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.)