Wednesday, October 16, 2013


4 Oct.  2013 Fri.  ... In the afternoon went to visit a few folks and  on the way we ran into the Q's.  Bro. Q has a homade and operated distilling operation for producing various health products from natural plants.  His business isn't doing so good and it looks like they are going to have to pack it up and move south and do something else. I told him I knew a little about manufacturing process and I offered to take a look at his process. He got tears in his eyes he was so thankful. He said that is exactly what he needed, to be able to increase his output and sell more but he didn't know how.  He said he'd been praying to God to help him find a way.  

They getting ready to move because they can’t sell enough or make enough product to make a go of it.  He takes a truckload of one  type of plant and boils them down to get two little eyedropper bottles of product, one of which he GAVE to  Carolyn as a gift. That was humbling.  It represented a significant sacrifice for the family.

9 Oct. 2013 Wed.  .....After zone meeting (around 2 p.m.) in Ilapel we went looking for Maicol’s house, the young man who thought I was gifting him my triple combination but I said I’d have to get him another….  Well I got the new one, and it is very nice brown leather with gold trim and finger indents… much nicer than mine.  After asking around, I found he lived up on the highest street on the side of the mountain up from the church, a street they are tearing up and paving with concrete.

Once we got the car up there (after spinning wheels on the concrete on the steepest parts) I parked at the start of the construction and left Carolyn at the car (who wasn’t up for walking with her sore knee), and went looking.  I found his house (not home), but on the way I also ran into another one of those drunks who flagged me down and insisted I climb up the temporary construction wooden stairs up to the store where he was, and talk to him about his questions about God.   I’ve been telling Carolyn I’m some kind of drunk magnet.  I’m not sure this guy was drunk, but the way other people looked at him when they walked by us told me they knew him well and were leery of him (or me).  I got his name and reference so the Zone Leaders can teach him.

We then picked up Sisters Valencia and Cazaut and gave them a ride to Los Vilos for Sister Valencia’s 5 p.m. eye doctor appointment.  Remember Sister Valencia is a convert of less than 2 years and has been on her mission 6-8 months now  I think.  She is the one that left her glasses home and did not dare to ask her parents to send them because they are not members of the church and not happy she joined and went on a mission. 
After getting her all taken care of at the eye doctor and back on a bus to Illapel, we ran into our friend Patricio, the ex-drunk we met a couple of weeks ago.  An update on him... he has changed significantly since we first met him, and started coming to church with his daughter who just moved here and is not a member.  We have been talking to Patricio.  He was in need of bedding.  He says they don’t have enough bedding where he lives (with an older lady,he said) and they are cold.  We told him we had an electric blanket we could give him, if he could use it.  He said he would find a way (I don't think he has electricity, the way he said that). So when we saw him, we offered him a ride home with his new blanket. 

We were saddened to see where he lived, far on the edge of town where there was a small hut with lots of piles of rubble on the side made into a shelter.  We dropped him off at the edge of the pavement at the top of the hill.  He would not start walking to his house till we were out of sight. We think he was embarrassed for us to see he did not live in the hut.  We are afraid that he lives in the rubble next to the hut, which we think is the Lady's.  It is on a hillside right in the wind and in front of the ocean.  It would be very cold (we know because our house gets the ocean breeze and it gets down in the 40’s inside at night and our house is enclosed and we have an electric heater going all night.  It made us sad for him and his daughter. 

His “job”, or work, is putting on a bright colored reflective vest and standing outside the local “home depot” helping cars park and leave parking on the street, looking for oncoming traffic, etc.,. It is a job he has created.  It is a service he provides drivers, hoping for tips. 

He also hustles car wash jobs down town.  Guys like him can get a car amazingly clean with just a dirty rag and a half bucket of dirty water.  At least he has initiative and is not sitting around begging for coins and drinking like before.  He is hoping to soon be able to by a part for his bicycle so he can ride in to town for “work”.  The part he needs costs about $11, which is an awfully lot of money for him.  Now I understand why he is always telling me some guys in Vina del  Mar ( the big city 2 hrs away) charge $10-12 for a car wash and asking to wash our car.  He always asks when we see him. He is probably hoping to score a big paying wash job and be able to fix his bike.  At least I hope that is what he’s hoping, and that that is not the cost of a bottle of liquor.   Around here, $3-4 is an expensive car wash.  I think we're about due for a $12 wash.

10 Oct. Thurs.  Spent the morning with Bro. Quintanilla, Carolyn spent the morning with Sister Q.. They are a nice  family, members, with a home business that is not making it.  I showed him some things he could do to improve his business, a natural products health products business, extracting helpful stuff from native plants.  He uses very very simple equipment and processes he does not know he does not understand, but which are basic chemical and mechanical engineering stuff.  He told me he had tried some things I had suggested after our last conversation and had already DOUBLED his output. He was blown away. I think he's still only getting a few percent of what he could.

I also showed him how he can sell his stuff via the internet, and import raw materials much cheaper than he can make them from around the world.  His eyes were as big as silver dollars and blown away by what is available that he knew nothing about. He has 3 computers at home... a desk top and two laptops.  I wonder what he does with them?

 I am surprised at how naive some folks still are as far as the way the world has become a global market in the last 10 years or so, and how the internet has transformed the way people all over the world do business.  Most folks have laptops or tablets or internet phones here.  But there seems to be few that are really internet literate.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Cool Car

3 Oct. 2013. Thurs.  Visits in Illapel for visits. While visiting new converts Kelly and her Mom Mirella, Mirella taught me the names of all the beautiful flowers and plants they have in the gardens on the hillside in front of their house…. Lots of peach trees, plums, avocados, and other fruit I don’t know the name of.  There are flowers Raya del Sol (all different colors of “sun ray” flowers, small like daisys), clavelina (carnation), savila (like a big juicy yucca), lledra or yedra (like a geranium but smaller, thicker, shinier leaves, Cardenal (germanium), and the funniest name of all, a plant with big fat long leaves that look like big tounges that have little spots all over them and little prickles and a big barb on the end. The name of this one?  Lengua de Suegra….”mother-in-law’s tounge”.  Ha ha ha.  I thought that was so funny.  They kind of giggle too when they say it.

We went to an inactive member's house, in which I was not invited to the "women's only" discussion.  So I stayed in the car in the alley doing some paperwork.  Pretty soon a couple of the member's young boys came out and started asking me questions. Martin an old 4, and his semi-slow older 7 year old brother Vicente were admiring our car.  They were soooo excited to see a car close up.They wanted to know if they could sit in it. SURE!, I said. They were very pleased, and spent a long time exploring every little gadget and knob (believe me, there's nothing really special about the car... it would be pretty plain with no options in the States).  Soon they were asking timidly if they could go for a ride around the block.  SURE, I said, if their mom said it was ok.  They raced into the house and came out about 3 seconds later shouting "she said we could!, she said we could!"  About 5 rides later around the block, up the hill, down the hill, etc., I talked them into going on a walk instead.  "It ran out of gas?, they asked. 

Their infatuation with the car reminded me of our grandson Roman and how much he liked to just sit on the lawn mowers at Lowes and pretend he was driving them, and to look under the hood at the "Ennngine", he would gasp.  I don’t think these kids had ever been in a car before.  They were soooo excited to put their seat belts on and have the windows rolled down and shout to their friends to look at them, they were riding in a car.  It was really kind of cute.

Their dad has been out of work for over a year and there is a lot of financial as well as other pressures on this family.  They have been humbled, and they thoughts are returning to God.  I hope they make some needed changes that will bless their lives and the lives of their 8 kids, only 5 of which remain at home.  Things haven't gone so well for the family since they got off track.

Tender Mercies

25 Sept 2013 Wed. Los Vilos. When we got back from Illapel this afternoon Carolyn went into the house before me while I did a little tidying around the outside of the house.  Hna. Martinez, our land lady, in her visit last night, make it clear it was up to us to do whatever we wanted with all the jillions of little pots and coffee cups littering the yard full of cool-looking cacti, succulents, rubber trees and all kinds of other “indoor” plants that grow outdoors. 

I came into the house and noticed Carolyn in the bedroom kneeling by the bed praying.  At first I thought that maybe her meeting in Illapel this morning didn’t go too good and she was upset.  When she came out I could see she was crying.  I put my arm around her and asked what was wrong.  She pointed to her I Pad, which was open to a note from our daughter Melanie, the one with the serious pregnancy problem.  We knew she was seeing a specialist yesterday, to see if her bad situation also had another even worse complication on top of it.  

I immediately thought the worst.  I cautiously read her email.  To our amazement, the specialist said her situation had completely reversed and everything looked normal, and that she was cleared for a normal, instead of cesarean, delivery.  What?  I read it again.  Then I thought, she is just kidding and trying to just make us feel good for a minute or two.  But as I read and reread her email, and then after talking to her via Face Time, it was abundantly clear that our family, and especial Melanie's family we were the recipients of a real live miracle.  

Melanie had been told long ago that there was  no  longer  any chance that her problem could clear up... none ever had after that date...essentially zero probability that the baby would move and allow a normal delivery.  A cesarean was a sure thing, and the complications of sudden bleeding with her condition, endangering mother and unborn child was a high probability, as was the chance after childbirth of needing to do a hysterectomy that would prevent the possibility of future pregnancies.  She had gone to still another doctor, a specialist, to see if she was also at risk for a further complication her other doctors were worried about.  

We were not prepared to hear that everything had suddenly and miraculously changed since her last doctor visit a couple of weeks ago.  There really is no other explanation, than it is a miracle and blessing from God.  Any other rationalization as to how it could have happened seems to be an affront to God and his goodness and mercy.  

Thankfully, Carolyn’s prayer and tears, were prayers and tears of thanks and joy, and not of sorrow, concern and  worry.  We keep wondering why we’ve been granted such a tremendous blessing after so many months of constant prayers and so many fasts.  It is true we never gave up hope, and always felt  things would turn out OK in the end.  But it is also true that we were prepared for the worst.  The words “tender mercies of the Lord” fit pretty well in this case.

Our mission president told us a couple of weeks ago not to worry about it, that it would turn out just fine and that the Lord would bless us and her.  That turned out to be prophetic.  Thank you, Heavenly Father!