Friday, August 22, 2008

The People We Meet

One of the things I have enjoyed so much about our mission is the wonderful and interesting people we meet. One of these people is Jean Scott. I am writing about Jean today because she and her husband Dave left to go home last week and she has been on my mind.
Jean was widowed when she was 30 or 31. Her husband had just been put in as bishop. She and her husband and four young sons were driving from California to Utah for General Conference. They were in a terrible accident and her husband was killed and two of the boys injured. Both the community where she lived and the nurses from her son’s hospital gave her much needed support that she has never forgotten.

Jean knew that she would have to work. She had earned a teaching certificate ten years before but had never taught school. To renew her certificate California required that she re-take classes but she could not wait that long. After she met with the school board several times, she succeeded in convincing them to let her challenge the renewal rule by student teaching for a full semester with the regular teacher observing her.

During the next years as she raised her boys she taught English in high school, received her master’s degree and moved her family to Utah. She was offered a job at BYU and while working there she received a PhD in Educational Psychology at age 55. Afterwards she was named as the first head of the Women’s Center at BYU.

Shortly after she started the Women’s Center she met Dave Scott on a blind date. She had not dated nor was interested in dating, but after time a much determined acquaintance convinced her to go out with Dave. Dave was a neo-natal pediatrician in Bountiful. They hit it off and after a fairly lengthy courtship they married.

They both worked for awhile but after they retired they started doing some amazing things. First they went to Haiti where Dave worked in a hospital and Jean volunteered in an orphanage as well as participate in many other projects. Then they served a mission in Nepal where Jean started a pre-school and an orphanage. She filled her time with many humanitarian projects and learned to love the people and the country a lot. They loved it so much that after they got home they were called to come back and didn’t hesitate to accept.

After Nepal they put in their papers and hoped to go to Africa. They both spoke French and knew French was spoken in parts of Africa. However, they were sent here to Mexico City and Dave was the doctor for all the missionaries from Mexico City south to the border. They both studied Spanish diligently and did very well. In fact , Dave taught health classes in Spanish to all the missionaries and Jean assisted.

Doctors serving missions have very full schedules; however, their wives have no set agenda, so Jean’s projects here were numerous. She took over a project begun by a previous missionary to make baby caps and blankets to deliver on a regular basis to a local hospital for indigent mothers. Many of the senior missionaries are now involved in crocheting caps and making blankets. She also became a self-appointed visiting teacher to an elderly sister in our apartment building. She often visited her and accompanied her to Church every week. She also approached the RS President in our ward about service projects. The President told her, “We don’t do service projects in our ward.” She was determined to change that.

Since I have been here, I have participated in a service project to make lap blankets and bags containing hygiene products to deliver to a nursing home and school kits to be donated to the Church’s Humanitarian Center. These were both headed and carried out by Jean and she got great participation from the sisters of the ward.

In addition, Jean greeted everyone at church and went out of her way to be a friend to all. She and Dave took a young convert who was blind to a specialist because Dave thought there was a chance to help his eyesight. Along with other people they contributed to pay for his surgery which resulted in his sight being restored to one eye. Just after his surgery he came into the Visitors Center and cried through the whole presentation. He couldn’t believe he could see it. He then came and gave me a big kiss on my cheek. He couldn’t contain his excitement. Dave and Jean took him to every follow up appointment.

The night before Jean left the mission field (when I would have been going crazy packing and stressing), she had us all to her apartment because she had some material she had purchased to make a blanket for the elderly sister she visits. She asked our help in tying it (of course, she had made wonderful chocolate chip pumpkin muffins for us). We tied the edges of the blanket and then delivered it. She also used this night to give all of us all the food from her cupboard and fridge. The week Larry and I arrived in the mission field Dave and Jean had agreed to extend their mission here for a year. However, they had a family crisis and had to leave suddenly. Because they were planning to stay, they had just stocked up on everything but then gave it all away. Jean also gave me all her Spanish study materials.

I only hope I can work as hard as she did and do as well. She is truly an example of hard work and good works.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


On July 9th we went with Paul and Ellen Garvin, our Center director and his wife, to Teotihuacan, an enormous archaeological site about 25 miles northeast of Mexico City. It took about 45 minutes on the toll road. Paul and Ellen said they went on the free access road the last time they went and it took about two hours. It was worth the extra pesos.

The archaeological site is probably the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas and may have had 100,000 inhabitants. It is known for its large residential complexes, the "street of the dead," its colorful well preserved murals, and of course the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon.

The city's broad central avenue is called the "Avenue of the Dead." Along both sides are impressive ceremonial structures including the immense Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. We hiked up the very steep steps of Pyramid of the Sun which must be about 300 feet. The view from the top is really worth the sore muscles. On the way down we saw three people carrying a handicapped fellow up in a wheel chair. What some people will do for the ultimate thrill!

We were hoping to visit a section with a lot of mural paintings but when we got there they were closed. Oh well, something to look forward to the next time.

On the way home we saw a young child standing beside the road with a menu in his hand, so we stopped and looked at it. All that climbing and walking in the hot sun had made us hungry, so we decided to give it a whirl. It was great sitting outside on the veranda. Beside Elsie, a young girl of 8 or 9 who worked there, entertained us with her witty conversation.