Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Back to the island!

Fifteen years ago, we traveled to Margarita Island just off the coast of Venezuela to go windsurfing, never suspecting we'd be back, only this time with suit and tie and a name tag.
This came near the end of a five-day mission visit to the Venezuela Barcelona Mission with President Chacín and his lovely wife Ingrid, both from Caracas and with just over three months under their belt serving in the calling.  
OK, I'm doing pretty well on the Spanish, but this was terrifying.  At one point I told President Chacín that after the mission, he could do the bit at the end of the car commercials explaining the lease requirements, but only if he slowed down by about 50%.
We roared around Eastern Venezuela with the Chacíns to the various zones of missionaries, at times a little crowded, but we had a great time.
I gave scintillating PowerPoint presentations to the missionaries on such topics as "Ingrown Toenails," "Dengue Fever," and among others, the ever-popular "Diarrhea."
Lunches at the Zone Conferences were tasty, though varied.  We had a pretty good idea what was in store at this one:
and our guess was correct. 
Because of the Venezuelan political situation, no North American missionaries are allowed in, so the majority are from Venezuela, with a smattering of Bolivians, Ecuadorians, and Argentinians, countries maintaining good relations with President Chavez.  This photo is entitled, "Two Of These Things Are Not Like The Others - Two Of These Things Are Not The Same."
Speaking of Mr. Chavez, we arrived on the heels of his re-election, made possible by his change of the Venezuelan constitution to allow unlimited terms.  His contract with a Chinese appliance company and use of federal funds to buy washing machines and microwaves for voters in the last few weeks put Obama and Romney to shame, campaign-wise.  
Much of the country is gorgeous.  We arrived late one night in Barcelona, only to awaken the next morning wondering if we really had died during the previous night's drive through the countryside, as we had feared.
In all, a very rewarding trip.  We benefited greatly from our time with President Chacín and his wife, admiring their love and devotion for the missionaries, and the difficulty of their calling.
Now, if the missionaries just took notes during "Diarrhea..."
Dave & Paula

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