Breaking Ground and Crashing a Wedding

A couple of months ago as we were going over the calendar in our department meeting, we found out the dates had been set for the groundbreakings for the temples in Torreon and Queretaro. Ron really wanted to go to the one in Queretaro. We feel a bit of a tie to that city because Sylvester lives right outside of it, and we had a wonderful experience there with Living Legends. However, when the date for the Torreon groundbreaking came, we found out that groundbreakings are by invitation only, and we weren’t invited. So we gave up on being able to attend in Queretaro. Friday morning we got a call from Gustavo. He needed some things taken to Queretaro for the groundbreaking, which was Saturday morning, but everyone who was going to it from the area offices (including him) had already left. Ron told him we’d love to go, so he told us to get a car, get the stuff, and head for Queretaro.

It took a while to finish what we were doing and make the arrangements, so it was after 4:00 when we left. I was surprised when I put the address of our hotel into the Waze App that it said it would take 3 ½ hours to get there. I thought Queretaro was only about 2 ½ hours away but figured it must be because it was Friday and traffic would be heavy. Sure enough, it took us over an hour just to get out of the city. However, as we got further along, the App wanted us to take a turnoff for Guadalajara. We thought, “That can’t be right.” We’re not experts on where everything is in Mexico, but we do know that Guadalajara and Queretaro are not in the same direction. We decided to stay on the highway following the signs to Queretaro rather than trusting the App. As we went forward, the App kept wanting us to get off the highway and take odd roundabout routes. We ignored it and stayed on the highway. Then about 35 miles before Queretaro, we hit a huge traffic jam. There was construction going on in that section of the highway, and traffic was at a standstill. Again Waze gave us an alternate route which would bypass a large section of the traffic by taking an exit half a mile up the road. We finally decided to trust the App and take that route, but it took us almost an hour to get to that exit! The alternate route took us on a road that turned into a cobblestone street running through a tiny town, which I would have loved to have seen in daylight, but it was getting dark by then. Ron said at that point he hoped the road would get better. It didn’t—it got worse. It turned into a dirt road that ran along a canal bank and through fields. Waze has icons that show you other Waze users around you, so I could see that other people were taking this same route, which helped us keep from worrying too much. Finally the dirt road led us back to a paved road and back to the highway a little way ahead of the worst of the traffic. In the end, instead of taking 3 ½ hours, the drive took us over 4 ½ hours because we didn’t trust our App. There must be a Sacrament Meeting talk in that.

Saturday morning we attended the groundbreaking for the Queretaro temple. As I said, it was by invitation only. When we arrived, the man at the entrance asked to see our pass and was going to turn us away since we didn’t have one. Fortunately, Marco Alba was close by and saw us. He is the communications director in Queretaro. We worked with him on Living Legends, so he knows us. He told the man to let us in. We were there way early, so we were able to walk around, look things over, and visit with people. A year ago when we attended events, we didn’t know anyone. Now we know quite a few people, and it makes going places a lot more fun. We also met a few people, including a couple of people from Salt Lake who are on the Church’s temple committee. It was fun to talk with them. The event was really nice, and I could even understand quite a bit of what the speakers said—it always helps when I know what the topic is. Elder Ochoa from the area presidency and two other general authority seventies were there and spoke. They and their wives took the first “symbolic” shovels of dirt. I say “symbolic” because they don’t actually dig holes in the ground at groundbreakings. Instead they have a pile of dirt that the people use gold colored shovels to dig into. After the officials had taken their shovelfuls of dirt, I felt like we should all start clapping and cheering. It was a sacred occasion, so we didn’t, but it filled me with excitement and joy to look around at all the wonderful people who were there and know that they would be getting a temple. After the official event was completed, they opened it up for anyone else who wanted to have a turn shoveling some dirt. It was fun to have our turn digging in the dirt with the golden shovels. We will now always be able to say we participated in the groundbreaking for the Queretaro temple!

This is Alfredo's daughter. She is so fun to talk to. I always love when I get to see her.

This is Armando and the crew from PSD getting things ready to broadcast the groundbreaking
Here are the official Church reps getting ready to take the first shovels full of dirt. I had to take this photo from way in the back and crop it.
This choir of Young Men and Women performed during the program. After the ceremony was over Ron went on the stand and shook the hand of each one of the young people and thanked them for singing. One girl started crying when he told her she sang like an angel, which made him tear up too. 
This is all the choir members taking their turn shovelling some dirt. It was fun to see them all lined up like this.

Of course, we could not go to Queretaro without visiting Sylvester and his family in Los Bordos, which is a small community about ten miles outside of the city. Since our trip was a last minute one, we didn’t have much time to get hold of him. He didn’t answer his phone, so Ron sent him a text. Just as we were ready to leave the groundbreaking, we got a reply saying they were home and come on out. It took half an hour to get there, and when we arrived, Sylvester’s wife, Juanita, had food ready for us. She had fresh corn tortillas and shredded pork with her delicious salsa, along with Mexican rice. It was delicious! She was cooking a huge pan of rice, and they told us it was because there was a wedding for Sylvester’s nephew that afternoon. They said we should stay for it. We told them we didn’t want to intrude, plus we wanted to be back in Mexico City before dark and it had taken us 4 ½ hours to drive it the day before. They said the wedding was at 4:00 and we could take the autopista home, which would be really fast. They also told us it was the government ceremony, not the church one, so it was only going to be family--not a big event. (Bear in mind that Sylvester comes from a family with 13 children, so even “just a family event” can be big.) Ron knows a lot of Sylvester’s family and he wanted to see them, so we stayed. While we waited for the wedding, we visited a couple of Sylvester’s sisters. Everyone was so welcoming and gracious. Then Sylvester told us his cousin Nicholas was in Los Bordos. Nicholas used to work for us too. He is now a U.S. citizen and owns a home in Shelley, but he still has his house in Los Bordos and visits there in the winter. We went to see him, and it was fun to see these three guys back together again after so many years. The wedding was late getting started, so we left right after the ceremony and didn’t stay for the party. Still we got to see people we hadn’t seen for a long time and of course, we got to eat a lot of good food. We didn’t make it back to Mexico City before dark, but we had a fun day, so that was okay.

Sylvester's beautiful family


Looking around their yard, it is easy to see that Sylvester and Juanita love plants. One of their walls is lined with pots of plants including a myriad of cacti and succulents. They are so cool to see!

Ron, Nicholas, and Sylvester
Sylvester's daughters and sister, the mother of the groom, getting things ready for the wedding.
The bride and groom's table. We left before the party started, so I didn't get a photo of them at it. They and their parents stood in front of it during the ceremony.

Earlier in the week we got to attend another special event. One of our Russian friends, Igor, went to the Mexico City temple for his endowment. The Wrights, the Deavers, and a couple from our ward went too. Igor and his cute wife were married in Russia, but since there is no temple there, they weren’t able to be sealed. The first Sunday they were in Mexico, they went to the bishop and told him Igor needed his endowment and they wanted to be sealed and they wanted to do it all on Tuesday—the next day the temple would be open. He had to tell them they’d have to slow down until he was able to get their membership records and make arrangements. I so admire their enthusiasm for the temple. I look at their situation—being refugees—and think it would be so easy to say, “Life is really complicated right now. Maybe we should wait until things settle down before we go to the temple.” But no! For them, it was their first priority. Igor and his wife spoke yesterday in church, and they talked about how hard it was to get to a temple when they were living in Russia, and what a blessing it is to be living in a city that has a temple in it. It made me think how blessed I have been.

Friday was Dia de los Reyes, Day of the Kings. It commemorates the arrival of the Wisemen to see baby Jesus. It is the day when we eat Rosca de Reyes, special oval shaped bread that has little baby dolls in it. Whoever gets one of the dolls in their slice has to buy tamales for everyone on February 2. The Zapatas were hosting a Rosca de Reyes party that evening for all the Teca Once missionaries, but with our sudden departure for Queretaro, we weren’t able to go. However, when we went to the office that morning, our elevator stopped at the 9th floor, which is part of the Church’s offices. A man we know was standing outside the elevator holding a box with a large Rosca de Reyes in it. He motioned for us to get off, and he said we each needed to cut ourselves a slice of the bread. I cut the smallest one he would let me get away with, but of course, I got a baby. I got one last year too. It seems to be my lot. If there’s a baby in the food, I will find it. So now I’ve got to come up with a whole lot of tamales for February 2.



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