Monday, December 7, 2009

The End Draws Near

It is so hard to believe that this Friday we will be on our way home (via California to see our two new granddaughters and attend Hadley's baptism). The time has truly flown by and we have made such wonderful friends and truly learned to love a new culture and people. Our intentions have been so good to keep up with our blog but we have had so many wonderful experiences and just not enough time to document them all. So for our last blog from Mexico I want to just document a general list of some of what we love and will miss here.

1. The Visitor's Center: Of course this has been the center of our lives for the last 18 months and we have loved it. The spirit here is so strong and the visitors are touched by it. We have learned to love each of the sisters and will truly miss the ones here now as we do the ones that have already gone home.

Current sisters in the Center

Hermanas Guevara y Saldivar

Hermanas Moreno, Suaste, Torres y Bustillos

Former hermanas with Hna Steer, Bulloch, Foley and Garvin

Elder and Sister Foley with current hermanas

The other seniors and volunteers.

Front Row: The Ruiz's and Reyes Back Row: The Foleys, Garvins and Stewarts

The visitors, especially the children

2. The other senior couples: We have had many great outings and dinners with the other couples. Here are just a few examples

Outing to Benemerito (the Church school): The Garvins, Foleys, Brunts and Stewarts

Dinner at President Bulloch's: Joanna Stewart and Ellen Garvin

Elder Garvin, President Bulloch, Elder Stewart, Sister Stewart, Elder and Sister Olsen, Sister Brunt and Elder Bailey

Mexican Independence Celebration
Elder and Sister Allen

Members and Elders

Elder and Sister Isom

Sisters Morgan, Jarvis and Garvin

Trip to Puebla
Missionaries on the bus

On top of pyramid of Cholula: The Morgans, the Hydes & Sister Brunt

Dinner: The Morgans, Montes and Brunts

Shopping in Puebla: Elder Foley and the Stewarts

A Talavera Factory

Painting the pottery

Some finished products

Waiting for the bus home: Sister Bluth and the Cardons

3. Visits to the Markets: There are so many great markets for everything you would want to find. The neighborhood tianguis (outdoor market), the large Merced market and all varieties of shops.

Candy and pinatas galore

So many eggs!!

and chilis

colorful gifts

unbelieveable cakes

and balloons (globos)

This is a very long post already and I could go on for a very long time, but we just want to say we love and will miss Mexico. It is a part of us now that will always bring warm and loving memories.

Adios Mexico, con mucho amor!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Spriitual Experiences

Not long ago I was asked by a friend what spiritual experiences I had the previous week. There have been many spiritual experiences during the course of our mission. Many things have touched my heart and soul and strengthened my testimony. One of our roles at the Visitors Center consists of greeting people as they come in and seeing them as they leave. The sister missionaries actually take them through the Center. Much of what we see of the visitors consists of expressions written on their faces when they come in and the change that takes place during their visit. At the end of the evening the sisters share with us experiences they have had during the day, many of which are very special.

One of Larry's responsibilities has been to have the sisters write up some of these special experiences which he then edits, has them review and then translates into English which I review. These stories, with a picture of the sister are then put into a book as part of the history of the VC. He has now edited, translated and included over 60 stories in the history. I feel very blessed to have been able to read each of these experiences as they have touched me and helped me to see the many ways the Lord works to awaken the Spirit in His children. We would like to share a few of these experiences with you. The first I will show both the Spanish and the English translations. It is an experience with non members hearing the gospel and feeling the spirit of testimony.

Hna. Brenda Zavala Hernández

29 de septiembre de 2009

Yo tenía muy poco de haber comenzado mi Misión. Recuerdo que fue un Domingo. Amo los días de reposo. Un grupo de jovenes miembros de la Iglesia había venido después de sus servicios al C.V. Entraron al Teatro 1 a ver una película sobre la Primera Visión. Dijeron que todos eran miembros de la Iglesia y no tomaron recorrido. Al terminar la película yo fui asignada a testificar y entregar las tarjetas.

Al entrar al Teatro reconocí a un joven vestido de blanco con uniforme de médico, así que volví a preguntar si era miembro de la Iglesia y me dijo que no. Así que le invité a llenar una tarjeta amarilla. También había una joven con falda, modestamente vestida pero que tampoco era miembro.

De inmediato les invité a tomar un recorrido. Les llevé al área de las pinturas que relatan la vida de Cristo y su ministerio. Expliqué porque era tan importante arrepentirnos y mostrar gratitud. Luego pedí a dos jovenes que compartieron su testimonio. En especial una joven expresó su amor por su Salvador. Ella mostró fe, valor y verdadera gratitud. Animé a los investigadores a escuchar a los misioneros. El joven vestido de médico no quiso llenar la tarjeta pero todos habíamos sentido el espíritu.

Pasaron los meses y comencé a olvidar ese recorrido. Un día estaba en el mostrador y un joven con camisa blanca se me acercó y me dijo que si podría tomarme una fotografía con él. Me imagino que vio mi reacción de sorpresa y me explicó: “Hace algunos meses vine al C.V. y Ud. nos dio el recorrido y compartió su testimonio. Así que al salir de aquí le dije a mi amigo que quería escuchar a los misioneros. Hace unos meses me bauticé” me dijo con mucha alegría. Acepté que nos tomaran la foto y al dirigirme a la estatua del Cristo, vi que más personas le acompañaban, así que me presentó a su familia. Su hermana y su mamá se habían bautizado también un par de semanas atrás.

En ese momento un sentimiento de gratitud llenó mi corazón. No supe qué hacer ni qué decir pero estaba tan feliz. No podía creerlo. ¡Después de un recorrido en donde pudimos sentir el Espíritu un joven y su familia se había bautizado! Nos despedimos y no supe más.

Unos meses después un joven me saludó en el C.V. y me dijo: “Soy el Hno. Cerón. Soy amigo de Jersai Vargas, el joven que se bautizó después de que Ud. nos dio un recorrido. Venimos de Ecatepec. Así supe cómo se llamaba aquel joven a quien yo había ayudado a reconocer la verdad y a hacer convenios con un Padre Celestial que nos ama mucho y que requiere que nos convirtamos en sus instrumentos para iluminar la vida de muchos de nuestro hermanos.


Just after I had begun my mission I remember that it was a Sunday. I love the Sabbath. A group of young members of the Church had come after Church services to the VC. They went in to Theater 1 to watch a film about the First Vision. They said they were all members of the Church and they didn’t go on tour. When the film was finished, I was assigned to bear my testimony and hand out the referral cards.

When I went into the theater, I recognized a young man dressed in a white medical uniform, so I asked him again if he was a member of the Church. He said that he wasn’t, so I invited him to fill out the yellow referral card. There was also a young lady in a skirt, modestly dressed who was not a member either. I immediately invited them to go on tour.

I took them to the area with the paintings that tell the life of Christ and his ministry. I explained why it was so important to repent and show gratitude. Then I asked the two young people to share their testimonies. The young lady especially expressed her love for her Savior. She showed faith, courage and true gratitude. I encouraged the investigators to listen to the missionaries. The young man in the medical uniform didn’t want to fill out the card but we had all felt the Spirit.

Several months passed by and I began to forget that tour. One day I was at the counter and a young man in a white shirt came over to me and asked me if I would stand in a picture with him. I imagine that he saw my surprised reaction and he said: “Several months ago I came to the VC and you took us on tour and shared your testimony. Consequently, when I left here I told my friend that I wanted to listen to the missionaries. It has been several months since I have been baptized” he said to me with great happiness. I agreed to stand in the photo and when I went over to the statue of Christ, I saw that other people were with him, so he introduced me to his family. His sister and mother had also been baptized a couple of weeks before.

At that moment a feeling of gratitude filled my heart. I didn’t know what to do or say but I was very happy. I couldn’t believe it. After a tour in which we could feel the Spirit a young man and his family had been baptized! We said goodbye and I didn’t know anything more about them.

Several months later a young man greeted me in the VC and said: “I am Bro. Ceron. I am a friend of Jersai Vargas, the young man that got baptized after you took us on tour. We come from Ecatepec. So I learned what the young man’s name was that I had helped to recognize the truth and make covenants with a Heavenly Father who loves us a lot and requires that we become instruments to lighten the lives of many of our brothers and sisters.

I wanted to add these two following experiences of one of our sisters who has now returned home to Equador. They are experiences with members but it is interesting to see how the spirit of the sisters and the VC can help members in their lives as well as investigators. I will include only the English translation.

Hna. Caterine Paredes Chiriboga

07 de febrero del 2009


Some time ago I met a young man name Erick Carrillo. From a tour that I gave him I encouraged him to leave on a mission and now he is serving in my country Ecuador. A few months later I met his twin brother Carlos Carrillo. During an open house in his stake he told me that he was not Erick but he also informed me that he had no intention of serving a mission. I did not know why but I felt very sorry for that.

I didn’t have the opportunity then to speak with him, but several months later Carlos came to the Visitors Center. The supervisor assigned me to do his tour. She was really inspired by the Spirit. From the time that I started to teach him, I felt certain in my heart each thing that I should say without even thinking about it beforehand. I know then that God caused him to know his will through me. I told this young man that I knew that this was not a coincidence and that perhaps I had promised him and his brother in the pre-existence to serve a mission. He then told me with certainty: “Yes, Sister, I know that it is so. I saw you in a dream that I had and I knew that today you were going to give me this tour”.

His words surprised me a lot and I cried because it confirmed my words. I felt even more responsibility to help him. He said that he really desired to serve a mission but that he felt that he couldn’t do it until he resolved some feelings that were not in agreement with this sacred calling. I then invited him to remember that Jesus Christ had paid for his sins and that he had mercy when he chose him to serve a mission and that then his responsibility was to forgive and have mercy toward those who have hurt him. I invited him to go into a room and ask in prayer for the Lord to help him. When he came out of the room, his face was changed and he thanked me. I really know that there was a change in his heart.

Very emotionally he came here several days ago with his calling. When I read it I felt very emotional and thankful in my heart to the Lord for allowing me to have this privilege. Carlos was called to the Mexico Chihuahua Mission. I really know that God loves these two young men. I know that in spite of their being twins each one is different and special to the Lord, and he put them in different circumstances and prepared them before coming to the earth to be missionaries. I know that God put Erick and Carlos in the place and circumstances in which he needed them so that they were not where they wanted to be but rather where God wanted them to be. Carlos is very good and will be a great missionary because he knows that Heavenly Father trusts in him and that he is of value to God. Surely whichever young person understands this will have the desire to go on a mission because he will understand that “great is the value of a soul in the sight of God”.

We will miss so much working with these sisters and sharing in these wonderful experiences.

Our mission has been a great blessing in our lives. We love the Gospel and pray we may continue to serve our Heavenly Father.