Monday, October 27, 2014

Quite a repair job

October 27, 2014
We drive a 2011 Toyota Van.  It is rather beat up which is just fine with us.  Missionaries and Mission Presidents are not very nice to cars!

There is a saying in Mexico City.  It says: “If your car does not have any scratches on it, it is less than 30 minutes old.”  We (Keith) have already added scratches to our van.

It has given us some trouble in the last couple of weeks.  We found that the battery was dead several weeks ago.  Not having jumper cables, we flagged down a taxi who happened to have them.  We thought we had maybe left on the light.  It happened again last week but this time we had purchased jumper cables.  It was easier that time.  And then Sunday morning, it was dead again.  It was time to call Church maintenance.  Keith sent an email off early this morning asking for a new battery.  On the way to the office, in the other car, church maintenance called.  They asked if we could be home on Tuesday morning.  We answered in the affirmative.  They said they would deliver the new car to us then.  Wow – that is real service – a new car instead of a new battery!  What a way to fix a dead battery!  Now to see when the first scratch happens.....

Sunday, October 26, 2014


October 26, 2014

Priesthood: Today is a day that I am so glad I don’t have the Priesthood and therefore am not in charge of this organized chaos!  Between a stomach that didn’t appreciate the food in Puebla, a semi-nasty fall in the Walmart parking lot, and a dead battery, I am staying in today.  Poor Keith.  He was up at 6AM and left at 7.  He had an hour drive to arrive at church for the starting at 8.  He spoke in Sacrament Meeting, and then was the main speaker in the 3rd hour.  At 11 he was in Ward Council.  At noon someone handed him some food.  At 1 he was in a meeting with the Stake President.  That meeting was followed by special interviews.  He may get an hour break before he is the speaker at a ward fireside tonight (in another building even further away).  If he is lucky he will return by 9:30 tonight following a 90 minute ride home.  And to think that I missed all of that – my body is so happy to be home today!

Food:  Pork skin in salsa verda – just how did that become a well-loved food in Mexico?  Deep fried crickets – really?  And they are even better with lime juice?  Eye ball tacos, brain tacos, deep fried chicken feet, and pig foot stew….I don’t know if I can even try these!  That said – Burger King is better than McDonalds down here and Subway is way better than what you get in the States.  What I miss?  Ice in my drink and butter on my bread (rolls on the table, never any butter).

Service and Sacrifice:  All the 35 mission president couples met in Puebla for 3 days last week.  We left a little more than 6,000 missionaries on their own.  Most of the missionaries had no idea they were on their own – cell phones kept ringing and calls were answered.  What an amazing group of people I had the opportunity to mix with.  It was an honor! About 1/3 are completing their 3rd year, 1/3 in their second year, and then us newbies.  We gathered so many ideas and gained so much wisdom from their experience.  One couple is going home in January.  President Pratt served as an attorney for the church for many years.  Now he and his wife preside over the Mexico City MTC.  They are approaching their 70’s.  They have lived for 37 years out of the States as they served the church.  Their kids can’t wait for them to return to Las Vegas and live in the house they have owned for several years – but never lived in.  The Titensor’s are new this year.  None of their belongings arrived from the States.  All of it disappeared somewhere.  They have only the clothes they brought in their four suitcases – and her recent accumulation of clothes from Costco.  The Kusch’s are going home in July.  With the recent floods in Rexburg, they lost all their belongings.  Only the grand piano, stored on another floor, awaits them.  With the recent student riots in southern Mexico, they have recently evacuated 90 missionaries to safety further north.  President Wagner was arrested for burglary – a neighbor identified him as the one that broke into the house and stole possessions.  Fortunately his toll booth tags from that day proved his innocence.  All of them walked into this new life willing to give it all.  And the stories continue on….

Friday, October 17, 2014

IPhones and other "devilish" devices

October 17, 2014
We arrived to a mission that wasn’t “completely” keeping the rules.  90% of our missionaries are the most amazing Elders and Sisters in the world.  However, some of the rest were having a little too much fun!

Now I am always for fun.  No one enjoys a good laugh more than I!  However, when there is one set of parents for 210 children, there has to be some pretty good controls to keep them all safe!

One of the rules of our missionaries is to not have electronic devices that connect to the internet.  Electronic devices are a huge distraction to missionary work and also allow some unwelcome behaviors with the internet. Each companionship is supplied with a phone so we do have contact.  However the phone model is about 1932.

We have worked hard at changing a little bit of the culture of our missionaries.  IPhones and IPads are cheap at the local flea markets.  Therefore, many would like to have them.  They have also found out that they can take the sim card out of the 1932 model and make it work in there new (probably stolen) IPhones.

Tomorrow is Amnesty Day!  All IPhones, etc. can be turned into us with no adverse consequences.  After Saturday, there will be a price to pay!  There is a meeting of all of us tomorrow morning.  We hope to gather all the “loot.”

So our missionaries have been having a good laugh at this.  Most don’t own an IPhone or even know the meaning of the word “amnesty.”   But all want to see who does have these “devilish” devices!

Today we were doing interviews in Los Reyes.  Elder Hixon, always the jokester, decided to play a prank on “President.”  Just before going in for an interview, he borrowed my IPhone and arranged for Elder Gomez to call him in 5 minutes.  The interview started and the phone went off in his pocket.
Elder Hixon pulling the phone out of his pocket and answering: “Listen, I can’t talk right now.  I’m with the President.”  He hangs up and puts the IPhone back in his pocket.
President, looking strongly at the Elder: “Elder Hixon, was that an IPhone I just saw?”
Hixon: “Yes President it was.”
President: “Why do you have an IPhone Elder Hixon?  Don’t you know they are against the rules?”
Hixon: “I thought I would just use it until you take it away tomorrow.”

Seeing the shocked look of the President, Elder Hixon started to laugh.  The prank went off perfectly!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The weight of the name tag

October 7, 2014
The weight of the name tag….
When I first received my name tag at the MTC, it was so exciting to put on.  It made me different from what I had been before.  It represented a calling, a three year calling at that.  It was light.

When we arrived to Mexico, the name tag changed.  Although it carried the same significance as before, it suddenly offered me more security and protection.  On days that we were just going to be at home, or maybe walk to the grocery store, we still put on the name tags and dressed the part.  It’s what felt right.  It also made me feel that I had heavenly protection.

This last week, the weight of the tag has changed again.  This last week the name tag has been heavy on my shoulders.  It has represented a necessity to act or react in a strong righteous conviction.  It hasn’t allowed me to turn my head or look away.  Instead it has insisted upon responsibility and respect.

Isn’t that interesting – the name tag’s weight changes with my experiences.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Death of a loved one.

October 1, 2014
Death is not an easy thing on a mission.  Just yesterday I was called by my sister to let me know that her 36 year old son passed away.  This is so difficult as a family – it’s hard to know how to give comfort when you are thousands of miles away.  My sister and I are the last in our family.  Our parents and younger brother have all returned to Heaven.

In just 3 short months we have watched our missionaries deal with the death of 2 fathers, 3 grandfathers, 1 grandmother, one uncle, and an eleven year old brother.  These are hard phone calls to make and receive.

Keith had an experience several weeks ago when the spirit confirmed to him that many family members who have already left this world, serve as guardian angels to our missionaries.  He shared it with the missionaries and there have been several remarkable stories about that.  I wanted to include his words.  This was a call from an Elder who received one of those hard calls several weeks ago.  His 11 year old brother had passed away after an 11 year struggle with disabilities.

"President, I have to tell you what happened to me two days ago.  We knocked on a door and a lady opened it and looked at us with the most amazed look on her face. She said ' I...I..just dreamed about two white young men knocking on my door.  You were one of them (Elder G.), then looking at Elder G.’s companion, she said the other one wasn't him, but it was a young white boy that looked like he could be Elder G.’s little brother."  Very choked up, this Elder told me this morning that he knew it was his little brother that died just a few weeks ago.   He said, "President, I really know that it was the Holy Ghost that told you to tell me about my brother.  Thanks so much."