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Monday, March 14, 2016

Addendum

At the last branch council in February the date of March 8th was set for the next meeting.  President Polla asked us if we would be attending the meeting.  We explained that on the 8th we would be very busy preparing to leave and packing our suitcases because our flight home was the next day.  He all but insisted we attend so we told him to pencil us in and we would see.  As it turned out we got a call from President Goates on the 7th informing us of a new couple from Brazil that would be assigned to La Consulta and would we please cease from liquidating all of the items in our apartment so they could move in.  This was great news for the mission and us as it freed up some time in our preparations to leave. 
 
So we went to the meeting on the 8th and as we walked into the room where we normally have our meeting we were surprised to see the room set up for a large dinner. 
President Polla was out back cooking up some yummy asado. 
We had a very scrumptious meal and got a chance to say farewell to many of the our wonderful friends.  It was a tender moment as we went around the long table and embraced each one for the last time.  We will never ever forget our experience in that part of the Lord's vineyard. 
Our twin daughters and their families met us at the airport in Sacramento to welcome us and drive us to our home in Vacaville.  We enjoyed our mission tremendously but are happy to be home.  We tried to make our blog interesting for all and hope you enjoyed it.  We are grateful to our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ for this opportunity we have had to serve in Argentina.  This is the last entry as we sign off!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Despedidas Argentina

We are definitely winding things down here in Argentina with a lot of "last time" for this and that. We had our last monthly outing with the other missionary couples the other day in the form of a polo match. 
It took a lot of time to locate one but found a polo club in Tunuyan and they were happy to have a few more spectators.  It was a great outing with plenty of time to sit and chit-chat with our fellow missionary couples for the last time. 
 
President Goates and his wife were not able to make it so we played a prank on them by sending a picture of a white car with a broken windshield to them just saying OOPS. 
He answered back asking if that was the mission car.  He felt relieved to find out we were just pulling his chain. 
 
We have been teaching right up until this last week. We have been turning over the work to the Elders who were happy to get new people on their list. 
The Morales family, partially pictured here, is the last family we have been teaching.  We've been enjoying their great hospitality and wonderful friendship for over a month.  We call Gladys, the mom, the Queen of Empanadas because she loves cooking them as much as we love eating them.
 
We also have been treated to a constant stream of farewell dinners and lunches.  In Spanish it is despedida.  It was very humbling for us to be treated with such love and respect as we attended the various events.  They ranged from a formal dinner with President & Sister Goates and the other couples (forgot to take pictures)
 to meals at farm houses where we ate beef and sausage cooked over an open fire (asado) along with homemade pizza (nothing like our pizza except it is round) and other yummy stuff
to a humble meal in a one room self-constructed wood house with no indoor plumbing or windows and a dirt floor where we had corn-on-the-cob.  No salt, no butter.....just corn on the cob for the meal. We knew many were breaking their humble budgets to give us the best despedida that they could.  But in these circumstances the words from an old Bob Dylan song always seem to come to mind......"May you always do for others and let others do for you".  It made that delicious corn even sweeter.
 
We are leaving with very mixed emotions.  On the one hand we will deeply miss the people here that we have grown to love and appreciate.  On the other hand we know many in our family have been counting down the days for us to get home.  We have especially missed our grandkids and look forward to their baseball, basketball, track and whatever other endeavors they may be involved in.  Special thanks to Tom, Heather and Heidi for looking after our house and other administrative affairs for us.  You guys were great!  And Richie for doing the Christmas Family duty this last year.  Bishop Sandifer thanks so much for making our donations process run so flawlessly from afar.
 
Oh yes.....there is also Fred's pals Bill, Rod and Ed at Cypress Lakes golf course that I am sure will easily and gleefully take advantage of the fact that he has only played one lousy round of golf in over a year!
 
One last piece of news we received from President Goates this morning is that there is a couple from Brazil coming soon to take our place!
 
We arrive in Sacramento on the 10th and look forward to seeing ALL of our friends very soon!  
 
 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Not Too Trunky YET

Well it's been a long busy time since we have updated so here we go.
 
First, we have a great District Leader in Elder Lawrence.  
I am told that his mom reads our blog so here is a shout-out for Elder Lawrence who is doing a stellar job as District Leader here in Valle de Uco!  Sister Lawrence you and your entire family can be very pleased with your son's service here in Argentina.  It has been a pleasure getting to know him and working with him.
 
We have been passing by a metal sign with metal letters in downtown Eugenio Bustos for months that has had broken letters U and I that were hanging sideways. 
We have been gonna gonna gonna fix it one of these days so we finally got around to a small community service project and finally did it.
 
We helped teach Maria Bautista, who was baptized last year. 
She had a beautiful baby in January that weighed over 10 pounds!  Maria and Emanuel are proud parents of not-so-little Roberto.
 
We had another of our monthly outings with the other couple missionaries in January which is the middle of summer down here. 
 
We went horseback riding through the dangerous wilds of the grape and olive vineyards of Lujan, just outside of Mendoza.  It was a lot of fun after a big lunch at the best steakhouse we have experienced here in Argentina.  The Argentine saddles are way different (no saddle horn) and not as good and stable as those in the US but nobody fell off!
 
Another family we have been teaching is the Auca family from Bolivia. 
Wilbur and his father Basilio live in very humble circumstances on a farm in a one room house they built themselves that has a dirt floor.  If you look carefully you can see the unfolded cardboard box insulation on the interior walls.  Basilio is an Evangelical Minister and we have had some interesting discussions with him.  They have not yet decided to be baptized but are getting closer as time goes on.  We love these guys!
 
We have been teaching Nilda Ortiz who has had a son on a mission in Bolivia for the past two years.  
 
David just got home this month and we took Nilda, her daughter Cintia and grand daughter, Flori, up to the airport in Mendoza to pick him up.  Arrivals at the airport of returning missionaries are ALWAYS very special and tender experiences whether you are family or not.  He is a fine, handsome young man who won't last long being single!
 
Linda had the Young Women over to our house for a cooking activity for the Personal Progress program.
They all had fun making white sauce for chicken soup.  We all enjoyed the yummy fruits of their labors at the end of the activity!
 
We had two more baptisms this month. 
Dario (10) and Malena (8) Condo are the newest members of the La Consulta Branch. They are great kids and are reading the children's Book of Mormon and attending church every Sunday.
 
We have been wondering what our good friends Paul and Debbie Hom have been doing since they have returned from their mission in England.  Well, we have discovered that they are secretly spending time here in the Eugenio Bustos area in Argentina. 

We spotted them driving around in their Ford Fiesta with their personalized license plate the other day.  Those sneaky critters!
 
We now have only 10 days left on our mission which ends March 9th. We may have one more blog post before we leave.
 
 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ho Ho Ho

President Ulisses Soares of the Presidency of the Seventy came to Mendoza to speak to all of the missionaries in the mission. It was quite a crowd and all were edified and energized.  If you look carefully you can see us in the front row.
 
 
We had Thanksgiving at the mission home with President and Sister Goates along with the other couples and presidency members and wives.  Great grub!  Fred's back went out and we were "immobilized" for the first part of December.  Our branch had a surprise birthday party for Linda at our little place.  They all showed up at our door at about 9:30 at night.  Just the way they do stuff here.
 
 
We had two Christmas parties for half of the 200+ missionaries on one day and the other half on the next day.  We were in charge of the piƱata and Fred made a battle axe looking bat to swing at it which the young missionaries liked.  Fred was doing some serious teasing of Elder Warner because he got chosen by Sister Goates to be Santa for the mission Christmas party.
 
  What goes around comes around!
 
The branch Christmas party was next and Fred got selected to be Papa Noel (Santa) which he reluctantly accepted.  Now Elder Warner and Fred can share Santa stories.  The Santa suit was made of very flimsy see through material.  Fred decided that if he was going to be Papa Noel he would have to be a well-dressed one.  So we bought the material and President Polla's daughter, who is a good seamstress, made the new suit plus beard in two days!  Fred discovered a Christmas fact; when you are Papa Noel you are popular with EVERYONE (except for the ones that are struck with sheer terror at the sight of the big guy dressed in red) from...
 
 
 ...cute little kids
 
 
 to cool teenagers
 
to suave adults!
 
 
Well, it has not been all parties this month.  Linda was called as 2nd counselor in the Young Women program.  The president & 1st counselor are both 18 yrs. old and only speak Spanish, of course!!  We have helped the Elders teach some people who have subsequently been baptized. But this month Fred was privileged to baptize two girls who we have taught all the way through the lesson process.  Isabel Condo(12) and her aunt Yesica Condo (13). 
 
 
They are two sweet teenagers that live on a farm in a HUGE 3-generation family.  We are also teaching Isabel's younger brother and sister who may be baptized in January.  Stay tuned!






Sunday, November 29, 2015

What's in a word?

We managed to cross the Andes Mountains to go to the Santiago, Chile Temple.  What a journey!  We picked up the Warners, a couple from ID who are also serving here, in Mendoza and started out at 9AM.  It was a beautiful trip and we reached an altitude of about 10,500 ft at the summit. 
We stopped along the way to inspect the missionary pension in Uspallata.    So after about 4 1/2 hours we arrived at the border which was backed up quite a bit and it was moving slowly.  We really missed the days in the State Department of having diplomatic passports which always expedited these situations.   After about another 3 hours of lines and forms, we arrived at the last window where they told us we needed written authorization from the church to bring the car out of Argentina.  What???  We already had permission from the Mission President!  We argued with him but to no avail.  We huddled up and decided we would make the trip no matter what.  So we headed back to Mendoza.   The mission office Elders found out, after speaking to the Area Office in Buenos Aires, that we had to be in the country a year (for what reason I’ll never know) before we would be allowed to take the car to Chile.  The Elders ended up buying us bus tickets on a trip that left at 10:30 PM.  After a sleepless night on the bus, we finally arrived in Santiago at 6:30 AM the next day.  We arrived at the hotel about 8AM and crashed until noon.  We got up and ate lunch, did some shopping and made it to the temple in the afternoon.  We were able to attend a session and then do some sealings for our Branch President's wife's family.


Santiago is a huge city of 6.5 million people and is very modern and clean because they employ a massive workforce to clean the streets in the whole city each night. It also lays claim to the tallest building in Latin America, the Costanera Center, at 980 ft. 
We went to the top and what a view! 
The trip home Saturday in the daylight was much easier to take.  Climbing the western slope of the Andes took us through a section of steep terrain where we went through a series of 29 hairpin turns one after another to get to the top. 

We finally got home around 8pm Saturday night.  We will never forget our trip to Chile with the Warners.  
We were at our branch president’s house the other day for his birthday celebration. He had commented once on how much he liked Fred’s Duck Dynasty tie, so he gave it to him for his birthday.  Not sure he totally gets the whole redneck thing but he liked the tie and wore it to church the following Sunday and to our last district conference.  While we were at his house, Fred mentioned that his birthday was in March (marzo in Spanish).  Fred started getting text messages on Tuesday  (martes in Spanish) from some of the branch members wishing him a happy birthday.  He went to a branch council meeting that night got a birthday greeting phone call after which he announced to the branch council that his birthday was in MARCH not November.  President Polla took issue and said that he understood it to be martes based on the conversation at his house and that he was responsible for spreading the word. Martes, marzo, I suppose you could get that confused easy enough.  Anyway they had a whole birthday party set up in the room across the hall with a big cake and all. 
Since we had only been here a week and didn’t have any celebration for his actual birthday we all decided it was just an 8 month delay. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
It is garlic harvest time here.  It is all done by hand and loaded on to slow trucks that plug up the roads on the way to wherever they process the stuff.   
 
 
 
They keep some of the harvest under plastic in the fields for next years seed. 
Spring brings a lot of agricultural activity here with the grapes and a myriad of other crops.  Can’t wait for all of the fresh fruits and veggies!
Spring also brings lots of pollen which brought on Linda's annual allergy attack on her throat and bronchial tubes.  She had to wear a mask and couldn’t venture out for 10 days.  Fred teamed up with the Elders from time to time and managed to get some work done until Linda could recover.
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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Late Spring Snows

We went back to Manzano with the other missionary couples in the mission for our monthly outing. This is one of the places General San Martin used to formulate his plan for crossing the Andes Mountains to engage the Spanish Army in liberating Argentina, Chile and Peru.  It had snowed about 3 inches and it really made the place look different than the last time we were there.
 
 
 
 
 
  
This is the actual Monument that was built in the 1950's to honor San Martin.
No this is not a close-up of a golf ball.  It is actually the texture of one of the walls inside the museum.  Those dimples are about 3 inches across. The designer had to be a golfer!
 
We could not resist making a little snow man!
 
We all got indoors out of the chilly snow to enjoy a wonderful buffet lunch of beef ribs, suckling pig, sausage and goat plus a bunch other goodies and yes some healthy stuff too!
 
We finished the last of our overnight trips to do inspections of the missionaries housing.  San Rafael is a beautiful area where we saw some of our old missionary friends again.  Wine country of course and we found this interesting work of art in the center of one of the large roundabouts in the city.
 
Transfers are both a happy time and a sad time.  After working shoulder to shoulder with these young missionaries for awhile it comes time for some of them (all of them eventually) to move along to a new area in the mission.  We miss them and wonder if we will ever again cross paths.  On the other hand it is exciting to get new missionaries transferring in with all of their renewed enthusiasm and energy. 
We have started and are continuing a tradition of taking all of the missionaries in our district to lunch at transfer time just for one last get-together.  
 
They celebrate Mother's Day in October here so Linda got to have TWO this year.  Our branch president had all of the men produce a video from the family to the Mom.  We had a big party at the chapel and all of the moms got a little gift presented by family members.  Then all of the videos were shown.  Linda was VERY surprised to see the one our kids put together for her.  Thank you internet. 
All of this took about 4 hours while one of the dads barbequed a large quantity of chicken out back.  We had a wonderful meal that started around 10:30pm with about 55 in attendance.   Yes that is not a typo, 10:30.  Dinner here is commonly between 9 and midnight due to the siesta between 1 and 5 which pushes the work-day late into the evening.

Yes we are not just traveling and having parties.  We are very engaged in missionary work.  As the Elders Quorum President Fred is busy organizing the home teaching routes.  It is so much easier now with all of the reports and organization being available online.  We are presently teaching 3 investigator families.  Humble people who live out on some of the farms and we hope for some baptisms as they embrace the gospel.  We along with another couple plan on a 3 day trip to Santiago Chile next week to attend the Temple there.  Crossing the Andes will be fun. Stay tuned!