the fan

the fan

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mission President's Seminar

This past week we had the opportunity to spend five days in Villahermosa, Mexico, at a Mission President's Seminar for all Mission Presidents in Mexico. President Johnson, President DeHoyos and President Tenorio, the area presidency, and their wives were there and they trained and instructed us, in addition to Elder Duncan, our visiting general authority.

This is a picture of the inside courtyard of the hotel we stayed at.
It was beautiful and the weather was perfect while we were there.

the view from our room window

This was the dining room where we ate all of our meals. Elder Duncan is on the left, President and Sister Hicken, President of the Mexico, Mexico City East Mission, are next to us, Daisy, (President Johnson's assistant) and President Tervort of the Mexico, Mexico City Northwest Mission is on the right. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting with the Hickens and also getting to know all of the other Mission Presidents. Those of us who aren't quite able to understand Spanish yet, were supplied with earphones and Daisy would translate for us. It was wonderful. We were also able to renew our friendships with the Presidents who were at the Mission President's Seminar in July at the Provo MTC. On Tuesday we flew to Villahermosa, then on Wednesday and Thursday we had training.

On Friday right before we left for Palenque... they handed out hats and bug repellant!

We all loaded onto two buses to visit some Mayan ruins.

A couple of cute little stores we passed on the way... I love seeing the tiendas, as they call them, here. They are on just about every street and you can buy just about anything to eat.

We also had the opportunity to buy some souvenirs, which was interesting!
They are very persuasive and the deals are so good, it makes it hard to say no!
(notice the baby wrapped up on the mom's back in the first photo...)

a map of the area we visited...

It was so interesting and reminded us a lot of the ruins we have seen in Cancun and Tikal.

The palace

Inside the palace

In the courtyard of the palace.

These are original carvings from around 600 a.d.

I spent some time talking with President Johnson, who knows a lot about the ruins and the history of the Mayan people. He was able to answer some of my questions.
It was wonderful to get to know his wife also, who is on the left.

Some of our group at the top of one of the buildings

in front of the river and heading down the trail back to the buses.

The river that was winding through the site ended up turning into this beautiful waterfall.

When we arrived back in Villahermosa, we stopped at Rodizio Grill for dinner. It was really good! How did we end up in the same group for dinner? I promise, we did eat with other people during the week. On Saturday morning we had a presentation on security in the mission. Then we loaded up the buses and headed back to the airport for Mexico City.

A shot of the hotel as we left on the bus

In the airport, waiting for our flight. Elder Duncan, President Johnson and President Call, Mission President in Mexico, Tampico Mission. It was a wonderful week full of insights, principles, doctrine, practice and testimony.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another picture of Abigail... it's amazing to me how much one little baby can change in one month! She definitely is starting to get her own look and what a beautiful smile!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Really Big Weekend

This was a very busy weekend, both in Arizona and Mexico! One of the other reasons that Brian went back to Arizona for a visit was because he and Shani were planning on going to homecoming...

This is how he asked her... the theme of Homecoming was "Up" so for several days and nights before he left Mexico, he recreated the house from the movie "Up". He even sacrificed doing his schoolwork so he could work on the house. I think it turned out pretty good, though...

... and this was her answer to him...

this is not a picture of Shani... this is Conner, one of Brian's best friends, who he is staying with while he is in Arizona. He and his date went with Brian and Shani.

This is Brian and Shani...

Another important event this weekend was General Conference. Being in Mexico and not really understanding the language very well tends to leave me a bit empty on Sundays. Sometimes I can feel the spirit, but usually the only spiritual uplift I receive is from my own daily personal study time. So, it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to General Conference! We were able to watch it in English on our computer, live, and I so enjoyed all of the talks in the first three sessions. We also had the blessing to have five new missionaries come in on Saturday night and so they were able to watch Conference with us on Sunday morning, also, which was a treat. Usually we would have received the elders from Provo on Monday night, but they were having Visa issues. By the time the MTC received word on their visas there were no more flights on Monday. On Friday morning we received word that we had the option to receive them either Saturday night or the next Thursday night, so we chose Saturday!

On Sunday afternoon after the morning session of Conference, the missionaries who have finished their two years of service and are going home, started arriving at the mission home.
We had an afternoon filled with lunch, interviews and watching General Conference in Spanish. After Conference the President had more interviews, while the missionaries visited with
each other and wrote memories and goodbyes in each others journals.

We had a great departure dinner and a beautiful devotional
and then lots of pictures and goodbyes to each of the missionaries.

Our dear, sweet assistant, Elder Alvarez, was in this group and
how I have dreaded this day! His parents came to pick him up after our devotional
and somehow that made it a bit easier to say goodbye.

He has been such a lifesaver to us during these first few months.
He has been a wonderful missionary, a great teacher and a trusted adviser.

Elder Tate received the new assignment as an Assistant to the President to
replace Elder Alvarez. He and Elder Gonzalez are excited to be working together!
They are both the same height as President, so the three of them are a commanding sight...

Elder Hernandez, Elder Casillas, Elder Revuelta, Elder Perez, Elder Estrada, Elder Alvarez,
Elder Hernandez, Elder Vazquez, Elder Stone, Elder Gamboa, Elder Arellano, Elder Montero
and Hermana Ruiz in the front. Elder Vazquez and Elder Stone will be with us for a few more days while they wait for their visas to return home...

We will miss all of our great missionaries!

On Monday morning we received eight missionaries from Mexico City, so we had a wonderful training on Monday with all thirteen new missionaries all together! It was so wonderful to watch the missionaries (two sisters) as they met for the first time, even with a language barrier, as they got to know each other and as they bonded. Yes, the American missionaries do receive language training, but they are not as fluent as the native speakers, so there is usually a bit of an adjustment period. It was a wonderful day, though, as we met together and trained them and then sent them out with their new companions. They are all very excited to be here!