sábado, 5 de octubre de 2013

It was exactly a year ago today....

A year ago today Jerry and I were sitting in the office of Elder L. Tom Perry in Salt Lake City, having an "informal interview".  I think when you sit in the office of a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles there is nothing informal about it.  Anyway, when I started this blog, it should have really started on that day.  For those who aren't members of our Church, getting a call to visit with a one of the General Authorities of our Church is a rare and uncommon occurrence.  We were very surprised when his secretary called and asked if we were planning to come to General Conference (a Church wide conference held twice a year in April and October).  We actually were planning on going up to Salt Lake and taking Harper and Blair to General Conference as they had never been in person, only watched on tv like we mostly do.  Probably we were less nervous about this interview as Elder Perry and his wife had been in our home for dinner the previous January after attending our Stake Conference.   The interview was an interesting one, many questions were asked, one of which was on a scale of 1-10 how well to you both speak Spanish?  Jerry went first and said, "oh about a 4, maybe" I turned in my chair and looked at him and said, "I am only maybe a 2, but he is probably a 6, at least"  Because Jerry served his mission as a young man in the Boston Massachusetts Spanish mission, he didn't think his Spanish was as good as his contemporaries that went to Latin countries.  The thing I knew, is that he had continued to use his Spanish after his mission, when travelling or at work, or in Church callings.  I knew that he wasn't as fluent as he wished, but that he could easily get along well speaking Spanish as I had seen him do it for almost 35 years.  The visit was over and Elder Perry said, "well this was just an initial interview, if you are to be called as a Mission President you'll hear sometime between November 1 and December 31, so go home, relax and if you don't hear you're off the hook."   Um, somehow we couldn't really "relax" wondering if our entire life was about to change or not.  How grateful I am for this opportunity, this whole year has been one miracle after another allowing us to be here in Mexico sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and helping the 120 missionaries that we have stewardship for.  

So the last two weeks have been more than amazing.  After that first thirty minute lesson I gave in Spanish, in the next 8 days I repeated it 3 times a day for 4 more days, then we had two more conferences with our area seventy, Elder Miron, where he asked me to bear my testimony, which I also did in Spanish, trying to follow the Spirit and not write any notes.  I managed to be able to say what I wanted without too much fumbling.  When the Lord wants me to speak Spanish it comes out much better than when I just want to speak it.  But as the missionaries tell me, "Don't worry Hermana Crickmore, it's much better than when you got here!" and "Remember, poco a poco,  Hermana!"  They are my biggest cheerleaders.  They correct my errors, those that are bilingual will supply me a word when I can't remember it, and they are generally very patient with my old brain.  This might be the only time in my life when liking to talk a lot is actually helpful...they tell me that is the only way I will get better.  And so, the poor members patiently have conversations with me, also gently correcting me when I miss a word or a conjugation.  The best thing is that very few members speak any English, so its do or die!  And I'm determined to do.

We had the great opportunity to go to a baptisms last week of a young couple, with a 15 month old son.  At the same service a young girl of 11 was baptized, whose family are members but who had just recently started attending Church again after several years of not coming.   The family had been taught by our sister missionaries, encouraging them to come back to church, and they did and told us it felt like they had finally come home.  The young couple was an amazing story, I think Jerry told a little about them in his blog.  So I'll just say that she had been abandoned by her parents at the age of 10, with her 8 year old brother.  She started working in a bar at 12 to buy food for them, but they lived in the streets.  Her interest in the Church first came from two elders, five years ago, who smiled and waved at her every day as they passed her.  They never taught her, or even talked to her, but it was their small act of kindness in a world where she did not see much of it, that piqued her interest in who they were and why they were so happy.  One day a couple of months ago a pair of our elders walked past her window, she ran out and begged them to come in to teach her why they were happy and how she could be that way.  They made an appointment and came back that night when her husband was home and started teaching them. That first set of missionaries were transferred and the new missionaries that came to them were our first assistant, who will go home in December, and two missionaries, just off the plane from Provo, with very little Spanish, but great testimonies.  They finished teaching the couple,  practicing their Spanish, with the senior companion helping them through.  They prepared them for their baptismal night.  That night those two brand new missionaries were walking up and down the halls right before they baptized them, trying to memorize the prayer in Spanish.  They didn't want to make a mistake, they wanted it to be perfect for this young couple.  Our experienced elder baptized the young girl, last, after those two brand new missionaries took the their investigators into the font and performed the ordinance perfectly.  Right before performing the baptism, the three elders performed a musical number that didn't make them nervous at all, hopefully I will be able to load that video at the bottom of this.  That young woman, at the last minute wondered if she should be baptized.  She was afraid that she was going to make a mistake, lose her temper, or something like that.  It was a great opportunity to explain about the reason we take the sacrament each week, because God knows we won't be perfect, so we have the chance to repent every week and be forgiven, just as we did as we were baptized.  She was so excited to understand that none of us is expected to be perfect, its just our duty to keep trying to do our best.  It was so amazing to see this couple almost glowing with happiness after they were baptized.  She had found the happiness that she had been looking for, for almost five years.  

Yesterday we had our third Consejo Liderazco (leadership council), the first with our two new assisstants Elder Tovar, from the Mexican state of Hidalgo, and Elder Johnson, from Idaho Falls.  Our old assistants are both training new missionaries until they go home, one leaves this month and the other in December.  Our two new assistants are great, if I speak English to Elder Johnson, he replies in Spanish until I speak Spanish back. The leadership council was great, so much sharing and the Spirit was so strong.  They work hard and have a lot of responsibility, but they still have great senses of humor and truly love each other. One of our zone leaders asked if he could bring a pinata that he bought for 40 pesos (less than four dollars) and break it at the end, pic to follow, the funniest part was that Elder Buchanan had included with the candy some "notes".  One said, "an extra 12 hours on P-day from President Crickmore" or "200 pesos more on your card from President Crickmore" They were hilarious and each missionary that got one came over and said, "Gracias Presidente!" It just doesn't get better than getting to spend your days with these amazing young people.  I love the sister missionaries, for each council I have made cinnamon rolls.  So they asked me for the recipe.  I said, sure...haha, joke on me because while my copy of the recipe is in my head, and there aren't that many ingredients, I soon realized that I was going to have to translate not only the ingredients, but the instructions also.  It took me both back and front of a piece of computer paper to write it all down, and the use of my dictionary for almost the whole thing.  I mean, how do you say the dough should be soft and sticky?  The dictionary said suave y pegajosa. I told them to read through it and if they had questions they could call me.  I mean I had to draw diagrams because i couldn't even figure out how to explain it in english.  After the council we headed down to another baptism, a mother and her two daughters, they had been taught by the sisters, one of whom is going home this month.  It was very sweet.  One daughter was married, and the other is in her late teens or early twenties, so the entire young adult group from the stake sang a song.  They were already her friends, that was how she had come to study with the missionaries.  The sisters stayed after the baptism, but the two elders at the baptism were one of our former zone leaders who had another brand new missionary from Utah, we took them to dinner, and then home. First time I've been in a missionary apartment and I was very impressed, it was clean and neat, the beds were  even made.  The ceilings are much lower than at home, and both missionaries are tall, but the new missionary, Elder Parker is about 6'6", from Utah, he has to duck through doors and the bed is definitely not long enough, and yet when asked, he said, " I LOVE it here, every thing about it".  They are in a small pueblo with a dirt street in front of their home and very humble people.  What's not to love?

So this is a tome and I still didn't tell every good thing that has happened in the last two weeks.  I love the work, the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives for the better, its a privilege to work with these missionaries and the people of Mexico.  General Conference weekend is always amazing, and today was great.  At the mission presidents seminar and throughout this past year, we have met or talked to many of the general authorities that spoke today.  They are great men who have given their lives to sharing the Gospel and testifying of the Divinity of Jesus Christ, they are truly inspired of God.  I have a link on my wall to watch on the computer if anyone is curious about what General Conference is.  Tune in, you will certainly be given food for thought, and more.  Shout out to the Canady's, can't thank you enough for your generosity.  Also a big thank you to the Encinitas ward YM/YW, thank you for the notes, it was really fun to read all of your comments...Sis Guinn, the answer to your question is he was meant to drive in Mexico.  Love you all and thank you for your prayers for our family and the missionaries everywhere.   Vaya con Dios hasta nos vemos.         Janna

               No video, but they are practicing their medley, one song in English and one in Spanish
 Cindy and Cristofer on their baptism day
 Zone conference in Solidaridad with Elder Miron and his wife

This last pic is the end of our leadership council, they're all great!