The purpose of this blog is to highlight the beautiful city of Guadalajara; the faithful members, the valiant missionaries who serve here, as well as the people, culture, and food.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sayula, Estipac, and Elder Piper

Monday morning the 20th we got up and headed to Sayula to visit the area and stop to visit the sisters, Sister Smith and Sister Ortega



Here is the city center.  Many many cities have a center place where there are open markets and lots and lots of small carts and grills set up with people selling and cooking things.  There are corner shops and benches with people sitting and visiting.  One picture I wish I had taken was of the old men sitting on benches like the ones here, with their worn and comfortable cowboy hats on,  just passing the day visiting and I´m sure remembering times past.
It makes me smile how at ease so many people seem. Many, most have a hard, hard life, but we see happy and loving people at every single place we visit, quick to greet us and nod hello.



 fresh coconut juice 


so typical, a grandma pushing her cart full of her supplies




 Here come the Elders in Sayula, Elder Guardado and Elder Flores


with President in front of the church 



We drove to Estipac.  We knew the Elders had gone to their training in another city, but wanting to get a feel for the city, we stopped there and visited a faithful family, the Sanchez family.  Sister Sanchez´s father was the 1st member in Estipac 40 years ago.  They were so sweet and honored that we would come and visit them in their home.  Her cheeks and hands were so soft and she absolutely would not sit down until I did.  It was a memory




this was their old dog sleeping on the couch on their front porch



We stop often and talk with people and tell them we are missionaries just visiting their city and wish them a happy day.  Everyone is so kind and nice



Wednesday the 22nd we met with Elder Piper.  We had lunch with President and Sister Eggington from the Guadalajara East Mission and Elder Piper.  He had visited them all morning, and then after lunch he came to be with us.  We sat with him in our living room for 4 1/2 hours. We visited with him and asked question and listened carefully as he taught us.   It was an unforgettable afternoon.  President Clayton and I took careful notes and enjoyed so much our time together.  We loved his stories.. we laughed and cried.  It was marvelous to be with him. We drove him to the airport with the assistants.  On our way home we stopped at the hospital to visit our sweet Elder Jimenez who had knee surgery earlier that afternoon








Manzanillo District Conference

Today Sunday the 19th was the Monzanillo District Conference. There were about 45 faithful saints there. It was so tender to sit in front and look into the eyes of these precious members during the meeting. They listen so intently and genuinely. The Branch President spoke of the blessings of the Temple. The District President gave an outstanding talk about standing in holy places and how we can do that. He said that nothing should be given a higher priority than the teachings in the home. That our homes should be a place of peace. That the Savior must be the center of our homes and our lives. 
 When President Clayton spoke, he told that when he was a young boy he would go to Mexico in the summers to ranch with his uncles. One summer he thought it would be a good chance for him to learn Spanish, but they had him working so hard that he often said to himself, I cant learn Spanish form the horses and cows. He told them that he learned Spanish when he was called to serve his mission in Venezuela 42 years ago, and that he was sure that his mother was smiling down from heaven and correcting his Spanish now and then.
 During the combined Priesthood and Relief Society, President Clayton spoke and he started by asking each member to stand and introduce themselves and tell where they are from and how long they've been members. Most were converts varying from 6-30 years. 

President  asked them why they were there today, and with all the sweet answers, he then talked about the the feeling of peace that comes as we remain active and strengthen ourselves spiritually. He then told them that he felt impressed to leave a blessing with them, and as he began I saw a an older woman, who in her introduction had said that she currently had 4 missionaries serving missions, bow her head and close her eyes with such reverence. It was priceless.

 Interesting story, yesterday (Saturday) President Clayton had said, I feel like we should travel to Autlan-3 hours from Manzanilla and visit the Elders there and drive around the area a bit to get a feel for that city. But we had already traveled to Tecoman and Cihuatlan, and as President counseled with the Assistants, they all agreed that it was probably too long of a drive to add to what we had already done. But in the end President said, I cannot dismiss the feeling that we need to go.. The trip to Autlan was absolutely, absolutely gorgeous... just breathtaking. It was a blessing that we went, we had a  wonderful visit with the Elders there, and we knew we were following the spirit that prompted President to travel there and see the city first hand.

 This has been one fabulous Sunday!

Manzanillo Branch 



Meeting the primary children after church.  
There were not very many, but what cuties they were


President with the District President on the left and his counselor



With the Branch President on the left and his counselor




saying goodbye



our drive to Autlan... it was gorgeous!

      

     

  



This old gal was so bothered that we were behind her.. she kept looking back at us, like we were a little too close



  





out among our missionaries


We began Saturday morning the 18th by speaking at a multi-stake YSA Conference.  It was held at the Hotel Villa Primavera.  It was the last day of their 3 day conference. There were over 600 youth there and it was a wonderful experience.  The youth were going to various classes so we had under 100 youth in with us. The youth were very responsive and engaged and listened to us so politely.  

President introduced me and then I put an apron on with 3 large pockets that I filled with miniature chocolate candies, and I began by telling them that we wanted to get to know them, and I asked them to stand up to answer our various questions, each time we threw candy and when there were a few returned missionaries who had served in Guadalajara, we cheered gave them handfuls of treats... as we also did for those who had just received their calls and were waiting.  

President did the old clothespin dollar bill object lesson.  He called a young returned missionary up and had him hold the back half of a clothes pin tight with just his pointer finger and thumb holding the dollar bill tight.  Of course, everyone thinks  it will be easy, and no big deal, but almost always it falls immediately on the floor.  President set him up again, and of course it doesn't take long for your fingers to ache and your grasp just wont hold.  His point was, at first we think something we are asked to do will be easy, but often things are harder than they seem.  Like a mission.  Many young men and young women think a mission is no big deal and they can serve easily with little or no preparation.  He then talked about how vital it is that we change our way of thinking and realize that preparing for something so important will bring blessings and lead to greater success and spiritual growth.

Then I got back up and told them that just like we had asked them to stand in answer to some of our get to know you questions, there will be many many times throughout our lives when we will be called upon to stand for something or take a stand.
Standing on your own two feet, standing tall, standing for something, standing for truth and righteousness etc.
I talked about the standard of truth and how this was their opportunity as youth to stand for something honorable and eternal.  I told them that God would bless them as they prepared to stand firm in the faith.  
President ended with talking about the rich young man in the New Testament who couldn't leave his cell phone to serve a mission.  :)  He said statistically, that youth today don't have as hard of a time leaving their family or friends as much as they have a hard time leaving their electronics.

It was a wonderful experience.  We had youth after youth come up to us afterwards and talk with us and take pictures with us... good grief, what a honor to meet them and be with them for a short time.

After the conference, we began our trip to Manzanilla, making a stop in Tecoman. It is a ward and part of the Colima Stake.  We have 4 Elders there and as we pulled into the city we called the Elders who were just finishing their comida, 
The Elders came to the church building and opened it for us.  It is a beautiful building and they arrived by taxi and showed us around and we were able to visit with them for a while.
We drove on to  Cihuatian about an hour from there, where we have 2 Elders,and 2 sisters,  One of the Elders has had a bad eye infection and we wanted to see how he was coming along.  They both met us at their little house of prayer.  As we visited with the sisters who got there first, we walked around the small  swelteringly hot and humid tiny building and waiting for the Elders to come also.  The assistants went out back and found a very, very old baptismal font, and a very, very large spider. 

As we visited with the Elders, President Clayton as he always does, looked at the Elders shoes.  Both of their shoes were in poor shape.  One Elder is going home in one month, and his shoes were in bad shape but he said he would be fine, but the other Elder´s shoes were absolutely falling apart, and he has a year and a half left.  The whole heel was flopping, but he insisted he was going to get new shoes. I saw out of the corner of my eye Elder Molina and Elder Wilson talking, and then they went up to this Elder and each put their feet side by side his feet, and then they went over  to the car and lifted the back and opened Elder Molina´s suitcase, and he pulled out a bag with shoes in it.  He took them over and handed them to this Elder.  He put them on and said with such a sweet smile... they fit!  President and I had totally lost it and as we looked at sweet Elder Molina with gratitude, he said, as I was packing for this trip, I thought it might rain and if my shoes get wet, I could use a second pair.   As we thanked him again once we were back in the car, he said, you know, I never bring two pairs of shoes, I don´t really know why I brought them with me.  I am leaving in two weeks and don´t need them and I´m so glad they fit for him.  That was it.  I don´t think honestly he has thought about it again.

We stood in a circle as we have before these past few weeks, in other places we´ve visited;  in that small  house of prayer and President offered a prayer of gratitude and love and asked the Lord to watch over these precious servants.  Our hearts were very full as we had just seen such a sweet act of kindness and a gift given from the heart and received with much gratitude.  We dried and dried our eyes and  drove to Manzanillo. 

        Waiting for the Elders to come in meet us at the chapel in Tecoman




Elder Fuimaono showing President the map of their area


  

President standing on the road... this is what our missionaries are walking on all day long



We drove from Tecoman several hours to Cihuatlan, where we have 
2 Elders and 2 Sisters serving-  I love these sisters, Sister Otazu and 
Sister Campbell.  They showed us around their small house of prayer.





there are always questions and President is so great to give loving counsel 




the assistants found an old baptismal font in the back




and a quiet corner dweller...of course, the sisters were not phased at all



Trying on the shoes.  This was actually one of the most tender acts of love I have witnessed here.





Mission Council



Our first mission council was Wednesday the 15th and we were excited and ready for it. We had planned with our assistants for it and invited our zone leaders and sister training leaders to come prepared to learn, ready to interact to edify and prepared to act.
 We began our day by going to the Temple. What a delight it was to meet with the leaders of our mission and bask in the spirit of the Temple. We had a quick breakfast before hand for them and invited them to pay close attention to the impressions and feelings that came to them during the session. Our vision for our mission leaders was for them to experience first hand once again, the spirit of the Temple and ponder the blessings that are available there; and then ponder and brainstorm ways we can convey and share that with members, less actives members, and investigators.
 As we gathered back together after our session, we gave them 15 minutes to write in their journals and ponder. I think for me that was the most precious part of the day. |
President Clayton and I were not prepared for how seriously these valiant servants of the Lord took our challenge and request.

 I led a discussion asking them to share what they had felt and understood. They were so engaged and thoughtful.
 President Clayton talked about how hard it is to endure and preserver when things get difficult. He had a good object lesson and called a young Elder up to help him. This Elder had no idea how strong and tough President Clayton is and neither did the other missionaries. He outlasted him and wasn't phased by the contest with the young Elder. His point was we must endure hard things, we must be tough, this life is tough. God expects us to do hard things and to do them well.

 President had the group list the ordinances for men and women on the board, and then drew a line under baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost and said, how many of our investigator stop here and do not continue to receive all the other blessings that are available to them? Life is hard, challenges come, but we must teach the importance of enduring, staying the course and keeping our covenants when life continues to move forward, no matter what.

 Then our assistants got up and wow, did they get things hopping. They talked about using the commitment pattern. Using Preach My Gospel, they demonstrated  exactly how we are to invite our investigators to commit.
They had each companionship turn their chairs facing each other and then they practiced, changing places being the missionary and then being the investigator. The whole place came alive and we walked around listening as they practiced... it was awesome!

 We ended with lunch and they were off. The day flew by, we left our home at 7:30 am and got back home at 5:30 pm ...and it was glorious. Wow, we love these missionaries!

Pondering and writing in their journal after the Temple session




this shows the cute sisters




president´s object lesson to continue strong, even when
 things get uncomfortable and hard.





President teaching about covenants


our assistants demonstrating the commitment pattern,



double checking for understanding





Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Branch and District Conferences

We have only had 2 Conferences so far. A Branch Conference in Ameca and a District Conference in Santiago.
We of course met sweet sweet faithful people in both areas.
Bob with the Ameca Branch Presidency.  The brother with the green tie has been a member for 4 months and taught a fabulous Sunday School lesson. (his 3 adorable little girls wore lime green dresses that matched his tie)




I will always remember this Relief Society day when the RS president (she is sitting in the front row in the black dress with green flowers) stood up after the lesson with her notebook and took an accounting right there in the meeting of each sister´s visiting teaching report... one by one she asked for their accounting.  Each sister gave a faithful report.
It was very genuine and tender.



With sisters after the Santiago District Conference

out with our missionaries



Our marvelous, fabulous, outstandingly faithful and devoted assistants
 Elder Molina and Elder Wilson




after the meet and greet in Vallarta Elders talking to President Clayton


taking Elder Mexquititla far left and Elder Alvarado next to him in the middle to Acaponeta where Elder Mexquititla will be the Branch President.


We found Elder Trujillo on splits with this valiant YSA young man on such a hot hot afternoon dripping with sweat, yet smiling and talking as they walked down the street, warm bottles of water in their hands
We found the Sisters 3 streets away on the Lords errand as well.
We stopped and gave them all fresh cold bottles of water, granola bars and our love




with the office Elders putting the transfer board together




after our meet and greet in Vallarta


waving and waving goodbye.. the hardest part


These elders just flag down those taxi´s like nobody´s business


This just made me smile, to see them pile right in there. And off they went to go back to work after our meet and greet

heading back to their area



aren´t they the cutest sisters ever!



I waved and waved and blew kisses and kisses until I couldnt´t see them any more




 sisters from the Colima zone and the darling sign they made for us



one more hug... seriously I just love them already


They all wanted to talk with President Clayton

 

This is right as these Elders showed us around the Acaponeta Branch house of prayer
It was such a hot hot day and it was even  hotter and mugger inside... but, we stood inside that sacred place and Bob offered a prayer for the Lord to bless these Elders, the only ones in this old Mexico city of Acaponeta




Standing in their apartment.. See their little 2 burner stove?