Monday, January 2, 2012

Our last two weeks in the mission...

We finished our time in the mission, training the leadership in Zacatecas and Durango and saying goodbye to dear friends there. We were invited to dinner with the leadership of Madero District and enjoyed a good time with mariachi music and fellowship...along with some good food. We had a farewell luncheon with the office elders on our last Saturday and were delighted to have Sr. Lopez and her mother arrive from Puebla to join us. They also attended our last Stake Conference in La Laguna Stake on our last Sunday where Sr. Clark was presented with beautiful flowers. We finally got to go to the restaurant known as "Pampas" on our last Monday with the Stake Presidency of La Laguna. We enjoyed visiting the Castenada family in Bermejillo on Wednesday night, Sr. De La Cruz and Abrahm visited us at the hotel and then we picked up President Flores with part of his family on Thursday afternoon. Their flight was delayed so we did an intensive orientation and then took them to a late dinner. They dropped us off at our hotel and after a very short night, we got up and were driven to the airport by our assistants, Elders Welch and Beltran. We cannot believe that this chapter in our lives is over. WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY LOVED SERVING AS MISSION PRESIDENTS. WE LOVE THE PEOPLE OF THE TORREON MISSION AND ESPECIALLY THE MISSIONARIES.
Hermanas Ortega and Gonzalez asked what they could give me as a going away gift. I told them I just wanted to have my picture taken with them. This will always be a sweet memory.
We loved everything about the Hotel Gobernador in Durango, Durango. One day I will have a sign painted like this to remember our many visits there.
As soon as our van pulled up there, one of their outstanding bell hops was there to help us. The front desk somehow knew we had arrived and greeted Bruce by name with our paperwork ready. We got to know the waiters and one would have Bruce's oatmeal ready in the morning if he was on duty. This is Mario with Bruce.
Another of our favorites...
Victor liked to practice his English and always was so helpful. We presented them Books of Mormon and Tabernacle Choir CDs for Christmas.
This group is our leadership in Durango. We had a great training day with them and then said our last goodbyes. The mission is in good hands. Elders Vargas, Myers, Davis, Cooke, Malpica, Munson, Maxfield and Hermanas Silva and Romero.
Our last stay in the Meson de Jobito in Zacatecas. We won't forget the complicated street layout, the wonderful atmosphere of the arts, and the great members and missionaries here.
The view from our room...
Our former assistant, Elder Gutierrez, gave me an apron that said "This house is not a restaurant". He and Elder Robb had ordered it for me.
Back in Torreon, we treated our fine office elders to lunch at Cimaco at the Cuatro Caminos Mall.
Assistants Welch and Beltran, Elder Juarez--Secretary of the mission, Elder Young--Secretary of Records, Elder Perez, Reference Secretary, and Elder Burgin--Financial Secretary.

Sr. Lopez and her mother rode a bus all the way from Puebla to say goodbye. They joined us for the lunch and presented me with this beautiful plate from Puebla.
Our dear friends from the Madero District Presidency invited us to an evening meal at the Sirloin Stockade. L to R, Los Hernandez, Los Clarks, Los Bracamontes, Presidente and Hermana Moreno, and President and Sr. Becerra, Bruce's counselor.
We sang the beloved songs of Mexico with the Mariachi Band and I cried.
This was a bittersweet time with our friends from Madero.
We spoke in the La Laguna Stake Conference and they gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers that I enjoyed the rest of the week. Sr. Lopez and her mother were there to support us.
The last baptism we witnessed was in La Laguna stake and was performed by Elders Bickmore and Soriano. The young girl was baptized.
The Stake Presidency of La Laguna treated us to dinner at Pampas de Brazil. We drank "Cielo Azul". (Blue sky)
It was hard to say goodbye to the patriarch and matriarch of the Casteneda family of Bermijillo. They joined the church as a poor young couple and they flourished to produce wonderful children and leaders in the church. Their son, Nicolas is mission president in Villanueva and their son, David Jr. is district president in Bermejillo.
David and Alicia
Aaron and Griselda
Shelem and Josue
Serving a traditional Mexican dinner...
My dear friend Marta De La Cruz. She helped me with Spanish but most of all, was there if I needed her and visa versa. We are soul mates.
Marta and son Abrahm--home from his mission and preparing to leave for BYU Idaho.
President and Sr. Flores with their two youngest children. They will lead the mission when we are gone. The are in for a very exciting experience.
President Raul Baron, President of the Gomez Palacio Stake and the Institute program in Torreon came to the airport early to see us off. He and President Clark became good friends and loved serving together.
After this picture was taken, we said goodbye to our faithful assistants and boarded the plane for home. It was like we were in a dream world. Thanks Elders Beltran and Welch.

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