For the last Sunday in May, we visited Barrio Villa Acero in Haulpen, the Talcahuano South Stake building. It was an easy ride up Avenida Veintiuno de Mayo and left on Los Copihues. The ward was very large, well organized, active, and curious.
The building itself is the largest we have ever seen. We recognized several service missionary couples who are members of this ward.
Inside, there are two courtyards, a huge chapel, and even huger basketball/cultural hall with a wide stage, extra-wide hallways, and many offices and classrooms. It is well-maintained and spotless. It was originally one of three LDS schools built in Chile in the 1970s during the repressive regime of Augusto Pinochet, in order to provide education to church members. Later, when Pinochet was removed from power, the buildings were converted to regular ward and stake buildings.
We had never been to Chillán, about 100 kilometers northeast of Concepcion in the approximate center of the country of Chile. In the afternoon we caught a micro to Collao, bringing our tickets for the Linea Azul bus, which cost 2 1/2 mil pesos, about five dollars each. The bus was very long and new, with wide comfortable bed-style seats. It took about one and a quarter hours to arrive. We passed fields of tree farms, and occasionally picked up people off the side of the highway in apparently random places, since there were no bus stops.
Many fields are grown over with wild blackberries. Although the blackberries here have good flavor, they are certainly less lush and more seedy than the kind we get in Oregon.
We walked a few blocks from the bus terminal in Chillan, past the town plaza, and eventually flagged down a colectivo that took us to the front steps of the "Iglesia Mormona," the Chillan Ñuble Stake Center on Calle Francisco Ramirez.
One of the streets of Chillán, a city of about 160,000. We were told that the rents used to be cheaper, but after the 2010 earthquake, many residents of Concepcion left the city and moved here, with its smaller, safer, spread-out population. We met Hno. Seguel,who gave a Self-Reliance presentation to his own stake, since he attends church here. It went very well. Afterwards, he took us to stay in his own home. His wife had prepared salmon, potatoes, American-style cookies and Ecco with Walmart-brand coffee creamer.
Since Chillán is inland and closer to the Cordillero, it is colder in winter and hotter and summer, and is a better agricultural area than Concepcion. Hna. Seguel provided us with layer upon layer of frazadas, blankets, so we would be warm that night.It was extremely cold in the morning, even with the house's two small wood stoves. When I mentioned that I missed my large raspberry patch in the U.S., Hna. Seguel gave me a very large bottle of mermelada frambuesa, delicious homemade raspberry jam. We have eaten almost the whole thing in a week.
Hno. Seguel drove us back to Concepcion for a day at the Centro de Autosuficiencia.
Never having been to Chillán before, of course I ended up going twice in one week. On Wednesday I was invited with all the other mission hermanas to a meeting planned by Hna. Arrington, wife of the mission president. She has been concerned with the health and well being of all the young elders and sisters. The sisters especially are hard on themselves and needed an uplifting message, so about fifty of them met Wednesday morning at the Chillán South Stake Center for musical numbers and messages from Hna. Balden, the mission nurse, and Elder and Hna. Olsen, new mission psychologists based in Santiago. Afterwards, the hermanas played games involving balloons.
Another game had to do with throwing a ball of yarn across to another sister, and saying something nice about her, creating a tela de araña, spider's web.
A catered lunch was provided. It was several courses, delicious, and way too much for me, although the beautiful young sisters relished all of it.
Many pictures were taken. Both Hna. and President Arrington spoke. President Arrington told the sisters to remember three things every day: 1) I am a daughter of God, who loves me; 2) When I was set apart as a missionary, I was given authority through the Priesthood and the Power of Heaven to accomplish my calling; and 3) I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Before we left for home, with Hna. Pendley driving, we visited the famous open-air street market on Avenida Maipón between Isabel Riquelme and 5 de Abril, packed with fruits, vegetables, fish, flowers, knitted and woven items, bags, ponchos, leatherwork, baskets, hand-formed pottery, hats, yerba mate, mate gourds and bombillos, silver jewelry, and wooden trinkets.
Hna. Balden found Andean bags to take back to the states with her, Hna. Pendley got a warm and soft Ecuadoran wool poncho, and Hna. Kauer looked for bombillos. I found this little sugar holder and small-size rolling pin. By the time we got back to Concepcion, it was raining hard. That night we had relampagos, thunder and lightning, but I was too tired for it to keep me awake. It was strange being away the whole day from Elder Kennington, and comforting to finally find him again.
Friday afternoon, the ladies were making felt wallets, by placing pieces of cardboard between flattened pieces of vellon, wool fleece, and then applying the soapy water spray.
Rolling up the fleece inside the rubber place mats and towels.
Layers of fleece that eventually adhere and become flattened felt.
Our sweethearts in Germany sent us princess pictures, photographs to hang on our walls, and of course, Schokolade, real Bellarom chocolate. Thank you, princesses! They are as far away from the U.S. as we are.
I finally finished my recycled missionary white shirt rug, made with a converted toothbrush as a yarn needle. I do like how it came out.
Since many home-bound elders leave their worn-out clothes at the mission home, Hna. Kauer had a great big pile of white shirts and wondered if I could use them. She sent over a large bag. I ended up taking the more stained and torn ones, and giving the rest to Hna. Rosa, who knew several mothers of missionaries about to leave, who could use the nice white shirts, along with pants, shoes and ties, also in good supply at the mission home.
I washed the shirts, tore them into strips and dyed them with curcuma - turmeric, which made the nice bright yellow (which fades in the sun, unfortunately), cold black bean water for the lavender, and stewed onions and celery leaves for the lighter brown-orange. This rug is about 24" across. Some of the shirts were VERY LARGE. The raveling fabric shed so much thread that it was floating all around the apartment until we vacuumed and washed everything.
I am under instruction from Elder K. to not make another white shirt rug.