07 December 2012

What Do Two Old People Do When The Temple Is Closed?

(Grandkid Alert!)

Get a valid Mexican visa: The immigration office called us to say that the printer was finally working and we could pick up our visas. When we walked into the office on Tuesday (Nov. 27th), the señorita that had helped us, recognized us and waved us up to the front desk. In almost no time at all she had our visas ready and we were on out the door with a wave and a smile--so pleasant!

Get on an airplane to Tijuana: With visas in hand we found a flight out the next day to Tijuana. Quick, efficient service on Volaris Airlines put us on the other side of the continent in a mere three hours. 

Walk across the border: After landing in Tijuana, we caught a taxi to "la linea" (the line) and watched an amazing variety of people moving slowly towards the American border. 

La Linea--Crossing the border in Tijuana.

Ride the trolley to Santee, California: When we popped out on the U.S. side of the frontier, there was the trolley car waiting to take us to our children's home in Santee. A few hours later we were picked up and whisked off to meet Evia Jean, our newest grandchild who was born while we were in the Senior Mission Training Center.

San Diego Trolley

Evia Jean, six weeks
Twinkle Toes

Play with grandchildren: Evia Jean was appropriately beautiful, charming, engaging, and adorable with her tiny red toenails. Raolins was rambunctious, full of things to tell us, perfectly two and determined to be in charge. 

Eat stuff you can't get in Mexico: Phil’s BBQ (www.philsbbq.net) and P.F. Chang's were a delightful change of pace from our south-of-the-border fare. 

Play more with grandchildren: Take long walks in Mission Trails Park watching hawks, counting dogs, and hoping for another coyote siting. Blow bubbles. Play on the phone with Papa. Climb ladders at Big Rock Park. Make Christmas cookies with the two-year-old and let him eat as many as he wants while mom is studying for school. 


See Evia get a name and a blessing: Wearing her mother's baby blessing dress, Evia received a beautiful blessing from her devoted dad and her mom spoke of eternal families. What a sweet day. 

Raols, Tito, Nae, Evia, Nana, Papa
Did we mention play with grandchildren? We spoiled them rotten, hoping that they might remember something about us during the next six months and that it would be long enough between visits that the parents would forgive us.

Skype with Utah kids and kidlets: Complete chaos on both ends when the big kids and the little kids try to all talk at once--so much crazy fun! We loved every moment, especially Spencer making faces at himself in the “Skype Mirror” while everyone else laughed hysterically. 

Mr., AJ, Mita, Sir, Jules, Rita

Catch the trolley back to Tijuana: Green line, orange line, blue line. Carter said that the orange line would be "interesting." It was, but it can't compare to the blue line to Mexico--the novelties never stopped!

Fly back to Monterrey: (see "Mormon Moments" below).

Visit San Nicholas: Translated, this charming pueblo's name is Saint Nicholas. I guess you could call it our Christmas outing. There was a darling tree in the main plaza, temporary shops selling Christmas gifts, and real mole (say mo-lay) from Oaxaca. We found our favorite dollar store from Mexico City, generous people, and a place to buy dill weed. 

Shop for food: Costco has empanada dough and Walmart has Ramen--life is good!

Hike the trails of Chipinque Reserve: We drove up into the hills on the northwest side of the city into a nature preserve called Chipinque. The weather was a glorious 7 degrees, the trails wide and easy, the butterflies active and colorful, and the area pristine. There are many colorful snakes, wild animals, rare birds, and even some rather large spiders, though we have to admit that we saw nothing scarier than the yellow butterfly that hit Linda in the head. If you would like to look at the animals, bike, trails, mountains, etc. you can go to http://www.chipinque.org.mx/naturaleza 
Guilt Fritillary Butterfly

Squirrel at Feeder

View from Chipinque Park (The Sierra Madre mountain range) of La Silla mountain and La Huasteca mountains:

And a view of the two old missionaries celebrating Christmas with a Poinsettia tree:

Wash the car at Walmart: Our parking space is underneath a power line that is home to some very healthy pigeons. Washing the car is an important part of our routine :-). A complete inside/outside detail of the car costs about $8.00--the best bargain found down here yet!

Put up the Christmas tree: Some kind missionary couple from long, long ago and far, far away left us a shelf full of Christmas trimmings. The tree is truly Mexican. The directions promise: "Un Hermoso Arbol En Solo 4 Pasos" (A beautiful tree in only 4 steps)! After fighting with trees for many years, we are very grateful to have only "4 steps" whether or not it is beautiful.

The Mormon moments just kept coming during our trip. It began with the customs agent in Tijuana looking up at me, surveying my missionary tag and asking: "Where is Jesus?" He was holding my passport two feet from "freedom" and I had to figure out what to say to that question! He said that he had family members who were Mormons. He had taken them to the "church" in San Diego, which was closed and they wouldn't let them in. It turns out that they had gone to the temple on a Monday. 

We walked out the door onto the Trolley platform and within minutes a well-dressed Mexican man walked up to us and asked if we were Mormons (yes, we were a little over-dressed for a typical border crossing). We acknowledged that we were and he said that he was, too. He and his wife were from Tijuana and were going to attend the temple in San Diego. They joined us on the trolley and showed us where to change lines--they were darling. It turns out that President Machuca, the temple president in Monterrey, was his first home teaching companion. 

Heading back to Monterrey, we stopped for a pizza in the Tijuana airport. Soon there were six very, very tall young men ordering at the same place. One looked over and said, "So, is the pizza worth its $27.00 price tag?" We laughed and assured him that it was definitely worth the $5 we paid for it. John asked him if they were playing basketball and where they were headed. We discovered that they also were living in Mexico. One of them asked what we were doing, and when we told him that we were missionaries for the Mormon church, he said that he had a friend who was a member of the church. "In fact," he said, "I have been in your temple up in Newport." We had a delightful visit with them and they wanted to know what we thought Jabari Parker was going to do next year. 

At the fourth and almost final security check, the man doing the revision of the bags before check-in was talking so fast that we couldn't understand a thing he said. After asking him three times to repeat himself, he looked at our tags and said, "Oh, English--okay, we will speak English," which did actually help, but was very humbling. He said, "What do you have to do to join your church?" We responded that one needed to be a just person...and before we could say any more, he explained that the Seventh Day Adventists must give up all rights to their possessions and wealth upon joining that church, and that he was a just person but the government and others sure made it hard to do.

We picked up our bags in Monterrey and went over to the security person to prove they were ours. She looked at our tags and said, "Are you Mormons? So am I! I am from the Queretero ward here in Monterrey," and waved us through with a big smile.

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