Well, I didn't have time to write anything yesterday because we were so busy. We began another day at the crack of dawn, which my body clock is still based on home time which makes the crack of dawn about 2:00 a.m. We began our day with a really nice breakfast at the hotel. There is a sister in my group that reminds me of Janie Hill without the energy. She's really sweet, and I think this is her 6th international convention. I saw a seat in front of her at breakfast, and I asked her if I could take that seat. She said sure, and I went over and fixed my plate. When I came back over and at down, she gave me a really hard stare and smiled. She said, "I didn't recognize you all dressed up." So apparently I have looked rough up until this point.
We loaded up and headed to Bethel. When we got there, there were three bus loads of Uruguayan brothers in the parking lot. We thought they were there to meet us, and we were so excited. Come to find out, they all took buses there to take a 36 hour bus ride to Santiago, Chile for the convention. Another reminder to not complain about anything on this trip.
We had a very nice sister from Uruguay give us our tour. Her English had a British accent which was interesting. There are only about 25 bethelites at that branch. It is very beautiful. They have a beautiful assembly hall there too. The sister who was helping me at the dance hall in Buenos Aires to "negotiate" with the owner gave us a show at the assembly hall. I'll tell you her name is Ruthie because I have a feeling she will be in future stories. There were about 100 of us in the hall. She got up on the stage and pretended like she was telling an experience. Somebody turned on the microphones. She is Mexican, and she gave her experience in fake broken English (she is my age and grew up speaking English, and is from Chicago). She said that she learned the truth yesterday at her job at McDonald's, she is getting baptized today, and her 10 kids will be getting baptized at the next assembly. Her husband just at there and watched like it happens daily. The funny part was that the non-witness tour guide told her later how much she enjoyed her experience.
We got back on the bus, and immediately went for a city tour. I can't tell you much about that, because about 2 minutes after I sat down, I was asleep. I didn't wake up until my subconscious heard the word "beach". They ended the tour with the last stop being the beach. Their beaches are technically not on the ocean, they are where the Rio Plata River dumps into the ocean, and it is over 100 miles wide. To me, it looks like the ocean. It is really nice. Here in Uruguay, I fit in very well. There a lot of people with the same coloring that I have. No one has spoke to me in English, even at the airport. They have some interesting styles too. There is a haircut (not brothers) here that I have seen on men a lot. It is like a buzz cut with a 4 inch wide, 4 inch long rat tail like think in the back. I call it the Uruguayan Mullet. Some also have clipped beards that have a half inch stripe cut out that runs diagonally down at 45 degrees from each corner of their mouth, all the way down to their neck. I've even seen business people with these styles. For you Spanish speakers, their accent is different too. They pronounce the y and ll like and sh. So they haven't had as much trouble with my name as some. They also say vos instead of tu.
After we got back, we walked to their city market where they have shops, flea market areas, and restaurants. We chose a restaurant and ate there at the market. I heard some of our group laughing at the restaurant next door because we were eating outside. I went over there, and there was a local brother and sister from Montevideo talking to them that worked at their restaurant. They walk around the restaurant drawing characatures of the people in the restaurant. They were so nice. They did one of one of the sisters. I could not stop laughing at her later because she was not pleased with her drawing. He drew her forehead about 5 inches high and a really wide mouth. Jared, one of the brothers in my group, said, "They just exaggerate your features. You do have a little bit of an elongated forehead." She didn't find that amusing.
We walked around the market, then got a taxi back to the hotel. It was the smallest taxi I had ever been in. Imagine the smallest two door Kia you can imagine, then make it four door. I was the only one that spoke Spanish in the group. I sat in the back. We didn't notice that there was glass between the front and back seats when I got in the back. The driver couldn't hear me, and I couldn't hear him. The driver had already gunned it, and we couldn't change seats. It was hilarious to watch Jared try to communicate with him. He kept looking back saying, "What is he saying?" We were laughing so hard, I couldn't help him out much.
We walked around the area of the hotel for a while, and I went back to the room for a nap (yes, another one. I swear all of these are short). A bunch of us decided we would try to find somewhere to eat a snack and play cards. So about 10 of us went out to a little diner, ate, and played cards. Some got hot chocolate. Their hot chocolate here is like when you make homemade cooked pudding right before you put it in the fridge. It's really, really thick. We played a game called Salad (Sharla, tell your dad one of the brothers suggested Bid Whiz). I will have to look up the rules when I get back. It was fun and not complicated. (I won :-))
After we got back, about 10 of us sat around the lobby and talked. They had a grand piano, so I showed them my skills. After I got up, Ruthie's husband, Paul, sat down and played some complicated piece. I'm glad I went first.
The characature sister (Rheya) and her roommate (Shawna) are both black sisters. I tell you this because it lends to the story. They were telling us last night when we sat around that they went to Poland together the last time they had international conventions. Apparently, the Polish brothers and sisters had never seen any black people in person. So they kept coming up to them wanting to touch their skin and hair. She said that they would rub her arm, and look at their hand like the color was going to rub off. She said they couldn't even eat lunch because everybody wanted to get their picture made with them. She said this little boy and his mother came up to them, and the mother jabbered something to the son. Then he said, "My mother thinks your black... I mean.... dark skin is so beautiful. I think your dark skin is so beautiful." They had us rolling in laughter.
I slept in today. I just rested in the room, until time to leave for Santiago, Chile. Whoever suggested I take a neck pillow, kudos to you. That was the best $7 I ever spent at T.J. Maxx. After one time of sleeping with that thing, you don't care what you look like anymore. I sat between two weirdos (not brothers) on the plane today, and proudly sported my black neck pillow. I know they were jealous on the inside. Although I did feel a little weird when one of them told me to look out the window. I felt like whiplash victim with a neck brace. He hadn't said anything to me the whole two hours until he told me to look out the window at the mountains. I think he was snooping and saw all the scenery pictures on my camera as I was scrolling through them earlier and didn't want me to miss it. Every time I forwarded a song on my ipod, he looked. I thought about giving him the quick neck turn to catch him, but... the neck pillow. My dad would have really loved the flight. Santiago is in a valley between two sections of the Andes mountains. So when you get there, the plane banks hard and drops down to land like its running out of gas. When we got there, there were several of the local brothers and sisters there to greet us and help us get through the airport. There were some young brothers traveling together in another group behind me in line. One of them came to Houston County a few years ago to do unassigned territory. I still haven't met one person from Tennessee.
We got checked in here at the Crowne Plaza in Santiago for our final stay. I'm glad to be at the last stop because I really need to do a wash and organize my stuff. Ruthie took a nap, so she could takes us out on the town when we got there. Our group is split into two groups, and the other group flew out early this morning. We went out to an outdoor plaza that has shops and restaurants for a very late dinner. The food was great there too. Our waiter said that he got one of the invitations to the convention at his house during the campaign last week and plans on coming. We have already had several local friends see us out in town and stop us to say hello. It was a nice little appetizer for the first day of the convention tomorrow.