Monday, May 25, 2015

Conference in Quiriza

 Every 3 months we have zone conferences through out the mission. Our mission is large and President and I travel by plane and car to reach our missionaries. As part of the May conferences  we had a special presentation from one of our missionaries about the history of the church in Southern Bolivia. It has almost been 50 years since the first missionaries arrived in the small pueblo of Quiriza where they helped the people with sanitation, taught new farming methods, improved cattle herds, raised rabbits, taught them to read and write, carved a trench through the mountains to conserve water and shared the Gospel.
This is the first chapel in Bolivia. Everyone helped build it. The children helped make the adobe bricks. The mission president Richard G. Scott sold his paintings of the area to help the pueblo pay for the chapel. 

 Many things still look the same in this town!
We drove for about an hour on dirt roads, amid beautiful red mountains to arrive at Quiriza shortly after noon. Our missionaries were WARMLY greeted. Every Elder that walked off the bus was greeted with the shout "ELDER" and hands were thrust at them for handshakes. When the sisters came off the bus the children were unsure what to do. I do not think that they had seen many Sister missionaries!

 We enjoyed one of the childrens favorite games . . . They would run and hug one of us and then ask "quien es?" We would point to another missionary and off they would run to hug someone else. 


We held a meeting in the chapel with some of the members of the branch. One of our missionaries presented a slide show history of the church in Quiriza.

   Diogenes, the first member baptized in Quiriza, relived memories in the slideshow. He shared his testimony afterward and with tears running down his checks and referring to the many who had left the pueblo as well as  the many who are not active in the church right now he asked "Donde esta? . . . . Donde esta?"  My heart thought of the phrase, "Oh, ye fair ones ... ye fair ones ..." Mormon 6:17
                                                                                                                                                                                     Pioneers of the church in Bolivia. We love visiting with them.
 Potosi zone, Tupiza zone and the children of Quiriza.

Following the meeting the missionaries climbed the nearby hill for a view of the beautiful valley. There was not a real trail, so they scrambled up the mountain.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Time to go . . . the bus was waiting . . .

These two elders both spent months in Quiriza. They return home in a week. A part of their heart will always hold memories of the beautiful people they taught and loved here. 

As we returned home our car was quiet, and our hearts were full.

And our assistants, were exhausted.



Monday, May 4, 2015

April 2015 - A glimpse of what we do

 A quick journey through April, 2015

testing for photo

One of the beautiful things about Bolivia are its plazas. This is one of the Plazas in Sucre. "25 de mayo".  The cathedral below is on one of the corners of the Plaza. We love to hear the bells chime.
The mission revolves around 6 week cycles. One of the 6 week cycles we do zone conferences, the next we do missionary interviews.  It takes about 12 days (not counting travel days) to interview our missionaries. It is great for President to talk to the missionaries one on one. As the month of April began we were in the middle of our interview tour. It is winter now and Potosi is our coldest part of our mission. President dressed appropriately for Potosi with his 'Potosi beanie'.  (The cities all have their own style).  I am sure he bought it because he was assured by the lady selling them on the street that this particular hat would go with ANYTHING! (he he) It got cold later that evening and he was glad he had it. (I walked behind him and smiled. . . it is a style I have to slowly get used to :).  We took with us the mission doctor from Lima who oversees SEVERAL missions (including ours). He found some great new clinics for us to work with.

Then on to Sucre!

Loud chanting and drums as well as the percussion of fireworks echoing off buildings interrupted our preparation for Saturday stake conference talks. I watched the political demonstration from out hotel window. Evidently there had just been a vote but it was very close and there was a 're-vote' scheduled. The people were chanting "respect the vote". Very peaceful . . . very loud!

I am including two photos of different stake conferences here to just give a taste of Bolivia. The floors in the church buildings are tile. The seating is movable so as to use the room in a variety of ways. Sometimes there are pews that can be moved and sometimes stack-able chairs like these. During stake conferences the chapel  and many rooms along the hallways are prepared and set up with TV monitors. Some of the stakes even have rooms where the conference is translated into Quechua. In some stakes they set up 'tents' out in the parking lots for larger audiences. Sometimes we have to repeat the stake conference in two buildings . . . and the monitors, floral arrangements and speakers are quickly transported to the next conference. In our mission we have 7 stakes and one district. So far we have been asked to speak in every stake conference both evening and Sunday sessions . . . and President also speaks in the Priesthood Session. It is not easy for me. There are over 1,000 people there on Sundays and I really do not know spanish. Sometimes I am super nervous before the meetings, but somehow when it is time to speak I have enough strength to stand and do my best. I know I am helped every single time by Heavenly Father. He calms my heart, stops my knees from shaking, and helps me do things I would not be capable of doing without help. It is just one of the ways we are helped daily in this calling. 

We often host family nights with investigators or recent converts here at the mission home. On one night we had a beautiful family of 4 join us for family night (along with the sister missionaries who were teaching them). At the end of the lesson President asked them if they had any questions they wanted to ask. The mother and the father both asked a few questions. Then President asked little Mariana if she had any questions. She looked at him and said . .  "Will you baptize me?" So . . . he did! Isn't she beautiful?

When we were set apart as Mission President and companion, Elder Perry gave us a very specific counsel to take a P-day once a week. It is a very hard thing to do because there are constant demands but . . . we do try!  When we can we love to explore the mountains around Cochabamba . . . sometimes the roads go right through rivers . . . :)

Farewells also happen every six weeks. We grow close to our missionaries, and miss them so much when they leave . . .

President hugs the elders, I hug the sisters. It is a tender time. We hope to stay close to them.

On the fun side of things . . . I am enjoying being TALL in Bolivia!  (I am 5'4).

Not only do missionaries leave every 6 weeks but missionaries also move around. Many in this group are leaving Cochabamba for Sucre, Potosi and Villazon.

And the cycle starts again. This is the morning group of new missionaries (and office staff) from the Lima CCM). 

Our office staff enjoys finding new things to feed our Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders during their monthy training meetings. Yes  . . . they did eat the WHOLE THING.

Our month ended with a wonderful Mission President seminar in Lima. We were taught by the area presidency and we left inspired and strengthened. It was a SHORT trip, so I have very few photos. We found Lima to be a very modern city with tall sky scrapers, lots of glass buildings, florescent lights, gigantic grocery stores, fancy malls, and . . . cars that actually stayed in their lanes and followed traffic laws.
We got to visit with old and new friends. The Riggins were called the same time as we were and they are old friends from San Diego.
Our flight did not leave till 10:30 at night . . . so we rented a taxi and drove to the beach. I could smell the beach from blocks away. We just stood on the cliff and had a sensory overload ....
feeling breeze on our faces and the smelling the ocean and the hearing the crash of the waves. It was wonderful.
Cochabamba is NOT an easy place to get to. We had to overnight in La Paz. That is another beautiful city we hope to be able to explore someday. The flight through the Andes on the way to Cochabamba IS spectacular. This mountain peak is Illimana. One of the tall mountains right outside La Paz. (taken from the airplane window)

Flying back into Cochabamba. It is fun to leave and travel . . . but it always feels good to come back home. We LOVE Cochabamba, and we feel so very blessed to serve here.