Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Week 2013

The week of Christmas we have had the most glorious weather since we've been here--mid-70's with a nice sea-breeze, and we can hear the seagulls outside our apartment balcony. It gets down to the 50's at night. Our friends in inland Chillan say it is in the mid-90's there, so we're glad to be in Conce.

My Christmas display. Sis. Pulsipher ordered the dyed-wool nativity figures for me, and the larger set was finally complete. Pres. Arrington and his wife delivered it with their Christmas card and a loaf of banana bread, along with a flat of amazing blueberries from Chillan. The smaller nativity set will come later. I was surprised at how much more Christmasy our little apartment felt as soon as Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus were in place. The pretty gold bead angel decorations on sticks were made by Hna. Debora from the Centro.

The Sunday before Christmas, Romy's friend Fernando picked us up at our apartment and drove us the 20 minutes north to Penco, on the coast, where the Penco Stake was putting on its Christmas concert.

Fernando is an electronics engineer, and knowledgeable about his home country.

Although there are a few swimmers in the Penco beach, Fernando told us the water is very cold, there are rip tides and depressions near the shore, and the water is polluted. Environmental protection is still in its infancy in Chile, according to Fernando.

The stake center filled up with families with children. Romy sang with her double women's quartet, led by the stake president's wife. This chorus and another mixed choir sang a capella, with beautiful voices.

My tomato plants are finally blooming. We will see if they set any tomatoes. The blue hortensia (hydrangea) I bought in bud at a little nursery called "Le Petit Jardin." It is the first blue hydrangea I have been able to successfully grow. I made bruschetta at the Centro using the basil growing on the balcony, and yogurt pancakes and crepes with  champignones, cebollas y queso (mushrooms, onions and cheese) and whip cream/fresh fruit fillings with maple syrup on Christmas Eve. They were a big hit, since the ladies had expressed a love for American Pan-queques.

"Le Petit Jardin" nursery on Calle Ongolmo between Freire and Maipu, where I bought flowering plants and herbs several weeks ago, and had to carry them back to the apartment.

 On the afternoon of Christmas day, after Skyping with several of our children, we went to the stake center to a gathering of all the elders and sister missionaries in the Concepcion mission. Here is Elder Richardson, nephew to James and Debbie Skousen, friends who live in Ontario, Oregon.

Elders playing futbol (soccer) in the basketball court. There were between 80-100 missionaries present, eating grilled chorizos in fresh buns, and enjoying wearing non-Sunday clothes. Elder Kennington talked to all of the native Spanish speakers about the Perpetual Education Fund. Only about half of them had heard of it.

Sister missionaries from all over the Concepcion areas. Our mission nurse, Sis. Balden, says one of the worst problems she sees is the lack of good walking shoes for the sisters. Even nice-looking trainers are preferable over non-supportive flats.

The day after Christmas, the Udalls, a humanitarian couple stationed in Santiago, made the drive down with the Concepcion stake president, the area seventy, and the Welfare Director for South America South to present a new underwater rescue vehicle to the City of Concepcion, a converted Ford F-150 truck.

An article about the truck appeared in the Faro Mormon, the Mormon Lighthouse. The gift is in memory of Elder Dallas Archibald of the Seventy, who drowned while fishing December 14, 1998, in the Bio Bio River near Santa Barbara, southeast of Los Angeles, Chile.

 Oscar Chavez, on the right, the Chilean director of Church Welfare Services, remembered Elder Kennington from the summer several years ago he spent working for a friend and member of our ward, Reed Dame, in Fruitland, Idaho. Elder Valentin Nunez, the area seventy, standing next to Oscar Chavez, was instrumental in helping organize the Elder David Archuleta Christmas Concert at the Santiago Temple.

We had a nice visit from the Pulsiphers and their friends from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, the Livingstons, a new missionary couple serving in the Perpetual Education Fund in Republica, Santiago. The volunteer work force in Republica needs supplementing, so they have their work cut out for them.

Our new Perpetual Education Fund agent, Raul Seguel, has been in Concepcion this week, discussing with us the changes to the Self Reliance Centers that will be occurring in the next few months. We have been informed we will be attending a training session in Buenos Aires in mid-January, on my birthday, no less. Hermana Rosa will be assigned as a full-time missionary to continue as the Directora of the Centro de Recursos, fulfilling a life-long dream for her.

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