This week has been packed full of stuff, and I really hope I remember to talk about all of it.
Elder Vete was with me the whole week (Elder Gaebler is back now and is all better). Elder Vete is somewhat of a legend in the mission and it was such a privilege to learn from him. He served in Whiteriver (comparable to Cibecue just bigger) for almost 10 months. He knows a lot about working with Apaches and taught me a lot.
There are a lot of traditions in the Apache culture particularly concerning when someone dies. One of these is called "Awake". Well, to be specific it is called "awake" if you are talking about it happening in the future and "wake" if it has already happened. We went to a wake this week and wanted to help out. I'm pretty upset right now because I took a bunch of pictures on our phone but the library computers can't read them (old computer, new phone).
Anyway, we got there the day before it would start, so they were preparing. We were directed over to where they were butchering the cow, on the ground outside. Yeah, I helped. We took all the guts out and put them in a very large not very clean bucket. The intestines went to the women to clean and cook, and we went to clean the stomachs (yes, plural). I had the honor of cleaning the large stomach. To clean the large stomach entails cutting it open, dumping out about 20-30 pounds of cow poop and then hanging it on a fence and squirting it with the hose. I got poop on my pants. Oh, did I mention that we were in normal missionary clothing? But that wouldn't stop me.
Then we chopped some wood (or "made woods" as the Apache say it). While chopping the wood, a random drunk guy roamed into the back yard where we were working and was trying to pick a fight with us. We were unfazed by him; he could barely stand and looked quite ridiculous. However, he was annoying enough that the patriarch of the family called the police to come take him away.
Before we left, they offered us some of the cooked intestine and fry-bread. Well of course we ate it. And yes, it tasted like poop. Well poor Elder Bateman got a piece that really did have poop left in it (They say it adds flavor) and paid for it the remainder of the night.
The following day, they brought the body in the casket. The casket remains open there for 1 day, in this case. In some instances, it could stay there for 3 full days if it isn't as hot out. There is something going on, day and night, from then until they bury the body. People get up to speak and to sing, share memories of the deceased or comfort the family. We learned how to make tortillas the Apache way. We didn't do very well, but we tried. Later in the evening, we learned that anyone could go up and speak (we had thought there was a program because all that went up were being announced). So we got our names on the list and went up to share our testimonies about life and death and life after death. We then sang Love at Home. We tried to be as brief as we could so that we would be different than all the others (they talked forever). We had so much fun and met a lot of people and made friends.
School will start in a couple weeks here, and we will be starting a seminary class for the youth. We've been trying to do as much as we can to help the youth here. They live rough lives and get into bad things early. If all we do, and we plan to do more, but if all we do is change the lives and perspective of the youth, then the next generation of Cibecue will be better than the last.
We went to the Gooday family yesterday, and they taught how us to make Apache cornbread. We had to grind the corn, and we did it on....an actual grinding rock. It was awesome! And it tasted so good! We also found a tarantula at their house. I let it crawl up my leg. When I get the pictures off the phone I'll send them. (Sorry mom =P)
At Church yesterday, we had 70 people attend. That is the most that have ever been in that building. Although, we still didn't need to set up any extra chairs, it will be happening soon. We love the people here, and they love us. It is the best place I have served on my mission so far. Miracles are happening every day. In fact, yesterday we were looking for the high school principal to ask him about a few things, and we found a white woman that will be teaching at the school this year. She just arrived a week ago and it was so fun to talk to her. She stopped once; almost mid-sentence and said that she felt she was talking too much. She said that this was the first conversation, over 2 sentences, that she had had in almost 3 weeks. Sometimes the Apache people don't talk much so it can be hard to hold a conversation until you become "family" with them. That's what we're going for. This woman has read most of the Book of Mormon and asked us a couple questions and invited us back.
The Lord loves these people. I love these people. I find so much joy in this work. I often think about when I'll meet men like Alma and Ammon and Amulek, and we can talk about our labors among the Lamanites. It's kindof like a private club haha
I love you all, and I hope that things are going well in your lives and the lives of your families.