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.