Sunday, October 26, 2014

Our next-to-last-week in El Salvador

Time always goes by...
     Our time here is going by faster and faster.
     This week ends the last full week we have here.

October 24 - Friday
Here we are Friday night after the Despedida with the Area 70, Stake Presidents (who live close) and two of the three mission presidents...
A few had left before we took this group photo...
Trying to see everyone better...

Here we are this morning with Hna. Ana Díaz after our Los Heroes Stake Conference...
Our stake president, Jaime López and his counselors were released after 10 1/2 years.  We are grateful for their service.
With every calling there also comes a release.  Here is the released stake presidency with their wives.
The new stake presidency.
Our new stake president is someone from our Campestre Barrio--
Benjamin Joseph Markland.  He will be great and has chosen two excellent counselors.
    After being set apart, the new stake presidency was having their first meeting.
    I talked with Delena Markland as she was ready to drive home.  She said they are somewhat in shock.
They are a wonderful family who came to El Salvador in Oct 2011 for one year, and the business he came to get off the ground is doing so well they are planning to be here for a long time.
Their twins have grown so much since June 8, 2013...and their blessing day of July 7, 2013.  Delena with Mateo, Dallin, Joseph, Ben with Dixie.
Delena asked me for some counsel, since I was alone a lot when my husband was a stake president.  I passed on something I'd been taught by Elaine Cannon in an Education Week class: "When he's late for dinner, or misses dinner with you and your family, just know that he would rather be with his wife and family, but his stake president duties sometimes keep him gone from home more often than he wants to be gone."  To which I say: "I felt blessed to have a husband who was worthy for each calling he has had, and I was willing to share him with those who needed his help."
Elder Kevin Duncan, our Area President, presided at the Stake Conference and Cesar Morales, Area 70, had accompanied him from Guatemala City.
Our stake choir, led by our Bishop, Eduardo Figueroa, and accompanied by René Hernández, sang two of our favorites: ♫♪ "O Divine Redeemer" and "El Cristo Es" ♫♪ (in English "This is the Christ").  During the "O Divine Redeemer" number my mind went back to when Hermana Nancy Thompson sang this touching song about the Savior at this very pulpit during her time here with our first group of temple missionaries.  
As a prelude before the conference started, the primary children came to the stand and sang ♫♪"I'm trying to be like Jesus♪♫."  We were sitting right behind them; so touching to hear their pure, sweet voices.
Here's another photo of the choir with René Hernández and Eduardo Figueroa sitting in front.
Here's Josue Peña taking the official photos.  He is an outstanding photographer, and is in our Campestre Barrio.
Herbert y Daniela Castillo have invited us to a farewell dinner of pupusas at his mother's home on Wednesday evening.  Daniela is expecting twin boys in February.  We have many special friends here that we will miss.  We're trying to remember:
"Don't cry when it's over.
Smile because it happened."
This is just one of the hundreds of things we will miss: Seeing this beautiful temple when we come out our chapel doors on Sundays.
We will miss the happy smiling faces...
We will miss faithful members of our Barrio Campestre.
(We will miss looking out our window and seeing the flag of El Salvador waving in the tropical breeze. You can see it behind Hna. Patty Herrera up by our temple apartment complex.)
We will miss the greetings from temple workers. This is Hna. Robertha Santos, our coordinator for the Thursday afternoon/evening shift.  She is also the sister of Hna. Aida Majano, one of the Assistants to the Temple Matron.
We will miss faithful temple workers like Berta Anaya, age 84, who hardly ever misses her several temple shifts during the week

We will miss seeing all the beautiful children here...
We will miss being in this beautiful temple many days during each week and greeting the faithful patrons.
Yes, we will miss many things here.  But we have missed our family, not only during the 3 years and 3 months of this calling, but also 6 1/2 additional years in three other missions.  Now it's time to go be with them.
This is our family on our 50th Wedding Anniversary - June 2011 - the month before we left for El Salvador.
Trying to get a larger view. (Can someone please tell me how to show the photo in x-large?)
On this Sunday evening we testify that because of the restored Priesthood sealing temple ordinance, families can be together for time and for all eternity.
We pray you have had a peaceful and restful Sabbath Day.
With love, Walt & Eileen Petersen

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Day of Despedidas = 3 Farewell Meals

 Sunday I added the other two Despedidas for Saturday, and a photo from our speaking at two sessions of the LaLibertad Stake Conference today - October 19.
Today - Saturday, October 18, 2014 - The farewells begin...
Despedida Number 1
We started bright and early with a Farewell Breakfast hosted by the Saturday afternoon temple shift.
They served the typical tamales, pupusas with the chopped veggies (like cabbage, carrots, onions, etc.), cooked bananas, and hot chocolate.
These gals always plan well and get up very early to make it happen.
Despedida Number 2
The Despedida Luncheon at the Reyes' home was also wonderful.  There were 75 there--mostly temple workers.
We were surprised with a sweet gift from Herbert y Daniela Castillo.  They brought a cake that had a beautiful painting of the San Salvador El Salvador Temple on the top.
Our friends here do such nice things.
Here you can see the top more clearly.
We were given an intricately carved wood wall hanging of the temple.  It is a great remembrance of our three years' working in the San Salvador El Salvador Temple.
Here's a close up of it.  We are so surprised by such wonderful gifts from our friends here.
After three hours together we gathered on the front step for a group photo.  A lot of the guests had had to leave before we got around to taking this photo.
I'm going to try making the photo larger, and just showing one half of it, so we can see our friends better.

Now I'll try showing the right side.
I think it worked.

The Reyes are always so generous to plan special gatherings for many.  What a great experience to have so many of our temple workers together.   We cannot thank the Reyes enough!  
We are also grateful to both of them for being temple workers!
In their loving way, they told us that when we are able to come back to El Salvador for a visit, "their home is our home."
I'm holding a gift from Ever & Ana Ruth Morán.  
Here's one of the sweet temple workers who rode with us to the despedida and back to the temple grounds.
Despedida Number 3 
And this memorable day was topped off by a Despedida hosted by our Campestre Barrio (Ward).  Our amazing Relief Society President, Karina Artiga, outdid herself in the planning and preparing this special evening for us, President & Sister Majano and President & Sister Alas.
Darling signs greeted us as we entered...
Here's the other half of the sign...
The cultural hall was beautifully decorated in white.
And the white place settings were lovely.
With name cards at the head table.
We thought this was very clever...the outline of the temple done with white balloons, and the palm trees on each side made from green balloons.
The stake choir sang some hymns, and we almost lost it when they sang: "God Be With You 'Till We Meet Again."
Walt told our Bishop Eduardo Figueroa that he fulfilled one of Walt's wishes: "To hear him ♪ play ♫ his viola one more time before we left." And I didn't get it photo of it.  I think it was the ♫♪"God Be With You..."♪♫ number where we were in tears.
This was followed by a video of ward members telling us goodbye and some of their remembrances of us.
Then, one of the biggest surprises--a power point slide show of many photos of the Presidency and us over these past three years.
(I think Karina must never sleep to get all the things done she does.)
Then they had each one of the presidency and their wives express their feelings about these three years, along with our testimonies.
Everyone was pretty hungry by the time dinner was served at 9:00.  However, sometimes at their wedding receptions, dinner isn't served until midnight.  So we were three hours ahead of that!
These two talented gals make a lot of great times and great meals happen--Karina Artiga and Liz Behner.
We went into the kitchen to thank the young women and their Young Women's president who helped serve the food.
We thank all who had a part in this wonderful "Goodbye" given to us by our Campestre Ward.  Los Fuenes brought a beautiful cake with a painting of the temple on the top.  
And Karina made a darling cake in the shape of the temple.  They were almost too pretty to cut and eat.
 Presidente y Hna. Petersen - Walter y Eileen
Presidente y Hna. Majano - Rafael y Aida
Presidente y Hna. Alas - Eduardo y Consuelo
This was an exceptionally special 
for us.

October 19 - Sunday
We are with President y Hna. Alfaro of the La Libertad Stake.
We spoke in the two stake conference sessions today.
We  are thankful for Romel for driving us to and from both of these sessions of stake conference.  Here are he and his sweet wife on our last trip back to the temple grounds today.
At 5:00 The Caballeros and Haroldsens, our two full-time temple missionary couples had a delicious turkey dinner as our Despedida in our temple apartment complex.  This was our "in-house" despedida (farewell dinner).
This will probably our last photo together...
well, one of the last ones...
We do have two more family home evenings together.
Anyway - left to right:
And now we're going to bed.  We hope to share more about this Sunday tomorrow or sometime next week.

We pray you have had a peaceful and restful Sabbath Day.
The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is true.
That Jesus Christ came to live a perfect life on earth, atoned for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, and was resurrected is true. 
That Joseph Smith restored the true Gospel again to earth under the direction of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ is true.
That we have a living Prophet today--President Thomas S. Monson--who is the Prophet for the entire earth is true.
That we are thankful for our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, is true.
That the Book of Mormon is Another Testament of Jesus Christ is true.
Of these truths we testify, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Walt and Eileen Petersen.