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.