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

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Listening to the Servants of the Lord

November 20, 2016

This was “Elder Rasband “ week.  He came to the mission on Thursday with Elder Craig C. Christensen and Elder Alan Packer and their wives.  But first we had to do a little work.  We started off Monday by trading in the mission van.  It only had 290,000 kilometers.  I was grateful that it lasted as well as it did.  The mission provided us with a Nissan Versa.  Much smaller but good enough for what we need.  We won’t be pulling the trailer anymore and will have to be a little more creative with the moving of missionaries and furniture but it should be good.

One of our first trips with the new car was a trip to “Ciudad Vieja” (Old Town) to renew a contract.  It was a fun day and we got some good shots of the Plaza.  I love these Plazas.  It is kind of interesting that we are sitting in the middle of one of the oldest parts of Montevideo and there is a McDonalds.  The ice cream is good there, too.  We and the Elders have perfect knowledge of this.
We also got a good look at the Uruguayan Navy as there were about 8 ships anchored by our apartment for a couple of days.  It was fun to look at them through the field glasses. I also got a shot of the big moon one night when it was not too cloudy.  It looked pretty cool.

The combined mission conference with the other mission was on Thursday.  We spent quite a bit of time getting ready as did the area, preparing the building.  We were not disappointed.  First up were Elder and Sister Packer.   Elder Packer is the first counselor in the Area Presidency in Buenos Aires.  They gave real good messages to motivate and strengthen our testimonies.  Elder Christensen played football at BYU and was real good also.  He told about how his father-in-law was one of the first three missionaries to arrive in Uruguay in 1947.  He said that the Church went from nothing to about 11 branches when he went home.  In about 1966 he returned as the mission president and they created the first stake in Uruguay.  This made Sister Christensen’s talk real special.  She expressed the love that she had for Uruguay from being here when she was only 10 years old until now.  I really enjoyed that part.

That led up to Elder Rasband.  It is quite a blessing to hear an Apostle speak to missionaries.  His message was very simple, humble and powerful.  Our mission calls are inspired.  We are here for a special reason.  It inspired me and really helped me feel good about our mission.  They made a point to shake everyone’s hand.  It was really neat.  It was impressive to see how powerful he is in the Gospel but yet so humble and grateful.

After the conference we had a mini-conference where we went over some issues like budgeting and keeping the houses clean.  Renee and I both spoke.  Renee did her talk in Spanish.  She is really trying to get better and it is coming slowly.  For lunch, I was in charge of ordering 200 subway sandwiches.  Ham and cheese if you need to ask.  How could it be anything else?

Thursday night there was a special meeting for the Este and Maronas Stake by Elder Rasband.  We stopped by Tuesday night to invite our friends Humberto and Cristina to attend. You may recall that Humberto has been a member for 60 years and Cristina is not a member.  She makes the best empanadas and really whatever other Uruguayan food you can think of.  A few months ago she had a stroke and is on the way to recovery.   Cristina was not feeling well Tuesday night, but they both said that they would like to come.  And they did!  WOW!  We had investigators in Church!  Nothing can compare to that feeling.  They also came to Church today.  We are going to visit them tomorrow night.  It is exciting!

When Hermana Vieira arrived she was singing beautifully with a big smile.  I walked around the corner and found Snow White.  Every time I see her I think of Snow White.  She is a beautiful sister in every way.
Saturday we helped the Colon and Ferrocarril wards do a Capilla Abierta.  They held it at 10:00 A. M. in the morning to coincide with the street fair or “feria”.  There were a lot of people in the street and the missionaries and members were able to invite many people to come in.  I really had a good time helping the Elders invite people to come into the Chapel.  They are fearless and were really impressive how they were able to get so many people to come in.  One of the Elders stopped a young couple and invited them to come in.  They agreed and turns out that she was an inactive member.  She was welcomed by members that she knew and they had a good time going to the various stations.  I consider that a miracle.  They had over ten non-members and several less actives attend.  We were able to do one of the tours as the sisters were busy.  It is really a privilege to be able to bear your testimony.

Saturday afternoon we took the Capilla Abierta kit to Florida for them to use this week.  We had a good visit with Elder and Sister Wall and split a great milanesa sandwich at the plaza.  It was a pleasant drive home afterward.

Today in Church we really enjoyed attending with Humberto and Cristina.  We are hoping and praying for them to continue to progress.  Renee cooked a big roast for Sunday dinner.  It was more than we could eat so we invited the Temple missionaries.  We had a great time and the food was especially good.

So we had a full busy week, helped the mission progress and had the privilege of hearing an Apostle.  All in all it was a pretty good week.  We are so grateful for all of you.  We love hearing from you.  Thanks so much for what you do.

Gordon and Renee

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Things My Father Taught Me

November 13, 2016

The past week has been quite average which means we were able to get a lot accomplished but have to look to find something interesting for this blog.  I’ll get to the title a little bit later but first a recap.
Monday and Wednesday we spent the day in the office.  Besides doing utility bills we worked to make journal entries into the budget to make sure the budget was correct.  This was quite important but not the kind of stuff you put in a blog to make it interesting.  On Tuesday we had to go to Florida to take the Capilla Abierta and buy a new fridge for the Zone Leaders.  This was a fun day as we enjoyed carrot cake with the Wall family and had a good time with the Elders.

On Thursday we had several projects up Rita 8 (Route 8).  First, we had to take a bed to Lascano.  This ended up being a real project.  First, Lascano is about three hours away and the last half hour is on a terrible road.   The first time we tried to take up the bed we had to drive through the water.  You may remember this from the blog on September 5th.  When we got there it was the wrong bed.  About this time they took missionaries out of the house so we did not need to be in too big of a hurry.  Last month we sent someone to fix the lock on the door in Lascano and also take some stuff to fix the bed.  Turns out the bed was not worth fixing.  So here we are about two months later without a bed in Lascano.  This time we arranged to take an extra bed from the apartment in Los Ceibos.  The missionaries had it all broken down and ready to go.  Trouble was, when we arrived to pick up the bed, the Elders were gone to a zone conference.  The frame was outside so we could get to it, but the special screws were inside with the door locked.  That was when I remembered what my dad taught me.  “You can fix about anything with grabber screws.”  So Uruguay being the great country that it is, I stopped at the first hardware store and bought some grabber screws.  When we got there we fixed the bed good as new in short order. Thanks, Dad.

Mega Milla Pizza.  It looks great and tastes even better.
Our next stop was at the Zone Leader house in 33.  We dropped off a new fan and picked up some more Lemons.  Looks like we are having lemon bars and lemon pie again.  Our last stop was in Vergara where we renewed the contract with the dueno.  He was very friendly and signed the docs without any problem.  The missionaries needed a new fan too so we ended up buying a new fan for them from the dueno’s variety store.  It was a win-win situation.  An interesting thing about the dueno.  As we were visiting he told us that his jewish grandparents fled Poland in 1934 to escape persecution.  He showed us a picture of his father as he landed in Montevideo and also citizenship papers from his grandfather.  It was quite interesting.  They raise a lot of rice near Vergara, and he offered to take me to see the fields the next time we are up there.  It should be fun.

We have passed by the “ant hill” fields a bunch of times but this time we had time to stop.  I think these are kind of neat.  Also as we entered Treinte Tres or 33 we saw this Rotary sign and it reminded us of home.  We are not getting trunky or anything.

Friday we were back in the office doing office work and seem to be catching up.  We do have to move Elders into a new apartment in Pando in the next week or two and we have some contracts to renew but for the most part we are caught up.

Saturday was a much needed day of rest.  Between visits to Castillo and Capilla Abiertas we have not had a free day for over a month.  Our apartment needed a good cleaning and we needed a day to relax.  Right after lunch we received a call from the Zone Leaders in Norte.  They needed a fan.  We had the house cleaned and it looked like a fun trip so we took one up to them.  It has been getting hot lately and the missionaries are having a hard time sleeping without a fan to help them.  You can see that they were happy to get it.

Elder Molina and Elder Vanderlinden loved the new fan!
Their smiles sum up our week.   We expect more this week.  We are just hitting our 11 month mark and so will be going home a year from now.  The only thing that keeps us from missing home too much is the many tasks we need to do each day.   We appreciate all the support we get from home.  We love all of you and are grateful the Gospel in our lives.  If you will excuse me, I have some lemon cake to go eat.

Gordon and Renee

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Did I Really Just Type November

November 6, 2016
Picture of the Montevideo Temple taken by Melissa Eddy
taking Elder Johanson and Elder Hemeyer to Tres Cruzes
You can't have more fun than this!
I can’t believe it is November.  First off, we have had some really hot days this week that are not November weather.  Second, time does fly.  We had a real fun and busy week.  On Monday we had to drop some stuff off in Los Ceibos first thing.  This was good because that gave us the chance to drive Elder Johansen and Elder Hemeyer to Tres Cruzes to get their residency papers signed.  They are such a happy couple of Elders.  They spent the whole time talking about the neat experiences they are having as missionaries.  The car was full of a fun and happy Spirit.  Oh, and to Elder Hemeyer’s mom, the dog bite is getting better; he hardly walks with a limp anymore.  No really.

Monday afternoon we killed two birds with one stone as we took some Elders back to their area and also dropped off a washing machine at the Sister’s apartment in Pan de Azucar.  We were met by a bunch of “spooks” that demanded that we say “trick or treat” before they would let us in.  It was fun.  And the treats were good.  Their happy spirits show from the smiles on their faces.  I might add that these sisters are real all stars in missionary work.  They are great examples.

Tuesday and Wednesday Renee kept busy cooking for Zone Leader Conference on Tuesday and then District Leader training on Wednesday.  I know we show a lot of pictures of Missionaries eating.  They do more than this but they do know how to eat very well and seem to enjoy the food coming out of the mission home kitchen.  I wonder why?

Elder Caudle tried to cheer me up.  It worked

Thursday and Friday we spent time in the office doing “real interesting stuff”.  It amazes me how much work it takes to keep the mission operating.  There are a lot of details.  We learned how to pay the rent on the missionary apartments on Friday so that was a new thing that should help with the mission operations.  Friday afternoon we took off for La Paloma so we could be ready for the activity in Castillos on Saturday.   We arrived in La Paloma about 7:00 P. M. and went to dinner at “La Bellena” or “the whale”.  Dinner was really good.  I had noochis and Renee had chicken and salad.
Saturday we jumped up early and headed to Castillos.  I dropped off the food and Renee at Hermana Narda’s house and went with her husband, “Pocho”, to get the bread.  I love that nick name.  I think I’ll get a dog and name him that.  For some reason, Renee doesn’t want me to start calling her “Pocha”.  What’s with that?

When we told the bread lady we wanted 4 kilos, she did the double take.  That is a lot of bread.  Narda and Renee made sandwiches out of tuna fish and chicken pate. We arrived at the park at 10:00 A. M. ready for the party to start.  Trouble was only the missionaries were there.  About 10:30 some of the members started to arrive and by 11:00 we had a crowd. This is standard operating procedure for Uruguay.  I know it gets us gringos real up tight but the natives don’t seem to mind and they really do have a fun time together.

While we waited for the crowd to arrive, Johnny Lopez did some paintings on our arms.  We were really impressed.  He is a great artist.  In fact, he is doing a painting for us of Castillos.  I can’t wait to see it.

 I hope you can see from the faces, how much fun it was.  The kids had a great time doing the sack and three legged race.  Even the adults got into it.  As a second thought, we decided to pull sticks.  Everyone got into this, especially the ladies.  We laughed and giggled and had a great time.  Besides the sandwiches we had some cookies and other treats including, Renee’s lemon bars.  No wonder it was a success.

Well, about 12:30 we had to leave the party and high tail it for Toledo which was about 2 1/2 hours away so we could pick up the sisters and take them to the Capilla Abierta on Saturday night in Toledo.  We were really impressed with this branch when we did the presentation a couple of weeks ago and we were not disappointed.  They were very prepared.  The Spirit in this branch is one of the strongest that I have seen.  We really had a great time.  Attendance was not the best because the Chapel is kind of in a remote area, but we still had some investigators and they were very welcome.  The picture with us and the Branch President and his family is a treasure.  I love his spirit and desire to help the work move forward.

Branch President Acosta and his family.
They don't come better than him
After arriving at home about 10:00 P. M. we were tired and got ready for bed.  Good thing as we had to be up and at ‘em at 6:30 A. M. to take off by 8:00 to get to the Colon and Ferrocarril Chapel for the presentation to these two wards.  We did back to back presentations which went quite well.  We are going to try something new on these two wards.  They have a street fair or “Feria” right by their chapel on Saturday morning.  We are going to hold the Capilla Abierta in the morning to try to attract more people.  They have a baptism planned for right after the activity so it should be a real fun day.
We finished off Sunday with the monthly “break the fast” with the temple missionaries.  It is always fun to spend time with the senior couples.  So that’s the week.  Another busy one with a lot of time spent with the missionaries.  Every week we come to know more that this is a special opportunity that we have.  We love the people and the food.  It is really great to get to know all the wonderful people.

We love you all.
Gordon and Renee