Seems like everything is changing over there! Congrats to Elder Orton, It was nice reading his letter, and to hear he is doing well. And it's weird to think Porter"s about to graduate! It seems like my senior year happened last week. And, he is pulling off that football uniform quite nicely. If I was there, that grid iron girl of his would be having some competition.
Saturday we drove to the San Diego Temple. It was awesome! The four of us in San Luis bought sandwich making stuff, and made them that morning. And each had four on the way. Classic road trip. Wonder bread ham sandwiches. There was the zone in Yuma who went, so the four of us and twelve others, including the assistants to the president, President and Sister Toone, and a senior couple who finish their ten month mission on Thursday. They've been serving on an Indian reservation.
I had a couple things on my mind going in, and everything was answered. And the temple itself was simply gorgeous. Then Pres. Toone bought us dinner from the cafeteria, and it was really good. The drive was about three hours and pleasant. My companion time lapsed the entire drive on his IPad, but it went by in like ten seconds, so we are trying to slow it down to a minute so it actually can be seen. All in all, a fantastic day. And we missed Halloween entirely. They don't really celebrate the day of the dead here, only Halloween, and it was nice to miss all that.
A new initiative that they are testing down here, (this mission is known as the testing mission) is Skype-ing all the new missionaries who get called to the mission. So, on Wednesday, we Skyped with a missionary in Brazil who arrives in February.
We answered his questions about the mission here, talked about what he can practice on concerning his English, which was already very good, and then he and I, Victor, vocally read scriptures in Portuguese, so I could practice a little, and talked about how I can improve. First time doing Portuguese since I left the MTC. I thought I read well, but when I went to say a closing prayer in Portuguese, I had no idea what was Spanish and what was Portuguese. There is another missionary from Brazil coming here in December that we will hopefully talk to, so I will be brushing up before that happens.
There is a family that feeds the missionaries every fast Sunday, so we went over on Sunday. And it was the first American food I've been served here. And it was delicious. First was chicken soup. I had heard of the ridiculous amount of food this family serves, so I ate the food, but didn't drink the broth trying to conserve room. But they didn't take away my bowl, so I drank it. Then a wonderful salad. And then they brought a giant plate with asparagus, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, rice, and a 16 ounce steak. Halfway through I wanted to fly the white flag, but I kept going. And I finished. I haven't known full like that dinner. And then for dessert, we had pie and ice cream. But the end was in sight and I finished strong. Holy cow. The family likes you the more you eat, and my companion asked for a second helping of pie and ice cream and they definitely liked that. One interesting thing about eating down here, to reiterate it has always been delicious, but the people never eat with you. I think it's happened once. They always just watch. I haven't gotten used to that yet.
We had a member of the branch go out with us every day this week, and had lots of lessons. It's been really busy, and I've enjoyed getting to know the members here better. Elder Bradley said he wrote about Hmo. Sacarios. He was very interesting. "In the night we were trying hard to find a member to go out with us to a couple of visits. No solid appointments, but we had faith that someone was going to listen to us. No one could come so we called up Hermano Sacairos. His last name is very similar to the word sacarios which is a name for murderers in Mexico, and he is like 80 years old. We went to find his house and couldn't figure it out. The directions he gave us were super weird. "Turn on the road that has a lot of letters then go right...." We got lost. By the time we found his house, he's reading the Liahona out loud. We listen to him read us a whole article then he looks up at us, smiles, and laughingly exclaims, "This is awesome!"
Most members are converts so they tend to like to come out with us. They are so strong. Two quick lesson highlights:
We went and taught a man named Victor. He is part of that extended family that we interrupted a couple weeks ago who had been praying at that instant for help. We've taught other members of the
family a lot, and they've come to church, but he works in fields in California so he isn't home much. But this time he was. We taught our lesson, and talked about fast Sunday, and he wanted to fast! He told us how if we ever need anything, a place to stay, a car to borrow, food, or anything, come to his house, because "What you've brought is worth more than anything I can give you." It was really cool, the only bad part was he didn't show up to church, and we don't know why yet. Other people did get called in to work, so we're hoping that's what it was. But an absolutely wonderful family who have been prepared.
The other cool lesson, we took an investigator on a chapel tour. He asked great questions, the Spirit was so strong, especially near the baptismal font and in the chapel. And the 2nd counselor in the branch presidency who was there was perfect and plenty enthusiastic. Just had to be there I guess. His sister is younger, and her parents don't want her to go to our church alone, but now they both want to. But on Sunday he got called in to the fields as well, as he helps with the irrigation.
Sunday was tough though, as all the commitments we had to come to church fell through. No one came. It was disappointing. It was tough. But I have a feeling this week is going to be fantastic! We've been working hard, setting lofty goals, and have seen miracles!
Every week, I mean to say a couple of interesting facts but always forget. The border fence ends a couple miles outside town. I don't know why. We tried to take a picture, but it doesn't show that clearly. It just ends.
Our phone often doesn't work, because it thinks we are in Mexico, and requires roaming charges. Half the town works well, the other half is unpredictable. But it's the other missionaries half who are in San Luis, so the only time it affects us, is when we are in the church building.
There are three different lanes to go to Mexico. The first one is the fastest and is for those who have passports. The second one is for drivers license, some sort of i.d., etc. and I've been told the third one doesn't require anything, and is also what trucks have to use. The first lane takes a few minutes. The second usually takes an 1/2 hour except on weekends when it can be hours, and the third lane can take hours as well, but depends more on the people checking rather than the length of the line.
A lot of kids from Mexico go to school here. They walk across the border to school every morning, and back in the afternoon. And this town has the best crosswalk guards in America. They have every single path, and there's a lot staffed every single day.