Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Wonderful Day! and Feliz Día de las Madres

[27 May 2017]

Today was one of the sweetest missionary days we have had.

We started out checking the hermanas' apartments. We’ve done this once before, when Sister Hansen asked us to see how livable all the missionary apartments were. This time we were asked to just check on the sister’s apartments, again, as a more routine check of cleanliness, etc. None of the sisters that are here now were here when we did the previous check. The apartment that was not as clean last time was the cleanest this time. It’s interesting to remember how young the missionaries are, and that they really aren’t that different from our own children at these ages. Some of them were tidy, some weren’t.

Right after that, at about 10:30, we took a rapidito to Charaja. We needed a signature from Patrona to complete the process to get her son, Willian, on the records of the church. As we noted earlier, he was baptized back in November of 2012, but his record got lost somewhere. After receiving instructions from the mission, we just needed one of his parents’ signatures to finalize the paperwork.

When we got there, the whole Martinez family of Adrian and Gladys were out in the yard working. So, we said “Hi”, and they got chairs out for us to sit on. We visited a while and then went and got the signature from Patrona. I held her little one while she signed.

Then we went back to visit with Adrian and Gladys. He and two of their sons were doing the laundry. They had 5 plastic wash tubs with increasingly cleaner water in each one. Adrian did the scrubbing with his hands and a brush and put the clothes in the next one where the son was rinsing. Then, after wringing the clothes he put them in the next basin for another rinse and wringing. The second son would get water from a source that I didn't actually see, on the edge of the yard, to fill up the next basin with clean water. Such a process, especially with 6 children.

Charlie was visiting with Luis, a nephew who actually lives with his Uncle and Aunt, Eleuterio and Patrona, next door. He had some great questions for Charlie. He got baptized about the same time Eleuterio and Patrona did about 5 years ago, and has been to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. He will graduate next year and then go on to serve his year of armed service. It isn’t exactly mandatory, but without it, it is nearly impossible to get into a good university and program leading to a profession. He wants to become a mechanical engineer, so Charlie told him our Matt is a mechanical engineer and enjoys it. Luis clearly wants a better life/job than what he sees from his uncles. Adrian told us that he leaves for the mine he works in at about 4:00 pm Sunday, and comes back home at about the same time the following Saturday. To get to church in Tupiza, they have to leave at about 8:00 am on Sunday, and would get back home at about 1:00 or 2:00 pm, not leaving a lot of time for other things. For Mother’s Day, he got to be home on Saturday, and it was impressive to see that he spent the extra time off working so hard to help his wife and family.

While Charlie and Luis visited, I offered my services to Adrian. It was fun to help him do the laundry. We had a good conversation. He told me a little about working in the mines. It is dangerous and the roof has caved in on him before, but he is tranquilo about it because he knows he has to feed and clothe and keep a roof over his family, and he trusts that God will protect him.

I asked him if we were on the last rinse, and he said the mother of the house would have to decide that. They needed another rinse according to Gladys, so the son brought another bucket of fresh water. The boy that had been helping rinse was hanging up the clothes on the bushes and the line. We didn't hang all of the clothes out because the wind had picked up and would make them dirty. Charaja, like Tupiza is very dusty. So they took the wet clothes in the house to hang and maybe bring them outside later. Adrian is a happy person, as is Gladys. What delightful people!

While I was helping Adrian, Gladys was off doing things, cooking, etc. We had been there quite a while and we knew they had lots to do, so we told them we needed to go. They had already brought us some purple jello, but she said, "Won't you share our meal with us?" So we stayed.

She cooked it in a big, round top, outdoor, oven that they built. The door was the right height to open when standing. It had storage spaces underneath. It was made of adobe, as are their homes, fences etc. She and the other children had been cleaning, sweeping, etc., getting ready for us to eat with them as well as preparing the food.

The food was very delicious, very traditional Bolivian. She brought us a big bowl of soup of clear broth with vegetables (squash, peas, potatoes, onions and lima beans) and noodles, with perijil (parsley) on the top. Oh,  and a good sized piece of meat. It was good and plenty filling for us, but we knew more was coming. Adrian brought us a big plate heaped with a steak sized piece of meat (probably beef), and a piece of chicken, with three kinds of potatoes (sweet potato, regular and the finger ones), choclo (their corn), and a big helping of salad (lettuce, shredded carrots, and slices of tomato) that she served with salt and oil that you could put on yourself. We opted to share the plate. They seemed ok with that. It was way too much food for just one of us.

"Finger Potatoes" - we don't really know what
they are called, but they look like "fingers"
(or big grubs).
We ate at a card table size plastic table in the room where mom and dad sleep. The boys sat on the bed. She has a lot of crocheted things in the room that she has made – very beautiful – such as lace edges on table cloths, and lace doilies and a blanket that I helped rinse earlier, to name a few.
Adrian asked Charlie a lot of questions about going to the temple and about coca leaves and the Bolivian practice of chewing them, etc. His dream is to take his family to the temple. Their family is a bit complicated, because out of the 6 children that they are raising, only two of them are their biological children. The others are from previous relationships. They would need to be adopted legally to be sealed to them.

We caught a rapidito back and got to the church about 3:30 (I needed to use the baño, no surprise, we were in Charaja for over 3 1/2 hours). We helped Noellia Duran, Nicole Rivas and Isela Vargas blow up balloons for the fiesta for el Día de las Madres that was scheduled to begin at 5:00 pm.
We ran home, and came back between 5:30 and 6:00 pm, knowing that it would not have started, yet. But, there were quite a few people there. The balloons looked beautiful on the walls and curtains. They were also strategically placed on the floor like a runway. We watched as Luis, the Branch Secretary, and Presidente James, the first counselor in the Mission Presidency who spends a significant amount of time here, related to his work, got the music and food ready. It finally got started about 6:30.
Hna. Rosa Martinez (she really does smile) with Molly

 It was such a sweet tribute to us mothers. The men went in the kitchen and prepared the plates with food that members of the branch had made, and then served us. It was yummy – chicken, rice and a very yummy potato salad with cooked carrots and mayonnaise and (surprisingly) no egg. They also had llajua (Bolivian salsa)  that Pte. James passed around. It was all very good and very traditional Bolivian.
Everyone who comes into a room hugs and kisses everyone. I love that custom. I sat by Hna Rosa. She is 64 and is a happy, smiley, tough cholita. She raised 3 girls and 3 boys on her own after her husband got sick and died. She worked in the campo growing vegetables and selling them. Her children helped her when they weren't in school. All of her children are active in the church. She has 9 grandchildren. One of her daughters, Hna. Roxane, lives in our Rama. I love her. We laughed and talked a lot.
The Día de las Madres card

Molly with her “children”
The program was emceed by Pte. Gutierrez, the Elders’ Quorum president. Pte. James gave a brief talk about mothers and then invited all of us mothers one at a time to take our walk of fame on the runway, after which one of our children or one of the children in the branch, or our spouse, as in my case, gave us our memento. It was an artificial rose and a home-made card with a sweet quote from Pres. Faust. "No existe un bien mayor en la tierra que el que proviene de la maternidad. La influencia de una madre en la vida de sus hijos es incalculable". There were 3D flowers on the front, with the quote inside and a picture of the mother with her children and some stickers of hearts and flowers, and “Feliz Día de la Madre.” My picture was with my missionary children, the missionaries here in the branch.

Hna. Patrona Martinez on the “Walk of Fame”
It was very sweet and very well planned. Every mother was recognized and took their walk. There were about 15-20 mothers there with their children. The Martinez family from Charaja were on their way and got there just in time to take their walk. It was so sweet. They brought an investigator with them that they have brought to church a couple of times with her children. Tonight, her husband was with her as well.  She and another investigator were honored after their walk with a crown and a bouquet, and Noellia, the sister in charge, bore testimony to them of the friendship and love in the church, because it is Jesus Christ's church. She said many other good things about mothers, as well. It was so sweet and made us all feel very special.

After all that, we played a musical chairs game with some of the mothers and a dance with all of us mothers –  “The Macarena”. By this time it was almost 9. I don't know how much longer everyone stayed, but we went around hugging and kissing everyone to say our good-byes and walked home.
Some of our young friends in the branch

A cute little elephant
One thing you can say about these dear people is that they know how to love and give and serve. What little they have, they will share with you. They work hard. They make an effort to make everyone feel welcome. What a sweet day! I love these people and I love being here with my husband and I love being a madre.

Adrián and Gladys Martinez with four of their children.

The investigator family from Charaja.
One last picture. Remember (or not) that we told you about the barbershop that was really small? Here's the proof:

The tiny barbershop (Peluqueria). Just big enough for the client and the barber.

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