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Bendiciones, cuenta y verás, bendiciones que recibirás ...

A member of our ward gave us a Martinelli's bottle for New Year's before my new companion Elder R. got here, so when he saw it sitting in our fridge he sort of panicked and I had to explain to him that Martinelli's isn't alcoholic. Apparently he'd never heard of it before and thought for a second that the missionaries here had been breaking the Word of Wisdom.

This week we baptized a man named A. He's a 53-year-old Baptist who honestly knows a ton about the scriptures. He asked us a lot of questions that I wasn't always sure how to answer, but he always was humble and listened to our responses in an understanding way. I think he's shown me a little of how to really be understanding and considerate of other people's beliefs. He's also built my testimony of the gospel, because after almost 30 years since his conversion to the Baptist faith, he made the desicion to listen to the Mormon missionaries and be rebaptized as a Latter-day Saint. I think h…
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¡Feliz año nuevo!

We were walking through the store earlier today doing our weekly shopping and the store started playing some really intense EDM and dubstep music. People here like American music, but sometimes in ways you wouldn’t expect.

My new companion Elder R. arrived this week after an 11-hour bus ride from Guerrero Negro. (They are furthest south of the entire mission.) He’s a Yucatecan like my last companion Elder U., but he’s even shorter. He’s been in Tijuana 20 months, so he has a lot of experience and I’m already learning a lot from him. But more than anything, he’s humble and completely willing to work hard and serve people. He’s 27 years old (almost a decade older than me), which means he started his mission at 25 years old just before the cut off age. He really knows what he’s doing. A few days ago, we were contacting people in the street, giving out cards, and we started talking to a man who was waiting for his wife to pick him up from his work. He seemed interested in what we had to s…

!Feliz Año Nuevo!

Well, it finally happened. After two and a half months in Tijuana, I finally got sick last week. I don't know if it was something I ate or what, but I got out of bed at 5 a.m. on the 23rd and went to the bathroom to throw up. I stayed in bed pretty much the whole day and couldn't hold anything I ate down until past noon. It was a pretty long day, but luckily on Christmas Eve I started to feel better, and on Christmas I felt normal again.

We went to see Coco almost right after our video calls to our families. I think several of the missionaries cried during the movie. It inspired Elder U. and I to start asking people about their family history when we go contacting. If you guys were thinking that the town where Miguel lives looks something like the area of Tijuana where I'm serving right now—well, they're a little different. Elder U. told me that the town in Coco resembles a typical pueblito in southern Mexico, where Dia de los Muertos is a bigger deal and all the buildi…

It’s gonna be a hot Christmas …

... 22 degrees Celsius, actually.

This week, one of the Latino missionaries in our district discovered that when you hold your finger down on the skin of a white person, it leaves a mark for a couple of seconds, until the blood replenishes. He was thoroughly amazed and has been poking the arm of his companion constantly ever since.

Well, I only have to more weeks in my training, and after that I’ll probably get a new companion and say goodbye to Papa U. (Missionaries here call their trainers their “papa” and their trainees “hijo.”) Elder U. has been a good companion. He and his mom converted to the church when he was 9 years old, and the rest of his family followed their example. He’s a very good missionary. Also, he told me that I remind him of C3PO, which makes him the second person to say I look like a golden robot with arthritis.

The pharmacies here have mascots. Some of the pharmacies actually have a guy put on a giant suit and dance out in front of the shop. I think the pharmacies …


I was thinking about how little kids in the U.S. sometimes try to imitate Spanish by saying nonsense words, so I asked my companion Elder U. to give me his best impression of what English sounds like to him. He said something like “Washa wash hoo washa.” I thought it was pretty funny.

Tijuana isn’t very pretty. There’s a lot of graffiti and barbed wire. And stray animals that aren’t very nice. Actually, I was talking to Elder U., and we both came to the conclusion that there probably isn’t any grass in Tijuana—not in the whole city. Or at least we haven’t seen any yet. There are dirt roads, steep hills, pollution, and backed-up traffic, though.

But Tijuana’s pretty cool, too. Not in any sort of wordly way, but because of it’s people. Contacting people can be pretty hard as a missionary, but here in Tijuana we’ve had several people actually come up to us and ask for us to visit them. I know that that doesn’t happen very often in other missions. There’s a lot of people with a lot of probl…

¿Qué Pasa Calabaza?

Here’s some new photos.

We ate chapulines (which is Spanish for grasshoppers) and made sure to share them with as many people as we could. All of the American missionaries in our district ate at least one, actually, but some of the Latino missionaries weren’t willing to try them. We also brought them to one of our ward’s mutual night activities and had fun sharing them with the youth. They taste like lime-flavored popcorn.

Because we had four baptisms within a four-week period, we earned the opportunity to go the Tijuana temple. It was Elder U.’s first time entering the temple in his whole mission, so he was excited. It’s honestly a very cool temple, and a lot bigger than it looks in pictures.

Also, we were going for a morning run and I tripped and scraped up my knee.

We had a baptism last Saturday of an 80-year-old woman. Her son, who’s a recent convert himself, baptized her.

And we stuffed 12 missionaries into one car.

Re: Email from Mom and Fotos de Elder Rice

[Answering a few questions]: Yeah, we have daylight savings. Send packages to the mission office. I think the parents of my companion are taking good care of him, but I’ll ask if he needs anything (maybe American candy or something). The shots [during zone conference] were for influenza, but I didn’t get one because I had a cough.
[Referring to Kaysville's recent power outage]: They didn’t have any power for hot showers? Man, I wish we had hot showers. All we have is a gas-powered boiler that produces a small amount of hot water if we really need it.
By the way, some of the American candies that don’t exist around here include Swedish Fish and Sour Patch Kids.

Here’s two photos of the Mexican-American border, a photo of Elder U. and me at the baptism of L. and E., and me sleeping in the haircut shop.