Monday, September 23, 2013

¡Hoy es mi cumpleaños!

from: Rosemary Baratta 
date: Thu, Sep 19, 2013 at 3:36 PM
subject: Week 2: ¡Hoy es mi cumpleaños!

Hola familia!

It´s been another wonderful week at the Mexico CCM. A little harder than last week, but nothing that´s worth writing home about. And I am continuing to love my companions, which is what I was, to be honest, most worried about.
So I found Mom´s wrapped birthday presents and 3 cards (I don´t know how that happened, since they are all from Mom and Dad, but I´m not complaining! I like cards :D), pretty much the first day, and I knew what they were, since she told me about them before hand. But I was getting a little impatient to open them, so one day, and I think this was last Thursday, I finally cracked and opened one of the cards. A compromise--not a full present, but then at least I wouldn´t have to wait a WHOLE WEEK MORE without anything! 

Inside the card was the funniest thing ever, I had to read it to my companions--Mom had written a note explaining what the presents were for and something along the lines of: "Now that you´re not a teenager anymore, you have the patience to wait to open your presents, and obviously you wouldn´t open these cards early since they are clearly labeled."

 I love my district! Someone wrote this on the whiteboard
- so when I went to grab my stuff- I had to snap a photo!

Anyway, so September 15th is Mexico´s independence day, and since we are at a church place, we celebrated one night early, on Saturday instead of Sunday. We saw it on our schedule about a week before and were so intrigued what on earth "Mexico Night" was supposed to be! Eventually we pieced together that it had something to do with their independence day (fun fact, I think that´s why they served us cow tongue--because they were serving traditional Mexican food to help give us uneducated Americans some culture :D), but beyond that we had no idea. So, super excited, we showed up at the gym about a half hour early only to have to wait an hour in the rain because nothing here runs on time :) . Luckily we had our paraguas (umbrellas) and, in good spirits, spent most of that time singing hymns!
When we finally got in, Mexico night turned out to be a cultural event sort of. They showed us a video (with insanely epic music and almost cheesy slow motion people turning to face the camera), then there was some traditional Mexican dancing, including, of course, the BEAUTIFUL bright colored skirts, and a singer. 
Oh, also, we sang the Mexican national anthem, a confusing but exhilirating experience. (We´d spent 20 minutes "practicing" before a devotional that week, but in reality, all they did was have the auditorium, including about 20% native Mexicans, sing it over and over with really loud background music without slowing down to help the rest of us figure it out.) I definitely recommend looking it up!
Then, during the singers´s last song, actual fireworks went off. Inside the building! it was insane. But I loved it. Porque no? Estamos in Mexico! After a night of insane excitement, cultural enrichment, and good clean entertainment, they pulled it back into the spiritual by having the dancers (who we later found out were youth from the nearby stakes or something) sing the EFY medley in Spanish. I didn´t realize this before (or maybe we were just listening to a special version) but it starts off with a very military sounding drumming bit. Anyway, it was very powerful, and I loved that ending :)

Lest you think that Mexico night was over after we returned to our casas that night, let me assure you, it was NOT! Presidente Pratt (CCM president) adores Latin American culture, so he deemed it an appropriate Sabbath Day activity for us to participate in a traditional Mexican activity called the "grito" which, since I don´t have time to explain, involves a lot of yelling "VIVA!" in response to different statements. It was fun, but it started at 11 and we were all EXHAUSTED when we got back to our casas 2 hours later than usual that night.

Okay, one last detail about this, and I will move onto the spiritual aspect of this week (since, in addition to being super fun and my birthday week, it has been a time of incredible spiritual growth!). The last detail being this: Mexicans LOVE fireworks! They have been setting them off at all times of the day over the past few weeks, in honor of the holiday! The most, of course, being on Sunday night, but it has been pretty exciting to hear the pop-popping sound and know that it´s more likely to be fireworks than gunshots.

We got a new teacher this week, and, even though the Elders think she is too strict, I LOVE her. Just like Hermano M., Hermana N. does an incredible job of both teaching us Spanish and teaching us spiritual stuff. One of the things she said that I loved was, "Do you think you´d hear the Savior telling someone to shut up?" It made me stop and think--I am supposed to be a representative of Jesus Christ, and am I living up to this example? 

We are the one that limits our friendship with Jesus (I don´t know why I wrote that, but I love it)

I don´t know where Hermana N found this talk, but it is by President Eyring about the gift of charity (She actually showed it to our class because she and I had been discussing how I wanted to develop more charity, which I thought was pretty awesome), and I love the example he gives, of this guy who had messed up BIG TIME, and came to talk to him as a bishop, and President Eyring, who was starting to get angry (just like I get when people do stuff that I think is wrong), suddenly had this feeling sweep over him and heard the words, in his heart: "The person before you is my child. I love him." God sees people so much differently than we see them. Compassion, and true charity are gifts from him, and they are gifts that I really want to be able to be worthy of and earnestly seek on my mission.

Aight, that´s all for this week!

Love you all!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

¿Por què no? ¡Estamos en Mèxico!

from: Rosemary Baratta
date: Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 5:01 PM
subject: ¿Por què no? ¡Estamos en Mèxico! (Blog post 1)

Hola Everyone!

I have a lot to say this week! The MTC (CCM, as they call it in Spanish) is great! Hopefully I will get to attach a few pictures because it is GORGEOUS here! We have a beautiful view of the montains, and the brightly colored houses that are covering them. The houses are SO close together here! I heard Mexico city has 34 million people in it? Crazy... Oh, and fun fact: it rains every day here! for only about an hour, but I am so grateful to have my umbrella. Also, it is 7000 feet above sea level here...?

"¿Por què no? ¡Estamos en Mèxico!" is something my companions (I have two, isn't that awesome?) say to each other a LOT. Well, actually, we have a ton of inside jokes like that, all of which pretty much revolve around our inability to speak Spanish :D. This one means, "Why not? We're in Mexico!" and it can be used in a variety of situations--por ejemplo, when you are apprehensive about something but decide to go for it, or when you don't really care what you do in a situation and figure one of the options would be good.

Hm well, my companions are great, in case you couldn't already tell--I love them lots. They are named Hermana G. and Hermana D. Hermana D. is phenomenal at Spanish. So so so helpful to have her there when we are teaching our mock investigators because sometimes Hermana G. and I just can't understand what they are saying!! She is also very sincere and sweet. I love her lots. Hermana G. is hilarious. She laughs at everything, and that makes it so easy for us all to get along. The other thing that is so great is that we are all really focused and want to leave the CCM the best missionaries we can be! So I don't have to worry about us holding each other back. We are equally yoked (haha that is a scripture reference, but I can't remember what it is!)

Let's see... Okay here is something that you will probably love to hear! so I made a goal recently, called "Todo el plato" (my horrible translation of "the whole plate") because it is my goal to eat everything I put on my plate every meal. The other day, they were serving this funky looking steak, and I decided to go for it and eat it. It actually tasted pretty good! It wasn't until later that I found out I had eaten cow tongue!!! But I ate the whole thing. Seriously, the rest of the evening, I was so proud of myself. Haha other than that, the food here is pretty good. They definitely season things different than in Los Estados Unidos, but it's usually delicious. Also, at the recommendation of a Belmont friend, I found and discovered the cinnamon rolls, which are ABSOLUTELY the best thing they serve here. I'm obsessed!

I am having a great first P (preparation) day. We got to go the temple, and see the beautiful city on the hour long drive to and from the temple. But now we have almost no time to do emails, laundry, personal study, work out, ...and I was going to go to choir practice, but it doesn't look like I'll have time. Ah well, there's always next week!

So far, we have been spending a lot of time studying (both the Gospel and the Spanish language) and then teaching a mock lesson once a day. It's funny because our "investigators" are actually teachers pretending to be non-Mormons. We love her dearly but she is "moving" to Arizona today so we will be teaching our last lesson tonight.

My teacher is named Brother M. He is very laid back and laughs along with us (which is good, because our district--which in the CCM is our class--is goofy and pretty easilty distracted!) Last night, after everyone finished teaching, the elders started singing the Hebrew celebration song that goes "lai lai lai" (honestly, I can't describe it any better) and dancing around the chair and he said to us, in Spanish, "I don't know if I should cry or laugh." Or today on the bus, people were singing Sweet Caroline, and he said "What hymn number is that?" as a gentle way of saying that they should be singing hymns if anything.

I have seen another friend from Belmont Hermana C.(and a few other people I don't know as well) quite a few times! It was such a blessing to see her that first day right when I got off the bus. :)

3 Nephi 11:29* is so true. I was feeling the Spirit very strongly my first few days, but then I started getting annoyed at the elders in my district because they weren't good at focusing (contention) so that drove away all my good\Christlike feelings.
Also this is so true: Now is the time to be the person you want to be. You don't have to wait to get started. Just do it now!

Here is something crazy and awesome. We were practicing teaching "Diana" (aka my bottle of water) before our actual lesson, and we had asked her some open ended questions, such as "Do you have any questions from church yesterday?" Instead of answering with "Si, si" I tried to predict what she might actually say and respond to that, since it makes sense to actually respond to what people are saying. The crazy thing was that what I talked about was what she actually answered with in the lesson! We were on fire, spiritually, that night.

(Unlike last night's lesson, which was humbling and made us all take inventory of how we prepare to teach--we decided on learning the Preach My Gospel lessons inside and out in Spanish so we could just say what the Spirit prompts us to say).

Spiritual thought of the week: I have been studying the life of Christ in the New Testament, and trying to get to know his character. I have always wanted to be more Christlike, but until I know what that means, I won't do a very good job. Anyway, the pattern I have seen OVER and OVER again is that Jesus is on his way somewhere, and someone asks for help or wants to hear a message. Rather than just moving on, he stops and helps them. That's what I want to be like. Not so consumed in my daily plan and to do list that I miss the people in actual need of help.

Hermana Baratta

*3 Nephi 11:29 is a scripture, which we are encouraged to memorize, from the Book of Mormon. "For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another."

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Safely arrived in the Mexico City Mission Training Center [MTC]

At the insanely early hour of 4 AM on Tuesday Sept 3 Rosie was up & dressed in her missionary clothes, and getting ready to head to Logan airport to fly off to Mexico City. She was clearly excited but still seemed somehow rather calm and collected.

She drove in with her parents, sailed through the TSA screening and then poof! - she was gone ... for eighteen months.

Later in the evening after she had arrived in Mexico, she had the chance to send her parents a quick email:

from: Rosemary Baratta
date: Tue, Sep 3, 2013 at 6:03 PM
subject: Safely arrived in the Mexico MTC
Hola Mom and Dad!
I`m not sure how long I get on the computer (and a lot of the symbols are in weird places, which makes typing weird), but they give us some time to let you folks back at home know we are safe! When I got to Texas, I found a ton of missionaries, since apparently they routed most of us through there! It was fun to play ´´Spot the missionary´´ because nobody had tags on!
Also, tender mercy of the day: I thought I forgot my retainer at home, and was totally resigned to having to ask you to send it to me, but then I looked in my carry-on for a granola bar, and there it was! (Didn`t find the granola bar, but in the grand scheme of things, WAY less important).
I think that`s it for now? Not a ton has happened yet...more next week!
Mucho amor,
Hermana Baratta