Diane rode in a colectivo for the first time with the missionaries from Obera. A colectivo is basically a school bus on steroids. It has a clutch, but no one uses it when they change gears. Most of the seats are ripped out so they can squeeze in as many people as possible. If there ever were shock absorbers they have long since worn out. Air conditioning? Sorry, if you want cool air, stay home. But man, do they have radios! No matter where you are in a colectivo it sounds like you are sandwiched between two accordions! Heaven help you if you are in a colectivo during a soccer game...gooooooooooool, goooooooooool, gooooooooooolazo! And, there is the missionary-sitting-next-to-a-nursing-mother-awkward-situation every now and then. But for two pesos colectivos will get you practically anywhere you need to go and they are dependable.
We drove from Posadas to Obera today. Diane and I attended the missionaries' district meeting and then split up. Diane worked with the Hermanas and I worked with the Elders. Obera is very european. That's because Europeans fled here during World War II...Germans, Ukranians, Poles, etc. There are some large estates and small, small shacks in the green hills. The wealthy in Obera own Yerba (it is what they make mate from) and tea companies. Temperatures reach 120 plus degrees in summer! It is known for its rich soil and beautiful flowers. For example...
I have always believed that a young man with a lot of energy and little wisdom and an older man with little energy and a lot of wisdom could accomplish about the same. Tonight, I learned that I am trapped between not being young with energy or older with wisdom...but I sure can smile!
These guys walked me up and down hills for hours! We only stopped to visit with people. The people who lived in this house had a daughter seriously ill in the hospital.
When I saw this sign I had to wonder, "How anonymous can you be if you have a sign this big?"
Anyway, I enjoyed every dusty step, red dirt road and green hill we climbed and descended and especially every person we visited.
We head back to Resistencia in the morning, but we definitely will return to Obera, count on it...maybe even in the summer.
We are in the city of Posadas, Provincia of Misiones on the banks of the Rio Parana. Across the bridge is Encarnacion, Paraguay. (By the way we found the best Pizza place in the country down a little side street...called Proverbios).
The famous red dirt and stone streets.
Pretty tough on tires.
Walking through an apartment complex in downtown Posadas to the tiny second floor apartment where the missionaries live. Pretty tough on shoes.
Please do not try to swim across the Rio Parana to Paraguay. Pretty tough on arms, legs and lungs.
Use the bridge.
We can't leave the country so this photo is looking back at Posadas from the Argentine side of the river right before the bridge. Pretty city.
A Mission President is responsible for and presides over all of the full time missionaries in his mission. We have 196 missionaries.
A Mission President also presides over the districts in his mission. A district is an organization made up of 4-8 small congregations that are establishing themselves and growing. We have 10 districts made up of 50 small congregations.
The missionaries and districts are spread out over the provinces of Chaco, Corrientes, Formosa, Misiones and Santa Fe.
A Mission President dedicates full-time to his responsibilities. He can request that 2 local members be called as counselors and 1 be called as an executive secretary to assist him...mostly with his work with the districts. These members volunteer part-time and have jobs, families, and live at home, etc. Because I have 10 districts spread out over 5 provinces, I have been authorized to have 4 counselors and an executive secretary. I speak with each one every week. We divide up assignments and get the work done.
Today, my counselors, executive secretary and their wives came to our house for a get to know you, work and eat session. We all met together and then Diane visited with the spouses while I met with the men.
Diane out did herself with beef and chicken tacos, Mexican rice, black beans,homemade salsa,Texas chocolate sheet cake and ice cream. One of the women brought some homemade empanadas.
It was a great and productive day. Here are some photos.
Talking before the meeting.
Snacking on some Doritos Diane commandeered from Walmart!
Empanadas and Doritos, how international!
Soft chicken and beef tacos...how Arizona!
The distinguished group. The empty chair was for Hermana Isendorf who had a work commitment. These are some of the pioneers of northern Argentina, that's for sure. The time they have volunteered over the years helping others is incredible...without compensation or recognition. The man on the far left (Hermano Romero) and the man on the far right (Hermano Isendorf) knew and remember our son Chris.
My son Curtis loves motorcycles. He loves speed. He loves the wind in his face. But mostly, he loves speed. One day we were driving in my Jaguar and he asked me if I had ever hit 100 mph in it. I answered, "No, I have not". After a few moments of silence he said, "I have". Sometimes you just have to know when to end a conversation. I changed subjects.
Tonight I went out for a little walk...18 steps to the right of our house (I counted them) is this:
A BMW dealership! Amarilla Automotores...it is a big building...
But it only had this single car on display...
Sorry for the poor quality, but it was nighttime, I was using my Blackberry through the glass and the car is black. However, the showroom did have this...
I figure that ought to be enough to lure Curtis down to visit us...
(Editor's note: The car and two motorcycles were the only things on the display floor...and just in case Curtis forgot...his other love is fishing and this is a block away from us to the left of our house...
This morning I decided to visit the missionaries in La Leonesa, a little town north of Resistencia in the province of Chaco.
I drove down some dirt roads and muddy roads to get there.
I loved the drive! Here is the front door to the pension where the missionaries live.
Their living room and dining room.
Here is the Church building in La Leonesa.
What it lacks in architecture, landscaping and parking, it makes up for by having banana plants right outside the back door.
I am told that the smallest bananas from this particular plant are better than the rest.
The missionaries there are incredible and happy and hard working. I walked around with them for a while and met the local church leader who is 78, originally from Paraguay and speaks a combination of Castellano and Guarani. I understood him fine...I think!
Our bedroom is on the second floor right above the street. All during the night we hear the cars, motos and horse drawn carriages (yes, that's right) that pass by. Just like in any city, we have learned to sleep through these noises...but not what we heard last night!
At 2:30 am a large group of protestors passed by shouting slogans, singing and beating a big bass drum! They marched down to the plaza and held their protest rally until 5:30 am (we heard it all) and then broke up and went home...who holds a protest at 2:30 in the morning...Mothers Against Sleep Apnea (MASA) or some group like that?
We are briefed and instructed that for security reasons we are to avoid such gatherings and not take pictures of them, so you will have to take our word for it...but we are dragging a bit today.
I grew up in New York as a New York Giants football fan. When I moved to Missouri I became a St. Louis Cardinals football fan. After I moved to Arizona and the Cardinals moved there, I became an Arizona Cardinals football fan. Now that I live in Argentina, I have become a Boca Juniors fútbol fan.
So, it was with a sense of irony that I sat down in my recliner chair to start responding to the missionaries' weekly letters to me, turned on the T.V. and found this:
The Giants versus the Rams!
Poor Eli Manning, even in Spanish he is referred to as Peyton's younger brother!
That was the feedback I received from one of my children. Ok, I am not offended...but in the back of my mind, I think it is backlash from the picture of Diane and me kissing!
This week Diane and I traveled from Resistencia to Posadas (4 hours) Posadas to Resistencia (4 hours), Resistencia to Corrientes (30 minutes), Corrientes to Resistencia (1 hour...we ran into a political rally), Resistencia to Formosa (2 hours) and are here in Formosa until Sunday afternoon when we go back to Resistencia. We had special zone conferences this week with Elder Bradley D. Foster and his wife Sharol in each of the cities except Corrientes. We went there for some other meetings. They are great people and answered many questions that Diane and I asked them as we drove all over the mission. Their messages at the zone conferences were just what we all needed to hear.
Diane and I speak at the Formosa Stake Conference tomorrow and Sunday. We are looking forward to seeing the Udalls who are coming from the Asuncion, Paraguay Temple to be at the conference as well. President Udall served as a stake president in Tempe while I was stake president in Chandler and the Udalls came for dinner the first Sunday we arrived in Resistencia. Did I mention that the weather today in Formosa was 95 degrees and rain, and that tomorrow it is cooling down to 91 degrees with thunder and lightning storms...I may just have to post a "random" picture of me in my rubber boots...!
The new Walmart opened in Resistencia. Diane wanted to go. The office missionaries wanted to go for their Preparation Day. I did not want to go. Solution, the office missionaries got to accompany Diane to Walmart while I worked in the office.
I have to say the missionaries learned a lesson or two about shopping from an international expert.
That is just about 2 meters worth! In fairness to Diane, as those who know her can attest, she almost never buys anything for herself...but she does buy!