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

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Before the mission was divided, before we received 50-something missionaries from the Tampico Mission as part of the realignment, we felt it vital to meet with Pres. and Sis. Stan Call of Tampico to talk things through. We received permission from Elder Octaviano Tenorio, counselor to the Mexico Area President to do that. June 20, 2010 was the day selected. We went to church in Misantla and then headed up the coast into the Tampico Mission.

The first pueblo of any size is called Gutierrez Zamora. It sits on the banks of the Tecolutla River and on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. It is a fishing village. This statue of a fisherman with a large tarpon on alongside the highway. There is a ward there and a branch nearby in the tiny town, Calichal.

We met the Calls at the hotel and talked for a hour or so. Then we headed out for a tour of Poza Rica. There are several chapels there. This is one of the stake centers. Their stake centers are much larger than any in the Veracruz Mission. They look like something where you live, huh?

We met long into the night and got up the next morning to head down to Papantla. Papantla is most famous for the El Tajín ruins, vanilla, and the Voladores de Papantla. This roadside monument speaks of the pride the local people have for their history and heritage. Many of the indigenous people have facial features very similar to this guy.

The Papantla zócalo, or town square, is typical and very pretty. On one side is the large Catholic church. The plaza is surrounded on the other sides by shops and restaurants. Papantla boasts the origins of the voladores, flyers. To the right of the church is a 30 meter tall pole. Four voladores climb the pole, tie a rope around their waists and sit on the little platform, backs to the outside. Then a fifth volador, a flautist and drummer, climbs the pole. He sits or stands in the middle of the others. He begins to play his flute and drum. In Papantla, he will often stand on the small platform while jumping and dancing, flute turned heavenward. All at once, the four flip backwards as begin to descend as their ropes unwind and lower them to the ground. The platform spins on an axis and they go to the ground hanging upside down by the ropes. You can see a monument to the voladores on the hill behind the church. They do this as a display of faithfulness to the gods to prevent drought, and to pull in donations from bystanders. Water is very important to the famous Papantla Vanilla. Some say that vanilla has its origins in Papantla. It has found its way around the world and Madagascar now produces 97% of the world's vanilla. But, Papantla´s vanilla is still the best!

An interesting note is that becoming a volador was taboo for women. But, a man named Jesús Arroyo Cerón started training his daughters in 1972 to fly. In 2006, at Cerro Tajin, Arroyo fell to his death during a performance. Traditionalists say that his death was divine retribution.

We enjoyed a nice lunch with our friends, Pres. and Sis. Call at a restaurant on the Papantla zócalo before we returned to Veracruz.

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