aprendi muchas cosas

dearest familia,

This week was hard. Yet in the midst of dirt roads and hot sun (really, really hot sun) and disappointed hearts and broken lives, I have learned that the hard things in life are usually the ones that become most important to us and the ones that are so gloriously balanced with moments of eternity and light. On Tuesday and Wednesday Hermana Villalobos and I were so happy. Like, insanely happy. To the point where we were laughing and smiling and wanting to share this joy with everyone that we came into contact with. We visited la Familia Caamal, recent converts of one year that are preparing to enter the temple this Saturday. They are some of those noble and great ones. Hno Eusebio drank from the age of twelve and by the time he hit thirty, he realized that he was losing the greatest and most eternal joy in his life and decided to give up drinking in order to save his family. Right when he decided to change, two elders passed by his house and he invited them to teach him more about God, because He had been missing from his life for quite some time. His whole family listened. His wife and children decided to stay and now they are going to be sealed in the temple. They are incredible and we love them. Every night we pass by his house that he converted into a restaurant, and I realize that it is one of those glory moments, you know? 

We visited Hno Novelo, too, a seventy year old who got baptized in the 1990s and quit his job so that he could go to church every single Sunday instead of selling his handmade shirts. He reminded me of an old sailor — browned skin and eyes that have lost their years of being able to see. He sat on the same couch as us so that he could be able to hear and see the mere outline of our faces. He listened to scriptures and talked about his life and his miracles and how much he loves the temple. He cried and we cried too because the Spirit was so real and so felt. After visiting with him we had lunch with Hna Dulce. She is like the wise old woman in every good story. She talks slowly and quietly, with a slight Southern accent (is that possible in Mexico? maybe I imagined it to make the moment even better). She spoke of her son who died and her husband who abandoned his faith and the one time she couldn't walk and the other time when she didn't want to get out of bed. We cried with her and listened as her words rolled over and over. We felt sadness and I wondered how any of God's children can really fulfill their purpose of having joy if there are so many hard experiences and people. But then I realized that as I had listened to every single one of these good people — Esebio, Novelo, and Dulce — my moments with them were not those hard moments of dusty roads and burning skies and worried hearts. My time with them were ones of great light and depth and understanding. I realized as I listened to their words and to their lives that the people I admire most are not the ones who have lived perfect lives or who profess to have lived perfectly. I admire the people that have had hard things happen; that have felt sadness; that have lost and lost again, and that have chosen to make those hard things good, and those sad things happy, and those losses as gains. 

At the end of our lunch with Hna Dulce, she ended her life resume with two sentences, *"Hemos sufrido muchas cosas. Pero tambien, aprendi muchas cosas." And with those two sentences I realized that I wanted to be like her. I wanted to trust in God more and believe that He loves me more, because even though her lot has been hard she still loves God and still believes in Him. I hope that I can do the same, and that I can one day thank God for allowing me to learn many things through the small times of hard things. 

Miss you and love you more. Wishing you another week of learning--

love love,

Hermana Rhondeau

*translation: "we have suffered many things. But I have also learned many things."

(I wrote it in Spanish because it sounds better. And maybe it is slightly more dramatic in a different language. kluvubi)


remember Christ

 proof that I eat hamburgers now. and no, that is not a veggie pattie. 
view at night
a Mexican rendition of a smoothie, with shaved ice and three types of milk. yes, I felt sick after but it was worth the experience.

buenas tardes,

This will be short because we took the long(er) journey to Centro in search of pretty things and ended up losing a lot of time, so...in a nutshell: the members either really missed having missionaries in their ward or just really like us, because a) they drive us around our area in their cars (which means air conditioning and happiness), and b) they give us free food and treat us like their children. We are well taken care of here in Zazil-ha, to the point where I am overwhelmed with the people and their goodness and their faith. They remind me of Christ, actually, because they act on their faith and help people with courage but also kindness and they don't have much but they give everything. Hermana Villalobos and I gave talks on Sunday, testifying about missionary work but more about Christ. I don't know if I had forgotten to testify about Christ for awhile, or if I had forgotten my faith and love for Him amidst all the changes and challenges. Isnt that funny? I think I forgot Him when I most needed Him. But standing in front of God's chosen children on Sunday, testifying of their Savior and His reality made me remember Him and how much I love Him. I don't think I know my Savior with the magnitude and depth that I would like to, but I do know that I love Him because He is kind and long-suffering and good even when other people aren't. So, I guess my message to you this week is to remember Christ — not as someone unknown and distant, but as a Savior who knows and feels just as we do. I think He wants to be known, not for reward or recognition or praise, but because He loves us and wishes that we feel the same. 

Love you and miss you, dear family of mine. In eight months more!

love always,

Hermana Rhondeau

at the end of the school year every class dances and dresses like this. It is the cutest thing and no one is ashamed.
after the rain

it rained and rained on friday until the streets were rivers and we were literally soaked through. 


clear water

dear family,

Upon arriving to Zazil-ha and cleaning a missionary home that had not been lived in for months and months, we came to know a few things about our new area: 

1) It is right by the airport. We learned this the first night when jets were continually flying over our roof. I don't mind it, though — the sound of airplanes remind me of home and family and traveling. 

2) We have a pet cat. Which yes, is really not allowed. but what can you do when it has already made a little home on your front patio? It is orange and white. We don't have a name for it yet. 

3) Our bishop is like a main character from the movies "Freedom Writers" or "Remember the Titans." He was recently called as bishop last month and is quite young. From what we have heard, our ward is recovering from eight years of leadership that wasn't ministered with a lot of love and understanding and it seems that the new bishop has swept in with a lot of energy and plans to help the ward. We are really excited to work with him. 

4) Zazil-ha (which we found out means "clear water" in Maya) is a little bit like paradise. There are fruit trees that line the streets, shadowing all the popsicle stands and fruit juice bars. One of the members that lives close to our house has a shake and burger stand — they saved us from the on-pouring rain we experienced on Friday and gave us an Oreo shake to recuperate. We like them a lot. And by we, I mean me and my companion, Hermana Villalobos. She is a convert of almost two years from Costa Rica. Basically, people should write novels about her. She is, in a word, lovely. Lovely in the way she talks and thinks and teaches and loves. She is like those heroines in novels — kind and charitable with a strength and confidence that inspires others to believe and act. She is quite perfect, actually, and I am learning so much from her goodness. 

We had the chance to work with a member this week that is preparing to leave for her mission in October. She lived the mission life with us for the full week and it was kind of like I had twins because they were both new and learning and questioning (and how do parents do it, I do not know). We got lost about 99 times. In the calles, on the bus. Everyone thought we were tourists with our colored maps and messenger bags. We met such lovely, kind, and humble people that made me realize how much more kind and humble I need to be. The mission is continually showing me how good God's children here are; they give without asking and serve without seeking reward. They are strong and courageous because they give more than they ask without worrying what they are losing. They remind me of the scripture that tells us to "put on strength." I like that is doesn't say "have strength," but rather "put on strength." It's a verb and an action that requires effort and trust and hope. So many of these people have to put on strength every single day in order to combat the fears of not having enough food or enough money for the bus or enough money for their child that wants to study. Their decision to have courage reminds me that I must do the same, and that every morning I wake up to put on my strength, God is waking up with me and doing the same. 

Wishing you a full and happy week — love you $9.99.

Hermana Rhondeau


transfer call

dearest family,

Transfer calls came and it looks like I am finally leaving the nursery (i.e. Mulsay) and beginning a new phase of the mission that feels like growing up. I will be opening an area called Zazel-ha (actually, I cant remember how to spell it or even say it, so that might not be right ... but something like that), and I will be training a new missionary again. It is slightly scary and foreign and unknown, but I like to think that God is giving me the opportunity to trust in Him and learn to follow His Spirit more, and that perhaps He is testing my skills with directions because the new area is a lot bigger than my first home in Mulsay. 

Last night was a little hard when we received transfer calls because Hna Guerra and I both thought that we would be staying together in order to finish her training. It is always hard when one thinks they have more time and then realizes that time is something that they can't control or change, and then are left wondering if they used their time well or fully or wholly. My time in Mulsay 2 is sacred to me — a gloriously hard and absolutely full nine months of coming to know and love and feel for such good and chosen people. I think this was the hardest part: missing people the minute I found out that they would no longer be mine to teach and help and love. Because I loved God's children in Mulsay more than I realized; Lupita and Tony and la familia Canche and Gamboa. I found myself crying and crying and felt a pain that has never quite penetrated my heart before, the part of my heart that allowed myself to be vulnerable to loving. I have realized that the more we allow ourselves to feel, the more vulnerable we allow oursleves to become to pain or hurt, but then I realized that I would rather feel all of these things and more than to have never felt them at all. I realized that Christ has felt a love like this before — a love even greater than any of us are perhaps capable of learning —and that He feels this depth and width of love for each of us. I think I have now learned how real and pure the love of Christ really is. It is not something that He feigns or feels out of obligation. His love is vulnerable and open, because I think it is a love that He learned to have for us. I hope that I can learn to love like Christ does, because I think it is the realest and most unselfish depth of love.

Love you all and miss you mucho,

Hermana Rhondeau