The Circus comes to town!

This week was a ton better than last week.  I’m feeling a lot better about the language and just about everything in general.  Presidente and Hermana Garcia are leaving on Tuesday, so we had a conference with them this past Tuesday in Merida.  We went and stayed with some hermanas in Merida because we’re far from everything, haha!.  But we ended up staying with Hermana Christensen (my MTC companion) and her companion!  That was so fun to see her again!

The conference was really good.  I’m to the point where I’m not just struggling to understand but I can actually listen and learn things.  That was really refreshing.  It was really sad to say good bye to them.  Well, mostly sad to say bye to Hermana Garcia because we got pretty close, pretty fast!  We have to talk to her when we are sick and she was in Ticul when the vomiting bus incident happened, so we talked a lot haha.  She always made sure I was feeling okay.  President Garcia just said “See you in the temple!”  He’s very very excited to attend all our weddings :)  But it was sad to say Bye to him too.  He’s very wise (and also very scary haha).

Okay, embarrassing moment of the week.  We were in a lesson and la hermana gave us mango juice in these giant teacup things with a tiny handle.  When I finished, I went to hand her the cup and my fat little fingers were stuck in the handle.  She started to walk away and I had to say “Mis dedos!” (my fingers!).  She stopped so I could extract them from the tiny handle.  If Shelby were there she would’ve reminded me how fat my hands are.  I was laughing for like ten minutes after haha!

I learned more Maya this week!  For language study on Thursday Tigre taught us some words and phrases.  The language is dying!  The rising generation doesn’t know how to speak it!  I’ve actually picked up quite a few words.  I have no idea how to read or write it though.  To write it is way hard because there are a million apostrophes that mean like this kind of clicking sound that I still can’t do.

The advertising here is way different.  The most common way to advertise something is to record a commercial, put giant loud speakers on your car, tricicolo o moto and just drive around.  One guy does all the commercials so it’s always the same voice.  And it’s soooooo loud.  The circus came to Oxkutzcab!  So I’ve heard “Circo Magico...solo cinco, cinco pesos!” like 50,000,000 times a day for the past 2 weeks.  We wanted to go to the circus but we can’t :(   And it’s only cinco pesos!   Que lastima!

One thing I wasn’t expecting about the mission is all the gossip.  Everyone knows everything that happens.  There are no secrets.  Everyone knows everything about everyone else.  And I really don’t like it!  But I mean we are a bunch of 18-23 year olds so it kind of makes sense.  The mission is kind of like it’s own little world.  It’s really different.

Apparently Yucatan chocolate is super good or something (I think it’s gross because it doesn’t have any sugar at all) but Tigre bought us some to make hot chocolate.  We have a little camping stove but we’ve only used it once.  So I tried to heat up the milk and everything was fine and then all of a sudden the outlet started smoking like crazy and we had to run outside and turn the power off!  The metal part of the plug had completely corroded.  We almost had an electrical fire!  But it’s all good, except now we need a new stove.

I have only felt tall in 2 places in my whole life.  The first at Dr. Tayriens office (our dentist who is Filipino) with all the tiny dentists and second, this Sunday at Church.  There’s this viejita in our branch that is legit 4 feet tall and all her family is tiny too.  We sat next to her and her nieta (granddaughter) in church.  When we stood up to sing the intermediate hymn I literally felt like a giant.  It was a very different feeling.  I think I prefer being short haha!

So one thing we teach people that have no religious background is - como es Dios (what God is like).  He’s like us!  He has a body of flesh and bone like us, but his is perfect!  He has eyes to watch over us!  A brain to think about us!  Ears to listen to our prayers!   Hands to help us when we’re in need and a heart to love us!  I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father!

Love you all!

Hermana Keeler 

What's better than one puppy?

Two puppies!!

How to know if it's a good day

Lindsay sent us an audio file via email instead of sending a letter.  Even though it wasn’t the best week, it was so great to hear her voice!  Here’s a summary of what she told us this week:

It was a pretty rough week.  We had district meeting and we were doing some practicing  and I felt flustered and didn’t know what to say and I cried.  I have only cried twice so far, the other time was when a threw up.  ( I actually remember three times she told us about crying, but who’s counting?)

The Elders in Ox were robbed this week while they were in their house.  They were in another room and someone came in and stole their wallets and their scriptures.  We are hoping that who ever did it will read the scriptures and then decide to bring everything back!  But we will be more careful about locking our door and our gate from now on. (That’s somewhat comforting...)

We hardly found any new people to teach this week.  People want to listen and talk about God, but no one wants to actually change anything.  They just want to have a conversation like “Oh Dios es todo” but then NEVER go to Church.  We had no investigators at Church this week and I was really sad.  But we had 8 menos activos (less active members) so that was good.  

But Hermana Romero told me that if we help someone grow closer to Christ, it’s been a good day.

One tradition that I like here is instead of hugging when you meet someone you just kiss them on the cheek.  It’s way easier -- I made a list of why it’s better. (She’s really into lists if you haven’t noticed)
  1. There’s no awkward confusion of where do I put my arms?  Do I go under or over?  You just grab their shoulders and kiss them on the cheek.
  2. You don’t have to awkwardly make full body contact and remember that you are sweating all the time.  You just have to touch your cheeks together even though our faces are usually still sweaty, but life isn’t perfect right?
  3. You don’t have to wonder how long to hold the hug or be the first one to pull away because you just kiss and then it’s done.

We should bring that tradition to the U.S.  Only the women though, I’ve kissed sooo many old ladies!  (So in about 15 months prepare to be kissed by Hermana Keeler!)

A tradition I don’t like is the Cockroach Check we do every night when we come home.  There are usually 1 or 2 in the bathroom.   Hermana Romero goes in first with the bug spray and then I go in with the broom and swipe them outside.   On Saturday there were 4 in the bathroom and 2 in the bedroom... that’s SIX, SIX cockroaches!  

She also told us about the ants and the butterfly sized moths that come in every night.  

Plus she shared a sad story about how they love to buy Saborines on hot days (they are the homemade otter pops made out of fruit and come in a plastic baggie that people sell from their houses - I am sure they are made in sanitary conditions and totally safe!) They have learned which houses sell them.  Unfortunately all those people have also figured out who they are and hide from them when they come to buy them.  So no more Saborines.  

She ended with some kind words for Chris for Father’s Day.  She says most families there don’t seem to have fathers.  It’s more like an older brother who drinks all the time.  So she expressed great appreciation for a dad who works hard and takes care of his family.  

Have a great week!

Saving Souls with Bill Nye

Buenas!  I finished my first cambio yesterday!  Thankfully Hermana Romero and I are staying in Ox!   A lot of our friends in the zone get changed though :(  I’m glad we’re here for another 6 weeks!

This week was relatively normal.  Things are good down here in Ox, rainy, but good!  May is the hot month and June is the rainy and hot month.  It’s rained almost every day for the past 2 weeks.  Honestly, I’m not a fan of the rain, but I’ve made a list of its perks too.

1.  My hair has so much volume.  It looks more like Shelby’s hair than mine.
2.  Sometimes I can use a blanket.  It cools down a ton at night when it rains.  Hammock+Blanket=Heaven! 
3.  I’m wet from water and not sweat!My feet get a break from the sun (the tan lines are so real) because we walk in 6 inches of water in the street.
4.  If our clothes are drying on the line outside, they get another rinse.
5.  People give us free things because they feel bad for us.   Metrotaxis sometimes take us places for free!  And this week we contacted a guy selling pan dulce in the rain and we were going to buy some but he just gave it to us :)

So I saved Hermana Romero’s life this week.  We were walking and we saw a dead snake.  We like to look at dead animals and sometimes pick them up haha and so we went to see.  Upon further examination of the serpent, I recalled a rhyme that I learned either at the zoo or in a Bill Nye video - I’m not sure. But it goes “If red touches black, you’re okay Jack.  If red touches yellow you’re not okay fellow.”  This rhyme is used to help you differentiate between two different snakes both with yellow, black and red stripes.  One is poisonous and one is not.  And guess what?  RED TOUCHED YELLOW!  And I told Hermana Romero not to touch it because she would die.  I actually used my knowledge of the animal kingdom to save a soul!  I knew that would come in handy one day.  And now all of you know as well and you too have the ability to save a soul.
I did something really dumb this week, I accidentally locked the keys inside our house.  So we had to go to our landlord’s house and get the keys.  Then I had to jump our fence (in a dress of course) because there’s only one key to our gate.  Our fence has like daggers on top so it was quite difficult but I did it.

One of the first things that we teach people is how to pray.  Lots of people pray, but we teach them how to pray the way that Jesus taught.  “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name.”  3 Nephi 18:21.  We explain that prayer is like a conversation with Heavenly Father.  That is a foreign concept to some people!  But it is so important to understand that Heavenly Father wants to listen to your problems, thoughts, doubts, pleadings, desires - anything!  You can talk openly to Him!  It’s really cool to see investigators pray for the first time.  They are opening up this new window to heaven!  And strengthening their relationship with God SO MUCH!

So, when life gets dark and dreary, don’t forget to pray! 

Love you all!
Have a great week.

Hermana Keeler

These boys are the cutest! Their parents don't go to church but they go every single week and are more involved than most of the adults!!!! We are teaching their cousins that are in the picture outside. 

Turkey Selfies and Putting Things into Perspective

This week was not nearly as eventful as last week - thank goodness!  Actually nothing crazy happened which is weird.  We taught a lot of lessons!  Our goal was 50 and we taught 50!  We tried so so so hard during the week.  We walked soooo MUCH!  My body still isn’t used to walking so much so my calves cramp up all the time.  A couple of days ago I felt a cramp coming on so I went over to a fence to go stretch it out and I was posing like Nacho Libre when he was wearing his recreational clothes - and then the person who lived in the house came out and saw me Nacho-ing on their fence and it was really embarassing.  But we contacted her and she agreed to let us come back.  Maybe she likes Nacho Libre too.

We dealt with borrachos (drunks) a lot this week.  A branch member started drinking again a little while ago because he lost his parents and his wife in the same year.  It’s really sad.  We ran into him on the street and he bought us pan and soda and we talked for a while.  He said he was on his way to buy drugs and prayed to God for help - and then he saw us.  So he spent the drug money on snacks for us instead!  It was way cool.  Later, we saw him at a bar so we went and got him and told him to go home haha!  And all the people at the bar yelled at us.  We didn’t actually go inside, but we stood at the door.  But he’s trying to stop drinking!  And we’re going to help.

There was a change in the mission rules this week.  All missionaries that are not Mexican citizens have to wear our green cards at all times.  It’s on a bright blue lanyard and I have to wear it around my neck.  And my green card is the worst picture of me ever!  I took the picture in the MTC and I had to slick back my hair and I couldn’t smile, so I have to wear it under my clothes haha!  So I don't look even weirder than I already do here.  And so no one will see the awful picture.

Seriously we stick out so much.  Everyone knows who we are haha.  Randonly someone we don’t know will just yell “Hermanas!” and say hi.  Usually we have no idea who it is.  

Everyone and their mothers gave us fruit this week.  We have an 11 kilo watermelon, about 5 mameys, 50 mangoes and like 75 guayas - I think that’s how you spell it - they’re like a mango but really small.  Seriously, people just keep giving us fruit and we have to throw it away because it all lasts like 3 days.  One guy gave us 40 mangoes in the span of 3 days.  

Spanish is getting better!  Even though some people still think I’m speaking English when I talk to them - and I’m like “No, I’m speaking Spanish” and they still don’t understand haha!   But most people understand me.  I tried to pray in English because the people we were teaching wanted to hear it.  And it was ridiculously hard!  I accidentally said “por favor” instead of please a few times!  Talking about Gospel things in English is like impossible.  Other things I am good with but gospel topics go straight to Spanish.  Can’t wait to see how bad my English is in a couple months!  

We had a lesson with a viejita who barely speaks Spanish - she speaks pure Maya.  Hermana Romero knows a lot of Maya so they were talking and viejita just kept laughing at me because I didn’t know what was going on haha!  And we were sitting outside and all 20 of her chickens were around us and her turkeys tried to eat my dress, so I was like swatting turkeys the whole time haha.  We took a selfie with the turkeys.

It rained soooo much after the turkey lessons.   In 20 minutes the water was a foot deep in some places.  And I was actually a little bit cold!!  I thank God every day that I’m not in Russia.  If I’m cold in Yucatan.... Any way it was crazy.  And no one would answer the door so we just walked around in the rain for a couple hours trying to find someone to teach.  Wasn’t the best....

This is all so crazy and foreign.  Many times throughout each day I ask myself where the heck I am.  Yucatan is crazy but the people are so awesome, so giving, so loving, so welcoming.  We have nice things in the US but we’re lacking nice people.  I’ve learned a lot.  There are so many things that take up so much time and energy that just are not important.  Family, Heavenly Father and tortillas are the necessities here!  Our lives are so busy we lose sight of the few things that actually matter!  Take a step back and think about what really matters and focus on those things.  The rest will seem less important!

Hermana Keeler

P.S. We went to Maní today with the Hermanas from Teekax. Both neighboring pueblos. We explored these caves! Don't worry we had a guide, but he was 9. It's like his job hahah I gave him 20 pesos for helping us. He showed us where to go and took all our photos it was perfect. We explored and then shopped a little bit. There is way cute stuff in Maní! I wish I had brought more money but I got a little purse. And we had these delicious snow cone things with banana and sweetened condensed milk. So it was a really good day!!!!

Here she is from last week eating the armadillo taco!