This is Not What I Expected to Do on a Mission

 

As part of the events connected with the Tabernacle Choir’s concerts in Mexico City, our department is planning a VIP reception and a VVIP dinner. Ron and I have been helping organize them. This week our caterer brought samples of hors d’ oeuvres and agua frescas (flavored water) for us to try for the reception. For a little while, our conference room was turned into a bit of a party room as we sampled the appetizers. The next day, I was working with Michelle and hermana Lima to contact a couple of ambassadors to see if they would prefer steak, salmon, or chicken cordon bleu for their main dish at the dinner. I said, “This is not what I expected to be doing on a mission!” That made us all laugh because it’s so true. I’ve done a whole lot of things on this mission that I never expected to be doing. I didn’t even know they were in the realm of possibility for a mission!


Planning such high level events can be stressful. I don’t feel stressed, but my sleep patterns are telling me I am. It’s amazing the things you take for granted until you don’t have them. Normally, sleeping is one of my greatest talents. However, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been waking up at 3:30 in the morning with all the things that need to be done running through my mind, and I haven’t been able to get back to sleep. I’ve been walking around feeling tired, which makes it harder to get done what I need to get done. This morning I didn’t wake up until 6:30. I feel so good today, and I feel so grateful to have had a normal night’s sleep! This stress and sleep deprivation led to me getting a migraine at the end of last week. I was able to take medicine to knock out the headache, but the tension held on, and I felt as if another headache could hit. So I went to see my chiropractor. I first went to Dr. Brandon Raiz on the recommendation of a member of the Lomas Ward shortly after we got here. I’ve been to see him for adjustments many times during the past twenty months. I told him about the Choir’s visit to Mexico and intended to get tickets for him to see one of the concerts. However, what I thought would be my last visit to see him was about a month ago, and I didn’t have tickets for him, so I gave up that idea. Then the migraine hit. Dr. Brandon now has tickets. He seemed delighted to get them and promised he would come. Sometimes even something like a migraine can have an upside to it.

     

Us with Dr. Brandon

Our unofficial farewells continued this week. The Arguetas took us to dinner at Casa de Tono. It is a popular restaurant chain here. Joel Argueta said we should open one in Salt Lake so people could have real Mexican food and put Taco Bell out of business. The food was good and the friends even better! The Arguetas were humanitarian missionaries when we first arrived here, and we got to know them through some of the projects they were involved in then. At that time, they lived at home. Following that mission, they took a few months for family time, and then replaced the Davises. They came to live at Teca Once then because even though their house is in Mexico City, it’s a long commute from there to the area office. They are young, just a few years older than our oldest children, but they don’t seem to mind living and serving with a bunch of old people. We always love spending time with them!

     

Dinner with the Arguetas

Friday morning, we met Victor Montoya and his wife, Rebeca, at a restaurant in Polanco for breakfast. Victor is the communications director for one of the coordinating councils in Mexico City. We have worked with him on multiple projects, including covering several humanitarian projects. (Incidentally, he is also a cousin to Elder Hugo Montoya, who is a General Authority Seventy and our area president.) Victor is on our committee for the VIP reception. After breakfast, he drove us to our venues to check on some details that needed tended. We appreciated his help so much!  He has always been good to work with, and his wife is a lovely woman. She only speaks a little English, so the conversation was in Spanish. I have had to use Spanish more in the past three weeks than I have had to before in our mission, and I can see that if I’d been pushed earlier to use it more, I would probably be fairly fluent by now.     

Breakfast with the Montoyas

Saturday we decided to go back to the historic district of the city to see the Diego Rivera murals, which we weren’t able to see two weeks ago. The Frandsens, the Deavers, the Everetts, and the Gomez Canedos went with us. We caught a bus right in front of Teca Once, rode it to the end of the line, then got on the metro and rode the subway to the zocalo. Ron noted that we’re just mastering the public transportation system and I’m just beginning to catch on to Spanish, and we’re about to go home. The Diego Rivera murals are in the Palacio Nacional, which is kind of a combination of the Capital building and the White House in the United States. When we arrived at the zocalo, we were disturbed to find that the Palacio had temporary walls erected around it. We’ve seen those walls before around monuments like the Angel, and we know it means they are preparing for a protest. That made us worried we wouldn’t be able to go into the Palacio Nacional. But we didn’t give up. We knew we had to go to a street on the side of the Palacio to get to the place where you sign up for tours, but from where we were, it appeared the wall blocked that street. We walked to the street and found that there was a door in the wall. People were lined up on both sides of the door, and then it was like road construction where they would let people go through one way for a while and then the other way for a while. We got in line just as our side started moving, so we got through the door fairly quickly. On the other side of the wall, we found that the side street was lined with police officers with riot shields and helmets. That made us a little nervous, but people were walking up and down the street, so we decided to see if the tours were open. We would not have been surprised if they weren’t, but when we got to the office, they said they were still having tours. Their only caveat was that if the protest started, we might have to stay inside the Palacio Nacional until it was done. We were okay with that, so we started the process of signing up. It was then that we found out that Vicki Deaver didn’t have her ID with her. To go into the Palacio Nacional, not only do you have to show ID, you have to leave your ID with them as well. It’s part of their security procedure, and they wouldn’t budge on it. She even asked if her missionary name tag would work, but they said no. It had to be an official photo ID. Normally we would have said, “Let’s go do something else and come back another day,” but that was the last day Ron and I had to go see the murals. So our group split for a while. The Deavers and the Gomez Conedos went to a museum in the zocalo while the rest of the group went to see the murals.


The Palacio Nacional is on the site of the residence of Moctezuma, the Azteca ruler. When Cortes arrived from Spain, he was amazed at the richness of that building and its decorations. However, most of it was destroyed during the conquest. Cortes then claimed the site and had it rebuilt. The Spanish monarch bought it from Cortes’s family during the Spanish reign in Mexico. After the Mexican revolution, it became the seat of the Mexican government and has at times (including now) been the residence of the president (or formerly, the emporer.) Diego painted the main mural on the walls of the grand staircase. It depicts Mexico’s history from the times of the Aztecs through what was then the present. As is typical of Rivera’s work, it focuses heavily on the struggles of the working class and indigenous people. He began painting it in 1929 and took six years to complete it. Other murals depict the ancient societies of indigenous people from various parts of the country. The murals are amazing, beautiful, and sometimes disturbing. The colors are vibrant, even after almost ninety years. We all thought it was definitely worth braving the possibility of a protest stranding us there to see them. And the protest didn’t happen while we were there.

     

The courtyard inside the Palacio Nacional
     

     
This building inside the Palacio Nacional complex was once where all the money was kept.
       


       
     

     

     
This panel of the mural shows the Aztec god, Quetzalcóatl. He is said to have white skin and a beard. He visited the people. In the upper right of the panel you can see him flying away. When he left, he told them he would return.
     
Our guide, Daniela
       
I took this close-up of a detail of one of the murals just for my dentist friends.
     
I liked this depiction of trade taking place, but managed to also capture the severed arm being held by a warrior.
     
I thought this little girl was sweet.

After we finished at the Palacio Nacional, we met back up with the Deavers and Gomez Canedos. We headed up Avenida Madero, which is an historic avenue that is now only for pedestrians. We were going to Torre Latinoamericana, a skyscraper that has a lookout area at the top. We stopped for ice cream on our way, which was delicious. At the base of the building was a little sculpture garden. It was so tranquil and lovely in it, that it was hard to believe there was a crowd of pedestrians right outside the fence. We rode an elevator to the 42 floor and climbed up two flights of stairs to get to the lookout area. The view of the city was amazing from there. We had planned to also visit the monument to the revolution, but Mexico City had a record breaking heat day, and we were hot and tired, so we decided to head home to air conditioning.

     

Ron with Torre Latinoamericana sticking out of the top of his head.
    

     

     

This sculpture was titled "Silla 1" (chair 1.) There was also a "Silla 2" which was an exact mirror image of it.
     

    

The view from the top. Just to the right of center on the horizon, you can see the temple.
     
Looking down on Bellas Artes and Parque Alemada.
     
I had to zoom in to get this view of the zocalo. The Palacio Nacional is the building that stretches across the center of the photo. The cathedral is on the left.
          
The zocalo not zoomed in.
    
Looking down on Avenida Madera
     
Teca Once is somewhere to the left and beyond the skyscrapers. 

The Choir's leadership and some of the tech people arrived here yesterday. Our team has a meeting with them tonight. The entire choir arrives on Tuesday, and the events begin! Even though we go home in only eleven days, it still feels distant to me because we have a mountain called “The Tabernacle Choir’s Visit to Mexico City” standing between now and then. It will be a hectic week, but one we have looked forward to for months.

 

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