Wednesday, March 4, 2015

More from February

The past few weeks have been really busy at the office.  One of the projects Craig and I have been working on is a sort of booklet/pamphlet for Mexican missionaries when they are finishing the missions. It is something that the Area Presidency asked that the Self-Reliance office to produce. A draft was prepared even before we arrived here, but it had never been fully used and was in need of review and improvement. So, it was assigned to a committee of a few of the 16 regional Self-Reliance (SR from now on) managers, and Craig was also a member of this working group.  Craig also got me (Bonnie) to help because, in the end. The whole purpose of the new pamphlet, which is several pages long, is to help all the Mexican missionaries learn about the importance of SR as they complete their missions and transition back into normal life. They need to get involved in the church’s new SR classes as soon as possible. Many of the missionaries in Mexico need this push in order to get them headed in the right direction after their mission. The brethren want them to acquire a profession but also to remain active in the church. There are too many returned missionaries that lose their way temporally after their mission. They get discouraged because they cannot find a job and so they slowly also become inactive in the church. But, they need to realize they have learned many skills on their mission that can help them in the workplace and in school, and that their local wards and stakes need to function. It is a shame to lose them. Actually, this is one of the main reasons behind the SR concept --  that if you can help an individual and a family become more self-reliant, they are more apt to also be active in the church and therefore, stay spiritually in tune. Anyway, the pamphlet/booklet we have helped produce is to help missionaries go directly to their stake self-reliance specialist and become involved in attending the right self-reliance course for their continued success. We are happy with the product that we have drafted, but we know it will evolve and improve with the help of the SR managers and as it is used.

We have also been busy compiling lists of all the service missionaries and the hours of operation for the approximately 260 self-reliance centers around the country. Such a listing has never existed before, and it will be a continual work in progress as these service missionaries finish their missions and are released. But the initial list is nearly complete and updating will be less intense.

We also recently attended a meeting to discuss the Perpetual Education Fund this morning. There have been some recent changes in this program. Emphasis was really focused on the fact that members need to make every effort to find low-cost education before turning to the PEF for a loan. Elder Netza Salinas, the Area Self-Reliance Coordinator, said that all of Mexico needs to make sacrifices necessary to become self-reliant both temporally and spiritually.  All around the country there are many good government-funded universities and other schools that members can attend at no cost. Apparently, there too many members these days who are discounting these institutions and want to go to a more costly private university because they have the misconception that the PEF program exists to make that possible. It was emphasized to all the regional SR managers that the church is NOT a lending institution! If members can receive a good education in a no-cost institution that leads to a job, then that is what they should do. They need to ‘sacrifice’ and the principle of sacrifice to help one’s self needs to be applied more often here in Mexico, and we suppose in many places. 

We finally got the map we asked for when we first arrived on our mission.  It is bigger than we thought, but it is a map of Mexico and we can mark the 16 Self-Reliance regions here in Mexico.  It is framed and has an acrylic front, so we can mark it with a white-board marker.  We have it marked and have put a photo of the manager for each area.  It is easier for us to figure out where people are located and identify the managers with their regions. Some managers have large areas to cover. They do a lot of traveling in order to fulfil their jobs. We on the other hand walk across the street from our apartment to our work.  Not much travel involved. Maybe we will have travel opportunities soon.   
Shopping at open air market with friends (the Stevens)
 Traveling to see the butterflies
Our Butterfly Group!
 Cute little girls at Butterfly Reserve
 Even in Mexico we can enjoy Olive Garden!

Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterflies


Office work is office work, and so there isn’t that much more exciting to tell about right now.  So we will mention what we did for our Preparation day a few Saturday’s ago, with 5 other couples.  There is a place not too far from here where the Monarch Butterflies migrate from the U.S. and Canada.  They are here in Mexico from November through February.  The day we went was beautiful and sunny, perfect for the butterflies to be flying about and sunning themselves as they prepared for their long migration North in a few weeks.  It was a 3 hour drive from Mexico City.  We took 3 cars, with 2 couples in each car.  When we arrived at the butterfly reserve, we parked, then had to walk a ways, then climb on horses and ride for another 45 minutes!!  Craig went a bit slower on his horse than the rest of us so not to injure his back. We were both a bit worried but the Area Medical Advisor is one of our missionary group and he knows Craig well. Actually, by now, we are very good friends with him and his wife. He thought that it would not be too difficult for Craig. And, we have photos to prove he rode the horse! Craig explained his situation to his guide (guides actually lead the horse along the path up the hill) and he was so good to make sure he was careful and he kept the horse going slowly enough so as not to bump Craig up and down hard against the saddle. In fact, he and Craig made friends and at the end Craig gave his a pass along card because he had talked with him about the church on the way up and back. We failed to mention that the trickiest part of all whole horse adventure for Craig was getting up into the saddle and then getting out of it again. Thankfully, there were tree stumps and such that we were able to use to get him up high enough, then help shift his leg over the saddle.


At the end of the horse ride up the mountain you have to get off and again walk from there to the spot in the area where the butterflies are congregating that day, as they can change locations from time to time. So, from there we had a little bit of an uphill and ad then downhill hike to see the clusters of butterflies.  WOW!  At first we saw a few flying around and landing on bushes.  As we went further into the forest they were everywhere.  It looked like the trees had autumn leaves on them, but they were butterflies hanging from the trees in clusters.  Thousands of them.  They completely covered all the leaves and some entire trees.  It was such an amazing sight to see.  There were some butterflies that didn’t survive and there were wings lying in the trails.  They have two natural predators, mice and a bird that eats the bodies of the butterflies, but not the wings.  When it is cold some fall from the trees and can’t fly, that is when they become vulnerable. But plenty survive and live to travel that long trip back north.  In a few weeks they will be gone and on their way. 


The story of the monarch butterfly migration is one of those quirks of nature that only God knows and understands. It is especially interesting because these butterflies, of course, are insects and do not normally live all that long. The butterflies that leave here now will never be the ones returning, in fact. It is the fourth generation that will come back here and come to the exact area where their great-great-grandparents came from. The fourth generation is often called the ‘Methuselah’ generation because they live about twice as long as the other generations, and they are the ones which make the journey back to Mexico. It is their ‘children’ that fly north and the cycle begins again, with two generations in between those that will return. It is an amazing story. Google it to find out more.


OK. Enough for this update. Just like you all to know that we do some nice, more touristy things, along with the work at the office. Our very best to you all!!
The orange that you see are clusters of butterflies grouped together.  Notice how they are on the tree trunks.
Just a close up of a few butterflies enjoying the sunshine and flower nectar.
More clusters of butterflies.  It was like that for all around. 
 Craig did ride a horse, slow and steady.  He made it.
The group of missionaries that went on the butterfly excursion. 
 Lunch after our horse back ride to see the butterflies.  Tacos for all.