A Call From A Prophet

In a letter dated 27/10/2009 we received a long awaited call to serve as full-time missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to work in the Mexico City Temple Visitors Center, in the Mexico City East Mission. We were to report to the Missionary Training Center on February 15, 2010 and later serve for almost two years in Mexico City

Monday, October 18, 2010

Neighborhood Businesses and Vendors

Mexico is a country of small businesses and street vendors. Outside of the downtown, neighborhoods are a mixture of small businesses, residences, and street vendors. Businesses are often very small (less than 100 s.f.) and often specialize in one thing. They usually do their car and large truck repairs right on the parking areas on the side of the street.

One day a week many neighborhoods have an open air market called Tianguis (different days of the week for different areas). To hold the market they often close down a street to traffic for the day. In a Tianguis you can find fruit,
vegetables, fresh meat, cooked food, clothes, makeup, shoes, trinkets, flowers, pottery, CD/DVD (often pirated), small appliance repair, etc.

The quality of fruit and vegetables is usually good and the price reasonable.

Above right, I am buying some fruit. It is sold by the kilogram (2.2 pounds per kilogram) and the price is usually posted. If the measure is close to a unit they usually throw in an extra piece. If there is no price posted it is haggle time.

To the right Leslie is searching for momentos to use to celibate Mexico's 200 anniversary of its independence from Spain, September 15, 2010.

Here is a vendor selling cooked food. It usually smells great but we do not buy cooked food off the street or Tianguis, nor fresh meat at Tianguis. Too much of a risk of serious digestive repercussions.

In addition, we soak all fresh produce (no matter where it is purchased) in a bleach water solution before we eat it.

Along the streets you will street vendors everywhere. Most sell food or drinks, for example, in the first picture below the person is selling fresh squeezed orange juice. In the second picture below the person is selling snow cones on the street in front of the temple. You will also find people selling clothes, magazines and newspapers, flowers, etc on the sidewalks. Close to where we live we have seen people in the street (literally walking among the cars in traffic) selling bread (a one legged fellow on crutches sells the bread), soft drinks and water, candy, fruit, newspapers, performing acts such as juggling or playing music, and washing car windows. It is really very interesting to see. These folks are real salespeople, and with other kinds of work hard to find, enterprising in finding ways to make a living.

Friday, July 23, 2010

This is a house across the street and is typical of an average dwelling. This one has a store on the bottom floor (very common) with living units around the patio and in the upper stories. The housing and commercial areas are all intermixed on the same block. The street is bordered by sidewalks (usually in pretty bad shape) and then the dwelling. there are no front yards. You can't see into the houses or yards. The lot and dwellings are surrounded by walls with a patio in the middle.

You'll also find that nice places are mixed with those that are downtrodden. However, you can only know this if you get to look inside the gate to the place, or by noticing the condition of the outside wall by the sidewalk.

Many mom and pop small businesses (of all kinds) and vendors of food, flowers, etc. are found along side the road. You'll also see mechanic shops with workers repairing cars and trucks of all sizes on the streets and sidewalks.

Our Neighborhood

This is a photo of our neighborhood from the roof of our apartment building. The Temple Square is a fenced or walled area that has a continuous security presence. We are really safe here. Outside the square we feel safe during the day but we try not to be out there too much after dark. This is an impoverished area of the city. When the temple location was selected the President of the Church determined it should be placed in an area were the poor would have easy access. He said that those with money would be able to get there but the poor could not attend, or would feel uncomfortable being there, if it was built in the prosperous areas of the city.

Our Apartment

We have a very nice apartment with three bedroom apartment, kitchen, living/dinning room, bathroom, laundry room and patio, all fully furnished. The apartment has neither heating nor air conditioning. Why? the weather here is like eternal springtime with a range of temperatures of 50 to 85. Daytime temperatures usually range between 65-70 with little humidity. So those of you up in the upper 48 states, eat your heart out.

Some may wonder, what's up I thought you were in hot Mexico? Mexico City sits in a high mountain valley (7,200 ft. elevation) surrounded by mountains. We have two seasons, wet (May to Sept.) and dry (the rest of the year). Typically it rains in the late afternoon or evening.

Zarahemla Apartments

The building in the center is where we live. We live on the second floor on the right hand side. Looking at the first level of windows, ours are the three to the right of tree. All the missionaries that work in the Visitors Center live in this building. To the right of the picture is the front of the Visitors Center.

Mexico City Temple

This is the Mexico City Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of the church visit during the week to worship and learn about God's plan for his children and to further prepare them to return to God after this life. It is the major building on Temple Square, an enclosed area which also includes the Visitors Center, a Missionary Training Center for Spanish speaking missionaries, and various support buildings.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Spanish Speaking Sister Missionaries

These Spanish speaking missionaries come from various parts of the world: Mexico, Peru, and Argentina. They are bright, enthusiastic, energetic, and dedicated. Currently our number in the Center has increased to 12 with 6 others working in other areas. They rotate in and out of the Center so that they eventually spend 12 months in the Center. Left to right they are Sisters: Lara O., Cuevas, Obeso, Bobadilla, Lara P., Novoa, Vilca, Murga, Ramos, Aguilar.

Incredible Co-workers

We work with an incredible group of fellow missionaries. Going left to right: the Stewart's, he has been a businessman and mayor of the City of Provo, UT; the Lopez's, natives of Mexico who work one day a week as volunteers; the Acosta's, he was a career diplomat with the US State Department and has worked all over the world. The Acosta's and Stewart's are each on their third mission and both have served three year tours as mission presidents.

We have a great time together and ofter share dinners and excursions to interesting places near Mexico City. During our service at the Center a senior couple will serve with six younger missionary sisters. There are two work shifts per day and each shift is about 5 hours. We are open all week except on Monday when we are closed for cleaning.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mexico City Visitors Center

Our main assignment is to work in the Mexico City Temple Visitors Center. We generally work here four days a week for six hour shifts. We also have a one hour training meeting on Tuesday mornings. during our shift, Leslie and I supervise about 4-5 young sister missionaries (who take visitors on tours of the facility and its exhibits), greet people coming to visit, check any belongings they don't want to carry around on the tour, and take care of administrative duties. At times people in distress
come seeking help. It is my responsibility to talk with these folks and try to help them resolve their difficulties. It is a challenging yet extremely rewarding part of our ministry. In the first two weeks I met with an elderly man who was sick and needed a priesthood blessing, a man who was out of work and down on his luck, and a woman who was less active in the church and needed help getting back on track. Each left the Center feeling better and with more hope for the future.

Provo Missionary Training Center (MTC)

We spent 10 wonderful days (Feb 15-25) at the MTC. with about 40 other senior couples and over 2,000 younger (19-25 years old) missionaries. Our teachers and fellow missionaries were loving, inspiring, kind, and dedicated people. These missionaries were headed all over the world.

The MTC is an very efficiently run facility with world class instruction in effective teaching strategies and language instruction. At the same time it was able to take care of the spiritual and physical of all of us. Meal times were amazing. In an hour and a half between 2-2,500 people were fed good meals with much variety. Sunday meetings and devotionals were spiritual feasts.