Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Xochimilco Mexico - Apr. 5, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

First happy Easter to all.  We were able to watch all the sessions of General Conference.  It was a wonderful experience.  Somehow being here in Mexico, away from Utah, makes General Conference seem even more important.

Things here in Mexico really slowed down for Easter or for Holy Week (Semana Santa) as they call it. The Church office buildings were closed on Thursday and Friday.

The area presidency returns tomorrow from General Conference.  So things will pick up a lot.

In last Monday morning's devoyional they made mention that we have a new general authority from Mexico, Hugo Montoya.  They said what a blessing and wonderful thing it is for Mexico.  The new GA is the younger brother of the other executive secretary Jose Luis Montoya.  That will be interesting if the younger brother gets assigned here as a member of the area presidency!

Anyway, during the slow week I agreed to get a rental van and driver, and another missionary arranged an excursion for us.  All 14 of us loaded into a van in the morning.

It was a little tight, but OK because traffic was very light.  I should say very light until we got to the exit to Acapulco.  It was JAMMED with people leaving the city for the beaches.  Some say it was taking 3 hours to get out of the city when usually an hour would do it,   And on they way back from our excursion, THE EXIT WAS STILL all blocked up.

For our excursion we went to the Xochimilco (Zo chi  mil co ).  When the Spaniards arrived Mexico City was build on a lake with several islands.  There were canals and boats.

Xochimilco is kind of like that.  It has canals and boats and it is also famous for it's flowers.  Lots of tourist go there.  (xochitl means flower and milco means place--so place of the flowers)

So when we arrived early, there were ALL of these boats.

And the boats went ON and ON.

We arrived early to try to beat the crowds, so it was a little hard to get to our boat.

The boats were all basically the same inside--a long table with chairs.

(OK you folks that know Mexico. are you getting a little lonesome for Mexico?)

The way you get around in it is that someone pushes your boat with a long pole.  The water is about 10 feet deep.

It is pretty hard work.  I even picked up a pole once when we stopped.

It was not very crowed at first, but in the afternoon there were quite a few boats and sometimes they did bump into each other.

Some of the local families brought large ice chests on board.  Some even had grills.  We brought just a few snacks.

But as you move along all of these vendors come up beside to sell their goods.  If you seem interested their man poles them along side you.  This man is selling roasted ears of corn.

This man is selling blankets and table clothes.  Michelle bought a table cloth.

Even some kind of candied apples were for sale.

And entertainment is offered all while you move along.  We paid for some marimba songs.

There were several different mariachi groups playing traditional music.

I will attach a video; see if it works.  It may too large.  They were singing La Bamba.  The Bamba is a dance and it says things like I am not a sailor, but I will be if you want.  To do the Bamba you need style.  Get up and dance.  I am a captain.  Then the 2 men stood at opposite ends of our boat and kind of made up words.  Like I want to be your brother-in-law so you will need to give me your sister!  They weren't exactly on tune, but had great time.

Xochimilco is famous for it's flowers.  Years ago they decorated the boats with flowers, but now they just have the fronts of the boats painted with flowers.  However, we did stop at some nurseries on the shore.

They had MANY MANY beautiful flowers.

And they also sold dolls.

As we went on up the canal we saw interesting flowers on the shore.

And some beautiful homes on the shores line.

And a little further on, some not so nice homes.

The little boy called to us and wanted us to buy some drinks and food from his family store.

When we got off the boats there were many shops.  I sat down in one that had a orange tarp over it; and tried on a hat.  (The tarp made everything orange)

So then we left and all went to lunch together. 

It was a great trip.  It would be a great place to take any visitors. (Want to come?)

Now for a something of a spiritual thought.

The Liahona is the world-wide magazine of the Church.  It includes the Ensign, New Era, and Friend, all in one magazine.  Here in Mexico it is in Spanish and the middle few pages are Mexico specific.   One of the Area Seventy wrote the main article this month.  

This is the author Ernesto Toris; he works here in the area offices.  He is the employee in charge of welfare for Mexico.  Each month he gives the presidency a report about welfare projects, fast offering used, etc.

After I read the article I talked to him before the Monday morning devotional began to learn more about him.

As the article says at the beginning, when he was young man  some members arranged for the missionaries to teach his family.  His father said they did not want to know any more, but  Elder Toris continued to be interested.  He read church material but he had to keep it hidden.

Finally he insisted he wanted to be baptized; the father said no but Elder Toris said "It is my decision." When he returned his father forbade him to talk about the Church to his siblings and gave him anti-Mormon materials to read.

Then he decided he needed to know all he could about the Church, so he attended Seminary and Institute and priesthood meeting and especially sacrament meeting.  He said of the meetings.
"las cuales fueron fuentes de agua viva para mi." (The meetings were fountains of living water for me, a new convert.)
Finally he decided to go on a mission and his father said that was the final straw.  He was no longer going to be his father and he could no longer be his son!

But Elder Toris decided to go anyway.  But then his father softened a little and actually took him to the MTC.

I asked him if any of his family joined the church; he said no.  And now he is an Area Authority!
So a couple of thoughts.  Who knows what will happen with a convert, even a young single man or woman?  The parable of the sower and good soil comes to mind.

Would I be that dedicated to a "new religion" from a "foreign country"?   I guess it just shows the power of the true gospel.

We get to see examples of devotion and dedication often.  It strengths the testimony.

Elder and Sister Sandberg


  1. Thanks so much for the interesting letter. You are so smart to make a video of the music. The Mexican culture seems to be a happy one. Kathleen

  2. Who needs to go when I just went on a delightful tour via your blog!!

  3. Thanks for the tour and the music and spiritual story. Wonderful break from 37 degree windy weather! Charloyye