Since Tampico is above the equator, Sherryl was quite disappointed to learn that we were going into winter here, instead of heading into the spring <sigh>. We think that means that it gets all the way down into the 60’s for a high and 50’s for a low temperature and it is cloudy. We will see. Today is the second Sunday that we have been on our mission. Our Sunday meetings go from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and at the first of the year we will have the 9 a.m. “early” schedule. Getting to church means about a 20 minute walk for us but today we decided to get onto a local bus after walking for about ¼ mile to get to the main road and then we traveled for a mile or mile and a half on the bus. The bus fare is 8 pesos for each of us or about 62 cents. Once we get on a bus it is the same fare if we go for a block or several miles.
The sisters at church today were wearing their winter coats so it is cold to them at about 63 degrees. Our chapel will probably seat about 250 people. There is a tile floor that goes throughout the building and there are individual chairs instead of benches in the chapel. There are several regular classrooms as well as the chapel. They have modern bathrooms but so far they provide toilet paper for us to use to dry our hands. They have a piano and Sister Day plays for our sacrament meeting. She and her husband are temple missionaries from Layton and live not far from us here. They have taken us under their wing and take us places or tell us how to get there. At church, on a hot day, someone in authority and with the keys—literally-- turn on the central air while the meetings are in session. It is quite common for people to arrive early as well as late and so far the meetings start only five or ten minutes late. Paul said he counted 30 when the meeting should have started; about 45 there when the meeting began and there were about 60 when it ended. It is common to see ladies in slacks at church. The usual greeting between men is the usual handshake. The usual greeting between women is a handshake accompanied by putting the right cheek to the right cheek and making a kissing sound. People go out of their way to shake hands with each person they meet at church and we are included and welcomed.
So far we haven’t seen any Aaronic priesthood brethren helping with the sacrament. We were told there were 11 kids in their Primary Program. Today they had three speakers and apparently the first lady was taking way more than her allotted time because the Bishop wrote a note and put it on the stand next to her and when she ignored it, he placed it in front of her and she decided it was time to stop. The other two adjusted their talks to help Sacrament Meeting end about the time it should.
Our normal day at the temple begins at 9 a.m. We leave home shortly after 8 a.m. to walk the mile to get there. The temple then closes about noon and we walk home again. There are two big stores close to the temple Chedraui and Walmart. So if we need anything from the store we walk to a store and carry our purchases home. We are very much aware of what we are buying and will have to carry. If we buy more than usual or don’t feel like walking a mile with them, we can catch a taxi for about 25 pesos or $2.31. About 4 p.m. we walk to the temple again and will stay until about 9 p.m. We have been told not to walk home at night because it isn’t safe so we either catch a ride with another ordinance worker or we catch another taxi. That is our normal schedule from Tuesday through Friday but Saturday is quite another story. Saturday is the day that makes us happy that we don’t have a car. Why? Because those with a car arrive at the temple at 5 a.m. to begin their day but us missionaries who can’t walk in the dark don’t need to be there until 8 a.m. We continue at the temple until about 6 p.m. or about 10 hours for us and longer for those with the car. Brother and Sister Day have Wednesday morning off so they don’t have to arrive until 4 p.m. so they asked us if we wanted another day off and we chose Thursdays.
Speaking of Thursday, we are sure you are all preparing for and anticipating a wonderful Thanksgiving this week. Here, Thursday will be just another normal working day—even at the temple. However, the two North American couples and we aren’t sure who else, have been invited to a Thanksgiving dinner at President and Sister Jordan’s home on Monday. He is the president of the Tampico Mission. Also, Brother and Sister Day and we will be getting together for lunch on Thursday in honor of Thanksgiving before we all walk to the temple to be ready by 4 p.m.. In honor of Thanksgiving, we decided that it was time to get the pots and pans out of their storage place in the oven so we can bake yams and apples to take tomorrow to help with dinner. Speaking of pans, we were using the new saucepan someone bought for us to cook some oatmeal for breakfast yesterday and we heard a loud POP. The cover to the rivet holding the handle on the pan shot across the kitchen so apparently our new pans aren’t exactly heat resistant. Go figure! The pan will still work with the rivet cover missing.
We have been asked what the best thing is that has happened to us so far. Probably the best thing is that we have attended a session of the temple every day as patrons and sometimes twice a day. We have been the witness couple about 3 times. Attending so often, we are gaining a deeper understanding and perspective of God's plan for each and all of us. We like that. Paul has been the officiator in two sessions so far and we are learning the ordinances in Spanish and are able to help the other ordinance workers. In a comparison, the Bountiful Temple has about 1500 temple ordinance workers and Tampico has about 85. We are needed here since many of the workers can only come once a month but several of them come two or three times each week. So far, we only have a President and he has one counselor and another counselor will come from Mexico City in a month or two when that temple closes for 1½ years. So regularly helping at the temple every day, are the Crocketts and the Days plus the President, his counselor and their wives.