Thursday, September 26, 2013

 It has been a long time, but we finally have some pictures, so I will post with them.  The pictures above are our apartment complex with its cobblestone streets, beautiful gardens (all 3 windows belong to our apartment--and looking outside at the gardens is always beautiful!), and our kitchen.  The kitchen is a tight squeeze for two, but they managed to install a washer/dryer combo and refrigerator/freezer combo--so we are happy.  We are working hard on teaching English to the 77 Latino Elders/Sisters in the mission.  In another week, we get another 14 Latino missionaries--so we are trying to get ready for them, too.  We don't have internet or phone service yet, but we can talk with the missionaries through the mission "red" (Spanish for internet).  Reception is iffy, but we can usually get hold of them when we need them.  We are traveling everywhere either by foot or taxi--getting a lot of exercise.  We live in Coyoacan, which is a tourist spot (it is where the Spaniards settled initially when they came to the area to challenge the Aztecs).  There are a lot of beautiful homes (all hidden behind walls), churches, parks and streets.  People are friendly, and speak muy rapido.  We are members of the Pedregal Ward, and I (Joni) am playing piano for Sacrament Meeting--since there was no one in the Ward who could play.  It was a really humbling experience to listen to their voices the first Sunday being raised in familiar hymns--minus organ or even piano.  Their hymnbook is about half the width of ours, and a few of the hymns are different--but I am enjoying being at least a little useful.  It is an interesting Ward, being composed of people who live near the Universities in Coyoacan (there are a lot of Universities in Coyoacan).  We have students, professionals, and a lot of very humble people.  It rains here all the time--but because of that it is very green with beautiful flowers everywhere.  The sidewalks and roads are (often) moss-covered, adding to the beauty of the area.  We are adjusting to the constant 60-70 degree temperatures--as my mother would have said, it is always "sweater weather" in Mexico City.  It is a beautiful city with just about any and everything you could want to find.  Archaeology, History, Architecture, Modern conveniences, Malls (with more expensive merchandise than we have at home), Tiny tiendas, etc.  3 weeks into the mission--and so much more to learn!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Just thought it would be a good idea to show you our Mission Apartment.  Not really!  We arrived on Monday afternoon with only short (15-20 minutes) delays with immigration.  When we had passed through customs, we met Presidente Valadez and his wife--who were most gracious and helped us get our bags to the car and loaded up.  They took us to our apartment, which they had never seen, but no one was there to let us in (in Mexico, all apartmtents/homes have locked entry doors--you can't just walk in).  They called FM (who was in charge of finding the apartment) and they weren't anywhere near, so we went to dinner and then on a shopping trip to the local super WalMart.  Much larger than our super Walmart!  Having never seen the apartment, it was tough to know what we needed or could do, but we bought some basics and then headed back.  FM was there, and let us in.  Above you see the apartment.  It was less than 200 square feet and extremely cramped.  But we were tired and stayed and unpacked while everyone left.  The next day we were picked up by the Presidente and taken to a training/transfer meeting.  17 new elders and us arrived on Monday!  10 were from the US, 7 from other Latin American nations and Mexico.  We went into the training session with the Assistants while the Presidente interviewed the Elders.  Sister Valadez arrived halfway through for pictures with the new Elders (for them to send home, I guess), and afterward she and the President cornered us to let us know they were horrified by our small accomodations.  Apparently President Valadez called FM and reamed them about the apartment--and they got to work looking for a new place.  Meantime, the Valadez' told us to pack up, because we were moving to their home that evening for as long as it took to get a new place.  We spent Tuesday getting acclimated, Wednesday looking for apartments.  Very discouraging--we found one 5th floor walkup, and no others that were within the range we could spend (Church rules, no ours).  We walked and drove all over Coyoacan, writing down telephone numbers for "For Rent" ("Se Renta") signs, but didn't have much luck.  Most were either too expensive or too far away. Thursday we went back to the chapel for more training, but this time the President placed us with the Latin Elders, not the American ones--which means that ALL the instruction was in Spanish.  I think Tom got most of it--I probably got 60-75%.  Afterwards, the FM people buttonholed us and showed us an apartment they had found.  We then went with them to look at it.  The apartment is a 2 bedroom, ground floor  apartment (apparently there aren't many elevators for apartments in Mexico).  It has a pretty good size "sala de estar" (living room) and area for a dining room table off the living room.  It has a small kitchen with room for a full size refrigerator (apparently in Mexico, apartments are fitted with small refrigerators and separate freezers--not good) and a place for stackable washer/dryer.  It also had space for a dishwasher--but there were no hookups for one, so we will not have a dishwasher.  Not many people in Mexico have dishwashers.  No disposal--that is also rare in Mexico.  We will have to separate our "basura" (trash) into organic/inorganic and then take it to the front of the complex.  Haven't had to do that since Heritage Halls!  There is a tiny bathroom, all in green (Tom's not-favorite color), but it is pretty marble.  There are MANY apartments buildings in the complex.  It is very well landscaped and maintained, and has security at the gate controlling access--also many security guards roaming the grounds to keep things safe.  Once inside the complex there were lots of people out strolling, playing with kids, etc.  There is NO furniture, but FM is going to strip one of the temple apartments of its furniture to furnish our apartment, and will but the washer/dryer and refrigerator.  They are also spending today fixing all the broken outlets, rescrubbing the floors, disinfecting and (I hope) debugging it, fixing broken fixtures in the bathroom and kitchen, etc,  We think it is a very nice apartment and are looking forward to moving in next Wednesday.  We have a problem with transportation--doesn't look like we will have a car--but there is a Walmart Supercenter a few blocks away (across a VERY busy highway)--and we can always take taxis--which are everywhere.  It is also a long way from the Mission Office where we will be working--but there is a Metro stop a few blocks away, so we will probably use that.  It continues to be an adventure!
Last night I attended RS with Sister Valadez and watched the Ward Family History Specialist teach 8 sisters how to use Family Search--also very interesting.
Have to get to Missionary Work now--we have been asked to design ways to more effectively train the Elder on how to use, FamilySearch and learn English.  Apparently it is as high a priority in the Church to teach native speakers English as it is to teach English speaking Elders the language of the country they serve in.  None of the above are being done very effectively right now, so that is our charge.  Life is certainly interesting!