Sunday, July 26, 2009

Presidential Palace and Plaza de Bolivar

We went down to the Plaza de Bolivar, with surrounding government buildings in the center of Bogota, twice last week. The first time was for a meeting with Dona Lina Moreno, first lady of Bogota and a great friend of the Church. The meeting was to talk with her and her assistant about a shipment of wheel chairs, which the Church has built in China and 1,250 of which are being donated to a foundation of the first lady. There is a presidential election next May and President Uribe is not eligible to run again. So the Church will have to develop new relationships. The photo above is of the entrance to the Palacio de Narino (or Casa de Narino), the residence of the President and his wife and the seat of executive branch government. Security was very tight and we were not able to take a camera to the meeting with the first lady.

A parade of military people in front of the Palacio de Narino. Narino was a famous general in the war of independence. Colombia won its independence from Spain in 1811.

The statue of Simon Bolivar, el gran libertador, in the center of the Plaza. Note the ever present pigeon on Bolivar's head.

All central plaza's have, as one of their central buildings, a grand Catholic cathedral.

Our second trip to the Plaza de Bolivar was to attend a ceremony in El Salon Eliptico del Congreso de la Republica where the Senate meets. The occasion was for the presentation of the "Orden del Congreso de Colombia en el grado de Caballero" to two noted medical doctors. We went as sort of representatives of the Church which has supported foundations where the medical doctors worked. The photo above is of a wall in the Senate chamber, showing, of course, the gran libertador.

Another view of the Senate chamber, very impressive.

A view of the chamber looking toward the back of the room.

In front of each seat are buttons to push for voting. The invitation to the event had a note at the bottom that dress was "Calle Oscuro" or street dark. This worked for men, all in dark suits. But some of the women wore dresses that they wouldn't necessarily wear in the street.

On another topic, we discovered a new fruit, called granadina, I think. The photo above shows the fruit before it's peeled. The photo below shows the peeled fruit with the delicious seeds which are very sweet and tender.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Office events and people

Farewell lunch for Elder and Sister Sanches (he is Brazilian which accounts for the funny spelling) at the Sopa y Postres restaurant -- famous for authentic Colombian food. Sanches have been Perpetual Education Fund missionaries. Sanches are on the left. The couple on the right are Colombians who will take over the PEF work. they recently completed a mission at the bishop's storehouse.

Another view of the farewell lunch.

Two more PEF (which they call "PEF" in Spanish although the Spanish name is Fondo Perpetuo de Educacion) workers. The brother on the left talks to Carolyn in Spanish and waits for her to answer even though the Spanish speakers in the office say that it's very difficult for anyone to understand his Spanish. The girl on the right has just received her mission call. In her ward they have the custom of the bishop reading the mission call letter even before the missionary has read it so that the entire ward learns where she is going at the same time.

Andres Villegas, a very talented young man who is a manager of the PEF work. He speaks perfect English and has been very helpful to us in dealing with technology and computer-related questions. He has been a bishop and a counselor in a mission presidency.

Jose Luis Cardenas and his wife. They are a special couple with three young daughters. Jose Luis has worked in the welfare and humanitarian programs and also has been very helpful to us, teaching us about the complexities of computer programs, making travel arrangements, and working with us on humanitarian programs.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tumaco Reunion Party

On July 4 (the fourth of July) we held a reunion/party for the Tumaco volunteer translators. We had a nice dinner, presented individual certificates from LDS Charities, saw a power point slide show of the USNS Comfort hospital ship and the work on land, and laughed and talked. The photo above shows three of the very best translators. On the left is Daniel Trujillo. Seated is Daniel's novia (they plan to marry in December) Anna Maria Rodriguez, and standing on the right is Ma. Paula Alvarez, creator of the power point presentation and our point of contact on the ship.

This photo shows the food, very delicious and typical fourth of July picnic food Colombia style. Standing at the left is Patricia Cubillo who works in the church offices and who, with her mother, catered the dinner. On the right is Angie Sanches, one of the senior missionaries.

Carolyn and Royal with Carlos Fernandez, our good friend and mentor.

Pretty obviously, the people eating.

Four of the handsome (and pretty) translators showing off their certificates.