Elder Eric Johnson
2516 Normandy Dr. SE Apt. 304-C
Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Please send letters or packages by First class or Priority Mail via U.S.P.S. so they can be forwarded to him.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

2/2/17 "Solo Español" stickers, "Los plátanos de oro", Mexico City Temple

Enroute to the Mexico City Temple

Mexico City LDS Temple

View of Mexico City (probably from the temple)

CCM District at the temple

Family and friends,

I'm about halfway through my 5 week. Speaking Spanish with latinos is the fastest way to humble yourself over your Spanish skills. I can understand most things our teachers tell us the first time, but speaking with latinos is a whole new ball game. Our district's goals for this week included speaking with latinos more often, and it really shows you how far you need to get to speak quickly with confidence. I was in the bathroom during a break and an Elder walks in and I said hi. He said hi and asked where I was going on my mission and how many weeks I've been in the ccm. I told him and he asked me a few questions and I had no idea what he said. I asked him to repeat what he said, every word he said ran into the next and was basically impossible to understand. Our teachers are super nice, and our morning teachers annunciate really well and make it easy to understand them. Our afternoon teachers separate words well, but are harder to understand. This week we got "Solo Español" stickers on our name tags. Basically we should only be speaking Spanish, and we are not the best at doing that... the stickers are a badge of honor though, because you get them in your last week or two.

Sunday was pretty good. I thought I was in the clear for not speaking because I wasn't in the first group of 3 speakers. After that first group of speakers there was a special musical number by one of the districts. It was a duet of "A Childs Prayer." Hermana Doogle (I believe) and Elder Hoyt sang. Our "chapel" [probably a classroom or meeting room serving as a chapel on Sunday] has a step up that is about a foot tall, and the podium is also on that step. Hermana Doogle is around 4 foot 11 and Elder Hoyt is 6'6". So when she stood on the step, she was still significantly shorter than Elder Hoyt. It was relatively funny, and it was all because they only had one sheet of music they needed to share. After they sang, the branch president called 3 other people to talk. I was the first one in that group, luckily I actually wrote a talk. My topic was on the Christ-like attributes of charity and love. In Elders quorum we talked about praying always and having a prayer in your heart. One of the elders gave a personal story about his preparations to serve a mission. His stake president told him he wouldn't submit the papers until he rebuilt his relationship with his brother. He didn't go into detail, beyond the fact that something had happened and they stopped talking. He said he prayed that night on what he could do, and a few weeks later he was home for the weekend. When the brother left he felt like he needed to just give his brother a hug. A few days later he said he was studying at like 3 a.m. and his brother called him. The spirit was so strong when the elder was talking about how they both forgave each other, it was a really awesome class.

My alarm clock has been acting a little funky, it runs slow sometimes and fast others. On Monday my alarm didn't go off, but luckily I woke up at 7:20 and woke my companions up. We missed 90% of our breakfast but were able to get dressed fast enough to get something. I later found out that one of the batteries came out of position and turned the clock off....I might need a new clock.

Our morning was spent in the Mexico city temple. It's the biggest temple outside the U.S., and it is one of 5 where the angel Moroni is holding the golden plates. Also fun fact, if you accidentally say "el oro plátanos" [which means: "the gold bananas".  The correct Spanish term is "planchas de oro"] in a lesson your fake investigator will not be able to hold back laughter. Luckily I didn't find this out for myself, one of the other companionships in our zone found it out for us. 

The temple was a great experience. Wearing headphones was odd, but it was good that it was in English and not Spanish. There is a segment in Preach my Gospel that talks about the language of the spirit crossing literal language barriers and that is very true. There were parts of the temple ceremony that were not translated into English, and it was still a very spiritual experience, that was particularly interesting.

No obvious gun shots this week, just tons of fireworks. All hours of the day people are launching off rockets, not even mortars. You can watch them fly up with their trail of flames, and blow up in a big circle. It must be cultural, because they are also launched off when it's daytime. The ccm is in a pretty rough part of town and there isn't a ton of space to launch off rockets, so it has to be especially sketchy.

Tuesday we welcomed a new district into our zone. One of the Hermanas is from New Zealand. Her calling is both as a missionary and as a nurse, which is cool. Also her travels took over 30 hours, but because of the direction she flew, she arrived in the US at the same time she left New Zealand.

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