Sunday, April 27, 2014

April 27, 2014

What a great an uplifting week!  We started the week in the office, checking up on necessary details needed to welcome our new Elders and Sisters--all from Mexico and South American countries this time.  We'll miss welcoming Northamericans, but the following transfer (at the end of June).  The Office Elders are pretty much caught up--or ahead--of what we needed to get done, so I mostly worked on Referrals.  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were Zone Conferences.  Zone Conferences come along every three months, and involve instruction from the President and his wife, his counselors, and whoever else he calls on.  This time, President Valadez and his wife took an hour each teaching about the importance of being disciples of Christ. based on Matthew 28: 18-20.  Once again, the President (who is one of the best teachers I have EVER had the privilege to listen to) hit a home run.  He picked the scriptural reference apart verse by verse with the missionaries, pointing out that being a missionary means that they are endowed with power, but that to access that power, they need to be strictly obedient.  He noted that the word disciple is rooted in the word discipline--and associated the two.  Then he directed their attention to "id y haced"--go and do--meaning that you have to actually DO something, and that something is finding and teaching.  He also noted that we are to "guardar" the commandments--meaning to not only obey, but to place them securely in our hearts and souls--such that they are a constant directing force in our lives.
Our part was reminding our Latinos that they DO need to be working on English.  We handed out slips of papers with reports on how they were doing on English--and hope to see a few more as a result.  We also talked with them about referrals--which are a bear to assign, since people apparently don't know how to write correct addresses.  They put down incorrect Colonias, Delegaciones and States (I can't tell you often I see D.F. placed in Aguascalientes--a little like saying that Kansas City is in California!  We do the best we can and send them out. Unfortunately none of the missionaries is reporting on what they did with the referrals, so it looks like they are disappearing into a black hole.  We also (we think) discovered that there are problems with the telephone numbers that the referrals are being texted to.  We will work on that one tomorrow in the office.
Saturday we attended the Ermita Stake Conferences.  We took the subway and arrived in time to greet our great missionaries (26 of them) and be invited to sit on the stand (unfortunately in my opinion--I just wanted to listen to President and Sister Valadez, who were talking, and then slip quietly out and go home.  No such luck.  However, it was a great meeting.  One of the Counselors set up a demonstration in which he had people running all over the chapel as an illustration of how missionary work should be done--by the members--which was a hoot.
This morning, we returned to Ermita for the Sunday session.  This time we had to do the speaking.  Each of our talks was VERY short, but I'm happy to report I managed to get through the spanish without major errors--only minor ones.  I'm feeling like a success!  Speaking in front of a stake full of people in a foreign language is NOT easy!
No fun pictures this time around.  Guess we need to get out more--although we are pretty tired from this week's travel by car, taxi, metro and foot.  By the way, the Ermita Stake Center is on a quiet, gated street.  Very charming....

Sunday, April 20, 2014

We take a trip to Veracruz and see Cuicuilco Pyramid

April 20, 2014

We have been so busy we haven't had time to do much more that work, go to church to teach piano (6 students now), and come home happily tired.  I can report that the weather in Mexico City is absolutely perfect! It is comfortably warm during the day and refreshingly cool at night.  Never too hot (although we are in the hottest month of the year now--so I may have to change that report) or too cold.  We have yet to wear heavy coats, mostly getting by on sweaters.  The flowers are beautiful and surround us everywhere.  We are so grateful that the window off our apartment opens to a small "garden" complete with jacaranda trees, rose bushes, geraniums, elephant ears and a host of other beautiful plants.  The bougainvillea is ALWAYS in bloom--and always is beautiful. The noche buena (poinsettias for those who haven't been to Mexico yet) are STILL in bloom and are beautiful.  We have hibiscus, bird of paradise, and a host of others I don't recognize.
On Monday night, the mission delivered two twin bed mattresses to us so two of our hermanas could spend the night.  So far we have no bedframes--but the mattresses worked fine.  Tuesday morning we got up early (5 am) and after time for getting ready, all 4 of us headed for TAPO, one of the big bus stations (it is right next door to the airport).  We caught a bus bound for Veracruz!  One of our two sisters(Hna Solarzano) hadn't had a chance to visit the temple before her mission began 2 weeks ago (she is from Nicaragua--no temple), so we got the privilege of escorting she and her companion (Hna Schuetz) to the Veracruz temple.  We rode a "luxury" bus--which is about as far from Greyhound as it is possible to be.  There are only 26 seats on the entire bus.  Each seat is plush, wide, and reclines almost fully--and comes with a footrest.  The windows are equipped with dark shades that shut out all light (although I chose to ride with my shades open--I wanted to see the countryside!)  There were tv/dvd players at each seat, and controls that allowed you to choose your programming.  Certainly changed my view (not favorable) about bus travel.  At 8:45 we left the terminal and spent the next 1 1/2 hours trying to get out of Mexico City--there was LOTS of traffic.  This is "Santa Semana"--Holy Week--and everyone was on their way out of town on "vacaciones".  A little like Spring Break on steroids.  The trip took about 5 1/2 hours, and took us through some wonderful scenery.  Everything from Popocatepetl to high plains (like Wyoming), plains (like the midwest), desert (like Arizona), and finally the plains of Veracruz and the beach.  It was fascinating to watch the countryside change.
Hna Solarzano Hna Schuetz, Hna Brailsford (back)
When we arrived at Veracruz, we expected to meet Joaquin's family, but had miscommunication and missed them.  We did, however, have a great experience at the temple.  We were back at the motel (a very nice Holiday Inn Express with the best breakfast I think I've ever had at a motel) at around 9 pm.  We finally made contact with Joaquin's uncle Luis at 9:30--and he picked us up at 7:30 the next morning and returned us to the bus terminal for our return trip.  Veracruz was beautiful.  The beachfront property looks like Hawaii, Aruba or anywhere in the Caribbean. A few blocks inland, it was typical Mexico--beautiful homes mixed in with homes not so beautiful.  The homes were much more widely spaced, though.  At times, I could easily have mistaken it for Ft. Lauderdale or Southern California. We arrived home around 2 pm and pretty much collapsed.  Traveling is not easy--even in a luxury bus!
Uncle Luis, Tom and I in Veracruz
Friday we took off early from work.  We had intended to go to the Zocalo to see the square and visit the Templo Mayor.  We were warned that with it being Good Friday, and with the big Cathedral that is on the Zocalo, it might not be a good idea to visit.  The catholic churches all celebrate the "Stations of the Cross", re-enacting the crucifixion and the events preceding it.   We decided to go to Cuicuilco instead.  Cuicuilco is an ancient settlement and religious center--probably the first in the Mexico City basin.  It has a unique circular pyramid.  We had heard about it, but never seen it--so we decided to go. What a site!  The pyramid is amazing!  It predates the Christian era by hundreds of years, and was the foremost city in the area in its time.  It was abandoned when the volcano Xitle erupted--several times--eventually covering all but the top of the pyramid in lava.  We had wondered where all the lava around Coyoacan had come from.  It was the same eruption.  The eruption spouted ash, then tons of lava that covered over 70 square kilometers--to a depth of many, may feet.  All the smaller structures at the site are covered with lava.  We learned that the area we live in is called "Pedregal" because in Mexico pedregal means "lava field".  (I thought it just meant rocky)  We walked all around the site, up on top of the pyramid, and to the few existing structures that are visible (not covered with lava).  It is a fascinating site!  Look it up on Wikipedia!
Anyway, yesterday was more mundane.  We went to Costco in search of a ham for Easter dinner (there is no ham in Mexico City, apparently!).  We settled for baby back ribs and strawberries for a pie (love Costco for fruits!).
I was scolded for not posting to this blog by a missionary who said his Mom found it and was disappointed that I had quit posting.  Sorry!  I'll try to be more faithful.
Our missionaries are the BEST by the way.  We love working with them!  They are los mejores misioneros en el mundo!  Hasta luego!

Circular Pyramid at Cuicuilco--most of it is under a lava flow!