domingo, 25 de agosto de 2013

No big deal

 Common sight on the side of every road
 this is half of our home ward building
 this is the other half of our ward building
 when you get to the parking story, this is the corner I was stuck in
This is the arch we go through on the way to church, built in the colonial era

Well, I skipped a week, its gonna happen and you didn't miss much.  Funny how there are really busy weeks in the mission field and then some that are not so busy for the President and me.  A week ago Saturday we took Harper and Blair to the Mexico City Airport.  First time I'd been back since we got here.  Unfortunately Jerry couldn't say the same thing.  The traffic is incredible in and around the City and the airport is no exception.  The other time Jerry went was only a few days into our mission when he was sending a very sick elder home.  He said that it took them a couple of hours to go what should have taken only 45 mins.  So we got up and left early not wanting the girls to miss their flight....well secretly I would have been ok with that, but they were anxious to get back to school and get settled, which meant for them a flight to Orange County where their Aunt Teri picked them up and gave them a place to sleep for two nights (and I hear a delicious dinner at Olive Garden, shout out to Teri!)  They had one day to pack the rest of the stuff in their car, go visit Maren and family, then that lovely drive to Provo.  Suffice it to say they didn't want to miss the flight.  Maybe because it was Saturday it wasn't as bad and we were there in plenty of time (they say to be at this airport 3 hours before an international flight here)  So we got to get some food and buy a little something for Easton and Jude and send them off.  Ok, not gonna lie, I cried, a lot.  Harper and Blair are a good time, always up for an adventure and because they were here we for sure took a few P-days and went and saw some cool stuff.  After having them home since the end of April, it's hard to give up the company again.  But they are so much happier, I mean really, who wants to hang out with their parents all summer and have no friends?  

So last week Jerry got caught up with a lot of paperwork, there was a transfer meeting last Tuesday and we got a visa waiter from the CCM.  That is kind of a funny story.  The new CCM here has way more North Americans than Mexicans in it according to our four new missionaries that we got a couple of weeks ago.  So Jerry gets this call, there is a Mexican missionary who is going to I think Colombia, but his visa isn't ready.  Which isn't surprising because he was probably only there a couple of weeks, since he's not learning the language.  So they call Jerry and ask really nicely if he would be able to accommodate a missionary for a short time.  So Jerry pauses, then says, "of course, we're all in the same Church right?"  Pretty sure that wasn't the response that they were expecting, but he then told them that he would be happy to have this elder for as long as they needed him to.  So there were transfers that day (they leave the Mexico City CCM early Tuesday mornings) and another sick missionary going to the airport, and his flight was at I believe 9:30am, which as I said above, meant he needed to be there at 6:30 am.  Well he and his companion came in from their area which is 2 hours from the airport to stay with the assistants for the night and it worked out really smoothly for them to take a taxi, drop the Elder at the airport, then pick up the elder at the CCM (its about another half hour past the airport, well maybe a half hour)  And at that hour of the morning, traffic wasn't too awful.  Jerry had given the sick elder his exit interview the night before and was waiting for the visa waiter the next morning at the office to send him off with the other transfers.  So we're wondering now if there are visa waiters in that CCM if we won't be receiving some of them now and again.  Hmm, maybe a missionary or two that we know from home.  Right now we know that there is an Elder Toolson and an Elder Mastergeorge there.  Soon to be an Elder Weeks.

I guess the lull before the storm is good, in a couple of weeks we say goodbye to 8 more elders and receive 20 new missionaries.  We will also have our first round of zone conferences and then there is a country wide conference of all the mission presidents and wives the first of October.  We'll take the lull while we can get it.  More of a lull for me than Jerry, seems he never really has a lull its either fast or faster for him, I guess in September it's hyper speed.

You might have heard in the news (I posted an article on my wall) about the young adults that were kidnapped from a club in Mexico City the end of May, well they believe they found their bodies buried behind a house in Chalco.  Chalco is a densely populated suburb, but also has some rolling hills and farmland on the outskirts...kind of like Riverside used to be. It was in the more rural area that they made this discovery.  So sad for those families, and really the police here are very tight lipped about things like this. Knowing that this stuff happens and it's not always in the news, we have been cautious about me and girls out and about too far from home without Jerry all summer. I mean, we don't really blend in now do we? (one of the things we were advised to try and do in our mission presidents seminar) The office elders won't even let me walk down the street to the OXXO which is kind of like an 7-11 (but unfortunately without the Slurpee machine, or any soda machine for that matter).  The missionaries don't seem to have problems, but we don't at this time have any North American sister missionaries.  But we are getting some in September.  While some of our elders have been robbed, (it's one of the reasons they don't want them carrying backpacks anymore because people think they have more stuff than they do with a backpack on) they never really have anything to take.  The last companionship that got robbed had a total of 20 pesos on them and the very basic model cell phone that the Church issues, which is not a hot item  like an iphone or Droid.  They told us that the robber looked really disappointed, and they weren't hurt in any way.  Maybe he'll spread the word.  Mostly they are left alone and none have been seriously assaulted.  I know that God protects these young people as long as they are obedient and cautious, and use common sense.  Three things kids that age are not really known for, so one more thing these kids have to learn.

So today I did my first solo trip to Church.  The girls and I have gone without Jerry, like being a stake president or bishop, Sunday is one of his busiest days.  So this is only the second time I've been to my assigned ward (or Barrio as we call it here)  It's a big ward and super friendly and today I was lucky because Elder de Hoyos, who is first counselor in the area Seventy (like a stake presidency but for the whole country of Mexico) was there with his wife whom we've already met.  They are here in the summer and she was kind enough to sit with me (her husband was on the stand) and show me where to go to Sunday School and Relief Society.  I really do understand almost everything that is said now, but gratefully they didn't ask me any questions in either class, both of which were standing room only.  Pretty interesting discussion in gospel doctrine, the teacher is a temple sealer and Elder de Hoyos was in attendance so the class members were asking some pretty deep questions, some of which I didn't understand.  But in RS the Young Women came in and conducted and we stood and recited their theme and I felt so at home, even though I can't say it as fast in Spanish as in English.  But the biggest news is that I didn't get lost on the way there or back, and didn't dent the other car, which is a miracle.  Why is not denting my car at church a miracle? Well the only other time I've driven, I dented the car for one, but for tow I got pinned in this time. When I came out, the other ward was there and someone had parked so close behind me that I didn't think I would get out.  I would probably still be there if a nice brother in the ward hadn't seen my predicament and come over and helped me squeeze out of the spot, seriously I couldn't have done it without him (and all I could think was "oh no, now I'm gonna dent our OTHER car, and someone else's too)  I think I would have just sat there and waited two hours for the other ward to get out.  I was so grateful that someone noticed my distress...and came to the rescue without being asked.  It's not just the members that are like this, everywhere we go the people in Mexico are happy to give directions, or opinions, or just help you out. I must look really confused all the time because it happens to me so much.

Well hopefully I will have much more interesting things to write about next week,  but I've found that being the wife of a mission president entails lots of waiting and that's ok, sometimes some pretty interesting things happen while you're "waiting" for something else.  Thanks to all of you for your prayers for us and our family, and the emails and texts of kindness and support.  It really is nice to hear from home, I know why the missionaries are so excited for letters now.


lunes, 12 de agosto de 2013

It's always good to try new things....

Can't believe another week has gone by.  Reid used to tell me this when he wrote from the mission field, but they do truly fly by, so much to do and think about all the time.  So last week I posted a pic of our first brand new missionaries and a couple of days ago on the Church did a story on the new Mexico City CCM (CCM is Missionary Training Center in Spanish)  and lo and behold our brand new elders are both in the video.  One of the, Elder Luis is featured prominently, but our other one is also in the video if you watch it when they talk about Elder Luis returning to his former school they show him walking with another elder, yep, that's our Elder Nava.  So that was a pretty cool thing, and shout out to Cami Bingham who saw it and recognized them and posted the link for me.  In September we are scheduled to get 20 new missionaries at once...that feels crazy!   We also have a senior couple coming in November which will be so welcome.  There is so much work to be done here in fellowshipping and strengthening wards.  There is a ward here that has a bishop that has been serving for 19 years...that is not a typo.  3 years as branch president and 16 years as bishop.  The ward is full of strong women but short on faithful priesthood holders.  But a great spirit in the ward.  Which leads me to talk about something that I forgot to talk about last week.  Testimony meetings here are so amazing.  We've been to two so far in different wards and stakes and in both of those meetings every single person bore pure testimony.  From the teenagers to the elderly, it was the same.  The Spirit was so strong in both meetings and I still don't even understand every single word.  It is amazing to be in them.  

Tuesday night we hosted 7 missionaries who have honorably finished their missions, plus the assistants and our family.  I did burgers and watermelon, chips and brownies for dessert.  I actually made the burgers by hand so they would be better.  It was a very simple meal but all of the elders loved it.  They couldn't believe I had even found pickle relish for their burgers, some of the north american elders said they hadn't seen that in two years.  We had three Latin Elders, one going home to Peru, and two to other places in Mexico and they loved it as well.  Hamburgers are evidently hard to find here.  We had a great evening, they had their testimony meeting in the morning at the office and their interviews, so we had a ping pong tournament and had lots of socializing before saying goodbye.  For the record, I am never going to be good at this goodbye thing.  So, since we're talking about food I will tell you that we had some firsts this week.  Jerry ate rabbit for lunch with some elders near the office...yep, I missed that one, but I think I'm gonna get another chance.  He said it was ok, that from the man who was such a picky eater when we got married.  Then on our pday we took the twins to Taxco (kudos to Luis Perez for the tip) and it is an amazing town to visit.  I didn't know that it was settled by a French man named Borda, not the Spanish, and his son was a Catholic Priest so he built him a huge Cathedral (pic to follow)  Knowing we didn't have a lot of time we found a native to show us around and Carlos was great.  We told him we wanted to eat something that was a specialty in Taxco.  So, he led us down into the town market place that is a warren of aisles filled with everything from cups of pomegranate seeds to rough gemstones to gorgeous flowers.  He said pozole is a specialty, but you can't get it until after 1pm.  Well, we're Crickmores and we were hungry at noon and we couldn't wait, so he told us another specialty was barbacoa...or barbeque.  Ok, that sounded great and he took us to this little stall in the market place named Barbacoa de Chivo.  We loaded our plates up and ate great tacos ( I even had a jalepeno in mine).  Well I had no idea until we instagrammed it that Chivo is the name for goat in spanish (well my dictionary says kid, as in baby goat).  Maren asked us if we had eaten goat tacos, and evidently we did, and they were really good.  Sometimes its best to not know ahead of time.  My mom was a great believer in that...making something with secret ingredients she knew we would never eat if she told us.  So another first, and I would return to Barbacoa de Chivo again.

We had a great consejo de liderazgo (leadership counsel) this week also.  There were a lot of changes in companionships the week before and so about half of the council was different than last months.  I can't really talk about what was discussed their, yet, but I can say that it was clear that those zone leaders and sister missionary leaders were inspired by revelation as to what they should teach to each other.  The message that Jerry had for them was also something that had taken much thought and prayer and all of the teaching blended beautifully so that all of the leaders were completely on the same page at the end of the meeting.  We have some amazing young people to work with and watching and listening to them teach each other reaffirms that to me.

So, I'm still not a big fan of driving here, but I feel pretty good about it during the day.  My real test came last night.  Jerry was coming home late from a meeting an hour and a half away, part way home he realized that because of the traffic (there was a really bad accident) he was going to run out of gas.  He would have been ok if the traffic had been normal.  Well, he discovered that he had left his wallet at home in the other car and he had no money and no credit card.  So the girls and I got in the other car and drove a half hour away to where he was sitting in the Pemex station.  Yes I got lost, but only once and for only a few minutes.  We found him, handed him his wallet and turned around and drove home, all of us arriving safely about 10:30.  For me a small miracle, because the road that we had to travel is under construction and they are always changing which lanes are open and which aren't and there are no lights on the road (four lane toll road) and I really, really, don't like driving it after dark. (lots of big tour buses on the road that late also) But the twins are fearless and with them telling me it's no big deal, I could do it, I did.  Now this sounds really wimpy, but you just have to take my word for it that driving at night down here is not a good idea or a fun idea. I was so grateful that we all got home safely and am always happier to leave the driving to Jerry.  

One other observation.  Before we came, I had no idea that this part of Mexico was so incredibly green and lush.  I mean I new that it was that way far to the south but not here.  It is absolutely beautiful, they grow lots of corn close to where we live, but on the way to Taxco near Cuernavaca, they had fields of sugar cane and roses, which were for sale by the side of the road...50 to a bunch, for four dollars.  Yep, you read that right.  The road to Taxco was really beautiful and the city itself is very cool, we still haven't seen old Cuernavaca (only the Costco) that's for another day.  It reminds me a lot of Costa Rica or Central America, but without the high humidity.  The state of Morelos is especially beautiful.  It's fun getting to see parts of Mexico that we had never visited, and to see what a beautiful country this is.  Viva Mexico!

 Lunchtime fun at the consejo liderazgo
 Catedral de Taxco 
 Eating goat meat...yummm
 pomegranate eating without the muss or fuss
 one more week left^ going home v

lunes, 5 de agosto de 2013

Who would guess that I would get a text message from Reid asking where my blog post was?  MMM, tables have definitely turned.  Well I knew that today would be good, so I didn't want to post until it was over.  And how did I know it would be good?  Because we got our first brand new missionaries that were specifically called to our mission.  We had some new missionaries when we got here (they had one week in the mission field) but they were called to one of the two missions that we received parts of, to make the Mexico City Chalco mission.  So these were the first ones to actually receive a call letter to our particular mission.  And they are the first out of the brand new CCM in Mexico City.  We got two sisters and two elders, all Mexican.  They come from Tampico, Veracruz, Puebla, and Oaxaca. They are awesome, one of our sisters is the first 19 year old sister missionary in our mission.  Lots of firsts.  For those that don't know about the CCM, it is like the training center in Provo, and was created from what was a LDS high school in Mexico City.  One of our new sisters and one of the elders had been going to school there, and just stayed when it switched to be a CCM.  So, it was an interesting day, they are young and excited and well prepared.  After some training, our assistants had this great idea to walk them out into the city center and do a little street contacting, after demonstrating some ways to ask people questions, or answer there questions if they were interested.  Jerry, Harper, Blair and I went with Elder West and the two sisters, and Elder Milner took the two new Elders.  We were gone for about 45 minutes, and I actually got my first referral.  I started talking to a young man working in a cell phone store, just making conversation in my pretty terrible spanish, and we just sort of hit it off, I told him I was just learning Spanish and he said he was trying to learn English, so I told him that reading the Book of Mormon in both languages at the same time had really helped me learn what little I knew.  Elder West could see that I had him talking, and I knew that I couldn't say all that I wanted to, so he came over and got in on the conversation and we found out that the young man was actually already a member but was not coming to Church.  Well Elder West told him that if he would come to Church and use the things they would teach him, that God would help him with his studies.  And the elders in the area have an appt with him on Sunday afternoon, to bring him an English Book of Mormon and talk to him about other questions that he has.  The sisters went back with three contacts and gave away two Books of Mormon.  I told them that this was my first time too, so we could be nervous together, but the Lord in his mercy, knows we are there to do his work, and the nervousness evaporates and the Spirit helps you know what to say and who to talk to.  It was an amazing experience and we have 10 amazing sister missionaries that are gonna see a lot more of me in the next few months.

I spend a lot of time baking things or cooking for the missionaries, I kind of think it might be the only thing that qualified me for this calling (I mean Jerry for sure had the qualifications, and the missionaries love him, because he has fun and still gets things done, he had his own amazing story today, but that's for him to share)  So of course I had to make dessert for the new missionaries and the office elders.  They love the peanut butter swirl bars, and they seem to come out ok even with the pretty bad oven and the ingredients that are not quite the same.  But it makes me more than happy to have them like them so much that one sister that came in asked me for the recipe and would they be hard to make....and the one of the new elders who speaks very good english told me that they were addicting.  mmm, he is probably right about that.  So tomorrow we have 7 elders going home which means they are coming to dinner, with the assistants.  The weather here is so gorgeous that we are going for the american backyard bbq theme (i can't help thinking of those zone conferences with Kari Porterfield and her fun lunches that always had a theme, I can't quite match it but I'm gonna work on it here)  We have tables and chairs for the back yard which has huge covered porch (where nightly pingpong battles occur) and a gas bbq and another little covered area with a regular table and chairs.  I tell you this, because it could very possibly be pouring rain and any given moment after 3 in the afternoon.  It is a rare 24 hours where we don't get a downpour sometime between 3pm and 4am.  I'm thinking about digging up some of the lawn and putting in a garden.  How great not to have to water it. Anyway its hard to see these first missionaries leave as we have just barely begun to get to know them...and so it goes.

The other highlight (this may be a bit tongue in cheek) was going last Wednesday into the middle of Mexico City to a huge government building to complete our resident application by signing who knows what and getting fingerprinted.  Driving into the middle of the city is no small feat from where the mission home is...about a 5-6 hour drive depending on the traffic.  We drove the hour and fifteen minutes to the mission office (poor Harper and Blair have learned to sit, and wait, and sit, and wait a lot this summer) picked up the office elders and proceeded to battle traffic as bad as anything in NYC, LA or San Diego when the Del Mar races, the Surf soccer tournament and Labor Day weekend all coincide.  It was an experience to wait in the offices for our names to be called.  Elder Durham, the elder that takes care of all these things asked us if we wanted to look over our signatures on our passports as we would have to sign documents three times with identical signatures.  Now for me, that was no big deal, but those of you that have seen my husbands writing, especially his signature will know that he was just slightly panicked.  I think Elder Durham had looked at his signature beforehand and wondered how in the world that said Jerald D. Crickmore.   He passed, but was pretty glad that he did, and we walked out mostly relieved that el Presidente could sign his name the same three times in a row.   We ran into other elders there, once a year they have to go in and redo this scenario to renew their visas, it was fun to meet some elders from one of the missions that we received elders from.  Then to celebrate successful signature signing and because this whole scenario which started for us at 6:30am, we went to lunch at Sanbourn's which one of our teachers in Provo told us was a must.  It was really good, nice and different than the little stands that we have eaten out of up until now.  It was also part of a huge mall, and lo and behold I happened to see a sporting goods store.  I have been looking for a bocce ball set and/or a croquet set, we have a huge back yard (well for us, I mean we lived in Cardiff with no yard, so compared to some people it is just an average yard) but it is all lawn except for the pool.  I thought when the missionaries come for their last dinner it would be fun to have something for them to do while the president does their exit interviews.  I have looked in Costco in Cuernavaca, and a big Target like store there, Walmart, Sam's Club and two sporting goods stores here to no avail. And there it was, a gorgeous croquet set...unfortunately they wanted 350 dollars for it, yep dollars not pesos, and I didn't want one THAT much.  Maybe if we go back in the winter it will be half can always hope.  

Well this is long enough.  Every week is something new.  While writing this I had to take a phone call from a sister about a health issue, she doesn't speak English, and weirdly, she understood what I told her.  Perhaps that might be my only other qualification, knowing so much stuff about so many illnesses and injuries...that's what raising six kids will teach you.  Well I have a few pics to add so this is long enough, Reid should be happy now.

 Just the view on the way to the office in the morning
 Yep, he really did get fingerprinted, me too
 wildlife on our screen door, it had an 8" wingspan
 This is the only way to buy is weird after buying it in 25 lb bags for years
Our first Mexico city Chalco missionaries!