Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A week full of happy

It is always a happy day to welcome a new missionary to the Colombia Cali Mission.  It is even a happy day when they arrive at 11pm!  Elder Ramos arrived on Tuesday, September 13 coming from the Peru MTC.  What an incredible young man.  He is prepared and anxious to make the same difference in someones life as two missionaries made in the life of his family.
Elder Ramos (on right) with his companion, Elder LLontop (on left)
A windy day at Cristo Rey...Elder Ramos, President Prince, Elder Llontop

The week continued with a Happy Birthday surprise party on September 14 provided by the Office Elders.  (And I thought I would slip quietly out of town to celebrate!)  I was greeted with a houseful of balloons, homemade cookies, singing Elders, and birthday signs. 
 Totally surprised!  Totally feeling the love!  Totally happy!

On September 15 we left the house at 4:30am to arrive at the airport for our flight to Medellín.  I spent my first Colombian birthday at a beautiful location called La Piedra de Guatapé.  It is about 2 hours from Medellín and we were accompanied by Fabio Vallejo who is a dear friend and taxi driver in Medellín.  (we would really be lost without all these dear friends driving us around!)  We climbed all 640 stairs to the highest point of the lookout on top of this huge granite rock.  The view was inspiring and the peace was incredible.  This became the topic of my talk in the stake conference the following Sunday...the peace you can feel when founded upon the rock of Christ!  The weather was perfect and I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful birthday.

After our hike up the rock, we visited the Pueblito of Guatapé.  What a beautiful painted town!  We had lunch at an open air restaurant by the lake and then returned to Medellín.  Jon had a "bandeja paisa", a typical dish from the area complete with rice, platano, potatoes, meat, avocado, and a fried egg on top.  I had the "trucha"or trout which was delicious!  The lunches in Colombia are HUGE!

The town square church of Guatapé                                  Walking the streets  of Guatapé

La bandeja paisa!

We finished up having dinner with Fabio and Mariela Vallejo at Crepes y Waffles.  One thing I enjoy about Medellín is being able to find more things from America in the store...yes, I did buy a 
Betty Crocker Cake mix to take back to Cali with me!

Deliciosa!  Happy are we!

After a day of fun and vacation, it was back to work.  We did leadership training for our zone and district leaders in Medellín, held a dinner for the stake presidencies and bishoprics with our missionaries, and then had two full days of stake conference for the Belen Stake with a visiting area authority, Élder Vallejo from Ecuador. 

President Cajamarca, Elder Vallejo, Presidente Mantilla, Hermana Mantilla, Hermana Prince, Presidente Prince, Presidente Machado

Belen Stake Presidency with their secretaries, Elder Vallejo, Princes, Mariela and Fabio Vallejo

Many talks, handshakes, hugs, and goodbyes were exchanged and we headed back to Cali.  The airport in Medellín centro was closed due to lightening and heavy rains.  They bused us an hour away to the other airport and after several delays we arrived back home by 10:30pm. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Leading out -

This week we began our first round of training with our leaders.  We had all the zone leaders, district leaders and our new trainers in the Calima, Villa Colombia, San Fernando, and Popayan Zones join us for a day and a half of training, practices, and testifying.  It was a time to help them remember what they already know and rekindle the fire and desire to go out and preach the gospel.

Our assistants - Elder Jamett & Elder Farr
What incredible examples for the missionaries and help for us!

On Friday morning all of our zone leaders arrived from all twelve zones.  Several have to travel for 10 hours by bus the prior day to be here for the Zone leader counsel.  I learned what an incredible job these young men have as zone leader.  They are running mini-missions and have the stewardship over 12 to 14 young missionaries.  They do everything from making sure visas and documentation are current, to paying utility bills, to helping missionaries with medical problems, to inspecting apartments and helping change apartments, to going on divisions, to training district leaders, to working with Stake and District presidents, to taking care of their own assigned areas.  They are incredible leaders and missionaries.  The theme of this Zone Leader Counsel was "Sí, se puede" or "Yes, we can".  They spent time as companionships praying to know those that the Lord has prepared to receive the gospel and making commitments to more urgently be about the Lord's work.
They are amazing leaders and the future Bishops and Stake Presidents of the church.

Our Zone Leaders and assistants - September 9, 2011

Did I mention that we "lead out" the day with a BIG breakfast?  and we had a break in the middle for a lunch?  It is the first time I have seen them actually leave food...we had plenty of everything and they went away having been both physically and spiritually fed!