Monday, August 24, 2015

Routine and not so routine

Dear Family and Friends,

As we approach the half-way point of our mission, we have pretty much settled into a routine.  But we have enough not-so-routine experiences to keep things exciting.  

On normal weekdays, Gilbert goes to the area offices at and I at.  We both try to exercise before we go, either on the treadmills in the exercise room of our small (rather Spartan) hotel or on the stationary bike we purchased and set up in our bedroom.  On Mondays we go together to attend the weekly devotional for the office employees. We enjoy associating with the other people who serve and work in the area offices.

Area office on a day when the sky was really blue.  Often the sky is grey from clouds or smog.
At, we come home for lunch, and a short siesta if we can.  If not, we are back at the office about and work until :00. Or sometimes until after 6:00.  

Some who work in one office break their routine by having a colorful sock competition every few weeks.  Wild!

Probably the most dangerous thing we do here is cross the streets, (one main and two small side streets) between our hotel and the office building.  Sometimes there is little traffic and we can cross easily; other times there is bumper to bumper traffic and again we can cross easily.  The challenge is when the traffic is moderate and the cars come fast with motorcycles speeding around them.  It keeps us alert.

We are amused by the small street with two-way traffic and cars parked, sometimes double-parked, on the sidewalks, especially right by the no parking sign. So where do we walk? In the street of course, dodging the cars.

Most evenings we come home, maybe do more work or email or make phone calls after dinner.  Or not so routine, we just relax.  On Mondays we go back to the office building for Family Home Evening with the other couple missionaries.  We take turns giving the lesson and providing refreshments. Sometimes we have an activity such as when some young people came and gave us a lesson in Mexican folk dance.  Not a regular routine, but lots of fun.

A not-so-routine evening for us happened this week when we went with one of the young Elder missionaries to teach a discussion to the Francks, a couple we met at the English ward.  He is from England and she from Mexico City.  We invited them to come to the Spanish ward with us once and they seemed to like it.  Because of rush-hour traffic, it took us an hour and a half to get to their apartment. We walked to Palmas to catch a taxi, rode to the Metro station in Polanco, took the Metro subway to Camarones, and then walked quite a distance to their house.  But it was worth it; we had a great visit!  We don't have a picture of them yet, but do have a picture of the sister missionaries in our ward when they ate with us recently. One is from Canada, one from Mexico and one from the US.  Both the Elders and Sisters in our ward are in three-somes right now.  Good young people!   

One thing that is becoming a little more routine, or at least more comfortable for me, is leading the music time in Primary.   Here is a picture of the group one day when we had some visitors from the USA.

Here is a video Gilbert took of me leading Primary music.

We have a recent convert sister in our ward who attends church faithfully. However, she has some emotional challenges.  Recently she has been heart-broken because she thought a good single brother who befriended her was going to marry her. She and I have become friends, and we sometimes sit by her. Today she was sobbing during sacrament meeting, bless her heart.  We all try to comfort her.  But last week she was happy.

A few weeks ago she told me she needed a blanket for her doll.  She said it was life-like and life-size, so I bought her a baby blanket and Sister Stevens and I took it to her.  Last week she brought her baby to church to show us.  

Something that made Gilbert happy was when Elder Lester Johnson brought about 20 boxes of peaches from the Colonies in Chihuahua to the last area council meeting giving a box to every leader and area seventy present.  

We have loved eating peaches the last two weeks and have frozen some for later.  Yesterday I made Gilbert a peach pie for our 49th wedding anniversary.  Yummy!

He gave me roses, chocolates, and made nice cards and signs to put up around our apartment.  

That was not unusual; he has usually remembered and celebrated special occasions.  I appreciate him for that.
But the way we spent our anniversary day was out-of-the routine.  My friend Gloria Perez-Torres invited us to her home in San Angel, in the southern part of the city.  She lives in a lovely home in a very picturesque, colonial neighborhood near the famous San Angel Inn restaurant.  Even though she and I went all the way from 1st grade through senior year together in Colonia Juarez, we had not seen each other in 51 years until a few months ago.  

She was so gracious and hospitable, showing us interesting things in the neighborhood where she lives.  We walked around the park and into some museums.  In the park there were many artists with their pictures for sale.

This is inside the patio of an old colonial home that is now a museum.

Note the huge beautiful wall decor and fountain in the concert hall of the home.  

After several hours walking around, we went back to Gloria's home for a delicious 5-course dinner.  She invited a recently widowed 3-star army general to have dinner with us. He is an old friend of the family and was very pleasant to visit with--also bilingual.  We invite them to attend the open house of the temple with us this week.

Friday afternoon we had a sweet and sour experience.  Four missionary couples planned to go to the temple open house, leaving at 1:00 to be there in plenty of time for our 3:00 p.m. appointment and to beat Friday rush hour traffic.  Well, the car we were in was rear-ended by a big delivery van as we were stopped and waiting to get onto the Periférico.  None of the 4 of us were hurt, and the car was only damaged on the bumper, but we sat there for 2 hours waiting for the insurance agents for both vehicles to come and do all the paper work and let us on our way. Sour!  By then the traffic was bumper to bumper and instead of it taking us 45 minutes to get to the temple, it took us an hour and a half.  We arrived at the time we were supposed to be through with the tour, but the other 2 couples waited for us and we took an abbreviated tour, skipping the introduction and video and going straight to the temple.  It is beautifully, completely refurbished inside!.  This was our first time inside; we were touched by the beauty and the size.  Sweet experience!  It was worth all it took to get there. 

 Afterwards we went out to eat at P. F. Chang's.  Very appropriately, sweet and sour was one of the 9 dishes we shared family style.  It only took us 35 minutes to get home.  😊  Definitely not routine!  

A Spiritual Thought:

So at times like Friday afternoon when we had our little accident and were stuck in noisy traffic for over 3 hours, I wonder if it is worth it to keep going.  Maybe we should just turn around and go home.  Why do we so often have to experience the sour before the sweet?  Why the interruption in our routine?  Why the need for opposition? 

That is one of the questions our investigator friends asked during our visit with them last week--why opposition?  We tried to explain  that when we understand God's plan for us, it puts mortal life and opposition in eternal perspective. This life is a school to help us reach our divine potential, to become like our Heavenly Father.  It is not meant to be a paradise where we just play and remain as innocent children.  (Of course there is a place for innocence and play, but it is not our eternal destiny.)  

We learn and do the best we can, knowing we will make mistakes and have trials. That is why we need a Savior.  But sometimes when I decide to do something good, something I felt inspired to do, and then I receive opposition, I doubt my original decision. (Like accepting to be the music director in Primary.)  But if we keep trying and don't give up, things usually work out OK.   

I like this quote from Elder Holland that our daughter Karen shared with us in a letter this week. "With any major decision there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears. 'Cast not away therefore your confidence.' Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you."  

I testify that life can unfold beautifully when we stay the course and go forward in confidence. I am glad we pressed on to the temple.


Michelle, Mom, Grandma, Sister Sandberg