The Young Women
Lunch after a service project
The Palot Huacho, Lone Avocado Tree, what we give as our address
Our home at the Palto Huacho, Cuz Cuz, ouside Illapel
House made of Coke crates filled with concrete
Almost all doors and light fixtures hit Dale about here
New house in Los Vilos, once contract is signed
Almost the Lucky Leaf
House and sheep pen in back yard where we did a service project.
house found on a walk
It was hard transitioning over-night from summer to winter. However the winter here hasn’t been very severe and is almost over. How bad can it be when you look out your window & see oranges hanging on the trees? The homes here have no central heat/AC. It seems like the buildings retain the cold and everything you touch is freezing cold. Lately when we leave our house in the mornings, it feels warmer outside than inside. This past Sat. night we drove to a tiny mountain town called Canela (Cinnamon). They had asked us to do some training for their leaders. I always like driving during sunset. After the meeting (about 9pm) we drove up a mountain side (another one!) to President Moreno’s home and they treated us to dinner. We had scrambled eggs (bright yellow-from their ducks and chickens); goat cheese (home-made from their goat); a hot drink (Echo); tiny store bought cookies and of course PAN. Every meal always has bread! Many family members live in one house including grand-children. The Moreno’s home was small but tidy. It had no glass in the windows (or bars). They only had wooden shutters to pull closed at night. They were generous in feeding us & we loved getting to know them. The gospel of Jesus Christ really makes us feel like family. It seems to cross all the barriers of culture, language and generations in time. I have always wanted to travel back in time and being here in Chile feels like I have.
Did I already mention that all the adults stop and stare/gawk at Dale as he walks down the street but the children are often vocal? They say… “mama, mire, un gigante!” All the doorways are very low and Dale has to stoop to get under them. He has hit his head (seen stars) many times. One time as he was stepping up (one step) to enter our bedroom, while ducking his head, he bumped it so hard it hurt his neck. Our bed is too short for him and the mattress is lumpy with a huge sag in the middle. We are usually too tired for this to bother our few hours of sleep.
One fun way to pass a dark, winter evening is to gather and have Family Home Evening (FHE) or Noche de Hogar as they call it here. We have two really fun young (20yrs) Sister Missionaries here. One is sister (Hermana or Hna) Cazaut from Argentina. Her companion is Hna Valencia (Lima, Peru). They are out every day working hard & sharing the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They like to organize these FHE’s. The evening usually begins about 8 or 9pm. One Friday night we drove up to the Villa (a type of suburb to Illapel) for FHE. Most of the casas in the Villa are built on a steep hillside and they are attached to each other in rows. The streets are very narrow and often one-way. Parking is always a chore even though most of the home owners are lucky to own one car. Here is the process to enter another’s home. They all have walls in front, right next to the street, with locked gates which leaves a space of about 4-8’ between their front door and the wall. To enter you must first stand outside their little gated wall and holler “Halo!” If they are home, they will hear you (so will all the neighbors) They either stick their head out the window to see what you need or else come out & unlock their gate to let you pass in. The first few times you yell “Halo” outside a gate it feels funny! But it is not ever good manners to enter (even if the gate is open) until you have permission.
For FHE we squeeze a bunch (10-15 or more) people into a small area. We begin with a prayer, have a lesson on a gospel topic such as faith or the plan of salvation, then we play a game and have refreshments. Last Friday night FHE was in a country-home (Fernandas) about 8 minutes west of Cuz Cuz, near the Confluenza. We left the highway & drove up a steep, dirt road. Our branch president (Marambio) met us there with his family and others. I especially loved the game we played that night. It used a Spoon (una cuchara) and a fork (un tenador) and all you did was pass them around (opposite directions) while repeating a few simple words such as “Este es una cuchara” “una que?”... Maybe you know of this game. For me it was harder and fun played in Spanish. It got pretty loud and confusing when the items crossed. Most Noche de Hogars wind down with everyone standing around the kitchen table eating sweets and Lays Potato Chips (yes, potato chips have taken hold here!). This particular night I was thus engaged when I happened to glance into the adjoining room and saw a rat running along the wall. I must be adapting pretty well because it didn’t faze me & I just continued grazing! It is a custom here that when you enter or leave a home you must greet each person individually. So every person must hug-shake hands-hug again (men) or hug & kiss right cheek (women to women or man to woman) everyone! It takes a bit of time to greet & say good-bye to everyone! PS-We attended a 2nd FHE in their home and I learned the family owns a Hampster which runs free so I think this is what I saw J
As we were leaving FHE at Fernandas in the pitch black of night, somehow the Marambio’s truck collided with the rear of our car. We both had carloads of people and everyone let out a moan (universal language) when we heard the crash. Miraculously however, there was no damage done to either vehicle! For transportation most of the people use “Collectivos” or else the bus. A collective is like a taxi cab but with specific routes and stops. There a lots of them and they are always busy!
Well, let me close this epistle. We had a wonderful baptism last night for Clelia (Kelly). We got to help with her lessons and had one in our home and she asked Dale to baptize her. The youth did a service project (mutual) in her back yard Saturday, picking up rocks and debris so she can plant a garden. Her mother is also taking the missionary lessons. It is so good to watch the lives of people changing for the better and I love seeing that special ‘light’ that enters their soul and shines out their eyes as they learn about the restoration of the gospel and understand their prayers can be answered by our Father in Heaven to them thru personal revelation!
PS: It is now Thursday (29 Aug) and I hope to mail this today if we can get to the church to use the internet. Kelly’s mother is getting baptized tomorrow. Last night at her Bap. Interview Dale needed to stay for a meeting so I drove a group of sisters home. It was about 10pm and the road I happened to choose to drive out of town was barricaded with Carabineros. I was stopped and they asked for my license. He called his partner over and they both studied my NC license. They seemed a bit confused so after a minute they simply handed it back and said “Buenos Noches”. Whew,,,I was relieved because I have heard they like to ‘harass’ people & always question them extensively. We have all our papers etc in order but it is still scary. I noticed the 4 hermanas were VERY quiet when this was going on, which was very unusual! I think 2 of them being from other countries themselves silenced them. Not a peep or giggle or anything. After we drove away I heard the sweet sound of angels in the back seat singing the hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour”. PS—just heard that Kelly’s mom will be baptized also!
Thanks for all your prayers and love and support. I wish I could write personal notes and call each of you individually but with no phone and limited internet it isn’t possible. We love you all!