So! First things first: I did get my visa! Elders Turner, Bastian, and I went to the Mexican Consulate on Monday. According to the normal pattern (10 days in advance), we should get travel plans tomorrow... We'll see :)
The consulate went like this: Sit for 30 minutes, take a picture and do fingerprints for my index fingers, then sign 3 papers. It was tough, I think I had to say three words in Spanish: "gracias" x3. So not much of an interview or anything. But that's all.
The sad thing is Elder Rhodes does not have his visa yet. The trip to the consulate on Monday was only for Puebla, Mexico City West, y Tuxtla Gutierrez. As he's going to Veracruz, he didn't come. According to the travel office, he should still be heading out on time, so he should be going to the consulate soon. Keep him in your prayers please!
I have a few other random items of business I wrote out to email about this week:
--> I have no new pictures. There are only so many cool things to take pictures of here at the MTC... The next ones I'll send will probably be the last day of classes with my teachers before I go to Mexico. I might actually just send those via email once I get to Mexico where the computers hopefully will not have MTC systems haha.
--> I did get my mosquito net. Thanks a ton! I get all my other weekly packages too, and appreciate them very much :)
--> I got the hymn books ordered today. They were a little more pricey than I expected... The Spanish ones are way cheaper because they aren't leather/don't have cool shiny pages. But, I still wanted to get them. Also, I hope you weren't under the impression that I wanted you to re-emberse (I know that spelling is horrible, when one is learning Spanish, spelling English is the most ridiculous thing in the world) me for them. I want the money to be coming from my account, not yours! :)
--> Cookies from last week: freaking rocked. I didn't think they were bad at all. I think they were actually all gone within 24 hours because me and my district (now down to only 5 other elders by the way) took them down in a very quick hurry. They were delicious. And that's not even comparing them to the food here. That's when they become "galletas de los cielos".
--> Along with my travel plans, I'll be able to call you from the airport. So I'm not sure whether I'll be calling on Mexican or American Mother's Day, but I'll be able to let you know what day I'll be able to call you from the airport.
--> The only thing I can think of that I could possibly need in a package is a side/satchel bag kind of thing. Apparently in Mexico you aren't allowed to wear backpacks because it makes you a target to get mugged... So I'm not sure about that. I would probably rather just wait until I get down there to see, because I'm sure I could buy one down there, probably for cheaper anyway. Other than that there's nothing I can think that I would need. If none of the mission moms have any other suggestions, then I'm probably ok!
Mk I think that's all the items of business... If I forget something (which I usually do) you'll just be getting a letter Monday or Tuesday :) Oh random side note I just got all the colored pictures you guys sent! I am hanging them up on the wall along with my drawings from all of my wonderful cousins who have sent me pictures!
Ok so a couple of cool experiences from this week! For sure one of the best experiences I've had yet in the MTC was Sunday night. We had Elder M. Russell Ballard here for our fireside (that's three apostles now!). It was incredible. Right before Elder Ballard spoke, Elder David Archuleta--who by the way, I haven't talked about him at all since here got here, but he is a super nice guy, and really humble--sang "The Spirit of God". It was incredible, mostly because the second verse he sang in Spanish. Wow. When he was done, Elder Ballard talked about the power of our calling. It was a super powerful talk, and made me realize how much work I have to do to measure up to my full potential as a missionary and as a representative of my Savior. To end the meeting, we sang Called to Serve. In a very unique way. The first verse, we sang really quietly (like an army singing, but behind a hill), the second verse, we picked it up a little, kind of like a normal voice (like we were just starting to come over the top of the hill), and when we sang "forever called to serve our king", we stood up on "king", and sang the chorus (that may or may not be spelled incorrectly--I think I'm going to stop pointing that out, as everyone already knows that my English is regressing as my Spanish is progressing) again wayyyyy loud. With 2000 other missionaries, it was incredible.
Another quick thing I want to share that I learned this week (I'm just about out of time), is something that I learned while role-playing in a workshop yesterday. We were acting as one of two people--both who had completely hopeless and terrible lives. What I haven't ever really understood before, since I've really had a good and very happy life thus far, is that some people really don't have any happiness. Their lives are totally taken by addiction, pain, and pure darkness. What I realized yesterday is that THESE are the people who I want to meet. I want to help them to see the goodness of our Father in Heaven, to help them push the darkness out of their lives and replace it with the burning light of the mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ. To help them understand that second chances are real. That they are valued and loved by the most merciful and powerful being in the universe. To bring the message of change, to help the find the peace, joy, happiness, and LIGHT. I could go on, but my time is up.
It's so incredible to me what our Savior can do to change us when we let Him. I'm trying more and more to stop thinking about myself, and take the advice of President Hinckley's father when he said: "Forget yourself and go to work." Once I can do that 100%, I'll be the missionary that I want to be. Because it's not about me, it's about the people who need what I can bring to them and help them to realize through the power of the Spirit.
I love you! Hope all is well :)
Elder Andrew Nickerl