Thursday, April 11, 2013

Torres del Paine National Park

The following day we took a 24 passenger Jeep tour to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.  The pictures below tell our story. 
                               The two very small birds seen flying high below the clouds are condors.

Right in the middle, obscured by fog and clouds, are Torres del Paine mountain peaks.  As the day went along the clouds cleared and we were able to see them.

                              We passed this herd of guanacos. They're part of the llama family.

We loved seeing the back side of Torres del Paine. 

These peaks are known as The Horns.

Our walk back to the Jeep took us by this waterfall.

                                                                      Another blustery day.

                              On the way back to El Calafate, Torres del Paine came into view!!

The next day we flew to Bariloche, a beautiful mountain resort, and stayed a couple of days. We totally enjoyed our visit there and if we can find some pictures, I'll add them to the post.  Unfortunately, we started having problems with our camera and may have lost the pictures.  Guess we'll just have to return someday...  :o)  I must admit our hearts and thoughts were still on our dear friends in Catamarca and La Rioja.  We attended church in Bariloche and as I was playing the piano for the ward we attended, I wondered how Ambato Ward was doing without any music for their Sacrament meeting.  I wondered who were bearing their testimonies and who had come to the meetings that day.  I thought about the members who were struggling with their various challenges and trials and kept them in my prayers.  When we flew back to Buenos Aires we were able to attend the Buenos Aires Temple, which had been rededicated in September 2012.  The picture on my computer screen came to life as we arrived!  Another tender mercy for us was knowing the brother who conducted our temple session, Brother Frol.  We knew him when we'd served our first missions and I had lived for awhile in his mother's home.  Our living arrangements in her home had been the nicest on my mission.  When we were living in El Dorado Hills, CA, Brother Frol had come to the states for business and had called to see how we were doing.  And now here we were with our last few hours in the country, and we were able to see him again.  He, of course, was much older and rather frail looking.  He said he had some upcoming surgery and we knew his time on earth was limited.  How special to have this little connection with all our missions. 

Since returning home we've been able to visit and be with all our children and grandchildren.  What a special blessing to spend time with them.  We love them all so dearly and are grateful to see them doing so well with their lives.  We'll be home for awhile and then plan on leaving once again to serve another mission.

Rosario and the Patagonia region of Argentina

As we drove down to Buenos Aires from Cordoba, we stopped in Rosario to see the sights as we'd both served in that area more than 40 years ago when we were young missionaries.  Doug started and I ended my mission in that city.  One of the things we did was drive by the church that Doug had attended back in the 70's.  The amazing thing is that he remembered the address and we drove right to it!  I couldn't remember which branch I'd served in nor where the building was located or even if it was the same building.  So when we got there my mouth hung open in amazement.  There was this little building nestled between high rise apartment buildings all around it. 

This is a huge monument to Belgrano and the birth of their flag.  Manuel Belgrano created the flag February 27, 1812.

This monument to Belgrano is inside the monument as shown in the pictures above. There's a city named Belgrano but there are also Belgrano streets in literally every city in Argentina.  In fact, when we were first living in the little apartment while waiting for the house we rented to become available, we lived on Belgrano Street.

We were in Argentina on February 27, 2012, the 200th anniversary of their flag and it was a national holiday that year.  Belgrano is a very revered man in the country.

As I've said before, they truly believe the Malvinas Islands (Falkland Islands to the rest of the world) belong to them.

From Buenos Aires we flew down to El Calafate in the Santa Cruz province to see a glacier and national park.  The Patagonia region of Argentina is very unique and world famous.
We drove to see El Fitz Roy peak but the clouds covered it. 

We could almost see the peak...but not quite.

We found this land formation to be unique.

                        And then our little miracle happened:  the clouds lifted, and we saw the peak!!

We loved the colors of Lake Argentina.  The lighter blue color is from melted glaciers.

From there we drove to see Perito Moreno Glacier.  This is the first view we saw of the glacier.  It didn't look that big.

When we got to the other side we were amazed at how huge it was - several stories high.
Can you see the tiny boat near the glacier?  It was a large tourist boat, two stories high, and as you can see, it's dwarfed by the height of the glacier.

It was a very windy and cold day for it being the middle of their summer.  Then again, we were in the Patagonia part of the country, which is very far south.
When parts of the glacier broke off it sounded like thunder.
              This spectacular view was the last we saw of the glacier.  A bus of tourists had just arrived.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cordoba Temple Update

After we left Catamarca on January 28th, we drove to Cordoba to finish some business with the mission, say goodbye to the mission president, Presidente Salas and his wife, before driving down to Buenos Aires.  While there we saw how the Cordoba Temple construction was progressing.  As these pictures are from January and it's now April, I'm sure it looks much different.  But with the spire being built, it was looking more like a temple and that was very special to see as we drove away from our mission area.

It will be getting dedicated sometime next year - probably between January and March.  The members are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to attend a temple much closer to their homes.  They'll be able to attend more than once a year...or once in a lifetime...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Our final Sunday in Catamarca

January 27, 2013 was our last Sunday in Catamarca.  Doug and I both spoke in Sacrament meeting in Ambato Ward and afterwards we took many pictures with the members in both Ambato and Catamarca wards as well as the missionaries serving in those wards.

                                                                            Ambato Ward

Back row:  Emanuel, Presidente Valdez, Angelica Valdez and her mother Imelda Ovejero  Front Row:  Jeremias and Agustina Valdez, and our future missionary Jorgelina Ovejero (Angelica's sister)
Pochi Nieva, Ramonita Rojas, Imelda Ovejero
Gladys and Bishop Brandan, Ana Maria Lemos, and Daniela Brandan
Jorgelina, Imelda, Veronica Ovejero
Agustina Maidana and Daiana Cruz
Azucena and Miguel Escalante
Ada and Antonio Aguirre with little Tamara and Daiana Cruz, Ada's niece, whom they're raising.

Edith Quiroga with her children, Malena and Matias.
                                  Gabriel Rasgido and Pablo Olima, two future missionaries.

 Catamarca Ward members

David and Ana Brane with their son.
The Ledesma family with Margarita Ledesma.  Their husband/father, Nildo, was attending another ward with his church calling responsibilities.
Carlos Medina.  He serves the Catamarca Ward by cleaning the church building each week.  He also took care of the yard at our home. 
 Bishop Mario Diaz of the Catamarca Ward. 
 The missionaries of the Ambato and Catamarca Wards: Elders Lopez/Mexico, Espinola/Argentina, Argyle/UT, Sister Steward/UT, Elders Harper/ID, Coral/Peru, Silva/Brazil, Sister Gugliottella/Argentina, Elders Washburn/UT, Nillson/UT