to that we ALWAYS teach for TRC. They are awesome -- I have more stories to tell to go with pictures. Anyways, this week, I was paired up to teach an Elder about the importance of receiving revelation through church attendance. He started by teaching me and I really enjoyed his lesson. It is amazing the difference a week can make in the CCM! This Elder was preaching with authority and it was a really powerful experience for me. After his lesson, we switched and I began teaching. We said a little prayer and began this lesson that I had prepared. I asked him a lead in question (we were teaching each other as missionaries and not investigators), "You've been here for much longer than I have ... tell me what you have learned about the import --- I mean, the Gospel in the CCM." Totally out of the blue, I completely changed my plan. He started to talk about things and then began talking about the Sabbath again. I can't really remember what happened because I felt totally guided by the Spirit at that moment. He paused for a minute and then started TO CRY. He testified of the importance of the things he was saying and then we were switched up. It doesn't really sound like a big deal, but I was electrified. I really tried to understand him and get what he needed and I think Heavenly Father helped me to succeed. Ahhhh, I just love teaching the things I know and love.

I know that last week I mentioned sitting with Latinas and how stupid that made Hermana Dunne and I feel. Looking back on that actually makes me feel stupid. Sitting with the Latinas was actually the best thing we could have EVER done. I love them so much! They have become some of our best friends, all because we decided to sit with them that one day. The language barrier is so funny, but as we have been sitting with them at meals more and more and teaching them fake lessons, my ability to understand FAST Mexican Spanish so much better. They have taught us a lot of cute Spanish phrases and have been so loving and kind. We have become so comfortable with one another that I hardly even care about my Spanish. They understand what I am saying and I love them so much that it just isn't a problem. The Latinos, however, are a little creepy. They love us American girls and they flirt with us ALL of the time. It is funny but not at the same time haha. They are especially intrigued by Hna. Dunne and her blonde hair ... and they don't really have any problems with just coming up to her and chatting. Not to worry though! I am still trying to be 100 percent obedient and to lock my heart completely.

Speaking of obedience, let's have a District 10A obedience update. So, we have some "innocent" thieves in our district. This is actually really ridiculous. So, it started out with a box of Ades (a drink here that is REALLY delicious). It was just from the Comedor where they have open fridges where we are able to take out anything we want, but I was still a little uncomfortable with it. Then, they began to steal multiple boxes a day. This escalated to tea bags and cups of sugar -- all leading up to a stolen small refrigerator, a jar of Nutella, and a napkin dispenser from the Comedor. Wow! I was really really really really not feeling this and Hna. Jones and I took all of the stuff back where it belonged. Also, a janitor on the CCM staff is smuggling donuts in to the premises for the guys in our district and is setting up a super sketchy deal for us to buy jerseys. I am staying FAR AWAY from this. I felt the Spirit warning me that getting involved in ANY of this stuff was a bad idea. This isn't the least of our worries ... President Pratt has heard about EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE ... not only that ... He has heard about the tie-trades and wrestle-manias that the boys do at night. He has talked to our teachers and will be paying us a surprise visit sometime in the next week. Basically, 10A is on THE LIST. And it really, really bothers me. I am trying to lead by example and I am trying to let our teachers know about all of the stuff that is happening, but it is not really changing that much. I am just terrified for these kids in my District. The CCM is totally the foundation for the ENTIRE mission -- and so far, these guys aren't getting it. We have only 12 more days until we leave here and then it's for real! I hope we can figure this out before we go.

Part of the reason that I feel this way I think is because I have been thinking a LOT about the ways that I can sanctify myself and TOTALLY give myself to the work. Hna. Uribe (have I mentioned that I ADORE HER?) gave a little devotional about the Widow's Mite and I thought a lot about how I could apply it to my mission. I feel like I have been RICHLY RICHLY blessed so far on my mission. I have been blessed in my life -- period. I feel like the effort that I am giving sometimes is far beneath my all. I feel like I am giving a lot, but I also feel like I could give SO much more. I am trying really hard to push forward. This is the time when a lot of people are starting to slack off and forget the importance of pushing hard in Spanish and studying how to improve teaching. However, because I am feeling a little bit inadequate and a little (a LOT) scared to go to Chile, I feel that I need to work harder, now more than ever. Please pray for me! Please pray for me morning and night that I will be able to work hard so that I can qualify for the gift of tongues. I only have one more P-day email until I am in Chile and I am feeling the pressure. It is not bad, but just enough to push me even harder. I want to be changed by my mission, so I am willing to embrace this and GET TO WORK.

I think it really JUST hit me that I am in the CCM and I am on my mission for the long haul. I hate to say it, but I am NOT COMING HOME. I am not going to come home early and I am not going to come home being the same person. I am expecting a total change and I am starting to realize that this change might be a little bit uncomfortable. However, I really believe in the Atonement's power to change my life and the life of those people that I will teach. I love you (and the fam) so much! Please don't worry to much about me. I am hard at work and am finally in the groove of things here. I am super happy and content. I know that this is where I need to be and that I am learning lessons that I need to know. I LOVE YOU A LOT!

Con amor,
Hermana Blau (Laney)

This is Elder Ford and Elder Ellis. Elder Ford is the world's biggest flirt (like, worse than the Latinos) and he really took us on as a challenge because we would never respond. Now that we've actually had conversations and stuff without fake compliments, Hna. Dunne and I are actually pretty great friends with the two of them. These pictures accurately describe our friendship.

This is one of our housemates and Elder Warburton and Elder Cardon. They are gems.

Our Latina friends! When we are waving, we are saying, "Oli, oli!" Apparently that is the way you say hi to your friends. I love them so much! 

Hna. Pierce y Hna. Hill (new girls in our zone) ... and Elder Going and Elder Castro. 

Abbey Road ... we worked SO hard to get this and it still isn't awesome. Also, there are these huge circles randomly in the middle of the streets here that we play rock, paper, scissors on. It is so much fun!

Rock, paper, scissors again! Also, the boy next to me was the boy that I taught in TRC. I can never remember his name, but these two are in Elder Ford's district.

Some of the stellar Elders in our baby district and more casa mates. :) I adore the people here.

Hna. Nethercott and Hna. Powley! I love these pictures!! I hope that these were good for you guys! :)

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