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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.