Sunday, October 27, 2013

Valparaiso

To continue from our last blog post, below, we drove around the Valparaiso bay along the port side and up the hill to the Museo Maritimo Nacional.

The great port city of Valparaiso, Chile

Students outside the National Maritime Museum above Valparaiso. 

With a coast as long as Chile's, the entire national history is on display in this museum, including cool models of ships, uniforms, cutlasses, rifles, cannon, and shot.

Bro. Farias inside one of the capsules used to rescue the Chilean copper miners in 2010.

Soft alpaca wool scarves and woven shawl I bought at a feria artesenal near the maritime musem

One of the fine old buildings common in Valparaiso, now scrawled all over the street level walls

Busy, brash, immensely rich and poverty stricken, Valparaiso is a city full of students, street dealings, and communist slogans.


On the way back to Santiago, we stopped at Los Hornitos de Curacavi, a Chilean cowboy restaurant with dirt floors and mournful Mexican-style music in the background that the Chilenos made fun of. The roasted pork was excellent, the Ensalata Chileno (fresh avocado, peeled tomato, beets, peeled cucumber, carrots, julienned green beans, and peppers) served with fresh lemon and olive oil, was outstanding, and the cheese empanada and salsa picante was to die for. Bro. Farias and Hna. Villaroel thought it was very funny that I should want to photograph my food. I said it was to show my children that I was not starving in Chile.

Back in Santiago, we visited another feria artesenal. I bought lapiz lazuli earrings and a heart pendant set in silver.

One can never have enough earrings.

It was a relief to get back to the temple grounds. We attended a session and ended up being the witness couple. The surrounding garden was alive with families and couples well into the night. We shared what food we had in the Hospitality House with some very funny middle aged ladies.

Friday morning, we visited Self Reliance centers in Republica and Vitacura in Santiago. I like the "Director of First Impressions" titles on the desks. Elder K. and I realized we had been in the country one week. It seems like more.

Vitacura area of Santiago, from the 13th floor Self Reliance center. The 8.8 magnitude earthquake centered just off of Concepcion in 2010 has kept construction workers busy replacing & strengthening buildings throughout Chile.

In the afternoon, the four of us flew back to Concepcion, where on Saturday Bro. Farias gave a taller (tah-yer)--workshop--on the fundamentals of starting your own business, in the church on Calle Bulnes from 10:00 in the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon. There were probably 60, mostly women, in attendance. Even an education may not find you the job you want. Thus the ferias artesenales. Our barrio, the University Ward, has begun a cottage industry in weaving and crocheting. I saw some hand-woven wall hangings I wanted to buy, but instead the sister invited me to learn how to make them. Elder K. and I will attend the lessons in weaving on Tuesday evening. I was also asked about teaching computaciones--computer lessons--for members of the wards and stakes in Concepcion.

When we got back to our apartment, we were thrilled to find Elder Kimball had installed our new high-efficiency washer/dryer. Now if only Clint can position it so it doesn't try to spin itself right off the floor.

After the workshop, we stopped at the Super-Lider, which has the best pan de campos, country bread, and a baguette. The Kerrygold Irish butter is more expensive, but more like butter than extra-beaten heavy cream typical of the brands here. I ultimately couldn't resist trying the bread, and found I can tolerate it much better than bread in the U.S. Something about less gluten content in the wheat. Whatever it is, I still have to watch it, but I don't get screaming heartburn or flu-like muscle aches. The cute chicken on the fridge was a present from Elder K.'s sister Heidi Cameron.

Although we had a wonderful time visiting Chile's capital city Santiago and its colorful port, Valparaiso, we were glad to get back to our small-town Concepcion. What a relief. The traffic doesn't seem so bad anymore.

Santiago and Viña del Mar

We hadn't been in Concepcion a week when we discovered we were flying back to Santiago for capacitationes (training) with Bro. Carlos Farias, which turned out to be less like any training I've ever been in and more of a tour of the cities, countryside, visits to Self-Reliance Centers and to ferias artesenales, little shops tucked in the back corners of big cities. It turned out there was a reason for this.

Rising out of the Concepcion airport

Bro. Farias, the LDS church agent in charge of Perpetual Education Fund South, who made all the arrangements for our apartment and assignments in Concepcion, turned out to be fairly young, speaking good English, ex-Chilean navy, trained industrial engineer, father of four, and lover of the intensely sweet Chilean dulces. Elder K., Hna. Villarroel, and I had our carry on bags weighed at the Concepcion airport (17 lbs, the only city in the world I know of that weighs carry ons,) and flew the 50 minutes to Santiago.

Bro. Farias picked us up and took us to the LDS church complex, including the MTC, Santiago Temple and church offices, in the Providencia area of Santiago. Driving through Santiago, a city of six million people, in some ways reminded me of Los Angeles, where I grew up, especially the wide boulevards, palm trees, and tall sun-washed buildings.

LDS missionaries on the last day of training, about to be assigned to Santiago South Mission

Hna K. from the steps of the Hospitality House, with the temple in view. We stayed two nights in a little room with three bunk beds in it. Families from all over Chile stay here to attend the temple.

This cute little abuelita from southern Chile was enjoying her afternoon mate (mah-tay) in the common kitchen/dining area of the Hospitality House.

The Santiago Perpetual Education Fund couple, the Popes, in their office in Santiago. We went to lunch with Bro. Farias and the office couple from Arizona, the Udalls, in an excellent restaurant nearby. Il Papa (what the Chileans call Bro. Pope) turned out to be a childhood friend of Steve Laney, whom we visited while in the Provo MTC. They even sound alike. Wherever we go, whoever we meet from the U.S. is somehow related, went to the same early mission, or has common friends.

Thursday morning we set off for Vina del Mar to visit a Self-Reliance Center. On the way we stopped at the Millahue shop along the highway near Curacavi to buy giant meringues with mermelade (jam) called Reinas, very soft and very sweet, and bar cookies sandwiched with leches dulces, the sweetened condensed milk baked into a caramel consistency that you can find in bags in every market, often called Manjar. 

Chile is known for its hammered copper, which you can buy inexpensively here. I bought these Share Bowls for our change and etc. to free up the cereal bowls I had been using. 

The famous working garden clock in in the National Botanical Garden of Vina del Mar

Picture with Hna Villarroel and the carabineros of Vina del Mar. I am average in height for most Chileans, although the younger generation is growing taller. These carabineros are descended from the German settlers to the south, where you see more blond, blue-eyed, and taller Chileans than those descended from the Spaniards and the Mapuche Indians.

Wulff Castle, across the bay from Valparaiso

(Continued in the next blog post, above)


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

El Centro de Autosuficiencia

On Sunday the Baldens, who do the nursing and building inspections for the Concepcion Mission, picked us up for church in the stake center on Calle Gleisner. The building is very nice, in a nice section of town. The first thing that happened was, we were asked to speak at the beginning of the meeting. In Chile, married couples are referred to as Matrimonios, so I couldn't figure out why they were talking about marriage until we were being ushered up to the front.

Clint (Elder Kennington) says I did very well in my Spanish. I told everyone about our ranchero back home, our children and grandchildren, how glad we were to be in Concepcion, and our work in the Self Reliance Centers, the Centro de Autosuficiencia. Clint did much the same. After people find out I can speak Spanish, they always ask how I learned it. (Since 5th grade, then minored in Spanish for my B.A., then attended the Spanish congregation of our church in Ontario.)

The Gleisner Stake Center, University Ward. Many Ecuadorian Indians attend this ward. Several of the little children were playing with the caracolitas, the tiny snails.

On Sunday evening we explored the environs of our little apartment #1307 of Orompello 129, Centro Urbano.

El Centro Urbano. Our apartment is on the right, the corner with shades half way down. I was surprised at how quiet it has been--our neighbors aren't great partiers, and the dogs are far away. I did hear cats early this morning. The worst part for me is how bright it is all night. I rigged up a blackout curtain using the extra sheet, which is black. 

Feral dogs lay around on curbsides all around the city, some in packs. They are carriers of garrapatos--ticks and parasites. They do not bother anyone, although at night they rummage through garbage, and bark.

Territorial claim on this casita.

If you wonder where all your socks (calcetines) ended up, this is it. 

The LDS Institute Building on Calle Colo Colo. The double-parked car is called a "permiso," meaning you give yourself permission to park here for awhile, with your lights flashing. All the LDS buildings in the area are this nice shade of adobe-mauve, with tile floors, white-latticed small pane windows, and red tin roofs.

Decorative security fences, bars and gates.

Jon Snider, this commonly seen electrical nightmare is for you. 

Clinton (Elder Kennington) sitting in our office. He has made himself useful by fixing all the problem drawers and chairs, and making phone calls from the endless list of applicants for help in employment.  

Monday morning, we walked the nine blocks of Calle Chacabuco--nearly one mile--to the Centro de Recursos. A very nice building, with a professional and accommodating staff of volunteers, including Rosita Hernandez-Munoz, Hermana Devora, Romina Correa, and Hermana Villarroel. Hermana Romina led a group of six missionaries and four other members in an employment workshop.

We are leaving tomorrow for Santiago for capacitaciones (training) with Carlos Farias, the area director for PEF. Changes are coming to the Centros de Recursos, now to be known as Centros de Autosuficiencia. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Our First 24 Hours in Concepcion

An entire contingent of the Concepcion Mission office, along with the warm & loving PEF/Self Reliance director Rosita Hernandez-Munoz, met us at the airport. it was 1:10 in the afternoon, after a flight of ten hours following the flight from Salt Lake City to Dallas Fort Worth. I'm sure we looked even worse than we felt.

Toward morning we were able to see the Pacific Ocean off the South American coast.

I don't know what these bands of clouds are called--altocumulus? But they were spectacular.

A frozen lake in the Andes

Terraced farming north of Santiago

We landed in the Santiago Airport, went through customs, paid a $160 cash "reciprocity fee" (they wouldn't accept three of my $20 bills because they were roto y sucio), and then waited to be herded onto two large buses to take us to the Linea Area Nacional de Chile flight to Concepcion. They didn't weigh my carry on baggage as I had been warned, so I was thinking of all the extra stuff I might have added to my already heavy bags. Oh well. Each of our four checked bags came in at 22.7 kilos.

The outskirts of Santiago

We have been changed to the Concepcion Mission from the Concepcion South, which means we will be working within the city itself rather than spending time in smaller cities roundabout. Hermana Hernandez found us a nice little apartment in the middle of the city on the 13th floor of Calle Orompello 129. It is within walking distance of many interesting places, which is nice because if you park on the street you will have to pay a parking fee to one of the attendants hanging out on the street side.

By the time we got to Concepcion I was too tired to take any pictures. In spite of our sad condition, there was no toilet paper or food in our apartment, so we went exploring and found the nearest Jumbo and got money out of an ATM machine. Our wonderful non-ATM fee UBS credit cards worked with everything. (The Capital One card did not.) 

After a shopping trip to Lider and Sodimac, the Walmart and Home Depot of Chile. The concierge Galvarino (who alternates with Mauricio) lent us the apartment's shopping cart to carry everything up the elevator. You will note the Tanax flea spray on the counter. We don't have fleas yet but you never know.

The Concepcion Mission office couple, the Kimballs, rescued us Saturday morning by bringing us a cell phone and taking us shopping so I could buy adapters for all my electronics, since nothing I had worked with the Chilean system. Make sure the three-prong round plug-ins are the small variety, because the more substantial European-type prongs I brought were too big. We also got a blender, a chair, a trash can, dishes, some bread which Clint says is Really Really Good, (too bad I'm allergic to bread,) hooks (for Clint's clothes) and a rug and a clock (which doesn't work).

Clint in the Concepcion Mission President Arrington's office looking at the current district missionaries

 View from our balcony to the north
View from our balcony to the west, toward the coast

Now I have a comfortable chair to add to the furnished couch. The big puff blanket I got cheap at Ikea in Florida. (I guess they didn't realize no one would buy big blanket puffs in Florida.) I tied it up with baling twine and brought it all the way to Chile. The temporary setup using the teeny-tiny chairs perched on the ottoman will have to do until I can find a small computer table.

Clint taking a well-deserved rest. From what we hear, the good mattress is a rarity. The Kimballs gave us the bed pad, which you use to heat the bed before you get in it, and then turn it off. The hot-water-furnace on the wall behind the clothes drying rack is for decoration purposes only. There are room heaters but it is less expensive to wear more clothes. Fortunately we are going into the summer season!

Tomorrow, we go to church and to dinner at the Kimball's. We have survived an entire day in Concepcion.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

End of MTC Training

Today we had our final Perpetual Education Fund/Self Reliance Center training session in the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City.

The Church Office Building near the temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, the nerve center of the LDS Church.

We spent three and one-half hours on Sunday with Elder Joseph Sitati of Kenya, who gave us an overview of the function and purpose of Self Reliance centers around the world. Many senior missionaries are serving in western Africa, especially in Ghana.

Elder Joseph Sitati

On Monday and Tuesday, we heard from some of the high-powered volunteers who help inspire and run the PEF/Self Reliance program, including current and former founders of the Unitus Micro Credit Loan institution Mike Murray, (Bob Gay, the co-founder of Unitus and head of the PEF/SRC, was not able to be with us,) and Geoff Davis, director of the Self Reliance Program content. We also heard from Tom Rueckert, Director of Self Reliance Field Services, Joe Daria and Tim Sloan, Director of International Field services, who Clint recognized as a former director of Darigold, our dairy's creamery.

A view from the 19th floor of the Church Office Building

Downtown Salt Lake City

We were driven to and from the Church Office Building by David Roper, a son-in-law of one of the Quorum of the Twelve. He talked to us nonstop about his inside knowledge of Church operations, always gently humorous and self-effacing, reminding us that many of his stories were for our ears only.

The COB is a very tall building.

Tuesday evening we attended a devotional with Elder Dallin Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve, who talked to all the young (and senior) missionaries about how the LDS Church is different because it has 1) the fulness of the Doctrine of Christ 2) the restored Priesthood and 3) Testimony. Then we spent an hour with friends from Ontario, Steve and Linda Laney, now serving in the branch presidency of the Brazilians in the MTC. They wished us well.

Tomorrow we do laundry and pack, weigh, and repack all our luggage for our departure on Thursday.