Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Last Few Weeks

Our travels took us through out the mission in two weeks. The picture above is of the type of desert scape you see as you drive down the highway along the foothills of the Andes Mountains. The desert stretches on for hundreds of miles. Low, flat desert. Similar to driving through Nevada or Utah.
San Juan is a friendly town, the people are warm and loving. Our greatest number of baptisms come from this area. Above is a palm tree that we have passed for three years going to the Chimbas Stake Center.
President wanted to turn around and take a photo of this man in front of his knife shop. The man was out on the sidewalk sharpening knives. You will see that his sharpening stone is placed at hand level which is attached to a chain run by pedaling the wheels of his stationary bicycle. Actually quite ingenious.
A close up of his work. It might be dangerous work, but I notice he still has all of his fingers intact, so the ACLU can rest assured that all is well.
Driving to the Retiro Chapel in Chimbas was quite interesting. You will notice the far off look in the eyes of our traveling Assistants Elders Bigelow and Roberts. We had to take a few detours along the way, which brought us through dangerous neighborhoods called "villas" where you shouldn't be driving a nice car. But this is what we go through to meet with our Elders for interviews.
As we arrive at the Retiro chapel, off in the distance we see two handsome young men walking towards us. Gratefully we greet them, since they are the ones with the keys and it is a very cold day in the San Juan area.
Our two Zone Leaders of Chimbas Zone, Elder Burns (Idaho) and Elder Menocal (Nicaragua).
When you look into these faces you can see why people are drawn to them. Not just because they are smiling, it is because they have something different in their eyes- it is a special light. That light is what we are all seeking. These two young men are living their lives as close to perfectly obedient than maybe they will their whole lives. Twenty four hours a day they are disciples of Christ. They don't come in when it is cold or too hot. In the "villas" or nice neighborhoods, they carry the same message of hope and love. So what you see in their eyes is Peace. They are doing what they were set apart to do, to bring others unto Christ.
Leaving the "villas" following the customary sight of a wagon drawn by a horse. These poor boys are picking up what useful metal or wood that they can to sell for money. These are the people who break your heart. They will grow up doing this, and their kids will do the same.
Perhaps our last walk through San Martin Park down from our home on Avenida Emilio Civit. We will miss our walks which aired our brains and kept us alive.
Our path takes us around the lake in the park. We figure our walk is around 4 1/2 miles.
Our favorite part of the walk is taking a moment to sit on the bench on the island and watch the sculling teams practice around the lake.
O.K. so it took us 3 years to do it. I told President that I was not going home before he took me to the little cafe across the street from our home and buy me a "factura" (pastry) and a cup of hot chocolate. After our walk in the park on our last P-Day we did just that.
Saturday afternoon the Paez's took us up the canyon to one of their favorite walking spots. It is an area 20 minutes off a gravel road where there is this little community where all the homes are made of the local rock, inside and out. They are very quaint. We had a nice hike on a very chilly day.
Bishop Paez got out of the car so we could take a picture of the ruins of the old indian fences that still survive. This divided that land and the animals they were keeping inside. The canyon are was full of granite rocks of various colors. There were green colors, orange, red and black.
As we were saying our goodbyes to them, Bishop Paez gave us a gift. It was some hand crafted items from Mendoza, a bracelet for me and a scarf and concho. I had to document though the sack that they were wrapped in- Vino (wine). I made a joke about the Bishop giving us a gift of wine. It was all in fun.
On the highway to San Luis we always see accidents and are delayed. This time is was a potato truck which jack-knifed and dumped its contents onto the road. They were salvaging what they could. The highway to San Luis is dangerous because of the high winds. Along the road there were many trucks pulled over waiting for the winds to calm.
Leaving the interviews in Valle de Uco, a group of latinos came out to take pictures with President. I thought it was a unique photo op myself. Our missionaries represent so many countries.
(left) Elders Obaldia (Panama), Gomez (Argentina), Portillo (El Salvador), Trujillo (Peru)
In San Luis we found our Elders happy and well, but COLD. We made it even colder by ordering ice cream for the zone. This is the Villa Mercedes Zone (minus the zone leaders from San Luis on the right standing). Sitting around the table on the left Elder Moon, Hyer, Esplin, Austin, Galdo. Standing left, Elders Tanner (how did you get in there?), Esplin, Boyle, Ostler (Elders Huntington and Burr)
Five kilos of ice cream gone. Added to the picture is Elder Yasan on the left.
Being a good zone leader and not wanting anything to go to waste, Elder Hyer volunteered to clean it all up (yes even the left over ice cream- isn't he so kind!)
Next we saw the San Luis Zone with a large group of sister missionaries. The lovely ladies are Sisters Crapse, Ochoa, Cuello, Pelton.
This picture took us about five tries. We all had our cameras on auto (all 10 seconds), but each of our cameras went off at different times. Most of the pictures have legs and arms hanging out, but we finally got one with all of us fully intact with heads attached. Don't we look like the proud mom and dad of so many children.
(back left) Elder Price, Baker, Burr, Huntington, Esplin, Tanner, Moscoso, Roncal
Hermanas Crapse, Ochoa, Cuello, Pelton.
To finish off the San Luis tour, President Mitillo of San Luis and his family took us out to dinner. We took this picture in the hotel lobby. They were very generous and kind and gave us two ponchos that we will always cherish.
We celebrated the birthdays of Sister and Elder Packer. Their birthdays were June 19th and 20th. How convenient to only have to have one party. We invited the office staff and the Assistants to come celebrate with us. Somehow I didn't think they would mind the roast beef and mashed potato dinner, or the carrot cake. We are so grateful to the Packers for all of their help during the last 10 months. They will stay under the direction of President Avila for the remainder of their 8 months. We can never give enough praise or gratitude for our senior couples who come here not speaking the language, but do what ever they are asked. They have earned their angel wings, and more.
Though you can't see them well, there is (left) Elders Boisados, Leal, Harvey, Ivie, Sister Pack, Elder Packer, Elders Hoggard, Bigelow, Roberts, and Elder Kammerman's elbow can just be seen.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Missionaries Arriving Late All Month

Each of the following Elders have arrived at various times in the month. President counted 10 times to the airport in one month. We also include in that number two sister missionaries who left the mission for health reasons.
Elder Trujillo arrived after visa problems with the Peru MTC.
Elder Moscoso from Peru with visa problems.
Elder Christensen from Brigham City came late after an injury in the Provo MTC.
Elder Lue from El Salvador with companion Elder Arrua
Elder Gutierrez (right) from Colombia with companion Elder Sierra. Lucky Elder arrived in time to receive the clean pension award (and chocolate) given to his companion.
Elder Garcia (right) from Guatemala with companion Elder Morinico.I don't think I ever put in Elder Gutierrez (right) from Grantsville with companion Elder Canaza. He arrived a month and a half ago, because he was fast tracked in the MTC because he already spoke Spanish. He arrived in the middle of a transfer also.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Weekend with Elder and Sister Arnold

This weekend Elder and Sister Arnold and also Elder Avila came to Mendoza to reorganize the Mendoza Stake. There were many meetings involved, but the most touching was the Sunday night Fireside with the youth. As we drove up to the Guaymallen Chapel we couldn't believe our eyes. Seven large buses were lined up in a row by the front of the building. The count that night was 877 youth from all over the Mendoza Mission area had attended. At the end of the meeting Elder Arnold announced a wonderful youth gathering in January of 2012. Then he had all the potential missionaries stand up in the audience, and forms were filled out with information about wards and stakes and willingness. There were 220 forms of potential missionaries collected. There is a positive energy starting in Mendoza. I can just feel it in my bones that this area is going to start growing. We know that some day there will be a temple in Mendoza and we will be sure and come and see the prediction come true. They need a temple to bless the lives of the people and the past and future generations to come. The gospels light must continue to shine forth.
This will be the last picture that we will take with these sweet young ladies from San Juan. I have documented pictures of them every stake conference for the last three years. They are the Rojas sisters. We wish them the very best, as well as all the other youth in Mendoza Mission. After the fireside we were able to say goodbye to many of our friends. It was a wonderful evening to see them all again. We will miss them all.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Final Consejos with Zone Leaders

Our final Consejos with the Leaders of the Mission.
You will notice that all the Zone Leaders are sporting a new tie. All the Leaders were given a Mendoza Mission tie to remember us by. The Assistants are wearing a different tie. These young men are responsible for the great number of baptisms the mission has seen this year.
(back left) Elders White, Esplin, Hyer, Huntington, Burr, Scoville, Hoggard, Frost, Mason, Burns, Ramos, Smith (second row top) Elders Sandford, Arauz, Cabranes, Menocal, Ivie, Gonzalez, Jacobs (middle) Elders Marquez, Moncur, McClain, Allen, Barton, Ruiz, Arduna, Abella, Rabanal (front) Elders Roberts, Bigelow, President, Me, Elders Harvey, Leal
New Zone Leaders- Elders Burns, Barton, Gonzalez, Ruiz, Jacobs, Ramos, Arauz, Allen, Huntington, Smith.
Winners of the Copa (sorry, is already on its way home with our luggage) the Guaymallen Zone. Thanks to Elder Cabranes, Elder Gomez, and new companion Elder Gonzalez. We will take their engraven name plate and glue it on the cup when we get home.
Winning District Leaders, Elders Marquez and McClain (their engraved plate will also go on the District Leader cup).

Below is the cutting of the ties of the Zone Leaders who didn't reach their goals that they set last month (They are told to wear their oldest, dirties tie) A tradition of the mission this year.
Elder Frost (Maipu Zone)
Elder Scoville (Alvear Zone)
Elder Abella (San Rafael Zone)
Elder Mason (San Martin Zone)
Elder Moncur (Godoy Cruz Zone) He forgot and wore a new tie, oh well!
Elder White (San Juan Zone)
Elder Sandford (San Juan Zone)
Elder Menocal (Chimbas Zone)
Elder Hyer (Villa Mercedes)
Elder Rabanal (Valle de Uco Zone)
Group Photo. They will work a little harder next month.
Training by Elder Roberts and Bigelow our traveling Assistants. They are going out and training District Leaders, and cleaning up the Area Books, and pumping up the missionaries.
Elder Bigelow teaching.
The Assistants going around and asking for the Zone Leaders projections for the month.
Each Zone is a different color. Their projected numbers are posted on the right.
A special presentation from the Assistants. President and I were surprised by a wonderful video produced by the office Elders showing the pictures and memories of our 3 years of service. They had interviewed some of the missionaries and they were giving their tributes. It was a real tear-jerker. It was really hard for us to express our gratitude since we were so touched by their sentiment. We were able to relive some of the events of the mission, and pictures of special friends and visitors to the mission.
President Lindahl giving his presentation on the 8 focuses of the missionaries.

We will always remember the faces of the leaders who we ended with. They have worked so hard to make President happy. These are capable young men, and we expect to see great things from them in the future. But then we expect that from all of our missionaries. They are instructed by President to not go home and sit on their back-sides. But get off their couches and go to work creating their futures. Goals are never achieved from the "cheap seats" they are earned by those in the middle of the game.
Our final meal from Adriana Rastelli and Anna Acosta. Special friends forever!

Below is a video of the roll (cinnamon roll) after they have sung the mission song.