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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.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tenth Epistle of Bird - 10 September 2014

From Ayapango, Amecameca, Mexico

1. In the time of the Lamanites, the Birds are found working many hours each day with the leaders, helping them remember the about the Restoration a
nd becoming more and more converted to the gospel. They in turn invite others to their house for a spiritual teaching experience. We speak to them of our experiences in Palmyra and show them pictures which we took in the Sacred Grove. One less active sister asked if we really took the pictures and if this place really still exists. Accept every calling and opportunity to learn and grow because you never know when it will help you in the future. 
2. The Bird’s are working with two wards and one large branch and the daily agenda is filled with visits to leaders, members, less actives and investigators. We park our car in front of one of the church buildings and “walk the streets.” We are looking for all of the members on each of three ward lists to update the records, but more importantly to invite them back to church and then make return appointments where we can share a message and our testimonies. Sister Bird has evidence of walking with her sun-kissed face.
3. We visited with a recently released Bishop and his family. After our message he asked us to visit his inactive, returned missionary sister and husband. We also visited with the recently called Bishop (who is brother to the released Bishop). They are inviting all their children and others to their home for a Family Home Evening. We visited with a councilor in the Stake Presidency and his wife. They are both taking the piano classes. They have scheduled a visit with us to return with their family and friends.
4. There is a small, very small pueblo which has only three streets: del Maiz, del Trigo and del Frijol. There are 20 or more members living there. None of the houses have house numbers, so we just ask people on the street if they know who we are looking for. One day, after walking the railroad track for more than half a mile on our way back to our house, we stopped and enjoyed a game of futbol (soccer). Futbol is the favorite sport in Mexico, from professional teams to small children and groups playing in the street. They are good about moving out of the way when we drive by. There is an indoor soccer field here, which really is outdoors, with walls and fencing enclosing it.
5. One can find in this country setting, acres and acres of corn. There is w
hite corn for eating (I shall be grateful to return home to salt and pepper corn), corn for making corn tortillas and blue corn, also for making tortillas.
6. That which cannot be found in Mexico is root beer. We have served ice cream in other soda drinks to the people here, including non American missionaries, and it is a new treat for them. But nothing replaces a foamy root beer float. Refined brown sugar doesn’t exist here either.
7. Our pueblo called Ayapango is very quiet, with fewer cars, fewer people walking around and very few people selling food or other things on the streets. We had a couple of weeks of warm weather, but now it is back to being chilly. We are told that in this part of the mission it gets cold. We have yet to experience real cold. We have been told that it hails and it snows – a little. I do have my winter coat which I haven’t used yet.
8. The desire to learn to play hymns is strong here. This past week there were 14 missionaries in class. This is a bit hard for them because they don’t have much time to practice. The stake of Amecameca had 14 members return for their second lesson. They had all practiced and each received a star on their name card for playing their first hymn. The councilor in the Stake Presidency brought his wife so she can learn. In turn, they have invited us to dinner and a Family Home Evening lesson in their home.
9. The stake of Tecalco out did themselves, having 19 members of all ages attend the piano class. They also received stars, including the three first time students. I hope I have excited some of you back home to get this Basic Music Course which is published by the Church. You can get the kit at any distribution center and learn to play too!
10. Schools are divided into three age groups: Primaria is for those through 5th year; Secundario is for those through 8th year. These are required. Preparatorio is for those learning a skill or trade and there is a 3 to 4 hour placement test to see if they will even be accepted. School starts around 8 am and gets out at 1 or 2, depending on the school. English is required, but unless they are dedicated to learning, they only speak the basics.
11. There are few semaphores or stop signs here, but it makes no difference as pedestrians have no right-of-way and hurry across the road when cars have to slow down for speed bumps, of which there are many. Speed bumps are an inconvenient blessing because instead of speeding through the streets, the cars have to keep slowing down, which avoids hitting people. (We saw a bumper sticker which when translated read: “Watch out, I drive just like you.”
12. We were introduced to a simple activity for Family Home Evening, which we learned after teaching a lesson in the home of a member, with an inactive family. On pieces of paper, write single words that can be found in songs of any type. I am making a list of words found in hymns and will make one for primary songs too. The leader reads the word and the first person to sing a song with that word receives the paper. The one with the most papers at the end wins.
13. Remember, remember that God has a plan for us. Know also that Satan also has a plan. We must choose which plan we will follow. Also remember that you will only win the great reward by following God’s plan.
14. Are ye therefore the same person all the time, day and night? Have ye pondered the scriptures
and shared your feelings with others. There is an application called LDS Scripture Citation Index where ye can become immersed in the scriptures and read talks by church leaders about every verse in all the scriptures. Plan on loosing track of time as light and truth will fill you with desires to learn more. “It is one thing to know about God and another to know Him. . . Those who know God become like Him and have His kind of life, which is eternal life.” Bruce R. McConkie. We have great motivation to choose God’s plan.
15. As we bid you farewell until the next writing, we encourage you that whatever your talent or gift from the Lord, mental or physical, share it and multiply it. Our hope and prayer is that you have peace and comfort, health and joy in your home and in your heart. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Elder and Hermana Bird

Attached pictures:
Mexican firefly
Volcano Popo spouting off
Horses get a break sometimes too
Alien that guards our closed street
Our Zentlapan District
This going home Elder needs his shoes bronzed
Taking a moment before our Senior District Meeting
Love Mexican clouds
Tecalco Stake piano class
More wall art (referred to as graffiti)
The corn is higher than an elephant’s eye
Ridding my little patch of lawn of clover

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ten Months In The Mission - 9 September 2014

Chalco, Estado de México, México
On September 9th we marked 10-months in the Misión Chalco. A lot has changed since the last report at six months. Our situation and assignment in the Misión Chalco has completely changed.

We commented previously about our work and testimony with Senior Missionaries here in México. Our feelings have not changed but we encountered continuous obstacles in getting Senior Missionaries called to serve. There were problems with local leaders not processing the recommendations and finally the Área asked us to no longer invite members to serve locally as full-time missionaries working with the Misión. We determined that local full-time Senior Mission service will have to wait until leadership can support them and make the changes in culture to make the work move forward. This effectively defeated all the work and progress we had made in organizing the Mission Office and getting the missionaries into the field.

A little over a month ago, President Crickmore called us into his office and told us of our new assignment as proselyting missionaries. We were relieved of all responsibilities in the Office and assigned to our own proselyting Área. We immediately started looking for a house and to prepare to
move out of Chalco, away from the noise and distractions of the city.

We are assigned to an area based in Ayapango which is located about 20-minutes drive south of
Chalco and a little west of Amecameca, at the foot of the volcanos. It is farm land and we work in five small villages or pueblos.

We have a nice two level home with four bedrooms, a large dining area, 2-1/2 bathrooms and a complete kitchen. We live on a gated street (cerrada) with 12 private homes. About half of the homes are weekend or vacation residences, so things are very quiet. It is located just before the entrance to the pueblo of Ayapango so we are not actually within the pueblo. We are delighted with the change, to be out of the city and in the mountains. We feel at home.

Although we have permission from the Presidente to teach our own investigators, we give referrals to the young missionaries and we work with the members. Our area includes two Wards and a large Branch so we juggle our time and work in the three areas. Our missionary agenda is full and we are booking appointments two weeks ahead.

The Work of Salvation (La Obra de Salvación) is really the work of the members with members, and we are all members. It is described as "A unified effort in conversion, retention and activation" of the members of the Church. We are concentrating on the conversion of the "Active" members which are those who come to Church on Sunday but don't do anything else. They do not serve and do not accept callings. In addition, we meet with the leaders in special Family Home Evenings (Noche de Hogar Familiar) to help them strengthen their testimonies and invite other to come to meetings in their homes. We do not ask for references but they immediately give us names and we support them in their work with the members and non-members they invite. We are having a lot of success and starting to make a change.

The members seem to idolize us and constantly comment on how excited they are to have a Senior Missionary couple serving in their ward or branch. We try to be a good example and support their needs, not ours. We judge this is how Senior Missionary service is intended to be.

We just completed a 3-hour weekly planning session in which we updated our area maps with those we are working with and plans to how to work with them for the next 10-days. Since our time is limited and we have two large piano (teclados) classes, which are organized by the Stakes, we are going to move to teaching in large groups in the chapels or large homes. We need and will respect the actions of the wards and branches to make this happen. We will report in the future how it works.

We are on the "downside" of our assignment here in Misión Chalco. We have requested a short extension of our service until the third week of May. This will allow us a few more weeks in our missionary home and to complete a third round of piano classes.

This is the Work of the Lord and as we work according to His Plan we have success.