Friday, August 31, 2012

More Pictures from Zone Conferences

It has been so much fun for us to travel the mission holding zone conferences and getting to know the missionaries better.  Here are a few pictures from our most recent conference.

Apparently proper zone conference attire consists of matching ties.

Here Elder T, gets dramatic while teaching his Book of Mormon story

And "judgment day" for three poor elders. (See previous post) Sorry to say that none of them reached the Celestial Kingdom. Come to think of it, I don't think any reached the Terrestrial either!
 All together now!! Don't they all look like super awesome missionaries? We also had four brand new missionaries in this group and they all seemed to be doing great.
 The clean up. I told this elder that every man is much more handsome when he has a broom in his hand.:-)  But seriously, all the zone was great about pitching in and helping clean everything up. That is always appreciated.
I got a chuckle out of this companionship. Just a small study in contrasts, but united in their faith and dedication.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Zone Conferences . . . Or . . On The Road Again!

The past couple weeks we have been touring the mission for zone conferences.

We experienced gorgeous scenery
(Manzanillo Coast)

(Drive back from Tepic)
Interesting Agave Fields
(On the way to Tepic)

And quaint little towns. 
But most fun of all was seeing the missionaries!

Elders in Manzanillo

Ciudad Guzman
Colima Zone

Lomas in Guadalajara

Independencia In Guadalajara

Our focus for the zone conference came from the saying,
"Show me your morning and I will show you your mission,
Show me your mission, and I will show you your life."

We wanted to emphasize the importance of starting your day out right with both your personal and companionship study.
(Preach My Gospel, Chapter 2)

The zone leaders taught and demonstrated the proper way to hold companionship study, and then the missionaries practiced teaching the 8 points of the restoration in three minutes!
Our purpose was to be sure they had the basics down (skeleton) so they could then add the "muscles"

A missionary would teach the person in front of him until 3 minutes were up. They would both then evaluate. After the evaluation, the missionary on the outside would move down one seat and those on the inside would teach, evaluate, and then those on the outside would move a seat down again. And then they repeated, teaching, evaluating, moving, teaching, evaluating, moving. 
This way each missionary taught twice and and was able to learn from two different people. 

Another emphasis of the conference was improving skills in teaching stories and principles from the Book of Mormon
Here President Wagner is coaching "Moroni" as he tells "Joseph Smith" about the plates.

He emphasized that the Book of Mormon needs to become real to the people who are reading it. Not that the missionaries need to stand on chairs, but that they do need to learn to love it themselves so they can share that love and understanding with others. 

The missionaries each practiced teaching a story and principle to their companions. First they were to pretend the companion was an investigator. Then they were to pretend they were teaching their own child who was preparing for baptism.
It was amazing how different the teaching style became when they were teaching their "child". What was also amazing was the additional love they demonstrated. 
So now they have been challenged to teach their investigators with that same amount of love and simplicity they used with their pretend children.
We threw in a few things for fun as well.
Being a former seminary teacher, I couldn't resist testing them on their scripture knowledge.
M&M's went to the winner of this scripture chase. 

At one point in the conference, President Wagner opened up the meeting to questions. So far, in all six conferences we have attended a question has been asked about the Plan of Salvation.

Here President Wagner is answering a question about final judgment.
He was teaching that in the end it won't be how many good things you have done verses how many bad things, but rather who you have become. 

In this example he used pushups to illustrate. If you need to be able to be a person who can do 100 pushups to get to the Celestial Kingdom then you will need to be able to do 100 pushups. 
Unfortunately none of the elders so far have made it to the "Celestial Kingdom":-)

One tried very hard though.
Lunch provided a nice break from the meetings.
We put all that sloppy joe mix and chocolate chip cookies to good use. 
(They were being stored in my freezer)

In addition, we had yogurt, a banana, and some chips.
Oh, and of course the mandatory jalapeños!

One thing that was kind of funny is an American elder had told his American companion that two things he would never see in Mexico were sloppy Joe's and homemade cookies. 
But we had both!

After the conference they all headed back to work!!

Next week I will have pictures from Santiago, Tepic, Union (Guadalajara) and Vallarta
plus some pictures from our two district conferences!

Oh how we love these missionaries!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Welcomes and Farewells!!

Last week was a big week here in Guadalajara. We sadly bid farewell to 13 missionaries and enthusiastically welcomed 19.  This was our first group to leave and our first group to welcome, so we didn't quite have the system all down, but even so, I think we handled it quite well.

Sunday night, the 13 returning missionaries met at our home for dinner and a testimony meeting. It was so interesting to me how much love I could feel for missionaries I had only known for a short time, and some I had only met once. We were so impressed with their strength and dedication.

Farewell Dinner

After the testimonies, I reminded them of the story of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. I think we have a generation of Lost Boys in the world today, and many of them are in the Church. They get home from their missions and lose their direction and ambition, and often their testimonies. After a time, instead of going to school, finding a job, getting married and having a family, they become 28 year old men, hanging out with roommates and playing video games every night.

I think it is so tragic. So I told them that when we returned home in three years, if they were not busy in school or employed and at least trying to get married, I would track them down!

President Wagner also visited with them a bit more seriously about the importance of keeping their covenants and maintaining their standards after returning to the world. We pray they will all be faithful and remain dedicated to the cause.

One of the saddest things for me about this group going home is most of them had awesome singing voices! Before they left for the night I had them sing our mission hymn so I could record it. You can hear it here:

No sooner did we say goodbye to these missionaries, then we were headed off to the airport to pick up 3 elders and a sister from the CCM (MTC) in Mexico City.  Two hours later we headed back to pick up a sister from Peru, and then several hours later, we went back again to get a group of 12 arriving from Provo--for a total of 17 new missionaries that day.

The first group was fed and sent to work, and the later group was fed and sent to bed. The next day, however, they all got to meet their new companions and be trained before heading off to their areas.

Here they are, new and trainers, arriving at the church building(with enthusiasm) after spending a night in the office.

Awaiting training. They were first trained by myself and the assistants while their future companions were trained by President Wagner.

 Practicing the baptismal challenge. 

The big excitement!
Meeting their new companions for the first time and getting to know them. 
Packing up the luggage for the bus ride to their new home!

The next day it was back to the airport again, but this time to welcome a senior couple from our home town!! We were so excited to have them arrive. We have been looking forward to this moment for a long time and are so glad to have the extra help as well as companionship.

Today was another airport trip but not so exciting. Our two daughters, who have been with us for the past two months, returned to the states. One will be starting her freshman year at BYU and the other is headed on a mission to Guatemala. It was very hard to see them leave, but we are excited to get updates on their lives.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Things Are Hopping in Guadalajara!!

Things are definitely hopping at the mission home this week. Come Monday we send home 12 missionaries and welcome another 17!! This will be our first group to welcome and is the same group we met when we were in the MTC.  A couple days later we will welcome a senior couple, the Calls from our hometown!! We could not possibly be more excited!!

Then later in the week we head off for our first zone conferences. We are also looking forward to that! (So obviously we will have a lot of pictures to post in the next couple weeks!)

In anticipation we have been getting the beds ready at the mission office for the outgoing and incoming elders' one night stays, and cooking, cooking, cooking!!

Michelle spent two days baking chocolate chip cookies!
How grateful we are to Aunt Lisa for bringing down all the chocolate chips and brown sugar from Utah. I am sure all the missionaries will enjoy them. 

 Kathryn got the job of cooking 45 pounds of hamburger!  
 And cutting all the peppers (Michelle got the onions)
 After so many peppers she got a little creative. This is one pepper sliced in a way that made one continous piece of pepper about five feet long!

And I put it all together for the Sloppy Joe mix. 
This pan is huge!! It is covering four burners and is about a foot in depth!
(And I promise it tastes a lot better than it looks)
 All this food has been frozen and will be lunch for the missionaries during zone conferences. We will take it frozen in a cooler with a crock pot to heat it at the church. 

And now we are headed to the office to pick mangoes for a salsa!
Too. Much. Fun!