Today was Molly's Birthday. Her sweet friends here gave her a card, a little leather purse, a knitted purse, a little handmade doll, and a handcrafted table covering. It looks really nice in our apartment.
This last item was from Hermana Lara - one of the temple missionaries. She is completing her mission, and returning home to Rosario, Argentina on Sunday. She is so sweet to us - we will miss her. Her age will prevent her from serving another mission, so she plans to spend a week each month at the temple in Buenos Aires (abt. 300 km / 190 miles away), much like so many members here do when they live some distance from the temple. Most of her family lives in the United States, but she has a daughter in Rosario.
|Hna. Lara with Molly|
We walked out to Hna. Lopez's home today to visit her and take her some pictures from my mission time in Punata. She was very touched to see them, and talk about her memories there. I asked about Doña Julia, who cooked breakfast and lunch for us. Hna. Lopez told the following story (transcribed as best as I could understand):
"Doña Julia and I were friends, and we were walking down the street one day when we saw a couple of gringos. I wanted to go and change my clothes and meet them, but Julia thought they were boring. She said that she would rather go to the cemetery and visit graves. I went and changed clothes, and found them again and introduced myself.
"They said they were missionaries, and asked if I would like to be taught about the church. I said that I would, but that I was only available in the afternoon between 2 and 3 pm, or after 9 pm due to my work at the radio. They said they had to study between 2 and 3, and had to be in their apartment before 9, so they wouldn't be able to visit with me.
"Some time later, another pair of missionaries came to Punata, and we crossed paths again. They also asked if they could come and teach me, but I told them my schedule wouldn't allow it because they had to study when I was free. They let me know that they could compromise their study time for me.
"They invited me to church, and I came. I was there with only two other investigators and the missionaries. They came and taught me the next day, and met me at my work at 9 pm to teach me again. I was baptized later that week, on May 5, 1973.
"Some time later, I accompanied them to Pocoata, which was about 8 miles southeast of Punata, to visit with the Mendez family. Their family was later baptized as well.
"These missionaries were Elder Craig Poll, and Elder Richard Smith."
An article appeared in the local version of the Liahona in February of 2013 about Hna. Lopez. You can read it here in Spanish:
Here's a picture of Molly with Hna. Lopez in her home. She lives with her daughter, Claudia Ivana (we knew her as Bebita - see the second picture below). She has 3 children, 16 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren:
|Molly and Hna. Elva Lopez|
|Claudia Ivana (Bebita) Lopez in 1975|
We took a bus down to Av. Heroínas, and then walked the rest of the way down to La Cancha. I bought a couple of color ink cartridges for Brother Rundquist's printer so I could print some color pictures, but both of them turned out to be very old, and dried out. Live and learn, I suppose. Next time I'll check the expiration date very carefully.
We finally got some pictures to hang in our apartment. There is a church Distribution Center here, but they were all out, so we had to wait. Here's what we have hanging on our otherwise very bare walls now:
[This is Molly. I had some sweet experiences in the Temple this week that reminded me of my dear Young Women in the American Fork 12th Ward. I had the wonderful opportunity of being the Young Women's President before we moved to West Valley to prepare for our mission. These Young Women are so faithful, wise and good. I always wanted to let them know how much they are loved and how beautiful they are. They taught me so much and I loved serving with them and felt very honored to share in a little part of their life.
One afternoon I was able to serve four young sisters who had just received their mission calls and were there preparing for that sweet experience. They wanted to spend as much time in the temple as they could before heading back home, an eight hour bus ride. I was able to talk with some of them and share in their excitement. I noticed a couple of them were wearing their Young Woman Recognition medallions. I told them about "my Laurels" back home and they shared their love for the Young Women Program. It was so sweet.
On Saturday I was assigned the Bautisterio. We had three groups of youth, about sixty total. One of my jobs was to talk to them a little and give them some instructions. Luckily the instructions are written down so I didn't have to rely on my Spanish for the important stuff. Before I talk to them a member of the Temple Presidency talks with them. I am always so impressed with the words and the connection these men have with the youth but also with the responses from these faithful Young Men and Young Women. They are strong and have a desire to do this sacred work for their ancestors in the Temple. As I watched them listen to President Mogrovejo, I felt that same feeling that I would get with my Young Women and Young Men back home, I wanted to hug each one and tell them how special, beautiful and important they are to their Heavenly Father.
It's nice to know that the youth of the church are faithful and strong wherever you go in the world. I love these young people and feel honored to get to serve them in any way.]
We attended Sacrament meetings at both the Linde and Rosedal wards this morning. We were asked to make sure they announced that the temple would be closed this next Thursday, since it is Bolivia's Independence Day. We have heard that it might be best not to go wandering around town on Thursday, since celebrations here can get a bit racous, so we'll see what we can observe from nearer to the temple.
We arrived about 20 minutes early for the first meeting, and everything was locked up. About five minutes later, someone hurried up, and started unlocking the gates. We introduced ourselves - he was the First Counselor in the Bishopric. So, we helped him get lights turned on. No Aaronic Priesthood showed up, so I helped him prepare the Sacrament as well. Just before 8:00 am, people started showing up. They started the meeting right on time, with 30-40 members. The Counselor asked me to offer the opening prayer, which may have been more desperation than inspiration.
Within 10-15 minutes, the chapel was full - I'm guessing over 100 in attendance. It appears that "Mormon Standard Time" is a phenomenon here as well.
It was Fast and Testimony Meeting and we were very impressed with the powerful testimonies that were born of our Savior Jesus Christ, the Temple and Eternal Families, of our Prophet Thomas S. Monson, as well as the prophet of the Restoration, Joseph Smith. There were no gaps in between and all ages participated.
The Rosedal ward had their own accompanist for the Sacrament Meeting Hymns. She played from the simplified version of the Hymns, but did a very good job.
For the Linde Ward, I accompanied their Hymns in Sacrament Meeting, and we attended Sunday School in this ward as well. All in all a very sweet Sunday morning.
In the afternoon, we Skyped parents and children (except for Emily and Stacy who were returning from Missouri - we'll catch them tomorrow).
And lastly, Hna. Lara left for home tonight. She is taking more stuff home than Molly or I brought, so we'll have to be careful about collecting things here. It is very easy to do with all the kind, generous members we meet.
So, that's a wrap for this week.