Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cancun - Mission Presidents' Seminary

Cancun - Mission Presidents' Seminar

Dear family and friends,

I am tired tonight but I want to work on this post.  We were gone all last week to the mission presidents' seminar so we have been working hard to catch up on work missed.  Yesterday I went to the office at 7:15 am  and didn't come home until 8:30 pm.  We did go to Subway for lunch and Michelle brought me a sandwich and a apple for the evening meal. (And we had an hour FHE at the office.)  I think I am a little old to work these long hours, but really I enjoy it most of the time.

We have been kind of sad, since our son Richard and wife Deanne and their family left.  Just a few items to remind us of their visit.

And some drawings.

Every day we walk by a well.  I read that something like 73% of Mexico City's water comes from wells. Recently we noticed they were pulling all the pipes up out of the well we walk by.

The people in the Mexican Colonies know about pulling wells.  Lots of pipe in that well.

Every year all over the word there are held Mission Presidents' Seminars for all the mission presidents serving.  This is a couple days of training and some time for them to relax.  A big project for us was getting ready.  We are not in the picture but all the mission presidents (34), MTC president and their wives and area presidency and wives are in the picture.

The days before the seminar Elder Montoya, the other executive secretary, was asked to go to Tijuana to translate for Elder Holland who was visiting there, and Sister Montoya was out of town also, so Michelle and I made all the final arrangements, which included handouts and name tents for everyone.

A name tent, in case you didn't know, is a triangle shaped paper with a person's name on it to show where he sits.  I am 71 years old; how can it be that I have never heard that name before!!!  Oh well, many new things on a mission.

Elder Brent H. Nielson and his wife came from SLC to train.  He is the executive director of the missionary department and served his mission in Finland.  So one of the things Michelle did was to help translate to English for him, his wife, and some of the wives of the mission presidents.

I will include some the training in a spiritual thought at the end.

The meeting was in Cancun.  This is the view from out hotel room.

Yes, we did get into the ocean, really too rough to be fun.

Nice hotel, big hot tub.

After a full day of training, we had a day of recreation.  Many of the leaders played volleyball in the pool.  For the mission presidents from inland, like the state of Chihuahua, it was really special to be at the beach.

At dinner one of the mission presidents and his wife did a dance for our entertainment.

Then we went on two big buses to see some local ruins called Tulum.  

Our guide was a member of the Church, recently released as stake president.  He said this is what the building originally looked like, they think.

He said some interesting things.  There are in the large buildings some slots which only on certain days at sunrise the sun shines fully through the slot.  The sun shinning completely through on one slot happens only on June 21st, the longest day and on another Dec 21st the shortest day.

Then he said there is one slot where it happens only on April 6th, which he thought had to do with the birth of Christ.

I really related to one thing he said.  These buildings are 100's of years old.  Maybe they were used for good purposes sometimes and not so good other times.  He said for example, the Kirkland Temple was used for sacred purposed once, but not now.  The Nauvoo Temple was sacred, then not sacred, then rebuilt.

I wanted one picture of us together.

Then we went to a large amusement park called Xcaret! While we ate we watched a presentation about the history of Mexico.  It was entertaining and good for the mission presidents and wives not from Mexico to learn a little more about the history of Mexico.  Large arena.

They had nets come up from the side of the stage and plastic walls will hoops where they played the game of trying to knock the ball through the hoops on the wall.  It is an ancient indigenous game.

You can see the hoop on the right side.  They would knock the ball back and forth, hitting it only with their hips.  When the ball was on the floor they would run and then slide into the ball with their hip.  After quite a few tries they got the ball through the hoop!

Then they had a game with a fire ball to try to get it into each others fire pit with hockey-like sticks.

It reminded us of when our boys would soak a tennis ball in gas and light it on fire and hit it back and forth.

They showed how the Spanish arrived.  First they showed the Aztec's worshiping their idols.

Then the Spanish arrived.

 And the Spanish making the local Indians carry a cross.

And they put the cross on top of the Indians' idols.

I took real interest in how they showed how the main saint the Virgin of Guadalupe came about.  In this story a humble man in the country, named Juan Diego, had a vision when the Virgin Mary appeared to him and told him to build a church.  He went to the priest who didn't believe him.

He returned to talk to the Virgin and she did a miracle for him  He took his shawl to the priest and when he open it, there was a large bouquet of roses.  They showed all this.

Then the show moved to dances and music from different parts of the country.

In part of the state of Veracruz they have this tradition that around a large pole they wind ropes.  Then on top of the pole some men sit and then with their feet tied to the rope they swing around and around unwinding the ropes until the reach the ground.

They swing around and around, upside down, for a long time.

I liked the dance of the old men.

Then they switched to songs and things from the North part of Mexico.  I think I had to hold Michelle in her seat.

They ended with everyone on stage with streamers and everything.  A great show!

  The next day after our morning seminar, we flew back to Mexico City.

Here is a question for you, which is further North, Mexico City or Cancun Mexico?

The visitor was Elder Brent H. Nielson.  We were surprised to find out his middle name is Hatch, related to Michelle way back.  Michelle helped translate for them during a stake conference.  The conference was in the Ermita Stake.  The chapel there is one of the very first in Mexico.

Michelle's father and her mother attended church in this chapel when he was a medical student in Mexico City,  And Michelle's sister Patricia was blessed in the chapel!

Lots of people know the Hatches.

Michelle even played the old piano inside the chapel.

And to my great surprise, Sister Nielson asked if they could have a picture with us.

Their son served as a missionary in St. Petersburg Russia when my brother David was mission president there.  They wanted the picture to send to their son.  The Nielsons spoke at length about what a great mission president David was.  FINALLY A SANDBERG CONNECTION IN MEXICO.

We love to see the local members in the meetings.  Aren't these kinds cute!

Well, I will try for some kind of spiritual thought.  This is a story told by Sister Nielson, the wife of Elder Brent H. Nielson, who visited here with him.  She called it the parable of the peaches.

They lived in Idaho for a number of years and found that it was an ideal place for growing peaches, so she bought 3 peach tress and planted them.  After a few years they got beautiful peaches, sweet and delicious.

She had 3 grandsons ages 2, 4 and 6.  When they arrived they would run to the peach trees.  The 2 year old would stop and pick up the fallen peaches and try to eat them.  Many would be rotten and were basically not good and could make your stomach hurt.

The 6 year old would climb to the top of the tree and get the peaches that got the most sun and would taste the best.

The 4 year old would be afraid to climb. We would halt back and forth between picking up the fruit on the ground, picking some fruit on the bottom of the tree, and climbing to the top.

The 6 year old would say, come on up here to the best fruit.  Be he would hesitate.

Now the message of the parable of the fruit tree is like life.  We can pick up the OK but often bad and sometimes really bad things in life at the bottom, or we can get some better things a little bit up in the tree, or we can go to the top.

So my challenge is, reach for the top where the best things are.  God is saying, come on up here where the fruits of life are the very best.

I say to us all, don't be afraid, don't hesitate back and forth between bad, OK and really good.  And DON'T get old and stop reaching.

(By the end of the summer the 4 year old learned to climb to the top).

Love and miss the family and friends.  Hope the videos work.  We enjoy hearing comments back from you.

Elder Dad/Grandpa/Gilbert and Michelle


  1. Great pictures and update. That shown in Cancun sounds as impressive as the ballet folkloric. What a powerful parable. Love you! Karen

  2. Great pictures and update. That shown in Cancun sounds as impressive as the ballet folkloric. What a powerful parable. Love you! Karen

  3. Loved the report and the info on Mexico - thanks!