A Fake Quake and a Real Race

Elder Mark Palmer, of the Presidency of the Seventy, along with his wife, visited Mexico this week. Wednesday, they spoke at a devotional for the employees of the Church. The devotional was held at the chapel where we attend church and was broadcast throughout Mexico. We sang in the choir for it. At the end, Elder Palmer, his wife, Elder Sean Douglas (a counselor in the Area Presidency), and his wife personally greeted each of the people that were in attendance. Afterwards, we walked back to the Area offices and went back to work. About an hour later, we had an earthquake drill. We have them twice a year, and that was the day it was scheduled. So Elder Palmer, his wife, and all the Area Presidency had to tromp down eleven flights of stairs with the rest of us. Then we waited outside until we got the all clear to go back inside. As part of the drill, some of the employees who are designated as emergency personnel had to carry a volunteer, who was strapped to a backboard, down the stairs and then do a medical assessment of him. The volunteer was a short, slightly built man. Joel Argueta, who is over 6’ tall and a big guy, said they should have had him be the volunteer. That would have really tested them! I had to agree. We’ve had multiple earthquakes while we’ve been here—including one the night before the drill—but I haven’t felt any of them.

"The victim" being transported
     
Elder and Sister Palmer (on the left) watching "the victim" being assessed.

  An assignment we had this week took us to Campo Marte. It is a military complex featuring a large field where they hold military, government, and sporting events. It is open to the public and includes a lovely restaurant in an old Spanish style building. That was what we went to see. We were checking it out as a possible site for an event our department is helping with. (Yes, our mission is really tough.) On the grounds outside the restaurant, there are dozens of statues, which we walked around to look at. When we got close, we realized that they were all made out of guns and gun parts! So if you’re trying to figure out what to do with any old guns you have laying around, here’s a thought.

The restaurant at Campo Marte
     
Inside the lobby

     
One of the event areas we looked at.
     
A statue of dolphins.

     
A wolf
     
A close-up of one of the statues

Saturday, we helped with an activity for the Lomas Ward’s youth conference. They were having an “Amazing Race,” where teams had to race to certain points and perform certain tasks to receive their next clue. We went with the Deavers to Lincoln Park, where we met Natalie Field, who planned the event. Natalie has such a fun, enthusiastic personality that you know whatever she plans will be great. The Deavers stayed at Lincoln Park. When the groups got to them, they had to stand in front of the statue of Abraham Lincoln (who the park is named for) and recite a couple of sentences from the Gettysburg Address. Then they had to go buy churros to take to the people at the next site, which happened to be us--we got way more churros than we could eat. We were a few blocks away from Lincoln Park at Americas Park. Besides bringing us a churro, the groups had to keep a hacky sack going for five hits without it touching the ground. (We moved it down to three hits after seeing how much the first team struggled.) It was a fun activity, and we had fun being part of it.

Me and Natalie

The parks in mexico don't usually have lawns. Instead they have wide paths and open paved areas with planting beds in between them. They were planting this one in Americas Park, and I was very tempted to ask them if I could help. I miss digging in the dirt!

       

We thought this was such a picturesque tree, and having a woman selling shaved ice under it made it even better. You can see Ron in line to get one while we waited for the teams to arrive.

     
This was the first team to get to our site, but they ended up coming in second in the race. After our site, they just had to go to the finish line, which was a block away at the Field's house. Unfortunately, these guys went the wrong direction, and the second team beat them there.
     
This is the winning team. It had one of the Field's daughters on it, so they had no problem getting to the finish line after they completed the hacky sack task.

After the fourth and final team completed their task at our site, we walked back to meet the Deavers at Lincoln Park. We had a little time, so we went to the aviary there. We’ve always gone to Lincoln Park in the evening before, and the aviary has always been closed. We were early enough in the day on Saturday to be able to go into it. It is a fairly small structure, but it had a wide variety of birds inside it. The birds seemed to be very used to having people around, and we were able to get quite close to some of them.

   

     

This woman was just sitting there and a parrot landed on her head.
     


From there we caught an Uber to The American School Foundation to watch three of the young women from the Lomas Ward who were performing in their high school’s musical. The play was “Little Shop of Horror.” I was quite impressed with the quality of the production. The singers, the acting, and the set were all really good, and the sound system was great--we could actually hear what everyone said. Since it is an American school, the play was in English, which I appreciated. Many of the members of the Lomas Ward were there, so we knew a lot of people in the audience, which made it even more fun.     

The three girls in the plaid skirts at the front of the stage are who we went to see. They are all such cute girls, who can sing really well!

I don’t often share the articles I’ve written which have been published here because they are in Spanish, and I know that most of the people who read my blog don’t speak Spanish. However, I am going to share one today, because there is a cool story that goes with it. We help Pat Frandsen with a video series she is making called “Cada uno tiene una Historia.” It’s based on Elder Gong’s talk from conference a year ago, “We Each Have a Story.” She videos people talking about inspirational experiences they have had, then edits them for the Church’s Mexican social media accounts. Several months ago, we went with Pat to Puebla to interview our friend Mercy about her experiences with tithing. I figured as long as we were travelling to Puebla, which is about two hours away, we might as well interview more than one person. So I contacted the service mission leaders over Puebla and asked them if they had a service missionary in Puebla who we could interview. They gave me the name and contact information of Sister Vazquez. When we met Sister Vasquez, we were very impressed with her. She was a lovely, well-spoken, well-educated young woman. In her interview, she said that she had wanted to serve a mission since she was a young girl. When she received her call, and it was for a service mission rather than a proselyting mission, she was very disappointed. She even decided to turn down the call, but thought she should pray about it before she did. As she prayed, she received three impressions. The first 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 callings to be service missionaries. When we heard that, we all thought, “Wow! Here we are videoing her, and maybe this will be part of the fulfillment of the answer she received.” We thought that at the time, but the full impact of it didn’t hit me until this week. When Gustavo heard about her story, he suggested that in addition to the video, I should write an article about her for the local pages of the Liahona. I did, and that article was published in the April issue. (I included a it below.) This means that every household in Mexico that subscribes to the Liahona now has Sister Vasquez’s story. Additionally, once the Mexico local pages are posted online, her story will be available for anyone in the world to access. Then, this week her video was posted on Instagram. The last time I checked, it had been played nearly 11,000 times. And on top of all that, this week I was contacted by a service mission leader, who asked for a pdf copy of the article and a link to the video, because they want to use Sister Vasquez’s story at Enfasis Misional events. These are events held once a year in each of the coordinating councils in Mexico. They are for young people who are considering serving a mission. This is the exact audience Sister Vasquez’s story needs to reach, because some of them will receive calls to be service missionaries. As all of this came together this week, I thought about how the decision to interview another person when we went to Puebla has led to such a profound fulfillment of the promise Sister Vasquez received in answer to her prayer. I did not feel like I was being “inspired” when I decided to ask for the name of a service missionary to interview—it just seemed like a logical thing to do. It has made me think about how many times we are “instruments in the Lords hands,” when we don’t even know it.

This is the article from the Liahona:


Here is a link to Sister Vasquez’s video:

The video of Sister Vasquez

Here is a link to Mercy’s video, for those who are interested in viewing it. It has a caption with an English translation, which isn't the greatest, but which is good enough that you can follow her story:

The video of our friend Mercy

I’ll end with a few pictures I took in our wanderings around the city this week:

This is the wall we've watched being built as we've taken our Saturday morning walks. They are now putting a metal fence along the top of it.

     

Most of the sidewalks we walk along are just normal sidewalks, but occasionally we come across really cool ones, like this one....

    

....and this one.
     
Remote controlled boats on the pond at Lincoln Park
     
You can tell you're in a really nice neighborhood when even the outside of the walls around the houses are beautiful.


 

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