We were invited to Manolito's 7th birthday party, so we took the micro bus to Avenida Bulnes and walked the rest of the way to Andrea and Manuel's house.
Piña, pineapple, is Manolito's favorite, but he had eaten too many completos to want much cake. We gave him a nice art paper tablet and watercolor pencils.
Andrea served us completos, hot dogs on buns with mayonesa, tomatoes, ketchup, and rinsed chucrut, sauerkraut. We may eat sauerkraut more often, now that we know it should be rinsed before eating.
Andrea wondered if I could make business cards for her. Since I only had Microsoft Office to work with in the Centro, I used the drawing tools in the Insert Shapes tab in Word to recreate her Ayun--illuminated heart--logo, then inserted it into a Publisher business card template. She was thrilled.
On Sunday we attended Barrio Independencia in the Talcahuano North Stake, at Hna. Rosa's recommendation. This was an extremely well-run ward, with good priesthood leadership and excellent teaching.
Hno. Seguel told us we were invited to a meeting in Santiago with the LDS Church general authority Elder Enrique Falabella, who oversees the Perpetual Education Fund and Self Reliance initiative. Above, white oxalis, which is overtaking the fading yellow oxalis we have seen all over Concepcion, blooms outside the LDS Institute parking garage.
We headed north toward Chillán and Linares, past the Arauco wood products plant in the morning sun.
We joined Bro. Seguel for the drive to Santiago. One of the Seguels' neighbors's beautiful lavender-colored crape myrtle (I think!) blooms along the street.
The cordillera was in view for most of the drive.
We stopped in Talca north of Linares, a very pleasant municipality, so Hno. Seguel could give a check to a Perpetual Education Fund participant, making it possible for him to continue his stalled education. He was stunned and grateful.
Bro. Seguel told us many buildings in Talca were originally of adobe brick, like the wall above, which has not fallen down yet because it is not very high. The 2010 earthquake was devastating for Talca because of so many adobe brick buildings.
Between Talca and Rancagua we passed dozens of businesses along the highway, including row upon row of basket displays. Even without Elder K.'s stern warning, I realize I will have to leave the baskets behind.
Also many funeral pots and fountains.
Rancagua is where the cordillera and the Pacific Ocean are fairly close together. This area is also dryer than south toward Concepcion, making it excellent for growing wine grapes.
The fields were larger as we drove north toward Santiago. The larger fields have proven more productive than small fields broken off from larger farms, which in some areas are not even cultivated anymore.
While Santiago boasts many new buildings, in the Providencia district, where the LDS Church headquarters are found, you can see some fine old buildings, often university classrooms or fraternity houses.
After our arrival, we had enough time to attend a session at the LDS Temple. The grounds are always beautiful. Here the dimorfoteca -- osteospermum dimorphotheca, African Daisy or Cape Daisy, which love, love, love Chile--are blooming like crazy.
We got out of the sealing session pretty late. The temple is beautiful at night.
We stayed in the Bonaparte Hotel, a few blocks away. The shower must have had a water restriction device on it, but the bed was comfortable.
In the morning we attended meetings with gentle, deep-voiced Elder Falabella, who was born and raised in Guatemala; Guido Lucas, the newly called, dynamic and well-spoken South America South Area Self-Reliance Manager, who is from Argentina; and the charming, redoubtable Uruguayan David Rodriguez, PEF Project Manager, who sprinkled funny dichos, or sayings, throughout his comments.
I had to write some of the sayings down and ask what they meant, for example, "meter la cuchara" means stick your spoon in the middle of things, like the English saying "jump right in"; "la realidad milanesa," referring to the reality of a Milanese breaded meat cutlet, a popular menu item in South America, especially on the other side of the cordillera; "calma la tripa," break for lunch so you can calm your growling tummy; and a reference to Elder Kennington's eloquence with the ladies (something I informed Bro. Rodriguez about,) as "buen labios," good lips.
Elder Kennington and I in a photo taken by Elder Livingston, senior missionary serving with his wife in Republica, Santiago
We especially wanted to thank Daglin, the daughter of our Concepcion volunteer Hna. Debora, who is our go-to expert on questions pertaining to PEF, and who works in the offices here in Santiago. She has been invaluable to us over the last few months.
Also at our meeting was one of my favorite Chilenas, Hna. Calquin, who posed for a picture. She was demonstrating a few Cueca steps in the hallway, and lamenting the fact that she had given up the dance for the length of her 2-year mission.
While waiting for Hno. Seguel and Elder K. in the church headquarters parking lot, I had a nice conversation with the artist who makes the copper engravings I have seen hanging in the homes of both Concepcion mission presidents. I'm just sorry I didn't take a picture of him, with his weathered face and curling white hair. I ended up buying several beautiful Christmas cards with copper medallions on them, for $1.6 mil pesos each, about $2.75 U.S. dollars.
Hno. Seguel had some business to attend to downtown, so we were able to see more fine old buildings. Micro buses and colectivos, the black and yellow Chilean taxi, are a common sight in the urban center.
I brought my Black Skirt and my Brown Skirt to wear on this trip, no surprises there. Here I am wearing my Brown Skirt in front of the Municipal Theater of Santiago. The fingers behind my head didn't belong to Elder K.
Outside Santiago on the drive back.
I believe this is an example of retamo in tree form, as Hna. Verdugo explained it to me.
Although we had been over-fed the whole trip, Hno. Seguel wanted to treat us to an example of "lomo a lo pobre," poor man's loin steak, traditionally served with two eggs, french fries, and caramelized onions, at a roadside restaurant. It was more than a poor man could probably afford, although it was tasty. Elder K. and I shared a plate, and it was still too much. We had to ask for ketchup.
The sun setting on our drive back to Chillán and Concepción.