Turns out one learns many important skills here, such as: how to kill a cockroach in ten hits with a broom, and how to survive off two meals alone each day. I learned the first skill on Thursday when my companion made me get rid of a cockroach that was living in our bedroom (note: our new casa is great besides the fact we have a slight ant problem — think Mexico Vacation circa 2005 — and lizards are abounding on our walls). After accomplishing the horrible deed concerning the cockroach, I felt quite awful for becoming an insect killer, made even worse when I accidently killed a lizard that was hiding in our fan. I am still dealing with post-traumatic stress with this whole ordeal. As for surviving off two meals a day . . . we have taken to buying packages of Mexican cookies every day that have become my absolute favorite. Sometimes we even buy goodies from venders that are literally on every corner. Moral of the story: Mexico has good cookies, and it's a miracle I havent gained a hundred pounds.
Our investigators are progressing well. This week we taught one of our most recent investigators, Hermano Cristino. He is sixty-something years old, with weathered skin and an honest face that has long searched for God. It is always a great moment when we get to sit outside his house on cinderblocks and teach him about the Restoration. He has a hard time understanding things, and most of the time he pretends to understand and so we have to verify a lot of principles with him. But I love sitting under the Merida sun with this man that wears well-worn leather sandals and has a will to do good always. We also taught Hermana Rivera this week, along with her most darling grandson that cries whenever we sing hymns and kisses us on the cheek whenever we leave. After one lesson with her, she already believes the Book of Mormon is true and came to church this last Sunday. She is a type of grandma for me — giving us chocolate milk and cupcakes and showing us pictures of her family. Our other family, Celene and her two sons Rene and Jose, are basically golden. Rene talks all the time about getting baptized and is quite concerned he doesn't have a white button-up shirt yet. There home feels like safety to me. On Saturday (our second lesson with them), Hermana Celene told us that she had dreamed about us the day before we first met them, and that it was an answer to her life that had long since become weary. I thanked my Heavenly Father in that moment for reminding me why I am here — because when the days are long and the language is hard, I will now remember that this mission is about people like Hermana Celene and her family; about the people that have long since been waiting for rays of light in their darkened worlds.
I tell you all about these people now because the people here are quite wonderful and so good. In Spanish there are two verbs for "to know": saber, as in to a fact or knowledge about something, and conocer, as in to know someone or something in a familiar way. I am beginning to know and love these people in a conocer way — the type of way that the pink house with a flower on the fence has become like another home, and the dusty roads are becoming well-accustomed to the beat of my walking feet. There is a renewed desire within me to know these people and this place in a familiar way. This desire mostly comes from the deepened reality of knowledge I have that Christ knows each of us in a conocer way. We teach about the Atonement every day here, and there is no doubt in my growing faith that Christ knows these peoples' sadnesses and their trials, their heartaches and their hopes. Christ has walked the path that we are all walking; he has long been familiar with the rising and sinking of our hearts with the coming and going of life and all the experiences that come with it. I consider it a privilege to be able to testify every day about Christ and His wonderous Atonement, and the truth that He has long been familiar with us.
Most nights here, I look up at the darkening sky and breathe in the Mexican air with the knowledge that my sky is just one hour ahead of yours. The word for sky and heaven in Spanish are the same, and I like the idea that each night, we are all looking at the same heaven. Thank you for being a most beautiful and good family to me — I think about you always and love you even more.