Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Springtime, a Rug, and Legos

[September 15-21, 2015] Another whole week!

As with every week, we really enjoy our service in the temple every afternoon. This week we had a number of wonderful experiences. I'll outline a couple, just so you can get a feel for the nature of these people and the sweetness of the work.

On Tuesday, I met a couple at the recommend desk who had driven here from Arica, Chile (10-12 hour drive) with their thirteen year old son. They had the family name cards for members of their family who had passed away, and were going to do the baptisms, confirmations, endowments and sealings for them while they were here this week. I saw them each day at the temple, and was able to help with some of the ordinances. We developed a friendship, and they greeted me each time they saw me with love and kindness. It was so fulfilling to think that I was even a small part of their diligent family history and temple work, and it was testimony building to see their diligence.

On Friday, I was assigned to help with those who come to the temple for their own endowments. I met a young man from Santa Cruz, who had come to receive his endowments and to be sealed to his wife and baby son. I was able to help him, officiating in the ordinances, and then was asked to be a witness as he and his wife and baby were sealed for time and all eternity. It was particularly sweet to see them and all their family and friends there to support them. And seeing sweet, innocent children, dressed in white, as they are brought into the sealing rooms is really spiritual. They look so celestial, and perfect (even if they are crying). With their dark skin and eyes, contrasted with the white clothing is quite striking.

So, those are the kinds of things that really bring meaning to our being here. All the rest is enjoyable, but not necessarily central to our purpose. Nonetheless, I'll touch on a few of our other activities this week that might be of interest.

We had lunch at a reasonably nice little restaurant on Av. America, close to IC Norte, called "Tuesdays". They have really nice smoothies there, and the food is safe. Their logos, menus, and branding are like TGIF, and are even in English, so it's clear who they are trying to cater to.

We walked downtown, looking for some addresses I found in my journal. I thought it might be fun to see if the businesses I'd listed still existed, knowing the probability of that was low.

We found the approximate addresses, and no surprise, the businesses were no longer there, but the buildings looked like they were well over 40 years old! It was a good walk.

But, by the time we got back home, I was pretty tired. I think I must have caught a bit of a bug or something. It wasn't serious, but we decided to slow down a bit for the rest of the week.

Thursday, Friday
We just hung around our apartment and studied in the mornings. I felt good enough to serve in the Temple in the afternoons, but didn't want to stress too much otherwise.

As I think I indicated before, part of our study is to read articles in the Liahona, translate them (in our best attempts) to English, and then check our attempt against the English version. Sometimes we're pretty close, but we find many words that are new to us.

So, in an effort to have you feel more one with us, here's the list we came up with on Friday, with our definitions (combination of a dictionary, Google Translate, and the English usage in the Liahona):

abnegadoself-sacrificing, unselfish
acurrucarcuddle, nestle, snuggle
añadirto add
asoladopillaged, plundered
avaromiser, money grubber, greedy
azotarwhip, lash, flog
conllevarentail, imply
despedirseto say goodbye
despojadodeprived, divested
diestraright hand
estruendodin, noise, racket, blare
guaridaden, shelter, hideout
merecerto merit, deserve
perfeccionarto perfect
piadosamentepiously, godly
rastrotrail, track
refugiarsetake shelter, find cover
siniestraleft hand
soberbioarrogant, proud, haughty
sociedadsociety, community, partnership
transigirto compromise on...
trascendentalimportant, far reaching

We come up with a similar list every day we work on it, and we post it on the wall in the kitchen to remind us. hopefully we can augment our communication by including more accurate vocabulary as we do this.

As usual, we started the day by going to the Feria for fruits and vegetables. The quality varies. We got a bunch of bananas last week that never ripened... And the pineapples are great when they are good, but pretty dull if they aren't. We're still trying to figure out how to pick better.

After that, we went to La Cancha to find a rug for the living room. The one we have was found in a storage closet here at the Hospedaje, and it was clear why no one wanted it.

One of the problems with La Cancha is that there is so much, that it is hard finding a single, specific item, so we just started asking where you would find rugs. Everyone kind of pointed us in the same direction, so we'd go a ways, and ask again. One lady actually named a place, Mercado La Paz, so that helped in asking directions.

We finally ended up on this street (passageway, whatever), equally (?) shared by vendors, taxis, and people, that was barely wide enough for any one of the three:

We found a nice rug, roughly 7 x 9 feet, and bought it for just under $100 USD. If we'd have brought our Peruvian missionary, I'm sure we could have got it for less, but then, we're stimulating the Bolivian economy, right?

We found a taxi that was a hatch-back, so we could sling the rug in the back, over the back seat, and head for home. As we were driving, Molly told me she was worried because the gas gauge read empty. So, I looked over at the driver, and couldn't see any dashboard, gauges, speedometer or anything (I was behind the passenger seat). So I leaned over to see where Molly was looking, and this is what I saw:

Bolivian Taxi
The car was a right-side driver car to start with, but the steering wheel, etc. had been removed and put on the left-side. The speedometer and gauges were left where they were, disconnected. Apparently, there are a lot of taxis where this has been done (cheaper than left-side ones?), but this was the first time I'd seen it. Quite interesting.

So, we got home, and here's what the new rug looks like in our Living Room. It seems to fit nicely.

Our Living Room - arranged for a meeting Monday night.
So, success!

There was a referendum related to dividing some government functions between the departments (states) and the federal government. They were called the "Estatutos Autonomicos", and the vote was just a Yes or No. But, due to the nature of democracy here in Bolivia, no public groups of more than three people are allowed to gather, and buses and taxis don't run. I don't know if all transportation is stopped, like on the Dia de Peaton, but we didn't see much in the way of public or private vehicles when we looked out our window.

As a consequence, no church meetings are held in the chapels when they have a referendum like this. So, we just met with the missionaries here at the hospedaje. Then we Skyped with kids during the afternoon.

For dinner, we had a going-away pot-luck dinner for the Delgados. They are a missionary couple from Chile, and have been here for a total of six years over a couple of stints. They are very sweet, and have wonderful testimonies of the gospel and of temple work, but her health has made it so they can't continue. They were scheduled to finish in February, so we all felt deeply for them. They shared their testimonies with us, and we had fun visiting while we ate dinner.

We found out that the Referendum failed, which the government is using to claim that the people want a stronger central government. I'm not sure it is more trust of the federal government, or mistrust of the local ones that drove that, but, interesting, nonetheless.

Today was the first day of spring, and they also celebrate the Día de Amor/Amistad/Friendship, and Dia del Estudiante. The Día de Amor is a lot like Valentines Day, and as we were out and about, we saw a number of vendors targeting that. Here's one:

Día de Amor/Amistad/Friendship vendor
We also found a bigger IC Norte store, over on the west side of town. Just to show you that Bolivia is not backwards, I took a picture of a large (this is less than half of the display) display of Legos:

Lego display at IC Norte.
Lest you think you could come here and get Legos at a discount, one of the larger boxes was priced at over $225 USD. Sounds like they cost as much here as in the States. (Sorry for the bluriness)

For Family Home Evening, Molly gave a lesson on becoming childlike (Mosiah 3:19) to all the missionary couples and President and Sister Jensen. She did a very good job. She's a wonderful missionary, and wife, by the way!

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