Saturday, May 16, 2009


The Ravages of Porcine Influenza

It is hard to believe that a city of 22 million people could be shut down, but that's what happened during the swine flu crisis here. First the schools shut down, then the museums, restaurants and libraries. Next came the churches, including ours. Government buildings and all non-essential businesses followed. Soldiers and public health workers were stationed in metro stations handing out face masks and quaranteening people with severe flu systems. The Temple went to a shortened schedule and accepted only people with previous appointments for living endowments and sealings. The local temple workers were told to stay home and the Temple missionaries covered the shifts. The Temple closed at 4 p.m. everyday. Soon after, the Church decided to close the Visitors Center in compliance with government guidelines. During this time all the outside gates of the Manzana (Temple Square) were locked to the public. You were only allowed in by invitation from Security. The Manzana with its usual hustle and bustle had now become a ghost town.

Empty Manzana

Closed sign on Visitors Center door

During this time our director, Paul Garvin, and his wife Ellen were in the States which left us to figure out how to keep 14 sisters busy while the Center was closed. We had to use some creativity to achieve this goal. Their activities during this time included re-activation work, and studying the Gospel, English, music, health and cooking. They also participated in crocheting for a humanitarian project, team building activities, and helping in the training of missionaries at the MTC. Some of these activities were already in place but we added others and lengthened their schedules. It is amazing how much English the sisters learned during that time (oh to be young again and have such a bright young mind).

The hermanas participating in "trust-building" activities

Baking with Hermana Foley

In anticipation of the possible closure of the international airport the mission president allowed the Tanners, a senior couple assigned to an employment center, to return home a week early. However, soon after, travel for incoming and departing missionaries was brought to a halt all across Mexico. All missionaries were to remain in place even if their homes were in a different part of Mexico City. Sister Zometa, one of our VC sisters, and Sister Tovar, another sister from the East Mission, had to extend a week and a half until the travel ban was lifted. We put them up in the MTC dorms and involved them in our new activities. They took it in their stride.

The Tanners, assigned as employment specialists, prepare to leave early for home

The Garvins returned in time to say goodbye to Sister Zometa

The Foleys and Stewarts also had to say goodbye to our Sister Zometa

Sisters Tovar and Zometa get to go home


We re-opened the VC on May 7th and the Garvins returned on May 8th. Things are gradually getting back to normal. For us it was quite an experience. During the time the Garvins were gone we not only had to deal with the swine flu, but President Bulloch, our mission president, came to the Center and conducted changes, bringing some sisters in from the field, sending new one out and changing some companionships. We also had one sister that we had to send home on medical leave due to illness. This created a shortage and left us with a companionship of three.

We are grateful for all of these experiences and know the Lord truly blessed us during this time. The flu really didn’t affect anyone on the Manzana and we were able to have some special experiences with our beautiful sister missionaries and with the Stewarts who went through all of this with us.

We love being on this mission and are so thankful to our Heavenly Father for this opportunity.