Sunday, February 8, 2015

Mexican Papers and Butterflies - Feb 7, 2015 - by Gilbert

Mexican Papers and Butterflies - Feb 7, 2015 - by Gilbert

Family and Friends,

This week I got a car from the area office for the first time - driving here is even more frightening than in Guatemala City.  We used the car to get some Mexican papers.

Here when they take pictures they say you can't smile.  So I got these cards.  Maybe I didn't have to look sad!

First is my Mexican driver's license.  Then my INAPAM card.  It shows that I am over 60 and lets me ride on the Metro free and get big discounts at museums and archaeological sites.

Lower left is my permanent residency card and then my national ID number.  Many people say people from Mexico marry a US citizen only to get their green cards in the US.  Because Michelle is a Mexican Citizen I got my permanent Mexican residency.  I've been trying to tell a joke here saying the only reason I married Michelle was to get my Mexican papers.  Some people laugh, but most don't seem to get it.  They just stare at me!  Humor in another language is one of the hardest things.

To get my "old person card" we had to go to a senior center.  They had this interesting statue there.  The eagle is part of the official flag, but not this eagle.

When we went in there they were having a large exercise class stretching with large rubber bands etc.  They were all old people --  "much older than we are".  :)

Every Monday we have a home evening with the missionary couples.  We have a lawyer, doctor, dentist and Intel IT guy in our group.  Last week the lawyer did a lesson on the history of Mexico because it was a holiday - Constitution Day.  They had a panel of 5 of our group born in Mexico.  Michelle was on the panel.  The head of security for the area came with is guitar and he and his wife sang.

The panel answered questions about the history, or I should say tried to agree, on the history of Mexico.

I have attached a short video of the group singing.  I don't know if you can do that in a blog post, but if it works notice the smile on Michelle's face!  (Some one let me know if it works)

Here is the head of security and his wife in their traditional dress.  It was nice of him to come.

This is a package which our daughter Kristin sent to us on Jan 3rd.

It arrived Feb 6.  A month and 3 days, BUT IT GOT HERE.  (I needed a debt card which was sent UPS Express overnight and it got in 3 days - the day they said it would arrive).

We live in an interesting building.  It is a triangle.  They build the buildings on the lot size they have.  This is a Google Earth picture.  Ours is the white triangle building.

So this is what the inside of our building looks like.  Interesting, huh?  But we are very comfortable here.

As I said we had a car checked out from the area car pool and we along with 10 other missionaries in 3 cars went to a national reserve about 3 hours west of Mexico City.  We had to get permission from the area presidency to go.  See the name of the Church on the car.

This national reserve is for Monarch Butterflies who migrate on the East side of the Rockies, some all the way from Canada.

First we drove on 6 lane toll road, then 2 lane, then through small towns on narrow streets, then a dirt road, high up in the mountains.  THEN WE GOT ON HORSES.

Yes, horses.  They had mainly teenagers lead the horse up and down the hill.  We really had no control other than stay on.  The ride was about 30 minutes up and 20 minutes down.

They said these butterflies come here for the winter,  The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation all live about 2-6 weeks.  Then the 4th generation is born, larger and stronger.  They live about 6 months and they are the ones who go north in the summer.  They travel 1000's of miles, often they catch the wind currents.  The same thing happens while they are in the north.  Then the 4th generation there lives longer and are stronger and make the trip back here for the winter - TO THE SAME PLACE THEIR 6th GRANDPARENTS KNEW!  I think that is 6 or is it 8 generations.

The difference in appearance between a male and female is 2 black dots on the male and larger veins on the female.

They had a rope so we couldn't get too close to the clusters, but there are MILLIONS of them.  Those aren't leaves, they're butterflies!

Be bought a postcard that shows how thick the clusters get some times.

Riding the horses was hard on some people.  This man, not a missionary, was in pain at the end of the ride.

Then we had a group picture of the 12 of us.

We ate at a small local restaurant.

Some did not like the simple meal, but no one has gotten sick yet.  The green is from a cactus leaf (nopal).  It didn't taste too bad.

Then some "mariarchis" came to sing.

It was a father and 2 sons.  The little boy is 8 years old.  He kept good rhythm and changed chords.  I asked why he didn't sing and the father said because he had not practiced with them.  The 8 year old wanted a dollar bill so he could see one, but none of us had one with us.

It was a fun and memorable day.

The mission work is going better and better.  I know my Spanish has improved.  I can talk pretty well on the phone with stake presidents.  Michelle can translate missionary recommendations more and more a day.

A spiritual experience has been to watch a man and his family who have joined the church here.  They attended the church for 5 weeks and were confirmed in sacrament meeting.  Then he and his son were sustained to have the AP.  In priesthood meeting they invited the priest who is an assistant to the bishop to ordain the father after instructing him.  Then they had the father ordain the son after instructing the father.  Today the father and son passed the sacrament and the father was sustained as 2nd counselor in the YM.  It is exciting to see their progress.  The light of the gospel is in their eyes.

Love you and miss you.

Dad - Granddad - Elder Sandberg


  1. Wonderful message, didn't get to see the video didn't show

  2. Glad to hear your gonna drive now so you don't need to walk much!!

  3. The traffic here in Auckland, NZ still terrifies me after two and a half months. Do you have roundabouts there? There are PLENTIFUL here and with folks driving on the left side we are never quite sure which way to look to know if it is our turn to go! Love your post. Keep up the good work.

  4. Dad and Mom,

    Such a neat letter and neat experiences. I'm so glad you were able to see the butterflies. The video came through as a GIF, like five frames that alternate but no sound. I tried downloading it but it didn't work for me.

    Love you,


  5. Love hearing about the butterfly trip adventure and all of your experiences. I remember not being able to express myself or use humor being really hard about learning Spanish. So glad for your example and the good work you are doing.