Sunday, May 25, 2014

Late Fall in Concepción

Last Sunday we took the Outback to Chiguayante Sur and attended the ward in La Pradera. A number of young fathers were interested in applying for a Perpetual Education Fund loan, having missed out because of the age limit of 30 years. We come across many who want to follow up on studies they have had to abandon until now.

The La Pradera ward building is the first unpainted, red brick building we have seen, reminding us of red brick LDS chapels throughout Idaho and Utah. (Upon closer inspection it is a red brick facade, not actual brick and mortar.) We joined a morning council meeting in progress and gave our message to the ward leaders.

Although May is the equivalent of the late North American November, the impatiens plants bloom as if they are  summer shrubs.

Wednesday was a national holiday, Dia de las Glorias Navales, Day of the Naval Glories. The streets were deserted except for the main plaza where marchers were waving flags and beating drums in preparation for protests against the current state of pensions, I think.

The entire plaza was surrounded by carabineros keeping watch. We ran into another march on Saturday afternoon. This can be rather exasperating to the cars and buses trying to get through town.

Friday was another Felting class. The ladies were learning how to make multi-colored flowers.

To make these flowers, the ladies position the layers of wool fleece on foam place mats and spray soapy water over them. The place mats and flowers are then rolled up with towels to wring out the water and flatten the petals, after which the flowers are dried and teased into three-dimensional shapes. 

An example of a finished felt flower. 

One of the hermanas had finished her Nativity figures.

I finally located a aguja de fieltro--felting needle--and a foam scrubber sponge. My attempt to make a cute little gray wool sheep currently looks like an owl pellet, or possibly an egg made of steel wool. 

Hna. Verdugo made a series of these pretty wood-framed woven pieces decorated with felt flowers for her children.

On sunny Saturday we took a bus to the terminal at Collao to buy tickets for Chillan on Sunday, where we will be helping Hno. Seguel make a presentation to the Chillan Ñuble Stake. We will be staying overnight with his family and coming back to Concepción Monday morning. On the way back to the bus stop, we passed through the farmer's market, which at noon was in full swing.

Elder Kennington always likes to stop and look at vintage tools.

Bags of bulk legumes and bunches of cilantro and greens.

Fresh vegetables of all descriptions brought in by farmers from Chillan to Los Angeles.

I managed to not buy any plants, although the baby palm trees looked tempting. I limited myself to one neck scarf, an item sold by the Conejo family.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Our 40th Anniversary

This was a very full week. Saturday, May 10th was our 40th anniversary, so the kind people we work with had plans for us for the whole day.

Hna. Rosa and her husband, the legendary man-of-few-words Carlos, met us at the Centro de Autosuficiencia. We had to admit to Hna. Rosa that her husband was not imaginary, after all. Elder K. drove the Outback along the Costanera, through Hualpen, and up to western corner of Bahia San Vicente, to the Caleta Lenga, the Lenga Cove or Inlet. It was perfectly beautiful, with a pretty view all around. The beach drops off deep not far into the cove, so there are no swimmers. 

On Saturdays and Sundays is the Lenga Feria, with artisans spreading their colorful wares out on the promenade between the beach and the village restaurants. Above, Elder Kennington with Hna. Rosa and her husband, who objected to coming at all. But she prevailed on him, and Elder K. managed to engage him in conversation while Hna. Rosa and I inspected the woven items and hand-made jewelry for sale.

I managed to limit myself to buying this gorgeous cream-colored alpaca Ecuadorian poncho, which Hna. Rosa assured me was barato, cheap, at $15 mil pesos, about $30. I have worn it several times, and it is very warm. The copper earrings with the flower motif are in the Mapuche style, and the man selling them said they were so cheap--$2 mil pesos, about $4.00--because the artisan was young and inexperienced.

Hno. Seguel and his family showed up, and we all went to the Restaurante Puerto Velero, where Elder Kennington and I shared the famous seafood platter, including clams, salmon and "loco," which turned out to be a small abalone, mild and sweet. The empanadas here were especially good.

Hno. Seguel's family, who wanted to meet all the people working in the Centro de Autosuficiencia.

In the afternoon, the senior missionary couples invited us to accompany them to the Concepcion Museum of Natural History, surrounded by the outdoor dinosaur exhibits.

Inside we learned about plants, animals, and peoples, including the coal miners of Lota and Coronel, who work below the surface of the ocean.

There was an authentic display of old Mapuche weaving, using the techniques Andrea has taught me.

We even encountered the stuffed display of a Screaming Hairy Armadillo, native to central South America. Our attorney, Charles Oakes of Ontario, asked us to find one for him at any price to add to his South American puma panorama, since he had to leave behind the one he caught hunting several years ago in Argentina. The laws have changed and you can now take them out of the country. Elder K. called a young man from Bolivia who has been to the Centro and has seen these particular animals, considered pests in the countryside where his father owns a farm, to see if he can get one for us. And, possibly earn ourselves free legal advice for the rest of our lives.

Outside the Museum, three musicians in Shakespearean garb were gearing up to play lute and guitar music. They sang us a beautiful ballad for our anniversary, and we all left them with tips.

No one would tell us where we were going for dinner. Elder Pendley drove the mission van up Avenida Bulnes, where Andrea and Manuel live, and we pointed out their house. Immediately the van did a u-turn, and we parked on their little beaten earth front yard. Andrea had insisted on cooking us an authentic Chilean dinner, since May 10th is also the anniversary of when she and Manuel met at an Institute dance. I showed the other missionary hermanas the view of the Laguna Tres Pascualas in Andrea's back yard.

The Pendleys, Baldens, Kenningtons, Mendozas, and Kauers, with Manolito on the side. Our entertainment was Elder Kennington and me telling how we met way back, but our story was not nearly as interesting as the one told by Manuel on how he pursued and finally won his Andrea.

Andrea and her sister Enove cooked us an authentic Chilean Pulmay, including pork, chicken, longaniza (sausage--commonly found, thanks to the German influence in Chile) and almejas, clams. In southern Chile the dish is called Curanto and is cooked in a hole in the ground, lined with charcoal. Andrea cooked hers in a large earthenware pot. It looked like nothing on earth, but smelled good--and the broth was very good, so we dug in and got very full indeed. 

Also served was ensalata Chileno -- Chilean salad, made up of sliced tomatoes and onions, topped with cilantro, and boiled potatoes.

Bread and greens with olives.

The other missionary couples bought us this beautiful flower arrangement for our anniversary. Another unforgettable memory for us.

Sunday was Mother's Day. We made a second trip to Hualqui to attend the ward there, past the hills of Chiguayante.

Hualqui is the southernmost ward in the Chiguayante Stake, a large ward with active and friendly members. We were surprised that a large proportion of the members appear more European-looking than even Chilenos living in Concepcion.

We got there a little early and spent time driving around. The bishop was very interested in our message on self reliance and the Perpetual Education Fund. We loved hearing the little children sing Mother's Day songs in Castellano.

We crossed the little wooden bridge, Puente Lynch, in memory of our neighbors on Morgan Ave. in Ontario. After returning to our Concepcion apartment, we spent time on Skype and Google Hangouts with our children, and I was able to talk to my own dear mother, who was spending time in San Diego with my wonderful stepfather LaMar, using my little old Samsung flip-phone.

Thursday evening we were invited to the University Ward dinner in honor of the Ecuadoran members, who make up a large part of the ward. We heard several heartfelt talks from the eldest Hno. Conejo, who was in our How to Strengthen Your Marriage class, and Bishop Anriquez. Above are the Ecuadoran hermanas on their cell phones waiting for dinner to be served.

Dinner was a large plate of well-cooked spiced pork, boiled potatoes, which in Chile need no butter, ensalata Chileno--sliced tomatoes and onions, and boiled hominy with hot pepper sauce on the side. Since eating any kind of corn makes me sleepy, and since we were the last served dinner at about 9:15 p.m., I ate some anyway, and fell asleep without any problem after scriptures and prayers in our apartment.

Ecuadoran members at the feast. Although they appear dignified and serious, especially in their native dress, they are anything but--they love a good laugh, and are always making jokes about themselves.

Friday at about 12:30 in the afternoon, we felt a sustained "temblor" -- a 4.8 earthquake originating off the coast of Talcahuano. The Centro de Autosuficiencia building groaned and rattled, but there was no damage. It was the biggest we have felt so far. The Chileans immediately all said, "Open the door!" since especially when an earthquake hits at night, it can knock out electricity, so you want to be able to get out--especially if the door is controlled by electricity, or is damaged and settles to where it can´t open--and to see what is happening. It reminds us that earthquakes can shake up Chile anytime.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Santa Juana / What to Wear in Concepcion

This has been a busy week. Not only are more people coming into the Centro de Autosuficiencia because of our contacts with wards and stakes, we are developing training materials for the stake committees and specialists who will be taking over the functions of enrolling students age 18 and up into educational and employment workshops and registering them for Perpetual Education Fund loans.

I have been translating what I can find into Spanish and having it checked over by Elder K. and Hno. Seguel, and writing manuals  for what I can't find. We attended the training meeting for the leaders of the Andalien Stake, and the last Taller de Planificacion para el Exito--Planning for Success workshop--that will be handled through the Institute. We are preparing to teach the English For You Now course sent to us from Salt Lake to evaluate before it is sent to the full-time missionaries to teach in the field. We start in June, so I have created a blog site so members in the eight Concepcion stakes can register for it.

We made the 25 kilometer drive to Santa Juana last Sunday. It was a foggy drizzly day.

We saw some of the largest and nicest homes we've seen so far on either side of the highway, especially along the banks of the Bio-Bio River.

The highway to Santa Juana is known as the Ruta de Madera, since it is tree-lined and winds through empresas forestal, forest-related businesses. We actually came along this route a few weeks into our mission, back in November, but it was dark at the time, and I was too exhausted to notice anything.

Under the wisps of fog is a forest of young eucalyptus.

We came upon the village of Santa Juana, with its welcoming Bienvenido peasant with wooden oxen and cart. The address listed on the map site ended up being an empty lot, purchased by the church 20 years ago, waiting for enough Melchizedek Priesthood leaders so the chapel could be built. We fortunately had the phone numbers of the sister missionaries, so one of the hermanas guided us to the home that serves as chapel.

The church is a large red house on Calle Isabel Riquelme. 

We got there early, but as soon as the members arrived, we were warmly welcomed and enjoyed the Fast and Testimony Meeting and classes.

A baptism was announced for the following week, which will be held in the back yard pila bautismal, baptismal font.

Elder Kennington made the decision to share the long socks Vanessa sent us with these sweet sister missionaries. The Norte Americana from Idaho had a pair of black rubber boots she was wearing in the rain. We were told that the church had been about to close the branch in Santa Juana, when two sets of sister missionaries were sent here. They now have attendance of about 40 people every week. Following the meetings, these sisters invited us to visit a new convert, a blind sister who has had a difficult life, and who is raising three sons.

The drive back reminded us of western Oregon.

 Fall is coming to the trees lining the Bio-Bio River, which is very wide and shallow at this point.

And now for my wardrobe, which may be of interest to a sister missionary living 18 months in a coastal foreign country.I had to fit everything into two suitcases, so I found out as much as I could about what to wear before I came. In the picture above are my Travelsmith pocketed, button-down, a-line, mid-calf skirts. They are great. Hna. Butler in Ontario kindly loaned me several of her missionary skirts, too.

The Chileans tend to wear dark colors, with few prints or plaids, only occasionally a touch of brighter color. The younger women wear very tight leggings or denim jeans with high heels, and crochet or knit sweaters, with fitted jackets, hats, and scarves, even when the weather is still above 50 degrees. They have nice figures and maintain themselves into middle age. Since I am past middle age, fortunately, I have slid into the Older Woman category, and don't have to worry about high fashion. The church members, of course, dress modestly and tastefully.

Even after seven months living here, I still don't look like a Chilean, so they tell me. I don't know if it is lack of long black hair, the fair freckled skin, or the golden-brown eyes, which most people find as startling as blue eyes.

I ordered several shirts from different places and discovered they were Ex-Officio. They are well made, with beautiful fabrics and interesting details, if fairly expensive. They wash beautifully and will last through the mission.

Indestructible, easy-care and flattering dresses from Monterey Bay and J.Jill. There is a thriving industry in Chile of selling used and unsold clothing from the United States. Bales of clothing will arrive here to be sold to entrepreneurial women, usually working out of their homes. The quality and low cost make this clothing sought-after. Hna. Rosa told me that these clothes are used as a source of fabric for sewing, since Americans are taller and bigger and often the clothes do not fit.

My nice long warm Tribal skirts I bought at Peterson's missionary store in Boise. I also bought a white blouse and two shorter elastic-waist skirts for summer wear.

Long cardigans from Lands' End I couldn't live without. I just wish I had brought the mid-weight ones as well.

The Orvis P-Day shirt I wear with two alternating Territory Ahead jeans. I also have several vests. The scoop neck top (spandex stretch or cotton) can be found at the missionary store in the Provo MTC. I bought three of them--two white and one black. I wear them constantly under my shirts and sweaters.

A lightweight hooded raincoat from Orvis, and the gorgeous gray wool coat Elder Kennington bought me at the Pendleton outlet in Boise. I always get compliments on it. Not pictured are my winter pajamas I bought in Nancy, France, and the summer pjs I got at the Wal-Mart in Pahrump, Nevada. I found another in Jumbo Concepcion but had to get the XL (I think it was a girls size) since at 5´2" I am a giant among Chilenas.

A Land's End down rain jacket, and my beloved Fossil leather bag. It does not draw attention to itself, holds tons of stuff, has lots of zippers, and has a very sturdy long handle that I wear across my body, every day. 

Scarves are an essential here. Sometimes they are the only spot of color, and they are endlessly useful to put over your head to keep off rain,  keep your ankles warm when you are sitting, or insulate your groceries or keep things from breaking. The scarves above are  a letter-printed stripe I bought in Bad Salzuflen, Germany; a lovely lightweight wine-colored wool one from L.L. Bean; the yellow silk from Sendai, Japan; and the pink and purple shawl was a gift from my brother-in-law Jorge from Buenos Aires. 

Warm, soft angora sweaters from Orvis and L.L. Bean. What I didn't bring enough of was around-the-house clothes, so I've ventured into stores to find shirts and leggings. The fabrics here are not what they are in the U.S. , and most of them have to be ironed. Fortunately the clothes do fit me, even though at 5' 2" I am a Large size. Elder Kennington has found the XL for men is not large enough to fit him. We see large men around, so we know there must be some place they buy their clothes.

These are the shoes I have ended up wearing: The black Clarks I bought in Provo while we were in the MTC that I wear almost every day; (they have been re-soled twice at the Navarro shoe shop,)  the laced tan and black Clarks I wear on P-days; the brown Bass flats I bought at the Boise Outlet Mall; the Bass long zippered boots for when it rains or I want to wear wool socks to keep my feet warm; and the leather Teva sandals, the most comfortable of all. All of them comfortable, well-made, and looking like they will last awhile. I have a few more pairs of shoes, but will probably leave them with some deserving Sister missionary when my time here is done.