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.
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.