Monday, October 26, 2009

Justin's First Letter from Tuxtla Gutierrez!


Wow. Has it really been almost a week already? That's hard to believe - just like with the MTC, time is kind of weird. The days seem long until nighttime, and then it seems like they went by in a flash. I figured out that in about a week I'll be one-tenth done with my mission. Crazy, huh? Of course, most of that time was spent in the MTC, but still. It really doesn't seem like that long at all.

Okay, down to business. I'm in a cybercafé that I'm pretty sure is also someone's house, typing on a Spanish keyboard (not much different except with where the punctuation is), and down the row a little ways there's someone using a computer and he's a little too into it. He's laughing loudly, jumping around in his seat... all sorts of things. I'm sure he's got some kind of problem, so I don't blame him or anything... it's just kind of unusual. Anyway. :)

Now for the important stuff. My comp's name is Elder Skinner. He's from Ogden. His mom's from El Salvador, so he speaks English and Spanish fluently. It's been a pretty good match. He's a hard worker and we've been having lots of fun. My area is in Tuxtla Gutierrez - an area called La Salle.

The area covers maybe 8 or 10 colonias... I'm actually not sure what the equivalent of that is. Kind of like how NYC has Broadway, Midtown, Queens, etc. What would you call that? Anyway, it's a pretty good sized area; we do lots of walking and also take lots of colectivos - they're called combis, small little buses that cost around 30 cents and where they cram 20 people inside a space meant for 6. Our area's in the southeast(ish) section of Tuxtla; we live on a street called Pino Su√°rez, if you want to look it up online. :) I think it's #805, but good luck finding that - the numbering of houses isn't too organized and often is in completely random order, which makes it tough to find places sometimes. But look it up and you can kind of see what our neighborhood is like.

Speaking of where we live - it's pretty awesome. And by pretty awesome I mean very third-world. I took some pictures, but I don't have my camera with me, sadly. I'll make sure to bring it next time. Our house is three rooms and a bathroom. Pretty simple furniture and everything, but it gets the job done, so no worries. The bed's comfortable and we have a couple pretty big fans, so all is well. :)

Ah, the weather. Remember that day at Mount Vernon? Welcome to Tuxtla! :) Picture it a little cooler and a little more humid, and you get an idea of what it's like. And we're hitting the cold season now, too. I can't imagine what it's like in the summer. It's not terrible. I don't think you can really get used to the heat so much, but at least you get used to sweating and to always being thirsty. I love it when it rains, too. It rained for the first time on Saturday - and when I say it rained, oh boy did it rain. It picked up pretty quickly - like, within 30 seconds - and it just poured and poured. It rained elephants.

And then, after about an hour, it cleared up, but was cloudy and windy the rest of the day, which is absolutely wonderful with the heat. We were inside, fortunately, when it was raining then, but it's rained off and on since. I guess it'll start raining more and more from now on as the rainy season hits full swing... and we'll get drenched. Oh well. :)

I'm liking the food so far. One thing that's a little odd is that I have almost no appetite anymore. For the last week or two it's been like that. I'm not sick or anything - I feel just fine, and I do get hungry, but I just can't eat much before I'm full. It's kind of strange, but oh well. I've lost some weight, too, and not in a bad way, just from exercise and not eating much and drinking lots of water. Blessings all around. :)

The city is awesome. I love it here. It reminds me a lot of Santiago or the other cities in South America. I'll send some pictures next week so you can see what it's like. The whole city is enclosed within a bowl of mountains - a lot like Utah Valley - and a lot of times we're up on the side of the hill right next to, or slightly within, the jungle. At night you can look out over the city and see all the lights. It's way cool. It's definitely a big city, not some village in the middle of nowhere, but it's awesome. I'd like to experience both while on the mission, but I guess we'll just see. :)

The work is coming along really well. Both my comp and I are new to the area, so we're still trying to ubicarnos :) and get everything figured out, but it's coming along. We spend about half our time contacting and the other half with members or investigators. The ward's really strong and the members are awesome. They have a schedule set up and we eat lunch with someone every day. Right now we have a baptism set for the 7th - an investigator that the sister missionaries who were here before us were teaching. We also have a couple more investigators/families that we're teaching that we hope to set dates for soon. We've contacted two families so far that have accepted the commitment to be baptized once they receive an answer. It's crazy how humble and accepting the people of Tuxtla are. It's awesome.

My Spanish is coming along. Sometimes people speak too fast for me to understand, but for the most part I understand what's going on and can more or less communicate. Dad, I appreciate your advice about being outgoing; I'm going to try to focus more on (moron?) that. I've done a dozen contacts or so and I teach about as much as my companion when we're teaching a lesson, so I've already gotten into the work a bunch and I love it. I love feeling the Spirit and testifying and having people accept what we're teaching. It's not always so easy - some people just aren't open to our message - but for the most part we're well received. I'm studying Spanish as much as I can and learning more every day.

Okay, now for how you contact me. Here's how it works. You send letters or packages to the address of the mission home. Mail is kind of unreliable here, or so I've been told, so what happens is that they collect all the mail there and disperse it every six weeks. So every six weeks I'll receive whatever mail has been sent in that time.

For that reason, it's probably better to email me - at least for the family. We have 30-60 minutes of email time per week (P-days are Monday, by the way, as I'm sure you now guessed), so I should be able to read whatever I receive and still have time to email out. We're only supposed to email family, from what I understand, but anyone can email me. I can also print the emails out (probably) and read them later if necessary. But I'd also love to receive letters, so for anyone who wants to write me, that would be great. Just know that I'll only receive them once every six weeks. I'll try to write some letters too every so often, but I don't know how often that will be, so email will be the main form of communication between us, I'm thinking.

As for packages - it's probably not very cost-effective to send very many. I imagine it costs quite a bit, and I have access to most everything I need here anyway. There's a grocery store in our area and a Wal-Mart somewhere in the city, so if I do run into something that I need, I should be able to find it here. I really do want to hear all about how everyone's doing and how the week's going, so feel free to send a long email if you want, and tell friends, family, or anyone else that I'd love to hear from them, preferably through letters.

Well, I should probably wrap up... which is too bad, because I feel like I'm talking to you when I email (like you've mentioned, Dad), and I want to keep doing that. I loved talking to you on the phone last week; it was awesome to hear everyone... especially Reagan. Haha.

My heart is very full right now. I'm having lots of fun and I love you all very, very much. Mom, Dad, Miranda, Gabbie, Reagan, Nikka: I love you so much. Thank you for all your support and love. I hope things are going well and I can't wait to hear from you. I really am just filled with love right now for all of you. I'm not homesick or anything, because it really is fun here, but I'm just extremely appreciative of everything you've done. Hugs and kisses all around from me, two taps plus a bonus one, and a wave from the top of the stairs. I'll write again next week. :)

With lots of love,
Elder Greer

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