Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another side of Mexico...

We have posted many pictures of beautiful cathedrals, squares, theatres and scenery that we have found in Mexico. That is only one side of Mexico - here is pictured another side of Mexico that is day to day life for many Mexicans. These pictures are taken from a barrio that we drove through and they depict the average lifestyle in Mexico. While we were driving through this area our car was literally stopped by a goat herder riding a donkey and blocking the intersection. The goats were intent on going to the market and then meandered along their way! The cow was resting in the yard of the house behind it - we saw many cows in and around the enclosed yards of the houses.

Here in Mexico we have found a juxtaposition of meager wages and a higher cost of living than we had anticipated before our visit! From what I understand, many international companies are drawn to this area due to the low wages yet they fail to realize that the people are barely able to support their own families on the income they receive. Days are spent in warehouses and after hours are spent gardening, cooking or cleaning for expatriates and more wealthy Mexican families in order to subsist. Yet, through it all the people we meet are generous with their time and all they have - they are wonderful examples of humble, kind people!

Monday, January 28, 2008

In Memoriam of a Prophet -

Upon the passing of President Gordon B. Hinckley our family wants to express our gratitude for the service that President Hinckley gave to all people throughout the world. We are grateful for his optimism, engaging humor and his inspired counsel. Our family knows that President Hinckley served as a prophet of God and that as such he spoke inspired words of wisdom, counsel and guidance. We know that our Father in Heaven and our Savior, Jesus Christ, guide and conduct the affairs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through prophets on the earth today. We are grateful for the life of service that was shared by President Hinckley and we can only hope to 'keep pace' with his example.

Our hearts turn towards his family at this time; both saddened for the loss of a father and grandfather but also grateful that his reunion on the other side of the veil will be a joyous occasion surrounded by his dear wife, family and multitudes of friends. We know his daily influence will be greatly missed. We pray that we may all do as he so often requested, "Stand a little taller" and be a little better each day so that his words and wisdom will not be forgotten.

We know that this church is true. We know that it is guided by inspiration and revelation. We are convinced that the work of God will move forward; buoyed up by the life and works of this great man. We know God lives and that our Savior, Jesus Christ, is the only means by which we can return to live with our eternal family. We express gratitude for President Hinckley who not only spoke of these principles and lived them but inspired everyone to live better lives.

In Memoriam

President Gordon B. Hinckley has passed from this sphere;
Our prophet, our leader, our guide for twelve blessed years.
We rejoice in having come to know this dear friend...
And pray for him as another journey begins.

There he embraces the love of his life,
She stood beside him through joys and strife.
Dearest Marjorie – his beautiful bride;
Now she’ll eternally stand by his side.

Foremost is family – Mother’s and Father’s embrace;
Tears of joy stream down each noble face.
His dear parents – gratitude is spoken for all that they taught.
He reports he has kept the course – the fight has been fought!

The prophets throughout all time gather around
Raising to heaven a joyful sound.
Their dear brother has come. Faithful, Valiant and Strong -
With the noble and great, dear Prophet, is where you belong.

Finally, the welcome most endearing and fervent;
He hears the blessed words -
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

He served, sacrificed and loved to the utmost degree;
Always heeding the Master‘s words, “Come Follow Me!”
Reminding us all to stand taller, stride forward and far –
Constantly reminding us of who we really are.

The wave of his cane will be missed as will his loving smile;
Yet, if we endure he will be missed for but a short while.
We have been offered the invitation to stand,
In the end, alongside this noble man.

So, let you and I remember today…
The covenants and promises that will guide our way.
I pray that we will again meet our dear friend…
When this mortal estate has come to its end.

- Andrea L. Ballard
January 28, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pena de Bernal

This last weekend our little band decided to climb the world's second largest monolith - Pena de Bernal! Uncle Ryan (my brother) served a mission in Australia and explored the largest monolith in the world - Ayer's Rock or Uluru! Thus, a member of the Smith family has now explored the two largest monoliths in the world!

We all enjoyed the climb up and met people from the USA, Belgium and France. We thought it was interesting that people left their mark on catcti - similar in fashion to others who carve their names into trees. The climb up was fun - our little group went as far as possible without equiptment! We do wish we had some climbing and rappelling gear here... that would make for some great fun... but, our children were quick to note the crosses atop the monolith that may be signifying others who attempted unsuccessfully to rock climb the cliffs. Our family loved seeing some hawks and possibly eagles flying around the peak of this amazing sight. It was a great time and we all enjoyed the hike!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Last weekend our little Ballard Band of Explorers visited what is termed the most traditional and romantic city in Mexico! This town is nestled between two mountain ranges and is built atop a series of tunnels and mines. The city is a mining town and we had a wonderful time there! Many of the roadways wound down under the city and we were able to drive through old mines that have since been converted into roads! The kids loved that portion of the trip.

We visited the "Callejon del Beso" (Alley of the Kiss) this is a legendary spot in Mexico. Mexican folklore tells of a young maiden from a rich family who falls in love with a simple miner. Their love is forbidden (of course) and because of secret reunions that were discovered her father ends up banishing her to her bedroom in their home. The young miner rents the room across the alley and the balconies are so close that you can kiss across the alley. So, as legend states if you come to Guanajuato you must kiss on the Callejon del Beso for good luck! So, sufficed to say there was some kissing as well at site seeing in Guanajuato! We all got kissed on the Callejon del Beso!

For some of the more scenic views we rode up one of the mountains to the statue of "El Pipila". There we looked out over the town and learned that this statue commemorates a man who carried urgent messages to the rebels fighting against the Spanish for independence - in order to keep himself from being shot he carried a large bag of rocks on his back as a shield. He is one of the revolutionary heroes.

Enjoy the pictures... the colors of this little town are beautiful.