Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Week in the Mission Field

Since no one seems to know what we do, including the office missionaries who are sure our assignment is to walk around town visiting people all day, (sounds like the regular missionaries, come to think of it,) I thought I would take pictures of our more formal activities.

But first, a picture of my balcony garden. The cardenales (geraniums), rosemary, spearmint, basil, and osteospermum are doing very well.

Unfortunately, Concepcion is proving too cool and windy a place to grow decent tomatoes, even patio tomatoes. These are part of my struggling crop. The three large plants I had were broken in the wind, and the poor leaves were torn off. It is generally in the low to mid 70s in Concepcion, even in mid-summer, and the lows at night are consistently between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Although a delightful climate for humans, there are Not Enough Heat Units, as Elder Kennington likes to say, for a warm-weather crop like tomatoes. It's just as well we get delicious produce from Chillan and Los Angeles here.

We walk the mile to the Centro de Autosuficiencia every day. This is the entrance on Calle Serrano. The building houses the Bishop's Storehouse on the main floor. On the second floor is the Centro de Autosuficiencia, and the office of Operations and Maintenance.

On Monday morning, Romy is registering two gentlemen from the Chillancito ward, which we had visited earlier, who came in asking about work in Antofagasta, up north, where mining jobs are plentiful. Fortunately Hno. Seguel had sent me a link to 150 available jobs there. Working in Antofagasta is problematic, however, since usually men go without their families, and divorces are common. So they are warned in advance. 

My job is to help participants fill out the online profile. If you fill in 90% of the profile, employers can see your qualifications. I also help people fill out the, Perpetual Education Fund online application, available outside of the United States. Both of these are long and fairly tricky application processes. Elder Kennington coordinates the priesthood leadership support of the Perpetual Education Fund applicants and teaches Self Reliance and Self Employment workshops as well as conversational English and How to Strengthen Your Marriage, in Castellan.

Those seeking employment will eventually print out their CVs (Chilean for Resume, Curriculum Vitae) which often have to be edited and improved, and talk to Hna. Rosa, who is expert at matching candidates with jobs. I also enter data into the PEF database, an ongoing and never ending process. We are gearing up to have volunteers from surrounding stakes make mentoring calls to PEF  fund recipients who are not repaying their loans, since the call center in Santiago was closed down last fall.

Monday was Elder Kennington's birthday, so that afternoon we were invited to the mission office. Since it was a new missionary arrival day for the Concepcion South mission, and a Consejo (Council) day for the Concepcion mission, (both mission homes are in the same building,) they were serving pizza and cake.

Everyone sang Cumpleanos Feliz to Elder Kennington, who is now officially en Jubilacion, the Chilean word for Retirement. We had not eaten pizza for a long time, and after eating some (Dominos) we remembered why. We have gotten used to cooking up the fabulous vegetables and eating the fresh fruits available in Chile. Dominos Pizza and Subway Sandwiches are not known in Chile outside of Santiago and Concepcion.

Piles of luggage for newly arriving missionaries.

Assistants to the President smiling for the camera. It is always energizing to be around the young missionary elders and hermanas.

Walking out of the mission home onto Calle Castellon. The two elders were from Santiago and Nevada, U.S.

Wednesday morning, after finding out the package Vanessa sent us had arrived within 10 days, Hooray! (BiMart socks, copies of the Book of Mormon in English, Ibuprofen, lavender oil, antacid, acidophilus, letters from Amber, Carter and Spencer, and A & D ointment,) we saw a group of young people performing in the street, doing  dangerous-looking stunts and ribbon twirling for small change.

If the young ladies are pretty enough, which this one was, they can collect enough money from cars at the stop light to pay for lunch.

We attended a devotional broadcast from Buenos Aires with the Operations and Maintenance employees. Here a few of them are checking their cell phones during the opening song. Elder Walter Gutierrez, an area seventy and an entertaining speaker, gave us the good word for the week.

We checked in with George Clooney, er, Hermano Parra, who is making the arrangements for our move to a larger apartment !! Hooray! One of the most cheerful and capable of men.

Elder Kennington making his way to the stairs up to the second story on the other side of the building where our office is.

In the afternoon I joined the other senior missionary ladies for a dessert at Roggendorf's on Calle Los Carreras. Hermana Kimball, second from right, is going home in a week to Thousand Oaks, where she will give my sister Susan and her husband Blair a big hug from me! After having lunch at their favorite Mexican restaurant. If you like very spicy foods, Chilean cuisine is not your first choice. 

From left to right is Hna. Balden, the misson nurse; Hna. Pendley, Concepcion Sur office missionary; Hna. Kauer, replacing Hna. Kimball; and on the right, Hna. Arrington, the mission president's wife. All sweet and talented ladies. We had interesting discussions on remodeling our homes, types of vacuums, and why it is so hard to find hairspray in Concepcion. (Because most of the ladies living here have long black hair, not short fine poufy hair like ours.)

On Thursday we went to the Arringtons' home in Pedro de Valdivia for a good-bye luncheon for the Kimballs. The Pulsiphers, seated on the left, are also leaving in a few weeks. We dared ask them What will happen to the car they are driving? But have little hope of having it assigned to us. Sigh. The newly-arrived Scholes, standing between the Kauers and the Kimballs, Member and Leadership Support missionaries serving in isolated Cauquenes, have already bought a car.

Our picture with the Arringtons. We found out President Arrington, a church employee who worked installing computer systems in temples around the world, remembered my father, Harold Redd, who was the Temple Recorder for the Los Angeles Temple when the computers were installed there.

Hna. Kimball drove us back to the office in the mission van. Alberto was teaching a class in emprendimiento (self-employment) to the women's workshop group in one of the classrooms. 

While we were waiting for the workshop to end, Andrea showed me how to wrap the urdimbre (warp) threads in the en-ocho (figure 8) wrap method used in Mapuche weaving. I need to bring a long dowel to replace the pencil in the Tonon, the method in which the alternate threads are pulled forward so the most recently woven thread can be tamped down. It is basically a way to weave without an expensive loom. Some geometric Mapuche weaving patterns are similar to those of the southwest American Indians.

Our tender mercy of the week was that the mission nurse, Hna. Balden wanted Andrea to come back to the mission home because she hadn't cut her hair quite enough, and Hna. Balden felt bad about the inconvenience to Andrea. But it turned out to be a blessing, because six missionaries about to leave for home also wanted haircuts. Andrea was able to earn enough money to pay for Manolito's school uniform, since Manuel is out of work and short of money.

A couple of links to pdfs on Mapuche weaving:

Hermana Ruth, one of the most talented weavers, modeling a chaleco--vest--made with 8 treintas (30-pin squares) and 2 veintes (20-pin squares) which are then crocheted together.

Friday we got word we would join Hno. Parra at the notary public's so he could sign the papers with the agent for the new apartment. It was so crowded in there most people were standing the entire time, and our wait was about an hour. Fortunately Elder K. and I found seats, and as I have said, Concepcion is nice and cool, a fan was blowing, and Chileans are fanatics about being clean and smelling sweet. I appreciate this. 

Above is a picture of the wall in apartment #706 which accommodates not only a futon twice as long as our current couch, but an easy chair as well. We can have visitors now without making them fold themselves in half. Plus lots of nice wall space to hang my woven creations.

Elder Kennington in the kitchen, which, if you can't exactly tell, is quite a bit bigger than our current kitchen. The stove has FOUR BURNERS, not two, a much bigger fridge, and lots more cupboard space. Happy Dance. While there are three bar stools, they are unfortunately the completely useless variety like the two we have now.

A spare bedroom! Even if it barely fits only una plaza! (a twin bed.) There is even a tiny closet with shelves. The queen bed for the bigger bedroom (which itself is slightly larger than a queen bed) was delivered today. Flor Maria, the sweet middle aged lady who owns the apartment and who lives south of Concepcion in Los Angeles, brought new pillows and sheets, along with the four rolling feet and the two support posts, which were of different lengths. 

When Elder K. asked why the support posts were different lengths, she laughed and said, because it was made in Chile! "It's because the earthquake (4 years ago almost to the day) makes everything uneven." She went back to the store to exchange one to match the other. She was pleased that we are "Cristianos," made sure everything was just the way we wanted it, and wished us a beautiful life.

As you can plainly see, the "walk-in closet" is bigger than our current closet. We even have keys for a bodega, a storage unit in the basement, where we stashed the unappealing blanket and pillows left by some university students. All this for only $20 a month more than we are currently paying. I have a mind to tell our former landlord about this, but my Castellan doesn't extend that far.

Elder Kennington hunted for the hookups to the washer-dryer and found them in this spacious closet. 

After borrowing the downstairs shopping cart to move some of our belongings into #706, and buying a few more needed items at the Sodimac, we went to the adult session of Stake Conference for the Concepcion Stake, and the main session this morning, to hear from our own Concepcion stake president and the Area Seventy from Buenos Aires, Elder Cardus.

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