A few weeks ago we took a trip to Tuxla Gutierrez in southern Mexico. We were sent there to visit an NGO named “Cause for Hope” which has an office there. Cause for Hope is financed and operated by a group of members of the church who live in Utah. Their purpose is to work in a few poor countries in Latin America to help enable people to become more self-reliant, but they focus heavily on developing and using savings by the people they work with. So they share a similar principle of helping people that the Church’s Self-Reliance Initiative has. They have offered to help mentor the members who are taking the church’s self-reliance classes. They are able to give more one-on-one service to the members who need it. So, our Area Manager decided to do a pilot trial, working in conjunction with Cause for Hope in a few stakes in Tuxtla Gtz. It is a poor area that needs a lot of assistance. We have been given the assignment to monitor the pilot and see how it works, and how we could adapt Cause for Hope’s mentoring style with members in the self-reliance work.
We were able to visit with the employees of Cause for Hope (from now on only CFH) and with some of the members that they were working with to see how they are approaching this pilot program. We visited some members following a group meeting and some others in their homes. Some of the situations were very humble, and we sincerely hope that the pilot is successful and will ultimately help elevate their life circumstances.
We were grateful for this opportunity to meet with the church members in that part of Mexico and we hope to be able to go and visit them in the near future as we continue to monitor the program. It will be such a blessing for these members when they feel they don’t have to worry about whether they will even be able to eat tomorrow! To some there, this is a real concern! When that is not a preoccupation for them, then they will be better able to help others and serve the Lord.
Tuxla Guiterrez is an area of Mexico with a large indigenous population, so we were excited to go work there and see that part of Mexico. It is generally quite hot there, but when we were there it was overcast the entire time, so we lucked out on not having too much heat. Besides doing the work that we were sent there to do, we were able to visit some of the interesting natural sites in that area, and some local rural communities. We visited the Sumidero Canyon, which was quite amazing. It is a huge, very deep canyon, with a river running through the bottom. We didn’t go down to the water, but viewed it from the look-out sites above. The sides of the canyon are so steep it is amazing, solid rock faces for what must be several thousand feet. We will be putting up a picture or two so you can see what we mean. You can take a “launch” and travel down the river. We didn’t have time, nor does Bonnie really want to because there are alligators in the river. Definitely NOT Bonnie’s idea of fun, if faced with one of those creatures! We were also were able to visit a very famous small town named San Cristobal. It is an indigenous community whose inhabitants are more like Guatemala than northern Mexico. The women wear skirts made from black goat skin. It is like they just skin the goat and make a skirt, nothing refined. They had a lot of embroidered fabrics in bright colors that are used as tops, however, so it is a very colorful place. So, we had a great time. We worked hard but enjoyed the opportunity tremendously. The Self-reliance Manager for that region, Elder Jose Luis Isaguirre provided our transportation and was our guide, as well. On the trip to San Cristobal, two of his sons even came along. We had a good day, ate pizza and shopped a little besides enjoying the ambiance of the village. We had a good chat with the boys, who liked to practice their English, though they know very little! By the way, the pizza we got that day, our treat, was amazing! Made in a real wood-fired oven. Delicious!
We stayed in a Marriott Hotel in Tuxtla Gtz. It is a nice hotel with a gym and good equipment. The rooms were comfortable, as well, with good beds. So we were happy when Elder Salinas told us he wants us to do a couple of follow up visits and really develop a mentoring program for all of Mexico and then to train the members on how to mentor. It seems now that this will be our main emphasis, or at least one emphasis, during the second half of our mission. We are looking forward to this project.
By the way, on August 3 we complete 9 months of our 18-month mission. The time is really flying by. Both of us are doing well. Our health is good, which is a wonderful blessing. We want you all to know we appreciate, and need, your continuing thoughts and prayers. Thank you all so much. You are also in our prayers. Our fondest regards to all!
Playing on their phones, even this is happening in Mexico
Members we visited in their homes (next two pictures)
In front of the church at San Cristobal
Pizza at San Cristobal with Jose Luis and his sons.
Awesome views at Sumidero Canyon (next 2 pictures)