One of our first nights here in Illapel (a little village in a valley in the Andes Mtns), we were driving from our casa in Cuz Cuz into town to a meeting at the church. The town has many one-way streets and as it happened we turned the wrong direction on one of them and straight ahead saw the Red-Flashing lights of the Carabineros (state police). They immediately descended upon us. After giving Dale some scrutiny and viewing his North Carolina license, he was told that Class “C” in Chile was only valid for driving a motorcycle and not a car. (Of course on the back-side of his license is the description (in English) of what it’s valid for in the U.S.) The Carabinero (a?) informed Dale that she could take his license away right then because he needed a paper/certificate to go with it. She returned his license telling us to get the certificate. However, she did not know how or where we could obtain it!
Yesterday (31Aug) as we left the church in Los Vilos (a small town on the coast) to get some lunch, a Boracho (drunk) was begging for money and stepped into our path holding his hat our. Dale spoke with him and after seeing Dales Name Tag, he claimed that at one time he had joined our church and so was a member (but keep in mind he wanted $ and was intoxicated). Dale promptly offered to buy his lunch so we proceeded to a little café across the street where we ordered Pollo y Papa fritas (chicken and French fries). The café gave us a discount seeing that we were buying his lunch. He (Patricio) was very emotional and promised us he would try to contact the Elders soon and get his act together as he really wanted to get his life and family back.
Later, as we were leaving L.V. about 4pm to drive back to our home in Illapel, we turned off the interstate to head east up the mountain highway. A large, uniformed Carabinero was blocking the road with his vehicle and motioned us to pull over. After questioning us a bit he then asked if we would be willing to take his partner (a young twenty-something Carabinero) with us to Illapel. Of course we said “Si”. The young man was kind and courteous. Dale conversed with him (have you noticed Dale always does the talking? ….it’s been kind of a role reversal for us but my Spanish is still very basic) as we drove home (about 1 ¼ hour drive). The Carabinero He told us that he was carrying important documents for the Police in Illapel. He said he knew of our church & had met with some missionaries when he was a little boy and still remembered them. Dale gave him an over-view of the Book of Mormon and he said he would love a copy of it for his own. So we stopped by our house to get him one since it was on our way. When we pulled up to the house he immediately jumped out and carried in the groceries we had with us without even being asked. Dale then took him into the Police station.
Later that evening we drove to the church for a meeting with the Young Women (One of my responsibilities here is to instruct and help the girls 12-18yrs of age in our district which covers four towns). This night the girls were gathering for Mutual and it was their first time in several years to have this type of activity. Dale and I brought Chips (tortilla-which are hard to find here) and a Mexican Dip (it has Cream cheese in it which evidently is a new product here. In fact when I saw it at the store in Combarbala there were 2 old women pointing at it and asking me what it was. Now let me tell you that was a very short and lame discussion with them as I could NOT for the life of me think of how to tell them what Philadelphia Cream Cheese was, much less in Spanish J The chips and dip were a big hit with the girls! Our activity started late & went over time (customary Latina time) and it was 10pm before we realized it. We were giving a ride to the 2 younger (about 20years old) Sister Missionaries & their curfew is 10pm. As luck would have it when we were leaving the church we encountered yet another boracho. Dale and another church leader (Pres. Cortes) stopped to check on him as there were 2 concerned women around him telling him he should not sleep on the street on such a cold night. It turns out this man also was once a member as he had been baptized at 11years of age. His mother and aunt were members but he had lost his way and was desperate and ashamed of his lifestyle and being homeless. Some discussion was ensued as to what to do. In the mean time the Zone leaders who live in an apt. very near the church, spied from their upstairs window, the young Sister Missionaries waiting for us so they could get back home to Cuz Cuz. They began hollering at them asking why they were out so late etc. (It is against the mission rules for the young ones to be out past 10pm). We managed to leave pretty quickly then later Dale called the ZLs to explain that it was our fault the sisters were out so late.
So we are getting well acquainted with the local people and customs here in Chile. The members are all welcoming us into their lives. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings us all together as brothers and sisters and it is always amazing and wonderful to feel such love, friendship and kinship so quickly with complete strangers as we recognize this common bond. The missionaries here are all from many different countries but we feel as one in our purpose which is to bring souls to Christ. The life here is hard for the people. They are not highly educated and most work at jobs as miners, farmers or else they run small businesses in the towns or do odd jobs such as cleaning, washing and night-watch duty. When we first arrived at our casa I thought it would be hard to acclimate to such meager surroundings but now view it as a mansion compared with the other homes. We have cleaned and re-arranged it so it’s comfortable and we can study and work here in peace. We use our little house for discussions and Family Home Evenings and other activities. It is becoming a real home but we still miss you, our dear family and friends!
ps--the photo of the oreo on the dollar bill is a challenge to ya'll.
We are wondering if the oreos here are Smaller than those in USA?
Who will buy some oreos and tell us? they come in little rolls of about #12 cookies here and are pricey but we were so happy to buy some!
keep your letters and care packages coming :)
love u all!