Giving Machines are Open in Mexico!

This week has been all about the Maquinas de Donacion (Giving Machines.) Not only is this the first year Giving Machines have been in Mexico, it’s also the first year they have been in any non-English speaking countries. (They are here and in Guatemala.) So we are being pioneers. We’ve had a myriad of tasks, including having to translate all the materials into Spanish and figuring out how to use videos and photos in which all the people and locations look American not Mexican. The Mexico Area PSD (the Publishing Services Department) has been amazing and our whole team has been involved in putting this together.

Pat Frandsen took this fun photo of our Communications Department team

The launch for the first site, Town Center el Rosario, was on Monday. We spent most of the day getting things ready. Ron and I had the responsibility to come up with how to cover the machine so we could have a reveal. Our team discussed wrapping the machine like a gift or covering it with a cloth. In the end, we found that just covering the window with wrapping paper and a bow was sufficient. (I made the bow.) It made it look fun and festive.

That evening, Gustavo had arranged for a popular radio station to broadcast from our booth. They were doing a giveaway, which helped draw a crowd. We had a surprise visit from Santa Claus (also arranged by Gustavo), and many people had their photo taken with him in front of the Giving Machine. Elder Adrian Ochoa, the First Counselor in the Area Presidency, and his wife came for the official opening ceremony. Elder Ochoa gave a few remarks, then he and representatives from two of the humanitarian organizations that are participating in the machines tore the paper off. That meant the machine was officially open, and we had a line of people waiting to donate. We left the mall that evening floating on air. 

Elder and Sister Ochoa

Pat Frandsen took this photo of me and Gustavo's daughter

The following evening, we did the same thing at the second location, Gran Sur. The radio station came again, but Santa didn’t. That evening, Elder Sean Douglas, the Second Counselor in the Area Presidency, gave the remarks and helped tear off the paper. We didn’t have as large of a crowd gathering as we waited for the official ceremony, and I thought this one wasn’t going to be as successful as the one at Rosario. However, just as we were getting going, a whole bunch of people showed up, and we ended up having a great turnout. We left the mall happy again that evening.

Gustavo talking on the radio about Giving Machines

Here's a video of the reveal at Gran Sur. The cute MC is Michelle.

Since then, we’ve been babysitting the machines. We have volunteers who help during the afternoon and evenings, but we have to refill them and troubleshoot when there are issues. Fortunately, we have Alfredo and Juan (who Alfredo got to help us), and they have been able to take care of everything that has come up. However, we have been spending a lot of time driving back and forth between Rosario, Gran Sur, and home.

Because we had so much stuff to take to the temple lighting last Sunday and the two Giving Machine launch events, the motor pool allowed us to use a minivan for a few days. One day as we were driving home, we had three people one right after another yell, “Senor!” and point at our tire. Looking back, Ron said he thought it was odd that one person pointed to our driver’s side tire and another pointed to our passenger side tire, but in the heat of the moment, he assumed we must have a flat tire. On a street completely lined with parked cars, there very conveniently happened to be an open parking spot right in front of a man who was wearing a jacket with logos from all the major car brands on it. He waved us into the spot. Ron got out to check the tire and saw it wasn’t flat, but the man said it had been wobbling. He also said that we just happened to be right by his tire shop. Fortunately, Ron is knowledgeable enough to tell if a tire has an issue or not. After checking it out, he thanked the man, got back in the car, and we drove off. For the first few blocks I was a little worried our tire might fall off, but Ron said if the tire was wobbling, he should be able to feel it in the steering, and he didn’t. Plus, the more we went over what had happened, the more convinced we were that we were being targeted for a scam. If we’d gone to the man’s shop, I’m sure he would have found all kinds of issues that needed to be fixed AND paid for. The vast majority of people we meet here are honest, kind, and helpful, but there are always those few...

Thursday evening, the Pueblito had it’s lighting of the Christmas lights at the little Catholic church there. Some of the Teca Once missionaries went for the actual lighting. I had a Spanish lesson at that time, so we walked up a little later. I am so impressed with the community there. They have such strong community spirit and put on some fun events. Plus, they are always so friendly and welcoming to us. It was fun to go see what they had done.


The inside of the gazebo was decorated like Santa's workshop so we sat in Santa's chair.

The Area Presidency declared Saturday, December 3 as National Day of Service and invited church members and others to participate in some type of community service. Our stake was doing a project, but we would have had to spend an hour and a half in travel time to get there and back. Instead, Pat Wright suggested we have our own Teca Once project and clean up garbage on the street between Teca Once and the building the Area offices are in. It’s a road we all walk every day, and we knew it could use the cleaning. So we donned rubber gloves and armed ourselves with brooms and garbage bags and went to work. It didn’t take too long. I just hope it isn’t back to the shape it was in too quickly.

The building in the background is where the Area offices are
We really could have used a weed whacker, but had to settle for these clippers we borrowed from Jesus, the maintenance guy at Teca Once.
The Wrights

I have been arranging the volunteers for the Giving Machines. Three weeks ago, I didn’t have anyone on the schedule. Now it is almost full at Rosario and full through the 18th at Gran Sur. I’ve seen many tender mercies and small miracles in getting it done. I’ll share one. Alfredo suggested we contact the man who is over the seminaries and institutes and try to get the Young Adults involved. We had a little tender mercy involved in getting hold of him, but the very day we did, we started getting WhatsApp messages from Young Adults who wanted to help. The problem was that they all wanted to help at Rosario, so the schedule at Gran Sur wasn’t filling up. Last Sunday morning I woke up at 4:00 worrying about it. We were two days away from the launch, and the schedule for Gran Sur was pretty bare. As I laid there I prayed saying, “I’ve done everything I know to do, so if you want this to happen, you’re going to have to open a door.” At 8:00 that morning, our Church phone rang. It was a woman who said she was from one of the institutes and she wanted to get information about volunteering for the Giving Machines so she could pass it on to the Young Adults there. Ron asked her which mall her institute was nearest to, and she responded, “Gran Sur.” At that point, I thought, “Okay, I can stop worrying. This is all going to work out.” And so far it has.


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