This is our blog about the adventures and experiences of two Snyder kids as they serve missions, one in Mexico and one in Japan, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These are the weekly emails and pictures they send home.

Monday, December 29, 2014

¡Feliz Navidad!

Well, I experienced my first Christmas away from home this week! It was interesting - a mixture of hard and fabulous. Hard because I miss everyone and America (duh, that's to be expected), and fabulous because I am in Mexico! Here in Mexico, Christmas is on the 24th, so we ate 3 different meals that day. And, funny thing about Mexicans - they get offended and think you don't like their food if you don't get seconds, or thirds, etc. Holy moly I thought I was going to die. Haha. The food was good (they get fancy for Christmas and actually exchange their tortillas for bread!) and the people were great. I just love the Christmas spirit - the Spirit of Christ. This was definitely the most meaningful Christmas that I've ever had. Wearing the name of the Savior on my chest and testifying of His divinity several times every day made everything more real. Most of all, in the past few months I have felt His healing, redeeming, and enabling power more than ever before in my life, and so Christmas was a time of rejoicing and thanks for me.

Here in Mexico, the 25th actually has no significance - just like the 26th in America. But Hna. Z was so sweet in trying to make things a little more like home. She got up super early in the morning to wrap a present for me and put it under the tree. :) Granted, it was granola bars, but ya know it's the thought that counts! So while she was in the shower, I ran around the house and put some things of mine that I don't use in an old yogurt container and put it under the tree for her. Once again, I am hoping it's the thought that counts. Haha. Then we had a district meeting and the Elders made us a nice little breakfast! It was sweet. Afterwards, as part of our Christmas-day schedule from President Egbert, we did service. We..... (wait for it)..... chopped the grass with machetes! Because, ya know, that's how you mow the lawn in Mexico. So all 11 of us had our machetes chopping the jungle of a lawn of a recent convert. It was a thoroughly Mexican experience. :) And then in the evening, I got to Skype with my family. You don't know how happy I was. It was better than all of my birthdays combined if that gives you an idea. Seeing everyone's faces and hearing their voices was the only gift that I needed this Christmas. I love my family so much!

So, Christmas was good! Other than that, I'm still a missionary doing missionary things! Here in Mexico, showers are heated by gas (we have to turn the boiler on 20 mins before we shower and turn it off afterwards). We ran out of gas this week and didn't take showers for 2.5 days, so that was exciting! Luckily, we're back in action. :) 

Update on the Spanish language: I realized this week that I have been completely blessed with the gift of tongues. I am not saying this to brag at all, more to glorify and thank God for His incredible blessings. I can pretty much understand everything and communicate whatever I want back. After a month in the field, this is pretty amazing. We had exchanges this past week and my Sister Training Leader said that I have absolutely received the gift of tongues and it's pretty incredible. So, thank you Heavenly Father. I don't know how or why I have been so blessed. 

So that's about it! I have tons of pictures, so hopefully they'll tell you about my life down here better than my words. 

Love you all so much! More than you know.
Hna. Snyder 

The companionship of the century!

 Here is a fruit that I ate. It tastes just about as delicious as it looks...

Just a little fog:

Our second counselor in the bishopric also doubles as Christmas chef:

So you know how we always take a pic at the top of the stairs on Christmas morning? I didn't want to miss a year. :)

 Our delectable Christmas breakfast, thanks to the Elders:

 The only appropriate pose with a machete:

 Ninjas actually originated in Mexico, haha:

Chopping away:

 Matching Christmas jammies from the Egberts:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The best Christmas present!

Our very best Christmas present today was hearing from our missionary!  She sounded and looked sooo great and we were thrilled to talk with her!!  She is happy and is doing a great job, and we are so proud of her.




Merry Christmas to us from someone in Mexico!!

video
Hi Family Snyder!  I'm Ale from Huachinango Puebla. The sisters were with us on Christmas Eve and they sang for u.s Sister Zenteno and Sister Snyder we love them so much and we try to make them feel like home. I send you the video, our family wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year full of blessings for your family! 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas week!

Well another week has come and gone in the great country of Mexico! And another week closer to Christmas! Yeehaw! Christmas is huge down here. EVERYONE has lights and decorations and they have humongous fiestas the whole week leading up to the 24th. Then on the night of the 24th they have a midnight dinner! How fun, right? So their Christmas is pretty much the 24th, not the 25th. It's weird but great and I want to experience a Mexican Christmas with my family at some point in my life. :) 

Speaking of fiestas, I cannot put into words how great they are. I've only been to one, and it was pretty tame because it was the Ward Christmas Activity, but all I can say is: imagine a stereotypical Mexican fiesta and multiply that by 50. Numberless piñatas filled with chile-covered candy, blaring music, lots of Mexican food... it's great. We also had our mission Christmas Devotional in Pachuca on Friday, which was great. I got to eat some American-ish food, which made me happy! Definitely not even remotely comparable to our Christmas feast, but it was good for Meixco. :) The theme for the devotional was "What Lack I Yet?" from Matthew 19, the story of the rich young man. It made me do an evalution of myself, and it became more apparent than ever that I lack so many qualities that the Savior so perfectly exemplifies. This Christmas season and this new year, ponder on the things that you can change and improve upon in order to become more like the One who we are celebrating.

I have a few random things that I want to write, so forgive me if this is not as flowy and literarily genius as you would like.

1. Funny story: Remember how I said that I made haluski last week? Well we had some left over, along with some left over noodles and cabbage in non-halsuki form. We decided to give it to a member, Hermana Caro on our way home. We dropped by her house the next day for some reason and guess what they were eating? Yep, haluski! She used the uncooked noodles and cabbage to imitate the leftovers we had given her. HAHA! PA Dutch has made it to Mexico! I think I am going to have to make gobs soon...

2. I would just like to say that I think the bishop here in Hauchinango is one of the greatest people I have ever met. He gives everything he has and all his efforts to this ward. He is so great. 

3. I had the opportunity to play the piano for about 5 musical numbers in one day - first in the mission devotional and then at the ward Christmas activity. Everyone here thinks I am Mozart, so that is pretty funny. Also, Mexicans cannot sing, which is also funny.

4. I ate two interesting things this week: intestines (okay it was literally just a speck but it still counts) and a beet dessert. I like beets as much as the next person but beets and jicama in beet juice with peanuts on top just isn't my cup of tea. While my companion asked for a second cup and they went into the kitchen, I ran to the bathroom and dumped the beet juice down the drain. No one suspected a thing. ;)

5. I received a rose from an old man. Everyone here thinks I am so "guapa," which is very interesting. If only the Americans thought the same!

6. I GET TO SKYPE YOU THIS WEEK!!!!!

7. Send me more pictures! 

8. I didn't bring any Christmas music other than Celtic Women Christmas to Mexico, so we've basically been listening to the same 15 songs every day for the past month. I think I'm gonna be a Celtic Woman before too long if we keep this up.

And that's about it! We are teaching a few families and we have a bunch of baptisms lined up for January! Yay! In our mission, in order to encourage lasting membership, investigators must go to church 5 times before baptism! That's a lot! So we are working hard to get our investigators to church. It's hard sometimes because a lot of them don't have cars, but they make sacrifices when they know that this is the truth. I know it too! Have the best Christmas ever! My heart is with you!

Love,
Hermana Snyder

 Arbol de la Navidad :)


 My best piñata swing:


 This one's for Dad! Sometimes cows walk in the street here and it reminds me of him every time. :)


 And another pic of me and our beloved arbol:



Monday, December 15, 2014

Trabaja!

Hola! Another week in Mexico has come and gone! How crazy. What even happened this week? Haha, it's hard to remember. 

I guess I will start with Monday, after I emailed.  Hermana Z. left our phone at the house of our lunch appointment, which actually isn't even in our area. So, we had make the trek by bus and foot back to their house. Well, we ended up missing the first bus that passed for whatever reason and took a taxi instead. And my "for whatever reason" it was obviously the will of God, because we ended up teaching a lesson in that taxi. For the rarest of reasons, Ignasio (the driver) was accompanied by his girlfriend and son in the passanger seat this night. We taught the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which lasted 15 minutes longer than our actual ride. And they are extremely interested. In fact, they told us that they are looking for a church to get married in. So, it was a miracle. Sometimes, Hna. Z forgetting things results in miracles. The Lord works in mysterious ways. :)

We had 6 people at church on Sunday! Whoo!!! The bad news is, we had 12 "seguros," or people who said they were definitely coming. Basically what we're discovering is that if we want 12 people at church, we have to have 24 seguros, and so on and so forth. We are working really hard because we want to baptize every week in January. We will not have any in December, so we are working our tails off and being exactly obedient so that the Lord might lead us to the elect. I have no doubt that every single person in Hauchinango needs the Gospel in their life - the Gospel is for everyone - but it is about finding those who have been prepared to be taught by me and Hna. Z in this precise moment in their lives. It's hard, but it's great.

I love teaching families. It is absoutely the best! We are teaching several right now, but the family who is preparing for baptism on Jan. 10th is the family of Maria D. We are teaching Maria, her 3 daughters, her sister (who also has 2 kids)... AND, after we got done teaching a lesson the other day, her niece walked in with her 2 kids and so we taught a-whole-nother lesson! They ALL came to church on Sunday, and it was truly the best. I can see how the gospel is changing them. I love seeing in others the happiness that I see in my family that only comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As for me, I'm doing well. I am SOOOO excited to talk to you on Christmas! Sure, I'm a little homesick, but who cares. I am coming to realize that to be more like the One who has descended below all things, we too must descend below some things. The great news is that He is there to help us through it all. His enabling power gives us strength to do and be more than we could on our own. I am so grateful for my own testimony. If I believed in the restored gospel any less, this would be a lot harder. Oh, how the Lord has blessed me!

I love you all so much! Have a blessed week! Share "the Gift!"
Con todo el amor en mi corazon,
Hna. Snyder

Making my first tortillas!
As a side note, we eat tortillas with every meal. I don't even want to know how many tortillas I eat in a week...


 Love these humble members! Look at the smile on little Alejandro!!!

  
We had P-Day today with all the missionaries in the district and had to make a food from our home. Guess what I made... yep that's right - HALUSKI! It was a smash. Hooray for PA Dutch!


Monday, December 8, 2014

He is the Gift

Well, another week has passed in the great country of Mexico! Thanks to everyone who has sent me emails; even if I can't reply much or at all, they mean so much to me. I guess I will begin my answering the most frequently asked question - how is Mexico?!

Mexico is great. It is different than America in so many ways, but that is part of what makes is beautiful. Right now, the weather in Hauchinango is great (considering it is December 8). It is nice in during the day and gets cold during the night. You can check the weather if you really want to know! The one thing is that it's really humid here in Hauchi... it's not hot now so I don't notice much, but my hair is LOCO! Haha. The houses are all small - way smaller than a small house in America. No carpet. No hot water (except for when you turn the boiler on). All made of cement. And of every color imaginable. Haha. We travel by foot or by bus. The drivers are stinking crazy! Bus drivers, car drivers, taxi drivers - all of them. There are no traffic police so they just have these nice speed bumps in the road every so often. Makes for a smooth ride! The language is coming along... I can talk pretty well and definitely communicate what I am thinking, but understand probably less than 50%. Nevertheless, it's coming along! And I can hold a conversation with anyone. And..... the FOOD! The food here is delicious. Need I say more? Tortillas at every meal. We got tacos, we got chalupas, we got tortas. Honestly, everything it so good. The one thing I am not a fan of is cactus, which I have had twice, but I can't complain! The food is delicious!

The work is going pretty well too. We work our tails off every day. We contact references, knock doors, and teach many lessons every day. We don't have time to be disobedient or think about other things. We have a goal of "hablar con todo" every day - 10. That means that every day, we approach at least 10 people in the bus, on the street... anywhere. And try to set up an appointment to teach a lesson. Everyone is so nice, but we are having problems with people not keeping committments. Such as Sunday - we were supposed to have like 7 people at church but only 1 showed up. We are going to work harder this week on making sure people know our purpose, and that the Lord expects them to do more than just listen to us.

So here's an update on some of our investigators! Gaby, who had a baptismal date for the 20th, texted us the other day and said she has too many problems in her life and is not going to be baptized. Now, every time we go try to visit her, she "isn't home." Prayers for her would be greatly appreciated. Joselyn, the one who we found my first night in Mexico, who had read through Mosiah, is receptive to everything, but lives with the father of her 2 children and is not married. Her boyfriend is not open to us, but the work cannot progress unless they get married or stop living together. Also, prayers.

But here's the good news! Paola came to church on Sunday with her two little girls! She receives everything so well and fulfills her committments. And, she is looking for a way to better her family! She is GOLDEN! I can see how the Gospel can bless her family and am looking forward with faith to the day that she will be baptized. :) Also, we are working on the reactivation of Franco, who is a former branch president! Unfortunately, about 4 years ago, someone in the branch falsely accused him of something and he was not able to enter the temple one day. Since then, he has become inactive. But we are working on resolving his problems. He is such an amazing person with a kind, wonderful spirit. I can't wait for him to come back and re-develop a love for the covenants he has made. 

So, those are some of our main people! I want to express how incredible it has been for me to be able to testify of the way the Gospel of Jesus Christ has blessed my family. I can truly say that I am who I am because of my family, and my family is what it is because of the Gospel. Every day, I get to say "I know this message will bless your family because it has blessed mine." And each time, I testify with all of my heart. I am so grateful for my family and the eternal truths I was taught as a young child that are now an integral part of who I am and what I know.

And finally, I will close with the MIRACLE of the week! The other day, Hermana Z. forgot her jacket in Paola's tienda, which was fine until we got home that night and realized that our keys were in the pocket. Great. So, an old neighbor who lives above us let us in the main door. But, we had no idea how we were going to enter our apartment. So, we got on our knees and prayed that Heavenly Father would let us know how to get into our house. Hna. Z tried and tried to pry it open with her plaque for 10 minutes to no avail. I was just praying and praying that somehow, we would be able to get in. When she gave up, I reached into my bag and took out 4 "El es la Dadiva" cards that we give out each day. I shoved them behind the lock and CLICK. The door opened. It was a miracle. I can't explain how 4 little cards physically opened that locked door, but I do know that God is so mindful of us. 

El es the Dadiva. He is the Gift. The Church is making a huge campaign of this sentence as Christmas is approaching. As I close my letter, I leave with you my testimony that He is the Gift. Jesus Christ is everything to me. He strengthens me and enables me every day. When I think I can't go on one more minute, he helps me and I instantly remember the reason I am here. It is because of Him. I loved watching the Christmas Devotional last night and was so struck by the words of Sister Oscarson and Elder Christofferson. He came into this world as child, in the most humble of circumstances. He grew. In took time. And then, He endured all for us. We too often take time to grow. And we too must descend below some things in order to become more like the one who descended below all things. Oh how grateful I am for the Savior, who is truly the Gift. This Christmas season, share the Gift with everyone you know. 

Love you all so much! Have a great week!

Con todo mi corazon,
Hna. Snyder
The chapel.  Beautiful, right?!

A view of my town:

I was told I look like this doll.  Whattaya think?:





Monday, December 1, 2014

"HOLA! I'm in Mexico!"

Wowzers! It's been forever since I've talked to you! Yes, I am here safe and sound in good old Mexico! Where to start, where to start...

Okay. So day one, I flew in to Mexico City. Holy moly that city is huge! I've never seen a city sprawl out for so long. It's crazy. I got to meet the Egberts, who are totally awesome. They are so great. President Egbert is the best combo of friendly and drill-sarg. Haha. He said that yes, the missionaries in this mission are happy, but they are happy because they work their tails off. And it's true. Just from reading the mission binder and being around President Egbert, I can see that he runs a tight ship, and exact obedience is expected. In this mission, you better work your buns off for 18 months or 2 years, no questions. 

So that's great! Haha. I'm looking forward to it. :) My first area is called Hauchinanga. It is about 3 hours from Pachuca by bus (pretty much everyone in Mexico gets around by bus). Annnnd we're kind of in the middle of nowhere. Pretty much in the forest. It's great! But it's still a pretty big city, not too primitive for Mexico.

When I say "for Mexico"... it's like a different world here. I definitely went through, and am going through, a bit of culture shock. The houses are different, the food is different, the people are different. Pretty much everything is different. It's definitely an adjustment that I am having to make, but the Lord is helping me through it.

On my first walk down the streets of Mexico, I stepped in a nice fresh pile of dog poop (there are dogs everywhere! On the streets, on the roofs... everywhere)! So that set the tone of how different things are here. The one thing that is not different is the church, which is such a blessing to me. The members are the best part of my mission so far. Every single member is incredible and so kind and welcoming. The bishop in the ward is so great, and I am so grateful for the familiar feeling that I get every time I walk into a chapel, anywhere in the world. Remember when I was little and would ask "Is it Church Day?!" every day? I still feel the same way. I love the way going to church makes me feel. 

And... yes! We're teaching people! The people of Mexico are incredibly friendly and kind, so a lot of people let us teach them. But, there are way less who are willing to go to church and even less who are willing to make changes in their lives. But... we're prepping for a baptism! Hermana Gaby (who I love and she loves me), is set to be baptized on Dec. 20! I am so happy for her and already see the light that the gospel is bringing into her life. 

My first night, a miracle happened. Hna. Zenteno (my trainer) and her previous companion had found a lady named Joselyn before I arrived. They gave her a Book of Mormon, but unfortunately were not able to find her afterward. They called and called and searched for her with no luck. My first night here, we stopped at a little tienda to buy a loaf of bread for the next morning, and guess who was there waiting outside? Yes, Joselyn. She told us that night that she had read 1 Nephi through Mosiah. !!!!!!!! As you can imagine, it was incredible. Miracles. Confirmation that this is the Lord's work. And, she is loving what we are teaching her. So great!

And last night we found a family! I can see that they are ready and prepared to hear the message of the restored gospel!

We have tons of other investigators... not enough time!

My companion is Hna. Zenteno from Puebla, Mexico, only about 3 hours from Hauchinango! Crazy! But she is great... Clearly, she must be because I am here fourth "greenie." She works super hard and is a great example of boldness and love. She is understanding of any problems that I might be having and always tries to help. She is great.

So, yes! Mexico! I felt my first twinges of homesickness on Wednesday, and I don't want to talk about it because I am trying my best to forget about it. But just know that I love you so much and am realizing how truly incredible my upbringing was. I have the best life and the best eternal family ever. For all I have been given, I know this 18 months is the LEAST I can do for the Lord. I have a strong testimony that this is where I need to be right now, no matter how I am feeling. I am so grateful for your prayers and love and support. YOU ARE MY FAVORITE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD!!!!!!! LOVE YOU SO MUCH!

Con mucho mucho muchisimo amor,
Hna. Snyder

Week 5 in the MTC:

And our 6th and final week!

The view from my shower in Mexico:

It gets super foggy here in Hauchinango:

My nice little area:

You better believe that I'm the only gringa within a 10 mile radius:

Delicious Mexican food:

Me and Hna. Zenteno with our Arbol de Navidad!