Actually, it is not for 1000 days. It is just that 3 years times 365 days plus June 27 through June 30, 2008 equals 1098 days, and that is way too cumbersome to convert into a blog headline. Futhermore, our release date will not be determined until May or June of 2011. Therefore, 1000 Days sounded just about right, more or less. Having noted all that, we are humbled and thrilled (Pres. Uchtdorf would refer to the feeling as "joyfully overwhelmed") about having this marvelous opportunity to serve in La Mision Mexico Veracruz.

Con amor,
Pdte. y Hna. Pete and JoElla Hansen

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The final baptism that day was a Bro. Camarillo. He was baptized by Elder Bradshaw to his left. Three of his four sons are baptismal age. They really want to be baptized so that they can serve missions. But, the are waiting for their mom to be baptized with them. As of this posting (12/26/09) she has not been baptized, but she went to church a couple of weeks ago with the whole family. I think we will post her picture some day. The missionaries are Elders Contreras, Bradshaw (Oxnard, CA), and Rojo.

This series of pictures tell the story. I don't know the name of the 81 year old man. I like him, though. He sat alone on the beach looking anxiously into the surf, cane in hand flip-flops near the chair which had been borrowed from a local meetinghouse. He was obviously nervous as he watched what was going on knowing that he would soon be next. I talked with him for a minute and then asked, "¿Listo?" (Ready?) He smiled and answered, ¡"Siempre"! (Always!) So, pretty soon his turn came. He was the next to last to be baptized that day. Elders DeGroff from Mesa, AZ and Rojo from Mexico City carried him out into the sea. There he was gently instructed on the procedure by Elder Hernandez and was baptized. Afterwards, sitting on that church chair on the beach, backed by Elders Morales, DeGroff and Hernandez, he smiled again.
Rut (Ruth) was a special interview. She had the typical problems which require a special interview by the mission president. She was also a drug user and dealer. She had stopped selling drugs a few months ago because she feared for the lives of her children and decided that she needed to set them a better example. Three of the four were old enough to be baptized and that happened before her own baptism. Two months before her baptism, Sisters Cua and Vergara taught her about the Restoration. She stopped using drugs that day. We required time because of her personal history. The sisters visited her every day, but they were forbidden to go into her neighborhood at night. They taught her the gospel. She learned about repentance and the power of the Atonement. She learned about the law of chastity and kicked out her boyfriend of many years, an inactive member of the Church. When we interviewed, she was scared to tears. She wanted baptism so very much. It was authorized. These series of four photos show her joy and that of these two excellent sister missionaries.

Elder Espinosa and his companion helped a couple get married a couple of days before the bauti-zona. Their 15 year old daughter was baptized the week before. In this picture, Elder Espinosa (a convert of 18 months before he came to the mission) is instructing the sister on how he will perform the ordinance. Most of our wards don't have baptismal jumpsuits so the missionaries ask the investigators to bring white clothing. They all have some.

After her baptism, the sister was kissed on the head by her husband who was then baptized. The other missionaries, Elders Contreras and Hernandez are the witnesses.

Elder Santamaria poses with one of his converts and Elder Bullock walks out of the water with one of his.
On August 8, 2009 the Veracruz South Zone hosted a "bauti-zona" at a beach near Anton Lizardo about 20 minutes downcoast from Veracruz. A bauti-zona is when every companionship in a zone baptizes on the same day. That was the plan. A couple of people cancelled at the last minute, but the service went on. People changed clothes in tents. There were lots of preliminary pictures taken including this one of Mom flanked by Sisters Vergara, Cua, Lopez, Narciso, Arciniega, and Martinez.

When everyone had changed, we gathered them together for a group foto. We call this todos en blanco, all in white.

We have a short service on the beach. Elders Bullock from Virginia, Edgington from Utah and Rojo from Mexico City are signing the opening song.

Then, everybody lined up to go into the Gulf of Mexico receive their baptisms.

We ran into one of our favorite converts, a 16 year old girl from Tierra Blanca and she and Mom donned headgear which would be part of an event later in the conference.

Friday, December 25, 2009

One of the first things we heard about when we came here on June 27, 2008 was a huge youth conference which was in the makings. After thirteen months, it became a reality. Youth aged 12-18 all gathered in Veracruz. The leadership ratio was 1:10. The kids had to be active and not be in a relationship. They had to be active and commit to be good. They stayed in hotels on the beach. The conference hosted almost 1500 youth. It was an insane undertaking. One of the main events was called the Cultural Event. The governor of the state attended and opened the event with his comments. In that evening of almost 4 hours, all the stakes and the district presented traditional folk dances. The quality was amazing. The people are very proud of their traditions, and many dance. As you look at the fotos, remember that no one is over 18.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Update to the story below. On Sunday, 15 Nov 2009, Bro. Gutierrez was sustained as the new president of the Santiago Tuxtla Branch. (This is written on 2 Dec 2009; the blog is at least 3 months behind at this writing.)