Babies, Beaches, and Apostles

One of the biggest ways that serving a senior mission is different than serving one when you’re young is that you’re able to go home for brief visits and family members can visit you. Being in Mexico makes that way more doable than if we were somewhere further away. Plus, our Area President, President Montoya, is very generous in giving senior missionaries permission to spend time with family. Because of all this, and because we found people to babysit the Giving Machines for a few days, we were able to meet our daughter Madilyn, her husband, Nick, and their two children in Cabo San Lucas and spend a few days there together. We had a wonderful time playing on the beach, playing in the pool, but mostly, playing with grandkids. Madi found the place we stayed at online, so it wasn’t somewhere any of us had been before. It turned out to be a gorgeous resort, and we had a wonderful time.

If you can manage to tear your eyes off these two cuties, you can see the lovely resort we stayed at in the background.

One day we took a boat tour of the area and spent a few hours at Pelican Beach. There is a small area roped off there for swimming and snorkeling, which was fun. It was amazing how many varieties of fish we saw in that little area, and Madi even saw an eel. On the tour, we got to see a sea lion colony and the Arch of Cabo San Lucas, which is on the very southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, right where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. Other than that excursion, we spent our time at the resort having a lovely, relaxing break. One day I was sitting on a lounge chair by the pool holding Grant. A woman nearby started talking and goo-gooing at him, and he rewarded her with big smiles. She said, “That is a cute baby!” Then she told me she is over the online content for Pottery Barn Kids and said, “We spend all day taking photos of cute kids, so I know cute kids, and that baby is a cute kid!” Of course, as a grandma, I already knew that, but it’s always nice to have verification from an expert! So now you’re going to have to look at a lot of pictures of my cute grandchildren. They’re in gorgeous settings, so hopefully it won’t be too painful.


Madi and Nick's family on Pelican Beach

A mermaid we found
     

     
Madi and Remi on Pelican Beach
     

     

     

     

     

Ron is an early riser, so he would go out early in the morning to see what was happening around the resort. On Wednesday morning, he came rushing in as the rest of us were just getting going. He said there was a nest of baby sea turtles that was hatching on the beach, and if we hurried, we could see them. We all headed straight out the door just as we were. Fortunately, only Remi was still in her PJs. The species of sea turtles in Cabo are endangered, so groups are working to preserve them. The area where we were staying is along beaches where the female sea turtles lay their eggs. During that season, they have people who observe where the females make their nests. One nest was located just at the bottom of the stairs from our resort to the beach. People had been walking right over the top of it without even knowing what was buried under their feet. That morning, someone spotted the first baby turtles to emerge, and a team was notified. They uncovered the nest and put all the baby turtles in a Styrofoam cooler. They explained that if they allowed the turtles to crawl to the ocean at that time of day, most of them wouldn’t make it. The ocean was about a hundred feet away, which is a lot if you’re only two inches long, and most of them would be eaten by seagulls before they made it. So, the workers collected the babies. They said they would release them later when the seagulls were less active. That evening we went down to the grill by the pool to get tacos for dinner. The area was deserted. Madi commented that would be a great time to swim because no one was there. We assumed everyone was off somewhere eating, but a few minutes later, a crowd of people came up from the beach saying things like, “That was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” They’d been watching them release the baby sea turtles. We hadn’t realized they’d do it right there from the same spot where the nest was. I figured they’d take them to a more secluded location, but they did it right there on the beach by the resort—and we missed it!  That disappointed us, but we were happy we got to see them in the morning. Here is a video:

   


We headed back to Mexico City on Thursday. It was hard to say good-bye to our kids, and I will admit I blinked back more than a few tears. Facetime and Marco Polo make things easier, but nothing can replace hugging my babies and kissing Grant’s chubby cheeks in person.

Friday was the Christmas devotional and dinner for the Church’s employees. They included us senior missionaries, which was nice. The event happened to coincide with a visit to Mexico from two apostles: M. Russell Ballard and Gary E. Stevenson. They were in Mexico to do some leadership training and conferences. That day they were at the CCM, so that’s where we went for the employee devotional. Both apostles spoke briefly, and the spirit in the auditorium was very strong. Elder Stevenson told a cute story about his father when he was young. A group went to look for Indian arrowheads. Later, someone asked his father if he’d found any. He said no, but he did find a cool Christmas tree shaped rock. Elder Stevenson pulled it out to show us. It was a very old, very large, genuine arrowhead. His message was that we need to recognize what we have. Elder Ballard thanked the employees and told them how valuable they and the work they do are to the Church. Pat Wright was in charge of a choir for the devotional, and we were in it—more to support her than because we’re great singers. So we got to sit on the stand with Elder Ballard and Elder Stevenson. We were way over to the side, but we were on the same stand. (Pat Frandsen took this photo of the choir on the stand.)

This is our choir, but we're missing a few in this photo. It was hard to get everyone rounded up for it.
     
A World Cup match was going on during the dinner, so a crowd gathered around this table to watch it on a tablet. Note the group isn't all men. Look closely and you'll see Maurina, who is President Montoya's secretary, right in the middle of them all.
     

     

Most of us Teca Once missionaries had taken Ubers to get to the CCM. After the devotional and dinner, Jerry Wright said he had scoped out how we could get home using public transportation. It involved taking a bus to the Cablebús station, riding the Cablebús to the end of the line, walking a few blocks, catching another bus, riding it to Chapultepec Park, walking across the park, and catching another bus, which we could ride to within a couple of blocks from home. We, the Davises, and the Everetts were all game to join the Wrights on this adventure. It worked quite smoothly. We found out the Everetts had not yet been to Avenida Reforma (Reforma Avenue, which is probably one of the most beautiful avenues in the world), so instead of riding the bus clear to Chapultepec Park, we got off a few blocks early and walked past the Angel and through the temporary market which has been set up for Christmas. The pumps I was wearing are comfortable for being heels and I can walk back and forth to church in them without a problem, but we did a lot of walking that evening. By the time we caught our last bus, my toes were starting to cramp. However, we had such a lovely time that it was worth a little feet pain!
Me with Pauline Davis and Janise Everett on the Cablebús
     
The Wrights, David Davis, and Ron

     
All of us enjoying the sites of the season along Reforma

    
The lights on the building were putting on a show on their own
     

     


As we were walking along Reforma, Pauline Davis said she wanted to go to the artisan market Ciudadela before Christmas to look for nativity sets. Her husband wasn’t that excited about doing that, though he was willing to go with her. I could relate with their situation. Ron doesn’t enjoy shopping, and it’s hard for me to take time to really look when we go together. I suggested we have a ladies’ day shopping and leave the men at home. Pauline and Pat both liked that idea, so the next day, the three of us caught an Uber and took off for the historic center of Mexico City on our own. I couldn’t help but think how things have changed. When we first got here, I would hardly have dared walk out of Teca Once without Ron. We had a fun afternoon shopping, and the men were more than content to not be with us.


Pinatas hanging in the market

There was an earthquake near Acapulco this morning. That’s quite far from here, but it was strong enough that Ron felt it. I was sitting in a chair and didn’t notice, but we heard things rattling outside and the chain on our lamp was swaying. We seem to get earthquakes a lot here.

Most of the families who attend church with us are here with the U.S. State Department, and many go back to the United States for the holidays. Because of that, our Ward had its Christmas program today in Sacrament Meeting. It was a beautiful program with a lot of music and singing. One of the special musical numbers was by two sisters whose dad is a mission president. (I took this photo of them at the temple lighting event two weeks ago.) They are darling girls with gorgeous voices. They sang “What Child is This,” which is one of my favorite Christmas songs. To make it even better, they sang my favorite version. Often when people perform this song, they simply repeat the first chorus after each verse, but in this version, each verse has its own chorus. I think these lyrics so beautifully explain the true purpose of Christmas and why we celebrate. I’ll end this week with those words.



What child is this who, laid to rest,

On Mary’s lap is sleeping?

Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,

While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.

Haste, haste to bring him laud,

The Babe, the son of Mary.

 

Why lies He in such mean estate

Where ox and ass are feeding?

Good Christians, fear, for sinners here

The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,

The cross be borne for me, for you.

Hail, hail the Word made flesh,

The Babe, the son of Mary.

 

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,

Come peasant, king to own Him;

The King of kings salvation brings,

Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise a song on high,

The Virgin sings a lullaby.

Joy, joy for Christ is born,

The Babe, the son of Mary.

 

 

 





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