Sunday, July 23, 2017

Tenedor Libre

I hope no one confuses this blog with the movie “Nacho Libre”.  Actually I do, that’s why I put the title that way.  Tenedor Libre is the name for an all you can eat buffet.  There is a pretty nice one on a main intersection in Montevideo.  Renee and I have commented several times that we would like to try it sometime.  So, when the office Elders said they were going we decided to go with.  It was an interesting experience.  It was quite a bit more expensive than we had anticipated but we were still anxious to try it.  After we tried it we were not quite so anxious.  Uruguay is on a big health kick to not use salt to improve your health.  I’m thinking with all the meat and pasta, the salt is not the big problem.  Either way the food was so-so.  Kinda bland and kinda cold.  They had a typical open flame BBQ grill so I was hopeful on the meat.  Not so good either.  Now I know what Chuck-a-rama does with their day old food.  You can tell by the picture that the missionaries thought it was pretty good.  If you have been reading our blog, you will recall that our food experiences have been great so I hope this one clunker doesn’t make you think we don’t like the food.

Another project we had this week was getting things ready to paint in Florida. We took a trip Wednesday to deliver the paint and supplies.  The missionaries had everything lined up with the members to paint the Zone Leader house on Saturday.  We still have not heard how it went but we are hopeful it went well.  We have no problem going to help with the painting but it is actually better if we don’t go.  That way, it teaches the missionaries and members to work together to take care of the houses.  It is part of our plan as we are winding things down to go home.

We still have quite a few things we need to do to keep the houses fixed.  For example, one day I received two phone calls from Elders.  One had a broken door knob and couldn’t get into their bedroom and the other had a broken water heater.  They were able to work with the members to get both problems fixed including a repaired water faucet at the house with the broken door.  I sometimes feel guilty sitting back to let the members help but in the long run it is better as the missionaries and members learn to follow the directive from the area office to have the members do more of the maintenance and upkeep on the houses.

On Wednesday we went to Pando to help the sisters with their washing machine.  As Renee worked with them I went to get them a new microwave.  While I was gone I noticed we had a low tire.  That ended up being a two hour project that ended up with two new tires.  After some troubleshooting, Renee and the Sisters found out the washing machine filter was clogged.  With a clean filter the washing machine worked well.

That brings us to Friday.  We needed to do inspections in Maldonado.  It is always good to stop in to see the missionaries.  All of the houses were neat and tidy.  You could see that they were making an effort to keep them clean.  You can also see from the picture that we are teaching the missionaries to clean the filter on the washing machine now so we can prevent a few problems.

Then we were on to Castillos.  The missionaries have been good to help set up Charlas for us.  On Friday night we had a Charla with a good member, Oreales and her family.  We showed the “He is Risen” video in the Gospel Library.  It is a brief history of the Savior's last days including his time in Gethsemane, scourging, on the cross and resurrection.  It is a powerful video that helps us understand the importance of the Savior.  We have shown it several times and it seems to be a powerful teaching tool.

After that we went to the Jhonny Lopez family.  This included Daniela’s homemade corn dogs and Renee’s fudge filled cookies.  We all ate too much and then were able to enjoy the same video.  They have such a strong family and it is fun to spend time with them.  We love our time with them.

Saturday we had two more charlas set up and had good visits in both places.  Spending time on real missionary work is our favorite activity.  In the afternoon we helped with the branch fellowship activity.  It was great fun as usual.  The missionaries had a good message about the Savior and then we played games including, button, button, who’s got the button and I have a little doggy that won’t bite you.  If you don’t know those games you’ll have to come to our next family reunion.  The kids had an especially good time.

Today I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting on the importance of the Holy Ghost.  I used 1 Kings 19 where the Lord comes in a “still small voice.”  I likened the Light of Christ and the Gift of the Holy Ghost to having Wi-Fi or a direct line to the internet.  It is always kind of sad to leave our friends in Castillos.  If not for the fact that we are so worn out from the travel and visits we would stick around longer.

The weather has been a little cooler lately but we can see that it is starting to warm up as the days get longer.  We hope our health will continue to hold out until we go home.  We love you all and appreciate your support.

Love, Gordon and Renee

Sunday, July 16, 2017

And They Were Sore Amazed

 There are several places in the Scriptures where the Savior does something that astonishes his disciples.  Likewise this week we helped missionaries clean the mold off their walls and they were astonished or “sore amazed” also.  The first instance happened last Monday.  We drove up early to help the Florida Zone clean the mold off the walls of the Zone Leader house.  It is a big house and the mold was pretty bad.  But in spite of the size of the task, it was completed in about an hour.  Several of the missionaries commented on how they had learned how to clean and would now be able to tackle the task in their own houses.  It really was a pretty fun activity including the Hot Dogs and Cookies afterward.   We always have fun when we are with the missionaries.

Tuesday we stayed pretty close to home as I am working on a head cold with the typical cough and aches.  It isn’t very fun.  I am feeling better.  We also spent some time cleaning our house and working on some office stuff.

On Wednesday we helped with the District Leader Conference.  This means that Renee cooks and I do office stuff.  In the afternoon we went to see our friend Cristina in the Hospital.  She continues to struggle from stroke symptoms.  She was feeling pretty good and we had a good visit.  The best part of the visit was when she got her fingernails painted by Sister Perales.  That made all of us happy.  We hope she can continue to get better.

Friday we did inspections on the Las Piedras Zone.  This is a big zone and is really spread out.  We were pleased by the efforts the missionaries are making to keep their houses clean.  You can see it in their eyes that they are happier, healthier and certainly can find the Spirit easier if they live in a clean environment.  While we were doing the inspections we did a little OJT or On the Job Training with Elder Holland.  He also was amazed at how easy it is to clean the walls if you get on the mold early.  It also helps if you are tall like him so you can reach way up high.    Elder Palomino and Elder Holland are the Zone leaders.  We expect that they will teach their zone how to keep the houses cleaner.

We hope you enjoy the pictures of the missionaries.  They are so happy and filled with the Spirit.  I had to take a picture of the sisters with their pajamas on under their skirts to stay warm.  It hasn’t been too cold yet but it is winter and not warm in the houses.  I wore my over coat to Church today.  One of the things you notice in Uruguayan Churches is that there are not coat racks.  That is because if someone wears a coat to church they keep it on to stay warm.  I kept my over coat on all through church and was glad to have it.

Speaking of weather, it has been quite pleasant for much of May, June and July.  Yesterday started out warm, but a front came in and it rained and the wind began to blow.  It is still blowing about 30 miles per hour and it is quite chilly.  Last night we went to dinner with Elder and Sister Jensen to celebrate Father’s Day in Uruguay.  The dinner was real good but the wind was terrible.  We are glad we are inside and pray for the missionaries to be warm and safe.

We had a neat experience Friday.  On Wednesday Elder Texeira came to the District Leader Training.  He was just transferred from the Norte Zone to the Las Piedras Zone and one of his suitcases was left behind in the transfer.  He asked me if I could go get it and bring it with on Friday.  This took a little extra effort on our part but not much.  When we showed up at his house and he saw the suitcase he gave me a great big hug.  He was so glad to get it.   It really doesn’t take much to be appreciated.  Elder Texeira is a good example of all of the missionaries.  He is happy and wants to do what he can to help the work.  He is also grateful for what he has.

We are grateful too.  We continue to have experiences that teach us about the love the Savior has for us.  As we build our relationships with the people in Uruguay we come to love them more and more.  It is going to be hard to leave them.

So while we sit here in Uruguay trying to keep warm, we hope you  can find a shade tree to enjoy the summer back home.  We love you all and appreciate what you do for us.

Love Gordon and Renee

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Rainy Days and Transfers

Change week or transfer week is always busy.  It makes it more busy and hectic if it is raining.  We had a big storm system come in for the weekend that made everything look dreary.  Even with that we had a good week.  I have talked about change weeks several times.  This week was very typical.  The new ones arrive on Tuesday, the trainers come in Wednesday to get their new companions and the old missionaries spend Wednesday getting ready to go home and then going home on Thursday.  All went as planned this transfer except we could not put the missionaries up in the Temple Hostel.  We ended up traveling to some of the nearby apartments and back each morning and night.  It was not too big of a group so it worked out pretty good.  I had to include photos of the new missionaries milking alfajores for the first time.  This group started out pretty subdued and ended up really getting into the game.  It was a real fun time.

The next group of pictures is all of the missionaries going home.  It gets harder and harder.  The only thing that keeps us going is that we will soon be able to see them again.  The sisters got here after we arrived and are now going home so we have had them for our entire mission.  This is a real fun group.  We got to know them all real well.

I have to say something about Elder Poulson and Elder Ucanan.  You can’t let them take pictures or they always have to do a selfie.  Also, we have been putting together some emergency food packages for the missionaries.  It includes some spaghetti.  Well one of the packages ripped so I gave it to the office Elders.  They started eating it raw!  Just like boy scouts!  Some things never change.

Friday was the Zone Leader Conference.  It is always a good day as we are able to see the leaders of the mission.  You can see from the pictures that they really enjoy lunch.  I can always count on Elder Cabrera for a good picture.  He’s from Paraguay.  The Paraguayos always are happy and fun loving.
Thursday after changes we were pretty tired but still found the energy to visit Humberto and Cristina.  We went with four Sisters.  It was a full house.  Good thing too, as they made “tortas fritas” or fry bread that would feed and army.  It is real good with dulce de leche, not to good for the waistline but real good for your spirits.

The meat and potatoes of this week really started late Friday afternoon.  We had several appointments set for Castillos for Friday night but they all fell through.  We racked our brains and tried to listen to the Spirit to go where the Lord wanted us to go.  We ended up stopping to see Tito and Patricia to give them some cookies and thank them for the chukar eggs that they gave us the last time we were in town.  It was a wonderful visit.  We showed a video of the Savior and had a short talk about what He did for us.  It turned out real well.  We ended up with more eggs and a demonstration of how they hatch out more chickens.  They are a real special family.  We have plans to go see them again.

On Saturday morning we had overcast skies and a long list of members to go see.  Not one of them ended up being at home.  Instead of getting discouraged we dug into our old list and tried to listen to the Spirit to find out where we should go next.  We ended up trying to find a family on Mevir.  When we asked a guy where Mevir was he kind of laughed and told us it is not a street but a Barrio.  With simple instructions, we found the barrio and the house.  We received a warm welcome from Lirio and his wife.  We had a short charla and were welcomed back the next time we come.  This was really a neat experience.  The charla made us a little late for lunch with Narda but not too late.  Again we had such a wonderful time at lunch.  She is definitely family.

After lunch we went with the Elders to see Zulma.  Zulma broke her ankle a couple of weeks ago and is on bed rest for another month.  In spite of this, she was in good spirits.  She made us all feel better.  We finished our visit with her just in time to go to the branch activity.  You can see from the pictures that we had pretty good attendance and really had a good time.  Renee made copies of the pictures of all of the Prophets and we played the “match game” with them.  Everyone had a good time.  The Elders are doing these activities twice a month and it is really helping draw the branch together.  After the activity we stopped to see Rosanna.  She has not been feeling well and we gave her a little support.    

Today we had pretty good attendance in Church.  I was asked to teach the Priesthood Class and Renee helped Narda with Primary.  We had a good time and really feel good when we can be helpful.  We finished off the day by driving home in the rain and dropping off a vacuum cleaner in Maldonado.  It was a little bit out of the way but not too bad.

We ended up having the opportunity to share our testimonies several times this week.  That really makes the week better and builds our spirits.  We love being part of the missionary work and helping the missionaries.  With the change we have a new list of things to do and are anxious to get started.

We love all of you and appreciate your support.

Gordon and Renee

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Uruguayan Summer

We just passed the shortest day of the year in Uruguay so we should be at our coldest.  Last year at this time we had had two pretty cold months where we struggled to stay warm in our house and out.  This year has been much different.  We have had a few cold days but for the most part, the days have been pleasant.  Our morning walks are cool but really quite comfortable.  This is a real good thing.  When people tell us that it is cold I tell them that where we live it gets more than minus 20.  They have no idea what that means as it hardly ever freezes here.

We had an interesting week that included some contract stuff, fixing houses and doing inspections.  In between all of this we managed to have some real good times and some real good food.  One of my friends said all our pictures show us with food in our mouth.  Sorry we don’t have a more interesting life.  Last week we found out that one of the sisters had a broken bed.  They told us that it just broke.  Too bad one of the other sisters in the house told us that they were so happy to move into this house that they jumped when they sat down.  I think they need to learn a little more about secret combinations.  Anyway, the house was close and it was an easy fix.  It’s always fun to spend time with the missionaries.

We also had to fix a water bill in one of the houses.  To do this we had to drive about thirty minutes away to Pando and speak with the real estate office.  I do a lot better when I talk to people face to face as my ears are not the same as they used to be so over the phone can be a challenge.  I don’t need to hear any static about how target and skeet shooting too much has hurt my ears.  This couldn’t possibly be the problem.

We are the last week before change week so that meant we fed the office Elders.  On Monday we fed Elder Cheney and Fix as Elder Cheney completes his four changes in the office.  They are a fun bunch and do a real good job.  They wanted hamburgers.  Tell me how you eat two hamburgers, a hot dog with jello and chips and still have room for apple pie?  Well, they did it with ease.  On Tuesday we had a repeat performance with the Assistants as Elder Richmond goes home this week.  Again, they eat like young men.

Tuesday night was a special night.  Our mission doctor, Mercedes Bregante and her husband, Alejandro, came to dinner.  We had such a wonderful time.  We love visiting with the people of Uruguay.  They have such interesting perspective on things.  They go to the states from time to time so I hope that one day we can have them come for a visit.  For dinner we had roast beef, baked potatoes and homemade rolls.  For dessert we had pear pie.  It was really good.

So when you have a big roast with a lot left over, what do you do?  How about invite the Eddy family over for BBQ beef sandwiches?  That works.  It was fun to have them over.  They liked the view from our apartment.  Hopefully we can have them over again.

On Thursday we had inspections with the Este Zone.  I had promised to take Elder Ruiz and Elder Guerra for “mega mila pizza”.  You may remember Elder Ruiz from “El Bauru” fame.  Well, we still had BBQ beef left over and so we gave them the option.  Good answer!  They liked the BBQ Beef just as much as I do.  After Thursday we were pretty tired of having dinner in our house.  To rest up a bit we went to visit Humberto and Cristina.  She just got a new tablet and wanted us to help them set it up.  There should be a law that old people are not allowed electronic devices without youth supervision.  Gratefully the sisters were there to help or we would still be working on it.  In the end we think we have them set up so we can talk to them by Facetime when we go home.

Friday was another inspection day.  We did the Norte Zone that only has four houses.  The problem is they all have grass that needs to be cut.  The houses were pretty clean and the Elders helped us with the grass so it didn’t take too long.  We also managed to get in a trip to the Temple this week.  We are feeling more comfortable with Spanish so it is quite enjoyable.

Yesterday we had a Capilla Abierta in Trinidad.  This is about three hours from here so we left at 10:30 A.M. to be there by 2:00 P.M.  It was well attended and the members helped a lot.  They invited the mayor and his brother to come.  The members were so good to escort them and answer all of their questions.  On the way home last night, Natalie face timed us so we could see Spencer get baptized.  Even though we are a long ways away we could feel the spirit as he was baptized and confirmed.
By the time this is posted the world will know that Brandon was sustained in the Bishopric in Albuquerque today.  His father passed away several years ago and so he would have liked me to ordain him a High Priest to keep the priesthood line.  Too bad I was not able to.  Nate went down last minute and ordained him.  It’s good to keep it in the family.

We are about half way through the coldest part of the year and looking forward to it warming up.  We continue to enjoy our chance to help out and especially when we can teach like missionaries.  We appreciate all of the love and support from home and hope you are all having a wonderful summer.

Gordon and Renee

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Jumping On The Gravy Train

We had a special week in the mission as President and Sister Eddy’s son Joe came home from his mission in the Dominican Republic.  The family was excited to say the least.  Joe helped me with a little water cooler repair.  We took it apart and couldn’t figure out what was wrong, but when we put it back together it worked so I guess we fixed it.

We just passed the shortest day of the year so we are in the middle of winter.  Last year it was pretty cold.   This week it has been unseasonably warm.  It was almost 80 degrees today.  This is much better than freezing like we did last year.

We are trying to get some apartment inspections done before changes in two weeks so we took the time to do the MaroƱas Zone.  This included cutting the grass on three apartments.  Most of the apartments look pretty good.  We think they are making an effort to keep things clean.  We have threatened to send pictures to the mothers of a few of the missionaries but so far, they do a pretty good job.

I wanted to include the picture of Elder Fix with the “high heel” phone.  It’s your basic missionary clowning around photo.  I also wanted to put in the picture of the plumbing job.  Our handyman, Marcelo Fontes, had to move the water heater and redo the electrical wiring in one of the houses as they were getting shocked.  This is a never ending battle.

On Friday we had a conference for the new missionaries.  They come in for more training after about a month.   This group is especially happy and ready to go.  I was having too much fun to take any pictures.  Lunch was chili on baked potatoes with corn bread that included honey butter.  That’s when the overeating started.

From there we headed to Castillos.  Friday evening we shared brownies with Jhonny Lopez and his family and they shared homemade alfajores and biscochos with us.  Everything was real sweet.  I could feel the insulin racing in my veins. Biscochos are treats made a variety of ways with bread, chocolate and dulce de leche.  I love them way too much.

 Saturday morning started off with biscochos for breakfast at the Hotel.  These are really good.  For lunch we had Canelones at Narda’s.  I should have only eaten two, but she gave me three so I had to do it.  Again, way to full.  For supper Saturday night, we had way too much to eat at the branch party.  The food included empanadas, sandwiches and biscochos.  They were all so good.  I had “one more” about 20 times.  Not too good for the waistline.  Instead of taking it easy today, we started out with the biscocho breakfast at the Hotel and then enjoyed lunch at the Eguren home where they served us Uruguayan Lasagna with dulce de leche filled crepes for dessert.  Uruguayan Lasagna is made a little differently.  They put ham, cheese, corn, peas, lettuce and spinach in between layers of crepes.  An excellent meal.  So now we are eating nothing for the next week.

Along with the great food we had some real good experiences in Castillos this week.  Friday night as we enjoyed the treats at the Lopez family we also had the chance to talk about the power of the Priesthood.  We read and discussed 1 Kings 18 where Elijah calls down fire from heaven.  I know of no greater example of the power of the Priesthood than this.  Too bad we weren’t able to call down fire from Heaven that day in White Clouds when we almost drowned from the rain.  After that scripture we talked about Malachi where Elijah will come to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers.  We finished it up with D&C 110 where Elijah comes to give the keys to Joseph Smith.  The Spirit was there to testify of the importance of families.  It was a neat experience.  The Lopez family is such a great family.  We love going to see them.  We have an appointment in two weeks to share some more treats.  This missionary work is pretty neat huh?

Video of Games from the Branch Party

Saturday we made some good visits to various members.  The people of Castillos are so kind and friendly.  In the evening they held a branch party to coincide with the branch conference on Sunday.  It started off with a video that had a good message about working together.  Then we had the games.  The shouts of joy are still ringing in my ears from the kids.  They had so much fun.  And because they did, we all did.  We love the feeling of love between them as they play and enjoy the food.  They all lingered to enjoy the night as much as possible.  After, everyone pitched in to help clean up.  It was done in no time.

So that set the stage for today.  We had 28 people in Church.  That is a record since we have been there.  The lessons were so well presented and the members participated with their thoughts and testimonies.  It was a real special day.  After the meetings, everyone lingered to visit some more.  The Missionaries and the members are working together to build the branch.  It is so good to be able to go and share the love they have for one another and for us.

After Church we had lunch with the Eguren family.   The food was excellent but the feeling of love they have for us was even better.  It does take extra effort to go to Castillos twice a month but it is so worth it.  We are grateful that we are able to go and strengthen our testimonies as we share them with others.  It is the highlight of our mission.

We love you all and hope you are enjoying summer.
Love Gordon and Renee

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Baptism Crashers

Saturday we had a Capilla Abierta in Norte in the morning and then needed to go to Trinidad to do the presentation for the Capilla Abierta that is set for July 1st.  To make it an easier trip we decided to leave directly from the Capilla Abierta to stay overnight in Durazno.  This was going to make it a pretty lazy Saturday afternoon and evening.  It also gave us the chance to drop off a few things.   After dropping off a propane heater in Florida we called Elder Holland and Ponce in Sarandi Grande to drop off a package.  They were just leaving for Durazno to attend the baptism of one of Elder Holland’s former investigators in Durazno.  We had just enough time to make it at 5:00.  They had a great turnout of about 50 people.  What great support.  While we were waiting, the Zone Leaders told us that the Sisters in the Hospital Ward had a baptism at 7:00.  So we decided to crash that one too.  Instead of getting into the hotel before 6:00 we ended up getting in at 9:00 after a great time with the members and the missionaries.  Nothing brings smiles to the faces of missionaries or members like baptisms.

Now for the rest of the week.  We finally had the chance to invite our friends over to eat.  On Tuesday night we invited our good friend Gordon Little.  Renee served meatloaf and scalloped potatoes, my favorite meal.  We have talked about him before.  He was born in Uruguay with parents from England.  He speaks perfect English and Spanish.  He is such a delight to have over.  We enjoy talking about a broad number of topics.  He is such a kind and thoughtful gentleman, a phrase I reserve for a very few.

On Wednesday we had Humberto and Cristina over for lunch. Renee served hamburgers with mushroom gravy.  We had a great time visiting and enjoying each other’s company.  During our visit Humberto looked out our window and commented that as a teenager he used to swim out to the island with his friends.  He then told us that the island was called Monkey Island.  When he said that, Cristina said, “He swam out to visit his family!”  I love that!  As the time passed we could see that they needed to get back home to sleep the siesta.  What a wonderful tradition!

We also spent some time inspecting houses and cutting the grass.  I especially like the photos of the Elders using the weed whacker to cut the grass.  The Elders are really good to help rake the grass and clean up.  It is so fun spending time with them.

The weekend was definitely the best part of the week.  We have been working to train members to take the lead on the Capilla Abiertas.  On Friday we drove to Minas to train the public relations specialist in the Maldonado Stake.  The Villanueva family is a treat.  Both parents are return missionaries and have served in all of the leadership positions.  It is amazing the strength of the members and what they are able to do to help.  Our visit started out with a lunch of roast pork and potatoes.  I ate way too much!  After we had lunch and discussed the training, Tomas gave me a tour of his “man cave”.  Yes, they even have them in Uruguay.  It is amazing how you can meet a family for such a short time and it seems like you have been friends forever.  I hope we can have them come to Blackfoot for a visit.  We got done in good time Friday afternoon so we took a detour so we could drop off packages in Pan de Azucar and Piriapolis.  We got home late but were able to deliver some packages and provide heat for some more Elders.

You already know we had a Capilla Abierta on Saturday morning.  It started at 10:00 A.M.  We were afraid that it was going to rain but the weather turned out quite nice.  The missionaries worked real hard to invite people to come to the Capilla Abierta.  We didn’t have a lot of visitors but they were still able to talk to a lot of people.  I have so much respect for all the work they do. Instead of the lazy Saturday afternoon that we had planned we ended up going to the two baptisms.  It was a busy day but a fun day.

Today we went out to Trinidad to do the presentation for the Capilla Abierta.  Trinidad is one of the outposts of our mission.  We arrived early and were met by several members that welcomed us with open arms.  In less than a minute we felt like we had been there for years.  By the time Church started we thought we better stick around to wait for our calling.  We felt so at home.  This ward has so much strength.  There are many families that have more than one generation in the Church.  They were anxious to help us. We can hardly wait to go back in two weeks.

Our afternoon ended with a pleasant drive home on route 3.  We have never been on this road before so it was a real fun trip.  We also had fun talking to our family for Father’s Day.  It is so good to be able to talk to our family by Facetime.  We are so grateful to have the Gospel in our life and be able to share it with our family.  We love you all and hope you had a wonderful week.

Gordon and Renee

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Going to the Aduana

This is not a blog about reptiles in the Southeastern US.  The Aduana is the Spanish word for Customs.  It’s where we have to go to get packages that are shipped to missionaries.  Before I talk about that I want to talk about our week.

We started out by doing inspections in Florida and Durazno on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Elder and Sister Jensen are on Temple recess so they were able to go with us.  It was a fun trip.   The houses were quite clean and neat.  We are proud of the way the missionaries take care of the houses.  I suggested at one house that needed a little more help that we could send a picture of the house to his mom.  He didn’t seem too excited about that.

We were able to take the Jensens to the dam by Paso de Los Toros.  It was a lot higher this year and water was going over the spillway.  The foam in the river is caused by the turbulence from the spillway.  You have to know that if we are going to Durazno that we are going to have a Bauru at El Gaucho.  The Jensens liked it too.  At the Sarandi del Yi house we discovered that they could not buy propane for their heater and could not get a fire started in their wood stove.  They only had large pieces of wood and they were kind of wet so we went looking for wood.  We found some and after a little work we got a fire going.  After I called their Bishop and he said he could help them get propane for the heater.  We got home about 9:00 P. M.  A little late for old missionaries.

Thursday we needed to move bikes from La Capuera to Parque do Plata.  We borrowered the mission van and did the trip in about three hours.  We had to take a detour and get the tool box for the bikes as the missionaries from Maldonado “borrowed” it.

When we got back to the office we were asked to help the missionaries go get a package from customs.  When the missionaries arrive they are told to have their family ship packages by US mail and not to use Fedex or UPS.  They tell them it is much more difficult to get them through customs.  Now I know why.

Here is what we had to do:  We started at customs at the main airport.  They told us to go to the other airport.  At the main customs desk, they told us to go down the hall.  This guy told us to go further down the hall.   That guy sent us back to the first desk.  The first desk told us we had to have the passport and permission slip to take out the package.  After receiving this by email on my phone, they directed us to the Fedex office out the door and around the corner to make a copy of the shipping invoice.  After getting the copy we went back to the first desk and were then sent back to the second desk.  They charged us $19 and gave us a receipt.  With the receipt we went to the third desk and got the package. What did we learn: DON’T send packages by Fedex.

We spent a wonderful weekend in Castillos.  It is amazing how the Lord directs the work to help us find the people that we need to find.  We had several great experiences with wonderful people that are too personal to mention.  Included in our trip was family night with the Lopez family.  Renee took fresh lemon pie and cookies and they did homemade pizza.  We had a great feast that included a neat message from the Elders.  On Saturday we had some other neat visits.  Usually we have lunch at Narda’s house.  She was in Montevideo on business so she had her husband, Pocho, fix us lunch.  We helped a little and it went real smooth.  We do miss Narda and look forward to seeing her in two weeks.

Saturday afternoon we did a Capilla Abierta in Rocha.  There were a lot of people in the streets and the Elders had a great time inviting them in to see the presentation.  In all there were 21 new people that came into the Chapel.  We were able to help with some of them.  It was a very special night.  We finished it off with dinner with Elder Limas and Espinoza on the way to taking them to La Paloma.

Today was a neat day at Church.   There were 24 people in attendance.  We can feel the Spirit strengthen in Castillos each time we go.  The members and missionaries are working real hard to build the branch.  You can feel the love of the people grow.

The day ended with visits from home.  Besides our usual family visits we received two more calls.  The first one was from Sister Berlynn Hall and Sister Rachel Finklea.  Rachel is visiting Berlynn back east and gave us a call.  It was so fun.  They are so happy and continue to be anxiously engaged.  What a wonderful blessing for us.  We also got a call on facebook from Joseph Brumble and Franke Vallecillos.  They were known as Brumblecillos to me.  We had a hard time talking to them when they were at the ballgame but had a short visit this afternoon.  It is so good to hear from them.
We always have a good week when we can go to Castillos.  We are excited to see the growth in the people and the blessings that come to us as we serve with them.  We come to know more each week that this work comes from our Savior.  It is wonderful to be able to be part of the army.

We love you all and appreciate your support.
Love, Gordon and Renee