Sunday, November 20, 2011

GS visit & Seminary Graduation

Sunday, 20 November 2011
This past week had several ups and downs for me, as are to be expected, but the ‘downs’ are still… downs.  We’re both experiencing more expectations by our co-workers, as they gain confidence in our skills and our reliability.  That’s definitely gratifying.  Some travel arrangements for dignitaries had to be changed, which created adjustments for many people here.  Adjustments and flexibility are just facts of life!

We ‘Skyped’ twice this week, once with Salazars, a couple with whom we have a missions-coaching relationship, and with daughter Erica.  The Salazars are wonderful, dedicated people; it’s great getting to know them!  Erica caught us up on the mail at home and was so excited about her evening plans – she had won the opportunity to ride on the Zamboni at the St. Louis Blues Hockey game that night!  And it was so fun to see her photos shared on Facebook the next morning!

Tuesday night, all the missionaries (some U.S., some Peruvian, one Nicaraguan, some Argentine) from the Regional Office and Seminary were invited to a special dinner with General Superintendent, David Graves, and his wife Sharon!  How wonderful it was to spend a little time with them!  They are genuine and personable!  They’ve been traveling all over South America, attending many District Assemblies with Regional Director Christian Sarmiento and his wife Margit.  Christian translated Dr. Graves’ message of hope and encouragement for the Spanish-speaking missionaries.  The fellowship was great and we so enjoyed the special dinner of appetizers, salad with chicken, pasta, and ice cream (3 flavors!).

In contrast, Thursday, I felt very discouraged, like I would never learn enough Spanish and not really be useful here… unrealistic expectations, of course, but real feelings.

Saturday, Dan and I had decided that we needed to take the bus to downtown Pilar; we had not been there since the very first weekend we arrived, 5 weeks ago!  We knew that the ride would cost 2 pesos (about 50 cents) and we had our bus passes ready.  We got off when several others did, not sure if it was the same stop that we had used when with our guides the first time, but that was OK. We walked to the Plaza first, the park in the center of town, to get our bearings and so we’d be sure of where it was (for the bus stop for the ride back!). We just walked down different blocks, remembering some places we’d seen before, and located the ‘health food’ store to get more corn meal and some dried-fruit-and-nut mix.  Found a yarn store and tucked away that information for another day, when I run out of the yarn I brought with me for knitting.  It’s a relatively large area, blocks and blocks of different kinds of stores. One interesting thing – we passed several larger stores with salesmen standing around or helping customers look at washers and dryers, cell phones, electronics and such.  They looked very much like stores in the States. The funny part is, though, that those stores always have several motorcycles for sale in the front window – not exactly what you expect to see in an appliance and electronics store!

Getting pretty hungry, we chose one empanada store and bought 4 different kinds to share at home for lunch, waited for the right bus, then rode home. The empanadas were wonderful!

Sunday was the big day at the Seminario Teologico Nazareno get correct spelling and accents –  graduation!  Cindy Downey, as Dean of Students, had asked if we would help at the event.  They usually use students to help at special events, but this was for the students, so the missionaries were helping!  So we took the bus to the Bruno Radi Convention Center, arriving early to help (we are still just silly gringos!)… the 6:00 pm start time was just a suggestion, as usual!  No one arrives ‘on time’ in this culture!  (Even the printed programs that we were to distribute to attendees included only the date, not a time!).  The arena had been very nicely decorated with cap-and-gown cut-outs, lots of flower arrangements, and curtains to make the space the right size (it can hold over 2000 and we were expecting 300 or so).  The tech crew was ready with lights, sound, music, and cameras for recording the entire event!  There were 39 graduates who had earned various degrees and their families were there to help celebrate; everyone was dressed up and excited!  The ‘officials’ arrived and the chairs filled up – and, about 6:40, the music started and the graduates filed in!

We took photos and enjoyed the encouraging message from General Superintendent David Graves (“How will you live your life?”) before sneaking out for our next responsibility, helping fill plates with sandwiches and cake. I cut all 4 bakery cakes into 80 pieces each and had lots of help from Jessica and Thea and Dan and some local ladies!  We filled cups with soda and arranged LOTS of plates on tables already decorated, just outside the curtains surrounding the audience.  When the ceremony was over, the crowd flocked to the tables for refreshments and we spent some time refilling the tables as needed and cleaning off tables later… what fun!  It was great to be a part of this special event!  Our tired feet helped us get back to the bus stop outside the Seminary and back home… even being that tired, it was hard for me to get to sleep, replaying the evening and all its conversations in my head!  On top of that, as thanks for helping, we’ve been invited to their final graduation party tomorrow night – an asado!!

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