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Missionary Scripture

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Friday, December 6, 2013

First Epistle of Bird - December 6, 2013

From Chalco, Mexico

1. And it came to pass that Elder and Sister Bird arrived in Mexico City Chalco Mission on Saturday, 
9 November, 2013 and went forth that evening to visit the Solidaridad Stake Conference. The next morning we suffered through a cold shower, but after weeks of perseverance, we have been blessed with fluctuating hot and cold water.
2. There are six Stakes of Zion in this small mission, some areas are prospering in the gospel and others struggle. We love looking out our 2 bedroom apartment window at Popo, the active volcano, and the snow peaks as it spews steam into the air like billowing clouds. The closer we drive to that area, the colder it gets (in the 50’s). The average temperature here has been around 70 with the lows in the mid 40’s. There is an area where they cultivate and are famous for arboles de navidad – Christmas trees. December 1st we saw lines of cars driving back from the forest with trees tied to the roofs of their cars. 
3. You take to the streets at your own risk. The traffic signs are only a “suggestion.” Dave took to driving like a Mexican almost immediately, and I often gasp or close my eyes as he winds through traffic. There are a lot of cars here, many of them are vans, called combis, which are large taxies. There are lots of regular taxies and buses that swerve you to where you want to go. Maybe I will try a combi before we leave, maybe.
4. Thirteen pesos equals about $1, so when I go to buy a half gallon of 2% milk for $14.50, or flour tortillas for $21.80, I still cringe. There are a lot of things I can’t get here, such as bottled lemon juice, canned chili, kidney beans, Koolaid, vegetable soup, refrigerated biscuits, salad dressing (only mayo and I really don’t like mayo). Canned tomatoes come in 4 oz. boxes, hamburger comes in patties, brown sugar is only the granulated kind (and doesn’t taste good in my recipes). The instant potatoes are pretty good, better than the US, the white potatoes are awesome and the ice cream is really creamy. I am slowly building up my food storage here.
5. There are dilapidated pick-up trucks and some push carts that come around daily to collect your garbage. You know they are coming when you hear the bell ringing. You have to take it out to them.
6. We have a newly acquired apartment with all new appliances and furniture! White leather couches, red and black kitchen table with red chairs, so since my favorite color just happens to be red, we got red towels and such. We have experienced two miracles this week. I did not doubt, but Dave had his doubts. It has taken me 45 min. to an hour to cook once batch of cookies and the pineapple upside down cake never did cook. The FM group sent someone out and he adjusted the gas, and that night I cooked cookies in 10 minutes!  “Fear not, for I am with thee.” I still refuse to light the oven though. The other miracle occurred Thursday night. We have a combination Samsung washer and dryer. Don’t get one! It takes at least 1 and ½ hours to wash a load and 6 and ½ hours to dry. But the clothes were not drying, and the “famous for not shaking” machine was dancing all over the floor and making horrible noises. I finally got a manual – in English - and upon reading it, discovered that the packing bolts were never removed. They are like 5 inch big bolts that keep the drum from moving in transport. Dave removed the 3 bolts and I cautiously did a load of wash. There wasn’t a peep or a shuffle out of it! It still takes 8 hours to complete a load, but at least they dry. I count my many blessings and daily tender mercies. We have a new car too, with 18,000 kilometers – but we have put on 1,000 in the time we have been here. The sign on the side says “utility vehicle” for a satellite company. I say we are here to help everyone to communicate to heaven, but better than satellite!
7. There are many reminders of home, such as WalMart are everywhere we go, Office Max, Sams Club, McDonalds, Subway, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dominoes Pizza, Burger King and Auto Zone to name a few. OXXO is the 7-11 of Mexico. Pemex are the only gas stations – no competition.
8. There are “gangs” of dogs everywhere. Some are on the roofs jumping around as you pass by, but most just wander the street. People are everywhere too – on the sidewalks (when there are any) and inching out into the streets to cross between cars. There are tall speed bumps every few hundred yards so the cars can’t go very fast. There are other animals too. We found a spider trying to get in the Mission Office that, with its legs, was about as big as my fist. I have a picture to prove it. Today I spotted a huge bug on the side of the office and on closer (not too close) inspection I came upon a 4 to 5 inch grasshopper – with a picture to verify it.
9. We have been busy since day one. We are in the process of visiting all of the missionary apartments. The President doesn’t know where they are and how they are living. We have recommended to 8 of the half of the missionaries we have so far visited that they need to make changes, or change apartments. Some reasons are mold, skylight on the floor and a roof that is removable for anyone to enter, shower water that runs out the bathroom door and floods the kitchen , an open staircase leading down, in the main room. They have covered it with planks and a rickety board which tilts when you step on it. Their table with a hot plate sits on the board! A very tiny apartment with no place to put anything. Several groups of 4 missionaries are in the same apartments, which is not acceptable now. Each of these faithful missionaries has to find their own place. A few have really big places – 3 are in huge Town Homes with 2 or 3 bedrooms. Amazing what 18 year olds can do when it is needful. The Sisters are all awesome, of course! A little more than half the missionaries are native Spanish speaking. That makes it a little hard for them to study English every day.
10. There is a new Visitor’s Center next to the Mexico City Temple. We were invited to go to the open house. A few of the all-Spanish speaking Sisters were on Temple Square in Salt Lake and so know how it should be done. This center reminds me a lot of the one in Salt Lake.
11. I hope to start teaching piano lessons with an incredibly inspired keyboard course the church has put together. I have taught a few missionaries and people the first few pages and in less than 5 minutes they can play a hymn - with both hands! Granted it is only the melody, but for anyone who has never played, it is a miracle! Anyone can get the keyboard course at the Distribution Center and self-teach or help others to play within 3 to 4 months! Can you tell I’m excited! I am getting a waiting list that is pages long.
12. Since we do not know our address (most streets are identifiable but house numbers are rare) our official mailing address is:

Elder and Hna. Bird
Mision Mexico Ciudad de Mexico Chalco
Calle Porvenir No. 8
Col. Centro
C.P. 56600, Chalco, Estado de Mexico

Emails are the best way to share messages. I would appreciate it if someone could get a copy of this to the Facemyers (I don’t have a current email address), Leah Ivie and the Bate’s kids, and anyone else that might be interested. Thanks.
13. Our purpose as missionaries is stated in Preach My Gospel, “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”  When you look at a package of M & M’s, think of “Members and Missionaries”, working together in the same cause. Tell my Primary kids that I love them and miss them!
14. We greet you with love and fondness and pray the Lord send you peace and comfort, health and joy. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Elder and Sister Bird

Please share our message of love and greetings with others.
Associated Pictures:
1. Arriving at our apartment the very first time
2. Chalco Mission Office and our car
3. View of the volcanos from our window