Hola familia!!!! (Hi Family)
Let me just say that a mission is by far the most difficult thing I have ever done. I do not really know how I am still alive to be honest. Also, pardon my formal writing but I do not know where the apostrophe key on this spanish keyboard is, so bear with me! Also, no spelling check so lo siento!! (sorry)
I did not get to write last week because of traveling and tons of other things, but here I am in Mexico!!!
Leaving the MTC was crazy!!! THANK YOUUUUU to Brother and Sister Leetham for the cookies! They were sooooo delicious and totally worth breaking our no sweet rule for the week. ALSO THANK YOUUU to Chris and Jill for the donuts!! Those were worth breaking the sweet rule too hahaha I truly believe that a mission has improved my sharing skills. Thank goodness too because if not I would be about 50 pounds larger! I caved in and bought that super decked out scripture marker at the bookstore. IT was like $12 cheaper, so why not right?! I am not gonna get a chance like that again for that great discount!!
We had in-field-orientation a couple of fridays ago. They basically told us what we should be working with members and all that stuff, basically things we already knew. BUTTTT at the orientation, I keep running into people from my past! IT is so crazy!!!! One Sister from my writing class freshman year going to Russia, one Hermana from my AH class going to Argentina, a girl that I went to EFY with when I was 14, and my old neighbor, Hermana Bentley, from when I lived in UTah! The Mormon world is such a small place and it seems like it is getting smaller and smaller every day. Well that is what it seemed like until I got to Mexico at least. Here I know no one hahahah.
I got sick again, losing my voice is the best! Especially when I am trying to teach people and they think I am a teenage boy. Speaking of boys, I mean Elders, I taught Elder W how to roll his Rs!!! You could say I am a grandmaster teacher or something, and I am not even paid. I see being a spanish tongue R roller teacher in my future.
As I was preparing and packing to leave the MTC, I really tried to savor my last moments in the US for 18 months. Meaning my last semi-decent shower, my last BATH :(, all those good things. I AM NEVER TAKING ANYTHING FOR GRANTED EVER AGAIN!!!! I am lucky here to boil my hot water in 2 tiny saucepans on the stove every morning while I work out, and then pour them into a bucket after to have some hot water for my shower. Yes, I am grateful for my washcloth too because without it the bucket shower would be a lot more difficult! I tried that Mexican sucker too that Hno Call gave us, GROSS. It tastes like a lime on steroids? I do not really know how to describe it, but I do know that I never want to eat it ever again. I tried to like it, I really did, out of respect for Hno Call, but in the end I just threw it out. We had an amazing last Sacrament meeting with our zone, everyone who was leaving got to bear their testimonies. That was one of my first experiences where I felt like the Spirit was drawing from my well of knowledge, it was AMAZING!!!!! It just reinforces in my head that this is where I am supposed to be and that this church is true! Our last Sunday was filled with all sorts of fun stuff. I got to be one of the faamous ushers! No on from west campus ever gets to be anything, and so the fact that we got to usher basically makes us royalty. Someone I went to Las Vegas with saw me and said I AM FAMOUS BY ASSOCATION!!! Yes, yes you are!
SOOOO THEN WE LEFT THE MTC!!! We left at 4:30 to get to the airport and wait for our plane. Someone in the group that we were traveling with fainted right after she got through security, so she went to the hospital with her companion and they missed the flight. We had so many layovers though, that they actually ended up catching up with us again in Texas! So they were lucky! The Colorado airport had FREE PHONES!!!! SO I GOT TO TALK TO MI FAMILIA!!!!! THAT WAS SO GREAT!!! I LOVE YOU ALL SOSOSOSOSOSO MUCH!!!!! Definitely the highlight of my day!!!! Our planes were delayed again, but this time we were on the plane for like 1.5 hours waiting for them to fix what ever they were fixing. I was traveling with a bunch of Elders from my zone, Elder W, H and H so I had amigos. Elder H and I played a bunch of really intense games of dots, but by the last couple of games we were doing everything in our power just to stay away and move our hands to connect the dots on the paper. Definitely one of the longest days of my life up to that moment, now though I am not so sure hahaha every day seems to be the longest day!!.
THEN we finally landed in Veracruz! We then drove up to Xalapa that night. The first thing I noticed stepping off the plane was the humidity. Lets just say that my hair will either be a poofball or in a braid for the next 17 months!! One of my bags was lost, the one with all my clothes so that was not too great. I had a a feeling last minute though to put a couple of extra shirts in my carry on, so not all hope was lost! I got my bag back eventually though, and everything was there! Nothing stolen! Yay! Counting the little blessings!! Matt C, an acquaintance from BYU freshman year, is in my mission and was part of the group picking us up from the airport! One familiar face!!
So, some things about Mexico. Roosters start making noises at 4 AM, people are ALWAYS zooming up and down the street on their mopeds and motorcycles honking their horns. Different horns mean different things. Some mean they have tortillas, others mean elote (corn with mayo), others mean they have water refill tanks, others have gas, so there is just A LOT of honking all the time. So despite the fact that I am trying to hear and understand these Mexican people speaking at 1000000000000 mph, now i need to block out all the honks too. I am doing my best! Other things, the Mexican police drive around in big huge trucks with machine guns. And they have their faces covered because if people know who they are they will kill their families. Not very pleasant. Also, the taxi driver told me to be afraid and not be friends with the police because they are actually the bad guys...WHO TO TRUST?¡?¡?¡?¡?¡ Also, all the milk here is in boxes, my first companion is Hermana D - she is from Acayucan (in the state of Veracruz so she is like 8 hours from home) and she speaks no English! We have our funny moments and also the awkward moments where I look at her with a look of bewilderment on my face because I have no idea what she just said. But we are both trying our hardest!!
President Lopez is my mission president, and he is an AMAZING man. He is so humble, so spiritual, I really am very lucky to be in this mission. He owns pharmacies/is a pharmacist, so he can prescribe the meds for all the missionaries in our mission hahah that is pretty awesome. He is trying to learn english, so I get to write him in English!! YAY!!!! We had horchata our first day here (I thought of Ruth). It is WYAYYYY better than Cafe Rio, I do not know if I can ever go back.
So I am serving in Papantala, it is one of the Northern areas in my mission. We took a 5 hour bus ride up to our area after companionships were assigned, and we got stopped by the scary police on the way up. They just walk on the bus like it is their territory, yeah I was scared to death. And they are carrying around machine guns remember!!! He just looked at us and was like oh, son missionaros (they are missionaries) and then walked away. WE ARE BLESSED!!!!! We also are not allowed to knock on doors here ,everything needs to be done by referrals. So we hear someone talking about their neighbor and that is a referral hahaha us missionaries use our resources. The first apartment we were in was brand new! It was actually really nice. No hot water though, hence the showering out of a bucket. We were in Xanath 3 (3 areas in the ward). Turns out we could not serve there because there are these little ranches on the outskirts of the area that are too dangerous for us...so we went through this whole process of looking for and changing apartments and everything. We just switched yesterday, and now we have hot water and clima - air conditioning - AND a washer!!! WE ARE BLESSED AGAIN!!!! Everywhere is kinda sketchy at night though...it is dark and creepy so basically I just pray while we are walking !
The people here have nothing. Literally. Dirt floors, everything in one room, the whole family of aunts and uncles and grandmas and everyone all live in one house. I did not think that culture shock was a real thing before my mission, but now I really believe in it. These people are so humble and want to give us everything. I really do not know how to react. They have big hearts though. We eat lunch with the members every day. Basically, lunch is the only meal you eat here, and it is always beans and rice and tortillas and chicken. It is good, but just the same every day. I am sure that when I return from my mission I will never want any of those ever again hahaha. I found big spiders, killed them for my companion, cockroaches, lizards, chickens, roosters you name it we got it!! The weather here is loco. Sun, cold, hot, rain, tons of wind, everything. The weather in march is locito, a little loco.
The women here are basically at the will of their husbands. I feel so bad! We invited this woman named Evagelina and her 4 daughters to church with us, and we stopped by to go with them and she said her husband said no. It is really sad. I am so grateful to live in America! For now, I need to help the people here though, who do not have the same social freedoms that I have. I have eaten Chiles stuffed with stuff, tamales, more fried tortilla stuff snacks, it is just food on food on food. Everyone wants to feed us!!! Especially the poor members. They have nothing but give us the soda and treats that they sell. Apparently, you can refuse more food from people who have more money, but you need to accepts everything the poor people give you. SO MUCH LOVE FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE SO LITTLE!!! They are HUGE examples for me in my life.
I got to have salad yesterday!!!! I WAS SO HAPPPY!!!!! I crave it. I miss it. Little blessings everywhere!!! And strawberry ice cream, so delicious also. yumyumyumyumyumyumyum. The lights went out yesterday with one of our investigators, Ara. It was late and wicked dark outside, so they insisted we stay with them and have hot chocolate and homemade sweet bread. These people know the way to my heart haha chocolate and food.
I do not have a lot of time, but I love you all so much and I am so grateful to be here! I am so grateful for my family and the love from them, I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve a mission and become humbled. I love you!!!
xoxoxoxxo Hermana Westergard
|Us with our teacher Hno Call|
|Me and Hna R on a wall on our last Sunday|
|Our districts that are leaving!!|
|Me and Hermana B|
|Me and Hna P in Xalapa!|
|Me, Hermana D and Hermana F (her old companion)|
|Part of our zone, it is difficult to take pictures with timers haha|
|Walking around the hills! Xanatha is like the San Fran of Mexico|
|rain rain rain|
|Eustacios wife showing us how to eat these pea things|
|los perriots = amor|
|little fried yummy things hahha basically more food|
|pday soccer preparation|
|pizza for lunch. I miss America!!!|