21 November 2013

Loving those recipes from Monterrey!

Sopa de elote (Corn Soup)
(Gloria Meneses)

7 ears of corn, kernels cut off
1/2 onion, chopped
6 chile poblanos, grilled, deseeded & sliced
2 cubes of chicken stock 
1-1/2 liters/quarts of water
1 can evaporated milk

Fry onions with corn, onion and chile. Add bouillon and water. Just before serving add one can of evaporated milk. 

(Alma de Gomez)

3 avocados
1 ½ med limes
2 whole jalapenos with seeds
5 stems of cilantro about 4 inches long
¼ onion
Garlic salt or one clove of garlic
¼ cube Knorr chicken bouillon 

Put all in a blender. Add about ½ cup water . Blend until smooth. 

Green Salsa
(Hermana Estrella)

6 raw tomatillos
2-inches of Serrano pepper, not roasted
1/8 cup water
Blend together in blender. Then add:

6 stems of cilantro , finely chopped
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1 whole avocado, chopped

 (garlic and lime optional)

Picadillo Norteño (taco filling)
(Campestre Ward Relief Society)

2 lbs. ground beef
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
1/4 of an onion, finely chopped
2 large potatoes, chopped*
1 chicken (or beef) bouillon cube 
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tomatoes, blended in food processor

Cook the ground beef with the garlic, salt and a little water. Once cooked through, add the onion and the potato. When the potato is cooked, add the processed tomatoes and the bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then add the cilantro. Cook over low heat until the color of the tomato changes. Serve with soft or crisp corn tortillas with avocado, cream, lettuce and salsa or as a baked potato topping.
*Diced carrots can be added, if desired.

Queso Fundido con Veneno (Melted cheese with chorizo)

Vegetable oil, for oiling the baking dish
6 ounces chorizo sausage, casings removed
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 cups grated Oaxaca cheese
6 flour tortillas, warmed or corn chips
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 
Oil a 3 or 4 cup ovenproof baking dish or cast-iron fry pan

In a dry medium skillet, saute the chorizo over medium-high heat until almost crisp. Remove the chorizo to a plate. Add the onions and garlic to the pan juices and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Return the chorizo to the skillet with the onions and garlic and stir to combine.

Put the grated cheese in a baking dish or cast-iron fry pan and sprinkle with the chorizo mixture. Bake until the cheese is bubbling and slightly browned, about 15-20 minutes. Serve with flour or corn tortillas, soft or crispy.

Aguas de fruta (Mexican Fruit Cooler)

1-1/2 to 2 cups diced fruit (cantaloupe, watermelon, berries*) 
10 ice cubes
½ cup sugar 
Squeeze of lime, if desired
Add water to within 2-inches from the top of the blender. Cover and process until well blended. Serves 4-6. 

*If there is residue from seeds, you may want to strain them out before serving the drink.

09 November 2013

The Temple


Last week there were extra temple workers on Friday and I didn't really have an assignment, so I was making up things to do. When I drifted through the baptistry, I could see the brethren were getting the font ready for baptisms and asked what was going on. They told me a brother had arrived with some family cards that needed baptisms. There were a few women's names and they asked if I wanted to help. So, I put on the overall and down into the font I went for three baptisms. Now it is official. I have done everything there is to do in the temple that can be done by a woman! 

The Temple Fills Me

In one short week, three people in three different conversations, used the same phrase: “The temple fills me!” The first was a young woman in her very early twenties who came to the temple for the first time only a couple of months ago. We needed some volunteers to help with sealings and so I asked in the dressing room if there was someone who would have time. She had just come from a session and immediately responded to my plea. I asked if she had ever done sealings before, and she indicated that she hadn’t. I helped her get ready and told her what to expect. We talked about her temple experiences up to that point and she said, “I have been looking for years for something that I was yearning for. When I came to the temple, I knew I had found it. The temple fills me in ways I cannot explain. I love coming to the temple.” At the end of the evening she thanked me for the opportunity to participate in sealings and said, “It just keeps getting better!” 

Another conversation was with a single woman, Hermana Villareal, who is a temple worker with me on Saturdays. She has been serving in the temple for a couple of years; however, she was still struggling to learn everything. I happened to be coordinating one day and needed some help at the end of a session. I asked her to come with me and she said that she had never, ever done that before and couldn’t possibly help. I asked if she knew all of the information and she replied in the affirmative, but added, “I get too nervous--I know I can’t do it.” I invited her to go to the office and get a card to carry with her, so that if she forgot, she could refer to the card. She carried the card, but never needed to look at it. She has been “free” ever since! Afterward, she proceeded to share some of the sweet experiences that she has had in the temple and ended with the comment, “The temple has changed my life--I am a different person. It fills me!”

The last woman is my coordinator on Saturday afternoons. She is a dynamo of energy and testimony and everyone loves working with her. She is single and because of financial restraints, lives with her daughter’s family. Hermana Vasquez shares a bedroom with their disabled child who has trouble sleeping and cries out and wanders around all night long. Most people would feel very sorry for themselves in this situation--especially when they have a long temple shift ahead of them the next day. She just smiles and expresses how grateful she is that she can love and support this little granddaughter. One afternoon, she shared with me that her Bishop had asked her to serve a mission. She said, “Oh, how I would love to serve a full-time mission for the Lord--but you need money to do that. I have no source of income to support me. Not only that, what would my daughter do without me to care for this child? Not only her, but so many in my family need me--but I guess if I was gone, they would find another way. But how could I not be in the temple for 18 months? It fills me--it fills me. It gives me the strength to go on. I just have to trust the Lord that he knows what is best for me; but oh, how I need the temple! 

Hastening the Work

I had an interesting conversation with a young bishop here, Bishop Santana, who recently set a goal with his ward council to baptize 30 people by the end of the year. At the time of the challenge, just a few weeks ago, the group had no one in a "teaching pool." The bishop, however, has led the way and has two families receiving the discussions at this point. At first, his ward council members were highly skeptical of his challenge, but he told them this story from his mission: 

Early in his mission, he was joined by a new-to-the-mission elder who had served as a mini-missionary in the mission where the now Bishop Santana's father was President. In the Bishops' mission, the average weekly number of gospel discussions being conducted was 4-6. The new elder, having come from his mini-mission, wondered why there were so few discussions being held. He challenged his companion (now Bishop Santana) to try and get a larger number of gospel discussions during the week. Together, they "made a prayerful covenant" to do 30 discussions a week during the following month. The other missionaries working in the immediate area scoffed at their goal, declaring it impossible. 

As the bishop related, he and his companion set out to find people to teach, not having anyone, really, at the time that was a prospect. They worked hard. By the end of the first week, they had done 18 discussions, but were still working toward a much higher goal. The other missionaries in the area took notice and began making the same kind of covenant to the work. The mission became so successful that church headquarters began to take notice and wondered how it was being achieved. 

Long story short, the bishop's testimony is that we first have to act in faith, make a covenant with the Lord to do something, work hard to do it, and he will help open the way for us. He said that people in his mission just came out of the woodwork, many approaching them without solicitation. 

So this was his testimony to his ward council as they knelt together. He said, "We may not make 30 baptisms, but at least we have made a covenant and have something specific to work toward." There are now 23 people in the teaching pool in that ward--and people are starting to "come out of the woodwork." One woman called a member of the ward council this week and said, "I can no longer wait for my husband nor my children. I have waited too long already. I need the gospel in my life and want to be baptized now." She was taught the gospel over two years ago, but only now is she ready. 

The father of this powerful, young Bishop is a faithful temple worker who works closely with me. He's a brilliant man, humble, grateful to be able to come to the temple. As with many members here, he has diabetes and is losing his eyesight, so doing some of the tasks required is a struggle, but I learn something from him every day. Great is the work!


The last three weeks have been completely consumed with farewell parties for the outgoing temple presidency--¡Oh, how the Mexicans love to party! We have learned much more than just how to "party" from these dedicated servants of the Lord. They have taught us diligence, patience, compassion, generosity, dependability, the importance of paying attention to the details, and the spiritual power that comes from enduring faithfully to the end. We love these wonderful "amigos!" 

L-R: The Calderon's (First Counselor), The Machuca's (President), The Jones' (Second Counselor)

President Machuca gives the oldest temple worker (86 years), Hermana Campa, an honorable release because of failing health. 

The best surprise of the night--A Mariachi band! What a show!!
The food at the farewells just kept coming: homemade corn tortillas, Arrachera steak, red and green salsas, Carnitas (pork), prickly-pear fruit, rice pudding, Zapote fruit sauce (amazing!), tamales, refried beans, black beans Veracruz style, fried plantains, chicharrón (fried pork fat) casserole, nopales (cactus) with shrimp, shredded beef, shrimp ajillo, fish in mole sauce, homemade corn tortillas, corn soup, and many more delicious things that we cannot even name.

Really--you should have been here!

The Newcomers

Our new Temple President and Matron are the Alvaradejo's. They are lovely people who bring a powerful spirit of peace to the work. We are grateful to be able to work with them. The First Counselor is Gustavo Cortez (a sealer and second time around as temple counselor). The Second Counselor is Juan Sergio Hernandez (also a sealer). They are dearly beloved by the people of Monterrey and by us.

06 November 2013

Barrio Central (Central Ward)

Barrio Central has been very busy lately. The really big news is that the Primary program went off with only one minor hitch. One of the children, who was going to give a scripture and an Article of Faith, didn't show up; however, two other little girls, did show up. They came dressed for the program and fully expecting to participate, even though they hadn't attended for over six months. Our wonderful Primary President quickly rearranged everything and helped the two little girls give the scripture and Article of Faith that was assigned to the "no show." It is an adventure every week! 

Our Precious Primary Children

L-R: Isaac, José, Daleare, Dante, Walter--the heart and soul of our Primary
Back: Adám (only nursery age child), Hermanas Olga (counselor), Claudia (President), and Andrea (Secretary)
Front: Isaac, Walter, Dante, José, Daleare

Each of these children gave a scripture, an Article of Faith, and a five-minute talk. They were amazing and sang with the voices of angels. It never ceases to amaze me how it always comes together.


There have been about 4 baptisms in the last six weeks--all of them single adult men. The latest, Ivan, is from Cuba and is here working for the United Nations. Much of his income is sent back to Cuba to the government. He works a rotating schedule moving every year, usually to another country, where he implements social programs for the UN. 

While he was taking the lessons, his Cuban boss noted that he seemed different from before. Ivan told him that it was because he was studying with the Mormons. The boss replied, "They are part of the Imperialists, no?" Ivan laughed and said the Mormons were a worldwide religion and it was wonderful. Two weeks after his baptism, Ivan gave the lesson in Elders Quorum and thought it was the most incredible experience of his life.  

The Mission President and wife, Ivan, and our Elders