Finally at long last a week with something to write home about. So starting off on Tuesday we had our Christmas Zone Conference. We got together down in Pasco with another zone for three hours of Christmas messages and songs. Our President started off with a few remarks and then we watched our Christmas slide show, which is a compilation of pictures missionaries had sent in throughout the year. It was entertaining to see the various random things missionaries had done throughout the year. And then after that started an hour of musical numbers interspersed with readings. Our zone pulled through for that one. For every song the other zone put together (either as a zone or as smaller groups) our zone did two (I'm not bragging, I swear). But it was cool. We pretty much heard every song in the Christmas section of the hymnal and then some. For some reason (I don't remember how I got pulled into this one) me and my comp, one of the zone leaders, and one of the APs agreed to do a quartet as one of the musical numbers. Since the AP who was joining us lived in Kennewick (and yet somehow is still part of our zone in Othello - over an hour away) we never got the chance to practice our desired song. So Tuesday morning after caravanning down with the entire zone (never thought I would play a caboose so much on my mission) 30 minutes before the conference starts we all dash into a room and finally choose a song and start practicing without a pianist since she was occupied practicing for another song. Well the time comes and goes to practice so we run inside the chapel and as the conference starts the Mission President's wife who was organizing everything asks us what song we chose and we responded and then she said that song was already taken as a congregational number. We smack our heads in frustration and then quickly and fervently choose another hymn which was also taken by a group of sisters but since time was now in the negative (I think the opening hymn had started by this point) we say whatever since it will be a group of male voices and quickly divvy up parts. Never had I been so thankful for doing so much sight reading in High School. So those of you who are in choir or band, make use of sight reading. It is worth it. The song ended up going extremely well all things considered and definitely left a mark for the history books. After that we were able to calm down and enjoy the rest of the conference for a very enjoyable day.
But the craziness of that day didn't stop just there. So quick reminder part of my area here in Othello includes learning this random dialect called Mixteco from the mountains of Mexico that sounds about as foreign as Korean (and being from Irvine, trust me, I know what Korean sounds like). There was a lady that some sister missionaries in Basin City (a tiny little town about half way between Othello and Pasco) had run into that had come to church three times but they couldn't really teach her since she spoke Mixteco and they didn't so they asked us to stop by and have a quick little chat. As luck would have it, she speaks a different dialect than the one we have attempted to learn but as the Plan of God would have it, she speaks the same dialect as one of our recent converts who was baptized just a month and a half ago. So we set up a return appointment for that Saturday and after jumping through a logistical nightmare (if only we had miles on our car to drive the 40 miles to Basin City and back...) make it out there for one of the coolest lessons I have been in. It is kind of hard to describe the experience. We would tell her some stuff, she would look about like a deer in the headlights, and then the recent convert would babble off something incomprehensible and she would return the babble and then he would speak to us in Spanish. The interesting thing though is that when they would talk in Mixteco or when she prayed, I understood about 0% of what they were saying but could feel the Spirit like none other. It was really quite a remarkable experience. Now we just need to get the baptismal prayer in Mixteco for her baptism next month.
So another fun little experience this week was the ward party Friday night. They made a giant batch - like giant batch, like the stirring spoon was the size of a small child and I could have fit inside the pot - of a Mexican soup called Posole. It’s only like the best thing ever. It’s kind of hard to describe. It’s a super watery soup (caldo) that has stuff called hominy (just google it I don't know what it is), meat, and various vegetables and spicy things in it. It is super good. Until I pulled out of the piece I had served myself. The member sitting next to me saw it and his eyes lit up in joy. He exclaimed "Elder! You got a piece of patita! It’s super good." I was confused since I had no idea what it was and when I asked for clarification he said "Its pig's foot." After 10 minutes of staring at it and having a mental battle between knowing what it is and thinking when else am I going to try something like this again? I finally decided to try it. Amazingly enough, it wasn't too bad. I can assure you all though it probably won't be on the list of things I want right off the plane. But it made for a fun night. After dinner they had a little piñata for the kids that I got to pull up and down. Always entertaining watching small blindfolded children swing a broom stick wildly at a paper mache ball stuffed with candy. To top it all off, they had Monsters University playing in the background all night. In Spanish. I did my best but let’s just say this; Mike and Sully sound pretty funny in Spanish.
So Saturday morning (jumping all back and forth through the days here) we got to be a part of the community gift basket program. So various companies and families donate food to this program that then puts together food and gift baskets for over 250 families in the community for Christmas. It was an amazing sight. They filled up half a fire station with all the food. We were able to go through and fill up the boxes with the food and toys for the kids that would then get put into trucks (since that’s pretty much all people drive out here) that go out and deliver the gift baskets to the various families. It was quite a remarkable experience to see the community come together and rally around something so simple yet influential for the lives of the people that would get the baskets. Definitely made me thankful for the plethora of Christmases I was able to enjoy with gifts and enough food. Really helped put things into perspective.
And on a completely unrelated note, someone had left various threatening notes on our zone leader's apartment door consecutively this past week and so Wednesday night when they got a particularly threatening note that was stuck onto their window with a ton of ketchup splattered across it they were quite scared so they decided to call the police. Imagine their surprise when half way through the phone call the sister missionaries (who live in the same apartment complex) came bolting around the corner confessing to the supposed "prank." It hurt some feelings at the time but now we are having a good time laughing about it. Never know what to expect anymore.
And for this week's quote it comes from a conversation we had a with a former mission president / temple presidency member who is sort of the old wise man of the ward.
"Money is a tool."
Made me stop and think about it for a while. Since we can't take money with us after we die, we might as well use it as a tool to convert it into 'heaven money' (i.e. buying gifts for the poor, helping someone out when they’re in a tight spot, things like that).
So with that I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and will write again next week.