Marigolds and a Major Award

Last Monday Pat Frandsen, Ron, and I took a quick day trip to Puebla. It’s only about two hours from Mexico City, but the hardest part of the drive was getting out of the city. When there are three roads right beside each other and one over the top, it can be a little hard to tell which road Google Maps is telling you to be on. We took a few wrong turns, so the drive for us was closer to three hours than two. We went there to interview and film two people with “inspirational experiences” for a project we’re working on. The first one was with our friend Mercy, who invited us to her son’s baptism a few months ago. We met her at the University where she works, and she showed us around before we started filming. She was obviously proud of the University and with good reason. It is Universidad de Las Americas Puebla, and it has been named the best university in Mexico. The campus and buildings were beautiful. Mercy works in the library, and we went to her office to do the filming. While we were in the library, she took us to an area where they store valuable items. The woman who worked there showed us an original handwritten letter from Frida Kahlo and a document from an indigenous group from 1785. It spoke of a place called San Francisco. The woman told us they do not know where San Francisco was. I told her it is in California, and we all laughed. I actually said it in Spanish! I’m pretty good at joking in Spanish, I just can’t carry on a conversation very well.   



     

Puebla is famous for its Talavera, and I loved these Talavera tiles that we in many places on the campus.
     


I took this photo from a window just outside Mercy's office. In it you can see both the volcanoes Puebla is known for and, if you look closely, the cathedral which sits on top of a mound that is actually a buried pyramid.

The story Mercy shared with us was about her financial struggles after her husband left her and her two sons, how she had faith to pay tithing despite the hardships, and the blessings she saw from it. The other story we videoed was from a young woman who is a service missionary. One of the purposes of the project we’re working on is to help change the attitude that many people have that service missions aren’t as legitimate as proselyting missions. This young woman was beautiful, well spoken, and a very lovely person. She is a little older than most missionaries and has already graduated from college. She said she has wanted to serve a mission since she was fourteen. When she got her call and it was for a service mission, she was very disappointed and seriously considered turning it down. However, she prayed about it and said she received three answers. The first one was that she should accept the call. The second was that her family would be blessed as she served. The third was that her example would help other people feel good about accepting calls to be service missionaries. When she said that, we about fell over because there we were, Pat Frandsen holding a camera, getting her story with the intent of broadcasting it all over Mexico. We didn’t know her story before we went there. Her name had been recommended to us by her Service Mission Leader. It was touching to know that us being there was a part of the answer to her prayer.

Tuesday, we had a fun dinner with Michelle, Alfredo, and Herbey Eguiarte. He is the director of the FIC Valores, an international film festival in Guadalajara which is for “films with values.” It is sponsored by a Catholic university, but they welcome films from all religions and any groups that make films which have positive messages and are free from objectionable material. They invited our church to participate in it this year. Michelle contacted some filmmakers who are members of the Church and worked with them to get subtitles for their movies and to enter them in the festival. One of them, “The Fighting Preacher,” won the award for best movie of the festival. Our dinner with Herbey was to accept the trophy on behalf of T.C. Christensen, who wrote and directed the movie, which is based on a true story. If any of you know T.C. Christensen, tell him his trophy is sitting in the office of the Church’s Communications Department in Mexico, and thank him for winning so we could have a lovely dinner. We really enjoyed meeting and visiting with Herbey.


Isn't Michelle darling!

Saturday a group from Teca Once went to La Experiencia Cempasúchil. Cempasúchil is the name for the marigolds they decorate with for Dia de Muertos. Although the holiday is over, this “multisensory experience” was still going on. We’d seen it advertised, and then Michelle told us she’d gone to it and loved it, so we decided to give it a shot. If you’ve been to one of the Monet immersive exhibitions, it’s the same type of thing. However, this is based on Dia de Muertos and the idea of making connections with your loved ones who have passed on. The first room we went through was full of a white mist that was so thick that you couldn’t see the other side of the room. Then we went down a hall with old photos of people. When we were in that hallway, I remembered that Michelle had told us there was a place where you put in someone’s name and photos of them would come up. Pat Wright went back with me to find the spot to do that. It turned out to be not as slick as I thought it would be. You had to have a photo on your phone to upload. Then it took so long for them to get the photos in the rotation that we didn’t get to see our photos come up. I wanted to surprise Ron, but it didn’t work. The main room of the exhibit had a large garden of cempasúchil flowers. People could write messages to their loved ones and put them in among the flowers. A film was also being shown there, in which the flowers and hummingbirds were symbolic. When Dave Barnett shared the description of the event before we went, we joked that hallucinogenic mushrooms might be involved. Some of the rooms felt a little like that, but still they were beautiful, and it was a cool experience.

I loved this hummingbird mural!
     

     

     


      

This photo is of the ceiling of a room which had mirrors covering all the surfaces. You can see me at the top taking the photo looking up.

We’re moving forward on the Giving Machines, though there is still a lot to get done. I’d feel more comfortable if our launch was in two months rather than in two weeks. This week we went to be trained on how to run the machines. I had no idea how complicated running a vending machine can be. If all you’re doing is purchasing something from one, it’s pretty straightforward, but if you’re keeping it stocked and tracking the money, it’s a bit complicated. To show us how credit cards work, someone had to make an actual purchase in the machine, so Ron bought 2 kilos of rice as the first purchase from the Giving Machines in Mexico!

Our daughter Lalove’s family did something awesome! (I know you’re not supposed to brag about your good works, but since I’m the one telling it, not her, I don’t think it counts as bragging.) They skipped having fast food for a month, then sent us the $100 they saved and asked us to find people to give it to. We debated what would be the best way to handle this so that our grandchildren can see the good their sacrifice does. We finally decided to get ten 200 peso bills (about $10 each) and use them to “buy smiles” from people, especially children, who are selling things on the street. We’d just got the money ready before we went to the tiangis on Saturday. There we stopped at the booth of a woman we’ve purchased things from before. Her children helped us one time and were the cutest salesmen. Ron mentioned it to her, and she called for her daughters to come help sell to us. We thought, “Why not start buying smiles now?” I don’t think this family is particularly needy, but I’m sure the girls are not used to having money of their own. We asked if we could buy some smiles and take a picture. They seemed a little confused at first, but then giggled and got into it. After we took the photo, I handed them the 200 peso bill and told them it was for them to share. They were thrilled and ran off laughing. It was fun and we got to share the photo with our grandchildren. Lalove later sent us a Zoom with her son Will’s reaction. He said hearing how excited those girls were to get $5 each made him feel rich. I loved that! I think we will have a great time buying smiles the next few weeks.


Here are a few random photos from this week:

They don't celebrate Thanksgiving here, so right after Dia de Muertos, Christmas starts popping up. After this tree was put up in the hall just outside our office, Pauline Davis put a wreath on her door, and Michelle started play Christmas music at work, I decided the Christmas season has officially begun.

We've drive past the cool house many times, but this week we walked past it. That made it so that I could get a photo of the amazing stair and front door.

This lovely spot is in a gorge that is literally steps outside our front door. Sadly, the stream you see is not clean water and it's a bit of a jungle, so we don't go down there. But we do enjoy looking at it as we cross the bridge over it.

This is a park we like to walk in. I've posted photos of these stairs from the bottom looking up. This week I took a photo looking down.

The changes from one season to the next here are so mild compared to at home that it is hard for me to keep track of where we are in the year. I was surprised on Sunday when someone mentioned that Thanksgiving is next week. I’m working to focus on what I’m thankful for this week. All my dear friends and family are at the top of the list!

 

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