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.

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