Dear Family and Friends,
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY yesterday! Please receive our belated expressions of love. Near the top of our list of things we like and love are you--our family and friends.
Valentine's Day has become a big deal in Latin America--much more than I remember it as a child. They refer to it as "Dia del amor, dia de la amistad, o día del cariño." (Day of love, day of friendship, or day of affection.) Here is a display in one of the local Wal-Mart stores that I liked.
Gilbert and I had our own little Valentine exchange at home. We also made some goodies to give away. I made a banana cream pie for Gilbert, his favorite. The cake we shared with others in the apartment/hotel complex, and the pretzel/kisses goodies are to take to work to share.
Gilbert game me the roses. They are one of the things I love about living here--affordable fresh flowers. We can get a dozen beautiful roses for less than $10 sometimes around $5.
Gilbert also told me he would take me to a nice restaurant I have been wanting to eat at, Loma Linda. Fifty years ago when I lived here as a teenager I wanted to eat there but Dad said it was too expensive to take all 7 of us kids to, but we think he and Mother probably went there sometime without us. :)
Anyway, after 50 years I finally got to see inside as well as outside. We would drive by it as we came and went from the mission home, which was only a couple of blocks away.
Dad was right; it is too expensive to take kids to; he would have called it a "swanky" restaurant. Note the napkin Gilbert is wearing; it has a button hole in one corner so you and button it to your shirt. F
And the food was delicious! They specialize in Angus Beef al carbón (grilled). Gilbert and I were going to go alone, but I told someone about it and before we knew it our twosome grew to 16, eight couples. They all enjoyed it. Maybe we will go alone sometime. :)
Something I like about being in Mexico City is remembering the good times we had here as a family when our parents were mission leaders. Gilbert and I took a ride down memory lane last weekend. We had access to a church car and he is gaining confidence driving around our neighborhood, not clear across the city yet. Anyway, we drove by the old mission home where we lived. Loved it!
Also we drove down Paseo de la Reforma all the way to the statues of Diana and the Angel de Independencia--such familiar sights to me. As kids we would ride the buses or take taxis around the city to see friends, movies, etc. There was no Metro/subway then. It was fun and safe and I liked it.
On the way to and from, we drove through the Chapultepec Park area. It was Sunday afternoon and many families were walking along the beautiful walkways surrounded by trees and poinsettias still in bloom, I'm sure some were enjoying the zoo, the lake, the museums and the castle there, but others were just sitting on the grass relaxing or having a picnic. Such a pretty and favorite part of the city!
I like Mexico City. As I said, one of my favorite things here are the flowers. There are many little flower shacks on street corners and even street vendors walking out into the middle of the streets at stop lights selling dozens of roses.
And since it was Valentine's Day, the stores were all selling flowers this weekend. The flower business is a big one in Mexico and Central America; they export. Gilbert read that over 50,000 are directly involved in the flower business in Mexico with another 50,000 indirectly involved.
Another thing we like about Mexico are the panaderías / bread stores. We have a couple within walking distance of our hotel and every big grocery story has a panadería in it. It is hard to pass up the sight and smell buying something. Sample of some breads we had in our house one day.
And of course we love the fresh and affordable produce! This is some of what I bought last Saturday when we were grocery shopping. We can buy guayabas, mangos, melons, papayas, etc. year around.
But the thing I like most about being in Mexico right now is seeing the growth of the Church. I am so grateful for the gospel and the joy it brings into my life and the lives of other members. It is exciting to process the missionary recommendations that come in every day. I am learning to review and translate them more easily and quickly. Instead of dreading a day when I have 20 or so to process, I rejoice. And I feel sad when only 5 or less arrive. We need more missionaries.
7,662 missionaries in Mexico
4,093 missionaries from Mexico
3,022 from Mexico in Mexico
1,071 from Mexico in other countries
About 2/3 males and 1/3 females
I love seeing the pictures of the young missionary candidates when they arrive with their applications. Following are some of the ones that came in last week--such beautiful, handsome and happy young people! You can see the light of the gospel in their eyes and faces.
Many of them are spiritually and temporally self-reliant already. Others will become so when they return from their missions because they will receive training in the stake Self-Reliance centers where they will get career and educational counseling, where they can apply for PEF loans, learn to budget, apply for jobs, etc. Just imagine what wonderful parents they will make! As we strengthen the families we strengthen the nation and the world.
On the missionary recommendation form there is a place where the candidate can share his/her comments. Some of them are very touching, like this one. (Which I translated.)
"I will be the first full time missionary from my family and it is my privilege to do so. I have a strong desire to serve a mission. My great joy is to have the gospel in my life and to live it. That is what I want to offer to other people, so that they will know that this is the only true Church of Jesus Christ and that it has been restored again to the earth and will not be taken away again, and that Christ is there with his arms open to receive them. I want them to know that Heavenly Father loves us all as his spirit children. I look forward to the day and am grateful to our Father for letting me serve in his work, to wear a name badge and represent the Church. I want to do this for Christ, for my family and because of the priesthood which I hold."
I feel that way; it is my joy to serve a mission. Even though I am not involved in sharing the gospel directly, I am helping make it possible for others to do it. I like doing it.
Love to all of you,
Michelle / Mom / Grandma / Sister Sandberg