This week was totally insane!!!
First off, this was the Semana Santa (Holy Week) for the Catholics here, and for those of you at home that is the vast majority of Mexico. :) The climax of the week was Friday, when they had their big parades.
These parades are basically reenactments of the Savior's long walk to Golgotha and subsequent crucifixion. These parades included:
-A Jesus Christ leading it in full costume, crown of thorns and all, and with his giant cross. Actually, later that day, the guy was literally crucified (though they only tied him to it, they didn't nail him to it, they only tied him to it) and left him there for a few hours. Additionally, in the parade there was a group of people behind him with whips beating and spitting on him
-A gigantic Mexican flag with the Virgin Mary emblazoned on the front
-A group of about 40 virgins weeping and wailing
-A Satan in full costume dancing around in triumphf
-Another group of women singing and wailing "perdon, perdon..."
-10 to 12 other "criminals" to be crucified
-20 more "Roman Soldiers" causing general havoc
-A Drum band of more Roman Soldiers
-Pontius Pilate and Wife
-Monks with faces painted have white and half black
-People blowing conch shells
-Lots of graven images
-Lots of images of the Virgin
-And about 10,000 people following behind as part of the parade and normal townspeople.
It was a very different experience. While they were doing their best with this great spectacle to create a hugely moving experience for all present in the which people were expected to succumb to uncontrollable sobbing, there was another moment in which the Spirit testified more powerfully to me of the divinity of Christ and the depth of His sacrifice took place inside a tiny little room on our small chapel, listening to an Apostle of the Lord testifying of the reality of a loving Savior.
I really hope that everyone had the chance to listen to the General Conference. It was truly a powerful one. I particularly loved the themes of family, parenthood, and, in the priesthood session, fatherhood.
My future family that I long to have has been one of my greatest dreams for quite some time now, and I realized this last week that it has been another great reason for me to be in the mission. What better place is there to learn how to be a good future father and husband? I have learned a lot of the importance of a family centered in living the Gospel of Jesus Christ here in Mexico, for, while there is a huge number of families, there is a vast difference between the ones that are covenant making/keeping families vs families founded on solely something else. In one situation the family is focused on obtaining eternal joy, while the other tends to fall prey more often to momentary happiness.Please, never forget the value of heavenly treasure. Maintain that eternal perspective and allow it to influence the most valuable blessings you have right now:
Your agency and your family.
As a representative of Jesus Christ I testify of the value of doing so, in His sacred name, amen.
I love you all with all my heart, and wish to help you remember that your Savior loves you even more.
Preguntas Bien Rapidito
Q: What is your average daily schedule?
A: 6:25 a.m. we are on our knees praying. 7:55 we are in personal study. 8:55 we are studying as a companionship. 9:55 we are studying language. 10:25 we are out in the streets contacting everyone in the world. 2:00 we have one hour for lunch. 9:30 pm we are in the house planning the next day. :) That is a normal day!
Q: What is the best thing you did to prepare for your mission?
A: I didn't miss one night reading my Book of Mormon. I now have about 3 years running where I have read at least one verse a day. And developing the idea of what an eternal perspective is and trying to apply that to each of my decisions.
Q: What do you wish you had known before going out?
A: MORE of Preach My Gospel, and more of how to follow the Spirit. I could have done a much better job of hitting the ground running on that front.
Q: What has changed the most about you since being in Mexico?
A: ... I don't really know.. I haven't been paying much attention to me, so I haven't been watching for that... I guess my love for the Savior has continued to grow and expand. And it is much easier for me to feel the Spirit, remain patient, and practice the Christlike attributes.
Q: Have you gotten your shoes fixed? How are your feet doing?
A: Nope! The shoes are still just fine! No problems there. Eccos were the right shoes to go with. :):) And the feet are doing a little better. The callouses that basically form a second sock are a God-sent protection. :)