Thursday, October 1, 2015

More Friends, Sawyer Walk, and Pineapple

[September 22 - 28, 2015] Tuesday - Monday

At the temple this week, I've had some very interesting conversations and experiences with the workers here, and some of the members who have come.

This week a group came from Santa Cruz and Montero. There are still some people I would love to cross paths with again - Hermano Rúben Peña, and Elder René Tapia.

Hno. Peña was one of the first members I met in Santa Cruz. he always invited the missinoaries over to his house for lunch. Here's a picture of us at his house for lunch one day:

Lunch with Hno. Peña and the missionaries in Santa Cruz Rama 1, 1975
Hno. Peña was always smiling. He seemed to have limitless energy, and even more limitless (?) energy in sharing the gospel message. He had a little business, and it took him to Buenos Aires from time to time, and he would tell us of the missionary work he would do on the plane with each visit. He shared everything so graciously - as you can see with lunch. He didn't hold back anything. The first truly fresh coconut I ever ate, was off one of the trees in his yard.

Since I've returned, I've learned even more about him. He was called as Bishop of one of the first wards created in Bolivia in 1979. He was instrumental in organizing groups of members to go to the Sao Paulo temple, including the Alvarez family that I've written about before. He's currently the Stake Patriarch. I've thought a lot of him since my mission - such a faithful, cheerful, giving person.

So, I was at the recommend desk greeting members as they came to the temple, and a younger man with the last name of Peña came to the desk. He was with the group from Santa Cruz, so I asked him if he happened to know Hno. Rúben Peña. He said that he was his Uncle! He said that his uncle comes here to the Temple frequently, so we'll see if we can connect. Sweet memories.

Another time, there was a couple just leaving the temple as I was at the recommend desk, and I happened to ask where they were from. The husband said they were from Montero (65 km north of Santa Cruz). Since Elder Tapia, one of my companions in Punata, was from there, I just asked if they happened to know him. He said that Elder Tapia lived in Barrio Guabira in Montero. In fact, his wife grew up in that ward, and knew his family. So I gave him my name and phone number, and he said he'd love to see if he could get us in touch. More sweet memories. Here are some pictures of Elder Tapia in Punata in 1975:

Elder Tapia helping make Christmas decorations, December 1975.

Me with Hna. Maria Irma Rojas, her toddler, and
Elder Tapia at her baptism, Jan. 31, 1976
Tuesday of this week, we had a pretty busy day in the temple, and right before the end of our shift, I was asked to help in a sealing of a family as a witness. There was an older lady who was being sealed to her husband who had passed away, and to six of her children, two of whom were still living. It was a neat thing to see them all together.

The next day, I met the younger man who had stood in as proxy for the husband. We talked for a few minutes. He is the Bishop of the ward in Trinidad (550 km north of Santa Cruz, 900 km from Cochabamba by road), and the lady that was being sealed to her family was his mother in law. One of the daughters being sealed to her was his wife. He told me that his mother in law had been baptized 15 months ago, and this was the first chance they had to come to the temple since then. It just made it that much more special to me to get to know this wonderful family all together in the temple, receiving this sealing ordinance and blessing.

So, that's the fun stuff. Just to document the comings and goings of the week, here's a daily recap of the rest:

Tuesday, 22nd
We walked down to get salteñas for breakfast at Los Castores, and walked down to Av. Padilla to check out a pasteleria called Olivias. Another missionary couple indicated that they had good sweet rolls, so we figured we'd try it out.

The front door (a roll-up kind of garage door that is common on many businesses here) was partially open, and someone was inside, but it didn't look like they had any rolls to sell. As we looked in, the lady came out and said that the rolls would be coming shortly, so we sat down on some chairs outside to wait. Sure enough, a few minutes later a car pulled up, and the rolls were delivered, along with a number of other breads and sweet rolls kinds of things. We bought a couple of things and brought them home to eat. They were pretty good - compared to normal Bolivian breads, but we probably won't fret much if we don't get back down that way soon.

Wednesday, 23rd
There is a sister obrera, Hermana Flores, whose birthday was today. Molly has a special friendship with her - she has suffered an illness recently, and missed some days - so she spent this morning making a birthday card for Hna. Flores, including some special quotes translated to Spanish. I'm sure Molly will blog something about her soon.

Thursday, 24th
We spent the morning studying and relaxing. It seems that we sometimes kind of hit a wall in learning Spanish. We understand what is being said pretty well (unless we are talking to someone from Chile or Trinidad, for instance, where they speak faster and don't pronounce their "s" sounds very well), but it is still a bit difficult to formulate the right words and conjugations on the fly in normal conversation. So, we're working on that right now.

Friday, 25th
Our grandson, Sawyer, went through a real tough time with his aplastic anemia, ending up in the hospital with neutropenic enterocolitis (basically, that means he couldn't eat anything by mouth in order to let his digestive system rest for a couple of days.) Although we know that everything that can be done is being done for him, and that his sweet parents love him and are making sure he knows that everyone loves him and cares about him, it is still a bit hard being so far away and not being able to tell him those things personally.

So Molly had an idea that we would take a "Sawyer" walk this morning, thinking about what things would make him smile or be happy here, and take pictures of those things. Here are some of the pictures we shared with him:

Molly going down the little slide.
Play place at Panchito's
Toy display
A puppy that posed for us
Pastries at Globos on Av. Pando
More pastries at Globos
Ice Cream at Globos
More Ice Cream at Globos
Baloons at Cine Center
Toys at Cine Center
Our prayers are with Sawyer every day. We saw an update from his mom earlier this week with him eating a Nutella sandwich, so it looks like his GI tract is improving. As always, he has the sweetest smile:

Sawyer with his sweet smile (picture stolen from his mom's Facebook post)
On the way home, we saw a mattress store, and bought a pillow for Molly. It's a curvy one that may make it easier for her to sleep. She sometimes has problems with her ear hurting, so this hopefully will help.

Saturday, 26th
Molly spent the evening with the other sister missionaries here, and Sister Jensen, watching the Women's Conference. It was live via the internet, which worked really well. I think they all enjoyed it - President Uchtdorf spoke, which is always a treat. We're looking forward to General Conference next weekend.

Sunday, 27th
On the way home from church this morning, we saw this:

We've seen this a couple of times before - it is a little Quechua lady, herding her sheep along the street leading up to the temple. We're not sure where she starts or ends, but it's amazing to see her get them to go where she wants them to go.

We spent the afternoon visiting with family on Skype.

Monday, 28th
We went to Hipermaxi this morning for groceries. We've had a hard time finding a good pineapple at the Feria, but we think we found a good one at Hipermaxi. Here it is after Molly cut it like we've seen in the markets:

We had FHE with the missionaries and talked about some of the things we do to preserve our family history. For now, this is pretty much it!

So, that's a wrap for the week!

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