A Busy Slow Week


We fed the missionaries this week, and I don’t mean we fed ourselves. We had a pair of young missionaries over for dinner. They are both from other parts of Mexico and are serving here in Mexico City. It was fun to talk with them and learn about their families. The chapel where we go to church is next to the mission office of the Mexico City West mission, and we talk to a lot of the missionaries there. We also see the sister missionaries serving at the visitor’s center by the temple. It is exciting to see how many of the young missionaries serving in Mexico are from Mexico! (When I looked at the photos I took this week, all the ones I was in are seflies. I always have a frozen, crazed look on my face when I take a selfie, so this is the only photo you’re getting of me this time.)
  Ron achieved a major accomplishment this week. He completed a class on Word in the Mentors program. Ron is NOT into technology, and before, whenever he needed something done in Word, I usually did it for him. Completing the course was a challenge for him because he had to work it in around everything else he had to do. He had a couple of days he went to the office early to work on his final project. He may not now be an expert on Word, but he is at least on a first name basis with it now. Another achievement Ron had this week is that his strawberry plant is starting to bear fruit. His kumquat tree is also putting on fruit and he has a bean plant that is doing well, as is his poinsettia. We got a few cherry tomatoes off the plant he grew from seed, but then it got too hot on the roof for it, and the plant burned up. He planted corn in the pot it was in. It hasn’t sprouted yet, so we’ll see what comes from that.


             Friday we left the office early and went to the temple with the Alsops. A man Bob Alsop works with lives in an apartment on the temple complex, and he offered to give us a ride. We really appreciated that. Afterwards, it was still early, so we caught an Uber and went to Lincoln Park. That neighborhood has tons of restaurants. We chose a Thai one which was in a cool old house. Our table was outside on a terrace right by the fence separating the terrace from the sidewalk. It was vine covered to give the restaurant privacy, but there were enough openings that passing vendors kept trying to sell us stuff through the fence. I wanted to see more of the house, so I conveniently needed to visit the lady’s room, which meant I got to go inside. Only one room inside had tables in it. The rest looked as if it was in the process of being restored. It was still such an amazing building. I went back to the table and told everyone else they needed to use the restroom as well. I wish I could see it when it was first built and people were actually living there. As for the food, it was really good, and we all said we’d go there again.

The ceiling inside the old house


The stairway was awesome, but as you can see, it was blocked off.

This was a fun roller blading course in Lincoln Park
This was another cool old house by Lincolne Park--not the restaurant. I love these old mansions.
After dinner we went to this cute ice cream shop that makes cones that look like flowers.
Our ice cream cone--and it tasted good too!

There's very little you can get in the United States that you can't get here.

              Last week I wrote about the visit of the three general organization leaders. Two went home early this week, but Sister Aburto stayed to visit some of her husband's family who live in a nearby city. Two coordinating councils in that area combined to plan a huge women’s conference with Sister Aburto as the keynote speaker at a devotional held on Saturday. Our department didn’t have to do any of the planning or publicity, but we are going to do a report on it for the Church’s news site in Mexicio. Gustavo asked Ron and I to attend the devotional and report on it. Michelle was planning to attend too. She worked with our local communications director there, hermano Zepeda, to invite VIPs and government leaders. She had gifts to take to them and asked us to get wrapping paper for them. That isn’t as easy as it sounds. Wrapping paper and gift bags aren’t common here. We first checked Office Depot, which is just up the hill from our apartment, but all they had were a few small children’s gift bags. Then we walked to Sanborns, which is a huge department store chain here. (As a side note, another big department store chain here is Sears. They are in all the malls, and they are much nicer stores here than they were in the U.S. I’d put them on par with Dillards or the Bon.) I had seen a small gift-wrap section there. It didn’t have any wrapping paper, but it did have some gift bags which would work, though no tissue paper. We bought the bags and figured they’d have to do. Late Friday night we got a message from Michelle saying she wasn’t going to be able to go to the devotional, so we would need to take the gifts plus a box with 20 copies of the Book of Mormon in it. And, she found out there would be two more women VIPs there than we’d planned, so we needed to go over to the office the next morning to get two more of the figurines we give out as gifts. So our P-day this week was spent doing all that. Instead of going back to Sanborns the next morning, we decided to walk to Prado Norte because I knew there was a big craft/party store on it. We didn’t have to walk as far as we’d planned though, because we ran into a small party store before we reached the big one, and it had what we needed—even tissue paper.

Walking along Prado Norte we passed a flower shop where they were making this massive bouquet. Ron asked the guy about it. He said it was for an event and that they weren't even halfway done with it. I can't even estimate how many dozen roses were in it.

               The devotional was being held in Tecámac, which is about an hour and twenty minutes from where we live. We wanted to make sure we got there early, so we walked out of our apartment two and a half hours before it was supposed to start. You’d think that would have been plenty of time, wouldn’t you? Our first hitch came in trying to get an Uber to take us there. The first two accepted and then dropped us. We finally got a third one who came, but we had to wait fifteen minutes for him. By then, we’d lost about a half hour. Then we ran into a spot where the traffic was really heavy and slow. It turns out there was a wreck. I’m learning that we should always assume there will be a wreck, or a broken down car, or something that will cause a traffic jam. Once we got past the wreck, the going was good, but I began to realize why we’d had such a hard time getting an Uber. I knew Tecámac was a different city than Mexico City, but so is Techamachalco, which is where we live, and unless you know where the line between the two is, you wouldn’t know you’ve ever left Mexico City. On the tiny map on my phone, Tecámac didn’t look that far, so I figured it would be the same. I was wrong. It soon became obvious we were leaving the city. We saw fields and small communities. I was amazed we’d found any Uber driver willing to take us there, and I started to wonder if we would be able to find an Uber driver to take us home. (Gustavo had suggested we checkout a car from the church’s pool, but I’d said, “We can just get an Uber.” Silly me.) When we got to Tecámac, our driver pulled over at the entrance to a big park. If there hadn’t been men there in “helping hands” vests, we would have thought we were at the wrong place. The address hermano Zepeda sent us said “Parque” on it, which means “park,” but I’d assumed there must be a big auditorium in the park. I was wrong. The devotional was held in a huge outdoor pavilion on the opposite side of the park from the entrance. Thankfully there were several young men who helped us carry the box of books and the gifts because it was quite a trek to get to the spot. With all that, we arrived only about fifteen minutes before the devotional started. Ron was able to find hermano Zepeda in the VIP tent, so we delivered our stuff to him, and he led us to seats in the VIP section. So despite the fact that 5,000 people (and I mean that number literally) had arrived ahead of us, we got to sit on the second row. I felt a little guilty.

               The devotional was wonderful. 300 of the 5,000 women and girls who had come for it were part of an amazing choir. I think it was the best choir I’ve heard since we’ve been here. There were a few other speakers besides Sister Aburto, but they kept their remarks fairly short, so the focus was on her message. I was able to follow the gist of most what the speakers said, even if I couldn’t understand the details. I remember the first Sacrament meeting we went to in the Spanish ward here. I couldn’t understand a single word. It all sounded like a jumble to me. At least now when I don’t understand words, I can distinguish them from the few words I do understand. Needless to say, Ron was the one who took notes, but I could feel the Spirit of the talks. It really was an amazing event.

               When the devotional was over, we had to figure out how we were going to get back to Mexico City. Octavio from PSD was there taking pictures. We mentioned to him that we were concerned we wouldn’t be able to get an Uber to go all the way back. He said he thought we could. We were debating whether we needed to go all the way back to the park entrance or if we could get an Uber to come in to where we were, (there were tons of buses there which had brought the people in from the outlying areas) when he came up to us and offered to drive us back himself. I was so relieved and really appreciated that. Mexico City is a huge place, so even though he was going there, that didn’t mean he was going someplace near Teca Once, so we told him if he could just get us into the city, we could get an Uber. He drives a cute little red mini Cooper, and it was fun to get to know him more on the drive. He dropped us off at a mall that was only about ten minutes from Teca Once, and we were able to get an Uber from there.

Octavio's car and a line of buses lined up to take people home after the devotional.


            Despite all this, we actually had a slow week at the office. Well, slow for us, but not for the rest of the team. We want to be available to help them whenever we can, but we also don’t want to be a burden for them by having them feel like they have to come up with things to keep us busy. It’s a fine line to walk sometimes. This week I spent quite a bit of time at the office working on my Spanish or doing family history. At times like that it’s easy to start wondering, “Why am I here when I could be home playing with my grandkids?” Ron tells me it’s a normal part of missionary work to sometimes wonder if you’re doing anything that matters. Then today in church, one of the speakers read a poem by John Milton, who also wrote Paradise Lost. This was a sonnet which was written at a time when he was going blind and was pondering if he would be able to continue contributing in life. The last line of the poem says, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” That hit home with me. I may have to print it and post it above my desk so when the slow days hit, I can be reminded—I’m here and I’m available when I’m needed. “They also serve who only stand and wait.”


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