It's Really Going to Happen!


I have not written a lot about the biggest project we’ve been working on because although it had been mentioned in an article in the Church News quite a while ago, it hadn’t yet been officially announced here. This week it was announced. The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square are coming to Mexico and will have performances on June 17 and 18 at Auditorio Nacional. It will also be broadcast to Stake Centers throughout the country. People here are really excited! It was officially announced with simultaneous articles being posted on the Church News, the Church Newsroom, and the Church’s Mexico Newsroom (which is our department.) Here is a link to one of the articles in English:

 Tabernacle Choir announces Mexico City concerts

Our department has had the sole responsibility for most of the other events we’ve worked on during our mission, or at least the major responsibility for them. I am thankful that is not the case for this one. This event is so huge that thinking about all that must be done for it is mind boggling. With the choir, the orchestra, and the crew, it’s around 450 people that have to be brought here—with their costumes, instruments, and equipment—housed, fed, transported, etc. Mario Morales is over the whole thing, and we have joked with him that he will have completely white hair by the time it’s over. (He is only graying a little at the temples now.) Multiple departments are involved in things like security, logistics, ticket distribution, broadcasting, etc. Our department is over “Special Guests.” We like using that term rather than VIPs, though “VIPs” does crop up frequently in our discussions. Michelle and Gustavo have been working to create a list of leaders in government, business, arts, etc. who we will invite to the concerts. In addition, we will put on a dinner for the VVIPs (Very, Very Important People) and a reception for VIPs. Ron and I are helping with plans for these. We have been checking out venues and working with event planners. This week a group consisting of leaders and technicians from the Choir came to Mexico. Elder L. Whitney Clayton, who is an emeritus Seventy and who served in the Presidency of the Seventy until 2020, is now a counselor in the Choir’s presidency. (Michael Leavitt, former governor of Utah, is the president.) Elder Clayton and his wife came with the group to Mexico, and we were with them when they went to check out the venue for the dinner and visit the Auditorio Nacional. At one point, Ron and I were standing on the stage in the Auditorio Nacional. Bear in mind that this auditorium is considered one of the best performance venues in the world. It holds over 9,000 people. It has hosted performances from a wide variety of notable people and groups—from the New York Philharmonic and the Bolshoi Ballet to Michael Bublé and Harry Styles. The Dave Matthews Band and Alicia Keys are both scheduled to perform there in May. So, as I said, we were standing there on that stage. Just a little earlier we had been speaking with Elder Clayton and other Choir leaders about the plans we had for the dinner (to which leaders in the highest echelons of government will be invited), we had just finished speaking with Mario, Michelle, and several others about seating for the most important “Special guests,” and we were then listening to Richard Elliott who was testing the auditorio’s pipe organ, which is the largest organ in Latin America. We looked at each other and said, “What are we doing here? We’re just a couple of hicks from Idaho.” We are definitely proof that the Lord is willing to use “small and simple things” in accomplishing his purposes and moving His work forward.

I took this photo and the previous one from the article our department posted. I particularly love this one. you would hardly believe that this building is in the heart of one of the largest cities in the world. It sits on the edge of Chapultepec Park, which is why is it surrounded by trees. This photo was probably take from one of the multiple skyscrapers that sit across from it.

     

I took this photo standing on the stage in the auditorium. That is Armando speaking with Adrian, who works for the Auditorio Nacional and who is helping coordinate all the details for the Choir's performances.

This photo is to give you an idea of how large this auditorium is. It doesn't even show all the seats!
     
This is Richard Elliott playing the auditorium's organ. I should have videoed it so you could hear how awesome it sounded!

     
I zoomed in so you could see him better.
     
This week we also met over Zoom with two little boys and their parents, who live in other cities in Mexico. The Friend magazine is always looking for stories, and the editor occasionally messages me asking for help in finding them. I then send out messages to our local communications directors asking them to pass the request on to local Primary presidents. These two boys came to our attention from some of these messages I sent out a couple of months ago. They both have had sweet, inspirational experiences that the editor of the Friend said they’d like to have for the magazine. I’ve previously interviewed and written about two other children whose stories have been in the Friend the past few months, and another story is scheduled for later this year. Interviewing and writing about the children is one of my favorite things we’ve done on our mission. They are always so fun to talk with, and they are always so excited to have their story in the Friend. I have a recording saved on my computer, and I listen to it occasionally when I need a boost. It is from a little boy named Helamán, whose story was in the January issue. We messaged his mother when we learned what month his story was going to be published. In reply, she sent us a recorded message from him. I don’t understand everything he said in it, but I do get the end where he says he wants to give us a big hug.

Monday was Vicki Deaver’s birthday, and Tracy Frandsen’s was the week before. So we went out to dinner with the Deavers and the Frandsens to celebrate. Tracy Frandsen served a mission in Japan when he was younger, so we went to a Japanese restaurant we saw a couple of weeks ago when we were at Lincoln Park. We sat at a Teppanyaki table, which is the kind where there is a grill in the middle and the chef cooks right there in front of you. Besides Teppanyaki, which was delicious, Ron and I had tempura vegetables and shrimp—also delicious. The food was good and the company was great!


Tempura shrimp and veggies--yes, it tasted as good as it looks!

This week our Saturday excursion took us, the Deavers, the Frandsens, and the Barnetts to Los Pinos. Getting there involved walking up the hill to the bus stop, catching a bus to Chapultepec Park, getting on the train in the park, and riding it to the back entrance of Los Pinos. Los Pinos is the compound that housed the official residence and office of the president of Mexico from 1934 to 2018. Before 1934, the president lived in Chapultepec Castle. Then in 1934, President Lazaro Cardenas decided living in the castle was too ostentatious and moved the official residence to Los Pinos. It is also located in Chapultepec Park, not too far from the Castle. The current president thought Los Pinos was too ostentatious, so he lives in an apartment in the National Palace, which is the federal government building. (It’s kind of like if our president moved out of the White House and chose instead to live in an apartment in the Capital building.) Los Pinos is now a cultural center. Before we went to Los Pinos, I figured it was one building we’d walk through and then have time to go see the botanical garden in Chapultepec. I was wrong. The complex includes multiple buildings and gorgeous gardens. We spent a lot longer there than I had thought, and by the time we left, we were all ready to eat. Dave Barnett is noted for finding good restaurants, so he pulled out his phone and found a nearby one that had good reviews. We didn’t get to the botanical garden, but the gardens at Los Pinos were so gorgeous that I didn’t mind.

This is the foyer of Casa Miguel Aleman, which was the building where most of the presidents lived at Los Pinos. During the Covid crisis, it was turned into a hospital. It is now a museum.


     

One of the rooms in Casa Miguel Aleman held Mayan artifacts. This bowl has been dated as 50 B.C. to 250 A.D. It fascinated us because we thought it could have been in use at the time Christ visited the Americas.
     

     

     


     

This room was in a different building and was called the Hall of the Presidents. This is a huge "U" shaped desk where important meetings were held.
      
There was a display of presidential cars. This one was my favorite.
     
I loved this picture that was in the building dedicated to Lazaro Cardenas. It was accompanied by a quote from him, which translated says, "I believe that there is no revolution which can be called such if the education and culture of the country are not fully addressed."
     

     

     


     

     

The fish tacos we had at the restaurant Dave Barnett found
     


Sometimes on our morning walks we go past a very unique and unusal house. It is huge and the style is Art Nouveau. The first time we saw it, we wondered if it was a house or an embassy or a museum or something else. A guard was standing by the gate, and we asked him. He told us it was a residence, but didn't give us any more information. This week a gardener was working in the parking strip outside the walls of the house when we walked by. We stopped and spoke with him, and he told us the house is called the Casa del Senor Ignacio Holtz. You can google that and see photos of the inside, which is also all done in the Arte Nouveau style. It is the largest Art Nouveau style house in the world. Ignacio Holtz was a world famous engineer and architect, and he and his wife, Beatriz, were part of "Mexican society." The house was featured in multiple magazines and a video of it from the "Travel and Living" channel is on YouTube. I found a sweet story about Ignacio and Beatriz. He developed kidney failure, and she donated one of her kidneys to him. He then became a proponent of organ donations and wrote a book titled "Beatriz's Kidney." (That is the English translation of the title, but I couldn't find the book in English, so I think it's just in Spanish.) Ignacio Holtz died last October.


     
     
Even the sidewalks around the Casa del Ignacio Holtz have an Art Nouveau design to them.


I'll end with some other photos I took in our wanderings this week:

There is always something in bloom here--year round--but right now there seems to be even more than usual. Being me, I have to stop and take pictures of plants and flowers.
     

     
At home we put geraniums in pots and grow them as annuals, but here they are perennial and some get very large.
     
Protests are quite common here, especially along Avenida Reforma and in the historic district. This was a small one. It went past us when we were eating churros at a sidewalk cafe near Palacio de Bellas Artes. I'm not sure what they were protesting.

     
Mexico City doesn't get a lot of wind, but this week there was just enough of a breeze to allow the flag to fly.








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