Friday, September 19, 2014

We are winding down now and only have a few days left here in Chile. I wanted to make one last addition to the blog to bring everyone up to date of our activities. We will be having an open house for all our clients and show many additional slides and some more detail. We will also be talking about the mission in a Relief Society meeting in the church and at the group of Empty Nesters. You are all welcome to come. As for the experiences let me share a few pictures.
Here in San Jose there are no parking lots. You park along the street if you can find a spot. Usually it is not a problem except on weekends. Anyway you can park on one side of almost any street. In some blocks there is an attendant provided by the city to assist you. Most of them have some type of disability. When you park you are on your own. When you leave they are usually there to help, and you need it. You should tip them. It is their way of making a living. The first picture is Manuel and the second is Simon. We have become friends with each.
One of our favorite experiences has been to help members progress and get closer to Heavenly Father and Christ. In the church we believe the marriage between a couple can and should be for eternity. In these pictures the first couple prepared themselves to receive this ordinance in the Temple to be sealed for all eternity. They have been married 27 years but not been to the temple to  be sealed. This was one of the highlights of the mission. The second couple with us is the Temple President and his wife. We were fortunate to have them perform the sealing for Jorge and Ximena. A real blessing.
In San Jose there are no major stores. Lots of mom and pop stores. There is very little variety to choose. This store is the variety store. They have everything from toys to stationary to needles. The only thing is you need to want what size color or shape they have. Not much variety.
This family is special to us for two reasons. He was in the mission field at the same time as our son Eric and they served in the same area here in Chile. He also has a very special talent of burning pictures in leather for book covers etc. He did one for me to cover my IPAD and it is spectacular.
We have done a lot of leadership training in the Branch and we believe they are no ready to move forward on their own. This picture is the Branch Presidency that we have worked with. They are really good men. The President is on the right and his two Counselors are on the chair and standing on the left. 

As some of you know Bonnies mother passed away while we were on the mission. It was a sad time but we have faith and knowledge of the eternities. She will be fine and her Husband will be able to be with her for eternity because they were sealed. Below is a picture of "some" of the family she left. I say some because we have 25 of the 28 grandchildren and only 10 of the 30+ great grandchildren. They have a wonderful posterity and deserving people.


We went on a little trip to a farm just south of Santiago. The picture shows some of the farm. The farm is owned by the Church. It is 17,000 acres, 8,000 of which can be farmed. The rest is in mountainous area. The farm is an olive farm. They will produce 1,200,000 gallons of olive oil annually. It is part of the welfare system of the church. We  believe in taking care of our own. Members fast each month and give the equivalent money to the church to provide for the poor. These farms owned by the church are also to provide food etc. to be able to care for the poor in the church or in areas where there has been natural disasters. The church does not advertise the efforts but it is not a small project.
When I was a missionary as a young man, I was asked to organize an exposition in a international fair here in chile. In this picture is Jaime Jaramillo who worked with me on the project. The two of us did the planning and organized the labor etc. It was a wonderful experience and with much success for the Church. We had the opportunity to locate him and his wife a few weeks ago and met with them in their home and shared experiences and memories. He 81 years old, so we were very excited to make contact with him again.


I have told you about our church building. We planted grass and the rock around the tree. The members did not believe we could grow grass. Here you can see we have grass and these boys were able to help me and they did a great job.

Here is the last entry. The Cajon de Maipo. This is the Canyon we live in. Yes it is beautiful and we are very fortunate to be here and serve the Lord. We will miss these people and their love. May the Lord bless whoever has read this blog and know that we have had a wonderful time and the Lord has bless us. Jesus Christ lives and his gospel has been restored to the earth. We love him and hope to be worthy of his blessings.








Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Well it is time for another entry in this saga. We are now at 16 months here and only have two left. Our little branch is progressing and from some of the pictures with this post you will see some of the progress. We have also had some fun experiences of a small day trip to a wool factory and we have enjoyed watching some movies in a little unorthodox manner. With that introduction lets share some pictures and experiences.
This first experience shows a little ingenuity. We had brought some movies with us but not sure how or when we would be able to watch them. So our bedroom is the theatre the computer is the projection screen and we have a wonderful Bose speaker that we brought with for our surround sound. It works quite well. We generally only have maybe one night a week that we have time unless we stay up late to start a movie. We usually don't get to bed until almost 11:30. So it is a little diversion.
When we first arrived in San Jose there were two sisters assigned to serve with us in the Branch. One of them was Sister Tibbitts. This is a picture of her on her last night in the mission. She has now returned home to Utah. We hope to see her again. She was a wonderful missionary.

We were coming home one afternoon from an appointment and came across this traffic jam that was a little bit unusual. We had to wait for a while until they cleared the road. November is sheering season. This picture was taken in May which is the front end of our winter.

We took a short trip to La Ligua which is a town about 50-60 miles north of Santiago. When I was a missionary here before we would go there to see all the wool factories and buy gifts and souvenirs. The city has changed now and the wool goods are still a major part of the city but all the show rooms are outside of town. We went there with a couple who have become good friends, the Fishers. We went to lunch at this restaurant and it was pretty good. 
After lunch we went to Villa Hermosa which is the part of the area where all the shops are. Here you can see the street with the shops. There are about 3 streets with all vendors.
 At one of the vendors we asked about visiting one of the factories where they make the sweaters, coats, etc. She told us there is one shop back in La Ligua that would be interesting. She told us the owner also has a restaurant in this area and we could find him there. We went to the restaurant and asked for him and asked if we could have a tour. He said the factory is closed that day but he would be glad to meet us and show us around. That was really great. In this picture we are arriving at his shop.

In this picture the owner is showing us how the yarn is spun and then how the looms work to make the material. He was so kind and helpful. He had bought the factory some years ago when automation hit the industry and hand crafted material was too expensive. He was able to buy the building and some old equipment for a song and dance. He then started to wonder what to do and he thought of tourism. He contracted with tour companies to bring their tours to his shop where he would show the old fashioned way and what has developed. They would then be able to go to his showroom to see the product. After they would be taken to lunch in the middle of the shops. Guess whose restaurant they went to? So he has taken a cast off factory and made it into a profitable tourist attraction. He was so kind to share with us.  
One of the exciting things for us was this couple, Luis and Victoria Fuentes. When we arrived they were not very active in the church. We started meeting with them on a weekly basis and instructing them on the blessings of the Gospel of Christ. Over time they began to attend and participate more and more. From an earlier picture you saw the day they were married. In this picture they are in the gardens of the Temple. On this day they attended the temple session for the first time and you can see the happiness in their faces for the blessing it was to be there. They are a wonderful couple.

I mentioned of Sister Tibbets before. We have had several sisters in the Branch but now the two who serve with us are below. On the left is Sister Grannis from North Carolina and on the right is sister Hunter from Idaho. They are a joy to be with. Hard working and fun.  

Finally, with have a "payoff day". We have worked really hard to get the members more unified and worthy to enter the temple. He had 3 one month and 1 another month, but finally we were able to get them on the same page. There is 12 of us here all from the Branch and all worthy to be in the temple. It was a wonderful occasion to share with them the spiritual experience of sharing in the Lord's work. They were all quite excited. What made it even more beneficial, the couple on the far left scheduled August 2 as a date for them to be sealed as husband and wife for all eternity. They have been married civilly for 20+ years but now they will be able to be sealed by the power of the authority of Heavenly Father to be together for eternity. It will be a wonderful day this Saturday. I will have more pictures of that day.

That is all for this post.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Well now I have time to finish my posting. Yesterday I was able to post half he activities and events that had happened to us.
For us an exciting time is when we can go to the Temple of the Church. These are special buildings where our most sacred ordinances and covenants are done. These buildings are not for normal Sunday meetings but additional opportunities for those who are faithful to the commandments of God. There are two levels of ordinances done. One is normally for youth and the other is for adults who have made additional progress. In these first two pictures are  a group we took to the temple for the first level of ordinances. In the picture are (left to right) Bonnie, Simon Andrade, Pablo Andrade, Mariana Catalan, Claudia Espinosa, Ximena Vargas Villaroel, Jorge Vargas. This was the first time in a long time for some of these people to participate in these blessings and they felt very blessed. The second picture is the husband and Wife Jorge and Ximena with us.

A few months later we had the privilege to go to the Temple with Jorge and Ximena for them to participate in the higher ordinances of the Temple. They had prepared for some time and the joy they felt as they were able to participate was very satisfying. You can see from the second picture of their love for each other and happiness to be there.

Another wonderful experience we had was to go to Vina del Mar. This is a large city on the Pacific Ocean. It is a tourist town. For those who have been to Honolulu it is very similar in that it is a major metropolitan town but on the Beach front. It is also very similar to San Francisco in weather and on the hillside. As we drove there we commented how similar it is in terrain and vegetation to San Francisco. The other part that made is fun was the visit of Soli Tenger who is a friend of ours from Sachse. She was raised in this town and had not returned to see her family for many years. In this picture you see Bonnie with Soli and her father. In the background is a restored house. We are right on the beach front in this picture.
Chile allows gambling and in this picture is a large Casino in Vina del Mar. It is quite pretty.

Bonnie and I are in front of the Casino here. We did not go in. Most shops and tourist areas are closed on Monday because the weekends are so busy they have to close to give the people a day off and time to clean up and be ready for the coming week. 

 For those who have been to San Francisco you remember the horse drawn carriages. This is one in front of the Casino. They are quite proud of these carriages.
Santiago is a large metropolitan town of about 8 million people. When I think of it I wonder where does the water come from, or the food, or other basic supplies. As for water this is a very large lake that provides water to about 1/3 of Santiago. I did a panoramic view and this only represents about 1/2 of the lake. It is also very deep. The lake is in the mountains east of Santiago and it takes a 1 hour dirt road ride to climb the roads to get here. The drive is worth it and to see this lake is quite beautiful. The water is extremely pure, they do not allow any type of motorcraft on the lake and fishing only from the banks if you can get here. We have driven up twice and it is a load for our little car. 

We had a program for the young women in the branch to share with them and their parents the activities these young women would participate in during the year. It was amazing what they will do. Here you see the four young women who came. We have one other young woman in the branch who could not come. From left to right Aranzazu, Claudia, Yasmin, Fernanda. They are great young women and very pretty. Below is a picture of these young women singing a song for the congregation along with the missionary sisters on the right.

 Keeping warm during the winter is a difficult task. It is not that cold temperature wise. About the same temperature as in Dallas. But think what it is like to not have Central heat in your home and the houses are not sealed. Many holes in the corners, around doors and windows, etc. So inside is just as  cold as outside. there are a few ways to stay warm: (1) an electric space heater and electricity is expensive, (2) propane gas heaters, we have two and they work well, but many do not want to use them because they think the odor is real bad or a fire hazard, (3) wood burning stove. For wood you either cut down your own trees in the yard or buy wood. Last year we spent over $1,000 for wood to keep us warm. We were warm but this year we have the gas heaters and we will save a lot.

Anyway, we also cut down two trees in the yard and here we are cutting the wood. Simon Andrade is helping me. Do you see the wood fly off my axe.

 We have some fruit an nut trees in our yard. Orange, apple, walnut, almond, and lemon trees. We are harvesting the walnuts from the trees as they fall. Here is a big bowl of walnuts collected one day. We have almost three containers this size of walnuts. Brownies with nuts, Ice Cream with nuts, banana nut bread, all are favorites in our home.
I mentioned in a previous post of some of the improvements we are trying to do in the yard. When we came there was a walkway from the street to the house/church. One side was full of weeds and the other was all dirt. this first picture is where the dirt was. See what we did around the tree and then planted grass. I had to cut the lawn again today. It is all filled in and pretty green. 
This picture is of the other side were it was all weeds. Look at the green and pretty flowers. there is still much to do but it is so much better.

 This is a picture of a work day activity. We cut down limbs that were over hanging, and cleared rocks from a open area, mended a fence so no dogs could come in, made a combination volleyball/mini-soccer field for the members to play, and fixed some lighting so we could have the court lit at night. Below are pictures of the results and some of the brush we hauled off. this brush was the smaller pieces after they cut off the thicker pieces for fire wood. We had a truck load of firewood.


Here we have the workers who worked hard. Left to right Carlos Valenzuela, myself, Sergio Salinas, Pedro Quezada, Jorge Vargas, Pablo Andrade. It was a great time and they are quite proud of the results.
Back at our house the fall is really showing. Here is a tree in our yard and the beauty of the fall. 
We had a new adventure a few weeks ago. We have this bread oven on our property. I have mentioned it before. We had a group of American missionaries here for dinner. We were not sure how we were going to cook the food and Bonnie had the idea of using the bread oven. So we fired it up and cooked 36 potatoes in the oven and it was great. We will use it more now that we have some idea of how to use it. It is simple and fun. 
 One of the fruits here is a Membria. You can see its size here in Bonnies hands. About the size of a large grapefruit. It has a fir film on it while it is ripening. When the fuzz comes off it is ready to eat. We tried it and it was really sour. they love it. It is like a sour granny smith apple. BUT when you make it into a jam it is really good. It has a flavor of a cross between apple and peach jam. It is very good.
Well that is all for this post. We are doing well. We are quite excited for the future of the branch if they can learn about leadership and followership. they are learning and lights are going off. The Gospel of Christ is true and provides joy to all who will take advantage of it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Well it has been a while since my last entry. It has not been because I do not want to make entries, we are busy. We have about 10-11 appointments each week with people to teach them, answer questions, or provide information they desire. It is really fun. The great joy comes when we see their lives change and do things to improve themselves. The Gospel of Christ does this to people. For example, Luis and Victoria have been a couple for 27 years and never married. The laws in Chile have been quite difficult for a divorce until 12 years ago and when they changed the law, many of the people had decided what is the benefit of marriage, there is too much commitment, and if we don't like each other what do we do. It is a waste, so they just live together, have a family and separate when things get tough. This couple  had done it for 27 years and when we met them they had no desire to be married. As time progressed the spirit of the Gospel of Christ entered their hearts and they decided to get married. This first picture is of their front yard where they set up some tables for a dinner after the wedding. This was  taken during the ceremony. 
Her is a picture of the bride to be. This was one of the first times in her life to wear a dress and she felt so feminine. It was great. She was so happy to have this day. They were like two young adults on the day of their wedding. It was really special.

 Weddings in Chile are different. As I mentioned the government for many years forbade divorce.
When the law was changed, the government prescribed what a wedding was. (1) it had to be done by a local government official to be recognized. No priest or other person could perform a marriage. (2) these marriages need to be scheduled with the government offices. Usually they can only schedule 6-9 months out. These ceremonies are done in the city offices unless they pay an extra fee to have the official come to their home to do the wedding.  (3) The government prescribed the sections of the law that had to be read for the wedding and all the other words of the ceremony that had to be read. (4) As part of the ceremony the participants have to sign a document of the license and affirm as to how assets will be separated if divorced. In this picture you have the government official asking them both to sign the documents.

After signing the documents they can exchange rings after the officiator reads the prescribed wording.

Then they are married. If they want to have a church wedding after this they are welcome to do it. Here is the couple with the official after their wedding. They were so happy and to this day they are so grateful to have made this commitment to each other. We are now preparing them to go to the temple and be sealed for all eternity.

We had another event in the Branch of the church. There are very few yards here. They will have dirt fronts with a few plants stuck in the ground. At the church we had one side of the entry walk planted at one time with grass. At the time of this picture the grass was all weeds and poorly watered, because they do not have sprinklers or water facilities. We decided it needed to be changed. I made a two head sprinkler and started watering the one side. Now it is green and the rose bush is flourishing. On this side we built a circumference around the tree and filled in rock. It looks much better. At this time I have also planted lawn all around the tree and it has filled in. The members did not think it would work. You have to do all kinds of things and, and, and. I said no, I will show you. To their compete disbelief we now have a solid lawn on this side and they are quite proud of the look of the building.

The final part of this writing is we had a Open house for the community to come into the church and visit us. Here is a placard we had out in the front on the fence.

 Inside we had six of these displays to explain some of the teachings of the church. People would come in and we had two sister missionaries who would guide them around and explain principles and answer questions. We had a pretty good response.

Here we have a placard of Christ. This was the beginning of the tour. With it we had some scripture quotes of the Savior inviting the people to follow him and obey his commandments.
 In each of the rooms we had a small display. Here is the room of the Priesthood and some things done by the brethren in the Priesthood.

This room was for the youth and activities and things done with the youth.
 This room is for the mothers. The organization is the Relief Society. Women are taught talents, skills and tools to be used as mothers and wives.
 This is a picture of the branch members who helped out with the Open House. Also included are some of the visitors. It was a successful event.