The days are passing rapidly here in Chile. I saw a picture someone took of the fall leaves in Utah which can’t be right because all the trees are in their spring finery here! We are headed for another summer Christmas; nice and hot. Fans and camping supplies are starting to show up in the stores, and the children do not have to worry about cold or snow for Halloween.
September in Chile also means time for Independence Day or “dieciocho”. We have July 4 in the US and it is definitely celebrated but I want to share some of the Chilean traditions. First, all the stores and malls and restaurants are closed for two days. The gas station guy said they would be open but besides that everyone has time off. This year the 18th was on Thursday which made for a nice long weekend, except for us missionaries of course.
Nearly all the wards or branches have an activity during the three or four day period, so on Saturday we went north to Buin where a senior sister (that makes her sound old but she isn’t), was participating in one of the dance presentations. We arrived at one even though the start time was 12, still plenty early. After about an hour we were offered grilled kabobs and empanadas which are a specialty in Chile. The debate is about whether they should be grilled or fried. Naturally, President Warne and I like ours fried. A few of the men went to a vacant lot to play a version of horseshoes which involves flinging a small barrel-shaped weight into a mud-filled box with a string stretched across the middle. Whoever accurately throws the weight and pushes the string into the mud wins.
Later we watched the dancing, called the cueca. It is very graceful and the dresses are pretty as I hope you can see from the pictures. Our sister did a good job of representing senior missionaries. Of course, the young missionaries are not allowed to dance but they still looked beautiful in their cueca dresses. A man and his wife danced, then he danced with his little girl of about three or four—precious!
As you can hopefully tell, the fiesta activity is very fluid. People come and go, eat and visit, and participate in the various games. We left after four hours and everyone was still going strong.
We allow and encourage our missionaries to attend their various ward and branch activities, since part of our purpose is to help strengthen the church wherever we are. We also hope they will be able to bring investigators and less actives. On the night of dieciocho, the missionaries go in an hour early, at 8:30, to avoid possible problems with inebriated patriots. Hopefully the pictures below will help you visualize what I’ve tried to describe—enjoy.
|Everyone is having a good time|
|Mud pit for the throwing game|
|The man throwing came closest|