Sunday, October 15, 2017


You don’t have to live in South America very long before you find out that soccer is big.  I mean REALLY BIG!  They have several different teams in Uruguay that compete all the time.  There is a game on TV 24-7.  There are also games going on with adults and children constantly in about any open grassy spot.  Then there is the World Cup or “Mundial”.  That’s when the best players from each country form a team and compete internationally.  Uruguay hosted the first World Cup in 1930 and won.  The stadium which was made for this occasion is called the Centennial Stadium or Estadio Centenario.  Right now teams are competing all over the world for the right to play in the World Cup next summer in Russia.  Last week, Uruguay played its final qualifying match against Bolivia, and we were able to go with our friends, the Duffins.  We got to go to the Estadio Centenario and root for the home team.  It was incredible.  First, they have about a 20 foot fence with razor wire around the playing field.  There is also a moat of about 10 feet with the riot police stationed in full battle gear all around the stadium.  The players enter from an underground tunnel.  A little different than what we are used to.

Now for the game.  It was a once in a lifetime experience.  The Uruguayan team was quite sluggish until they scored the first goal in their own net.  Yeah, they kicked it right passed their own goalie who was pretty much asleep.  If I were the coach I would have told him he needs to buy a ticket if all he is going to do is sit and watch.  At the start of the second half, they came out and really got busy.  Their best player is Luis Suarez.  He is one of the best players in the world.  He is actually hurt right now but still scored two unassisted goals right in front of us.  Talk about a once in a lifetime experience!

They also have noise makers called vuvuzelas.  They are basically a real annoying horn.  They blew them all night.  If I ever go again I’m going to take some $5 bills and buy the horns from all the kids around me.  In the end, Uruguay scored six goals, four in the net of Bolivia and two in their own net.  They were already more or less qualified so I think they were a little flat.  Just the same it was quite an experience to go to a World Cup qualifier.  Oh and by the way, the USA lost out and won’t be playing.  Too bad for them.

On Wednesday we had to put some mosquito nets in a couple of houses.  One of them was Elder Cheney’s house.  It is always fun to see him.  We showed up unannounced and the house was real clean.  The Spirit there was also real strong.  They were in a hurry to get out and go to a Charla so we hurried and got done and then took a couple of pictures.  The one with them walking away is one of my favorites.

On Thursday we started the 33 and Melo inspections.  This is about 1,000 kilometers on a two lane road filled with big trucks and crazy drivers.  Our stops at the missionary houses on Thursday were real fun.  The missionaries had real clean houses and bright smiles.  On Friday we inspected the Melo zone.  This is our last time on this trip so we may not see some of the missionaries again.  It was kind of sad.  We took some pictures to give a flavor of how the missionaries are doing.  They were all so excited to tell us about whom they are teaching and how things are going.  Even though the trip is long we do really enjoy it.

One of the houses did not have keys to open the door of the house.  We took the lock off and started looking for a locksmith during the siesta.  That is quite a challenge in Uruguay.  We did find one that was very happy to help.  We told the locksmith that we would send the missionaries by later to get the keys, but the locksmith knew where the missionaries lived and just dropped by and put it back together.  They were such nice people.  They know one of the Bishops in 33 and are more than happy to help the missionaries.

Saturday was our P-day so we had time to clean the house and iron some shirts.  We left for Durazno about 11:00 A.M. to do a Capilla Abierta.  On the way we dropped off some pots and pans to one of the houses.  They had been planning the Capilla Abierta for some months and had a real good turnout.  There were about 25 investigators that listened to the presentation.  That is almost a record.  We only had three companionships of missionaries so Renee and I got to help with some of the teaching.  That is a highlight of our mission to be able to teach and share our testimonies with the people in Uruguay.

We did encounter one problem during the Capilla Abierta.  While we were teaching and helping make the night a success, one of our daughters kept sending us pictures of her deer hunting trip.  I can see why the regular missionaries don’t have access to texts.  It’s a good thing that we are such spiritual giants and can handle the distraction.

The Capilla Abierta ended at 7:00 P. M., and we had a three hour drive, so we hurried and got out of there.  Wrong!  Remember we were in Durazno, home of El Gaucho, the best sandwich in Uruguay.  So even though we were going to be late getting home, we went with all the missionaries and enjoyed  “El Bauru” one more time.  It was fun spending time with the missionaries and saying our goodbyes. The road home was filled with a lot of slow trucks so it took awhile but we got home safe and sound.

We are also trying to invite more of our friends over for dinner before we go.  Last week we had Gabriela and Valaria over.  They are two single sisters that have helped Renee learn Spanish.  We had a fun night and will miss them.  We took a picture of them but can’t seem to find it.

The weather is warming up nicely and most of the days are just beautiful.  We have so many friends here and enjoy every day.  It is going to be sad to leave.  We love you all.

Love, Gordon and Renee

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Keeping Busy

We have wanted to take a picture of us in front of our building but we usually don’t get home in time.  On Monday we made it home on time but the sun went behind the clouds just as we took the picture so I hope it is okay.  We live on the corner on the 7th floor.  It has been a good place to live.  That was the most exciting thing we did Monday.

On Tuesday we helped with Zone Leader conference.  Renee helped with the cooking and I did some stuff in the office.  I have started to write down the things that we help with for any new comers.  I have five pages already.  Zone leader conference was filled with a good day with the missionaries.  It is our last one and we are going to miss the missionaries that we have grown to love so much.

On Wednesday it was District Leader Training.  Again, Renee helped with the cooking as I puttered in the office.  We really have a good time at lunch as we get to visit with the missionaries.  They are so fun and full of life.  I often sit with the Latinos and I may never see some of them again.

Thursday was our big day as we moved the Aeroparque Elders to another house.  This seems pretty easy but it is never as easy as it seems.  Here are the steps we took:  1. Go get the van and trailer.
2. Go to Elders apartment 20 minutes away and pick them up with their personal stuff and some of their furniture.
3. Go to Panda another 20 minutes and pick up a wardrobe for the new apartment.
4. Return the half hour to the new apartment and drop off the first load.
5. Go the 20 minutes back to Montevideo to pick up beds and book cases from our apartment and then the washer and other stuff from the mission office.
6. 20 minutes back to the new house to drop off this stuff.
7.  Then I dropped off Renee at our apartment and picked up a table and two desks to take back out to the apartment.  I stopped on the way to pick up dinner for the Elders at McDonalds.

It was a fun day as we were able to spend it with Elder Bailey and Elder Knell.  They are doing real well in their area and are glad to have a house closer to their area.  My favorite part of the move was the fact that there was a huge puddle in front of the Elders house so I had to back the van and trailer about a block and a half three times to get back out.  I am glad we are about done with the moves in the mission.

Thursday night we had Anna and her family over for dinner.  Anna is the maid for the mission home.  She is a wonderful lady and has a real fun family.  They have been members for about 15 years and have a real neat conversion story.  The husband, Gustavo, recounted how his Bishop gave him several different jobs to teach him how the Church works.  That has come in handy as he is now the Bishop of their ward.  Another interesting note is that Gustavo moonlights as a Michael Jackson impersonator.  You can check him out on “Michael Jackson Uruguay”.  It is pretty cool.  We love Anna and her family and are going to miss them. 

Friday was Zone Conference and we were able to attend.  The Mission President and the Assistants did a good job teaching how to work with the members to do the missionary work.  We all learned a lot.  Afterward we wanted to go to the water and light companies but they were already closed.

Saturday was a much needed P-Day.  We spent the morning cleaning and ironing and then hosted Mary and her family for lunch.  Mary as you should recall is the cook for the mission.  She came and helped Renee make us Chivitos.  Chivitos are special steak sandwiches that include ham, cheese, bacon, egg, onions and peppers.  There are probably a couple of other things on there too but I can’t remember them.  Anyway they were way good.  It is all one can eat and then some.  We had a great time with Mary and her family as we enjoyed Renee’s oatmeal cake for dessert.  We have become such good friends with Mary and her family.  I really don’t know how we will say good bye.

Saturday afternoon and evening we did a Capilla Abierta in Prosperidad.  The branch was very supportive and the missionaries worked real hard to encourage people to come in and participate.  They were able to help several people learn more about the Savior.  You can tell by the pictures that they had a great time.

After the Capilla Abierta we had to go home past the PeƱarol stadium.  It was just as the game got over.  It was a major traffic jam.  We ended up going about 10 miles out of our way.  We still got home in pretty good time.

The weather has been very nice as it is warming up and becoming perfect missionary weather.  The missionaries are doing well and working hard.  Every time we talk to them they just shine as they tell us about the wonderful experiences that they are having.  We love to serve with them.  It strengthens our Testimonies to be with them.  We know more than ever that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that His restored Church is on the earth today.  We are so grateful for this knowledge and blessing.

We love you all,
Gordon and Renee

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Going Through the Change

I figure I have written about 90 of these blogs and it is getting a little more difficult to come up with new and exciting things to talk about.  We live in six week cycles or changes in the mission field and everything more or less revolves around this six week cycle.  Last week was change week and we saw the new missionaries come and the old ones leave.  This is always exciting.  I love to see the new ones come in.  They are all a little apprehensive.  Some seem to be very confident and ready to take on about any task.  Others are a little more hesitant.  I love to see how they change even over a few short weeks.  The confident ones tend to come back to earth and the hesitant ones seem to gain more confidence in what they are doing.

As always, the new missionaries come in on Tuesday.  They only had three flights to meet so it wasn’t as bad as some other changes.  Renee was busy all day Tuesday as they fed them lunch and dinner.  They always put on a really great meal, sloppy Joes for lunch and roast beef for dinner.  The roast beef is Uruguayan style including chorizos.  Tuesday afternoon the new missionaries receive training on the mission and seem to enjoy it.

After dinner they have a “cultural presentation” where they play a game about things that are unusual about Uruguay like the food, customs, soccer teams and things like that.  It is really fun.  To end the night they teach them how to milk alfajores.  This is a big tradition in the mission.  An alfajor is made from two cookies with dulce de leche or creamed caramel in between like an Oreo.  They are about two inches in diameter.  Most of them are dipped in chocolate.  You milk them by biting off a little from each end and then sticking it in a bowl of milk and sucking the milk up through the cookie.  After you have the alfajores filled with milk you eat the cookie.  The new missionaries usually get into it pretty good.  The office Elders soon forget the new ones and are off milking them on their own.  It’s pretty fun and it kind of shows the different personalities.

Wednesday they pair up the new ones with their new companions and send them off.  I got some pretty good shots of some of the missionaries leaving.  I am excited for them as we know their companions and kind of have an idea of what is in store.  I will say that the new missionaries are lucky to have such good trainers.

Wednesday is when the Valientes or missionaries going home come in.  I spent Wednesday morning hauling missionaries to the Tres Cruzes or the bus station and then taking some of them to their areas.  We also have “corto plasos” or young people from Uruguay that serve as companions when we have an odd number of missionaries.  I took one home named Pablo.  He was a great missionary and did a great job.

Wednesday afternoon and evening is one of the best times and hardest times.  The Valientes go to the Temple in the afternoon and then congregate at the mission home for dinner and testimony meeting.  It is real fun and also kind of sad.  We have great relationships with all of the missionaries.  With this group we were able to go on charlas and help fellowship investigators.  We have had some real special experiences with them so it makes it even harder.  Sister Perales and Sister Chadwick lived right by us and we served in Castillos with Elder Perez and Elder Bravo.  We will always remember their great examples and friendship.  I hate to single them out because we have had some great experiences with all of them. Thursday, the missionaries all went home the flights were on schedule and everything went off without a hitch.  We are going to miss them.

Friday it was back to business as usual.  We did inspections of the Norte Zone.  All four houses have grass that needed to be cut so we took the week whacker and got it done.  The houses were quite clean and taken care of.  We appreciate their hard work and they appreciated Renee’s cookies.

I’m writing this on Sunday morning as we wait for conference.  It doesn’t start until 1:00 P. M. so we have plenty of time.  Yesterday we had a good day enjoying conference with our new friends, the Duffins.  We are going over to their house again today to enjoy conference and have dinner.  Yesterday was a beautiful day but today it is raining.  I guess they have storms on conference week end in Uruguay too.

What can you say about General Conference?  The talks are so well done and gave us inspiring messages to helps us do better.  What a great opportunity.  It seems that a good share of the talks were about service and helping others.  They spoke to me about how we need to serve as the Savior served.  I am reading “Jesus the Christ” right now so that really fits in with what I am studying.  We are grateful for the Gospel and all the many blessings it gives us.  We love you all.
Love Gordon and Renee

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Choking Down the Bread

Have you ever had bread get stuck in your throat and had a hard time swallowing it?  Well, that’s how we have been for a few months.  There are two houses in Melo that need to be painted and we were not looking forward to the project.  But it is finally over.  Yippee!!!!

We started off Monday with the simple task of getting ready for the paint project.  All we had to do was go to the store and purchase the paint.  Until Humberto called….Sunday afternoon and asked if we could take him to the Doctor on Monday at 3:00 P. M.  No problem we had plenty of time to do that.  We also wanted to help the Duffin family get their phones set up.  But we had plenty of time to do that in the morning, until we also decided to take a de-humidifier to the Sisters in La Paz.  We still had plenty of time to do that and still go to lunch with the Duffins.   We took the Duffins to the phone company and then dropped them off at a shopping center on our way to the La Paz house.  About half way there we found out the appointment was at 2:00, so now we were in a big hurry.

We were able to make it work but had to skip lunch.  When we arrived to pick up Humberto they were making empanadas but they weren’t done yet.  They sure looked good about 2:00 in the afternoon when I was already hungry.  After the doctor appointment took way too long we were in luck with the empanadas as you can see.  They were made with hamburger and grapes inside… way delicious.

We picked up the paint and supplies on the way home.  Wednesday we took off for Melo, a 400 kilometer drive, at about 8:00 A. M.  We got to Melo at about 1:30 P. M. and got to work with our crew.  It only took us about 2 hours to paint the Centenario Elder’s home, a fairly large apartment.  The missionaries were exceptional and did a wonderful job.  They then went to their apartments and got ready to do real missionary work for the evening.

After that we had headed for the Zone Leader house which has four bedrooms, 2 baths etc.  The Zone Leaders had to take off to travel to Rio Bronco overnight to do a baptismal interview so they left us the keys so we could paint the front room that evening.  We got done about 7:30 P.M. and headed to the motel.  We hit the hay tired and exhausted.  I was very grateful for Ibuprofen.

Wednesday morning we met the missionaries at 8:00 A. M. to finish the Zone Leader apartment.  They arrived ready to go and really jumped into the task.  The Zone Leaders got back from Rio Bronco about 9:00 A. M. and helped us finish.  By 11:00 we had it all done except two small bedrooms.  We had to get to the motel to get changed for the ride home so the missionaries agreed to paint the other two rooms later.  What great missionaries.  They work so hard to be successful.  It is a privilege to work with them.  That left us nothing more than a 5 hour drive on a two lane highway clogged with semi trucks and we were finished for the day.  But we had finally choked down that piece of bread, it didn’t go down easy but it did go down.

Thursday we were pretty tired but we still had the energy to take the Capilla Abierta kit to the Colon/Ferrocarril building for their Capilla Abierta.  We finished out the day doing inspection in two of the houses that are close to the office.  Friday morning we finished the Este zone inspections and headed to Castillos for the weekend.  On the way we dropped off some stuff at the Rocha house.  The four Elders were in exceptionally good humor and we had a great time talking to them about their areas.  I think I’ll ask the mission president if he’ll transfer us there.

Friday afternoon and evening we had a dinner appointment with the Lopez family.  I remember that in my first mission that we were counseled to spend only 45 minutes on charlas and an hour and half tops for dinner and charla.  Well, we spent a little more time than that.  We started out with watching Jhonny finish our painting.  What a great artist!  You can tell how much he loves to paint in his work.
Then we went shopping.  We had a good visit while dinner was being cooked and then feasted on an asado or BBQ.  It was delicious.  We ate too much including the meat, salads and Renee’s hot fudge cake dessert.  There wasn’t much left over.  We are really going to miss the Lopez family.  We got done about 10:00 P.M.  It was a great evening.

Saturday we made some really good visits to some of the members.  Lunch was at Narda’s as usual where she served us “pastel” or something that is more or less a cross between Sheppard’s pie and chicken pot pie.  I can’t figure out why I keep gaining weight?  Saturday afternoon we again helped with the branch activity that included a scavenger hunt and ping pong.  We finished off the night at the home of Tito and Patricia that included a video of the song, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”.

Today we had pretty good attendance at Church and then took some pictures afterwards.  We really love the people in Castillos and it is going to be difficult to leave them.  Renee gave a talk in Church on the Tree of Life and did a real good job.  To round out the day we had another asado at Narda’s.  It’s kind of a long story, why we got fed twice by Narda, but let’s just say that we really didn’t need the food, although we didn’t turn it down.  That would be crazy talk!

This week was spring break so the roads were packed coming home.  It took an extra hour but we made it okay.  Now we are ready to get a good night’s sleep so we can be ready for changes next week.  We had a wonderful busy week and really enjoyed all the time we were able to spend with the missionaries.  We look forward to another one.

The highlight of the week was hearing one of the missionaries tell us that his parents are getting baptized at home.  I told him that was one of the highlights of my mission.  He said it was one of the highlights of his mission as well. Go figure.

Thanks for all of you support.
We love you all.
Gordon and Renee

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Fair Week and a Whole Lot More

We had a lot going on this week as we come to the end of a change.  We spent Monday and Tuesday in the office getting some office work done and also getting ready for some Capilla Abiertas.  We have some shots of us making the invitations for the Colon Capilla Abierta in a couple of weeks.  We had to write the time on 400 invitations individually so the help from the missionaries was really helpful.  They were waiting for interviews so it helped both of us.

On Wednesday and Thursday we did inspections.  We started off in Florida on Wednesday morning.  The first house was the Zone Leader house.  It really looks good after the paint job last month.  We really appreciate it.  You can see that the Elders are happy.  We were equally pleased with the other houses.

Wednesday afternoon we hurried out to Trinidad to see the Sisters in the Durazno Zone.  Again we were not disappointed with the way they take care of their house.  On Wednesday night we had a meeting with the High Councilman of the Durazno Stake to teach him how to do the Capilla Abiertas.  He was very receptive and helpful.  We look forward to a strong relationship with him.
We stayed at the Hotel Cristina in Durazno on Wednesday night.  It was very comfortable; I mean a lot of hot water in the shower and a good bed comfortable.  On Thursday morning we took off for Paso de los Toros.  The Elders were waiting with a clean house and smiles from ear to ear.  We probably spend more time than we should in some of the houses but the missionaries are so anxious to let us know how things are going we love visiting with them.

So if you have been following the blog you know what we were going to be doing for lunch in Durazno.  That’s right, El Bauru at El Gaucho!  We had it with everything on it.  It is a super hamburger with more than everything on it.  It may be our last one.  I’m going to miss it.  After lunch with the missionaries we took the Zone Leaders to buy them a new stove.  Good riddance to the old one.  Then we were off to Sarandi de Yi.  Elder Palomino and Elder Watson had an especially clean house.  They were excited about the work in the area.  Then we had the long ride home through San Ramon to finish the job.  We got home a little after dark.

So after a pretty busy week we got to the weekend.  Friday was Oro Conference.  Renee spent the day cooking as usual and I did some more invitations for a Capilla Abierta.  Again we had a good day with the missionaries.  Saturday is our day to relax, clean the house and get ready for another week.  We spent it by first cleaning the house and getting a haircut.  At 1:00 P. M. we fed Elder Fix and Elder Bazaes along with our good friend Gordon Little.  Elder Fix is leaving the office and it was good to invite Gordon Little over.  He is leaving soon to live next to his daughter in Mexico so it may be our last time to have him over for lunch.  What a wonderful man.  He is very friendly and knowledgeable on all issues.  A real joy to spend the afternoon with.

I had to put in a picture of a banner on the road in front of a Catholic Church.  It advertises for “the French Fry Club”.  I must say the French fries in Uruguay are really good and they even have a club. 

So as if we were not too tired already, we spent the evening at Expo Prado.  This is essentially the state fair for Uruguay.   They have livestock, tractors, food and a bunch of other stuff.  It was fun to see how they do it in Uruguay.  I wish we had had more time to visit.

After that we stopped off at the Temple apartments to meet the new Temple Missionaries.  Elder and Sister Duffin are wonderful people.  Turns out that he was a companion to President Cook forty-eight years ago here in Uruguay.  It is really a small world.  We had lunch with them today and had a great time getting to know them.

I do have one real neat story that one of our missionaries shared.  He started his mission almost two years ago as a new convert and the only member of his family.  Since then, his brother and sister have joined the Church and his parents feed and entertain the missionaries every week.  He was so excited.  I can’t think of a more wonderful blessing.  We hear many stories like this every week and it really helps strengthen our testimonies and makes us grateful for our membership in the Church.  We appreciate all that our friends and family do for us.

We love you all,                                                                     
Gordon and Renee