We had the distinct pleasure of visiting the Colombia Cali Mission last week, which includes much of the western portion of the country, including the cities of Cali and Medellin. President and Sister Prince are the delightful couple leading the Mission.Cali itself, as President Prince explained, is built on the edge of a valley, backing up to the Andes, "exactly like Denver and the Rockies."
"Except there wasn't ever a Denver Cartel. And Denver doesn't have a 120-foot concrete statue of Christ. Otherwise, they're pretty much identical."
The President, who in his former life as an executive with Freddie Mac visited 50 different nations, says there has to be a factory somewhere cranking these out, because they are everywhere. "I believe this is their 35-meter model."
The view out our bedroom window from their apartment stretched up in to the real mountains.
At one point, we flew from the Medellin airport
(what a beautiful sunset-in-the-air picture! Only, notice the clouds. That means it's raining underneath. In Colombia?! No!!)
to Cali, where the Super Cali Zone Conference was held, with about 100 missionaries in attendance.
Because of a previous shortage of typhoid vaccine, we held an impromptu vaccination clinic, with Diana, the nice nurse from the nearby Red Cross helping out.
Lunch was catered by a local member of the Church and her friends, complete with one of the larger soup pots I've seen (note the physique of the attendants), black from the wood fire.
We were also privileged to attend Zone Conference in Pereira, which is located in the heart of coffee country. Remember Juan Valdez? Seemed like a pretty simple country guy? Well, he must have gotten a good business manager, because there are Juan Valdez franchises all over the place.
The hotel where we stayed overlooked the two most common and hallowed institutions in any medium-sized Colombian town - the local Catholic church, and the local Éxito department store (yellow thing behind cathedral).
We took a couple of hours on Saturday morning to visit the well-known and well-done National Coffee Park, a truly interesting and lovely place.
I learned more about planting, growing, harvesting, processing, drying, roasting and packing coffee than I have ever known. President Prince commented, "Yes, Colombia. We have everything a Mormon could want - coffee, marijuana, cocaine, tobacco, some great wines...."
Of course, what would any visit to a National Park in any country be without the obligatory pictures of your face set in the local costume? Eh? That's Juan Valdez Henderson on the left. Some cute Colombiana on the right. Hey señorita - wanna grind some coffee beans? Eh?
Back at the hotel, I noticed that they had gone way overboard trying to make a guy from North Carolina feel at home. Look closely - though labeled "Salchichas," they are sublabeled "Viena Especial." That says Vi-eeena sausages to me, and that means Good Eatin'!
We ended the trip by attending a truly sweet District Conference in Armenia, in which the Bogotá Temple President and his wife (couple on left) and President Prince and his wife spoke. Paula was honored to be included on a panel of women who were questioned by the men in the meeting as to what women of the Church feel is important, and I was proud that she gave her opinions in Spanish.It was a rewarding visit, including the tours of local hospitals and the early stages of accords for the care of the missionaries. The beauty of the country and the people continue to amaze us, as well as the loving care and inspired leadership of the Mission Presidents.
May all of your views be as lovely, and your Viena Sausage supply be plentiful wherever you are.
Dave & Paula