Sunday, July 4, 2010

Farmers Market and Wheel Chair Project

Some of the senior missionaries spent a Saturday morning browsing through an enormous Farmers Market here in Bogota. Everything imaginable was available in the market from flowers to all sorts of produce to live chickens.

All this meat to choose from. However, we were more interested, this day, in looking at meat as opposed to buying meat.

Chickens from live to dead and plucked to cut up. Your choice.

I have a hard time understanding why you would buy a live chicken and then have to go to all that work of killing it, plucking it, etc. For my money, I will take the cut up chicken. Maybe they wanted this chicken for eggs??

This is more like it but I prefer no heads and no feet on my chickens.

Any fresh herb you could ever want. We left with some mint and basil.

The most gorgeous fresh flowers you have ever seen are available in Bogota and very inexpensive. Sister Weidmer and Sister Hacking were deciding on which bouquet to buy.

Last week, we had the opportunity to visit the Corporacion Matamoros to discuss a wheel chair project they had requested. The above picture shows one of the types of wheel chairs the church provides. It is called a rough rider and is good for uneven terraine.

We also visited the First Lady of Colombias staff to discuss a wheel chair project for the first lady. In this picture are Carlos Ferandez, Claudia Tellez, in charge of the first ladies wheel chair project, Royal and I and Kelvyn and Kay Cullimore, the wheel chair experts from Salt Lake. The man on the far right works for the first lady as well and is a member of the church.

We visited two rehabilitation hospitals for soldiers who have been injured in the Gorilla war that is still going on in the jungles and coast lines of Colombia. Most of the injuries are due to mines in the ground that when stepped on explode and usually blow off a leg or even two legs. This young man was showing us his prothetic leg and foot.

Kelvyn Cullimore examining the prosthetic leg of the soldier behind him. It is being explained by Major Ortiz, head of physical therapy for this army unit.

We were all touched by the great spirit and attitude of this young man who had only been injured in May. He is one determined soldier and I have no doubt once he is fitted with artifical legs, he will run a marathon.

We visited the Navy's physical therapy facility. This soldier called us over to talk about the church. He was having electrical stimulus on his leg. He has a great attitude as well and is anxious to get his prosthetic so he can walk again.

Several more soldiers having physical therapy. They kept offering us these little crackers in the bowl. I never understood if they were a reward or just there to enjoy.

Some of these soldiers have head injuries so they have a room for cognitive skills. These two young men were busy putting together this complicated puzzle.
It was emotional meeting all these brave soldiers and I am glad the church is willing to donate wheel chairs to them to aid in their rehabilitation.

We have a great group of Senior Missionaries in Bogota. This photo was taken at Family Home Evening last Monday when the Cullimores were here. From left to right is President and Hermana Casablanca (South Mission), Elder and Hermana Lunt, office missionaries in the South Mission. Royal and me. Elder and Hermana Cullimore, President and Hermana Hacking (North Mission), Elder and Hermana Chalmers (PEF) and Hermana and Elder Johnson (Family History). Missing are Elder and Hermana Weidmer, the area doctor and his wife.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Atmit Distribution and Foundation for Disabled children

We have had two choice experiences the last couple of week. One was participating in a donation ceremony of Atmit in Giron, a small colonial city near Bucaramanga. There was some concern about security and the above picture shows the two policeman that were assigned to stay with us throughout the ceremony. The first policeman never left my side.

There was a big crowd of moms and their children when we arrived. The distribution took place on the school grounds of a village of displaced people in the colonial city of Giron. Some had lost their homes in a huge flood five years ago. The majority were forced out of their houses and off their land by drug trafficers, right wing paramilitary groups or left wing guerillas.

We were accompanied to the distribution by Stake Presidente Ardila on my right and the director of the local hospital on Royals left. The woman is the nutritionist that works with these families.

It was a hot humid day and we were seated waiting for them to bring an umbrella to shade us. The poor man with the umbrella stood and shaded us for over an hour during the distribution.

After several speeches including remarks by Royal, we began the distribution. All the recipients had been interviewed prior to the ceremony and their names were on a list.

What a wonderful experience it was giving each mom a two month supply of Atmit for her young children. It was a day we shall always remember.

The children were all intrigued as to what was in those bright colored packages.

This is a photo of a house in the village I took as we were leaving. We were told there is one bathroom to accomodate the entire village. There is a washboard outside of the bathroom where the women do their wash. Before receiving the ATMIT the children all were deloused. Most children have worms as a result of drinking poluted water and the general lack of hygienic conditions.

Earlier in the week we were honored to attend the closing ceremony of a project that we had requested and closed. It was for a new refrigerator, new floors and paint to paint the walls of a facility that cares for mentally handicapped children. Imagine the emotion as we drove up and saw this sign on the door.

The facility has teachers, social workers and nutritionists. It has over 50 children that come each day from the ages 3 to 18 although I also think there are some older students in this group. They performed several musical numbers and danced for us. It was wonderful.

This is just a few of the young people that attend this school every day.

One of the things that impressed me is how the director allows the children to take responsibility for various things. This young man acted as a tour guide for us as we looked at the freshly painted walls and new floor. It made the place so much brighter.

The children made us thank you cards and this paper mache elephant that Royal is holding. It is adorable and I wish we could bring it home. I am holding a wall decoration that they made for us as well.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta

Recently we took a trip to Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta. Our purpose was to visit several foundations that have been administering the churches food supplement to malnourished children and to visit the site of the vision project we have been working on. The above picture was taken in Cartagena and shows a class of teenage mothers with their babies learning about nutrition and child care.

Royal sampling the Atmit when it is made up as a drink. The teenage mothers prefer the vanilla flavor to the chocolate.

This photo shows some of the teenage mothers who are participating in the program. They are all very grateful for the Atmit they receive and how it is helping them and their babies.

This is a mom who has been through the program and is picking up her supply of Atmit.

We left Cartagena and went to Barranquilla. The coastal area had received a lot of rain. We were on our way to visit a hospital where Atmit is used and the taxi driver could not get through the mud and so we walked a block or so in thick mud which coated our shoes only to find out we were at the wrong hospital. Here Royal and I are standing with Carlos Sanchez, the Public Affairs person for the church in Barranquilla as we made our way back to the cab through the mud.

We were two hours late getting to the hospital. When we arrived, we were overwhelmed at the outpouring of gratitude we received as representatives of the church for the Atmit that these women had received for their malnourished children. They clapped and cheered and shouted, "Atmit, Atmit!" We were amazed that they had sat there for 2 hours in the heat and humidity to express their thanks. Very humbling.

Royal and I with some of the children. The little girl next to me is drinking a glass of Atmit.

So many of the moms wanted to have photos taken of their children alone and with us. It was truly such a memorable moment for us.

A group photo of most of the women and children that had waited to greet us that hot muggy morning.

The next day we put on our vision hat and went to see the hospital in Riojacha, a five hour drive from Barranquilla, where the equipment for the vision project will be donated. It is a new hospital and will service as many as a 100 poor people a day. Eventually they will do surgeries as well. The opthamologist in charge of the foundation is a wonderful, caring doctor. Dr. Luis Escaf and his wife Fanny (the two people to Royals left) both are committed and dedicated to helping the poor and the needy.

We had lunch in Riojacha at the Casa de Mariscos (House of Shellfish) and then went across the street to look at some beautiful handmade bags. These bags are the handiwork of a tribe of indigenous Indians, (the Wayuu) that weave them by hand. They are functional, beautiful. and unique as no bag is like any other bag. Notice the beautiful beach in the background.
Our last stop was in Santa Marta. We were there to do some ground work for a Neo Natal training later this year. Santa Marta is a beautiful little city right on the coast. We were able to attend church there and have a few hours to relax and look at the sea. Here Royal is relaxing after a fine meal of sushi. You can see the sea in the background.

A look at the beach not far from our hotel.

The flowers throughout Colombia are breathtaking. I loved these orchids growing in a pot in the hotel where we stayed in Santa Marta.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Friends in Colombia

Over the past 16 months, we have met many great people whose friendships we treasure. Here are a few of them. Above Royal is with our friends Jorge and Sonya. Sonya is our dentist and she is not only a wonderful dentist but a gracious and good friend. Jorge took us under his wing the day we arrived and has been there to do whatever we needed every day since. We love and adore these two people. They have had a huge impact on our life here in Bogota.

This beautiful family all joined the church a year ago. There are 5 girls, 1 boy and their mom. The two girls on the left are twins that volunteer in PEF in our office. We have adopted these girls and love them so much. When we met the rest of the family in their home a few weeks ago, we fell in love with the rest of them as well. Each of them is a very choice spirit and full of love for each other and everyone they meet.

In this picture is our favorite taxi driver. We met him through another missionary couple here in Bogota. He is kind, helpful, very friendly and in posession of a Book of Mormon. Hopefully, he will read it. Hermana Hacking is on my right and the lady on the far right was the salesperson at the leather store we visited.

Royal and I love young adults. We loved our young adults in Bella Vista and we love these young adults we worked with last June when the USSN Comfort was in Colombia. These are some really great kids. Diana, the only girl, is a really good friend and currently is living in Germany as a nanny.

This is the Rubio family. They have a long history of service in Colombia. Brother Rubio was the first temple president here. They are also friends of the Henningers and stayed with them in D.C. when they were all sealed in the temple. They drive us home from church every Sunday.

Going from left to right, the first four people are the Tobon family. He is the family history expert for all of South America. She is the Relief Society President. The kids both speak perfect english and they have been good friends here in the wad. The tall gentleman is the head of the American School here in Bogota and is returning to the states next month.

This sweet mans name is Francisco. He is in church every Sunday on the front row. He loves the church and is an active participant in Sunday School. He always asks me when I am going to teach him to play the piano.

This sweet woman is busy every Sunday helping anyone and everyone. On any given Sunday she might lead the singing, care for little children, teach a lesson or make sure all the Americans have english manuals. She always greets us with a big hug. We love her and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know her.