Sun Dublan
Chapter 6 


During the 17 years we had been in the orchard business, we had been doing fairly well, but were still quite heavily in debt. We had mortgaged our home in order to borrow money. We had also borrowed money from Gordon Romney in El Paso. This loan was in dollars, and we had paid off just before the money exchange rate doubled in 1978. Some years we had sold our fruit to Senor Landa, of Mexico City. He also bought the Rancho Verde property just east of the cemetery, and had quite a large orchard in production. He had a packer on this property. It was a mistake, however, because we could have received a better price from Wagners. Six of these years running the orchard, we had also been in the poultry business, and during two years we had taught school. By this time we had enough credit to get an "avio" from the bank (a loan to pay the orchard expenses). During this time, we had also had to pull the pump out of the well to clean the well and other times to replace the bearings and seals and to lower the pump, because the water table had gone down. We also replaced the pump on another occasion.

There was always some problem or a number of them to keep us busy. Many times it was financial problems that worried us most. There were times when I couldn't see a way out, but the Lord always provided an adequate way to solve the problem, for which we were very grateful. This blessing was received because we always paid an honest tithing and other donations. Some of our financial problems were carried over from the poultry business.

In December 1977, Bishop Merriner L. Jones casually asked Nelle it we were in a position to accept a mission call, and later he came to our home to interview us about it. My first reaction was that of course we couldn't go just yet. We had lost our peach crop that year and didn't get out of debt as we had hoped to do.

The milo and apple crops produced less than a million pesos, which didn't cover our operating and living expenses for the year.

Claudius and Marina and family had recently moved to El Paso, and they had some money they were planning to invest in a home. He sent me a check for $8,000.00 to pay off the bank so we could refinance for another year. I had just received the check when he called and asked me to send it back because they had found their dream home and wanted to buy it. Their Bishop Olsen, who was also the real estate agent who was selling the home, offered Claudius to lend him some money to help his dad and also to complete what he needed for a down payment. We borrowed $5,000.00 dollars from Bishop Olsen, and we still owed $100,000.00 pesos in other debts, and we should pay Uncle Thell $10,000.00 dollars.

The orchard was just ready to start to payoff, because we had 4,000 trees ready to come in to full production. We had just got a loan approved at the bank for a million pesos in addition to the "avio" for our operating expenses, because we were planning to buy a tractor, sprayer, and other machinery we needed, and construct a large fuel storage tank.

When we came to our senses, we began to think about the covenants we had made in the temple to consecrate all that we have, our time and talents to the work of the Lord. Did we make that covenant in good faith? Of course we did. We had never refused to accept a call to serve, and we wouldn't now. Our children all encouraged us to go. We told Bishop Jones that it would be wonderful to accept the call now, even though both he and President Waldo Call had told us we could postpone it for a couple of years. Then we had to start looking for someone to rent our orchard.

We approached the Wagners and the Joneses but their terms were not favorable to us and would not finance our mission. There were others who were interested, but we didn't feel good about them. Jerald wasn't interested at first because he didn't think he could finance the operation. He talked to Ronald Taylor, who offered to furnish finance and machinery for a third of the net income. Jerald would keep one third and we would get a third, with a minimum of $200,000.00 pesos. So now we had a fair deal with a person we had absolute confidence in, and we were ready to go.

Uncle Thell agreed to let us pay only 10 percent interest for a few years. Jerald advanced us enough to pay our debts and cover expenses. Nelle had retired from school teaching and had a Social Security pension of about $3,300.00 pesos, and a School pension of about $700.00 pesos. The Dublan Ward gave us each $5,000.00 pesos for travel expenses, as they do for all their missionaries. It helped a lot.

Since we had rented the orchard for six years (they wouldn't rent it for less), we decided to go to Salt Lake City to conference and to visit Ron and Loriene. We would visit Roberta and Craig in Dodge City on the way back.

Keith called us on March 30, Thursday, the day we arrived, to tell us that our call had come to go to the Mexico Villa Hermosa Mission as welfare missionaries, and that we should enter the Language training Mission on May 11th.

At about 4:00 A.M. Saturday, April 1st, we were awakened by a phone call from Dorothy. Donn had called her to tell her that our dear Mother had just passed away. It is not possible to express the welling up of poignant emotions, love, concern, wonder, and many more that filled our hearts. El hombre pone, y Dios dispone.

We called our children: Claudius in El Paso. Eileen in Phoenix, Roberta in Dodge City, Kansas, Conrad in Augusta, Georgia, and others. The funeral was to be held on Monday, April 3, at 10:00 A.M. We left as soon as possible for home.

Dear Mother: We weren't with you in your final hours, but you had your other loving, competent boys and their wives. When we said goodbye to come to conference, you were relatively well and you were eating your breakfast. You were not too sad to see us go because we were coming back soon. A more difficult parting would have been when we left for our mission.

You had been so concerned that we had been called as welfare missionaries, because you felt that we should have a higher category, but you came to realize the greatness of this calling, at least in part. Nothing is too good for your children, you thought. I guess you wanted us to follow in your footsteps and be presidents, but you had resigned yourself to accept our call, hadn't you? We are not desperately sad.

Sad, yes, like you were sad and tears rolled down your face when your oldest son got on the Noroeste to go to college at Logan. But there was a purpose then, and there is a purpose now and, like there was a reunion after that parting, there will be another at a much better time.

Mother dear, as we experienced your never to be forgotten funeral, and have heard it again and again by listening to the tapes that Greg and Bob so kindly copied for us, our hearts were and are full of joyful gratitude for you and Dad. You did a much better job of raising your children than we have done. All of yours filled missions, Little Tracey Reed in the spirit world, and the rest of us in Mexico. Then you went yourselves to be Presidents of the Mission. All of your children were married properly in the Temple, and have all served faithfully in many areas and callings in the Church. Oh, that we could have done as well! Thank you for starting us out right and for helping us to stay on the right road to eternal life. We will try hard to follow your teachings and examples to the end of our lives here on earth, and this is a faithful promise.

Many people expressed that your funeral was one of the sweetest experiences of that type that they had ever attended. Bob and Rickie and Victor and Brian made very special music. Victor and Brian played the prelude and postlude on their trumpet and euphonium respectively, and they also played a duet "I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked." Bob on the violin and Rickie on the piano played "Angel Serenade" to our angel Mother. At Dad's funeral they played the traditional Mexican song of parting: "La Golondrina." All six of your sons sang for you one of your favorite songs, "Oh Home beloved, Where'ere I Wander." Eric and Harold sang "That Wonderful Grandmother of Mine." Maurice Junior sang the "Twenty-third Psalm." The ladies of the Ward Choir sang a very beautiful concluding number. Donn had excerpted from your own history about four interesting reports of your life, and Maurice had written a beautiful poem in tribute to you. These were read by your grandchildren, Greg, Marza, Mary, Priscilla, Terry and Patricia. Claudius III gave the opening prayer, Keith LaRae the closing, Bob the family prayer before the service, and I dedicated the grave. Uncle Owen Robinson spoke to us, and in his sweet way opened up to us the communication with the spirit world and/or the eternal worlds. I guess he got me into the mood to write to you as if you were going to read it, to let you know our thoughts.

Many people and most of our relatives came from long distances to honor you. Loriene and Roberta couldn't come because they had newborn infants. Eileen couldn't get off on such short notice, but she came down later and visited for a week and participated in our farewell sacrament meeting instead.

Now we think of you and Dad together with little Tracey Reed and our grandfathers and grandmothers. How proud we are to belong to you. It will he a great adventure and a great joy to come to you when our work is done in this sphere of our eternal life. We hope that we can live up to your expectations. I will remember your attitude in the mission, Dad: complete commitment, complete dedication, complete use of time. I know that this is the Lord's work and that He will guide us in doing it. We love and honor you, dear Dad and Mom.

Nelle and I were set apart as Welfare Service Missionaries to go to the Mexico Villa Hermosa Mission. This was done on April 26, 1978 at Jerald and Sharon's home, because all the furniture was out of our living room by that time.

We were set apart by President Waldo Pratt Call of the Colonia Juarez Mexico Stake. He gave us both wonderful blessings, and promised us many great and wonderful blessings, including the blessing of good health and that we would be protected as if surrounded by a band of steel around us--that we could go forth to our mission and not worry about our children or other mundane matters, that we would be blessed by having the Spirit in our labors and, if we did our part, we would be able to bless the good people through our good service. These blessings were literally fulfilled in wonderful and marvelous ways. Our brothers and sisters and their spouses attended. President Call gave them all the time to express their feelings, and we will always remember the expressions of love, praise and encouragement.

Our brothers and their wives, including Jerald and Sharon, gave us a lovely turkey supper at Maurice and Nellie's as a warm send-off. The dinner was so very delicious.

In El Paso, Claudius and Marina gave us a big open house at their home. All the people with roots in Mexico came to honor Claudius and Marina and us. Their Bishop and his wife also attended, as did Marina's cousins. They pinned a corsage on Nelle and a boutonniere on me.

The next day, Saturday, April 28th, we traveled to Dodge City, Kansas to spend four days and five nights with Roberta and Craig. We enjoyed the visit immensely. Seven inches of rain fell while we were there, which curtailed our activities somewhat, but we had a lovely time.

Little Willis Aaron is so enthusiastic and he makes his wants and thoughts known without many words. We have thought for some time that he has a hearing problem that keeps him from learning to speak more rapidly. He seems to hear some sounds.

Little Jenniann is a doll. We are so proud of the choice spirits assigned to our families. We love and appreciate our children, their husbands and wives, and our grandchildren. They are our joy to us forever. We admire Craig's and Roberta's dedication and devotion to the work of the Lord.

On Thursday, we left for Salt Lake City. We went by Denver because we had never traveled that route. We stopped at Loveland, Colorado, to visit with Kathleen's and Dale's daughter LaVon and her husband Gary Cooper. They invited us to stay the night, so we did. They gave us their bedroom and they slept in the baby's room. The baby kept them awake most of the night. The next morning, after a nice breakfast, we continued our journey. They are a lovely couple.

It soon began to snow. North of Fort Collins, a curve in a mountain pass was suddenly icy. The car slipped sideways, and I thought, Oh surely not another rollover! But before we hit the soft shoulder, something whirled the car all around and we went off a gentle hank backwards. If it had happened a few feet earlier, we might have gone down a steep embankment. President Call's priesthood blessing effectively provided us with protection. We didn't even have to get out of the car, but drove back onto the highway and continued our journey. It snowed off and on all day, and we had a lot of fog hood-high through Wyoming. All this gave Nelle a very bad day. By the time we got to Rock Springs, the snow was more than six inches deep. We stopped there for a meal, which made Nelle feel better. We arrived at Loriene and Ron's home at about 5:00 p.m.

They treated us royally, and took us out to the "Print Shop" restaurant to have a lovely meal. Stevie and Bryan had been planning to take us to "Star Wars" since we were there before in March. So the family took us to see it, and Dorothy came with us with two of her grandchildren and Bob, her son.

We shopped for a nice suit for me and enough clothes for both of us for a couple of years. ZCMI and Sears both gave us a missionary discount of ten percent. We also had Sears install an air conditioning unit in the Rambler, which later made our trips much more enjoyable. We later found that the idle wheel they installed wore its bearing out often and also put side pressure on the fan and wore the water pump bearing out. I had to replace both about four times. We went to visit Aunt Maurine and Uncle Don Lyman. They gave us sixty-five dollars worth of vitamins for twenty dollars, which we very much appreciated. We always enjoy visiting with the Robinson relatives. We had bought a wheat grinder years ago from Uncle Don, and after our mission, we bought a bread mixer from him.

It was so good to visit with Uncle Thell and Aunt Edith. We finished paying him our debt when we came home after our mission. He is the last of Dad's brothers and sister who was still alive. He enjoys reminiscing about the Mexico years and also about the first world war years. He and Uncle Harold went overseas together. Their knowledge of Spanish kept them in the Quartermaster Corp handling supplies, evidently with Spanish speaking laborers.

We had previously attended a Bowman reunion in Salt Lake on March 31, 1978, where we met many relatives from other branches of the Isaac Bowman family, and many others we were well acquainted with.

I must mention that before leaving home, Bob and Rickie called me to come to Dixon and have an operation to install a new right hip joint. They offered to pay the ten or more thousand dollars it would cost and keep us there for a month while I convalesced. It was a most generous and loving offer, which was greatly appreciated, but I felt that we should go on our mission and that everything would be all right. We had made commitments that should not be postponed. We were sure that the Lord would see us through this assignment and give His protection and the blessing of health and strength to fulfill it--and So He did!

Language Training Mission in the shadow of the everlasting hills and snow-capped Timpanogas, Provo, Utah: We arrived on schedule, a little before nine a.m. on May 11, 1978, to this glorious place--glorious because of inspired leaders and the combined spirit of over a thousand missionaries (which is soon to be three thousand because the living quarters and other needed facilities are ready to receive them), and because of the shared brotherly love and friendliness, and extraordinary devotion to a common cause.

We had many unforgettable experiences in meetings with the L.T.M. Presidency, Elders Pinegar and Jones, (Elder Phelps is in South America), in classes, and in meetings with the welfare leaders. We also attended a B.Y.U. devotional where Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke and another with Bruce R. McConkie and his wife. Two tutors were assigned to us, Elder Haag and Sister Eileen Wagner (Adrian's granddaughter, and Bill's daughter) to teach us Spanish. Eileen was raised in Sonora, and speaks exceptionally well. Elder Haag is the typical returned missionary with textbook pronunciation. Nelle found that she really needs to study Spanish, which we should have helped her do long ago. After a little over a week, they gave us the F.S.I. speech rating test, and they gave me a 5 out of a possible five, and Nelle was as good as most missionaries get in two months, so they discontinued the Spanish classes and let us concentrate on learning welfare principles.

We arose at 6:00 A.M. and retired at 10:30 P.M. We had a preparation day in which we washed our clothes in the well equipped laundromat, went to the temple in the early morning, did necessary shopping, studied, etc. We also went once to see Uncle Loaz. This Wednesday, we spent over 6 hours in the Provo Temple doing ordinance work for the dead and in a meeting with the Temple President (Gunther), who explained the symbolism of the temple endowment in a very inspirational manner.

Nelle's patriarchal blessing tells her that she would learn the mysteries of the kingdom in the temple. This was fulfilled in this meeting, although we are sure that she and I will both continue to receive greater insight as we continue to attend the temple. I was asked to give the opening prayer in the missionary conference.

Ara 0. Call was the President of our Branch, made up of couples called to welfare service. He interviewed us all after sacrament meeting, and encouraged us to set high goals in six different fields.

My missionary companion of forty years ago visited us at the L.T.M. which was a great pleasure. He wanted to give us $100.00 dollars to help us with equipment. We told him that we were all right financially and didn't need it.

It was William H. (Bill) Jarvis. He later sent us a check for the $100.00 saying that Aunt LaVetta had sent him $50.00 to pay for pictures he had made for her. He didn't want to collect for the pictures so he sent it on to us. Nelle thought that he would be offended if we didn't take it, so we did. We bought a recorder cassette player, a projector, and some filmstrips and cassettes on welfare principles with it. We left the projector at the Cozumel Branch when we finished our mission, and also gave the filmstrips and cassettes to the missionaries in Cancun. So we must thank Grandma LaVetta for the donation. Bill has become a "character." He has grown a beard and mustache, and has been posing in cowboy outfits for art students at the Y and in Salt Lake City.

On Thursday afternoon, May 25th, we left the L.T.M. and stopped by to visit Bill and Viola Jarvis. Bill wasn't home, but it was nice to visit with Viola--the same good-hearted, good neighbor Viola. She works as a nurse at a Provo hospital.

We also stopped in Orem to visit Ella (Romney and Elbert Miller). They both have poor health. Elbert has been in the hospital dying a number of times, but has survived. Ella has had open-heart surgery with the usual after-effects of depression, etc. They are wonderful friends--can't do enough for us. Ella slipped a $20.00 dollar bill in Nelle's hand as we left. We stayed overnight with them on a previous visit. Ella overdid it fixing many good things to eat. Elbert drove us up Provo Canyon to see the beauties of nature, including Bridal Veil Falls.

Elbert went to the Colonies in 1937 or 1938 to start the Poultry Cooperative project. He was blessed because he got Ella while there, a tremendous bonus. Then Velan Call took the Coop over.

We stayed overnight with Loriene and Ron. The next morning we shopped for a projector and cassette recorder etc. mentioned previously, said our good byes and started toward El Paso.

Saturday evening and Sunday morning, we visited with Claudius and Marina and family.

I left Nelle there and went on home alone to get on with what needed to be done. I stayed with Donn and Maurine. I interviewed four prospective missionaries from the Third Ward for patriarchal blessings (in order to know something about them to prompt the inspiration). I gave the blessings in four days, and worked to finish the cemetery records. Donn printed the forms for me on which I made a scale map of each of the one hundred lots. I hope they keep it up. In 1988, Wesley was appointed to over see the cemetery. He marveled at what I had done, and will try to put it in order and keep it up to date.

On Friday, I went to El Paso, did some last minute shopping and bought a hearing aid. Claudius had found a member of the Church who managed the Miracle Ear Agency. He gave a $50.00 dollar discount, making it $300.00. I also bought a 2 year supply of batteries.

Flora Jean invited all of her brothers and sisters and spouses to a magnificent dinner to celebrate her birthday. Hannah, Nelle, LaSelle, Elwood, Flora and Jerald Lynn were there. We lacked Arletta, Barbara and Sharon of the spouses. We had a great tine reminiscing and remembering. Elwood mimics his Dad and other old-timers almost to perfection, and he remembers events and details which we had long forgotten. LaSelle and the others are not far behind.

Dad Taylor's jokes are a legend. We have all heard them many times, but remembering them is something else. We should write things like that down.

We are proud and happy that both Roberta and Marina have been called as Presidents of the Relief Society. Marina is filling her Mother's shoes very capably.

Sunday, June 4, 1978, we were at home, staying with Donn and Maurine. I gave a patriarchal blessing in the morning, and had the joy of singing in the "famous" Dublan choir. Monday I installed shock absorbers on the Rambler (bought in El Paso). One had broken off. And also installed a plastic overflow tank on the radiator so as not to lose antifreeze when the motor got hot. I transcribed the blessings.

All the families got together for a family home evening activity and hamburger fry to see us off in great style.

June 6, Tuesday, I finished the cemetery records and took them to Bishop Jones.

We packed the car a little over seat-high with the minimum of what we thought we could set up housekeeping with, said goodbye, and left home for Villa Hermosa at about 2:30 P.M. We stopped at Delicias. The next day, we got as far as San Luis Potosi. Thursday, we arrived at Mexico D.F. at about noon. We stopped at Chapultepec Park for the best restaurant dinner Nelle said she has ever had. We got lost trying to get back on the "Viaducto" (freeway). We were stopped by cops who said our, exhaust was smoking, and they wanted us to have an emissions test, and also to fine us for excess baggage. They didn't charge us too much. Going out of the city, I didn't see a high traffic light until I had to screech the brakes to stop. The cops came over and saw our baggage, which they said was against the law to haul in an automobile. This time, it was the most expensive "mordida" (bribe) I have ever paid ($1,5OO.OO pesos). They followed us out to the toll highway to see that no one else stopped us. The slopes of the volcanoes and mountains were covered with fog, so we missed much of the breath-taking scenery.

We passed through Puebla without stopping and down the winding descent which also would be a marvelous view if not covered with fog, on down thousands of feet to Orizaba. The only motel we could find left much to be desired. We were now in the tropics. The next morning when we stopped for gas, we heard a strange noise in the motor. I thought it was the alternator because no water was leaking, and thought we could make it to Villa Hermosa.

We should have stopped at Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, but we were so intent on arriving that I didn't use the customary good sense. However, the One watching over us was not about to let us get stranded out in no-where with no parts to fix the car and no protection for Nelle while I returned to get them. There was a line-up, bottleneck at a bridge before leaving the city. The bridge was being repaired. The fan got so wobbly on its worn-out bearing that it tore into the radiator. Then we stopped. I looked for a junkyard to buy a new radiator, but couldn't find one. I couldn't find a rebuilt water pump, but only the bearing. At the parts store a man offered to take me to a shop where I could get it repaired. They promised to have it ready before noon the next day, when they didn't do it before closing time. They didn't have any lights in the shop to work overtime. We couldn't leave the car alone, and Nelle wouldn't go to a motel, so we both stayed. At first, I stretched on the grass near the car with a bedspread we had, but it soon began to rain, so we had to sit up all night.

I had repaired the water pump by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, but it was not the correct part and the shaft was too long. I exchanged it and reinstalled it that evening, but couldn't get the radiator until Saturday noon. After installing the radiator, we went into town to a nice restaurant, washed up in their restroom, and had a nice meal, and went on to Villa Hermosa.

We finally found the mission office, a little place with about five rooms. The elders took us to President Abraham Lozano's home. They all treated us royally, and took us to a lovely, air conditioned hotel to stay over Sunday. We were invited to speak, and Nelle gave her first mission sermon in Spanish. She did very well, she read a nice story and applied it adequately.

We were invited to have dinner at President and Sister Lozano's home. It was very delicious. Sister Lozano is a Castillo from California, and a niece of Sister Refugio Valenzuela who lives in Dublan.

We had an interview with President Lozano. He didn't know what to tell us to do, except help the leaders of the four branches in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, where he assigned us to work. The assistants were going there Monday morning, so we followed then over after they took us to the Villa Hermosa Bancomer, S.A. (bank) to open a bank account.

Villa Hermosa impressed Nelle as being a very beautiful little city, with monuments, fountains, and flowers everywhere. I think she was disappointed to have to leave. But it was very hot.

We traveled five and a half hours on the most winding highway you could imagine to Tuxtla Gutierrez. There were bananas everywhere, even on the mountains, with corn higher up and beautiful tropical plants. Higher still on the mountains there were pine forests, but not as big trees as in our mountains.

From Orizaba through Tierra Blanca and far past the Grijalva River we saw sugar cane, pineapple, bananas, and lots of cattle country. None of the cattle were fat. They tell me that it is because of the tick and worm infestation, and possibly because of the lack of legume pasture. The cattle are mostly Cebti, or a mixture with other types.

The Elders, the District President, Eleazar Soriano, and Brother Fernando Esponda found us an apartment, owned by the latter's sister, Nelly Esponda de Than. Also by using his influence with his brother who owns a hotel and furniture store, he got us a 20 percent discount on a bed and butane gas stove with an oven. His brother and sister were not members of the Church.

We bought some groceries, paid $2,500.00 pesos rent and about $6,500.00 for the bed and stove, so we didn't have enough to buy a refrigerator at that time. The mission reimbursed us for the bed and stove and butane tanks, and gave us almost enough to buy the refrigerator, so now things were better. We also bought bottled purified water, because the city water was not "potable" (drinkable). Mrs. Than lent us a table and four chairs. We used our Wagner boxes for bookshelves, etc. We bought four bottles for water at $60.00 pesos because we were usually not at home when they delivered it. The 20 liters of water was $5.00. We also used the purified water to rinse off after showering, because the city water came right out of the river without even filtering it. There were two tanks on the roof, or we would have been out of water most of the time. Once the float valve stuck on the tanks, and when we let it back in it stirred up the mud in the tanks and came out with a large percentage of mud. Most of the mud settled out with time.

We had a bedroom, shower, and another large room with a closet, living and dining area, and kitchen area. The kitchen had a pantry cupboard, a sink, and our stove and refrigerator. We bought some quaternary ammonium disinfectant to wash our fruits and vegetables. It doesn't make them taste bad at all. You can even drink water purified with it.

We began to work by meeting with the District President and the four Branch Presidencies to show them the films on welfare work and discuss their leadership problems. Then we began to check the addresses they had of members and also to find the hundreds of people who were baptized and forgotten. I estimated that at least 90 percent were inactive. I guess there are many we will never find unless the missionaries find them and interest them again. We did find quite a large number who were not in the membership book, and we found many for which the address they had in the book was not correct. During the time we were in Tuxtla Gutierrez we made a list of all the members for each of the four branches. We also tried to get their home teaching program going. Satan has been at work here to thwart the Lord's work in many ways. It wasn't hard because there were very few that were really converted and fellowshipped. Today we found that even Brother Esponda's mother was attending the Church of the Nazarene because it was near her home. She promised to come with us, but she nearly always found an excuse.

On Sunday, we received a message from President Soriano that President Lozano wanted to see us at the airport at 11:00 A.M. The mission president and Elder Alton invited me to attend the meeting with the district president and the Second branch presidency to give us status. They came to settle financial problem with the Second Branch leaders. The Second Branch couldn't afford to pay the rent on the building they were using, so they "borrowed" some tithing money to help them build a "barn" to hold meetings in. They thought that they could pay it back, but they had not done so. President Lozano told them they should have held their services in the First Branch chapel, but now that they have the "barn" they will continue to use it. They are the most active branch and have the best leaders, since most of the really converted people live in their area. We hope they will let us help them with their leadership problems. It will be necessary to work very closely with President Soriano to gain his confidence. The president and Elder Pelton returned on the same airplane when it came back from Tapachula two hours later.

We were told that our new mission president, Benjamin Martinez and family had arrived at Villa Hermosa on July 3, 1978. We are looking forward to July 23, when our District and missionary Conference is to be held and we can meet them. President Abraham Lozano is to be the Regional Representative for the Veracruz area. He will be kept busy living in Mexico City and traveling to his area. He is a very good man.

On Sunday, July 23 we had a very lovely day attending our District Conference with the new Mission President and his family and the seven branches {four in Tuxtla, Arriaga, Tonala, and San Cristobal). This was the biggest attendance we had seen to date. We have become acquainted with our inspired new mission "Presidente" Benjamin Martinez, his lovely wife and five children under 14 years of age. We were inspired and motivated by his messages in our missionary conference yesterday and the youth meeting last night, the leadership meetings, priesthood meeting, the mothers and daughter's meeting, and the general session.

The zone leaders presented us with an attractively decorated program folder for the missionary conference, and a well-written original song of welcome to the Martinez family, which Nelle was called to lead, and she did it very well. Elders Lane Monson and Kirt Wilkinson sang it first, to the tune of Welcome, Welcome Sabbath Morning. Nelle copied it into her journal.

The missionaries were promised a new era of accelerated progress and a miraculous spreading of the gospel, and the building of new chapels to meet the needs. This promise was given to President Martinez by the Prophet, Spencer W. Kimball.

We went in the rain to visit the Morris couple. Brother Morris works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the screw worm fly eradication in Mexico. They have a big plant here to produce the sterile male flies, which they put out all over the country to mate with the females so their eggs will not hatch. Sister Morris was returning to the States to visit her relatives, and we wanted to ask her about another American lady we had on our Third Branch membership record. They didn't know her, and she has probably returned to the States long since. I forgot to mention that the fly production plant employs over 600 people.

Yesterday, we followed a lead to five different addresses to find one young fellow. We haven't caught him at home yet, but now we know where he lives. We also found four other young men. They didn't have any desire to return to the Church. The missionaries interested them by teaching a karate class, and I guess when they were baptized they thought it was the initiation into a sports club.

All is not work. On our preparation days we sometimes do things just for fun, so there is time to enjoy. About the first week of July, we went to the state zoo with the missionaries in this zone, and then we went up to the Sumidero Canyon. It is a very beautiful, deep canyon with sheer cliffs of varied colors and green verdure everywhere and a river at the bottom that looks like a frothy ribbon and is strong enough to let us hear the roar of the rapids way up on top where we were. They have made a 24 kilometer highway just so people could go up and see these beauties of nature. It is very winding, but the scenery is exceptionally beautiful. Above the sheer cliffs the side hills are planted to corn. I don't remember why they call the Sumidero (drain or cesspool) Canyon I guess it is because it drains the area into a very narrow canyon.

The zoo has gathered the native animals of the state of Chiapas. There is a little deer about the size of a goat, but trim, of course, and dark brown. There were other deer and antelope, a tapir, and lots of monkeys climbing in the trees. There were many other little animals that I don't remember the names of. They had some cats like leopards and lions, etc. There were many beautiful birds large and small, and strange: A large grey eagle with a queer collar of flared out plumage. They had some iguanas that were green because they live in green plants, and then there were snakes, a large rattlesnake and boa constrictors, and eight or ten other poisonous snakes that I had never seen before. They would make me want to be very careful if I needed to walk out into the thick undergrowth of the jungle.

About the third week of July 1978, President Martinez invited us to go to Arriaga, a two and a half hour drive, for a district conference. We were given the time to show them a film on the temples, but we were not asked to speak. They reorganized the branch. We'll have to work down there if we have time. The town is only 56 meters above sea level, and only 20 minutes from the ocean. Part of the road is winding also. This is the rainy season, so everything is green, and there are many flowering trees. The mountains are beautiful, and there are even some pines and other evergreens down that low.

We returned, and that same afternoon took Elders Monson and Wilkinson up to San Cristobal. The highway is also very winding and steep in some places, and it is slippery when wet. We saw a serious accident on the way back, and it was raining. There are lots of pines up there and even sawmills. We stayed at a rustic, expensive hotel. Nelle needed a blanket at night and a sweater the next morning. We visited and interviewed the branch president that night. It is a quaint, colonial type city, with very narrow streets and ancient architecture. There were hundreds of European and American tourists there. There were many young people and some look like students, and some were hippie type, many with hack packs in which to carry their stuff. There were many girls in pairs or groups. The next morning, we went shopping with the elders, and then went to visit another family with the branch president. Then we came on home in two hours.

There are also many different tribes of Indians that come to San Cristobal to market, etc. They wear straw hats decorated with colorful ribbons, each tribe wears a distinctive type of decoration and clothing.

Beginning on Thursday, August 17, 1978, we had another series of wonderful experiences. President Martinez invited us to attend a missionary conference at Tapachu1a, Chiapas near the border of Guatemala. We were five-and-a-half hours driving down there. Elders Bell and Arnaud rode with us.

The conference on Friday was held in the Church grade school building, which is part of the Tapachula Branch chapel. They served us a light breakfast in the building, mostly fruit, at 7:30 A.M., and then our conference or seminar lasted until 6:30 P.M. with a short break for the lunch they served us. I think that the president had the sister missionaries prepare the food. President Martinez was starting a new program of goal setting and other changes to bring about the promise received from our Prophet.

The seminar was very inspiring and pepped us all up to really get to work. While President Martinez was speaking, an earthquake shook us up a little. When the commotion subsided, I told him, "Presidente sus palabras hicieron estremecer la tierra." (Your words made the world tremble.)

That evening, Elder Howard W. Hunter was at the same hotel with Elder Bradford, the Area Representative and Tom Lee, a BYU Archeologist. Elder Hunter was chairman of the Church BYU New World Archeological Foundation, which at that time was working out of Tapachula and had a laboratory there. Elder Hunter was on an inspection tour. I went to his room and he said, “I know you from somewhere, remind me where I met you." I told him that he had ordained me a patriarch in the Colonia Juarez Mexico Stake, and that I had also visited him in his office in Salt Lake City. He said, “Of course.” He remembers Dad and Mother very well, and he seemed happy to chat for a few minutes. He invited us to go with them Saturday morning to see the work done by the BYU foundation at Izapa, about 9 kilometers south of Tapachula near the border. They carried out extensive exploration and restoration in 1962 under the direction of Tom Lee.

At first, we didn't think we could go because Elders Bell and Arnaud had to get back to San Cristobal, but their bus didn't leave Tuxtla until 6:00 P.M. so we decided to stay. It was one of the highlights of our mission to be with such a distinguished company and see the Lehi Stone, Stela No 5, which is thought to be a record of Lehi's vision of the tree of life.

The ruins at Izapa are very numerous and extend over a large area. They restored some pyramids along the highway. They are very impressive, even though they are not very high. One pyramid they restored had many burials with many offerings {artifacts). Most of the rest are covered with jungle, large trees and shrubbery. One not uncovered is over 60 meters high. The pyramid with the burials, and possibly the others also, had successively older layers below the others, and dates back to over a hundred years B.C.

There is quite a large chocolate bean tree orchard. The BN Foundation bought an area about as large as a football field where they found the stelae. The owner still lived there, and he was feeling bad that he had sold that area, because chocolate beans were selling for $50,000.00 pesos a ton. They took the "cacao" trees out in the area purchased because there are many stelae in a circle all around it. Each stelae had an altar in front of it, some just flat stones, and others in the form of a frog about two or three feet high. Some were taken to the museum in Mexico City.

You have probably heard about the Lehi Stone, The Tree of Life. It is thought to represent Lehi's vision. Some of the details are very hard to see, but are more visible when wet, which we did. The tree is very clear, and there are human figures. There are waves of water at the bottom. I should have written Brother Lee's explanation, because I can't remember the details. They have put a roof over it and other stelae. It was in the shadow when we were there.

I was very much surprised to see how the cacao trees produce the beans. They grow in circles inside a football shaped pod, and the pods grow on the trunk and large branches of the tree. A white syrup that looks like fine cotton is produced between the beans, and it is very delicious to suck off the beans. The owners do not mind if you open some of the pods to suck it if you put the beans back in the pod and place them at the foot of the tree. The pods are from four to seven inches in length. The beans are from three fourths of an inch to a little more than and inch long and slightly narrower in width.

Another interesting sculpture we saw was a large (8 ft.) rock carving of a Jaguar's head with a man's face in the open mouth. We have pictures of these interesting things.

The best part of the experience was the company we were in. Our car couldn't go into the "stelae" area because of the high centers, so nothing would do but that we ride in the cab of the pickup with Brother Lee the first trip in while the others came along on foot until picked up by other trips. Brother Lee said that you should not argue with an Apostle of the Lord. The same thing happened on the way out.

We couldn't stay in Tapachula for the Sunday conference. Presidents Martinez asked us to meet him and his wife at the airport on Sunday and take them to San Cristobal. They reported that it was a wonderful conference. The stake was organized, and joy was all around. On the way back it took us 7 hours because it rained most of the way. I have never seen so much running water in my life. Every little way there was a bridge over a large river of water hurrying down to the sea to the south.

On Sunday we met the Martinezes at the airport at 1:30 P.M. after having attended church in the morning. We took them home and gave them a very nice Nelle style dinner. Then we took them to San Cristobal in time for the sacrament meeting. There were only 12 branch members at the meeting, although there are over a hundred members of the branch. The branch president was not at the meeting. He had been out of town. The next morning, I went to his home very early and caught him for an interview with President Martinez. President Martinez wanted to have a conference there in about a month, and that a special effort should be made to get everyone to attend.

President Martinez and his wife both gave inspiring sermons at the sacrament meeting. We were disappointed that so few attended. Sister Martinez came from Canada, but she learned Spanish very fast. I think that she memorized things to say. The next day it was fun playing tourist with her. She took many pictures of the colorful clothing worn by the Indians, and did some shopping.

We believe that things are beginning to stir here in Tuxtla to regain the Spirit. We noticed a big difference at Tapachula. We are trying hard to do our part, but it will require each individual to commit himself or herself, from the district officers on down. It is going to happen.

(It did, and a stake was organized in three or four years.)

Things are going well for us, and we have had many experiences that show how much we have been helped, guided, and protected by the Lord and the Holy Ghost. This gives us encouragement, joy, and confidence. We are enjoying working with each other and being together constantly.

Saturday, September 9, 1978. We received a message to call President Martinez. To use a telephone it was necessary to go downtown where there were public phone booths. He told us, please came to Merida for a welfare missionary seminar, and bring all your things and be prepared for reassignment. To say that we were surprised is an understatement. We were just getting going well in the work at Tuxtla Gutierrez. We had been visiting all the members of the branches and encouraging the less active to become active. We were also seeking out the lost members and checking the addresses, in order to activate the home teaching program. We had almost finished the project, so while Nelle packed, I hurried to finish it.

The mission headquarters had recently been moved from Villa Hermosa to Merida. We left Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Monday, September 11, 1978, at 3:30 P.M! By ten o'clock we had found our nice hotel in Villa Hermosa where we spent the night. We arrived at Merida on Tuesday at 5:30 P.M. We like Merida much better. We were invited to stay at the Martinez' home. The mission offices were on one of the main streets downtown.

The drive over to Merida was interesting and beautiful--from the lush banana and pineapple plantations of Tabasco, through tropical, partially desert jungles of Campeche, along the lovely Bay of Campeche, and across the flat jungles of Yucatan to Merida. The coastline is the most beautiful we've seen or can imagine. It is rocky and abrupt along Campeche, with some nice white sand like the beaches in Cancun. Yucatan is flat with an occasional low rolling hill or mounds that look like they might even be pyramids covered with the jungle overgrowth.

The water is crystal clear, beautiful, bright, light green near the shore, then deep blue further out. The soil is so rocky and porous that the rivers are underground. There are lots of windmills, although you can't see much where there is dense jungle. The trees are fairly high, and there are lots of climbing vines and weeds. In some places, venison is cheaper than beef (that is in the little isolated "pueblos." I don't know how they could hunt in the dense jungle. Possibly they wait at the water holes. There are also many poisonous snakes, tigers and other big cats. We have seen many "indios" along the highways, always carrying their "machetes" and also mostly shotguns, or an occasional twenty-two rifle. Big rifles must be prohibited.

This whole area of the peninsula was once under water (well, perhaps not all of it). There are seashells in the limestone "caliche" type rock. They plant between the rocks after breaking it up, but the jungle grows. Brother Morales was setting out tomato plants last week (in October), and has beans, chiles, and other garden plants coming up. They produce a lot of citrus around Merida. There is no winter here. Some day there will be mango, avocado, citrus, and papaya growing everywhere. Brother Morales' papaya will probably be ripe around Christmas. He took enough rock out of his ground to build a house, but it is still very rocky. The gangs that are clearing land for new housing are always setting off dynamite to break up the rock.

Another comment about the Bay of Campeche: there are many fishing boats. We saw canneries and freezing operations for the fish, shrimp and lobster. There is also a boat-building industry. They build lumber boats right along the shore, and there also shops to build metal boats, which they sell as far away as South America.

President Martinez and his family live in a large house previously rented by the elders. It is temporary until they find a suitable home. The house is right in front of the large "Parque de las Americas."

We had an inspiring, instructive, two-day seminar, and received our assignment to work in five branches from the Island of Cozumel to Cancun, Valladolid and two in Tizimin, a distance of over 370 kilometers. We worked first in Cancun.

Cancun is a relatively new city. The big tourist hotels were begun in the late sixties. They are trying to outdo Acapulco, but without the open sexploitation, they tell me. The Isla de las Mujeres (the Women's Island), and Cozumel are also big tourist centers. The big hotels are expensive, but it is also possible to come to the hotels in the city and have a good time without spending that much. The beaches are all federally owned, but the land next to them may be privately owned and developed. There are many beaches with free access, and where the government has built "pslapas" (palm thatched shades) and other installations. Tourists seldom go there. There are places to camp, and places to rent fishing boats for much less money.

Esteban Mejia took us a few kilometers south of Tulum to where some "campesino" friends of his live. They have coconut palms and previously slashed trees to gather "chicle" (the main ingredient in chewing gum). The father had previously cut his rope while slashing a tree up high and was seriously injured. They gave us food and coconut milk to drank. They eat the fish, lobster and turtles they catch. Esteban is a member, and also a tourist guide at Tulum.

There is an underground river that comes out about 50 meters from the shore at that place. You can see it bubbling up in two places. This was very interesting to see. We were in the luxury vacation-land of the Mexican "Caribe" on the east coast of the peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo. Yucatan is the next state to the west. If you had a tourist guide, it would show you an infinite variety of things we are not doing. We see the millionaire tourist activities a million miles away--ten kilometers out on the sand bar where the big hotels have been constructed, along with condominiums, private estates, golf course, yacht clubs, and sail surfing centers.

Our interest is in trying to help the more ordinary people to learn to live better so they can be happier, through the gospel of our Lord and His Church. The branch is small with the usual high percentage of inactive members. Many of them work in the big hotels and have to work on Sunday, which aggravates the problem. A missionary is now serving as branch president, Elder Villareal, from Monterrey. We will help him to prepare his people to do a good job in taking over all the callings in the branch very soon.

Yesterday, we had a very memorable, lovely experience--the baptism of a golden family of five and another sister who is not related--at the "Playa Mormon," a beautiful partially secluded beach with fine white sand and crystal clear water. By 4:30 P.M. a storm was threatening and the balmy breeze was bringing in a few little waves. Can you imagine a more beautiful baptismal font? I cannot.

Brother Benjamin Parra is due here next week to select the land in anticipation of building a chapel. On our first Monday here in Cancun, September 18, we were to meet President Martinez at Cozumel to help him get the members who have been asking for a branch together to organize it. We left at 4:00 A.M. to catch the 6:00 A.M. boat from Playa del Carmen. We enjoyed our first "ocean voyage" of an hour and a half on the front deck of the boat, and watched the beautiful, graceful dolphins that came up to greet us and wish us good luck on our thirty-seventh wedding anniversary. Upon our arrival, we took a cab five kilometers down the Island to the Presidente Hotel, where the Secretary had made reservations for the President. There was an airline strike and he had not arrived. While we waited to see if the strike would be settled, we celebrated our anniversary on the luxury beach, just like we were as rich as we felt. We called Merida and the president had decided not to come, so we went to look for the members. We had the vague address of a member, an air force captain, Manuel Perez Rodriguez.

We took a cab and didn't find him at home, so we finally found him at the air force base. He invited us to his home, and came with us. We invited him to dinner at a nice restaurant by the wharf. The 4:00 P.M. boat didn't sail because of a threatening storm, "Greta," so we stayed overnight. Brother Perez got some of the members together, and we attended their group "family hour."

The next day at Cancun, we met Sister Ann Killian (a welfare missionary) at the bus station. The president assigned her to us because she didn't have a companion. Ann is a registered nurse. We expected her companion to arrive any day from the States, but she didn't arrive, and she lived with us for four months. There is not much privacy in a one room apartment for three. She slept in a hammock strung across the room, and we had single beds. There was a kitchen area by the entrance door, and the other half of that area was closed in as a bathroom, with a shower wash basin and toilet. The kitchen had a small refrigerator, a stove, a small sink, and some shelves.

The day we came from Merida, we didn't stop at Chichen Itza although the highway goes right by it. We wanted to arrive to find a place to live. The next day was a holiday, September 16th. We arrived about noon, and finally found Alcatraces 55, where the elders live in a small building they use for the "Casa de Oracion." The services are held in a covered patio in back. We waited for them to come and when they finally arrived Elders Alejandro Villareal and Dale Weykamp helped us look for an apartment. We stayed the night in a hotel, and the next day found our apartment in a business building on the corner of Uxmal and Tulum streets, three flights upstairs. We also had a little porch (not covered) which was the roof of the first two stories.

Some time later, we used our preparation day to go to Tulum to see a member who was a former bishop in Mexico City. He and the Joe Davila group of tourist guides were having problems. There was not enough work left over for him, and he was threatening to take Davila's helpers to court because they were not registered guides. We wanted to see if we could help them get along better. We had a good visit with Bishop Petlacalco. It had only been a short time since he arrived to work there, while the others had been working there for a number of years. He showed us around the area free, and they usually get from $200.00 to $1,000.00 pesos to do it, depending on the size of the group. I think we helped the situation a little.

Tulum is a great Maya religious center that was built about 514 A.D. they say. It is about 90 kilometers south of Cancun, if I remember right. It is right on the shore of the "Caribe." It is quite a large square enclosed in a high wall with gates on the sides. There is a little temple on each corner, and on one there is a tail. They say that this represents the Big Dipper which the Mayas believed was the home of the gods. There are 54 structures within the square that are temples and dwellings for the priests. Like in Temple Square, the walls are to keep the people out, except on religious commemoration days, when they came by the tens of thousands, perhaps as many as 50 or 60 thousand or more.

By one of the first temples, there is a grave lined with stones carved smooth with square corners. There are steps leading down into the shallow grave and on the opposite side steps leading up, indicating that the ancients believed that although dead. the individual went to the grave as though he or she was alive and could go on and join with his or her ancestors. The structures show that they still remembered much about Deity. One author calls them the American Greeks.

On the first temple there is a representation of the sun with its rays extending on all sides. The rays end in serpent's heads, while a similar design in Egypt they end in red hands. The serpent heads represent the White God. There is a hole in the sun, representing, perhaps, the all-seeing eye of God. The red hands are painted on the temple just in front, representing the all-powerful hands of God. The second temple is to the descending God. He is carved in the top of the wall as coming to earth headfirst from a heaven of blue. One of his shoes is adorned with three feathers, representing the White God, and the other has little bells, representing heavenly Music. On the corners of the temple there are large (two meters high) carved faces representing the living and the dead, showing that the White God is the Lord of both. There are painted frescoes on the walls inside. One small figure represents a man on a horse. The birth of a child is also represented; more about this later.

The largest temple on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Ocean commemorates the Trinity. There are three indentations about a meter wide and one and a half meters tall on the highest cornice of the temple. The one on the left, as you face it standing in front, has a sculpture representing God (Itzamna) with his elaborate headdress or crown in heaven. The center one represents the descending God, again coming to earth headfirst and adorned as explained previously. The third is left blank. How else would you represent the Holy Ghost (Pichan)?

The view out to sea is marvelous. You can see the waves breaking on the reef, which they say is black coral, and is hundreds of kilometers long. The only break in the reef, where a ship could come in, is made by an underground river that comes out right at the reef, and the coral can't grow in the sweet water. The Mayas showed the Spaniards where it was and welcomed them in, thinking them to be descendants of the White God.

The Davilas told us this story, and I do not know if it is true or not. The large temple on the north is where they held the ceremony to select the fairest, choicest, most beautiful of the young maidens (Miss Tulum?), and the most outstanding young man, and married them there on July 17th so that a son would be born on April sixth to become the ruler of the six million Mayas.

On April sixth, the rising sun shines through a cleft in the east wall, through another small doorway and through a hole in the wall of the Descending God Temple, and is reflected on the ceiling, to illuminate the birth of the child previously mentioned. April sixth is an important date, right? The couple had a five day honeymoon in the temple, so not always was the son born on April sixth.

Later, we went 42 kilometers to the west of Tulum to Coba. Exploration was not complete there. They say it will be greater than Chichen Itza. The ancients had highways from Coba to Tulum and to Chichen Itza, over a hundred kilometers to the north, and to 14 other cities. They say that you can see the highways from the air when the sun is low, that is you can see where they are in the jungle by a slight break in the vegetation.

We have been greatly blessed by the Lord, and have many testimonies of His loving care, protection and guidance--but that is another long story that possibly may never be told in detail. Here are a few samples:

While we were still in Tuxtla Gutierrez, we were visiting a sister member. The car was right by the door, so we neglected locking it. A young fellow came along, grabbed Nelle's purse out of the car, and ran. Two other young men saw him do it, and ran after him. They got close enough to him that he was scared, and dropped the purse, which the young men brought back to us. Its loss would have caused us much trouble, because Nelle had her passport and other important papers in it.

Once on a trip to Chetumal, a connection to the heater broke off, and the car heated up. After we prayed about it, we remembered having seen a surface "Cenote" (a little body of water) back a little ways, which is very unusual in Yucatan and Quintana Roo. I cut 2 wooden plugs, pounded them in, filled the radiator with water, and we were on our way again.

Once in Merida, I was making a left turn into a narrow street when something made me put on the brake. After I stopped, I saw that if I hadn't stopped I would have hit a young fellow right in front of me that I hadn't seen.

Another time in Merida, I had been working late at the office. I got in the car to go home; I was just going to turn right on a little street just ahead of where I was parked when a car, that was coming down the street traveling really fast, cut in front of me. Crash! Bang! Bang!--I thought he had taken all the front of the car off. He must have been drunk, and he didn't stop, for which I was grateful. I got out to see what had happened, and I couldn't find even a mark on the bumper.

A month or two before we were to be released from our mission, Nelle started to have a toothache. We didn't know a good dentist and lacked confidence in them, so I anointed her with consecrated oil and gave her a blessing. We asked the Lord to bless her to take away her pain until we could arrive home, or to the U.S. in order to find a good dentist. He did just that; she didn't have any more toothaches until 1980, after we had established ourselves in Salt Lake City. The power of priesthood blessings is not imaginary. When it is right, the Lord will answer them affirmatively.

December 2, 1978: May you have a glorious Christmas! May it be filled with joy and filled with love for each other; may it include consideration, loyalty, and brotherhood that extends to each other and all the branches of our families, and may you all remember the love of the Baby Jesus, whose birthday we celebrate, even though it is on the wrong date.

Let's not exchange material gifts this year--an expression of love for each other will be worth far more than any golden trinket or other gift. We are sending the enclosed check so that you may provide a simple something under your tree for our grandchildren from Grandma and Grandpa.

Our hearts are fill with joy and love, and feel the bonds of closeness, and yet we are so far away. We will feel vicariously the squeals of delight and surprise of the children on Christmas morning, and the contentment of a Christmas hug and kiss from those most dear, and other blessings fondly remembered.

We will try to spread joy and laughter among those less fortunate in this Christmas-summer time, where a Christmas hymn or a pinata may mean a happy time. However, the kids over on the island of Cozumel wanted to learn the song, "Mi Querido Santa Clos."

With my new assignment as Counselor to the Mission President, we will be traveling to the six branches in our district before the end of the year, and planning a district conference for January. We have been interviewing local members of the priesthood in preparation for the reorganization of the Cancun Branch. We are hoping President Martinez will come for that. We are confident, and pray that the Lord will help us to grow to fill this responsibility as He has promised. It gives us more status and purpose as we try to help.

We greatly enjoy our activities and our travels. We are going on another "ocean voyage" over to Cozumel this weekend. The members there need help in learning to sing the Christmas songs and hymns. Of course they do not have a piano, and they haven't been in an organized group long enough to learn the tunes or how to sing. Perhaps someone will have a tape recorder, and we can leave them some cassettes. Mary was kind enough to send us a piano recording of Christmas songs and six hymn accompaniments from the Church Distribution Center. We got two more from the Mexico Distribution Center.

We enjoy the summer weather, and sleep with only a sheet most nights. We have an overhead fan. The heat doesn't bother us since we are accustomed to it, but any unusual exertion starts the perspiration.

Sister Killian's companion, Sister Debra Smith, finally arrived last week, so we are enjoying being alone again. We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner at the mission home, and also an inspiring Welfare Missionary Seminar. We will have another on December 28th, and also a Presidency meeting with President Martinez and Brother Fossum, the other counselor.

We get around reasonably well. During the first week of February, 1979 I had trouble with the electronic ignition of the Rambler, and had to walk all over town to find the parts for it. The electronic parts were so expensive that I decided to buy a distributor and coil and change it back to coil and breaker points ignition. It worked just as well.

About the third week in February, 1979 we were transferred to Merida to work in the office on weekdays. We will still visit our six branches. Our travel to visit them will be on weekends, and to go from Merida to each of the branches will add up to over 750 miles plus an hour or hour and a half boat ride to Cozumel.

In addition to serving as a counselor, President Martinez has asked me to work as Executive Secretary, whatever that means, and also to help the financial secretary to get the mission accounts in order. He needs someone to check up on details that he doesn't have time to take care of, and in general, see that the office functions in an efficient manner. I have never been famous for efficiency, so we will do our best with the help of the Lord. So now we will be working during weekdays in the air conditioned mission offices on Paseo de Montejo.

On Sunday, April l, 1979 we again visited the beautiful Island of Cozumel. We see the beautiful ocean and the white beaches, but not the tourist luxury. We work in the poorer part of town where all things are not so beautiful, but the spirit of the gospel is beautiful, and our little group is trying to become the only true Church of Jesus Christ on the Island. I neglected to mention that in the first few days of October 1978, President Martinez hadn't been able to take time to visit Cozumel, so he authorized us to organize the branch. Since Brother Perez was not keeping the Word of Wisdom, we selected Brother Manuel Ku to be the branch president. At first, he held services in a little room of his palm thatched hut. I instructed him with respect to his duties and set him apart.

Those who had been members for the longest time had only been in the Church for about two years, so they had not had much experience. Brother Ku found a masonry home they could hold services in, and I arranged to have the Church pay the rent. (I understand that in the nineteen eighties the Church built them a nice little chapel.) The elders working in Cancun began to work on the island for a day or two once or twice a month, and they have had some baptisms. We could see a very promising future for the Church on the island, although there were only about a dozen adults and about that many children attending.

We flew back across the channel in a ten passenger airplane that was now furnishing that service to Playa del Carmen. It took about seven minutes. It was interesting to see the island, jungle, beaches, ocean, etc. from the air.

On Sunday we visited the little village of Uayma, near Valladolid. Missionaries had worked there quite a few years back and had converts about 85 adults. Our message wasn't relayed to them, so they were not ready for us, but Brother Maximiliano Chi took us around town to meet the people and invite them to the service at 3:00 P.M. They customarily met at six. A branch has never been organized, but they meet on their own. We are going to try to get them prepared to organize a branch. I have interviewed three of the brethren to see if we could ordain them elders, but they are not paying tithing, so we will wait a while. The Chi family has one of the few rooms constructed of masonry. They have made wooden benches and use it to hold their services. The members all live in palm thatched huts made the same way the Mayas have made them for ages, I guess.

They have purchased a lot on which to build a chapel, but if it is on Ejido land, it cannot be titled. We will have to have Brother Parra look into this matter.

Sisters Killian and Smith went with us this time. We had a nice meeting, and my estimation of leadership possibilities grew tremendously. Brother Samuel Navarrete came to conduct the meeting, even though just before meeting time his grandmother's hut burned to the ground and his grandmother's feet were burned. He let others of the family care for her and came to do his duty.

They gave us some tamales to take home that were wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn shucks. They are a very hospitable people. Two dinners were prepared for us, so we ate two dinners. Everywhere we went, they would send someone to buy us a "refresco" (soda pop), unless we talked them out of it.

Not too long ago, on the way home from Cancun, we stopped about six kilometers west of Valladolid at the "Cenote Xkaken de Dzitsnup." It is a couple of kilometers south of the highway. This one is in a cavern underground. It is quite a large cavern with stalactites and stalagmites. There is a small opening at the top of the cavern, and they have installed yellow street lights. A couple of young people were swimming in the water, which looks blue and is very clear. They said that while under with snorkels they could see small fish there.

There is another big "Gruta" (cave) near Chichen Itza which we hope to see sometime. (We never had time to see it, and we didn't take time to see a restaurant in a "Cenote" underground at Valladolid.)

March 6, 1979, Merida, Yucatan: We visited Cancun again to help get the new branch presidency started off on the right foot, if possible. I believe they are going to begin to progress. We selected Brother Jose Octavio Davila Morales to be the new branch president. The first counselor is Esteban Mejia Mora and the second, Manuel Nieves Masias. The latter used to work for Scott and RollaBon Bluth in the colonies. He came south to be a part of a so-called "Model Ejido" (Bonfil). The government gave them a sawmill, a large poultry plant and built gem houses on a large section of jungle south of Cancun. All the men except Manuel got drunk every time they got a little money. Manuel tried to run the sawmill, but they wouldn't give him his money regularly, so he quit and became a tourist guide with Brother Davila. They rented the poultry plant to a private company.

Brother Davila invited us to stay at their home. It was his wife Hazel's 73rd birthday, so we had the "Mananitas" before 5 A.M., and in the evening, visits from friends and members of the branch. Hazel Stocks Davila (from Bountiful if I remember right) became a widow, and decided to move to Mexico. Jose met her at the border, and offered to be her guide for free, if she would take him along. He finally talked her into marrying him about thirty years ago. She is nineteen years older than he is, but the marriage has been successful to date. Mother and Dad knew them in Puebla where they had an onyx factory and they mutually thought a lot of each other. I guess this is why he treats me so well. I have mentioned that they work at Tulum as tourist guides. I also met them over 25 years ago, when I went to Puebla with Aunt Maybeth and Uncle Loaz.

The first Sunday in March 1979 we held a nice conference in Chetumal (in a nice labor union hall they rented) with President Martinez presiding. He has a great gift of leadership, and enjoys the help and inspiration of the Spirit to a high degree. It is hard for us to think of him being younger that we are. He was in the Guatemala Mission when Elwood was there, and was outstanding even then.

Nelle spoke really well, and President Martinez complimented her on the progress she had made in learning Spanish.

The local leaders had a nice badge printed to pin on everyone. Evidently the printer was given his instructions verbally, because he printed "CONFERENCIA DERRAMA." (Do you get it?)

May 1979, Mothers' Day: We had heard that there was going to be a Stake Conference held in Merida, so we didn't travel this weekend, and attended the conference. Agricol Lozano was the visiting Regional Representative. He was glad to see us (mostly because of paternal influence, although we have had occasions to meet and become acquainted over the years). He made quite a thing of introducing me in priesthood meeting, and as he was talking about the colonies as an example of progress in his talk, he mentioned that we lived there. Some little girls sang a Mothers' Day song during the opening exercises, and they brought their flowers to Nelle before they sat down. We celebrated Mothers' Day by having a splendid dinner at the Soberanis Restaurant. It was not any better than we would have had at home.

We see in the Church News that Jerald Lynn, Nelle's brother, is now our stake president. We are very proud of his accomplishments. We seemed to be very near to Mother on Mothers' Day. I am sure that she is pleased with the family's work in the Church, and that Dad is also. I'm glad to be a part of it.

May 27, 1979, Sunday evening: We have come down to the nice air-conditioned offices here in Merida to work on our preparations for our Preparation Meetings which are leadership meetings that we will hold each month in each of our branches. We hope that it will help, and surely it will. Our first general theme is "Stewardship." A concept and commitment to Stewardship are much needed by our leaders here. President and Sister Martinez have developed some very stimulating ideas and presentations, including a self evaluation sheet which is going to help our leaders to understand their callings and carry them out better.

We have keys to the mission offices because I have been working as Executive Secretary for over a month now, and have been working long hours helping the Financial Secretary to get caught up on a backlog of work that others have let pile up. We have had to correct entries and make receipts, etc. as far back as July 1978.

Now the president has given us other hats to wear. Elder Clemmons, the financial secretary, needs to return home for medical treatment not available here. He wants to return as soon as he is well enough. I am to be the financial secretary. This leaves an odd number of young elders in the office, and one would not have a companion to work at proselyting in the afternoon and evenings. So the President has asked Nelle to be the Records Secretary and let Elder VerHoef go out to work in the field. We have facing desks in the same room.

Nelle had been staying at home until noon, and had worked on our leadership training presentations. She would come to the office with me in the afternoons and evenings. She feels inadequate to fill this position because she has never done anything like it before. She has always been one of the leaders, and never has served as a secretary. It is quite a complicated job, and she has not received the instruction she needs. She feels confused, but she will do very well. She wishes that she had learned to type. She can get help from me to do her typing and help her understand the job. This is a historic assignment, because she is probably the only female records secretary to serve in any mission.

In the morning, on our "preparation day," we elders are going to paint the office walls. The original paint was of poor quality. We are the first tenants of these offices in a new office building on Paseo de Montejo street.

Friday, June 11,1979: Yesterday, we sent off the weekly financial report to the Financial Department in Salt Lake City. Elder William F. Anderson is our mission accountant there.

I had the opportunity to go to the airport and pick up Elder Roland Robison of the General committee of the Aaronic Priesthood, Young Men. He didn't want to stay in his hotel alone, so we took him home to lunch with us, and he visited us at the office for a while.

Today we had the marvelous privilege of having a meeting at the mission office with Elder Russell M. Nelson, the general president of the Sunday School, and also Elder Robison. They are here to attend the Merida and Merida Lakin Stakes' regional meetings on Saturday. Elder Nelson's two lovely daughters are here with him (18 and 20 years old). It is very apparent that they have a very lovely family relationship. Their "very beautiful mother" (quote) stayed to welcome a grandchild. She sings in the Tabernacle Choir. They have nine daughters and one son.

Elder Nelson is a world famous heart surgeon who operated on the Prophet of the Lord, Spencer W. Kimball, eight years ago while Elder Kimball was president of the Council of the Twelve Apostles.

He told us about how President Kimball called the First Presidency, his wife, and two doctors to discuss his failing health. He had decided it was time for him to go to the spirit world. He had been near death four times previously, with fatal diseases including cancer of the throat.

President Lee pounded the table emphatically and said, "Spencer, your are called to a great work. You must do everything possible to stay alive." President Kimball said, "All right, I will have the operation." The doctors had told him that the risks were preponderantly great, and that they couldn't recommend it. But the Lord wanted him to live. Now we can see why.

Saturday. After working at the office, we went at four P.M. to attend the Stake Regional meetings directed by our greatly respected and admired friend, President Agricol Lozano.

President Lozano asked me to accompany Elder Nelson as translator. Elder Nelson speaks quite a lot of Spanish, but doesn't catch all that is going on. He said he needed to learn 17 languages to be able to do well in al1 the countries he visits. We attended the Sunday School Department directed by the stake leader. It was very disappointing to me. Elder Nelson didn't take part except in two short comments. He made one, and had me translate another from the Sunday School Bulletin to answer a question about how single people and incomplete families could participate in the Family Spiritual presentations. He commented to me that they used to go in and "spoonfeed" the people, but had now decided that it was not a good practice.

Then we attended the priesthood meeting where I had the opportunity to translate for Elder Nelson. He spoke on the text in Luke, “and Jesus grew and increased in wisdom, and in favor with God and man.” He gave a wonderful talk.

He commented to me about a subject that is not generally known as yet, that the Church is adding three more sections to the Doctrine and Covenants. These are the two chapters now appended to the Pearl of Great Price and the revelation received by President Spencer W. Kimball giving the rights of the priesthood to all worthy men irrespective of race.

June 17, Sunday: Today we again attended the services at the Garcia Gineres Ward. The Martinez family was there also. President Martinez told us that a historic baptism was to be performed that afternoon in Motul, the first baptism performed in the Maya language, for a Maya brother about 45 years old, converted by Arnold B. Call and Charles Canfield.

So we went home and had a very nice dinner, part of which was sent over by a little old grandmother, the mother of the lady from whom we rent our apartments Rogelia Labatida de Ayuso is the name of the latter, and the grandmother's name is Rosalia Ayuso de Manzanero. Then we traveled the long 47 kilometers to Motul northeast of Merida.

The Fossums have been living in Motul, and they have made great progress in getting the branch in that little town going. They meet in an old high ceiling house with four or five rooms in a row. They have made a baptismal font out in back. We want the Church to buy this property. It is big enough for a very nice chapel.

Elder Canfield performed the baptism, and Arnold B. Call conferred the gift of the Holy Ghost and confirmed the brother a member of the Church, both in the Maya language. We took a couple of pictures before the baptisms. A mother and her small daughter were also baptized by Elder Verhoef in Spanish.

Elders Call and Canfield were selected as the first elders to learn the Maya language in order to be able to teach the people that do not speak Spanish. Brother Robert Blair, from the B.Y.U. Emerging Languages Department, was in Merida researching the language for the purpose of making a dictionary. He gave a one week intensive course, eight hours a day, to Elders Call and Canfield and the Fossums. They can now converse and do some teaching in Maya.

Brother D. Frischknecht from the translation department gave us copies of the Articles of Faith and the Sacrament Prayers in Maya. We took them to Uayma and Valladolid and the people have trouble understanding and reading them, although they understand a word here and there. President Andrade of the Valladolid Branch said that they were probably in the ancient or pure Maya, and the people now speak a sort of pidgin Maya. I was wondering how correct the translations were.

Brother Blair took two brothers back to Salt Lake with him, one of whom I ordained an elder, in order for them to help him with the dictionary and to translate the Temple ceremony into Maya.

Monday, July 30, 1979: The last hour and a half of our trip this weekend makes us happy to be home. It started raining about 25 kilometers out. We stopped to help a family that had run out of gas. We picked up the grandfather, a nice old gentleman, and took him to the outskirts of Merida to get some gas. We didn't have any way to get some from our tank. He got another ride back even though we offered to take him. He refused. The downtown streets of Merida were bumper high running rivers of water from the rain. We splashed some on the ignition and killed the motor. We had a honking line of cars behind us. I got out and tried to dry it off, but it still wouldn't start. A handsome young couple backed their car to where we were and gave me a solvent liquid to dry the distributor. I tried and it still wouldn't start. Then he got out and really doused it, successfully. We got much more than we gave. There are good people everywhere.

We drove on in carefully, behind the stalled traffic. It took us an hour from where we stalled to home. We had to go through the flooded streets to take Sisters Killian and Smith home, on seventy-fourth street between 61 and 63.

In Merida, the even number streets run north and south, the odd numbered, east and west. We come from Valladolid on sixty-fifth. The low numbers start out east. The post office is on 65th and 56th. The main plaza is on 62nd and 61 to 63.

We had a good trip to Cancun on Saturday July 28th, and stayed an the Soberanis Hotel. Nelle rounded up the Relief Society with my help, and had a good meeting with them. I got a haircut, and the next morning early, I had a good meeting with the new Branch Presidency. Then at 9:00 A.M. we gave our preparation meeting presentation on Stewardship. We believe we have done some good. We had tried to give it previously, but only two or three attended, so we postponed it.

We attended the opening exercises and then drove to Playa del Carmen to go to Cozumel. The 2:30 P.M. boat had been canceled, so we flew over. The little airline had just been operating for a couple of months or so. It costs $118.00 as compared with $45.00 for the boat. On the return flight you also have to pay a $20.00 peso airport tax.

We rested a little while at the hotel, and then went to the "Casa de Oracion they had recently rented. President Manuel Ku and his wife were already there, one hour before the time of the Sacrament meeting, so I had a nice interview and instructional period with Brother Ku, and helped him with his financial report. Nelle and Sisters Killian and Smith visited with the sisters as they arrived. A Utah girl, Nancy Malloy de Vera was there. Her husband, that she met in Acapulco, is the Assistant Manager of the Hotel Maya Cozumel. She is going to be a great help to the Cozumel group. She gave a nice talk in sacrament meeting in Spanish. I also spoke and gave my introductory speech on Stewardship. We were planning to give the whole presentation but it got dark and they had only one candle.

Nancy went with us to try to find a family that had just moved to Cozumel, a Brother Hernandez with 8 children. We didn't find them, but we walked so far, as no taxies came out that way, that we were ready to sit down and rest and have a dish of ice cream.

The next morning the 6:30 boat was canceled so we had a nice breakfast at a sea-side restaurant of "Huevos Motulenos," which is one of our favorites, as is "Polio Ticuleno." Nelle doesn't like fish but she does like their shrimp cocktail.

We crossed on the next boat in an hour and stopped in Cancun to get my second semester inspection sticker at the "transito" office. I had registered the car and license plate there. We bought some watermelons on the way home at Xocchel.

On weekdays, Nelle gets up before six A.M. and goes for a walk 9 blocks down to the "Parque de las Americas" just across the street from the mission home. We usually work until 9:30 at night.

Saturday August 4, 1979 Nelle had arranged to have a work meeting with the Relief Society Presidencies of the two branches in Tizimin and the one in Valladolid. I went to the airport to pick up some ceiling fans we had ordered for Valladolid, but they had taken them to the downtown office, which was closed on Saturdays. We delivered them later.

We stopped at Valladolid to pick up Sister Dora Andrafe, then on 45 minutes more to Tizimin. While Nelle was arranging and having her meeting, I went to the home of the Second Branch president, Ruin Alamilla, to get his wife to attend Nelle's meeting. She had gone to their "quinta" (a lot out of town planted to banana trees, etc.).

I went out there, but she didn't want to attend the meeting. The car wouldn't start--battery failure. A kind rancher stopped to help me, but his battery wasn't strong enough to start the car (the automatic choke must have been closed). The rancher took me into town to find a mechanic to bring a battery to start the car. On the way into town, the battery picked up enough to start the car, and they couldn't find anything wrong with it, so I went to pick up Nelle and Sister Andrade, and we returned to Valladolid to take the latter home. We drove on home at night, which Nelle didn't like, but we drove slowly and arrived home at about 10:00 P.M.

We worked at the office all this week. Elders Dana Call, mission secretary, and Paul Larsen, materials secretary, were away all week on a tour with the Deseret people taking orders for the branch lesson materials and other materials they need.

The assistants, Gary Wesley Wagner and Bruce King substituted in doing the essential office errands, etc. President Martinez became very ill while on his trip to Mexico City to attend the mission presidents' seminar. He is now busy attending branch conferences, and hasn't been at the office much for the last 3 weeks.

Sunday August 12, 1979: We attended church at the ward near our apartment. We planned to go pick up Sisters Killian and Smith to go to the office and have meeting to plan our presentation at Chetumal next Sunday. The car wouldn't start. The battery goes dead when not used for a little while. (I bought a new battery.) We borrowed our neighbor's Datsun and started it with the cables Craig gave us. The sisters had news that the Fossums had brought our prize nurse, Sister Taylor, home sick. We went to see her at the hospital, but she wasn't there. A note on the office door told us that she was home. So we went there. She needed a fan because she was suffering with the heat) so we went and borrowed one from the other sisters.

This week we sent out the letters to the new missionaries to facilitate their cashing checks. The mission guarantees payment, and we do get a few bounced checks. The letters are countersigned by the bank.

Next week I'll be getting ready for an audit by the Church auditor from Salt Lake City. I will also get out the checks to the 50 or so missionaries who are receiving part or all their support from the Church Missionary Fund.

The first Sunday of September, President Martinez authorized us to preside and hold a conference in Chetumal to reorganize the branch. We had been interviewing the branch priesthood holders for this purpose previously. We selected a 70 year-old man to be president, but he seems much younger. His wife served as a missionary under Mother and Dad. She liked to show off what she learned from Mother, and would cook us fried chicken or some other American type food. He and his wife will both be great leaders in Chetumal. The new president has already gone to Mexico City and arranged to have them construct a pre-fabricated chapel right away. They already have the lot. (They invited us on every visit to eat with them.)

We helped a little, because President Martinez was in Mexico City and we called him and told him of the problem. Elder Bradford, our Area General Authority, is going to get an extensive building program going for us on the peninsula.

October 14, 1979, Merida, Yucatan: Tonight we have just had a nice conversation by telephone with all of our children, gathered at Roberta and Craig's home in Salt Lake City. Claudius and Marina were there for orientation in his new Church job assignment in Mexico City as comptroller to see that the money is well spent and accounted for in the construction of the temple. Eileen flew up from Phoenix for a family reunion and to tell them goodbye. Conrad is now living there also. They seem to have had a great time together, for which we are glad. They have shown a lot of unity and mutual helpfulness since we have been away from the family on our mission. Ten of our grandchildren were also there. Karl and Marcel had to stay in El Paso for school.

We had a lovely experience last weekend. President Martinez asked Elder John Fossum and me to audit the records, reports, and finances of the branches that the mission supervises. We traveled in our car with the Fossums for Chetumal last Thursday morning. We stopped at Oxscutscab for a short detour to see the "Loltun Cavems." We haven't seen the Carlsbad Caverns for a comparison, but this is quite some cavern. It took us two-and-a-half hours to walk through it, and we came but at a different "boca" than the big opening where we entered. There are beautiful stalactite, stalagmite formations of many sizes and shapes. They have installed colored lighting to enhance the effect. The trails are not too well constructed, and are a little slippery in places. The formations are of different colors, but mostly white, brownish, or yellowish. There was a large stalactite that gave a gong sound when struck by the guide with a rubber mallet, and also two columns from floor to ceiling near each other that also gave a rich two tone sound like "LolTun" when struck one after the other. There were branches taking off that we were not permitted to enter because there was no lighting, and one "tres caminos" (three way) fork each leading to an outside exit. There were also several Maya carvings and paintings, etc. Thompson was the first archeologist to explore it over 50 years ago. Much work is still to be done. A tunnel that had been cut slightly enlarged a fissure leading to another branch of the cave about as extensive as the part we saw, with a "Queen's Chamber," a throne and all. We didn't go in far because it was not lighted. We took some pictures.

On Friday, on the way to Escarcega, we took another short detour to see the Kohunlich Maya temple ruins area. Five quite large pyramid and mound type temples had been uncovered, and they are part of the 200 or so mounds that have not been uncovered. There is a "ball court" and one pyramid that is much better made than the others, and which has six large mask-like carved rock faces in pairs on either side of the stairway going to the top. The bottom pair is about two meters high, the second next above, 8 little smaller, and the third, a little smaller still. We have pictures. It is a beautiful area with palm trees and lush surrounding jungle.

The next day, on the way home from Escarcega, we stopped to see a "Fortress Museum" on a hill overlooking Campeche and the beautiful "Bahia de Campeche" (Campeche Bay). It is a castle. and even has a moat and drawbridge. The old cannons are still in place on the bastions overlooking the bay. The pictures I took of the model boats, etc. were not too good, because I neglected to focus the camera.

After a nice lunch at the Baluartes Hotel, we went on home. We'll have to go back, because the brethren were not ready for us to audit their books. (We did go back, and found some problems, which we suppose the new financial secretary and President Martinez have handled.)

Not having any record or notes of what we did during the last month of our mission, I have been reading Nelle's diary to refresh my memory. Our release date was November 11, 1979, but the release certificate is dated a few days later. We were released by President Martinez so we could visit our son and family in Mexico City. We told the members of our branches goodbye the last trip we made to see them. We were in Cancun on November 11th, and were asked to speak in the services. President Davila had been to Utah and had heard about the new three hour meeting program, so he immediately adopted it. He gave a good talk also, praising Dad and Mother for the work they did in the mission, and complimenting us also. Dad had sent him on a mission to Tapachula. Nancy Vera, whom I mentioned as being in Cozumel, was there and she asked President Davila and me to give her a blessing, asking the Lord to bless her with a baby, which we did.

On Tuesday, November 13th, we stopped on the way to the office to do some shopping and close our account at the bank, arriving at about 11 :00 A.M. The Fossums and the welfare missionary sisters who worked with them were there and busy. They had previously had a party for us in the office, and they had brought a large cake with "Feliz Viaje" on it. It was the previous Saturday.

We were all invited to have a delicious lunch at the mission home. Sister Martinez had two cakes, one with 21 candles on it for Elder Wagner's birthday, and the other with 18 candles for the months we served in the mission. They also invited us to come the next morning and have a special prayer with their family before leaving for home. We went back to the office that Tuesday afternoon for our interviews with President Martinez.

November 14, 1979: We went to the Martinez home for the prayer I mentioned, and then back to the apartment to finish packing and for Nelle to make a lunch. Three elders came to pick up the mission stove that we bought in Tux la Gutierrez and had been brought to us to use in Merida. They helped us carry out the heavy boxes. We had given much of our stuff away to the welfare sisters and others. One suitcase was still visible from the outside, so we took it to the airport and sent it to Mexico City by air express. It arrived before we did.

Then we started on our trip to Mexico City. In a way, we were sad to leave Merida, but in another, we were happy, because much had happened while we were away. There were two grandchildren we hadn't seen as yet, etc. So we were glad to start for home, although it was a strange feeling to know that we didn't have a home to go home to, and we didn't have employment, because we had rented the orchard for six years.

Evidently the car didn't want to go home either. It began to heat up before we had traveled very far. We still had the radiator that we had repaired in Coatzacoalcos on the way down, and I thought that it was probably clogged. We stopped in Campeche to have it cleaned. It took so long that we stayed there overnight. The same thing happened the next day. We stopped in Villa Hermosa to have the radiator repaired. I left Nelle to get a room in the hotel we had stayed at previously, and went to find a repair shop. While they put a new core in the radiator, I bought a water pump and installed it. I also bought a new bearing and installed it in the idler pulley of the air conditioner.

The next day, I checked the oil at a service station and found that there were signs of water in the oil, so I concluded that either the head gasket was leaking, or the cylinder head was broken. We went on to Veracruz, and there it began to rain hard. We took the car to the Rambler Agency to see if they could replace the head or head gasket. They didn't work on Saturday, and they said that if the head was broken, it would take more than a week to get a new one. We parked the car while looking to see what hotel we would stay at. When we went to move to the hotel, the car wouldn't start. I was so upset that I locked the keys in the car. By the time I got the door open and we got to the hotel with our suitcases, we were soaked to the skin.

I had decided that most of the water was being expelled with the exhaust, so the next morning I had the oil changed, and we started for Mexico City. We cooled the car and filled the radiator at service stations along the way.

We finally arrived at Mexico City, and had to ask directions a few times to find Claudius and Marina's apartment. This was Saturday afternoon. It was really a happy time to see the family again. They treated us royally and did so many things to entertain us and make us happy. Claudius took us to a movie, the first we had seen in over 18 months. He also bought expensive tickets to go to the Palacio de Bellas Artes to hear the symphony orchestra, with Itzhak Perlman as soloist. We enjoyed their family hour services. Their English speaking ward invited everyone to Thanksgiving Dinner. It was a very nice dinner and a wonderful occasion, with program and everything. Elder William Bradford spoke. There were so many there that we knew; it was so good to visit with them. Nelle got to help prepare meals for the Mission Presidents who had come for a seminar. Sister Burton sent her chauffeur to pick them up. We spent most of a day at the big National Museum, which is a wonderful experience. They also took us out to expensive restaurants.

On Monday, November 19th, I took the car to a Rambler Agency to have it repaired, so we didn't have a car to travel around in. They kept putting me off day after day after the promised date. We were planning to sell it, and we decided to sell it there in Mexico City. The Rambler Agency could see that it had been well taken care of, so when I offered to sell it, they offered me $75,000.00 pesos for it, whiclll gladly accepted. We decided to get the Wagners to take our stuff home in one of their big trucks. We finally picked it up in Ciudad Juarez the morning we were ready to go to Utah. Someone got away with my tools, which I have missed so much.

On Sunday November 25, 1979 we attended the ground breaking exercises for the construction of the temple. It was on a large tract of ground which also includes a stake center, and was enclosed by a wall. More than ten thousand people attended, and it was so good to visit with so many that we knew. They had built a stand for all the Authorities and important people involved to sit, and also for a very large choir that sang three numbers very well. Claudius and Marina were invited to sit on the stand. Elder Bold K. Packer presided and Elder Richard Scott conducted the service. We took a lot of pictures that will recall the historic event. When Elder Packer started to take the second shovel of dirt, the shovel broke, but they had another ready to replace it.

We enjoyed riding on the "Metro" (subway train) downtown to look around, and to the Bellas Artes. It stops about a half block from the latter place. We also rode it to the temple site, but had to take another bus from the airport. T

Thursday, November 29, 1979: Marina's mother called and told Marina that Carlos, LaSelle and Arletta's adopted son, had killed himself in a freak accident. The funeral was to be held the next day, so we called to see if we would get a reservation, and I went downtown to buy the tickets. We were lucky to get them for that afternoon.

We had a nice flight to Ciudad Juarez. Flora and LaSelle were there to meet us. It was very nice to see so many members of the Taylor family there at the funeral. The service was very nice. Jerald and Sharon came out to attend it. So we went to Dublan with them the next day.

Donn and Maurine had prepared Mother's little house for us to stay there. Sunday was fast Sunday. Nelle was asked to speak to the children in Junior Sunday School. I went in with her and was also asked to talk to the children.

At four thirty in the afternoon, we attended testimony meeting, and we both bore our testimonies and gave a short report of our mission. We were then invited to a very delicious dinner at Mary and Wesley's. On Monday they held a family hour at Maurice and Nellie's, and we had another very delicious meal with all the family present.

On Sunday December 10th, we were asked to speak in the First Ward sacrament meeting, and Keith also took us over to his Hidalgo Branch to speak. We had to leave before the meeting was out to make it back to the First Ward meeting. We had a good time being invited to all our families' homes for meals and visits. Ron and Craig had decided to come to El Paso and pick up some furniture that Claudius III had told them they could have that he had stored there. I took some of our things out to put on their load.

Jerald had given us quite a large sum of dollars. I finally decided to buy a Buick Century they had on sale for $7,000.00 dollars plus the license and tax. I went back home after having helped Ron and Craig load their pickup and trailer.

On Thursday December 14th, Jerald took us to El Paso. I picked up our new car and had it insured at Del Roy's agency. We visited with Flora a while, and went to Phoenix to visit with Eileen and Dick. We stayed with them, and Eileen cooked very delicious meals for us. We were so glad to be able to spend some time with them. We were very favorably impressed with Dick Johnson. We learned that he was a very fine man, and we had very high hopes for Eileen's happiness.

We had to return to El Paso Friday afternoon because our stuff from Mexico City would arrive in Ciudad Juarez early Saturday morning. I picked the stuff up as planned, and we loaded up and started for Utah. We stayed overnight in Cortez, Colorado, Saturday night and felt bad about traveling on Sunday, but it couldn't be helped that time. We arrived at Roberta and Craig's about noon. It was a joyful reunion. We saw Joseph and Con's son Chris for the first time. Con invited us over that evening for some of his famous tacos.

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