27 July 2013

Monterrey on Vacation

All the schools and universities in Monterrey close for the month of July and vacations begin in earnest. It has had an odd effect on our work in the temple: some sessions are overly full and others are almost non-existent. We have been very short on workers and so even though John and I were working the night shift all week, we had to also go in during the morning to help out both Wednesday and Thursday. 

Wednesday we helped with the 7:00 a.m. missionary session-- it was early, but only took a couple of hours. It is always a treat to be with the missionaries who love the temple and get a great boost from the experience they share there together with each other and their mission president. 

Thursday we arrived at the temple about 9:15 a.m. to work a special session and found the place teeming with people. We never have baptisms or sealings in the morning, but a bus had arrived from Torreon with participants for everything possible to do in the temple! The 9:00 session was packed and the laundry was going at full speed trying to keep up.

The special session at 10:30 that day was for the future daughter-in-law of the Flores' -- some people we have been working with in the temple. The bride and groom's families filled the session room. It was wonderful to see the two complete families join as one to participate in the temple experience together, especially where the young bride was there for the first time.  The Flores' have two sons living at home, one of whom was the groom and the other plans to marry next spring. The boys come to the temple often, either with their parents or alone. Both served exceptional missions, are upbeat and enthusiastic about life and about their spiritual development. It was very touching to be part of that intimate family gathering. It was doubly sweet for us, because as we returned to work our regular shift in the afternoon, we were able to help with the preparations for the actual sealing. The large sealing room can seat about 24 people--there were over 50 in attendance. Wow, was it tight!

Friday before our afternoon shift, John decided to try out the brick BBQ in the back of the house. We had a stack of hamburgers in the fridge and so we invited our neighbors down the street to come and have burgers with us. The coals were authentic mesquite wood and so took quite a while to get going. The grill rack was a bit too high, so it took a while for the hamburgers to cook. It was extremely hot, dripping with humidity,  and very, very smoky--so good old Juanito had to have a second shower before going to work. 

Saturday afternoon we were down to the last session of the day. We had one man and one woman who wanted to go on that session, but needed at least four of each. A decision was made by the Temple President to run the session, and suddenly eight workers became participants on the session. The fellow who officiated did so for the first time alone and did a great job, though he was petrified. It was a very sweet, spiritual experience serving together in that way. 

Several weeks ago John found a great uncle (his grandfather's brother) whose temple work had never been done. We were surprised that he was the only one in his family whose work had not been done, so John set to work immediately to get the baptism and confirmation for John Speedie Hoggan, born 16 June 1884 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland. The card was printed and sent into the baptistry--but it never came out. We watched for it for over a week, thinking that maybe the shift coordinator had it in his pocket; but when it never appeared, we decided to print it again. Low and behold, when the second card printed out, the baptism and confirmation showed up as done--so it was obviously worked on and submitted to the office before it went missing.  So, John took the new card and began to work on it again. The surprise "worker session" on Saturday night made it possible for him to finish the work for this uncle. The funny thing was, the first card showed up that same day--who knows where it had been?! 

Sunday there was a baptism after church. We diligently cancelled the  piano classes we are teaching so that everyone could support in the baptism--but it didn't start until about 45 minutes after the meetings ended, so we really could have had piano classes and supported the baptism. Oh, well--doing more than one thing at a time in Mexico is almost impossible. 

Monday was preparation day. We cleaned the house to get ready for Family Home Evening with the Senior Missionaries. We are the only ones with air con in our living room, so others prepare the lesson and then we all meet at our house. I can't even imagine why we are so blessed as to have air con, but we give thanks for it constantly. We had a great lesson on our pioneer heritage and everyone shared stories. Linda shared the story of Emily Amelia Stone (http://tuttlegonebefore.blogspot.mx) and John told about Jacob Huffman, who helped settle Coalville. 

Tuesday we worked at temple in the morning and then that evening, drove up to the North Institute in Anahuac (about 30 minutes away) to speak in a class on Leadership Principles. It was a great group of young people and it is obvious that many of them are already taking on serious leadership roles in their wards. The beautiful woman behind John and I, works at the temple with us on Saturdays and is the teacher of the class, Veronica Moreno. 

Muchísimas gracias a cada uno de los que asistieron a la clase de Principios de Liderazgo; gracias por su deseo de aprender, eso es gratificante. También agradecemos a los Hnos. Hoffman, escucharlos fue una gran experiencia!!! Que gran ejemplo!!! Esa es la actitud!!! Aprendimos cómo los líderes de la Iglesia y de la familia deben dirigir con "ánimo, optimismo y resolución".

"y no podéis sobrellevar ahora todas las cosas; no obstante, sed de buen ánimo, porque yo os guiaré. De vosotros son el reino y sus bendiciones, y las riquezas de la eternidad son vuestras".
D. y C. 78:18

16 July 2013

Humps, Bumps and Topes

"Hump days" come and go down here with frequency in the mission; but just for the record, ours was July 15th. There are daily reminders of the symbolism of this moment here in Monterrey with the mountains that surround us, the hills that we go over and around to cross the city, and the topes (speed bumps) that slow us down and remind us to enjoy the journey.

Elder Hoffman going over the tope (hump) on our way to walk in the park. This one has taken out many a biker and you can see the high centering effect on cars by the scrapes on the side of the "hill." There are 14 in the one-mile segment between our house and the main highway to the temple. 

Going over topes at the supermarket. These small, but treacherous, little metal half-circles really rattle your teeth.  

Sliding slowly over topes at the university near our house. These double as sidewalks for the students (clever little twist to road planning, no?). They are extremely tricky since you must go very, very slowly to avoid tearing up the bottom of your car, yet fast enough to actually make it over the very steep, wide hump. 

Avoiding the topes at Home Depot. These special little demons divide the parking stalls at Home Depot letting you know in no uncertain terms when you are encroaching on someone else's space. The goal here is to avoid stepping on one and twisting an ankle--especially delicate for those using the handicapped parking stalls. 

Wal-Mart topes can actually make the car airborne. Whatever you do, don't take them too fast! And don't be deceived by the seemingly benign second tope on the bottom--there is a two-inch loft before you hit the real part of the speed bump. Yes, the thrills never stop down here!

The last and greatest tope is La Silla Mountain. We walk along the base of this incredible mountain almost every day. Climbing to the top of it on our "hump day" would have been very symbolic; however, in 98 degree heat and lots and lots of humidity, probably not very smart for two old people. Therefore, we give you the photo and you can pretend we are up there on top. :-)

We have been on the upside of the hill for nine months. Now on the downside, we need to remember the words of Elder Holland to keep the momentum going until the very last hour of the very last day.

09 July 2013

America's Birthday and a Bunch of Others

When you are a missionary living in another country, celebrating Independence Day on July 4th gets complicated. Because it was also the birthday of our two mission presidents the day before and the day after, and about half of the senior missionaries also have birthdays in July & August, we gathered for a quiet celebration on July 7th.

It was the traditional hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, melons, and apple pie. There was only one problem: as the burger fry began, the skies opened up and the rain began to pour down. Even with umbrellas for protection, Elder Hoffman and his side-kick were soaked through and had to beg a change of clothes from our dear Mission President before they could eat--and of course, that couldn't happen until John had made his super-special burger with the onions under the cheese creation!

Happy birthday to the President of Mexico Monterrey West (an old-timer of a year)...

Happy birthday to the President of Mexico Monterrey East (a newbie of one week)...

And happy birthday to the institute and temple couples!

But the biggest happy birthday of all to the United States of America and all those that made its existence possible. Thanks to Elder Hoffman for his patriotic message reminding us of the rich freedoms that we enjoy as Americans--not the least of which is the freedom to worship. 

There are few experiences in life that equal the feeling of crossing through customs, seeing a bigger than life American flag flying up ahead, and hearing the words, "Welcome home." 

God bless America!

03 July 2013

For the Girls in the Family

Beautiful Temporal Temptations

There are many beautiful stores here in Monterrey--and my granddaughters and beautiful daughters would love them all!


This is the air conditioned mall we walk in when it is over 90 degrees. If we do a complete loop of the first and second floors, it is a mile. It is not quite like walking hills and we are plagued with five (yes, 5!) ice cream/yogurt stores along the route. We occasionally drift into the Liverpool department store to contemplate the cookie/candy display which is very tempting.  

Liverpool Department store at Valle Oriente Mall

Valle Oriente Mall first lap

This is the baptismal and First Communion clothes store--they just couldn't resist these tutus!

"Linda" means pretty--strictly nails.

El Palacio de Hierro

This is the Harrod's/Bon Marche of Mexico. The name means the Iron Palace. It is the priciest store in Mexico--so we grabbed our friends and went for a peek.

Palacio de Hierro in San Pedro, Nuevo Leon

One of many inviting restaurants

The following are fancy skirts for A.J.--the wedding planner and dress designer:

A little color from the mall:
Local interior design store--Janae will want to make these hand-knotted chairs!

Little dresses for my little girls!

And food--glorious food:
Mall food court: Arabic, Japanese, American, Italian, Greek and Mexican foods

Superama Food Store

After the mall, we popped into the local high-end food store over in the high-rent district. One of our local friends was having a birthday and has been trying to find poppy seeds for a recipe she wanted to replicate from the USA. We had heard that this store had an interesting cross-section of foods; and sure enough, they had not only poppy seeds, but poppy seed dressing, as well. We bought her both! Here are some of the things we saw at Superama:

All packaged meat is behind glass doors
Lovely array of fresh fish and sea food
Freshly made cactus and jalapeño flour tortillas--had to try!

And some of the most beautiful desserts you have ever seen:

Most of them are almost as good as they look!