Someone here in the office asked me if we would serve another mission. I said that would be our 5th. He said that here in Mexico we say "No hay quinto malo." (in English) "The fifth time is never bad." Well, it is not the time to think about a 5th mission.
We expect to do this last post on the blog before we leave, and then a summary after we get home. We arrive home next week.
First I want to do something I have wanted to do for a long time - a little geography quiz about Mexico.. Without looking at the answers below, answer to yourself these questions.
Which is further North, Dallas Texas or Tijuana Mexico?
Which is further North, Miami Florida or Monterrey Mexico?
Which is a longer flight from Mexico City - Tijuana or Salt Lake City?
Which is further North, Mexico City or Miami?
Which is further North, Mexico City or Cancun Mexico?
Then look at the answers
About the same
About the same - 4 hours direct flight
Kind of amazing.
Anyway, we got to go to the National Congress of Mexico. They call it the Chamber of Deputies or House of the people. The Church here is helping organizing a Non-Governmental Organization to advocate for religious freedom and the family.
They had their first meeting in the building where the National Congress meets. The Nation Senate meets in a different building.
Here Michelle and I are entering the building.
You can see the building in the background. Then this is what the building looks like on the other side.
Always being interested in politics, I really enjoyed it. This is one of the halls inside.
We didn't go where the deputies have their official meetings, but to one of the rooms in the buildings.
They were so well organized; 5 different religious leaders spoke, They were openly against gay marriage and were very pro-family.
This says the first meeting of legislators and interreligious councils. Below is the Church's director of public affairs being interviewed by some press.
Below is Elder Dallin H. Oaks; he was the main speaker. All the speakers were introduced by a deputy from the Congress. Elder Oaks was introduced by one of the leaders in the congress who is a member of the Church.
Afterward they served us a nice buffet lunch, and we ran into some people who know Michelle's family, like happens everywhere.
Oh, we had a talent night at our Senior Missionary FHE. I wiggled my ears and played the boogie woogie on the piano. (Not at the same time)
One of the missionaries, Elder Longhurst, played the saw. Check out this short video.
One Mexican Mother's day - 10th of May - we were awakened by a group of missionaries serenading us, singing a traditional song, Las Mañanitas, and the group included the saw!
Rainy seasons is approaching. We do have rain and hail.
We also went to visit Sara Osnaya Flores. When Sara was 13 she went to the Colonies to go to the Academy. A mission president here at the time made arrangements for 13 youth to go to the Colonias, learn more about the Church, and learn English. Sara lived with Michelle's family for two years and later stayed with other people until she graduated. Michelle's mother taught her to play the piano. Here she is with her children.
Since she played the piano when she returned home, she has often played in church and all of her children play the piano. Boy did they treat us great - wonderful meal! Like good Mexican hosts, they could not have been more gracious and kind and considerate.
They had a special basket for the ladies; that is Sister Longhurst with them. And they also gave a large bouquet to each of the ladies.
Then we went to what they said was the first church built in southern Mexico. And Sara's brother showed us many pictures of the early days and the first missionaries.
Including a picture of Michelle's Aunt Reah who served there years ago as a young missionary.
We do have some fun FHE times. Onc the lesson was on being childlike, and afterwards we played some games children pay. This is Michelle playing jackets.
And the Elders playing marbles.
We have been working on our "bucket list", things we decided we wanted to do before finishing the mission. We went to the World Trade Center - Mexico. It is a revolving restaurant at the top of the tall building that turns all the way around in an hour.
They made Michelle's salad table side.
The meals looked like this.
This is how I got my pina colada ice cream.
And now we are training our replacements, George and Judy Sloan from Mesa, AZ. We picked them up at the airport.
Because Mexico City is very crowded and land is expensive, to expand the roads costs too much to go wide, so to get more traffic lanes, they go up--two story freeways.
And the final thing on my "bucket list" was to visit Chapultepec Castle. This castle is on a hill in Mexico City. The name in Nahuatl and means grasshopper hill. They say the Aztec kings liked to leave the crowded center of their city on the island in the middle of the lake and come to this hill which was outside the city.
The Spanish leaders used it and Maximilian, emperor of Mexico set up by France, used it as his palace, and some Mexican presidents used it also They say the Chapultepec park that surrounds it is the largest city park in the world.
e approached the park by going through the monument to the 6 children heros of Mexico. The castle, which can be seen in the background, was used as a military academy during the Mexican - American war in 1846. The US military entered Mexico City, and when the US was winning the battle for the castle one of the teenage cadets wrapped himself in the Mexico flag and jumped from the castle to his death to save the flag. 5 other cadets jumped and now the 6 cadets are heroes. Thus the 6 spires in the monument.
This in on the outside of the castle.
This is one of the rooms which has a grasshopper in the stain glass window.
Many of the rooms are like this.
There have been many remodelings over the years. This is now kind of a sun room, with some of the Greek Goddesses depicted.
Personally, I like the gardens and being with my wife, she is kind of a modern beautiful goddess, no?
Then we walked through the Mexico History Museum which spirals down with many displays.
This is the display of the Battle of the Alamo.
I really enjoy history and politics.
As I said, the name Chapultepec means grasshopper. Well a few days later one of the couples that went with us to the castle brought me this, sauteed grasshoppers! As we have said, we need to think of a mission as an adventure, so I ate one. Salty and crunchy. OK, but won't buy any to eat.
Well in summary, we have had a grand experience in Mexico.
When I (Elder Sandberg) came I had some expectations
1) Michelle would really enjoy it in Mexico. That has been FAR better than I thought. She has just loved being in Mexico, talking Spanish, meeting people, SO MANY people know her family the Hatches and Lunts. AND THE MORMON COLONIES - We have 8 anglo couples here in the office and in every couple either the husband or wife has an ancestor that lived in the Mormon Colonies in Mexico where Michelle is from.
2) I expected to enjoy working as an executive secretary to the Area Presidency. That has been everything I expected and more. I have heard about the very best things happening in the Church in Mexico which brought tears to my eyes. But I have also heard about the very worst things happening in the Church in Mexico; that brought tears to my eyes too. Glad, very glad, for the experience.
I understand my wife and Mexico better; that is good.
And finally, my testimony that God directs His work is stronger than ever. I am inspired how sincerely and continuing the Area Presidency acts on directions from the First Presidency. They take that direction as very important prophetic direction. I wish I had done that more as a Church leader. And I am inspired watching the presidency make decisions. Sometimes they kind of go around and around, but then the inspiration comes, they make the decision, and they are always all in agreement.
This is the Lord's work, He can do and does do His work, sometimes I think in spite of us.
We love our family and friends and look forward to arriving home.
Elder and Sister Sandberg
(It will be sad to put away the name tags.)