WARNING: This post, which is the first e-mail received from Taylor who is now in Mexico, has many references to the movie "Nacho Libre." If you are familiar with the movie, you might be able to understand some of the things he says. If not, you'll have to go with what you do understand. :)
I Am, I Am, A Real Religious Man 5 Sept. 2012
Hola todos!!! Como estan? (Hello Everyone! How are you?
To say the least, these past few days have been pretty crazy. We landed in Mexico City around 2 Mexico time. Let me tell you this much though, Mexico City is absolutely amazing!!! It is huge!! Luckily when we got to the airport, one of the missionaries Elder Estrada "accidently" ran into is family from Mexico City because we were absolutely lost. Elder Juarez didn't fill out his immigration papers correctly so he had to go to the back of the line full of about 100 Chinese people. (sorry Nicki Glover.) Jokes, jokes! But seriously, that did happen with Elder Juarez. I then tried to explain to the worker at the airport that my companion needed to get to the front of the line because we had to rush to get ready for our next flight but I could not understand one word the worker said. Tenia miedo. (I was scared) No obstante, (nevertheless) we figured it out and with the help of Estrada's family we got all of Elder Juarez's bags ready to go on the plane. Remember when McKay was about 5 years old and he said that one line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail? The one that says something like "a blessing, a blessing from the Lord! God be praised!"? Well perdoneme (pardon me) for being sacrilegious but that is what it was like le digo! (I tell you!) His uncle was a really nice guy and he helped us all get our boarding passes because we didn't get them in SLC. You can tell how much I've had to travel huh? We got it all figured out though and we left Mexico City on a pretty sketchy plane if I do say so myself (Aeromexico). I have to say again though, Mexico City is so awesome! I was kinda jealous of the missionaries that got to stay there but then I remembered I still had bella (beautiful) Merida to wait for!
We flew over the Gulf of Mexico and about two hours later we landed in Merida. When we got off of the plane I started to brace myself for the humidity but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. My camisa (shirt) was pretty darn soaked though but other than that it wasn't bad. When we got out of the gates, Presidente Salinas was there with a couple of his assistants and then we drove off to Mission offices in his sweet Toyota van while the other assistants took our bags with them in a taxi. Presidente Salinas is really, really, really great. He always says "potente!!!" (cool) and he went on for a really long time talking about how our companions were the hardest workers around. I could understand everything he was saying and felt pretty good about that until he said he was going to talk slow for us so that we could understand.... Needless to say I haven't the slightest what people are saying here. I just smile and wave is all.
The first night we stayed in the mission offices (on the opposite side of Merida from the mission home) and all six of us verdes (greenies) got our hamakas (hammocks) and we hung them upstairs. I didn't think I would have a problem sleeping because I was so darn tired but I'm being so fo real when I say I stayed awake until 3 o'clock in the morning with not one minute of even "twitching sleep" (the kind Dad does). That's all right though, last night was a bit better but I still got maybe 4, 5 hours of sleep. I'll have to work on the thing we call sleep.
Yesterday we were taking a taxi with one of the assistants to the capilla (chapel) and the driver was talking on his walkie talkie with another one of his driver friends and I tried to catch what he was saying but then it started to just morph into white noise. It's kinda hard to explain, but that's what it was like. Then, the assistant (who is from California) asked me in English if I understood what the driver was saying and I said I didn't have a clue. The native companions sitting next to me kind of laughed and then the assistant said that it was probably a good thing that I didn't understand. So when it comes to dirty talking taxi drivers, I'm glad I can't understand a word here!
When we got to the capilla (chapel/church), we had all of our training, learned the mission rules, etc. etc. and had our interviews with Presidente. When i had my interview with Presidente, he asked me if I would offer the opening prayer. After I finished he asked me where I learned Spanish. After I told him all about mi mama bonita (my Mom) and escuela, (school) guess what he said?? He said I speak like a Mexican!! En serio, les digo (seriously I tell you) he said that to me! Then I said something like, "come on, don't be crazy!" (Nacho Accent) but then he said "en serio Elder! Habla muy bien!" (seriously, Elder. You speak very well!) That was pretty good to hear that's for sure. I had to tell him that I can't understand much so he talked slow for me.
I thought the talking would take more time and be harder than the listening but that definitely hasn't been the case. I honestly can't figure out one word I hear. Pero, (but) like Presidente Salinas told me, "no se preocupe (don’t worry) Elder Jaussi (hard J all day here, no Y sound) tenga paciencia, ¿okay?" (have patience, okay?) I'm excited for this Sunday because I can talk to the niños (children) because they don't mind as much if I say repite por favor? ¿entiende? (repeat that please. Understand?) It will all come I know, but I kinda wanted to know what one of the members was saying last night when we went and talked to her. She started crying and all I understood was her husband had cancer and she was having a tough time paying her diezmo. (tithing) Oh well, como Presidente Salinas dice "paciencia Elder. No se preocupe." (as Pres. Salinas says, “patience, Elder. Don’t worry.) Patience has definitely been the theme of my mission so far.
After our get together at the capilla (chapel) we met our companions. My companion is Elder Villanueva (Vee-ya-new-ay-vuh) and he is from the Ciudad de Mexico. (Mexico City) He speaks pretty good English but let's just say we're speaking Spanish 24/7. It's good though because I need to figure out what language they're speaking back to me. A couple more of the members that dropped by our casa (house) last night all commented on how I didn't sound like a gringo at all so that is all helping me feel better as far as not being able to understand.
We got assigned to the pueblo que se llama (that is called ) Valladolid. I am definitely not in Kansas anymore. When we got off of our 2 hour bus ride from Merida it was pretty dark and I have to admit that the streets and the houses on the sides looked exactly like Nachoo!!! It was grrrrrrrreat! I really loved Merida and wished I could have stayed there with the other 24 or something missionaries but I love Valladolid already too. The people are nice and patient with me so far. Our apartment is shady but that's to be expected. La ducha (the shower) this morning was interesting to say the least. Our water works sometimes, and sometimes no. This morning was a no so I filled up a bucket with water outside and had a bucket shower. They're a little different that's for sure.
All in all, things are going pretty great here although I'll admit anxiety hits me more here than it did in Provo. I was feeling really nervous when we flew into Mexico City but then when we got off and there were airport workers lining the entrance to the plane, I felt an overwhelming feeling of love for the people of Mexico. I can't even explain it really. It made me feel a lot better and more at peace. Y eso es el espiritu santo, ¿no? Asi es! (And this is the Holy Ghost, right? It is.)
Well, I hope this finds you all well and that you know I'm just here training to become the greatest fighter who ever leeeved! (or missionary as the case may be...)
I love you all more than Nacho loves wrestling!!!! Muchos achuchones por todos! (many hugs for everyone)