Buenas tardes :)
1. Dad wants to know if any of the people you come into contact with during the week speak English at all? Does your companion speak any English?
In San José, Tapachula, Elder Howell and I talked to five people during our time there that spoke English pretty well (three of them being people that the Jehovah´s Witnesses sent to talk with us, which was a lot of fun). Three of those five lived in the States for long enough to learn it pretty well, one just took a lot of classes in the university, and the other was an English teacher there and had done some of both. Since getting to Huixtla, I have spoken with no one here who speaks English (well enough to be understood in saying more than "good morning", "good afternoon", or "good night"), with the exception of the first councilor in our branch presidency who knows quite a few words in English. Elder Alonso also knows a good amount of words and grammar and stuff too, but has only had one gringo comp other than me his whole mission, so he hasn´t had much time to practice his accent, and it´s just easier to speak Spanish. It´s ridiculously hard to speak English with people here, because the way we speak English in American is a nightmare, and I have a harder time thinking how to simplify what I say into simple and perfectly grammatically correct English than I do just speaking in Spanish. So usually I just stick with Spanish. I do get to speak English once a week though at district meeting (all the zone goes to the stake center in Tapachula). Not too much though, because nobody else in my district is from the States, so just a little bit before and a little bit after.
2. With such a large area, do you take the bus some places? Especially if you are going to one of the outlying towns? If so, is it expensive?
The buses here a very interesting experience. They aren´t a "bus" like you would think of, more like a big van with seats in the back. They call them the "combi" or "microbus". They just cram people in even when there´s not more room, and when you want to get off, you just yell "baja porfa". There are different routes and we take them quite a bit. The buses are really cheap though, usually 5 pesos per person (except for the one that takes us to Tapachula is 15 pesos). But we spend most of our time working here in Huixtla, as just the town alone is a pretty big area for just two missionaries.
3. Do you find with a native companion that things are very different than with an American companion? The work ethic or way of doing things? Or, are the differences things that would simply be different from person to person anyway?
I haven´t noticed too much difference, apart from speaking no English. The differences really are just more person to person kind of thing I think. But, I´ve only had two comps to judge by, so we´ll see.
4. With a smaller branch instead of a well-established ward, do you have less people feeding you meals?
Yes, so far we´ve had members feed us about 2/3 of the time, and it´s the same couple of families the majority of the time. The branch is small, but we have some really solid members. The Branch President and his family are awesome, as well as the first councilor and his family.
5. Did you get your second package yet? I'm really anxious for you to get your camera battery charger...
Yes! I actually just got it this week. The zone leaders went to their training in Tuxtla that they go to at the beginning of each month and they brought it back for me. Along with my order from church distribution (in which they sent me a sacrament tray instead of one of the DVDs I ordered. I´m going to call them about that tomorrow). I took a ton of pictures that I was going to send this week, but I forgot to take my triste camera to the ciber. Side note: I have recently learned that they say a lot in Mexico "triste" + noun. Which is just "sad" + whatever word. But it´s great because it´s like saying "flippin" and then a word. So that´s a lot of fun... Anyway hopefully the remembering of bringing my camera next week goes better. But thank you a ton for the package. It was great, and the almonds are awesome. The white chocolate ones especially were a big hit with Elder Alonso and me. Also, the 4th of July decorations made me remember to tell you how Elder Howell and I celebrated. We flicked matches all over the house, since they´re made of concrete (the houses, not the matches) it doesn´t do any damage, and it was kind of like fireworks. So that was a lot of fun too... I have a really cool scar on my forearm from one that hit the ceiling fan and came back and got me.
Love you and miss you all tons!!