Sunday morning we woke up quite early, and picked up the assistants to make the 21/2 hour trip to Tamasula. I had packed a picnic lunch with extra water and cookies for the missionaries we would meet there. As we drove into the little pueblo we couldn´t find the church right away. We drove around not having a clear idea of where it was. The streets were narrow and busy with steep inclines up and down.
As we turned a corner, we saw a couple, dressed for church walking down the sidewalk. The assistants said, they are members, President Clayton rolled his windows and said, yes I recognize him, he is my counselor in the Mission Presidency. He had seen his picture, but had not met him yet.
We greeted them and they pointed up to where we should park.
We had to drive up the street a bit to find a parking place on the side of that busy road. We walked back down the street along the colorful adobe walled building, and turned into an opening with no door and went up the steep steps leading to the second floor.
Upstairs, we found the church. We walked into the room for Sacrament Meeting. It was cool and breezy with the morning air blowing in, the chairs were set up and the sacrament was prepared. They had a tape player with music playing. They had made a sweet and simple pin on flower/boutineer that said Manzanillo District Conference 2015, and the Sister missionaries were passing them out and pinning them on. There was a beautiful floral bouquet up on the front table.
There were about 30 people there, with only one small little girl who was almost 3 years old, who was the daughter of the young Branch President and his wife, who I am guessing are probably 30 years old. They were a darling, sharp looking couple. You could tell that this little branch had counseled together and planned so that everything would be just right for when we arrived.
They were all so warm and gracious. I love the tradition of the women greeting each sister with a kiss on the cheek. Every one of these saints had walked to church. You will see in the accompanying pictures below that the streets are steep, steep. These faithful members came into the room flushed and warm. As the meeting began, they sat beaming at us, the women quietly fanning themselves.
We sang the sacrament song There is a Green Hill Far Away. I watched the men prepare the emblems so reverently. My heart was full as I listened to the prayers and sang the songs in Spanish, all the while, hearing the noisy traffic on the street below, but there wasn´t a sound in that reverent room. The sounds of that morning traffic didn´t seem to phase any of them. I was in awe of their reverence.
I´m not sure if there has ever been a moment in my life when I felt it so hard to swallow or more sure that I was sitting among true saints of God.
It did not take President and I very long to realize that the single fan in the room was on the floor pointing right on us. As President got up to speak, he quietly turned the fan to blow back into the congregation.
Here are some snippets from President Clayton´s talk.
*we would love to be with you more often, but we have over 190 missionaries that we must attend to
*we are from Alaska - much different
*we have frozen our assistants as we have traveled with the car air conditioning on
*I used to go to Mexico and ranch with my uncles
*we went yesterday to see some of your history of Mexico, which is of great importance to us
*I worked with far away places in Alaska with the branches there
*there are lots and lots of people everywhere coming to church, coming back to church, lots of stakes lots of branches, all over the world, not just here in Mexico. The Church is growing and we are a part of it.
*He referenced Joseph Smith´s quote
"... you cannot comprehend it. This Church will fill North and South America - it will fill the world."
*several weeks ago, we were with every one of the Apostles and with President Monson, they love you and they know you are here in Tamasula, and they send their love.
The tears were streaming down these women´s faces as President talked. They shook their heads affirmatively as they listened and fanned themselves.
*President thanked them for everything they were doing.
*You are in the place where you should be. God will answer your prayers and bless you.
*I leave you a blessing that you will have the things you need, the food you need
*we pray that the blessings of the spirit will be with you and we pray that you will always be faithful in these days of worry and confusion.
Sunday school was as if we were in our own Mount Baldy Ward. (only in Spanish) :) The sister was prepared, we talked about the martyrdom of Stephen, there was much participation and discussion.
During the final hour, President again, as he has done each Conference, had each member stand and introduce themselves. It is absolutely amazing to hear their stories, of their conversion, of their connections to one another, and to the missionaries; to hear of their families and how much they love them and how proud they are of them. There was a family who had 2 sons serving missions now. Their last son, who is 17 years old, I think, stood to introduce himself and said, today more than ever I want to follow my brothers and serve a mission also. That was precious.
I will just close by saying that this young Branch President has been working overtime to serve and minister to this Branch. President Clayton concluded with the announcement that with this next transfer, he would be sending Elders to this Branch, one to be designated to be this young Branch President´s 1st counselor. Tears were streaming down his face as he said that he had been praying for this. It was a sweet moment.
Bob met with his Mission counselor, and the Branch and District Presidents separately.
We took Sister Guzman and Sister Barboza home and they gave us a tour of their apartment. We could not believe the streets they walk. The roads are cobblestone, and the inclines are so steep, up and down. They live several doors down from the Branch President. Their apartment was neat and tidy, and those two sisters were darling.
This is the very steep road the sisters walk up and down each day. I took this picture from the second story window of the church.
The Tamasula Branch
looking out the balcony of the church at the noisy traffic below
The one tiny girl in the branch who wanted
to ask me about my moose necklace
President Clayton with President Guzman his 1st
counselor in the Mission Presidency
This is the Branch President and his wife and little daughter
with Sister Guzman (no relation to President Guzman) and Sister Barboza
on the balcony of the church
The sister´s apartment. The kitchen
upstairs President is checking out their planning map of the area
their desk area
Their front door
We are standing across the street from the sister`s apartment. They have such a great view below.
A better view of the city below
on our way out of the city.
just a few ears of corn
We stopped and asked if we could take this mans picture.
He posed for us with his big smile. As we took a wrong turn and came down this street again,
he and his friends were playing at someones door for a surprise
On the way home, we drove to Tuxpan and visited with the Elders serving there for a bit.
Elder Quinones and Elder Salinas.
I love the picture of them walking away from the chapel with big smiles,
and waving, undaunted by the graffiti in the back ground.
We then visited with Sister Huamani and Sister Rodriguez.
I love those two sisters, and our visit with them made a permanent check mark on my heart.
We love these missionaries!!!!!
What a day it has been!!!!!
We are grateful for this sacred opportunity. We are honored to be serving and associating with such valiant servants of God. We know and confirm that this is the Lord´s true Church on the earth today. We are blessed and thankful to be part of His Hastening of the Work of Salvation in this part of His vineyard.
much, much love from this beautiful place,
President and Sister Clayton