Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Last Week of March

March marks the end of our first full month in the mission. I was "snowed" under at the office, lots of baptisms to record. We had zone leader council on Friday and got to meet many of the leaders of the mission. I told the zone leaders that new converts aren't members of the church until I enter them in the computer and send the record to Salt Lake. I explained that the new convert will not be on the ward list, not be assigned home or visiting teachers, be given callings, advance in the priesthood and cannot go to the temple without being on the records of the church. They got the idea that the baptism record is an important piece of paper and that they need to get it to the office right away. Most of the baptism records come by fax with the original following in a week or so. I will have a few days at the begining of next week to finish entering records for March. It will depend on whether they come or not. Every day I enter all that I have. On Monday this week I did leave some for the next day but that is very unusual.

After the zone leader conference and a few hours at the office, we went to a baptism in the San Fernando branch. Since Elder Ramirez was back in Cali from Medellin for the zone leader conference he was able to baptize Nelly. She has been to church several times and her son was baptized in the "Nevada" last week. She will not be confirmed until next week because of General Conference.

This morning we went to the San Fernando branch to help clean the chapel. We thought the cleaning started at 8:00 am but when we got there they were just starting the last class of a 12 week course for leaders and teachers. So we went to the class, had some Colombian hot chocolate and bread and then cleaned the building. We washed windows. We got home about 10:40 and the conference broadcast started at 11:00. We walked in during the opening song.
We spent the rest of the day at the mission home with the Princes and Torgersons. We watched conference in English. What a spiritual feast!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

La Nevada (Snowfall in Colombia)

The mission with the help of the wards and branchs had a campaign to find, teach and baptize. This week many baptism services were held. We attended 2 services. Three from our branch were baptiized (2 at a Stake service Tue. night and another last night in the ward) They were confirmed today.

The Stake service was held Tue. night. Every ward was represented and we took turns going to the font to witness the baptisms. We had attended a stake family night the previous Friday where we met many of those being baptized. At the family night the Mission Pres. and Stake Pres. both spoke. Last Sunday we visited the home of one of the young ladies who was baptized this week. It was nice that we had become acquainted with them. More than just at church. Last night the ward had another baptismal service for a young man who wasn't at the Stake service.

The Mission President called the finding activity with the members (La Siembra --the sowing) and last Tues. night's meeting the La Nevada (the snowfall). He said that there were more convert baptisms that night than any time in the last 10 years in the mission. We will find out the total tomorrow. The mission has been averaging about 80 converts a month but are headed for 155 this month.

Total was 151 second highest monthly total in 10 years. Everyone is excited.


We have traveled by endless fields of sugar cane and have seen trucks with 4 trailers hauling sugar cane from the fields. No pictures of suger cane yet.

I read before coming here that Colombia was a leader in Avacado production. We have tried a few and are still learning to find the ripe ones. This what they look like.

Liz told us we would experience real mangos here and we have.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Glorieta (Traffic Circle)

Walking to the office we pass a Glorieta. It is amazing. It looks more like a triangle than a circle. It has three main roads and three other roads entering and/or leaving. Entering from the direction of our house is a one-way three lane road the splits at the glorieta. The next corner is a two way road, one lane leaving and one coming in. On the third corner is a one way road with three lanes leaving. It only goes over a bridge to another glorieta. In between the streets described there are three other streets leaving or entering (2 are one-way way as are most streets in town). I thought we should get a picture but the day we took the camera was a holiday and there were several policeman in the glorieta working the traffic. If we ride with the President to our apartment we go through three of these but the others have fewer joining streets.

Above is the light holiday traffic. Below is in the direction we travel to go home. This was taken from the steps of the little market we pass going to the office. On the right is a metal sculpture of a bird in the middle of the traffic island.

Cambios (Transfers)

This week was transfers and new missionaries. What a lot of work! After about a day of training the new missionaries met their 1st companion and we had this lunch. The president had been training the trainers while Hermana Prince and the secretaries were training the new missionaries. After lunch they had another training all together with the president and the assistants. I haven't quite got the camera figured out as you can tell at the end of the video.

The two Elders looking at the camers are a new missionary and his trainer.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Senior Moment

When the Peterson's came we had a lunch at the president's house and took some pictures afterward. The Peterson's (on the right) have a house on the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) in Sonora about 45 minutes southwest of Hermosillo. They live there year-round. They will be serving in Armenia (to the north) in member and leadership support. The Torgerson's are from Idaho. He is the mission handyman (he can fix anything) and she is the mission nurse. They have been here since September.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Los Andes

We got to see Cali from a new prespective. The top of a hill rather than the river bottom.

This is the area where we live. The city is divided into barrios (areas) which are usually different than the church wards which are also called barrios.

Our branch is in this direction.

This is the CristoRey statute of Cali. The mission brings all of his missionaries up here to see the city.

His arms are open to all.

We tried to take a picture to the west of mountian range upon mountain range but it didn't turn out well. It was too overcast. Cali is just to the east of the coastal range so from the hilltop we could look west to the Andes mountains.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Peanut Butter

We have been avoiding expensive (and unnecessary) cookies on our shopping trips and having a banana or yogurt for a snack. Today we had no bread so we decided to walk to Carulla's (ca-rú-zhah) for a few groceries. We picked up bread, mangoes, bananas, yogurt and were looking for something for a treat for Family Home Evening on Monday with the Torgerson's. In a moment of weakness I put a small jar of 'mermelada de mora' (blackberry jam) in my basket. My companion had already noticed this store has peanut butter (somewhat unusual for a little corner market). So I reasoned that if I could have blackberry jam, he could have peanut butter (one of his comfort foods).

So we bought a 16 oz. jar of Peter Pan for $13,950 pesos colombianos--about $8 US. The jam was only $6,590 p.c.--about $4 US. Our total groceries were $44,258--about $25 US. It has been interesting to get used to the exchage rate here. Today it was 1,757:1. Colombia has a floating currency so it changes from day to day. It changed in México too but was usually around 10:1. During the worst of the recession it was 15:1, that was when the Cemex (cement) plant in Hidalgo closed and many of our members lost their jobs.

We went to the CristoRey overlooking Cali this afternoon. Pictures posted soon.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Settling In

Pres. Prince has been in the office for the last couple of days and he has showed me how to do some of the things he wants me to do. I bookmarked most of the sites I will need to use (I can't really remember how to find them so it takes me awhile to stumble onto them). This morning I worked on a missionary aplication from one of the districts in the mission. When I had to call the prosective missionary I did OK with the 1st question but after a few tries with a more complicated question I took it to Elder Ramirez. He is a whiz--can talk to anyone, even gov. officials, and hold his own. He also understands English so I can tell him what I need to find out.

Elder Oliver is continuing to learn the duties of the financial secretary. There are quite a few differences from what he did in México. The banks operate differently, the mission can pay bills online, the system for re-embursing missionaries is different, ect. About the only thing that is the same is the iMOS system that the church uses.

We still only have a minimum of furniture in our nice apartement, a bed and a kithen table with 4 chairs. But the kitchen is pretty well equiped with a rice cooker and blender in addition to microwave, fridge and washer/dryer and iron + ironing board. The washer/dryer is pretty interesting. One machine does both but it takes forever to do one batch. It is also a little small, I have to do the white underwear in one batch and the white shirts in an other. So I figured out that I should not leave all the laundry until Saturday. We work in the office M-F and Saturday is our P-day.

We had a wonderful experience in the Home Evening at the Muñoz family's home. They had also invited a non-member couple who are nieghbors and friends. We will call Bro Muñoz this evening to see how the investigator couple is doing.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pictures At Last

This is the font gate of our apartment complex. Our building is on the left, Torgerson's is on the right. A guard behind the window in the small building behind the gate has to "buzz us in", in other words electronically open the gate.

We see this view every time we walk home. Ours apt is in the 2nd building, 8th floor, right side. It is easier to count down from the top--we're the 4th one down, the balcony with no funiture. You can't really see it because there is a palm tree right in front of that row of balconies.

View out the back window. The river is between us. [Looking up the canyon.]

View from our balconey toward the city. [Looking
down the canyon.]

If you click on the picture you will see more detail. For example there is a yellow taxi on the road at the bottom of the last picture.

We are happy to be in such a beautiful location.