This first week at the CCM (centro de capacitacion misional - Spanish for the Missionary Training Center or MTC) has been really great thus far. I arrived in the Mexico City Airport Tuesday afternoon (on the 13th). The flight was (thankfully?) uneventful and boring but there’s no two ways around it. I got off the plane and met the person who was waiting for me. He didn't speak English and I didn't speak much Spanish so that was fun. But we went through the surprisingly large airport and got on a bus with other missionaries who arrived a little bit earlier and drove to the CCM. Mexico City is definitely not what I expected. A lot of it is kind of run down but the surprising part was the traffic. If you think the 5 up through LA is bad, you have not seen Mexico City traffic. The streets are pretty narrow and the cars small, but nobody really has much of a sense of self preservation so everyone is weaving through each other and stopping suddenly. I’m just thankful I wasn’t driving.
We showed up at the CCM which was surprisingly beautiful and very well kept. There are people that are always working on the lawn here. It is unbelievable. We got our luggage, checked in, then went to our rooms. Everyone showed up at different times so my first companion didn't show up until almost 9. His name was Elder Knowles from Utah I believe. We unpacked and then passed out until another guy showed up at 11:30. Took me three hours to fall back asleep. Gotta love time zones.
The next day was a lot of meetings but we also met with our teacher. I was in the beginning class but apparently my Spanish was pretty good so I got switched up to the intermediate class which has been one of the best choices I've made. The people are amazing and the class is challenging. But more about the people later.
I met with my new companions (I am in a trio) and then finished the day off. The next day there were more meetings but so far the schedule has pretty much settled into a routine. Wake up at 6 to shower and get ready then an hour of personal study time and then breakfast. We then have three hours of lessons on various church and language topics before a little less than an hour for gym time. We have the option to play basketball, ping pong, weights (they have two extremely nice weight rooms), volleyball, ultimate frisbee, or soccer. So far soccer is the best. It’s in a little court that’s fenced in but it’s a blast. After gym we shower and then have lunch before an hour set aside for a program call TALL. It stands for Technology Aided Language Learning and was developed at BYU. It’s a program that has exercises to learn vocab and grammar related to lessons. After we have several hours to prepare and teach an 'investigator' who is really just a member (and ultimately our second teacher) that we can practice with. After that we have dinner and then study time until 9 when we plan and then go back to our houses to get ready for bed, write and journals, then be in bed by 10:30.
Now for the food. Long story short, it can be explained by food just becomes food. Breakfast usually consists of dry waffles and strawberry or chocolate syrup. Like the strawberry syrup you put on ice cream. Apparently maple syrup just isn’t a thing in Mexico. Lunch is usually the best meal. Dinner is hit and miss.
Now for the people. Attached is a picture of my district. For those of you that don’t know the mission is broken down into branches of about 60 people then into districts of 10 to 12 (ours is currently nine at this point). I’ll just go through left to right.
Hermana (Spanish for Sister) Christensen Oregon and going to Phoenix. She and the next person, Hermana Romney (distantly related to the Mitt Romney) are both extremely good at Spanish so they just left for the advanced class which is why we are now down to 9 people in our district. Hmna Romney actually played basketball at BYU so that is pretty cool.
Next is Elder Chidester (AKA the karate kid - he is always swatting at the mosquitoes) from Cedar Hills Utah, going to Paraguay. He is really funny. His comp and the next in line is Elder Pearson from Riverton Utah going to the same mission. He is a great guy.
Next is one of my companions Elder Perrine from Sacramento. He is going to Eugene Oregon. Next is yours truly then my other comp Elder Allen from the Motherland of Provo Utah who is also going to Eugene Oregon. Elder Allen is a great guy. He is serious about the work but knows how to have a good time. He is really into outdoors stuff like hiking and wakeboarding and hunting apparently. I really enjoy being his comp.
Next is Elder Skelton. He is going to Chile Concepcion and is amazingly enough from Tustin. Like a block away from Cafe Rio Tustin. Small world. He is our district leader and pretty well versed in the Spanish language. His comp is the guy next to him, Elder Roberts. He is from Mapleton Utah and going to the same mission in Chile. He is a really funny guy. He is really dedicated but at times his sense of humor kicks it and it is amazing.
After him are Elder Ridd (from Yakima which is actually in my mission) and Elder Payne (from Orem). They are both going to Quito Ecuador. They are both really great guys.
All in all I love my district. We can be serious at times but know how to enjoy ourselves. We have shared many a laughs together. Our branch president is a guy named President Alvarado who is taking the pic so he’s not in there. He is a great man that I don’t think knows what frowning is. He is always beaming and it’s great to be around him.
Now time for miscellaneous stuff I didn’t know where else to put. In our branch there is an Elder Mangum. For those of you who don’t know, he is going to be the starting quarterback for BYU when he returns. He is an amazingly humble and amazing guy and if he didn’t look like he could bench me as a warm up you wouldn’t tell he is the QB for BYU. Also, if I didn’t know better, Iid assume we are in a war zone. There are party cannons that go off all day (someone counted and got over 40) but sound like actual canons so that’s fun. Apparently Mexico City also gets a lot of earthquakes so the CCM has an early warning system in place that goes off occasionally. Haven’t actually felt an earthquake yet though...
Something I forgot to mention was the rain. It rains almost every day. Not necessarily for a long time but there has only been like one where it hasn’t rained. Right now we are in a thunderstorm that caught us in the middle of soccer game. It’s been great.
All in all it’s a really great experience down here. Until next week everyone. Hasta Luego!