Well here it is the day after and we're still intact!! New Year's Eve was quite the show here in R-hen-teena -- complete with lightning and thunder storm -- guess the Lord wanted to put on his own show. But before getting into what's been happening here, some thanks and commentary.
Thank you all for your holiday posts, photos, and e-mails -- it made Christmas away from home and loved-ones almost tolerable (but not really). Starting with Marschell, thx for all the photos -- I'm sure that took some time, in the midst of finals and surgery. That was pretty brave to put that post surgery photo on the blog, but thanks for sharing real life with us. Brooke, we laugh every time we look at all those photos of you guys and your mustaches -- we figured they were designed to dress up your stiff upper lip. Hope you're all enjoying the break in AL. Erin, thank you too for all the photos, but who t-papers their Christmas tree? That must've pained you to watch workers tear wholes in the walls of your new house. Water leaks are the worst!! And Sharla, we never get tired of seeing pics of Brynn. Glad you guys had such an enjoyable day.
As far as news from the mission, things have been busy as usual. There seems to be no end to the follow-up that's required to get things done though. That's the one thing that is glaringly missing here -- follow through. People are generally so inconsistent that you really can't count on anything. We had asked a return missionary and his wife to speak in church last Sunday but instead of asking to be excused or offering to speak some other day, they just didn't show up -- no notice or phone call or anything -- just a no-show. Not everbody's like that, but enough are that it's maddening at times and tries our patience. The cultural differences are hard to understand sometimes but we love 'em anyway. One difference that sticks out my mind is what happened Christmas Day, which is treated almost like any other day (since the big celebration happens on Christmas Eve -- they start opening presents at mid-night). I received a total of eight text messages and one phone call from our new District President wanting to do Church business on Christmas Day. I told him we'd talk the next day!! Another interesting thing that happened recently is that one of our Elders got horse-whipped -- literally. He and his comp were walking along and heard this horse coming up behind them, which isn't all that unusal, and as he turned around to look the rider started cussing at him and whipped him with his horse whip across the back and shoulder. Fortunately he wasn't hit in the face or anything, but I'm thinking it's a good thing there weren't other missionaries around at the time -- we might have had to pull that boy off his horse and teach him something about the "laying on of hands".
Lastly, it doesn't seem I can get too far away from the law -- I had to go to court the other day. Our branch has a youth activity on Wednesday nights which usually involves volleyball outside next to the building. Next door lives the wicked witch of the south and whenever the ball happens to go over the fence, she refuses to return it and lets her dog tear it up. So one night the neighbor and one of our more assertive adults got into it verbally which resulted in the neighbor calling the cops, who showed up and upon hearing our side of it, told the gal to return our ball. So to retaliate, she filed a written complaint which was delivered by the cops, requiring me (as the branch president) to formally respond. Fortunately, a lawyer recently moved in above us and she offered to go with me. As it turned out, all I needed to do was formally respond with our side of the story and case closed. Never a dull moment!!
A group from our branch who recently went to the temple -- in Asuncion Paraguay -- two of them for the first time. It's about a six hour bus ride (not couting the time it takes to get across the boarder) and costs about 300 pesos ($65) -- a lot of money down here.
Our Christmas Eve celebration with the missionaries and our branch mission leader -- Jorge Rojas. Of course, we opened our traditional Christmas Eve present -- pajamas (sports shirt and shorts) after they left.
Well, once again I'm having trouble uploading photos so I'll post this much and put some more on another post.
In the meantime, thank you all again for being who you are. We love you dearly and really appreciate your love and support while we're so far away.
XOS, kiss hug,