In Mexico, I Am Not Short


The first thing I want to point out is that in this photo, I am standing between two average sized Mexican women. In Mexico I am not considered short, I’m average. Yes, there are taller Mexican women, like the woman on the far left, but there are a lot more who are shorter. Much shorter. I have rarely in my life experienced the sensation of “towering over” another adult woman, but here it’s fairly common.


The group we’re with is a choir that sang at a devotional which was part of the Christmas party for the church employees in Mexico City. The senior missionaries were invited too, I think mainly because they wanted us to be the choir. In the end, they opened the choir up to the Area Presidencies staff as well, which I was very grateful for because without them, I was the only soprano. I am not a strong singer. I can carry a tune, but no one is going to ask me to sing a solo. I’m fine to add some filler to a choir but not to be the entire soprano section. A couple of things had me a little nervous about singing in this choir. First, we were singing familiar Christmas hymns, but in Spanish, which means they are not familiar to me. Second, we only had one practice before Ron and I left for Guadalajara. During that practice, we just ran through the first verse of the songs we were singing. Then Ron and I left town for a week. We got back Monday, and the party was Tuesday at noon. The choir went an hour early to practice, but again we didn’t go through all the verses of all the songs so we wouldn’t wear our voices out during our “warm up.” That meant as we were performing, I would be singing some of the verses for the very first time. On top of that, when we arrived at the practice, the entire church production team was there setting up, and we found out the devotional was being recorded and broadcast as the Area Presidency’s Christmas Devotional for the entire country of Mexico. I prayed that I would be able to sing well and that my singing would not be a hindrance to the choir, and that prayer was answered. I was able to sing all the verses smoothly, without messing up the timing and rhythm of any of the words, and I even think my pronunciation was good. So it was a little bit of a “gift of tongues” moment.


The devotional and dinner which followed, were held at the stake center on the temple grounds. While we were there, I had the Alsops show me something I’d heard about and wanted to see. It is a pole sticking up in the middle of a flower bed. If I didn’t know differently, I would have simply assumed that it was intended to be a lamp post but that it was broken or hadn’t been completed. That would be odd on temple grounds, where they usually keep everything immaculate, but that was what it looked like. However, that is not what it was. I’ve said before that Mexico City is built on a lake that was filled in with dirt, so the ground isn’t stable and the city is sinking. When they built the temple, they drilled down to bedrock and poured concrete pillars that the temple sits on, so it doesn’t sink. This pole was also placed on one of those pillars and is used to help measure how much the ground has sunk. When the temple was dedicated in 1983, the top of the pole was at ground level. Considering that I am 5’ 2” tall (which is not short in Mexico) you can see that the ground has dropped well over 5’ in the 40 years since then. We heard that the grounds of the temple have to be redone about every 10 years.

We were very busy in the office the rest of the week, which doesn’t make for great photo ops, but which does help us to feel useful. Gustavo was contacted by The Friend magazine, saying they want to run more stories from Mexico, and specifically that they want an article about a girl who is preparing to or who recently prepared to move from Primary into the Young Women’s program. Gustavo forwarded the e-mail to me and said, “Take care of this.” He also suggested that we find a girl from the southern part of Mexico for the article. I contacted the communications director in the Chiapas coordinating council and asked him to help us find a girl. I suggested he contact the local stake and primary presidencies. I’m not sure if that’s what he did, but within a couple of days, he sent us back a name. Saturday we set up a meeting with her and her mother over Zoom. However, they could not connect to the meeting. Thankfully we have more than one form of technology at our fingertips, so we video called them through WhatsApp—not our favorite App but the one everyone uses here. It was really fun to interview this darling little girl. I’ll let you know if and when the article about her is published.

Another assignment Gustavo gave us was to write two 30 second scripts for videos promoting seminary. He told us what he had in mind and said we could write them in English and they’d translate them. A couple of hours later, Armando came in and said Gustavo had told him about the assignment.

He said, “So let’s think about this for a minute.”

I said, “We actually have them done.”

That surprised him. He said, “But Gustavo said he just gave you the assignment.” Then he read them and seemed even more surprised. He said in an amazed tone, “Sister, this is very good.” So I had a little stroke to my ego over that one, but to be honest, I think I had a little help from the Spirit with it.



Friday I got a call from Elder Allen and Elder Garcia, a companionship of younger missionaries. We got to know them because they were involved in helping us get our green cards. The mission home where they are based is right next to our church. We’ve stopped in a couple of times on Sunday to pick up pass along cards or for other things, and we’ve visited with them. Elder Allen is from Arizona and Elder Garcia is from northern Mexico. They called to ask if we would be willing to join a Zoom meeting they were having with an investigator named Fernanda. We were happy to do that. She is an older woman, who is very gregarious. She speaks both Spanish and English, so I was able to follow along with most of the lesson. At one point she said she had a question. She was speaking Spanish, but I was able to pick up enough of her comments to realize she was talking about the scripture in Matthew 18:20 which says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” That scripture bothered her because she lives alone. I explained to her that this verse is speaking about people gathering together to worship, but that we can have the Lord near us other times as well, and that some of the times in my life when I’ve felt him nearest have been when I’ve been alone. She seemed to accept and like that explanation.

               A man named Gustavo was also on the Zoom meeting. (Not to be confused with the Gustavo we work with in the Communications Department.) When Ron gave the opening prayer, Fernando said he needed to pray very hard for Gustavo’s wife who has cancer, but gave no other explanation of who he was. Later I asked Elder Allen and Elder Garcia about him. They said he is a friend of Fernanda’s who lives in Costa Rica. Then they said that every meeting they have with her on Zoom, she invites a relative or friend to join. She loves the missionaries and their messages because they helped to lift her from a very dark place, but she’s not yet ready to commit to being a member of the church. However, she has given the missionaries more referrals than anyone else. In fact, after meeting on Zoom, one of her relatives and his family expressed interest in hearing more, so the Elders sent their information to the missionaries where they live, and they were recently baptized.


We are kind of part of two wards here--the Lomas Ward, which is English speaking, and the Palmas Ward, which is Spanish speaking. They meet in the same building, so we go to some of each ward’s meetings every week. That way I get to practice listening to Spanish, but still get to have some spiritual messages in a language I really understand. Over half of the Lomas Ward is made up of US embassy employees and their families. Most of the rest are employees of major international corporations which have offices in Mexico. Saturday morning was the Lomas ward Christmas party. They had a breakfast for it, and it was held outside. People could come in their PJs if they wanted or wear an ugly Christmas sweater. One woman told about Christmas traditions in Mexico. We had heard that starting the middle of the month, they have a party every night. She explained that this takes place December 16 through December 24—nine nights representing the nine months Mary was pregnant. The guests arrive and knock on the door, and then they and the hosts sing a traditional song which represents Joseph trying to find a place for he and Mary in Bethlehem. Finally, the host lets the guests in, and they have a feast. The woman also explained about the traditional shape of pinatas. I’ve seen ones shaped like this before but never knew there was any significance to it. These pinatas have 7 spikes on them, which represent the 7 deadly sins. Hitting and breaking the pinata represents getting rid of those sins.


Later on Saturday, we were on Paseo de la Reforma, which is a major street in Mexico City, and I took these pictures. This is the same area where marigolds were planted for Dia de los Muertos. Now the beds are full of poinsettias. Our Uber driver told us that after the first of the year, they will dig these up and plant other flowers. It is amazing that they do this. It keeps the city beautiful and probably provides a lot of jobs, but we are talking hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of flowers. The large building in the background of the picture with Ron is the Auditorio Nacional, which holds 10,000 people and is considered one of the best venues in the world. The Miss Universe pageant has been held there a couple of times, and it is where the premiere of the movie
A bike path down the center of Paseo de la Reforma

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was held. Across the street from it are skyscrapers, so this is downtown Mexico City. Actually, there are lots of other areas with skyscrapers that could be called downtown Mexico City too, but this is one of the main ones. We have been checking out theaters for an event which will take place in the spring, so we’ve seen a lot of different parts of the city. However, there is still a lot of it we haven’t been in. This place is massive!




I’m amazed at the number of dog walkers we see in our neighborhood, most with multiple dogs. Pat Wright said she and Jerry have a competition to see who can spot the dog walker with the most dogs, so when this guy came by while we were waiting for an Uber, she had to take his picture. He had fourteen dogs he was walking at once. I’m stunned they didn’t get all tangled up or start fighting, but I haven’t seen that happen yet. I think Pat will win with this picture, but who knows, maybe this week we’ll see a dog walker with fifteen. I'll keep you posted.

 

 

 



Comments

  1. You are an awesome writer. Thanks for sharing your week with us.

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  2. I always marvel at how much and how informed your letters are. I get to feel the spirit of a mission to a couple missionary. Stan

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  3. We really appreciate the sharing of your mission with us. It has become the highlight of my week!

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