April 14-20 Semana Santa

We received some sad news Monday morning when we arrived at work. Our friend from Barrio Tierralinda, Juan Stormsdorfer, passed away Sunday. The Stormsdorfers had planned to take Mike and I to lunch on Thursday. In fact, there was a reminder email from Juan in Mike's Hotmail account when he opened it this morning. He must have posted it Saturday. Instead, we will be attending a funeral on Wednesday. Bro. Stormsdorfer and his wife, Monica, were sealed in the temple on Saturday, April 12. Juan wasn't feeling well, but declined to go see the doctor and instead made an appointment for Monday. He died in his sleep Sunday night. With Easter fast approaching, the reality of the resurrection brings comfort to those of us left behind. Some things are difficult to understand.

Ward Leaders in For Self-Reliance Training

Some time ago, we decided to bring a bit of our Easter traditions to the office group. We just told them we were going to have an egg hunt and a small party. Well, when the appointed hour arrived Tuesday, we had quite the group. The entire Cely clan arrived at the office with piles of Easter goodies and decorations copied fresh off Pintrest. Others in the group also made various contributions based on their basic understanding of the role of eggs and chocolate in our celebration. We enjoyed homemade chocolates, punch in very cute bunny cups, and hard-boiled eggs from Cornish game hens. The tiny, brown-speckled eggs, served with "fry sauce", were quite tasty. Afterwards, with everyone sequestered in the teaching room, I hid plastic eggs around the office and in the outside garden. The two children AND the adults were all giddy with excitement. When I opened the door to their room, they bounded out scurrying off in all directions. Everyone was instructed to stop looking for eggs after they found three, as the number was limited. Within five minutes, all but three of the eggs were found. I ended up giving some hints to complete the job. We had such a good time and I think Easter bunny fun has come to Colombia for good. We worked until 4:00 p.m., then the Amayas, the Celys, Mike and I took taxis to the Atlantis Mall, where we enjoyed dinner at Crepes and Waffles before attending the movie, "Son of God". This well-done movie affected each of us so intensely, that after the movie ended, we all went home our separate ways without a word - only a wave of the hand. Mike and I just held hands as the taxi returned us to our apartment. We felt so grateful for the sacrifice of God's Son so that every man, woman and child might live again and receive His grace.

More Training, This Time for New Stake Specialists

Crepes and Waffles

My system was still suffering on Wednesday from the effects of the foods eaten during our trip to Duitama. I decided to take more direct action and put myself on a clear liquid diet. Not much fun with Easter weekend approaching, but I had to do something. As we were leaving the apartment to head to work, I discovered the belt on my raincoat was missing. Boo hoo! You have to understand, that this   particular raincoat was the best Colombia-bound garment purchase I made and I wore it everyday. Not feeling well and losing that belt really got me out of sorts. After working all morning at the office, we had a quick lunch at one of our favorite places, Diana's, (only a bowl of white rice for me) before leaving for the funeral. It took us a while to find the right place, as there are several adjoining cemeteries to the north of Bogota. The taxi naturally dropped us off at the wrong one. After asking around, we took another taxi to the right one. We arrived just as the procession to the burial site began.  The funeral was very well attended and we recognized many faces. We walked for probably half a mile or more to the gravesite, first behind the hearse, then behind the pallbearers carrying the casket. The casket was lowered, the dedication of the grave pronounced, then those in attendance began singing hymns. The cemetery workers appeared and began shoveling dirt onto the casket in the ground while the attendees looked on and sang. The echo of dirt hitting the casket was a little disconcerting to say the least. Everyone stayed until the hole was filled and the grass replaced. Hmmm. I still was not feeling well, so we returned to our apartment and I took a nap (unusual for me). Kind of a downer day. When I awakened, we got some news that turned it all around. Charlotte Anderton, our 17th grandchild, arrived. Finally another girl in the family! Mother and daughter came through fine. Even with my nap, I was asleep for the night by 9:00 p.m..

Thursday morning, I was feeling much better. It was raining when we set out on foot, walking to McD's for breakfast and Office Depot for supplies. As this is officially Semana Santa (Holy Week), Thursday is the traditional day when everything shuts down completely for the rest of the week (including our office). Even so, we like to hang out there when it is closed as we get so much done. The city streets were EMPTY. We found a taxi quickly and arrived at the office in record time then  worked alone in peace and quiet the entire day. We even took advantage of the unencumbered long distance phone line to call Grandma Anderton for her birthday. Mike got the idea to head to the Atlantis Mall for dinner so I could check the restaurant and theater where I last wore my raincoat before the belt went missing. Mike checked at Crepes and Waffles while I headed up to check at the theater. I really had little hope of finding it, but wanted to leave no stone unturned. I had no luck at the theater, but then Mike came running up to me waving the belt! Our Tuesday waitress found it and set it aside thinking we might return. Wow, made my day! We spent the evening packing our bags for home. It is not as if we are trunky or anything, but we are heading for Barranquilla next week and will leave a large bag there which we will pick up while doing our final tour around Colombia before heading home. That way, we will not have to lug one extra, big suitcase around while touristing Colombia that last week. The plan forced us to decide early what we will take home with us and what we will leave.

Spent another day at the office on Friday. One of the things I finished today was the baptismal program for the service we are going to attend Saturday morning - which brings us to a great story. Andres is the husband of Pilar Cely (Calixto). He was not a member of the Church when they married and has been an on-and-off investigator for sixteen years. When we first met Andres in December, both Mike and I had the distinct impression HE was one of the reasons we were sent here. With no direct stewardship over him and not really knowing him well enough to understand where to begin, our approach was informal. We were also so involved with the Centro de Autosufficiencia, that we seldom came in contact with Andres. We did spend a few days with him on our December trip to Duitama, and during every contact we tried to mention the importance of baptism. When we discussed his situation with Pilar, she said he was attending church services more often and asking questions. Then one day, Mike did something interesting. It became kind of a running joke that Andres needed to get baptized before we left, as Mike was the only person big enough to put him under the water and back on his feet safely (the Celys are all very small and Andres is a large man). About three weeks ago, Mike drew a cartoon of Andres being baptized by a small person and mentioned that time was running out. Estefania took it home and gave it to her Dad. Last Tuesday, after the Easter party (Andres came), Mike was sitting in his office and Andres came in to say goodbye. He casually asked if we had plans for the coming Saturday. Mike thought he was inviting us for an activity or to dinner but I sensed his inquiry involved something more. Trying to signal baptism to Mike, I stood behind Andres (so he could not see me) and repeatedly made charade dunking potions with my hands. Mike finally got the message and asked Andres if this activity might involve immersion, water and white clothes. Andres nodded in the affirmative. He asked Mike if he would baptize him a member of the Church. We all rejoiced together with hugs and tears and cries of joy. Many small things add up to great things. Pilar mentioned later that Andres had only informed her of his decision twenty-four hours earlier. Around noon a large Easter procession passed in front of the office, headed by a man shouldering a large cross and a car with music blaring from big speakers on it's roof. We passed by Carulla for groceries on the way home and were the only ones shopping in the entire store. We had taco soup for dinner - yummm!

Mike Mending His Backpack With Fish Line

The Saturday baptismal service was very small (he wanted it that way), but the Spirit was strong. I played the piano (luckily I knew "For the Beauty of the Earth"). Our baptismal services are really so simple, there is no need to describe them. I think the pictures really say all that is necessary. We took a taxi directly to the Hilton afterwards and enjoyed the Easter buffet. It was a perfect day. The only minor flaws were: 1) We had to get baptismal pants at the last minute and didn't have time to hem them, sooooo, you can't tell, but duct tape is holding the hem of Mike's pant in place, and 2) Mike asked me to bring a breadstick to him from the large pile of breads and such on display at the buffet. I grabbed the only breadstick I could find. The look on his face when he bit into it was priceless - obviously they were meant as a decoration only (the shiny, varnished look should have given me a clue). The thing was as hard as a rock! We finished sorting and packing in the evening. We cleaned out EVERY drawer and divided everything into "go now", "go later" and "stay in Colombia" piles. It is finally settling in that our days are numbered and our time here is coming to a close. In a way, it seems like we just arrived, but at the same time like we have been here forever.

Mike & Andres

The Cely Clan

We ate waffles for Sunday breakfast. What a treat! We attended the Nogal Ward for the last time and enjoyed the Easter program. Our Colombian grandkids came running up to say goodbye. Carolyn, the littlest, jumped from my lap and did a face plant on the edge of the bench. Needless to say, she returned to her Mom howling. We said goodbye to everyone and had a good talk with Hermana Piepgrass. We were invited to Easter dinner at the Mellars and immensely enjoyed some English-speaking interaction with people. The food was great! I took an Entenmann's butter cake, with raspberries and whipped cream. Not a crumb was left. Since we would not be home all next week, I took the rest of our taco soup to the missionaries who live across the street (along with cheddar cheese!). They were so excited!

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