Sunday, January 29, 2017

Learning from an Apostle

January 29, 2017

The highlight of this week was spending time with Elder Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve.  What a great experience.  Sister Konopnicki and Sister Luker are Sister Training Leaders in Melo.  They needed to come in on Monday for conferences on Tuesday and Wednesday.  That gave us the perfect opportunity to have a little BBQ.  We grilled the burgers on a grill we have and added the jello, potato salad, etc. and we had a party.  It was a lot of fun.  The Sisters are such great examples.

Tuesday we had a special conference.  It started at 2:00 P. M. and included the Zone Leaders and District Leaders of both missions.  It is quite a project to feed 150 missionaries.  Renee and Mary made sloppy joes and fruit for the lunch.  The missionaries ate well and were prepared for the conference.

During the morning, I ran a fan out to the Elders in 18 de Mayo.  In this hot muggy weather a messenger with a fan is very popular.

The conference was held at the Carasco Chapel.  It is a nice chapel but let’s say the air conditioning needs a
little work.  I don’t think I have ever been that hot.  Even with that the conference was extra special.  Elder Stevenson taught us the importance of teaching principals and also teaching the promise.  For example, in the last verse of D&C section 4 it states, “ask and ye shall receive, knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”  What if there was no promise?  It would only be, “ask, knock”.  Quite a bit of difference.  His whole message was one to fill the missionaries full of the Spirit and get them ready to teach.

Tuesday night there was a conference for adults in the other mission.  We took the Temple Missionaries to it.  Again it was very hot but very good.  Elder Stevenson taught how to be missionaries.  He gave several small steps including praying for missionaries by name and praying for people to teach.  All in all a very good day.  So that makes three apostles that have visited our mission in the last twelve months.  We feel pretty special.  It is too bad that all the missionaries could not attend.

Wednesday was Zone Leader Conference.  Renee helped with the cooking and I did some office work and got ready for the rest of the week.  Wednesday also included a worldwide missionary conference from Salt Lake where we were instructed on the things we need to do to be better missionaries.  I am amazed at how good the teachings are.  They are so good to give us what we need.  I am also amazed at how even though things have changed and gotten a lot better than 42 years ago when I was on my first mission, things are still pretty much the same.  In spite of all the advances and changes, the hardest thing to do is find someone to teach.  Then, it is very important that they are taught the Gospel in a simple, powerful way so they can gain a testimony.

Thursday and Friday we spent going up Route 5 to put mosquito nets on beds.  We went to 13 houses and covered a lot of Kilometers.  We got home late on Friday night, tired but grateful to have another leg of the mission complete.  We included quite a few pictures of the missionaries.  Some of them really got into the pose.  There are some great leaders in this group.  My favorite picture is of Elder Avendano.  He really did a great pose.  He is a little older than some of the missionaries and is a great leader.  It is great to spend time with him.

We finished up by milking a few alfajores
On Friday they had a Zone Conference in Durazno so we kind of had to dodge that while we did the nets.  We accomplished it by doing some of the Durazno nets on Thursday night and then early Friday morning.  This gave us a chance to attend Zone Conference.  The Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders presented information from the conferences that they had attended.  They have changed the number of things that need to be reported each week.  There used to be 9 things including lessons, hours, etc.  Now there are only four: 1. new investigators, 2. Investigators in Church, 3. Baptisms and 4.   Confirmations.  Notice how it makes you focus on real important things.  I expect to see some real improvements in the coming weeks and months.  Of course, the zone conference had to include an alfajores milking contest.  I love that part.  On a whim I decided to Google “milking alfajores”.  Guess what?  Our picture comes up. We also get some Elder Rogers and Elder Brumble.  Fools names and fools faces!

So you think we have had a full week?  Well now for the best part.  We had two charlas with our friends, Humberto and Cristina.  Cristina is preparing for baptism on Saturday, February 4th.  Forty-two years ago on February 4th I got on a plane and left Argentina to go home from my first mission.  Kind of a fun coincidence.  Cristina in progressing well.  She is reading the Book of Mormon and bears her testimony of its truthfulness every time we see her.  Last night we had a neat experience.  When we arrived, Cristina was not feeling well.  We said hello to her in bed and then left to talk to Humberto.  The Sisters went into visit for minute and in that quiet setting were able to help her understand several good concepts.  Meanwhile Renee and I read D&C 107 and 121 with Humberto to help him get ready to receive the Aaronic Priesthood.  It was the perfect setting.

Humberto and Cristina attended Church today and Humberto was presented to receive the Aaronic Priesthood.  It was a great day.  We are scheduled to go over tomorrow night for another charla.  This is a great time.

Saturday we were able to relax after not having a free day for several weeks.  It felt good to do nothing.  We are now rested up and ready for the coming week.  As always we have several things on the list this coming week.

We hope everyone is enjoying the snow and cold.  We are still hot and muggy.  It doesn’t seem as bad as last year and we know that we only have a couple more months until it cools off.  We have received some comments from family, friends and parents lately.  We appreciate your comments.  We really do love serving the missionaries.

We love you all.
Renee and Gordon

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Changes in Lego Land

January 22, 2017
Because sooner or later, everyone needs to have a "beer crate lego man" on their blog
Elder Richmond getting read for driving test
This was on the beach in La Paloma.  When you have a bunch of kids and grandkids that love legos like ours, you have to put this in.  Also, the second picture was taken by Sister Eddy as we took Elder Richmond for his “test drive”.  As a veteran Southern California driver, he passed with flying colors.

All ready to go
The main part of this week was changes.  We only had 10 come in a 7 go home so it was not too much work compared to the groups of 20.  We sent home mostly sisters.  When we got here a year ago, these sisters were just starting to lead.  We have had several great experiences with each of these missionaries.  They really excelled in “Capilla Abiertas”.  They all worked so hard to find good people and then teach them the Gospel.  We will miss all of them.

Elder Montiel balancing the books
My change week was a little different than the others have been.  On Tuesday we welcomed the new missionaries to Uruguay like normal.  On Wednesday instead of helping the new missionaries get out to their areas and prepare for the evening meal with the “Valientes”, I had another assignment.  It started at 7:30 A.M. when I dropped Renee off to cook.  I then took off to pick up Sister Antipani and Elder Ontiveros who were out on the coast.  I brought them back to the mission home, dropped them off, changed from the Nissan Versa to the mission van and trailer and then was in the bus station at Tres Cruzes by 9:00 A.M. in time to pick up the other Valientes.  I had them back at the mission home in plenty of time to be ready for their first meeting at 10:00 A.M.

From there I traded back to the Nissan and headed back to Tres Cruzes to pick up a part time missionary to take him to Maldonado.  You might ask why I didn’t just pick him up the first time.  Good question.  I know why, I just can’t explain it.  By the way the Tres Cruzes trip is anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes each way depending on traffic.  I love this trip!  Yeh, like I liked my colonoscopy.  You would think that things would start to settle down.  No they were just getting going.

Elder Ramos had an appendectomy on Saturday and was being transferred to Castillos.  The assistants asked me if I would take him.  Elder Ramos is a great young missionary but after surgery, not in real good shape to go on a four hour bus ride.  So I loaded up the part time missionary and Elder Ramos and headed up the coast.  I took a little detour from the normal route to Castillos and dropped the part time missionary, Luciano, off at his home in Maldonado.  It was fun to see his non-member mother welcome him home after two weeks.  She was so excited and so was he.  I am sure that there was a little missionary work done in their home while he was away.

Elder Ramos and I stopped at a local roadside establishment and had a “milanesa completo” for lunch. This is a milanesa with ham, cheese and a fried egg on top.  It was delicious.  We stopped in Rocha to pick up Elder Ramos’ companion, Elder Jensen, and then off to Castillos.  So Elder Ramos is doing quite well after surgery but he still has a hard time moving, especially stairs.  When he saw the tall, steep stairs that lead to his bedroom in Castillos, his heart sunk.  He tried to go up the stairs but his desire was more than his ability.  They spent the first two nights with their mattresses on the floor downstairs.

The three hour drive got me back to the mission home by six, which was in plenty of time for the dinner at seven.  We had a wonderful evening with the missionaries.  Thursday is flight day.  The flights went off as scheduled except for two late entries.  Elder Hayden spent about an hour on the phone with missionary travel in Salt Lake to get things straightened out.  In the end everyone got on the plane and safely home.  We are really starting to miss the missionaries going home.  They become such a big part of our lives and we worry that we will not seen them again, especially the Latinos.

Friday we had some training in the mission office and then headed to Castillos for the weekend.   Good thing I know the way.  We had a Capilla Abierta scheduled for Saturday night so we spent the rest of Friday and Saturday getting ready for it.  When we pray each morning as we leave the apartment we pray to be lead to those who need help and that we will be able to say things to help them.  This was certainly true with our visits this weekend.

Sister Oreales, helped set up the Relief Society and Primary displays and all the missionaries from the Rocha Zone showed up to invite people to the open house.  We did not have as many come as some other times, but the missionaries worked hard.  They invited hundreds to “come and see”.  We enjoyed our time in Castillos and have grown to love the people.  We are working to see the success that is going to come.

We are in the middle of the tourist season so it is a challenge to get a room.  We ended up staying at “Cabo Santa Maria” which is the high class casino in La Paloma.  We expected first class accommodations.  Well not quite.

First, there was no air conditioning, second we had to leave the window open to get some air and it opened to the main street in La Paloma.  They were making noise until about 2:00 A.M. each night.  My favorite was the kid screaming bloody murder for about ten minutes.  I guess I won’t mention the dirty floor, the shower that sprayed in every direction or the lock that did not work.  We did okay but our review with might not be all roses.  We have stayed in a few less than desirable places and have lived through it.  I guess our expectations are a little high as we have been so pleased with the Proa Sur hotel.  Whenever we stay in a place like this I think of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid going to Bolivia.  It’s about the same.

We ended the week by dropping off something to Elder Johansen in Piriapolis on the way home from Castillos.  I do need a little shot of “Johansen” once in awhile to keep me going.  The love and enthusiasm that surrounds us is amazing.  We are very tired but very grateful to be part of this great effort.  We know it’s true.  We do it because we love Him and want others to feel the joy that we feel.

What better way to end the blog and week than Elder Johansen and Elder Guindo!
We love you all
Gordon and Renee

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Big Hat, No Cattle

January 15, 2017

In Blackfoot, this term refers to someone who walks around with a big cowboy hat and shiny boots and thinks they are a cowboy but aren’t. The missionaries don’t have any cows but they are sure hard workers.  We took these pictures as we visited the various zones to install mosquito nets.  I hope you can see the brightness in their eyes as they have the chance to share the Gospel.  It is a tough job, but one that brings joy to their lives.  We did the Las Piedras Zone on Friday.  It was very humid and even tried to rain.  Elder Ward and Cole met us at their house as they were hurrying back from picking up lunch.  As they arrived they were soaked in sweat.  Elder Ward’s face looked like you had just thrown a cup of water on him.  I can’t get that image out of my head as it is such an example of how hard they work.  We hope you like the pictures.  Some mothers will note that if you respond to the blog you child gets in the blog more.  Funny how that works.

We spent Monday and Friday putting nets up and now have most of the zones completed.  We need to find some materials to do the other four zones.  We did the Rocha Zone on the way home from Castillos on Monday.  They have an electrical problem in their house.  I hope it is fixed now.
The biggest project we completed this week was closing the house in La Capuera.  We moved last week but had still not given it back to the owner.  Owners or Duenos can be very particular and often take advantage of us.  This was an unusual house.  Most of the houses come unfurnished including no water heater, stove, fridge, nothing.  Well this one came fully furnished including a TV.  Now if you think that after two years, all of the stuff is still going to be there and in pristine condition, you over estimate life and certainly missionaries.  First, with the humidity, chairs etc. just fall apart.  Second, all of the plates etc. are made of glass.  Guess how many survive a fall to the tile floor?  So we knew we were short on some of the stuff that we would have to pay for.  The big problem was the TV set.  Renee and I kind of remembered that there was one, but we weren’t sure.  The current missionaries certainly couldn’t remember one.  I was not really looking forward to telling the owner, “Oh yea, we lost the TV.”

So, on Monday, as we were putting nets in the Rocha house we mentioned this to Elder Paulson who lived in the house last spring.  He said, “Yea, the TV was there but my companion just sat and watched it for three straight days.  I was going to put my foot through it but instead I gave it to a new member named Elizabeth.”  Well that answers that.  Only problem now is that Elizabeth moved to the neighboring ward and he could not remember her last name.  That put us on the hunt.  We called the current missionaries and after some work found the number for Elizabeth.  We called her up and she was more than willing to help us.  We drove to Piriapolis on the way home from Rocha and picked up the TV.  The only problem we had was that Elizabeth lives on a very busy street with no parking.  We stopped in the middle of traffic and put on the flashers.  As she gave it back she wanted to tell her life story.  The only problem was the twenty cars behind us honking.  So that visit was a little short.  We think the fact that we were able to find the TV and get it back was a miracle.  At least we are calling it that.  We were able to return the keys and settle up with the owner on Wednesday.  That made it a good week.

Dinner at Mary's.  You can't even imagine how good the food was!!!
So much more than friendship!
Thursday night was one of our best in the Mission.  Mary; pronounced “mari” is the mission cook.  Renee has spent many many hours helping her cook for the missionaries, like in December for the Christmas conferences when they served breakfast and lunch for over 100 for two straight days.  Mary is certainly one of the best parts of our mission.  So our invitation to dinner at her house on Thursday night was one we looked forward to.  They have a very neat and tidy home.  I was really impressed.  We arrived at 7:00 P.M. and started out with a relaxing visit on the patio.  So, if you think it is good to eat at the mission meals with Mary as the cook, you need to eat at her home to see her at her very best.  We had Canelones!  Woohoo!  I can’t even describe how good they were.  Included, was salad and some finger sandwiches to get started.  We topped it off with Lemon Pie.  I’m still dreaming about it.  I asked what time dinner was on Friday.  Hey, it was worth a chance.

We cooked six hamburgers and four hotdogs  Look at what's left.
And they still had room for pie.

This coming week is change week so we had Elder Caudle and Montiel over for lunch on Saturday.  They wanted hamburgers and chili dogs.  They each ate two hamburgers and a chili dog besides the potato salad and jello.  Renee is really getting the missionaries hooked on jello, especially the latinos.  Elder Caudle leaves the office next week.  We are going to miss him.  He is quite artistic and has made several drawings for us that we cherish.

I hesitate mentioning this next part because I don’t want you to think that I am making fun of Uruguay.  Anyone that has ever stood in line at customer service at Wal-Mart or any other store at home knows that this kind of stuff happens everywhere.  So with that, I need to buy drugs.  I take an antihistamine for some allergy that makes me itch.  We don’t know what it is but we do know what makes it stop.  I’ve been taking this for over twenty years.  Most of the drugs in Uruguay you can buy without a prescription.  Renee buys her meds anytime and anywhere.  But I need a prescription.  This is real easy to get because of the helpfulness of our mission Doctor, Dr. Bregante.  Due to the humidity, all of the pills come individually wrapped in tinfoil.  I started out last spring with a prescription for 90 pills.   When I went to the pharmacy, the first thing they did was go to the book and look up the drug.  They didn’t know what it was.  Then they told me I couldn’t buy the drugs because they only come in boxes of 20.  So, we changed the prescription to 4 individual ones of 20.  We usually have to go back a couple of times because they do not have them in stock.  One of our favorite episodes was going to buy the drugs and being told the prescription had expired.  We went to another pharmacy around the corner and they sold them to us, no questions asked.  So now we had a good pharmacy. This made us very happy.

Well, the last time, we stopped by our favorite pharmacy; they told us that they had changed ownership and that after looking in the book, that they don’t carry these pills any more.  We went to three other pharmacies and they told us that they don’t make this drug anymore.  This was after looking it up in the “book.”  We finally found one that told us that we had the name wrong on the prescription and that they only come in boxes of 25.  So, Dr. Bregante is going to give me a prescription with every name we can come up with for 100 pills because with boxes of 20 or 25 we are still okay.  This makes life more interesting.  For my family, it makes me wish I had gone to the “Voodoo Doctor” before I came to Uruguay so that I could get rid of the allergy.  But that is a whole other story.

Lastly, we had a charla with Humberto and Cristina on Friday night and have set a baptism date for February 4th.  That’s the day I left Argentina forty-two years ago.  We are excited for her.  We have another charla tomorrow night and hope to keep things moving.

We love you all and appreciate what you do.  Remember why we are here and thank Him for all we have.

Gordon and Renee

This jet was at the airport at Maldonado.  Everyone must have one of these.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Journey of the Mosquitoes

January 8, 2017

I’m the first to say that the titles are getting a little stale.  But, I have written over 50 of these and I can’t seem to remember any good ‘60s rock and roll right now. Monday started with us doing the drive to the Maldonado Zone to put mosquito nets on all of the beds.  This was an all day affair.  I need to say a little bit about missionary schedules.  Mondays are preparation days or P-days.  They use this to clean the apartment (like that ever happens) do wash, write home and relax.  They are on the street by 6:00 P. M.  Tuesdays are usually district meetings and Friday is planning so they stay in their apartments in the morning to plan the week ahead.  So if we don’t want to interrupt their missionary work, we need to go on Monday or Friday.  Monday can be good unless they are on the move as they were this past week.  We ended up running in several directions to pick them up and take them to their house.  We also purchased a new bed for Elder Fonseca in San Carlos.  These are great days as we spend it with missionaries and they share the great experiences that they have had with us.  They are so strong.

Elder Caudle's uncle just moved into our Stake in
Blackfoot.  We hope he likes this picture!
Tuesday we found out that Elder Caudle’s Uncle Timmy just moved into the Wapello 2nd Ward so we took a picture and sent it to our son-in-law, Trent, who is the high councilor in that ward.  I hope he gets a chance to show it to Timmy.

Tuesday was also “Big Rainstorm Day”.  It rained and blew really hard.  There were a lot of trees limbs on the ground.  Limbs were broken that were more than a foot in diameter.  It was a real “frog strangler”.  They still didn’t have it cleaned up when we left on Friday.

Tuesday we spent the day doing office work.  On Wednesday we got ready to move the Elders in La Capuera by signing contracts and buying furniture and furnishings. This included going to old town Montevideo to by a table and chairs.  It is always fun to go to old town.  Thursday we got an early start for La Capuera with the Office Secretaries driving the mission van with a trailer full of furniture.  We met Elder Escobar and Orellana in La Capuera with the four Sisters from Pan de Azucar. I have to say that the simple lunch we had which included ham and cheese sandwiches, black bean salsa and chips and lemon bars was the best part of the day.  Getting the stuff moved was quite simple.  The problem we had is that the old apartment was fully furnished and we had to inventory the stuff and clean all of it up.  We also needed to get ready to meet with the owner to settle up.  This took most of the day and a couple of trips to Maldonado to purchase stuff but we finally got it done.  It is very stressful to try to plan all the things we need to do to get a move accomplished.

We had a real bonus after the move.   A couple of the sisters had planned to visit someone that they have been teaching but had lost contact for a couple of weeks.  They were very concerned.  The people live quite a ways away and so we drove them to the appointment.  As we got closer we could feel the anxiety of the Sisters.  They were very concerned that they were prepared to help this family.  They asked us to stop and say a pray to help them.  The prayer was simple but very strong.  As they left the car you could feel the strength in their desire to teach the Gospel to this wonderful family.  All the way home we prayed for them and hoped for the best.  We sent a text asking how it went.  They replied that it had gone very well.  I could say this about most of the missionaries but for these two in particular, if I had a family member or friend that needed the Gospel I would hope the Lord would send them.
Oro Conference Lunch
Friday was Oro Conference when the new missionaries that have been out for about a month come back in for training with their companions.  It is real neat to see their growth and see how they have become companionships.  It will be even better to see them in about six months when they are training.  With that in mind I wanted to say something about the trainers.  I remember when they were new and looking around all wide eyed and now they are leaders.  I love rubbing shoulders with them and hearing the stories that they have in the street.  In a few months we will be welcoming them as zone leaders.  What a great time we have.

The Chuy Elders are always glad to see us!
Saturday morning we took off for Castillos.  As part of our trip we went all the way to Chuy to do Mosquito nets.  Chuy is one of the most remote places in the mission.  So, when someone comes to see them, they are excited.   This time was no exception.  They made a cake and had cold drinks for us.  I think I could install the nets in about ten minutes but we are not leaving a party like that.  There are three Latinos and one North American Elder in the group.  I was so impressed at how much they love each other and feel united.  They have some real good stories of people that are listening to the discussions and preparing for Baptism.  We talked a little bit about how important it is to be prepared when we go out so that we can teach the ones that the Lord has prepared.  Again, four great soldiers in the “Army”.

Lunch with Narda and the Branch President
Our Castillos visit included lunch with Hermana Narda as always.  Milanesas and salad really hit the spot.  What a blessing to have her support.  Elder Jensen and Castillo are working hard.  They had four investigators in Church today.  They participated in the meetings and seemed to enjoy it.  Renee and I gave our presentation on the Capilla Abierta as we are going to do one in a couple of weeks.  The members were excited and the ones that weren’t members were too as they can invite their friends to see what they are learning.  I am excited to come back in a couple of weeks to see some successes.

As we got ready to go see people in Castillos, we prayed that the Lord would direct us to visit the ones that needed to be visited.  We certainly felt that he did.  We had several good visits where the Spirit of the Lord was strong and our testimonies were strengthened.  Sometimes we struggle to see where we have sown in the Lord’s work but we need to remember that our job is to do it and let the Lord judge the results.

A couple of “fun” things happened this weekend.  First, this is probably the busiest holiday weekend of the year so we had trouble finding a place to stay.  We ended up finding a place on the internet called Posada Luna in Rocha.  We drove by on the way up to check it out and it didn’t even have a sign.  It was only a couple of blocks from where the Elders live so we asked them to stop by.  They did and there was some confusion about our reservation.  It ended up being okay and the room was good.  So how do you like the stairs?  They were really quite fun, only a little scary for two old people with bags.  We made it up and down okay and had a good stay.

A few weeks ago we were invited to come to La Paloma to visit our Mission Doctor, Doctor Bregante, at their vacation home in La Paloma.  As we were planning to put mosquito nets in Rocha tomorrow, this made it perfect.  It was a little tricky making the schedules mess but they were very accommodating.  No they were more than very accommodating as the changed their schedule and then fed us the most delicious meal you could imagine.  Doctor Bregante’s husband, Alejandro, cooked rib eye steaks on the grill and we had salad and great dessert made from “Maracuya”.  It was so good.  Alejandro did such a wonderful job on the steaks.  He started a fire with pine cones.  Then he cut the fat off the steaks and used it to grease the cast iron grill.  Then he seared the steaks the way we liked them.  As he was preparing the meat I thought, “You may be doing a little too much meat there pardner.”  But I ate about twice what I usually do because it was so good.

That’s one thing we can learn from the Uruguayos and Argentinos.  In the states we eat a steak along with several kinds of salads and vegetables.  Here, they eat steak and then eat a little more.  It is so good.  They also had this salsa called “mojito” that was especially good.  So I am writing this in a very full and contented state.

Lighthouse in the fog
We love the countryside.  We love the customs.  And we love the food.  But, most of all, we love the people.  They are so wonderful.  We have made so many lifelong friends.  I believe that we knew some of them before we even came to this earth.  They are so special to us.  So much for a week when we didn’t have much to talk about.  We love you all.

Gordon and Renee

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2017
New Year's Day in Montevideo.  It's going to be a wet one!
This is a time of reflection as we look back at 2016 and get started with 2017.  What a wonderful, eventful, difficult and rewarding year.  As noted in our blog, we found out early that Missionary Work is exactly that, work.  We have learned a lot in the last year and hopefully have helped a few missionaries. There is no question that our best moments are when we are with the missionaries.
Last week was typical of a week between Christmas and New Years.  We were busy with office work and doing things for the missionaries.  The office work is important and necessary but not the kind of stuff that makes a blog compelling.  There are probably some that would say that we still have not found any real compelling stuff for the blog.  I guess that’s the way it goes.

Going to dinner with the Temple Couples, President and Sister Eddy.
Good food, good company, but a poor picture.
This picture is of the Temple missionaries, President Eddy and his wife with us at dinner on Tuesday night.  This was scheduled earlier as a birthday party for Elder and Sister Wiberg.  It’s too bad that they did not attend.  They walked out of the Temple Tuesday afternoon to see all of their kids and spouses waiting for them to surprise them.  They had a great time all week enjoying their family.  So without the Wibergs went still went and had a great time.  This little restaurant is right on the beach near our apartment.  We have become good friends with the staff and always have a good time.

Besides the office work, we have been busy putting mosquito nets on all of the beds in the mission.  We received the nets awhile back and have been working to come up with a good way to put them on the bed.  We decided to use electrical conduit and some brackets to hook it onto the bed.  We have made a few design changes along the way but for the most part it works pretty well.  We found the conduit at the Sodimac store (think Home Depot). The problem that we ran into is the conduit comes in 3 meter (10 foot) lengths and do not fit in our car.  So we get to stand out in the hot sun and humidity and cut them in half.  We have a pretty good tool to do it so it goes pretty smooth except it is REALLY HOT.

Getting ready to do mosquito nets.
Doesn't this look like fun in 85 degree weather and 90% humidity?

We have purchased over 30 lengths of pipe so far and over 60 elbows.  I wonder if Sodimac is wondering why there is such a run on the pipe.  We have purchased all that is available and are hoping that they get some more in soon.  This is not like the states where they get a shipment each week or you can special order stuff.

From there we go to each apartment and hook them on.  It really is quite fun and we have a great time with the missionaries.  The challenge is we have to do it 190 times.  It ends up being a lot of travel and time spent in the heat.  When we go in the apartments we need to plug in the drill to screw the brackets on the beds.  Too often this is the outlet where the fan goes so we get to melt in the heat of the apartments.  We really have a lot of respect for the way the missionaries are able to stand the heat.  You can see that from the pictures that we really enjoy the time with the missionaries.  The best time to do it is on Mondays when the missionaries are having P-day or Fridays when they are in the house doing planning during the morning.  This way we do not interrupt their work time.

The best part is when they are able to share some stories of the miracles they are seeing in their areas.  Speaking of miracles, you may recall last week when we challenged Elder Limas and Guale to find someone and they called us five minutes later to say they had.  Well, they are still teaching this investigator and they have come to Church.  That is exciting, especially to hear these two animated Elders tell the story.

We are still plugging along with our friends, Humberto and Cristina.  Cristina is anxious to get baptized.  She has almost finished 2nd Nephi and has read all of the pamphlets that she has been given.  We had a good visit last night and the Sisters have plans to finish the charlas with them.  This is a great friendship and a great experience for us.

New Year’s Eve is spent just like Christmas Eve with Fireworks, only bigger.  We invited the Temple Couples to our apartment last night where we played games and ate snacks until midnight.  That’s when the show begins.  The sky lights up with fireworks from all directions. We had a real good view from the seventh floor.  There were some going off real close so we had a great time and a great view.  Our only problem was getting to bed real late, so we were kind of dragging today.

We finished off the week by going to Church in the Camion Carasco ward to meet with them to set up a time to do a Capilla Abierta.  It was good to get to know the great members of this ward.

So last week we passed the one year mark in Uruguay.  We now know what to expect for the next 10 months.  We are ready for the next three months of really hot and humid weather.  We kind of get used to it and I still like it more than the cold.  We appreciate all the support from home and have had a great time the past two weeks enjoying the holidays with our kids and grandkids by facetime.  I really don’t think we could do it without this wonderful blessing.

We love you all and look forward to the coming year.
Happy New Year

Gordon and Renee