Exito, another store we had heard about, was across the highway, so we walked over and it was like a giant Target (the TYPES of things, not the brands). No trees, but we found a pack of Oreo's for $5 (score), along with some more cheddar cheese and a can of Pam spray in the "Imported Food" aisle. We stuffed it all into Mike's backpack and on the way out of the store spotted a white, vinyl, sales tent filled with the last of the Christmas items. There, sitting alone on a pile of boxes, we spotted a perfect little tree about three feet tall. The ticket on the tree said $54,000 pesos ($26), but it was on sale, so we paid just $13! Mike went back inside to get some lights, but came out empty-handed. The only box left was imported from Finland at a cost of $40 for a strand of 100 . . . . . no thank you. We arrived home and our neighbor, Leonor, heard us and came to her door to invite us for juice and cookies. Elisa (Minnie Mouse) received a chef's outfit from her great aunt who was visiting that day and insisted on making cookies, so naturally, she wanted to share them. We sat and visited for awhile, then went home to put away our groceries and put the tree up. Christmas is in the air!
The most exciting thing of the week happened Tuesday night. It was the BIG REVEAL! Megan had her ultrasound in the afternoon and because of sick kids, Matt couldn't be there, so she created a super fun way to let Matt, the boys, and everyone else find out if they would be having a pink or a blue. She baked a cake and colored the batter to match the sex of the baby. Then she frosted it in white and wrote on the top with green, "It's a . . . . . . . . ." When everyone was hooked up to Skype, she carefully cut a slice and when it was removed from the cake, everyone could see it was PINK inside! Yes! After two boys, Matt and Megan will add a little girl to their mix. That will make four little granddaughters to go along with our thirteen grandsons. Soooooo happy!
Wednesday our Area Self-Sufficiency/PEF supervisor from Peru, Hugo Antay, came for our three-day training in the new program that is rolling out in January/February. He is the sweetest, kindest man with a calm demeanor and a heart of gold. The volunteer service missionaries from Bogota, our supervisor, and Mike and I received the training. It was a long, but informative day, and we got home just in time to let the "dueño" (landlord) and his repairmen in to begin the repairs. The deck door was easy, he just brought the original key which easily opened the door. Apparently, the three keys made from the original were "malo" (bad). Deck door-check! A new drain and pipes were installed in/under the kitchen sink and so far, no drips. Kitchen sink leak-check! The toilet was removed and I heard whacking and banging and then the toilet was back on. He wants us to test it out and if it won't flush even once, he will replace both it and the bathroom sink even though the sink works perfectly fine. Both fixtures are forest green and he wants them to match (a man who thinks like a woman).
|Wednesday PEF Training|
|Wednesday Lunch - Do Not Ask What is On Mike's |
Plate, More on that Dish in a Later Post
|Thursday Lunch - Fish Colombian Style|
|The Cellphone Entrepreneur|
|Our New Wall Clock|
|The Bogota Colombia Temple|
Love that we can sleep in on Saturday - 8:30 a.m. (our day off). Yawn! We finally got the courage to light the gas stove to cook some breakfast. It is an older stove and kind of scary looking (images of exploding kitchen cabinets had come to mind). We bought some matches so we could light the gas burners (two electric and two gas), but decided later we needed a butane fire starter instead after discovering the matches were 1" long with plastic shafts. No thanks! I did most of the laundry Friday night so we could get an early start on our hunt for Christmas lights. While on our way to town, we ran into a friend from church and he took us to the "centro", then right to a little store with all kinds of Christmas lights. Yippee! What he calls the centro is the place to find things. It is one of the older business areas of Bogota and the sidewalks were filled with street vendors selling everything imaginable. The guys selling ties even called us "Elders" (they evidently had some experience with our missionaries buying ties). We also found Christmas ribbon there to decorate our little tree. We took a taxi back to the apartment, as we purchased way too many groceries to carry that far.
My fun thing for the day was baking cookies. I got a Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie mix since decent tasting chocolate chips are not to be found in Colombia. I made the dough and turned on the oven. The temperature dial only went up to 350 degrees, which I thought was a little weird. While talking to Amy on FaceTime, I went to check on the cookies and found smoke pouring out of the oven. When I opened it, the smoke alarm started beeping loudly, just as I got a glimpse of the blackened circles on the cookie sheet. What! Eight minutes at 350 degrees could do that? Upon closer inspection of the temperature dial, I noticed the faint outline of the letter "C" above it. Oh, yeah. Centigrade. I cooked those babies at 662 degrees Fahrenheit! While the smoke cleared, I made bows from the Christmas ribbon and put the lights on the tree. We're going to leave them on continuously as the prongs of the plug are like aluminum foil and bent almost in half when I missed the plug the first try. The cookies? Well, I cooked the rest of them at 200 degrees (Centigrade!) and they were the right color, but flatter than pancakes. My friend later told me you HAVE to adjust for the high altitude. I guess that would be right, since Bogota sits at about 9,000 feet.
That evening we walked to the church for our ward Christmas party. As usual, it started about an hour later than announced. One of the young set of missionaries brought a couple with them who are investigating the church. Blanca is a lovely woman about my age and her husband has been blind for 7 years as a result of diabetes. We chatted and as we did, others members came over to greet them. Two minutes before the program began, the bishop asked Mike to give a Christmas message, as one of the speakers couldn't come at the last minute. He did a great job! Then, while a second person was giving their message, the elders (whenever I use this terms it means the young missionaries) came and asked us if we would join them in singing "Away in a Manger" for the musical number. When it was our turn, we stood around the microphone and started on three different pitches (with piano accompaniment). It took about one line to get everyone together. Dinner was served one plate at a time and looked a little dicey - rolled up beef with egg filling and other unrecognizable items, so Mike and I disappeared before we got to the head of the line and found a nice little Italian restaurant down the street, where we enjoyed dinner with Rudolph staring at us through the window. Mike asked the waiter if they run out of meat do they kill the deer? The waiter thought that was pretty funny. Mike ordered what he thought was Chicken Parmesan, but got breaded chicken smashed as flat as a pancake. They seem to like to do that with chicken here.
On the way home, we saw small candles burning everywhere we looked - in doorways, on the sidewalks, on stairways, etc. We asked the neighbors - why all the candles? We received various explanations (everything EXCEPT Pearl Harbor Day), so Mike looked it up on the internet. Evidently, the immaculate concepcion is celebrated in Colombia on December 8 and it marks the official beginning of the Christmas season. So on the 7th, beginning in the evening, they express their fervor through fireworks, Christmas lights, and by lighting small candles. It was very beautiful. This goes on until about 4 in the morning of the 8th (which it did), ending in a rousing fireworks finale (which it did). They call it the Day of the Velitas (little candles).
|Baked With Love at Nearly 700 Degrees|
|The Ward Christmas Party|
|Day of the Velitas|
|Bogota at Night|
|Be Careful How You Light These Puppies|
|Our Christmas Tree|
Chao from Bogota