Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Week of Changes-

A Week of Changes

Some changes brought tears- 

while some changes brought looks of anticipation and smiles...

Departing Missionaries August 17th 2013

"Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end.

 They simply mean I'll miss you... until we meet again."

We sadly said goodbye to ten magnificent missionaries.
Many served as Zone Leaders and Trainers and so we felt a large leadership gap ...
but it created an opportunity for others to "step up to the responsibility".
After Zone Leader training ended at 1:00 pm on Friday the 16th these departing missionaries arrived at our home for fun and food. We had a lunch BBQ and President and Sister Valenzuela joined in before they left for meetings. President Egbert met with each Elder for an exit interview. While those interviews were happening the rest played Ping Pong, fun games, the piano and enjoyed each others company. Ping pong brings out the aggressive side of many... (Elder Dove!) At  6:30 pm we had a spaghetti dinner/ ice-cream sundaes and then a special mtg with remarks from President Egbert.
Talented Elder Pintor accompanied us on the piano.
The closing song was "God Be With You Til we Meet Again." Ugh!! Not a dry eye and lots of emotion through that 45 minutes. Some of these Elders were ready to go home, but many of them wanted to serve longer. I have a whole new perspective of how for many the fear of going back home is significant. Life in the mission for many feels so sure, safe, and has a certainty about it. I can only imagine how excited their families must have been in anticipation of their arrival back home.

We celebrated on Friday night and then awoke at 4:30 am Saturday morning to send them off on the van/bus to Mexico City, with a muffin and juice in hand, where they boarded flights for home. President then met up with Elder Valenzuela Saturday afternoon for additional meetings in Tecamac with the Stake President, Bishops, Missionaries, Ward Mission Leaders and High Counselors over missionary work.
Sunday we had Stake Conference in the Pachuca Centro Stake. What a special spirit I felt there. I spoke for just a minute and bore my testimony- President helped translate for me. Tahlia, our daughter still visiting, sat with some of our Elders who kindly translated several of the talks to her.
 She reminded me, "Mom you have to BREATH when you get up there!" 
Ahhh.. Anxiety a #12 on a scale of 0-10. President Egbert gave a marvelous 10 minute talk. His stories touch peoples souls. I didn't understand much in Spanish but witnessed teary eyes in the congregation and felt the reverent spirit the entire meeting.
Then Monday morning we had 5 native missionaries (3 Elders and 2 Sisters) from Mexico arrive via bus from the Mexico City MTC. We fed them breakfast and President interviewed each one to get to know them and receive inspiration on which new missionary should go with which trainer.

We then headed to the mission offices where we had HUGE CAMBIOS 
(changes/transfers) for the whole mission.
 We didn't do much on the last changes as we had just arrived and didn't want to stir the pot too much- so we made up for it this time! 
From what we can tell almost a week later - most all are adjusting well. 
Here are a few faces of the change....
 Tahlia (our daughter above) met up with Elder Segura. They went to 4th grade together!
I think he's grown immensely taller since then... but she is still just as bossy without the pigtails....

Tahlia Mae our daughter so enjoyed her week here visiting the mission and was so much help.
She asked her Dad if she could put "Mission Service-Eight Days" on her resume.
I don't even think he thought that was too funny!

Elder Shillig one of our assistants was made a trainer for his last cycle. Exceptional trainers are so valuable for these new missionaries and Elder Shillig was needed in this assignment. We will so miss seeing him daily. Elder Poulsen was called to be Presidents new assistant in his last cycle of the mission.
 He is from Ely, Nevada and has been serving as an outstanding zone leader.
Everyone grabbed their suitcases and headed back to their areas with their new companions. We jumped into our mini van with both assistants and zipped to Mexico City Airport to pick up 5 North American missionaries coming in at 4:00 pm from the Provo MTC.
Look how handsome Presidents two assistants are as they pose for a picture in the airport parking garage.
Yes, President parked in that space meant for a Geo, and no I couldn't even get out the right side without contorting my body to fit in a 1 inch space...... 

On Tuesday morning we gathered the ten new missionaries that arrived Monday and the ten trainers assigned and had new missionary "orientation" and "training for the trainers". Our assistants and secretaries did an exceptional job.  By 1:30 pm everyone from this group was headed out to their new areas.....

Look how busy our Elders have been.....

This little boy on the upper left corner played the prelude for a baptism... so so cute... and the little girl in the upper middle picture is the one that was referred to in an early blog about the assistants staying home from Molango and finding this family. The others are of Elders coming in for "mail" and "supplies" on P-Day.

There is something about service projects and physically working together that lifts ones spirit...

Pachuca Sur Zone - Monday Activity Day
Watched the movie "17 Miracles" and had lunch all together.
One activity that they did was dynamic- it involved having to take a coin out of a plate of water, not getting themselves wet and using a knife, a glass, a lime, matches and a Book of Mormon to assist. It is fun because of everyone's thought process. Answer: a post-it-note was in the Book of Mormon explaining how to do it.  So first you cut the lime in half, then place six matches into the lime standing up, then put the lime on the plate on the opposite side of the coin. Next you light the matches- and place the glass over the burning matches covering the lime. The flame sucks the oxygen out of the glass and pulls the water into the glass, leaving the coin out of the water on the plate, where you retrieve the coin with the knife- AWESOME! Thus- the lesson- "revelation" is found in the Book of Mormon. All the answers are there and that's usually the last place we go if we have a question.

A companion-ship from this zone above has a spouse of a less-active brother who has a baptismal date set for September 13th and is working so hard. When ever they see her she is studying the Book of Mormon and looking things up on the church website. They have had two family home evenings with her last week with two families, and this week had three arranged with three different families. Their thought process is that before she is baptized they want her to have a family home evening with every member of the ward council or at least every auxiliary. This motivation comes from their love for her and their desire for the ward members to get to know her personally and to love her as they do- thus they will surround and support her as the newest member of the ward.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

MISSION TOUR- Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela & Sister Pilar Porras Valenzuela

Mexico Pachuca Mission Tour

August 14-15-16-17  2013

Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela & Sister Pilar Porras Valenzuela

Elder and Sister Valenzuela Of the Seventy, came to the Mexico Pachuca Mission for a tour where special zone conferences were held. He has been assigned to the Presidency of the Mexico Area. We had four zones meet together on Wednesday for training and then on Thursday three zones. Thursday two of the zones - #42 missionaries traveled great distances to the zone conferences, so we made them sack lunches for the commute back to their areas. Tahlia who is visiting us this week has been so helpful. Tahlia and Sister Valenzuela frosted  and bagged all the sugar cookies and then packed all the little lunch bags (Tahlia picked out Spiderman party bags because we couldn't find brown paper lunch bags) with the PB&J sandwiches', chips, cookies, apple, and candy.
When would you ever expect a General Authorities wife to come downstairs in the morning and help with stuff like this? Awesome!!
After each zone conference Elder Valenzuela interviewed missionaries who are serving as "trainers" and our assistants as well. What a special privilege for them. We had on Friday morning training for all the Zone Leaders and then the ten departing missionaries gathered at 1:00 pm- and thus began that process which will be highlighted in next weeks blog. They departed Saturday morning at 4:45 am for home. This whole departure event is emotional- I hope my nerves can handle three years of that! Ugh!!! Each afternoon/evening Elder Valenzuela and President Egbert along with selected missionaries according to area had meetings with Stake Presidents, Bishops, Ward mission leaders, and high counselors over missionary work. Training from the visiting General Authority was geared towards everyone working as a team as highlighted in the recent "Work of Salvation" broadcast.


What was highlighted these four days of the mission tour?
  • Teaching about the God Head is vital to each investigator; and can not be done thoroughly if the time is not invested in this topic. Missionaries are spending between 3 - 20 minutes on this subject. He encouraged the missionaries to lengthen the time and effort on this topic.
  • He reminded them that going to a home of a member, investigator, recent convert, or less active member in hopes of asking for a referral is from the days of yesterday. Only by teaching (fulfilling the calling they have- to TEACH) with the spirit will touch the hearts of those present and thus they will want to share this message with their family, friends, and neighbors and then the referrals will come in the right manner.
  • He clarified what keys Stake Presidents and Mission Presidents hold. He emphasized that the keys can not cross paths- if they do the spirit with draws and the progress chokes or restricts to a stop. Missionaries key role is to TEACH and support their wards but not to fix, direct, or demand change within the ward. That falls to the Bishop-He also encouraged them to work with the ward mission leader which is a struggle for many of the wards, but when ward mission leaders exist and function, then coupled with the missionaries efforts, real progress can be evident.
  • He talked about the five areas of the work of Salvation- and the four types of persons the missionaries can teach. Each plays a vital role in their work. Not only investigators, but new converts, active families, and less actives all need to be visited and taught with the spirit.  
  • Sister Valenzuela is such a spiritual giant and is very well spoken. She explained as a convert herself how key quality teaching is to not having a "baptism" but a "real convert" in the church. 
  • Elder Valenzuela also discussed the four paths that people take in life which was compared with 1 Nephi: 7 when Lehi has a dream of The Tree of Life. 
  • President Egbert taught the basic principles missionaries need to teach to assist investigators in obtaining a true conversion. He used a "Choo-choo" train as his example and each principle a train car. If one failed to teach or use each principle; the train becomes disconnected at that specific hitch and the conversion fails.
  • Tahlia and I made a Jeopardy game to touch on a few vital points...These were our six categories: Odds and Ends, Healthy Living, What to do if? , Medication/Conditions, Preach my Gospel, and Scriptures. The assistant Elder Dove helped translate- Most of the missionaries were pretty confident and would start with the $1000 option. "Go big or Go home!"- was the attitude with this game... they are so fun! Tahlia was in charge of the birthday basket where the July, August, September birthdays could pick a gift. Options in the basket were cleaning solutions/scrubby (not popular- go figure), socks/candy, toothbrush/pen, toothbrush/toothpaste, candy/pens, microwave popcorn, or hand-soap/candy.

We were a little short on time to our second zone conference and so we were unable to take many pictures of the missionaries. My apologies- as the Missionaries were not permitted to bring their cameras to the zone conference as instructed by Elder Valenzuela. So I'm posting the very few I got before his arrival- of Day 1. Compliments to all the Elders as they had fresh haircuts, pressed suits and looked handsome- President Valenzuela even commented how well they looked as representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course our sister missionaries are beautiful inside and out and are such a compliment to the whole mission. They are rays of sunshine!


Sunday, August 11, 2013

If It Doesn't Challenge You... It Doesn't Change You."

Its Been an Eventful Week at Our Home Back in St.George, Utah


Our youngest daughter Tahlia Mae turned #19 and our first granddaughter  "Emri Mae" was born on 09 August 2013 . Tahlia is flying down this next Tuesday- she will be a lot of help as we have Elder Valenzuela from the Quorum of the Seventy coming for a mission tour. We will have special zone conferences, then ten missionaries leaving and eleven missionaries coming in- (one visa in limbo). So lots of changes this next cycle. President and I are feeling blessed.







"If It Doesn't Challenge You.... It Doesn't Change You."

            President Egbert has really encouraged the Elders to do their “Planning” each night with real purpose and intent, and to start/end with a prayer as directed. Also to let inspiration lead the planning of what each investigator may need and to also have back up plans coupled with a desire to work hard being a vital part. President Egbert firmly believes that what happens between 630-1000am each morning and during the planning session at night from 900-930 pm determines the success or failure of the day. We have most of our companionship's that are committed and obedient to the little things- like being up at 0630 each morning and are blessed for their efforts. You can tell who is working hard no matter the challenges of their companionship or area; and then those who sluggishly go about the work because of low commitment and work ethic. We are seeing specific missionaries making a significant change in their perspective and commitment to why they are here. Oh how we love each one of these individuals… not only for where they have been but for where they are now; and for where they have the potential to be. Our thought for this week is “If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you!”

            This is a phone call President Egbert got the other night at 1015pm from two obedient and hardworking missionaries. It went something like this… “President, we wanted to call and tell you we did what you taught us and we were blessed because of it! Last night we did real thorough planning with prayer and thought, being led by the spirit, and made back-up plans. So we went to  one of our appointments and they weren’t available, then we went to our back up plan and they weren’t available either. We both looked at each other and thought ‘Man, we did what we should and we are striking out here!’  So then standing at the corner of the street we offered a heart-felt prayer asking for inspiration on what direction we should go. We felt we should turn a specific direction on this corner and knock the doors of four houses down this particular street. We knocked all four doors with no success and as we stood at the last house feeling discouraged we turned to look up the street and a woman was walking towards us. We both looked at each other and said, “This is her”- we greeted her and talked with her. She invited us to follow her home and to share our message with her mother. As we arrived at their humble home, we were invited in and shared our message with not only the daughter and mother but another sister who happened to be there. President, we now have three  more investigators because we followed the promptings of the spirit and put forth the effort of planning that has been asked of us.”

            Well to say the least, there is no better phone call then that before your head hits the pillow! What amazing tender mercies we witness daily…I testify that God knows each one of our missionaries by name. He knows their needs, their struggles, their challenges, and the deepest desires of their hearts. He sent them here to Pachuca for a specific reason- His Hand is in every aspect of our lives. I love this thought “The Lord isn’t asking us to load up a handcart- He’s asking us to fortify our faith.” Elder Ballard.

            With permission I share a tidbit from this week’s letter of an Elder. “ … we have a mission plan (in our area) and are doing visits with the members and leaders to get them involved and leading the work of rescuing, retaining, and finding new investigators. We are doing all that we can to help in every aspect of the work. I LOVE THIS WORK AND I LOVE THE CALLING…I want to help as many as I can in these few months that I have (left) to work my fanny off for the Lord. I know that this work is the work of the Lord and His glory is the salvation of His children. Thanks for your example and for all you do to help this mission out in every way possible…I love you ...”

Service Project for the Pachuca Sur Zone
Painting the house of a service missionary couple- they say that...
"The painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do."

Monday's are the missionaries "P" day. The mission office is busy with missionaries coming in picking up "pouch" (mail) for their area, having special interviews with President, turning in reimbursement receipts, and playing a little soccer or basketball. On P-Day they clean their apartments, do service projects, use the computer to write home and write President a letter, they grocery shop, get money from the bank, get haircuts, and/or have fun activities as a zone....

President attended "district" meeting in Tulancingo. Role playing in groups is helpful...
Sister Egbert did apartment checks for 3 companionship's. Assessing for cleanliness, order, and safety. (You know how Nurses like to assess!)  The Elders were good sports and committed to improve/continue to keep their homes in order. 
"Cleanliness is next to godliness. Not that cleaning is a spiritual experience, rather it lets the spirit dwell where they study and prepare. And their wives will thank me later!"
I saw a quote one day that said "No husband has ever been shot while doing dishes!"

Elder Campuzano singing a special musical number with this brother while his companion Elder Huff plays the piano. What a beautiful spirit this song brought instantly to the baptismal service.

"Zone Training Meeting" in Tulancingo the day after the Mission Leadership Council.


Elder Ortega and Elder Pintor with a new convert. He mentions because of her physical limitations due to an accident it took both of them to baptize her.
He also is an artist and drew this logo to represent our mission.

Elder Poulsen and Elder Almaraz with Jorge an investigator/convert and
 Sister Egbert dropped off homemade strawberry ice-cream to the Pachuca Sur Zone at their
"Zone Training Meeting."
It was a perfect 'snack' for the ten minute break in their training.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Moments In Time- 04 August 2013

Moments In Time

  So this week President had 3 "Special Interviews"  for investigators with needs/concerns. All three of these sisters were humble, with tender spirits. President Egbert commented several times how pleasantly pleased he was by the spiritual preparation of the investigators. Kudos to these 3 companionship's who worked with such diligence and thoroughness in preparing these investigators.





"The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner."

 Elder Ceballos shows us this amazing waterfall area called 
"Huasca de OCampo"....

"Hermana mayor de 90 años, decidida a seguir a Jesucristo, luchando y esforzándose por aprender el evangelio. A pesar de la edad y los sacrificios que hace por asistir a la capilla, cada domingo esta firme y fiel en su convenio. Realmente fortalece nuestro testimonio."
Elder Martinez/Elder Zepeda

This sister, more than 90yrs old, decided to follow Jesus Christ. She is fighting and striving to learn the gospel. In spite of her age and the sacrifice it is to attend church every week; she is faithful and strong in her commitment. She really strengthens our testimonies!

  "Actividad misional de barrio Xicotepec:
Fue una tarde muy divertida, donde los investigadores y los miembros se divirtieron aprendidendo el vangelio de jesucristo. Fue una gran actividad donde salimos fortalecidos con el espiritu de unidad."
Xicotepc Ward missionary activity.
It was a fun afternoon where the investigators and members enjoyed learning the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a great activity where we all left strengthened by a spirit of unity.

 Elder Iverson and Elder Loayza with one of their faithful new converts and also a fun photo of Elders Mendoza, Iverson, Loayza checking out the sites of their area.


"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can." 

John Wesley

Mission Leadership Council- Wednesday

 We had breakfast at 0800, training til 230pm and then"la comida".
 After lunch they all departed off to their distant homes where they did training in their zones the following morning. What a great group of Elders! I so enjoyed them in our home. Each companionship went home with a plate of Orange Rolls and a plate of Banana Bars. Some of these kids we need to fatten up a bit!
At the hospital where I worked we would eat anything... I think these kids would too!
You will also notice I wasn't called here to Pachuca for my rhyming abilities! (Twix bars)

Is this set of 5 not the happiest looking group? 
The sad thing is on the 17th we will be sending a few of these home.
 I'm already attached... President has even cried tears over thinking about them leaving!
Its truly amazing how quickly you fall in love and care about each one- a 'tender mercy'.
 Saying "Good bye" until we meet again....

Mision Mexico Pachuca Zone Leaders/Assistants August 2013

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves." —Lao Tzu

The following is taken from a letter of one of the zone leaders pictured above. With his permission and names omitted I share this exert from his weekly correspondence to President Egbert; just to give you a taste of some of these tender missionary moments.

"We had another amazing experience. When we got here 4 and a half months ago we met the husband of the Primary President. He isn´t a member and has been atheist his entire life or a so he claimed. We had many lessons trying to strengthen this mans faith in our divine nature and the relationship that we have with our loving Heavenly Father. Although, each and every time we left the invitation to pray he would accept and then not do it. We battled for 4 months trying to understand what was wrong with the way we were teaching him. I know that it was especially hard on his wife and his daughter who is a counselor in the Young Women's Program. Finally, we found the key through your counsel, President Egbert. We prayed and fasted and were able to think of some inspired questions to ask him. In the last lesson we had with him this past week, we followed the planning and the Spirit took hold. We started the lesson and were able to answer all of his doubts. We discovered that he had a hard time believing in the creation. We explained everything with power and authority and the Spirit spoke disguised with our voices. At the end, there was a sudden silence. I looked at the man and asked.. ¨Do you have faith in God, our Eternal Father, as well as his Son, Jesus Christ?¨He replied with.. ¨Yes.¨ Then I asked.. ¨Do you believe that they exist and love us?¨ He replied.. ¨Yes.¨ Then my companion looked him in the eyes and asked ¨May we finish with a prayer?¨He nodded. Then my companion with the Spirit asked.. ¨Will you say it?¨ We watched tears come to his eyes as he said the words.. ¨Yes. I can.¨ We hit our knees together and being shocked by the impact of the experience and tears in our eyes we waited in silence. Then the first thing we heard was his voice as he broke the intensity with the words.. ¨Heavenly Father..¨It was the first time this man had ever prayed in his entire life and as we finished, we were all crying. My companion and I walked home that night with tears in our eyes and smiles from ear to ear. We have seen miracles this week. We know that there are more to come. All is going well and we have faith that all will go well this week as well. Thank you for your help, President."