We started our month (actually just two weeks, since the temple will be closed for the last two weeks of the month) of working in the mornings yesterday. It's really nice to visit with these workers, whom we haven't seen for a number of months, now. Everyone we work with is really sweet.
We had a really sweet experience today with a group of members from Peru and some apparently from Chile. But first, a little bit of a Bolivian back-story.
Here in Bolivia, when someone doesn't like something, and they have a large enough group to actually create an impact, they block traffic to make their point. We ran into one of these traffic stoppages a couple of months ago in downtown Cochabamba, where a group from a neighborhood was protesting the lack of paved streets in their neighborhood. They blocked the main intersections downtown, and shut down traffic for a couple of hours.
Well, on Sunday, the transportation workers union decided to shut down all the highways coming into and going out of Bolivia over taxes and tariffs imposed on their cargo, and to make it even more painful, to shut down all of the roads between the "departments" or states in the country. They do this by parking their big rigs sideways on the highways, and traffic backs up for miles.
They started this current "bloqueo" on Sunday, but apparently, it wasn't quite complete, because this bus full of members got all the way to Parotani, which is about 45 km (27 miles) from the temple before they could drive no further. They got stopped there sometime in the morning, and rather than just wait (which could be days or weeks before the government decides the pain is bad enough to negotiate), or try to go back, they got out and walked, luggage and all.
[Correction: They walked 25 km/16 miles to Quillacollo, where they found transportation the rest of the way to the temple. And, it really hadn't started raining out there at that point in the day. Nonetheless, an inspiring story.]
What's more impressive, was that yesterday was one of the rainiest days we've had in quite a while. When we got out of the temple at 2:00 pm, it was raining, and it didn't stop until after 8:00 pm. Also, this group wasn't just a bunch of youth coming to do baptisms for the dead. There were 75 people in all, ranging from "ancianos" (basically anyone older than Molly and I), to parents with infants, and youth.
From the report I got, by talking to the Bishop, the youth made it here in six hours, with the older ones coming in after ten hours of walking, carrying their luggage, in the rain.
When we got up this morning, we heard about these faithful, diligent saints, and figured that they had showed up, and just dropped into bed.
Nope! The youth showed up in the baptistry, couples that had come to be sealed came to the temple, individuals who had come to receive their own endowments came, and they all showed up again this morning.
In fact, the first person at the temple at 8:30 this morning was one of the older ladies in the group. Her story was that she had walked 125 km (78 miles) in 10 hours. Pretty impressive! I think she is the one that Molly worked with in Initiatory this morning, so I'll let her add her two bits.
[Molly: I had heard about these faithful saints walking to the temple, so when I saw a sister from Chile with a stack of family cards I asked her if she was one that had walked all the way to the temple. She said yes and her arms hurt from carrying her luggage. I hugged her and thanked her for her example of faithfulness and that her ancestors must be very grateful for her sacrifice in their behalf. It was hard to hold back the tears as I helped her through the initiatories for her ancestors. It gave me a whole new perspective. I am humbled and grateful to be able to serve these dear faithful saints.]