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Snapshot of Mexico – Spanish is the official language of Mexico. Mexico is an ethnically diverse country, with many people who are descendants from both indigenous groups and European immigrants, though the southern part of the country has significantly higher levels of indigenous peoples than other areas. These southern and central regions are also home to several indigenous languages, such as Nahuatl and Yukatek Maya. Over 80% of Mexico’s population belongs to the Roman Catholic church, with attendance rates at about 47%. Many Mexican towns and cities have their own patron saints, which are celebrated with yearly feasts. Both Spanish and indigenous influences can be seen in art, architecture, and music. Mariachi performing groups (bands using singers, guitars, trumpets, and other instruments) regularly perform at festivals and restaurants, and many folk dances and traditional music are still practiced. Rock, pop, and other music styles such as norteña and ranchera are popular today. Soccer is the most popular sport in Mexico, though baseball is also popular. Lucha libre wrestling and bullfighting are also popular events. Mexican cuisine is based on the staples of corn, beans, and chili peppers, often used with meat, cheese, and other herbs and spices. Traditionally, the main meal is eaten during the afternoon. A soup is served first, followed by a meat dish with sauce and salsa, along with tortillas and beans. Street vendors are also quite popular, selling tacos, quesadillas, tortas, roasted chicken, and other dishes. Bacon-wrapped hot dogs are another popular street vendor food. Cuisine varies in different regions, with flour tortillas, burritos, cheese, and beef being more popular in the north, while tropical fruits and tamales are more commonly used in southern cooking. Seafood, morisqueta (a sausage and rice meal), and carnitas (deep-fried pork) are more commonly eaten in western Mexico.
There are 10 stakes in the Mexico Tijuana Mission, with most members concentrated in the more populated areas such as Tijuana, Ensenada, and Mexicali. The strength of the Church in these areas means additional resources are available to members in the region, such as Church Employment Centers in Tijuana and Mexicali.
From a returned missionary: “The mission had a slogan, ‘La mision sumergida en el Libro de Mormon!’ Which literally means “the mission submerged in the Book of Mormon,” which I found to be true. Everything we did was centered around the Book of Mormon and its great teachings. The mission president at the time, President Jose L. Alonso, taught us all to search for and find the plan of salvation in each verse. It was spectacular! We didn’t do a lot of sight-seeing, picture-taking, or anything touristy because, ‘We didn’t have time for that. We had a work to do–the Lord’s work, no less.’ We all caught the vision of President Alonso and transferred it to the members and eventually to the citizens of Tijuana. What we promised them was, ‘In the very near future, if you remain faithful, you will see a temple of the Lord built right here, in your backyard!’ That became true on Oct. 2nd, 2010 when Pres. Monson announced that a temple would be raised up in Tijuana, Mexico!
“The Church in Tijuana is relatively young. Most of the members were really involved in the work. They really helped us and we relied on them a lot.”
Areas you may serve in(Ward, STAKE, City):
-Azteca, ENSENADA, Ensenada
-Reforma, LA MESA, Tijuana
-Libertad, SLRC, San Luis Rio Colorado
-Matamoros, INSURGENTES, Tijuana
-Benito Juarez, LOS PINOS, Mexicali
-Florido, FLORIDO, Tijuana
-Paraíso, LA MESA, Tijuana
*SLRC was a district but now is a stake.
Because of its location along the Pacific coast, the cuisine of Baja California utilizes seafood a lot more often than other areas of Mexico. Shrimp, tuna, marlin, and even octopus may be served with a spicy salsa. More traditional Mexican food is still quite common. Dishes such as menudo and pozole (types of meat stew), black beans and rice, flautas, tortillas, and chicken are all common. The spiciness may take some getting used to, but the food is great!
All transfers within the mission are done by bus. Depending on the area you are in, you could be using bikes, taking public transportation (mostly buses), or walking.
There are a few areas within the mission that are wise to avoid, especially at night. Gang activity in certain parts of Tijuana and Baja California make those areas dangerous for missionaries. Your senior companion or local members will let you know if there are any such locations in your area. Petty theft is also common in many areas of Mexico. Never leave your bag in a public area, especially if you have a camera or something else of value. Avoid carrying your camera in general as that does make you a target for petty theft.
The heat can also pose a hazard to missionaries. Carry a filtered water bottle with you to avoid dehydration.
The Roman Catholic Church has a very strong influence in Mexico. Many of the most important holidays are religious, such as the Dia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, which celebrates the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s patron saint. Many cities and towns hold their own celebrations during the year for their local patron saints. These events can include parades, fireworks, and special church services.
Some of the language in Tijuana has been influenced by English, thanks to Tijuana’s proximity to the U.S. border. Words and phrases such as “llamar pa’ tras” (to call back), “lonche” (lunch), or “raite” (ride) are directly influenced by English.
During the rainy season (winter), a waterproof overcoat is a good idea. A sweater/jacket at night is a must, as it can get rather chilly. Bringing a waterproof backpack is also a good idea. Take flip-flops to wear around your house, especially when showering.
Mailing to Tijuana:
One of the great perks of the Tijuana mission is the mail. The mission has a P.O. Box in San Diego so once a week the President and/or the AP’s collect mail for the American missionaries. The mail is collected weekly but only dispersed monthly, during Zone conferences/Interviews but you can mail through the USPS to the P.O. Box and not even have to go through Mexican mail.
The state of Baja California has several beautiful natural sites, such as the Central Desert in Catavina, the San Lorenzo Marine Archipelago National Park, and the Sierra de San Pedro Martir mountain range. The city of Tijuana is also home to several local cultural and artistic sites.
Av. Sonora #3805, Local 7 y 8
Fracc. Chapultepec Campestre
22420 Tijuana, Baja California
Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/157503671008405/
*What did you eat most?
“Mole, menudo, pozole, flautas, tortas, chicken, black beans, rice . . . the best food on the planet! Here is a cool little fact: the Caesar Salad was invented in a restaurant in Tijuana by the Italian-Mexican chef César Cardini in the 1920s.”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Dog / Perro”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“The people are awesome! They live in extreme poverty but will do anything for someone they love and respect. I began to wish I was more like them, to be more giving and more unselfish. I came to truly love them! The poverty was so bad, I wasn’t ready for that level of poverty. Second, the drugs, gang violence, and prostitution were horrible. There’s a reason why los misioneros weren’t allowed to visit certain areas of the city.
3rd the heat is almost unbearable. Mexicali and San Luis Rio Colorado are among the hottest cities in the world and Mexicali’s slogan is fitting: Mexicali, the city that captured the sun.
People – The love and camaraderie expressed openly between everyone. They’re so accepting of everybody.
Customs – I loved all of them. Everything about the country, the flag, the food, the holidays, the driving, the architecture, the colors… literally everything.
Local culture – See above =)”
*What advice would you give someone headed to Tijuana?
“Get ready for the best experience of your life! Oh yeah, and take a good pair of shoes.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“The scriptures and the discussions. I had a strong testimony and knew the scriptures, had gone on splits with the missionaries, etc. but I wish I had known how unready I would constantly feel.”
“Where do I begin… Tijuana is the GREATEST MISSION IN THE WORLD!
The divinity of this work is indisputable. No one can tell me that we’ve guessed and got right all these “prophesies”. There is no coincidence. This is The Lord’s work. He oversees it. I am truly blessed to have served Him and the people in that area.” – Dallas
Did you serve in the Mexico Tijuana Mission? If so we want to hear from you! Contact us at email@example.com and share your unique experiences!