Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Waterfalls and the Witch Doctor

February 17, 2008 – February 21, 2008

In February a member of the ward asked us to go with them to meet a mature couple that was interested in the church. We went and were introduced to Elpirio and Ana. The first thing we noticed was that Elpirio had no legs. He used a wheelchair to get around, which is hard enough in the United States, but in Mexico it’s an especially severe limitation because of how little accommodations there are for people with disabilities. The streets where they lived were unpaved and full of mud and potholes. Elpirio was in generally poor health as well; he was also nearly blind and was going in for surgery around that time, too. Despite their difficult circumstances (or perhaps because of them), they were very receptive. A family in the ward that owned a minivan gave them rides to church, and Elpirio and Ana started progressing quickly towards baptism.

As we taught them, we learned even more unique things about their background. For one, they were legally married to each other, which is surprisingly rare among the investigators we had. This makes baptism a much more achievable goal because even when an couple wants to get married, it can take a long time to obtain the required birth certificates or divorce papers if either of the people was previously married to someone else. We also learned that Elpirio had previously performed magic cleansings of the kind offered by witch doctors in the region (I’ll talk more about Mexican brujería (witchcraft) later). By the time we met them, though, his days of witchcraft were long gone, and they were ready to become members of the church.

The day before the baptism was our P-day, and our zone got together for an activity. A member of our ward that owned a large van and was able to take the day off of work took the whole zone out near a small town called Xico, Veracruz, where there was a park with a hiking trail leading to several waterfalls.

The Pico de Orizaba as seen from Coatepec, Veracruz, a larger town located between Xalapa and Xico.

Some of the zone walking across a footbridge to the waterfalls.

This “bridge” was just to the right of the one we crossed. I can see why they replaced it.

There were some really enormous trees there, too.

The zone together at one of the waterfalls. Top row: Elders Bada and Frampton; second from top: Elders Breceda, Durán, and Brandt; third from top: Elders Tovar, Schaumann, Hernández, Nájera, and Lindsay; bottom: Elders Eduardo and Sharp.

A better view of the waterfall above.

Eventually we came around a bend in the trail and saw the Texolo Waterfall below. This waterfall appears in several movies, including
Clear and Present Danger.

When we got back, we had to move up Elpirio and Ana’s baptism because he was going in for surgery in the middle of the week. The baptism required some creativity because of Elpirio’s disability. We decided to have Elpirio sit on a plastic chair and then have us carry him and set him down in the baptismal font, still on the chair. When it came time to perform the ordinance, Elder Nájera said the prayer with the three of us in the water, and then both he and I carefully lowered Elpirio under the water and then back out. It was a very special experience for all of us.

Elder Nájera, Ana, Elpirio and me just before the baptism.

Finally, later that week we had Victoria’s baptism, which had previously been postponed.

Victoria and some friends from El Mango at her baptism. Victoria is in the center.

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