Saturday, January 23, 2016

A blinking star

January 23, 2016
Elders I & M were out working the other night.  It was almost 8:30 and so they knew they only had a few more minutes before they needed to head back to their home.  All appointments had been completed but they didn’t want to waste the last few minutes.

Elder I.  looked up into the sky where he saw a star that was blinking.  Half joking, he told his companion that they should look for a blinking star at the next few houses.  He hoped that star was giving him a little inspiration about those who would want to hear the gospel message.

They knocked at the doors of 2 houses where they saw a light that blinked – no success.  And then there it was…a house with a blinking star on the door.  The star was probably left over from Christmas.  A knock, and an answer..and within  minutes they had six new investigators who wanted to know more about the Mormon church.

Guidance can come in very interesting ways!

SLC - send me mothers!

January 23, 2016
As Keith does quarterly interviews with each missionary, I sit in another room with the waiting missionaries.  During this time I talk with them about everything from their health, their adjustment to being a missionary, and their families.

Elder T. arrived in the mission a little over 3 months ago.  When American missionaries come to Mexico, we often see an adjustment period.  Many are away from home for the first time and they are in a foreign country with a new culture, language and food.  Many Americans take a little time to adjust.  However, Elder T. has shown none of the regular signs of that adjustment.

Our conversation on Friday:
Me: How are you doing?
Elder T: Great – just great!
Me: How is your family?
Elder T:  Well you know I come from kind of a crazy family (as he pulls out his photo album). 
Me:  (Starting to turn pages):  Wow – are these all your brothers and sisters?
Elder T:  One is missing.  I haven’t met her yet.  She is being born next month.  I am the oldest of 12.
Me:  Some of our best friends have 12 children!  So why is this mission going so smooth for you?
Elder T:  (with a big smile): I’m on a vacation where I only have to take care of me!  My parents both work and I was always washing clothes and dishes, and cooking meals.  This is so much easier!  I love being a missionary!

My Conclusion:  We should only get mothers as missionaries down here!  If mothers took and break and came on a mission, they would really enjoy the whole experience!  Elder T. knew how to work hard – and so working hard here is so much easier for him!  I wonder if SLC would take my suggestion……

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A "golden" baptism

January 12, 2016

In 2012 the Chalco mission had not been created, so Ixtapaluca Stake was in the Mexico City Southeast mission.  Within six months, the Chalco mission was created and the Ixtapaluca Stake which included the San Buenaventura ward was transferred to the new mission.  Ixtapaluca remained in the Chalco mission until it was transferred back to our mission just days ago.
Elder Reyes first arrived in the Mexico City Southeast mission in the fall of 2012.  In February, 2013, he was assigned to the San Buenaventura ward in Ixtapaluca.  He was unaware of changes in both his life, and in his ward, that were about to happen.

Elder Reyes and his companion made contact with a good man.  They taught and loved this man, and he joined the church.  They hoped he would be “golden” – he would be someone to understand and love his new church.

During this time, Elder Reyes was getting sicker and sicker.  By April, after less than 3 months in the San Buenaventura ward, he was sent home to Guatemala.  The diagnosis was cancer and he was a sick young man.  Although it turned out not to be the “c” word, he still had a long recovery.

Elder Reyes recovered but wanted to finish his mission.  He re-joined us in June 2015.  In a miraculous turn of events, Ixtapaluca re-joined our mission just days ago.  With great excitement we assigned Elder Reyes to the San Buenaventura ward.  At his first Sunday visit, Elder Reyes and his “golden” baptism met and hugged.  His “golden” baptism is now the Bishop of the ward.

My year end accounting

January 12, 2016

I can’t let the New Year begin without sharing about the last 18 months.  We have reached our half way point.  We didn’t celebrate with any fanfare – no burning of ties, shirts, or suits.  In fact, we didn’t do anything – Keith was ill.  Once he was up and going again, life took over and we haven’t slowed down.

To date:
       We have met, worked with, cried and laughed with 376 missionaries.  We have sent home 24 with medical reasons, and 10 have decided that a mission is not what they want right now.
       We have been to the airport 173 times – good thing it is close to the office!
       We doubled the size of our mission when we added Ixtapaluca.  It is so large that we made it 2 zones.  Therefore we now have 7 stakes which translates to 9 zones. (La Perla Stake has 2 zones also because of size).
       We quit counting the number of red lights we have run.  It is into the hundreds.  Red lights are sometimes quite hidden and when they are not, other drivers often ignore red lights and honk if you stop. (This has even happened when it’s the “policia” behind us).  Divine intervention has kept us out of car wrecks but we have plenty of scratches!
       We have had multiple traffic tickets (never for running a red light).  Our latest ones were for factory tinted windows (they just wanted lunch money), and for carrying two mattresses on the roof of our car (our car registration says that our car is for people, not stuff).  We try and not make eye contact with “traffico policia.”

Okay – the accountant in me feels better!  Off to the second half.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

The challenge of opening a new area in the mission

January 2, 2016

We are at crunch time.  In just 3 days, we must have 34 missionaries ready to move to a brand new area of the mission.  The details of that keep popping back up.

* 34 missionaries mean that we are closing 17 apartments where they are currently living.  We had 30+ wards with 4 missionaries.  That has been cut in half.  We had to identify the best areas to keep and to close – a task that involved zone leaders, district leaders, many phone calls, and decisions that involved rent contracts, sizes of areas, and support of the ward in which the apartment resided.
    *Closing 17 apartments – what do we do with all that stuff?  We are arriving to apartments in Ixtapaluca that are already furnished.  We have come up with a list of items for each apartment to give away, and which items will be picked up and brought to the office.  They have been told that the apartments are to be packed, spotless, and ready for a quick pick up.  Mind you, in all the apartments we have closed in the last 18 months, only one was totally ready to “just be picked up.”  This time Keith has “promised” a strong reprimand if they are not ready.  We are hiring a truck to go around and pick it all up.  There are just too many for the “van team” (Olson, Orchard, and us) to do it.
    *Transfers happen on Tuesday.  The domino effect of finding 34 missionaries for Ixtapaluca has caused this to be the biggest transfer ever.  We need 6 new zone leaders and a new assistant.  We need new district leaders. 
       *After the transfer meeting, we gather the 34 missionaries for some lunch, and then load them on a bus to go to Ixtapaluca.  We are renting that bus.  We all drive the 90 minutes to Ixtapaluca and meet the 40 missionaries from the Chalco mission.  Our missionaries will live with them for 36 hours – they need to know the ward, the bishop and the ward mission leader.  They need to know the transportation system, where stores are, and who they can contact for help.  They need to learn where the other missionaries in the common wards are and how to get to them.  They will arrive with little food and with cell phones that may work or not.  All this is just a little scary!!
    *  Ixtapaluca while in the Chalco mission had 40 missionaries.  We are sending 34.  3 areas need to be closed out there.  18 out of the 40 missionaries from Chalco are sisters – we only have 19 total sisters in our whole mission.   We are going to send 6 Sister missionaries to Ixtapaluca.  Therefore we are sending Elders to replace some of the Sisters.   These Elders don’t get the 36 hours of training from the Chalco missionaries.  They get brief training at the church, and then they are on their own.

It is a blessing that we are just receiving 4 new Elders on Monday.  It is also a blessing that we sent 8 missionaries home a little early so they could be home for Christmas.  Therefore, the good by dinner and testimony meeting on Tuesday, and Wednesday at the airport is not happening this time.  We are free to handle the “emergencies” that arise.

Ixtapaluca – Here we come!