Dear Friends and Family,
The past two weeks have been like a jet passing overhead, you see it for a few moments, turn your head and look back again and it's gone. We are realizing we probably won't be able to write in this blog every week, thus week 10 is a combined weeks 9 and 10.
BOLIVIA IN-COUNTRY MEETING - SANTA CRUZ
We were busy preparing for our first trip outside of Peru, a country wide training meeting with our Bolivian assistant area auditors or AAAs. The meeting was planned and carried out by this group of wonderful men from La Paz, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz.
We met in Santa Cruz where we gathered the night before with some of the men and then met for breakfast and a day long meeting on Saturday. The picture you see is of four of our AAAs Diane and me, left to right: Jose Padilla, Saul Yerbales, Ernesto Peralta, Diane, me, Rodrigo Diaz. Miguel Pinedo was missing because of sickness. Brother Peralta (from Santa Cruz) was huge in planning and making sure everything was just right.
He asked that Diane and I take some time on the agenda to introduce ourselves. I did the talking in Spanish and Diane just waited patiently. She had told me that she felt too self conscious to say anything in Spanish.
When I was done and had shared my testimony, out of courtesy to Diane, I asked if she wanted to say anything. I was stunned when she said she did and then stood up and began to speak ...... IN SPANISH! She spoke for about 4 minutes, sharing an experience she had with a senior sister missionary who works in the area office. Diane asked her one day if she was going to "work" and the sister said "oh no, I don't go to work, I go to the office to serve." She then spoke of the joy of service and then bore her testimony. All the while I was sitting there with my mouth agape and tears rolling down my cheeks. I had no idea she has spent the past two weeks every day and before going to bed memorizing her testimony so she could share it. Even though it was a bit rough in some places, the spirit of what she was saying was conveyed clearly and powerfully. It set the tone for the entire meeting and the men referred to it from time to time.
The meeting was very productive and the men were very prepared as we spent the day training and then I closed teaching the principles of why we do what we do. After being with these dear brethren for two days, we felt they were much more than just 5 of 35 AAAs in five countries. We are connected to them and them to us. We look forward to the other five upcoming country meetings in Ecuador, Columbia and Peru (3).
SANTA CRUZ CENTRO MAIN PLAZA
QUEMBE RAIN FOREST WALK
We spent our anniversary taking a taxi out to a very delightful nature preserve/resort. Diane discovered it and we decided to give it a try. The taxi ride took about 45 minutes and the closer we got to our destiny the less confidence we were that we were in the right place. The road went from four lane asphalt to two lane, to dirt road and then to just ruts in the road. By the time we pulled into Quembe, we were a little skeptical of what we had read in the advertisement. But as soon as we walked through the gate another special and delightful world opened up to us. We took a guided tour of the preserve that contained a butterfly preserve and an aviary that was absolutely huge and full of all kinds of exotic birds as well as parrots, Maccaws, and Tucans. We loved the lush rain forest fauna. The weather was perfect as was the day.
QUEMBE con 18 PISCINAS
One of highlights of the day at Quembe were the 18 swimming pools. They were built to look natural. There were four huge pools above the others. These four were featured by a volcano like structure that spewed water and waterfalls cascading down into the four upper pools. 14 other pools were built below. These flowed into each other with waterfall slides that looked natural but were for anyone daring enough to take a trip down.,.... which these two 60+ kids did. Fortunately no bruises or broken bones, just childlike glee. You may notice there were no other people there tht day and we made sure we swam, sat, slid into, or dipped our feet into all 18 pools. It was a resort all to ourselves.