Saturday, April 27, 2013

Multiple Airport Trips and a New Missionary!

My husband and I have gotten to know the way to the airport VERY WELL, especially after this past week. Due to some visa problems, seven of our missionaries had to travel to Houston to get their visas renewed. However, they were divided into three groups for the travel.

It all began last Sunday with Elder K. President Wagner dropped him off at the airport at 5:00 in the morning for his 6 a.m. flight to Mexico City. From there he joined four missionaries from the Tampico mission and employees in the Church's immigration office for the trip to Texas.

 Now the fun part of the trip for him was that his twin brother is in the Tampico mission and traveled with him!! They were excited to see each other, especially since 2013 was going to be the only year of their lives when that they would not spend any time together. But thanks to a kind hearted man in immigration, they were able to see each other this year as well.

Then Monday morning, President Wagner took a group of five to the airport for their flight to Mexico City and then on to Houston.
At midnight that same night, we went together back to the airport to pick up Elder K.  

On Tuesday morning we went again, this time to take another Elder K for his flight. He was traveling with four other missionaries from the Guadalajara East Mission.

Then we went back again at midnight to pick up the five we had taken the day before.

We took them to the mission office and then went BACK again to wait for the 2:00 a.m. flight from Panama--the last flight of the night. On this flight was a new missionary from the Dominican Republic! We were so excited to see him and I am sure that at 2:45 in the morning (by the time he got through Customs) he was very glad to see us! (I didn't get a very good picture of him at the airport so here is one when he is eating lunch the next day:-)

Then the following night at midnight we returned for the last time to pick up Elder K #2. We were so glad to have all our missionaries back in the country--and without visa problems!!

Here is what the airport looks like at 2:00 in the morning.

Yeah, we were pretty much the only ones there.

On Monday we will make yet another trip to the airport for two missionaries coming from Central America. We will be so glad to get them here. We really don't mind the airport trips when it means we are getting new missionaries. We are still praying for our newest senior couple and about 14 visa waiters to come!!

 And when they do--we will be at the airport waiting for them. :-)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Training in Mexico City!

I am finally getting caught up on the blog!! Between a lot of travel, missionaries coming and going and the internet and power continually going out on us, it has been hard to keep up. However, this is my third post this week so if you haven't read the blog for a while, be sure and scroll down to see it all!

A week ago we flew to Mexico City for our semi-annual mission president's training.
We didn't see much (any) of the city though, as we spent our entire three days in the airport hotel.

Under the direction of our area presidency, we received training as couples, had a breakout session for Presidents in one room and their wives in another, and then the following day met with the area authorities in Mexico for training as well. We also got in some good visiting time with the other couples which was a lot of fun.

To be honest, all the training a bit overwhelming, but we know that this is the Lord's work and He can perform miracles.

Here is a picture of our "generation" or in other words the couples who all started their missions the same time we did.

Here the sisters are being trained by Sister Johnson, wife of the Area President, Elder Daniel Johnson. Sister Johnson is definitely one of the cutest, kindest and fun people I have ever met. She is from Idaho but has lived most of her married life outside of the United States--and speaks great Spanish!!
And here are some of our favorite people, the Calls in Mexico City. My husband went to high school with them both and we have kept in touch with them over all the years. I am so grateful for that. Sister Call has been my "phone a friend" over the past year, answering all my questions. It was a lot of fun for us to be able to spend some time with them.
 And here we are on the last day of training. This was when we were joined by the area authorities as well. We went home after this meeting and they stayed for another day of training.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the training we received.

"If you can go back to your missions and teach your missionaries that it is the Spirit that teaches, then this conference will have been a success." Elder Daniel Johnson

"How can you measure the success of your mission? It is in the progress of your missionaries."Elder Daniel Johnson

In regard to teaching . . . "Plan B is what you have prepared. Plan A is what the Spirit teaches." One of the other presidents, I don't remember which.

"There are four groups of people we teach. The investigators, less actives, active members and recent converts. It is your job at zone conferences to use Preach My Gospel to teach the missionaries how to find and teach these people." Elder Benjamin De Hoyos

After being told that we need to do a very long list of things very quickly, and realizing the difficulty of the task, Elder Johnson said, "Just do the best you can." That made me feel a little better. But in church on Sunday I heard a testimony of a woman who told her conversion story, which was pretty miraculous. That was so comforting to me. It reminded me that this is not our work, it is the Lords, and He will take care of the impossible, after we have "done the best we can". So now my husband and I have a new motto. It is, "Do the best you can and then pray for miracles."

And my favorite . . . "We aren't teaching a lesson just to get references. We are teaching a lesson to save a soul." Elder Daniel Johnson

More Interview Pictures

I realized that I haven't posted all the pictures from the interviews yet, so here are some more of them. For our last two days of interviews we also attended zone class in two of the zones. We had just had our zone leader council and wanted to see how well the zone leaders were teaching to their zones what they had learned.

I am happy to say that both sets of zone leaders did a wonderful job!!  And here are some pictures from our time with them.

The missionaries all have a copy of what is called "Tarjeta Automatica". This is a card with a list of questions on it to help the missionaries obtain references from members and investigators.  The zone leaders had a competition to see who knew the questions on the card the best. Here the zone is watching the final competition.
 It got down to these four!  Good job elders!
 Every three months I also teach them a song in English as part of the English study program for missionaries. This time the song was . . . . Scripture Power!! The reluctant red headed elder, however, told me he didn't want his picture on the blog because his sisters would make fun of him. So sisters  . . . please don't make fun of him.:-)
 Some of our great missionaries
 Teaching practices.

 A zone leader watching on . . .

 We love our senior couples!! This wonderful couple will be going home in the fall and we don't have a replacement for them. If someone would like to serve, please let us know!!
 Another zone leader watching and listening to the practices.

 This zone also did a competition to see who knew the card the best. Here is the champion!!
 Some of the elders in the zone
 I asked them to show enthusiasm, and this is what they gave me.:-)
 Here are two pictures of new missionaries (on the left) with their trainers. The lucky elders are with two great trainers!!

 And I think that ends this round of interviews!! In just over a week we will start round 4 of zone conferences!! My goodness the time flies by so quickly!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Making History!! Changes this time around

In the past couple weeks we have welcomed 8 new elders and 6 new sisters. This is the biggest group of sisters we have received so far. About half of them were 19, although I have told all of our sisters to tell the elders they are 30. :-)

Two elders came a couple weeks ago from Colombia!! We were so happy to finally get them. Both had been waiting a long time for their visas to arrive.

Then yesterday the rest arrived. All six sisters are from Mexico, as well as four of the elders. One elder is from Nicaragua and the other from Peru. We love getting missionaries from all over. It enriches the mission.

They all arrived in the morning so we fed them a typical Mexican breakfast of fried eggs, chilaquiles, yogurt and banana bread. Then, after interviews, we sent them to the office (the elders) and to houses in a nearby ward (the sisters) to take a nap. They have to get up at 4 in the morning to come from the MTC in Mexico City, and the poor elder from Peru had been flying all night. At six (when p-day was over for the rest of the missionaries) we sent them all out to work.

This morning training started bright and early. First the assistants arrived at the church with the luggage, which they had to unload by themselves. (I took the picture as evidence that the job of assistant is not really something to aspire to.:-)
Since it was change day, we had missionaries coming in from all over the mission to pick up their new companions.

 Including these two sisters who are making history in our mission. With the high number of sister missionaries now, the Church has changed "Zone Leader Council" (which meets monthly) to "Mission Council" which will continue to meet monthly but include "Sister Leader Trainers" who will be responsible for training the sisters in the mission. These two are our first sister trainers!! Both are super missionaries, we are just sad that one of them will be returning to her home in Honduras in six weeks.
Meanwhile, the new elders were being introduced to hair with a part on the side. This was a rule instituted by the previous mission president which we decided to not enforce since it wasn't in the missionary handbook. However, after this past round of interviews we noticed many of the missionaries were wearing their hair in ways that detracted from the work, so we decided there was wisdom in the rule and are once again enforcing it.

Here the assistants are teaching the new elders the mission ways. (Sorry I am in the mirror!)

After being introduced to hair with a part on the side, one elder (not in this group but another one) wrote and told President Wagner that he knew why we were asking them to wear their hair that way. It was so no girls would ever have an interest in them. We laughed at that. I think they all look pretty handsome!!

After the preliminary training by myself and the assistants, we went into the chapel for the really fun part. This is where all the new missionaries . . . (in picture below)

 get to meet their trainers and find out where they will be serving. Everyone is always nervous and excited. Four of our six elders training have trained before. Most of our sisters have not trained because we have received so few sisters, so this was a really fun day for them. One sister barely finished her own training and now is training someone else.
Once their new companions were announced they met in the middle for a few minutes to get to know each other.

 And then some additional training by the President.
Training ended with pizza and then we sent them all on their way.

We are so excited to have them all here and look forward to great things from all of them!!

Editors Note: We were supposed to receive 17 more, (9 from the US and the rest from several Latin American countries) but they are waiting for visas. Please pray they will come soon!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Another Sad Farewell

Once again it is time to say goodbye to a group of missionaries. 
This never gets easier. 
But my husband said something last night that made me feel better. When talking to the missionaries he told them that he was sad for us, but happy for Mexico. Each of these missionaries is great and I am sure they will go home and continue to be a great influence in the areas in which they live. 
Mexico will be a stronger and better place because of them.
I found that so comforting. And I believe it is true. 
So we wish them all well in their new journey and will always hold them in our hearts!
Final Transfer

Elder Raul Escamilla Lopez---Ixmiquilpan Hidalgo
Elder Jonathan Morales Luna--Metepec, Atlixco, Puebla
Elder Jose Enrique Ortiz Gonzalez--Mexico, D.F.
Elder Salvador Garcia Rodriguez--Oaxaca
Hermana Jasmín Hernandez Ochoa--Veracruz
Hermana Cintha Alejandra Rivera Castañedo--Obregón, Sonora
Elder Samuel Valis Olivares--Tuxtepec, Oaxaca

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Zone Leader Council #10!!

On Tuesday we held our final zone leader council.
From now on, the meeting will be called "Mission Council" and will include "Sister Leader Trainers"
We have not really had the influx of sister missionaries other missions have, since no American sisters are sent to Mexico, but we still welcome the opportunity to improve the training of the sister missionaries. (Although I have to say our sisters are AMAZING anyway.)

But this morning began with everyone leaving their shoes at the entrance way. It isn't so important in the dry season but it is extremely important when it rains! And I love how it looks with all the shoes lined up together.

And then of course we feed them because they all arrive hungry.
Breakfast this morning consisted of Costco muffins, yogurt, granola and orange slices.

 After covering the business and training form the President, the assistants taught Fundamental Lesson #1, The Doctrine of Christ. 
And then of course there were practices!! We are really big on practices.

 I don't take pictures during my training, but I had one hour to teach the song "Scripture Power" in English. I teach a song in English for every zone conference as part of our English study program.
We also played a game using balls to help the elders better learn specific questions to use to ask for references (so thankful for 12 years of seminary training!) and then we spent time outlining the commandments in lesson 4 of chapter 3 so they could help the new missionaries in their zones teach them in a more clear and simple way.
Also we have a test on Preach My Gospel we give every zone conference (on different things each time) and this was intended to help them prepare for the test as well. 

And since their energy starts to run low, we needed a healthy snack!

President Wagner took the rest of the afternoon and taught about priesthood leadership, priesthood handbooks and teaching correct principles. I always love how he teaches and miss out on so much of it because I am getting lunch ready.
But I did sneak in to take these pictures.
This was part of an object lesson on the importance of using the handbook.

Then came lunch!
The elders are so good about setting everything up, taking it down and expressing gratitude for everything we do for them. 
And we appreciate that!

Lunch was chicken enchiladas, beans and rice with pico de gallo and banana tres leches cake for dessert.
After we eat there is always a lot of picture taking while waiting for the taxis to come and whisk them away.
Here is a picture of the two new zone leaders. 
One arrived in the mission field a few days before we did and the other arrived six weeks later. Seeing them both at the zone leader council made me feel like time is flying by very quickly. 
This elder climbed under the stairs to put all the chairs away.
And here is the line of people bringing their chairs to be put away.
And here are the lazy missionaries.
Just kidding. They moved all the furniture back into place.
One of the assistants who will be going home next week. 
Four missionaries who just thought I should take their picture. 
Along with these two . . . 
I just thought this picture was a little funny, since he was looking so lost. 
Then we have to show the pictures we just took . . . 
And here is a group who are all in the same generation. Lucky for us, they still have a lot of time left on their missions. 
So next time we will add a little color to the pictures by having sisters here!! We are looking forward to that!