It all started with my birthday.
Michelle made my favorite birthday cake - spice cake with camel frosting, as well as several favorite meals.
I was feeling old at 71, until Michelle translated a missionary recommendation for a couple here in Mexico who wants to serve a mission - he is 85!!
It was so nice to have all my children and many grandchildren contact us here in Mexico to wish me a happy birthday.
Michelle asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, I said I wanted to go to the National Folklore Ballet with Mexican Traditional Dances. It is presented close to down town in the Palace of Fine Arts; to see the building is in itself quite an experience.
Done in marble with balconies and everything inside.
In the ballet, they do lots of traditional dances - really well done.
In one dance, a couple ties a bow with their feet.
One of the dances is a dancer acting like a deer, He moves like a deer and then at the end he dies having been shot by an Indian arrow. Notice the changing backgrounds from one dance to the next.
So pretty! I love the men's and the women's costumes.
They had some really good mariachis.
I was especially impressed when they had some harp solos. I think they must have 20 fingers on their hands to play so many notes so fast. I hope you can see this video.
We went with my nephew Matt and his wife Jessica and son Kai. It was a great birthday present.
Then Michelle arranged for us to go to a city close by called Cuernavaca. Known for it's nice climate, it is called the city of "eternal spring. Many rich people have weekend homes there. It is about 4800 feet compared to 7800 feet here, so was warmer there. It takes only a couple of hours to get there.
We went with the Area Doctor who went to see the mission president. While there we visited the Palace of Hernan Cortez, the oldest government building in Mexico. The conqueror Cortez was made ruler over a part of Mexico as a reward for his conquests and he had this home/palace made.
Not much of a home, if you ask me. One thing I found interesting, was inside they had some displays saying when the Spanish came to America there was lots of debate about whether it was right and moral to conquer the Indians. Finally it was settled with it is "OK" to conquer to make them Christians. (Really wanted gold.) This is a baptismal "font" used for water to sprinkle new converts.
One of the things the building is famous for is some murals by Rivera Diego. There are 2, very large. One shows history of the conquest of Mexico and the other history of the early days of Cuernavaca.
As is traditional, the mural goes on and on for many feet. In upper middle of this part you see the slaves building Cortez's house or palace.
In this part they showed when the sugar cane business was big in the area.
The murals were done in 1919-1920. I understand and the US Ambassador donated them to Mexico.
One of the reasons we wanted to go to Cuernavaca was so we could eat at Las Mañanitas, a restaurant with beautiful gardens. Michelle ate there when she was a teenager here in Mexico with her family, and she wanted to go again.
There were nice gardens. It was so peaceful and calm and the air was clear.
And Peacocks as Michelle remembered.
Very nice, but we did have one disappointment. Michelle decided to try a new meal. The waiter said it was one of the specialties of the house, taken from the leg of beef, and was called Ossobucca. ?
So this is what came.
WOW - that is a bone sticking out of the top with a red chile draped over it. It did not look good and Michelle said it didn't tasted good either. Maybe if she could have eaten with eyes closed? Oh well.
So, this week all of the Area Presidency come back to the office after their month of time with their families. And boy are they going to be busy in August and September! Two of the apostles are scheduled to visit and of course there is the open house and re-dedication of the Mexico City Temple as well as the Cultural Pageant.
We have not been able to review recommends for new bishops for a month so I am trying to get ready. Here I am with 45 recommendations and we are expecting 15 more next week.
Now for something of a spiritual thought:
First I enjoyed helping a couple get sealed in one of the temples. They got married legally first as couples must here in Mexico and then went to the temple, but the temple people said it had been 6 days since their civil sealing and the handbook said if they didn't come in 3 days they would have to wait a year to be sealed. We checked the handbook and all it says is in a country where a civil marriage is required first, the couple must come to the temple as soon as is practical or they must wait a year to be sealed. I ended up calling the temple department in SLC - there is no 3 day rule. They have discussed the word practical with the first presidency and they have decided practical is the right word. So in the end the temple department called the temple president and got things taken care of. It was nice to help the couple out. In the end it is the individual members that really count.
Oh, and I observed a meeting for 3/4 of an hour with the top leaders of the Church in Mexico trying to meet the guidelines for the Church and get a place for a small group, not even a branch, of members to have their meetings.
Finally, you may have heard that a missionary serving from Mexico in Costa Rica died in his sleep. We spent some time helping the family fly to Costa Rica to get the body; it would go quicker to get the body back if they were there. Our fellow executive secretary went to the airport to meet them when they came back to Mexico. One of the Area Presidency met with the family before they left, and one of the Area President attended the funeral and brought back this report.
When the missionary left, at the airport the mother shouted to the departing son, three times, "Hurrah for Israel, Hurrah for Israel, Hurrah for Israel!" This is like Brigham Young and his family when the apostles left for English in the early days.
At the funeral, they had the local missionaries come and sing and he said everyone gave great talks.
Here is a picture that was on the chapel doors when people come in.
The flags are from Mexico and Costa Rica.
The sign says, "Mission Completed and a Grand Hurrah for Israel."
The 24th of July is not a big deal here, but the history of the Church and the faith and dedication of many of the Saints here in Mexico are very much as strong and as alive here as they were among the saints on July 24th 1847.
Elder and Sister Sandberg