Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fiestas Patrias 18 de Septiembre - Chile's 4th of July

Never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine that 44 years later to the day, I would be in the exact same location in Chillán Chile to watch as the Chileans celebrate their "Fiestas Patrias" (national parties) or their equivalent of July 4th.

Chillán - 18 September 1969

Chillán - 18 September 2013

The Chilean people love their independence and their culture and celebrate it for an entire week. It is known here in Chile as "Dieciocho" or the 18th.  It is a week of vacation for schools and many others take the week off to celebrate. It is the biggest holiday of the year for Chileans.
The children are taught to embrace their culture and they do.

The Chilean cowboys are called "huasos" for boys and "huasas" for girls.  They ride horses and their traditional clothing includes a straight brimmed straw hat called a "chupalla", a "manta" or poncho which is worn over a short waist jacket (usually white),  leather leggings and boots with 4 inch long spurs.

Elder and Sister Mora dressed in the traditional outfits at the Retiro Branch "Dieciocho" celebration. They are senior missionaries from southern Chile and he is serving as branch president in Retiro.
Another important tradition is dancing the traditional dance "la cueca" where the coy "huasa" is courted by the persistent "huaso."  

Of course every Chilean celebration has to include food and the Retiro Branch had plenty of food.  It is traditional to have a Bar-B-Q for the "Dieciocho".

Pots of Potatoes cooked over an open fire
With all the trimmings - lettuce, tomatoes, potato salad, celery salad, pea salad, and rice

Part of the celebration is honoring the military.  During the morning festivities in the plaza in Chillán the military was on full display.  They even "sang" the Chilean national anthem.  Not quite the tabernacle choir but lots of gusto.

18 Sep 2013 national anthem from PulsiphersinChile on Vimeo.
Here are the words to the chorus:
         Spanish                                            English Translation
Dulce Patria, recibe los votos            Sweet Fatherland accept the vows
Con que Chile en tus aras juró:          With which Chile swore at your altars

Que o la tumba serás de los libres      Either the tomb of the free you will be
O el asilo contra la opresión               Or the refuge against oppression
Que o la tumba serás de los libres      Either the tomb of the free you will be
O el asilo contra la opresión               Or the refuge against oppression
Que o la tumba serás de los libres      Either the tomb of the free you will be
O el asilo contra la opresión               Or the refuge against oppression
O el asilo contra la opresión               Or the refuge against oppression
O el asilo contra la opresión.              Or the refuge against oppression

Catalina poses with Hermana & Elder Pulsipher

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Do You Know the Way to San Jose?"

Finding your way around Chile can be a challenge.  Signage is, at best, unremarkable.  If you miss this sign to some beautiful waterfalls you miss a truly beautiful scene in Chile.

Here is the next clue.  We've already been on dirt roads for 30 minutes and asked 3 different people for directions!

This is what we were looking for.  It was worth the find.

It is called "Salto de Itata" or the Itata River Falls.  No guardrails to be found.

The Itata River also goes by Coelemu, another small branch in our mission.

Our apartment has become the mission's bed and breakfast. Sally has quite a reputation for being a great cook. Of course, I've known that more than 40 years.  All of the hermanas love to stay with us.

Sally has given a wonderful recap of our activities.

"We hope you have had a great "day off", today, and have enjoyed your last holiday of the summer.  I am always sad after Labor Day, because the summer is over and school starts, and winter is on its way.  However, in Chile, I'm happy because it is almost Spring time!!  The blossoms are on the trees, the flowers are opening, I don't need to turn on my caliente cama anymore, and we are opening our windows for part of the day!  I don't have endure winter again until almost 2015!"

"Our last week is already a blur.  Our mission had Elder Walter Gonzalez, the Area President of the South America, South Area, visit our mission.  The mission was divided in half for two separate zone conferences.  Six hermanas came and spent the night, Friday, so they could be to the chapel by 8:00 a.m., waiting for Elder Gonzalez to arrive.  They were up at 6 a.m., showering and doing their personal study.  Picture the chapel, full of missionaries, quietly reading their scriptures, with the piano being played.  The mission president and his wife walk in with the Gonzalez', and Elder Gonzales opens up his arms to the group and invites everyone to go up and shake their hands.  He asked everyone where they were from and a question or two, and then we had a four hour meeting.  He and his wife did most of the teaching.  It was great because he would throw in some sentences in English, and he had a great laugh and seemed like a regular man.  His wife was especially awesome.  You could tell that she had traveled all over with him and had taught many missionaries.  They are both from Uruguay.  I didn't have to feed them because he wanted his time to be exclusively with President Arrington and his wife.
"We were supposed to go to Santiago, this past Sunday, but we had to change the date to Sept.8th due to some computer problems.  It all worked out for the good, as most things do on a mission.  We decided to visit Cauquenes.  There are two struggling branches there.  One branch is especially needy.  As we were going through Parral, Dad thought to call the District President, who lives there.  President Troncoso thought it would be good if he went to visit with us.  We told him we were right in Parral and we could give him a ride. (He doesn't own a car).  He said he would hurry and get dressed and would meet us on the street.  We pulled a "Uey" and found the green, "servi-centro", (it was a gas station, and it didn't say, "servi-centro" on it.)  Then he called and gave us the rest of the directions to his neighborhood.  He was there, on the street, in his suit, looking like a great Chilean, church leader.  We know him well.  He is very nice and tries to help us with anything we need.  He knows about 20 words in English but speaks pretty clearly, for a Chilean."

President Troncoso helped us last Tuesday as we were looking for a house for the Scholes.  They get here  the first week of April.

"When we arrived at the Estación Branch, the Branch President was happy to greet us.  Both of his counselors don't come to church, regularly.  Neither of them were there, Sunday.  The same lady taught the Gospel Doctrine class and the Relief Society lesson, and conducted, because the R.S. President quit.  You can see that the Branch needs help.  Dad and President Troncoso went to the other Branch, "Cauquenes, Centro", and Dad got to watch President Troncoso call two, strong couples, from that Branch to go and serve in the weaker Branch.  When they returned to Estación, they were both beaming."

It was amazing to witness the dedication of those humble chilean members. They all accepted the assignment to be assigned to the neighboring branch and help fortify it.  If you are a faithful church member here in Chile you never get our of the saddle.  You may change horses but you never get out of the saddle.

"We then had a short meeting with the 4 missionaries that are serving there and gave them encouragement and hopefully a vision of what can happen to that poor little branch, as they try to work with the members and increase the attendance.  I think we will be attending there often.  I met some cute kids;  Filipe, Vickie, and Joaquin.  I gave out hair clips and candy and took their pictures.  No one speaks a word of English, except the Branch President.  In the other Branch there are two women who can speak some and we have a great time trying to talk to each other."
"It was a great Sabbath and we felt like we were instruments in the Lord's hand.  We have had so many experiences when we have been in the right place at the right time.  We even bought tickets to a Beatles impersonation concert, last week.  We totally forgot about it and it ended up that we got a phone call and were needed to pick up some missionaries and have them stay over.  At 1 a.m. Doug said to me, "guess what we forgot?"  I still didn't remember!  It is great to be totally immersed in the Lord's work here.  We have so many opportunities to help, in so many ways, here in our mission and in other missions, as well.  This weekend the Arringtons will spend the night Saturday, because they have to attend a stake conference in Chillán.  Sister Arrington can stay with me instead of sit in the car or on a bad bench, while her husband is in the Priesthood meeting.  I'm so thankful that I can help her out.  They like to stay here and it is great to get to know them better.  On Sunday, we will drive to Santiago and train people in the West mission, on how to find the names and addresses of so many lost people."

So that has been our experience here as we strive to establish the Church more firmly here in Chile.