Thursday, March 27, 2014

Conference, Fires, and Fiestas

Long week. Lots of stories.  Too many to really explain via email, but
I'll do my best to tell the better ones.

Saturday and Sunday were our stake conference, but in reality, it was
a conference for all of Bolivia, broadcasted via satelite to every
stake in Bolivia.  Russle M. Nelson came, and actually speaks good
spanish.  The main topic of the conference was on Temples.  As you all
know, Cochabamba has the only temple in all of Bolivia, which is
interesting because it is the 3rd largest city in Bolivia.  Located
right in the middle of La Paz and Santa Cruz, it allows for both of
the citys of more than 900 thousand people in La Paz and 2.5 Million
in Santa Cruz, to come to the temple.  Nelson was very blunt when he
explained that if members payed their tithing and held a current
temple reccommend, 2 more temples could easily be build in each of the
cities.  He even went as far as saying that thei idea has been brought
up in the first presidency to announce the next temples here, but in
the end decided it was not time yet.  This is the now the goal of the
members here in Bolivia - To have have another temple built - so they
can be closer to their homes.

Carnaval continued this entire week, and has quickly turned into my
least favorite holiday ever.  Apparently the fiesta is was officially
on Monday and Tuesday, but I was splashed with water and sprayed with
'artificial snow' at least 3 times every single day.  Including
Sunday, in my suit.  Just imagine not being able to walk the streets
without some kid with a squirt gun, or a water balloon being thrown,
or foam sprayed at you, or even a bucket of water tossed on your head
from a few stories up...  And having the face of a gringo only
amplifies the attacks.  Honestly, I'm not even sure what the holiday
is all about.

SInce I live hours outside of Cohabamba, yesterday after Conference
and meetings, my companion, me, and the 4 other elders had to stay in
the city to sleep for Pday today.  While at the pensionistas house (3
floors down from the Elder's house in the same building. The elder's
house is on top) We see a man running and yelling towards the house,
saying it's on fire! I look out the window upwars, and all I see is a
black cloud flowing out of all the windows from the upstairs windows!
I book it up the stairs only to find all the latino elders panicing
and running around, in shock and not knowing what to do.  Elder
Bennett runs in and grabs the 30 liter drinking water and starts
dumping it.  Luckily, some of the elders were also making water
balloons, including one that probably had about a gallon of water in
it. One problem in Bolivia is that when you are 7 floors up, there is
no water pressure at all.  They use a machine called a 'Bombero' to
force enough pressure in the water for it to reach the top floor.  And
of cours, at this time it was turned off.  So no water was coming from
the faucetts.  I took that and threw it on a pile of clothes that were
burning up the wall.  After a few minutes, all of the flames were
gone, except for inside of one of the matresses.  Throwing water on it
did nothing either, because it was inside of the matress.  We haul the
mattress out and finally stomp the last of it out.  Luckily the fire
was in the other room, so none of my belingings were burned.  We lost
the bed, of course, 2 dressers, and part of a desk.  One elder lost
all of his clothes, including his suit and all white shirts.  Now,
this incident makes me think...  What would have happened if there
were not gallon sized water balloons? Or what would happen if there
was no more water in the large water bottle?  I'm really not sure. I
just know we were blessed to catch it in time and put it out before it
destroyed everything.  Now, I know you're all asking about how it
started.  Apparently one elder was sewing a doll for a girl in the
ward (strange, I know).  In order for string not to frey, he burned
the end of is, and threw the match out the window... only it didn't
leave. It got blown back in by the wind without him knowing it and
fell on a pile of dirty clothes.

Anyways, I'll still try to keep writing a weekly email.  Let me know
what's going on in the states.

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