Mexico, Veracrus mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Elder Horrocks will be serving in the Mexico, Veracrus mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mission Life

Hi everyone!

Just finished my third week here in Veracruz, Mexico and it was great! I guess I'm gonna start with answering my mom's questions. First off, the language is coming slowly but surely. While I'm understanding more every week, the language is still the biggest challenge for me. The lessons when I can understand the investigators are awesome for me because I can actually contribute. Other lessons, however, I don't understand a thing and I barely contribute at all. It can be discouraging at times, but I try to always keep my head up with a good attitude. It's getting slightly colder here, but not much. I don't think I'll be needing any blankets or anything and if I do I can buy some here. We're going to Costco today so hopefully I'll be able to buy some boots there. We drink both pop and water. In our house, we mainly just drink water out of our gaffon ( 5 gallon jug), but when we eat with investigators they usually make a drink kinda like koolaid for us. We get horchata now and then which is delicious. It's a rice and cinnamon drink that I love. We've only really been given Coke by the bishop so I don't think that's something they give too often. I get too speak English now and then with Elder Soto because he's from the states. Also, there's a man that lives about a block away that's from the states. He sells Texas BBQ on the weekends and gives English lessons for a living. He has no interest in the Church, but we bought some BBQ from him on Friday and I talked with him a bit. The BBQ was heavenly! We're going to have to get more before I leave this area. I'll be here for another nine weeks with my trainer. After that I'll be switching areas every six weeks. I don't know about other areas, but my current area is pretty safe. There isn't a ton of crime or anything. The biggest danger is probably the streets. You pretty much cross whenever you can and although they're not super busy, it can be a little dangerous at times. There haven't been any festivals or parties or anything here. For the 15th there was a holiday, but it was pretty much just a day where families get together. As far as teaching goes, there's only three people that we've met with consistently. Regino and Monserrat and Mauricio. Regino's daughter is a member and we've been trying to get him baptized. I don't know why (because I don't understand what's said) he doesn't want to be baptized. Monserrat and Mauricio live together. Monserrat is a 26 year old girl and Mauricio is 19 (If I understand correctly) and a boy. I don't know if their married or anything, but they both seem genuinely interested in the Gospel. I like our lessons with them because I can actually contribute usually. I don't know when we have zone conferences. Our ward is small. There's probably 40 people in the ward and we get about 20 to 25 who attend regularly. The bishop is awesome. He's super nice and let's us use his washing machine and sink when we need to. We're living with him and his family. They're all pretty cool. I think that's all the questions my mom had.

As for my dad's questions:  We don't have any other trips planned as of now, but I'll let you know if we go anywhere. We walk everywhere within our area, but if we have to go somewhere outside our area we take cabs or buses. Let me tell you, cabs and buses here are freaking scary! They drive like maniacs! My feet are doing just fine. I just hope my shoes manage to last a long time.

I've uploaded a lot of pictures onto dropbox so you all can take a look at those. I'll try to continue to upload more, but I'm having troubles with it as of now. I'm glad to hear that everybody is staying busy. I like hearing about the going on so keep me informed. :) I've given some thought to your question about what I want for Christmas. As of now, I don't have any ideas other than food. If you do send food though, sooner would be better than later. ;)

I don't really know what else to write about. My digestive system has been "adjusting" to the food here. Let's just say my bathroom trips aren't as comfortable as they used to be. Just know that I'm doing well. I miss home and I miss you all, but it doesn't get in the way of the work. My only real struggle right now is the language, but I know that will come with time. I love this Gospel and I know that it's true. To be honest, if it wasn't true I would've come home by now. I'm trying to work my hardest. I love you all and can't wait to see you in 21 months. :) Until next week!

Elder Sean Horrocks

Elder Horrocks and Elder Duran at Veracruz Aquarium  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

¡Ay 'Chacho!

Hi again everybody!

Where to start... I guess I'll just describe my living quarters and go from there. First off, we're living with the bishop of the Cinco de Mayo ward. His name is Yeyo (I think it's a nickname) Caballero. His house is kinda like a big square with a tiny outdoor hallway kind of thing in the middle. The bishop has his wife, daughter, son, and daughter-in-law all living with him. For our room, they sectioned off a room for us. It's just one square room with a small bathroom. It's pretty tight, but it's nice. We're lucky to have our own bathroom and an air-conditioner. A lot of homes don't have air-conditioning so a "clima" is very nice to have. I added a couple pictures to this e-mail of our room. Hopefully you can see them. The skinnier guy in the pictures is my companion and the other is a ward missionary of sorts (I think) whose been working with us a bit. The shower is cold but usually it's warm enough that a cold shower is a good thing. Our room is pretty small, but it's pretty much the norm here in Veracruz. About 99% of the houses are just cement boxes. They all pretty much look the same on the outside, but some are pretty nice inside while others are pretty bad. I guess it all depends. My area is pretty urban. It's basically your average city. About half of our area is mostly homes and such while the other half is like the "downtown" with all the stores and stuff.

The food here is pretty darn good. :) We haven't been served any seafood yet, but we get a lot of "carne" (beef) and "pollo" (chicken). It's mostly pretty different, but so far I like most of it. The only thing I'm kinda bummed about is that we don't have our own stove to cook on. If we did, I'm sure I'd make some American food now and then because as good as this stuff is, I still miss my mom's home cooking. We had some eggs and tocino (Mexican bacon) for breakfast a couple days ago and that was heavenly.

Regarding the bugs and sun: Not really any problems. I've already got a pretty nice tan and I haven't gotten burned so far so the sun isn't a problem. I'm basically used to the humidity now. I just had to get used to sweating all the time. :P So far our house is basically bug free. I had one cockroach scare the heck out of me when it crawled on my foot and a dragonfly snuck in the other night, but overall they're not a problem. We don't keep much food in the room yet, but the food we do have hasn't been touched by the bugs. That's all I ask for.

Church here is interesting for me. I don't understand much of what is being said, but I've already had to bear my testimony both Sundays here in sacrament meeting. The first sunday was testimony meeting because of some other meeting that went on the week before and we both bore our testimonies. This last Sunday I bore my testimony again and Elder Duran gave a talk. Elder Duran and Paco (the chunky guy in the pictures) both said that I gave a good testimony, but I'm not so sure. It was probably good enough I guess. I get frustrated at times that I don't have the vocabulary to share the things I want to share. It's hard at times, but I know that eventually I'll be fluent.

We've already been doing the work here. The first week was mostly visiting member and less actives because there haven't been missionaries in this area for a while. The whole while we were trying to get referrals and make contacts, but this week has been better with those things. Our schedule is full with meeting with people usually. Sometimes they aren't home or can't meet with us for some other reason. In those cases we just use that time to visit other people or do some contacting on the street.

A little bit more about my companion: He's from Pueblo, Mexico and speaks veeeeery little English. He's trying to learn English though, while I'm trying to learn Spanish. Generally, we can communicate just fine, but sometimes we have times where I just don't understand. My Spanish dictionary has become my best friend. Anyway, Elder Duran has been on his mission for five months. To be perfectly honest, I get the feeling that I need to be a bit more of a leader with certain things. He's a great missionary, but at times he has trouble sticking with the missionary schedule. He's not the only one. It's been difficult to get up on time, especially when my companion turns off his alarm, rolls over, and goes back to sleep. That's been our main struggle so far is just sleeping in and getting to bed on time. I'm trying to be a better example with that so that we can hopefully improve as a companionship. I saw the blessings of obedience in the MTC and I want them to continue here. We have been improving though so I'm not too worried.

Here's a couple fun experiences. Last Monday we went to the Veracruz aquarium for our P-day. That was a lot of fun. They had some sharks and performing dolphins and stuff. Lots of fun. Now for an uncomfortable experience. We work with Elders Soto and Del Valle from the Uribe area sometimes. A couple days ago, they told us to visit a man that "had a lot of good questions and is really interested in the church". Turns out, he was EXTREMELY gay and the whole time we were talking with him, he kept trying to flirt with me. EEEEEEEEWW!!!! I wanted to die! It was probably the most uncomfortable experience I've had in my life. I wanted to kill Elder Del Valle. I'm still not sure if it was intended to be a joke, but boy it was terrible. Which leads me to explain the title of my e-mail. My teacher in the MTC used to say it and I've picked it up. It's really Ay Muchacho which basically means Aw maaaan. If you shorten the word Muchacho it means you're more frustrated. Hence chacho is worse than muchacho and chach is worse than chacho. It's mostly just what I say because I guess they don't say it in Mexico really. Anyway, I was saying it quite a bit after that experience. :P

Now I'll just answer my family's e-mails:
I'm sleeping in a bed, not a hammock. I understand about 50% of casual conversation. If the person is really young or really old or has a speech impediment it's nearly impossible for me to understand them. Basically, some people I understand really well, and others I don't understand at all. I think we got a little of the hurricane here because it rained a ton a couple days ago. It wasn't anything extreme though. The streets don't drain very well so in some places it's like a river. I need to find me some boots to wear. With big purchases like that, I'll try to buy cheap things with my card. I know how the money is interchanged now. One US dollar is about twelve pesos. So I'll be able to tell if something is cheap or not. We don't wear our suits much so I probably won't worry about the suit pants. If it becomes a problem I'll let you know. As far as Christmas goes, so far all I can think of is food. Cookies and sweets and stuff sound good because the ones here are different. You'll never go wrong with Ritz crackers or double stuff oreos! I'll let you know if I think of anything else. I guess DearElders are free here. Grandma sent me one already. It's up to you because I think they take a while to get here. I think the e-mails will be fine.

I need to finish up now. Just know that I love you all and I hope you're all doing well. You're all always in my prayers! Thanks for the info from home! The church is true!

Elder Sean Horrocks

Elder Duran and Paco in our room

Monday, September 10, 2012

¡Viva México!

Hi everybody!
First off, it's going to be just a little bit more difficult to write these e-mails because the keyboard is in Spanish. :P Any ways, so much has gone on this last week that I don't know where to start. I guess I'll just answer my mom's questions first, then ramble a bit.

The flights were fun and interesting. I don't think I have time for all the details, but I'll try to include what I can. The first flight was in a normal sized plane from Delta. Because we were going to México City the plane had a lot of Mexicans on it. The man sitting right behind me was Mexican but lived in the US for a long time so he spoke English fluently. He was a funny guy and bought me and two other missionaries sandwiches for the flight. He was very kind and we talked most of the flight. We talked a bit about religion, but to make a long story short he turned out to be gay and I didn't really know how to respond. Any ways, he was a nice guy and the plane ride was fine. Then we got to the Mexico City airport and I pretty much had no idea what was going on. We called home again and bought some drinks, but didn't do much other than that. The plane to Veracruz was a pretty small one. It was about the size of a personal jet I think. That flight was short, but the scenery was way cool. There's a lot of open space around and a lot of (what looked like) forest. We flew over the ocean for a bit in order to land in the right direction. That was pretty cool too. Then we finally flew over Mexico City and I caught my first glimpses and took some pictures. It's a pretty big city. Oh, and Mexico City was huge! I think it's the second largest city in the world or something. Anyways, once we got off the plane in Veracruz, the humidity hit us like a brick wall. I couldn't believe how different it was than Mexico City. Then we had the Mission President and some missionaries meet us and take us to the mission home for dinner. We ate (I can't really remember what), they took us to the mission office and we slept there with all the new missionaries (about 20 or so). That was pretty much the first day and I must admit, I was scared out of my pants!

The next day was meeting our companions and the mission presidency and filling out paperwork. We had small devotional type thing in the chapel next to the mission office and as far as I can remember just had another meal and went to our areas. The taxi drivers here are nuts! Most of the streets are one way, but everyone just drives wherever they can fit their car. Scary! We walked around the area and saw the church building for my area (my area is Cinco de Mayo, like the holiday), and met some of the members. We even played some fútbol (soccer) with some priests there. A lot of fun. :) The mission presidency don't speak much English, but they all seem like awesome people. I didn't get much time to talk with them (or understand them for that matter), but they all seem cool. I love my companion. His name is Elder Moroni Duran and he's super cool and funny. Most of the week we've had a ward missionary of sorts with us as well. His name is Paco Pulido. Both of them have made me feel really at ease and at home here.

My area is pretty poor. You'd be surprised about some of the conditions that some people live in, but they're all generally pretty friendly and fairly happy. I'm excited to work with them. So far all the meals have been delicious except for one. It was a squash of sorts and I'm just not a fan of squash. Other than that it's all been good. I'm pretty used to the heat and humidity already. You basically just have to get used to sweating all the time. :P Like I said, most of my area is pretty poor, but the closer you get to the ocean, the more stores there are and generally the people are just a little bit less poor. Ít's pretty interesting. Every street looks the same to me, but i think I'll get used to it soon enough. There's supermarkets and stuff around if I need anything. It's just a little tricky converting the money so I know how much I'm spending. One US dollar is about the same as twelve pesos.

We've already taught a couple lessons, but I don't understand much therefore I don't contribute much. Elder Duran is pretty patient with me though and tries to include me as much as he can. I'm not supposed to use the thing, but I can send pictures from the computers here now. I just need to remember to back them up and send some to you as well. I'm trying to take lot's of pictures. We'll see how many I can actually send.

Overall, I'm really enjoying Mexico. I admit that I have the occasional bout of homesickness, but it's not a problem. :) I'm excited to be here and excited to get to work. I know I'm here for a reason; all I need to do is forget myself and get to work. I'm trying to do what is required of me at all times. Sorry this e-mail probably isn't as detailed as some of you would like, but I don't have a ton of time right now. Everyone is waiting for me so I gotta end this. Just know that I'm doing fine, having fun, and missing you all. The church is true! I love all of you!

Elder Sean Horrocks