The last few days have been full as we traveled to Cochabamba, Bolivia to conduct a meeting with Assistant Area Auditors from all parts of Bolivia. We arrived a day early to enjoy a little sightseeing and, of course, the fresh air, cooler weather and beautiful countryside. There’s not a lot to see in Cochabamba but there are big tours to the mountains and national parks that are the draw here.
In the pictures above, notice the man with his son. I took the picture to show how small the people are here. His son is maybe three years old. As we walked we came to this darling little girl who was only one year old. Her mother (and other members of the family I suppose) were nearby and smiled as we wanted to take a picture. The mother turned on the little radio to music and the little doll did her little dance which cost us a few coins. If you look closely at the city picture, you can see the temple in the distance, a view from our hotel room.
We had a few wonderful experiences in Cochabamba while walking and sightseeing. One place we stopped at was an antique shop. Of course, Diane was intrigued and the shopkeeper was outside washing the sidewalk. In talking with her, we found her husband had just passed away 7 months earlier with cancer. The shop was run by her husband and now she didn’t know what to do and her knees gave her so much pain. Joe talked with her at length about eternal families and the temple. Every resident in Cochabamba knows about the beautiful temple, but she thought it was only for the leaders of the church and not for all. Joe explained it was for all worthy members of the church, rich or poor, old or young, single or married. She was quite surprised. We left a pass-along card and she gave her permission to have the missionaries. She is pictured second down on the right. Diane even had a dream about helping her organize her shop, making it more appealing to show off the wonderful treasures she had "piled" up.
Then later in the day, we met a young man who was a sidewalk vender (top left) selling linens and old city photographs. As he showed his wares, Joe talked to him about why we were there and that his son David had served as a missionary in Cochabamba 15 years earlier. He was so nice and welcomed our conversation. Although we didn’t talk about the beliefs of the church, we left with a friendship and he was aware that we were missionaries for the Church. Maybe there was a little seed planted for our taking time to visit. While we ate our lunch at an outside patio café, we found our server was LDS (bottom right). She was so excited to have us there for lunch. Small world. Our missionary tags open many doors. Such a joy to be out of the office for a few days among the people!
The vendor squeezing orange juice was so cute we wanted to take her picture. We have learned to always ask and she agreed if we would buy a cup of juice for 7 Bs (about 1 dollar). Joe gave her a 10 Bs paper bill which she quickly whisked into her pocket to begin making the juice . . . no change given. We just looked at each other with surprise but no words. The juice was very fresh and although she didn't like having her picture taken, we got her to smile.
Saturday we met with six of the AAA’s. They are such wonderful men! We work with the best and enjoy their spirit and friendship. The wife of Ariel Escobar (middle picture) came to prepare a refreshment and lunch for our group. It was like eating dinner there was so much food; pasta, rice, mashed potatoes and gravy, all the varieties of vegetables including herbed new potatoes, chicken and beef. There were three kinds of juice, one of which was so delicious. It was peaches with the pits still in, boiled for 8 hours continually adding water which creates a syrup. Add a little cinnamon and cloves and serve cold. For the refreshment break, Gladys had prepared salteñas, similar to chicken pot pie or empanada that you hold in your hand. She will be sharing recipes with me. They are totally Bolivian!