I told you I thought we were done traveling until after Jan 1. Well that turned out to be rather short sighted. Two weeks ago we went back to Nieva and then to Ibagué (where Darwin served for 8 1/2 months on his first mission) and then last week we went to Boliva by way of Peru. Tomorrow we leave for Santiago Chile and a little town about an hour beyond. It has been an exciting two weeks. The first trip was with Presidente y Hermana Martinez of the Bogota South mission. He asked me to present in 4 multi zone conferences back to back ie one on Tues, Wed, Thurs and Fri. Tues Nieve, Wed Ibagé and then 2 different locations in Bogotá one Thursday and one Fri. I can tell that my Spanish would really improve if I did that every week. My presentation was in Spanish with some help from Darwin and Hermana Martinez when I got stuck. (The first day that was alot but by day 4 I did a much better job). The second trip was an emergency trip to Santa Cruz Bolivia to take home a Sister who needed more intensive treatment than we can provide in the field. The decision was made on Monday evening. We made arrangements on Tuesday, Wed we went to Barranquilla to meet her and spend the evening with her getting acquainted. Thursday morning (Thanksgiving Day in the US) we got up at 4 am to be in the Airport at 5 am. We flew out at 6:30 with Stops in Bogotá, Lima Peru, and La Paz Bolivia before landing in Santa Cruz at 1:40 am the next morning (our time 2:40 their time). We were all exhausted. We said goodby to our young sister in the airport where she was met by her stake president (who accompanied her from that point on to her home). The Mission President and his wife, Presidente and Hermana Maynes were there to pick us up. We spent the next 3 days with them in the Mission Home in Santa Cruz because there were no available seats on any returning flights. (It was between 92 and 100 degrees while we were there). We were able to attend a Stake Conference in Santa Cruz (one of several Stakes in the city). It was packed from the front of the chapel all the way back through the cultural hall to the stage. President and Sister Maynes spoke (she and I co-miserated about our lack of ability with the language). The Temple President from Cochabamba and his wife, Br and sister Gonzolez (He was a Fransiscan Monk when he joined the Church in the 1970's although we didn't find that out until we had dinner with them and at the Mission Home with Presidente and Hermana Maynes) also spoke as did the Stake President. The Choir was beautiful. I think I got some 15 sec segments recorded but my little recorder was set wrong so it would only record 15 sec at a time. All told it has been a pretty exciting, exhausting two weeks. There are some pictures below. The Andies were incredible to fly over but the pictures are not all that good. I did this post yesterday before the Christmas devotional, during the Christmas devotional I got a call from a mission president with another missionary sister who needs to go home. We have kind of been expecting this decision but things came quicker than I thought. We leave tomorrow to pick her up and take her home to a little town about an hours flight outside of Santiago Chile. Again the flights are packed so I don't know when we will be back. Probably Friday or Saturday. In the mean time I have had 7 new situations develop in the last 5 days that I am following with various mission presidents, some will resolve quickly and others may take more time. These are really the only two missionaries I have had to accompany home. It isn't always this hecktic.
On our front pourch waiting for Presidente Martinez to pick us up. The drive was gorgous
Last round of conferences the missionaries were taught about feeding the sheep. They each got at least one sheep to take care of (ovaja). This conference they had to decide what thy would scarifice for their sheep (investigators). My presentation was on effective companionship inventories where each member of the companionships protects the emotional health of his companion and himself while still discussing issues that need to solved. There is a slide show of this trip right below and then below that there is the beginning information about Christmas in Bogotá. The slide show is about 7 minutes long and shows one of Colombias active volcanos. One erupted about two days after this trip. We think it was this one but we are not sure.
Bogota is a wonderland at Christmas time. They decorate 4 major areas of the city each year to different themes. This year the themes are the seasons. We live right on the edge of one of the major areas. I will post pictures of Christmas in a couple of Days. We are watching them sculpt a life size scene in the park just down from us in Sand. It is incredible. They dumped about two dump truck loads of sand in the area and the sculptures are having a good time. It is right at the front of the park and the park it itself has been turned into a lighted wonderland. A river goes through the middle and it is lighted on both sides with blue lights like waves with huge fish swimming in the blue lights. There are huge pinwheels and lolly pops and a life size nativity in orgami fashion. The first picture below is the front page of the web site which is good but doesn’t do justice to the actual goings on. On Dec 11 the traffic will be rerouted and they will have a night cyclovia from 6pm to midnight. There will be 3 full orchastras in 3 different parks – The Bogota symphony will be in the Simon Bolivar Park which is quite a way from us. It is about a 15 mile bike ride one way so I don’t know if we will do that or not. We will probable stick in our area which is Pimivara on the map. Don’t know yet though. Enough talking. Here are some pictures.