Sunday, January 26, 2014

Salsa Verde

1/2 kilo or 1 lb. tomatillo without husks
1/2 serrano chilie (this used to say 6 but I have learned better!)
1/4 to 1/2 white onion diced
1 garlic
1/2 to 3/4 t. salt

Wash the tomatillo, remove any stems and cut them in quarters.  Place them in a medium sized pan on medium heat with about 1/4 inch of water.  Put on rubber gloves before handling the chilies.  Take the top off the chilies and remove and toss the seeds unless you want it really picante.  If you want it picante, just leave the seeds and add the stemless chilies to the pan.  Add the onion and garlic.  Cook for about 15 minutes or until the skins are soft.  Let the mixture cool some and pour it into a blender.  Add the cilantro and process it until it is all blended well.

Put just a little oil in a pan and pour the mixture back into the pan to heat.  It is ready to serve or can be refrigerated.

Recipe from Bernice Vergara
22 January 2014

Note from Jim:
With Serrano and jalapeƱo peppers, I'm guessing you used your hand to remove the seeds. That's where the heat is. I don't wear gloves, I just cut the peppers lengthwise, then use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds, then cut the peppers skin side up. The heat is on the inside.

Monday, January 20, 2014

"su apellido, por favor"

Now it is time to give you a lesson on how names work around here—as far as we have come to understand the system. Anyway, this is what Sherryl has learned through her service in the temple.  Each person has a given name followed by their father’s father’s surname followed by their mother’s father’s surname.  For example, let’s say we name a new baby girl Maria Elena.  Automatically tacked onto her name is her father’s father’s surname and let’s call him Jorge Martinez Gonzales.  Also tacked onto her name is her mother’s father’s surname and the mother is Maria Luisa Sanchez Gutierrez de Martinez.  So at birth, the child will be Maria Elena Martinez Sanchez.  So when you ask someone for their name—even a child—they will probably give you ALL of their names because they are their official and legal names!  If you ask for their last name, they might just say one or both last names or ask you “which one?”  Because they have two last names.  Then let’s say our Maria Elena grows up and gets married to Eduardo Vergara Polo.  Her name becomes Maria Elena Martinez Sanchez de Vergara.  We have been told that upon marriage, she could quit using her mother’s last name and be Maria Elena Martinez de Vergara and some quit using both of their parents’ last names and cut it down to Elena de Vergara.  We work with names in the temple and find ourselves constantly asking people for their apellido which we interpret to mean “last name” but in fact means “surname.”  I have been asked, “do you want my married name?”  “Which name?” And sometimes they just give their complete name Maria Elena Martinez Sanchez de Vergara and let me choose which name I want to use when I address her.  Once when I asked a sister what her name was and after she said it twice and I couldn’t repeat it back to her correctly, she just said, “well, let me give you my maiden name since it is simpler than my husband’s last name.”  I asked the matron of the temple about names and have been told that any name they choose to give me is correct.  It is strange since we work with a sister whose name badge clearly states  Hermana Yolanda Aviles and everyone calls her Hermana Lopez.  I asked if she was Hermana Lopez or Hermana Aviles and she said I could pick which one I liked best since she is both.  I have yet to learn how it all works with her and really don’t want to ask.  Paul says when he was a missionary in Mexico 40+ years ago, he typed up membership records while working in the mission office.  At that time he observed that a man’s traditional Catholic first names could be Maria de Jesus followed by the name that we know them by such as Antonio, Jorge or Manuel.  So technically a man’s first name could be Maria.  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Our Daily Path

Traci has asked that we take photos of our normal walk out of the house and into the house so she can see what we see each day.  So here are the requested photos.  In my mind, I could hear Traci on her roller blades giving a guided tour of our home in Caracas.  "And this is the living room.  And this is the kitchen."  

Dad's Drain

We live in a world of drains.  There is so much water here that the excess that falls from the skies apparently has to be routed to the sidewalks and streets.  This is done via drains.  There are big drains and small drains.  There are fat drains and skinny drains.  There are short drains and long drains.  Decorative drains and plain drains.  But in all of the drains in this whole entire city, one stands out from them all and that is Dad's drain! 
low drain
high drain

big drain

multiple drains

fancy drains

street drains

long drains
and our short drain
However, give Dad a drill, screwdriver, screws, PVC pipe and glue [thanks to Home Depot] and a little bit of time and voila! you will have very functional and unique drains!  

The water from our roof now drains to hit and slide down the wall and does not just fall on our heads!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Critter

From Sherryl's journal 15 January 2014

"While in the shower, I felt something crawl across the top of my foot.  There was a centipede about two inches long.  I let him alone until I got out and then grabbed the camera for a photo and then flushed him.  Is that fair to flush something I just took a photo of?"

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Safety Pins

From Sherryl's journal:  14 January 2014

I love it when “things work out.”   We have had a box of safety pins at home in Farmington for many years and I seldom use them and Paul only uses them to pin his socks together.  So don’t ask why I put them into my luggage to come to Mexico because I don’t know why.  I just did.  When we arrived, I handed them to Paul and he said he didn’t need any more so I put them in one of our many cupboards and forgot about them.  Last Saturday while I was working in the baptistery at the temple with Jeanette, one the young girl patrons came up to us and asked if we had a safety pin so she could pin her key to her jumpsuit. Jeanette said she didn’t and then commented that she had been looking all over the place for safety pins and just couldn’t find them here.  I made sure that I put the safety pins in my purse this morning to take to the temple and give to Jeanette.  Now I understand why I plopped that box of safety pins in my luggage and hauled them to Mexico

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Dice Game

 We brought our Settlers of Catan game with us packed away carefully but not in the original box.  We like to play that game and hoped to find someone else who wanted to have a "game night" with us.  Trouble is that the Days had a bad experiencing when playing Settlers with their kids--though their kids love the game--and they think it is "boring."  Though they say they do like games. We were telling Jen about our dilemma and she suggested that we teach them the "dice game."  That sounded like a good suggestion so we thought we would simply go pick up some dice.

We went to Walmart and they didn't have dice.  Neither did Cheddraui, Soriano, H.E.B., the jugueteria (game store) by H.E.B.  We followed every lead anyone gave us as to where we might find some dice but nothing panned out. So we just left "dice" on our "to do" list and life moved on.

Then....we decided to go to El Centro de Tampico last Thursday morning to see the two plazas.  While walking down the sidewalk we began to see toy stores and DICE popped back into our mind. We went to one jugueteria and they didn't have any dice but suggested the papeleria (paper store) just four shops down.  We thought her suggestion was very strange but we went to this store anyway:

and guess what

They had a box of  over 100 dice in several colors!  Hooray!  We decided to get a bunch of them....just in case!  We carefully picked the ones that looked the most square. They cost about 15 cents each though we would have paid more!  We aren't sure if you can tell from the photo but they aren't exactly precision made and whoever painted the dots smeared the paint a little here and there.  But they have six sides and they have the right number of dots on each side. Now we can cross dice off our "to do" list.

Let's hope the Days didn't have a bad experience playing a dice game with their kids!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Dad Spoke in Church Today

Talk for Sacrament meeting 12 January 2014 – by Paul Crockett

The Temple

By way of introduction, I am Elder Paul Crockett and my wife is Sister Sherryl Crockett.  I served a mission as a young missionary in Monterrey.  Afterwards we were married and have raised 7 children – 2 boys and 5 girls.  All of them are married and we are the grandparents of 28 ½ grandchildren.  I retired in September after 31 years working for the Church in the finance area.  Six of those years were in the countries of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela.  We returned to Utah in 1989 and I have worked in the Welfare Department for the past 23 years. 

When they began construction of the temple in Bountiful, about 20 years ago they noted that we were receiving an almost free gift – and they asked. What sacrifice could we make?  It would be our time – and we decided to attend the temple each week.  Having done that for nearly 20 years, when we sent in our request to serve a mission in May of last year, it was very natural that we were called to serve a temple mission, and specifically in the Tampico Temple for 23 months.   And here we are.

Yesterday, January 11th was a very beautiful day at the Tampico temple.  There was more activity and ordinances performed than we have had for several weeks with Christmas and the New Year, etc.  A little after mid-day many youth from our stake arrived, and many from our Jardin ward, to do baptisms and confirmations for the dead.

The stake had invited all of us to try to attend the temple some time during the day.  In the last session brother Trejo received his endowment, accompanied by various members of his family and our ward. 

So – we come to various questions –
1.       Why does someone go to the temple?
2.       Why is the temple a special place?
3.       What do we hope to accomplish with the time we spend in temple ordinances – for the living, and especially for those who are dead – for many centuries?

In April 2001, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the twelve gave a talk in General Conference in which he dealt with various aspects related to attending the temple – so I’m going to use a lot of his talk in the time I have today.  The title of the talk is “Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings.”

It begins with the following:  “Inscribed on each temple are the words “Holiness to the Lord.”  That statement designates both the temple and its purposes as holy. Those who enter the temple are also to bear the attribute of holiness. 2 It may be easier to ascribe holiness to a building than it is to a people. We can acquire holiness only by enduring and persistent personal effort. Through the ages, servants of the Lord have warned against unholiness. Jacob, brother of Nephi, wrote: “I would speak unto you of holiness; but as ye are not holy, and ye look upon me as a teacher, [I] must … teach you the consequences of sin.”
The Temple
The temple is the house of the Lord. The basis for every temple ordinance and covenant—the heart of the plan of salvation—is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Every activity, every lesson, all we do in the Church, point to the Lord and His holy house. Our efforts to proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead all lead to the temple. Each holy temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church, 4 as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a sacred step toward eternal glory for us and our families.
President Hinckley said that “these unique and wonderful buildings, and the ordinances administered therein, represent the ultimate in our worship. These ordinances become the most profound expressions of our theology.” 5
To enter the temple is a tremendous blessing. But first we must be worthy. We should not be rushed. We cannot cut corners of preparation and risk the breaking of covenants we were not prepared to make. That would be worse than not making them at all.
The Endowment
In the temple we receive an endowment, which is, literally speaking, a gift. In receiving this gift, we should understand its significance and the importance of keeping sacred covenants. Each temple ordinance “is not just a ritual to go through, it is an act of solemn promising.”
The temple endowment was given by revelation. Thus, it is best understood by revelation, prayerfully sought with a sincere heart. 7 President Brigham Young said, “Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, … and gain your eternal exaltation.” 

Temple Recommend
Preparation also includes qualification for a temple recommend. Our Redeemer requires that His temples be protected from desecration. No unclean thing may enter His hallowed house. Yet anyone is welcome who prepares well. Each person applying for a recommend will be interviewed by a judge in Israel—the bishop—and by a stake president. They hold keys of priesthood authority and the responsibility to help us know when our preparation and timing are appropriate to enter the temple. Their interviews will assess several vital issues. They will ask if we obey the law of tithing, if we keep the Word of Wisdom, and if we sustain the authorities of the Church. They will ask if we are honest, if we are morally clean, and if we honor the power of procreation as a sacred trust from our Creator.
Why are these issues so crucial? Because they are spiritual separators. They help to determine if we truly live as children of the covenant, able to resist temptation from servants of sin. These interviews help to discern if we are willing to live in accord with the will of the true and living God or if our hearts are still set “upon riches and … vain things of the world.”
Such requirements are not difficult to understand. Because the temple is the house of the Lord, standards for admission are set by Him. One enters as His guest. To hold a temple recommend is a priceless privilege and a tangible sign of obedience to God and His prophets. 

One thing that I have thought about is a statement by President Monson, “When performance is measured, performance improves.  When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement increases.”  This is interesting considering that 35 years ago temple attendance and the number of ordinances performed was collected and reported to Ward and Stake leaders.  But about 30 years ago the stopped the collection and reporting of that information.  I believe that was done because the leaders of the Church wanted the people to go to the temple because they loved the temple rather than because that activity would be reported.  Thus there is an opportunity for individuals to demonstrate their dedication to the gospel and their love of God through temple attendance.

In Moses 1:39 it says “Behold, this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”  President Uchtdorf, a few months ago in the Ensign talked of the marvelous miracle and mystery that man is nothing – given the perspective that Moses received and the immensity of God’s creations.  And at the same time, because we are children of God, we are everything to Him.  He testified that God knows and loves each one of us – and I add my own testimony to that.

In the temple we are taught with symbols and the Spirit teaches each of us individually.  As Elder Maxwell said, “It is simply marvelous and marvelously simple.” It is miraculous how the Spirit teaches each one of us at the level where we are and teaches us that which we are prepared to learn.  I testify that it is so.

Another observation.  If someone wants to live the law of consecration, they can begin to live it now by increasing their donations to Fast Offerings!  There is no need to wait until they are commanded to do so.  They can demonstrate their love toward God and their fellowmen right now by increasing their Fast Offerings – because it is not a commandment like tithing.  There is no limitation.

So we have a lot of freedom to live more of the gospel than only that which our leaders assign us or call us to do.

So in closing – as a response to the questions I proposed at the beginning, I answer all 3 with the following:
1.        Why do we go to the temple?
a.       To become more holy, not because we already are holy, or saintly.
b.      To make covenants with the Lord, including sealings to our families for eternity.
c.       To learn more of life and eternity.

And as a final point.  Temple attendance is one of those miraculous activities in which we can live the gospel and demonstrate our faith - through which the Lord blesses us.  In the words of one leader with whom I spoke recently: “If the brothers and sisters will attend the temple frequently, the problems that they have to present to the Bishop will simply disappear.” 

It is my testimony that to the extent we demonstrate our faith through temple attendance the blessings of the Lord will flow into our lives.

I know that God lives and this is His work – in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Water Works

When we first moved into this house, I wondered why we needed those 4 HUGE jugs of drinking water that were placed behind the kitchen door.   They are 19 liter or 5 gallon jugs each and I wondered how long it would take to use THAT MUCH drinking water.  After being here for a few weeks we have learned some things about water and how it works around here.  We not only drink this water but we also use it to rinse off our produce that we have soaked in iodine or have washed in hot soapy water.  We use this drinking water more than we had anticipated.

The jugs we have are all labeled Ciel.  We have competing water companies here and they are Ciel, Electrolux and one other one.  If you have a Ciel bottle, like we do, Electrolux will not fill it for you.  If you want to use the Electrolux services, you first need to buy their 5 gallon jug for 52 pesos and they will come by on certain scheduled days and take your empty jug and replace it with a full one for 24 pesos.  Since our home came with only Ciel jugs, we use their services which cost 26 pesos for each refill and delivery.  Should we want another jug, we would pay 52 pesos.  We expect that the services of the third water company are similar.  The advantage of having any of these delivery services is that they will come to the house and put the jugs wherever you tell them.  Thus, we don't need to lift and haul the approximate 40 pounds of water in each jug.  Not only is there the weight, there is also the distance.  We live in an "interior" house and the jugs have to be hauled about 60 feet down a confined walkway just to get to our front door.

We talked to Brother and Sister Day about our water situation and learned they have jugs from all three water companies and so no matter what company is in their neighborhood, they can get a jug of water.  They like their system and we are thinking about diversifying but haven't done it yet.

Ciel trucks are in our neighborhood on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  We are not home on Saturdays from about 7:30 a.m. to about 7:30 p.m. so we can't use their services on Saturday.  On Wednesdays, they come "about" from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. but that is a BIG about.  We are home from the temple from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. before we return so the timing should work with the Ciel deliveries.  It has actually worked just twice in the 7 weeks we have been here.  Of course Christmas and New Years were on Wednesdays this past year so there were no deliveries and our drinking water was getting low.

We notice and have walked by each day on our way to and from the temple, a place near our corner where they fill water jugs for 12 pesos each.  There is a large diagram on the front of their store explaining their sanitary process and the price.  We stored this information in the back of our minds.  One day we stopped and asked if they would fill Ciel jugs and were happy to learn they will fill jugs no matter from what company we bought them.

I guess one more aspect to keep is mind is that the jugs are placed upside down into a dispenser.  This dispenser was in the corner on our cupboard and with the third jug of water that Paul needed to maneuver up high into that corner, he strained his back.  So we have moved where we place the dispenser and now he does it with 65 year old ease and an extra hand from the self-appointed supervisor ;o)  

We have had a lot of rain during the Christmas and New Years holidays, so one bright and sunny Friday after we arrived home from the temple and saw that our last jug was 1/2 full, the self-appointed supervisor suggested maybe it was time to try out the neighborhood filling station rather than waiting to "see if" the water would last and/or we connected with Ceil on Wednesday.  Also, we could use a taxi to carry us and the jug from the processing place to our home if needs be.

So the two of us walked the approximate 300 yards to the corner filling station with our Ceil jug and a jump rope in hand.  We were rather impressed because in plain view behind their clean windows we sat them wash out our jug with pressurized water, fill it again and shrink wrap the lid in place.  The girl running the system said "gracias Elder" when Paul gave her the jug even though he wasn't wearing his name badge.  She wore white gloves and a white mask during this filling-the-jug operation.  A younger couple ahead of us had a car and just put their 3 jugs in the back of it and drove away.  They seemed to be taking advantage of the money they would save by not having it delivered.  Once our jug was ready and we paid the 12 pesos, we got out the rope and slipped it through the formed plastic handle on the side of the jug and we walked our bottle back home again as the jug rotated and bumped into our knees along the way.

Now the self-appointed supervisor feels a lot more secure as we wait for this next fateful Wednesday to arrive.  Worse case scenario would be another walk to the corner.

So what is the point of this rather long and detailed epistle about our drinking water?  I am not sure other than to let you peek into our daily life and to help you realize that clean water effortlessly flowing into your own homes is one of those things we never think about but is truly a blessing!  Be grateful!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Remodeling & A Roof Top Tour

Each time we walk out our front door, if we look to the left we can see our neighbor's house remodeling in progress.  The room on the left with the teal colored tarp seems to be made of cement.  Inside the window, the walls are cement covered with plaster.  The center piece that sticks up more is all cement.  The section on the right is cinder block.  The white squares that are visible are looking through window frames at the inside where plaster is covering the cinder blocks.  This remodeling job looks like it is doubling the size of their home. Our clothes line is visible at the bottom of the photo.

Did you ever wonder what the view is from your roof top?  We did, so we took a look and here is what we found.

This is our flat white roof with re-bar sticking up and empty drink bottles on some of them. 

Paul with our 600 liter water tank.  

Looking to the south.
Looking straight down to the south.  There's probably 5 feet between our house and their house.

Another view of the house being remodeled--looking west.
Looking to the north west

Looking down into the north west area playground.

To the north--our banana tree is on the left of our white roof.  The roof edging on the house is just fake.

This is what I mean by fake.  From the front it looks all tiled on the roof--but it isn't.  What a shock!

This is down into the neighbor's yard to the east.

And that concludes our roof top tour!

New Year's Day - 2014

Last night which was last year--we spoke Spanish with our Mexican friends and today we joined Vaughn and Jeanette Day [right]; and Ralph and Claudia Jordan [center] for lunch. where we all delighted to speak English and to be together.  Our lunch was Hormel ham, funeral potatoes, Waldorf salad, sliced fresh vegetables and cheese cake dessert.

Here's a test for you.  Find something unusual in this photo--something that just isn't correct!

Did you see and guess what is a bit amiss??

Here is a clue:  It isn't that Paul is not wearing a white shirt and tie.

Do you give up yet?

Ok.  Here it is  [and maybe you can't see it anyway].  Sherryl is wearing a name badge that says "Sister Day"

Sherryl is currently "between" name badges and didn't want to be without one for the photo. She thinks her English name badge fell off when four of us were squeezed into the cab of Hermano Herrera's truck to ride home from the temple last Thursday night.  We won't know for sure until this Thursday when we see them again.  Our official Spanish name badges were ordered on November 15 and should arrive before long.