Monday, January 12, 2009


Visits from Home

Being on a mission is wonderful in so many ways. The greatest blessings are witnessing the light of the gospel enter into someone's face, meeting so many wonderful people, learning a new culture and trying to learn a new language. These blessings also include the opportunity to see so many new and wonderful things and to feel the desire to share those things with loved ones.

In November we had our first opportunity to share some of our mission experiences. Karen Morgan, our dear friend from our home ward and her darling son Thomas, were in Mexico for a cello strings camp. Thomas, only eleven years old, is a fabulous cellist. Their schedule gave them some extra time at the beginning and end of their stay, so they spent two nights with us. Thomas favored us by playing his cello at the Visitors Center. We also all spent a day in the Zocolo and other sites in the historic center of the city. It was so much fun. We were excited for our next visitors.

We didn't have to wait too long. Just after Christmas, on December 29th, Pat, Monique and all four kids arrived here to spend eight days with us. It was so great just seeing them and having them here. It was so much fun to show them some of the places we love around the Ciudad de Mexico. We would like to tell you about them.

Monday, Day 1: Pat and family arrived early in the morning and we had bad luck finding them at the airport. We finally caught up with them at the car rental (that is another story and could take a whole blog entry). Anyway, by the time we got back to the apartment they were ready to pass out from exhaustion after the red eye flight from Los Angeles and a couple of hours at the car rental. While they slept Grandma and Grandpa went to work. That night we had a great time just visiting, catching up on news, opening our Christmas presents (thanks everyone) and eating.

Tuesday, Day 2: We were so lucky to get several days off work while Pat's family was here and this was the first of three days in a row. We started off by traveling to the pyramids at Teotihuacan. By the time we got on the road and arrived it was about lunch time and everyone was hungry. We decided we would need extra energy for all the walking and climbing, so we opted for lunch first.

The restaurant we ate at is one we had heard a lot about but had never been to. It is called the Gruta (meaning grotto or cave). It is an amazing place. The tables are located down a long flight of stairs inside a large cave. There are some natural openings that bring light in but there are also candle-like lights everywhere. The atmosphere is so fun, the service excellent and the food delicious. We all really enjoyed our stay there.

After lunch we headed across the road to the pyramids. We had been there once before but what fun to go with our family. Everyone made it up to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun which is quite a feat, Jordan counted 240+ steps. Some say that there are as many as 300, but however many they are very tall, all uneven and straight up. Afterwards we walked around and saw many of the other ruins and just had a great day.

Wednesday, Day 3: We started off the day with an early morning meeting at the Visitors Center. We meet each Wednesday morning with the other missionaries for training. We got home about 10:00, had some lunch, got ready and headed to town on our great metro system.

After one bus ride and three metros we arrived in town and went to the Bellas Artes area to see some of our favorite buildings (the Post Office, National Museum of Art, and, of course, the Bellas Artes itself). To our disappointment the Bellas Artes was closed. However, we did buy tickets to go the the night performance of the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico across the street in the Hidalgo Theatre. We had dinner in a beautiful old building called the Tile House (Casa de los Azulejos) named for all the blue tile on the facade of the building. We had good Mexican fare and then went to the ballet.

The program consisted of regional dances from many areas around Mexico. It was very fast moving and the costumes and precision of the dancing amazing. In one scene many large puppet like characters came into the audience and one of them asked Ember to dance with him. That was fun.

After the ballet we headed back to the metro and got home around 10 pm. Although it was New Year's Eve, we old folks turned in. The younger ones stayed up to greet the New Year in and some went up on the roof of our apartment building to see the fireworks across the city.

Thursday, Day 4: Today we slept in a little, visited, ate lunch and then went downtown once more. This time we went to the Zocolo and waited in a very long, hot line to take the city tour bus. Once on the bus it was actually a little cooler and we wished we had brought jackets. The tour lasts almost three hours and provides a great overview of the city and helps you to know what to go back and see.

I think everyone enjoyed the tour. We saw some really neat things. It seemed that by the end of the tour everyone was glad to get off the bus. We then headed to a VIPS resturant. Monique said that VIPs were in Spain so we thought that it would be fun to eat there. By the end of dinner we were a very tired crew and we headed back home on the metro.

Friday, Day 5: Today it was back to work for Grandma and Grandpa and off on an adventure by themselves for Patrick and his family. They now felt brave enough to try the metro alone, so they went to Chapultepec Park and Maximillian's Castle. They seemed to have a great time and did well navagating the city.

Saturday, Day 6: Today the tiredness set in for all. Grandma and Grandpa worked and Jordan and Monique headed to the temple for Jordan to do baptisms. What a neat experience for Jordan and one we know she will always remember. After lunch, Monique went to the Temple to do a session and the older kids came to the Visitors Center and watched The Testament. After they got home and Braxton woke up they had planned to go back to the park and ride the paddle boats. However, when we got home at 3:00 pm , they still hadn't left. Everyone was tired, so we decided to make it a down day. We walked to a nearby tortilleria and bought some yummy, fresh tortillas and had tacos and watched a movie and visited.

Sunday, Day 7: Today we had a quiet morning. After church, we came home and had a nice dinner. It is so fun just having them here and spending time together. It was also fun to introduce our family to so many friends at Church also.

Monday, Day 8: We were out of the apartment by 10:00 am and along with our new neighbors Dr. and Sister Brunt, we were off to Xochimilco, the Floating Gardens. The trip is no small task. It takes one bus, three metros, a light train ride and a 20 minute walk to get there. Xochimilco has a series of interconnecting canals and is in the southernmost part of the city. There are many greenhouses in the area and it is quite interesting. We went out on the canals on a large barge type boat (trajinera) with a man serving as a gondolier and guide. We spent about two hours on the water and it was really fun. All kinds of people in other boats pulled up alongside and tried to sell goods or foods of every kind. Mariachi bands also pulled up in boats to sell you their music. After we got off the boat we were all really hungry.

While walking back to the train Grandma saw a restaurant that looked quite good, so she talked everyone into trying it out. As it turned out the food was good but not the service. They brought out one plate at a time with a long pause between each one. It took a long time to feed our large group. By the time the first ones had finished they had to wait almost an hour for the last ones to be finish up.

Tuesday, Day 9: Well, this was the day for goodbyes. Pat and family got up early and cleaned our entire apartment before leaving. They certainly didn't need to do that but it was fun to see how cute those kids did their chores. It was hard to say goodbye and there were so many more things we wanted to show them, but all good things must end and we are so grateful for this fun visit. It was especially hard to say goodbye to little Braxton. We really got a chance to know him better and he was such a joy. He had grown a lot since the last time that we saw him. The little ones just change too fast.