Monday, September 8, 2014

Hang Loose, Man

Id like to start out by trying to explain my new area a little bit more so everyone can get the true feel of what I'm living and then, yes Dad, I'll answer ALL your questions.  Tepoztlan is a huge tourist attraction because of the pyramid ruins that are at the top of one of the mountains...excuse me hills according to the locals.  For some reason I have yet to discover, because no one knows the answer, there is a huge Indian influence/hippy influence/EuropeanFrench influence.  In essence the result is a mix of confusion and some pretty outlandish styles with cute little cafes mixed in.  It's safe to say that I now know where all the hippies migrated too after flower power died out...because some of these people are rather old.  Tepoztlan is built on what in Mexico is only considered to be a steep hill, so basically I live on a mountain.  I've officially labeled the map in skier fashion and do my best to avoid all the double black diamond runs that seem to come up all too often.  Safe to say my calves will be huge by the time I leave this area just from taking the hike to church each Sunday.  The streets are SUPER old and Mexican cobblestoned so I've biffed it real good a few times! One of my favorite parts about Tepoztlan (which I might have commented on last week) is that its famous for Tepozt Nieve, a huge ice cream parlor!!!!! They have over 200 flavors and there's one big one and then 20 little ones on every corner....well you know how Neubergers are about ice cream, but I've been surprisingly good at resisting.  Fun fact: my favorite flavor right now is Mil Flores which is frozen yogurt with a bunch of flower petals mixed in and a little bit of white chocolate (RIQUÍSIMO!!!!!).  It rains about everyday so there are a ton of streams running through the city and moss everywhere with huge trees and a ton of greenery.  Basically it's crazy beautiful and reminds me a lot of Colorado (that one place we visited as a family when we were really little).  Another huge plus is that there are wild fruit trees and blackberries EVERYWHERE so I now have a free collection of guava in my fridge and eat handfulls of blackberries on my way to appointments.

I live in what i feel like is a hotel because its just that crazy nice...we're also the only ones who live in the entire building.  There are four of us and I kind of feel like I'm doing the whole apartment/college thing all over again.  In my greatest dreams Sisters Chynoweth and Sturt would be here as my companions (the trio we want to happen so badly) and Capener and Ferb would be the other companionship living with us.  But clearly President has something else in mind for all of day!  My comp's name is Hermana Hernandez.  Shes 26 years old and from Tobasco, Mexico.  She has three siblings but they are all older and married and have families.  She's super short, but amazing things come in small packages and it's the same with her! My comp and I are the only ones that work in Tepoztlan.  Though the other sisters live with us they ship out to their area everyday.  Their ward is just big enough to be classified as a ward but they have a beautiful church that actually happened to be the first one built in Morelos (cool fun fact)!  The closest other elders to my area are either an hour and a half away (by bus) in Cuernavaca, 45 minutes away by cambi in Yautepec (my first District Leader, Elder Bethancourt), or a little less then 2 hours away in Casasanos (my old district leader, Elder Maradiaga).  I think the closest sisters are the ones who took over Oaxtepec when I left....sorry Mom!  Here in town there's a whole lot of drinking and other fun substances going down, but that's just Mexico and I feel pretty safe!

I have to admit my first Sunday was super hard here because I super missed all the familiar faces and amazing families of my past ward in dear old Oaxtepec.  Plus I'm once again in a house of prayer instead of a chapel.  Church started and there were about 10 people there. By the end of Sacrament there were about 30 at the most, 6 of them being people we brought.  I looked at the empty chairs around me and just thought, "HOLY COW THERE'S A LOT OF WORK TO BE DONE HERE!!!" This Sunday was Fast Sunday, being the first Sunday of the month and that simply was able to lighten my spirits like nothing before.  We might be super, super small here in Tepoztlan, but when the members bore their testimonies there was nothing small about it.  There was power in their words and conviction in their eyes.  They knew it and they wanted everyone else to know it.  The cool part about only having so few people is that everyone had the chance to bare their testimony. At first when church had started I greatly wondered why they don't just combine the barely a ward that's in San Andres with the branch in Tepoztlan, but as we gathered in our little room with the seven other members of the relief society I realized how little it mattered.  The spirit was there and it was something you could feel and recognize during the entire church services. A scripture kept coming to mind, "where one or two are gathered in my name, there I will be also"

There is literally never a spare moment/moment to loose here because there's always a MA to find and a billion people to contact in the street. My companion is amazing! She literally has no fear to talk to everyone, and so she does. With all of our investigators she always lays out our purpose to make sure this is something they really want and also so they realize all the blessings. She might not know all the little things about mission life or how to do the numbers but she can teach with power and conviction that is unmatched which I think is simply amazing. We have naturally had a ton of Spanish speaker English speaker confused conversations where neither of us knows whats going on, but it always ends with a good laugh. She is for sure a fabulous addition to the area and I think her age helps. She has a greater desire to learn every aspect of mission life so she can do everything right! It's gonna be a great 5 more weeks :)

I truly am glad for my chance to work here in Tepoztlan. I'll be honest, there were a few times yesterday where I wanted to jump on a cambi or run back to my old area (which is really close) where people would be waiting with open arms, but then I remembered how it wasn't always that way. I had to make it through a few weeks of no investigators and not knowing anyone in the ward to make it to the end result of tearful goodbyes. To every end there has to be a beginning and this new beginning, though rocky at times, has a Heavenly Father blessed/promised result. Therefore I have a sure faith in the future. In the words of Elder Uchtdorf, "In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. Endings are not our destiny. The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions—temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful. How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings."

I truly am grateful for all that my Heavenly Father has in store for me here! For the new families we found last week and who made it to church.  For their pure desires to know Gods plan for them.  For my dear companion.  And for all those truly amazing people in Oaxtepec who told me to call them if I ever needed anything, no matter where I was, and they would ALWAYS come running for me.  What a happy reunion it will be to see them all again one day, but for now its time to make the memories here!!!

With so much love,
Hermana Neuberger

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