27 April 2013

Families in the Temple

Mother and Daughter

Saturdays are the biggest and best day of the week in the temple. People come from far and wide and the temple block is always teeming with families. A week ago Saturday I got lucky and was able to work with three beautiful families.

The first was a sister who was going through the temple for the first time to be sealed to her husband immediately after the session. What made this more interesting than usual was that her mother was also going through for the first time--I kept thinking how sweet it would be to prepare for that day as mother and daughter. It became even more unique when I realized that the sister escorting the bride had come through for the first time herself only a couple of months before.

Family of Five

I found the three children huddled together with their arms around each other on two straight-backed chairs in the foyer of the temple. There were two girls, 16 and 13, and one boy, 11. The space was really too small for the three of them, but in their excitement and anticipation they wouldn't be parted. When I told them it was time to go back, their faces exploded with smiles. It was obvious that their family had prepared very carefully for this day and its special promises. They reverently followed me to the sealing room where we waited until the sealer invited them into the room. After they were sealed to their parents, the sealer had the family gather and look into the temple mirrors. They stood with arms around each other as the sealer taught them about the pre-existence, our life here on earth, and the great potential of the eternities that stretch before us. As he spoke, the family physically drew closer and closer until they almost literally became one as arms embraced and tightened around one another. The spirit was palpable and their happiness could not be contained. That family will never forget what they learned and what they felt during the sealing. 

Change of Heart

The last family I worked with had one daughter about 14 and another about 10. The oldest daughter was not interested in being there--every particle of her body language expressed resistance, disinterest and even some resentment at having spent so many hours waiting in the temple. The youngest daughter was thrilled with the whole experience and seemed to drink in every detail of her time in the temple. When I took them back, I felt like I was dragging the 14 year old and chasing down the 10-year-old. We waited outside the sealing room for a few minutes and then they entered. As I watched the sealing, a miracle literally took place before my eyes. The resentful, disinterested 14 year old began to soften. By the end of the sealing, she was weeping openly and seemed confused as to why. This family also stood before the mirrors and the parents wrapped their arms around the children as the sealer spoke. The older daughter's countenance began to soften even more and she suddenly turned and wrapped her arms around first her mother and then her father, weeping and hugging and weeping and hugging. I thought she would never let go of them. She came out of the sealing room a completely different person and returned to the front of the temple with a spring in her step and a light in her eyes. Oh, how I hope she can keep what she felt with her forever!

21 April 2013

Santa Lucia Riverwalk (or Where is the Alligator?)

One of our next door neighbors once said, "Water is magic." The Santa Lucia Riverwalk truly is  "magic." It washes away cares, opens one's eyes to beauty, and creates deep gratitude for the miracle of God's creations. Welcome to a haven of peace and refuge. 

The Santa Lucia Riverwalk is patterned after the one in San Antonio, Texas. Monterrey boasts, however, that this man-made river is the longest in the world: 2.5 kilometers. It is full of fountains and water features that start before you even climb into the boat. Steps follow this waterfall up to the beginning of the river. The large bucket is from the original steel foundry nearby.

Stepped fountain

Foundry bucket fountain at the beginning of the Riverwalk
You catch the boats here at the Foundry Bucket Fountain and then take a leisurely 20 minute ride past sculptures, art, and water features. It finishes downtown in the museum, art and restaurant district. Any time during the day you can catch a return boat back to your car.

A Santa Lucia boat next to the "Needle"
Sculptures and foot bridges 
Pedestrian path that follows the river on both sides.
The police are always watching--this is an elevator surveillance vehicle.
Cleaning boat vacuuming the bottom of the river.
Fountain along wall...
...Being cleaned by these workers.
Some fountains are easier to clean than others.
Circular water feature in front of "the needle."
We floated under bridges...
Through tunnels . . . 
Alongside enticing sidewalk cafes...
...And famous local murals.
Past walls of water...
And behind this fountain, you disembark under the patio overhang.
At the end of the ride, you pass this sculpture--it hides a secret.
Can you see the alligator?
And then, of course, we did it all again in reverse. 

A magical, peaceful, serene day on the river!

16 April 2013


Angelica and Moroni

Angelica Monsivais was sealed to Moroni Sanchez last Friday, April 12, 2013. She was the music director and a counselor in the primary, so we met when I started playing the piano for the children. As her wedding day approached, she asked us if we would attend her sealing. We were delighted. It happened to be an evening when we were working, so the coordinator assigned me to reception so I could greet her when she and her fiancé arrived. Everything was checked and double-checked and she was taken back to the bride's room to dress.

In a few minutes, the coordinator came to get me. It turned out that Angelica had no one to be with her on this very special day. It was not her first time in the temple, but it was definitely her first time to be married and the coordinator wanted her to have someone by her side. I arrived in time to help her into her dress and to make sure that she was properly attired for the sealing. There was just one little problem. The scoop neck on her dress didn't cover her collar bones--a requirement for a dress worn for a sealing. A different dress from the temple was suggested, but her heart was set on the dress that had been made for the occasion. I suddenly remembered a lovely linen handkerchief in my temple bag. The beautiful lace around it had been crocheted by an equally beautiful friend, Melanie. I retrieved the handkerchief, quickly ironed it, and we attached it under the neckline with tiny, invisible safety pins. It matched the dress almost perfectly, was approved by the temple matron and Angelica's face became all smiles. After the very sweet sealing ceremony, she prepared to go outside for pictures. As I was helping her, in the back of my mind I heard dear Melanie's voice say, "Give the handkerchief to her as a wedding gift." So I did. Angelica now has a beautiful hand-crocheted linen handkerchief to carry to the temple each time she goes. Thank you Melanie for sharing a gift that keeps on giving. 

Hna. Hoffman, Moroni, Angelica, Elder Hoffman

09 April 2013

Food Matters

(Grandchildren note: Find the secret code)


Their daughter, Elena, served in the Visitors' Center in Mexico City with us. They come to the temple twice a week now that they have retired. We were invited to their home for real "Norteño" (northern) food. First you heat up the tortillas and put them in a cloth napkin to keep them warm. Then you eat frijoles charros (cowboy-style pinto bean soup) and the yummy, warm tortillas. The drink is "agua de melon" (sweetened cantaloupe water). The main dish is called "discado" and is made by frying chopped bacon in the bottom of a big round pan with chunks of pork. Then chunks of beef are added, onions, green peppers, and finally chunks of Polish sausage. Cook it together for about an hour and serve. Apparently it is the main stay of church parties and family gatherings. 

Corn tortillas being warmed
Frijoles charros and melon drink
For dessert they served "capirotada," which is served during Lent or on Good Friday and dates back to the 1640s. It is like a bread pudding, but without eggs. They add raisins and other dried fruits, coconut, peanuts, pecans, almonds, chunks or layers of cheese and sometimes cookie decors. It is saturated with a syrup made from whole cane sugar, cloves and stick cinnamon. and steamed until set. It is made at Easter-time because the ingredients represent the suffering of Christ on Good Friday. The bread is for the Body of Christ, the syrup is his blood, the raisins are the nails of the cross, and the whole cinnamon sticks are the wood of the cross. The melted cheese stands for the Holy Shroud. There are recipes for this dish that were recorded by the Holy Office of the Inquisition and are saved to this day in the archives of the Catholic Church.  


Restaurant Dos Palmas--eat dessert first!

Our friends, the Meneses, invited us and the Jones' to lunch. The presentation of the food alone was worth the outing! After lunch they showed us around downtown where we played tourist and wandered the shops. Sweet people!

Fruit bar or sculpture?

Mexican noodle soup

Cream of cilantro soup
Taquitos, sopes and sausages

Farewell to the office couple: 

On April Fool's Day we said farewell to Elder and Sister Lilywhite. They have been a mainstay of the mission office here and will be sorely missed. If you know anyone who would like to work with a wonderful mission president in a fascinating part of the world--have them get in touch with us. You know, ask a missionary--we can help! 

Clockwise from head of table: Morris', Hoffman's, Lilywhite's, Jone's, Swapp's  after dinner and before the April Fool's Day Easter egg hunt.

08 April 2013

Happy Birthday, Dear Elder...

Celebrating another year of life!

And may you have many, many more!

Update: Here is how the big day was celebrated in Monterrey

Yummy chocolate cake with nuts from the Jones'
Picanha Brazilian Restaurant . . .
. . . And the Brazilian Sizzling Platter for Two

Chicken mole with rice, Mexican birthday songs, and great stories at the Meneses

07 April 2013

Spring in Monterrey

Spring began in January and came to a close Easter weekend. We have been spellbound by the exotic perfumes and surprising colors. Hope you enjoy the miracle of spring in Monterrey.

Flowering Fruit Trees:

Flowering Peach

Crab Apple


Native Trees and Shrubs:

Lavender jacaranda in the town center
The back of the temple grounds

A type of acacia tree

Miscellaneous Beauties:

All alone between the road and the driveway




Bird of Paradise 

Fruiting Trees:



 Ficus with grape-like fruit