Visiting New Neighborhoods

The missionary training center in Mexico is called the CCM. They are expecting a big influx of missionaries in the next few weeks. A lot of young people leave on missions this time of year so that when they return in two years, it will be just in time to head off to college. As a result, the CCM is anticipating being a little shorthanded. They received permission from the Area Presidency to ask the Senior Missionaries to help out if their schedules allow it. There were two options for scheduling. We and the Alsops volunteered to help on Sundays and Wednesday evenings. The men will be part of branch presidencies and the women will give support to the sister missionaries. We don’t officially start for a couple of weeks, but we went to the CCM on Wednesday to become acquainted with what we will be doing.

It took about an hour in an Uber to drive from Teca Once to the CCM. It is in a very different neighborhood from Tecamachalco, the neighborhood where we live. The CCM sits in more of a working class neighborhood. Walking from the busy street of the neighborhood into the CCM grounds and feeling the Spirit there was amazing. The tranquility and peace there is so lovely.

Looking into the CCM from the front gate

We went early so we could go to dinner with the Frandsens, a couple who is serving as medical advisors at the CCM. We walked from there to a taco stand, which was located just across the street from the CCM. However, it was around the corner and across the street from the gate of the CCM, so we got to walk for about a block and get the feel of the neighborhood. The food was good, and we enjoyed the company. Several dogs were lying around. They didn’t look like strays because they looked well fed and healthy. Plus, they weren’t aggressive like they probably would have been if they’d been hungry. I decided I must look like a soft touch, because one of the dogs came over and planted himself right by my chair, then sat there looking up at me with pleading eyes. He literally made me laugh because he kept leaning forward and nudging me with his nose like he was trying to get my attention. It was really hard NOT to slip him a little bit of our pastor meat, but I didn’t think it was a good idea to teach him that people who came there would feed him. After a while, another dog came over and the two of them trotted off up the street together.

Back at the CCM, we were taken to a room where a branch was meeting. The branch members were new missionaries who had just arrived the day before. The branch presidency did “get to know you” interviews while the Zone leaders and Sister Trainer Leaders oriented the new missionaries. (They were old hats because they had been in the CCM for a month and would be heading to their mission areas in a week.) One of the councilors in the branch presidency wasn’t there, so the branch president asked Ron to help with the interviews. He asked me to direct the missionaries into their interviews.  It was interesting to watch all these new missionaries who were probably feeling a little homesick and nervous, but who were trying hard not to show it. It was fun to see their personalities and how they presented themselves. After the interviews, the presidency all met together. The president invited me to go in with them, and it was interesting to watch--and even participate in--the process as they prayed and discussed who should fill leadership positions based on the short time they’d had with each of the missionaries. The Spirit was very strong, and it was amazing at how confidently we could say, “This is the person for this position, and that is the person for that position.” We are looking forward to officially starting our service there in a couple of weeks.


The previous picture shows the view from the window in the room we were in at the CCM, looking out to the neighborhood. This one is zoomed in so you can see the colorful houses on the hill.

The next day we went to lunch with Bob Alsop to try out a new restaurant he discovered. We really enjoyed it. The food was good, and the atmosphere was fun. After lunch we walked through a neighborhood which is similar to the pueblito up the hill from where we live, but which is downhill from there. Ron and I have been wanting to see that area but hadn’t been there before. Bob had business there, so it was a great opportunity to see a new area. I’m used to Idaho and what an average middleclass neighborhood looks like there, but I’m adjusting my view to recognize that this is what an average middleclass neighborhood looks like here. I don’t know how much of the adjustment comes from moving from a rural area to a city area and how much comes from moving from the US to Mexico.


A few weeks ago as we were deciding what to do that Saturday, I looked online for information about el Museo de Arte Moderno (the Museum of Modern Art.) I found a blog by a woman who loved the museum, but the pictures she posted of what she’d loved there were all so weird that I said, “No thanks. We’ll skip that.” However, when we had dinner with the Frandsens, they said they’d been to it and while one of the exhibits was odd, the others were good. They said it was worth going to see. So with a little bit of hesitancy, we decided to go there on Saturday. The main exhibit was of modern Mexican art, mainly from the 20th century. Entering the exhibit, we were greeted by a large mural by Diego Rivera. He and Frida Kahlo (who was his wife) are probably the two most prominent artists to come from Mexico, and the Mexicans love them--especially Frida. The exhibit held several works by him and one by her, as well as many other artists. Outside the building, the grounds were like a park with paths through it, and all along the paths were sculptures. We enjoyed strolling along seeing the sculptures, but a few of them did leave us scratching our heads. A second building on the lot was a library. Upstairs it had a gallery devoted Frida Kahlo and feminism. None of Frida’s paintings were there, but multiple photos of her were, and they were interesting to look at. Overall, we enjoyed our visit to the museum, and decided it was worth going there, especially since we got in free with our Inapam cards.

The mural by Diego Rivera. His works often portrayed the ordinary people of Mexico.
This another work by Diego Rivera, and was one of my favorites. It is called, "The Dreams of the Poor" which gives it a bit of a melancholy feeling, but I thought it was still a sweet picture.


This painting is by Frida Kahlo and is called "Two Fridas." I intentionally took the photo with the people looking at it, so you could use them for perpective to see how large this painting is.

Much of the art in this exhibit had sad themes. This one was bright and happy, and I loved the style.


This piece was all done in embroidery.


The title of this sculpture was "Bird With Two Faces." After reading the title, I was able to see the second face in the lower half of the sculpture, but Ron couldn't--even after I pointed out the eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. Can you see it?
I liked this photo of Frida Kahlo.


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