Monday, January 18, 2010

Farewell Guasave

After dinner, our family took one last walk through town.

We stopped first at Parque Villafañe and saw a number of animals, like miniature deer, monkeys, and javelinas. We then walked back to the hotel, stopping first at a nearby grocery store. As the sun set over the city, I already began to feel lonesome for another visit. I hope this isn't the last time I see Guasave.


Olivia was another of my close friends during my exchange, but somehow we hardly managed to see one another during my recent visit. We finally connected on our last day in Guasave. She picked us up from the salon and drove us to a new Chinese restaurant in town. Her children and Mappy also joined us for dinner.

We had a wonderful visit, and I have to say that we had the best Chinese food ever. Seriously.

Dakota and Whitney got to ride in the back of the truck. We would NEVER allow them to do this at home, but there was no room in front, and besides, Mexico is a different world.

I got this picture just because I was surprised to see these metal spikes on the gate outside the Chinese restaurant. I'm used to seeing broken glass, or even razor wire, but nothing like this. It looks formidable.

El Nuevo Estilo

That same Tuesday afternoon, Mappy arranged for Rhonda to get a new hair style. She wanted a radical change, something totally different than her normal look. She dyed her hair red and got a completely different cut. The ladies in the salon seemed to enjoy the process and went far beyond the basic styling. They basically gave Rhonda a mini-make-over, complete with new make-up. This was one of the funnest parts of our trip.

McKenna also got a new look. She didn't much enjoy the process, as you can see from this picture, but she liked the result.


On Tuesday afternoon of our Guasave trip, we walked down the street to visit my friend Mappy (pronounced Moppy).

Her given name is Maria del Pilar, but her friends affectionately call her Mappy. She was perhaps one of my closest friends during my exchange experience 21 years ago, and certainly my greatest defender. She had lived in the United States as a child, far away from her parents, so she understood my struggles better than anyone else. She now owns and operates an English school in Guasave, which my family had the good fortune to see.

Mappy has a very caring, protective nature. Even during our recent visit, she made sure that someone cared for our every need. She loaned us a cell phone to stay in constant communication and often arranged for people to assist us with various aspects of our stay.

After we left Guasave, my children spoke often of my friend Mappy. Of all the people we met, she made the greatest impact on our family.

My Children

Of course, the best part of our trip to Guasave was that my wife and children got to see all the places I knew as a youth, and to meet the people who befriended me. It was important for me that they got to see this part of my personal history.

The kids found a shoe shine chair outside the hotel and insisted on posing for these funny pictures. It was kind of cute how they much they loved seeing that chair.


On Tuesday morning of our Guasave trip, my host mother and her friend joined my family for breakfast in the hotel. We had a very pleasant visit, which somehow turned to the topic of religion. She spoke to me regarding some of the more miraclous aspects of her faith, including several visionary experiences that predicted the death of various individuals in her community. As she spoke, my hairs stood on end. I'm not sure why I needed to hear this, but I'm sure to remember our visit for many years to come.

On a totally different note, we met the daughter of another neighbor who by chance was eating at a nearby table. The mother was a very kind, elderly woman who used to buy dollars from me at every opportunity.

We posed for pictures, embraced, and then paused for a long while. A feeling of sadness swept over me as I realized we reached the end of our visit. It was like I wanted to the moment to linger just a little bit longer, but finally my host mother turned and said goodbye. I certainly hope we get another visit soon.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

After the Rain

On Tuesday morning of our trip to Guasave, we awoke to see that the rain had cleared and made the world beautiful and clean. The sky was soft and the streets shone like silver in the morning sunlight.


On Monday evening, the rain continued to fall as Rhonda and I walked to a little taco place called "El Tacarbón," where we planned to meet some of my old friends from Colegio Guasave.

Somehow I got confused and heard that we should arrive at 7:30, but everyone else heard that we should arrive at 8:00. Rhonda and I arrived at exactly 7:30 on the dot, and waited for everyone else to show up. Actually, Rhonda and I got a very wonderful "date night" as we waited, but after a half hour, I began to think no one would arrive. "Maybe they forgot," I said. "Or maybe 20 years is just too long to wait."

At 8:00, Rhonda and I ordered our food and enjoyed a delicious carne asada.

At 8:30, we finished our dinner just as the first folks began to arrive. When I expressed my surprise, they informed me that 8:00 was the true meeting time, and of course I also had to account for "Mexican time," so everyone was just right to arrive at 8:30!

Just a few minutes before, I thought everyone had forgotten me, but then more people arrived than I ever expected. It was beautiful to see that so many people remembered me after so many years.

At one point during the evening, I spoke with several friends from our group about all my adventures over the last 20 years. The conversation came easier than it ever did when I lived here as an exchange student. My friend Leo laughed and said, "Barry, we understand your Spanish now. It feels like we're getting to know you for the very first time, and we're finding out that you're much cooler than we ever knew." We all laughed, but there was a truth within his joke.

At the end of the evening, I walked back to the hotel feeling happy and light.

Los Espíritus

Late Monday afternoon in Guasave, the rain grew heavy. Rhonda and the children went back to the comfort of our hotel, but I continued shopping for a handful of other items we needed for our trip.

The rain hypnotized me. I finished my purchases and found myself wandering through the streets as the clouds darkened the horizon. Memories flooded back to my mind, mingled with questions of things that used to be. Parts of the story can never be told, but I can say that my trip filled a deeper purpose than all the surface reasons I might have mentioned before. It was like retrieving a lost piece of my youth in those cold, lonely streets.

When I finally started back to the hotel, I walked past the market and saw something I had never noticed. I happened upon a small herbal shop with statues to "Saint Death" and magical potions. I think they called it "El Resplandor," or something like that. How strange that I stood on that very spot just a few hours earlier, and yet I never saw.

The store had a collection of herbs in the back room, stacked high to the ceiling in simple plastic bags. Unfortunately, customers had to ask the attendant to retrieve the herbs, so I never got to see what plants were represented. Closer to the front, thousands of tiny bottles glittered with multi-colored potions, or "essences," some labeled with obvious incantations to "good fortune" or "success." Others were labeled to incur the favor of specific saints, or to repel witchcraft, or to find love.

My interest in these things goes back to my desire to understand the indigenous beginnings of the Mexican culture. These potions may not exactly function as labeled, but somewhere in the distant past, indigenous people engaged in "magical" practices that evolved into what we see today. I guess that's why I would have liked to see the herbs and learn more about the medical and spiritual properties they may hold.

Modern people may scoff, but beneath our legends and fairy tales is a grain of truth about our ancient histories. Many medical and social advancements have resulted from a careful examination of indigenous "myths."

Large bottles of magical "essences."

These incenses were labeled for the same purposes as the liquid essences.

When I lived in Guasave as a youth, I never saw images of "La Santísima Muerte," or Saint Death. Some people say she always existed, but only appeared in public since recent times. Others suggest that she represents a westernization of the old Aztec goddess of death.


In the interest of increasing positive "margin" in my life, I wish to continue blogging about our trip to Guasave. This is not because I feel any obligation to update my readers, or share experiences with distant family members, although I'm sure to achieve both. Rather, I wish to share for the sake of sharing, because I love to write and post photographs from our travels.

In that spirit....

The Monday of the Guasave portion of our trip, we had planned to borrow a car and drive to the beach at Las Glorias. I had spoken of this place for years, and of all the exciting times I spent in the bath warm waters and exotic sand dunes. As a result, my children were convinced by my description that they would also love Las Glorias. We even found a discount store in town where we bought buckets and toys for building sand castles and playing in the water.

On Monday morning, my friend called to say that she had "very bad news." Some unexpected conflict had arisen at her husband's business that required them to use the car for a different purpose. We would not be able to borrow the car as planned. She was very apologetic, but something in my heart said that I should accept the change of plans with a smile.

We would have to see las Glorias some other year, and that was okay.

My family decided to use the day for shopping instead. The downtown district of the city is relatively small, so we were able to walk everywhere with ease. The kids found some nice clothes and I got to remind myself of the places I had forgotten, like the photograph above taken near the Guasave Market.

After the first hour of shopping, a huge bank of clouds rolled in from the west and began dumping an unseasonably cold rain onto the city. In fact, December usually falls in the dry season, but the rain drizzled for hours, well past sunset and into the early hours of the morning. I had never seen anything like this in Guasave. Usually it rains in the hot summer months, but even then it falls in one violent downpour and ends. The ongoing, freezing drizzle felt almost eerie and misplaced.

When we returned to our hotel, we felt thankful that we did not go to the beach that day. We would have been absolutely cold and miserable.

This is another street in Guasave. The little white cloud at the top of the photograph is the tip of the rainstorm that soon followed.


A couple days ago, I attended Friday Forum with the Leadership Development Program of the Community Colleges of Spokane. This is the third or fourth monthly forum I've attended.

The guest speaker addressed a topic that he called "margin." In short, he defined "margin" as the space between our emotional, physical, and spiritual reserves and the demands placed upon us. If we possess sufficient margin, we are more likely to lead happy, fulfilled lives. However, if the margin is depleted, we are more likely to suffer burnout, depression, and exhaustion.

The speaker suggested that we can increase margin by allowing more intentional spaces in our lives. It can be as simple as allowing ten extra minutes to get to work, or blocking in time for personal exercise.

As he spoke to us, I began to reflect on my own feelings of exhaustion. In my case, I don't always known when to say no. I agree to projects, when I should refuse. I allow students to turn in late work or change our agreements. In order to prevent my own burnout, I'm needing to remind myself of healthy boundaries that should be honored. In addition, I've been forgetting to do things that make me happy. When was the last time that I even went for a walk in nature? When was the last time that I blogged just for the joy of blogging?

Restoring my own sense of margin has got to be a higher priority.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


This Saturday I attended the funeral of a very dear friend, Elizabeth Michael.

She was like a grandmother and a mentor who once befriended me at a time in my life when I felt totally alone. She was the kind of person who loved without judgments or preconditions, and accepted me just as I was. She always interjected warmth and humor into every interaction. She was a rare person, a treasure.

Back in October or November, I dreamed of Elizabeth, standing on a mountain. The spirit of the mountain spoke and directed her to find the grandmother mountains amid the glaciers and the highest peaks. The spirit said she was worthy now to stand among the Grandmother Mountains. As the dream ended, I saw Elizabeth's face, smiling and radiant in the sunlight.

When I awoke, I thought perhaps that I would send a note and mention my dream to Elizabeth, but I didn't follow through.

If I had followed my intuition, I might have learned about her diagnosis in time to make one final visit. We might have shared one final laugh, one final embrace. But she passed away on January 1 before I even learned of her cancer. Now I'm left with a terrible ache in my chest that doesn't seem to diminish or heal. It's too late; I'm so sorry.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Las Visitas

There's more to the story of my visit to Guasave.

As I mentioned before, we attended the LDS Church on Sunday and became re-acquainted with the Pinto brothers. At some point during our discussion, one of the brothers stopped a white haired man in the hall and said, "Bishop, do you remember Barry Moses?" To be honest, I'm not sure he remembered me in that moment, but he at least made a gesture of acceptance. The brothers explained that I had been in the ward twenty years ago as part of an exchange program. Whether he remembered or not, he opened his arms and embraced me.

For my part, I remember the bishop well. During all my initial days of anguish, he was my rock. He gave me loving counsel when I felt isolated and alone. He also gave me inspired guidance when I conflcited with my host family and went astray. Yes, I remembered him well, and felt a sudden, inexplicable urge to cry when I saw him again.

Now that I had his attention, I began to ask the bishop about members of the ward I had once known. "What ever happened to Martín Cavazos? What about Hermana Dolia? What about Paty Pinto?"

Bishop stood thinking to himself and unexpectedly said, "Well, if you want to see them, I will drive you there tonight after 4:00."

Sure enough, he arrived at the hotel on 5:00 that evening. Rhonda and the kids stayed in the hotel, while the bishop and I made our visits. We drove first to a little place outside of town called Guasavito. There my old friend Matín Cavazos and his family own a little store and tortilla shop. When we first arrived, Martín was attending a long line of customers; it seemed that I would never get a chance to speak to him. Finally, I acted like a customer and asked him to give me an English class. Since he had been an English teacher all those years ago, I thought this was a natural lead.

Martín said he could direct me to a good English class, but it was obvious from his expression that he did not recognize me. I pressed a little further, pretending to be the customer who asked for unusual items, but still he did not recognize me. Finally, I said directly, "Do you remember me? I was an exchange student."

Then the lights came on, and he said, "Is your name Gary?"

Close enough. I laughed.

Once Martín remembered me, he welcomed me into his home and called his wife and children to meet me. I had in fact attended their wedding 20 years ago. They all extended a warm welcome, even the children. The picture above shows Martín, Suseth, and their children in the family store. The picture below shows Bishop Quinteros with Martín's family.

After we left Guasavito, bishop brought me to see Paty Pinto and her family. She and I used to have many deep discussions about philosophy, religion, and life.

Finally, bishop brought me to see Hermana Dolia, Martín's mother. Years ago, she used to stop by my house and give me a ride to church. She remembered me right away and welcomed me back into her home.

Sunday, January 03, 2010


After visiting my host family, we walked back to the hotel feeling happy and blessed to re-establish this important connection. At one point, I looked back and saw the late afternoon sun casting a warm glow upon the walls of the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Once again, it was a beautiful day.

Los Vecinos

After dinner and ice cream, my host family showed us all the changes they have made to their house in the last twenty years. It was very exciting for to show Rhonda and the kids the place I lived back when I was sixteen years old.

We then went outside, and Delia my host mother started going door to door to tell all the neighbors about my visit. The people started pouring into the street from their houses. I was especially happy to see the family of my friends across the street. The most amazing part was that they seemed to remember me as if I had been there yesterday. They hugged me and laughed and told me how beautiful my family is. It was the highlight of my trip. Beautiful!

La Familia

In my heart of hearts, the main purpose of my trip to Guasave was to see my host family, and yet this made me the most nervous of all. When I stayed in their home twenty years ago, they treated me with a great amount of tolerance and kindness, but we did not always see eye to eye. In fact, I would dare say that I caused them a few headaches.

I never rebelled against my own parents, but for whatever reason known only to God, I rebelled against this poor family. Mostly we argued about my choice of friends.

Now that I'm a parent, I look back and I think how much they suffered to host me in their home for a solid year. I also think that they were extremely good and patient to deal with all the problems I caused.

As I returned to Guasave, I feared that they might not want to see me, but thankfully, my fears never materialized. They not only greeted me, they received my family with an open heart. We enjoyed a beautiful dinner together and shared experiences from the last twenty years. By the end of our visit, I was very happy.

We also had the chance to see their oldest son Mario Mauricio. He and I met only once over the Christmas holiday years ago, but I always remembered his kindness. At one point during that first Christmas, he drove me to a party with my friends. He asked me how things were going and I'm sad to say that I vented my frustrations to him about his parents. He listened to all my concerns and validated everything I said. But then he said that his parents cared deeply for me and that they did not dislike me, as I feared. He spoke to me in such a gentle, supportive way. I have never forgotten.

When he saw me again, he held out his arms and embraced me. In a very real way, I still felt part of his family. More than anything, I am so thankful I followed my heart back to Guasave to see this wonderful family again.

Salón del Reino

After church, my family and I walked back to the Central Boulevard in search of a taxi cab. We happened to pass a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, which brought back another flood of memories.

When I attended Colegio Guasave, one of my good friends was a young man by the name of Juan Francisco Reyna del Toro. All the kids at school used to called him "," the sound of a mooing cow, because his last name means "Queen of the Bull." What tortures we must have inflicted, but he accepted his nickname with good humor. He was probably just as awkward as I was, so we made a natural pair.

Juan Francisco was studying to become a Jehovah's Witness. If I remember right, his grandmother was already a member, but no one else in his family had an interest in attending.

He and I became very good friends and frequently discussed the topic of religion. He took every opportunity to urge me to join his religion, and likewise, I did the same for him. Sometime we argued, but we always remained good friends.

At least once, I visited his home in a remote "ejido," one of many small agricultural communities created by the Mexican government. His family always welcomed me with genuine caring and warmth.

And over the course of a couple months, I also attended the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Well, technically, back then they did not have an official Kingdom Hall, at least not in that part of Mexico. The first time we attended, Juan Francisco explained that the Mexican government did not recognize the Jehovah's Witness religion, so they had to attend in secret.

He wasn't kidding.

In those days, the Jehovah's Witnesses in Guasave attended meetings in a secret, back-alley building on the same street as the LDS Church. I had never noticed anything, but of course, it was secret. Juan Francisco led the way and told me to wait for about five minutes on a nearby street corner. "I don't see anything," I said.

"Just wait," he instructed.

A minute later, two people crossed the street about fifty yards ahead of us and slipped into an almost imperceptible opening between two buildings. A minute later, two other people arrived and entered unnoticed into the same opening. Three more arrived a minute later, and then others, always in twos or threes, and never at the same time.

Finally Juan Francisco said, "We can go now."

We crossed the street and disappeared into the opening. It was like a narrow passage between the two buildings, which then opened into a hidden courtyard. The inner space was large enough to hold a variety of citrus trees and a moderate sized wooden shack that served as the meeting place for Jehovah's Witnesses.

The building was very humble, just four wood-plank walls, a dirt floor, and rows of simple wooden benches crammed together. The windows had no glass, just wooden shutters that opened to allow the overflow crowd to listen to the preaching.

When we arrived, Juan Francisco explained that I was a fellow student at Colegio Guasave and that I had an "interest" in learning more about Jehovah's Kingdom. The people responded with an immediate and overpowering display of affection. EVERY single person in attendance greeted me without exception. They literally surrounded me and hugged me and patted my back and thanked me for visiting. For a lonely, awkward kid of sixteen, the unexpected show of warmth overwhelmed me. Without warning, I burst into tears and just stood there crying in the midst of the welcoming crowd.

At length, the crowd dispersed and entered the tiny wooden shack. I was the last to enter. A man standing behind a wooden divider or pulpit called out and said to me, "Welcome to number 108."

"What does that mean?" I asked my friend.

"It means you are the 108th person to enter the building," he answered.

The meeting both amazed and disoriented me. Unlike other religious services, the meeting began without prayer or any other kind of spiritual gesture. The leader simply launched into the topic of discussion, taken directly from the Watchtower magazine. Whatever the meeting lacked in spirituality, it compensated for with enthusiasm. The preacher spoke as fast as an auctioneer on speed, quoting Bible verses and texts from the Watchtower. He peppered his sermon with questions and invitations for audience participation. These were not rhetorical questions, but genuine opportunities for people to answer. And answer they did. The congregation responded with equal enthusiasm waving their arms in the air and shouting answers.

Juan Francisco's grandmother attended that meeting. She was a tiny woman in her eighties, but every time the preacher asked a question, she bounced on the edge of her seat like a young school girl. She grasped the Bible in one hand and flailed the other hand in the air as if to say, "Call on me! Call on me!"

In spite of my best efforts, I just couldn't keep up. I would just barely find one verse, when they launched into another verse. By the end, I was dizzy and breathless.

The next meeting was more manageable, but no less unusual for me. The meeting seemed like a training session of some kind. Members of the church would approach the front of the building and act out missionary scenarios. Someone would play the part of a Jehovah's Witness, and someone else would play the part of non-member. The Jehovah's Witness would teach a principle from their doctrine, and the "non-member" would then raise one of several pre-determined objections. The Jehovah's Witness would then have to answer the objection in a strong, doctrinally correct way. If the person succeeded, they changed the scenario and would launch a different objection. The person had to answer each objection.

At the end of the series, the entire congregation discussed the scenario. The leader asked questions like, "What could the Witness have done better?" Then they spoke at length about how to overcome all the common objections raised against the Jehovah's Witnesses. It felt like a strategy session at the War Department, except instead of bombs and battlefields, they planned ways to stop all opposing arguments.

Perhaps the second meeting gave me a preview of things to come. The more I attended meetings with my friend, the more they demanded to know my position on various doctrines. If I didn't answer, they offered to teach me, but if I responded, they began to use many of the same training techniques against me. I would literally see the scenarios played out in their training sessions, and then they would use the same arguments on me. Sometimes I felt myself trapped by the arguments, unable to answer. I even thought about joining their religion, not because I felt moved or inspired, but because I found it increasingly difficult to untangle myself from their logic.

All the apparent goodwill came to a moment of decision when the congregation elder issued an ultimatum. He said, "You've been attending for more than a month. You have to decide if you will continue in the false system of Mormonism, or accept membership in Jehovah's Kingdom."

"What happens if I stay in the Mormon Church?" I asked.

I don't recall his exact wording, but he said something along the line that Jehovah would not accept me.

"If Jehovah doesn't accept me, what will happen?" I asked. For all the words and preparation, the man didn't answer. I pressed the issue, "If I remain a Mormon, what will happen when I die? Will God send me to hell?"

"No," he finally spoke, "Dejarás de existir," (You will cease to exist). I already knew they believed in a form of soul annihilation, rather than hell, but I wanted to hear him say the words.

"So you're saying that God will threaten me with extinction unless I accept your authority?" I demanded.

"Yes." he said with an air of finality.

That was the last time I ever attended a Kingdom Hall.


Let me just say that I have no argument against Jehovah's Witnesses as a people. I may disagree with some of the doctrines while acknowledging their dignity as human beings. In fact, even after I stopped attending the Kingdom Hall, Juan Francisco and I remained close friends. I continue to have several friends who are Jehovah's Witnesses, and I have always find them to be very respectful, honest, and loyal. This particular experience ended on a sour note, but it never dampened my friendships in general.


During our Sunday in Guasave, I saw that the Jehovah's Witnesses no longer meet in secret. They now have a beautiful building with their name displayed for the world to see. This probably reflects a change on the government level. I also asked if Juan Francisco was still in town, but from what I heard, he moved with his family back to Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border.

Barrio Guasave

We finally got home last night from Arizona, but I still need to catch up on blog entries from our trip.

On Sunday, we attended the Guasave Ward of the LDS Church.

Twenty years ago, Guasave had only one struggling ward with a handful of members. Somehow they missed the huge membership boom enjoyed by other areas of the church in Latin America during the 1980s. On many Sundays, leaders of the ward pleaded with members to increase missionary efforts, but truthfully, most efforts were met with either frustration or indifference.

Nowadays, the city of Guasave still has exactly one ward, but they finally added a small branch. They also added a new extension to the original ward building.

During this most recent trip, we attended the Guasave Ward meeting at 10:00 in the morning. We sat toward the front of the chapel and just waited for the meeting to begin. As members began to arrive, many welcomed us to the ward and asked questions about our journey to Guasave. No one spoke English, so I translated everything into Spanish. As the meeting began, I continued the translation for Rhonda.

Translation can be a difficult task, even when the parties pause to allow time to form a proper sentence. But translation becomes twice as difficult during a meeting, or other social context when the speaker does not pause. As the members addressed the congregation from the pulpit, I whispered the English translation into Rhonda's ear. This all happened in real time, with no pauses. I think I got more than 90% accuracy, but I was exhausted by the end.

At the conclusion of the meeting, I looked around the chapel hoping to find a familiar face. Finally, my heart sank and I said to Rhonda, "I don't recognize a single person. I attended this ward for a solid year and I don't recognize anyone."

Feeling more than a little disappointed, we left the chapel and continued to our respective classes. The girls went to primary, even though they didn't speak Spanish, and as far as I could tell, no one spoke English. They told me later that the teachers were very friendly and gave them paper and crayons. Rhonda and Dakota came with me to Sunday school, where I translated again by whispering into their ears.

At the end of Sunday School, I brought Rhonda to Relief Society and invited Dakota to attend the adult priesthood class with me. Before the next class began, we stood for several minutes in the foyer, when two tall, bulky men approached me. They both smiled and one of them said, "Tú eres Barry Moses de Spokane," (You are Barry Moses from Spokane).

Their faces looked familiar, but I could not place their names. I studied their faces and finally said, "Yes, but who are you?" They then identified themselves as Juan and Julio Pinto.

When they said their names, all the memories came rushing back. The Pinto brothers were young men from the ward when I attended twenty years ago! We had spent many Sunday afternoons together laughing and making jokes about one thing or another. However, they were all at least three or four years younger then me. I was sixteen years old, so they would have been twelve or thirteen. I didn't recognize them because they were preserved in my memory as the short, scrawny little boys they were when I left Guasave. Now they are grown men, and all of them taller than me!

What a happy reunion this turned out to be! And to think they remembered me after all these years. As we shared this excitement, we were all smiles, but especially Juan Pinto. He smiled with a look of genuine joy, with just a sparkle of admiration. Then I remembered that he used to look at me that way all those years ago. What did I ever do to deserve his admiration?

As I remember that time in my life, I was truly the picture of teenage angst, awkwardness, and isolation. It makes me sad to think that I had such good friends that I never fully appreciated at time.

After church, the Pinto brothers and I posed for a picture. From left to right, Julio Pinto, Juan Pinto, me, and Martin Pinto. Notice that I'm standing on the curb to compensate for my lack of height in comparison to my younger friends.

Rhonda and the kids posed for this picture in front of the Guasave Ward building.


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