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Showing posts from 2017

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.

La cucaracha ya no puede caminar …

... porque las vamos a matar!

We spent about half of the day today moving to a new apartment in order to evade the cockroach problem we’ve been having. We finally finished moving in the desks, beds, the fridge, and everything else, when we discovered dozens of cockroaches escaping from the bottom of the fridge. So we spent the past half hour killing them and probably will continue the fight after we finish writing emails.

Here in Tijuana, Halloween is actually bigger than Día de los Muertos. I did see couple of altars to loved ones, and I got to try pan de muerto (which is essentially just a roll with sugar sprinkled on top), but I didn’t really see anything notable.

The American influence around here is actually sort of interesting. You tend to see advertisements with words in English spelled incorrectly, like "Wuelcome!" or "Eat Juan’s Hambeurgers!" And the music that I’ve heard in stores and on the streets tends to be outdated music from the U.S., from the 50s, 70s…

Más Fotos

Here's some pictures I never got the opportunity to send earlier. I'll send a longer email next week. The first three are of the plane ride to Tijuana three weeks ago. The fourth is of me with the mission president and his wife (who are very nice people, by the way). The fifth is Elder U. on the teléfono. The sixth is my bed. The seventh is a street we walk down pretty much every day.

The last photo is of the Mexican-American border. The top part of the photo is California, the middle area is the border, and everything behind the giant barbed-wire fence is Tijuana.

Life On the Other Side

Dear Everyone,

Sorry about not sending an email last week. The problem is that there’s no public libraries here in Tijuana, so we have to send emails from what they call a “sirver,” which is basically a small shop with computers and Xboxes set up that charges us by the minute to send emails. So I read all your emails last week, but didn’t have any time to send anything (especially since we’re supposed to send an email to the mission president before anyone else). I haven’t read any of your emails for this week, and I may not be able to until next week, but I will read them. You guys might only receive one email from me every two weeks, though.

So I guess I’m going to start with the end. On Saturday, Elder U. and I baptized three kids—S., N., and K.—who are the first three baptisms our area has had for over three months. S. is 12, N. is 11, and K. is 9. K. is the son of an inactive member, and N. and S. are two of the daughters of a very, very poor family. They live in the remains of a …

I've arrived in Tijuana!

I don't have much time to write, but I just wanted to let you guys know that I've arrived in Tijuana. I now have my companion, Elder U., and we definitely have a lot to do. I'm still getting to know him (it's sort of hard when I can only speak broken Spanish), but he is a first generation convert in his family and he seems to take the mission work very seriously. We have seven investigators committed to baptism right now. Apparently, before Elder U. arrived, the area was pretty much at a standstill. Earlier today we had a street contact accept a visit this Friday, and even though I only said one line in Spanish, it was still pretty cool.

I'm running on three hours of sleep right now because of the long plane flight. It's been a really long and crazy day and culture shock has already hit me a couple of times, but I feel calm. I think it's going to be a good first week.

Elder Rice

Here's two pictures of me and my new companion:

Also, we're serving in…

Una semana más...

Sorry about my miscommunication about the date I’m leaving the CCM. I’m actually leaving next Monday at 2 a.m. So October 9. I’m actually the travel leader for everyone going to Tijuana, including the Latino missionaries, which is a little difficult because they don’t speak very much English. Luckily, they’ve been very patient with the little Spanish I know how to speak, and I think I’ve been able to instruct them pretty well. I guess it’s good practice for when I leave to the field next week, because then I’ll really need to speak Spanish, and there’s a good chance I’ll have a Latino companion.

Keep up the robotics, Jacob! I always wanted to join that club, but I never got around to it. I didn’t get any pictures of Mexican birds this week, but I’ll try harder next week.

Joshua, keep up the good work. Maybe try out peanut-butter bars for cookie club and see what happens. I don’t know if those are technically cookies, but whatever. I’m glad to see you’re drawing in your sketchbook. That…

Emails to Mom, Dad, and Jacob

This week I'll post the three most detailed emails Nathan sent home, along with pictures:

To Mom

Thanks for sending Jacob's drawings. They’re awesome. It’s great that he’s practicing the piano. And also thank you for the earthquake details.

I understood that the package you send was through a service and I understand if you can’t send me packages directly from Utah very often. It was worth a try to ask, though. A lot of the other elders receive packages through a service too; they usually receive donuts or something like that. Actually, we’ve received so many packages in the past week that I think we’re having a little bit of a hard time handling it. So, I never thought I´d ask this, but please do not send donuts or other food items, because we are stuffed. At least not for another two weeks, because I leave the CCM on October 25.

Yeah, Mexicans don’t just celebrate la Día de la Independencia for only two days. Since I’ve started writing this email, multiple fireworks have gon…

Nathan’s second group email

Dear Everybody,

Thanks for all your emails and advice (especially Dad). I don't always have time to respond to each letter individually, but I always read them. And the advice really helps a lot.

The earthquake yesterday was a little bit of a weird experience. We were all sitting in the comedor (the cafeteria) when it started rumbling a little. The whole room (which is pretty noisy) went silent for about five seconds, a siren went off, the lights started flickering, and everybody immediately jumped out of their seats and rushed to the earthquake safe zones we’ve been told to go to in emergencies. The rumbling ended after about 40 seconds and nothing really happened, but it was still a little crazy. I’ve now felt the waves of two earthquakes in my life.

It rained a ton this week, which is good because Elder P. gets really excited whenever it rains for whatever reason. I also learned that he likes to play the piano, too. He can’t read sheet music anymore because he quit lessons when h…

Email to Mom

Elder P., Elder S., and I are starting to get along really well. I’m not sure that will stop Elder P. from going home, though. Elder P. met with the CCM president and received a priesthood blessing to know what to do. He’s currently fasting to receive an answer. I don’t know what he’ll do in the end, but he seems to really, really want to go home. The thing is, I feel more confident than ever that he would make a great missionary if he continued. Even though he can be pessimistic and unmotivated, he has a strong testimony, he always focuses on the investigator in our lessons, and he’s very sympathetic to those in need of help. It’s ultimately his decision, though.

There’s a large variety of food here. Tuesdays are always pizza night. I really like the tacos, though. They’re quite different from what you get at Taco Bell.

Thanks for the package last week! Maybe if I get to send you guys a package, I can put some Latino candy in it. There are these things called Bueno bars that I think…

Life in México

Dear Everybody,

The last week of my life feels more like six months. It's hard to communicate how crazy everything has been, so probably only Parker, Mom and Dad will understand.

Warning: my emails may have a lot of typos in them because the computers here are set to autocorrect to Spanish. Almost every word I type has a red squiggly line underneath it.

My trip here was fine. I got some Biscoff cookies on the plane, and they fed us pizza when we arrived at the MTC, or as they call it here, the CCM (Centro de Capacitación Misional de México). I met my first companion, Elder P., shortly after arriving at the CCM. Dad might remember him as the elder who shook my hand in the airport parking lot right before I left. He was extremely quiet at first, so I assumed that was just his personality. But as the first day passed, the stress wore on him, things got worse, until he suffered something of an emotional breakdown in the bathroom. I did my best to comfort him, and he agreed to see the…

Made it to the Mexico MTC!

Hey Mom and Dad,

This is just a quick email to let you know that I made it to the Mexico MTC safely. Everything's moving really fast, the Spanish keyboards are weird, I'm super hungry, and my next P-day isn't until next week. I won´t be able take any photos here except on P-day, so sorry, but my photos of the MTC will probably be pretty limited.

I'll send a longer message next week!

Elder Rice