José FranciscoI have been meaning to write about a couple of my temple buddies for some time. I have some wonderful friends in the temple, but my two week-day coordinators are my favorites.
The first is my friend Pepe Pancho or P2 (short for Jose Francisco). As usual, I was the one that came up with P2 or P-cuadrado for him. I realize such naming is highly “un-temple-like”. However, this guy is such a good guy and such a fine man, that I had to give him his own handle. Don’t worry, I am discreet in it’s usage......generally.
|José Francisco Torres|
P2 is a long-time member of the Church. He grew up in a family that converted when he and his four brothers and three sisters were young*. Although his parents were participants during most of their life, P2 quit participating in his teens and did not return to Church for some time. He married and began his family. His work was as a bus driver for a private bus company here in Monterrey. He did that work for 40+ years. You’d have to live in Monterrey to appreciate what 40 years of bus driving could potentially do to a man.
P2 has served in the Church since early in his first marriage, becoming a bishop and stake president. He began working in the temple shortly after his release from being stake president. Prior to that, his wife left him, and he later met his current wife, Mirna. She was attending another ward with a large group of young single adults. However, the stake president told them all one day to find their way back to their home wards because that is where they were needed. When Mirna returned to her own ward, he was waiting.
They currently have a son on a mission in Hermosillo, who is a son from his first marriage.
P2 makes 7000 pesos a month or about USD 540. Except when I substituted for him twice so he could go to the doctor, he hasn’t missed a shift. He runs the shift in an orderly, kind but efficient way. He has taught me much about how to make the temple experience special for the patrons. I so look forward to Tuesdays and Thursdays with P2
PabloOn Wednesday and Friday, my coordinating supervisor is Pablo Aguirre. Pablo is a long-time Monterrey resident. His wife died when his three children were very young and he raised them himself. He retired from the railroad a few years ago on a 7500 peso/month pension. He lives alone, but his children are nearby. He became acquainted with the Church after his wife died. In order to make ends meet, he played in bands around the area as a guitarist. For years he wore his hair shoulder-length because of his moonlight work. He was quite the partier during the years leading up to meeting the missionaries. Shortly after he joined the Church, he played for the wedding of a young couple, both returned missionaries. He didn’t see them again for several years. When he did see them again, he was officiating in an endowment session and they were patrons. He said the couple were making signals to each other about his lack of hair and changed demeanor from when the knew him as a rock musician. They were both rather shocked to meet him in the temple.
Pablo lives on the other side of town from the temple and often takes two buses to arrive at the temple, some days at 0530 in the morning when the missionaries come. He also comes often on Saturday afternoons when he is not busy with his catering business. Periodically, he travels to Laredo to do some serious trading. He’s the temple go-to guy for sourcing pretty much anything having to do with cooking or household stuff.
Perhaps what I like most about these two guys is their common touch and wisdom. Both have led tough lives, and both have ended up giving service to all kinds of people, in and out of the Church.
Pablo is currently supporting a young kid who is on a mission in the D.F. This kid was rescued by him from a life of indolence and drugs. He got him going to church, baptized, and then coming to the temple to do baptisms. We mentioned his baptism work in an earlier blog. The young man has not been on his mission long. Shortly after arriving in the mission field, he told his president he was through and didn’t want to continue. Pablo talked with him on the phone, talked with his mission president and both encouraged the young man to hang in there. Well, he did, and he has turned out to be a great missionary and is loving his time.
There are many stories like this that I hear often. An older fellow I was talking to just yesterday told me his story. He was branch president of a small branch in a poor section of Monterrey years ago. The congregation was only around 100 people, many with needs of all kinds. During the time he was branch president, they were able to meet all the branch’s needs from the fast offering donations as well as keep as many as 8 missionaries in the field at one time. He was asked many times how he was able to do what he did, and he said he just loved the members and worked at getting them to be self-reliant and inter-dependent rather than asking the greater Church for funds.
Northern Mexicans typically are very proud and self-sufficient. This tradition has persisted since the area was first settled by the sephardi (descendants of Jews from the Spanish Inquisition). As with many places we’ve been and lived in Latin America, attitude trumps resources when it comes to happiness. We hear a lot about wealth inequality in the U.S. currently. It’s a favorite theme against those who have prospered and their duty to give up their prosperity for the “common good.” No one understands wealth inequality and consequent disdain from the wealthy toward the poor like Latin Americans, and vice versa. However, we’ve seen so many people put off the disdain and pride associated with social class and join efforts to take care of each other, regardless of background. It is a beautiful thing to see. Consecration is a beautiful thing when it works.