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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.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Six Months And Earthquakes - 10 May 2014

Chalco, Estado de México, México

Yesterday was our six month anniversary here in México. We also learned there was another earthquake early in the morning. We have experienced three strong earthquakes in the last three weeks or so. They all occurred north of Acapulco and there was little damage. Here in Chalco it is a strong rolling sensation like being on a large ship. We had trouble standing and watched the tall trees sway. We do not know if this is a precursor to something but these are the last days.

     April 18 7.2 We were in the apartment and were able to get outside. We felt it for about 7-minutes
     May 8    6.4 We were in the Mission Office. We felt it for about 5-minutes
     May 10  5.9 We slept through this one. They tell us it felt quite strong

This morning we had a special Leadership Council Meeting for the Zone Leaders and Assistants
presided over by Elder Valenzuela of the Presidency of the Seventy and a Counselor in the Area Presidency. We have gotten to know them personally and they are a very special couple. He spoke of the Area goals and what they really mean.

President Crickmore is calling special Zone Conferences next week to share with the rest of the Mission what was taught in this meeting.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sixth Epistle of Bird - 6 May 2014

From Chalco, Mexico

1.  In the sixth month of the missionary travels of Elder and Sister Bird, many blessings have been poured out upon the people of the Mission of Mexico City Chalco. The 148 youthful yet strong Elders and Hermanas find joy in sharing the message of the Plan of Salvation with Lamanite families, and with the young and those of many years.  Attending Sacrament Meeting at least five times is a requirement to prepare for entrance into the waters of baptism.
2. The forces for good are increasing every six weeks. With mixed emotions, 3 missionaries departed but 9 more arrived. And with great joy there are more Senior Missionaries preparing to serve – as full-time couples, service missionaries and Ward missionaries. In these last times, many more people are feeling the spirit and great need to move the work forward. Elder Bird is counseling with Bishops and Stake Presidents on the importance of Senior Missionaries, who live at home, yet serve in the mission and in their own wards, and many are stepping forward.
3. And it came to pass that the Birds were able to travel to Papantla to view the famous Voladores de Papantla, except they weren’t there! We visited the ancient ruins and pyramids of Tajin while there. We moved forward to Veracruz, once again, to attend the Temple of the Lord. We visited with our released missionary, Hna. Encines, and her new novio. He was introduced to the gospel almost a year ago and is preparing to serve a mission too.
4. And it came to pass that while visiting in Veracruz we discovered that the Voladores de Papantla were performing nearby. The history of these brave young men started many centuries before the Spaniards came to this Promised Land, in the pueblo of Papantla. Because there is not much rain except during the rainy season, crops must be planned and planted in a timely manner. One year, the rains didn’t come. The elders concluded that the rain god needed a sacrifice, so they chose four of the most virtuous young men in their town. They would climb a 75 foot pole, tie a rope around their waist, fall from the pole, and the chosen one would crash to the ground, spilling his blood as a sacrifice and peace offering to the rain god. The four chosen youth slowly climbed the pole, and then fell backwards to the ground. But apparently the lengths of the rope had not included the amount used to tie around the waists of the young men, and thus none of them touched the ground. The miracle then came when it began to rain. In memory of this great miracle, every year in May, this same sacred ritual is performed, but the young men are only symbolically sacrificed. (Because this is a wonder to see, there are 300 young men and their trainers who perform world wide. They encourage donations and thus it has become a profitable demonstration – except during the yearly ritual.)
5. After viewing the performance, which includes a traditional pan pipe melody, the Birds approached the elder trainer wanting to know of this history. He gladly complied, after we paid money. We went back later and watched the performance two more times and then again approached the elder. Hna. Bird desired to share the gospel with him and provided an Article of Faith card (which is the best pass-along card). He knew of the gospel because his sister-in-law is a member. We obtained his name and address and invited him to attend church when he returned to Veracruz. Oh ya, this group is the official performers from Papantla! We invited his young men to listen to the missionaries too and the elder said they did many things together. I hope that great, humble and enthusiastic missionaries share the great message of the gospel with them and many others. It is easy to share the gospel!
6. And now it came to pass that another great experience came to the Senior Missionaries in visiting Tula, one of many sites of ancient pyramids. Forty-eight Senior Missionaries from the Mexico City area, which includes several missions, gathered to listen to our guide, Stake President Javier Tovar Baltazar. Knowing the background of the Book of Mormon history, he was able to open our understanding and vision to this great Lamanite heritage. The pyramids were as Temples to this ancient people. They differ from pyramids in that they have stairs and are not pointed on top, but flat to accommodate a small, sacred building. It was wonderful uniting with couples just like us! The sun was powerful this
day insomuch that the Birds received redness to their skin. Two days later, one of the young Elders stated that Hna. Bird is now officially a native - in color. Now just to get the Spanish language down better!
7. And it shall be seen that these truly are the last days. In the eighteenth day of the fourth month, the earth began to move, not as in the days of Christ, but a rolling and rocking as if upon a ship in rough waters. This earthquake began in Acapulco and was felt for hundreds of miles. In the City of Mexico it lasted for more than seven minutes and measured as to the measurements of man, 7.5. Trees swayed as if there was a terrible wind and the many cables and power lines that hang over the streets swung as if children were playing jump rope. Blessed were the people insomuch that no damage resulted. The volcano nearby spewed billowing steam for several days, but is pretty much back to its normal continual puffs of clouds. But wo unto those who took no thought to give thanks to the Lord.
8. And it shall be noted that every country and people have peculiar foods. Whenever pizza is served, which is like normal US pizza, they ask for catsup to put on top, along with their hot sauces. I like catsup on fried eggs and toast, but I haven’t tried it on pizza – yet. Hna. Bird has baked cakes with yummy frosting. The people of this nation find this a novelty, most having never tasted it. One elderly mother (86 years old) asked for seconds and asked for me to stay and make her another. Sweet things here usually are not very sweet.
9. And to show that people everywhere are ready to listen to the word of God, the Birds were filling up their gas tank and the attendant started speaking in his broken English. He had lived two years in New York and was glad to practice his English. What an introduction to the gospel. Hna. Bird noted that we were missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ and His church was brought back to the earth precisely in New York! There is always something that any person is interested in and that can be used to introducing them to the gospel. We were late in getting to a piano class and couldn’t pursue the conversation, but Hna. Bird pulled out an Article of Faith card for him, to get acquainted to the gospel – and we shall return to this gas station again, and speak more English and get his name and address so that the missionaries can teach him in English. Be not afraid to share the most wonderful thing the world is in need of, and the Lord will be with you.
10. And lo, the classes of piano are progressing. A few have left the path and are no longer sharing in the blessings. After only 13 lessons, some are playing prelude music, with fear and trembling, in Sacrament Meetings. When the Lord needs something done, He provides the way. This week they are participating in class piano recitals. Soon they and their wards will have the power of piano music in their meetings. The Lamanites love to sing – loud and more or less with the tune.
11. And now we leave you for a season, 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
Attached pictures:
1. Zona Arqueologica el Tajin
2. Voladores de Papantla
3. Voladores de Papantla
4. Tula ruins
5. Tula Atlantean figures
6. Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuat wall art
7. Donkies, beasts of burden