Today we took an Expreso Chiguayante microbus down Camino Nonguen, past Collao, the University of Bio-Bio and the Concepcion Zoo, to visit Barrio Villa Nonguen. This is a more rural area, more residential, with a farmer's market on a side road, and a well-situated LDS chapel. The ward members were in place before 10:00 a.m., and although the electricity was out because the city workers were digging up the road, everyone was cheerful, kept on their coats, gloves, and scarves, and took part in class discussions and Fast and Testimony meeting. Even though there are many inactive members in this ward, (as there are in so many wards,) a pair of young elders and full-time sisters are teaching the members how to visit each other, how to help each other--watch out for each other--and to follow up on assignments.
With April 15 coming up this week, it came as a shock to get an email from our CPA telling me that he needed information about last year's expenses for our state and federal taxes. It was completely gone from my mind. We are so present here in South America that it yanks me back to my other life. Thank goodness for online banking. I find that I spend several hours a week taking care of issues in the U.S. I even took the battery off the back of my little Samsung flip-phone, removed and replaced the SIM card, and miracle of miracles, it began working again. Another tender mercy, among many each day. Now I can continue to call the U.S. and have an American-based phone number, something I am finding is important to maintain.
One of the big surprises of living in Chile is how much crocheting I have done. I learned how to crochet in my Primary class when I was ten years old, and although I have enjoyed crocheting and knitting over the years, I've never done as much crocheting in my life as I have here. The really hilarious thing is that I'm considered an expert, in demand as a teacher of crochet, even though many women who come to the workshops are far better crocheters than I am. I realize that these gatherings are social events, and the women love to be together. They are beginning to learn, from Hna. Rosa's example of holding weaving workshops in the Centro de Autosuficiencia, how to coordinate their own meetings, a skill that comes very slowly here. Inviting the Misioneros Matrimonios helps bring more people to the meeting. They always thank me profusely for coming, and for my great patience with them.
Wednesday afternoon, we waited on the corner of Los Carrera and Galvarino for Manuel and Andrea, for a microbus to Coronel, where Andrea grew up. She knows where the stake center is, and knows all the ladies, too. Although she brought her crocheting, she didn't get much done while we were there. I was able to take this picture of the handsome Elder K. while we were waiting.
The parada, bus stop, on Los Carrera. It was cloudy all day, and rained a little.
After one and a quarter hours on the bus, we came into Coronel. The main boulevard was recently relaid, and prefab houses are going up for coal miners and fishermen. Although this main boulevard is nicely maintained, much of what we passed on the way to the stake center was desperately shabby, old, ruined, and abandoned. The LDS churches are always a haven of order, warmth, and cleanliness, and it does not surprise me that many members like spending time inside them.
We recognized many of the ladies from the weaving workshop. I am amazed at their persistence in taking the more than one-hour trip both ways to the Centro de Autosuficiencia, each week, for the six months the workshops continued. I brought several samples of crocheting, but they all wanted to start with the yarn basket. The young mother to my left, wearing turquoise, wanted to crochet little flowers for her baby daughter, so I promised to bring instructions when we return in two weeks. She kept telling me I didn't look old enough to have five grown children and 16 grandchildren! It must be all the fresh Chilean fruits and vegetables I've been eating.
Beautiful crochet work from a better expert than I. While we were all laughing and talking, Elder Kennington had a nice conversation about Autosuficiencia with the District President; later, Elder K. and Manuel took a walking tour of Coronel. I wish I could have visited some of the interesting-looking little shops.
The microbus on our return trip, full of tired Chileans. Most working residents of Coronel take the round trip to Concepcion daily. Manuel, Andrea, and Manolito all fell asleep on the ride home.
The gitano, gypsy camp oustide of San Pedro de la Paz, moved to a different field than the one we saw several weeks ago. Hna. Rosa told us about how a gypsy encampment took up residence not far from where she lived as a girl with her widowed mother, and how her mother sewed, by hand, using her hand and fingers to take measurements, all their voluminous costumes, how they refused to pay for months until she threatened to call the carabineros, and how, on the day they finally left, they told her she wasn't charging enough, and gave her the money due her. Hna. Rosa always has a story that tops anything we come up with.
The setting sun on Concepcion and the puente sur, south bridge, over the Bio Bio River as it meets the Pacific Ocean. We always take our bearings from the hillside.
Another crochet workshop in the Concepcion Centro de Autosuficiencia, learning how to join woven squares with a stitch I found online. Hna. Dagnig is fitted out in her Scout uniform.
On our way to Collao to see a used Subaru Outback for sale on Thursday afternoon, we passed this sign. People remember my name Patricia, but can't get a handle on Clinton OR Kennington. They call him Elder. Things look good for the Subaru, if we can jump through all the hoops.
For the additional Mapuche weaving workshop, (these sisters really didn't want the workshops to end,) one of the sisters brought this beautiful three-degrees-of-glory wall hanging. I will have to find a nice design to use up some of my store of wool yarn.