First off, the address!
Elder Jacob Ford Crockett
Mision Mexico Tijuana
PO BOX 439056
SAN YSIDRO, CA 92143-9056
First off I am going to explain what the pictures attached are. This past Saturday we had the baptism for Valeria (9 years old) and it went well thankfully. She is super full of energy and it was just a really challenging experience full of seemingly pointless lessons. We would spend 30 minutes trying to teach her about a certain concept, like prophets, and at the same time her two younger brothers are running around throwing stuff and one of them, Frankie (2), is constantly pointing at everything on my person that he can see saying "Que es eso"? ("what is that?"), and after all the lesson we would ask her a question to see what she learned and she didn't learn anything. So it was a fun experience teaching her, especially because in the middle of some of our lessons, it would come to light that her mom (convert of 2 years), wasn't exactly living some of the commandments, so Valeria didn't see any reason why she couldn't drink coffee when she is cold and on and on and on. But, she was baptized on Saturday and I performed the baptism so that was really cool. Also our chapel ran out of gas for the water heater, and we ended up last minute driving over with the families that came to join her baptism with another at a close chapel. So, the picture with another older man in white getting baptized is Hermano Carlos and he was baptized Saturday night also. Hermano Carlos was a professional soccer player for El Salvador and last monday we had a zone activity where he taught us a bunch of soccer stuff and it was really fun.
Then yesterday we were talking with the Bishop of the ward before Sacrament Meeting about Valeria's confirmation and if we were all set to go, and he said that he wanted me to do it, which really took me off guard because my companion said that the Bishop always did it and we didn't need to worry about it. So I quickly memorized what I needed to say in spanish and prayed that it would go well and it did. It was a good experience of really having to rely on the Lord, not only to say in the blessing what He wants said, but better yet in a language that I'm not fluent in. Overall, a good experience :)
Mom asked about food, so here is a little bit about the food. We get fed everyday at 2pm-ish and the food is good but it is always SOO much. I guess this is an area where the missionaries get the most food and its awesome but I just look super whimpy when I can barely finish the food that they give me on one plate and my companion goes on to finish 3rds. Everyone jokes about you can tell how "green" a missionary is by how much they eat, but I don't think my stomach will grow very much because other than a light breakfast in the morning and a snack at night and the meal with a member, we don't eat that much. But the food here is good, I haven't been served anything super super spicy yet but we will see. Our very first meal we ate when I got here was some Chili relano (sp?) and I guess was pretty spicy so my companion kept looking over at me to see if I was struggling to eat it or not so I think he was pretty surprised when I ate it all. The hardest thing about eating the food here is that EVERY person that we stop at their house has something they want us to eat or drink. I'm grateful for it, but it is so so much food and I don't really like it. The second or third day here, we had just eaten a huge meal at a members and then had an appointment with an investigator, afterwhich she insisted on serving us "manitas de puerco". Now I really had no idea what it was other than something to do with pork because of puerco, but in the end I ended up barely being able to choke down a huge bowl of some rice soup dealeo with pig legs or hooves or I don't even know what. Whenever members or other missionaries hear that I got served it one of my first days here they always laugh so I'm guessing its not a super common thing. :)
So before I went out on my mission everyone would always say "oh its the greatest thing ever but its going to be the hardest thing you've ever done". I guess I didn't really think about it very much just because I honestly had no idea what to expect. But now I think I have a better idea what what everyone was talking about. Its really hard. Not so much that I feel discouraged or isolated because of the language barrier, but more that sometimes I really feel like there is a lot of good that I could do and really could be helping lots of people come to Christ, but I just don't know how to do so spanish. So at times I feel somewhat frustrated that I can't be doing the things I know I could do if I was able to communicate in spanish with the same ease that I can in english. Its been a real comfort to think back on the blessing I recieved from Pres. Cowley when I was set apart, about how I can share the light of Christ through my countenance and smile before I will be able to with my words. Also, its just frustrating because half of my thoughts are in english and a third are in spanish and the rest I just don't know how to form thoughts anymore. So really my whole problem is just all in my head :) Its frustrating at times, but I know that as I rely on the Lord and am patient, that eventually I will get it and that I will be able to do the things that the Lord has in store for me here.
We had a zone conference last week and we get the Liahona, in spanish of course, and there was a quote on the back that I just absolutely love that I want to share. There is a painting of a lighthouse and next to it says "No obedecemos porque somos ciegos, obedecemos porque podemos ver." - Boyd K. Packer. You can use google translate or Dad to figure out what it means in english :) We had to go buy some paint to fix up some stuff around our apartment and as we were at Comex buying paint the lady helping us was asking us why we were doing what we were doing, and pretty much was asking why are we wasting our time in Tijuana when we really gain nothing from it. It really made me rethink why I am here doing what I am doing and this quote has really made me realize that I'm not here because somebody standing in front at church told me to and I'm just sucking it up and pushing through things for no reason, but that I really know that this is what Jesus Christ wants me to be doing right now and that through pushing through the current strugglings I am having that I can help to bring others to the same happiness that I feel from the restored Gospel.
I hope all of you are doing well!