Called To Serve


Monday, March 18, 2013

Special People!!

After eight weeks of being with the sister missionaries and being a companion to one of them, my 2 month missionary experience came to an end.  My companion went home along with another sister missionary and we welcomed a new “hermana” into the field.  Because we now have an even number of sister companionships, they no longer need me to fill that void!  I look forward to finding other ways to work with the sister missionaries in our mission, as I had such a wonderful experience visiting with many active ward members, many inactive families, and investigators.  I am learning to LOVE these people.  Our differences are few and the things we have in common are many!  

One of the things I have been able to do even though I don't communicate very well is to teach some of these sweet people how to bake.  This particular investigator wanted me to teach her how to make small loaves of banana bread that she and her children could take into school every morning and sell.  She makes jello and a rice drink right now that they sell, but when I took some banana bread to them, she wondered if that would be something she could learn how to make.  So, it was fun to go to her home and teach her.  This lady has cancer that she is fighting and so she has lost all of her hair due to treatments.  She also has to be very careful about not picking up germs...the reason for the mask.

These are her two children that sell food every morning with their mom at the school.  Her husband and older son were not at home when I was there teaching her how to make banana bread.  These two children walked in from school just as I was getting ready to leave.  They were in their school uniforms which EVERYONE has to wear in Mexico when they go to school, whether private or public schools.  This is a very sweet family that I have fallen in love with!

This is my sweet companion washing up some family dishes and cleaning up after me as I taught the family how to make banana bread.

During this past transfer, we also had a mission tour.  That is when one of our area and general authorities in the church, assigned to Mexico, comes for three days and tours the mission.  His wife joins him and together, Ralph and I, along with them tour the mission.  It is a great experience for the missionaries to get to meet with these leaders.  They are inspiring and motivating.  I have loved the two times we have had mission tours since being here.  The wives have been so helpful to me as they share with me some of the ways of the Mexican culture and help me learn how to make things and find things in the stores that might be a substitute for that which I am not finding here in Mexico.

Hermana DeHoyos was the wife of our first visiting authority.  She taught me how to make homemade tortillas and then we were doing some refried beans.  What a great friend I found in her as she took me to the stores to introduce products that would be very similar to those things I was used to having in the states.

Elder and Sister Valenzuela were here on a mission tour in March, 2013.  I truly found a new friend!  While our husbands were at Priesthood sessions in the evenings, we went to see some of the beautiful Catholic churches around here and she shared with me the history of Mexico.  We had such fun as we tried to communicate with each other.  She spoke just enough English and I understood just enough Spanish that we had a great time together!  We had lots of great laughs as we got lost in one of the towns while we were waiting for our husbands!

As soon as our misson tour was over we had another transfer and welcomed 14 new missionaries to our mission.  Nine of them were Latin American missionaries arriving by bus from Mexico City and 5 of them flew in from the states.  Although Cambios is a very BUSY time to prepare for, once the preparation is done, we LOVE that time with these new missionaries!  These missionaries were no exception!!  With each new group, we wonder how they can come any better and any more prepared!  The youth of today are truly unique and valiant!  

Our nuevos!

I love the little boy in these great missionaries.  On the morning after our missionaries had arrived from the states, they were outside prancing around in our backyard, amazed by how the grass felt and how well manicured our yard was.  They had also just come from climbing a ladder to get on top of our roof so they could look out all over the town of Puebla!  They came down from the roof, so excited, saying now they KNEW they were in Mexico!!  (I was shocked!  I had no idea I had a ladder that would lead to our roof!) I love their energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity!  They are going to serve the people well here in Mexico!!

After all of the new missionaries met at a meeting where they met their new companions, and after all the “goodbyes” were said, we piled all 9 of the salientes into our two cars and headed to the mission home for interviews, relaxing, a nice dinner and evening, before saying our goodbyes to our 9 missionaries who were going home after their service in the mission field!  We will miss them!  When we were at the meeting to welcome the new and say goodbye to the "old", at the end of the meeting, ALL of the missionaries in the congregation, row by row, stood up while we were singing "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again" and they turned to face where all of these missionaries were seated.  It was very touching to see the love and respect that all of our missionaries have for each other and it was the way of saying thank you to these missionaries for a job well done!!  Having completed 18 months for the sisters and 2 years for the elders is very impressive!  We are so proud of these missionaries!

When the Salientes returned to their homes, I traveled with two of them to Salt Lake City, Utah.  I was in Utah for one day, long enough to obtain another visa in order to remain in Mexico for the rest of our mission.  

While in flight, I found myself thinking about these two elders that I was traveling with.  Up to this point in their lives, they had a very clear plan laid before them.  For years they had planned that they would go on a mission when they turned 19 years old.  Year after year, their lives had been fairly routine as they went to school and church and participated in extracurricular activities, preparing to serve as missionaries someday.  They have now served, and they were on their way home to begin a new chapter in their lives.  What will they do now that they are home to make their lives meaningful and purposeful?  No longer is the path obvious and clear.  It will be important for them to be very thoughtful in the decisions they make as they move forward.  

I, then, imagined myself in 2 1/2 years when I would be the one returning back home. It suddenly occurred to me that I was glad to be able to return back to Mexico in just a few days.  I was not ready to return home.    I realized how much I loved my mission and all of the experiences that I was having.  Many of these experiences, so far, have been very challenging, yet, very rewarding and fulfilling.  I realized how important it is to enjoy this period of time rather than to wish it away.  I felt as though I had been given a gift.  I had been given the opportunity to re-evaluate what I am doing and to MAKE each day exciting and meaningful.  

It is such a short window of time that I have been asked to serve as a missionary and to dedicate 100% of my effort and time to the Lord.  I want to find joy in the things I am doing each day in the mission.  I need and want to MAKE each day a good day.  I don’t want to let each day just happen.  I don’t want to wait until I am on my way home to appreciate and realize this incredible experience that I was privileged to have.  I want to enjoy it and love it NOW.

I was given a gift to have that brief glimpse into the future.  I am back “home” to serve and to MAKE each day a great day!  I want to go home at the end of my three years with NO REGRETS. 


While I was in Utah, my husband had a meeting for all of the Zone Leaders at our home.  He was in charge of feeding them breakfast.  Since I was not there to make a "cooked" breakfast, Ralph bought LOTS of cold cereal for them to choose from!  They looked like they didn't miss me at all!  Hmm...I may have to leave more often!

Buying LOTS of groceries is a regular task that I have for LOTS of hungry missionaries.  While shopping for our last transfers, for some reason my church credit card would not be accepted!!  After a few days the problem was resolved, but in the meantime, I had to call our "office missionaries" to come to my rescue!  I waited for them to arrive to pay for the groceries.  They were then kind enough to help me out to the car with them.  Thanks Elders!!!

While one elder climbed into the car to load "deep", the other elder "boxed" him in.  He looks longingly as he questions,  "how do I get out?"  These elders have a lot of fun together!

During a break that we had while on the mission tour, Elder Valenzuela asked each companionship to go off together on their own and study a particular set of scriptures.  After the break they were to come back and share the principles that they learned as they studied together.  It was an amazing sight to walk through the church and out in the parking lot and see all these different companionships studying the scriptures!  What a sight to behold!  Where else do you find 19 year old young men and women doing such a thing?  They are truly focused and are learning things on their mission that will serve them well the rest of their lives!!