Monday, December 8, 2014

Reposting facebook post from Elder Scott

Elder Richard G Scott posted this story on his facebook page. Quiriza is a beautiful, beloved small pueblo in the southern part of Bolivia. It is struggling, but progressing slowly. I included a few photos we took of Quiriza, at the end of Elder Scotts story.

Richard G Scott
On Christmas Eve 37 years ago, in the light of a full moon, I climbed a small hill in the isolated village of Quiriza, Bolivia. Four young elders and I had spent the day crossing over a mountain pass on a treacherous road. Then we struggled up a riverbed to see if the teachings of the Savior would help a destitute people. What we saw that day was discouraging—undernourished children, adults subsisting on meager crops, some with eyes glazed from seeking refuge with alcohol and drugs. I looked at the tiny, barren village below: a cluster of adobe thatched-roof houses beaten by the harsh environment. The only evidence of life was barking dogs searching for food. There was no electricity, telephone, running water, roads, proper sanitation, nor doctors there. It seemed so hopeless. Yet a solemn prayer confirmed that we should be there. We found a humble people who embraced the restored gospel with determination to live it. They did that under harsh conditions where severe poverty, alcohol, drugs, witchcraft, and immorality were in plentiful supply.

Under the guidance of exceptional missionaries, the people learned to work hard to cultivate the fields. They produced a harvest of nutritious vegetables and raised rabbits for better protein. But the best lessons came from beloved missionaries who taught them of a God who loved them, of a Savior who gave His life that they might succeed. Their physical appearance began to change. The light of truth radiated from their happy faces. As devoted, loving emissaries of the Lord, missionaries patiently taught truth to a willing people. Wives and husbands learned how to live in harmony, teach truth to their children, pray, and sense guidance of the Spirit.

I watched a six-year-old boy who had carefully observed our first baptismal service act out with his younger sister what he had seen. He carefully arranged her hands, raised his tiny arm to the square, mumbled words, gently lowered her into a depression in the sun-baked earth, led her to a rock where he confirmed her, then shook her hand. The youth learned most quickly. They became obedient to the light of truth taught by the missionaries and in time by their own parents. Through their faith and obedience, I have seen how in one generation youth baptized in that village have overcome a seemingly hopeless future. Some have been missionaries, graduated from universities, and been sealed in the temple. Through their diligence and obedience, they have found purpose and success in life despite an early harsh physical and evil-saturated environment. If it can be done in Quiriza, Bolivia, it can be done anywhere.
The drive to Quiriza is stunning with red rock mountains.

Few things have changed 
The chapel in Quiriza

 Beautiful faces of a beautiful people.
The people of Quiriza, Bolivia (and 2 nortes:) 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

White Christmas

We will miss celebrating Christmas in the United States with our children and grandchildren.  But we rejoice in the blessing of serving in Bolivia and having a "white Christmas" Bolivian style--not with snow flakes and frosted trees, but with valiant missionaries and beautiful people dressed in white, entering into the waters of baptism to make a sacred covenant to take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ and be numbered among His sheep.

The young man on the left was recently baptized by his friend (on the right).
His friend leaves to serve a two-year mission in Peru in 10 days.
He's going to be a great missionary. 
Here are three of our happy missionaries who taught the young man in preparation for his baptism.  Baptisms for missionaries are a very special kind of pay day. 
Here is another picture of the young convert, with his sweet mother, who is not a member of our Church.  I admire her faith and confidence in her son, for giving permission for him
to be baptized into a religion different than her own.  I promised her that the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will make her son an even better man than he
already is if he remains true to his covenants.
Here I am after the baptism of this 12-year old young man.  I interviewed his father for baptism a few months ago, and formed a friendship.  His father, who was not able to perform the baptism, asked me to baptize his son.  What an honor.  Right after this photo, when I learned he didn't own a tie, I gave him mine.
This is what it's all about--an entire family being baptized and progressing towards the blessing of being sealed together for time and all eternity in one of the Lord's holy Temples.

And then occasionally there's time to unwind and relax.  Kathy and I felt
so honored when these amazing missionaries invited us, the night after the sixth and
final zone conference, to join them on the rooftop of their apartment in Tupiza,
where they barbequed some delicious Argentine steaks for all of us.  It brought
back memories of the delicious asadas I enjoyed as a young missionary in
Argentina back in 1974-76.  Just for fun, I am posting my pre-missionary picture
1974 below.  (Upon arriving in the Salt Lake City Mission home, they invited me
to get a new, shorter haircut.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A week of blessings and one suprise miracle - a photo story.

One busy week . . .

 Our BIGGEST miracle weighed in a 3 pounds and 6 ounces. She also was NOT born at the beginning of the week but I just had to start off the story with our beautiful little tiny miracle Hannah. The week was very intense with concerns for mama and baby but she arrived and is working on growing.

This is where the week actually began. The most perfect Sacrament meeting, because it was a primary sacrament meeting. I LOVE primary sacrament meetings (the extra perk this time was that I did not have  (sorry, I did not get) to speak. :)

Shortly after Sacrament meeting we headed to the airport to attend our first Mission Presidents Training meeting. The seminar was held in Bogata, Columbia. It is not easy to get anywhere from Cochabamba and the travel took an overnight stay!

You are correct - President and his cell phone are rarely parted.

We were happily surprised when the bus carrying the 4 mission presidents from Bolivia stopped at the CCM in Bogata. We were EVEN HAPPIER when the CCM mission president announced that the mission president from Cochabamba was visiting. These brand new missionaries (on their 5th day at the CCM) came running. We cannot wait to welcome them in a few more weeks.

We got to spend time with 30 mission presidents and wives from 
Bolivar, Peru, Ecuador,Venezuela, and Columbia. 
                                                                                                                                                                             We were INCREDIBLY blessed to be taught, inspired and strengthened by wonderful men like Elder David Evans (first quorum of the seventy and executive director of the missionary department) and all three of our VERY OWN area presidency, Elders Uceda, Waddell and Godoy.

We attended a session in the Bogata Temple - - - with our whole group. THAT WAS INCREDIBLE.

We got to visit with old friends President and Sister Riggins and the new
member of our area presidency Elder Godoy

 Then an afternoon of sightseeing, this is Bogata, a HUGE city. We traveled on Gondolas to the top of Monserrat . . .

We toured the beautiful 17th century church there.  Then we were off to Sucre for a stake conference.

In Sucre we learned there was a baptism scheduled for Saturday morning - so of course we decided to go. The taxi driver stopped when the roads got rough and kindly refused to go further. President had his handy GPS on the phone so off we went . . . in search of the chapel.

We arrived in time for the baptism of these wonderful people - a family of three and a single man. It was great.

Bolivia is a land full of surprises and Stake Conference was another one. We were a little surprised to find people already in their seats when we arrived at 9:30 (30 minutes early) - As we tried to turn the lights on in the chapel we quickly realized the electricity was off. We were trying to figure out how we could hold a conference with no electricity when a member of the stake presidency found us and told us the electricity would be back on at 11. He then offered to drive us to get our luggage from the hotel as the timing of the day had now changed. I was concerned when we returned and walked back into the building. What would all these people be doing with this hour and a half of unstructured time? As I walked past the bathrooms I worried even more. No electricity meant no running water - which is NOT a good thing with all those people in one place. But as I neared the chapel, I did not hear people talking, or playing, I heard - music! and my eyes filled as I entered the chapel to see our wonderful, awesome, incredible missionaries up there on the stand singing hymn after hymn after hymn. It may not have been Tabernacle Choir quality (following a tune is not natural for many of them) but their spirit filled the room. I was so proud of them!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

One of our first great blessings of mission service has arrived

We learned this little one was on his way a few months after our call to serve in Bolivia. We consider him a huge mission blessing and are grateful he could join our family. Max arrived on Wednesday and we are so glad he is here. Although a very large part of me longs to be holding this baby and helping my beautiful daughter I know she has many loving hands and hearts surrounding her and all is well. (and I am grateful for facetime!!!)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

50 Year Anniversary of the Church in Bolivia

Cochabambas' 5 stakes celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Church in Bolivia by reserving a Plaza in downtown Cochabamba and joining in a "Feria".

 The Relief Society headed up the whole thing.
There were booths to teach about food storage and 48 hour emergency kits.
I learned about the versatility of soda bottles. Theycan be used for food storage, sprouting grains, 
planting vegetables,  and the bottles are even artistically cut up and painted to make floral arrangements.

          There were booths for raising chickens, and guinea pigs.

And the Relief Society shared and sold their beautiful handcrafts. There were beautiful crocheted sweaters, blankets, baby things etc. as well as hand painted table cloths, crafts. baked goods and oil paintings

                                   The missionaries were able to talk with many people . . .

... and they filled out many referral cards

They are amazing young men and women and so fun to watch as they serve and teach about the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Look at the Elders outstretched hands :))

We bought these roses at the feria. We paid a little less than $3 for 24 beautiful roses.

On our way home we got a quick shot of a newly married couple in front of the temple. 

This last photo is from today, Sunday. It does not really fit in the whole 50 year celebration but . . . I am going to include it anyway. Today was Stake Conference in one of the 5 stakes here in Cochabamba. They always ask us to speak in every stake conference. My Spanish is very limited, but I think the Lord wants me to stretch (and the Bolivians are very kind as I try to learn). And so I try, and try and try . . .  These beautiful flowers were right in front of us as we sat on the stand and so I held my phone down low and snapped this shot. As you can see in the distance it is 11 AM. Time for church to begin . . . but Bolivia runs on Bolivian time. I think we started about 11:15 with perhaps a third of the people who eventually came. There are a few who drive but many walk or catch taxis, or truffis so it is not always easy to get to church on time. One of my favorite moments from today occured after the meeting. A family came up to greet us and I knelt down to talk to a beautiful little girl - probably less than 2 years old. I smiled and said "Hola" - she looked at me with wide brown eyes and tentatively reached to touch my cheek. I think she was wondering what happened to my skin! It was not the beautiful brown skin she was used to:) I reached and touched her cheek and she smiled from ear to ear. Sometimes I do not need to speak spanish:) 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Election Day in Bolivia

 Today, Sunday October 12 is Election Day in Bolivia. The past few weeks have been full of bands and parades in the streets, and people passing out flags, or posters, or flyers for the candidates at the busier intersections in town.  Beginning Friday gatherings of more than 8 people were against the law. So we had to be cautious with our interviews this and asked the missionaries to come to the mission office only in companionships and not as districts crowding into taxis (as they like to do to save money.) Today there were no church meetings held in the chapels because of the 'no more than 8 people gathering' rule. The missionaries have been in their apartments today, just as a precaution. But they were out teaching tonight 
Everyone over the age of 18 is required to vote. If you do not vote there are penalties, like a freeze on your passport, inability to use banks, or a fine. You also need to go to the place you registered to vote (unless you planned ahead and transferred your registration). Cars, taxis and buses are prohibited from driving today so families are out on the streets walking to vote.

Since I am writing about Bolivian things - - -
This is one of the Bolivian national flowers (yes they have two).
The Kantuta. They were given to Mark and I after a stake conference that we spoke in by a sweet woman welcoming us to Bolivia. The flowers are the three colors of the flag.

 Back to Sunday, We walked down to the temple this morning (since there are not gatherings in chapels) to meet with a SMALL group of temple missionaries to hold a little sacrament meeting. It is awesome to see the sacrament blessed by older men with white hair who help each other up after kneeling. 
   It has  been a beautiful, quiet Sabbath. 

This family, (and missionaries, and an investigator) came for family night on Monday. Often missionaries will bring new converts or investigators for a family night here with us. 

This family came up last week from Tupiza to go with their son through the temple and to have their son set apart by Mark to serve a mission in Paraguay. It is a very long trip by bus (probably 20 hours) but they were all smiles.
This week we are beginning our 'entrevistas' - our interviews. While President meets with each missionary individually, I talk with them and encourage the latin missionaries to learn english . Thee Elders are studing english . . . and this photo was NOT posed. They are fun!

 I just had to close with this darling little girl. We were at a baptism, and she just couldn't stay awake any longer. We are off to Sucre, Tupiza and Potosi this week. Interviews and a district conference:)