[September 29 - October 5, 2015] Tuesday through Monday
A couple of sections of lawn here at the temple had some wild grass in it, and needed to be replaced. The temple grounds crew sprayed it with a herbicide, and covered it all with fabric. Once it was all dead, they hired some workers (they looked to be campesinos - workers from out in the countryside where they plant and harvest potatoes for a living) to come in and remove the sod and till up the ground. We were so amazed to see how hard they worked.
They did it all manually with hand tools. There were even a couple of women helping them, and one of them had here toddler there. The picture below shows them working in one section. They took less than a day to completely remove the sod in this section, and then till it up 8-10 inches deep, just with their hand tools. The pictures below are of different sections, but they give you a feel for the amount of work these people did. It looked to be back breaking work, and they just blazed through it. It reminded Molly of her Dad, and how hard he would work. We could just imagine him here with us, seeing these workers, and going out there and helping them.
We're scheduled to change from the afternoon turno (shift) at the temple to the day turno next week. We've really come to love the workers on the afternoon shift. They are such sweet, hard-working, humble people, and we imagine that they even love us! (At least, I'm pretty sure they love Molly.) It will be fun to get to know a different group of workers.
As for the rest of the week...
Today was my 60th birthday. Time has sure flown by. I so vividly remember my 20th birthday here in Bolivia. I was working in the Obrajes area of La Paz at the time, with Elder Chatwin as my companion. We lived in a single room in a house there. The lady of the house would cook us dinner, but didn't like to feed us much (trying to eke out the most from our room and board payments, I suppose).
I remember eating a dish made from potatoes (big surprise here in Bolivia), and at the end, remembering that it was September 29th - my birthday. No celebration, etc. (my kids will understand that that was pretty much in accordance with my desires), but I remember distinctly thinking, "20 years old - that seems so old." That was the extent of it.
But, today, Molly cooked pancakes for breakfast, and treated me to a very nice day all day. The workers at the temple all wished me a Happy Birthday as well, so it was somewhat more memorable than my 20th. But, the real gift to me, both times, has been that I have been able to be here with these lovely, loving, sweet people. And this time, I got to be here with Molly as well. Who needs anything more?
A new missionary couple arrived yesterday, just as we were leaving to go up to the temple. They are the Thomases. They told us that this is their eighth mission. They have served as the Mission President in Argentina, in the Santiago Chile, Madrid Spain, and Preston England temples, among their other service.
We got to take them down to IC Norte to do some shopping, and got to visit with them and get to know them a bit. They already know Spanish very well, and are well-acquainted with temple ordinance work, so they'll make an immediate impact.
We spent the morning catching up on the blog and studying. It's nice to have the freedom to make our own schedule as senior missionaries.
We ran over to Hipermaxi to get some fixings for lunch tomorrow and Sunday. The Temple Missionaries all get together and watch General Conference at the President's home via satellite (that means in English), and have a pot luck lunch each day in between sessions.
Saturday - Sunday
We walked over to the Feria to get some fruits and vegetables, as is usual on Saturdays, but this one was different - it was raining. So, we got to use our umbrellas for a change. It was a pretty good storm, which is very much needed around here.
At noon, we went over to the President's house, and watched Conference, then had lunch together back here at the Hospedaje, and then went back over and watched the afternoon session. The brothers watched the Priesthood Session there as well, later in the evening. Since we are two hours ahead, we wrapped up at 10:00 pm.
Sunday was a repeat of the morning and afternoon sessions together, and lunch.
As always, the messages and feelings from Conference give us lots to think about and feel gratitude for. As Elder Bednar so eloquently pointed out in his final, afternoon talk, we are led by seasoned men of God, who have dedicated their lives to service. They are clearly inspired, wise, loving leaders. Listening to the Sisters speak, as well, demonstrates that Heavenly Father is watching over us, and loves us. It was a good two days spent hearing, feeling, and recommitting to living correct principles, and sharing our love with those around us - family, friends, and neighbors.
We went down to La Cancha with the Thomases to help them find some rugs for their apartment. On the way back, we introduced them to Salteñas at Los Castores. As we walked up, we met a Sister Missionary who was finishing her mission. Her family had come to take her home, and it was sweet to see her interaction with her little sister. As we got to Los Castores, there were a number of members who had come to wish her well. We really love interacting with these young missionaries and seeing their obvious love for the work and for the people here that they serve.