A Travellerspoint blog

Sunday - Best day of the week

I'm A Mormon!

overcast 60 °F

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 Comments (0)

Buena Vista, Bolivia

Small town beauty

80 °F


Melissa and I decided on another adventure to Buena Vista, about 2 hours ride from Santa Cruz. We had asked a taxi driver on Thursday night how to get there, and he said he would take us there. We had thought about taking a bus, and Silvia was going to take us to the bus depot, but we thought this would be easier……LOL Nothing is easy here! We agreed on a price of 350 b’s, (50$) which included him staying the night and taking us home the next day. He did pick us up at our houses, but then said he needed to go and get a different car that had air conditioning, so we drove him to the taxi business, where he told us that another driver and car would take us. So, here comes this horrible looking taxi with the front window all busted in, like it had been hit by a brick or something. And a 300 pound driver. Apparently the other driver had been driving all night and was tired.

So off we went. The driver was pretty nice. We have no idea where it came from but he started talking about how beautiful Utah was and Melissa told him I was from there. He said 1/2 his family is Mormon, but he wasn’t. We started singing some familiar church songs. Random…small world.,

It took us over 2 hours to get to Buena Vista. We had been trying to call and find a hotel but no one was answering the phone, or they told us they were full. We really wanted to find this nice hotel, but no one could tell us where it was. We checked a couple of places, but they didn’t look good. We finally settled on a room with a bathroom in it and 2 beds. 10$ a night. The family lived in one room and they had a kitchen and bathroom off the side. We hauled in our stuff. I just had a backpack and Melissa only had this tiny bag, and we were off to see the river with the taxi driver. We spent some time there. It was beautiful. We didn’t swim, but did wade. The driver came down and swam in the river. He hadn’t been told that he was spending the night and didn’t have any extra clothes, so just wore what he had for 2 days. After we went to find some dinner. Nice chicken dinner. We walked around town for a while and then went to go to bed, Then the taxi driver, who finally figured out what he was in for came looking for us. He didn’t have money for a room, and wanted to be paid more, which was fair. Melissa settled on 100$ for the 2 days, which included his lodging (8$) and food.

The night didn’t go well for me. I couldn’t sleep and in the middle of the night I thought the fan was acting up, but it was pouring rain. And then at 4 am this crazy rooster started crowing, nonstop. I wanted to shoot it! Then there were the constant motorcycles going by at all hours. My bed is calling me tonight for some quiet!

We headed out around 8 looking for some breakfast and had a couple of empanadas. It kept pouring off and on so we bought a couple of panchos. Then we went walking and found the hotel we were looking for. It was beautiful and had wonderful views. We would have totally paid the 50$ which included all meals. Bummer. We headed back to check out of the hotel and had the driver take us back to the hotel for lunch. We found out how to get to the Coffee Plantation so we could take a tour. It was had a hotel. For 20$ we could have stayed and also had all meals included. But, we enjoyed the tour. Fascinating how they grow and process coffee. And 90% is exported. People tell me you can’t find good coffee here, and now we know why.

We called it a trip and headed home. Because we had paid him the whole day, and it was early, we had him stop at Abasto for our weekly purchases of fresh fruits. We were concerned that he was going to raise his price again, but he kept to the 100$. He had to pay 60$ to the taxi company to rent the car, and he paid the gas, so for 2 days he really only made 30$. And I think that’s pretty cheap for a 2 day trip! And a bit sad to think of how little he took home. Labor is very cheap here.
And no….the air conditioning didn’t work. LOL
Another adventure finished!

Posted by dianeski4 16:39 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

I can do hard things.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13

April 21, 2015

Today would/could have been my 37th wedding anniversary. I made it 35 years (34 if you count the year we spent getting the divorce). Do I wish we could have made it work? Yes! Do I believe that it could have worked? No! There were just too many problems with the marriage that couldn’t have been worked out. Too many hurts. Too much control and anger. Oh, I played my part in the problems, but I’ll only accept a small portion. The rest I will leave on him. “I can choose to let it define me, confine me, outshine me, or I can choose to move on and leave it behind me.” So, I have chosen to reminisce about the wonderful things I have learned post divorce. My life motto is: I can do hard things.

I can count my kids and grandkids as my greatest blessings. The best things that came from the marriage is our children. All I ever wanted growing up was to be a mother and a wife. I wasn’t perfect, but I tried the best I could. I stayed in the marriage for my kids, maybe it wasn’t the right decision, but I thought it would be best for the family. I loved cooking, baking, sewing, cleaning, teaching, loving, and serving my family. From making their birthday cakes every year, to making holiday pillowcases, reading to them nightly, teaching them to cook and sew, running them to ball games, dance lessons, teaching them to be hard working and honest, all the things a mother tries her best to do. Loving them always. No matter what they did, I loved them and tried to support them. I have also been blessed with wonderful grandchildren that brighten my life. I love being with them and being part of their lives.

I can enjoy the support of my sisters. I have been blessed with the best sisters ever. We have been together through thick and thin. If any of us need each other, we are there to support each other. They are my best friends. One of the times we needed each other and became closer was during the death of our parents in the last few years. Though their deaths were so sad, it was a blessing to have each other during that time. During the long years of my marriage they were there to support. They supported me in staying as long as I did. They supported me in leaving. They are my biggest cheerleaders.

I can pay my own bills and be financially independent. During my long marriage I was always told I couldn’t take care of finances. In reality, he was such a control freak about money that he wanted to run the finances. I have always believed that financially we came out okay because we BOTH were good with money, It wasn’t just him that got us where we were. I haven’t had a problem taking care of myself financially since the divorce. I pay my bills on time, I’m not in debt, I work and take care of myself, and I’m doing just fine.

I can love again. During the marriage and then the long divorce I swore I would never want to date or even talk to men again. After the divorce I began to go to singles activities and I even got on a dating online site. I made many new single guy friends. I met a wonderful man through a dating site and we became friends and dated for a year. I loved him and learned so much while being with him. He became one of my best friends. Although it hasn’t worked out for the long haul, I learned that I can love again. I know there are good men out there, and that someday I may find someone I want to be married to again, and if not, I can be happy alone. There are second chances.

I can make new friends, and keep the old (most of them). I have always been blessed with great friends. With the freedom from being controlled about who I can talk to, and not having someone looking over my shoulder and be angry for talking to friends and family, I have been able to make new friends, and keep the wonderful friends I have. I consider it very lucky that I only lost 4 friends (2 couples) in the divorce. (The ex needs a couple of friends too.) I feel loved and respected by my many friends, and grateful for all they bring into my life.

I can be happy. During my marriage I maintained a happy and positive attitude, (not every minute). It was so difficult, but I feel like I have always been a fairly happy person, no matter what. It wasn’t easy, not at all. And in the last 3 years I have maintained a positive and happy attitude, and it’s been so much easier to do that now, being away from the negative.
I can survive and thrive. Life has not turned out as I had planned. Those childhood dreams of having a happy family and long marriage didn’t come true. But I can be truly grateful for what I have, and for the future. “You know when the path you are walking is healing you, because you stop looking back at what happened and start looking forward to what’s coming”.

I can live on my own, travel to new countries, make new adventures, and make dreams can come true. I have always loved to travel, see new places, and meet new people. Growing up in a family where we traveled and lived overseas got in my blood. I decided that I would someday live overseas and teach. I had hoped to convince my husband to go with me that didn’t work out. So, after the big D, I took a job in Bolivia. It was about as far away from home as I could possibly go. Could I survive on my own in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language and know anyone? I have. I’ve learned so much from this experience. I have met the most wonderful people and seen the most fascinating things. I’ve traveled around Bolivia, seen Brazil, and will head to Argentina and Mexico at the end of the school year. I’ve survived Santa Cruz, the weather, bugs, traffic, shopping, school system, church all in Spanish, trash, and new adventures everyday.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13
I fully acknowledge that my I can attitude comes from my belief and faith in God and Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for all that God has blessed me with. I am so thankful for the knowledge that I am here on earth for a reason, and that after all I can do I will be saved by His grace. This knowledge gets me through the hard times. I know that He is with me always. He supports me and gives me the faith to go on. I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. In my darkest hours I have felt His spirit whisper that it will be work out, that all things will be made right, that someday all the sadness will end and I will be able to live with Him again, with family and friends. And I can rely on that!

Posted by dianeski4 03:02 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Friday Night Elegance

International Women's Black and White Party

sunny 85 °F


The International Women's Club put on a fundraiser for an orphanage Friday night. Rachel, Kelly, Melissa and I decided to go and enjoy the fancy formal evening held at a hotel.

Rachel and I decided to really get fancy and we headed to the salon to have our hair and makeup done. It takes time to straighten my curly hair, and that's why I don't do it often. plus with this humidity it sure doesn't last long. Rachel told the make up artist to tone down my makeup because of my religion, and that I'm conservative. LOL I think I have a reputation. Anyway...somehow she told her I was a Mormon. Small world, the make up artist was Mormon too. She had just come back from her mission a couple of months ago to Ecuador, and told us a story about one of her experiences.

We headed home, changed, caught a taxi and headed to the hotel. It was a beautiful venue. Everyone was dressed in black and white. The tables were decorated. There was small orchestra playing, which switched to a band. At one point there were drummers, dancers, and stilt dancers that came with balloons. There was dancing, raffles, yummy dinner, and visiting. Nice night. Bolivia really knows how to throw parties!

P.S. It takes forever to take makeup off!

Posted by dianeski4 10:37 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)


South America adventure continues.

85 °F

Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa



Pano of Rio

Pano of Rio



Sand castle

Sand castle

Overlooking Rio

Overlooking Rio

Awesome view!

Awesome view!



Coconut water

Coconut water

Old part of Rio

Old part of Rio

The beach

The beach

Spring Break couldn't come soon enough! A busy week before with conferences, report cards, performances, and the normal life stuff!

Melissa, Kelly and I headed out for Brazil on Saturday morning. Made it to Sao Paulo where we headed to our first nights stay. Apparently we didn't read the fine print where it said we stayed with other people in an apartment. Interesting experience. But it worked out. Only had time to eat dinner at a yummy Japanese restaurant, and the next morning spend s little time walking to the nearby cathedral. My memories on Sao Paulo will be of the huge amount of homeless people.

Sunday we headed to Rio. Our living arrangements are in Copacabana, 1/2 block from a beautiful beach! Nearby is a lot of shopping, restaurants, and anything else you might need. We have a very small apartment, but it's complete with a kitchen, bathroom, living room and even a washer dryer. Something I haven't seen in 3 months.

We spent most the day Monday on the beach. So many interesting things to see. People watching tops it all. I have a nice conservative swimming suit, but there are so many different types, and even some without a suit! Sellers everywhere with all types of things to buy. And more homeless.

The waves were pretty rough, but it was fun to get in and swim a little. Small sunburn. Lots of exercise walking the beach. Love that part.

Today we took a cab over to an old part of the city, Santa Teresa. It's streets were cobblestone and small. Beautiful old buildings and awesome views. A "free" guide took us on a 2 hour walking tour. We tipped him. We had some lunch, sandwiches, chicken and steak. Walked more and found the history museum. Took a bus back home and collapsed from exhaustion.

A couple of sad things were when we were waking I had a water bottle that was 1/4 full and this teenaged boy asked for it. I thought it was strange, but I gave it to him and he drank it up. And last night at a sidewalk cafe the waitress was cleaning off the table and a homeless women came up and asked for all the leftover table scraps from the last diners. So sad.

I'm so blessed to be able to experience traveling. Following in my parents footsteps.

Posted by dianeski4 15:53 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

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