20 January 2014

Mexico, Cuba, Florida and Colombia


We crossed a huge milestone last week--Linda received her visa extension. It means that she can now stay in Mexico until October of 2014 and can cross the border at will. Regretfully, John is still only half-way through the process. Since September of 2013, we have had a dozen or more visits to  immigration--it is a lengthy process that usually ends with: "Not complete! You still need ______." Then each time you successfully get "______," somehow several more pieces of paper are suddenly needed. We will not recount all of the gory details, only that when you walk into that building, all time stops and your life is slowly sucked out of you one line, one paper, one photo, one fingerprint at a time. It is almost a relief when they close the office at 1:00 and send everyone home to try again another day.

Linda is celebrating never having to return to "migración." John figures he will not see a visa before leaving the country--very possible since two sets of senior missionaries have finished their missions "visa-less."

INM (Instituto Nacional de Migración), a.k.a. Immigration Office


Last Sunday was Stake Conference. Since the missionaries were going to be out of their area at the Stake Center, we offered to feed them dinner. This very eclectic group had a delightful time together--especially when the cinnamon rolls came out for dessert.

Brother Ruíz, Ivan, Elder Havlicak, Enrique, Elder Chica, Elder Hoffman

Hermano Ruíz

Brother Ruíz is a computer systems analyst with two Master's degrees from the hot, northwest corner of Mexico. He and his wife Olga have three beautiful sons who are full of energy and fun. They stay three steps ahead of the primary teachers and leave no question unspoken. Because Brother Ruíz is the newest employee at the company, he got Christmas and New Year's duty. Since he wouldn't see the family during the holidays anyway, he sent them off to grandma and grandpa's. He was still alone at conference, so we took him home with us.


Iván is a recent convert from Cuba whom we talked about previously in the post "Barrio Central." As he put it, he "swam" over to Florida where he worked for a year or so. He hated it and was planning to return to Cuba, when he met a couple from Utah. They were frequent visitors to the restaurant he worked at. He told them of his plans and they asked if he would want to see another part of the country. They showed him photos of Provo, Utah and he fell in love with it. He headed off to Utah living with a family recommended to him. They got him a job at the Provo LDS Mission Training Center where his job was to call countries all over the world to check on missionary visas. He eventually left and was hired by the UN to run social programs in different countries. While doing that (as well as two other jobs at the same time), he met the missionaries. Iván was sustained in conference to receive the Melchizedek priesthood and ordained right after the meeting.

It was the first time we had seen him in a suit--we almost didn't recognize him! When we commented on how handsome he looked in the suit, he explained that it was from the family he had lived with in Provo. When they heard that he had been baptized, they flew the whole family to Monterrey to celebrate with him. They left him with the suit in anticipation of this day. When he came out of the Stake President's office, he was shaking and weeping--he was overwhelmed with the experience. He said, "I hope I can do this. I am going to do this. Somehow I will do this!"

His sister in Cuba has been hunting down the church there. She found a small group of Saints meeting in a "Casa de Oración" (House of Prayer) that he will join up with. His sister told him that she has been to two of the meetings and that they study the Book of Mormon every week. There is a representative from the government that is always in attendance to make sure that nothing subversive is taking place. He thinks it is very funny that this sister has been attending the meetings--he says that she is the "wild one" that never obeyed his mother. She works as a dancer in a club in Havana.

Iván returned to Cuba last Wednesday due to an assignment change. He has taken some key books with him, but doesn't know how much he will be able to get into the country. He has had to cut out the title pages and copyrights of all the books and re-cover them with covers from novels. He says that the worst thing that can happen is that they will take them away--but there is a wonderful chance they will get through. If they do, there will be other scriptures and manuals from which this little group of Saints can study. He is one of the blessed--he will have access to the Internet for one hour/week and can keep and use his email account during that time. He is feeling very blessed.

Our Elders

Elder Havlicak (pronounced like the basketball player: Havlichek) joined Barrio Central this week. He has been in the mission just over a year. He comes from Florida. He brings a gentle, deep spirit with him that has warmed the hearts of all in the ward. He spoke in church on the blessings we receive as we share the gospel with others. It was loving, inviting, enticing and reminded us that sharing the gospel covers a multitud of sins. 

Elder Chica joined the mission seven weeks ago, but has been a force to be reckoned with ever since. He is from Medellín, Colombia and is delighted with the opportunity to learn about the Mexican culture, its special vocabulary, and the incredibly generous people that live here. He is very well founded in the gospel and readily shares his love of the gospel and the Savior. 

We love our Elders!


Since Enrique was at Stake Conference with the Elders, we included him in the dinner invitation. He has worked between the US and Mexico all of his life, chasing the ever elusive dollar. He is interested in the perspectives of the gospel on family. His wife wouldn't let him teach his children to work. He believes work is important, and so are fathers and the things they can teach their children. 

Our new theory is that you should never pass up an opportunity to invite someone home for dinner. We were well taught by this group as we asked what impressed them most about the conference. 

These were their answers:
1.  Continue to invite your children to participate in Family Home Evening and teach about the sacrament, the temple, and service.
2. The father has a responsibility to take the lead in directing FHE.
3. Study the gospel as a family: Read, ask questions, listen, confirm the truth.
4. Respect the role of the father in the home and strengthen families. 
5. Remember that President Monson says we must find an eternal companion and be sealed in the temple. 
6. Focus on the principles that President Monson teaches--learn about them and apply them. 
7. Text, write, and phone your children--be with them; share happy experiences and be joyful!   

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