Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Gift of Contentment

We've tried to keep our blog entries on the light side; no one wants to read long, boring stuff.  However, though fulfilling, not everything about mission life is sparkling.
We've been in stuck in not so great places for much longer than we wanted.
Though we've seen some marvelous things, there are not-so-marvelous things.
This is certainly not like living in Raleigh.  However, we have realized that the compensation has been the Gift of Contentment.
While the clothes dryer back home was certainly quicker, and the results fluffier, this one works just fine.
 The dishwasher may whine occasionally, but he's really OK.
 The garbage disposal is pretty handy.
The gym membership came with the apartment.  We think the bike was made sometime before Paula herself.
The fresh-squeezed orange juice just needs to be squeezed.
One has to be ready to explore animal parts that weren't so common back home.
However, the Gift of Contentment is real.  All of the new, scary and inconvenient things can be adjusted for, and then it's all right again.  We feel blessed to be here and to have the opportunity to serve.  The Spirit really does fill in the gaps.
OK, maybe we haven't quite adjusted to the all night parties across the street, but we're sure it will come.
Dave & Paula

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Wow! That doesn't taste like vomit!"

We had the honor of visiting the Ecuador Quito Mission with President and Sister Ghent this week, and came away having learned more than we taught.
One of the things we learned is why it is a good idea to wash your produce well in Ecuador.  That's about a half ton of big beautiful carrots being washed in a stream draining a cow pasture.
We were also reminded about why you need to overestimate the amount of food needed for the missionaries.
We learned a lot from President Ghent's lessons to the young Elders and Sisters.
We learned that it is indeed possible to go swimming in Quito, which is at 9,250 feet, as long as you have a well-heated pool.  Indoors.
I learned that it's a bad idea to not sunscreen your head in Quito.
We learned that you have to add 15 minutes (minimum) to meetings with the missionaries for Picture Time.
We learned that Ecuador was dedicated for missionary work in October 1965 by Elder Spencer W. Kimball. The first converts were the taxi drivers who took Elder Kimball and others to the Panecillo Hill for the dedication. He was impressed to invite them to listen to the prayer, and they were touched by the Spirit.  The great big ginormous statue of the Virgin was added later.
Sister Ghent learned how to make juice from curuba ('taxo' in Ecuador, I found out) and maracuya.
Her previous experience with the concoction had not been good, but this time she delightedly exclaimed, "Wow!  This doesn't taste like vomit!"
I learned that you could see three snow-covered volcanoes from the Ghent's apartment, but I'll be durned if I could learn their Quichua-derived names (or pronounce them, for that matter).
All in all, an instructive trip.  We were sad to see the tip of the last volcano slip behind the wing of the airplane as it stuck up through the clouds.
We hope you learned a lot this week also.
Dave & Paula

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"For nine people?!"

As much as we have enjoyed living in Bogotá, we're reminded occasionally that Colombia is a place with a violent past.  While malls are popping up around town, and you can buy the newest BMW just up the street, the veneer of peaceful civilization is layered over a people that still often settle disagreements in disagreeable ways.
We live just up the Septima (the big 7th avenue that runs along the edge of the hills) from Usaquen, a picturesque area of Bogotá with some of the old colonial buildings.  We go to church near the top of those hills behind.
A couple of days ago, a former head of one of the drug gangs in town, Los Pascuales, got out of prison, and decided to meet up with the folks presently running the enterprise in Usaquen.  
As the newspaper El Tiempo described the situation, the group met in a restaurant there.  This was a good idea, as the chicken in Colombia is great.
However, as the paper reports, "After ordering a chicken, the discussion began, but after only five minutes, the insults started, and various of them drew pistols."
When all was said and done, five were killed, including the former leader, and numerous others injured, while Luisito, the present head of the gang got away.
The comments after the article were interesting.  One said, "Aqui hay dos cosas:  una es que cuando la sociedad se quiera deshacer de este tipo de delincuentes solo hay que invitarlos a comer gallina...el resto ya se sabrá, y la otra es que una gallina es poca cosa para nueve personas."
Translated, this means, "Here you have two things:  the one is that if society wants to get rid of this type of delinquents, you just have to invite them to eat chicken...the rest will happen.  The other is that one chicken is a small thing for nine people."
We hope that you always serve plenty of chicken.
Dave & Paula

Thursday, January 3, 2013

"I did it all by myself!"

All eyes in the room gradually turned to Paula, she swallowed hard, and said, "Uh, sure.  I can take her home."
A young Sister missionary suffered a health setback, and had to be accompanied home to Peru.  The candidates to go with her were limited by the following criteria:   
1) Female, 2) Holder of a passport, 3) Spanish speaker (more or less), 4) Church member, 5) Open schedule, 6) Lookin' for a good time.  
So, off they went, flying out of Bogota's brand new airport (only two years late),
to Lima, then on to Chiclayo, the fourth largest city in Peru, with about a half-million people.
Some of you may ask yourself, "Hey, how do I know that's actually Chiclayo in the picture?"  Well, it's a big church, a city plaza....OK, good point.  But really, it's Chiclayo.  Trust me.
Anyway, after making a smooth handoff of the young missionary to her father, Paula had five hours and an empty stomach, and an at-least rudimentary grasp of the language.  She successfully queried two nice lady security guards at the airport as to a good restaurant, got a cab, and had a great meal.  Tortilla de langostinos, anyone?
Then back to Lima, where she passed out in the hotel and spent New Year's Eve in our usual fashion; unconscious.  She made it back to Bogotá on New Year's Day, and uttered the immortal words:  "¡Lo hice todo por mí misma!"
We hope that you can do it all by yourself also!
Dave & Paula