Sunday, June 8, 2014

Teaching English

This week we began teaching three basic-level English classes titled "English for You Now," written by two Brigham Young University professors, to be eventually disseminated to church members in Spanish-speaking countries. We will be evaluating the materials and reporting on students' progress. Over thirty people have signed up to attend a class on Wednesday afternoon, Thursday morning, or Saturday morning.

Our class members, from mid-teen on up, have been willing, curious, and responsive, and have done very well with the first activity--pronouncing short words using vowel sounds not found in Castellano, including short a, short e, short i, short u, and short o. Elder Kennington is especially good at keeping the pace hopping and everyone laughing, while I try to figure out why the projector isn't working, or modeling how to hold your mouth while you say the sound of short vowels, remembered from phonetics class many years ago.

The second activity was learning phrases to ask someone to speak more slowly or repeat a question. It helps that as teachers, Elder K. and I know what it is like to be at a disadvantage in a foreign country! They have trouble with the beginning h sound, and ending g's. They are interested in learning English because of job opportunity, because they like English, or because of the LDS temple that will soon be built in Concepcion.

The first Sunday in June we attended Barrio Loma Colorada, where Institute Director Hno. Verdugo and his wife invited us to lunch. They have lived a life of service to the Church. He left a good job with the telephone company during its fiber-optic phase, in order to serve as a stake president, a mission president in Argentina, an area seventy, and now Institute director, with daily hours from 12:00 noon to 10:30 at night. He retires next year and will return to his former home in Rancagua.

San Pedro has nice clean neighborhoods of new homes.

The Verdugos live in a gated community in a beautiful well-built brick home. Even though these are nice homes, the yards are small, and the square footage is not nearly as large as homes in the U.S. Chileans love antiques and often have collections of family heirlooms. Hna. Verdugo told us, sadly, that her collection of blue on white china was destroyed when it all fell out of the hutch during the 2010 earthquake. 

Hna. Verdugo, who has been feeding missionaries and visiting authorities all her married life, outdid herself for us--beautifully sliced vegetables, soup, and sopaipillas made with yellow winter squash with a side of tomato and avocado salsa with Merken spice, which would have been enough for me. But this was followed up with roast pork, a puree of potatoes, yellow winter squash, and cornmeal, followed by a dessert of cream pudding and a sponge cake roll with a manjar filling. We didn't have to eat for quite awhile after that.

 Elder Kennington finally prevailed on the Operations and Maintenance department to install the number 55 on the wall for our Chacabuco office address, since the gate is welded shut for the Serrano address around the corner, and people are always confused. Now if we can only get Lago Salado (Salt Lake City) to change our address in the official documents, like they have for the Almacen--Bishop's Storehouse downstairs, and the O and M office on the other side of the second floor. The Almacen has been robbed twice in the last month of goods intended for needy members of the Concepcion Stakes, so the alarm system has been updated.

Tuesday three English majors attending a university nearby came in to study with us, so we could listen to their pronunciation and help them deliver their presentations.

Chacabuco on Wednesday night after several days of serious June rains. Elder K. has even requested that I knit him a wool cap since the umbrella is useless when the wind starts to blow. 
We gave the first of our English for You Now lessons to a half-dozen students, then threaded our way through continual traffic jams to Barrio Pedro de Valdivia, where we spoke to ward members about Self-Reliance. 

Hna. Arrington, the mission president's wife, sent this photo of all the sister missionaries from last week's event in Chillan. I am the one sitting to the left of Hna. Arrington.

I would like to have gone to the Club de Jardines' presentation on Bonsai that Hna. Rosa invited me to, but I couldn't make it. I like their Copihue logo, anyway.

A box from the U.S.! Pictures by Austin and Bennett! They dress up our empty wall so nicely. I especially love the three green antenna arms.

Austin and Bennett's mom Brielle sent us two of her beautiful handmade cards for Mother's Day and our anniversary. She sent two large bottles of Ibuprofen, much to the appreciation of our friends, peppermint essential oil, which I was very glad to get, and wool fleece on sale for my adventures in felting.

Thursday, our second English group went very well. The Saturday group, which was quite large, also went well. On Friday, Latino elders from the Concepcion South mission came in for a workshop in Autosuficiencia.

Later on Friday, we went to the mission home for Pres. Arrington's birthday. Here he is seated next to Pres. Martinez of the Concepcion South mission, who is coming to the end of his three years. He is looking forward to returning to living a calm life with his family in Los Angeles.

I made about 2 dozen apple turnovers, since I knew Pres. Arrington loves apple pie.They were a big hit. It took five pounds of green apples, Costco cinnamon, and four recipes of pastry, using lard, since I haven't seen shortening here. Fortunately there were enough, since more and  more people kept showing up, including the perpetually hungry elders in the mission office.  Pres. Arrington is thinking up other occasions to celebrate that will need more apple turnovers. 
Afterwards, I accompanied Hna. Arrington to the yarn shop on Lincoyan to help her buy yarn and crochet hooks so she could make a baby blanket for a friend back home. I even managed to avoid buying more yarn.

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