Sunday, April 24, 2016

Taking Care of the Keys of the Kingdom...

Changing a lock with Elder Henderson and Elder Brasil.  Yes, Elder Brasil is from Brasil
Last Monday morning we found out that the 6 office Elders lock broke so they could not get into their house to sleep Sunday night.  They slept in the mission office.  That sounds like a lot of fun doesn’t it?  On Monday they called a locksmith to fix the lock.  He helped them get in but they still had an old worn out lock.  Monday night I got a call from Elder Henderson that their lock had broken also.  Then, about twenty minutes later, I got a text that another apartment in Treinte Tres had a broken front door lock also.  What are the odds that we would have three locks go out at the same time.  On Tuesday, I changed the locks that were close to home.  The picture with Elder Henderson and Brasil is a good one for the fact that it was after 7:00 P.M. and raining when we got it fixed and they still went out in the rain and worked the rest of the night.  I am so impressed with the efforts that our missionaries put in to serve the Lord.

I have been meaning to mention the weather besides the flooding for the last several weeks but we have had too much to talk about.  January and February were very hot and humid. We had the air conditioner on all the time we were in the car or at home.  Starting about the second week of March, things started to cool down some.  We also have been getting more rain.  The humidity is still here but it is much more tolerable.  We had one week when it rained a lot every day but we have had several periods when it only rains a little and the rest of the time it is quite nice.  We expect it to cool off more and have more rain.  Most people are wearing sweaters and coats during the day.  Our Gortex rain gear has come in handy.

Elder Poulson, Silva, Gomez and Campillay helping the sisters move
Checking out the Van
On Wednesday we moved the Sisters in the Sarandi Grande house.  The Zone Leaders and District Leaders helped and we got it done pretty quick.  They were a lot of fun.  The Elders went with us to the hardware store to get some parts for the water heater.  When we came out of the hardware store , they were not in the van.  They were checking out the bus we have pictured.  They planned to purchase it and drive it home after their mission.  The owner even came out and showed it to them.  There were only 4,000 reasons why they didn’t do it and every one of them had George Washington on it.  


 I also had to include Elder Gomez and his photo bombs.  I think his mother is following the blog so I don’t want to startle her by saying that we aren’t going to let him go home.  We will probably let him go, but it is going to be real sad just like it is for all of the other missionaries.

When we move into a house I take pictures to document the status of the house.  Elder Gomez decided to photo bomb the pictures.  What a "sin verguenza"! (shameless)
A couple of weeks ago we were going through Florida and had the chance to drive Elder Gomez and Balke to San Ramon as the bus schedule was not going to help them.  We always like to say something uplifting and we often encourage them by saying that tonight could be the night that they find someone special to teach.  When we dropped these two elders off we said this but I had a real strong impression that indeed something important was going to happen that night.  I thought of calling to ask them several times but neglected to do it.  Well, while we were moving I asked Elder Gomez how that night went.  He said that even though it was raining they were able to find several good people to teach and have one lady that is really progressing from that night.  That is really special.  I mentioned that it is hard to go out in the rain and Elder Gomez countered by saying that he loves going out in the rain because they always have the most success in the rain.  You can’t make that attitude up.  It is no wonder that the missionaries enjoy their missions so much and do so many wonderful things.

Waffle mania with Elder Vallecillos, Brumble, Cary and Anderson
Last week some of the missionaries were talking about buying a waffle maker and cooking waffles.  Well we have a waffle maker so Wafflemania was born.  You can tell that they enjoyed it.  Renee made about 2 quarts of mix and they ate it all along with eggs and fruit.  And these aren’t even the big eaters.  Not to be outdone, the sisters came over last night for dinner.  Renee cooked a typical Sunday pork dinner.  It was really good.  Three of the four sisters are natives so it was good to help Renee with her Spanish.

Dinner with Sister Guthrie, Ramos, Suarez and Mejia
We really enjoy all of the things that we do, but we especially enjoy the things we do with the missionaries.  They are so full of life and have strong testimonies and want to follow Christ’s plan.  It is awesome to work with them.  We love them and appreciate all that they do for us and for the Lord. 

Love you all.  We wouldn’t be too disappointed if there were more comments on our blog. (hint, hint)

Monday, April 18, 2016

The blessings, and the rain, continue to come...

This is our view out our hotel window Sunday morning.  Beautiful view, too bad it was so rainy.
It takes a lot of time to keep 65 houses going.  On Monday we traveled to Pan de Azucar to visit with the owner of the house because the roof was leaking.  Sometimes the owners (duenos) can be real difficult to work with.  This one was real nice and cooperative.  She is going to get bids and we will work together to get it done.  On Wednesday we had an appointment to meet with another owner to close the 18 de Mayo house.  They did not show, so we pretty much wasted the day.  We were going to move the rest of the stuff from this house on Friday but it rained so we could not do it.  On Thursday we traveled to Treinte Tres to look at another house that the sisters need to move into.  This is about three and a half hours away so it took most of the day.  We were able to stop on the way home and see some apartments in Minas so we were able to kill two birds with one stone.  The missionaries continue to be a joy in our lives.  They are so kind and work so hard.  We love visiting with each companionship to hear of the great experiences that they are having.

We picked these Elders up off the street at the bus stop and took them to where they could email their folks on P-day.  Sorry, but no missionary blog would be complete without a few of these.
On Wednesday night we invited our friends Humberto and Cristina over for dinner.  We had a good time talking about fishing, shooting and vacations.  Some things never change, do they?  Our friendship continues to grow and we expect to see them next week and get a report on their trip.  We always feel a good spirit when we are with them.

Notice the line in the ocean.  I think it is kinda cool

This is one of many flood scenes.  We thought this would be a good place to dock the "Ark"!
As I said we had planned to move some stuff on Friday but it rained so we attended a Zone Conference instead.  We learned a lot and were able to spend more time with the missionaries.  On Saturday we were scheduled to go to Castillos but it was still raining.  We were not excited to go due to the rain but went anyway.  After several days of rain we saw quite a bit of flooding.  There were several places where the water was touching the tops of the bridges and about to come over the road.  In Rocha, the water was flowing out of the man hole covers from the drains in the street.  It was really wet. 


These are clover flowers.  They just started to come out.  I think they are really pretty.
But, our efforts paid off.  In spite of the wet weather we were able to get to Castillos without any problem.  Once there we had lunch again with Narda and her family and the Missionaries.  We had a real good discussion about the needs of the little branch in Castillos.  The spirit was real strong. 

After that we visited the Branch President, Pablo, and his wife.  They were real excited about the people that have been coming out to Church.  He took us to visit his Uncle Javier and his family.  They have 6 children of various ages.  Javier is an Elder but has been inactive.  He has three sons from his first marriage that are members but his current wife and 6 children are not.  They received us very warmly.  We had a good discussion about the Savior and the importance of living Prophets.  It was a wonderful visit.  They have already been to Church and promised to come again but could not promise because of the rain.  Either way, the Spirit was strong and we have high hopes for this family.

After that we went to visit Wilson and his wife, Maria.  Wilson is also an inactive Elder and his wife is very interested in the Church.  When the Elders knocked on their door the first time, she welcomed them in by saying, “Thank you so much for coming.  I have been praying that you would come.”  Is that a good way to start or what?  We had a good discussion about their desires to be part of the Church.  Maria is trying to stop smoking.  It is very hard as we have found out from some of our other friends but she is working at it.  Our last visit on Saturday was to Marilu, a real strong member that lives just behind the chapel.  She has been ill for about two months.  She is doing better but is still having some  health issues.  We had a real good visit and hope that she can continue to improve.  After a real good afternoon of visits we left for our hotel in La Paloma with huge expectations for Sunday services. 

Well today came with even more rain as it continued to pour.  We were a little anxious about being able to get over some of the bridges.  We received a call that they were only going to have Sacrament Meeting due to the weather so we did not need to leave quite so early.  We arrived early in hopes of helping if needed.  We found out that the bathroom had major issues so the Branch President tried to fix them.  In doing so he got pretty dirty. He had to go home to change so he asked me to start the meeting.  The missionaries were late as they were bringing another family to church named Hugo and his wife.  In spite of the poor weather the missionaries still had three investigators in Church.  Hugo and his wife came and Maria came also.  It was not as much as we had hoped for but it was still really good.  The Spirit was strong and the Relief Society President gave a talk on prayer and the two missionaries spoke on faith and repentance.  I gave a talk about Christ to finish things off.  In spite of the bumps in the road we continue to have a real good feeling about the Castillos Branch.  Elder Bravo and Lang are working real hard to find new people and inactive members to join in the services.  We have been going there for about four months now and can see the changes that are happening.  It is exciting and we hope that they continue. 

As you can see, our mission does have its ups and downs.  Through it all we continue to see the growth in the missionaries, the members and people in Uruguay and ourselves.  If it was easy then it probably would not be worth a lot.  We love the work and the opportunity to serve.  We love the Lord and feel it a privilege him.  Thank you so much for all of your love and support.

Love, Gordon and Renee

This is for all my "Rotary Buddies".  Paul Harris was the founder of Rotary.  They obviously like him enough to name a park after him in Varela Uruguay
I thought Trent would enjoy this flag guy.  They appear about the same in either country

Sunday, April 10, 2016

AND THEN IT GOT A LITTLE WORSE

This is downtown San Ramon.  This is a typical Main Street scene in the small towns

This is Dairy cows grazing by Florida.  Hey, I like cows as much dams
From our blog last week you will remember that our iPhone was broken.  This is not a good thing as we use it to communicate with the ones we love like you. But it was still okay.  I wrote the blog last Sunday morning before conference because the first session does not start until 1:00 P. M.  We had a wonderful day watching Conference on the big screen TV with the Mission President and Temple Missionaries.  We had a great lunch of Indian Tacos which reminds me of the Rodeo on the Reservation.  Everything went real well.

When we got home at about 7:30 P. M. the lights were out in the house.  I had to switch the main breaker.  We didn’t think anything of it.  Well, Monday morning, Renee had hot water but I didn’t.  We’re talking Potter’s Pond cold.  It was chilly.  I was hoping that the tank would reset because the light was still on the water heater.  Well, faith is hope in things that are true and that wasn’t true. So we got the chance to have a cold shower Tuesday also.  Tuesday morning, the internet stopped working so we lost our ability to communicate with home.  On top of that the washing machine and stove quit working. 

So here we are with a smashed cell phone, no internet, no hot water, washing machine or stove.  I am trying to come up with a nice word for discouraged but I can’t.  I was ready to go home. It was obvious that Uruguay did not want us.  We continued to have other projects to do in the mission but we worried about how to take care of ourselves.  If you have to bathe in cold water and don’t have the ability to wash your clothes or cook your meals that is pretty much camping and I didn’t bring my good camping stuff. 

Slowly things started to get better.  First, our handyman Ariel came to help change the water heater.  I didn’t want to tackle it myself because of the bad luck I had last week.  We got that fixed on Wednesday. He also checked out the power and it was okay.  The water has been fine since then.  We also found MundoMac, an Istore, in Montevideo.  The iPhone is under warranty so they are sending us a new one for free.  That sounds pretty good to me.  Next, the washer started working and we really don’t know why but it’s washing the clothes so we are happy again.  And the stove, well we figured out what was happening on the propane tank and now it works too. Lastly, the internet quit working because our internet is hooked to an internet and cell phone connection that was for a Senior couple that went home.  We planned to continue paying it until the contract was up but somehow the missionaries missed it in the office and so when it went delinquent everything was shut off.  We paid it up to date and now have a plan to keep paying it so this doesn’t happen again. 

Now, we are back on the trail.  It was not a fun week but we did learn a lot about ourselves and Uruguay.  Things do work here and they usually work well, but, you need to work at them a little more than you do at home and sometimes you don’t know where to look.   We did have a good visit with our friend Umberto and Cristina yesterday.  We had planned to invite them to dinner this coming Wednesday.  As we started to visit, Umberto told us that they were leaving on Wednesday to go on vacation.  When I told them that we had planned to have them over for dinner on Wednesday, he said, “Great, I’m retired, I can go on Thursday!”  Don’t you just love that retired thing.  I’m retired but still haven’t quit working.  I guess when I get home we can become more like Umberto.

This is Elder Xavier and Elder Peterson having lunch at McDonalds after we paid some rent
On Friday we attended a session at the Temple and did names that Natalie’s family completed.  Mine was Thomas Fish that was christened in 1629.  That’s awhile back.  It does mean more when it is your family.

Today was a neat day at Church.  Testimony meeting was especially good as we had people bear real sincere Testimonies, including Victoria, who is getting baptized next week.  After Church we had the “break the fast dinner”  (Rompe el ayuno).  I kinda like that phrase.  Good food was followed with good conversation.  We really do have good friends and good support from all that we meet.  We love our mission and appreciate that it is a challenge.  We have several things planned this week including: repair a roof, close a house, move into another house, look for a new house, a broken water system and several drain problems.  In our spare time I hope we get to go back to the Temple.

We love you all, 
Gordon and Renee

Sunday, April 3, 2016

April 3, 2016

Brother Kristeche with Elder and Sister Wankier
First off we have a photo with Brother Kristeche.  He is over all of the communications for the area.  He is a really good man and wonderful to work with.  Forty-one years ago I was a Zone Leader in Mendoza Argentina and his dad was the Stake Mission President.  We worked with him a lot to move the missionary work forward.  We have had a good time talking about Mendoza and what has taken place.  After I left his father continued to hold many important positions in the Church including Stake Patriarch.  I would guess that my friend, Nick Mazanis, will agree that he looks just like his dad.  He has a brother that teaches in the MTC in Buenos Aires.  Small world.

Elder and Sister Wankier with Sister Hall
Next we have Sister Hall.  This was taken as she left for home.  She has been in the apartment by our house since we arrived.  She has been a Sister Training Leader which are words for Zone Leader for the sisters.  We see them several times a week and work with them quite a bit.  She was a great missionary and a great example for us.  What makes our relationship more special is the fact that her dad grew up and wrestled for Delta and her grandpa lived in Mom and Dad’s ward.  He was friends with my dad.  We have had a lot of good chats about dragging main in Delta and going to the res.  Another interesting fact is that her step grandfather is Gary Player.  Yes, that Gary Player.  So I guess it is even a smaller world.

This week was change week.  As I have explained in the past, the new missionaries come in on Tuesday and receive training until Wednesday afternoon when they leave with their new companions.  Just as they leave on Wednesday the missionaries going home arrive at the mission home, go to the Temple and have a good dinner at the mission home.  Oh Thursday, they fly home.  We spend a lot of time shuffling missionaries from the airport and bus station. 

We are also told to be positive in the blog so I am going to make this as positive as possible.  Last Monday we moved a set of Elders to a new house.  It was raining while we did it but it still went pretty well.  We needed to install a water heater on the wall.  The one that I brought did not fit the brackets, so I went back to the mission office and got one that did.  Things went well until Wednesday when the water heater fell off the wall and broke the toilet.  Ugh!  I spent two more days working with our handyman, Ariel, to get a new water heater and toilet.  It seems that sizes of things are quite different so it took quite a bit of time to get the right size for everything.  Everyone knows that plumbing jobs are measure by trips to the store.  Three is the most common number.  One to buy the stuff you need, one to buy the stuff you really needed and one to buy the stuff to replace the stuff you broke.  Well I think this was a seven trip job.  On top of this we found out that part of the lights don’t work in the house.  We are still working on this. 

It is quite a job to keep everything going.  Right now we have two more houses that are moving and another one looking for a house.  We also have a water heater that broke in Melo which is a four hour drive from here.  Keeping the missionaries safe and cared for in their houses is proving to be quite a job.

In the midst of our running around we did go to a Family Home Evening with the sister missionaries and a new convert Raquel.  We saw the plan of salvation video and had a treat, of course.  Raquel has such a wonderful testimony and is so happy.  The sister missionaries, Sister Suarez and Sister Mejia are so good to work with.  We really enjoy our time with the missionaries.  We spent yesterday watching General Conference at the mission home and are planning to watch the rest today.  Our sessions start at 1:00 P.M. and 5:00 P.M. so we kind of have a free morning. 

The bad news is that the other night Renee slipped and fell on some wet grass.  She was not hurt but her iPhone fell out and we accidentally ran over it.  We are looking for the Apple repair shop this week.  We hope we can get it fixed.  We continue to have some great adventures and enjoy our hectic days and nights.  We are so grateful for the Gospel and what it brings into our lives.  

We love you all,
Gordon and Renee