Christmas and New Year’s in Mexico

Jan. 1, 2015

Once again (otra vez) Querida Familia y Queridos Amigos,

Christmas is over and here we are at New Year’s Day.  Many of the people we work with in the FSY program, either in the area office or Session Directors in their respective missions, take some time off and spend with their families during  the holidays, so there hasn’t been a lot happening in our program but we have managed to stay active and do some neat things the last two weeks that we’d like to tell you about.  We hope that for all of you this season has been a time of peace and reflection of the gifts of the Savior.  We hope you have had time to spend with family and to be thankful for all the wonderful gifts and blessings the world has to offer us.  We certainly enjoyed our face time visits with our kids and families on Christmas day.  We are still unable to make phone calls since we lost our phone system in the fire, face time is better anyway, Chad is sending down a new phone system with his Bishop on the 9th of January so well be back in business.

Monday the 15th we went over to the area office for a family home evening with the other senior couple missionaries,  Elder Valenzuela (member of Area Presidency) taught a wonderful lesson on the Prince of Peace, used the scriptures and really taught of the Savior.  It was a great lesson, he’s a great man.  On the 16th we picked up the last of our clothes from the dry cleaners, no more smoke smell, we had a few items that had some permanent stains but no huge loss.  Also on the 16th we had our first individual webex training with one of our Session Directors over the internet.  We spent an hour with Bro and Sister Carlos in Chihuahua(new Directors) on the internet training, covered a lot of ground, answered a lot of questions and proved to ourselves that this is a very usable method to teach and maybe cut down on some travel and expense.

The 18th,19th and 20th were spent between Mexico City and Veracruz.  We went with 5 other couples from the area office to the Veracruz Temple on the 18th, then again on the 19th attended a session in the temple.  The rest of the 19th we toured the old fortress and prison at San Juan de Ulúa.  The city of Veracruz is a deep water port and this old fortress was a main point of entry and protection against everyone from the Spanish, English, Germans and the good old United States.  There was a lot of history and a lot to learn, we need to get on the internet and study about the different invasions of Mexico at Veracruz.

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at Veracruz temple, the Sandbergs, us and Sister Olsen

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Fortress at Ulúa(San Juan de Ulúa)

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After the Fortress we ate at a great Sea Food Restaurant(Stevens, Sandbergs, Andersons, Olsens, Smiths and Us.)

The next day 20th we went back to Mexico City on a different highway(the road from Poza Rica to Puebla) so we could tour the ruins of Cantona.  Its a huge area of ruins, they figure only about 2% of the area has been excavated.  Its amazing to read the explanations in the museum and see how closely the time frame of the inhabitants of Cantona coincided with the timing of the Book of Mormon.  The people had a real social structure the individual family home sites and lots were divided with stone fences, there was a raised structure were the people built their huts and the higher you got toward the bigger pyramids the larger the lots got(not a lot different than the social structures we have created in our society).

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On the 22nd of December we went over to the Mission Training Center to watch the BYU football bowl game, the Doctor(Dr Gill) for the center had a meal catered in as a Christmas gift to every one, wow was it good food with great mashed potatoes and ham gravy.

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The 23rd and 24th of December us the Smiths and the Olsens took a short trip to the Pachuca area about 2 hrs away from Mexico City.  From Pachuca we went to an old mining town called Real del Monte(Royal Mountain).  Its and old Silver mining town about 9300 ft elevation, it was quite cool compared to what we were used to, its designated as a magical city a designation given to special places by the Dept. of Tourism, I’ll try to explain a little of the history of the area along with the history of the old Hacienda(Hacienda Huasca de Ocampo) where we spent the night.

The Spaniards took over the area in the early 1700’s and used the native people as slave labor to work the mines then after the Mexican revolution the English came with large mining equipment to work the silver mines.  The English also brought some cultural items to Mexico such as soccer, yes this is how soccer got to Mexico, the miners would play ball and in so doing taught the mexican people, Pachuca is still known as the soccer center of Mexico.  Also they brought the Cornish Pasty, the Pachuca area is known for the Paste which is the same as a Cornish Pasty.  Its like a turn-over with meat, potatoes and veggies or they can have fruit in them.  We went through the Paste museum and learned how to make them except for the two secret ingredients that make the breading nice and flakey.

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Ready to make our own Paste(Smith’s, Olsen’s, Pocock’s)

The old Hacienda we stayed in is packed with history, they have tried to make it a nice hotel but its quite rustic—but the room was clean and it had a good shower, we were cold most of the time because of the elevation and we didn’t take enough warm clothing.  The Hacienda was also an old silver refinery and we thought we were back in the days of Zorro, then during the tour we found out that part of the Zorro movie with Antonio Banderas was filmed there. It had dungeons, tunnels and hidden rooms just like the movie, it was really fun to see and learn of the history.  Part of the buildings and the pathways were built with basalt blocks taken from cliffs near by made of basalt prisms.

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We got back to Mexico City on Christmas eve and Janie was given the gift of intestinal flu for Christmas so we had a very quite day, some of the missionaries came to our house to use our computers to make their calls home to their mothers, we sure enjoy having the missionaries come to our home.  Janie is feeling much better today but she had a good case of the crud.  Last night New Years Eve we went over to the visitors center and watched the movie Meet The Mormons.  They are going to start showing it today Jan.1 but we got to see it last night.  Great movie we both really enjoyed it.  It is going to be shown now in all of the church visitors centers if any of you missed it.

Well this long letter has really tired me out so I’d better have Janie check it over so we can get it sent.  Always remember of our love for you and how we appreciate your support and love.

Happy New Year!  Mom & Dad, Grandma & Grandpa and Janie and Richard

2 thoughts on “Christmas and New Year’s in Mexico

  1. I guess we missed the part where you had a fire! Wow, so glad nothing happened to you two. I was fun to hear about your Christmas. We also had a very nice Christmas and the day after new years I ended up with a virus that is going rampant around here. Headache, cough (like you can’t believe) no energy and no voice. It is fun – still have it and it is Jan. 6. We love to read your letters and pray you have a very happy 2015. Love you guys. A&E

    • Dear Elaine and Alf
      Good to hear from you, sorry your under the weather with the flu bug. How is the back doing? How is Alf doing? Things are going good here in Mexico, Janie is really working on her Spanish, its like she has new life since the first of the year, she is doing really good. Please tell your family hello for us.
      Love Richard

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