Sunday, August 31, 2014

An Official Visit

Elder Kennington and I now have eighteen grandchildren! Nine girls and nine boys. Saturday morning, Jeff's Brielle gave her two little boys a sister, Junette Elizabeth. Since we have been on our mission two others have been born: Casey's Katie gave birth to the handsome and dimpled Isaac, and Jon and Carrie welcomed sweet-cheeked blonde Brynn Lee into the world on our May 10th anniversary.  We feel very blessed.

A week ago Sunday was the Concepcion Stake Conference, which we attended so we could visit many of the people we have met over many months. We were glad to see several who had come to the Centro for help and were now, in fact, employed.

 Following Stake Conference, we attended the baptism of Marcia's mother and grandmother, seated above with the father of the family, one of the sisters and a grandson. Often Chilenos will pose stoic and unsmiling for photographs, although Elder Streadbeck and Elder Encarnacion, seated next to him, weren't afraid to show how happy they were. The water in the font, unfortunately, was not heated, and it was an act of faith and courage for the bisabuela, who does not walk very well, to descend the steps into the cold water to be baptized.

During our weekly trip to the Unimarc on Chacabuco, we saw another of these carts of the very large stalks of an unknown plant. People buy these and chew on them like sugar cane, although we are told they don't have much flavor, even when you sprinkle salt on them. We asked the smiling vendor what it was and she said, "Nalca," a medicinal plant known as the Chilean rhubarb.

 Above is a photo of the Gunnera Tinctoria plant, with its long stalks, called Nalca, and large leaves, called Pangue. The leaves are used in cooking the national dish Curanto in a hole in the ground with charcoal and lined with rocks. The leaves protect the cooking food and add moisture. Medicinal qualities include helping with problems of the liver, hemorrhaging, diarrhea, stomach, and fever.

This week a large group of mostly North American, mostly sister missionaries was going home just in time to attend Brigham Young University, after spending a day at the Centro for a Self-Reliance Workshop. The missionaries have named this workshop "Introduction to the Real World," following 1 1/2 to 2 years of living only to serve others. Here they are waiting for the mission vans to pick them up in the fresh and brilliant sunshine of late winter in Concepcion.

On Wednesday we had an official visit from Brian Gibson and Dane Nielsen from Salt Lake City, along with Alejandro Calquin, PEF operations manager in Santiago. Brian is the interim South America South manager for Self Reliance as he travels the area visiting Centros and interviewing candidates to replace the outgoing manager. We gave presentations on what we have been doing for the last several months. Elder K. and I were able to have a nice chat in English with Brian and Dane before they left. They were very complimentary, especially of the work I had been doing developing materials and building the blog for volunteers and specialists. It was a good day for me.

 Romy made the executive decision on where to have lunch, and she chose well--the new Rosa Amelia restaurant down the street. The ambiance was elegant, the food was excellent, and prices were reasonable. We will be back.

A sister from Hualqui stopped by the Centro, showing the woven articles her husband had made. She and her husband had taken a weaving class, and while he does the actual weaving, she takes care of marketing by stopping at offices and ferias wherever she can and showing her wares. Above, Romy models a very soft and beautiful manta, a blanket-like cape made on a Telar Maria table-top loom.

Vendedora Silvia Saez holding the two triangular scarves I couldn't resist, which I bought to give as gifts. Maybe.

Friday the Pendleys invited us to a restaurant they found not far from the mission office, Quinche y Sabor, on Calle Prieto between Lincoyan and Rengo. It was an unlikely location, but there was parking! Sabor means flavor and Quinche is a term used in the cone of South America, meaning "steak restaurant."

The place was decorated with antique sewing machines and irons. It makes me tired to look at them.

We ordered the day's special, including crab soup, exquisitely cooked crepes with sliced vegetables and chicken, and fresh raspberry lemonade. The surroundings weren't as fancy as Rosa Amelia, but the food was just as good.

Friday night, Andrea showed us her latest creation for her son, a poncho woven and decorated in the Mapuche style. Behind her, a young married couple is on the computer as they make an online application for the Perpetual Education Fund, while Elder Kennington is in the classroom teaching the Planning for Success workshop.

I finally finished my Chile Telar of Chilco, the Chilean Fuchsia Magellanica. When I brought this to the Centro to show everyone, Hna. Rosa had to wipe away a tear. It affects her emotionally that I should spend so much time and energy making something beautiful, and so representative of Chile.

We have been asked by Salt Lake to develop short presentations on Best Practices for other missionary couples, including taking videos of learning local crafts, teaching how to crochet rag rugs, basic computer lessons, etc. I am beginning again with the famous Copihue wall hanging so I can record step by step instructions.

Here with the warp yarns in place, anchored to the frame in three places, and beginning the bordado, the embroidery-type stitch I am using to produce a raised color to highlight the flowers to come.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Silabario HispanoAmericano

We came to the end of our first ten modules teaching "English for You Now."  About a dozen students made it through to the end. The lessons are well-thought out, fun to do, and students learn without realizing it. They want to know the meanings of all the vocabulary words, and they are eager to share Spanish words with us. Most of them want to keep on with the next set of modules. We will be forming new beginning classes in the next few weeks.

Our most faithful pupil, Victor Sepulveda, single and in his sixties, gave us this Silabario, Spelling Book, as a gift as we gave him his English for You Now participation certificate. The Silabario has been around since 1948, used by 19 Latin American countries, and was adopted by Chile as their official spelling book in 1964. Only recently has it been replaced by newer books. All the adults who see me carrying it look at it with fondness and ask how my study of Castellano is going.

A page from the Silabario.

The third Sunday in August we made a return trip to the Penco Stake building overlooking Bahia Concepcion, the steeple of which is visible down the street to the right. Barrio Crav meets in this building. The sweet lady sitting in front of us showed us her hymnbook, which turned out to be a record of her entire church membership--full of pictures of missionaries, letters, and programs. It makes her happy to leaf through it.

Plum trees blooming in front of the Catholic abbey on Calle Cochrane.

Line of palmas, palm trees on Avenida Los Carrera.

Alcachofa, artichoke, from a vegetable stand. The artichokes are displayed like beautiful green roses. They are fresh and incredibly delicious.

We visited Marcia's  family  while she is on her mission in Peru. Her three sisters were baptized before she left. Here Elder K. is holding Victor, a week old, the third son of one of Marcia's older sisters.

Victor's bisabuela, great grandmother. She likes to sit next to the window and watch her great grandsons play outside. Marcia's mother and this abuelita are planning on being baptized this weekend.

 Andrea has lately gone into production making woven articles for North American families of missionaries. Manolito drew the design for her trademark, the Ayun, which means Illuminated Heart in Mapundong.
Although we appreciate our high rise apartment, we still pass by our still-uninhabited dream home on Chacabuco and Colo Colo. It is for rent by another company, and they are not having any better luck. If only they had known we would have taken care of it all this time without asking for payment. Although the heating bill alone probably costs more than our apartment rent. It's a great location for a restaurant or boutique shops.

Hna. Kauer told us about the Truxells, who live in this high-rise on Lincoyan overlooking Parque Ecuador during the hot Las Vegas summers. They bought the apartment eight years ago after visiting Concepcion to pick up their son as his mission ended. The Truxells were packed to leave for the States when Hna. Truxell, a school teacher who speaks no Spanish, had emergency surgery for a cancerous mass. She is in good spirits waiting for chemotherapy and the strength to make the flight home. Hno. Truxell is a retired phone company lineman, and he appreciates seeing the interesting phone lines all over Chile. Telephone linemen here in Concepcion, it must be said, have been cleaning out some of the more egregious old tangles.

Friday morning we took the Outback to the Municipalidad de Hualpen to make the last payment of our Permiso de Circulacion, which allows us to actually drive the car in Chile. It cost about $60.00 each payment. They must not be charging as much as the Registro Civil, which has much nicer offices and furniture than the Municipalidad. You have to pay where the last payment was made, so we were glad the car hadn't come from Antofagasta or Puerto Montt. 

On our weekly shopping trip we came home with this Confort brand toilet paper, which includes a rolled-up spare of portable t.p. down the empty middle of the roll. Several of them are now stashed in the Outback.

 The days are getting longer, and with occasional breaks from the clouds and rain, there is enough sun to encourage my dependably blooming balcony garden of calendulas and geraniums, which I have moved to larger pots. The semillas de espinaca, spinach seeds have even sprouted.

Saturday evening we could feel our apartment building swaying long enough to give me a touch of motion sickness. It was a 6.4 earthquake originating in Valparaiso. We like to check on to see the most recent earthquakes up and down Chile.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Paralelepípedo is a three-dimensional parallelogram, Paralelopiped. Chilean mothers say it to their children in the same way American mothers say big words to their children--to remind them they aren't as smart as they think they are.

During one of our English lessons, Elder Kennington was explaining about the words cold and chilly, which can be translated to the word fresco, fresh, in Castellano. The ladies in the class told us fresco, besides meaning fresh, also refers to men who like to look at women. We told her it has much the same meaning in English. But Elder K., being Elder K., went on to ask her what  she would call a man who didn't look at women, and her instant answer was "Tonto," Stupid.  This got a laugh from everyone, including the men. 

August 10 we headed for San Pedro across the Bio-Bio, which had a low bank of niebla, fog, hanging over it.

We would have turned down this calle, according to Google Maps, but there was a farmer's market going on. It looked like a really good one, but it was Sunday.

This is the Población Candelario, a neighborhood named for the patron saint of San Pedro, the Virgin de Candelaria, the candle or holy light that guides to the right path. This neighborhood is notable for the number of dogs, which exceeds any barrio we have seen.

When we arrived at the La Marina chapel, Elder K. went inside to find someone to open the parking lot. Hermano Rojas came out with a key to let us in. He is fair-skinned and round-faced, with an easy happy manner. He said his ancestors came from England, and France--where his name, which means Red, came from. Since my maiden name is Redd, which in our family tradition first belonged to a French sea-captain living in Sneed's Ferry, North Carolina, we claimed each other as long-lost cousins. 

Our faithful Self Reliance volunteer Hermana Debora Soto Melo and her husband,  the former bishop of the La Marina ward, also fair-skinned and round-faced, as well as being kind and thoughtful, live in this ward. Both Debora and her husband have Type 1 diabetes, which has affected their diet all their lives. Obispo Soto had to have surgery on his eye this last week, since he suffered from a derrame, hemorrhage, due to his diabetes. After several weeks of waiting for the surgery, at times in great pain, all went well and he is recovering at home.

Halfway through the Concepción winter, the azaleas and camellias in the building next to our apartment are in full bloom.

A tall beautiful magnolia tree. We are told by Penquistas (denizens of Concepción) and Hermana Arrington that this winter has been wetter but not as cold as last winter, for which we are thankful.

Penquistas love the giant white calla lilies that grow so readily here. They have started blooming and they are gorgeous.

Another camellia shrub, grown large enough to be pruned as a tree. It looks like a huge rose bush from a distance.

Lapis lazuli can be found in only a few places in the world: the second most important is in Chile, in the Flor de los Andes mine in the high cordillera of Ovalle, Coquimbi region. The top producer is Afghanistan. Lapis Lazuli is the national stone of Chile.

I told Elder K. I needed to go look for a lapis lazuli ring. I could not find any I liked in the shops on Barros Arana, but I did find these pendientes de libélula, dragonfly earrings, and the pretty bracelet. I will have to keep looking for an anillo, ring. ¡Qué lástima! What a shame.

I had to think of a reason to peruse the displays of street vendors selling inexpensive Mapuche-style earrings in copper and nickel. (You will find out later in the blog.) I especially liked these ones sold by a church member--the four seasons symbol stencils in round copper, and the moon and stars motif. Mapuche jewelry often has hinges. Another vendor was turning out the copper wire earrings one after the other.

 More Mapuche-style jewelry, often using old Chilean coins.

I have been weaving these Mapuche-style wall hangings out of hand-spun wool yarn, and wondered how to dress them up,  other than the handmade willow button and the Sweet Gum tree seed pods, so I tried hanging the bigger earrings on them. Looks good, ¿no?

My desk in the Centro de Autosuficiencia. 

I love this lime-colored wool, which is knitted into a bowl and washed and agitated in hot, hot water to give it a felted finish.

Friday we went to a zone conference with the Concepcion and Chiguayante elders, plus one set of sisters from Hualqui. (There are no sister missionaries in Concepcion proper.) Here they are playing charades of different scripture stories. If you can't guess what this is, apparently it is the War in Heaven. The gringo elders are exceptionally tall, (6'2" or taller,) or else I have been in Chile for awhile.

Elder K. and I were in the charade about Baby Moses. I was the Egyptian princess and Hna. Arrington was the sister of Moses, with her down jacket playing Baby Moses. Elder K. was a slave attendant. I liked him in that role.
Above is Elder Gutierrez, the Master of Ceremonies. He has a wonderful, enthusiastic, carrying voice, and really kept the place hopping. Elder Kennington told him he was going to be the next Don Francisco -- the Chilean Univision personality formerly known as Mario Luis Kreutzberger Blumenfeld--whom we have seen and heard on Mexican television Sabados Gigante.

Friday night, Elder K. teaching the second lesson of the Taller de Planificacion para el Exito, the Planning for Success workshop for the Perpetual Education Fund.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

We try a new restaurant

The first Sunday in August we drove back to Talcahuano. One week made a lot of difference--this time the sun was shining.
Along the autopista you can see "Talcahuano a Nuestros Nobel" with its metal sculpture profiles of Chile's Nobel prize-winning poets, Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda.

Rain often falls, thankfully, during the night. Sunday morning we saw this arca iris, rainbow, over the LDS chapel.

The LDS stake center in Talcahuano, Barrio Las Salinas, through the window of our Outback. Hilda Gutierrez, the trauma nurse, attends this ward. She came in late from working all night at the nearby hospital.

Sunday evening we went to a dinner at the Concepcion Sur mission home in order to meet President Bluth and his wife, Hermana Bluth. He was an ophthalmologist in Arizona before being called as president. The two of them are close friends of my sister Susan and her husband Blair, from their years living in Reseda, southern California.

Hermana Pendley had cooked the entire dinner herself, in honor of Elder Pendley's birthday. I doubt I will taste mint brownies like those again until we go home to the States.

Having lived in Concepcion for ten months, we are finally starting to try different restaurants. Restaurant Peruano, Las Americas, had been recommended as one of the better ones, so we walked up to Rengo and San Martin to give it a try for our almuerzo, midday meal.

Since it was 12:30, we were the only people in the restaurant, being silly gringos who like to eat lunch early.

The menu was expensive. I ordered chicken with champignones--mushrooms--and potatoes. The food was good with a nice presentation. The bottled water is "sin gas," although it still tastes like soda water to me.  

Elder Kennington was intrigued by the paintings on the wall behind me, including this one of indigenous Peruvians with what is apparently a very small person in front rowing a canoe. We might wonder at the painting's perspective, but we are told there is a strain of very small people living in the Andes. You can observe this in families where all members are normal-sized except for one who is proportionately much smaller than the others, usually several inches under five feet tall.

 Elder Kennington's cell phone wasn't handling the light very well, but I like this photo anyway. 

Friday we went to the Concepcion South mission office on Calle Castellon, where Elder Kennington gave a Self-Reliance and employment workshop to a large group of missionary elders and sisters about ready to go home. 

When that workshop was over, we returned to the Self Reliance office and found two groups of sisters happily weaving and sewing. This sister is wearing a beautiful woven jumper she said she tore out at least six times.
Elder Kennington taught the Planning for Success workshop required for those wishing to apply for a Perpetual Education Fund loan, to eight students. There was a lot of laughing from the aula, classroom, and they were surprised how fast the time went by. I was in the middle of compiling a DVD's worth of training manuals, videos, Powerpoints, forms, etc. for stake Self-Reliance specialists, and had 25 of them burned and in labeled DVD covers for Bro. Seguel for distribution at the next training meeting.

Saturday morning we went to teach one of our ongoing English classes, which are finally coming to an end. We already have a number of people signed up for the next go round. Those who have continued coming for over two months have done very well. 
We have learned a lot about our own language, for example, the infinitive verb "to get," meaning to obtain, receive, arrive at, reach, etc. changes its meaning when expressed with another infinitive verb, such as "I get to go to a movie," meaning a privilege or an opportunity.. We also had trouble explaining what the word "such" means. 
On our walk back up Chacabuco, we passed a new restaurant we want to try with the other senior missionaries. The Rosa Amelia restaurant is different because it has parking out in front.

We were counting the Chinese restaurants on Chacabuco. There are at least five, and a couple of sushi restaurants, too. There are several Chinese shops around town selling housewares I can't find anywhere else.

Elder Kennington took this picture of me wearing my rain jacket so you can see the nice soft pink mohair neck scarf I knitted from yarn Vanessa sent me.

Every day we pass this sinagoga, synagogue, on the corner of Rengo and Chacabuco. We are told there are Jewish people in Chile but I have not met any.

Also on Chacabuco is a magnificent specimen of the Chilean native tree, Araucaria Araucana.

The evergreen Araucaria tree

A very large camellia shrub in full bloom, in the middle of the Concepcion winter.