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.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Our small group in Jalostotitlan

We enjoyed our Sabbath day on July 31st in Jalostotitlan with our assistants Elder Kotter and Elder Manriquez. We packed a lunch and left mid morning, as this small group does not meet until 2:30 pm. The drive was so pretty, and we enjoyed our visit together.
As we got into the city, it was so crowded!  Throngs of people were there, in and around the plaza where the huge cathedral is.  The central plaza seemed to be packed with venders, selling everything you can imagine.  Jewelry, clothing, shoes, balloons, pull toys, ice cream, roasting corn on the cob, tacos, fresh fruit, meat slow cooking on standing spickets, on and on. The smells, mixed with the heat of the day, and just so many people bustling here and there, was something else.
Families and children were everywhere. Babies were in strollers, and on their papas shoulders, some were toddling along holding their mamas fingers.  Little girls were dancing around with their umbrellas, happy children were hopping up and down the steps, and more youth than I have ever seen in one place at one time here in Mexico, were out and about.  Cars full of boys were driving round and round the plaza with their music blasting loud, the teen age girls, dressed to attract the boys and wearing more lipstick than I thought it possible to apply, were standing on corners and walking along with their friends, eyeing and flirting with the boys driving by.  Little corner ice cream shops with small tables and chairs in their entryways, were all occupied with folks planted there to see and be seen, to gawk at passersby, and to just watch the afternoon go by,
We had to park several street away from the plaza and walk in, we of course were dressed in our Sunday, missionary best, with our missionary tags polished and pinned front and center.  Boy, were we on display.  Every eye was on us as we walked through the plaza and down the street.  No joke, people stopped what they were doing and watched us go by.  President Clayton and I, Elder Kotter and Elder Manriquez almost in single file waded through the crowds.  We each continuously greeted and smiled those we passed by with a buenos tardes, buenos tardes.  Our presence there took many by surprise, but they greeted us back, as their eyes continued to followed us.  I do not know if I have ever felt so many eyes on us. It was something to see them actually stop what they were doing to watch us go by.   We just smiled and I stopped now and then to say hello to the darling children and the babies and their mamas, and slowed down a time or two to take it all in.
Because it was the Sabbath day, and we were coming to meet with this small group in the upper 3rd floor room of the school where the Perez family teaches, we felt in a very significant way, that we were truly on the Lords errand as we made our way through the noise and confusion, the smells and the clutter, and honestly, just the humanity of this place. The buying and selling made me think of another time and place where the Savior Himself made it clear how inappropriate these kinds of activities were, then in the Temple; but surely, and most unmistakably these very activities were and are inappropriate even still, on His holy day.
The words - remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, was both not understood, and not being kept, and seriously, those sacred words played over and over in my mind as we walked through the menagerie. Our trek through this worldly mass of confusion, helped me realize how earnestly I longed for the quiet and peace, the spiritual warmth and comfort we knew was just moments away, once we could shut the doors of that room upstairs, and begin our quiet sacrament meeting.
Elder Galindo and Elder Gutierrez are serving in La Huerta 1, and their assignment also includes supporting this group in Jalostotitlan several times a month.
President Clayton asked brother Perez if he would serve as the Group Leader,  He and his wife have two older daughters.  They teach at a private school there in the city.  One complication the two families are encountering, is their differing schedules.  The school the Perez family teaches at requires specific testing that must be completed each Sunday morning.  That is why they must have their group sacrament meeting on Sunday afternoons.  The Jimenez family have two darling small boys and a precious little girl. Both brother and sister Jimenez are return missionaries.  They live and work their own a dairy farm about 40 minutes from the city. It is the dairy farm he grew up on and his elderly parents live and work there still.  He build their home right next to his parents home there on the farm. The pressure of running and managing this farm are significant and the 2:30 pm hour is a difficult one for this family.  There is not a smoothness yet between these families. Their lives are so different, and yet, they are the only two active families in Jalostotilan.  There is also a young man, Rosendo Garcia, who is 26 years old and lives in Jalostotilan and is an active member. His family lives in America and he is working on the seemingly never ending process to complete the papers and requirements to join them.
When we arrived at the school Elder Galindo and Elder Gutierrez were there with Rosendo. They had brought the sacrament trays, several slices of bread and a small bottle of water. Brother Perez and one of the Elders carried a small table up the steep spiral staircase to the third floor for the sacrament table, and the other Elders set up the chairs.
It was an interesting meeting. President had the two assistants bear their testimonies, and then asked me to say a few words. We could hear the rain softly begin to fall on the roof as the assistants bore their testimonies, which was so interesting because as we were walking through the plaza just 30 minutes before, it was a gorgeous day. The sky was blue, and it seemed a picture perfect day.  We were all surprised to hear it start to rain.  As I began my remarks a few minutes later, no joke, the rain picked up and it started absolutely pouring.  With us being up on the third floor, the rain hitting the roof sounded like a horses racing across our heads.  The next thing we knew, we were startled with sudden claps of thunder and lightening throughout the sky and the rain just pounded. I started talking a bit louder and slower. I was taken with how the rain had come upon us so quickly, and felt our Father in Heaven right there with us, as if to say to us, I know you are here and I am here with you.
President told me afterwards that when he realized that this unforeseen cloudburst was drowning out our messages, he began praying that the Lord would calm the elements so that this small group could hear the messages we had prepared for them.  All of a sudden, even while I was still talking, it stopped slamming down hard on the roof. It kept softly and lightly raining for a while, but the loud noise had stopped.
After the meeting, as we walked through the plaza again, we noticed that the sudden storm had scattered the plaza attendees to run and find cover. We drove with the assistants and followed the Perez family to go and see the building they are trying to rent to use for their sacrament meeting, so the Perez family does not feel pressure using the school they work at.  The politics of their request to use it on Sunday afternoons was getting too complicated for them, so they are looking into other options for their Sunday meeting location.
Afterwards, we dropped by on our way out of town to the Jimenez family dairy farm to say hello to brother Jimenez and their two little boys who were not at the Sunday meeting.  Brother Jimenez, could not come to the sacrament meeting as he had taken a feeding schedule for his friends cows for the day.  I had brought treat bags for their 3 little children and I wanted to give it to them myself, so we went to go see the cows and horses, the two little boys, and brother Jimenez.  
What a memorable day together! Miracles happening in Jalostotitlan! We sure love these faithful saints!

From the left, Elder Kotter, Rosendo Garcia, the Perez's
younger daughter, brother and sister Perez,
their older daughter Sarah, President and I, sister Jimenez,
Elder Galindo, Elder Gutierrez, and Elder Manriquez.