Sunday, January 27, 2013

Our surprise farewell fiesta

Both Ambato and Catamarca Wards had a surprise farewell party for us last Friday, January 25th.  We were so touched to see so many people there to wish us well and say goodbye.

Daiana Cruz and her partner performed some darling folkloric dances for everyone.  They were great!

Hernan and his sister Valeria Pavon, Cami and Luli Ledesma sang a beautfiul song - beautiful voices!

                                        Susana Diaz and her husband Jose Mercado.

Lorena Pavon, Ruben Ceballos, and Sonia Carisso.  The green paper behind is where all the youth wrote notes to us.

                                     Anita Ledesma, Vicki Sachetti, and Daniela Brandan.

Pablo and Edith Quiroga with their children Malena and Matias.  Ramonita Rojas made the delicious cake.

                       Pablo Olima is quite the guitarist!  He's getting ready to serve a mission.

                                                Below are some scenes from the party:

                             Daiana, Jonathan, Sonia, and Daiana's dance partner.

Some final farewells

We leave Catamarca tomorrow around midday.  We'll be driving to Cordoba to finish up details with the pensionista (elder in charge of apartments) on the house we've been renting and to visit with President Salas and his wife.  On Tuesday we'll drive down to Buenos Aires.  Wednesday we'll be flying down to a little town in the southern end of the country, El Calafate, so we can see glaciers and beautiful mountain ranges in both Argentina and Chile.  We'll arrive home the morning of Wednesday, Feb 6th.  It's hard to believe our mission is coming to an end.  While it has been very difficult to say goodbye to so many wonderful people, we look forward to the reunions we'll be having with our children and grandchildren.

We've had the opportunity to visit with several members throughout the stake to tell them goodbye and have some pictures to share from those visits.

Presidente Montalvo is the branch president of the La Quebrada branch in La Rioja.  Here he is with his wife and daughter, Albina, and son, Felix.  We were there on Felix's 12th birthday.  Pte Montalvo is an extremely dedicated church leader and his enthusiasm is contagious.  He's originally from Bolivia and Sister Montalvo is originially from Peru.

Luis Villafañe, 1st counselor in the Los Incas bishopric with Bishop Alvarez.  We were in the clerks office working on ward membership records with them.  More dedicated leaders in La Rioja.

Presidente Daniel Villafañe with his wife Cintia and their new daughter Dafne, other daughter Valentina, a friend, and their son Bautista.  Pte Villafañe is the branch president of Antártida Branch in La Rioja.  We've loved working with him.

Carlos and Laura Machado with their daughter Antonella in front of their new home that Carlos built.  Their little son will be born in March.  They're in the Valle Viejo branch and have to drive 1.5 hours to get to church as they live up in the mountains.  Another wonderful family.

Here we are with Marcela Luis and her son, Thiago, who was celebrating his 4th birthday, and Marcela's mother, Olga Contrera.  We visited them one time and they immediately started attending church again, after many years absence.  They're faithful and very dedicated and have been instrumental in introducing the gospel to other people as well as talking to other inactive members in their neighborhood, encouraging them to return to church activity.

Dany and Delia Crettaz with their 15 year old son, Damian.  We're still praying for their return to full activity.  Another special family.

In back with Doug and me is Mariana Rojas.  In front is Victoria Parmigiano, her cousin Julieta Bambicha, Eli, Esperanza, and Claudio Parmigiano, and Efrain Bambicha.  Eli and Mariana are sisters.  We've loved our visits with them.

I taught Monica Sachetti how to make chocolate chip cookies.  Below, Agustin had to taste them to make sure they were good.  He approved!!

Roberto and Lia Suaya with their son Karin.  They treated us to an asado and enjoyed seeing them one last time.
Nicolas Arpires is the stake executive secretary and is extremely dedicated to his calling.  He helped us so much with all the updating of records for the various wards and branches. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Our last missionary pancake breakfast

We've had a pancake breakfast for the missionaries in our zone many times over the past 17+ months.  We had our last one with them this past P-day and as usual, it was great being with them.  For many it was the first time to have maple syrup down here - Americans as well as the Latin missionaries - so as you can see, they were all smiles (and, I might add, big appetites).

From the bottom clockwise:  Elders Ramos/Brazil, Silva/Brazil, Harper/ID, Coral/Peru, Lopez/Paraguay, Argyle/UT, King/AZ, Sanchez/Argentina, Hruska/UT, and Swallow/UT

From the bottom clockwise:  Elders Swallow/UT, Espinola/Argentina, Nillson/UT, Lopez/Mexico, Washburn/UT, Sisters Steward/UT, Gugliottella/Argentina, Elder Hruska/UT

The Catamarca Zone
Back row:  Sisters Gugliottella/Argentina, Steward/UT, Elders Nillson/UT, Silva/Brazil, Coral/Peru, Argyle/UT, Sanchez/Argentina, Lopez/Paraguay, King/AZ
Middle row:  Elders Swallow/UT, Lopez/Mexico, Espinola/Argentina, Harper/ID, Washburn/UT, Ramos/Brazil
In front:  Elder Hruska/UT

We'll miss having them in our home and enjoying their enthusiasm with and for each other as well as their missionary labor.  Another great group of hardworking missionaries!!   

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Signs of the Times

We had to go to Córdoba last week to finish up some necessary paperwork for our visas.  While driving there we passed this sign about the Falkland Islands.  This sign is what Argentina thinks about the Falkland Islands - that they're the Islas Malvinas and belong to them.  The islands are at the southern end of the country.  The president of Argentina, Cristina de Kirchner, is currently requesting David Cameron, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, to hand over the islands to Argentina.  If you're interested, you can go to Wikipedia to get all the details.

This billboard is on the outskirts of Catamarca.  Cristina is on the left and the governor is on the right.  They're both from the same political party.

This billboard is also on the route from Córdoba to Catamarca.  This is the image of the Virgin of the Valley for Catamarca.  What you're seeing behind the Virgin - the windy road - is a popular road that takes you up to see the view of the city and we've taken several missionaries up there.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Baptisms and Transfers

Florencia was baptized last Saturday.  She's a great person and a wonderful addition to our ward.

                                                         Elder Espinola/Argentina baptized her.

Elder Thorup/UT was tranferred this week - back to Cordoba.  He'll be greatly missed.  Several of Florencia's friends came as well as her parents.  It's always wonderful to have support with such a big decision in one's life.

This is the Acosta family.  David is on the right holding their youngest son Ian.  Yanina is on the right of him.  David baptized their oldest daughter, Ludmila, and 3rd child - they have 7 children.  Ludmila is wearing the sundress on the left.  This picture has part of David's extended family but I don't know everyone's name.  In the back on the left is his mother with his youngest sister in front of her.  Continuing on the back row is his sister Noemi holding their daughter, her husband was also getting baptized.  Elder King/AZ baptized him.  Another complete family in that ward!  The children from the left are Maxi, Ludmila, Belen, Tuko (can't really see her). Gustavo, Noemi's son, and Chochi.  We've come to know and love the Acostas and their wonderful children.  They're a very special family.

                         Here's little Tuko (her nickname) so you can see how cute she is, too. 

Transfers were this morning so yesterday we went to say goodbye to Elder Gilman/ID.  He's been in Catamarca since March so he seems like part of our family.  He'll be greatly missed.

Hermana Saez/Chile began her mission in Catamarca and off she goes to Cordoba on her first transfer.  She grew so much while here and has learned to love the Argentine people (she came with many doubts and hesitations).  We've grown to love her as well!  We weren't able to see the other elders who were being transferred as they were all out saying goodbye to the people they've been teaching.  Changes are part of missionary life.  Good luck Elders Thompson/UT,Chavarry/Peru and Thorup/UT!