Sunday, July 27, 2014

Flash Mob SUD

We heard that Elder Pendley was giving a talk in his ward on July 20th, so we invited ourselves to visit Barrio Los Huertos, San Pedro Stake. We picked up the Pendleys Sunday morning at their apartment on Colo Colo and navigated one of the convoluted routes across the Bio-Bio.

Elder and Hermana Pendley are the mission office couple for the Concepcion Sur Mission, both of them very kind and very smart. They have been breaking in the new mission president, President Bluth, by accompanying him to zone conferences throughout the large area from Concepcion south to Temuco. Hermana Pendley is one of those who can drive calmly through the streets of Concepcion, a rare talent. Elder Pendley, an engineer in his past life, gave an interesting and thoughtful talk.

Although it is the equivalent of mid-winter in Chile, the Chilean Palo Verde, Geoffroea Decorticans, Chañar or Kumbaru tree, is in glorious full bloom. This particular tree with its yellow pea-flowers was growing on the shore of Laguna Tres Pascualas near the University of San Sebastian, where we were visiting a family in our ward. The legend surrounding the name of the laguna involves three sisters unknowingly in love with the same man, who lured them to either drowning or suicide in the waters of the laguna. The fruit of this tree is processed into a syrup which is used for sore throats and coughs.

We often see these turkey vultures, Jote de cabeza colorado, or Buzzard with the Red Head, perched on tall buildings or flying the skies above Concepcion.

We made a second visit to the Repara de Calzado, shoe repair store on Calle Serrano, to have another pair of shoes re-heeled. The old-fashioned heavy-duty industrial sewing machines reminded me of a long-past time in my life when I earned money sewing on an industrial machine.

The proprietor believes in low-maintenance gardening.

This week our first group of weaving workshop ladies decided they missed each other so much they were going to keep coming to the Centro every other Friday whether we like it or not. Here two hermanas are discussing the merits of the natural and dyed wool brought by our resident spinner Regina.
Elder Kennington noticed on El Faro Mormon, The Mormon Lighthouse on Facebook, that there was going to be a flash mob dance of LDS youth scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Since we were on our Saturday walkabout, we made our way to the Plaza de las Armas

There were lots of youth sitting on concrete steps and benches, parents waiting on the sidelines, and lots of dogs lying in the winter sunshine. An Evangelical concert was already in progress, while the LDS group was setting up their sound system and cameras. At exactly 1:30, when the Evangelicals wrapped it up, a small group of youth began doing gymnastics on the adjoining side of the Plaza. They have been practicing daily for a month in Hualpen.

 We found out that the choreographer was one of our English students. She was thrilled to see us. The group grew and grew, until finally they threw off their jackets so everyone could see their blue LDS youth t-shirts. It was wonderful to see such an enthusiastic group of youth showing what they can do. Plus, I could sing English to some of the music.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nothing is Obvious

The title of my blog post this week is a quote from Sis. Mary Anne Fry, serving a mission in Ancona, Italy, with her husband Jess, our former bishop. After wandering the streets of this little city on the Adriatic, she came to the conclusion that "Nothing is obvious." I knew right away what she meant--there is little advertising, you don't know where anything is unless you've actually been there, a beat-up entrance may hide a very nice establishment, and your best bet is word of mouth. She says the tobacco kiosks have the best information.

Last Sunday we attended church in Barrio Chiguayante, in the same building we have visited twice before. The ward is large, active, and it was pretty cold in there. I don't know if it is the tile floors and walls, or the condensation inside the windows, but it is often colder in the buildings than it is outside.

Monday afternoon we had to make a second trip to the jolly little dentist we learned about from Hna. Kauer who had to have a root canal. We were visiting him because I had a chipped tooth and Elder K. needed a too-high tooth ground off. He sent us to get "panorama" x-rays down the street for $25 each, and asked if we had this technology in the U.S. He didn't ask me much about my tooth, but started drilling right away (without anesthesia), excavated a large hole, slapped some plaster over it, and told me to come back next week. It took less than 20 minutes. Perhaps I was in shock the entire time, because it didn't hurt much. I'm hoping this isn't repeated again. He fixed Elder K's tooth and looked longingly at the x-rays, but Elder K. told him no more dental work.

One afternoon feeling dismal we stopped at the little hole-in-the-wall on the left, "Larré," a little restaurant frequented by college students on the corner of Chacabuco and Caupolican. We had some of the best roast chicken I've eaten in Chile, papas puree (mashed potatoes,) a consommé and salad, and a postre of bananas with a squiggle of chocolate sauce. Just right.

The new weaving classes are coming along nicely. This sister has reached the point of joining squares with crochet.

Since I had so many plastic bags under the sink, I cut them into strips and crocheted this water-proof bag. I've used it to carry heavy bottles of water to our car.

Friday we joined the Kauers to go to the mission home with President Arrington and all the other senior couple missionaries in the Concepcion Mission. The day was beautiful, looking over Pedro de Valdivia and the Bio Bio River.

Hermana Scholes and Hermana Arrington at the dinner table. It is nice to be reminded of gracious living. We had Mexican food, including corn tacos, which we haven't had since we left the States.

We went home in the mission van. Elder Kauer emphatically insisted that the rather extensive damage to the van was not caused by him. The other drivers of the van include the young office elders.

Saturday we attended a Family History Night with all the wards in our stake. I especially liked this abuelita's dashing feather-and-netting felt hat. We listened to several presentations and watched portions of "Frozen" projected on the wall, without sound, while we waited the usual 20 minutes between activities. Members had wisely brought snacks and mate for these intermissions. 

Finally came the highlight of the evening, a recently-formed music and dance troupe to which Dagnig and her husband belong, as well as one of our English students, the tall lady in the picture above.

These couples are dancing the Cueca, the Chilean national dance, as everyone clapped the rhythm.

Hermano and Hermana Delgado sharing a moment at the end of the dance.

 Following the couples' dance, people in the audience were invited to join in. Everyone knew the steps. Fortunately no one expected Elder K. or me to embarrass ourselves. We just kept clapping.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


We have now reached the mid-point of our mission. We have been out nine months of an 18-month mission. From now on, we are on the down-hill side. It came sooner than we expected.
The first Sunday in July proved to be perfect driving weather. Our friends the Mendozas wanted to visit Tata (Grandpa), and we wanted to see his little place in the country, so we loaded up the Outback and headed down Highway 5, Ruta 5, for points south.

Cabrero is a quiet little village on the way to Los Angeles. We passed by it once when we went to Itata Falls.

The chapel was quite small, and extremely cold. I was glad for my wool socks, boots, cowl, gloves, hat, and my Pendleton wool coat. Elder Kennington greeted the two sister missionaries, one from Brazil and one from Ecuador. The branch also has a set of young elders. The chapel was quite full, and most of the testimonies given were from men of the priesthood. Manuel, who grew up in this branch, was pleased to see how many members are now attending.

When church ended, we head back up Ruta 5, past vineyards and winemakers.

The snow-capped Cordillera was visible from the road, if a little hazy in the afternoon sun.

We went off the highway, passing numberless tree farms. Nothing was marked and there were no signs or numbers. You just had to know where things were.

At one point we crossed a stream on this wooden puente, bridge, to a road lined with poplars--alamos.

We were thankful (not for the first time!) for our four-wheel-drive Subaru, especially when navigating muddy roads like this one.

Andrea told us it takes two hours to walk from the highway to Tata's house, so she and Manuel were grateful for the car ride. The casita is not large, and on the rustic side, although it has finally been hooked up to electricity. Electricity to the well, visible in the picture above, was not working. You have to lower a pitcher down to get water. Thankfully, we brought water with us.

Tata Mendoza was happy to see us, although he is accustomed to being alone. Elder Kennington, wearing his wool hat, got him to talk about his vegetable garden, which includes little onions and the lettuce-like chicory he is planting in the cool winter weather.

Prickly pear cactus plant in Tata's back yard, the edible red fruit of which is called Tuna in Chile. Tuna fish is called Atun.

Musca, moss, growing along the chain link fence that divides the property. Andrea and I gathered handfuls to use in dyeing natural wool yarn.

On the other side of the chain link fence was a large pasture surrounded by alamos and species of native Chilean trees. Three horses and several gallinas, hens, shared the pasture.

Andrea told me that moss-covered branches like this are used in Christmas celebrations. 

Melissa Officinalis, lemon balm or Toronjil, one of the teas I often drink. The cool and shady spot it is growing in must be limiting the size.

This is ortiga, nettle, used in creams for arthritis and inflammation.

We brought a picnic lunch of sandwiches, apples, a bag of peanuts (which ended up with Manolito) and of course a teapot of water heated on the little wood stove for barley drinks.

Tata's kitchen with his industrial-strength hoes hanging on the wall beyond. The little house also has a storage room and a bedroom, all very clean. The baño (bathroom) is out back, or the alternative, as Andrea says, "al aire fresco," in the fresh air. 

The weather was perfect. We saw this pretty view of hills beyond a little laguna on the way out of Cabrero. A day in the country was just what we needed.

 Back  in our apartment, with its balcony view of the sun setting over the Pacific.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 4th in Concepcion

Sunday June 29th was the observance of the martyrdom of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Rome. We made a return trip to Coronel to visit the LDS branch there. It was a beautiful clear morning, so we set off in the Outback.
Concrete artwork on Puente Llacolen across the Bio-Bio. We're not sure what this is supposed to represent.

I find it much easier to learn Spanish when everything is in context, for example, traffic signs are easy to remember.

Many citizens of Coronel live in very humble circumstances. It was described as a "muddy, forested landscape" by the first Spanish conquistadores and settlers. The ladies in the branch Relief Society were talking about how the thick wood stove smoke was affecting people living in some of the neighboring canyons. In the lower left of this picture is what appears to be a family resting place.

Coronel was settled in 1861, in an area originally lived in by a large population of Mapuche Indians. Their influence is still strong. Coronel has several town plazas, including one with this clock tower.

The Coronel branch is quite small, but we recognized several of our friends from the weaving workshops and our English classes.

After returning to Concepcion, we parked the Outback and were walking along Chacabuco, the Bomberos, the firemen of Chile, were marching down the avenue wearing very clean and shiny uniforms. The Bomberos also rode out in their shiny red fire trucks, including the converted Ford F-150 subaquatic rescue unit donated by the LDS Church.

Bringing up the rear were the cadet bomberos.

One of the bombero offices is right across  the street from our apartment on Orompello. There are lady bomberos, too.

Friday was the 4th of July, so we picked up some roast chicken and croissants from the Unimarc across from the Centro and drove to the mission office. We chose unwisely to drive through the market street of Caupolican, although if you are stuck in a taco (traffic jam) you might as well be in the flower quarter.

 We had potato salad, baked beans, chips and seven-layer dip courtesy of one of the earnest young office elders, roast chicken, baguettes and croissants, and ice cream sodas thanks to Pres. Arrington.

 The Elders and Pres. Arrington taking pictures of the sisters playing balloon volleyball. Our "fireworks" were the noisily popped balloons on the floor.

Red, white and blue-dressed sister missionaries playing a rousing game of balloon volleyball. The most enthusiastic player was the 5 foot tall, 70-year old mission nurse, Hna. Balden.

 Back in the Centro following the festivities, our new group of weaving workshop ladies has grown from five to 17. They are not quiet anymore--they are happily chatting.

I include a photo of my newest knitted scarf, this one made of Chiloe wool that I dyed peach-pink using drink mix. It has been in the low 30's overnight lately, so I'm glad to have all my assorted shawls, cowls, scarves, hats, gloves, and wool socks.