Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sights in San Rafael

At the end of the interview week and a half traveling, we like to end in San Rafael and take a morning relaxing until we need to drive home. We stayed a night at Algodon, our little hide away and great find outside of San Rafael. There was a little tourist spot along the road and so we stopped to admire the sights and sounds of Argentina. Above are various colorful liquors (licores).

You won't see this very often, so I had to document President sitting down and relaxing for a few hours.
We had a pomegranate tree right outside our room, with the vineyards in the background.
Grapes drying naturally on the vine, tasting like raisins.
Love the contrast in colors. No one told this little offshoot, that he started growing a little late. It is harvest time in Mendoza.

Algodon has it's own little bodega (winery). It is a small little outfit with a few employees. They had just delivered grapes to the winery, but there were no workers there and so we took a few pictures.
The grapes go across a conveyor belt where the good grapes are separated from the leaves and branches. The grapes then fall into the vat below.
Here the grapes are ground down into smaller sections and they fall into the next vat below.
Here the grapes are separated from their stems and the grapes go into a tube, and the stems drop out the bottom and are carried away in the yellow containers.
The stems are used as mulch for the soil.
After the grapes go through the tube into the vats below, they are steam pressurized in a large sieve like container. The skins give the wine it's color. The juice of the grape drips out through a colander vat which sits inside a large galvanized tank. There the juice goes through a yeast treatment and then is later stored in barrels.

The screen which is usually covering the grapes before harvest is a very important "insurance measure" in San Rafael which receives large hail storms (the storms are known to strip the vineyards clean).
I was totally embarrassed when I asked this worker to stop for a picture. I was talking to him in Spanish and he didn't seem to be understanding a word I said. I got a little frustrated and turned to Jim and said, "Wow, you try to talk to him because obviously my Spanish is not good enough for him." There was a voice from the other side of the grapevines that said (in Spanish), "He can't hear you, he is mute." My husband just laughed at me because I am always telling him that my Spanish is terrible. Of course of all the workers I could have talked to, I had to chose that one. I felt terrible.

Just a worker, out in the vineyard of the Lord (little pun)
Algodon also produces olive oil. You can see the different colors of the olives as they mature on the trees. Soon it will be their season to be picked. They have a large machine that has arms that comes and shakes the trunk of the tree. The olives just fall to the ground.

After a long day of interviews, President and I enjoyed a salad brought to the porch by our room. We felt totally spoiled. We used their olive oil and balsamic vinegar made right there on the property.
Breakfast is served in the little club house. We wish we could stay a little longer, but we are driving towards Valle de Uco on our way home, where we will interview the last 10 missionaries. President has spent from 20-45 minutes with all 190 missionaries in the last week and a half. He said that this has been the very best interview time he has given his missionaries since we came almost 3 years ago. We can only do this because of the change that the church made in our interview and zone conference schedules. We don't like the fact that we don't see our missionaries that often, but when we do see them, it is quality time. We have one more interview schedule in June, right before we leave. We love our missionaries. They truly do inspire us with their enthusiasm and goodness.

March Activities

We were happy to finally receive Elder Gutierrez from Grantsville, Utah. He was waiting in the Arizona South Mission for his visa. His companion (left) Elder Canaza is from Buenos Aires.
The Best District numbers in the mission go to Elder Lucas and Elder Sargent. This is the special tie award- hand drawn and colored by our Assistants, and stapled to rubberbands for around the neck. Nothing but pure "class" here in the Mendoza Mission.

Our interview week started in San Juan. After meeting with the San Juan Elders we went to Chimbas. These Elders in Chimbas had a zone meeting right after where President shared with them a sweet experience of their Zone Leader Elder Menocal (bright red tie) who had just gotten off the phone with his dad. President always allows these calls, as Elder Menocal's dad is not a member, but who is now investigating the church and wants his son to baptize him when he returns from his mission. There was not a dry eye in the audience as they all cried together realizing what a special moment this was for their zone leader. Elder Menocal expressed that this was his goal all along, to baptize his father and get his family to the temple to be sealed for time and eternity. The Lord loves His missionaries and listens to their prayers. You will want to stay tuned for the great story of Elder Barton and Burns. They baptized a man last Saturday who was converted when he picked up a Liahona in an old house and read the first article written by the Prophet about being a good father. When they found the man he already knew that the church was true. Don't throw out those Ensigns- they are missionary tools!
(left back) Elders Rios, Guillen
(middle) Elder Quintero, Baker, Williams, Roberts, Menocal, Wilson (Leany hiding) Carter
Elders Burns, Bigelow
Elders Oliveros, Tucker, Guzman
Elder Barton
Our last interview zone was in Alvear, after a week and a half of traveling. As we went into the chapel to find them, they had been practicing "God Be With You" to sing to President and I. We tried to tell them we weren't going anywhere yet, but it was so cute, we just sat quietly and listened. We know our time is short, but it feels weird to look in the eyes of our missionaries and know that we won't be with them much longer. Very sobering.
(back left) Elder Summers, Eliason, Orozco, Burr, Lounsbury
(front) Elders Barlow, Barra, Solano, Moriarty, Carr, Robinson

Our First Official Argentine Wedding
The Wedding of Carla and Jair Martins
Carla is a dear friend and step-daughter of Bishop Paez of the Godoy Cruz ward. She has been dating Jair for 3 years and we were so happy that we were here to see their wedding. In Argentina, they first need to be married civilly and then the next week they will be sealed in the Santiago Chile temple. So we got to experience an upscale Argentine wedding.
The outdoor garden is where the guests arrived and enjoyed drinks and finger foods. The bride and groom arrived in their car (in back) and they walked down the stone path to the area where they would be married.

Milagros Paez on left (sister)

The couple walking down the aisle.
Before the ceremony began, her step-dad Bishop Paez (back to us) gave a little talk on the church an its beliefs (many in the audience were not members). He did a beautiful job talking about the temple and the idea that this marriage will live on through the eternities. After the ceremony which is performed by a magistrate (woman on left) the couple signs their signature. She then gives a review of the couples parents and grandparents and where they are from and what they do for a living (that was interesting).

Exchanging rings
The guests then went inside the reception center and sat at the dinner tables. The married couple then come in and go around and take a picture with every table and their guests. Below is a photo of the bride with Sister Packer and myself.
The first course of the meal was of course Argentine empanadas, and then the second course was steak, and a skewer of vegetables. Accompanying that was a platter of cold shredded carrots, green beans, and beets. The dessert was vanilla icecream with chocolate sauce dribbled across it (Argentina is known for its icecream).
Later in the evening Jair's mother who is from Brazil, served her famous Brazilian desserts. She is often called on to cook for the Brazilian embassy in town. The Lindahl's and Packer's had to say good bye at the point, but I want to explain to you the time frame of a typical wedding.
The wedding begins around 10:00 PM. Dinner is served after the ceremony and then dancing begins. Around 3:00 they serve finger sandwiches, slices of pizza and things like pigs-in-a-blanket. Then more dancing until around 7:00 am when a dessert bar is set up. The guests usually dance until around 8:00 am. I have been told that the older guests usually leave around 6:00 am because somehow 8:00 is just too late for them. What does that say for us "old folk" Americans that went home at 2:00. Probably because we had to be at the office in a few hours.
The Paez (and Di Giuseppe) and Martins Families.

Great News- We Broke The Record!!!

124 Baptisms for February
Out-Going Assistants and In-Coming Assistants
Elders Hopkin, Sorensen, Frischknecht, President, Elders Leal, Campbell

In February our missionaries did a wonderful job of reaching their goals on all their key indicators. Our special emphasis was lessons with members present. The members of the church have no idea how important this indicator is in moving a person towards baptism. With a member present during a lesson, the member is able to answer many of the investigators doubts. They are there to be a testifier of the truth, and a friend with a shoulder to cry on. When the investigator sees a friendly face that they recognize at church, the likelihood of them attending again is greater. They have a built in support system, especially with the ward members attending the baptism. Using what the Brethren know is an "almost" fail-proof system, the investigator becomes more easily entrenched in the ward when he/she has a friend at church.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Consejos With Guest Speaker Josh Pack March 2011

With a little help from Elder Frost, and a great program called PhotoShop, Josh Pack appeared in the President's chair for Consejos. Josh is a good friend of Elder Sorensen (AP). Josh lives in Utah, and was getting ready to go on a mission when he dove into a lake and was seriously injured. He is now waiting on that dream to serve a mission, as he is in a wheel chair. We invited Josh to be a part of our Consejos this month. He is helping us motivate our Elders to do great things and create some miracles. All the baptisms this month will be given to Josh, for his records. With that in mind, we want to break the Mission record of 123 baptism. Josh appeared via Skype, and delivered a wonderful motivational speech. He has become quite the speaker, as he has had the opportunity to share his story to many of the youth. We wish Josh well in his road back to health. We love you Josh!
The Zone Leaders arrived the afternoon of their p-day to enjoy some quality time together. They wanted Josh to know they were thinking of him.
Breakfast of bananas, facturas (pastries), energy bars (thanks to Sister Packer) orange juice (no your eyes are not blurry).
Our New Zone Leaders for March- Elders Barra, White, Frost, Williams, Morinico, Hyer, Campbell, Hopkin (returning again as ZL after serving as AP).
Elder Burr
Elder Sandford
Elder Fielding
Elder Beck
Elder Fowler
Elder George
Elder Menocal
Elder Esplin
Elder Redd
Elder Davis
Elder Miller
A tradition in the mission is the tie cutting party. These Zone Leaders set their goals last month, which they felt were reasonable. These wonderful Zone Leaders then go back to their zones and pushed hard for their numbers in their key indicators. This month for Consejos, they were told if they didn't meet their goals, President would have to cut their tie. They knew it was coming, and so they all found their oldest or discarded tie to wear to Consejos. Our ingenious Elder Miller (bottom right) hide a wire through his tie, so I couldn't cut it. Lucky for him I felt it in his tie, because President was using my scissors.
The Copa this month was won by San Juan Zone. Congratulations to the whole zone. Elder Harvey is accepting the copa (not shown is his companion of last month Elder Ruiz). San Juan had 30 baptisms for the month.
Congratulations to the Godoy Cruz Zone and Elder Moncur and Elder Garcia. They had 25 baptisms for the month, which is the highest number this zone has ever had during our time here in the mission.
Elders Roberts, Fowler, Burr, Miller, talking to President in his office.
Our computer genius, Elder Miller, trying to restore President's pictures when his computer crashed one morning. They are a total loss. It is good someone else in the family, "quizas mas inteligente" has a trusty Mac to save all the mission photo's.
Elder Martinez and Elder Fielding singing a beautiful duet, with Elder Sandford at the piano.
Resting from a long day, Elders Menocal, Beck, Williams.
After the taco feast, and weighing in about 5 pounds heavier- (left back) Elders Fielding, Martinez, Frost, Sandford, Gomez, Miller, Campbell. (left middle) Elders Moncur, Redd, Abella, Burr, Roberts, Davis, Fowler, Hopkin, Menocal, Beck, Williams, George, Morinico. (left front) Elders Esplin, Garcia, Harvey, Hyer, Barra, Sorensen (AP), Leal, (AP).