Visitors From Home

What a fun week we had with family here visiting us! Our daughter Lalove and Ron’s two sisters and their husbands visited us. Things were quiet at the office, so we took most of the week off and played. Nacho picked us up early Monday morning to go to Teotihuacán, the ruins outside of Mexico City. The plan was for us to take a hot air balloon ride over the pyramids, and you have to go early to do that. It was amazing watching all the hot air balloons taking off as the sun was coming up. We were the last group at our launch site to take off. We got a little way up in the air and noticed a tear in our balloon. The pilot said we’d have to go back down, so as Lalove put it, we made an emergency landing about a quarter mile from where we started. That sounds quite dramatic, but in reality, it was really smooth. We walked back to our original starting point, and they brought us another balloon. This time all went well, except that there weren’t any strong air currents, so we couldn’t make it over to the pyramids. We could see them in the distance but didn’t get right over them like it shows in the ads. However, we had so much fun that we didn’t mind. We landed next to a field of nopales, which are cactus. Mexicans eat both the leaves and fruit, which are called tuna. Some of the cacti had ripe tunas on them, so one of the crew who came to pick up us and the balloon, picked some for us to try. Ron and I have eaten them before, but for the others, it was a new taste. They’re good, but they have a lot of seeds you either have to swallow or spit out.


     

     


      

     

     

     

A field of nopales
     
Eating tunas, but not the kind of tuna we eat in the US

After we finished our balloon ride, Nacho took us to breakfast and then the pyramids.  Teotihuacán is an amazing place! It was Mexico’s largest pre-Hispanic city, though only a fraction of it has been unearthed. The part which has includes two temples—the temple of the sun and the temple of the moon. Not much is known about its origin or demise, but it predated the Aztecs, who revered it and made pilgrimages to the site. It was the Aztecs who gave it the name Teotihuacán means “the city of the Gods” or “the place where Gods were made.”
Nacho with our group in front of the temple of the moon


     
Our beautiful daughter Lalove in front of the temple of the sun

Tuesday we went to the Lucha Libre at Arena Mexico. For those of you who have seen the movie Nacho Libre, that is what Lucha Libre is. And believe it or not, it really very popular. In fact, it is the second most popular spectator sport in Mexico, coming in second only to soccer. I knew ahead that the wrestling was staged and went with low expectations. To my surprise, I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a lot of fun. We got front row seats right by where the wrestlers entered. At times I felt like I was watching the Three Stooges, at others a melodrama, and at others, an intricately choreographed acrobatic routine. In each match, there was a team of good guys and a team of bad guys. The storyline was the same each time. The bad guys would get the upper hand by being underhanded, and it would look like the good guys were going down. Then there would be a grand comeback and the good guys would get the momentum going their way. At that point, sometimes the good guys would win, but sometimes the tables would turn and the bad guys would end up with the win. It was drama and spectacle and silliness. I think the thing that surprised me the most was how athletic it was. It may have all been staged, but the wrestlers still had to be in great shape to perform some of the stunts they did. We saw a couple of them limping as they walked out (they left by the same ramp they entered, so we had a close-up view) and I figured some of those leaps and falls must not have landed exactly as they were supposed to. Lalove wanted to have her picture taken with one of the wrestlers, but when we asked the usher about it, he said they don’t do that. The ring has a space several feet wide inside a low wall around it, and the action often spilled out of the ring into that space. At one point, one of the wrestlers was standing along that wall by us, and I told Lalove to stand up and I’d take her picture with him in the background. When she did, he saw what we were doing. He came over and put his fingers up behind her head without her even knowing he was there, so I got a great shot for her!


Ron put on a Lucha Libre mask and tried to fulfil Lalove's wish to have her picture taken with one of the wrestlers, but later....
    
...we got this shot, which was much better!
     

Wednesday, we started the day with breakfast at St. Gines, the place known for churros and thick dipping chocolate. Then we went to Xochimilco. This was our third time there, so I’ve posted about it before, but this was the best ride we’ve had. At first, we thought our pilot’s name was Romero. Then we found out that is the title for the guys who pilot the boats. Our Romero’s name was Javier. We rented the boat for two hours, but I think he gave us more time than that. He took us along the major waterway and then down a less busy canal we haven’t been on before. Lalove and Keith each took turns trying to be Romeros and came away with even more respect for Javier. After our boat ride, we went to Coyoacan, which is one of my favorite places in Mexico City. We shopped in the artisan craft market there, had dinner, and ended the day with a huge thunderstorm.


     

Javier, our Romero
    

    

     


Thursday Ron and I had some events to attend for our work, so we took our guests to the Zocalo and dropped them off with a list of places to see. They survived and seemed to have a good time. I’ll tell you about the events we attended in a minute.

One of the oldest cathedrals in Mexico

Friday, we had Nacho take us on a day trip to Taxco. The Alsops have company visiting them too, and they went with us. We made a stop in Cuernavaca on our way. Cuernavaca is known as the city of eternal spring, and it was beautiful there. One of the oldest cathedrals in Mexico is there, and we visited it. As a side note, Cuernavaca is one of the four cities in Mexico where during conference last weekend President Nelson announced temples will be built. As you can imagine, the people here are thrilled.
This cathedral was built in the 16th century and is not nearly as ornate as many of the cathedrals in Mexico, but I think it is one of my favorites.

This chapel is in the same complex as the other one, but is newer. It is one of the early Mexican attempts at the Baroque style.

Taxco is the city we went to the end of July with the Wrights and Cluffs. It is a fun colonial city which hasn’t become too modern. We toured the cathedral there, and Ron and Lalove paid to be able to climb to the top of one of the bell towers. We shopped for silver, ate churros, and enjoyed the ambiance. It was a quick trip, but it was enough to give our visitors a taste of old Mexico.


     

    

At lunch I had a shrimp salad that had a delicious sauce on it. We asked the waiter if we could have more of the sauce, and this is what he brought it. Seriouslyl! It was Thousand Island salad dressing from Sam's Club.

    

Look closely and you can see Ron and Lalove in the bell tower.
     
Look closely at the hill behind us and you can see the Christ statue that overlooks Taxco
     


This week, in between all these activities, we visited the tianguis, ate lots of tacos, and played cards almost every evening. We had such a fun week and loved every minute of the time we got to spend with our family. They left today at noon. It was sad to say good-bye. We miss our family, and it was so good to be able to spend a little time with some of them.

The events Ron and I attended on Thursday had to do with a humanitarian project the church helped with. It was with APAC, which is a group that works with children who have Cerebral Palsy. The project was to buy a device called the Exoesqueleto Atlas 2030, which allows children with cerebral palsy to stand up and walk. It is used as part of their overall therapy plan. Some of the children may eventually gain enough strength to walk on their own, but even for those who will never be able to walk without aid, the actions of standing and walking as part of their therapy helps to strengthen them physically and to develop parts of their brain that don’t develop without that movement. Then there is the emotional boost it gives them to be able to stand up and do things like other children. There have been devices like this for adults, but this is the first one for children, and this one in Mexico is the first one outside of Europe. Thursday morning was a press conference about the project and in the evening was a cocktail party to celebrate it and APAC’s 50th anniversary. They demonstrated the device at each of these events, and the smiles on the faces of the children were priceless. At the party, they had a little girl who appeared to be about seven or eight. She had always wanted to dance but was not able to even stand. They put her in the device, turned on music, then she, her mom, and one of the representatives from APAC danced. The look on her face was pure joy! I doubt there was a dry eye in the place.     



     

This man walked around playing the violin as guests arrived. It was lovely.
     
These children with Cerebral Palsy performed a dance as part of the program.

At the party, they recognized all the organizations which donated to the project. We were there to cover that. Pat Frandsen went with us as our photographer. Also attending was Elder Cervantes, an area seventy who was the official representative of the church; Ivan Torres from the Welfare department, who worked on this project; and Victor Montoya, our local communications director. When I anticipated going on a mission, attending cocktail parties was not one of the activities I thought I might be doing, but we’ve been to a couple of them. This one was very posh. When we entered the hall, we saw brother Montoya and joined him. He had been assigned to a table at the back, near the door. A few minutes later, one of the hostesses came and ushered all of us to a table right at the front by the stand. On the tables were papers with pictures of pieces of art which were part of a silent auction to raise money so APAC can purchase more of the Exoesqueleto Atlas 2030 devices. (Each one can be used for 60-90 children each week, and the need is much greater than that.) The beginning prices for the auction ranged in US dollars from several hundred to several thousand. Between being moved to such a prime table and the prices of the art, I thought, “Oh dear, they think we’re important. They think we’re rich,” and I was feeling out of place. Then the Spirit whispered to me, “You represent a rich church,” and I realized, this was not about me. It was about who and what I represent as a missionary. Yes, the church is rich, but it is rich because of all its members who give so generously. I’m sure most of you are like us, we don’t make huge donations to the Church’s humanitarian organization, just a little each month. But all those little donations add up, and together we are working miracles! Brother Torres told us the Church intends to continue to help APAC, so more and more children can experience moments of joy like we witnessed at these events. So Thursday evening, I represented all of you and felt like I had an army behind me!

Comments

  1. I love your posts. They are always uplifting and a blessing to read. Thank you!

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