New Friends


 Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women General President; Camille N. Johnson, Primary General President; and Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency visited Mexico this week. Wednesday Ron got a message from Gustavo, who was in Cancun to meet with a government official. He had been in contact with Mexico’s Ministry of Religion about these women’s visit. The officials there were amazed to hear that our church has women who are global leaders. They said they were not aware of any other church that has women in global positions. And they said they’d like to meet them. This was the day before they were arriving, but there was a spot in their schedule on Friday where a meeting could be squeezed in. So, Gustavo asked Ron to get hold of a caterer and arrange for food for the meeting. Finding a caterer who can put together food for fifty people with only a two-day notice can be a bit tricky. However, Ron contacted Jamie, who provided box lunches on short notice for Living Legends, and he said he could do it.

           


    A few hours before the meeting on Friday, we went with Gustavo to the Ministry of Religion’s headquarters. It’s in the Polanco neighborhood, which is beautiful and has tons of restaurants. None of us had eaten lunch yet, so Gustavo suggested we get something. He took us to a churro place which makes ice cream sandwiches with spiral churros for the cookies. They were delicious! I highly recommend you try them if you ever get a chance.

             


  We hoped Jamie would already be at the ministry building setting up when we arrived, but he wasn’t. (He was late delivering the Living Legends food too, so we’d been a little concerned about that.) And he wasn’t there when the group of women arrived. The plan had been to have the food set up in the same room as the meeting so people could eat as they talked, but when they started the meeting, the food still hadn’t arrived. Ron and I stayed out of the meeting to wait for the food. When it got there, we directed them to a second conference room the ministry had and told them to get it set up fast. The chef was a little picky about having everything arranged just so, and we weren’t sure it was going to be ready in time. Fortunately, the meeting ran a little long, so the table as ready when it ended. We fed the entire office staff in that department.
    

     

          Jamie’s 18-year-old daughter, Isabella, was helping. Gustavo sent us a message just as the meeting was wrapping up, and we told Jamie the guests were about to come. He turned to Isabella and spoke in Spanish, but I could understand enough to know he was saying something like, “Just think, you’re going to get to meet Sister Cordon, Sister Johnson, and Sister Aburto.” I added, “Y Hermana Searle.” (“and Sister Searle.”) That made them laugh, and Isabella said, “Si, y Hermana Searle.” Later, Isabella was standing in the corner of the conference room holding a pan for people to put their used plates and utensils in. She looked like she was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. I took the pan out of her hands and handed it to Ron. Then I grabbed her by the arm and started leading her to Sister Cordon. She realized what I was doing and was so nervous and excited that she was literally giggling a little. When we reached Sister Cordon, I said, “This is Isabella, and she would really like to meet you.” Sister Cordon was just as loving and gracious as she always seems. She spoke with Isabella and found out she is getting ready to serve a mission. When Sister Cordon heard that, she called for the whole room to be quiet, and then introduced Isabella and told them. Isabella was beaming shyly, and her dad was snapping away pictures, one of which he sent us later. As the reception was winding up and the sisters were leaving, Sister Cordon said to Isabella, “I want you to send me a message when you get your mission call.” Isabella nodded timidly and went about her work. I was standing nearby, and Sister Cordon turned to me and said, “Make sure she lets me know when she gets her mission call.” So just before we left, I told Isabella, “Sister Cordon asked me to make sure you send her a message when you get your mission call. Your dad knows how to contact us, so you need to be sure you let us know too.” She hugged me and said she would. Frankly, I don’t know how to get a message to Sister Cordon, but I think with the resources of our department, we will be able to get it figured out.



               We were able to attend a Relief Society Devotional all three of the general officers participated in on Friday and the Young Women training meeting on Saturday. A Primary training and a Relief Society training were being held at the same time as the Young Women one. Tonight, Sunday, will be a Young Women Devotional, but Alfredo is going to cover it, so we won’t be attending that. All these meetings are being broadcast throughout Mexico. The ones we attended were uplifting, amazing events where the Spirit was very strong. I believe the good from these sisters’ visit here will continue to ripple on and on.

               An article I wrote was in the global online Church News this week. Here is a link to it:

https://www.thechurchnews.com/global/2022-05-27/elder-gerrit-w-gong-addresses-inter-american-interfaith-forum-in-mexicos-senate-chambers-255655

I didn’t attend this event in person. Gustavo gave me a copy of Elder Gong’s speech, a link to an article about the event, and some ideas he’d been working on and asked me to write it. He added some info at the end, and since it was submitted from his office, his name is on it as the author, but I wrote most of it.

               Saturday morning we went to the tianguis with the Zapatas and their two darling granddaughters. The oldest is five. I know enough Spanish that I could ask her what her name is, how old she is, and tell her I loved her crown. That was all it took, I was her new best friend. She sat by me on the bus and held my hand all while we walked around the market. She chattered away to me a lot of the time, but I didn’t understand most of it. First, she was hard to hear without me bending down to her level, and that was hard to do while we were walking. Second, even though she is only five, she already speaks Spanish really fast. I did understand enough to know that her favorite color is pink, her favorite fruits are grapes and strawberries, she loves cake, and she liked how her sandals shined in the sunlight. One of the booths was selling plants. It had a little agave plant which had spines along the edges of the leaves. When it comes to plants, I am a toucher, so I reached out to touch it. My little friend pulled me back and very emphatically said, “No!” She then began jabbering and gesturing. I think she was telling me about a time she got scratched on the face by one of those plants. I’m not sure of that, but she was very concerned about me trying to touch that plant.


             The plan was for the Zapatas to take us to a stand in the tianguis where they like to eat breakfast. However, the booth they like wasn’t there that day, so they chose another one instead. We hadn’t before eaten at any of the stands in the tianguis, so this was a new experience for us. We had some kind of chicken on tortillas. Jenny told me what it was, but I can’t remember the name. I’m going to have to ask her to tell it to me again, because I really liked it and I’d like to learn how to make it. After eating, the Zapatas showed us the things they like to buy at the tianguis and introduced us to some new fruits.


The round fruit at the back is called "Pan de Dios" (Bread of God.) It tastes a little like cantaloupe
    
This is the fruit from a cactus. You peel it and the picture below shows what the fruit is like inside. It was really good, but left our hands covered in orange juice.
    



          A couple weeks ago when we were at the tianguis, we saw a booth of a young woman who does embroidery on clothing. We thought her work was beautiful and wanted to buy things for some of our granddaughters. One item in particular we wanted in black, but she didn’t have the right size. She told us she would do one that size for us just as soon as she finished a dress she was working on and that it would be ready in three weeks. It had only been two weeks, but we stopped by her booth anyway just to see if she remembered. She happened to be working on it right then! So the next time we go to the tianguis, we’ll get it.

               When Elder Gong was here a few weeks ago, he made the statement, “This is the time for Mexico.” I have felt that same thing, that the church in Mexico is right on the verge of blossoming as never before. I’ve chided myself that all missionaries probably feel that way about the country they are serving in. However, after hearing Elder Gong’s words, I think it’s more than that. As I sat in the Young Women training meeting yesterday, I could feel the great spirit of the people there, and I realized that if Mexico does blossom, it will not be because of people like me who come here from other places. It will be because of the Mexican people who have such great faith in Jesus Christ and who are working to share the gospel with others around them.

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