When we were visiting the Quiriza Branch last time, we met one of Diogenes sons, Miguel, along with some of Miguel's children. Charlie has been trying to find information on the children of Diogenes (the records say he has 3 children and we know there are more). Miguel's son was going to be baptized the next Saturday. Since there is no baptismal font in Quiriza he was going to get baptized in Tupiza. Charlie asked him if he wanted to get baptized in the river like his father and grandfather. He looked at his dad and said yes. Elder McCashland who was going to do the baptizing didn't look so excited and asked him if he wouldn't rather get baptized in nice warm water in Tupiza?
But the seed was planted and growing and Eynar was going to get baptized in the river like his dad and grandpa. He also talked his 8 year old nephew, Dareo (another decendant of Diogenes), to get baptized in the river. As the week went on, Elder McCashland got more and more excited. He even scouted around for the best place in the river to do it. The river is very low right now, so it wasn't easy finding the right spot, but he did.
Elder McCashland asked us if we would like to go with them and if Charlie would be one of the witnesses. Of course, we would love to! They didn't really need us, but I'm so glad they let us tag along.
We got to the Elder's apartment at 9 in the morning. We were getting a ride with the Branch president, Rolly Flores. His vehicle was a little boxy thing with one and 2/3 seats in the back and a jump seat connected to the middle seat that folded out of the way. On the way out Charlie and I sat in the way back. There is no luggage space, so your head is basically against the back window and the ceiling was very low and the seat in front of us was very close. You can imagine Charlie's tall frame doubled up. At least he could stretch his legs out even though his head had to be bent. That is until we picked up a girl going out to one of the small villages on the way to Quiriza. That meant the jump seat came down and Charlie not only was doubled over at the neck now he had no room for his long legs. He didn't complain. But it wasn't comfortable. Especially since there was also no padding in the seats or on any part of the vehicle. So it was like we were in a stuffy tin can that rattled as we bumped along the rocky wash board road. It usually takes us over an hour to get to Quiriza in a taxi. It took us 40-45 minutes this time. We flew over those wash board roads and we felt it. Elder McCashland was sitting in the front seat which occasionally would lose the back and he had to readjust it to stay put.
President Flores dropped us off at the church and Elder McCashland changed into his P-day gym shorts and T shirt. When Pte. Flores came back with his truck we piled in and he took us out to the river. Elder McCashland did find a lovely place where a canal from a spring flowed into the river. The water was clear and there were some beautiful trees that Hna. Mabel (Branch Pte's wife) told me were called "Sauce" trees, and a beautiful field of garlic.
Elder McCashland and President Flores got in the river with shovels to make it deep enough for a baptismal font. They put the dirt from the river bottom to one side and it made a nice walk way through the river. Charlie said "I bet you want to put your feet in the river." I really did, and with that suggestion, I found a spot to sit down (Elder McCashland let me sit on his shoes - he wasn't using them at the moment). I stood in the canal which had lovely tall grass that was laying down from the current making a lovely cushion for my feet. I stayed in until I started getting brain freeze in my feet. It felt so nice.
|Digging out a place for the baptism.|
We hiked back to the truck and President Flores took us to the church where we ate the lunch we brought with us. I made us cheese sandwiches, cut up apples with lime juice, an orange, penny carrots, and cookies. We bought some Fanta and a little bag of potato chips at the store close to the church (there are two little stores in Quiriza). The chips were very fresh and tasty.
Then we went with the Elders to the home of Lilian and Ernesto. She is the Relief Society President and he is the Young Mens President. She is a daughter of Diogenes. Mabel, the Branch President's wife was also there. President Flores is a grandson of Diogenes. Another sister, Carmen was there as well. Carmen is a grand-daughter of Diogenes, her brother was one of the boys getting baptized. I got to help these dear sisters make salteñas (my personal favorite). Usually it takes three days to make salteñas, but we did it in one. They are a very juicy meat pie. They use unflavored gelatin in the filling which sets up in the frig and when you cook the pie it becomes juicy. The setting up time is what takes so long. So ours were not juicy, but they were very delicious. I pulled the meat off the hot, freshly boiled chicken and shredded it with my hands. I flattened the dough or masa to be rolled out. I rolled out the masa, I filled the masa with some shredded chicken, some hard boiled egg, and then some hamburger mixed with potatoes, peas, onions, parsley etc. I folded the masa over the filling and braided the edge. My edges weren't quite as pretty as the others but got better as I went along. We made so many, at least 100. They put about 25 on a big cookie sheet and baked them in a big oven across the patio. To keep them hot while we were at the baptism, they lined big pots with newspaper and stacked them on top of each other with the lid on. The newspaper kept them from getting soggy and they were hot and fresh when we ate them a couple hours later.
|Cooking the salteñas.|
While we were cooking Charlie and Liliana's husband Ernesto were talking about family history and church records. It was so fun to hear Ernesto get excited about what Charlie was telling him. Charlie was able to get a lot of information for the records as well.
The whole branch got involved in the baptism. We all piled in and onto two trucks along with three pews from the chapel and a bunch of hymn books. We helped carry the pews through the weeds and streams.
|Singing the opening song at the baptism.|
There was such a sweet reverent feeling. We were grateful we could be a part of it all .
We all piled back in the trucks and went to the church for salteñas, and cake that Elder McCashland brought with us from Tupiza. We all ate at least two salteñas apiece and there were still plenty for people to take some home.
We were grateful to be able to watch General Conference at the church in English. There were 5 English speaking Elders that watched it with us in the clerk's office. I love being able to hear the voices of the Brethren. Their voices are familiar and dear to me. When you listen in Spanish you miss that.
|Marta's flower shop|
|Mercado Gil Duran - note the meat on the right.|
|The Ventura family.|
|Carla, Beymar, and Paola.|
One of the highlights of the conference for me was our Tupiza zone with missionaries serving in Tupiza, Villazón and Uyuni sang a special musical number, "Savior Redeemer of My Soul."There were 11 singing, an Elder played the beautiful violin part, Charlie accompanied on the piano and I got to lead them. One of the Zone Leaders is from Puerto Rico and he got us all little lapel Puerto Rico flags to wear in honor of his people back home who are experiencing the effects of the devastating hurricane.
Last Sunday we had District Conference. President Montoya and his wife and both of his counselors were there as well as President and Sister Garcia from the temple in Cochabamba. It was good to see so many people from each of the branches there. The ones from Uyuni (5 hours away) and Villazón (1 hour away) came for the Saturday night session and stayed overnight in a hostel. So many good faithful dear people.
|Marta's flowers for the District Conference|