Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Zone Leader Council . . .Or Who Said Meetings Aren't Fun?

Today we had our second zone leader council. Our first was just two weeks ago, (due to our arrival in the mission) but now we are back on schedule and will only have one a month.

Some of the zone leaders come from several hours away and so by the time they arrive, they are tired and hungry. I have learned that it really doesn't matter how much food you put out, they will eat it all. This morning we had bananas, muffins (the ones the ants didn't get to) milk, juice, yogurt and granola.

It is fun to see the missionaries arrive and see their joy at greeting each other. It always reminds me of when Ammon and his brothers ran into Alma and they all rejoiced in learning they were still firm in the faith. Most of those in this picture were in the MTC together so they are in (according to mission lingo) the same "generation".

These two were companions once upon a time . . .

And these three are just good friends. 

Our meeting began with the singing of "We'll Bring the World His Truth". Both Pres. W and I love that song and so it was fun to hear it sung with loud male voices.

The morning meeting consisted of a lot of business. The elders are still getting used to Pres W. They began by asking for permission for a variety of items. Each time Pres. W. would respond with, "What does your manual say?" After about four questions, he asked if there were any more questions. One elder said, "No, I think we know what the answer will be."

The wonderful assistants then spent some time teaching Chapter 8 of PMG on setting goals, and I taught from Chapter 10 about asking inspired questions.

Following my portion we had a short break for snacks. Seconds after announcing there was homemade salsa, chips, fresh fruit and chocolate in the kitchen, this is what the meeting room looked like. I kept waiting for a tumble weed to roll through. :-)

The assistants then taught Fundamental Lesson #2 on recognizing and teaching with the spirit, which was followed by lunch. Last month for lunch I made beef stew which the American elders enjoyed but the Mexican elders sent a representative into the kitchen to ask if I had any salsa to go on it. So this time we served very authentic Mexican food. Hermana Sonia, who helps me out, made green mole with chicken.

This consists of a lot of green leafy items like spinach, cilantro, and green lettuce, plus tomatillos and green chilies. You cook them all until tender, add chicken broth and blend in a blender.

 And then you serve it over your chicken with rice and beans. We had a ton of food and it was all eaten, but then I guess you have to make a ton to feed 20 grown men. Oh, and for dessert, we had Banana Tres Leches Cake. Yum!

After lunch Pres. W. taught. Okay, so I know I am a bit biased, but I loved his part. He was trying to help the missionaries realize that perhaps they don't understand everything in the scriptures, but if they apply themselves to learning, great things will be revealed to them and they will be able to teach with greater power.

Another part of his teachings in morning was trying to help the missionaries see beyond the moment. It is discouraging at times to be in branch with only 25 people so he compared where they are now to the church at the time it was organized. It was hard then for the people to understand how the church would spread to every nation, kindred, tongue and people, but it has. And the missionaries today in Mexico, who are working with small church units need to also catch the vision of the potential of their little area at some future day.

All meetings in our mission close with singing the mission song, the words to which I am going to try and post on the side bar.  It is sung to the tune Battle Hymn of the Republic. I am not sure who wrote it, but we love it.

After the meeting, everyone said their goodbyes . . .

Gathered their belongings (I am hoping there is water in that bottle and not soda pop!)
 Gave their hugs  . . .
 And loaded into the mission van for a ride to the bus depot . . .

I have to say, I love this calling!! It was so much fun to spend the day with such wonderful young men. I appreciate them all so much. I know it has been a bit hard for them to have Pres S.  leave the mission, and adjust to a new mission president, but they have all been very kind and supportive for which we are grateful.

We love them all!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Our First Three Weeks!

I really intended to write more often than this, but life has been a bit hectic. We now have three weeks in the mission, but it seems like a lot more. And that is a good thing. We have done a lot and are now feeling settled in. 

Here we are the day we arrived in Guadalajara. 
The outgoing mission president and his wife welcomed us warmly at the airport and then took us to the office for dinner and training. 
At the office we shared a meal with the office staff of fruit, juice, and sandwiches made with turkey, cheese, apple slices and jalapenos. 

After only one night of training, we have been very thankful for these two elders!!
They are the assistants and have done a fabulous job helping us get organized.

The church has also done a great job of helping us get settled in. This is our new house--and it truly is new. They closed on it three days before we arrived and then went a bit  crazy getting it furnished in time. We are so grateful to everyone who worked so hard for our benefit. 

The house is gorgeous and the view from the upstairs windows isn't bad either!
The really nice thing is that we are right by one of the busiest intersections in the city but insulated enough from it that we don't even hear the traffic. 

After a couple days to unpack, we began a mission tour.
We started with the zones in Guadalajara, then headed out of town to visit the additional six zones outside the city. 

This proved to be quite an adventure. 
Here is a picture of the first town--Santiago Ixcuintla. And seriously there are not any buildings in the entire city that look nicer than these. 
However, I totally loved the city once I got used to it. Everyone has a store and they all sit out in front of it all day selling to each other. It was very quaint and picturesque. Unfortunately I didn't get any additional pictures. (Next time)

In Colima we went to dinner with the stake president and his wife. We LOVED them!! They were so very kind and fun to visit with. And I was particularly grateful they both spoke English!

While traveling I saw this bathroom outside a store. I had to laugh a little at it. I guess they really want to be sure no one gets in without paying.

I loved the color of our hotel in another little town. I just had to take a picture of it.

In Tepic we stayed at a hotel that looked out over the town's main square. It was fun to watch all the people there. This church sits across the street from the square.

Driving in Mexico was a bit of a challenge at times, however! We received more rain this one day than Arizona gets in a year!

We returned from our mission tour on Sunday night and on Monday night we picked up our first missionary from the airport. He had been in San Diego for four months waiting for his visa, so we were thrilled to finally have him arrive.
Here he is with his first companion in front of the Guadalajara Temple.
(The new missionary is on the right.)

Early the next morning we began our first zone leader council. Most of the missionaries have to travel all night to arrive so I put out a few muffins, homemade banana bread, juice and milk for those who might be hungry. 
Turns out they were ALL hungry.
It didn't take long for the food to disappear. Next time I will plan for more. 

We also fed them lunch.

I was so thankful for my three kitchen helpers--my two daughters, Kathryn and Michelle, and Sister Sonia, a lady in the stake who helps me out. 
(And thank you Michelle Hill for the cute aprons!!)

Sister Sonia is awesome!!
And very artistic, as you can see by how she decorated the fruit. 
I don't have any serving plates, so we served the food on a cookie sheet--but look how beautiful she made it look!
I am so grateful for her. 

Between eating, the zone leaders received several hours of instruction. I think everyone went back to their towns with plenty of ideas to implement. 

And we loved having them in our home.

The rest of the week we have been doing interviews with all of the missionaries. This has been a treat as well, since we have been able to get to know them all better. 

So there you have our first three weeks!
Coming up will be more interviews and then we start zone conferences.
We are definitely looking forward to that!