The government of Mexico owns the gas stations and oil. They announced a 20% increase in the cost of gas. This made all the truckers mad and they decided to stage a protest. Wish someone had told us.
We had two groups of missionaries go to the Pyramids on January 2. Each group left the pyramids to return home by mid-afternoon. The first bus with one group of six, ran into a road block and decided to off road it – and made it past the protest. The second bus, with 4 sisters and 2 elders, stopped and told everyone on the bus that the bus would probably sit there for 24 hours. Most of the people got off and walked to a small town named Acolman to arrange other transportation. Our six followed. When they got to the town, all the buses were packed and they called us. We sent them to a local OXXO (7-11), located them on google maps and headed out about 5PM to see if we could rescue them.
We were good for the first hour and then we hit a protest road block. We sat for 30 minutes and finally drove over some dirt to get to another road. That road worked for a while until we hit another protest road block. This time we didn’t sit so long before we maneuvered off to another road. By now it’s dark – and there are hundreds of stopped cars. Keith hid his wallet, and all my money and credit cards were hid in the normal woman hiding place. We saw a man waving a flag and he led us down a dirt road to another possible way. We drove for about 15 minutes more and were stopped again. We were now in the town of Acolman, but still several miles away from our missionaries. Many people were walking, but security guards at a local store told us of the danger of crossing the bridges. Not only were there protesters, but some bridges also had bandits.
The truckers were blocking roads into Mexico City. It wasn’t just one or two trucks – the blocks would be 30 trucks, 3 wide and 10 deep. The drivers just walked away from their trucks. They are doing it for 3 days we were told. We took a two lane, one way street, and drove the wrong way. We started to think of Plan B. We called the Mecham’s (our neighbors and President of the South Mission) and got the name of the Pachuga mission president and called him. President Kimball had been at the pyramids that day and had trouble getting home with his family. He told us he had seen our missionaries walking. He is new to the area and didn’t know the town of Acolman, but he started to set up Plan B if we couldn’t get to our missionaries.
At 10 PM we dashed into a store for a bathroom. We were once again at a roadblock. It was now time for Plan B. President Kimball took over and got a local bishop to go to the OXXO and pick up our missionaries. We were less than 2 miles away from them and couldn’t get through. We sat in Acolman till we knew they were at a home. They ended up sleeping on member’s floor – cold, hungry, tired, but safe – and safe was good enough for us that night. We drove back home getting here about midnight. Sleep was not the first thing on our minds that night.
Keith and Chris Nebeker headed back the next morning. The plan was to walk over the safest bridge and get our missionaries. I called them the “Von Trapp’s” and wished them well. We thought another man might look more official than an old woman (me). Surprisingly, the bridge was cleared the next morning and they had the missionaries within a few minutes of arriving in Acolman. Keith and Chris said the girls just ran to them and cried as they hugged “their rescuers.” Of course, the boys who had kept them safe, were not nearly so emotional!
Once in the car, they all slept for the hour+ ride. We thanked our Heavenly Father for their protection.