a day in the life

hola dearest familia,

In an attempt to answer some of the questions from our oh-so-short time together over Skype, here is a little overview of our daily schedule here, a few of my favorite things, and some misc. facts that you may be interested to know:

6:30 | wake up, pray, exercise
7: 00 | shower/eat breakfast
8-12 | study time, which includes personal, companionship, training (because yes, I am a missionary in training), and language. 
12-9 | teaching (we have a range of people that we teach, from investigators to less actives to members and new contacts. Our goal is to have eight lessons a day, which we have come to see is a little difficult to accomplish here only because people loooove to talk — therefore, our lessons usually end up being an hour or longer....we are trying to be better at this, because our mission's goal is to have forty lessons a week with a baptism every week, too. Yay for goals!)

A few of my favorite things:

bread vendors | I do not know why these do not exist in America, but basically there are people that bike around every calle with a box full of bread (ranging from sweet breads with sugar and cream to breads with cheese and ham). I might like them more than the cookies here ...

last names | everyone here has two lasts names — the last name of the mother and the last name of the father. It is slightly confusing and I don't know how anyone succeeds in their family history research here, but I also kind of like the idea of always having a part of your mom and dad next to your name always. 

time | does not exist here. If a meeting is set to start at 9 in the morning, most likely it will really begin at 9:30 or 10. It tends to be the same with our lessons we set with those we are teaching — hence why we can never have eight lessons a day. 

everyone that attends school either studies in the morning or the afternoon. I have come to realize that this is in order so that everyone has a block of time for their jobs. It is incredible to me how hard people work here and that every person works in order to support their family — no matter how old they are. 

and my most favorite of all favorite things: the people that live here. It is becoming more and more clear with every lesson and every conversation that God sent me here to learn from His children of the Yucatan — those who speak without fear but always with love, those whose actions and sacrifices are always for the benefit of their families, and those who are always, always giving with everything, even when their everything really is not that much. Every single person or family that we have the privilege of visiting in their homes has a pain or challenge that is far greater than a missionary with nineteen years of living can really comprehend, and yet in the midsts of their heartache they have a gift of living in the loveliest of ways. I may not understand why God gives greater challenges to some rather than others, but I have come to understand more and more the magnitude of love and grace that God has for every soul and every life that exists on this earth. My heart is filled with love for the ten year old girl we are teaching who lost every single member of her family in a horrible and incomprehensible event, and who asked a question of hope: will everyone that dies one day live again? My heart is filled with compassion for the grandma who is the only one in her family seeking for light, and who is trying to teach her grandchildren to do the same. My heart is filled with the knowledge of God's grace with the thirty-three year old divorcee with two children and a lot more problems, who has more bouts of depression than any life should have to bear. I do not know how to answer a lot of the questions relating to why lives like this exist in the midst of lives that are far more blessed, but I do know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer to all, and that it is a privilege to be able to give words of light and hope to the souls that live here. 

One day I will be able to answer all your questions and ask each of you even more — until that day, know that I love you and that you are always in my heart and mind, becauseI love you with an eternal love and the eternal hope that we will be a family that lasts through the eternities. 

with love,
the stage setting for our ward Christmas production

herding the sheep

reenactment of the Nativity — one that will forever go down in history

all the hermanas in our Zone, singing and contacting the day before Christmas 

you bought a kitty without me, so I held a new born puppy to compensate 


becoming new

caroling and contacting in Centro with otra misioneras

¡Happy (almost) Christmas! This week we celebrated the Christmas season with Hna. Grecias' baptism. She's an investigator that we have been working with from the beginning — a long process that required a lot of patience. But once she finally (FINALLY) prayed and received her answer that this Church is true, she was baptized the very next week and it was beautiful. Her husband baptized her, and seeing them both dressed in white was like a vision of what their eternity will look like now that they can be sealed in the temple this coming year. 

Along with this quiet and wonderful celebration, yesterday all the missionaries in the entire mission gathered for a whole day together — a day that included a catered lunch and talent show with various missionaries and their varying talents (i.e. a sketch that was made up of all the scriptures we have to memorize, featuring a blown up polar bear and missionaries dressed as elves. This really happened). After meeting together in the Stake building, we all went to a park in Centro to sing Christmas carols and contact people with The Dadiva initiative. It was a quiet and powerful experience, singing about Christ and inviting people to come unto Him. Due to this season, Ive been thinking a lot more about Christ — His birth, His life, His purpose in coming here to save us and heal us and love us. It is becoming more clear to me that Christ came into this world because of His love for us. Because of this, it is then becoming more clear to me that love is the greatest, most grand, and most powerful thing in the world — the good type of love that can change a person, that can make one better. It seems like such a simple thing, the act of loving. And yet it is so much easier to think about how you are feeling, how others are making you feel, what you are not feeling, what others are not giving you. Real love is not worrying about how you are receiving love, but rather how you are giving, because isnt that what Christ did every single day of His thirty-three years? I'm trying to be better at giving and showing love so that I can be a little more like Christ — and oh, what a seemingly hard and unreachable goal, trying to become a person of perfect love and perfect goodness! At times it feels like I do not possess any of those qualities of Christ: faith and hope and love and diligence. Yet there is a sense of beauty in all of those things that I am lacking, because I know that I can gain them and learn them during my time here. It is both a humbling and horrible experience feeling new, but I think with every new beginning comes the test of what one does and how one feels during a re-birth of sorts. During times of humility in this Christmas season, I take courage in the fact that Christ came into the world as a child — as a new being that had to grow and learn and progress, and that its thanks to the birth and life of our glorious Savior that every single person can be born again a new creature. How glorious is the Gospel and how merciful is God for always giving us the hope of new beginnings and second chances through His Son.

Wishing you all a Christmas of joy in remembering the birth of our Lord and Savior, the Prince of Peace!

all my love and joy,

eating a snickers bar for you all (and no, I wasn't really hangry)

Hna. Grecia on her baptism day, with husband (who's a member), and her newborn child


picture day

dearest familia,

In an attempt to best utilize time/give you more of an idea of life over here in the Yucatan, this day is a day dedicated to photos (which I'm hoping will actually send, given that I am using a new cyber that is slightly questionable). 

These photos include: a view of our study area that we use for four hours every morning; a calle featuring the beautiful Merida sky (which we have decided seems a lot closer to us here — perhaps heaven is a little bit closer to the the people of Merida?); Hno Juan and his family on his baptism day (!!!); a typical breakfast (yes, OCD Naomi still exists here); physical therapy excitement; a horse tied to a stop sign — NBD; the grandson of Hna. Jenny who gives us kisses on the cheek every time and has the best smile in the world; and two cats that belong to the Familia Estudillo (mom, this photo is for you). Not pictured: the interpretive dances to songs from Frozen that we witnessed in a calle on Friday, and the 34 bus rides (yes, I counted), that we had to take this week for the daily three hour roundtrip to physical therapy. 

Hopefully all of these send — if not, you can imagine all of these things with the description above, and feel of my love with these few words. I love you, dear family of mine!





and then there was light

dearest familia,

It seems that I need to pay tribute to the miracles that are abounding every single week in our area, because really, sometimes we return home shaking our heads and laughing at the fact we are blessed every single day with seeing the hands of God in everything. They are continual manifestations of the fact that God is in the details of our lives — no matter how small our lives may seem, our daily walks of life are important to that great Being who created us to live and learn and experience in order to understand Him a little bit more. And so:

Miracles of Mulsay

— Hna. Martinez no longer needs to have surgery for her knee (!!!), and so the wheelchair is no longer our best friend and we are back to our normal walking routine (which we get to walk for another transfer because we are staying companions — woohoo! There was a slight fear that we would have to part at this transfer, but God is good and we get to stay companions. We heard that our entire District has changed, and so its been a fun game trying to guess who is in our mystery District/who our new District Leader is, too). 

— We taught the Relief Society lesson this Sunday, and it actually went really well (obviously this is a miracle for me and not for Hna. Martinez, aka the most gifted teacher ever). 

— Hno. Jonathan, an investigator we have been teaching on and off in his tienda (a difficult thing to do when people are always coming to purchase items from his store during the lesson), came to the Tuesday night activities and played basketball with the YM, even though he is thirty three years old. It was quite the scene with him in his gangster outfit playing amongst twelve year olds, but hey, he came and it was great. 

— Hna. Reina and her daughter Isis came to the Christmas Devotional in the Stake Center last night, along with another investigator Hna. Jesus. Both are miracles because 1) Hna Reina has been taught by a lot of missionaries because her husband is inactive in the church, and this was her first time in la capilla — she is a living example of the truth that even the seemingly hardest hearts can change. 2) Hno. Jesus is the alcoholic that we have been teaching, and after a spur-of-the-moment thought to invite him to come along with us, he came without hesitation with his Book of Mormon and half-buttoned, skiddywampus shirt. 

— Hno. Juan and Hna. Karen got married on Wednesday, and his baptism is tomorrow. We got a little too excited during our planning session for his baptismal program, and may or may not be singing a special duet (which is funny because we both can't really sing all too well). 

Between these moments of miracles, there were also moments of failed attempts to share La Dadiva (The Gift? Have you all heard about this Christmas message?) by singing a hymn ON THE BUS and passing out cards to all the passengers. All I'm going to say is that the mission really pushes one outside of their comfort zone (see: singing on a crowded bus). This failed attempt to share the gift of Christmas was made all the worse when Pres. Garcia had us reenact this little episode for all the missionaries in our Zone. I think he was trying to show everyone an example of what not to do... 

I also ate octopus without even knowing it — oh, the experiences of the mission!

This week was also filled with a greater understanding of the importance of the Gospel. I have come to realize more and more that the truths of this Gospel are the very air I breathe and live, because without it I don't know what I would do or who I would be. This truth awakened me to the even greater fact that a lot of people do not have this joy and light to guide them through the darkness. One morning, I might have wept for the lives lost to the world ignorant of the fact that they can be found again with the Gospel of Jesus Christ; tears wept for those who do not know there is a way to be healed, a way to change, a way to know God, and a way to live in a state of never ending happiness with the very people we love most. Without the knowledge that I have that there is a way for all of these things, these tears would have been everlasting. Yet how grateful I am to know that the words we speak as missionaries provide a way out of darkness and into light for all these people, because the words of the Gospel are eternal and never-changing.

I love you, dear family! (and also can't wait for Christmas when we can talk once again face to face)

all my love,


Love is a Verb*

hola hola,

Happy first day of December! We are getting quite excited over here in Merida with this season, and apparently everyone else here is, too (i.e. the child we saw running through the calle in full Santa Claus garb — beard and all). This morning we discovered a Sams Club after our district meeting, and we may or may not have gone a little overboard with our shopping list (it is a little difficult not to when we found ourselves in a type of Costco for the first time in months). It was quite the glorious moment for me when I could actually listen to the music in the store because it was about Christ — oh how I love this season! 

This week went by rather quickly, mostly because we had lots of meetings and were traveling back and forth between our area and Centro. Among the things that we have begun to learn together: 1) how to transport a wheelchair in a crowded bus, and 2) how to get to our lesson appointments faster by me running and pushing the wheelchair from behind — much more efficient, and I also get in a daily run that I have been missing. We have had to revamp our schedules a tad because of our new mean of transport, but we are trying to travel as quickly and efficiently as possible to have more lessons, because a lot of our investigators are progressing (woohoo!). Hno. Juan is supposed to be baptized tomorrow, however he needs to get married first. He and his girlfriend are hoping to get married today in order to make this possible, but we still dont know the verdict on this — pero, we are still hoping that a wedding and a baptism are possible because we believe in miracles!

This week I have been praying more for the attributes of charity and love. The people of Merida have taught me a lot in this regard — how to love in a way that is more selfless and open than any love I have ever encountered before. Everyone here loves in an open and vulnerable way, and I have come to realize that many people here know how to love like Christ does. Entonces, my heart has been drawn to thinking about the attribute of love lately, and how I can better live with love. My prayers have mostly been answered in a way that I am better able to recognize love every day. I have found there is the type of love that is obvious and pure, like the teenage couple studying their musical theory homework together on the bus, or the type that is quietly good like the man on the bus that gave up his seat three times for complete strangers. And then there is the love that is greater than the world and more directed towards God, seen in that moment when Hno. Juan and Hna. Karen commit to paying tithing, even though they don't have jobs or any money. There is the love that sings of the things of eternity in the words of a youth speaker crying over the fact that his family is forever, and the type of love one feels in that moment for an investigator that has a new trial and new sadness every single visit — the love that arises from feeling pain. I have realized that all of these types of love is the type of love that Chrsit has — because everything that Christ did and everything that Christ said was because of His love for us. And this is why love is powerful, because its the love of Christ that changed lives and hearts and futures. His type of love was not only a feeling, but a feeling that He chose to act on every single day. Im beginning to hope that my life can one day become like this, too. 

Hoping that all is lovely and snowing in Utah and that you have bought a real tree to put in our living room! 

mucho amor,

*okay yes, I might have stolen this line from John Mayer