Dearest Family and Friends,
We hope this letter finds you all well and happy, we have been a little out of contact since we have been on the road for the last 17 days traveling and training in Northern Mexico. Its nice to get back to our apartment and out of a suit case. We had a wonderful trip, a lot of work, but we saw a lot of beautiful country and met many wonderful people and leaders in the different missions. This is Sunday morning 6-29-2014, since June 12 we have driven 6171 kilometers which equals 3835 miles and have trained in 15 missions. We sent out an itinerary of our trip by email and every mission we were scheduled to meet with the people were there for our meetings, we had a very inflexible schedule so we know they had to change their schedules to meet ours, these people are faithful. They are great leaders (many are x Bishops or Stk. Presidents), some are of very humble circumstances and others are very comfortable, they are all happy.
We saw all kinds of country, very productive agricultural land, deserts, mountains and everything in between. The agriculture in some of the areas is very impressive, I thought we had it pretty well figured out in Idaho but it appears that Mexico is doing ok. Interesting note, as we drove through a desert area before we got to Ciudad Jaurez I experienced my first real mirage, the lake was so real and as you got closer it just kept moving about the same distance from you, it only lasted a few miles, I can certainly see how people are fooled. As we traveled we stayed on toll roads wherever possible, they are safer and are generally pretty good roads, it seems like we spent quite a bit of money on tolls. We are recommended to travel the tolls because of safety concerns and we are counseled not to be on the highways at night, so we travel by day and teach each night. Most of the hotels we stayed in were comfortable and clean, Janie had issues with a couple of them, but for the most part they were good. We had one little scar the day we traveled from Reynosa to Tampico, the day before there had been a gun battle with the bad guys and the Federal Police, two police had been killed and two more injured on the highway we were going to travel so we rerouted that morning and tried to stay away from trouble. There are some problem areas in the country so we do our best to stay out of those areas. The days we were in Monterrey and Tampico were very gratifying for me as I spent a good share of my mission in these two cities 45 years ago. Everything has changed so much, I didn’t remember hardly anything but it was still fun to be back there even if it was for a short visit. The church has grown so much in Mexico, when I was here in 68-70 there were no Stakes or Wards, only districts of the missions. Now there are many Stakes and Wards and Temples, there is a temple in both Monterrey and Tampico. President Flores took us by the Tampico temple on the way to our meeting Friday evening and the setting of this temple is beautiful. The church is strong in Mexico with good leadership in most areas, it’s neat to see today as compared to 1968. I suppose the negative part of our trip was that on the last day as we were getting into Mexico City(yesterday), I was extremely turned around and made an illegal turn and got my first traffic violation in Mexico, three other cars that were following me did the same thing and we all got tickets, misery loves company.
The last few weeks have really made us appreciate good people, made us appreciate our wonderful family and friends and made us appreciate the great country we live in and the great country we are called to serve in for a few months. We are truly blessed, we miss you all very much, we are saddened to learn of the deaths of Aunt Maxine Bateman and Aunt Diana Richman, also of the passing of good friend Milton Wilding of Sugar City. Jace went through the temple in preparation for his mission and Jess went to Girls state, we are anxious to hear about that. Please keep us informed of family events and updates. Please do us another favor, if you see or know of any inspirational videos on u-tube or anywhere else please send them to us, they can be inspiring in a church sense or in life in general. Its fun to start a training with something inspiring to break the ice and get a discussion going. We have many family birthdays coming up in July, we promise not to forget.
This is the car we drive around its a honda city, I’m in front of the Tampico Temple, Janie is posing on a bench next to the Guadalajara Temple. The young man is Elder Morales who just returned home to Ciudad Juarez after serving in the Pocatello, Idaho Mission. His parents are the Session Directors in Juarez.
Janie- Our trip was very interesting like Richard said. the north west side of Mexico was beautiful with all their different crops. They had acres and acres of hot houses. Richard said, they do this to help their little vegetable plants get a head start in growing. The sun on the west side is very intense. We also saw huge acres of fruit orchards and nut tree orchards. The people we meet were so generous and loving. The morales we meet in Ciudad Juarez could talk English. They live right by the boarder and he goes into El Paso a lot for business. Their son learned it in school, plus he went on a mission in the states, even if it was a spanish mission, he said he and his companions always talked English to each other. He knew Our Daughters father in-law, Ossian Packer right off. He said we loved going over to his large home, he made it so nice for all the elders.
When we left Tampico, we drove up and around mountains. The road we traveled to get back to Mexico City was a very switched back road and soooo very slow. there was a pot hold every few minutes, plus it was only a one lane road coming or going. We passed large travel busses semi trucks, or loaded down trucks. WOW by the time we finally got to a free way ( 7 hours on this switch back road) my nerves were shot.
While traveling we used Judy our trusty GPS, but she steered us wrong once we got closer to our Apartment. She told Richard to turn left and as soon as he did I saw the red circle telling us that us we could not turn left. There were three police, right off the bat who turned on their lights and siren. They were really nice, the one, who was a lady even told Richard the correct way for us to get home. Gave him the ticket and told him where he had to pay and how, by next week. Mexico has changed from the old days, you don’t pay the cop, you just do it like we do in the States. Before we left on our trip we were eating lunch out side by a restaurant, I placed my purse on the arm of my chair because there were only 3 chairs and they were being used and no room on the table. I haven’t been taking my purse inside stores, but this day I took it with me and forgot it when we left. This place was like a shopping mall, and I only noticed it wasn’t with me after 40 mins. Boy did I take off to where we ate lunch. It wasn’t where I left it! My heart fell to the floor because my USA drivers lic., my temple recommend and money was in my purse. I went up to the lady who served us, and the men who sat down at our table after we left turned it in. I had to go over to their table and Thank them. Now that we are back in Mexico City we will still be busy with FSY, checking on all the supplies and meeting with different people. In two weeks most of these FSY conference sessions will start, they last one week and the last will be the first week of August. After that we get ready for the big session in October where session directors, stake presidents, and area presidents all come here to Mexico City to get ready for the next years FSY.
Well, that’s another wrap up from south of the border, we love you all.
Richard and Janie