Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cambios - transfers - changes

Cambios! Missionaries count their time in cambios, Our lives are structures and revolve around them. Cambios are an incredible time of excitement and sorrow. Every six weeks we say goodbye to our missionaries. We go to the temple, have a special noche de hogar,  and then they are off. The same day that they are leaving we are greeting the newbies. Our new missionaries come in tired but with wide exited eyes. They usually have traveled for a long time arriving from the Provo, Mexico City, Lima or Bogata MTCs. In the midst of the comings and goings President needs to call new trainers, match new companions, move missionaries into and out of leadership positions as he feels inspired to. We have seen miracles in the process, and he has felt guided by the Lord. Although he stands alone it is wonderful to know he does not make the changes alone.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Christmas 2015, Photo Road trip through the Cochabamba Mission

Christmas in Bolivia 2014

Our first Christmas in Bolivia. We decided to spend it with the missionaries - traveling through out the mission and also mixing in a little family time with our daughter who came to visit for 10 days. 
In Bolivia, as well as in many South American countries, gifts are
not the priority for Christmas. In fact most of our Latino
missionaries did not receive gifts or cards for Christmas.
We kept track and made sure each missionary received
something! (we wrapped over 100 small packages)

Sonya keeps me sane. Here she is helping me bake cookies which we packaged and handed out to all our missionaries. We baked over 1000 cookies.

All 180 missionaries serving in Cochabamba gathered for a
Sunday night Christmas fireside. 
They loved being together.

On Monday we got to spend family time. We traveled to
Villa Tunari enjoying the green trees, rain and
Sara got to play with a monkey - he grabbed her hat, her earrings,
and climbed down to reach in her pants pocket and remove a coin.
Best of all was quiet time with our daughter who recently returned from her mission in Guatemala. It was a blessing for all of us!

On the 24th of December we flew to Sucre for another Christmas fireside, then quickly drove up to Potosi for a fireside Christmas eve
Potosi missionaries and President Hansen

Our awesome Potosi Missionaries

Christmas Eve, at midnight, fireworks woke me from a sound sleep, and Christmas morning
we woke to the sound of bells ringing from the Church. The city was quiet as we left early for
our next stop.

Driving in Bolivia is always fun, these llamas greated us right
outside Potosi

President hit the brakes as this herd of goats bolted across the road right in front of us

They safey crossed as the cholita/goat herder ran down the hill after them.
Our smallest and farthest area, Tupiza. The missionaries were waiting and even
decorated the church for our meeting.
On the 26th we were off again. We decided to try to save a few hours so we took the back road, the dirt road, to Uyuni. It worked and only took us 4 and a half hours. The drive was beautiful with the high altiplano Andes mountains, (you can see the ribbon of road along the tops of the mountains). 

Of course, we were entertained by the animals, 

We were excited to see quite a few vicuna. They are related to llamas but are much smaller. They have extremely soft fur and are not domesticated. They are very skittish little guys. 

This is a photo taken from the window looking down at a farm. I love the way adobe homes blend in with their surroundings. Corrals and fences are made with rock. In the small corral on the left a woman is caring for her animals.

I was very suprised when Sara asked if there were ostriches in Bolivia. I just laughed. But when she said she just saw a bush with two stumps we started looking for her strange animal. We found them! It was a Rhea, (an ostrich like bird). It is a near threatened species and lives in Bolivia, and other South American countries!

We arrived at Uyuni, where President had been asked to give a  Friday night Fireside to the small branch there. We took advantage of our location and spent a famiy day enjoying the worlds largest salt flats at Salar de Uyuni.

Isla de Pescado (fish island) right in the middle of the salt flats.

We had a GREAT time at the salt flats, 

Visiting a little Amarya town on the ourskirts
finding wild flamingos and viewing a volcano on the edge of the salt flats.

There a few llamas that wanted to say hi.

Sunday was Branch Conference. This is the entire Relief Society (including two Stake leaders from Tupiza and Sara and I) 

The children love to have their photos taken. The especially love to see themselves on the camera afterwards.

The end of our Christmas travels. We headed back to Cochabamba, Sara left for school and we started our first FULL year in Bolivia. 2015!