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)