This morning we drove with Elder Kotter and Elder Brough to meet the members in Jalostotitlan, and San Juan de Los Lagos. Tomorrow, we will go to Arandas, to visit with Elder Monroy and Elder Barrera, and meet with the members there.
These areas are where President Clayton felt impressed to send missionaries, some months ago, to explore and see if they could find members of the church living in these cities. They did indeed find members there. Without exception, each of the members the missionaries have met, and have contacted into, were so grateful to see the Elders, there, in their city. In many cases, these members shared that had prayed for some time, to somehow, someway, find the church again after many years.
We have seen nothing short of miracles unfolding, as these Elders have sought the Lord's guiding hand, during their beginning weeks to know where they might go, and who they could talk to, resulting in being at the right place at the right time, and have been able to find these key families and individuals. They introduced the members to each other, and have helped them connect and understand that they now have each other to associate with, worship with and unite in the gospel truths; enjoying the comradery one with another.
interviewing and calling a Group Leader so they can partake of the sacrament, and love and support each other in the gospel. Yesterday, both in Arandas and in Jalostotitlan, President Clayton called a Group Leader.
We continue to have missionaries go to these areas several times a week, to continue to build relationships and a contact base, and to see how we can help them grow the church in these cities.
Both of these companionship's divide their time in an area in Guadalajara and in these outer areas. It is a sacrifice to travel back and forth, but, these new families they have met and found there, are so grateful for their love and support, and, these companionship's continue to find, contact and teach others as well.
We met the sweetest most earnest families today. All completely different and committed to the gospel, and so willing to sacrifice, love and help the missionaries serving there, and to help build the kingdom in their own little corner of Mexico.
We had a wonderful day!
This picture is taken overlooking Jalostotilan.
President with Elder Brough and Elder Kotter.
Do you see this sweet lady bringing her
basket of groceries up that steep hill to her house
there on the corner?
This is the Jimenez family. Sister Jimenez served a mission here in Guadalajara 6 years ago. She met her husband in California. He was born right here on this dairy farm, and after they were married in the Oakland Temple, he built their home, and they began dairy farming with his father.
They had actually called us earlier and asked if we would stay for the afternoon, and eat with them, but we said we just couldn't.
We had so many places we needed to visit and many new people to meet in these cities during this one day, we had to keep on our schedule. I hope we didn't offend them.
Sister Jimenez had made a watermelon drink for us that was delicious. We loved touring their farm and meeting their three darling little boys.
We, of course, had to walk down to see their cows.
This little guy was out of his pen, trying to figure
out how to get back in there.
The Elders walked down with President, Brother Jimenez
and the little boys to see their horses.
Sister Jimenez offered me a beautiful
shawl she had made as a gift.
We next drove into the city and met this young single man, Jesse Roseado is so creative and interesting. He is an artist of sorts and builds and creates all kinds of things. He invited us in and offered us warm apple tea and cookies as we visited with him.
Just one of the huge cathedrals there in Jalostotitlan.
We next drove into the city center and met with the Perez family in the building they use for a school.
It is a beautiful building with rod iron gates and big open French doors and huge windows. They teach on the second and third floors tutoring people who didn't finish high school, and also tutoring children who need extra help.
What a beautiful, talented and very learned family. They have two young single adult age daughters that were so lovely, kind and sweet to talk to. They all knew a bit of English and were so earnest in understanding how to further establish the church there in Jalostotitlan.
The Jemenez family live just outside of Jalostotitlan. With young brother Roseado and the Perez family, and one other lady we did not meet, these 11 faithful saints gather in the school that the Perez family teach at in Jalostotitlan for church.
Today, President Clayton officially called Brother Perez to be the Group Leader and met with him, ensuring his understanding of how to proceed with their meetings, and with the sacrament.
As we left, sister Perez told us they had a gift for us, and that they would meet us at the Elders apartment. We took the Elders to their apartment and as we were walking out to our car, they drove up and sister Perez got out of her car and gave us a round block of specialty cheese that is a favorite, and very famous here in Jalostotitlan with all the dairies farms here, and a container of sweet caramel sauce. Bless her heart.
Here are our faithful Elders Elder Brough and Elder Kotter as we dropped them off in their apartment. We had a great day with these 2 wonderful Elders.
I asked Elder Kotter and Elder Brough to write down a few thoughts
they have had about their assignment in this new area.
Hastening the Work in Jalostotitlan.
On Friday 26th of February 2016 I was serving in Tuxpan Nayarit as a zone leader in the Santiago district. Unexpectedly I received a call informing me of a special change that I would have just a few days before the transfers. That change took me all the way across the mission to Jalostotitlan de los altos. Jalos, as a new area, and without even a branch, in what is said by President to be "the Salt Lake City of the Catholics," was to be a special assignment, that I have come to be ever grateful for. After almost 13 months serving as zone leader, I had many feelings on the trip to Jalos. I feel that these feelings that I had basically sum up how I feel about the assignment that I was receiving, and that's what I would like to share with you.
As a zone leader you really have the special blessing to work closely and direct many missionaries. I found that those relationships that I had developed had become one of the greatest blessings of my mission and of my life. Training, and teaching, leading and directing so many missionaries on the importance of this great work, and what it takes to get it done had been all I had known for so long. On my way to Jalos I came to feel that this new assignment, opening a new area, with hopes to open a branch in some future moment, would be the ultimate test of what I had been teaching all along. I felt that it would be the proof (unseen to many) to the missionaries that I had taught, to myself that I really understood what I had taught, and certainly to the Lord who had both called me as a zone leader, and to Jalos, to see if I would ever be faithful and worthy to and of those sacred trusts that he had so given me, as a leader, and as a witness of His Son.
I have learned that the Lord purifies and prepares us, through the assignments that he gives us, often for a future duty that he will expect us to achieve. I had seen that truth very evident throughout all the assignments that I had during my mission. I figured now, that for my time in Jalos, I had been prepared, but I still felt all so unprepared. I remember when I was first called as a zone leader, my companion who was a seasoned veteran as a leader and in the mission would always tell me, "if something goes wrong, it is your doing, if something goes right, it is God's doing." during my first few days in Jalos I came to know how true this was. "ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you." they say that Jalos is the land of the sandy caves, but I would say rather that it is the land of miracles. When I first got to Jalos, we needed more members and investigators that had been prepared for the gospel. We surely asked, and we surely received. In the first week, as we were in San Juan de los Lagos, we ran into a sister, who is an endowed former missionary, sealed to her husband, with 3 children, that were all ecstatic to meet us. On our second Sunday, while waiting outside the school house where we hold the services, a man came and talked to us, and told us that he had wanted to get baptized in Puebla, but was now living in Jalos, and that he wanted us to visit him that night. He also went to church with us that day, and will be baptized in 2 more weeks.
This whole adventure in Jalos, has been to me, the living proof that God can do his own work even in Jalostotitlan, (or wherever else for that matter), and in me, and in all of us- for that is His work, and He is Hastening it.
President told me that Jalostotitlan was a VERY catholic place when I was able to talk to him the monday of transfers. He told me that it would be a difficult area because San Juan de los Lagos is to Catholics, what Salt Lake is to Mormons. When I was finally able to meet the members that have been found there in Jalostotitlan I was VERY excited, because they are all very strong and loving members of the church. We really have a solid base to work with! The members really are excited to be working with us as missionaries and have really helped us out a lot. The rest of the week I was able to get to know many of the investigators that past missionaries had been working with, also very great people that are really excited to get to know the gospel and be baptised. So far my experience has been great, a lot of positive things going on here in the area, with a lot of great people. Yes we have found some VERY devout catholics that want little to do with us as missionaries, but they don't know that they can't stop the work that we are doing, and honestly the people are starting to get used to seeing missionaries walk around town, many have actually come up to us and asked us what we are all about. It won't be long before we start to baptize and really get the work going here in Jalostotitlan!! :D
We drove on to Arandas and met up with Elder Barreras and Elder Monroy, who were so polite and sharp. We are so impressed with them. We drove to their apartment. It was clean and orderly and the pictures and quotes they had around their walls, were very inspiring.
President checking out their area maps
At their front door.
Another cathedral in Arandas.
The bell in the city center.
We drove to several homes of the members they have found, to see if we could meet with them.
Javier is 67 years old. We went by and he wasn't home, so we went up a few houses and knocked at the home of his parents, who are not members. We walked along the brick walkway which was over the dank river below...it was quite the smelly experience. We spoke with his 92 year old mother with a scarf on her head, her worn apron, and buttoned up sweater, who told us she didn't know where he was, she didn't know what he was doing... She was so expressive and almost exasperated in her telling us she didn’t know where he could possibly be. She was unforgettable.
We also were not able to meet with Joel who is 35 year old single man lives in Jesus Y Maria.
We also were not able to meet with Joel who is 35 year old single man lives in Jesus Y Maria.
We drove to the Salis family's home, and met Carlos and Georgina and their 22 year old daughter Vinana and her boyfriend Ricardo. At first they were so quiet and reserved, especially Vinana. She was beautiful, but we warmed up to each other quickly. Their 2 dogs were upstairs yapping in their bedroom, and they finally brought them down. They were so suspicious of us and scared, shaking and skittish. Their other daughter Carla came home from school just as we were leaving.
I sat next to her Vinana and Ricardo, and we talked and talked. They knew just a bit of English and with my limited Spanish ability, we laughed and corrected each other and when we really got in a pickle, someone helped us.
With Presidents permission, this sweet family has been having sacrament meeting in their downstairs garage. We came tonight to make it official. President Clayton called Brother Salis to be the Group Leader of the 11 or so member there in Arandas.
We stayed in a hotel there in Arandas, and the next morning, we met Elder Barrera and Elder Monroy in the parking lot as we had just finished our breakfast drink. We were talking them back to Guadalajara with us. We drove them to a little restaurant and gave them some pesos and they ran in and got them some breakfast. They ate in the car a complete Mexican breakfast while we started on our drive back to Guadalajara. Rice, beans, rellenos, and tortillas and fruit. :)