Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Our first Christmas in the Mission

We have just finished our Zone Conferences where we celebrated with the missionaries by having a nice dinner and a beautiful power point presentation created by our assistants which included photos of missionaries and those they have taught in their white baptismal clothes on the day of their baptisms. They selected the most moving, beautiful music and incuded pictures of the Savior and scriptural passages about baptism. It brought us to tears all 5 times we saw it. We truly love these 160 great missionaries and the work they are doing here. This is a Christmas we will always remember because we are able to focus more on the gift of the Savior and not so much on things of the world. How blessed we feel.

We enjoyed a little "giving" after the dinners. Sr. Clark had been doing a little "elf work" since October. (the Sister Missionaries helped her for a couple of hours on the day of their Sister's Together activity in October) She made personalized stockings for all the missionaries and filled them with a few goodies.

Visits from our family

We were so happy to have visits from 4 of our famiy members during November and December. Melanie brought our new little granddaughter, Ava Lynn Steere for a visit during the week of Thanksgiving. We enjoyed every minute! Ava was such a good traveler and happy baby. We visited the suspension bridge at Mapimi, the Cristo, attended a couple of President Clark's presentations at the mini-conference held in conjunction with interviews, and put up the Christmas tree.

We also visited the very beautiful and interesting city of Zacatecas. Here is a photo of one of the cathedrals in the center of town.

During the week of Christmas, we enjoyed having two of our sons, Nate and Spencer, as our guests here in the mission. We enjoyed just hanging out around the house together, opening a few gifts, and then heading to Durango to see the Villa del Oeste, a park which celebrates the western movies that have been shot around the Durango area. We tried to find John Wayne's La Joya Ranch but a river had washed out the road. (sounds like something you'd hear about in a movie) We just enjoyed taking pictures of cactus and rocks, and the beautiful scenery. It was a memorable week. The temperature was in the 80's and the boys returned home to 12 inches of snow.

November 2008

Temples are sacred houses of worship for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Members throughout the world aspire to be worthy to enter these temples by their faithfulness in paying a full tithing (10 % of their income) living the Word of Wisdom (abstaining from substances harmful to the body such as tobacco and alcohol, and living the law of chastity. Ordinances which unite families together for all of time and eternity, are performed in the temples.

One of the highlights of the month of November, here in Mexico, was the rededication of the Mexico City Temple. People have been looking forward to this during the year and half of reconstruction. A cultural program was broadcast to all the stake centers on Saturday, November 15 and then the temple was dedicated in two sessions on Sunday, November 16th. We had 6 new missionaries with us for the weekend so we were privileged to accompany them to the morning session which was televised to worthy members in our stake centers.

When President Clark served in his mission in the SE Mexican Mission in 1970, there was not a single temple in all of Mexico. Now there are 12. This tells you how the church has grown in this part of the world. We are so pleased to be able to work with the great members, bishoprics, stake presidencies, and missionaries as they continue to build the church in the Torreon area. We pray that one day the people here will be blessed with their own temple.

The work of an LDS Mission President

President Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of the LDS Church, has been quoted as saying that being a mission president is like trying to keep 200 corks underwater at the same time. That's a great analogy! Someone is always popping up with a problem or concern. This last month we have had two missionaries return to their homes for health problems. One will hopefullly be able to return soon. It's tough to let them go as we need them and love them but they needed more help than we could find for them here. There is much to do with just making the arrangements for them. Along with our normal transfer time when we send home and receive new missionaries, we are at times unable to receive the Americans on time because of visa problems. In September, we received 6 strong Mexican Elders on schedule but we had three different groups come at times that were unscheduled. We received one American alone, then a Peruvian a week after transfers, then 5 Americans a week after that. Each time new Elders come, we need to find them great trainers and make shifts in several companionships to accommodate them. Every six weeks we have a scheduled change. This is a busy time but we are always grateful to receive new missionaries and feel of their spirits and testimonies and excitement about finally being in their assigned area. We are sad to be making plans for 29 of our strongest leaders to return home on October 26th! That will be a dark day for us as we also lose the two assistants who "trained" us in the mission. We'll just send them off with their special dinner and testimony meeting and the next day we'll receive 17 new Americans and 3 New Mexicanos. Just the logistics of those two days has received much attention as we plan how to feed, sleep,and transfer so many in one change. We are never bored! (This photo shows some of the brightest and best on the night before they return home)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

MTC Memories

We entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah on Saturday, June 21, 2008, along with about 100 other new presidents and their wives. We had four days of a spiritual feast there as we were instructed by members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We know that these men are called of God to lead and direct the affairs of the Lord's church on the earth. It was indeed an inspiring time for us.

One of the traditions of missionaries in the Mission Training Center is to have their picture taken while pointing to their area of service on the large map in the main hallway. Here is President Clark pointing to Torreon, Mexico.

Monday, September 1, 2008

All about Life in Torreon, Mexico

We've been in Torreon since Friday, June 27. All we can say is, thank you, thank you, thank you to two outstanding missionaries, Elders Huerta and Pogue. They were the assistants of the former President, President Hogan, and they have been our "trainers" as we have been learning the ropes of the mission. The Hogans met us at the airport Friday night and took us to a cute little restaurant called "Los Farolitos" for "vampiros". They're a taco with delicious meat and cheese in a tortilla. Their horchata is absolutely the best!

The Hogans spent Sat. morning showing us around and explaining all they could in 3 hours, then, they were off to the airport where the assistants and the office missionaries said their goodbyes and the Hogans were whisked back into "civilian life" so to speak. That morning, Glenys had her first medical call and the work began.

Bright and early Monday morning, Elders Pogue and Huerta took us for a hike to see the Cristo de las Noas, which is the main tourist attraction here. This beautiful statue of Christ stands on the highest point south of the city and is an impressive site, especially at night when it is lighted and can be seen throughout the valley. The statue is named for a desert cactus which grows on the hill. The statue measures 71.5 feet from its base and is the 3rd biggest Christ statue in Latin America, only smaller than the Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Cristo de la Concorda in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

We spent the next few weeks learning, planning, and praying that we would do what was best for the mission. We met all the missionaries in a whirlwind tour and within two weeks, we met with them again for our first zone conferences. During one of our first trips throughout the mission, we encountered a major rainstorm on the very dangerous road between Zacatecas and Durango. The road was under construction so there was little shoulder on which to pull over when we realized that we had a flat tire. Elder's Pogue and Huerta showed their true colors as they hopped from the van in the blinding rain and put on our spare. It's a memory we will always cherish. They have been so much help to us.

We love the missionaries, we love the areas they work in, and we love serving our Heavenly Father in this great work!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Called to Serve
On November 9, 2007, we were called by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to serve as President and companion of a Spanish speaking mission of the church. Our job will be to oversee the missionary work in a designated area of the world. With that huge assignment comes the responsibility to look after the welfare of approximately 170 missionaries ranging in age from 19-25 years of age. Those missionaries spread the good word of Christ to all who will listen and teach about the gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been restored in these latter days. It was with much anticipation we awaited the assignment which would come at the end of February.

On February 23, 2008, an ominous white envelope containing our call arrived at our home in South Jordan, Utah. With family gathered around, we opened the envelop and learned of our assignment to serve in the Mexico Torreon Mission. President Clark served a mission in the Southeast Mexican Mission as a young man (1969-1971). That assignment included the areas of Veracruz, Puebla, Tuxla-Gutierrez, and Oaxaca. All of those areas would get new mission presidents this year also so we were quite surprised to be assigned to a completely different area of Mexico. Rather than facing high humidity and jungle, we will be living in the hot, arid desert. Our family quickly went to the internet to learn about the city of Torreon. They found that it is a thriving metropolis in the north-central part of Mexico. It is noted for it's industry and safety--a pretty great place to live.