Hope you all are well. Things are moving along here at a pretty normal pace. This week is a week in photos:

56 – We went to Alejandra and Dani’s wedding and for the first time, I got to try chicken foot! This is about as weird as it gets, folks… unless I end up eating grasshoppers, but it doesn’t seem that probable. After eating this steaming hot soup, most of my tongue went numb and I didn’t taste much for a day or two. Now it seems to be alright.

60 – Angel, Dani’s brother in law, is cutting up the pork tacos. I don’t know if they were good or not (see above). PS – My companion says they were delicious. I should have put an ice cube in my soup like he did that day.

61 – We were in Noxtongo when we couldn’t figure out how to get to an appointment. Well, this little sign helped us out quite a bit. Interesting side note: the graffiti says gallos blancos (white roosters) and is a reference to Queretaro’s soccer team. Not sure what this is doing in Hidalgo because everyone here likes Cruz Azul.

62 – This picture is simply of a wall that reminded me of my sis.

66 – Carmen, an 80 year old woman with more great grandkids than I could count, takes care of her two fifty year old unmarried boys and also has at least 15 ducks, a donkey, 3 roosters, probably 8 birds, 5 or 6 dogs and 3 cats. LOW ESTIMATES. Oh, and I forgot 4 mama sheep and who knows how many babies.

67 – Just a cool painting on the hood of a truck.

68 – I remembered that you’re not supposed to take photos in church when the flash went off for this one. Elder Johnson is teaching Gospel Principles. He said, ‘We’re going to imagine that two Mexican parents have one son in Europe and one son in Africa (pause)… It could happen.’ He was teaching the importance of prayer.

69 – Julian and Viridiana with their whole family at their baptism.

74, 75 – This family finally told us that their water comes out of a ‘well.’ I insisted they show us the well, and… well I’ve never gotten sick drinking that water before so I guess there’s no reason to be grossed out about it.

80 – We went to a church that had been converted from an older Catholic church. They replaced the stained glass with some pioneers. This church is located in San Marcos, near Tula.

84 – I may or may not have drunk coffee this week. Ok, so not real coffee. We’re helping Isabel get off her coffee addiction by teaching her how to make a substitute with burnt wheat, burnt sugar, and whole milk. My comp grabbed the news and said ‘I always wanted to do this.’

88 – IS THAT RACHAEL COMBE???? or whatever her last name is… she’s probably married by now.

89, 91 – This was a bad practical joke we pulled. Elder Cabrera has been waiting for his first package for a while, so we wrapped up a ‘New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures’ (the bible the Jehova’s Witnesses use) that a sister gave us and gave it to him. He didn’t notice that there was no return address…. he was too excited to open it up.

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Subject: 5 marzo 2012.

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, Alysha’s turning 17 this week and it’s pretty hard to believe. I’m not going to sing happy birthday because I’m not crazy and know that she won’t be able to hear it. (Yes, mom, this means you are crazy.) Plus, my companion would look at me weird. By the way, Alysha, have you read Inheritance, the last of the Eragon books? Do we have all of them in the house? I might have to buy it in the airport, haha.

Things have been normal. Ok, not THAT normal. This week we married Julian and Viridiana in Tequisquiac. It’s a couple hours away from Tepeji del Rio and definitely a day’s trip to go, get married, and come back. In other news, Alejandra, who got baptized two months ago, got married on Saturday to Josúe Daniel, a guy we were visiting a while back to try and convince him to go on a mission. Guess it just wasn’t written in the stars, haha.

Also, Maria Isabel finally went to church! She’s been trying to go since the missionaries started visiting her four months ago, but her boyfriend was holding her back. Sadly (or maybe for good), they broke up a couple weeks ago and she was able to make it yesterday. We’ll see how things go with her.

This morning we got together as a zone to play soccer. It’s pretty intense playing with Mexicans because they all play since before they even know what a ball is!

Well, hope everyone’s having fun and we’ll talk again soon.

22 Best thing since sliced bread: Sliced bread with a hot dog and Valentina on it.

26 Playing dominoes with Yareisy.

34 Shepherding in our spare time.

37 I really think that if I can flyswat with party favors then chopsticks shouldn’t be that hard.

40 Just a cool house.

46 The wedding of Viridiana and Julian.

48 My companion is a clown! He even knows how to make balloon animals.

53 Our cereal came with lightsaber spoons!!!!

55 ‘The church of the all powerful Jesus Christ’ Now I know why they always think our church is on this corner.

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Well, it’s that time of week again when I try and think of a few things to tell the family and friends. It should be pretty easy this week because we had a lot of meetings! So less photos and more sitting around in chairs this week.

Well, President Johnson came to visit. He’s the Area President of Mexico, in other words, he works under the direction of the Apostles and directs all of the church in Mexico. A side note, the church isn’t called LDS in Mexico! It’s called SUDEMAR, which means santos de los últimos días en méxico asociación religiosa (latter day saints in mexico, religious association). Ok, so that had nothing to do with anything. But he came and we had a fun little meeting on Thursday about how to find the people that God is preparing to receive the missionaries.

There are several scriptures about how God prepares His children to receive the Gospel. In Alma we learn that angels are preparing the hearts of the children of men. In Doctrine and Covenants, we learn that God’s chosen ‘hearken to his voice.’ As missionaries, we constantly strive to have the Holy Ghost with us, to speak the words of God, that our voice may be his, that his chosen may hearken.

After the meeting Thursday morning, we went back in the afternoon with investigators and recent converts to the church, then in the evening there was a third meeting with ward councils from all Hidalgo. Saturday we also had a short meeting with President Johnson in the State of Mexico.

Alysha! I love Flander’s Field. It’s a great song. We sang it a few years a go with Weber State… hard to believe that was in… 2006? wow. I’m so excited to go to all of your concerts when I get back! You have to let me go to all of them.

Mom wrote about all the news that came in this week. I’m so excited! Summer 2012 is going to be pretty busy.

01 Missin dad and movin dirt.

02 E Marsh put on a moustache to be an old man in his District meeting. Sometimes missionaries are real clowns!

04 E Coronado wearing the sunglasses sent at christmastime. They saved him! He’s allergic to the sun. No, really!

05 the weirdest key ever. Why am I sending this picture??

06 With Fili’s mom and Bishop Yufen Garcia. Some old friends from Actopan. I saw them at the conference with Elder Johnson.

07 I had a happy birthday, complete with valentines day cookies. The book has been great so far. I’m ripping the cd right now to listen to it this week. some of my favorite pieces.

08 and comics!! Made my day.

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Dear family and friends,

It’s hard to feel like I have much to say this week because things have been pretty normal. News is that the area president, Elder Johnson, is going to be with the mission this week and that we’re all shining up our shoes to learn from a Seventy.

I want to wish a very happy birthday to my oldest niece, Hanna, who turns TEN this year. Congratulations Hanna!! I can’t believe you’re TEN already!!

Elder Castillo has been a hoot! He is always singing, laughing, telling a joke, or pulling a sucker out of his pocket for a little kid. That guy is gonna be a fun dad. His main problem right now is that not one of the three girlfriends that’s waiting for him have dumped him yet! He doesn’t know how he’s going to get out of this one. I keep telling him to just wait; he still has five more months for dear johns before he finishes in July.

Hope you all are doing well. Thanks for all the attention in my inbox. Here’s a couple quick responses. Take care and I’ll tell you all about the visit of Elder Johnson next week.

Thanks Karl and Annette for your email! Don’t worry, I’m saving the trunks for May!

Alene, thanks for the pictures and the stories. Sounds like Bailey is turning out to be quite the little talker. When I left she didn’t really talk at all. I still have the recording of her singing the annie songs with Tyler, haha. Sounds like you guys are having lots of fun. Don’t particularly remember Elder Giles, but how fun! I’m sure I was there both when he entered… AND when he left.

Mom, I’m so jealous that you guys are going to Brick Oven! It’s definitely in the top ten on things to do when I get home. Luckys.

Dad, thanks for your email. I was laughing and learning at the same time, haha. Don’t worry, I’m paying attention.

Jenn, if you still haven’t sent anything, don’t! It might not get here in time. Also, many thanks for the update and the love. Hope you are doing well!

fotos:

968 E Lawrence came on divisions with me and we took this picture with the Barcenas’s house. He said he wanted to show his family just what conditions some people live in here.

970 E Cole is the bomb. This picture is for his mom.

974 975 Crossing the railroad tracks bridge over Rio Tula.

988 I found an Abbey double as well! So far I’ve found one for Hanna, Abbey and I.

989 Lookout over Noxtongo from San Mateo II

991 He tortured this poor little lizard for about an hour total.

994 This kid looks like and oompaloompa. I don’t think the picture quite captured it.

995 Worth all 40 pesos. It’s homemade, baked granola.

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Dear fam and friends.

I’m having a great time with Elder Castillo. Everyone in our zone had changes so we are meeting new people and having new challenges.

Something funny that happened this week: We were talking at lunch about how a Hobbit movie is going to come out this year, and the elderly sister who was giving us lunch got really excited and said that she knew what Lord of the Rings was and that it was exciting that the movie was coming out. haha. Had to laugh.

We’ve found a lot of people on the top of hills this week! Elder Castillo asked if we could walk to Paradise (a little neighborhood a ways from here) and I said sure and took him. When we got there, he was so tired, and he said, Isn’t there a combi or something that comes up here? hahaha. Yes, but you wanted to walk.

Alysha, I can’t believe you’re going into your senior year! I remember when I only had two more classes to take– so I took four music classes, drama, and seminary, haha. Those were the days. I’ve been having a lot of fun telling people that I haven’t taken math classes in five years! Although I miss math and will probably take some electives when I get back into college.

Dad, I got your picture, but is it you?? I can’t distinguish the pilot.

Mom, of course we have valentines in mexico! It’s called Día del amor y de la caridad (Love and Charity day). Although, it’s pretty much just a normal US-like Valentine’s day.

949 E Castillo is crazy!! One of the first things he did was break two umbrellas… ok, it’s a longer story than that, haha.

950 In the middle of nowhere. We’ve walked up and down a lot of hills this week.

953, 954 E Marsh and E Nowack playing a game where they have to empty the water out of the jug with umbrella sticks and a spoon tied to their arm. A little strange. Not my idea.

960 Drawings on the windows. It’s been so cold!! We’ve had rain every day this week. Does that mean it’s snowing back home?

961 Sister Call helped me fix my bag!! Now it can last a little longer…

963 CATDOG!! I swear this thing came straight out of The Last Unicorn.

964 This house is for sale. Urge means its urgent (that they sell it fast). I don’t think they’re going to have much luck…

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