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.