Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

Christmas and Seasonal Greetings to All!  

May you find joy this season and throughout the New Year!


As we write this Christmas message this year, we are so very thankful for each of you, for your thoughts, prayers and support.  Serving a mission for our church far from home and family is challenging, especially now that we are older. We just welcomed into the family a new granddaughter, Grace Anderson, but we had to do it by Skype! As our family grows and the grandchildren get older, we seem to miss them more and more. We realize that ‘family’ is a very critical part of our lives. We also value friends highly and are so grateful for all of you.  We look forward to being able to see you each again.

We have just less than five months remaining in our mission. The time has gone so quickly for us. We continue to be fully occupied in activities that support the Self-Reliance Initiative of our church in the entire country of Mexico. We work with many outstanding people and feel inspired in the work. It is an initiative aimed at providing support and resources to individuals and families that enable them to improve their temporal and spiritual self-reliance -- the ability to support themselves financially, with sufficient to help others with their time or other resources, as well.  It helps find better jobs for people, helps them get a better education, improve their ability to move forward in their current career, and helps teach principles to assist individuals in starting or growing their own business. It is a very comprehensive program and has had a tremendous impact in Mexico. It literally helps hundreds of people each month improve their lives. What could be a more fulfilling assignment than this?

Our wish is that each of you will have a wonderful Christmas and New Year Season this year, whatever your faith or family traditions may be.  May you be thankful and may you find joy in your life is our greatest hope. 
Craig & Bonnie Anderson
Pictures of us with Christmas trees.
This one is in the office of the Area Presidency

This one is with Elder Salinas and Esteban.  We work with them in Self-Reliance.  The tree is in the devotional room of the area office.


 This Tree is in a Restaurant in Hacienda Vista Hermosa. The building was built in 1529. It was a fun place to have brunch before visiting Tuxla. 
 This is in the visitors center next to the temple.
 This was in the parking lot of the temple.  Interesting tree.  And nearly a full moon
 We visited the temple grounds to see the lights.  We have another picture like this one in the day taken about one year ago.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

This wonderful time of year

Greetings on a sunny day in Mexico City. Things have really started to slow down here. Many employees have already started their Christmas vacays and most of the rest will start next week. For two weeks, or even a bit more, little happens in the Area Office in Mexico. Even the Area Presidency is on vacay with family coming to visit, and such. This is the way it is in all Latin America at Christmas. The week of Holy week is the same. No business gets done by the Government, or virtually any standard non-direct service business, because it is traditionally a time for folks to be with family, travel somewhere for Christmas, or stay at home -- but not work.  This is something like our 17th Christmas in Latin America, and it is the same everywhere. Until after the New Year, many things grind to a halt!  Don’t know why I started all this but I am not going to delete it now!

Many of our fellow missionary couples (there are 10 couples of us, at present) have family members coming to visit for portions of the next two weeks. Those of us who do not, are planning a number of things together so that Christmas will be less lonely that it might be otherwise. We ALL miss our family members, for sure, so we will do next best and do things together. And, the senior couples of us who do not have family coming are getting together for dinners and movies and such. So, it will be OK. But, we do miss home and being with family and closer to those we love this time of year. Before retirement we did too, but not the same as now

Our Area Manager (boss) is among those who are gone now and has pretty much told us to take time to “smell the roses”, so to speak. We will be doing things at home, etc. many days, I think, including things for the office. I (Craig) have some success stories I need to write up in English, there is also an interview with a local service missionary to be transcribed. We did the interview months ago when visiting Puebla, and recorded it, but have not yet had the time to listen to it and get it on paper. It is her personal story as a service missionary, and is really a sweet story. We would like to preserve it for ourselves, of course, but also make a nice story of it to send to Salt Lake.

We do have a day trip planned to the old and famous colonial-era city of Tasco for Monday, Dec. 21. It is going to be great! It is a city that is super famous for silver mining, and naturally, the making of silver jewelry and other artifacts. I have personally wanted to go there since I heard about it when I was a missionary here years ago.

It might be interesting for all of you to learn about two nice things that have occurred here recently for us. The first has to do with Bonnie and her work to -design a new website for Self-Reliance Mexico. When we came, there was an existing site, but it was very inadequate and incomplete, lacking a lot of important material and information, and even nice pictures to accompany things and make the site more interesting. Bonnie began taking on this task after getting settled in and getting to know the program well. It needed a lot of attention and work and she has been truly dedicated to completing that task, in addition to the other normal duties she performs. After many hours of design, review by the Area Manager, re-design, re-review, more redesign, and so forth, the go-ahead was finally given. Everything then had to be vetted by the Area Communications Manager. Only specific individuals are allowed to actually upload pages to the internet for the Area, and that took some time, as well. But …. The Website is finally complete and is on-line! You can see the product of Bonnie’s effort at the following:

The other nice thing is that has occurred is that the main Self-Reliance Office, in Salt Lake, of course, has been writing back to me more and more about how much they enjoy the Success Vignettes I send them. I call them Success Vignettes because they are fairly short little stories that highlight some sort of success the SR Initiative has had, or is having, in Mexico. Most of them focus on a person or persons, and they highlight the changes that have occurred in their lives, both temporal and spiritual. So many individuals are benefitting from the courses that are currently being offered. If they follow what is presented in the 12-week courses, and complete the weekly commitments they are supposed to fulfill, they learn many, many principles that guide them to success. I wish I could go into more detail, and perhaps I will in a future post, to really give you readers an appreciation for it. But, we receive monthly reports with many stories of how people have followed what they have learned and how it is making their lives better. So, I pick a variety of these and make a story of them for Salt Lake. It is not obligatory, but is something I started doing early this year as a way of informing the main office about the impact in Mexico -- and they have become quite popular! It has been amazing!

Well, this is perhaps sufficient for now. Of course, there are pictures to follow. And, next week, we will post our Christmas message to all, separate from this post. We pray that each of you is well, and that you have joy in your hearts, particularly at this time of year. Know that we think of you often, and miss everyone, both family and friends.
Packing posters for Christmas gifts for all the Self-Reliance Service Missionaries in Mexico.  Over 600 posters sent

President Whitehead carving the Thanksgiving Turkey.  All the Senior Missionaries were invited to have Thanksgiving Dinner at the Mission Home.
 Next two pictures are of the missionaires at the Mission Home.

 Nursery children painted the stables for their nativity made of popsicle sticks.  They thought it was great fun.  Bonnie has been working in the nursery for about 3 months.