So I had a number of humbling experiences this week and a couple others this transfer that I figured I would share with y’all.
1. We visited a reactivated familia, hay como 8 niños of different ages(cousins) that all live there together and they are always messing around and being happy, and they make
up about half of the Primary(Hermana Lauren is the Primary President and also lives there!) Anyway, so we went over and Daniela, one of the little girls had a balloon animal. It looked kind of funny so I thought it was a dog with lots of ears or a lion or something– until Hermana Sedano asked her what it was. She said una ventiladora, a fan. That punched me straight in the heart. [It has been EXTREMELY hot and humid in Riberalta! Air conditioning is unheard of and a fan a rare commodity.]
2. Jorge´s mom just had a baby. Hermana Sedano joked that it would be born on Valentine’s Day, and that because they didn’t know the sex yet, they should name the baby Valentino or Valentina. The baby was born on Valentine’s Day and they named her Valentina. That struck my heart too.
3. I love clothes okay, LOVE clothes, and American clothes here in Riberalta are found easily, quickly, and very cheaply. For example, Vince Camuto maxi skirt, FIVE BOLIVIANOS, that’s like 72 cents, people. [I’m sure they are fake but that doesn’t seem to phase Erin! She sent me a package with several JCrew and Vince Camuto shirts and skirts which she had purchased there. I’m not sure what to do with them…I guess I will save them until she gets home.] Anyway, one of the most humble sisters in our branch, whose husband works en el campo, con almendras(he is working in the fields with almonds, that’s where all the men are right now), doesn’t know how to read and can’t write very well. She washes clothes by hand for 12 bolivianos per dozen. She came to church wearing Jack Rogers. At first I thought it was cool, and then I realized that she had absolutley no idea what brand her shoes were. Nor did it matter how much they would’ve cost originally. The only thing that mattered to her is that she had a pair of nice shoes that she can wear to church on Sundays, to worship her God in a chapel of the Lord.
4. We did some volunteering this week at the asilo, hogar de los ancianos(the old folks home.) They had an inspection the next day so we did some organizing and cleaning up the yard area. I don’t have a good enough photo to show y’all, but you’d be shocked at how filthy it was. There was a garden that no one knew existed because it was completly
overgrown with weeds and full of trash. There was old shoes underneath all that, broken glass, old bottles still full of water. There’s no running water, so a little old bent over man took a shower while sitting on a table with water collected from the rain, which they also used to wash their dishes, and where some of them stand to eat. Their bathrooms are literally 2 holes in the ground and there’s no doors or anything and they have to carry the toilet paper with them. There were huge piles of trash and half rotted and still rotting adult diapers all over the place. I was so sad and humbled for the circumstances in which these aged and precious children of God must live to finish out their time here on this earth. They also really aren’t all that old, about half are 50 or 60 something. Six of them want to come to church with us, but I have NO IDEA how we are going to organize that.
5. Hermana Julia, la abuelita(grandmother) as we call her who lives with la familia Mariobo, got really, really sick this week. She was in the hospital twice, before going in for surgery. I’m pretty sure she had appendicitis and a hernia and something else. Anyway, we went and visited her one morning after she had gone the night before to the hospital, then called the elders to come give her a blessing. They called us a couple hours later saying that we needed to go visit her pronto because they didn’t think she was going to get better. I have never felt the Spirit like that before as we sang in Spanish and watched her sob on her bed crying out in prayer to her Father in Heaven that she could walk and be healed and that she wasn’t ready to die and for Him to forgive her and to bless the sister missionaries and her nieta(granddaughter) who is in Santa Cruz(WHO NOW HAS AN RM BOYFRIEND), and bless her with strength. It was really, really humbling and sad. And then the next day Hermana Nelson and I went to Trinidad for migraciones(I SAW HERMANA HUERTA FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 6 MONTHS), so we were worried the entire time for Hermana Julia. BUT we came home and miracle had happened. She had her surgery(somehow they found someone to donate a liter of blood), and has been improving somewhat. She has oxygen and a tube to receive food and she’s in a room where we’d have to get on a special suit and get all done up to see her, so we haven’t visited her yet, but she should be getting better soon. Honestly, I’m surprised that she survived the surgery, the doctors weren’t hopeful and have said that it truly is a miracle.
I had a couple other things to say but I need to write President Zambrano so that’s the end of the email for today! Love y’all! Have a good week, remember to apply the Gospel in your life everyday and use the Atonement to change!
Humbly and happily,
Hermana E Butikofer
Photo taken the top of the lighthouse
I love Hermana Justo!
Our group of missionaries in Riberalta
El Rio Beni
Reunited for a moment with Hermana Huerta in Trinidad!
Dirty feet are a symbol of my service and sacrifice…I love being a missionary!
“Riberalta has faith”
In my element