Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hitting the Road

We spend a lot of time in the car.  I mean a lot of time.  Several months ago the Elders were moved out of the La Capuera house as the missionary numbers have fallen.  We have waited to close it because we are not certain what the numbers will do.  In the meantime, some of the houses needed some of the furniture that was in the house.  So on Monday we took the mission van and trailer up to move stuff around.  We picked up the Sisters in Pan de Azucar and the Elders in Piriapolis to help.
When we arrived at the house, the owner had tied up a pit bull right next to the door of the apartment.  It was barking but not growling.  Nobody really wanted to get bitten so we were quite cautious.  Eventually we were able to calm the dog down and move it to a better place.

The first step of our little project was to take the beds to La Paloma to replace their broken ones.  We soon had the beds on board and ready for the two hour trip up the coast.  You may remember that we spent Friday and Saturday night in La Paloma on our trip to Castillos.  We don’t seem to get enough of traveling to La Paloma.  When we got to La Paloma we had to wait for the Elders to get back.  All of a sudden we had not only two elders show up but five of them come around the corner on bikes with fishing poles in hand.  It was P-day and the zone was taking advantage of the opportunity to do a little fishing.  It was fun to see them and see how happy they were.  They were real good to help us get the beds changed.

After a short site seeing trip to show the missionaries La Paloma we headed back to La Capuera for the rest of the stuff.  Renee and the Sisters did a little cleaning and Elder Rodriguez and Elder Mereles helped me load the trailer and van.  We got most everything on.  Then we had to drop off the missionaries at their houses and head for home.  On the way home we dropped the kitchen table and chairs at the El Pinar house along with the stove.  Our final stop was to drop off the fridge at the Lomas de Solymar house.  We got home about 9:30 P. M.  We were tired.

Tuesday morning we still had the use of the van so we took the closet and mattresses to 18 de Mayo.  This is only about an hour each way so it was quite a bit easier.  On Wednesday we took it easy.  We have both been battling colds so it was good to rest up a bit.

Thursday was our trip to do inspections in Melo and 33.  It is over 1,000 kilometers round trip.  As if we needed more miles.  We were curious about the trip to 33 as the missionaries had painted three houses since we were there last and we were curious about the quality.  We were quite happy with the result.  The spearhead behind the project was Elder Montiel.  You may remember him from last year when he worked in the office with us.  He is a great friend and missionary.  We are so grateful for all of the work the missionaries do to take care of their houses.  We inspected all of the 33 houses and even had time to go to Rio Branco.  Rio Branco is over 450 kilometers from Montevideo and is the furthest of any house.  By the time we got to Melo we were tired but still had time to see a couple of the other houses.  The missionaries in the Melo Zone have worked hard to clean their houses.  We really appreciated it.

Friday morning was one of the key parts of our trip.   The Zone Leader house in Melo has a real mold problem.  The whole zone met and we cleaned it.  It is a big house with tall ceilings so it was quite a job.  The missionaries were quite the troopers pitching in to help.  We were so appreciative.  We even had time to go to the Centenario house to clean their walls too.  We got all the inspections and cleaning done by noon.  It was a big job but done quite quickly with all the good help from the missionaries.

So now for another adventure.  Melo and 33 are on a main highway, Ruta 8.  Ruta 8 is a challenge because of all of the truck traffic.  But, Ruta 7 also goes to Melo so we decided to take it on the way home to see some new scenery.  We were a little worried about the quality of the road but we ventured anyway.  It is about the same distance and it was fun to see some new scenery.  So the truck traffic was quite a bit less but the quality of the road left quite a bit to be desired.  It was a fun trip but not one we will take again.

So guess what we did Saturday?  Nothin’!  We took it easy to rest up from the long week of travel.  It was good to get a little rest.  Today we traveled about 30 minutes to the Norte Stake to attend the meetings and help train a High Councilman on how to do the Capilla Abiertas.  We love meeting all of the different people in Uruguay.  They have certainly made our lives better.  Last week was filled with a world of great experiences as we were able to rub shoulders with the missionaries.  We are grateful for the opportunity.

We love you all.
Gordon and Renee

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Tenedor Libre

I hope no one confuses this blog with the movie “Nacho Libre”.  Actually I do, that’s why I put the title that way.  Tenedor Libre is the name for an all you can eat buffet.  There is a pretty nice one on a main intersection in Montevideo.  Renee and I have commented several times that we would like to try it sometime.  So, when the office Elders said they were going we decided to go with.  It was an interesting experience.  It was quite a bit more expensive than we had anticipated but we were still anxious to try it.  After we tried it we were not quite so anxious.  Uruguay is on a big health kick to not use salt to improve your health.  I’m thinking with all the meat and pasta, the salt is not the big problem.  Either way the food was so-so.  Kinda bland and kinda cold.  They had a typical open flame BBQ grill so I was hopeful on the meat.  Not so good either.  Now I know what Chuck-a-rama does with their day old food.  You can tell by the picture that the missionaries thought it was pretty good.  If you have been reading our blog, you will recall that our food experiences have been great so I hope this one clunker doesn’t make you think we don’t like the food.

Another project we had this week was getting things ready to paint in Florida. We took a trip Wednesday to deliver the paint and supplies.  The missionaries had everything lined up with the members to paint the Zone Leader house on Saturday.  We still have not heard how it went but we are hopeful it went well.  We have no problem going to help with the painting but it is actually better if we don’t go.  That way, it teaches the missionaries and members to work together to take care of the houses.  It is part of our plan as we are winding things down to go home.

We still have quite a few things we need to do to keep the houses fixed.  For example, one day I received two phone calls from Elders.  One had a broken door knob and couldn’t get into their bedroom and the other had a broken water heater.  They were able to work with the members to get both problems fixed including a repaired water faucet at the house with the broken door.  I sometimes feel guilty sitting back to let the members help but in the long run it is better as the missionaries and members learn to follow the directive from the area office to have the members do more of the maintenance and upkeep on the houses.

On Wednesday we went to Pando to help the sisters with their washing machine.  As Renee worked with them I went to get them a new microwave.  While I was gone I noticed we had a low tire.  That ended up being a two hour project that ended up with two new tires.  After some troubleshooting, Renee and the Sisters found out the washing machine filter was clogged.  With a clean filter the washing machine worked well.

That brings us to Friday.  We needed to do inspections in Maldonado.  It is always good to stop in to see the missionaries.  All of the houses were neat and tidy.  You could see that they were making an effort to keep them clean.  You can also see from the picture that we are teaching the missionaries to clean the filter on the washing machine now so we can prevent a few problems.

Then we were on to Castillos.  The missionaries have been good to help set up Charlas for us.  On Friday night we had a Charla with a good member, Oreales and her family.  We showed the “He is Risen” video in the Gospel Library.  It is a brief history of the Savior's last days including his time in Gethsemane, scourging, on the cross and resurrection.  It is a powerful video that helps us understand the importance of the Savior.  We have shown it several times and it seems to be a powerful teaching tool.

After that we went to the Jhonny Lopez family.  This included Daniela’s homemade corn dogs and Renee’s fudge filled cookies.  We all ate too much and then were able to enjoy the same video.  They have such a strong family and it is fun to spend time with them.  We love our time with them.

Saturday we had two more charlas set up and had good visits in both places.  Spending time on real missionary work is our favorite activity.  In the afternoon we helped with the branch fellowship activity.  It was great fun as usual.  The missionaries had a good message about the Savior and then we played games including, button, button, who’s got the button and I have a little doggy that won’t bite you.  If you don’t know those games you’ll have to come to our next family reunion.  The kids had an especially good time.

Today I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting on the importance of the Holy Ghost.  I used 1 Kings 19 where the Lord comes in a “still small voice.”  I likened the Light of Christ and the Gift of the Holy Ghost to having Wi-Fi or a direct line to the internet.  It is always kind of sad to leave our friends in Castillos.  If not for the fact that we are so worn out from the travel and visits we would stick around longer.

The weather has been a little cooler lately but we can see that it is starting to warm up as the days get longer.  We hope our health will continue to hold out until we go home.  We love you all and appreciate your support.

Love, Gordon and Renee

Sunday, July 16, 2017

And They Were Sore Amazed

 There are several places in the Scriptures where the Savior does something that astonishes his disciples.  Likewise this week we helped missionaries clean the mold off their walls and they were astonished or “sore amazed” also.  The first instance happened last Monday.  We drove up early to help the Florida Zone clean the mold off the walls of the Zone Leader house.  It is a big house and the mold was pretty bad.  But in spite of the size of the task, it was completed in about an hour.  Several of the missionaries commented on how they had learned how to clean and would now be able to tackle the task in their own houses.  It really was a pretty fun activity including the Hot Dogs and Cookies afterward.   We always have fun when we are with the missionaries.

Tuesday we stayed pretty close to home as I am working on a head cold with the typical cough and aches.  It isn’t very fun.  I am feeling better.  We also spent some time cleaning our house and working on some office stuff.

On Wednesday we helped with the District Leader Conference.  This means that Renee cooks and I do office stuff.  In the afternoon we went to see our friend Cristina in the Hospital.  She continues to struggle from stroke symptoms.  She was feeling pretty good and we had a good visit.  The best part of the visit was when she got her fingernails painted by Sister Perales.  That made all of us happy.  We hope she can continue to get better.

Friday we did inspections on the Las Piedras Zone.  This is a big zone and is really spread out.  We were pleased by the efforts the missionaries are making to keep their houses clean.  You can see it in their eyes that they are happier, healthier and certainly can find the Spirit easier if they live in a clean environment.  While we were doing the inspections we did a little OJT or On the Job Training with Elder Holland.  He also was amazed at how easy it is to clean the walls if you get on the mold early.  It also helps if you are tall like him so you can reach way up high.    Elder Palomino and Elder Holland are the Zone leaders.  We expect that they will teach their zone how to keep the houses cleaner.

We hope you enjoy the pictures of the missionaries.  They are so happy and filled with the Spirit.  I had to take a picture of the sisters with their pajamas on under their skirts to stay warm.  It hasn’t been too cold yet but it is winter and not warm in the houses.  I wore my over coat to Church today.  One of the things you notice in Uruguayan Churches is that there are not coat racks.  That is because if someone wears a coat to church they keep it on to stay warm.  I kept my over coat on all through church and was glad to have it.

Speaking of weather, it has been quite pleasant for much of May, June and July.  Yesterday started out warm, but a front came in and it rained and the wind began to blow.  It is still blowing about 30 miles per hour and it is quite chilly.  Last night we went to dinner with Elder and Sister Jensen to celebrate Father’s Day in Uruguay.  The dinner was real good but the wind was terrible.  We are glad we are inside and pray for the missionaries to be warm and safe.

We had a neat experience Friday.  On Wednesday Elder Texeira came to the District Leader Training.  He was just transferred from the Norte Zone to the Las Piedras Zone and one of his suitcases was left behind in the transfer.  He asked me if I could go get it and bring it with on Friday.  This took a little extra effort on our part but not much.  When we showed up at his house and he saw the suitcase he gave me a great big hug.  He was so glad to get it.   It really doesn’t take much to be appreciated.  Elder Texeira is a good example of all of the missionaries.  He is happy and wants to do what he can to help the work.  He is also grateful for what he has.

We are grateful too.  We continue to have experiences that teach us about the love the Savior has for us.  As we build our relationships with the people in Uruguay we come to love them more and more.  It is going to be hard to leave them.

So while we sit here in Uruguay trying to keep warm, we hope you  can find a shade tree to enjoy the summer back home.  We love you all and appreciate what you do for us.

Love Gordon and Renee

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Rainy Days and Transfers

Change week or transfer week is always busy.  It makes it more busy and hectic if it is raining.  We had a big storm system come in for the weekend that made everything look dreary.  Even with that we had a good week.  I have talked about change weeks several times.  This week was very typical.  The new ones arrive on Tuesday, the trainers come in Wednesday to get their new companions and the old missionaries spend Wednesday getting ready to go home and then going home on Thursday.  All went as planned this transfer except we could not put the missionaries up in the Temple Hostel.  We ended up traveling to some of the nearby apartments and back each morning and night.  It was not too big of a group so it worked out pretty good.  I had to include photos of the new missionaries milking alfajores for the first time.  This group started out pretty subdued and ended up really getting into the game.  It was a real fun time.

The next group of pictures is all of the missionaries going home.  It gets harder and harder.  The only thing that keeps us going is that we will soon be able to see them again.  The sisters got here after we arrived and are now going home so we have had them for our entire mission.  This is a real fun group.  We got to know them all real well.

I have to say something about Elder Poulson and Elder Ucanan.  You can’t let them take pictures or they always have to do a selfie.  Also, we have been putting together some emergency food packages for the missionaries.  It includes some spaghetti.  Well one of the packages ripped so I gave it to the office Elders.  They started eating it raw!  Just like boy scouts!  Some things never change.

Friday was the Zone Leader Conference.  It is always a good day as we are able to see the leaders of the mission.  You can see from the pictures that they really enjoy lunch.  I can always count on Elder Cabrera for a good picture.  He’s from Paraguay.  The Paraguayos always are happy and fun loving.
Thursday after changes we were pretty tired but still found the energy to visit Humberto and Cristina.  We went with four Sisters.  It was a full house.  Good thing too, as they made “tortas fritas” or fry bread that would feed and army.  It is real good with dulce de leche, not to good for the waistline but real good for your spirits.

The meat and potatoes of this week really started late Friday afternoon.  We had several appointments set for Castillos for Friday night but they all fell through.  We racked our brains and tried to listen to the Spirit to go where the Lord wanted us to go.  We ended up stopping to see Tito and Patricia to give them some cookies and thank them for the chukar eggs that they gave us the last time we were in town.  It was a wonderful visit.  We showed a video of the Savior and had a short talk about what He did for us.  It turned out real well.  We ended up with more eggs and a demonstration of how they hatch out more chickens.  They are a real special family.  We have plans to go see them again.

On Saturday morning we had overcast skies and a long list of members to go see.  Not one of them ended up being at home.  Instead of getting discouraged we dug into our old list and tried to listen to the Spirit to find out where we should go next.  We ended up trying to find a family on Mevir.  When we asked a guy where Mevir was he kind of laughed and told us it is not a street but a Barrio.  With simple instructions, we found the barrio and the house.  We received a warm welcome from Lirio and his wife.  We had a short charla and were welcomed back the next time we come.  This was really a neat experience.  The charla made us a little late for lunch with Narda but not too late.  Again we had such a wonderful time at lunch.  She is definitely family.

After lunch we went with the Elders to see Zulma.  Zulma broke her ankle a couple of weeks ago and is on bed rest for another month.  In spite of this, she was in good spirits.  She made us all feel better.  We finished our visit with her just in time to go to the branch activity.  You can see from the pictures that we had pretty good attendance and really had a good time.  Renee made copies of the pictures of all of the Prophets and we played the “match game” with them.  Everyone had a good time.  The Elders are doing these activities twice a month and it is really helping draw the branch together.  After the activity we stopped to see Rosanna.  She has not been feeling well and we gave her a little support.    

Today we had pretty good attendance in Church.  I was asked to teach the Priesthood Class and Renee helped Narda with Primary.  We had a good time and really feel good when we can be helpful.  We finished off the day by driving home in the rain and dropping off a vacuum cleaner in Maldonado.  It was a little bit out of the way but not too bad.

We ended up having the opportunity to share our testimonies several times this week.  That really makes the week better and builds our spirits.  We love being part of the missionary work and helping the missionaries.  With the change we have a new list of things to do and are anxious to get started.

We love all of you and appreciate your support.

Gordon and Renee

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Uruguayan Summer

We just passed the shortest day of the year in Uruguay so we should be at our coldest.  Last year at this time we had had two pretty cold months where we struggled to stay warm in our house and out.  This year has been much different.  We have had a few cold days but for the most part, the days have been pleasant.  Our morning walks are cool but really quite comfortable.  This is a real good thing.  When people tell us that it is cold I tell them that where we live it gets more than minus 20.  They have no idea what that means as it hardly ever freezes here.

We had an interesting week that included some contract stuff, fixing houses and doing inspections.  In between all of this we managed to have some real good times and some real good food.  One of my friends said all our pictures show us with food in our mouth.  Sorry we don’t have a more interesting life.  Last week we found out that one of the sisters had a broken bed.  They told us that it just broke.  Too bad one of the other sisters in the house told us that they were so happy to move into this house that they jumped when they sat down.  I think they need to learn a little more about secret combinations.  Anyway, the house was close and it was an easy fix.  It’s always fun to spend time with the missionaries.

We also had to fix a water bill in one of the houses.  To do this we had to drive about thirty minutes away to Pando and speak with the real estate office.  I do a lot better when I talk to people face to face as my ears are not the same as they used to be so over the phone can be a challenge.  I don’t need to hear any static about how target and skeet shooting too much has hurt my ears.  This couldn’t possibly be the problem.

We are the last week before change week so that meant we fed the office Elders.  On Monday we fed Elder Cheney and Fix as Elder Cheney completes his four changes in the office.  They are a fun bunch and do a real good job.  They wanted hamburgers.  Tell me how you eat two hamburgers, a hot dog with jello and chips and still have room for apple pie?  Well, they did it with ease.  On Tuesday we had a repeat performance with the Assistants as Elder Richmond goes home this week.  Again, they eat like young men.

Tuesday night was a special night.  Our mission doctor, Mercedes Bregante and her husband, Alejandro, came to dinner.  We had such a wonderful time.  We love visiting with the people of Uruguay.  They have such interesting perspective on things.  They go to the states from time to time so I hope that one day we can have them come for a visit.  For dinner we had roast beef, baked potatoes and homemade rolls.  For dessert we had pear pie.  It was really good.

So when you have a big roast with a lot left over, what do you do?  How about invite the Eddy family over for BBQ beef sandwiches?  That works.  It was fun to have them over.  They liked the view from our apartment.  Hopefully we can have them over again.

On Thursday we had inspections with the Este Zone.  I had promised to take Elder Ruiz and Elder Guerra for “mega mila pizza”.  You may remember Elder Ruiz from “El Bauru” fame.  Well, we still had BBQ beef left over and so we gave them the option.  Good answer!  They liked the BBQ Beef just as much as I do.  After Thursday we were pretty tired of having dinner in our house.  To rest up a bit we went to visit Humberto and Cristina.  She just got a new tablet and wanted us to help them set it up.  There should be a law that old people are not allowed electronic devices without youth supervision.  Gratefully the sisters were there to help or we would still be working on it.  In the end we think we have them set up so we can talk to them by Facetime when we go home.

Friday was another inspection day.  We did the Norte Zone that only has four houses.  The problem is they all have grass that needs to be cut.  The houses were pretty clean and the Elders helped us with the grass so it didn’t take too long.  We also managed to get in a trip to the Temple this week.  We are feeling more comfortable with Spanish so it is quite enjoyable.

Yesterday we had a Capilla Abierta in Trinidad.  This is about three hours from here so we left at 10:30 A.M. to be there by 2:00 P.M.  It was well attended and the members helped a lot.  They invited the mayor and his brother to come.  The members were so good to escort them and answer all of their questions.  On the way home last night, Natalie face timed us so we could see Spencer get baptized.  Even though we are a long ways away we could feel the spirit as he was baptized and confirmed.
By the time this is posted the world will know that Brandon was sustained in the Bishopric in Albuquerque today.  His father passed away several years ago and so he would have liked me to ordain him a High Priest to keep the priesthood line.  Too bad I was not able to.  Nate went down last minute and ordained him.  It’s good to keep it in the family.

We are about half way through the coldest part of the year and looking forward to it warming up.  We continue to enjoy our chance to help out and especially when we can teach like missionaries.  We appreciate all of the love and support from home and hope you are all having a wonderful summer.

Gordon and Renee