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