Friday, November 23, 2012

Training Still To Do

Hola family and friends . . .
We had to come on a mission to get a new car!  They switch out the cars at about 3 years.  Most of the church cars are white but there was a gray one and Chuck chose it.  It is a Honda Civic - we are just glad to have a car - able to rent a car!

Last week we had the sad experience of going to a chapel to retrieve the financial records from a Bishop's office.  We spent the next day and a half going through them - mostly checking a report to see if the receipts matched.  It is a huge struggle in this area of the world and probably other places also to have the people turn in a receipt when they need to be reimbursed for expenses.  They don't give receipts on most exchanges.  Like yesterday Chuck asked for a receipt at a gas station and was told they couldn't do that "today" - come back tomorrow!  So . . . it is very difficult to get the people to see the importance of this aspect of the church finances - it is not their culture.  Here is what we found . . . you want receipts?   There were receipts stapled to each report expenditure . . . just receipts . . . nothing matched the totals on the reports.  Maybe a report for an activity with food and the receipts were for office supplies . . . O.K. it started to get funny when we realized what we were dealing with . . . you want receipts . . . well, here you go . . . lots of receipts they dug up somewhere!  There is training still to be done . . . .

We hear Utah had some good snow . . . a novel thought here in the tropics.  One of the senior couples got a great snow picture from their kids with a snowman - they printed it and took it to show their apartment house guard - all apartment buildings have a guard.  They said it was so funny - their expressions of "what is that?" - questions like how does it feel and they had no idea what a snowman was.  They tried to explain a snowball fight . . . not sure they got that across! 
We are losing our assistant in Jamaica, Kevin Brown - he has been called to be a mission president.  He is a good man.  Perhaps we will NEED to go to Jamaica and train the new one . . . we will see what happens.

The Buckmisters are friends in Maricopa - McKay their son is "watching" our yard for us.  They gave us some money when we left to do a small project here.  Our friends the Dunfords attend the Consuelo Branch an hour out of the city and knew of some little boys that needed a white shirt and tie for Sunday.  We went with them and got to attend church a couple of weeks ago and give the shirts.  The rented building is in a "colorful" location w/a little store across the street - I got a picture of a boy riding up on his horse . . . you can see the chunks of meat laying on the counter to be sold.  They will get their own chapel in the near future - included is a picture of Elder Dunford presenting the Branch President a picture of the beautiful little chapel that will be built and you can see his excitement!

A favorite missed picture was a man on the back of a moto (motorcycle) reaching back and holding the handlebars of a wheelbarrow to bring along.  There are tons of motos and they zig zag around/between traffic and have no rules!  The most passengers we have seen on one is five.

HOPE YOUR THANKSGIVING DAY WAS WONDERFUL AND YOU HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND! Monday all of the couples will have a turkey dinner - there will be about 60 of us. We didn't have it yesterday as the Casa cafeteria where we meet was scheduled with people from Puerto Rico here a week for the temple.  I brought tablecovers, napkins and other deco stuff from when we were home in October - yea for the dollar store!    It will be festive and very tacky . . .
Hearts certainly think of home at this season - words can't say how grateful we are for all of you and the priviledge of being from the USA!!  We are thankful for the atoning sacrafice of our Savior - Jesus Christ and give thanks for our bounteous blessings both temporally and spiritually.   MUCH LOVE TO ALL . . . Mom-Dad, Chuck-Vickie and Grandma and Grandpa  XOXOXOOXOX

Chuck at the gate of the rented church building in Consuelo.

Boy in the store directly across the road - note meat on the counter.

The Branch President loves the picture of what will be their chapel.

Family of four leaving church - note her heels even on a moto!

Bradley in his new white shirt. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

It Comes With the Territory

Hola family and friends . . .

Elections were hard to watch - so many things in trouble about wonderful America. 
Chuck has been dealing with a sore knee - could still be from the steep waterfall climb several weeks ago. Then he tweaked it again doing push ups - but, he is doing better.  He has his 66th birthday tomorrow and it is just one of those aches and pains that seem to come w/the territory!   When was it we thought we were immune to all of that?

Last week for Family Home Evening the whole group had an instructor on DR dancing . . . merenguebachataand salsa.  It was sooo fun . . . loved it!  Too bad Chuck had a bum leg.  It was pretty amazing to see how many people have absolutely no rhythm . . . very funny.

We have been singing Christmas hymns the last couple of weeks in church - decorations are up everywhere so why not?  I have noticed that the people love to sing . . . even if the melody may not be exactly right - no matter.  On Sunday the gloria chorus to "Angels We Have Heard on High" was sung with particular gusto - made me happy that they were enjoying it so much!

We are in the office during the week most days from about 8:30 - 3:30.  Chuck has been putting together statistics from the audit reports - taking note where there are consistently no receipts turned in, if deposits match the documentation, if one name appears too often in the writing of checks etc.  He keeps a good "unit concern log" and we/others are always working on that.  What do I do?  Well, he gives me assignments sometimes - but lately I have been helping the Public Affairs people prepare for a seminar they have in a couple of weeks.  Just thought I would throw in those thoughts so you know we actually do things besides play.

Saturday we had a trip to a different beach - same boring thing :) :) :) beautiful blue water, white sand and swaying palms . . .  no shells at this one and the weather was sorta too warm but ultra relaxing!   We take home a ton of sand no matter how much we rinse things off.  After the beach we went to a baptism with the Dunfords (public affairs couple) at the small branch they attend.  Here is the "judge not" lesson that we were reminded of.  A young woman about 20 was being baptized.  Her fiance is a returned missionary and was there in a red shirt and not participating in the baptism.  So, we were "wondering" why he wouldn't at least have on a white shirt and tie.  Found out later he only had one white shirt and since she needed white clothes to be baptized . . . she had on his shirt.   I felt ashamed to have thought anything negative when we found that out.

We went to church with Rolando Marte (one of our assistants) on Sunday and they had us for dinner.  Ahhhhthe food is always so interesting - here's what was on the table:  large bowl of rice with corn in it, platter of shredded lettuce with sliced green tomatoes and a few cucumber slices sprinkled w/vinegar, small bowl of cooked meat, plate with a pile of fried eggs, sliced avocado and a bag of too ripe bananas (at least for me) that were cold from being in the frig.  Not too bad - got filled up!  Am sending a photo of him with his meranguedrum . . . he was showing us the different rhythms for the dances. I commented that he and his wife probably used to do a lot of dancing . . . he said "Oh, we still do!" They gave us a demo right there in the small living room.

There was yet another holiday for the office and we were invited about two and a half hours away to a "cabin" . . . more like a gorgeous villa!  It was so fun to visit such a lovely place . . . I kept thinking what a terrific spot for a family reunion!  There was a large dining area with a long table that would seat at least 30.  Ellie, the cute live in maid (her husband was the gardener/grounds keeper) cooked tons of food and we had taken potluck dishes.  I had a piece of chicken and hadn't noticed (until we were cleaning up) the additional pieces that we usually don't cook . . . note the included photo.  It was raining like crazy when we left and I was fearful we would go off the mountain on the washed out road - but we made it and it was a great day!

So sorry we are missing Briley's Ariel performance tomorrow night . . . BREAK A LEG KIDDO!!!
LOVE TO ALL XOXOXOXOXO Mom and Dad, Chuck and Vickie, Grandma and Grandpa

This is a picture of the school yard that is next door out our window.

Creative coconut grater from a mazola oil can - "necessity is the mother of invention" 

The Marte home and his merangue drum.

What piece of the chicken do you like?