Monday, October 31, 2011

All right I’m just going to tell you from the get go right now I don’t care how hard you thought your mission was the area of Kulkucan would definitely beat it in terms of physical and mental strain. My body has never been in worse shape before. I’m pretty sure during my time here I’ve lost over 30 pounds, when before I was already very skinny. I really do walk like 16 miles everyday, which would be good exercise if I were well enough nourished to sustain walking like that.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that the missionaries who are teaching a lot and have success, are probably a lot fatter because they get to sit down and teach, but that’s why I’m so flippin skinny, every appointment we have always falls through, and I have to walk another half marathon to find the next. I don’t think our investigators realize how far we just walked to their house, for them to smooth talk their way out of having to talk to us. I kind of wish everyone here was just honest and would tell us in the beginning that they do not want to talk to us and not lie and say, ¨"Oh for sure come back tomorrow I really want to hear what you have to say"

Because of the hurricane that hit Cancun we had elders from there, stay at our house, and they told us our area should be like 3 areas.

I think I’m mostly just really bitter because this last week I got ridiculously sick with a fever of like 103 with the worst chills I’ve ever had. I had the choice between hammock, or broken spring bed, and when you’re uncomfortably sick they’re both pretty rough. Vomit and diarrhea all the time those last 3 days.
Elder Smith

Tell every one I really do love them.

Washing clothes!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Elder Smith's letter 10-24-11

¿Que transa morros? Elder Smith here and believe it or not I’m actually pretty cold here in the early morning and I don’t have any blankets.

Another cool thing is I have a sweet moon-shaped eye scar now that’s pretty cool but the problem is idk [I don’t know] where it came from. Either way it makes me look pretty manly. Haha

Well, good news, I finished 4 months on the 22nd so only 5 more spaces of time like that and I’m as good as being a pile for two weeks straight and watching the movies I missed and listening to all the music I missed. When you get deprived of music you really begin to understand how much it plays a part in our daily lives, I’ve been having some pretty wicked music withdrawals.

More about the culture, is that I forgot to tell you we eat habanero chili peppers with almost every meal and wow sometimes they’re not very hot but others they can be lip swellingly caliente!

Almost one in 3 cars here is either a Volkswagen bug or bus, which is pretty sweet. I think this place is probably a lot like Havana Cuba.

One other thing is there are way to many stray dogs here. In the day time all they do is bark, but at night they get all riled up and straight up chase us. I’m not too worried because honestly most the dogs here are malnourished and tiny so if one was to take a bite at me I could probably throw it about 40 feet. But ya, they form packs and the other night a group tried to surround us. I was a little spooked, but all you have to do is raise your hand preparatory for a back hand and they go running squealing.

About the area here, it’s a little sad for a missionary because it’s soo big we really have to think and plan just to know where to go next. On a good day we can teach about 7 lessons here and that’s only if all the people are home. And it’s a different story altogether to try to get people to go to church because it requires a bus ride and about 11 blocks of walking just to get to the chapel. Altogether it’s probably about a 40-minute excursion to get there, so in this area were stuck between a rock and a hard place to baptize. Because people are more than happy to let you in they’re door, and they receive our message usually pretty well, even to the point where some have told us they wanna be baptized, but to be baptized it’s a requirement to go to at least 3 sessions at the church. And no one wants to go to the church because it’s so flipiddy-do-da-far. We usually have about 10 households committed to go every week, but even if they are for surely committed to go, the only way to get them to go is if we show up at their doorstep that morning. Our Sunday mornings are pretty hectic running all over town trying to visit every one. And even that’s a gamble because most will bull their way out of it, like "oh no puedo se infermó mi mama y etsa en la hospital, otro dia" the next time we visit them we'll ask how their mom is and they won’t have any idea what were talking about. And it’s sad because most have a genuine desire to change their lives, but in the end they aren’t willing to put in any effort for the sheer convenience of it.

And that’s really one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned here, is that to change for real it takes effort. It’s pretty easy to talk about change, but you really don’t know how hard it is until you’ve tried it yourself.

Well I’m outa time.

Later Kelly Slaters,

Elder Smith

Our cool broken fridge.

My companion Elder Villanueva

Tarantula buddy

Monday, October 17, 2011

Elder Wesley Smith's letter 10-17-11

Ba´ax ca´wali´ck? Sup every one I’m doing fine, still pretty malnourished but okay. So here’s a few more things that have happened here...

I thought I might just go over what missionaries actually do, so missionary work I feel is a lot like psychology. It’s like psychology because it really is just listening to people twice as much as talking, and you try to ask inspired questions to find out what the person’s needs are, and according to what their needs are we mold our lessons and fill their needs, so its actually a lot harder said than done, especially in a language which is unnatural for you.

But these teaching really do change people’s lives for the better. I’ve witnessed it many times over. Just the other day my companion and I were in a trici taxi. My companion felt prompted to talk to the driver, to which the driver told us he and his family had already been baptized but the driver told us we should go to his house and talk to his father. Their house was an attachon behind a piñata shop. We found his father lying on a hammock all scarred up and could barley move. We pulled up some buckets to sit on and started to talk to him. It turns out he was actually going to be a bishop but about 2 months ago he and his wife were in a horrible car accident where his wife had been killed. He told us several times over how he wished he had been taken too, with tears in his eyes. I could barley think of any thing to say because of the sensitivity of the subject and my inability to properly articulate myself in Spanish. But I knew I had to say something. We shared with him Alma 40 and after reading it he told us that we had help reassure him of God’s plan. I know that us finding that taxi driver was no coincidence and us finding him probably saved his life.

Any way more stuff that has happened here is; I’ve gone three times to the offices to sign my visa and every time its failed, so there might be a chance that I might have to serve state side for a few transfers, probably not but well see.

Any way my time here has made me come to the absolute conclusion that the Yucatan peninsula is definitely were the events of the Book of Mormon took place, and I know this because of talking to so many non-members of the church who talk about the Mayan stories. I have been shown a few articles written by college professors of the history of the people and language here, that parallel those of the Book of Mormon. Some of them are actually conspiracy status, like things that even go back to the Bible and Christ’s time during his ministry in the middle east, we are talking Davinci code meets Indiana Jones, but crazier.

A few notes before I get back to the old grind.
- Its pretty funny all of the letters I receive are from at least a month ago and I’ve seen a few about how someone got married and then one 2 weeks later I’ll receive one telling me how they got engaged.
-Language is getting better. I still talk like a 4 year old but its chill
-I miss every one way more than is probably healthy, its only because when one is living in a house with only one other person to talk to and they can’t even speak English in a country that doesn’t speak English gives one a lot of time to think about what one could be doing.
-Send me more letters!
- I want as many of you as possible to come talk to me during Christmas because it really is my only time to talk to anyone on the outside.
Well I’m outa time, later,
Wes out!

For Christmas I just want you guys to save money so I can go on a crazy spending spree when I get home, I’m spending that summer living the high life, and it’ll be sweet.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wesley's letter 10-10-11

Well honestly its not that bad here. Last week I was just really stressed. Those of you who have served missions know what the first month is like (especially if you served foreign) Its pretty tough, most of all just missing everyone and everything you ever held dear. A lot of the sadness has to do with, when you stop and think about how bad things are, that’s when you get depressed. A stone that’s not moving collects moss/mold. And with the heat and humidity, it collects real fast (not just figuratively)!

Well, anyway this week has gotten a lot better. Elder Villanueva knows how to use time a lot better than Elder Bautista, I love Bautista but he really did not know how to plan for the little time we had, and because of that it was a pretty high stress situation when you have to choose between writing your family or eating that particular day.

I actually like it here now. (Partially because its now only in the 80s and not 90s)

So more about the culture here.

Its pretty sweet serving here because the ambiance is perfect. Every other house has Cuban music playing, which gives Kulkucan a nice Caribbean theme.

On top of that there’s a military base about a mile away so there’s always gunshots going off which makes it feel more ghetto than it really is. It feels a lot like a “Call of Duty” map haha.

The people here are extremely nice but this is one of the poorer parts of Mérida so there’s a lot of really messed up, sad situations. There are way too many pregnant teens here, most between 11-14 years old. This place is definitely caught in the poverty cycle, more than I ever thought existed anywhere.

It’s been a real eye opener living here. And it’s really helped my testimony of how the message we bring really changes lives, because the only people I’ve seen here living in remotely decent living circumstances, are members of the church. More than anything I think its just the moral backboard people have here.

The dangerous living conditions these teen girls have their infants playing in, is seriously horrifying. I’ve seen more than a few kids that couldn’t have been more than three, playing on highways, and playing barefoot on broken glass.
Another sad thing is that probably one in 5 people here are missing an appendage of some sort, a finger, arm, eye, or foot. All due to either industrial accidents, just lack of proper health care, or playing with glass on the highway as a kid.

Anyway more with stuff that doesn’t make me feel like a big jerk for being white.

The graffiti art here is crazy awesome, kicks the crud out of American graffiti!

So, the other night I found a tarantula the size of my stretched hand roosting under my back pack and that was sweet, because that night we had other elders sleeping at our house and I had to sleep on the floor. I don’t know what’s worse, the spider the size of my palm that can jump 7 feet or the spider the size of my face roosting under my back pack. I’ve mistaken one of those jumping spiders for frogs about 6 times now because they hop and at night it’s easy to mistake them.

Good news I haven’t gotten sick one time...yet.

So here are the things this week I have accomplished:
-Had to eat a straight onion soup this week, it was just that, an onion with water, I think I’ve mastered my disgusting-food poker face.

Good news I haven’t gotten sick one time...yet.

-Had a baptism!

-Finished the book of Mormon in Spanish.

-Had my first Maya conversation.

-The language clicked more or less.

Welp see ya later,

Elder Ésmit

Wesley's letter 10-3-11

Well, last night was transfers and I have a new companion, his name is Elder Villanueva and he’s from Mexico City, I’m not gonna lie right now I’m a little depressed that Bautista left because I was just starting to get to the point of speaking Spanish that I can have actual conversations with him. But Elder Villanueva seems pretty chill. I’m kind of bummed because I wanted to leave this area too for some where else in the Yucatan that’s less big, but that might just be because I hurt my toe real bad the other day so I’ve been walking about 12 miles a day for the last week on a toe that’s debatably broken.

Last week the lady who usually lets us wash our clothes at her house flaked on us so we had to wash our clothes in our gross sketchy shower. These are some pretty unhealthy living conditions round these parts.

We get about 12 dollars a week for food so I’m basically starving all day every day, so I’m not going to lie this pretty much stinks a lot and this is for sure the lowest point of my entire life, of pure home sickness. I promise I miss you all more than words can explain, but I won’t deny I’ve learned more the last month and a half than I could have thought possible. I’m almost fluent in Spanish, and know some Maya. But most important is that I finally understand the grand intricate design of the human purpose and how our life in this world plays into it. And I have the opportunity to share it with the people here, and that is something worth starving over.