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 6:17Pioneers 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.
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.