We're Back

 

         

      We’re back in Mexico after almost two weeks in Idaho. We were able to see all our children and grandchildren while we were there and had a wonderful time. Of course, the main reason we were there was for the birth of our new grandson, Grant King Merrick. Both mom and baby are doing great, and I was in heaven cuddling with him. It was very hard to say good-bye to return to Mexico. I admit, a few tears were even shed. However, when we walked back into Teca Once and our cute little apartment, it felt like we had come home.

           


   If you watched the church’s World Report following general conference, you saw a story about a project cleaning a cemetery in Mexico City. We were at that project and in fact are in the background of one of the shots shown in the report. We replayed it, stopped the video, and took a picture of the screen. After we were back in Mexico, the Alsops said something about us being right there in the front on the World Report. We said, no we were just a blip in the background, but they replied, no you’re right there on the front on the church’s website. So if you go to churchofjesuschrist.org and scroll down until you get to “The World Report of the Church of Jesus Christ,” there we are! Ron is wearing a hat and a mask and I’m bending down so my face isn’t showing, so if you didn’t know it was us, you wouldn’t know it was us. I don’t know how long it will be posted on the front page of the church’s website, so if you want to see it, go there soon.

               Ron had a crazy thing on Tuesday. He was going to get groceries and noticed the traffic was really backed up. He wondered why but went ahead and got on the bus. The bus only went a short distance. Then it stopped, and three policemen with machine guns got on the bus. They told all the men to get off. Then they had them line up facing the bus with their arms up and they patted them down. Ron says he’s pretty sure they looked at him and figured he wasn’t who they were looking for, because his pat down wasn’t as thorough as the others. After they’d patted down all the men, they let them get back on the bus and go on their way. We’re not sure if they were looking for weapons or drugs or what, but apparently, they were looking for someone or something.

  


            
Friday we went to the Museo Nacional de Antropología, the National Museum of Anthropology, with the Wrights. It is the largest museum in Mexico and is considered one of the best in the world. It is in Chapultepec Park but sits across Reforma from the main section of the park. When we left to go to Idaho, we thought the Jacarandas would be done blooming when we got back, but they aren’t! The park was absolutely gorgeous with them.


This was an actual person who was made up and posed to look like a statue. He was perfectly still until someone dropped money into his can, then he'd do a little routine. Ron dropped in a few pesos and got him to pose for a photo.

   

               A month ago when we went to see the butterflies, our tour guide was Nacho. He told us he is very interested in archaeology, especially the archaeology of Mesoamerica, which is what the Museo de Antropología is all about. He told us he has found 300 instances where what archaeologists have found about the pre-Hispanic cultures of that area match what is described in the Book of Mormon, things Joseph Smith could not have known anything about because they hadn’t been discovered yet. He said if we would like, he would show us those things at the Mueso de Antropología sometime. We liked, so Ron arranged for Nacho to meet us there. We know a testimony of the Book of Mormon comes from reading it and feeling a confirmation from the Spirit, but physical evidence is interesting. Nacho didn’t have time to show us all 300, only about 20. Here are a few we found interesting, plus a few things we just liked.

This is a detail from a tapestry made by one of the oldest civilizations in Mesoamerica telling where they came from. They said they came from across the ocean in boats that were like dishes. Note the man carrying a white orb. They also showed people riding sea turtles to symbolize how they travelled sometimes on top of the water and sometimes underwater. Compare this with how the travel of the Jaredites is described in Ether.

Although we say Joseph Smith received gold plates, the witnesses said the plates "had the appearance of gold." Archaeologists have found thin sheets of metal like this one with engravings on it. It is literally as thin as paper. It is made from an alloy called Tumbaga, which is only found in Mesoamerica, and which is a combination of gold, copper, and silver. It is very light and durable.
    
Nacho said that in every engraving they've found depicting royalty, there is a person standing beside the king holding a bag, like the one in this picture. For years archaeologists have wondered what that signified. Finally they discovered that the bag held relics which verified the persons right to rule. The relics consisted of records, weapons that were thought to have special powers, and a seer stone. In the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites always accuse the Nephites of "robbing" them of their right to rule. What did Nephi take when his group split from his brothers? The records and the sword of Laban.

     
In Joseph Smith's time, it would have been normal to speak of "opening" the scriptures or if he was thinking about how things are described in the Bible, "unrolling" the scrolls the scriptures were written on. But in the Book of Mormon, it speaks of "unfolding" the scriptures. This is a Mayan book--it unfolds.
   
Nacho told us several significant things about burials. The one I found most interesting is that in Mesoamerica, burying an item signified a promise or an offering to God. Consider that as you recall the account of the people of Ammon who buried their weapons.

   
Nacho explaining things to us




    


   
This was actually taken from an archaeological site and is being restored.


               
We spent over two hours at the museum with Nacho, but we barely scratched the surface of it. We walked through fairly quickly because he just took us to the exhibits he wanted to tell us about, so there is a lot more for us to go back and see another time. When we finished, it was pouring rain outside. We’ve been warned that the rainy season begins the middle to end of April, but this seemed a bit early for that, so none of us had umbrellas. Pat brought a windbreaker that had a hood and was waterproof, so she fared the best. The rest of us got wet as we walked around trying to find a restaurant and catch a bus. We’ve wised up and will now carry an umbrella. Since then, it has settled into what we’ve been told will be the pattern all through summer, the days will be gorgeous but most afternoons or evenings it will rain. Compared to Idaho winters, it’s been green here, but I’m sure the rain will green things up even more.
Here is Ron and Jerry standing in the rain, waiting for a bus. The road is Reforma. The median was planted with marigolds when we arrived in October and with poinsettias for Christmas. It is now planted with other flowers, but I wasn't going to go out in the rain to get a better look. I'll get one later when it's drier.

               We are still working on getting a theater for Living Legends in Mexico City, but there is one we think we will be able to get under contract early this week. I’m a little hesitant in saying that because we’ve been to this point twice before and had the theater back out. The next few days will tell. We did have a little miracle, which gives me hope. We’ve had informal agreements with all the theaters other than Mexico City for a couple of months, but getting the actual contracts signed and the money paid has been complicated. The first performance will be in Guadalajara, and we finally got the contract signed and the money paid there, but then the theater said there was a permit we had to have from the city before we could sell tickets. They said they could get it for us because they had connections and could do it faster than we could, but still they said it would be April 15 before we would be able to sell tickets. The show there is on April 26, which meant we would only have 11 days to sell tickets, and that was if the permit came through as fast as the theater predicted! We about croaked when we heard that. So we started praying that the permit would be approved faster. I prayed that we would be able to have at least two weeks to sell tickets. Friday we got word that the permit was approved, and tickets went on sale Saturday, two weeks and three days before the show.

               Another project our department has been working on with PSD (Publishing Services Department) is a program for Easter. Originally the plan was to do an interfaith concert, which would be videoed and then broadcast, but as it got closer, the other churches backed out. Armando, who is now the Director of PSD, said we should do one with just our church. This was just a few weeks ago. Right before we left for our trip to Idaho, we helped a little with the script, which Gustavo was just beginning to work on then. Armando contacted several singers and musicians, all of whom are members of the church and most of whom are professionals. He told them it would be a rushed production and they would have to donate their time and talents, then asked, “Are you in?” They said yes.

               Friday Ron and I went to PSD to talk about some publicity items for Living Legends. When we walked in, we saw a table set up covered with food and a lot more people there than usual. We thought we must be crashing a party, but Armando told us they had the musicians and singers there that day and were recording the music for the Easter program. He also said they were going to shoot the video the next day on the grounds of the CCM (the Mexico Missionary Training Center) and invited us to go. We’d never been to the CCM or to a movie set, so we jumped at the chance.

 


 The CCM is about forty-five minutes to an hour from where we live in a part of the city we’d never been to before. The neighborhood is a step down from where we live, but the CCM complex is very nice. It has a lot of buildings and a lot of extra land. Everyone assumes that is where the new temple that was announced in conference will be built. 

    

A possible site for the new temple

 


           The video was being shot on a part of the property away from the buildings and in a grove of trees. We arrived around eleven, but the crew had been there since five in the morning setting up. A team of professional videographers was hired. They brought in three cameras, sound equipment, screens, and even a baby grand piano. As we arrived, they were just finishing filming a little boy singing “He Sent His Son.” There was a table set up where a woman was doing hair and makeup for the performers and a caterer’s table where they were serving breakfast and would later serve lunch. The production included 12 performers plus about 28 crew members and support people. It was fun to see how it was done. As each performer would do their number, they would play the audio they had recorded the day before and the performer would try to match it. The only one they were actually recording audio for that day was the narrator. Each number was done three times with the cameras at different angles and zoomed in to different depths. That way it’s like they had nine cameras so when they create and edit the final program, they have nine shots to choose from and alternate between. Armando was the director, and it was fun to watch him in action. He is very good at what he does. We miss having him in our department, but we know he is where he needs to be.

Us with Armando and his daughter, Naomi, who was helping with the shoot. She spoke very good English, and I enjoyed practicing my Spanish conversing with her because if I got stuck, I could just switch to English. Plus it was fun getting to know her.
   
     
These guys are from PSD and we often work with them. They are awesome!
     
The filming crew

   

  

     
The program will have six songs. As I said, we arrived just as they were finishing the little boy’s shots, but we were there for all the rest. It was so inspirational to spend the day outside in nature, listening to the amazing music. The songs were in Spanish, of course, but most of them were ones I’m familiar with, and even if I wasn’t, I would still have been able to feel the spirit through them. Friday in the studio, Armando played the recording of the last song for us. It was a woman singing “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.” It was so beautiful and the spirit of it was so strong that I was blinking back tears and Ron had them running down his cheeks when it finished. I videoed a little of it during the taping on Saturday to give you a taste of what our day was like.





               I am really looking forward to seeing the finished program. I came home yesterday feeling so edified by the experience. I think it is going to be posted on YouTube. If it is, I will share a link next week.

  


            
Today was stake conference. It was the first time we went to our Stake Center, which was in a part of the city we’d never been to before. I say that a lot, but this is a huge city so I’m sure when we go home in a year, there will still be parts of the city we’ve never been to. Again, it was in an area that was a step down from where we live, but I actually like driving through those parts of the city and seeing how the majority of the people live. In reality, these areas are very prosperous compared to many parts of Mexico. The Teca Once missionaries were the choir for the conference. We have a few good singers in our group, and they have to carry the rest of us average singers. Our first number was iffy, but I think our second one, which was the closing hymn for the conference, was really good. Our music didn’t compare to the beautiful music we’d heard the day before at the taping, but the Spirit was there nonetheless. That’s the amazing thing about life and missions, the Lord takes whatever talents we have and whatever efforts we make, and magnifies them.









Comments

  1. Love all of your adventures. Have a great week.

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  2. The museum sounds fascinating. Thank you for sharing some of what you saw and learned. Beautiful new grandbaby. So glad you got to come back for a quick visit. Hope your weeks is awesome.

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