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Sunday - Best day of the week

I'm A Mormon!

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One of the best parts of my stay in Bolivia has been attending the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints (Mormon) Church here in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. I made instant friends, as it is every time you attend church in another place. It’s like having a built in family.

The building I attend is about a 7 minute walk from my house, so very easy to get to. I was lucky that a couple I met in a restaurant helped me find the place as it’s off the main road.
As of January 2001, the church reported 172,640 members in 24 stakes and 10 districts. 253 congregations (172 wards and 81 branches) 3 missions and one temple in Bolivia. The church continues to grow here and the missionaries are very busy. I attend the Anfogonista ward.

My first Sunday was very interesting. I walked in just before it started, and immediately noticed that I was the only gringo besides one of the missionaries. There were people looking at me. Yes..understandable. I introduced myself to the gringo Elder and explained who I was. It was Fast Sunday. This is always the first Sunday of the month and members are welcome to stand and share their feelings about the church, if they wish. I decided to share my testimony and let people know who I was, and that I would be in their ward. So, the missionary got up and translated for me. When I finished the place was buzzing. The missionary mentioned that I was the new celebrity. After the meeting several people came up and welcomed me and some spoke a little English. I met the Choquevillca family. Mauro was working hard to learn English, so I began to teach him lessons, and then got to know the family. They have become wonderful friends! I love sitting with them at church.

The entire service is in Spanish, so for the first 6 months I didn’t understand anything. Finally after Christmas break, Marlene, a beautiful young returned missionary who spoke English started translating for me. It was so nice to finally understand what they were talking about. This ward is strong in their faith. They share it in their testimonies and the way they treat each other. I have been attending the investigators class where I can pull up the lesson on my phone or ipad and follow along. Sometimes the teacher puts us in groups and I’m able to speak English with the missionaries. That’s always nice to be able to speak about church things in English. I do have to admit that many times during Relief Society I would head home so I could watch a live performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It felt like church to me, and I was able to see my sister. And it was in English!

The bishop and his counselor are about 34. And the newest counselor is just off his mission. They are young, but wonderful leaders.

There are always BBQ’s going on where they are earning money to help each other out. They put on BBQ’s for missionaries leaving, and youth activities that need to be paid for, and to help sick members. It’s a fun occasion where they have karaoke after, and can go late into the night. Especially since they don’t start until after 8 pm.

They asked if I played the piano, and so I became the pianist. I’m not that good, but it’s better than nothing.
The difficult part of playing was the Spanish Hymnbook. They have some of the same ones we have in the states, and some are different. And the book is in Spanish. So, the chorister would give me the number. I would have to use this “cheat sheet” to see what the number of the song was in English. I’m not good enough of a player that I can just look at the music notes and play. I needed to know the name of the song. LOL So, therefore. Sometimes I was winging it and playing songs I hadn’t played before, or practiced. Another problem is that sometimes they don’t sing according to the way the song was actually written, so I would be playing and they would be singing way ahead of me or in a different tune. It was interesting.

I have made so many wonderful friends in the ward. I hope I have helped them, but I’m sure not as much as they have helped me. I began financially supporting a missionary who live in a single parent family. Daniel left a couple of months after I arrived here for Peru. Such a nice young man. I was able to teach several families to cook cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies. I have fed the missionaries and supplied them with goodies. I’ve played the piano, I’ve donated lots of clothes, and paid my fast offerings. It’s been a wonderful experience. I hope I have helped this wonderful church in some way.

I am so grateful to be part of this worldwide church in Boliva. It is the same wherever you go. I am so thankful for knowing where I came from, why I am here on this earth, and where I might return, if I try my best in all I do. I am truly blessed.


Posted by dianeski4 13:47 Archived in Bolivia

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