This last week Hermana Merkley and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. I had no idea when I married her that we would be spending our 30th anniversary near the end of the world. OK, so the picture above is not on our anniversary, but that is Tierra del Fuego in the background, the place that they call the "End of the World." So how did we really spend our anniversary?
We got up and went to meet a single sister with two children that didn't have any food in the house. She was so grateful to have someone care about her and help her out. With all her other concerns, it was nice for her not to have to worry about where the next meal was going to come from. For those of you who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, believe me, your fast offerings make a huge difference! She is trying to get on her feet and she has had some jobs, but the last one didn't pay her for the work that she had done. We see that a lot here. People feel like they can take advantage of poor people because they don't have the resources to seek help.
After that, we went to the airport to find almost half of the active youth from our branch. The family had thought about moving from Calafate to Buenos Aires and two sisters and a brother had flown there to live with the Dad. Unfortunately, the father is an alcoholic (He won't admit that he has a drinking problem, and says that he can quit any time. He has quit at least 100 times!) He was not fixing up the apartment where they were living, and he was not taking care of the kids. The mom finally decided that she would be better off staying here where she is building a lovely home than moving back to Buenos Aires with the school issues, crime, and the problems with her husband. She fed us pizza to thank us for picking up her kids from the airport.
Then we had to deal with physical facilities in the chapel. The heating went out on Thursday and by a miracle (especially if you understood how things work in the Patagonia) it was fixed by 5 pm Saturday. We had to get the workers paid and get all the necessary people together to make that happen. Once again, we were able to do that. Money matters are way more complex here than at home! Miracle!
We then went to an appointment with an older couple in the branch. They really wanted to talk. They fed us an apple tort and ham and cheese croissants.
We finished up with one more appointment where we were able share a message about the importance of marriage and family. We left that humble little house with a feeling of peace and tranquility. We finally got home at about 9:30 pm.
On Saturday, we got around to actually celebrating our anniversary. We held a "quiet little event" where we fed 60 of our closest friends an asado, or Argentine barbecue. We grilled 20 kilos of chicken and another 20 kilos of good Argentine beef. The church here is in a rented building that used to be a restaurant. There is a parilla, or grill built into the back of the church. The technique here is to grill at a very low temperature for a very long time. We grilled the chickens for about 3 hours and the beef for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. It turned out spectacularly. People brought salads, sodas, bread, and desserts to share. We had lots of food and enjoyed visiting with everyone.
|Preparing the asado on the parilla! This is a great asador!|
|This is just part of our chapel!|
|This isn't everyone, but it is about all we could get in the photo!|
After the party, we cleaned everything up rapidly and set up for a baptism of an 8 year old girl. She was so excited. She wanted one of the missionaries to perform the baptism. It was great to end the day with a spiritual feast.