Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from Uruguay

December 25, 2016

With the Eddy Family

I wanted to lead off with the picture of us with the Eddy family.  It is really neat to be part of their family.  They lead us with love and inspiration.  We love them.  They took a picture with each companionship and sent it to the parents. Is that a wonderful idea or what?

It tastes even better than it looks
We did spend some time in the office this week completing book work and doing projects.  We do keep quite busy.  Monday night we were invited to the Temple Missionaries where Elder Jensen made omelets for all of us.  You can see that they were excellent.  We do have a lot of fun with the Temple couples.

Tuesday and Wednesday we had Christmas conferences with half of the missionaries coming in each day.  Renee and I were invited to speak on the Tuesday conference.  We really like the opportunity to speak to the missionaries.  Renee did her talk in Spanish and is feeling more comfortable all the time.  Not quite ready to speak in General Conference, but better.  Feeding over 100 missionaries two meals on two consecutive days is quite the job.  They were fed breakfast sandwiches in the morning and roast beef with all the trimmings for lunch.  This is a major project.  Mary, the cook, does such a wonderful job organizing the meals.  Renee loves working with Mary and they do form quite a team.  My job is to carry, cut up, clean up or throw away whatever Mary says.  We are tired when we get done. 

The conferences consisted of training in the morning and then a Christmas program after lunch.  President Eddy read Luke chapter 2 and then had each zone sing a Christmas carol that was appropriate at different points.  It was really special.  I especially enjoyed President Eddy’s daughter, Jessica, as she sang “Oh Holy Night”.  That is my favorite.

We love the Missionaries!
I had a real neat experience on Wednesday afternoon as the conference was ending.  You can see the picture with all the missionaries standing in front of the Church.  When I exited the building and saw them, I had a very strong feeling of love come over me.  What a blessing it is to spend time with them.  We love them so much.  We know why we are here and are so grateful to be able to spend it with them.
Downtown with the Elders
Friday we had to go downtown.  We took advantage of the situation and took this picture of old town with Elder Caudle and Montiel.  We really get close to the Elders.

Saturday is P-day for us.  We were invited to the Mission Home for a breakfast of Crepes with the office Elders.  You can see that they were really good.  We feel so welcome in the Mission President’s home.  I had to take the picture of the three girls together.  Kind of reminds me of when I had some young girls running around my house.  After we had a little soccer game.  Renee and I played but were sure to be “careful”.  It is fun to see the talent that some of the Elders have.  Their different personalities come out in their playing styles.  Some are quite fancy and others more aggressive.  It was fun to play especially because I did not break anything.

Christmas fireworks
On Christmas Eve they set off fireworks at midnight.  It seems that every family has some and they make sure they set them off.  I’m not talking about the ones families buy in the states at the corner fireworks stands.  I’m not even talking about the ones that Dave Tanner smuggles in from Wyoming.  They are mostly like the ones you see at City or State sponsored shows.  It is quite a site.  It is quite fun to see.  They do it again on New Year’s Eve so stay tuned.

Everyone had a chance to sing
We got to bed pretty late last night so we were pretty tired today.  That did not stop us from having a wonderful day.  Sacrament meeting was very meaningful and had a special Spirit.  After we had lunch with the Temple Missionaries again and have spent the rest of the day facetiming our family.  It has been a full and wonderful day.  Especially if I don’t fall asleep while I finish this.

I really want to add a couple experiences.  The first one came Wednesday afternoon as we finished  the conference and were dropping off Elder Limas and Elder Guale at their area.  As they got out of the car, I reminded them that the only reason that they should be going out to work was to find someone.  They were very enthusiastic as they left and promised that they would find someone.  Well about five minutes later we got the call.  “Hey, we found someone, and have an appointment to teach them tomorrow!”  What an inspiration these Elders are to us.

The second experience came yesterday.  We passed one of the other tenants in our parking garage and wished him Merry Christmas and asked him how he was doing.  He said, “Not well, my wife of fifty-four years is very ill and not expected to live much longer.”  How sad.  We visited with him for awhile and gave him a “Plan of Salvation” pamphlet.  We hope he reads it and receives some comfort.  We plan to follow up with him.

Great gifts from Elder Montiel

The next experience happened last night.  Elder Montiel passed out presents to all of us.  He really went all out.  Renee and I received PeƱarol stuff that is really neat.  After, Elder Montiel told me in English, “We are going to be friends for a long time.”  I told him, “We are going to be friends forever!”  I can’t explain how much we grow to love the missionaries.

Lastly, we took plates of cookies to some of the apartments in the building.  We were not able to reach all of them as they are not accustomed to opening their doors.  We did visit a few and had some wonderful Gospel discussions.
This doesn’t include all of the “Light the World” cards we have passed out.  We really have enjoyed giving them to people that we contact as we go about doing our job.  Service station attendants, store clerks and a variety of others have been really fun to give cards to.  We have really enjoyed this holiday season.  We spent about six hours talking to our four girls and their families.  We are kind of glad we don’t have the 30 minute time limit.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas.  We love the Gospel and look forward to sharing it in the coming year.  We love you all.

Gordon and Renee

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Let’s Get the Party Started

"Christmas lights" in Uruguay

December 18, 2016

Look how dry it is. We need some rain!
It’s Christmas time although it doesn’t feel like it as we sit in meetings with sweat rolling down the middle of our back.  It has been real hot.  You can see by the picture that we have not had any rain for over a month.  When we arrived on December 29th last year it was lush and green everywhere.  It stayed that way even during June and July.  But lately, it has been real dry and so as a farm boy; I am worried about the rain for the crops.  They don’t have any irrigation systems so Mother Nature has to do it.  It is raining a little today and I see some rain in the forecast so we may get a little this week.

Elder Montiel taking the "siesta" on the way home from the bank.
He's Argentine, what else can I say?

After change week, we needed to spend time in the office getting the books up to date.  It is amazing how much work that takes.  We also had a few trips to take things for the missionaries so our week was pretty busy.  Probably the number one highlight of the week was our “charla” or discussion with Humberto and Cristina on Tuesday night.  Cristina has expressed a strong desire to get baptized so we are attending the charlas with Sister Nava and Sister Anderson.  It was really neat to help explain and bear testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We had a good evening that included treats; we are talking about Uruguay aren’t we.  Our friendship with Humberto and Cristina continues to grow and she understands better all the time.  We are really excited at how well she is doing after her stroke in July.

Friday was the start of party time.  We attended the Malvin Ward Christmas party with Humberto and Cristina.  Parties in Uruguay are quite interesting.  It was scheduled to start at 8:00 P. M. on Friday night.  That’s a little late for me but they don’t seem to mind.  We got there a little before 8:00 P.M. and you can see by the picture that there were not many people there.  About 8:45 P.M., the Bishop showed up and at 9:15 P.M. the food and most of the people showed up.  We Gringos could get uptight about this but the Uruguayos don’t mind at all.  We could learn a lot from them.  After we ate all the roasted chicken we could shove in our mouths, we had the Primary Program which included Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, Shepards, wise men and even lambs.  It was really cute.  The singing was happy and really helped us get the Christmas spirit even though we still had the sweat running down the middle of our backs.

 After the Primary program we went into the Chapel and listened to President Eyring’s talk from the Christmas devotional.  He does such a good job and I must say that we will include Samuel the Lamanite in our Christmas Nativity from now on.  By now it’s after 11:00 P.M.  We finished up the program by eating ice cream.  We had a great time and got home about midnight.  That would be okay if Saturday was our P-day.  Except, we had to get up early to iron shirts and get ready to go to Castillos.

We had plenty of food and smiles

We have not been to Castillos for over a month due to the Capilla Abiertas so we were excited to go.  Lunch with Hermana Narda was excellent as usual.  We had salad and milanesas.  After lunch we took the list of people to visit and went to work.  We visited several people and had some good visits.  We did not have too much time as we had to go help Elder Jensen and Elder Castillo get ready for the branch Christmas dinner.  Renee made pulled pork for the meat and the members brought other foods and we had a tremendous meal.  Barbecued pulled pork is not your typical Uruguayan food.  Several of the sisters were a little tentative about eating it. The Elders and brethren didn’t seem to have any trouble wolfing it down.  Most of them had two plates.   It wasn’t long before they were all asking for the recipe.  Too bad Renee doesn’t have one.  She just puts stuff in until it tastes good.  She also took the cranberry cake that her family made famous.  Masi, who sat next to me, had three pieces.  I guess he liked it.  This party got over about 10:00 P.M.  It really helped that everyone pitched in to help clean up.  That up us at the hotel at a little after 11:00 P.M.  A little late for a missionary.  Then we had to be up at 6:30 A. M. to get ready for Church.  I really enjoyed the siesta this afternoon.

Elder Jensen is the new Branch President.  We spent six months with him as a secretary in the office so we know him well.  We are excited to see him and Elder Castillo work together.  They did a good job organizing the party and getting people to attend.  This morning, Elder Jensen asked me to speak for a few minutes.  As I spoke a little bit about Christmas a real warm feeling came over me.  We really love the people of Castillos.  They are our friends.  We may have struggles and trials in Castillos, but they are our struggles and trials as we work together.  It is not easy but it is wonderful to be able to serve in this wonderful town.

We have been pondering and praying a lot lately for Castillos.  We plan to have a special fast on fast Sunday for the people in Castillos so that they can have experiences that will open their hearts and help them embrace the Gospel.  We have already seen many miracles here and fully expect to see a miracle in Castillos.

We are excited to get ready for Christmas.  We miss our family terribly.  It is only by our faith in our Savior Jesus Christ that we are able to do this.  We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.
Gordon and Renee

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Another Change Week

December 11, 2016
What a great bunch of Missionaries!!
We are back to change week.  They seem to come more frequently now.  Monday is the day that we prepare for all of the changes.  This past Monday was different for us as we needed to take the Capilla Abierta equipment to Melo so they could use it on Wednesday.  Melo is 400 kilometers from home.  Round trip it is 500 miles.  The last leg of the trip from Treinte Y Tres and Melo is 100 kilometers and the road is in terrible shape and under construction.  So we are talking at least ten hours of driving on a two lane highway with a lot of trucks, no passing lanes and plenty of crazy motorcycles and cars.   Add to that, the fact that we always take stuff to drop off on the way and it makes for a real big day.  It is all worth it as we get to spend time with the missionaries.  This time we were able to drop off a couple of fans to the sisters, and deliver some other stuff for some houses.

That got us ready for change week.  We always get new missionaries on Tuesdays.  We used to get them from the Argentina MTC only but they have been remodeling so we get them from two or three others as well.  This makes for a long day at the airport.  It is really enjoyable to meet and talk to the new missionaries.  They have a variety of expressions from fear to lonesome to excited.  I drop Renee off at the mission home at about 7:00 A. M. to start cooking.  They really go all out and the food is exceptional.  The mission cook is named Mary.  She is an excellent cook and an even better friend.  Renee and Mary form a great team.  Tuesday afternoon and evening the missionaries are all interviewed by the mission president and then have some training about the mission.  The last two times I have translated for Sister Eddy.  I really enjoy this even though it is above my pay grade.  Sister Eddy is so kind and thoughtful of the missionaries.

Tuesday night we have a real nice dinner and then a “cultural presentation.”   This involves the office missionaries doing “jeopardy” with some of the facts of Uruguay.  They finish off by “milking Alfajores”.  See a previous post for more info on this.   Then we “spank ‘em and put ‘em to bed”.  Wednesday morning the new missionaries head to get health exams while the trainers show up for breakfast and some training.  Now comes the fun part.  As we meet the new missionaries and also the trainers it is fun to see how they are paired up.  As they put them together you can see what a wonderful match they are.  It is very exciting to see them come back in a month or so and see how they have done.

As the new ones head off to their new areas the “Valientes” or valiant ones show up.  They go to the Temple Wednesday afternoon and then have dinner in the evening.  We had big groups of 18 this time so all of the meals were a chore.  The dinners are always excellent; I would say “Little America” quality.  After the dinner is the testimony meeting.  This is a special time for the missionaries to share their thoughts of their missions.  We are invited to attend and really enjoy this part.

We can't forget Elder Childs that  cut himself shaving
It's hard when you do it once a week
Some of the missionaries leave during the night, but most of them take off in the morning.  This gives them time for breakfast.  Then it’s off to the airport.  They are all excited as they get ready to leave.  Now there are two ways to look at change week.  Probably the best way is to say that it is an exciting time to see the new missionaries come in and the faithful ones go home.  But, another way would be to say  that for change week, you get up extra early every morning and go to bed extra late and then say good bye to a lot of real good friends.  That makes it hard and not as much fun as you might like.  I wish I had room to talk about each of the missionaries going home.  We have a personal relationship with each of them.  With several of them we were able to work side by side with them on projects.  It is very satisfying and also very sad to see them go.

So with Change Week over we had Friday and Saturday to rest up, Right?  No, remember we left the Capilla Abierta stuff in Melo so we had to go get it on Friday.  Another all day affair to cover 500 miles.  Again, we were able to drop off boxes of Books of Mormon and other things to the missionaries so it was a good day.

It started at 4:00 P. M. in the Aeroparque Ward.  We had real good support from the missionaries and members.  There was not much foot traffic so it was hard finding people to attend.  But, in spite of that the missionaries found 6 people to come in.  They were very interested.  Some even had tears in their eyes as they toured the various locations.  I call that a huge success.  I hope you can see from the pictures how happy and excited the missionaries are.  They got even more excited as Renee served them Cinnamon Rolls after.

Saturday is our day to rest.  It started with a call from the Zone Leaders in Este, to tell us that the lock on the front door was broken and they could not get out.  We had to call our handy man, Marcelo Fontes, to get them out.  Meanwhile the “flapper” in our toilet broke so I had him come and fix that also.  You might think that I could change that.  But the toilet tanks in Uruguay are inside the wall and hard to get to so I needed an expert.  Enough of the mundane because we also had a Capilla Abierta to go to.

We finished off the week at Church where Cristina, our investigator, came to Church for the second week in a row.  We have a charla with her, Humberto and the Sister Missionaries tomorrow night.  Woo Hooo!  Also, after sharing the “Light the World” info with our neighborhood store clerk last week, we gave her a “Restoration” pamphlet and a Book of Mormon.  She has already read the pamphlet.  We are hoping and praying for big things this month.

We love the work and the opportunity to serve.  I don’t know if you have noticed but there is a lot of service in a Senior Mission.  It is hard but very rewarding.  We love you all and look forward to hearing from you.

Gordon and Renee

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Light the World

December 4, 2016

So, we finally got to the blog this week after the First Presidency Devotion.  Just so happens that it is 11:15 P. M. here in Uruguay so we are going to try to keep it short.  We started out Monday with a full day working at the office and inspecting houses in the La Costa Zone.  We were impressed how clean the houses were.  We really appreciate their efforts.  Monday night we went to dinner with the Temple Missionaries as Elder and Sister Ness go home this week.  They came to Uruguay two years ago not knowing any Spanish and have served faithfully in the Temple.  Their conversion story and faithfulness is a real strength to us.  We are going to miss them.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were spent doing office stuff.  We are keeping really busy.  Thursday afternoon we participated in the service project for the “Light the World” initiative that the Church is having for Christmas.  You can see more about it on  It is essentially 25 things you can do over 25 days to be examples of what the Savior did and taught.  Our project was to pick up trash along the roadway in the Elders area.  We pickup up over 10 large bags of trash and made it look a little better.  You may notice that I am not in any of the pictures.  This is kind of a dangerous area.  It is probably not a good idea to take anything valuable into this area let alone an i-pad.  So I was pretty protective of it.  Also, notice that Elder Nielsen doesn’t have a shirt.  He is a big guy and it turns out that they don’t make shirts in Uruguay in “three man tent” size.  He is a good sport and fun to be around.
I think I'm allergic to something in Uruguay

One interesting part of the project.  As we were picking things up Elder Montiel commented that I have a real good wife.  He said he can tell because I am nice and fat.  WHAT?  Are you telling me that the t-shirt makes me look fat?  Maybe it is all the alfajores and dulce de leche.  I guess that means I am on a diet.

Friday, we had to go to La Capuera to look for a new house for the Elders.  Renee made some cookies for them.  As they jumped in the car, Renee invited them to have a cookie.  As they looked at the full tub of cookies they asked, “How many of these should we leave for you guys?”  Well we did get a few but not many.  We know Elder Oroche and Escobar real well.  It was fun to spend the day with them.  On the way home we stopped in Piriapolis on the coast for lunch.  It was a pretty day and we had a good lunch.  Piriapolis is a big tourist draw and fun to visit.

Then we started with the Capilla Abiertas.  We did one Saturday evening in Libia.  The Libia Chapel is in quite a secluded spot so there was not much traffic.  In spite of that, the missionaries were able to go out into the street and invite some real special people to come in to listen to the message.  There are about a dozen people that they can go back and teach.  I was so impressed by their efforts.
Saturday at Noon we fed the missionaries that are leaving the office.  Elder Ford is completing his mission as an assistant and Elder Nielsen is finishing his term as a secretary.  He is also going home a little early as he has fought a bad knee for several months and needs to go home and get it fixed.  We will really miss these two missionaries.  They are great examples and make our mission so much better.  Their replacements had not yet arrived so we will have to talk about them in other blogs.

Sunday was another Capilla Abierta in Salinas.  I love the pictures we took with the timer on the i-pad.  It shows how hard it is to get a good picture.  It also shows how fun the missionaries are.  We really had fun with these missionaries.  It is especially fun to see them have fun with the pictures they took themselves.  Once again it was pretty quiet on the street and the missionaries went out into the street and found several real good people to talk to.  As we shared the “Light the World” message you could feel the Spirit.

Now for the good stuff.  We have some friends that are a part member family.  We have visited them quite a bit and the wife told us today that she wants to get baptized.  That is great news.  We will follow up and hope to provide a real good story in the coming weeks.

Also, as part of the “Light the World” initiative, we have been passing out cards where we shop and others that we have met.  The reception has been real good.  It has given us a chance to share messages of the Savior.  We gave a card to one of the ladies that works in the corner store by us and she was happy to receive it.  The next time we talked to her she commented on how much she enjoyed the video.  She said, “You are Mormons aren’t you?”  I told her yes and explained that we are called Mormons because of the Book of Mormon.  As we explained a little more about it she asked if she could buy a copy.  We were excited to tell her that we knew where she could get a real good deal on one.  Today we stopped by and gave her a Book of Mormon and the Restoration pamphlet.  She seemed excited to get them.  We are looking forward to seeing her this week and see if she read it.
This missionary stuff is really quite fun.  We are looking forward to sharing the cards with others and hope that we can have some other good experiences.  We love the work and the chance to be part of sharing the Gospel in this part of the world.  We are so grateful for the Christmas season and hope all of you have enjoying the time with your family.  We love all of you and appreciate the support you give us.

We love you all.
Gordon and Renee

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Party Week

November 27, 2016

This past week was quite unusual with my birthday and Thanksgiving.  We started out Monday by doing some office work in the morning and then moving the Elders into their new house in Pando in the afternoon.  We took Elder Cabrera and Hemeyer to the store to purchase their supplies.  I don’t think there is a better picture than one of a missionary with a “Hello Kitty” mug, unless one has a “Hello Kitty” mug and the other has a “Barbie” mug.  I think I can sell these to their parents to show when they get married, or even better, when they have kids.  This really explains these missionaries.   They are always happy, helpful and ready to go.  They also make us feel good as they share their stories of the work.  The Elders worked especially good to get help from the members to get moved in.  They are now on the top of my list.

Taking Elders to the bus.  Elder Ward is happy, Elder Silvia is crazy
Tuesday was the Oro Conference.  That is when the newest missionaries come in with their trainers after about a month to get some instructions.  This is an exciting bunch.  They really look forward to the good food.  I was determined to show Elder Ward without food in his mouth and I was successful.  He is really doing a good job leading and teaching his companion.  These pictures show some real top notch missionaries.


On Wednesday we had a fun day.  We went with the Temple Missionaries on a tour of Montevideo.  You get on a bus and listen to a guide telling you about all of the neat things of Montevideo.  We stopped at the port and at the Plaza Independencia.  The shopping at the port was quite touristy but we still saw some neat things that we are probably going to get to take home.  At the Plaza Independencia we went to the underground room where they keep the ashes of Artigas, the main General.  It was quite interesting.  I hope you like the pictures.

Thanksgiving Day in Montevideo

Thursday was Thanksgiving.  We had a real nice dinner and really enjoyed ourselves.  It made us feel right at home but also miss home a lot.  I wish this didn’t sound so trunky, but next year we will be home.

Friday we had some more business to do including going to get the checks to pay the utility bills and other payments.  This worked real well.  Saturday was my 63rd birthday.  To celebrate we drove to 33 to do a Capilla Abierta.  The missionaries were real good and we had a pretty good turnout.  We plan to go out to dinner with the Temple Missionaries to celebrate on Monday.  Even so, I was able to spend the day with Renee and we did have an enjoyable day.
Capilla Abierta in 33.  Another great zone!
We stayed in 33 last night after the Capilla Abierta.  This morning we went to Church in 33 and then drove to Maldonado for another Capilla Abierta.  It was a real good service.  We have attended many wards and are so impressed at how well the members live and teach the Gospel.  Today was the Primary program.  Even though they did not have a big primary, the kids did a great job.  Their talks were very well prepared and they bore strong testimonies.  I especially liked the songs.

The drive to Maldonado was over some new road with great views.  I am trying to finish this up before the Capilla Abierta starts so this is not going to be too long.  One good story that I need to tell.  One of our missionaries told us last week that they had been working real hard to prepare an evening at the Church so that they could show the movie about Joseph Smith.  They made invitations and worked hard to invite members and non-members.  Well, last night it rained real hard and only one person came.  They were very disappointed.  I told him to read D&C 122.  That is good for all of us to read from time to time.  I need to tell him that the worst week of my first mission was followed by my best.  It is true that the blessings come after the trial of our faith.

We love you all and appreciate what you do.
Gordon and Renee