Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas week

Elder Dibb with Hermana Villareal.  She is older than we are and is "dyed in the wool" Catholic.  She is very nice and is interested in the true Gospel, but we are having a hard time convincing her that she needs to read the Book of Mormon.  We always have a nice visit and she shares her feelings freely.

Here is Andrea with her mother and brother.  They invited us over for Christmas Eve, but we already had an appointment with another family.  They invited us over about a month ago.  So we made some cookies and stopped by to visit for a few minutes before going to the other cita.  Andrea's mother gave us a bread that she had made.  She seems to accept us OK and Andrea is coming to Church again and we are teaching her.  We'll see how things turn out.

This is the family that we spent Christmas with.  There are 4 teenagers in the family.  Mother and Father are divorced, but they take care of "Grandma".  Up until about a year ago, she was walking and talking.  Now she just sits in her wheelchair and can't speak.  They have a nurse come in during the day to help care for her.  They are all so tender with her and include her in everything they do.

The three girls with "Grandma".

Loving Grandma.

This is the brother that takes such good care of his mother and sisters.

This is the mother in her kitchen, cooking "picana", the special Bolivian dish that they eat at 12:00 midnight on Christmas Eve.  It consists of beef, pork, chicken, and lamb.  It is a soup and you have a couple of big pieces of meat in the broth. Then you add potato, carrot and cheese.  They told us that usually it is much "hotter" but they stayed away from the picante because of us.

Here is the family with Elder Dibb, by the Christmas tree.

The table was set beautifully. Notice the Fanta and 7-Up bottles.  We forgot to move them for the picture.  After dinner at 12:00 midnight, they open presents from each other.  They don't have Santa come.

This is the blanket that Mindy had made so we can hang it on the wall of our apartment.  We love having all the grandkids right here with us.  It lifts our spirits.  We just need to figure how to hang it on plaster walls.

This shows some of the things our kids sent for Christmas.  It was so fun opening them and especially getting personal letters and pictures from everyone.  Elder Dibb bought me the roses and we are having suits tailor made for our Christmas to each other.  Dad has a nice blue tie that we forgot to put back with the other things.  And a couple of missionaries gave us a pencil and another "wide" Bolivian tie. Elder Dibb is not sure how to tie it so the knot is not so big.  He'll figure it out.

These are the earrings that Denisse (a teenage member) and her mother (Mirka- not a member, but we are teaching and have challenged her to baptism)  It was so thoughtful of them to get us a gift. They said that when they were shopping, they thought of us.

This is the wallet they gave Elder Dibb.  They said the gifts were to remember Bolivia when we have returned home. The gifts were fun, but were not the focus of our celebration this year.  We feel so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and for the blessings that we have of being members of the Church of Jesus Christ.  We know that through the great blessings of the Savior, we can live with our Heavenly Father again and have our family with us forever.  Our testimonies have grown and we have felt the Spirit of the Holy Ghost guide and help us improve our lives.  Thank you to all of you for your love and prayers.  We need them each day and they help us know that what we are doing is a blessing to His children.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The week before Christmas

We had a special mission conference for the sister missionaries on Monday.  We started out at a very nice restaurant.  Hermana Quintanilla had literally a leg of lamb.

This was Hermana Dibb's main dish.  It is fish with bacon in the middle and a sweet fruit sauce on the top.  It was delicious.

Here are the sister missionaries.  Some of the really put away the food.  There are 18 sister missionries, Sister Dibb and Hermana Quintanilla.

Here are all the sister missionaries in front of the Christmas tree at the mission home.  We had a wonderful day of instruction and testimonies.

At the end of the day, we all had to have pictures with the mission president's family.  What a great family and special experience to rub shoulders with such wonderful children of our Heavenly Father.

It is hard to see in this picture, but as we went to visit a sister this week, this was at the top of the first flight of stairs.  It is a laundry room.  It is open and has a couple of sinks in the corner.  There are lines to hang clothes on.  By the looks of this, you would think Sister Villareal's appartment would be trashy.  She is an older sister, and her apartment is up a few flights of stairs.  (She drops the key to get into the building from her window tied in a cloth so she doesn't have to come down the stairs)  Anyway, it is really nice once you get into the apartment.

This is our nativity scene.  Each one of the sisters got this gift in a little box when we had our conference on Monday.  It is our only Christmas decoration.  We just couldn't see spending money on a Christmas tree.  There is one in our building as you come to the elevator and we lunches at homes of people who have decorations.  So it is OK.

Had to add this picture of the size of our "decoration".  It is sitting in our chair in the living room.

We had a family home evening with the mission president, his family, and the missionaries from the office last night.  After the lesson, we had pizza.  We had our district missionaries at our home in the afternoon to make Elder Dibb's cookies, then we had pizza and watched the First Presidency Christmas Devotional on our computer. (In Spanish) Anyway, it was a pizza day.

Joshua (mission presidents son, 4 years old) eating pizza at 10:00 pm.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas service activity

What a special week for us.  We spent a couple of hours on Thursday putting together baskets of food to take with us to a small city by Lake Titicaca called Batalla.  Our purpose was to help the members of the Church there and give a toy and candy to the children for Christmas.  Saturday was the day and it was amazing. The Spirit of Christmas was so strong.  Enjoy the pictures and feel the true Spirit of Christ.  This is some of the youth preparing the baskets.
The youth and us after the baskets are filled.  This is our "chapel".  Chairs are set up every week for our Sacrament Meeting.
This is the Primary president and the counselor in the YW who bought most of the supplies for the project.  Our children from the U.S. sent money to help.  We are most grateful to them for their willingness to give to those in need.       
Hermana Dibb showing a couple of the kinds of toys for the little girls.  There were trucks, cars and balls (that we pumped up on the bus) for the boys.

Wrapping the baskets.

We had 50 baskets that were ready to take on Saturday.

Loading the bus for the trip.  Elder Dibb just put some baskets on the bus.

On the bus and on our way.

These were some of the first little kids we saw looking through the fence as we drove up.

The little girl in the pink took my hand and wanted to show me the flowers and have her picture taken with her sister. Notice how thick her braids are.  She came close to me several times and hugged me.  It was very touching.
Here she is again with the lollipop from her Christmas bag.

Members of our barrio putting the finishing touches on the bags for the children (candy)

Children moving anxiously from the Chapel after the devotional so they could get in line for their gift bags.
Waiting patiently in line, youngest to oldest.
Some of the children after receiving their gifts bags.  They loved getting photos taken and then seeing themselves almost instantly.
All of the children and  missionaries after the bags were distributed.  They were all so happy and thankful for the thoughtfulness of others.
A few pictures of families and the typical older women on the Altiplano.  There are a lot of women who wear these derbies in La Paz as well.

The missionaries with their baskets and us (in our P-day clothes).  The little girl on the left slipped in.  She is the daughter of a counselor in our bishopric.

The sisters of the rama (branch) made lunch for us on cardboard in the middle of the playing field.  They each brought something (pot luck) and dumped it all together.  There were potatoes, chicken and fried bananas.  I actually tasted some chicken and potatoes.  It was OK.
The meal from the top.

A musical group from Achicachi.  They played typical Bolivian music and sang some Bolivian songs.  We will be going to Achicachi in January to train the joven (YM/YW) leaders.

Two little boys playing with their gifts.
The barrio's lunch down at Lake Titicaca after the visit to the branch.
The crowning blessing of the week.  Elder Dibb was able to baptize Pablo on Sunday afternoon.  It was a very spiritual experience.  His family is all Catholic and none of them came to the baptism.  There were three young missionaries, us, his friend with his girlfriend, our high priest group leader, the Bishop of the ward he lives in and a couple of other people.  I think he feels like we are his grandparents and we were blessed to be part of this special event in his life.  We taught him before we found that he lives in another area.  He will be confirmed next Sunday and we will be there.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Bolivian Zoo

We ate lunch with Martha Munoz and her daughter who just recently returned from Germany.  Andrea also speaks English.  We had so much fun learning how to crush mangos and suck out the insides. 

This is Santos, a returned missionary who is anxious to learn English with the Companion Language Study program.  We are working with him.  The Book of Mormon was given to him by his American companion.

Here are some pictures from the zoo on P-day.  The elders each thought that the other was going to call us to tell us we had permission to wear "P-day clothes".  So we are in missionary clothes.

Some kind of deer - no antlers.

There is a parrot behind Elder Dibb.

The missionaries looking at the parrots.

On of the eagles protecting his food.

One of the many rattlesnakes in the reptile house.

A big boa.

We were fascinated with the Andean Condor.  This one is headed to dinner - chasing away the other birds that have come in for a free meal.

A condor coming off the hill toward another condor. 

A fox.

Another condor sitting on a rock in the cage.

Llamas and alpacas.  There was a vicuna in the shade, but didn't get a good picture.

The missionaries teased the monkey with a hat.  This time, the monkey got hold of it and the elder had a hard time getting it back.

A picture from the zoo of "Devil's Tooth"

Do you like my hat.  We bought it outside the gate and we didn't realize how "big" it was.  Butt it kept the hot sun off, so it was worth it.  The condor is behind me.

The rock formations on the way to the zoo.  They are a lot like Bryce Canyon, only gray.

Another picture of the landscape on the way to the zoo.