Friday, December 25, 2009

Puerto Montt, Chile, Part II

Puerto Montt, Chile, Part II has more to do with people than with places and things. We had the wonderful opportunity to visit my Chilean mom whom we fondly called "La Mom." We lived with her family as "pensionistas." Basically, that means that we rented a room from them. They provided a maid who cooked and cleaned for us. Sometimes, Mom would get mad because we arrived late...past the 9:30 p.m. time we were supposed to be in. What can I say...we were very, very busy in Puerto Montt. We had a great time with them.

This is "La Mom" in 1977.

This is "La Mom" in 2009 when we visited her. I tried to get the exact same picture of her standing in her doorway.

Here is a picture of the entire family without the only boy.

It was so wonderful to see "La Mom" and her family. We had "once" (pronounced own say)with them. Luisa had made a delicious cake. We laughed and laughed at the various things that they remembered about the "Gringo Grande" (big gringo). From their home, they had such a beautiful view of the ocean and Volcan Osorno. Now, the view has been blocked by a tall building.

We also had the opportunity to visit a few members while we were there. The picture below is of President Usabeaga and his son Eduardo. He was the branch president while I was in Puerto Montt. He became the district president when Puerto Montt became a district. Plus, he was very instrumental in helping the Church purchase property for all of the church in Puerto Montt. He and his family were stalwarts in the Church and still are. We went to three churches in Puerto Montt to find him. The city and the Church have really grown. Puerto Montt is now a stake.

We loved Puerto Montt, even though it was clouded over and rained the last day we were there. We saw some of the people I loved the most.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Puerto Montt, Chile

Puerto Montt was wonderful even though it was cloudy and a bit rainy. We arrived late Friday night because we had driven all day and stopped along the way, the last stop being in Frutillar because I knew the weather wasn't going to be very good, and the sun was setting on Lake Llanquihue and Volcan Osorno. After taking a host of pictures, which you can see in a previous blog, we headed to Puerto Montt.

We arrived, checked in, and headed to our room. The hotel was very nice, and we were impressed. Our room overlooked the bay. Absolutely gorgeous. Pictures cannot really capture the element of feelings that I felt when I stood there in the window and looked out into the bay, remembering 30 years ago when I served. What a feeling.

The next morning, we rose, ate breakfast in the hotel's restaurant. The view was again breathtaking because it was on the top floor overlooking the entire city.

We hopped in the car and headed to Puerto Varas, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Volcan Osorno. Alas, it wasn't to be, but we had a good trip and saw some gorgeous countryside. Plus, we found one of the capillas (church buildings). Whether that was the right one, we shall see. The Church's website listed only one building, but we know there are more.

Once we returned, we caught a taxis and went to Angelmo. I really didn't want to drive down there with our car. Once I arrived, I discovered that it had changed over the past thirty years. While it was a small fish and tourist market back then, it has been very turista...We walked through the fish market while various young women tried to get us to eat in their little restaurants. Finally, we succumbed. We had a nice meal. Joanne and I both had different fish. I had Conger eel and Joanne had a fish I am not familiar with, but they were both delicious.

After a delicious meal, we wandered through the booths, looking at all of the great things Chileans make. Joanne bought a beautiful shawl, and we bought some things for the girls, but I cannot post what they are because Christmas hasn't arrived, yet, and we want it to be a surprise.

More later about my visit with my Chilean mother....

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Villarica, Pucón, La Unión, and Frutillar

Today was a most interesting day. Of all of the time we are spending in Chile, Thursday night was the one most in the air. We didn’t really know where we would be—perhaps in Concepción, Valdivia, or Osorno. We decided to stop in Villarica. On the way, we stopped at Los Saltos de Laja. What a beautiful site this was. I remember going there as chiquillos working in the office; so, I wanted to return.

We attempted to stay the night at a bed and breakfast run by Americans, but it was full. She gave us the name of another hotel named Hotel El Parque. It was about three miles out of town on a lake. I believe after we arrived, we decided it was a much better place and less expensive overall.

Once we arrived, Joanne and I walked down to the lake front and took a few pictures of some archaic swing sets and things. They were pretty old. Then we walked back up and headed to dinner. The people who didn’t have room for us asked us to come to dinner, which we did. It was delightful. Both Joanne and I had chuletas—pork chops—and all of the trimmings—potatoes and asparagus cream soup, which was absolutely delicious.

We rose early and drove to Pucón. I really wanted to see Volcán Villarica. It was too cloudy. Around 12:00 when we were heading to La Union and points south, the Volcán Villarica came out for a partial picture. What wonderful countryside pictures of wild flowers we took just wonderful.

We stopped in La Unión. On our way in, we saw three missionaries walking down the street. We stopped them and asked directions. They didn’t know Boris Ocampo, but they did tell us to stop at a place to make some calls. I parked the car and headed up the street. I stopped at the first Caja de Llamados I came to and tried to call Boris. He wasn’t there. For some reason, I didn’t write down his address; so, I attempted to find a place with internet, which I did. I got online and got his address. Before I left, though, I made another call to see if I could roust Boris. Fortunately, I did. He told me to meet him in the Plaza. We drove there and waited for him. Soon, he was walking toward us. He hasn’t changed a bit. Still joven, still delgadito, still great fun.

We chatted a bit and then walked to where the new capilla is or at least new to me. They had torn down the old house where we used to have meetings and built a brand new church house back in 1982. La Union used to be a stake, but because of the worthiness of so few males, they had to reduce it to a district. They are working very hard to change this.

Then we drove over to the Soto house where we lived as missionaries. Only Mr. Soto was in. He said that the señora was out with Mauricio in Osorno where she had a doctor’s appointment. We chatted for a rato and then had to live. I really wanted to stay and visit, but we needed to spend some time with Boris and his lovely bride. We spent a couple of hours with them. It was wonderful just to chat. They live in a tiny, tiny house.

We said our goodbyes at 7:15 p.m. Boris had a meeting or we would have taken them to dinner. It was hard leaving them. We promised to see each other in two years when the Concepción Temple is ready to be dedicated. I do hope we can return.

The sun was beginning to set when we pulled into Frutillar. I knew if we didn’t get pictures of the Volcán Osorno, we probably wouldn’t get to see it this trip because of the projected weather—rain and cloudy. When the clouds set in, then nothing can be seen. Lake Llanquihue was absolutely stunning with the sun lighting up the lake just a bit. I took a few pictures, but I don’t know how they will come out. We shall see. The first picture is Volcán Osorno and the second is Volcán Calbuco.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Talca, Chile

We made it to Talca on Tuesday evening. We arrived and headed into town. Again, the street signs were minimal. Some road construction creates some stir, but we made our way into the city by the Google map that I had made. Again, with Google’s help but with God’s help more, we found the hotel. We parked on the road and walked in and checked in. It was a bit eery because I felt as if we were really strangers in a stranger land. We checked in. They told me to park in the back of the hotel. I went outside and was ready to get in the car when a young man dressed in a uniform of sorts handed me a piece of paper and said, $230 pesos por favor. I asked him why? He told me that I had parked and that I owed money for parking on the side of the road.
With a bit of disgust, I told him I didn’t have any money because Joanne had it all. Let me park, and I would return with the few monedas that I owed. So, that’s what I did. I parked in the back; and while I went out to pay the young man, the the bellman hauled out luggage upstairs and helped us in our room.

Once inside, we arranged things and then I called Walky to see what was going on with the Diaz family. She said that she would be right over because her office was very close by. Within five minutes, she was there, giving us abrazos and such to welcome us to Chile. We jumped in the car and headed to her house, with a stop by the school to pick up Tamara y Natan, her two children. We arrived at the school, and they had already gone home. So, we turned around in the very narrow street and headed to the Diaz Family’s house.

We brought our presents with us and handed them out once we got in. Hermano y Hermana Diaz were very excited to see us. It was wonderful to say hello to them once again. We had a wonderful chat, and then we loaded up in two cars and headed to Rio Claro, one of the parks there in Chile. I remember having a picnic with the branch when I served her. And I remember eating sandia (watermelon) in the park with my companeros, just prior to going on a hike through the mountains. This hike result in a few blisters but a sunburn beyond sun burn. We took a few pictures and then headed to the top of the hill so we could see out over Talca. We parted company with Hermano y Hermana Diaz because they were going home to make Once for us, which I told them they didn’t have to do, but they wanted to do it anyway.

The ride to the hill was a short one actually. We arrived and looked out over Talca. Walky explained the changes that had occurred even her last fifteen years while she was in Brazil. Talca had really changed. Lots of new housing development had spread on various sides of the city. We then walked up to an old church, just up from where we parked. I took a few pictures, and then we watched the children play in the yard around the church. Walky said she let them play because in Brazil, you couldn’t let them play because of all of the snakes and other venomous things that hung around everywhere. I don’t think I could live in a country like this.

After our time there, we went to the Daiz’s house where we had once, which is comprised of bread, juice, cheese. Hermano Diaz had me give the blessing on the food, which was a wonderful experience for me. We had a wonderful conversation. After once, we sat in the living room. Soon young Guillmero came. Walky, Hermano Diaz, and Walky sang two songs for us, one was the Cueca and the other was Te Vas Para Chile, which is the national song. It was wonderful. Hermano Diaz inserted their names to pass by when we visited Chile. Just delightful.

On Wednesday, we started the day out with desayuno of bread, fruit, yogurt, thinly sliced meats, and bottled water at the hotel and then walked around downtown to see the city. I went to 2 Sur 937 to see if I could see my old pension. What I think was my pension is now boarded up. The little Mercado next door is now some sort of negocio. Gone are the real things; the only things that stayed our memories of walking to the house and being let it by Yolanda or the other maid whose name totally and completely escapes me.

Around 11:45 a.m., we met up with Walky and headed out to the La Universidad de Talca. We walked around a bit and then we went to the medical school part, specifically the dental part and visited with a few people. After the university visit, we headed once again to the Diaz family. They had prepared such a delicious meal for us—fish, potatoes, tomatoes, and fruit for dessert. It was delicious. We had such a good time. After the meal, Joanne and I drove to the church house where we thought the baptism was going to be. We felt good about knowing where it was just in case it was dark when we actually went to the building. Then we went home. Amazing, the street changed, and it became a one way really quickly, and everyone was quasi nice about it when we were driving up a wrong way for about one block. Then, we went home and took a nap. This nap business is getting in the way of visiting more, but the four-hour time difference is creating some havoc.

I took a short nap while Joanne lingered en la cama. While she slept, I attempted to do some more writing before we needed to go to the baptism. Around 7:00 p.m., I woke Joanne, and we got ready and left the house. We arrived at the appointed church house. A gentleman was just going in when we pulled up. I approached him, and he told me that this wasn’t the church house and gave me directions. Well, I had no idea where this was. I couldn’t believe this: Here we were trying to do what we were supposed to do. Well, we attempted to follow directions, but we couldn’t find the church. Time was gaining on us, and we were about to be late. We started back to the house to call Walky when all of a sudden I saw a church spire to my left. I quickly turned left and “poof” a church house appeared out of nowhere. We parked and went in. There was Walky who gave a sudden sigh. We had made it, thanks again to our Heavenly Father who continues to guide us in these days.

We met everyone and took pictures out in the hallway. Natan looked cute in his white clothes. The meeting started about 30 minutes late for some reason. The brother who was conducting asked that I come bear my testimony, which I did. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked. Also, during the baptism ceremony, I was one of the witnesses.

Afterwards was when I gave my testimony, and then I confirmed Natan Alexander Egar Diaz. It was a great experience. We blessed him that he would prepare well to be a good missionary, that he would be an excellent missionary, that he would listen to his mother’s counsel, that he would do everything he can to be the person Heavenly Father wants him to be. We also blessed his mother through him.

After the baptism and the confirmation, Brother Diaz and Walky stood and bore their testimonies. They both thank Joanne and me for taking time and coming to Chile for this occasion. They were too kind and gracious to us. We went into the cultural hall and had a few snacks. I met other members of the church. I met a young woman, Walky’s age, who had the opportunity to play basketball for BYU, but her mother told her she couldn’t go. So, she became a professional women’s basketball player and went to the Pan-American games. She now coaches a national women’s team. She was a hoot. I enjoyed visiting with her.

We took lots of pictures of the Diaz Family and the Hammon Family. It was very, very fun. We loved being there with them.

As we all left the capilla, we all hesitated just a bit because we knew that, perhaps, this might be the last time we saw each other. Yes, we made promised to “volver” to visit them. But it took me thirty years to make it back, and few gente are still around. We gave each other abrazos Chilenos, said our teary goodbyes, and then left in separate cars/camiones, each waving a fond farewell. Was the night worth it? Absolutely! Incrediblly, Sonja was there with her four children, two boys and two girls. She told me that her youngest was going to be baptized next year.

Wonderful times with Diaz Family. They are absolutely wonderful! We love them! We enjoyed our stay in Talca. I wish it could have been longer. We didn't get to see the Avendano family. Some of them were supposed to come to Natan's baptism. Later, I did "Facebook chat" with Priscila. The three children I knew have all been married in the temple. That is fantastic!