22 June 2013

Giving our Children to the Lord

Monterrey Temple behind Jacarandá tree
The missionaries keep coming like clockwork to the temple--every day, both morning and night, more and more missionaries. Just as Hannah took Samuel to the temple as she promised, the parents of these future missionaries come to the temple and consecrate their most precious possession to the service of the Lord. It is always touching to be part of that sacred experience. Considering what Ana did, the Lord asks little of us: We get to keep our precious children longer, and the Lord returns them to us in a short two years or less.

Saturdays are always our busiest days with between ten and 15 bus loads of members from as far as eight hours away. The buses begin rolling into the parking lot around 4:30 in the morning and keep coming most of the day. The early birds fill the 6:00 a.m. session and then others line up every hour and 20 minutes until the last session at 6:00 p.m. Most of the buses bring their own ordinance workers who fill in wherever needed in the temple; but on Saturdays, when hundreds of baptisms (think overalls and towels) take place, these wonderful people are the real work horses in the laundry--serving with joy, love, and grace.

As each bus arrives, the people are directed to "their" area in the stake center where they keep their belongings, corral their children, rest, study and eat. They and their children do as much temple work as possible while they are here because they know that it may be months before they are able to return. Many come with stacks of family names. It is very touching to see the impact that these family names have on the youth and new members doing baptisms--they really feel the connection to the ancestors they are serving.

In July this temple becomes an appointment only temple. It will probably not impact the schedule too much during the week, but it will be a big change to the Saturday participants. If they have not made a prior appointment, they may not get in to do anything at the temple at all. The church is hoping that this will facilitate better service to those who come from both far and near, and fewer long waits for first timers on Saturdays.

Monterrey Temple taken by Dani Delgado de Santiago, former Visitors' Center Missionary

18 June 2013

Baptism and Father's Day

Saturday night we celebrated a baptism and Father's Day with our ward. The baptism was for Emily, who is 11-years-old. It turns out that her mother joined the church years ago and then stopped attending because of personal challenges. Janet, the mother, said that she had always planned to go back to church, but "things" kept getting in the way. The sister missionaries contacted her in a re-activation effort and Janet began attending church again. Her daughter, Emily, loved it and asked for the missionary lessons.

Emily in the middle with Hermanas on each side and Janet behind in the aqua blouse.

The missionaries made the baptism very special with posters, special music, and talks by the Primary presidency. At the end, we all wrote Emily little notes of congratulation and encouragement, which she took home with her. She was so happy to be a member of the church!

An interesting twist to this story is that Janet, the mother, has been dating a man for a few months. She invited him to come to the baptism and gathering on Saturday so she could broach the subject of religion with him. She was very surprised when he replied that he would love to attend--that he was a member of the church and had wanted to start attending church again. Our Bishop chuckled and said, "Well, the end of this story hasn't been written yet."

After the baptism, the barbecues were pulled out and the coals started. While the High Priests watched the coals slowly, very slowly turn white, everyone else found friends to play with or talk to. 

The Sunday School President hung up a poster he had made wishing the father's all a very happy day and then Claudia and Andrea (1st counselor and Bishop's wives) finished marinating the meat and preparing the quesadillas. 

Congratulations, dads!

Claudia and Andrea

For a real Norteño (the North) barbecue, you need at least one man cooking and one man supervising. There must be at least one pound of meat per person. There must be foil-wrapped onions on the coals and there must be very thick smoke and occasional two-foot flames.

Isidoro and Juanito
Meat "testing" by Hermano Garza

Finally, the meat must be "tested" to see if it is good enough to serve and then cut into pieces just slightly smaller than a plate and temporarily stored in a lidded pot to keep it warm. The hungry herds then pick up a slab of meat, a large pile of tortillas, quesadillas, salsa, roasted onion, a bowl of cowboy bean soup and soda pop--and eat until it is all gone. It makes them ever so happy! Not just the food, but the joy of being together having fun, sharing stories, and enjoying a summer night with a cooling breeze. What a great way to spend an evening!

11 June 2013


Perhaps we are not busy enough because Linda has begun a collection of surnames that are new to us, even after living in Latin America for more than 15 years. It appears that most of them are Basque (from Spain). There is a lot of Spanish influence here in both the architecture and the food--far more than we have seen in other parts of Latin America.   

So for those of you that like language twists and trivia, here are the names:

  1. Illescas (Eeyeskas)
  2. Xique (Sheekee)
  3. Lubiano
  4. Llaguno (Jaguno)
  5. Exena (Exzena)
  6. Galavíz
  7. Ruvalcabas
  8. Arizpe
  9. Galarza
  10. Moncalvo
  11. Sustoita
  12. Arredondo
  13. Avitia
  14. Olazabál
  15. Orijuela (Oreehuela)
  16. Delvál (short "e" short "a")
  17. Olazarán
  18. Grajedo
  19. Estopellán
  20. Carvajál
  21. Iviana 
  22. Davalos
  23. Oviedo

05 June 2013

More Hermanas Misoneras

Saturdays are always full of unexpected events, but last Saturday was one of the best. We had a surprise encounter from one of our Hermanas from the Visitors' Center in Mexico City. I was standing in the hall waiting for the session to start when I saw a familiar face. What a scene when Hermana Hoffman and Hermana Delgado recognized each other and fell laughing and crying (very reverently) into one another's arms! John happened by and got to say hello and give her a big hug as well. 

She is from Gomez Palacio--”Very close,” she says--"Only about four hours away." Her ward boarded the bus about midnight so they could be at the temple for the first session at 6:00 a.m. We reconnected several times during the morning and each time was sweeter than the last. We learned that she is now married and the mother of two little girls, two and four years old. She is beautiful and full of light--she is still a missionary in every sense of the word. 

That, however, was not the only joyful surprise of the day! As Hermana Delgado was saying good-bye to me at about 1:00 in the afternoon, a sister in front of us heard us talking and turned around. It was another missionary sister from the Visitors' Center, Hermana Rodriguez, who lives here in Monterrey. She and Hermana Delgado were companions and hadn't seen each other in years. 

Some groups of missionaries are very special and we used to call these sisters "las poderosas" (the powerful ones). What a joyful reunion to be part of that love and goodness again. I imagine the joy we felt as we reunited with these sweet "daughters" again, is very much like what our Heavenly Father must feel when he welcomes one of His own back into his arms. 

Hermana Delgado

Hermana Rodriguez

03 June 2013

Geezers: Monterrey Style

Last week we were doing our weekly shopping at the local HEB supermarket. It is a Texas store and offers some of the delicacies from home that help us survive here: Thomas English Muffins, Smucker's Grape Jelly, Magnum Bars, French's Mustard, etc.

While we were wandering around the store searching for international surprises, John spotted a large group of elderly gentlemen sitting in the cafeteria off to one side. He stopped me, and pointing to the men said, "Those are geezers! I'm going over to introduce myself." And off he went to meet the gentlemen. Before I knew it, he was sitting with them talking about the genealogy caves in Utah and who knows what else. Apparently they meet there every day and he is now invited to join them whenever he can. They were delighted to have their photos taken with this crazy gringo geezer*.

HEB Viejitos (Geezers)
*For those of you that do not know, John was the "Geezer Leader" of a group from our neighborhood that has been meeting for lunch every Tuesday for several years now. They are carrying on under new leadership in his absence--however, I sense that it is about to become an international organization.