Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas

Time has been passing more rapidly these last few months. The pace of city life is non-stop here in Valparaiso. We live on the 15th floor of an apartment complex that has an ocean view on one side and the hills, covered with houses on the other. They are built on top of another. Everything is vertical. Below our apt is Calle Argentina. It has a median that is lined with double rows of tall palm trees. There are several universities nearby. (DUOC). It’s fun to watch the students coming and going either by foot, train (located one block away) bike or micro bus. They like to hang out, use the internet at hotspots and visit during the day. The street vendors sell their wares and Mote con Huesillo (drink of fruit and softened grains) and snacks. At night they hit the bars and wake us up when they walk home about 3am.
There are also many smallish, industrial plants nearby. One of them toasts coffee or another grain (we think) another makes Zuko which is a popular powdered, instant drink. They don’t commercialize any of these with outside advertising so we just have to observe and discover what they do.
 I’ve been tempted to ‘pelt’ them from above-- but so far the only ‘bombing’ we’ve done was with marshmallows. It was our special way of saying farewell to our dear friends the Saldivar’s, as they were getting into their car below to leave their mission for home in CA. We couldn’t resist dropping a few on them, but we wouldn’t waste perfectly good (and expensive) marshmallows on anyone else.
Here are a few of our highlights from the past few months as we’ve been transitioning from life in the country/campo to big city.
·       Returning to Los Vilos to baptize a ‘golden’ family. Soledad & Marco Conejos
·       Visiting friends in LV (Rosa Martinez, Gabriella y Jaime, Ada, Milena, Patricio…)
·       Reuniting with members from the Illapel district at the temple and seeing the Adonis (Marcia y Manuel) family sealed with their children.
·       Touring around Vina with the Saldivar’s
·       Making new friends with 2 other matrimonials (Senior Missionary couples) working in Valpo on Family History missions (Gilberts from Las Vegas & Smiths from Boise Idaho.)
·       Getting to know the members in our district here in the ramas de Edwards, Levarte, Quebrada Verde.
·       Traveling to visit and speak at other stakes.
·       We love renewing acquaintances with the missionaries we’ve known from other areas.
·       Having a mall and Jumbo/Lider (Wal-Mart type) stores nearby.
·       Reuniting with our Pizza Club before Hna Actis Piza returned to Argentina

THINGS I DON’T LIKE: having to slice my own slivered almonds for a salad recipe; Using the narsty laundry room downstairs; the apartment only has a standard-size bed; Washing produce in a soapy solution before we can eat them; Crazy bus and collectivo drivers!
THINGS I DO LIKE: fewer fleas here; not having to light matches for hot-water/oven etc; having a variety of shopping and restaurants; our fantastic view of ocean and hills; getting packages from home; growing our family with new Grandbabies; being a part of missionary miracles every day!

A mission is like having Christmas every day, all year long! Merry Christmas to everyone!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Schrammpa's Journal Entry's

26 May, 2014, Monday, P-Day addendum.  One more thing.  I forgot a funny story about our trip to the town of Combarbala with Elder and Sister Saldivar.  On the way back down the dirt road from our drive up the valley to a little town called Ramadilla Playa,  Carolyn and Sister Saldívar complained the ride was so bumpy they couldn’t sing, and hadn’t gotten in any good practice time.  They like to sing harmony when they get together.  

So I pulled off a little side-shoot dead end road out in the middle of nowhere, and Elder Saldívar and I hiked up a little hill while the girls stayed in the car singing. (Elder and Sister Saldívar are another senior missionary couple serving in our mission).  We got to the top of the hill and looked around, nothing but rocks, cactus and a view that went on forever.  So I decided to shoot a picture of Elder Saldívar out in the middle of nowhere.  

I got out my camera with Elder Saldívar at the top of the hill, and he stepped backwards for the picture a little bit, but tripped and fell down in slow motion, literally in slow motion.  When he hit the ground on his rump, (don’t worry,  he didn’t hit hard, it was in slow motion) he “frogged” real loud (translate “farted” for those not from our family who don’t know the code).  It was so funny I cracked up laughing.  I laughed so hard, I frogged.  That made it even funnier.  We could not stop laughing… two old farts on top a hill in the middle of a desert in nowhere laughing our heads off.  

Awhile later I saw Elder Saldivar  nonchalantly using a large cactus spine as a needle, digging out a thorn he got in his hand as he broke his fall…as if that’s the way he always did it.

Photo is of the rugged desert terrain in our mission, and they type of cactus from which E. Saldivar used a spine for a needle.

27 may, 2014.  We were working at the church via internet this morning / afternoon and elder Bush and Benevente came by and treated us to lunch… PBJ on American “mold-bread”, which is what they call a loaf of sliced bread here, the kind like we eat in the US baked in molds.  Its sold here, but we have never  bought any because it doesn’t pass the squeeze freshness test.. seems to be 3 days old or so.  Why eat that when next to it in the supermarket are bins and bins of fresh breads still hot out of the oven that is cheaper?  Never the less, the PBJ sandwiches were good, and the yogurt they brought with it.  That was very nice of Elder Bush (Nevada) to share some of his peanut butter with us.  That was a real sacrifice, we know, because PB is very hard to come by here and the Elders hoard it if they can get it.  That’s the first time we’ve had young missionaries treat US to lunch.

I think it was a “thank you” for us taking them on a field trip with us on Pday, a walk/hike south of town to see/hear/smell the sea lions on Isla de los lobos (Seal Island).  The island is only a couple hundred yards off the coast, but you have to walk a couple of miles south of town to get there.  Elder Benevente (Peru) told us later in a letter he wrote after he was transferred that that was his “best P day ever”.   Four Elders went with us.  They were like little kids (reminded me of young Boy Scouts, actually) climbing and crawling over every little rock and exploring every little sea creature or treasure they found washed up on the beach…

In the evening we had a discussion at our house with our next door neighbor, Tio (uncle) Lucco. We invited Sister missionaries Macey (Logan, Utah) and Soza (Argentina) to teach him.  He is a real character, 81 years old.  Honestly, I think he taught us more than we taught him.  He said no one has ever taught him anything.  He has LEARNED it himself, by observing and thinking and listening to God. Sure enough, just about everything he said was spot-on gospel truth.  He’s a feisty old guy, and very fun to be around.  He’s a little hard of hearing, so he covers up by doing all the talking, and talking loud. Its hard to get in two words otherwise, much less two sentences.  The sister missionaries are SOOOO patient, and do such a good job.  He says if he could quit smoking he’d be baptized.  His wife died of lung cancer a while back, so he is motivated in some ways, others not.

Photo is of our next door neighbor Tio Lucco's place.  He  rents his yard out to "campers", who drive in and put up a tent next to their car.  We've seen 4-5 cars and tents crammed in this little place at once.

Photo towards "Seal Island", Isla de Los Lobos a couple mile walk down the coast from our town.

22 June 2014, Sunday. 7 a.m. early morning meeting in Illapel (one hour away over the mountains).  I stayed and spoke in sacrament meeting and gave a long talk on repenting of all the bad habits the members in the branch have. I took an extra 15 minutes  of Sunday school time to say everything.  Everyone patiently listened.  Funny thing though, everyone told me how much they liked the talk afterwards and how it was sorely needed (for everyone else but themselves).  The Relief Society President asked if she could post a copy of the talk on the bulletin board… for everyone else to read. No one really seemed to take it to heart personally as I hoped all would.

Later that morning, the new branch president, a recently returned missionary, was getting ready to ordain a new member a priest in priesthood meeting today in front of everyone when he suddenly realized and blurted out that he’d  never done it before and didn’t know how.  Ummm….. awkward!  So I did a little training session for everyone, and then stood by him as he performed the ordinance. I figured if the branch president didn’t know how to do it, most of the rest did not know either, so I might as well train them all.

After the meetings I trained the branch president on how to handle fast offerings funds to help persons in need.  It just so happened that aA street person named Francisco we met in Illapel yesterday, an inactive member from Santiago who we invited to church, came to church today and asked for help from the branch president.  Francisco is one of those guys you see on the street with a bucket of water and a dirty rag that will wash your car and make it look really good, for 5 or 6 dollars equiv. U.S.   He stunk really bad because he said he  hadn’t had a bath in about a month.  He felt really bad about his lack of personal hygiene and told me yesterday that he liked living in the street, but that what he missed and wanted more than anything was a bath or shower.  He asked yesterday if  I could help him find a place to bathe.  Just then Elder Beck and his companion walked by.  I asked them if they knew where he could get a shower.  They offered to let him bathe in the baptismal font before they let the water out of the baptism they were about to have.  Hmmm.  He didn’t go… he was too embarrassed.  But he came to church.  I could smell him at the podium and he was seated on the back row. 

I listened to the counsel this young branch president, (returned missionary, not married), gave the street person at the end of his interview.  It was inspired council.  It seemed especially remarkable and insightful coming from such a young man.   It was as good as any Bishop anywhere could have given.  I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, since inspired counsel from our leaders is really coming from Him who knows everything.  I hope this guy follows it.

That is one of the most impressive things I think I have seen here… not this incident in particular, but in general.  I see that despite the human weaknesses, lack of training, etc.  in the leaders, the Lord is still guiding them when they need to make inspired decisions or give people inspired counsel.  I see it almost every week in one leader or another, and it is really amazing to watch them do it without knowing they are doing it.  They say the most amazing things.  I guess I see it so much here because the leaders turn to me for help and lots of time I will stay with them for moral support while they help someone.  There can be no question that the Lord himself is not guiding the leaders and members in His church daily.  They really don’t need me at all because I never need to say or add a thing.  They always do it just right.  Then after the interview, they revert back to being a normal person with a million weaknesses just like any other human being.

Back in Los Vilos, this evening I visited Sergio H.  with the branch president here, to give him a copy of his priesthood line of authority.  The branch president had just ordained him an Elder today after receiving the authority to do so.  I was interested to see that branch president's priesthood line of authority, here in the middle of nowhere in Chile, got back to an apostle jast as fast as mine does… 2 people.  I was ordained a High Priest by Donald Pinnel, who was ordained a high priest by Elder Boyd K Packer, an apostle.  The guy that ordained president Jerez was also ordained by an apostle.  The more I think about it, it is probably like that for MOST leaders in the church.  Our priesthood lines of authority are amazingly short back to the Savior himself.

The photo is what the street in front of the Illapel chapel looks like at 7 a.m. Sunday morning.  Usually its packed with cars and pedestrians of all types.

Meet Maria

¡Meet Maria! Written 2014 Mayo 
One thing there is no shortage of here in Chile is interesting people who are living difficult lives.  Maria is a woman in her 70’s.  She lives alone in a small house here in Los Vilos.  Well, almost alone. Her son ‘un borracho’ (Roberto) as she introduced him lives ‘around’ her house. He sleeps on the front porch stoop at night to guard over her home and during the day he hovers in the back patio area and slips in and out of the house when she isn’t looking to raid the fridge. He’s seldom invited in but you can tell she loves him.  Maria is very hard of hearing, even when she has her hearing aid on.
Dale and Pres. Jerez visited her at her home and soon afterwards she fell ill (not due to the visit hopefully) and asked for a blessing. She had been in the hospital so they picked her up in the car, gave her a ride back home and then a blessing.  Evidently she had been in the hospital for several days because upon entering her home they we all greeted with quite a situation.  Her cats had been shut up in her hogar.  There was excrement all over and several of her ‘grandma’s collection items’ (vases, urns, figurines etc) were broken.   It was a wreck and the smell was horrible.
Another week or two passed and I was invited to go visiting teaching to this same house.  Maria could not hear us knocking at her door nor could she hear the ring of her phone when we tried to call her.  We left but later returned for a 2nd try.  At last her son (Roberto) came out from around back. He said he would get her and soon disappeared into the rear section of the patio.  We heard him as he proceeded to yell very loudly and pounded on her back entrance.  It worked and Maria woke up! 
She let us in the front door. The smell of cat urine was still very strong in her home even though the mess had been cleaned up. As we began chatting a white cat came out from under the couch. I watched as it jumped from the floor to the sofa then to the table top and proceeded climbing up her lace curtains at the front window clawing and shredding them.  Soon, another white cat pushed inside the front door which hadn’t been latched tightly and I saw a third cat waiting outside. She said she only owned one cat.  We’ve noticed that most of the cats and dogs here seem to enter homes, stores, restaurants and churches at will.  Often they are ‘shooed’ out but if you are in any way agressive to an animal you are frowned upon.  Due to Hna Marias hearing loss her speech is a bit slurred but she is still understandable. (Uh, that is if you can understand Spanish ;)
Well, last Sunday Marie was asked to share a few remarks in Sacrament Mtg. When it was her turn, she gathered her scriptures and purse and headed up to the pulpit to deliver her talk.  She is very intelligent and has a beautiful, strong testimony of Jesus Christ.  About 3 minutes into her talk the chapel erupted with the sound of her cell phone ringing.  She has to set it really loud so she can hear it, but it turns out she was the only one in the congregation who couldn’t hear it.  She had set her purse on the side of the pulpit/podium and so one of the members of the branch presidency, hoping to help her, reached for it (hesitantly and timidly, using only his thumb and index finger).  He soon realized it wasn’t in her purse but on her body.  She was wearing a sweater with a large pocket on the side, so he lightly tapped that as she came all of a sudden came to understand that it was her cell phone ringing!  At this point she gasped and flung aside the scarf at her neck, and reaching into her bosom, she retrieved her cell-phone and turned it off.   (Luckily she didn’t answer it J)
I would be lying to say this was the only exciting moment of this meeting.  Meetings are seldom normal here.  On Mother’s Day little 9 year old Carlota, was sitting next to me.  She had a small balloon filled with flour (rather than air). It had a face drawn with marker on it.  During the meeting she stretched it a little too far, once too often and it EXPLODED, spraying flour all over herself, the pew and the floor. I managed to escape the worst of it.  Her mom was sooooo distraught and began trying to clean it up with her fingers and scraping it together into piles with pieces of paper.  It is by far the biggest mess I have ever seen in the chapel (yes, even worse than vomit).  Clouds of flour dust covered Carlota’s black knit pants, dark hair and chubby cheeks as she tried to help her mom.  Seriously I thought her mom would never return due to embarrassment.  At the end of the meeting we asked an Elder (Beck) to get the vacuum and I explained to her mother that one day she would look back on this incident and laugh about it. I had to reassure her it was OK and that everyone that has ever had a child understood.  She broke down and cried pretty hard. She was ready to go home but they stayed through the rest of the meetings. Carlota has some learning problems so I know her mom is pretty stressed at how out-of-control she can get.
Sadly one of the other interruptions for this meeting (the original meeting I was writing about) turned out to be a heart-attack of one of the husband/fathers of a family. He is not a member & was at home when it happened. His wife and 2 (grown) children were scattered in the chapel (one sitting up front on the stand) so each in his own turn, received news of the emergency (via text?) and gathering up their things, left.  The father is OK now and expected to recover fully.  I spent much of my time during this same meeting helping to entertain a little boy about 4 years old and his sister (2yrs) so their grandma (or great aunt?) could listen to the talks. She usually has her hands full with the kids and doesn’t seem to have an abundance of patience. Sometimes she is louder in trying to shush & corral them & get them to be quiet, than the kids are.   It was fun for me to help out but she knew I was caring for them so when the 2 year old escaped out of the chapel a few times it was me chasing her!   I always love the look on little kids’ faces when they hear me try to speak Spanish.  They know I am worse than them!

*PS-I wrote this post a few weeks ago. This past weekend Roberto passed away.  We visited Maria and she told us it all happened in 10min. It was probably due to liver cirrhosis but he ended up having a heart attack.  By the time she had run (4-5blocks down the street) to the hospital to get help and returned he was gone.  She is very upset to lose one of her children. He was about 50years old.  It is very shocking how many people have very short lives here. Health care is Gov. run and really horrible. We know so many maimed, crippled, deaf and blind people who would not be thus if they had had the good fortune to live in the USA.  (Not sure how long that will remain true with all the current issues going on with health-care, immigration etc.  We are praying for our dear country!)

​PSS.... One more update to Meet Maria (Arancivia)

One of Robertos friends that went to Marias house to be with the family and share in their grief and memories at the time of his death, went out back to the patio area.  They had a fire going to stay warm and he somehow got too close and caught on fire.  Maria told us about this when we last visited her.  The ambulence came to her house and he was taken to the La Serena hospital.  (a few hours to the north).  I learned last week that he too passed away.  ​

 Senior Missionaries
 Valparaiso from a distance
Valpo - houses being rebuilt from a fire

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hair Journal

A while back I was in desperate need for some help with my hair.  I will admit I’ve been spoiled over the years, having others cut and color my hair.  A friend of mine in Los Vilos always seemed to have her hair styled nicely, so I got the name of her ‘beautician’ (now there’s a word from the past!) and headed over for my appointment with Carola at her ‘Peluqueria’.  It is always nice to chat with the lady doing your hair but having very limited conversation skills, our ‘chat’ was pretty soon dead. Carola owns a spacious beauty-parlor. When I arrived I was the only customer for the first 15 min. then a few more patrons entered and sat down to wait their turn.  It was very cold inside!  She was the only one working and there must have been 10-15 people waiting by the time I left.  Chileans seem to be very patient when they have to be, in a Post Office or government line. However, they all know how to push their way to the front of a counter and get served first when that is an option!  I felt like I had an audience this day, but if there was anything out of the ordinary happening, they didn’t seem to notice. 

Carola began coloring my hair by ‘painting’ the dye on top of my hair with a paintbrush; yes, a real big, clumsy paintbrush that splattered everywhere.  *I know Dale can sympathize with the ‘paint brush’ issue because he has helped paint homes with really horrible brushes and paint that is more water than paint.  Next she pulled out a box of plastic wrap and proceeded to ‘wrap’ my entire head several times with saran wrap.  I was then moved under a large electric heater. A type of helmet was put over my head (different from the hair dryers I’ve ever seen used in the states). When I began to hear a loud noise, I looked up into the mirror across the room. I was startled to see huge clouds of steam escaping out of my helmet-covered head.  *Here’s where I was reminded of a movie our family loved to watch called ‘Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang’. There’s a scene where the father (Dick Van-Dyke) goes to a carnival to earn some money, taking with him his latest invention; a hair-cutting device that is attached & powered by him pedaling his bicycle. By the time he notices the smell of burnt hair, and he turns to see his client, there is smoke pouring out from the helmet and  then, when removed, there is not a hair left on the top of his head.* This was the image I saw when I looked into the mirror at the Peluqueria!  I remember thinking this can’t be happening.  It’s 2014 and I am in Chile in a nice salon paying to have my hair done.  I remember hearing the Eagles sing “hotel California” on a bad radio connection, as I was being cooked under the loud machine.  I was relieved that my prayers were answered and I still had all my hair when she finally set me free.  But not for long. Because next I was taken over to the hair-cutting chair and out came the Razor Blade! It is the first and hopefully last hair cut I’ve ever had that was done entirely with a razor blade. I was left with super short and a very ‘ragged’ cut.  When I got back home I found a pair of scissors and tried to even it up. The cost of this adventure wasn’t bad. (About $30 in USA dollars)  Pretty cheap considering food, clothing and most everything else you buy in a store (or at the Feria) is tiny and costs about double what it would in the US. 

I guess having hair (or lack of it) is one of those life-long problems we all have to endure.  It’s a full time battle I’m waging against grey hairs, wrinkles, arthritis; and other aches and pains of old age. But it beats the alternative as Grandpa Roland Schram always says. I will end with this quote I love.
“I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.

I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.  I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.  I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden.  I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.  I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”    ― Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Big Tree

April 24, 2014
We had a super fun time at this Soc Soc (sociedad de Socorro) dia en el campo.  It was at Hna Nancy Chavez out past Salamance. I loved the huge tree that we ate under.  It was warm so shade was appreciated.  Sister Nancy makes herbal tea and other natural products like dried fruits and jams.  Everyone always brings their own plates; cups and utensils to any functions.  They wash them (rinse them) and reuse them as necessary.  This day they were used for desayuno and almuerzo.  After eating we went for a 15-20 walk down to the river bed. The water was cold and it felt good on our bare feet.  It's the dry time of year so very little water was in the riverbed.  Grapes looked to be doing fine--- We should have some more Super Raisins soon!   enjoy the photos!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Baby Emily

Elder and Sister Schramm
Tajamar 171   
Los Vilos (Coquimbo Región)
CHILE     1940000

April 15, 2014 (yes, we did our taxes!)

Dear Kids (and Grandbabies!),                                                                          
I am writing this in the style of an old-fashioned letter.  First I want to say thank-you for sending all the photos and little video clips of the Spring Break Schrammily Reunion!  It looked like so much fun.  I loved that you did all the normal things.  Charlie did an awesome job with a Treasure Hunt; a cake was made in behalf of Teddy Bears Picnic; lots of Pig-out parties (those M&M cookies looked especially good.)  You watched What About Bob & even managed to get the Bartlett Bug!!  Wow!  You went all out!  Did everyone get sick?  Did you send texts to each other all night long with updated statuses on who was in which bathroom etc.?  Also, the painting job on the deck stairs looks awesome!  The trip to Wilmington’s boardwalk and visit to Kilwins Ice-cream parlor absolutely made my mouth water!  I didn’t hear if you made it to Max’s but I’m sure you didn’t lack for food! The pictures of the ocean and clear blue skies are solace to my soul!

Today was a tough day. I guess really we had two hard days. We’ve been waiting for the perfect P-day (Monday) to go to a ‘big-city’ and do some shopping. Dad needs new jeans as his only pair is wearing out and he didn’t bring any ‘work-out’ clothes for our morning walks. I wanted some shoes but they didn’t carry any in wide widths. At any rate, we set out early in the morning to go to the mall in La Serena and Jumbo (Walmart).  About half-way there we got a phone call from the district president informing us that a baby in our branch had passed away.  It was hard to have any fun after that phone call.  Everywhere I looked I was reminded of babies. Your dad had to leave and go back to the car and get out his computer. He spent some time helping the new branch president learn about funerals (Manual 2). The shopping trip was somber and we went straight back home to the church to grieve with others.

We knew the baby was sick and had gone to the hospital. Her name was Emily. She was born Dec 2, 2013. Just 4 months old. I was particularly attached to her because all last fall I was watching Jocelyn (mom) grow her baby and I was thinking of my own daughters back home in like manner.  They have an older son, Sebastian, about 4 years old.  I attended the baby shower. I even won a game! We were each blindfolded and give a piece of paper and pencil. Then we were to draw a picture of a baby. Sebastian chose the best drawing.  Well, having watched a blind person draw (maybe in a movie or on TV?) I understood that if I used my other hand to mark positions on the paper for instance, where I had begun the circle for the head or eyes, I could complete the circles properly.  I did draw a pretty good looking baby complete with pacifier and other accessories! 

One day at church I wore my dress with the red shrug. Jocelyn loved it and I told her I liked her skirt. So as it happened we ended up trading.  I came out ahead on the deal as I was happy to receive 2 skirts in the trade!  Well, where her little Emily arrived she was the cutest baby ever (next to our grand-daughters of course!)  Everything was good and the baby was growing well.  Last month I was sitting in Relief Society and glanced over at a woman nursing baby Emily (and I knew it wasn’t her mom). Turns out Jocelyn had to go to work and so her sister (member but less-active) came and was feeding baby Emily. She has a baby of her own just a few weeks younger and evidently had plenty of milk to spare.

Every week the sisters meet in the church to visit and knit (Tuesday nights). Last week Jocelyn brought the refreshments. She baked apples and filled them with a type of cream filling.  She learned how to knit last fall (okay so it was ‘spring’ here but somehow October just isn’t spring in my mind…)  The next week she came with all these cute baby hats, booties and dresses she had knitted. Last Tuesday she brought a pastel pink dress she had made (for Easter?) and another sister (Bernarda) was crocheting flowers to attach to it.  Everything changed so fast. As I understand it Emily got sick (developed into pneumonia) and when they took her in to the hospital they found that she had an enlarged heart.  It was too late and the illness had been too much for her tiny body and so she succumbed.

I remember all too well the feeling we had when we learned baby Gemma had a heart problem. We are so thankful for the wonderful doctors who took their time and followed proper procedures in a timely manner.  The government healthcare here is a total disaster. We’ve been to the hospitals. We know how it is. So many of our dear members have health issues left unattended. At best they are diagnosed and then told to go somewhere else to a specialist and maybe they are seen in 6 months or a year.  Our RS president lives in constant pain. I know she needs a knee replacement.  She always has extreme pain in her chest and her left arm.  I have told her and she knows how serious it is. She has been to the doctor but was put off and then needed papers to see another doctor etc….  It doesn’t surprise me any longer to see blind, maimed or crippled bodies shuffling down the streets.  And let’s not talk about the extremely high rates of cancer. It’s just scary.

Back to Emily, yesterday the little body was in the tiniest casket. It was satin, all-white with a big bow. They had hung up white, gauzy ribbons and pink and white balloons and had some Xerox pictures of her put here and there in the flowers. There were lots of very beautiful floral arrangements.  It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do when it was time for me to go look at her lying in her casket. I’m not trying to make this letter really sad but I know you will all understand how precious this (and all) little baby was. She was fortunate to belong to a very, very large family.  There were hundreds of people at the church to offer love and support. Yesterday the dynamics of the cultural hall shifted and changed as people came and went. Hymns were sung, words spoken and love was shared along with many tears.  I’m so very proud of Jocelyn. She wanted to speak at the funeral today and she did an awesome job. She was a pillar of strength even though I understood her to say she had no strength any longer. Dad says that she spoke of knowing that their daughter would be taken someday. She was just totally surprised that it happened so soon and so quickly. She understood that Emily had fulfilled her purpose and she was too good to have to spend any more time on this earth and be contaminated from it.  Yes, she broke down many times and cried into many a shoulders saying “Mi nina, mi princesa,,,,”   She spoke of her arm always reaching out for her baby and now it falls empty to her side. (I’m remembering it as I understood it)  I can still see the tears on her cheeks as she spoke from the pulpit. They honestly looked like diamonds sparkling. She wore a white dress and looked heavenly.  Maybe someday I will be able to tell her how proud I was of her and how she looked like a true mother in Zion, enduring hardship and being refined from it.  I would tell her that someday her children could be as numerous as her tears were these past few days.  But there is much work to do first….like getting them to the temple and sealed forever.  They are both active in the church and he is a return missionary.
People always procrastinate and none of us really sees the beginning from the end of life. We don’t know how long or short life will be. But we do know what is most important.  FAMILY.  That is what it boils down to. FAMILY.  We think there are so many things in this life but if you don’t have someone to share it with then it’s nothing. Not now or in the eternities. When I was young I used to worry about getting to see my father again (he passed when I was 7 yrs old) and my brothers and sisters and living together in heaven. Later, it got a bit more complicated when I my mother remarried and I gained a step-dad and also step (and half) brothers and sisters. Then when your Dad and I began our own family all I wanted was to have our 5 children in heaven with us. Now we have an additional 5 (may I mention they are all fantastic?) kid-in-laws (& their families whom we consider family too) 10+ grandbabies and of course more to come J  So, in our ‘older’ age we are seeing a bigger picture of eternity.  It doesn’t matter too much what type of family we have at the moment because it will always be changing. As long as we are with family we will be happy. I love Heavenly Fathers plan of happiness. I love being a representative of Jesus Christ and sharing the good news of the restored gospel. Of course I don’t always do it very well in Spanish.  I have had to learn better how to communicate through the spirit and right to the heart since I don’t have the words for it.  I really love these people here in Chile. I know I would love the people anywhere we were called to serve, because the love comes from the Holy Ghost who is my constant companion. 

Well time to sign off.  This was much easier to type than it would have been to write it in long-hand as they did back in the olden days. Have you guys started teaching our grand-children about the ‘olden days’? Do they know about hard work? (Like hauling buckets of water (or rocks or you name it) all over the place?) Do you share your testimonies with them? Don’t leave it up to the primary or Sunday school classes or it won’t happen! One thing that never changes is the Gospel so please be sure and instill this precious gift in them while they are young. They will need every bit of spiritual strength they have to have peace and live in a world where so much wickedness abounds. I hope you can feel our love and prayers are with you constantly. We feel yours! 

Sincerely and with much love!
Mama, Schramma, Paw Shaw etc

PS- have you taught them our secret family handshake (squeeze) yet?  Hint: Do you love me?

Sunday, April 6, 2014


An Email from Schramma (Sister Schramm): 

dear fam....
We had only been home for about 2 min (around 9pm) last night when the towns alarms went off. Then the police drove around w/ loud speakers telling all to evacuate.
I could hardly believe it.  We just grabbed our coats and computers and got in the truck and headed for higher ground. We spent time helping get others get situated to higher ground. Then we tried to sleep in the truck until we could go back home (2am'ish) after the hours of danger had passed.  Learned a pretty good lesson thru it all---  I felt like Lots wife because I could see my house down below and just wanted to return and go to bed. There was no visible danger and after listening to the radio reports we knew the big waves would not come this time---  thank-goodness.  It was a very long day but kinda exciting too.
We did not feel the earthquake and it was a calm night so hard to believe. Also not having TV etc--it is surprising when you hear news delivered thru a siren and neighbors etc.  I talked to a neighbor for a min. and could tell she was in 'shock' over it. Even here where they are used to earthquakes they don't often have to evacuate.  Only the parts of town down low near the beaches had to leave for high ground.
Monday (zone conf) the pres. spent some good time covering emergency preparedness in these types of situations. We even and 2 mock scenarios. For the future I will pack a little bag of cloths and snacks and remember water. I barely had time to dump my home-making stuff from my back-pack and put in my computer stuff. No time to think about choosing a pair of pants or crackers etc.  Then dad was honking and I forgot to lock the door (did lock the gate) but we had a good spot to watch over our house....  prob write more on our blog soon!
Tks for all your prayers and calls etc.  Lots of people here did the same and made sure we knew to leave :)
lovies, mama

An Email from Schrammpa (Elder Schramm): 

Email exchange  w/ Tom Saldivar, another missionary couple who are serving about a hundred miles north of us in Monte Patria.

April 4, 2014

Buenos Dias,

How you doing?? Did you feel the shaker this morning around 7AM.  We were just waking up and talking about removing those warm blankets when the windows started rattling then the house started to move.. we jumped out of the sack and grabbed our robes and shoes and went outside.

It was a 5.2 epicenter was in Salamanca..

 Check out these stats on seismic activity in Chile... as of two days ago..
Chile has had: (M1.5 or greater)
·       47 earthquakes today
·       68 earthquakes in the past 7 days
·       154 earthquakes in the past month
·       362 earthquakes in the past year
Did you know that there are more earthquakes in Chile than any place else on earth... fun place to live.

We decided we better get a "go kit" ready and keep it by the door.  Water, granola bars,  nuts & raisins, canned fruit, TP, a few pesos... maybe a pair of sox and clean underware...the last item is crucial,  especially if the quake was bad enough to merit using the go kit,  I probably would have messed my pants !!

Take care... mostly just wanted to say "hi"

To Tom:
Ha ha ha.  We updated our go-kit  to include underware after  our  first tsunami evacuation when the 8.3 Iquique quake hit tuesday.  Then we used it the next night on wed. for the 7.9 Iquique aftershock, when we again  had to  evacuate to high ground  Then we had the 7 a.m. shaker (the next morning?) and later that night around midnight we had a real shaker that lasted a long time.  We heard it and woke up before we  felt it.  It sounded like distant thunder rumbling and coming closer and closer and  then the whole house started shaking when  it arrived,  probably for at least 30 seconds.  

Its really amazing how  fast the news reports these things.  The last two we've turned on the radio to see where the epicenter was, to get an idea if there is a tsunami/evacuation threat.  They are literally reporting the location and intensity and everything else  you can think of  within 30 seconds... who felt what itensity, who lost power and who did not, etc..

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sea Monster Mystery!

I have many more photos, but this is enough to tell the story of these strange tracks we came upon, on a deserted section of beach.

These huge claw sets of tracks came out of the ocean.  The were in sets of 4 and about 10 feet apart.  The tracks were pointing perpendicular to the direction of travel.

The came out of the ocean, went down the beach for 30 or 50 yards or so, and then went right back into the ocean.  There were no drag marks like a turtle or sea lion would make.  And the thing was very heavy, judging by how the sand was pushed in the tracks.

Anyone know what these are?

We have these horses that wander around town without anyone watching over them.  They eat the grass in the parks and plazas, eat trash out of the trash recepticles, seaweed on the beach, etc.   They poop all over the place in the streets and sidewalks and plaza.  Sometimes we see donkeys wandering around too.  Nobody else seems to notice.  I caught this horse raiding the trash around 10 p.m. one night, right on a main busy street.  I thought it was just the many stray dogs scatering the trash all over at night. This horse has the high trash all to himself.

Starfish at low tide holding hands. 

More on Fleas

We had the house fumigated, so now I only get a few flea bites a day from what ever gets on me during the day walking around.  I had hundreds, for a while there, because I'd get 20 - 50 a day and they last and itch FOREVER, and leave scars that I don't know how long they last.  Your Mom seemingly has only had 2 or 3 the whole time we've been here.  The exterminator guy tells me its because I'm allergic to the fleas' anticoagulant they inject when they bit you, to keep the blood flowing, and she is not.  She's probably getting bit too, but doesn't react.  None of the Chileans seem to be bothered by them.  I see lots of stray dogs that are very bothered by them.  You can't walk anywhere without stray dogs coming up to you, and they're lounging around on all the sidwalks and in front of people's businesses and doors, especially on the main streets.   Its real easy for fleas to hop  off a dog and on to a person.  You'd never see it, they're so small and quick.

I don't feel them biting.  But occasionally I think I feel them walking around under my clothes looking for a place to bite. What do you do when you feel that itchy feeling and you're at someone's house in the middle of a discussion?  They get under your clothes and you can never see them they're so quick and small and blend in to dark colors.

The fleas here are very small. I've only seen two.  They really big ones are the size of a pin head.  They're impossible to kill by rubbing them between your fingers and squeezing or slapping them like mosquitos.  But you can stun them by rubbing them real hard between your fingers so they don't jump away real quick, and then you can smash them with one fingernail against the other.  That is the missionary way.

Its already getting cold again, after only a few weeks of cool (not warm) weather.  When the sun is not out, (most of the time here on the coast except for a few weeks in the summer) its like the Lucky Leaf in winter on a cold cloudy windy day.  The only difference is its the same temperature inside your house as outside, so you never get away from the cold.  This morning when we woke up it was 58 deg. inside the house.  Not too bad.  Sometimes it gets real cold inside.

The people here are very strange to us, when it comes to the temperature.  All winter long, they leave the doors to the church wide open and open the windows in the classrooms because its "too hot", or "too stuffy".  Because the wind blows always, and the way the church is designed like an "H",the wind comes screaming in the front door and down all the hallways and out another door.  They like that when its about 45 degrees inside and out, and they bundle up and are happy.

Then, in the peak of summer, like January and Feb, when the church building (all concrete and stone and ceramic tile finish) is just warming up to about 65 deg or so (you'd think they'd be boiling if 45 is hot to them in the winter, right?). But in the summer, they all start complaining about 65 deg. being cold and they turn on the heating system till its about 80 inside, and they still complain about it being cold.  But they still leave the front door wide open (65-70 outside). They will never turn on the heater in the winter no matter how cold it is inside.  "Its not good for your health to have warm air in the winter", and "there is no reason to waste all that gas."  

We have quit trying to close doors and windows to keep the temperature moderate, because within a couple of minutes someone will open them. Its like trying  to stop the tide or the wind.

Imagine the sensory experience of hundreds of these.  They last about 3 weeks.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 23

23 Feb 2014 Thurs.  Spent the day researching addresses and looking up inactive Elders and prospective Elders.  In the evening I drove to Illapel for district Presidency meeting while Carolyn stayed in Los Vilos.  On the way home, around midnight, I pulled over at the top of the mountain pass to look at the stars.  It was an unusually clear and dark night… dark except for the Milky Way with an unmistakable swath of bright white from horizon to horizon… and except for the trillions of other stars everywhere.  I have not seen a sky like that since camping as a kid in the back country of New Mexico when at that time there was little light pollution and other forms of pollution to block the starlight.  It is absolutely awe inspiring to see the heavens here on dark, clear nights. 

I can only begin to imagine what the view is like a few more hundred miles to the north of Chile, in the high desert where some of the most famous telescopes in the world have the clearest view from anywhere on earth.  That is because they are so high, and the desert there so dry (some places have never recorded any rainfall, ever) that the air is crystal clear, giving great views of the heavens. Wowzer.  

Ben and I once stopped in the Wyoming desert around 2 a.m. on our way to Utah, to look at the stars in the dark sky there. (Maybe it was Calvin.  No matter.  One of them can witness that it was a great sight that they will probably remember for a long time.)  Anyway, the difference between the dark sky here and that, is like the difference between the Charlotte NC sky and Wyoming.  (In Charlotte, there is so much humidity and light pollution that you only see a few of the brightest stars).  


Friday, February 21, 2014

February Update ~ Schramma

It is an interesting summer in Los Vilos. Since many of the vacationers arrive here from Santiago there is a larger number of ‘fair-skinned’ people with light eyes here. Evidently the Europeans were a big part of the early settlements of Chile, mainly in the southern parts. They became the wealthy land-owners and businessmen.  They are pure Chilean but look different than those here in the small, northern towns and country.

Here are a few random thoughts---
Transportation: Most do not have personal autos so they pay for a collectivo or taxi if it’s too far to walk or they have too much to carry. It’s important that they live within walking distance for daily life.

Housing: No urban sprawl here!  Even though there is lots of undeveloped land here (mountains and coastal) the towns remain very compact. People live with & on-top of each other.  A small dwelling will rent for ($200-300/month). They are very tiny casas. It is normal for the renter to remove everything before vacating, including any light fixtures, curtain rods, kitchen cabinets etc. Everything goes-

Technology: They all have and use internet (Facebook is huge here) and cell phones but they never seem to have enough calling minutes. Since an in-coming call is usually free or greatly reduced in cost, they like to receive calls but not to make them.  We find it interesting that the tiny houses hold upwards of 3 TV’s each. It’s common for every child to have their own electronic devices, including TV.  TV’s are one of the few things less expensive for purchase here.  All the movies (Disney included) and music is pirated but cheap. It is nothing to see hundreds of DVD’s in a box under the TV.

Utilities: don’t seem very expensive but they do monitor how much electricity & gas they use. They keep lights turned off and since most own at least one HUGE big-screen, they don’t leave them on unnecessarily. If they run out of gas they just shower in cold water. (We’ve enjoyed that experience on occasion)

Healthcare is government run (and very bad!)  The hospitals in all the towns are dirty and horrible. Everywhere you look you encounter maimed, crippled and blind folks and children. Diabetes goes un-attended and cancer is rampant!

Taxes are a flat 19% and are always included in the price of the item so there are no add-ons when you check out, except that you need to tip the bagger-kids and the bum who ‘helps’ you park your car in one of the 6 parking slots, if you’re shopping at the largest grocery store in town. (Unimarc)

Food is pricy but if you shop at the street feria, then it's a little cheaper (no receipts).  Everything from food and clothing to toiletries to office supplies is about twice what we would pay in the states.  As far as the clothing goes, even if it is a used item (think DI or Goodwill) if it’s in good shape, then it’s pricey. They love any clothing w/ European or American Brand names or words.  There was a woman at church wearing a T-shirt (dress standards are much more casual here) and on it written was: “I’m not knocked-up ~ I’m just fat!  She said she didn’t care what it meant, but that she liked the colors. I’ve seen men wearing Lady Viking’s and pink Susan G. Kohlman Mammogram shirts.  (And to think it used to bother me wearing black clothing with brown shoes or accessories, not anymore.)

Fleas: we know first-hand are miserable, little critters There are so many stray dogs roaming that it’s easy to get them and hard to get rid of them. People normally just put up with them and wait out the 2 months of summer, and then the cold temperatures put the fleas back to sleep for another year. We had our house ‘bombed’ yesterday to kill them.

Everything is very tiny here:  You purchase Cake by the piece, flavorless gum in super tiny packs, sheets of paper individually, and milk (no refrigerated milk here) in cartons from 1 to 3 cups. You drink yogurt. They don’t give you ‘twist ties’ on anything but rather tape packages shut or staple them.

List of things I’ve learned recently:
You can re-use dental floss. One-day contacts can be worn for up to a week. Saving things like empty TP rolls, wire from a used spiral notebook, nails found in the street, or any plastic bags is good. They can be used for other purposes and save you money.    These things don’t exist (perhaps they do in the big cities):
Clothes dryers; Curly Ribbon; Corn Syrup; pretzels; chocolate candy (it’s all only the flavor of chocolate & heavy on the wax)….well I could go on and on with this list but this entry is already too long. 

Next time I will write more about our gospel experiences and things that really matter, like how we are growing and changing our lives and (hopefully) others J   Love to you all! C-