jueves, 13 de febrero de 2014

So much to say, too lazy to write it all....

So, it's been over a month, how is that possible?  It's possible because some days are so incredibly busy they just fly by and some weeks are the same.  We have had that kind of month so far, this week, finally a couple of days to catch my breath.  Not Jerry, though, he won't get a chance to exhale until July 1, 2016.  He doesn't really like to catch his breath, he's always got more on his plate than a human can possibly do, but he's determined to try because he isn't really into breathing all that much.

After Christmas, we geared up for the biggest group of incoming missionaries so far, twenty.  Combined with the fact that only 6 went home (we really do not like that part as I've mentioned before, though facebook is a wonderful thing and its fun to stay in touch with our missionaries at home, whether home be here in Mexico, Latin America, or the U.S.)  Don't worry kids, now I have lots more people to fb stalk.  Getting more missionaries than leave makes the transfer even more complicated as new areas must be opened to the extra companionships.  While in the States you would never hear of a ward or branch that didn't have a set of missionaries, or at least one for every builiding, not the case here.  So, which areas to open, finding housing (which our district leaders and zone leaders are quite adept at) and then deciding who goes where is a crazy week or two.  Also in January the Mexico City Temple has closed for 18 months.  It's sinking.  Sinking not stinking, and they are having to do something with the foundation to keep it from falling apart.  Good news for our mission office as lots of couples who volunteered in the temple were looking for something else to do.  Jerry has a goal of only senior couples in the office so our full time missionaries can do what they do best and teach people interested in the Gospel.  Since we haven't quite reached that goal we have two very capable new office Elders.  Elder Faz and Elder Uchytill, they just replaced Elder Martinez and Elder Olsen who were so good at keeping things organized and moving along that El Presidente had a hard time letting them go.  Poor Elder Martinez has been in the office since we arrived in July.  I'm pretty sure he feels like he just got let out of prison.  Elder Olsen is so amazing that whenever I would ask him about something, it was already done.  But, he is having some amazing success now that we set him free also.  I miss both of their faces, but still get to see them regularly.  It was tougher still to release one of our assistants, Elder Tovar.  El Presidente was seriously crying about this and needed some hand holding to send him back in the field.  He gave him a district with only sisters, hence a new nickname "Brigham".  While I'm on the subject of nicknames, it has been necessary to give several elders nicknames as we have multiples with the same last name.  Our new assistant Elder Perez has a cousin in the mission, yes, also Elder Perez, so the one that is not the assistant is now code named Primo (cousin for you non Spanish speakers)  We actually have another set of cousins, both last named Smith and if that wasn't complicated enough we just got another Smith in this last group of new missionaries.  Sometimes Jerry has to explain them to me, some are easy, such as Tall Elder Parker (we have three elder Parkers).  So the other day, Jerry asked his assistants what nickname the Elders have given him....yeah, they haven't fessed up yet, but come on, we all know he has one, right?

The next week was Interview week, well actually more like 10 days, this time I went with Jerry to all of the zones but the last one and spent the day getting to know all of the missionaries better, it was a great chance to practice Spanish, much to the amusement of most of our missionaries.  They forgive me because I bring them brownies.  We've talked alot about the parable of the talents, I've come to realize I really only have one, and it's baking, and it opens lots of doors and lots of mouths.  Nuff said.  The days are long but filled with lots of funny and sweet moments as I get to know them one by one.  

So, two weeks after this huge group we get an email, hey we have to advanced Spanish students, so in two days will you be at the airport to pick them up from Provo.  One sister, Sister Robinson from Murrieta, and the now tallest elder in the mission at 6'7" Elder Andersen from Alpine, Utah.  He has been a luger since the age of 11, on the national team.  Why did I think someone that did that would be small to get around those turns?  Most definitely wrong.  They are both great.  In her first letter home, Sister Robinson told her parents that they have an interesting way of heating water for a bath....they fill a bucket with water, then turn on their iron and drop it in the bucket.  Needless to say I got an email that night from her parents.  As sister Kusch from the Cuernavaca mission said, "Really I couldn't make up the stuff that they do".  As the daughter of an electrician I have a healthy respect for electrocution and made a call to tell them to stop that and that our senior couple that is in charge of housing would be over to figure out what is wrong with their water heater, they do actually have one.  I suggested heating water in their microwave would be a safer alternative to electrocution.  The next day at our monthly leadership council I asked if other missionaries were doing this.  About 18 sheepish faces looked back at me, then one elder told me that yes, lots of them did.  Did being the operative word I hope.

Last Wednesday all of the Mission Presidents and their wives flew into Mexico City for the bi annual mission presidents seminar.  Wednesday night through Friday afternoon.  We all stayed at the Marriott connected to the airport, it's really handy that it's attached, nice job on that location Marriott international.  Dinner Wednesday night was fun, met everyone that I didn't meet in October when it was held in Huatulco, and I was in SLC in the hospital.  Made some funny connections with friends of friends, saw friends that we came out with and was looking forward to the next day.  3:30 am I wake up with the stomach flu.  Jerry had it on Monday and Tuesday don't know why I thought I wasn't gonna get it.  Oh, I know, cuz I had a flu shot.  Epic fail, or maybe there are different strains here than in the US where I got the shot.  It did save me from having to give the prayer at the opening session (and yes everything is in Spanish, they do have a translator for some of the women that are still learning the language but I am to stubborn to use them)  So the second day we have a morning of meetings with Elder Oaks (a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for my non lds friends) Elder Christensen a member of the presidency of the Seventy (who actually set me apart for this calling) and their wives along with Elder Johnson, Elder Valenzuela, and Elder De Hoyos from the Area Presidency here in Mexico (who we know already quite well)  It was a great morning, I still felt a little queasy, passed on the lunch but met some more of the other presidents and wives.  Fun meeting a pair of sisters from Mexico who are both serving with their husbands as Mission Presidents.  They both speak really good English and we had a great time getting to know them.  One of them has Cabo in their mission (just a little jealous not gonna lie) and the other is in Merida, so they have the Carribean.  They argued throughout lunch about whose home town was cooler Quertaro or San Miguel de Allende.  We have a date to come and visit and settle the argument after our mission.  On Saturday, Elder Oaks and Elder Valenzuela and our Area Seventy Elder Miron (who is the greatest guy in the entire world, he and Jerry are the best of friends and I love his wife) with our mission and the Mexico City Sur mission which sent missionaries to help create our mission.  President Valadez and Sister Valadez were at the airport to meet us in July and are the nicest couple ever.  I know their old missionaries were so happy to see them.  So, we were on the program to speak, yep, maybe I didn't really have the stomach flu....and I thought I had to go first.  Ended up Jerry went first and then me.  One of the lessons I've learned is to prepare what you want to say, then have the faith that you'll say whatever it is that God wants you to say.  I have scriptures ready and a theme, but then I get up and rely on the the Holy Ghost to help me in more ways than one.  Speaking Spanish, I would never be able to convey my thoughts without Divine intervention.  So I spoke, I finished, evidently no great errors because the missionaries didn't laugh and I sat down.  I was so glad it was over.  Enjoyed the other talks immensely.  After the meeting was over, Sis Oaks came over and asked Sis Valadez and I if we would mind speaking in another meeting that afternoon, say what?  We both thought we were done for the day, but what are you gonna do and she said just a brief 2 min testimony.  As we are waiting for this meeting to begin Sis Valadez reaches down, picks up her iphone and flips to the stop watch, she holds it out to me and I do the same with mine, we smile and say at the same time "solamente dos minutos"  She's great, and even though shes fluent in the language she was not any more comfortable than I.  But the weekend wasn't over yet, we were asked on Wednesday night if we would both speak at a special missionary stake conference in our mission on Sunday morning.  We've spoken at several stake conferences, ususally a testimony is all they want from me, and that's fine.  But that morning there were more people in that building than I have ever seen in a church meeting.  No fire marshalls in Mexico  Every seat taken, the stage full, standing all along the sides, filling up the pews on the stand and every room full, and people left when there was no more room.  Elder Valenzuela was the main speaker and he and his wife did a great job (he spoke in last Oct General Conf in you want to look him up) And you could have heard a pin drop. I was just a little nervous but again Divine intervention and the words come that don't come when I'm just at the grocery store or talking to the gardener.  I always sit down wondering if anything I said made sense, and Jerry assures me that it did and does.  The Spirit teaches, we just have to live to have it with us.   Love these people here, they are faithful, humble, and loving.  I feel so blessed to hear their stories and see their lives change.  It was a long 5 days and I was tired on Monday, but not Jerry, he was up and out of the house to meetings all day at the office.  It's not easy living with the Energizer Bunny.  Good thing he knows I'm the weak link and doesn't expect me to keep his hours.  Love you all, miss you, if you see a weird phone number some day that starts with 55 it might be me so don't hang up!!

 Our whole mission (we think their might of been one or two still in the distribution center) after listening to Elder Oaks.  This is right behind the brand new temple visitor's center.

 New friends President and Sister Jordan and President and Sister Kusch (our closest neighbors in Cuernava)
 Our newest missionaries Elder Andersen and Hermana Robinson, yeah he doesn't blend either
Our latest consejo liderazco, our zone leaders, assistants, and sister leaders....all of them awesome

lunes, 6 de enero de 2014

I'm not going to get better at this....

So, what's my excuse this time?  Idk, but I'll use the holidays, new missionaries every 6 weeks, old ones going home, plus whatever else seems logical.  Also, the hip recovery is supposedly complete.  I hope I heard that correctly because at the 3 month mark I quit making Jerry put on my shoes and socks (only for exercising, I have been self sufficient while in missionary uniform with slip ons).  But I have been strictly obedient to the precautions because, well, having that hip pop out of the socket might be a real inconvenience here where I wouldn't even know where to go or who to call.  Anyway, who knew it would feel so good to just bend over and tie your own shoes.  

It really has been busy, of course Jerry is busier times 100 than me, but the November and December seemed to be busier than ususal.  We continue to receive new missionaries from both the Provo MTC and the Mexico City CCM.  The last group that was coming in December was quite the challenge.  Because of weather delays in the states, the North American missionaries (including our friend from the Encinitas 2nd Branch,  Elder Tadeo) arrived a day late at 12:30am.  Ususally the new missionaries come on Monday, have some training, receive their companions on Tuesday, then we have dinner with the departing missionaries who get up on Wednesday morning at 4am to go to the airport.  Well, with the delay we decided to take the departing missionaries with us to the airport, not like they were going to sleep anyway.  Normally they would stay with the assistants and leave for the airport at 4am...didn't seem that much different.  The group going home was full of really great missionaries, zone leaders, district leaders and just really obedient, so big shoes to fill for the arriving missionaries, which I have to say they have filled admirably.  I digress,  so after having the departing dinner at the mission home, I left the lady in our stake that helps me to finish cleaning up, threw some stuff in an overnight bag and hopped in the car for the drive to the office to pick up the missionaries luggage, then on to the airport, arriving about 11pm.  We had reserved two rooms at the Marriott for us and the three sister missionaries coming in from Provo as we didn't have a place to put them in the middle of the night and it's really not safe to be driving around Mexico City in the middle of the night.  The Elders were with our office Elders, Elder Olsen and Elder Martinez, who were taking them on a rented combi to their house where there is room for 20 elders to bunk down for the night.  Suffice it to say that neither the outgoing or incoming missionaries got much sleep.  The next morning we told our new sisters "that will be the nicest bed you sleep on the entire time you're here!"  Missionaries live a very spartan lifestyle, with single beds (which for our elders over 6'2" mean sleeping sideways and maybe with their feet hanging off, for two years).  Usually they say they work so hard and walk so much that it doesn't matter what they sleep on.  But finally the changes were done and then it was on to planning the Christmas Zone Conference/Christmas Party.

We had this ZC/CP on the 18th of December (I think) and my role in ZC is to give a lesson on some health related issue.  Well we didn't have a lot of time like usual, so Jerry told me to keep it simple.  The next day one of the Assistants who was here when we got here, and seriously kept us from going crazy those first couple of months, Elder West, was going home the next day.  He has a great claim to fame, he never lost work day in the mission field due to illness.  He said he was sick a couple of times but they were Pdays.  So I asked him if he would take a little time to share some tips on staying healthy.  I had a couple of tips of my own, and in the interest of time I asked him to translate for me, so I didn't waste precious time trying to find the right word.  We stand up together, and I have three simple things to talk about, 1. using soap when you shower (I know who doesn't?  evidently more people than I imagined) 2. flossing daily and 3. always carrying hand sanitizer and USING it!  So I stand up to start my spiel and I start speaking Spanish!  Whoops, totally accidental and all the missionaries start laughing and Elder West just smiles at me, like, Sister Crickmore you really are crazy.  I apologize and start over in English and let him translate.  We are doing this in both languages because we have gringo missionaries that have only been here a week and I want to make sure that they understand these three tips.  So I move to topic number 2, and yes you guessed it, started in Spanish again.  Now the funny thing is, I still don't speak very good Spanish, you can ask the Elders (funny side note, I was reading one of our missionaries blogs, after he left the field, and scrolled back to see what he wrote home about us when we arrived,  and Elder Janda you were so right, I didn't ever speak Spanish before we came to the mission) but I had to apologize again and have Elder West do the translation.  Good thing I'm so used to making a fool out of myself, wasn't even embarassed.  After the shortened ZC we got down to the fiesta.  The years as YW president and Activities Committee chair came in handy.  We played "get to know you" (and yes in another life it would be called speed dating)  with them having one minute to talk to the missionary across from them, then I would make them move left or right and start again.  Lots of them had never done this activity and all of them met missionaries they didn't know.  We don't often have the whole mission together, and if we do, they usually are sitting quietly listening.  Not on this day, then we had the biggest white elephant exchange I've ever seen.  We told them they couldn't purchase anything, and some of them got very creative.  Very funny, also something that some had never done.  Then we ate, tacos al pastor as many as you wanted...yep no sit down for this mission, street tacos all the way.  We have a senior missionary couple and between she and I we baked about 30 dozen cookies.  I did brownies, sawdust cookies (thank you Dixie Crosby they were a hit) peanut butter cookies, and oatmeal cookies.  Sister Bird did an assortment and snickerdoodles.  You'd think we'd brought something exotic, they were all gone and I think the missionaries liked the homemade cookies more than anything else that day.

Jerry and his assistants had a great idea, as the work is kind of slow during the holidays with people out of town or with their families, to have every missionary do two hours of service for the week leading up to Christmas, then on Christmas eve day each zone met at the local Zocalo (or town center) and sang Christmas carols and hymns and passed out candy.  We went up to Ozumba and met up with the Volcanes Zone (yes it's named that because its next to the active volcano Popo) and sang and talked to people, it was really fun and lots of people gave referrals to the missionaries.  Our only problem was finding them as it was Tianguis, which is their open air market, and we had to get through the market to find the missionaries.  We of course were lost but luckily for us, were rescued by some members who were there and delivered to the Zocalo.  Of course we also got lost on the way out, and again rescued by other kind members who helped us find our car.  Always blessings when you're serving the Lord, I found a Christmas gift for Reid right next to where the missionaries were singing, and I had been looking for these items for several days with no success.  This year Jerry and I didn't buy any gifts for each other, and sent our children in the States gift cards, the ones that came down, Harper, Blair, and Malinda were going to pick out silver jewelry in Taxco the day after, but I had something else in mind for Reid.   If you know him this won't be a surprise, I wanted cuetes, or fireworks.  Yes they are legal here and right next to those missionaries was a stand with rockets of every kind, plus firecrackers, poppers, etc.  I think it might have been the best Christmas gift we ever gave him....and it's legal here!!!

Well it was great to have the twins and Reid and Malinda, not sure they felt the same since all three of the girls got the 24 hour flu, on different days, but we loved having them.  Reid can make anything a party, epic pingpong battles or basketball arcade games or cannon ball contests, plus trying not to blow himself up with the fireworks.  Lots of laughter and fun, and not one wrapped gift under the tree.  One of the highlights was Reid getting to meet one of our Peruvian missionaries.  Elder Alburqueque had visa troubles at the beginning of his mission and was serving in his hometown of...Piura, where Reid served.  Even crazier was that the full time missionary that Elder A served with first was the Reid's last companion, a brand new missionary that Reid trained the 6 weeks before coming home.  It was really fun to see them laughing and talking about people they new.  It really is a small world in Mormon culture sometimes.

I hope this year finds all of you healthy, happy, and prosperous.  We love these missionaries and the wonderful members here (we might still be lost in the Tianguis without them).  We're grateful for your friendship and love to us and our family.  

Con Amor


 Love these sister missionaries, Jerry dressed up in his bday finery from Elders Zufelt & Parker
 I forgot to mention we also had zone skits for Christmas, the biggest hams...Elders Hauser & Lauritzen
 Nothing better than buying your own Christmas presents in Taxco and seeing a giant poinsettia too
^ Saying goodbye to the departing missionaries is never a fun, but saying hello to our nuevos really is v