Don't worry everyone! There is a hurricane from the Pacific Ocean and a Tropical Storm from the Gulf of México coming into México, but we are all alright!
BEFORE I FORGET AGAIN, here is my list for how El CCM es como Hogwarts:
We have platform 9 3/4, as I showed you last week
Buses = Train
People cannot come in or leave unless they're a teacher
Branches = houses
Classroom = Common Room
Temple / PDay = Trip to Hogsmeade
President Pratt = Dumbledore
Hermana Pratt = Professor McGonagall}
El Comedor = Great Hall
Missionary uniform = Robes
Missionary Mall = Diagon Alley
Latinos = Durmstrang y Beauxbatons
Satan = Voldemort
Each Week we progress from first years to second years to third years etc.
Real Mall = Knockturn Alley
District Leader and Sister Training Leader = prefects
emails = owls
Grove of trees by the soccer field = Forbidden Forest.
As you can see, I am basically at Hogwarts right now. :)
I finally got my license today! Ask mom for the story, hehe.
Sunday was Mexico's Independence Day and on Saturday night, we had a FIESTA! We all went into the gym and sang the national Anthem of México. Next we watched this INCREDIBLE video presentation about the history and culture of México. In one of the clips, a girl was hitting a piñata, so I am going to assume that piñatas truly are very Mexican. Next, we got to watch some people perform several traditional dances of México. The girls wore these awesome dresses that had yards and yards of fabric in the skirt so they could pull the sides above their heads and the skirt would still touch the ground. The men were in cowboy outfits or Matador costumes. In between dance numbers, there was a singer, and at the end of one of her songs, fireworks went off. I felt like I was back at home watching a UNLV Rebs game!! It was fantastic. :) To conclude, the dancers all sang the EFY medley ( The old one) and all the missionaries stood up and sang along in both spanish and english. We clapped and cheered for so long because it was incredible. Truly incredible. You never really think that other people love their country as much as you love yours, but these people LOVE their country with all their heart. And now, I love this country too. I am so grateful I could be here as they celebrated their freedom and progress. On Sunday night, we got to stay up an hour past our bedtime to watch the Grito (possibly spelt wrong). It is a ceremony done every year at 11 pm on September 15th. The president of Mexico rings a bell on the balcony of La Palacia National y yells out "¡Viva [insert name of a revolutionist here]!" and everyone yells back "¡Viva!" It was really, really cool.
Saturday, Elder Lythgoe and I were trying to teach one of the other Elders how to sing, and it suddenly, it turned into a musical! We were using song to explain how to sing and dancing and the whole bit! It was hilarious. Sunday, Elders Wangsgaard and Lythgoe y Hermana Hymas and I sang in church! We sang "Grand eres Tú" (How Great Thou art) A Capella. It turned out beautifully.
Hermana Hymas got a package this week, and they sent AMERICAN CHEETOS!! They have cheetos here, but they are all weird flavors and at least a little spicy. We were over the moon about these cheetos to the point where it was a bit ridiculous. You'd think we hadn't eaten a good thing since we got here!
Once again, I have been learning a lot about the Holy Ghost. I have been struggling because I don't think I feel it as often as everyone else seems to. He is also teaching me how to hear him in different ways. A couple of things I learned this week really helped me. The first was a devotional given by Elder Bednar ( I didn't watch it, but we talked about his story) He said, "Sometimes we talk and act like feeling the Spirit is some extraordinary event, but we should be feeling it always". The Spirit is with us if we are doing good. A quote from my good friend Hermana Owen (serving right now in Paraguay) also Helped me. In a talk from the August Liahona, Elder Dallin H. Oaks said "We pray continuously for guidance, but we shouldn't expect continuous revelation." Hna Goimarac commented "We have the constant companionship, not revelationship of the Holy Ghost". Just because we aren't getting promptings every five seconds ( breathe. Now Look up. okay, speak right now) doesn't mean the Spirit isn't there in the room. Sometimes, the Lord is trusting us to make good decisions. "Behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things, for he that is compelled in all things the same is a slothful and unwise servant" - somewhere in D&C. The Spirit is with us if we are doing good. Another idea I learned is that sometimes the Spirit guides us to do things that seem trivial to us, but they mean the world to someone else. If you get a chance, find the story about Elder Bednar when he was a missionary and gave 20 Marcs to Elder Packer (newly called to be an apostle) for food on the train. Elder Packer had been visiting Elder Bednar's mission and Elder Bednar had been in charge of driving him around. Elder Bednar doesn't remember giving him the money, but it meant the world to Elder Packer. Because he had those 20 marcs, his wife was able to get into East Germany. His wife had a 3 year passport that they had renewed to be a 5 year passport. But East Germany did not accept the renewals. Visitors had to have a new 5 year passport for it to be valid. Elder Packer slipped the money into the passport and handed it back to the officer that was attempting to force his wife off the train. He came back and said all was in order. When they were picked up by a member on the other side, he was shocked they made it out of there alive. It was then that Elder Packer realized their lives could have been in danger if not for those 20 marcs. It wasn't until Elder Bednar was a Stake President that he discovered Elder Packer's side of the story. Heavenly Father knows everything! And He will work for our benefit if we are obedient and follow the example of His Son.
Speaking of following the Holy Ghost and trivial things meaning the world to someone, yesterday was a rough morning. We had a substitute teacher (Hno. Hardy was hiking a volcano), and we felt like we knew no spanish. We also felt as though our lessons were not what the teacher wanted from us. At lunch, we were discussing our feelings when President Pratt walked over. I don't know if he heard our conversation or was just passing by, but he just walked up to us and said "Bien hecho, hermanas" (Well Done, sisters). I started crying. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and it reminded me that I don't have to be perfect just yet. As long as I am trying and trying hard, I can grow and become better. I doubt President Pratt knows how much that simple comment meant to all of us, but I think it is going to be one of my golden memories of el CCM.
Hector, Hector, Hector. He is quite the puzzle. This last lesson with him, we were teaching about the Holy Ghost and prayer. He told us about going to church with his wife (who is a member), he had prayed once or twice, and had been reading El Libro de Mormón. We asked him how he felt when he did those things. He replied, "Yo no siento differente. Yo no sé, yo no siento." I was devestated. How is he supposed to become converted if he doesn't feel anything? We sat in silence for probably at least two minutes as I wondered what to say. Finally, I shared a scripture from DyC about the spirit ( yo no recordo cual escritura) but I bore testimony that he would receive an answer. I said I don't know why he hasn't gotten one, and I don't know when he will, but I know if he continues, he will. I think he felt something then. We were over time, so we HAD to close. Every lesson we have asked him to say the closing prayer for us and he always refuses. This lesson, Hna Hymas asked him to say the opening one. He still said no. But after sharing my testimony, we asked him to pray for us. AND HE SAID YES!!! He prayed for us! AHHHHHH!! That was confirmation to me that we are making progress, even if it is tedious and slow. We are moving forward. Yay! I really love Hector, and I am so grateful for his progress. :)
I think that is everything I have for this week. I love you all SO MUCH! Thank you for all the love, prayers, and thoughts sent my way. I truly feel blessed and loved. Ciao!
Hermana Lauren Grondel
Here is my district with our Branch President at Méxican night on Saturday