Saturday, June 11, 2016

June 8, 2016 Last Blog

June 8, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

The time has come for the last entry for Los Sandberg in Mexico Blog.

We had many goodbye events.  Some missionaries and we went to a very typical old style restaurant.

Very good food and they had singers wandering around.  Check out my pretty wife singing along.

Roland Reyes is a member of our ward.  He was stake president a while back and Kevin Wagner, son-in-law of Michelle's sister Patricia and her husband Leo, was his counselor in the stake presidency.  They wanted to invite us to eat at their place before we left.  Very nice home.

Michelle's class, where she taught Spanish and English to those who wanted to learn either language, brought a pie to the last class.

My nephew Matt Sandberg - son of David and Marie Sandberg - and his family took us out to a very nice restaurant.

The restaurant had a beautiful plaza in the middle.

We also had one last picture with them at the church.  It was nice to have some family in Mexico with us.

We worked a lot with the membership department, and they invited us down to their area for a yummy brunch.

We had a nice exit interview with the Area President and then a lunch for saying goodbye to us and several others who are leaving.  That is the Area President, Benjamin De Hoyos, who is being transferred to Salt Lake City and Elder Paul Pieper who will be the new Area President.

That is everyone who was at the luncheon, including the wives of the area presidency.

The senior missionaries took us out to eat at a restaurant and gave a special FHE farewell for us that included a recitation of an original acrostic presentation in Spanish (An acrostic is a poemor other form of writing, in which the first letter or syllable or word of each line or paragraph, or other recurring feature in the text spells out a word or a message).  

In Spanish there were 8 sentences about us, each sentence beginning with a letter in our name.  
S A N D B E R G.

And an original song for us.

We went down to see the list of all the senior missionaries in Mexico.  Our name was on the top, the next to go home!

Michelle wanted a pictures of her eating her last good Mexican mango and tamale. It was a blackberry tamale. 

I made a last appointment to the dentist because it is cheaper.  
Right now they say the city has the worst pollution it has had in 14 years.  They have put in restrictions; depending on our license plate, you can't drive one day a week and 1 Saturday a month.

This picture is just to remind you that in Dec - Jan we had some very clear skies.

Then there was nothing left to do but pack the bags. (I had to buy an extra bag.)

Then a 4 hour non-stop flight and we were in Salt Lake City with a nice greeting.

It is SO quiet here and no traffic.  This is a walk at 8:00 am on the main street by our house.  Big change from Mexico City.

Big change from Mexico City traffic!

Well time for looking back and summarizing the experience.

I had some expectations before the mission.

1) I thought it would be great for Michelle to serve in Mexico.  To me it seems she enjoyed it far more than I expected.  She loved seeing the sites she knew from before when she lived there, meeting people, and speaking Spanish.  She processed and translated to English about 3000 missionary recommendations.  She said the thing she enjoyed most was calling the stake presidents on the phone and talking to them.

2) I thought I would enjoy working in the Area Office as an executive secretary.  That was generally better than I thought.  I was repeatedly inspired by what is happening in Mexico.  I got to see the best things going on in the Church, including somethings not yet announced, and also the worst things happening in the Church of over 1,000,000 members 230 stakes, 34 missions, with 13 temples.

3) As you know Michelle was born in the Mormon Colonies in Mexico.  I was absolutely amazed how many people in Mexico know about, have had experience with, or have roots in the Colonies. So many people know about about the Colonies and the Hatches and Lunts. While there we had 3 senior couples where one of the spouses were born in the colonies.   But at least 14 of the other couples had ancestors from the Colonies, most of who left during the revolutions.

What was hard.

1) I did not find it hard to be in the office at 7:30 most days.

2)  We had such an active schedule we had trouble sleeping some times.

3) Understanding Spanish was harder than I thought.  In Mexico they speak faster than in Guatemala.  I think the things I liked least was calling stake presidents and speaking in Spanish, but even that got better, pretty good at the end.

4) There were some tough days and some days with tears, but there were tough days and tears at home before we left and I expect there will be more.

What will I miss. 

1) Having something important for the Kingdom to do everyday; being in the "know".

2) Watching the almost weekly broadcast from SLC for all General Authority Seventy Training.

3) Attending meetings when the apostles from SLC came to do training,

4) The top quality managers in the area office.

5) Interaction with the other couple missionaries.  We did lots of fun things together.

6) Mexico City and the country of Mexico.  Large and varied and very interesting.

What I learned, again.

1) Our leaders sometimes seem to wander around in making a decision, but in the end the inspiration comes.

2) General authority wives are more than average confident, with opinions of their own, and willing to speak up.  Maybe that kind of wife is what is needed for us men to progress.

3) The Lord can and does do his work, sometimes not obviously, but He gets it done, sometimes in spite of us.

And finally, a spiritual thought.

I hope I remember the Mexico Area Plan.  This was for all the members and many stakes passed out a copy to ever member.  Here are some highlights.

It started with an introduction:

Over the past 135 years the Church in Mexico has grown in strength and maturity, thanks to the faith and sacrifice of members from both in and outside the country.  (I know many who have served missions in Mexico).  Ancient and modern prophets have prophesied of the essential role that the saints in Mexico will play in bringing the gospel to all nations. To achieve this, we will need greater faith, sacrifice and commitment.  Now is the time to take our place in the establishment of the Kingdom upon the earth. (I could see and feel the members in Mexico moved by this introduction, let's stand up, do more to help the kingdom, we can do it.)

We will help hastening the Work of Salvation by increasing our faith in Jesus Christ.  We will make the sacrifices needed to become temporally and spiritually self-reliant, to provide for our own needs and to support the growth of the Kingdom throughout the earth.  (One of the goals for Mexico has been to provide from Mexico enough fast offering funds to meet all the needs in Mexico.  There has been a significant increase and Mexico is now very close to meeting the need.)

Areas of Emphasis
The members and missionaries, working together, will increase our faith in Jesus Christ to be self-reliant.  To this end, we will: 
•   Fast faithfully, donate generous fast offerings, and be full tithe payers.
•   Take upon us the name of Jesus Christ, participating worthily of the Sacrament and keeping the 
        Sabbath day holy every week.
•   Find the names of our own ancestors and complete the temple ordinances in their behalf.

As we strive to increase our faith, worthiness and obedience, the Lord will open the windows of Heaven and provide for the temporal and spiritual needs of our families.  We will feel the joy of serving others and be blessed with many new friendships.  Our family relationships will deepen and our families will be protected from the spiritual scourges of today’s world.  We will receive peace in our hearts and strength in our souls to face our daily problems.  Our faith will help to hasten the Work of Salvation in all nations of the world.

I believe this plan, vision, and promise applies to me, really to everyone.

I enjoyed my mission.  I am so glad that we went.  Someday when I am old, or maybe better said, when I am older, I will sit in my rocking chair and stare out the window and review my life.  I will think of some good things, and my mistakes, and then I will say, something really good I did was serve senior missions and especially I did a good thing in taking Michelle on a senior mission in Mexico.

Thanks family and friends for your interest and comments.  It has been a wonderful experience for me to write down my experience.  God lives.  He has a plan for each of us.  When I live the Gospel principles my life is better, no doubt about it.  Love you and hope to see you soon.

ex-Elder Grandpa and ex-Sister Grandma
Gilbert and Michelle