Sunday, February 26, 2017

Taking Care of Business

February 26, 2017
Never pass up a chance for a picture of the horse drawn carts.
This is on one of the busiest streets right in the heart of Montevideo
We had a pretty busy week that included taking fans to missionaries and doing the basic missionary business.  Let me tell you with as hot and humid as it is, when you show up at a missionary house with a fan you are one popular dude.  The weather has been so hot. We are so grateful for the work the missionaries do and the challenges that they put up with.  These things are important but not necessarily what makes for an interesting blog.

So I think I’ll talk about the missionaries instead.  This is the last week before changes so Renee made lunch for the Elders.  Elder Hayden and Palomino are leaving after six months.  They have worked hard and served well.  For lunch Renee served pulled pork sandwiches, green salad, jello and banana cream pie for dessert.  You can tell by the missionaries that they enjoyed it.  Elder Palomino especially liked the red punch.  You know, working in the mission office looks pretty good when the weather is bad but most don’t see the 2:00 A.M. plane flights or other emergencies that come up.  I am really grateful for all they do.

We had a couple of things pop up where we needed to change the water bill numbers and things like that.  It always takes time and is probably more complicated because I don’t necessarily understand everything they tell me.  Included in our jobs was a trip to Maldonado to check smoke alarms.  We thought we better take a picture of the Sisters as that always makes the blog better.  I’ll let you judge on how they are doing.

The main attraction for the week was our weekend in Castillos.  We have quite a few friends that we like to check up on when we go.  We also are working through the list of members to try and find all we can.  This time we were able to check out several names.  We only found a couple but we were able to visit with several good people and get to know them better.  It is interesting that some people are open and warm.  They have no problem visiting and sharing their beliefs on the Savior and Religion in general.  Others act like we have some sort of plague and they may catch it.  One of the most interesting visits we had was when we stopped at one of the addresses on the list and instead of finding a member we found a Jehovah’s Witness.  This guy was quite friendly and we had a good visit as you could tell that we both have a desire to serve the Lord.

We were able to stop by several families that are more or less active.  We were able to have a good Gospel discussion with them.  One of our favorite lessons is when we talk about Lehi’s dream.  We like to describe the dream and then ask them where they are in the dream and where they want to be.  Without question, they all want to partake of the fruit but it is quite interesting as they tell us that they are somewhere besides the path.  This gives us a good chance to bear testimony and teach that in order to stay on the path, you need to read the scriptures daily and come to Church.  Some have responded quite strongly.  In fact this week we probably saw the most success that we have seen in inviting people to Church.  It amazes us when we see the challenges that we see the members face.  As we get to know the members in Castillos better, we have grown to love them more.

One of the members lives in a house in back of the Church.  Her name is Marilu.  She had her 71st birthday party Saturday night.  The Elders painted a flag of Uruguay on the fence to help her celebrate.  We had a good time at the party and even got to discuss the Church with a few of the neighbors.  It was quite the party.

This is Elder Jensen’s last week end.  It would have been quite easy to just come to the party for the evening but he and Elder Ramos had Charlas all night as he served hard right up to the end.  They dropped by late to say hi to everyone as they had plenty to do.  I am real proud of him.  In the meetings today you could tell that the members really appreciate him and will miss him.

So we are in the middle of summer and it is hot and humid.  A couple of weeks ago it cooled off a bit so we hoped that we were through the worst part.  But this week the heat and humidity returned.  When we are visiting missionary apartments it is quite humid.  After a little bit in the street or in a hot apartment we are ready to melt.  We are such big babies as we enjoy the air conditioning in the car and our apartment.  I guess we could survive the heat without the air conditioning but I am so glad we don’t need to find out.  Our love, respect and appreciation for the missionaries grows every day.

We have been getting some info about the flooding in Blackfoot and elsewhere and we are worried and praying for our friends.  I hope everyone is able to survive.  We wish we could help but for now we’ll just enjoy the heat.

Thanks for all you do for us.  We really appreciate the love and support as we serve.

Gordon and Renee

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Fannies in the Seats

February 19, 2017

We had a worldwide missionary conference a few weeks ago that gave us some great training.  In the conference they changed the reporting requirements from about 9 things including hours worked, discussions and about everything else to only four things: 1. New investigators, 2. Investigators in Church, 3. Baptisms, 4. Confirmations.  This is so inspired.  We are all normal and want to fill our report with as much stuff as possible.  This teaches us to concentrate on the most important.  Finding people and getting them to Church leads to baptism and confirmation.  Now the missionaries are really hustling to put something on the report.  That leads to great success.  Today the two sets of missionaries in Malvin each had investigators in Church.  They were real excited.  The investigators felt very welcome and they have high hopes for more success.  I swear, there are very few things that make missionaries happier than having investigators in Church.  Also, the work that goes into getting someone to come to Church is beyond what most people can comprehend.  I am so excited for them.

After two chances to rent a house fell through,
we needed a little cheering up.
Good ice cream will do that
We had what we consider a slower week with not as much stuff on our plate.  We had a  few stops to help missionaries and their houses so we had to take a picture.  Also, we are trying to find a new house for the Zone Leaders in the Norte Zone.  We went out one day and found two pretty good choices.  When we went back two days later they were both rented.  We were pretty bummed so we had to have a little ice cream to cheer us up.

Everyone needs a little sugar in their life

We also had time to go to the Temple for the second week in a row.  That really felt good.  I am feeling more comfortable with the session in Spanish so it is quite enjoyable.  The big project for the week was painting the house in San Carlos.  We drove up Thursday morning to get everything set up and then on Friday while Renee cooked for the Oro Conference I drove up and helped the missionaries paint.  We had one Member, Brother Machado, help also.  It was a big job, but we got it done in about 5 hours.  I was very tired and very hungry.  The missionaries were good to stay with it and get it done.  Too bad painting isn’t more exciting to talk about.

We finished the paint job.  I'm glad you can't see how tired I was

Oro Conference.  Let's hear one for Sister Kessler
We included some pictures of the Oro Conference.  I wish I could have been there.  Renee said all the newbies are doing well.  Saturday we had a chance to rest and relax a little.  In the afternoon we took the Capilla Abierta kit to the 18 de Mayo ward.  It is always fun to spend time with the missionaries.  We know this group of missionaries real well.  It was kind of hard to get people to attend but in the end they had seven investigators with three of them very interested.  That does not count the many people the missionaries invited to come in but declined.  I continue to be amazed at how strong the missionaries are and how much effort they put into getting people to listen.  Seven may not seem like a lot but I think that one is huge because they are one of our brothers.

Of course we had the "Cristo" picture

We finally got a good picture of Humberto and Cristina
To finish off the week we went to Church in Malvin.  Humberto came with his white shirt and tie already to administer the Sacrament.  He was very humble preparing the Sacrament and did such a good job passing.  I was so proud of him.  His reverence of the Priesthood helps me understand what a privilege it is to hold it and use it to bless my family.

The last thing on our list this week is our special visit from the Aunt and Uncle of our son-in-law, Trent.  Hope you keep the genealogy straight.   Larry and Darla Allen came to Montevideo yesterday on vacation.  Larry spent about six years here in the ‘60s when his dad supervised chapel construction for the Church.  They wanted to tour Uruguay a day or two before they go on a cruise around the bottom of South America.  We met them today and enjoyed lunch and a little tour of Montevideo.  They are so fun.  It was fun to hear Larry tell about how the Church has grown.  For example, he remembers when the Bishop of the Curasco Ward was baptized as a teenager.  He even has a picture.  It is amazing to see the growth of the Church.  What a neat blessing we have to be part of it.

Some of you may know that we finally got on facebook.  That is so we can follow the exploits of missionaries that have gone home.  It is fun to see how they are doing.  It also makes us miss them more.  We love you all and look forward to hearing from you.  It sure is a blessing to be able to serve.

We love you
Gordon and Renee

Sunday, February 12, 2017


February 12, 2017

El Bauru. Hamburger, ham, cheese, fried egg, veggies.  The ultimate health food.
Is this a great sandwich or what?  It’s called a Bauru.  It is made by frying hamburger and then putting ham, cheese, a fried egg, corn, peas and other veggies and salsas on it.  They then put it all together and then cook it like a big toasted cheese sandwich.  Renee and I can’t eat a whole one.  For the Elders, it is no problem.

So for the week, Monday and Tuesday we were busy doing office stuff.  We have several things we are doing to make the office run more efficient like having the water and light bills come to an email instead of looking them up on the internet.  Good stuff but not the kind of stuff that gets people to read your blog. So let’s talk about the sandwich a little more.  On Wednesday we needed to go to Durazno, about a two and a half hour drive to fix a bed for the sisters.  You might as well make a day of it so we met the six missionaries in Durazno for lunch at the street diner called El Gaucho.  Guess what their specialty is?  El Bauru!  We have had it before but it was especially good this time.  The sisters shared one as did Renee and I.  The Elders ate a whole one each.  Wow, they are my heroes.  I remember when I could eat like that and stay thin.  Not so much anymore.  After lunch, we fixed the bed in about ten minutes.  I put a board up the side of the broken part and put in a few screws.  You know, if a few do a little good, a lot will do a lot of good.  Sister Vasquez was good help even though she has no idea what to do with the saw.

We also found out that the tap in the kitchen of the Elder’s apartment was leaking, so I stopped at the hardware store and got a new one.  Elder Oroche was in charge and had the old one off before we got back.  As is the case with all plumbing jobs, we needed a few other parts so I took the second trip.  But, all in all it was done in a two trip job and now they have a new tap.  I am so impressed with Elder Oroche and Elder Ruiz, the zone leaders.  They are so positive and happy.  I’m thinking of asking President Eddy if I can be their companion.

Thursday was another office day which helped us stay caught up.  Friday we were off for Castillos.  We had a special request to have Renee show the Elders some quick and easy recipes.  She got everything ready to make tin foil dinners, Spanish rice, stroganoff, stir fry and the rice/pea/hamburger casserole that our family likes.  The elders were real good to help prepare the veggies and help cook.  They were also good at helping to clean up.  Guess what they were the best at?  Eating!!  They each took some of the five different meals and really put the food away.  A big surprise is that they still had room for the chocolate chip cookies that Renee made.  You can tell from the photo that they had a good time.  We sure did.

The rest of the weekend we spent in Castillos.  We stayed at a hostel called “La Vieja” right in town.  It was really quite nice and probably better than any missionary apartment that we have.  We slept pretty well and did not have to travel as much.  Our emphasis is getting to know the existing members and inviting them back to Church.  We pray continually that we will be led to those who need us to visit them.  Friday afternoon we decided to find our friend Johnny Lopez and family.  Problem is, they don’t live in Castillos during the summer as he lives in “Aguas Dulces” which is on the beach about five miles from town. He lives there so he can do paintings for people and sell them.  We had some idea where he was staying so we took off, kind of like Nephi, not knowing what to do.  We found a guy that knew Johnny and told us where to go.  As we wandered around in the car we ran into Johnny and his wife.  We had a good visit.  They are such good people.

After that we made some other visits in town and then went to the Hostel.  On Saturday morning we started by going on a charla with the Elders to see Anna.  She is a wonderful lady and very sincere about her testimony.  We were able to testify to her about the Church.  It was fun.  Then we were off to find more people on the list.  We had some success and have the list organized now so we can find some more when we go back in two weeks.  Lunch at Narda’s was great as usual.  We had milanesas, green salad and “Russian salad”.  This is made with rice, potatoes and carrots.  The Uruguayos put a ton of mayonnaise on it.  I prefer it without.  I think Narda realizes this because she makes it without and then you can add what you want.  I want none, so that is pretty easy.  We topped it off with Renee’s pear pie.  I’m telling you it is worth coming to Uruguay to get some pear pie from Renee.
Saturday evening we had a good couple of visits ourselves and went on a Charla with Elder Jensen and Ramos.  They taught the principle of baptism and following the Savior.  They did such a wonderful job.  You could feel the Spirit and we enjoyed bearing testimony also.  So that brings us to Sunday.

The Missionaries work all week with one goal in mind- how many people are going to come to Church.  I can’t even begin to tell you how hard they work to teach and inspire and encourage people to come to Church.  So this morning when FOUR investigators came to Church, that was big!  I mean really big!  Elder Jensen is currently the branch president.  He along with Elder Ramos really form a good companionship.  They work hard and teach very strong charlas with the Spirit.  It is a blessing for us to be with them.  I sent the picture of Sunday School to Elder Stewart who was in Castillos until November as Analia, the sister in the middle was baptized when he was here.  I hope he likes it.  We are already looking forward to going back in two weeks.

Another thing, we got on Facebook this week. I have to say that I don’t understand anything about it but it is fun to learn.  We have found out a lot about the missionaries that have gone home.

Another busy week is past.  We continue to have a great time.  Thanks for all of your support.
Gordon and Renee

Sunday, February 5, 2017


February 5, 2017

February 5th is significant to me because I arrived home from Argentina on this day 42 years ago.  I mark it every year.  It is special to us now because of the great blessings that we have received this week.

This week was pay off week.  We saw many things completed that we have been working on.  Let’s start with Cristina and Humberto.  Humberto has been a member for over 60 years but still does not have the priesthood.  Cristina is not a member.   If you have read our blog you have seen pictures and comments about Cristina for the past year.  It started a year ago when we started attending charlas at their home for their niece.  We connected right off and became good friends.  We had some good charlas but did not see any baptisms.  We stayed in contact and visited Humberto and Cristina from time to time as our schedule permitted.

 In July, Cristina had a stroke that robbed her of her speech and use of her left side.  Renee and I went to the Hospital with Humberto and Elder Peterson and Rodriguez to give her a blessing.  It was well received, and we were hopeful that she would recover even though she was very ill.  Well, less than a week later she was discharged to the home of her daughter where she regained her speech and ability to use her left side.  Even though she was still quite weak, she came home in late August.  She continued to get better.

 In November, we invited her to go to a meeting with Elder Rasband, one of the 12 Apostles.  It was a very special meeting.  After the meeting, Cristina started to talk about getting baptized.  She started reading the Book of Mormon without being prompted and started to come to Church. She commented that she felt a very special warmth whenever she reads the Book of Mormon.   Humberto’s church attendance had been somewhat erratic but started to get better.  The Sister missionaries, Sister Nava and Anderson, did a great job fellow-shipping and teaching Cristina.  Humberto started taking classes to learn about the Aaronic Priesthood and they continued to progress.  From the day that Cristina first told us that she wanted to get baptized she has been very faithful.  They have come every week even though she does not feel well all of the time.

Monday night, the Sisters taught Cristina about families
Last Sunday, Humberto was presented to the Ward to receive the Aaronic Priesthood.  On Monday night as we completed the charla for Cristina, the Bishop stopped by and conferred the Priesthood on him and ordained him a Priest.  He was overcome by emotion as he has talked to us about the importance of receiving the Priesthood and now he finally has it.  What a special day.

That all led up to Saturday night.  Cristina asked me to baptize her.  It is my first actual baptism of a convert as we always had members do it the first time around.  Humberto also came into the font to help so that she would feel more secure.  What a special night.  Renee gave the talk on baptism and did a good job.  She is getting better all the time with Spanish.  After the baptism we had a little get together at their house with some of the ward members.  It was really neat.  Today she was confirmed.  It was another special meeting.  It is really hard to describe how you feel when this happens.  You kinda have to be here.

The "after" party
Just so you don’t think that all we did was wait around all week for the baptism; we included a few photos of our trip to Melo and Treinte y Tres.  We left early on Thursday morning to put the mosquito nets on the beds of these last two zones.   We got over half of the beds done on Thursday and spent the night in Melo so we could finish on Friday.  All in all it was over 1,000 kilometers.  We really had a great time with the missionaries.  They were able to share stories of how things are going in their areas and we were able to encourage them.  I wish I had time to talk about all of them.

I will talk about a couple of companion-ships.  First, Sister Wickell and Sister Parada.  Sister Wickell is from Nephi.  That is where I was born so I naturally like to meet people from my home town.  Sister Parada is from Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  Emily Park from our ward in Blackfoot served in her ward last year.  Emily served with Sister Quackenbush, who is the daughter of my niece, Tanya.  Pretty small world.  These sisters are working hard and I expect them to have success.

Next we have Elder Ward and Fix. They were both real helpful in putting up the nets and we had a good visit.  It also isn’t too hard to get them to be a little crazy.   I like to include Elder Ward because he is from our daughter’s ward and his mother comments on the blog.  So if you happen to be a missionary parent that reads this blog from time to time, I guess you now have an idea on how to get more pictures of your child in the blog.  So with that trip we have now put nets on all of the houses in the mission.  That is 70 houses and about 190 beds.  We are tired and ready for something else.

Lastly, I wanted to include some pictures of the Melo countryside.  It is so green and beautiful.  I especially love the clouds.  Uruguay is a wonderful place, but not so much today as right now we are having a big rain and wind storm.  I hope the missionaries can stay dry and protected.

Another great week is complete.  We hope everyone enjoys the Super Bowl parties and time with family.  We love the work that we do.  It is not easy by any means but we love it.  Today in Sunday School that taught of the creation.  So our Savior created the world and everything in it.  Then He came to earth to teach us the right way and to top it all off he died for all of us so that we could return to live with Him and our families for ever.  So how important is the Savior in our lives?  He is everything!

We love you all.
Gordon and Renee