Rubbing Shoulders With Amazing People

This week was dominated by “Seminario de Communicaciόn del Área México 2023.” Mexico has 33 coordinating councils, and each council has a communications director. All those directors were invited to come to Mexico City for a two day training put on by our department. 29 of them came. Of the four who didn’t make it, one was planning to come but got sick and another was recovering from surgery. Considering that people had to take time off from work and away from their families to attend, I thought that was a fantastic turnout.

The first part of the week we put in full days doing prep for the event, and the end of the week we held the event. Ron was in charge of booking the hotel, getting the food, and arranging transportation. I helped put together folders and track who was coming, when they were arriving, etc.  We helped with setup and greeted the people as they arrived at the hotel. (We stayed two nights at the hotel, because the training was held in the Visitor’s Center at the temple, which is about an hour from where we live.) During the training, we were the gophers who did whatever needed to be done to keep things going smoothly so that the most important part of the event could take place—the training. Most of the training was done by Gustavo, Michelle, and Alfredo. They did an amazing job. I told Alfredo I felt like I was sitting in college communications classes. We also had two guests come from Salt Lake: Michael VonRosen, Director of International Areas for the Church’s Communications Department, and Terry Hritz, Managing Director of Bonneville Communications. They each took some time on the program, but simply by being there, they added a feeling of importance to the meetings. Elder Adrian Ochoa, the First Counselor in the Area Presidency, and Elder Ranulfo Cervantes, the Area Seventy over communications, both spoke to the group during the Friday evening session. Overall, the event went fantastically! I have no doubt that the group of people who were gathered together for it are among the best in the world. At the beginning of the training, Gustavo had them each stand up and introduce themselves. The group included college professors, lawyers, business owners, etc. All of them are prominent in their fields and communities. However, they did not come across as proud or ego driven. Instead, they radiated light, warmth, and kindness. Before COVID, they held trainings like this one, and many of the directors have had their callings long enough that they attended then. It was fun to see how they greeted each other as old friends. Two of the directors had received their callings only a week or so before they came, and it was fun to see how they went from being the newbies at the beginning to a part of the group by the end.


Alfredo teaching

Gustavo and Michelle presenting
Elder Cervantes speaking. We've met his wife and daughter as well, and they are all wonderful people!


Of course I've got to show you some of the food Ron arranged. For lunch we had tacos al pastor and beef tacos. Notice the fun plates the caterer had for us.
Despite the fact that we ate in the comedor (kind of a cafeteria) the caterer managed to make it look and feel nice. This was how the tables were set for dinner.

One of the directors who we worked with on Living Legends is Luis de Léon de Léon from Guadalajara. He is without a doubt the most positive, enthusiastic person I have ever met. (His daughter lives in Idaho Falls, and he said she is more so than he is. When we get home, we’re going to go meet her and see if that is true.) For the last session of the training, we held a testimony meeting. At the end of the meeting, Brother de Léon stood up to bear his testimony and invited me and Ron up to bear ours as well. (“Invited” doesn’t seem like the right word but “commanded” is too strong. I don’t know an appropriate word that is somewhere in between those two words.) It was intimidating for me to stand in front of this group and express my feelings and beliefs in Spanish. My words were simple and definitely not polished, but many of the people came up to me afterwards and hugged me and thanked me.

Brother de Leon
Brother Guillen from Chiapas. He helped us find Xiomara, the girl we interviewed for "The Friend" magazine. That article was in the November issue. He sent this picture to her, and a little while later had us listen to a voice message she had sent back thanking us. It was so sweet!

The training turned out to be a wonderful event, but it's nice to have it and all the work that went with it done! It ended at noon on Saturday so that the directors had time to travel back to their homes. We stayed at the manzana because that evening we had a dinner with the Teca Once senior missionaries and the Manzana senior missionaries. It was a farewell dinner for four of the couples who will be returning home in the next month and a half. It was a fun party, but a bit of a sad purpose. Two of the couples are from the manzana. They are the Thomases and the Lloyds. The Thomases have been the directors of the Family History Center at the temple. We knew them through that, but we got to know them better when Elder Thomas served as the other counselor with Ron in the branch presidency at the CCM. They are wonderful people who we admire.

The Thomases

The Lloyds have been humanitarian missionaries, and we’ve worked quite a bit with them. It’s mostly been online, so we haven’t been able to spend a lot of time together, but we’ve loved it whenever we have. They are such nice, genuine people! We will really miss them.

The Lloyds. I'm not smiling very good in this picture because I was blinking back tears after hugging Jill Lloyd.

The other two couples who will be leaving are from Teca Once. They are the Zapatas, who leave the end of this month, and the Wrights who leave the end of February. At this point I’m in denial that they are leaving. We’ve had so much fun with both the Zapatas and the Wrights, and they are dear friends to us.

Today we had dinner as a group at Teca Once. The Kirkhams, who were just released as the leaders of the CCM, came to it. They are from Pocatello, so they’re practically our neighbors back home. We also had a couple of our Russian friends and a little family from Russia who just arrived five days ago. It is a mother and her children. We met them at church, and Pat Wright invited them to dinner. After we ate, we sat around talking. The mother sat there listening. Jerry Wright told her they were welcome to stay, but not to feel like they had to. She said she wanted to stay. He asked why, after all, we’re just a bunch of old people. She replied that for the last year they had not been able to go to church in Russia, and she was loving being around fellow members. It is so impressive to see these people’s faith, as they leave their homes and try to make better lives for themselves and their families. It makes me more grateful for what I have.


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