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.