Ugh. Best. Week. Ever. I'll start with the changes on Tuesday. Elder Gallegos is training, so I have my second grandson in the mission. His name is Elder Alder (another white grandson :D), and he seems quite nice. His Spanish was pretty good when he introduced himself in the changes meeting, so we'll see what he can do. Elder Gallegos is going to learn a LOT while training.
They didn't call out my changes until the very end, so all of the anxiety had pretty much left me. It turned into "can you just give me my changes now?" Usually I'm called out first, so it was just the opposite. I'm now the Zone Leader with Elder Grajales (from Columbia) of the Tecamac 1 zone. The majority of the mission is in Pachuca, but Tecamac 1 is one of the two zones that are in the state of Mexico. We're about 45 minutes outside of the heart of Mexico City (as well as the temple we can't go to; tamptation...), and it's SUPER LOCO out here! Like, I thought I knew what it was like to ride a bike like a Mexican, weaving in and out of traffic, but it was absolutely nothing compared to here. From day one, we were crossing highways, weaving through bumper to bumper traffic (I felt a little mean doing so, but we've got quite a bit of work to do), and kicking dogs at our heals. I think I'm going to die here... and I'm not talking about as a missionary.
I feel that I've accustomed pretty well to the life as a zone leader; its a lot easier being a zone leader than a district leader because I have a companion to share the duties with. I have time to cook at night and do lots of other stuff I haven't had time to do in the last 7 months! It's wonderful! The best part is that my first son, Elder Gonzalez, is a district leader here in Tecamac 1, and he's still training my first grandson, Elder Johnson. We're all gonna get together someday (with Elder Gallegos and his son) to take a big family picture. It's gonna be great.
Going back to the craziness of this area, that brings me to the highlight of the week. My companion has been pretty sick this past week (he got a pretty bad stomach infection from some flan he ate), so we've been rather limited with what we can do. Saturday night, however, we had a rather important appointment with a member reference that seemed to be very receptive when we met them, so Elder Grajales mustered up the strength to get going. The appointment wasn't until 8 in the evening, and it was raining a bit, so we set out on foot. There's a major highway that runs near our house, so we always take the big yellow bridge to get across it. As we walked, we conversed about the lesson we would have, making plans as to what we would teach and how we would do it. As we walked down the last ramp of the bridge, I saw that there were two gentlemen about to walk up, so I politely moved to the side behind Elder Grajales.
Upon doing so, one of said gentlemen somewhat gently but very firmly put his hand on the center of my chest and began to push me backwards. I wasn't sure what was happening, so when he said, "teléfono," I didn't understand him. He repeated the word, and I understood: We were being assaulted. I looked down and saw a flathead screwdriver in his hand and thought, "seriously...? Whatever." I took out our peanut cell phone, and when he saw it, he angrily scoffed and then said, "¡dinero!" My companion pulled out his wallet which contained 50 pesos, and in his panic took out his planner. The thieves immediately snatched both. They then turned to me and said again, "¡dinero!" I very calmly and very directly said, "No llevo dinero conmigo (I don't carry money with me)." Yeah, I lied (I repented later), but I wasn't about to give them the 200 pesos in my pocket. Looking back and thinking of previous stories of assaults I've heard here in Mexico, I'm rather surprised they didn't hurt us at all. Normally if you don't give them what they're looking for, they give you a nice jab in the stomache, and even when you do, they give you another one afterwards. Instead, after telling them I didn't have money, the thief with the screwdriver snatched the peanut I still had in my hand and they both got into a car and quickly drove away.
I realized something rather important afterwards as my companion continued to freak out a little bit: during the entire situation, I was unusually calm. It was as if the Holy Ghost was telling me personally and subconsciously that everything would be fine. I didn't even think of the potential consequences of telling the thieves that I didn't have any money. We went to the home of some members and used their phone to call President Egbert to tell him what happened, and that was that. We got a new phone the next day, I gave Elder Grajales the extra planner I had already prepared, and that was that. 50 pesos is worth like $3.50, so it really wasn't worth compaining about at all.
I started this blog post by saying it was the best week ever. "But Elder Groesbeck," you may be wondering, "how could it have possibly been the best week ever? Your companion was sick the whole week, and you got assaulted." I'm certainly glad you asked. It was the best week ever because I was able to learn so much from these experiences. Elder Grajales being sick gave me a lot of much needed time to organize the house (it was pretty bad when I got here) and study our area book. And the whole assault thing taught me that I need to carry Leticia (my flashlight tazer) with me in my hand whenever we go out after sunset. Yay for learning opportunities!
Another thing I've noticed especially here in the ward of Venta de Carpio is the way the member treat each other. Even before going to church on Sunday, I heard member after member (and even quite a few investigators) complaining about the way the other members talk/act, and for that reason, a rather large portion of the wards is less active or inactive all together. While the reason we go to church isn't for the people there, it is a really strong motivator for a lot of people to go there. It's a LOT harder to do something when you don't like the circumstances surrounding said thing. It's a lot harder to go to church and renew our covenants with our Heavenly Father when the people there make rude comments or say things offensive. The church is a grand hospital where we all go to be better. While some people understand that better than others, we need to do everything we can to not judge people for their problems, but to help them. When we help other people overcome their trials and errors, we will find it significantly easier to overcome our own and continue forward. That's what we do as missionaries, and that's why many apostles have said that there is a purifying affect in serving a mission. It isn't the mission that purifies us. It's the service that does so. When we turn outward and help others, we are automatically healed inward. I invite everyone to see the Mormon Message called Lift. It's absolutely beautiful. Let us not judge the world for it's inferiorities, but strive to always help it. When we do so, we will be true disciples of Jesus Christ. We will grow closer to Him, and He will grow closer to us. We will feel His Spirit more abundantly in our lives, and we will know that He not only loves us, but He loves all of His children. We will be instruments in His hands to help others to feel that very same love we feel as we do the things He would have us do. I can testify of that because I do it every day here in the mission field. What I do is help. Who I help are the people of Mexico. And how I help the people of Mexico is to feel the love of the Savior. When I do, I feel His love burning brighter and brigher within me. Go, do, and help. You won't regret it.
Iré y haré,
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This blog is edited by Elder Groesbeck's amazing, beautiful, younger sister Aubrie. I will post any update I get. Enjoy :)