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.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Meeting with Las Varas and Tamazula Branches

Several Sunday's ago, we got ready early to go to Las Varas for church. Elder Fuimaono and Elder Saldana are serving there right now. We left at 8 am from Vallarta and had an hour and a half drive. Our daughter and son in law Jani and Alex are with us. When we first left, there was a marathon going on with roads blocked off and runners everywhere. But as we got out of the city, it thinned out and we enjoyed our drive along the jungle. As we passed the ocean view, we saw a dozen sailboats out in the ocean.

President got his google map lined up for the Las Varas' Branch President's home, we drove within several streets from his house, and then we called the Elders. There was a loud speaker announcing something right there in the neighborhood, and when we called them, they said you are close, we hear the same speaker. Anyway, we backed up and saw them standing on the porch. This branch has met in the Branch President's home for 11 years. There have not been missionaries serving here in many years. But this faithful group of saints have stayed the course.

We were so delighted to meet everyone there. The Branch President was quiet, and gentle, his wife was talkative, fun and just delightful. She taught Sunday School on the atonement and did such a wonderful job. It was a fantastic lesson.

President says they have 200 people on the Las Varas records. There were 30 there today counting us. Staggering numbers, we know... Their living room was set for church. The chairs were arranged, the podium was in front, the sacrament was ready, there was a chalk board to the side. After Sunday School the men picked up their chairs and went out to the back porch for Priesthood meeting.  The primary children met further back into the yard under the shade tree out by the chicken coop. We could hear them singing and playing a game and saw them coloring.

Like so many places here in Mexico, we could hear chicken and roosters, we could hear traffic, loud speakers, motorcycles, and people outside.  As we divided for relief society and priesthood, we started singing the opening song first, and mid-way, the priesthood started in on their opening song and nobody thought anything of it clashing or disrupting or detracting. These sweet folks did not bat an eye. They kept going and were not distracted by any of it.  Over my time here, I am finding the interesting, chaotic, noises… enriching.  Yes, you can hear it. You can hear it all. But my heart swells each time I have this experience.  And I feel closer to my Savior, because I realize where I am, in a small and simple neighborhood, in the middle of Mexico, where faithful saints of God are seeking to worship the Lord as best they can.  
She also invited us to stay for lunch. Bless her heart, she made a lettuce salad with tomatoes, avocados, shredded beef and refried beans and then big round tostadas chips, and the red flower drink. It was very, very good.  Absolutely very good.

I sat behind this sweet sister in Relief Society, and was so touched as she opened her well-worn scriptures (below)

Priesthood meeting outside on the back porch.
Can you see the Primary children in the back yard,
next to the chickens who clucked and crowed all
afternoon long.

Relief Society was taught by a sister from America. 
She and her family have come from America for the
school year and have been such a boost to this small Branch.

This mother hen and her chickens just scurried
around their netted pen all afternoon.

Our daughter Jani took this picture after the meeting.  I wished I would
have taken it so she could have been in the picture.  
The Branch President is on the far right with his daughter and his wife
is next to me, their son is in front. Another brother, and our son in law
Alex are in the back with Elder Fuimaono. Elder Saldana is next to President.

Easter Sunday, we had a wonderful conference in Tamazula. Where Elder Hernandez and Elder Ocampo are serving. I love that President Torres and his sweet wife were there from the District Presidency. I really do love her. Sister Vasquez came too. She has been a member 3 years, her husband has been a member for almost a year and in several weeks they are going to the Temple to be sealed as a family, and then their daughter is going on a mission to Argentina. 
Sister Vasquez  just glows!

There were not very many people there today, because of the Passover holiday.  I am just kicking myself for not taking more pictures I should have taken a picture before President and sister Torres left, but I just forgot, so this picture is of the last few members there.

President had to interview several people after the meeting. I visited with the Branch President’s wife and little daughter Viviana during Sunday school and then afterwards while we waited for President.

They had a small lunch afterwards, and I stood on the upper porch with Sister Torres and visited for 
a while.

I couldn't resist this picture.  I  just love these cows just walkin along the

side of the highway with their amigo bringing up the rear.