Saturday, December 19, 2015

Safe Grad Night all over again

December 19, 2015
About 25 months ago we were in an interview with President Henry B. Eyring.  He shared something with us that continues to replay itself in our minds.  He said: “Brother Stutznegger, your entire life Heavenly Father knew that on this very afternoon, I would be calling you to be a mission president.  He has given you all your experiences so you would be ready.”

How many safe grad nights, YSA, Scouts, and Young Women activities have we worked on or organized?  The count is high – but I think it prepared us.

On Monday we had our mission Christmas party.  We arrived at 9 AM to be ready for the 11 AM beginning.  First it was a devotional, then a talent show, followed by a meal and competitions, and ending with a choice between a movie or playing sports/games.  During the movie time, we had endless hot dogs and nachos.  The competitions were arm wrestling, hula hoop, stick pull, and limbo.  Prizes went to the winners.  We sent missionaries off to their homes about 5 PM.  We literally ran a safe grad night, along with food and prizes, for 170 dear missionaries.  The only difference was there were only two adults.

As we willed our bodies to make it through, Keith and I would give each other looks – the looks that say a lot – looks that are clearly understood after 44 years of marriage.  Some looks were that of excitement – it was working.  Some looks were those of slight disappointment – it didn’t go quite as well as we had hoped.  We shared little verbal exchange except for the necessities – we were always on the move.  As we drove home that night, we once again reflected on President Eyring’s words.  How true they were!

Added note:  We are getting a senior couple, The Nebekers, the end of January!  Next year there will be four adults running the Christmas party.  As I thought about that on Monday night, my heart leaped for joy!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Our Christmas challenge!

December 8, 2015

A new area – which will double the geographic size of our mission – and no new missionaries - this sounds like a challenge!

As of January 4th, we add the stake of Ixtapaluca to our mission.  This was cleared by the First Presidency two weeks ago.  This is how it came down:
Cuernavaca mission has 10 stakes and 140+ missionaries
Chalco mission has 6 stakes and 150+ missionaries
Mexico City South mission has 6 stakes and 170+ missionaries
Our mission, Mexico City Southeast, has 6 stakes and 160+ missionaries

All four missions share one common boundary with one of the other three missions.  Chalco, Mexico City South, and our mission are geographically smaller than the current Cuernavaca mission which reaches all the way to Acapulco.    It seemed only fair to share the load.

Cuernavaca mission is giving 3 stakes (zones) to the Chalco mission.  Chalco mission will then give one zone each to the South, and to the Southeast mission.  We all end up with 7 stakes (zones). 

What does this mean for us?  Our new stake, Ixtapaluca, currently has 40 missionaries serving within its boundaries.  The stake has 8 wards.  We have decided to start with 32 missionaries serving in the area, which means that we have to close 16 apartments in our current mission to fill Ixtapaluca.  Let’s see, 32 beds, 16 refrigerators, 48 tables, 32 chairs, etc. etc. etc….Sounds like we need to have a good old fashioned garage sale!  Anyone have a truck they would like to loan us?

It is hard to explain how excited our missionaries are.  Everyone wants to go there.  There is one big plus also – Ixtapaluca has safe areas for our Sister missionaries.  They are an hour further away, but they have “expanded their horizons!”  We are about to “white wash” a stake! (White wash means put in new missionaries that have not yet made relationships with the members.  It is always a little tricky and a little more work.)

So while our missionaries are asking Santa to put them into the new area, “Santa” is shaking his head hoping we can pull off this Christmas miracle by January 4th!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Three short stories

November 29, 2015
Three short stories:

November 29, 2015

Elder Luis and Nicolas: (Elder Luis’ words):

I was up on the hill in Chicoloapan (Los Reyes zone) at 7:00 PM.  It was already dark and I was afraid because it is dangerous.  However, I had faith in the Lord and He gave me and my companion, Elder Nicolas, security.  We felt that we were being protected.  I testify that when we were coming down that dark hill, four people cared for us and illuminated our way.  We did not see them, but we definitely felt their presence.

The Reynosa Family:

We were at church last week when the Reynosa family was confirmed and became members of the Church.  Juan, Maria, and their two teenage daughters each took their turn receiving the blessing to receive the Holy Ghost as a constant companion in their life.  I watched the women of this family, each dressed in jeans and a blouse, smile as they came forward.  And then Juan, probably in his 40’s, came forward.  His face showed more years than 40, having obviously worked hard at making a living.  He wore athletic pants, athletic shoes and a gray T-shirt turned inside out.  I wondered why the shirt was inside out but soon realized it was probably either for cleanliness, or to hide pictures/sayings that used to be appropriate but were no longer.  When Juan was asked to give the closing prayer for the Sacrament service, he timidly walked up.  The Bishop gave him a trusting pad on the shoulder, and Juan gave a lovely closing prayer.  What a blessing to witness such humbleness, happiness, and change.

My Sabbath:
Keith’s father used to say: “Even an old barn looks better with some fresh paint.”  This morning we awoke to no water.  No shower and dirty hair started off the day.  We rushed around trying to find the solution to the water and finally gave up and got ready to leave.  As we entered a church in Los Reyes, we were once again summoned to sit on the stand.  At least it was the Primary Sacrament service so we wouldn’t have to speak.  30 minutes into the meeting, I remembered I had a big red sore on my chin.  Had I remembered to put makeup on that blotch?  I discreetly pulled out my cosmetic mirror to see if I saw it – and to my surprise – not only had I forgotten to put makeup on it, I had managed to forget makeup all together.  This old barn did not look “better” today!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Elder Alejandro

November 21, 2015

This is a story written by Keith.  We love Elder Alejandro (first name)!

Elder Alejandro is going home this next week.  He is a wonderful young man from Oaxaca, Mexico. He stands about 5’1”, very stout build, and radiates happiness. 
       About 8 months ago he asked for an interview with me, and walked into my office with tears in his eyes.   He explained about his family.  His Dad left them when Elder Alejandro was about 5 years old, leaving his mom to raise 3 little children, himself being the oldest. 
       He was raised pretty much in poverty. His Mom supported the family with a little “in home” business where she made corn tortillas and corn tortas, and sold them on the street.  She and the kids worked together in pretty tough conditions to be able to survive. 
      They were members of the Church, and Elder Alejandro always wanted to serve a mission, so when he reached 18, he accepted a call from the Lord to serve in our mission. 
       He being gone became an extreme hardship on the family.  His Mom heavily relied on his help to keep the family supported. With Elder Alejandro gone, the family slipped further and further into poverty and hopelessness. 
      That day,  8 months ago, Elder Alejandro told me that his mom had told him that she wrote to him, pleading for him to come home, and that she was deserting her family to move herself to Tijuana, Baja California to seek work.  She was just going to leave town, leaving her young teenage children on their own, hoping that Elder Alejandro would leave his mission and come take care of his siblings.   That meeting was on a Friday, and his Mom told him she was leaving on the following Tuesday. 
      Through his tears, he shared his deep desires to stay on a mission and fulfill his commitment to the Lord.  “President”, he said with tears streaming down his face, “I love my family, they need me, but I want to be a missionary!!!  I hugged him as he cried on my shoulder.   What a struggle for a faithful young missionary, coming from hardship, working through the challenges of missionary life, and wanting to finish him mission where he was “called to serve.”
       That day, we prayed together, I gave him a blessing, and we talked about the options.  Going home was one of those options.  He basically had the weekend to decide. 
    I contacted the Stake President who said he would contact his mom.  He did, in fact.  Sometimes the membership and ward support here in Mexico is quite not like it is in the USA.   This Stake president and the Bishop decided to help family. His mom decided to stay.  
       Ward members began to help this poor, struggling family.  Over time, the little family business was doing better, even flourishing. 
         Six weeks ago, we had a seminar for the Latino Elders on how to get jobs, choose colleges, do resumes, and to take advantage of the Church perpetual education program.  Elder Alejandro was among them, and is very excited about his future. 
        End of story, Elder Alejandro is going home to study business, will expand his mom’s family business into a store, and plans to open some kind of a “chain”, at least opening a few more stores. 

       His “goodbye” interview as very touching and tearful, as he explained his appreciation of the Church, the Savior, and for the blessings of the gospel.  He loved his mission, and I know he will not be returning to poverty!!!  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Garbage in Mexico

November 10, 2015

When I first moved to Mexico City, I was disheartened by the amount of garbage and graffiti I saw everywhere.  At times it was hard to see the beauty of the city because your eyes would stop at the gutter or painted wall first.  It has taken me awhile to see another perspective.

People living in Mexico City are very clean.  I seldom see someone in dirty clothes unless it has to do with their line of work.  I think at times the Mexican people might be cleaner than North Americans.

Every day I see hundreds of people sweeping the concrete in front of their homes.  They sweep and then they wash it.  I don’t know how they do it, but they take a bucket of water and with a “special” hand action, throw it across the concrete to clean it.  Most things are cleaned with buckets down here – hoses are not seen too often.  How often have I swept the concrete in front of my North American home? 

Cars and buses are washed frequently – all using buckets.  At most stop lights, there are people – sometimes many people - there washing windows and wiping down dusty cars.  They do this for any amount of pesos you want to give them.

Trash collection is done by a system much different from the states.  A man/woman walks down the street ringing a bell.  It signals that someone will arrive soon with a cart, hand drawn or horse drawn, to collect the garbage.  A residence doesn’t sign up for trash service - you give the trash collector a few pesos for taking your garbage.  It later arrives at big garbage trucks where it is hand sorted for recyclable materials.

My home is covered with almost white tiles.  Every drop of water causes footprints – and yet they don’t last long.  Our housekeeper is here 10 hours a week, split over 2 days.  Every tile throughout the house is cleaned twice a week.  I have yet to walk into a home that is dirty or messy.  They take pride in that.  Note to self: Never put off white tiles in your American home – way too much work!

So why is there garbage catching your eye when you drive or walk around?  It’s an infrastructure problem.  There are not workers paid to clean it up.  There are some around, but they have huge areas to cover.  The Mexican people have simply learned to overlook it and keep their own little bits of heaven clean.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Best Zone Conference ever

November 1, 2015

As I left the meeting with Elder Brent Nielsen last week, a missionary walked up to me and asked who would be the next General Authority to visit us.  After all, we had Elder Christofferson of the 12 apostles last month, and this month we had the Executive Director of the Missionary Department!  I guess this missionary thought this might be an ongoing pleasure!  I told him it would not, but it would have been fun.  I think we have had our share of visitors from Salt Lake for some time to come.

When we heard that Elder Nielson would be visiting us just weeks after Elder Christofferson, Keith and I joked that we were either “really good”, or “really bad.”  We didn’t dare guess which!

Elder Nielson and his sweet wife Marcia stayed with us for 5+ days.  He spent 2 days just visiting our missionaries and giving them instruction.  They all were on spiritual highs as he answered any question asked, and gave great guidance on how to make this mission even better.  A few of his hints that will be started ASAP:
  • Less active members are a goldmine.  We are using 18% of our time with them, and they are providing 48% of our baptisms.  We need to use time more wisely.
  • Leaders (Zone and Assistants) need to be the hardest working missionaries in the mission.  We never take them out of their area.  Missionaries come to “their laboratory” to see how it is done.  Divisions will be changed – we do it just opposite of this as do most missions.
  •  Alma 23:13: “lay down the weapons of your rebellion.”  He taught us that we all have these weapons – the little things that keep us away from completely enjoying the blessings of the gospel.  After this teaching, several missionaries handed over electronic devices that were against mission rules.

The missionaries absorbed his sweet spirit, mild manner, and 4 hours of help.  He visited apartments to see how they are here.  He interviewed some Elders and Sisters.  He encouraged, he loved, he shook every hand, and he motivated.  It was the best Zone Conference ever!

As we put them on the plane on Thursday, we took a deep breath of relief!  We had maneuvered the roadways, got people to places on time, fed the guests, and felt “filled” our selves.  Good times in Mexico City!

Added side note:  Mexico left an impression on Elder Nielson also.  He missed the last stair while at the airport and ended up with a sprained ankle.  He will remember us for a while! (Add him in your prayers!)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Heavenly Company

October 24, 2015
Sister Griselda is from Mexico.  She is training Sister Noraida who recently arrived from Guatemala.  They are an amazing team.

The other day they walked by a man on the street.  They had seen him several times in the past.  The Spirit whispered to return and talk with the man and so they did.

As they talked with this man, he asked if they were sisters.  He thought they might be family.  They explained who they were and why they were working in Mexico.  He then asked: “Who is that man in a white shirt and tie that is usually walking with you?”  It was then that these two missionaries realized that they had Heavenly company assisting them in as they walked the streets.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Dual purpose thermometers....

October 9, 2015

We have prepared new first aid kits to hand to each companionship.  Each kit has a thermometer, medicines for the stomach and pain, band aids, and disinfectant.  Elder Harper has been handing out the kits as we do zone interviews.

Conversation with an Elder as he looked at his kit:
Elder:  Isn’t this just for girls? Should Elders have one of these?  (Pointing at the thermometer)
Harper:  That’s a thermometer.  What do you mean, just for girls?
Elder: Don’t you use this thing to see if you are pregnant?

We once again remind ourselves that we are working with 18-20 year old young men.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

In the palm of His hand

October 6, 2015

Leonardo had his first fainting spell when he was in his mid-teens.  It wasn’t often but every once in a while he would faint.  His family took him to the best doctors in Aguas Calientes but the diagnosis was always the same.  Leonardo was a healthy boy and the fainting spells were unexplained.

At age 22, now Elder A. was serving in the Mexico City Southeast mission.  He had been here for 3 weeks when his companion, Elder G. called deeply concerned.  He found Elder A. on the floor, right after a fainting spell.  He was taken to the hospital where the doctors started to rule out things.  All were sure he had a seizure until the test showed nothing.  In a few days he was released, but he went home wearing a 24 hour heart monitor.  As a last resort, the doctors chose to test this.

The results were a little shocking.  During the 24 hour period, Elder A. had not passed out.  Still there were times that his heart would stop beating for 8 seconds.  It was amazing that he was not fainting during those 8 second stretches.  How long did his heart go without beating when he did faint?  It spoke to his youth and strength to keep going even though his heart did not beat for 8 seconds.

The first hospital said he needed a pacemaker.  We send missionaries home if they need a hernia surgery – he would have to go home.  However, his little home area did not have the medical care that we do in Mexico City.  He would stay on his mission.

With excellent cardiologists he underwent months of tests.  22 year old's shouldn’t need pacemakers.  Could medication work for a while?  After tests, and trying new techniques, he continued to faint. He went to the hospital for one more test done under anesthesia.  If he failed the test he would immediately be given a pacemaker.  He failed the test.

Elder G., his companion has been a champion through this.  He would comment that his companion came “batteries not included.”  He would watch him and try and prevent him from being hurt when he fainted.  He argued with doctors and hospitals trying to get the best care.  He truly became his “dad.”

Elder A’s parents have sat on the edge of their seat for months.  His mom has a bag packed in case she needs to jump on a bus and get here.  They agonized as the surgery went longer than expected.  We hope they have now found peace.

Elder A. now sits in our home for a week.  He has to rest.  And then, batteries included, he will go back out to the mission field.  He is so ready and would not think of throwing in the towel.  His physical life has been changed – new batteries every 10 years, no contact sports, and several unpleasant scars.  However, this will not stop him from his appointed duty.  He will be more ready than ever before to walk the streets of Mexico and share the gospel message.  Can anyone doubt the Lord’s hand in this young man’s life?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The week that will not be forgotten

September 27, 2015
Some weeks are hard to describe.  We have just completed one of “those” weeks. 
It was a week with little joy – although when we would find something funny we would “over” laugh because we were “over” tired.  It was a week with many difficult interviews, short nights, and worry about missionaries.

The behavior that we found in a few was termed “out of the normal.”  Because we love each of these missionaries, we had to try and find out how many were “out of the normal.”  We then had to protect and re-direct their efforts.

We are just two.  We often have to rely on a few of our missionaries to do some “other than missionary” work.  Someone has to pay bills, arrange for VISA’s, gather referrals, and order supplies.  These missionaries split their time between both duties.  We have to rely on our Assistants to go with us to teach, make myriads of phone calls, and be examples of righteousness.  They do this along with missionary work.

This week was one that we taxed the strength of these missionaries.  Elders Olson, Orchard, Hixon, and Cuscagua – here is a shout out to you!  We love and appreciate all the time you stood by us this week.  In years to come, this week will always be one of those that we will remember!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Anniversary Dates

September 12, 2015
An Elder posed an interesting question to me yesterday.  Since our male missionaries (Elders) serve for 24 months, and mission presidents (us) serve for 36 months, he wondered how we felt at the 1 year mark.

At the 6 month mark, missionaries will sometimes “burn” a tie.  At a year, they will sometimes burn a white shirt (I refuse to tell you about the one who was wearing it when he lit the match….).  This is their way of marking their service.  Since we are serving for 36 months, the missionary that posed the question asked:  “At the one year mark, did you a President celebrate, or did the two of you just feel bad that you still had 2 years left?”

Wow – how to answer that?  I told him that we are fully aware of how much time we have left.  I even know by percentages of time (I know, it’s just me).  However, we can never dwell very long on that number or we become sad and start to miss home.  So we usually mention it and move on quickly.  Do we miss Oroville, family, and friends – you better believe it!  But with all things that are tough, we try to just keep pressing forward.  We will never burn a tie or a shirt, but we may kiss the ground we walk on when we return home!

Book of Mormon Challenge

September 12, 2015
We are doing a Book of Mormon challenge in the mission.  We have handed each missionary a new copy of the Book of Mormon (in their native language), a 90 day reading schedule, colored pencils and a pencil sharpener (no excuses allowed!).  We started the challenge a week ago.

With their colored pencils, they highlight the following:  Words of Christ-yellow, Doctrines and Principles –red, References to Jesus Christ – Blue, and Attributes of Christ – green.

It is fun to see everyone carrying around their Books of Mormon.  It is more fun to look inside and see how differently we all see the book.  Personally, I am using a lot of red.  I looked at Elder Shumway’s yesterday and he has used half of his yellow pencil.  Every page has numerous colors and it adds some fun to reading the Book of Mormon.  It certainly reteaches you about the breadth and depth of this wonderful book!

Try it – you might like it!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The blessing of good care

August 30, 2015
Each week at church, we have the opportunity to receive the sacrament.  This bread and water represents the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ in Gethsemane and upon the cross.  It is blessed and passed by young men, usually 12-18 years old.

As a young man brought the bread to me today, I noticed he was not looking directly at me but to the side.  I hadn’t noticed him walk towards me..   Therefore, when he returned to the front to prepare to pass the water, I watched more closely.  I watched him make his way down the row of chairs by keeping a hand placed on the chair in front of him.

This young man probably had a severe case of lazy eye.  Both of his eyes turned outward and he only had vision in one little corner of one eye.  This condition would have been treated and corrected if he lived where there was care.  I have a granddaughter Brooke, that has been successfully treated for this condition but the treatment has to start young.   But now, because of no care, this young man was mostly blind.

How thankful we should be for small blessings such as where we live or are raised. As I watched this young man, big smile on his face, maneuver his way around a large room with many people, I admired his courage and thanked my Heavenly Father for the care my little Brooke has received.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


August 29, 2015
We are not about numbers.  When we arrived in Mexico City, we felt our mission had been so focused on the "number of baptisms" that all other things such as obedience and true growth of the church had been over looked.  We wanted the missionaries to find converts that were truly looking for a change to a better life.  The number of baptisms was not nearly as important as changing the life of a person and bringing them closer to God.

Unfortunately numbers have to be used to measure progress and achievement.  Parents want to see numbers from their children's teachers.  Knowledge is measured by numbers.  I am a person who built a successful career out of numbers and what they mean.

So with caution, and with great respect for my missionaries, I was excited to see that out of 35 missions in Mexico, we are #8 in the number of baptisms year to date. That speaks to the hard work of our 170 missionaries!  Now that we have had our 5 minutes of fame, we can get back to work.

P.S. I won't be sharing this information around the mission to's that "focus" thing.

A visit from an apostle.....really!!

August 26, 2015
A visit from an apostle..really?  Keith was surprised when that call came from the states.  There are over 400 missions in the world.  There are only 12 apostles, and some of them are not in good enough health for travel.  What are the odds of our little mission getting selected?

And yet we were.  For two weeks we prepared.  The missionaries were given reading assignments.  The church was given special attention by church maintenance.  Missionaries were told to arrive one hour early, fasting and ready to be feed by the spirit.  We even took a few minutes of that hour to "practice" a quick mission photo in case there was time.  And then we waited, listened to music, and prepared ourselves.

Elder Christofferson was worth the preparations.  A beautiful musical number by seven of our missionaries set the stage for 90 minutes of learning.  He took questions and turned them into sermons.  He used scriptures to further our understanding.  He shook everyone's hand and spoke with great kindness and insight.  And when there was just 6 minutes left before he had to leave for another speaking appointment, our "practiced" missionaries got the cherished picture of all of us together.

Many of our missionaries have not even been in the same auditorium or city as an apostle of The Lord Jesus Christ.  This day left a lasting impression!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Simply stated, it is not of this world.

August 10, 2015
When this whole missionary adventure began in October 2013, I was saddened to read that the Mexico City temple would be closing in January 2014 for renovations.  The temple is very important to us Mormons.  It allows us deeper commitments to our Heavenly Father.  It also brings such blessings.

Even though I was sad, I knew we would be in Mexico City for the Open House and re-dedication of the temple scheduled for the summer of 2015. Having helped at the Open House of the Sacramento temple, I knew how exciting it would be!  I also hoped that some of our missionaries would be able to help.

The day has come!  Our sweet 17 sister missionaries will serve as greeters, showing the intro video, and answering questions in the reception area.  We have been practicing.  Today was the final training and tonight it opens for VIP's.  The sisters were told that they are the face of the church.  They will be watched and some life changing decisions may begin because of them.

Our little group of 19 (counting Keith and I) were the first group taken on the tour this morning.  Our tour leader was Elder De Hoys of the First Quorum of the Seventy.  As we walked through those sacred doors I was overcome.  Tears filled my eyes and I even made several small gasps as the spirit within those walls filled my heart.  The temple is exquisite, filled with crystal chandeliers and beautiful paintings of Christ.  Each room further confirmed my testimony of the existence of my Heavenly Father and His son, my brother, Jesus Christ.  No wonder we love the temple so much. Simply stated, it is not of this world.

Our sweet sisters saw the baptismal font, ordinance rooms, the Celestial room, rooms for the sealing of families and of course the bridal dressing room.  Tears flowed freely, many hugs were given, and we all walked out with our spirits celebrating.  What a blessing temples have been to my family and what a blessing this temple will be to Mexico City.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Our amazing Sister (Hermana) missionaries

August 6, 2015
Our mission currently has 17 Hermanas (sisters, women) serving.  In some part of Mexico, Hermanas make up half of the missionary force while ours is about 10%.  The group of 17 Hermanas that we now enjoy are all pretty new.  The “oldest” ones (in experience) came to us just last February.  They are a strong group and you can hear their enthusiasm in the letters they write to my husband each week.  Here a few excerpts.

Sister V.
We arrived at a house, knocked, and Maria let us in.  We sat down and told her that our records showed that 3 years ago there was someone living in the home that was investigating the church.  Maria said that was her nephew but he no longer lived there.  Without even starting with a hymn or a prayer, I asked her if she would come to church this Sunday.  My companion was afraid Maria would be angry but she started to cry instead.  She said, “This morning I prayed to God that he would guide me and give me a sign that would show me the way.” She said that “God sent us and we are her angels.”  She felt very happy and so did we.

Sister C.
So I had kind of a short but powerful experience this week. I was having a hard day and I was frustrated with the language. I would understand a need of one of my investigators, but the words wouldn´t come through my mouth. I was walking down the street, completely discouraged and wondering why, of all people, I was the one that was sent to Mexico because I felt like the least qualified of everyone. Then I had a prompting to look to my right. I turned and saw no one, but that was when the prompted thought came. "You may not see me, but I am here." I knew that those were not my thoughts, but a prompting from the Spirit that the Lord was with me and I needed to rely on Him to be able to speak the language. In the next lesson I tried to speak from my heart, and the words came! I am so grateful for my knowledge of the Gospel and for these experiences that make life just a little bit sweeter.

Sister J.
During one particular lesson I couldn´t understand a single thing that was being said. I was trying to understand but at the same time trying to think of a scripture to share so I was missing even more of what was being said. But I knew that wasn´t how I should do it, I needed to listen to what this Hermana was saying. So I said a prayer to help me listen to what she was saying and then when the time came to know what scripture to share. My mind was cleared and I was able to listen but I still couldn´t really understand anything. Towards the end of the lesson I asked if I could share a scripture. Without knowing what scripture I would share I started saying "One scripture that I really like is..." and then I knew that I needed to share 1 Nephi 3:7. So I shared it with her and definitely not by coincidence it is her favorite scripture and played a huge part in her experience of gaining a testimony. 
I love being a missionary and having experiences like this every day!

Sister W.
The miracles here are crazy! We have been GUIDED to where we need to go. My favorite was on Saturday. On Saturday we really REALLY wanted to find this one woman who had been a Golden investigator but was lost when missionaries were transferred. The only problem was that we didn't have an address or a phone number. Hermana W. remembered what part of town she lived in, and so we decided to walk over there. We then prayed to know where to go. We both felt that we should go to this one house. There was a group of people outside and we asked them if they knew this woman. They said there were two people with the same name, one in one direction, and one in the other direction, though they didn't know exactly which house. We felt prompted to go down one street... but when we were over there we were sort of just lingering not sure if we should start knocking door or what, when we turn around and Hermana W. gets so excited because there was a woman walking towards us and IT WAS HER. There are like a million people here. I have now doubt that God lead us to her. We showed her the restoration video and seriously, she is just golden. I'm so excited to finish teaching her."

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Vera Cruz Temple

July 30, 2015

The majority of our missionaries arrive to us having already gone through the temple.  The temple is a special place to LDS people.  We call it getting your “endowment” when you go for the first time to the temple.  Endowment means “a gift.”  The temple is a gift to us because of opportunity it gives LDS members to worship in a quiet, beautiful place.  We also make additional promises to our Heavenly Father when we attend.  These are promises of deeper commitment and service.  We feel we receive promises from our Heavenly Father of increased strength and blessings.

We recently received an Elder from Puerto Rico.  He had not had the opportunity to attend the temple and that privilege is given to each missionary.  We live a short distance from the Mexico City temple which is currently closed for renovations.  Our next closest temple is Vera Cruz which is a five hour drive due east – until you reach the Gulf of Mexico.  Literally, the Vera Cruz temple is a 2 minute walk to the gulf.

The drive was beautiful.  We often felt like we were driving through the Sierra Nevada mountains.  It was green and lush as we drove over two mountain ranges.  We had never seen this part of Mexico and all of us were surprised by the beauty and open spaces.

In the temple, we wear white clothing.  As we arrived at the temple early in the morning, we were warmly greeted.  The temple was already full at 7:30 AM.  Four buses had arrived during the night – all from Mexico City.  Faithful saints had filled those buses and driven all night long to attend the temple.  As I walked into the worship room I was overcome with the beauty of these saints.  Their red eyes did not dampen the sweet spirit they shared.  They were so beautiful with their black hair and white clothing.  What a peaceful, wonderful spirit filled the temple that day as we all worshiped together.

After our temple visit we walked down a beautiful beach, ate some seafood, and headed back to Mexico City a little more refreshed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

1,000 lives in 100 days

July 26, 2015

Keith started a program in our mission called 1,000 lives in 100 days.  He felt the need for the missionaries to not only work towards new converts, but to spend a little time helping those who were already members of our church.  He challenged each companionship to pick 10 names of members who were in the wards where they served.  They had 100 days to help make a difference in their life.  Hence the name: 100 companionships times 10 people to help = 1,000 lives.  It’s been rewarding hearing about some of the experiences:

Elder K: I’d like to share one story that we had from the 100 days 1000 lives.  There is a family of 3 that recently had a daughter die. Their daughter was 14 and had an accident in school and ended up passing away a few days later. That all happened on my first day I had moved to this new area. The family started to blame God for what happened and stopped going to church because of that experience. The husband also started trying to kill the pain with an addiction to marijuana. They wouldn’t even accept a message from us for months. But one day when I was with Elder T., we knocked and she opened the door and told us they were busy.  We asked if we could simply stay for 1 minute or 2 and say a prayer. She said “yes” and we had a really powerful prayer. When we finished she said she would be home the following night and asked if we could pass by. We did and had a great lesson about the plan of salvation. (Where we came from, why we are here,  and where we are going) We've been progressing great with this family lately and they're all coming back to church, doing family home evenings, and starting a repentance process to be sealed together in the temple. It's amazing the change that I've seen in this family, and I’m so glad to have been a part of it.

And a fun letter from a sister missionary: Sister L. and I had our first baptism yesterday! It was so wonderful, Jocelin our soon to be convert once she receives the Holy Ghost, is such an amazing young lady. She has a solid strong testimony and is a walking miracle with all the changes we’ve seen since we started teaching her. I love the gospel; it’s incredible to see the power it has in the life of people, even when we testify of it every day.  I had never seen it happen so "up close". I feel so blessed and thankful to have been a part in that change in Jocelin's life.

Yesterday while we were out working with a member, we bump into a family he knew.  Apparently this family was investigating the church some time ago, Family Huerta. They had just lost the father an hour before! We offered a hymn and a prayer. I didn’t know how we could help them, but I prayed that they might feel the Spirit and that they might open their hearts to the truth.  They agreed to meet with us this Wednesday.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Heavenly Good byes

July 23, 2015

In the last 3 months we have sent home almost a third of our mission.  Of course we have received “replacements”, but this third that went home were missionaries that we had served with for a year.  These were young men and women that we loved and trusted (except for a couple of rascals).  We have laughed, cried, and enjoyed them for a year and they have become part of us.

Since our mission office is just 15 minutes away from the airport, we usually have the pleasure of taking them to the airport to send them on their way.  As we stand and give final hugs and handshakes, we usually have tears running down our faces.  Sometimes we can’t talk as we try and maintain composure.  We stand there and watch such strength walk away with big smiles.  We are putting them on a plane to take them back to family that we know loves them more than we do – if love can be measured.  As we cry here, we know that the family will be crying there in just a few hours.  Our tears are for one reason, their tears for another.

Even though that day of saying good bye usually starts at 3AM, I often stay awake a little later into the evening looking for pictures on Facebook.  I want to see that they have arrived.  I zoom each picture and see the expressions on their parent’s faces as they hold their children again.  If there is a video, I play it over and over.  It brings me some peace.

As I hugged an Elder good by yesterday (okay, it doesn’t follow “mission” rules, but I can’t say good bye with a handshake!), I had an interesting thought.  I wondered how it was in Heaven before we came to earth.  Did we stand at the “airport” with big smiles and excitement?  Did we look forward to our new adventures?  Did we nervously pace as we waited for the time to “take off” to Earth?  And finally, did our Heavenly parents hug us good bye, not saying too much as they tried to keep their composure?  Did tears run down their faces as they looked at the strength and potential they were sending to earth?  My heart tells me it is so.

Sunday, July 5, 2015


July 2, 2015

We were traveling with the Assistants today – these are three of our very best here in Mexico City.  We passed several funeral homes which are not like the lavish ones we enjoy in the states.  These were small store fronts with little decoration.  I asked the Assistants about funerals here such as where they hold the service.  They told me that funerals are held in these small store fronts, with everyone standing around an open casket.  There are a few chairs for the “older folks.”  They also said that funerals are held in homes.  They clear out some of the furniture, place the open casket in the middle of the room, and hold a service.

Elder S. started to laugh as he recalled an incident he had during the first part of his mission.  He and his companion were friends with a family in their ward.  This family had a grandfather who was not well.  One day they received a call asking them to come and give a blessing to the grandfather.  They asked how he was doing and the caller replied, “Not so well.”

They hurried themselves to the family home.  When they walked in, there was the open casket with grandfather inside.  The family expected a blessing for their deceased grandfather.  The two Elders had to respectfully tell the family that they could not do that, offered a prayer, and excused themselves as quickly as possible.

I sat by an angel today.

July 5, 2015

We headed out towards La Perla (the Pearl) to attend church today.  As we entered the building, we were greeted by a young man – probably about 17 years old.  One of his hands was pointed backwards, and his feet pointed towards each other.  With a mouth that didn’t quite work correctly, he asked me a question.  Not knowing what he said, I answered “yes.”  I was taken into a tight embrace by this young man.  He had asked me if he could give me an abrazo (hug) and I had replied in the affirmative.

This young man obviously was affected by cerebral palsy.  Walking and talking were difficult and yet this did not slow him down.  When it was time to pass the sacrament, he was there to help.  Since I was sitting on the stand, he had to deliberately and carefully make it up the stairs in order to give us the sacrament.  He couldn’t take a “gentle” turn, but would stop and steady himself, and then do a perfect 90 degree turn.  His stronger arm carried the sacrament tray.

When it was time for testimonies, up this young man came again to the stand.  As he sat down by me, he reached out his hand for a handshake.  When it was his turn, He stood, and in difficult speech, spoke of his love of Jesus Christ.  I could feel the power even when the words were not discernable. 

I believe that most of us come to earth to learn lessons.  Others however, are sent to earth to teach us lessons.  I sat by an angel today.

Monday, June 22, 2015

There are no coincidences!

June 21, 2015
Elder Ismael Martinez, an area authority from the 70’s, visited La Perla Stake today.  He related the following story which continues to confirm how our Heavenly Father knows each of us personally and plays a part in our life.

Elder Lee was disappointed when he read his mission call.  He lived in the United States, was of Japanese descent, and yet his call was to Colombia.  He spoke Japanese and thought a call to Tokyo would be more appropriate. He questioned the call and wrote to President Kimball about his concerns.  A return letter assured him that the call was correct and he should go to Columbia. 

He wrote another letter that questioned his call.  By this time, Elder Lee was already in the MTC in Provo Utah.  This letter was answered with a personal visit from President Kimball who once again assuring the anxious Elder that the call to Columbia was correct.  Elder Lee finished his training and flew to Columbia.

Towards the end of his mission in Columbia, Elder Li was approached by an elderly Japanese man.  This man explained that he was a leader to 76 Japanese families living in Columbia.  He explained that the group had just started to study religions.  He further said that he had an old religious book that talked of men named Moroni and Alma and wondered if this Elder knew of these men of whom he mentioned.  The older gentleman also explained that most of his group only spoke Japanese and wondered if Elder Lee could speak that language.

Elder Lee and his companion baptized 26 families from this contact.  As Elder Lee finished his mission, this group of newly baptized members wanted to have a good by dinner.  At that dinner, the older gentleman brought the worn book he had spoken of earlier.  He asked Elder Lee to write his testimony in the book.  Elder Lee opened the book and discovered a testimony carefully placed inside.  The testimony was that of Elder Lee's father, placed there several decades before.  How the book ever arrived with this older gentleman was a mystery.

Friday, June 12, 2015

I call it the "crazies!"

June 12, 2015
I call it the “crazies”.  It’s that little space of time between Monday and Wednesday during transfers.  It’s almost impossible to get it all done, and yet it all happens whether you are prepared or not!  By the way, don’t feel sorry for us as you read this.  At times Keith and I are dragging ourselves along; however, we have been blessed to keep going even when dragging! 


  • Get to airport by 9 to pick up Elder from Guatemala.
  • Be at office by 11 for the 10 Elders/Sisters arriving from CCM (Mexico MTC)
  • Start training, feeding, and interviews.
  • Load up the mail so it can be delivered to missionaries the next day.
  • Be back at airport at 3 to pick up Sister flying in from Utah
  • Continue training, feeding, and interviews
  • Back to the Airport at 7 to pick up an Elder flying from Ohio.  He gets stuck in customs, we get worried, we call Ohio, Elder finally gets found, we call Ohio so that the parents can now relax.
  • Bed down 10 Elders at the mission office and bring 5 sisters home to sleep.
  • Keith is up until 1AM placing new missionaries with trainers and then collapses in bed.


  • 8 AM: We (and the 5 sisters) are off to Neza Stake Center for the changes.  We drive both cars so we will have more room.  We hire a van to transport the new Elders staying at the office.
  • Office staff picks up one Elder coming in from Argentina at 7:30 and will bring him to Neza (This is the first Elder that we haven’t been able to be at the airport to pick up – felt bad.)
  • Load up all “departing” sisters luggage in our cars – they will be sleeping at the mission home tonight.  Load all “returning” Elder’s luggage in a rented van to be taken back to the mission office where they will sleep that night.
  •  Over a hundred missionaries gather for changes – new companions, trainers, zone leaders all cheer and sing.  Everyone with changes bring their luggage so the front lawn of the church is covered.  The meetings are very lively and “Pres” has to often put his finger to his mouth to quiet them down.
  • Following the meeting, slowly, but surely, we get them to leave Neza by taxi or another ride and go back to the apartments and missionary work.  We load up 7 departing sisters in the cars to come to the Mission Home for a final dinner.  The other 14 Elders will need to catch metros to get to the mission home for dinner.  7 sisters with luggage leave very little room in the cars! (We did fit in one sick Elder who we brought to the house and put to bed for the day.)
  • Dinner for 25 (enough said) and a sweet testimony meeting follows.  We then load up the Elders who will be sleeping at the mission office.  The sisters start checking bags for weight and deciding what will be left behind.  Home (filled with sisters) by 8 PM.


  • We leave the house at 2:45 AM with both cars.  We have 3 Sisters with us and we drive to the office and pick up 3 Elders.  (Most of the Elders have been awake all night long talking and reflecting.) Unfortunately the group is split between 2 terminals, so Keith drives one way, me the other.
  • By 4AM we are checking in missionaries.  Keith’s three in Terminal 1 goes well and he heads over to Terminal 2 by about 5.   Sister Taylor is not so lucky in Terminal 2 – they say she doesn’t have a reservation.  We can buy another ticket but she won’t leave until 4 PM.  I call SLC and they tell me it isn’t true – try again.  Several phone calls and 30 minutes later, she really does get to go home on time.  Elder Hammond checks in easily.
  • We are back to the office for a one hour nap in the car.  “Fully refreshed” we head back to the airport to take Sister Bennett
  • Back to the office again, we order pizza for the remaining 12 returning missionaries.  After a few minutes of laughs and relaxing, we load up 12 missionaries’ luggage in our 2 cars.  With no room for “humans” we tell them to catch taxies to the airport and meet us in Terminal 2, Parking lot floor 4.
  •  All show up in the parking terminal but 4 Elders – where are they?  We are also missing Elder Garrett’s luggage.  Did you load it Elder Garrett? (We are asking someone who has not slept the night before….hummm).  A quick call to the office reveals what we thought – we ask the office to load the missing bags in a taxi, and head for the airport.  Meanwhile, our missing Elders have no cell phone so we can try to find them – all we can do is pray and move forward.  They do show up in about 30 minutes – their taxi took them to the wrong terminal and since they are not familiar with the airport, they didn’t recognize that.  However, they were smart enough to figure it out when they couldn’t find us.
  • We check in 12 missionaries and head towards those security doors.  With ample tears and hugs, we send them back to the arms of their loving parents.
Drained and exhausted we make it home before 5 PM.  It will take a few nights of rest to be back at full speed but we will have to recover quickly – we have 5 apartments to break down, Stake Conferences to speak at, and the start of 7 zone conferences next week.  I had a friend recently send a wish that my body would feel one half its age.  That is a very appropriate wish!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

My week of experiences

May 24, 2015

We found an import store and I bought my first Crisco – actually it was butter flavored Crisco!  Up to date, I have only had the choice of lard, oil, or butter.  Unless you have a recipe that uses those, and adjusts to high altitudes, nothing comes out quite right.  The Crisco was about $13/can and I bought two – would have bought more if they had them!

Friday night we went out to dinner with our friends, the Brailsford’s.  We left the car in the WalMart parking lot and walked the three blocks to the restaurant.  Coming out, we got caught in one of those “Mexico City downpours.”  Keith and Tom headed for the car, we headed towards the Brailsford’s apartment in the other direction.  The men made to the car to discover they didn’t have a key.  We made it to the apartment to discover we didn’t have a key.  By the end, we were 4 totally soaked people.  Me to Keith:  “Let’s go home and start a fire.  Woops, we don’t have a fireplace!  Let’s go home and turn up the heater.  Woops, we don’t have a heater.  Okay, I’ll settle for a hot bath.”

We went out to Texcoco for church today.  This is the farthest out section of our mission – traffic may cause it to take 2 hours to arrive.  The ward was delightful!  The city was clean with grass and trees growing.  The church was new with an elevator since the chapel is on the 2nd floor.  We are considering moving to Texcoco (like we have any control over that).

We drive from our office to home using one of two routes.  The route that uses an almost freeway, Churubusco, takes 15 minutes less driving time.  Tlalpan route requires two different expressways, is full of buses, and is far trickier and dangerous to navigate.  The problem is that the police randomly close the entrance to Churubusco.  We have yet to figure out why or when.  So as I pulled up to enter today, I was by myself and in the van.  Two traffic police stood there with the gates closed.  One was older and one was younger.  I pulled up and they waved at me to go another way.  With my best puppy dog face I put up my hands in a pleading position.  They walked over.  In my broken Spanish:
“Please, Please, I am an old gringa (white woman).  Mi casa (I point down the freeway).
Older officer laughs
“Old gringa – mi casa (my home)!” I re-emphasis.
Older officer reaches into the van, pulls my head over and plants a big kiss on my cheek.  He waves at the younger officer to open the gate.
“Te quiero” (I love you) I say as I drive through the gates.
“Gracias” says the officer.

Yeah for me!!  Cheap price to use Churubusco!!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A gigantic reunion in Heaven

May 17, 2015
When I was carrying my second child I used to wonder how I could possibly love the new baby as much as I loved my first daughter, Laura.  I wondered how my heart could hold any more love than it already had and if I would end up being an inadequate mother to my second baby.  Of course when Sara arrived,  I learned that wonderful lesson that your heart simply expands with each child.  Love doesn’t have to be divided when you are blessed with another child.  A mother’s capacity to love simply increases.

I feel like I am going through that worry again!  In just three short transfers, this mission loses more than 50+ missionaries.  Within those numbers sit absolutely wonderful, dedicated, young men and women.  They were here when we arrived 11 months ago.  We felt that some changes needed to happen, and with faith, we opened the door to change.  These young men and women rushed through that door and changed so many things in this mission.  I love them.

And now they are going to leave.  I am having my second child!  Can my heart expand to hold more love for all these wonderful young men and women that remain and are coming?  I already know the answer to that question – but that doesn’t seem to stop the little sadness that is sitting in there!

We will be receiving 27 young men and women to replace those going.  We will close areas, apartments, and haul furniture to the offices.  We will find trainers, district leaders, zone leaders and assistants from those that stand by our sides.  I sure hope at some time in the future, maybe even in Heaven, we will have a gigantic reunion of 400+ and talk about old times!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

3 stories from Keith's journal

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
        On Mother´s Day, we went to the far side of the mission to the zone called Los Reyes, and the ward called Chicoloapan.  We had to attend there for a few reasons, one of which was to interview a disobedient Elder, and the other was to interview an investigator who wants to be baptized, but had a special circumstance that I´ll tell about later.  
          Every time we attend Church, we get asked to sit on the stand, and to give a talk.  I don´t really have many “prepared” talks to use, but I usually try to let the Spirit guide me, use a few scriptures, and just build upon it. 
        I had the impression to talk about the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, which we celebrate on May 15th.  (restored on May 15, 1829 by John the Baptist).   Then, I wanted to tie in the ministration of angels, which was a gift restored to the earth by the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. 
       I talked about how deeply I believed that this gift is true, and that angels are working around us.  I quoted Alma 13:24 where it says that angels are here preparing the hearts of those we teach.  I mentioned the experience I had of the Spirit telling me to tell my missionaries that their very own families who have passed away, are here serving.  I told them how I was told to specifically tell on of my missionaries who lost his brother the week before, that his brother was here working with him.
     I further talked about how Susan and I pray everyday before we drive that angels can be on our right and left D&C 84:88.  We feel much protection every day with this promise. 
     Then I transitioned my talk to tell them about the “angels” in this very chapel….the moms!!  That´s how I tied Mother´s Day into it.  I felt grateful that I could share with them how important they were, and for the positive impact that Mom´s who lived by the principles of the Savior can have on their families. 
       I ended by telling them that Susan was the angel by my side, and that my Mom was my guardian angel who I have felt many times her presence. 
       Well, after Church, we always like to greet the saints and visit.  The hermanas (sisters) always hug Susan and press right cheeks to her and “air kiss.”.  They love her. 
        Out in  the hallway, a sister came up to me and asked to have her family´s picture taken with us.  We, of course, were glad to grant that. 
       After the picture, the Hermana, with tears in her eyes, said that she rejoiced when she heard me talk about angels.  She said that at home, before Church, she prayed, felt the presence of angels, and felt the Spirit tell her that she would receive many blessings and answers at Church. 
        She explained that her family had been going through some financial struggles (her husband is an unemployed accountant) who has been looking for work for over a year.  The next day, she explained, her husband had a job interview.  She said that I was the person the Lord placed in her path, and that whatever I said was what would be the result of her husband´s interview and job search!
     TALK ABOUT PRESSURE!!!!!!!!!!!
      Well, the Spirit whispered to me to take the family into an empty classroom and visit with them, and give the hermano (brother) a blessing.  I was prompted to have Susan offer a prayer before hand.  You guys, you should have heard her prayer!!!  It was all in Spanish, and beautiful and very touching.  Tears abounded!!  
       I then placed my hands on his head and as I felt inspired, gave him a priesthood blessing, in which he was blessed that he could be calm and collected and present himself well in the interview.  Many other things were mentioned in the blessing as I spoke.  So nice to serve in the Church and help affect the lives of others. 
       So, I am “holding my breathe”, hoping that he will soon be employed!!  Maybe we can all pray for this hermano (brother) and his family who live in “Chicoloapan”. 
        It was a very rich experience, especially being humbled by understanding that Heavenly Father uses all of us in many ways to bless others. 

         So, on another note….after that experience, the Elders had me interview about a 50 year old Hermana (sister) who was wanting to be baptized.  Sometimes in the baptismal interview that the district leaders make, they come across situations that require them to have a “special interview” with me. 
          She told me her story.  Her husband (well, they like most, many people, were never married) moved to the United States for work about 8 years ago.  They have two children, a girl around 16, and another younger daughter. 
       She explained in the interview that her “spouse” contacted her less and less over the years, and that he rarely sent any money.  Her daughter was becoming a little rebellious, and she was struggling to be a single mom, working, and wondering what to do to keep on going.
      In her own way, she told me that she prayed and prayed for help.  One day, she heard a knock on the door, and yelled rudely for them to go away.  They kept knocking. She yelled. Then something told her to open the door.  She did, and she saw the wonderful smiling faces of my missionaries!!!!
       She was totally surprised that she invited them in, and within moments she felt the peace of Savior in  her home.  Her daughter started to feel that she loved their message, and quickly wanted to be baptized.  In a few weeks, she, indeed, was baptized. 
    This Hermana, however, had a different situation. If she got baptized, and her “spouse” ever returned, he would want to live with her and her children.  She, in fact, hoped that he would return and marry her. She explained that that hope had always been inside her!!  The missionaries told her that they would have to talk to me about the possibility of her getting baptized with the situation of him returning, even though it has been 8 years. 
     When they told her she may not be able to get baptized and would have to have an interview with their “president” (me) she became very discouraged. 
      The missionaries made an appointment for her to see me.  During the week she was waiting for the interview from me, she received a text on her phone from her “husband”.  Upon reading it, it was very evident to her that the text from him was intended for another woman, and was sent accidentally by him to her!!
      She said it was an answer to her prayers, because now she can concentrate on the Savior and do what He wants her to do, and forget about this man in the USA who is never coming back.
     It was very sweet as tears of joy came into her eyes when I gave her permission to be baptized.  She was ecstatic!!  She talked of the great change in her family as they have learned to know the living resurrected Christ.  She was very sweet as she shared her testimony with me with her tears rolling down her cheeks.  
Man, I love this mission!   It is so great to be on the Lord´s errand!!!

So, now, my last event to share, was my interview that day with one of my missionaries!  It is kind of a down and upper of an experience. 
     He called me on Saturday crying because of a mistake he made.  He and his companion were helping a family pack up their belongings to get ready to move.  My two Elders arrived and started helping. They got separated into two different rooms, when one Elder ended up in a room with a 17 year old girl….and ended up kind of passionately kissing her (his companion's words as he caught them!!!)  What a knucklehead!!!    His companion was really affected by what he saw, and he could barely talk.  They were all stunned!!!     
      He wanted to talk to me immediately in person, but I decided  it was better to spend the night going through a repentance process and spend some time on his knees.  He was terrified that I would send him home!!!
      In cases like this, I have to consider all things.  Many times I have to call a member of the Area Presidency (who are all general authorities), call the Stake President, and make decisions as to what to do.  They usually follow my recommendations. 
        This Elder has been a marginally effective missionary.  When I met with him Sunday, he was in tears and very distressed and repentant.  We talked about obedience, about how companions should always stay together, even in the same rooms in a house or Church. We talked about temptation, the Atonement, repentance, forgiveness, the effect of his inappropriate actions on others around him, etc. 
        After a long time visiting, the Spirit told me to keep him on his mission, and that I should not involve others in consult.  I was surprised, but I listened. 
        The best part was that the Spirit prompted me to give him a blessing.   I never deny the prompting to bless a missionary. It really is a tender mercy.

       Well, so…this missionary will remain, for now, on the mission, but he is now a junior companion, and in another area far away from where he was.   

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Dr. H.

May 4, 2015

We have a Doctor that lives in one of our wards.  He has been most kind and helped with many sick and kind of sick missionaries.  Dr. H. did not receive his medical training at what we would call a medical school.  In fact we don’t quite know where he received his training.  He practices a little Chinese medicine, mixed with homeopathic, mixed with looking up symptoms on Google.

Elder R. arrived from Argentina one week ago.  He has already served for 6 weeks in another mission so we knew there would be some adjustments.  We assigned him Elder H.  We saw the two at church on Sunday and asked how they were doing.  Elder R. reported that he had been to see Dr. H. because he wasn’t well.  Dr. H. looked at the size of his hands (large) and asked him if he was an “angry man.”  Large hands = angry man.  Because Elder R. was an angry man, his gall bladder had started to hurt.  That was Dr. H's diagnosis.  We asked Elder R. why he was angry.  He was angry with Elder H. because Elder H. fell asleep during personal study.  (Who hasn’t?)  I don’t think we can decrease the size of Elder R’s hands, but will work on the anger part!

Weird medical practices in Mexico:
     *If it rains on you, you must hurry home for a shower or you will get sick.
     * If it is hot outside, you can’t have a cold drink, or you will get sick.
     *Coke with lemon fixes all ailments.
     *If it is cooler than 80 degrees, you must wear a sweater or coat or you will get sick.
     *Don’t eat bread and drink water together.  It will cause you to get sick.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Blessing given

May 4, 2015

Elder R. was going to take his nightly shower.  As he was stepping into the shower, he noticed his foot was turning black on the underneath side.  In his sudden panic he didn’t think about the soccer accident of a few weeks ago.  He was just concerned that his foot was going to die and fall off.

He grabbed Elder O., called us, and headed to the hospital.  Looking very much a missionary, he opened the doors of the hospital to go inside.  The waiting room was filled with people waiting to see a doctor.  Immediately the Elders were spotted by a young father holding a sick baby.  He rushed up to them and said, “I’m so glad you have arrived.  I have been praying for you.  My baby is sick and needs a priesthood blessing.”

It always amazes me how Heavenly Father puts people together and acts on sincere faithful prayers.  The baby received a blessing and Elder R. spent a night in the hospital on IV.  His toe that he had smashed during his soccer game had turned into an infection.  Within days he was back out going at full power.  But more importantly, a father and baby had been cared for on that night in the hospital.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

It's not Taco Bell

April 19, 2015
I knew that the food here would not be like Taco Bell and it isn’t.  I guess what has surprised me is that each region of Mexico has its own type of food.  Therefore, a lot of the food I expected is not available where I live.

I expected a lot of beans.  No beans here – or at least very few beans here.  If you are eating at a restaurant and order some, you will get a small bowl.  Refried beans (frijoles) are even harder to find.

I thought all of Mexico ate both corn and flour tortillas.  Nope.  Although you can find flour tortillas in the grocery store (small little display with one brand), most of the tortillas are corn in this region.  You can order a “gringa” (white girl) at some restaurants which is a fried flour tortilla with meat and cheese.  Delicious indeed, but it is not the normal meal around here.  Corn tortillas are warmed on a stove top and not deep fried.

Rice – don’t know how it is here since I haven’t had any, except in rice pudding.  Spanish rice?  It’s probably popular somewhere else in Mexico.

Guacamole – it’s usually runny without a lot of flavor except for the hot part.  They use a lot of water in the preparation.  We have found some “American” guacamole at one restaurant and we savor it whenever we can!

Tortilla chips are for mixing with salsa and scrambled eggs – called chilaquiles.  I run into flavored Doritos at convenience stores but few are dipping them into salsa.  Meanwhile, salsa is runny, very hot, and seldom makes it into my system!

The food here is great – but it is not Taco Bell!  That’s alright with me.  I was never much of a Taco Bell fan anyway!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

April 19, 2015
Beauty is an interesting and cultural thing.  This is most apparent living as a North American in Mexico. (Side note> Mexican’s consider themselves “American’s” also - therefore we are North Americans)

This is not a very integrated society.  I see very few cultures other than Latino.  Occasionally at tourist spots, I will see other races.  However for the most part, I see very few.

You are considered more attractive here if you have lighter skin.  What an interesting contrast – I would prefer if my white skin would tan and get some color to it.  Here you see umbrellas protecting one from the sun while in the states you find people trying to tan themselves with various products or tanning salons.  I guess it’s all in the eyes of the beholder.

I stand out down here not only for my light skin and blue eyes, but for my gray hair.  I seldom see gray hair on females.  Most of the hair is dyed very black regardless of the age of the woman.  Women’s hair is kept long, mostly without bangs, until you are quite a bit older.  I guess shorter hair is for “older” people. 

So what really is beauty?  When we all reach a perfected state, will we have different colored eyes and hair?  Maybe by that state we will be able to look past our physical exterior to see the true beauty within.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Perfect Storm of Illness

April 12, 2015

This was an unusual week.  It was like the perfect storm of sickness!  Here is what we did last week.  We were present at all of these things – and this schedule does not include the four days of interviews.  Wow – no wonder we are tired!
·         Elder J. R. was admitted to Cami Hospital with a severe infection in his food.
·         Hermana A. L. had a tooth ache and we took to the dentist
·         Elder J. L. was admitted to the hospital because he couldn’t keep food down.
·         Elder J. L. released from Cami Hospital
·         Elder J. R. released from Cami Hospital
·         Elder J. S. taken to Dr. Francina to check on procedure on toe
·         Elder C. A. taken to Dr. Francina for a procedure on his toe
·         Elder T. G. taken to Dr. Francina – fear he has another hernia, needs ultrasound
·         Elder B. H. taken to Dr. Francina – needs surgery for a benign tumor in chest
·         Elder R. M. taken to internist for test results – he is gluten intolerant
·         Elder D. G. comes down with chicken pox
·         Elder A. G. sees plastic surgeon to repair bad scar on face
·         Elder D. R. sees plastic surgeon to help repair burns on hands
·         Elder T. G. gets his ultrasound
·         Elder T. G. gets results – needs surgery
·         Elder B. H. has a successful surgery removing benign tumor
·         Hermana R. W. is admitted to Cami Hospital with dehydration and diarrhea.

Today we still have our Hermana in the hospital.  Elder B. H. was released from the hospital today (5 hours to get the hospital and insurance to work together) and is at our home, and 2 Elders have also joined us for a dentist appointment in the morning.  May we sleep in tomorrow?