Called To Serve


Sunday, December 23, 2012


A blog entry is well past due!  Unfortunately, we had no new missionaries come to our mission this last transfer because none of the missionaries that were to come were able to get their visas.  So, I suppose I forgot that I could still do a blog entry!  My life seems to revolve around our transfers every 6 weeks, so if that doesn't happen, I completely get out of my routine!

These past 6 weeks have been busy, nonetheless, and we anxiously await the arrival of a FEW of those missionaries who were to come at the end of November.  We have learned that 4 of our visa waiters have now received their visas so on January 7, we will greet them with open arms!!

What a fun, busy, action-packed  past 2 weeks we have had!  Our next zone conferences were scheduled to be held in January, but we decided to move those conferences up into December so we could acknowledge and celebrate Christmas with our missionaries.  Our missionaries work so hard all year long, so we wanted to give them a nice break, plus find a way for them to feel the spirit of Christmas within the comforts of a HOME rather than some cultural hall!  The area authorities for Mexico gave us guidelines to follow.  They requested that we NOT gather the entire mission together for one big event.  We were told that we could join 2-3 zones together, if we choose, or one zone at a time, but never at any ONE time are we to ALL gather together!  So, this is what we decided to do!

We have six zones.  We decided to do each zone, one at a time, at our mission home.  Our home is not large enough to do more than one zone at a time.  So, we scheduled for December 11, 12, and 13 and December 18, 19, and 20th to have each of our six zones in, one at a time.  On each day we did the following:

10:00 AM-Arrival at mission home

Krispy Kreme Donuts, Fruit Cup, Juices, and Chocolate Milk served upon arrival

10:20 or so- Business portion of Zone Conference
  • Zone Photos
  • Birthday Recognition-basket with baked goodies to choose from (Large brownie, mini loaf of banana bread, or large M&M Cookie)
  • Extraordinary Missionary follow up-award clementine to any missionary who has been exercising faithfully and eating nutritiously and economically!)

Fuertes Zone

Amalucan Zone

La Paz Zone

La Libertad

Tlaxcala Zone

Chiautempan Zone

Christmas Caroling with homemade chimes (Trudy's), piano, and sing-a-long.  Lots of fun and laughs as we have tried to sing 12 Days of Christmas in Spanish and divide into groups and each number stands and sings when their turn!

Ralph conducting the music as the missionaries play our homemade chimes!

Playing our homemade chimes!

Discussion lead by Ralph on Christ-Who is He?  What is his role?  How do we "receive" Him?  How do we "accept"the atonement in our lives?

Each district (3 in each zone) to perform for 15 minutes.  This can be anything from singing a Christmas carol to acting out a play, etc.  LOTS OF FUN and LAUGHS!!

One of our districts performing!

Very talented district doing the can-can in step!!

This is where some of the missionaries are standing behind the backdrop and putting their arms in the sleeves, and the faces of the missionaries that we see have their arms in the legs with shoes on their hands.  This was hilarious as they danced to a Christmas medley!

The entire district...those behind the scenes as well!! (A district from La Paz)

A skit from one of Amalucan's districts...A mix between Christmas and Lehi's family and missionary work!  Notice the sword of "Laban" looking like a missionary tie...Sword of Santa...with Nephi (an elf) trying to convince Santa that he needs to take the gifts with him!  "Not on your life, says Santa!  Very funny skit!
One of the many fun skits each district put on!

A skit the Hermanas were in!

Another district performing

Another district!

Yet, another district!
And...another district!

Feliz Navidad--These two elders are at the piano playing Feliz Navidad on the piano and the Melodica.  Unfortunately I did not capture a still shot picture with the melodica, but the elder in the background is playing that instrument and the elder in the front is at the piano.  They are looking over at their "band" as ALL of them are playing the song, "Feliz Navidad!  It was so cute!!

The rest of the band playing Feliz Navidad--guitar and drums, using a bucket and tin lid!!

BUNKO with prizes, etc.  They LOVED it!!!

Head table starts and ends the game with the jingle bells!

Adding up their scores!
Christmas dinner served-
Ham, Baked potato with sour cream and/or butter, Carrot/Pea mixture, Broken Glass Jello, homemade rolls, Costco pies and cheesecakes

Amalucan Zone
Tlaxcala Zone

Fuertes Zone

Feeling a nap coming on after eating a large dinner!

Gather back in livingroom around Christmas tree to give out gifts that are under the tree

Gifts wrapped up and ready to open!!

Some of the Hermanas opening up their gifts...homemade scarves that I made for each of the missionaries to wear around their necks when it is cold outside!
Some of these elders trying to figure out how to wear their new scarves!
Posing in their new scarves!
Everyone leaves

The HONOR of being awarded the "Sword of Santa!"  This is a sword the Elders made for a skit!  I think they think the president needs a sword as he has tried to change the culture somewhat from where it had been!  The missionaries are grateful for the changes, so I think it was a compliment for him to become the keeper of the sword!  

Clean up begins, preparation for the next day starts over!! Gifts under tree, making broken glass jello salad, etc.

Well, that's how we've spent our last few weeks!  I've been busy preparing for this event.  All of the missionaries seemed to have a great time!  I love doing things for our missionaries.  They are very appreciative and helpful!  It was fun to get together with one zone at a time.  It is such a nice way to get to know each of the missionaries at a more personal level.

Feliz Navidad!  Feliz Navidad!  We want to wish you a very merry Christmas from the bottom of our hearts!  This IS our Christmas card this year!  None of you have been taken off of our list!  We have no list this year or for the next three years!!  We hope this finds all of you well and happy!  May we remember the "reason for the season."  So many do NOT!!  At this time of much turmoil and tragedy, it is evident that the world NEEDS the message that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ who was born to save us all!  He was born as a babe in humble circumstances, but NEVER would there be a birth more significant.  He came to earth so that we might have joy, both in this life and throughout eternity! May we find a way to share this message, as there are MANY seeking peace, joy, and purpose and meaning in their lives.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

September, 2012 Post

Well, if I'm going to do as I said I would and send out an update after each cambio (transfer), I better get going!!  It's been two weeks since our last cambio and time just seems to keep FLYING by!!  At times in the past, the days have seemed long, yet the weeks seemed to have a way of going by fast!  But, anymore, even the slow days seem very fast!!  I'm back to how I have felt most of my life, wondering how to get more time in a day?  If any of you have the secret, don't hesitate to pass it along!!
We are now past our second cambio.   In our past cambio we received 21 new missionaries, 8 from the Mexico MTC and 13 from Provo.  Do you think they are excited to get to work?  

The top picture is a photo of the American missionaries at the Puebla Airport, having just arrived from the MTC in Provo, Utah!!  We picked them up in the evening on the same day that we picked our missionaries up at the Puebla Bus station, in the morning, having come in from the MTC in Mexico City.  Just above are the missionaries having just arrived from Mexico City.   We received one sister missionary this time to join our other nine hermanas!   
After meeting the missionaries from Provo we got back to our house about 10:15 PM in time to feed some very hungry elders and tuck them into bed (mattresses all over the house) for some sleep.  After 9 dozen eggs, 200 floured tortillas, a bag of Costco pancake mix (to mention only a small portion of what 21 missionaries can devour), and a great training session at our home, they were sent on their way to meet their first companions!  I truly love having them arrive!  It is such a special time to see their eagerness and excitement.  They are READY to get to work!!  It is also fun to have them sleeping all over our house!  There's something kind of cozy about all of us together under one roof!  I think it feels like my children are coming home for a visit!!  Once again, we received a terrific group of new missionaries who are ready to work hard and find their joy in teaching the gospel.  

One of our assistants helping me get food set out so we can be ready to feed lots of hungry missionaries "cena" when we return from picking the American missionaries up from the airport.  Notice a few mattresses on the floor in the background.

We have missionaries sleeping everywhere!  This is in our front foyer.
We have beds all over upstairs as well!  Lots of fun!

Here we are, sitting wherever we can find a spot to eat a light "Cena" before going to bed after a long day of travel.  They are happy and eager to get going after two months in the MTC!!  As you look at our living room, you will notice it  is a combination "training room, bedroom, and "kitchen", all in one!  Very versatile, wouldn't you say?

The week after cambios we had our first mission tour.  Elder Benjamin De Hoyos of the First Quorum of Seventy (a member of the Area Presidency) and his sweet wife spent from Tuesday evening through Saturday morning with us teaching all of the missionaries and local leaders.  We were so very impressed with the De Hoyos and privileged to get to know them.  They are great teachers and have become dear friends.  I enjoyed some special time with Hermana De Hoyos while our husbands were at Priesthood training sessions in the early part of each evening during the time they were here.  Each evening after our husbands returned, we would have "Cena" together.  It is custom here in this area to have La Comida (the big meal of the day around 2-3 PM), then Cena about 9:00 PM.  (This is a lighter meal such as a sandwich and fruit or a salad or soup.)  We enjoyed that time together with them each night. 

Hermana De Hoyos making floured tortillas!

My first homemade floured tortilla!  Thank you Hermana De Hoyos!

Making refried beans...yummy!

A nice mix of Spanish and English conversation while sitting around the "Cena" table visiting!
We continue to love Mexico.  This past Monday we enjoyed our P-day with some friends we knew while living in Kansas City, Carol Webster and her daughter.  Carol's brother, Jeff, works for the church in Mexico City and he and his wife flew Carol and Kyra down for a visit on some frequent flyer miles.  What a surprise and JOY to hear from Carol, suggesting that we join them on the day they would be visiting Puebla!!  One of the highlights of the day was when we visited a pyramid that has been discovered in a neighboring town of Puebla called Cholula.   In the 1800's, this pyramid was discovered by a German man.  He determined that the pyramid was in the shape of a big square and there were many pyramids built on top of each other.  Over the years, grass grew over the top of these pyramids and when the Spanish came into power in Mexico, they built a cathedral on top of the mound.  One may have thought at first glance that this was a small mountain, but not so!!  The "digs" have determined that the original pyramid is about 250 BC and the newer ones were built around 
600-700 AD.  It was so enjoyable and fascinating to visit that sight.

A tunnel was created to go down under where the old pyramids exist.

While standing in the tunnel, one can turn and look up any number of hallways like this one and see original stairs of the pyramid, leading  to no where, at this point!!

Coming out of the tunnel.  Kyra and Carol Webster in PUEBLA, of all places with Ralph and Teresa!!
Notice how the grasses are growing all over?  It certainly covered the pyramids!!

A view on the grounds off to the side of the mound as they have been excavating this area.
Ralph and Teresa to the left, Jeff and JoLyn (from Mexico City) next to them, Carol and Kyra Webster (from Kansas), and Susan and Stan Martineau(serving in Mexico City from Arizona in the Mexican office).  For our Utah friends...Susan and Stan served as a counselor to Dean and Cathi Howes prior to coming on this mission!  It's a small world after all!!  Behind is the mountain with the cathedral sitting on top!! 

Birdseye view of the cathedral!

Puebla is has many original foods, known only to this area.  We enjoyed eating a seasonal dish a few weeks ago called Chile de Nogada.  At the time when Mexico declared its independence from Spain, the leader of Mexico wanted a food to celebrate their independence.  An order of nuns created a dish using a GREEN chile.  It was hollowed out and fresh fruits, nuts, and meets were stuffed in it and baked.  A WHITE, sweet sauce was poured over top with RED pomegranates garnishing the dish.  These colors represent the national flag of Mexico.   This dish is only served during the months of August and September when the pomegranates are in season.  Their day of independence is on September 15th.  We enjoyed this dish.  Although it was very sweet and rich, I have a feeling we will enjoy eating it at least two more times (in season) before we return home.

Chile de Nogada

While this is not the angle of mount Popo that we see everyday as we leave  our home, I took this beautiful picture from the car window as we drove to a small ward an hour north of our home.  It is fascinating to watch this volcano as somedays it is very active and on other days, it is very quiet.  We also continue to be amazed with the beauty of this part of Mexico.  There are times when we feel like we are driving through the mountains of Utah, Colorado, and Idaho!
Mount Popo

We find the architecture in Puebla to be charming!
What a privilege it is to be here and be a part of this great work.  I am yet to grasp the language, but continue to give it my best effort.  We are grateful to be anxiously engaged in this great work in this part of the Lord's vineyard.  Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with each of you and we ask that you remember us as well!  Until mid October...hasta luego!!