Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Eve

I know you are all wondering how much partying we did on New Year's Eve. After rescuing Elders Hawks and Sullivan from the bus terminal, not even a taxi was running- we prepared for a long winter's nap. When outside there arose such a clatter, we sprang from our beds to see what was the matter. It was just Mendoza letting off 1,000's of Fireworks. Not just one display, but every neighborhood. It went on for hours. Thank goodness for earplugs. It soon started to lightly rain, which I am sure the firemen were praying for, so no houses went up in smoke.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Missionaries

Our new US missionaries missed their transfer in Buenos Aires, so with no seats available for them on the next flight, they were put on a 14 hour bus ride to Mendoza. That wouldn't be so bad if it hadn't just taken them 20 hours to get to Buenos Aires. Then their luggage never arrived, so they have been in the same sweaty clothes for three days. I bet a shower never felt so good. When we saw them we were so happy. What a tall group they are, I am sure everyone in the airport thought they were a basketball team traveling the world in dark colored suits.
(left to right) Elders Sprague, Ashby, Cooper, Roundy, Lauritzen, Aschieris, Snow, Hermana Warren, Elders Yachovitch, Meldrum, Johnson, Bodily, Ayer.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day Night

Jim and I had dinner at the Rastelli's on Christmas Day evening. Bishop Rastelli does a lot of work for the church down here in Argentina. He has helped us out many times. Adrianna Rastelli is a very good cook, and does most of our cooking for zone conferences when we are in the Mendoza area. She is a wonderful person, who has such faith in the Lord. She has two children living in the states, Christian and Yamina. Jonathan (taking the picture) will be putting his papers in this year.

A Changing of the Guard

Disciples we like to call them. They sleep in sleeping bags on the floor, they go out training and showing the missionaries how to FIND, TEACH, BAPTIZE. They are the heart and soul. They are true disciples because they go without thought to tomorrows meals or even a shower. Their mothers taught them well. They will be the future leaders of the church. (Elders Jensen, Romano, Arario, West)
Without their help, the mission would be without it's head, arms, and feet. These are the fine Elders that make it all happen. In the near future they will be back on the streets, living the life of the normal Elder, but for today...they have been called to make sure the heart of the mission keeps beating. (left to right) Elders Slater, Jensen, Fuentes, Romano, Williams, Arario, Miles, West, Salmon.

Christmas Only Comes Once A Year-So We Got A Few Friends Together For A Party

You can't throw a party without friends, and we have 180 of them. There were plenty of smiles and hugs, and a relief to be out of the Argentine heat (95 degrees). We divided the mission in two, half on Monday, the other half on Tuestday.
Or maybe they came for the food. Elders are known for the amount of food they can consume. They cheered when I said they could eat as many sweets as they could (brownies, fudge, english toffee, swedish tea cakes, sugar cookies, carmels, peppermint cake) Can you believe at the end of the party we had left overs! Dinner was roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy. The Latin Elders had never seen gravy before. They also didn't like the vegetables served hot (all vegetables are served cold in this country). We had fruit platters, and fruit is usually served as dessert here, so this was definitely an American dinner.
The first game was a mixer game, trying to find others with the same answer as they had recorded, to five questions. Some missionaries had up to 30 names on each of their qestions, so I think the game worked.
We only broke 4 church chairs playing the prophet musical chairs game. Bedlam happened when "apostasy" was yelled, and everyone had to move chairs. But it got even more intense when I started taking out random chairs. Those that ended up still on chairs, got a prize.

Christmas Party

The Elders were all very happy to see each other. Some new Elders were able to meet Elders they had never seen in the mission before. (Left to right) Elders Steig, Castellon, Gonzales, Sander, Leal, Chase, Opheikens
We played the white elephant gift exchange game. The missionaries had a great time taking each others gifts. The hot gifts were: A1 sauce, special matte cup, 2 Elders who sang a merry christmas song with a dance, and the blow up guitar. (left to right) Elders Sanders, Moisko, Figueroa, Fuentes.
There was a special Christmas pageant with all the costumes and narration. In this photo President is reading his part and then extending to each missionary the thought- Now is the time "to forget yourself, and go to work", spread cheer and smiles and hope with the message of peace. The only way to true happiness is to give away more than you receive. Now is their time to give.
Do you see their smiles? Nothing makes a Hermana more happy than to decorate something and make it look lovely. These sisters had a great time (right) Hermanas Tolaba, Llancanao, Ehlert, White.

Christmas Party

We had entertainment from Elder Arce, who sang Argentine folk music. He is delightful, the missionaries loved it.
The tables were set with simple decoration, but the color made it fun and festive.
No party is complete without Papa Noel (alias Santa Claus Elder Quist). He handed out all 180 stockings to the missionaries. The Elders loved their ties, but of course some wanted certain ones, so they did some trading. The sisters were more content with their lotions and sprays.
All in all, the parties went well and were well received. Of course the greatest reward is when an Elder says to you- That is the best Christmas party I have ever been to. To some of the Latin Elders, it was probably the first Christmas party they had ever been to.
For President and I, that was all the Christmas we needed, seeing all our missionaries SMILE!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve With Our Firends

Christmas Eve was spent with the Paez family in Godoy Cruz. Milagros, Carla, and Sister Gabriella Paez (Bishop Paez took the picture).
The meal was very Argentine, which is a variety of meats (chicken, roast beef, tuna) with tomatoes and palm hearts, potatoes and eggs. The family traditionally will eat after 10:00 PM and then after midnight the festivities begin. The family then opens up their gifts and play games together. We listened to fireworks going off all over the city (big ones) from midnight until 4:00. Then the streets are quiet most of the day as people sleep in.
The office staff and Assistants all joined us for lunch at a local restaurant. The Elders at the end of the table ordered up the variety BBQ plate (beef, chicken, goat, pork sausage, blood sausage). I was glad I sat at this end of the table. Shouldn't there be laws against food like that?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saying Goodbye Again

It is hard to say goodbye to the armies of Helaman. These have been our warriors, our army, our force for good in Mendoza. They are (bottom left to right) Hermanas Dawson, Iverson, Hall, me and President, Elders Oliva, Avalos, Brown. (Above) Elders Beal, Cespedes, Heninger, Bennet, Wilkinson, Sigler, Heiner. They will be missed. The new army arrives on Saturday.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Stockings were hung by the chimney with care

Hermana Mallea arrived with four crates of fruit this morning. With the help of Hermana Quist, we put together 180 Christmas stocking. Thank you family for providing all of the gifts.

Friday Night Celebration before Christmas

The Friday night before Christmas, down the street in Plaza Independencia, there was a wonderful Philharmonic concert. After the performance, the night sky was lit up with fireworks. The temperature was a balmy 85 degrees, and everyone was out on the streets. I was playing Christmas music as I watched from my balcony, the song was "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas." The only thing white in this town, is MY skin.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Cheer!

The glass-topped table, glue gun, and ornaments, that inspired my "Simple Miracle" story.
A picture of Santa's workshop in Argentina. Preparing for the 2 fiesta's for the missionaries. The mission has been divided in half, 85 missionaries each day. We will have games, white elephant exchange, lunch, Christmas pageant, music.
The first part of putting 180 stockings together. I used the plastic bags to put the chapstick, notecards, highlighter pen, certs, alfahor (cookie), and candy cane inside. The ties will go on top when we put the stockings together, with an orange and apple in the bottom. The sister missionaries get lotions and polish. Hopefully the missionaries will feel our love and care through out little gift from Santa.

Stake Conference in San Luis with Elder Zivic

This weekend was spent with Elder Zivic (middle) in San Luis. The man next to Elder Zivic (right) is President Mittillo with counselors and families.We were at their home after conference for lunch. This was the last of the 10 Stake Conferences for this year we will have to speak at. The beautiful young girl in black has a fatal lung disease. I can't help but think if she were in the states that she would have a better prognosis.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

It may look like any other Christmas tree, but it took 4 returns to get 6 strands of lights, and already the 2 on the bottom of the tree are "no funciona". Our first Christmas in Argentina, with a few jeweled-fruit ornaments I brought from home. It is 90 degrees outside, and the peaches have just arrived in the stores. The display of Christmas is minimal here. New Year's Day is the more important holiday, with fire works and celebrations well into the morning hours.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Sarina

Sarina boarded the plane today at 2:00.
Darn it if she didn't look happy to be getting on the plane! I tried to get in her suitcase but I didn't fit!
But I bet she won't forget her tango lessons (or her good-looking instructor). Her last recital was beautiful. We were all so proud of her.

Special Friends

Sarina Thomas my tutor, interpreter, helper around the kitchen, and best friend during the last 3 months
Dr. Cook and Cindy, from Arizona, who visited with us this week, trying to set up the family services programs for the church here in Mendoza area. They are now in our book of good friends.

Sister Conference in our Home

Our first sister conference in our home. We had a wonderful lunch and lots of fun.
We went to the zoo and the temperature was perfect. Everyone enjoyed themselves
Even the bears were putting on a show. These looked like they were kissing.
Then we had instruction and an afternoon of sharing experiences and advice. There were sixteen Hermanas. Half of our sisters are Latino and they are very well groomed and very good teachers.

Zone Conference Week

The close of zone conference week in Mendoza. We have a mission song that we sing after we take pictures. It is a favorite of all the missionaries. It is tough for those who are going home to sing it for the last time.
Dr. Petersen removed 10 ingrown toenails and saw over 80 of our missionaries. You can see the other future doctors looking on.
Dr. and Sister Petersen from Burley Idaho, accompanied us to all 6 zone conference meetings, and kept the pace up like teenagers. This is their 3rd mission together. They are remarkable people, and now are in our mission book of great friends.
President Noriega (left) and his counselor President Zanni. They came and spoke at our zone conference in San Juan. If they were all like these men, the church would not need our help. Look on page pg. 49 of the November Ensign and you will see Pres. Zanni and his family, and pg. 20 for Pres. Noriega and family.