Sunday, April 6, 2014

Essentials for Living in Chile

We have been missionaries for six months now. A third of our mission has already gone by.

As Norteamericanos living in Chile, there are a few things we couldn't live without. I have listed them below.

Today and yesterday we have been watching General Conference from Salt Lake City on As always, it is a great comfort to hear messages from our priesthood leaders.

On Friday evening, the mission office called us with an invitation to come talk to President Arrington. So we took a colectivo to Calle Manuel Bulnes and walked the half block down Castellon. We told Pres. Arrington about our visits to the different wards and stakes, and he told us of the good feedback about the Centro de Autosuficiencia he has heard from missionaries and members.

On our way to teach the How to Strengthen Your Marriage class Tuesday night, we walked through a used car lot and saw this sign, which says you have 60 months to pay, while not on foot. To Elder Kennington, it says: Five years without pie. Bro. Verdugo has a space in the Institute parking garage and a clicker to open and close the gates, for whenever we come up with a car. Our friend Manuel Valdes says he has been looking  at cars in Santiago, where they are a lot less expensive, and he will look for one for us.  

Thursday, although our regular weaving classes are over, some of the ladies wanted me to teach them crochet stitches for joining squares, and how to make my crocheted baskets and bags. These ladies are real experts and picked up everything fast. The day before, on Wednesday, Hno. Seguel drove us and Hna. Rosa to Coronel, to the funeral of the husband of one of our ladies, in her home. He was in his 70s, and had died during the night. They were all very gracious and glad to see us. On the way we passed an encampment of gitanos, gypsies, in their multi-colored tents, selling used cars, but we were told we would not want to buy one there.

Andrea's beautiful silver jewelry. She and her husband Manuel were able to go to the Santiago LDS Temple, she for the first time, on a bus with members of the University Ward, this past week. She was thrilled to be able to go. They have had a difficult time of it-- they thought they would never be able to marry, until Chile changed its divorce laws five years later. Now they have waited another five years to be sealed in the temple, since Manuel needed permission from his ex-wife. The five years is almost up, after which they will be sealed for time and eternity in the Santiago Temple.

Manuel and Andrea picked up this natural wool in mandijas (hanks or skeins) for me in Chiloe. It will be rolled into 100 gram balls, after we dye it using different natural dye stuffs such as onion skins and beta raga, beet root. I already have knitting patterns in mind.

I put chocolate at the top of the must-have list. When you are new to a country, speaking a foreign language, and completely lost, chocolate will always help you through. Elder Pope in Santiago introduced us to Nestle's Sahne-Nuss, by far the best milk chocolate available, (and he should know,) with plenty of almendras, almonds. Great big bars. Expensive, too, but worth it. The Orly mint-filled dark chocolate is a lot less expensive and just as good, as long as you like dark chocolate, and mint.

Our charging station for cell phones, iPad, digital camera, etc.

These are the best earplugs. I ordered a large bag of them from You can re-use them but eventually you will want a new pair. They stay in your ears, are effectively noise-blocking, and lightweight and comfortable. I don't use them very often, but when you need earplugs, nothing else will do.

You can always find stick-on plastic and metal hooks for tile and the usual plastic-weave wallpaper, in grocery and department stores. They come in varying sizes and claim to hang tightly to the wall until you pull them right off with no residue. It often takes several attempts to stick them up (they come with extra stickers, of course,) but eventually, after applying lots of pressure and hanging up only one towel instead of two, they get the job done. We have many of these in our apartment, the reason being, they don't really hold very much.

This is a permanent part of Chilean life. The hotpot. It heats 1-1/2 to 2 liters of water to boiling hot in just a few minutes. If your building has no hot water (for instance, the Centro de Autosuficiencia,) you can use it to wash dishes with. On cold mornings, a cup of Ecco or herbal tea can help warm you up. Elder Kennington has discovered he likes two Chamomile-with-Honey to one Mint-tea bags.

Our folding laundry dryer. We know just how many clothes we can put on it. The fan is underneath where you can't see it. We found two chin-up bars in the Jumbo, which we installed in narrow spots in the apartment to hang up more drying clothing. Our washer-dryer supposedly dries as well as washes clothes, but it really just boils them.

My comfortable computer chair, and the foam pillow I made for the airplane journey here. It is just right as a back support. I made a pillow (almohada) just like it for Elder K., but he took it to the office, where he occasionally uses it for an after-almuerzo (midday meal) rest. He lays it under his head on the floor and puts his feet up on a chair. Other visitors to the office have borrowed it, to good effect.

The wonderful HP  Deskjet 100 mobile printer sitting on the floor next to our newly-hung insulating curtains. Small, lightweight, and a real workhorse. I even found replacement cartridges at the Lapiz Lopez, but I'm still using the cartridges I brought with me. I also have a wand scanner which I haven't used much, because we have an all-in-one printer/scanner at the office.

My HP Pavilion laptop, still chugging away after seven years. I used it while traveling when I was teaching online college computer classes. I have it backed up to a USB solid state drive, and my online backup  Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Google Drive accounts. The laptop sits on all the extra plastic bin lids on a heavy  folding tray table. I find that other than, Facebook, Pinterest, and, I visit a lot, with radio podcasts I listen to every day.

I used the little round USB speaker for awhile, but eventually found some larger stereo Logitech speakers at Sodimac. They have the advantage of having a volume knob. This is the second folding tray table, which also holds the mouse. I carried them both home from Lider.

Elder Kennington has appropriated the iPad for his own use, since the laptop is really more than he needs. He wore out the first stylus, so we found another one at the Santiago airport. I feel so proud that he is actually learning to use an electronic device. He knows how to access Facebook, Fox News, and Netflix. We figured out that my PC laptop is a real WiFi bandwidth hog and we had to keep rebooting both devices, until I found some CAT5 cable so I could plug the laptop directly into the router, which has solved the problem.

My Samsung Galaxy S3, and my old Samsung T-Mobile flip phone. I was surprised to find that the flip phone worked perfectly calling to the United States on a pay-as-you-go basis. I used it for emergencies, and to renew the overseas status of our credit card every sixty days. Since we were issued a local Movistar cell phone when we got here, we didn't really need the Galaxy, so I've been using it as a Wi-Fi device. That is, until I dropped the flip phone and it hasn't worked since. Sigh. I remembered I have a VOIP Google Voice phone number, which works over Wi-Fi.  I can call the U.S. free over Wi-Fi with the GrooveIP Android phone app while using the Google Voice number. It works best when you are standing right next to the router. That is, until Google Voice threatens to disconnect any third-party apps in May. I have Skype-To-Go VOIP minutes in reserve and hopefully Google Voice will get its own phone app going. I may also get a local smart phone plan for the Galaxy, especially if we get a car. Many church employees here use the Waze app on their smartphones, plugged into the car cigarette lighter, as a GPS street guide.

Medicine cabinet essentials from the U.S. Either you can't find this stuff in Chile, or it costs an arm and a leg. We did find some good cloth vendajes, bandaids, in the local pharmacy. Elder K. always seems to need them.

A friend in the U.S. told me to bring things I don't want to be without, in order to make the transition easier. So I brought my favorite spoons we got in Sendai, two Oneida forks, two Cutco knives, and even a couple of small Wusthof knives. It does make life better.

Thermoventilador, a small space heater. Although our high rise has heated-water ducts, no one in the building uses them, because they are gastos comunes - common costs, which we all pay, like for the garbage drop and the swimming pool. Since heat is expensive, no one uses it. So everyone has hot pots, space heaters, mattress heaters, insulated curtains, shawls, knitted gorros - caps, wool socks, and fingerless gloves.

I heard about using two nested flower pots over tea lights for dispersing gentle heat. It seems to take the edge off the cold, and helps when we dry the laundry while moisture is condensing on the windows. What helped the most was locating the dryer vent to our laundry closet, through which outside air was pouring in. (It has been in the 40s in the mornings.) Since I taped it up with bubble-wrap, it's been a lot warmer in here.

Some of our tools. We also have a collection of screws and nails and a heavy-duty screwdriver with interchangeable tips. We bought the WD-40, water repellent spray, scissors, hammer, and clothespins here in Concepcion. The red-handled wrench has already been on one mission, with our son Jeff, who picked it up on the way out the door when he was leaving for Ventura, California, in order to fix his bike. Since then, we have bought red-handled wrenches for the boys we were teaching in our Primary class. Now we have it on our mission.

Coming soon -- essentials in clothing.

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