Thursday, November 27, 2014

Hermana Cristina de Soriano Died

We arrived at the temple on Wednesday morning and received the sad news that our Temple Matron, Cristina Jimenez Perez de Soriano had died the night before.  The news was quietly passed from person to person in the temple.  In Mexico, the dead have to be buried within 48 hours so we knew things would go fast.  There would be what we call an "open house" but without food provided from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. when the evening funeral services would begin.  They would provide another funeral service at 1 p.m. the next day for those who couldn't make it in the evening.

The Thursday afternoon speakers and hymns seemed much like the funeral services we have in the states but that’s where the similarities end.   We weren’t asked to stand as the family left and there were no pallbearers.  They didn’t have a luncheon prepared and there were not programs printed.  The services ended and the people including the Soriano family milled around and we had people as us if we were going to the panteon [cemetery].   We learned we were waiting for the funeral directors who arrived about 20 minutes later.   We watched as the funeral directors in their black jackets, yellow shirts and khaki pants carried out the flowers and wheeled out the casket.  Two of them picked up the casket and placed it in the back of their waiting van.  The flowers were in the back of a pick up truck.
someone had an iPad

We rode with Bernice and Marcopolo to the panteon. They told us when a family buys a lot in the cemetery it is made of cement and can hold three caskets.  Some families buy two or three of these lots close to each other.  Apparently there is a law that the first person buried has to be dead for a determined amount of time before someone can be buried on top of them.  So if a family owns more than one lot, they can alternate who goes where when buried.  We arrived at the panteon and were able to see what they were talking about.

Those who arrived before us were sitting in the shade of a tree not far from an oblong cement hole big enough to hold three caskets.  We looked inside the tomb and learned later that Hna. Soriano requested to be buried here so she would be in the same tomb as her father.

The Soriano family arrived in their individual cars and we all gathered together as Pte. Soriano’s son dedicated the grave.

Four funeral directors carried the casket and placed it on the two 2x4’s over the open tomb

The funeral directors put two black straps around the casket, removed the 2x4’s and lowered the casket into place.  As everyone there silently watched, a man positioned a cement slab over the casket on side notches provided for this purpose and then he climbed into the hole, stood on that slab and placed four more slabs in place until the casket was covered.

We had noticed a pile of freshly mixed cement near by.  Another worker brought one shovel full of cement after another and we all watched as the man on the inside took his trowel and filled in the cracks between and around each slab thoroughly cementing in the casket.  He climbed out and placed more slabs on top of the tomb and cemented each into place. 

Pte. Soriano with his son and daughter-in-law plus his daughter and her husband
That’s about when we had to leave to go back to the temple so we asked what happened next. Apparently the workmen had removed the covering of the tomb that had been in place since Hna. Soriano’s father had passed away.  The grave for now will be covered with the flowers and they later will reposition the formal covering.  Hna. Soriano’s name will be positioned on a stone nameplate above her father’s name.  We only personally knew Hna. Soriano for three months before she became ill, was diagnosed with cancer and no longer came to the temple.  Our memories of her are that she is a gracious and loving lady with a wonderful sense of humor.  

We know that though Hna. Soriano’s body has been lovingly tucked away in the panteon, her spirit still lives.  That’s why we do what we do in the temple—because life continues even after what we call death.

[Adapted From the Crockett Chronicles - 30 November 2014]

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving - 2014

We had our very nice Thanksgiving dinner at the Mission Home.  Hermana Jordan is used to feeding a crowd and we had more than enough food than the 6 of us could possibly consume.  It was one of those meals when just trying a little of everything filled our plates.  Hno. and Hna.Watkins are here from California and helping the ward and branch leaders to learn their responsibilities.  They live in Huejutla and that is about three hours away so we don’t see them very often.  Of course we talked about home and our families and traditions.  We ate too much and stayed late and had a wonderful time together.   

Pte and Hermana Jordan

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hermana Saldivar

Hermana Saldivar is on the right and her daughter Marisa is in the pink vest in the school's kitchen.

Hna. Saldivar received the above certificate in 1999 after serving for 40 years as a school teacher.  She was going to show us the gold medal that she received as well but we all forgot about that.

Hna. Saldivar greatly appreciated this poem that a teacher wrote to her and has it framed and hanging.

Mexican Revolution Celebration

The students lined up in their class lines at Colegio Nuevo Santander on the decorated patio and then were taken to their classrooms.

About 8:35 a.m. a small group of 7 uniformed students with white gloves came and waited at the front - they turned out to be the color guard.  Then a few classes of students came and stood to the side while the color guard took care of the Mexican flag and we saluted.

Everyone but us said the Mexican pledge and sang their national anthem.  They retired the colors and the young narrator came on scene with a microphone and spoke with authority as he announced each section of the program.

They were celebrating the Mexican Revolution and told the story through patriotic songs and speeches given by students dressed with beards and mustaches to represent five key leaders involved in the revolution.

The music began and three girls arrived one was in typical dress, one carried a gun and one arrived with a fancy dress and feather.  The women helped and played a big part in their Revolution while holding a gun with one hand and cooking with the other.

One of the younger classes arrived holding hula hoops and performed synchronized maneuvers with the hoops to music.

The smallest students were dressed traditionally with each boy and girl paired and dancing to the Mexican Hat Dance music.

The entire program was filled with enthusiasm.  When it finished, Hermana Saldivar took the microphone and personally thanked the students and told those with speaking parts that she was very proud of them and how well they portrayed those they were representing.  We were impressed and enjoyed the entire presentation.  The ages of these students in the Colegio Nuevo Santander is from 4 years to 6th grade.  Hermana Saldivar said there are 15 pre-schoolers plus 100 older students.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Memories of Mom

This Ferrero chocolate candy was Grandma Reed's favorite.  Many memories of her flooded back when we saw this display in the local grocery store.  So we stopped to take a picture.

Meet Cookie

This is Cookie.  She is our official watch dog and she loves to bark.  Whenever anyone walks down the small alley leading to our house--especially if it is Paul--she is on the alert and barking.  She basically ignores Sherryl when she walks by.  Cookie is much more dependable than our doorbell.

Which Path Do We Choose?

We loved our short cut to the main street and used it for most of a year. Then someone decided they REALLY didn't want people using that path any more--we weren't the only ones using it.

The path is close by a huge apartment building and we figured that others were finding another way to get to the main road and we wanted to discover how they do things.  We walked by the apartments and ducked under someone's hanging wash to discover another path.

This way has a few hazards—especially after a rain when the ditch could be full of water and then there's the mud.

But once we get past that rough spot, there is a nice path leading upward.  

We could also go around this bush pictured below and walk along the barbed wired path.  The wire is around a triangular piece of ground but our path continues on after that.  

For now we are avoiding the whole issue and going the LONG way around.  

Watching Bananas Grow

We have turned into "banana tree watchers" and we are especially interested in watching the tree that has bananas growing on it.   It has been a fascinating process and we are taking photos several times a week as things progress.  Banana trees grow by having large leaves grow from the top center of the tree.

 They first appear as a spear that grows to about three feet long and then they unroll into a huge leaf.

Thus the tree grows and the trunk expands as the plant gets taller and shoots upward.  It takes about 6 to 9 months before a tree is big enough to bear fruit.  About three weeks ago when our tree was at least 10 feet tall, we noticed something different coming from where the spears usually appear.  It looked like a large green bulge—not a spear—and it was hard inside.

We had climbed onto the roof of the house to see the banana tree’s progress since Esteban [our rat catcher] had told us what to look for and the tree is right by the house.  Within about three days the hard bulge had grown longer and its weight had pulled it down to where we could easily reach it from the ground.  We then noticed the bulge had developed into a growing purple cone about 5 to 6 inches across and a foot long.

Soon the outer purple petal on the cone rolled up and revealed a bunch of 15 to 20 baby bananas each about the size of a small finger pointing down.

Every day for two weeks now there has been another batch of baby bananas appear as the next purple petal rolls up.  The purple petals drop to the ground a couple of days after they have revealed their babies.  We have watched this fascinating process through fourteen bunches of baby bananas with fewer bananas per bunch.

There are still more to come but the last seven bunches have appeared and dried up and fallen off.  We think this is a self-pruning process.  The bunches of baby bananas that first appeared growing downward, are getting larger, turning upward, and spreading out.

They are starting to look like real bananas now.  As of right now we have 7 bunches with close to 100 bananas growing merrily on our tree.  We remember that when we arrived a year ago, we found a large stalk of bananas ripening on the tree and it took several weeks before they were ready to pick.  So we just wait, watch and take photos.