Sunday, September 28, 2014

A visit from Elder Waddell

We were blessed with a visit from Elder Waddell. We picked him up Tuesday night, Sept 9. One of my favorite parts of the experience was sitting at the kitchen table and just talking with him. He said one main purpose of his trip was to check on and help us. We felt loved and strengthened and lifted. (This calling is a challenge!) We flew with him to Sucre for a 5 hour mission zone conference and a stake training meeting that evening, then back here for another zone conferene and multi stake meeting. The third day (Friday) we held the last zone meeting and sent him to La Paz to reorganize a stake. We were exhausted after all the training and conferences, and worried about him. He told us that as soon as the conferences are over exhaustion hits, but when it is time to serve again he is lifted and able to do what the Lord needs of him. What a great man. I loved how every zone conference was slightly different. One of them he really came down on obedience, another he spent a bit more time  telling the missionaries that they were called to this mission because of the mission president! (well, that is a little humbling!) the third conference was a bit more doctrinal. It was so interesting how he adapted to the spirit/mood in each meeting and what the missionaries needed and were ready for. Here are a few photos of our 264 missionaries.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Traveling the Mission, A photo journey

We took 6 days to visit the southern parts of the mission. This involves a plane flight to Sucre where we picked up the mission vehicle that stays in Sucre. Luckily is it a 4 wheel drive car - we drove and drove through the altipano of Bolivia, It is beautiful. (sorry I am still figuring out how to post the photos, they move around between my uploading them and the final 'publish page' . . . I will learn)
Bolivian traffic cones --- gotta pay attention because . . .

road construction has little warning!

Seat belts???? Not a law in Bolivia
First stop Betanzos, We found a quaint little
chapel on Calle Mormones

 On to Potosi . . . . You can almost touch the sky.
One of the highest cities in the world at 13,400 feet

Then the fun started. LLAMAS, everywhere, on the roads, in the
fields, wandering free on being herded. Although we disagreed
on how to pronouce the name (llamas, yamas, jamas depending
on where you learned spanish) we LOVED watching them
I really took this photo . . . From the window of the car!
Llamas everywhere

and goats . . . .
and burros. It made the drive exciting.
We stopped for a little fun at the Salt Flats
in Uyuni . . . 

Our super human assistants . . .

The drive to Queriza is beautiful with the red rock mountains

Sheep and goat herders are usually young boys or women

 and the green fields by the river are beautiful.

Our missionaries are helping to build the roof on the house in
the center. It will be used for tourists.

I just had to get  photo of this electric meter in an adobe 

The first chapel in Bolivia, was built inQueriza, a very special place.
 It was dedicated by Spencer W Kimball and there are many stories about this special
place. The piano was fun to play . . . a little out of tune but the people of Queriza did not care. They just SANG.
The chapel and the beam.
Missionaries are the best! 

A great place to interview the elders

This picture tells the real story. These are the incredible children of Queriza, many of them are non-members who came to hear us speak. My favorite part of the evening was when President Hansen had 6 young boys up in front and was using them to help tell a story. He then opened his scriptures to read what Jesus had to say about children. I loved watching how those 6 boys crowded to be able to see in the scriptures what the Savior had to say about children. These are beautiful, loving, faithfilled people.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Missionary stories - tender mercies

We returned on Monday from touring our mission. This is a HUGE mission and we took plane flights and drove and drove and drove. We saw beautiful open spaces, and met the most loving and open people I have ever been privileged to know. We gave 3 firesides, spoke in Sunday meetings, President interviewed over 50 missionaries and many members of the district for whom he functions as a quasi-stake president.  I will post photos to share that experience within a few days. Tonight I wanted to share stories. Just a few ways we see the hand of the Lord in this work.

President Hansen reads MANY letters each week. We have 264 missionaries in our mission, and they are all supposed to write each week. He often shares little snippets of stories from the letters in his talks, I wanted to post a few here.

One pair of elders were weary after a long day with no lessons. They prayed silently to find someone to teach. Soon a young child came up to them and asked "do you know how to pray?" "Yes", the elders replied."Could you come to my house and teach my family how to pray?"  The elders were welcomed into the home by the parents and were able to teach this family how to pray.

Two sisters were visiting with a family and asked the family how they were doing with the challenge by the area presidency to read the Book of Mormon before years end. The father of the family replied that they were doing great. When he told the sisters where they were in their reading the sisters were surprised. This family was doing really well. The sisters asked if they could read with the family and asked if the father would like to start. A little embarrassed the father admitted that neither he nor his wife could read. But their children had read to them every day. It was the children who accepted the challenge and were helping the family meet their goals.

We have seen that it is often the children and the youth who are stepping forward here in Bolivia. We have many missionaries who are the only member in their family. They serve missions because they have testimonies. They often serve without the support of their family. They are strong, and valiant. President often tells a story of one of our elders who was invited to play soccer with the church youth. He came, played, learned, and joined the church at age 17. He then invited his friends to come play with the church youth. Six of his friends came, played, learned and joined the church. Currently all 7 of these youth are serving missions.

One last story. We had our first 'cambios' (changes) a few weeks ago. It is a daunting task to assign missionaries to the areas that the Lord would have them serve, and to break apart and make new companionships. President Hansen fasted, prayed and stood before the transfer board with photos of our 264 missionaries for hours and hours. And he made the changes. In the missionary letters the next week he read a letter of a sister missionary who was very unhappy about having to leave her companion, and area she had grown to love. . . but she was faithful and did it anyway. The next week President received another letter from this same sister. She was from Brazil and spoke Portuguese. She excitedly wrote to the president and thanked him for placing her in her new area. She loved her new companion, AND they had just found 3 new investigators from Brazil who spoke Portuguese. She was excited to be able to teach the gospel in her native language to these new investigators.  President Hansen did not know there were people waiting to hear the gospel in Portuguese in this area . . . but the Lord did. And the Lord sent a sister who could teach them.

What a joy it is to see the Lords hand in His work.  We are blessed to be here.