Sunday, March 15, 2009


In September 2008 we had an unexpected treat. The senior couples at the Visitors Center were given three days off in a row. We all knew that we would be very busy with the upcoming Temple open house and re-dedication and would be working non-stop during this time. The director decided to give us some extra time off before the onslaught of visitors.

Janice and I decided we would like to go to Taxco, a colonial silver mining town in the state of Guerrero, so we took off early one morning. Sergio, a member who does a lot of choffering for the senior couples, drove us to the bus station on the south side of town.

Sergio and the happy campers

From there we boarded a bus for a three-hour bus ride to Taxco. The bus was very comfortable. Besides the snack that they provided we watch movie (better than the airlines). It was fun to look at some new scenery as we passed through Cuernavaca and the region to the south of there. It was mountainous country with lots of beautiful trees. The day was overcast and the clouds were fun to watch moving across the sky.

Wish that bus would get here!!

Now this is relaxing

Beautiful foliage on the way to Taxco

Our arrival in Taxco was breathtaking. The sun had come out and shone on many white buildings with red tile roofs built on steep hills. The roads are very narrow and steep. The taxis there are all Volkwagon bugs that are called vochos in Spanish. I suppose that they use vochos because the streets are too narrow for most cars. Sometimes they have to go up the hills in reverse gear so that they will have more power.

Beautiful Taxco

The windy and steep hills

We checked into our bed and breakfast that we had located online, La Casa de Palmas. We went up one of the steep hills from town and came to the entrance which was a large black gate. You entered and immediately saw an area of green grass and large palm trees (thus the name). There were also beautiful flowers and a fountain.

It had been a villa owned by the painter Clinton King. The famous muralist Diego Rivera used to stay at the house and visit with him. We actually stayed in the artist's studio which has now been made into guest quarters. It is rumored that Rivera painted a mural on a wall in the garden that is now thickly covered with ivy. It is a wonderful place. We really enjoyed staying there. It is owned by an American couple from Missouri. They come to Mexico a couple of times each year to stay. It turned out that they were there during our stay and we had a chance to visit with them.

Not so pretty on the outside

But oh once inside the gate!!

Our Balcony

A couple of views of our room

Taxco has lots of interesting things to see. One of the prettiest things we saw was the cathedral of Saint Prisca. One of the early silver barons heavily funded the construction and maintenance of the cathedral. We were really impressed.

Looking at the cathedral across the town square

View from a side street

Interior of the cathedral

Looking up in the cathedral

Taxco is full of shops that sell items made of silver. I have never seen so many jewelry stores in my life. It was interesting to see all of these items. If you have a bundle of pesos you could really pick up some neat things. It also has one of the biggest market places we have seen. It was built on multiple levels with walks winding up and down. You could buy just about anything imaginable there.

A silver store

Other various shops

One of the other things we enjoyed in Taxco was the great restaurants. In a small area in the town square there were many to chose from. During our stay we ate in a traditional Mexican restaurant, an Italian one and a wonderful natural food restaurant which had salmon to die for They were all really good.

We ate on this balcony

Another restaurant

The 16th of September is the Mexican independence day from Spain and we arrived in Taxco just before then. 2008 was a special independence day since it marked exactly 200 years since the beginning of the revolution. 2010 will be the big moment here in Mexico, since it commemorates the end of the revolution and separation from Spain. As small as Taxco is there were independence day activities going on while we were there. We got to see these activities in the town's central plaza. The town plaza (or Zocolo) is also where everyone gathered to talk. We enjoyed just sitting and watching the people.

School children after participating in a commemoration program

Locals visiting on the plaza

It was a little rainy and overcast while we were there but we didn't mind it. We also had some periods of bright sunshine. It was fun to have a break and see some of the local cultural and sites of interest and we brought back a few little trinkets to brighten our apartment and help us remember.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Reflections on the First Half

It is hard to believe that on February 12th we hit the halfway mark of our mission. In so many ways it seems like we just got here. The time has flown by and we have really enjoyed it all so far. The highlights would include:

1. Our work in the Visitors' Center. The amazing spirit and events of the open house and Temple re-dedication was truly special. We were so blessed to be here for that and to witness the effect it had not only on the investigators who went on the Temple tour, came to the Visitors Center and attended the cultural event, but also the effect it had on the members. Being able to have the Prophet in their midst was an amazing thing for them. With thousands of people going through the VC you could really feel a special spirit here. It was so wonderful to see the change on people's faces as they heard the gospel message and the words of Jesus Christ. There is always a special spirit here in the VC. Many people who come in comment on it. It is a beautiful place, one of the loveliest visitors' centers in the Church. We are so lucky to be serving here.

Earlier this year Elder Jeffrey R. Holland visited and addressed the missionaries from the four Mexico City missions. That was certainly a highlight. Recently Elder Richard Hinckley of the Seventies visited along with two other brethren from the Missionary Committee. It was so great for them to spend time in the Visitors Center and do some training with the missionaries. They also visited one of our open houses that we hold each week in the chapels throughout the area. They too felt of the spirit of this special place.

(First row left to right: Elder & Sis. Stewart, Pres. & Sis. Bulloch, Bro. Mark Lusvardi,
Elder Richard Hinckley, Elder & Sis. Garvin, Elder & Sis. Foley;
2nd & 3rd rows: Sisters assigned to the VC)

2. The wonderful people of Mexico we have met both in and out of the Church. The Mexican people are warm and open and have made us feel very welcome. The children are so beautiful and the parents are so patient with them and show such affection toward them. They are dressed so cute and it is so fun to see them when they visit the Center. We have truly enjoyed our ward here and the members. We also had a chance to teach a marriage relations class in Sunday School and felt very close to our class members.

(Just a few of many darling children who visit the Center)

3. The other senior missionaries. It has been a great experience to move into an apartment and have built-in friends. Each of the missionary couples are different but each has so much to offer and we are learning from all of them. We enjoy our combined family home evenings on Monday nights and all the outings we have taken with individual couples and as a group. It has been sad as some of those we have grown close to have left, but then we become happy again as we get to know the new ones that arrive.

(Goodbye to the Scotts, Steers and Thomas's)

(Welcome to the Brunts, the Morgans and the Stewarts.
Note that the wine really is on all the tables. We did not partake!!)

4. The young sister missionaries in the Visitors Center. We have really learned to love these sisters and are so impressed with the good work they do. It is fun to work closely with them and see them grow as they serve the Lord. We really have a chance to see that development and it is a testimony builder for us to see them overcome problems and become so much stronger. It is very hard as each one leaves but we are excited for them and what their future holds. Most of them are very close to receiving college degrees and have much to offer in their careers as well as in the Church and in marriage and families. One of our sisters recently went home and within days was working, going to school and the president of her ward primary.

(Sisters Soltero and Rodriguez)

(Sisters Herrera and Vasquez)

(Sisters Meza R [still serving] and Amaya)

(Sisters Jimenez and Salcido [still serving])

(Sisters Chico and Paredes [still serving])

(Sisters De la Cruz, Martinez and Marmolejo)

5. Mexico. We have really learned to love this country, and especially Mexico City. We have been trying to learn all we can about it and have loved getting out on our days off to learn about the culture and the people. We are so impressed with the beauty, the order, and the cleanliness of the museums here. We have seen many wonderful things and are constantly amazed at how old they are. We go to some of the ruins and stand among cities that existed in Book of Mormon times. It is awe inspiring.

(View of the Palacio de Bellas Artes from the Latin America Tower)

(View from the Basilica de Guadalupe)

Our Final Testimony

We love the Lord, we love His church and we are so blessed to be in this great calling at this time. This has been and we know will continue to be a great time for us to grow closer to the Lord and closer to each other. We want to progress in our work and be able to return home feeling that we have done all we can and have served as the Lord would want us to. We feel the day for that is coming too quickly and are already feeling how hard it will be to leave, although there will also be great joy in returning home to loved ones. The Church is true and we want our family to know how important it is in all of our lives and what joy it can bring to us as a family.

A little blurry but my first Valentine balloon (Balloons are a big thing in Mexico)