Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year! Week Nueve.

Me gusta naranja! (I love the color orange!)

So I realized they don't have gas stations here... a truck (like a pick up truck) drives around with tanks of gas for people to buy.

Also, in the church, we call people by their first names rather than their last names. For example, if I were a member here I would be Hermana Sara.

Leche con rico...mmmmm! It's like rice pudding but better!

This week was super cold! My third day here, some members gave us gloves and scarves and I thought it was a joke, but it actually gets really cold here and that fact that there's no heating in houses doesn't help.

There are these steps that lead up to part of our area called Montecillo. They remind me of the steps by the R.B. at BYU for those who would know.
Man do I feel out of shape when we climb them! My goal is that someday I'll be able to climb them without panting like a dog for five minutes afterwards.

I gave a talk in church yesterday. Well, it really was just me sharing a scripture and bearing my testimony. It was super scary, but I felt confident. My Spanish isn't super good yet (what's new?) but I did my best. I received a lot of compliments on it (maybe people were just being nice...) but a lot of people said my pronunciation was perfect and that I was understandable. One hermano said that the only part he didn't understand was when I said my last name. Haha. They have such a hard time with my name here. :)
Outside church after giving my talk.

A wonderful thing about life is that there are constantly things for us to learn. That's what I love about being here, the fact that I get to learn so much every day. The learning never stops.

Christmas was a hard day here. In the first place, it felt nothing like Christmas because I wasn't doing the usual: waking up late at home with my family, opening presents, listening to my dad blast Christmas music and watching "A Christmas Story" a million times. Talking on skype with my family was such a blessing and it was exactly what I needed. Christmas marked exactly eight weeks on my mission and today is exactly two months! It feels like I've been a missionary WAY longer. Haha.

The next time I get to talk to my family with be in four and half months. I know that's going to be hard, but it will be worth it in the end. I know that I can make it here. I know I would regret going home early (if it weren't for a legit medical reason) just like I would've regretted not coming here. My mission president said in his weekly email to me that I can never make going home an option or it will be an out when I'm having a hard time.

Singing the 12 Days of Christmas, only in Spanish and about missionary life. Jaja. Left to right: Mission President's son-in-law, Elder Rich my district leader, Mission President's daughter, me, Elder Richardson, Elder Chandler, and Mission President's son.

EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON!!!!! I know this and I know that a lot of the times we don't know the reason until after the fact. That's because God wants us to show our trust in Him. And the next life will be so beautiful because we'll see the reasons for everything and how there was such great purpose in everything.

I was touched by the lyrics of the song O Little Town Of Bethlehem when it says "Yet in they dark streets shineth the everlasting light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight." I've sung that a thousand times but never really thought about the meaning. I think it's absolutely beautiful! Christ is the light that shines in the darkness!!
One of my teachers in the MTC said that dogs are on the 
roofs of some houses. I didn't believe it until I saw it. Jajaja!

Another song I really like that my companion has goes like this: "Live like you believe, live like you know, it's one sure way your faith will grow. Listen to your heart, search in your soul, and you'll find the strength that you need." I love that.

Well...Adios until 2014!!! :) I'm gonna be on my mission for all of 2014...that's weird to think. :)

So I never really was into spicy stuff, but ever since I've been here, I love everything spicy! The members here know me as the American Hermana who loves spicy food and lots of it. Jaja. In this picture I'm about to eat a glob of Valentine sauce. Apparently it's supposed to be really hot, but it wasn't to me.

My favorite little girls! Ruth and Valeria Garcia.

Ramirez Family... I love them! They're less active and I really wanted to do something for them, so I gave them a stocking full of Christmas things because I knew their girls would like it. Each girl in the picture is wearing a Christmas headband. :)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Week Ocho In Mexico

I feel like so much happened this week! I got to see Hermana Turek on Friday. It turns out that I'm in a better area than I thought. She said that she gets hit on SO MUCH. I mean, I get lots of honks and occasionally a car will stop and I get an "Hola Senorita," but that's nothing to what she was telling me she gets. I guess my area is a little better off than the other areas, but I never would've guessed that. None of the other new missionaries in the mission have seen houses comparable to what we're used to in the U.S., while I have seen a few.
Our bathroom.... one foot in the shower 
and one in front of the toilet... 
It's so small that I can  touch both walls.

This morning we played volleyball, basketball, and soccer (futbol). I don't think I'll ever get used to calling soccer, futbol. Football is the game I march at during halftime. ;) It was super fun! Volleyball is my favorite to play. I like futbol too, but I'm not very good at it. All the male kind here are amazing at it.... even the little kids jaja.

It's hard not to feel very discouraged as a missionary because you are physically and emotionally exhausted. My district leader told me exactly what I needed to hear and I'm grateful that the Lord gives us the answers we need through other people. I know Satan is trying to get me down, he doesn't want me here. My district leader had me read an excerpt from a book we have called "Adjusting to Missionary Life." It talks about how our experience of being in a new country is comparable to the lives of new converts, because the church is a new world to them. "At first this trip is exciting, our mistakes even amusing, then it becomes frustrating and eventually, the frustration turns into anger. And it's at these stages of frustration and anger that we leave. We go back to the world from which we came, where we knew who we were, where we contributed, and where we could speak the language." That's exactly how I feel and it's comforting to know at least that maybe because of my experience I can help someone else.

My companion plays church music every morning when we exercise and one of the songs goes like this, "It's like a symphony, just keep listening. Pretty soon you'll start to figure out your part. Everyone plays a piece, and there are melodies." I love it because I know that even though I feel like I don't fit in here, I'm here for a reason. If nothing else, I know I'm supposed to be here at this time. And I know eventually I'll find my place, where I can contribute.

Even some of the most amazing missionaries felt discouraged and even depressed at times. Like Ammon and his brethren in the Book of Mormon. Even President Hinckley. I like how he said "The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best medicine for despair is service. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired."

I've definitely learned a lot about service here. I'm usually not much of a service-giver, not because I don't want to do service, but because I feel like I can't really do much to help others. However, I feel like that's all I want to do here. I'm amazed with how much love I've developed for the people here, even though I barely know most of them. We visited a less active man who I had not met until our lesson with him. I don't think I've ever felt such love for someone I didn't kow. I felt a portion of the love that Heavenly Father has for him. I can't even imagine how much love Heavenly Father has for all of His children--it's uncomprehendable. I know that He loves and cares about us more than anything and that we are His work and glory. I want to live to be worthy of His love.

I think the hardest thing as a missionary is that everyone has their agency. Don't get me wrong, I know agency is such a great gift. But it's so hard when you feel such a love for someone and you know they'll be so happy when they attend church and read their scriptures, but they're not doing those things. I wish I could just give people my testimony and that they'd desire to be strong in the gospel. I can't imagine how hard it must be for our Heavenly Father when we know what we should be doing but we don't do it.

Every sidewalk here, it seems, has bike treads or dog prints permanently in the cement. I've always thought that was funny. Well, this week, I accidentally walked on wet cement and I didn't notice until my companion said something. We went back a few days later to see if they were still there and they were! So my picture with them! I've made my mark in Mexico! ;)

So I realized this week that we don't go tracting and we don't have a certain number of people we have to talk to throughout the day, like most other missions. We usually just go around to less-actives or investigators houses and if they're home, we teach them. We don't hardly have set appointments with people. It's weird cause it's different than what I was expecting. Also, you don't always have to accept food. The main meal here is lunch, so that's when we eat with members. You just eat everything on your plate and if you want more, you can have more, but it's not rude to say no. I usually get more because I love food in general, especially here. :)
Frijoles.... beans, corn tortillas and cheese. Me gusta mucho!

You know what I really miss? Dryers. The first thing I want to do when I get home is wash and dry my clothes. Jajaja.

I taught a lesson all by myself this week. It was super scary, but the Spirit was super strong and it made me feel so good! I love this gospel. I love that this gospel is centered on Jesus Christ. I know He loves us, as does our Heavenly Father, and that as we strive to become more like Him, we are blessed.

2 Nephi 25:26 & 27: "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophecy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. And now behold, my people, ye are a stiffnecked people; wherefore I have spoken plainly unto you, that ye cannot misunderstand. And the words which I have spoken shall stand as a testimony against you for they are sufficient to teach any man the right way; for the right way is to believe in Christ and deny him not; for by denying him ye also deny the prophets and the law."

I know that this church is true. I know it with all of my heart. I know it because the Holy Ghost has testified unto me of its truth. "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth." (Romans1:16)

Feliz Navidad! Remember the Savior as we celebrate His birth and life. :)

Hermana Sara Slaughter

I love the doggies here

and the cats
and the horses!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pictures From the Mission President's Wife

Pictures, pictures, pictures! Sister Call, the mission presidents wife, sent these pictures from the moment Sara and her fellow missionaries landed in Mexico. Where's Sara (Where's Waldo)? Look for the Blonde Zebra.

 Sara's Christmas package. 
Mexican Customs went through everything inside the box. 
They cut open every gift bag!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Week Siete Continued

Mexico City is sooo huge! We flew over it for a while and it looked like this the whole time.

Hola from Mexico!
So I ended up flying out on Wednesday morning. When my flight was cancelled, my attitude towards staying was quite negative until Monday night. There were three things that I recognized as reasons for my flight being delayed. First, I needed some humbling and that took placeon Monday night. Second, Elder Quentin L. Cook came to devotional Tuesday night and I needed to hear what he said. And third, I talked to a man in the Arizona airport where my new flight layover was, and I know that I was supposed to talk to him, even if it was just planting a little seed.
I LOVE MEXICO!! Being here really hasn't felt too different, maybe it just hasn't sunk in yet, but I've found myself thinking, "It's going to be so crazy when I get to Mexico," and then I remember I'm already here. While I don't think I've had culture shock, things here are very different, that's for sure.
     There's no heat/AC in most (if not all) houses including ours, and insufficient insulation. The first night I nearly froze to death because I didn't know it'd be cold. Now I make sure to wear a hoodie to bed each night.
     The bathrooms in houses are so small. The water from the shower hits the sink and toilet (I don't know why they don't have shower curtains, lol!) and basically the whole floor of the bathroom is always wet.
     Sometimes the water is turned off so you can't flush toilets or wash your hands in public bathrooms.
     Taxis don't have seatbelts and when riding in a member's car, I'm the only one that wears one.
     Dogs are everywhere and they roam the streets like stray cats.
     I found out that I'm not supposed to say "Hola" to men, I can only say "Buenos tardes"or the like. Apparently an "Hola" can be interpreted as me being interested in them.
     Everyone stares at me. Men and children don't try to hide it, but when I look at the women staring at me, they look away.
     You can hear the electricity in the power lines.
     We're not allowed to wear watches because then people will want to rob us, even if the watch isn't expensive (cause they don't know it's not). I miss my watch. :(
I love the food here!! I absolutely LOVE corn tortillas and tamales are so good! I haven't had a bad meal since I've been here. :) I had strawberries once and lettuce twice and I've felt fine. I know I need to be careful with what I eat, but I'm not worried about it TOO much.
Washing dishes! This is in one of the two nice houses I've been in. They were the only ones that were similar to ones in the U.S. Most houses here don't have cupboards and stuff like that in the kitchen.

Spaghetti and hot dogs.

I love the people here too. They are so nice. I've gotten used to the kiss on the cheek with women. I think it'll be hard when I come home not to do that. My companion is great too! Her name is Hermana Zamora. She's 21 and is from Ecuador. She knows a little English and I'm pretty sure her English is better than my Spanish, which means my Spanish is terrible.
Hermana Zamora- I'm taller than her even when she stands on a step!

Thank goodness she knows some English because I don't know how else I'd survive. I can't really understand what anyone is saying, even when they ask easy questions to me. I've heard it takes three months to understand perfectly. I just don't know what I'm gonna do until then. Like, it's so bad. I have no idea if anyone is talking to me, unless I'm looking at them, and then 99% of the time I have no idea what they're talking about. It's hard for me to open my mouth and try to talk, regardless of not understanding what they're talking about, because I don't like to talk in general, so even more so it's hard because I don't know how to say much.
That is the hardest thing. Like my companion and I are able to get by with her knowledge of English and my dictionary, but I can't ever just say what I want to say. I can only express certain things, and they come out very broken. It is so hard when you want to say something so bad, but you have no idea how to say it. In lessons I want to understand what's going on so bad, what the investigator is saying, what's going on in their life, but I can only get a small piece of it all. And then responding is almost impossible because I have no idea what's going on. Blah.
I've been thinking a lot about why the process of learning a language has been so difficult for me. Heavenly Father doesn't just give us stuff. We have to work at it and a lot of times this requires us to take a few steps through Gethsemane. How can we expect our missions to be easy when Jesus Christ's was in no sense easy. We have to go through hard stuff to build our faith, and I know that's what the Lord is trying to help me with now. We need to trust in Him with all that we have. I love Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding." That is so true.
I'm so strong!

Chistmas tree! Or should I say arbol de Navidad! Muy bonita!

My name is very hard for people here to pronounce and they don't know what it means. They ask how to say it and I say "Slaughter" and they say "Es-lah-ow-ter." Even my companion after many times, couldn't say it right. I don't mind, I think it's fine. But yesterday I finally got her to say it right by writing "Slater" jaja. The area I'm in is called Tula. We're in the San Marco 1st Ward. I just realized I forgot to get pictures of my apartment, so I'll have to take some this week and send them next Monday, so you can see what it looks like.
My first full day here, Thursday, we had a meeting with the Mission President and all the trainers and trainees. President Call, my Mission President, talked about serving. He said that the sure-fire formula for success is found in Alma 26:22. I think it's interesting to note how many times the word "given" appears. We have to put off the natural man to do this mighty work. He also made the point that Satan always tempts us and he never waits for us to ask, he just does it. That was Satan's plan in the pre-mortal life. Heavenly Father never forces anything upon us, He just doesn't work that way. He always waits for us to ask. That's why the scripture says "Seek and ye shall find, ask and ye shall know, knock and it shall be opened unto you" (Matthew 7:7).
Here's some good stuff:
The Mormon Messages, "Wrong Roads"and "Hope ya know we had a hard time."
The talks, "The Laborer's in the Vineyard" by Elder Holland and "The Merciful Shall Obtain Mercy."
Christmas is almost here! I'm so excited to experience Christmas in Mexico! Listen to my favorite Christmas song for me, ok? "What Child is This/Greensleeves." Mmm I love that song.
Mucho amor,
Hermana Sara Slaughter

On the "mountain"we had to climb. It's really just a steep hill. I think the area on this hill is called Monticelo.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tula, Mexico Week Siete


I made it to Mexico safely!! Sorry I didn't call when I was in Arizona. There ended up being another sister who needed to call and couldn't get her calling card to work so I gave her my last one. :( On a side note, this keyboard is really hard to type on, so it's taking me forever. I couldn't find the apostrophe for the longest time.

I love it here!! Yesterday we spent the whole day with our travelling group once we got to Mexico. We went to the mission president's house to eat and stuff. Then we stayed over night in a hotel and this morning/afternoon we went to a meeting for the new elders and sisters and their trainers. We didn't find out who our trainers were until the end. My trainer's name is Hermana Zamora. She's from Ecuador! I love her! She is so sweet and so perfect for me. I'm nervous but excited and so far she is very patient with my bad Spanish. Man, I can hardly understand what anyone is saying! Oh well, it'll come eventually! She speaks a little broken English, which is really helpful. I think her English is probably better than my Spanish. I'm excited though! Also our mission encourages the native Spanish speakers to learn English so that's nice too.

We took a taxi to the bus station and then rode a bus for forever to our area. The area we're in is called Tula and there are I think three wards in it. Our apartment is really nice inside but the area around it is not what I'm used to. All of Mexico for that matter is not what I'm used to, but I love it regardless.
I can't wait to get to know the area better and start to speak the language. We met the Young Men's president and the Young Women's president and they were so nice, but I could barely understand them, even easy simple questions. We also just were at the chapel. We were going to meet the bishop I think, but he wasn't there so we came here. It's like a computer in a open room right off the street. I like it here! Everything's so cute!

I know I'll be with Hermana Zamora for two transfers which is good. She's been out three months and she's also 21. :)

Mexico City is so huge! And my mission is a lot bigger than I was thinking it would be. I haven't really noticed the pollution and I think it's beautiful here! The weather is so great too! All the natives say it's so cold, ha ha. It's like in the 50's here right now. I think it's awesome. And apparently it doesn't get much hotter here during the summertime (like 70's and low 80's). I'm so excited for everything!! Our P-day is on Monday too so I'm sure I'll be able to email then as well, but tonight I guess I got to email to let you know I'm ok. :)

Oh! And I got the package you sent today! I haven't opened it yet but I will probably tonight. Turns out they don't like you to send stuff through anything but the U.S. Postal Service, so like no private carriers, because it is hard to get because you have to be there to get the package or something weird. I didn't understand it completely. But when it comes through a private carrier you have to pay to get it. So it was like $10. But that's not bad since you sent it so cheap. Unfortunately, I don't think you'll be able to send anything else through Fed Ex. :( This mission president's wife, Hermana Call, said that most peoples' families just put money on their cards and then they can buy stuff. So just so you're aware. I love the packages, but it's ok if you don't send anymore 'cause they're so pricey.

I'm the only rubio (blonde) sister haha. I kind of knew it would be like that. It's weird. People stare at me a lot. Yesterday in Walmart men were whistling at me and it was weird. As far as safeness goes, I'm not too worried, I feel safe here. :) The next 17 months are going to be so great!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Week Seis in the MTC

 Hola!  This was a very hard week and I struggled to get by. I looked forward to leaving for Mexico all week. For that reason, I feel like I don't have much to write. Although I will tell you about today.

So this morning we woke up and left for the airport at 2:30 am. After over an hour ride, we were dropped off. Within a few minutes we found out that our flight to Texas and out of Texas both were completely cancelled because of weather. We were at the airport until almost 7am waiting for a bus to come pick us up, and then another hour and a half ride back to the MTC. There were probably 50 of us in total going to different missions in Mexico and all of us had to go back to the MTC. We were all so excited to leave the MTC and to get out of the cold weather, but now we don't know when that's going to happen. We could fly out tomorrow or it could take a few days, even a week. I hope it's tomorrow, but we just don't know.

I'm having a hard time being positive about this because I was just SO ready to get out of the MTC. I am just praying for the strength to survive however many more days. And I'm praying to see things in a more positive light. It's amazing what sincere prayer can do. Our Heavenly Father can give us the strength we need when things are hard or when we are striving to become a better person. I know He answers our prayers and that He cares deeply about our own personal concerns.I know that there's a divine reason this happened. If anything, I have a testimony that everything happens according to the Lord's timing and will. There's a reason we weren't supposed to fly there today. It's hard, though, when you don't know the reason. I know that He lives and loves us more than we can comprehend. I know that He wants us to return to live with our Heavenly Father again some day. I look forward to that sweet reunion.

Hermana Sara Slaughter