Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Invitations Keep on Rolling In

Five o'clock came early today. I snoozed it a few too many times and didn't get to eat breakfast. There were a few not at the bus yet, so I ran upstairs and grabbed something resembling a piece of chocolate cake from the breakfast room. We were assigned to a different place today. We went to the Estadio Santa Laura. Its a soccer field for a local college. They had concrete bleachers similar to what we have at the fairgrounds. The two sides that run along the field had been retro-fitted with what looked like red plastic booster seats. They allowed the delegates to get those first. I felt really guilty about that, but that's part of latin hospitality, and it's rude not to accept it. There was nothing under cover, so all of the umbrellas came out pretty quick. Try sitting in a booster seat, holding an umbrella, looking up scriptures, and taking notes. Another reminder to never complain about our conventions or assemblies. I had to take a Benedryl this morning, so needless to say I sure could have used an arm rest. I thought I had myself fixed and propped until I jumped in my sleep and hit the sister's umbrella in front of me with mine. I did pretty good for a while, but I found out later, Paul and Ruthie were behind me and he was holding my umbrella still for me.

I really, really, really liked going there today. The brothers there were even more welcoming than at the other stadium. My tan isn't helping my case on getting some attention though. I have figured out that I can put my stuff people give me in my shirt pocket instead of my bag, and people recognize easier that I am not local. My hair is a little lighter now and that has helped. I even got a little attention when I was with Destiny's Child for a while today. I found David Patterson today! It was nice to see a familiar face. For those of you who don't know him, he is a brother from Paris that I grew up knowing. He serves at Wallkill now.

I met so many wonderful brothers and sisters today. I met a sister from Brazil that I know is at least 6'6". I know she's taller than Jonathan. I can't wait for you to see our picture. These people down here have the cutest baby's I've ever seen. I had these three little kids come up and greet me in English. There was a boy about 7, his brother about 9, and their cousin and she was about 9 too. I got them on video. I'll tell you more about them later. A sister and her daughter serenaded us with a kingdom song. I got that on video too. It was beautiful. They were so passionate about it too. The friends really appreciate the effort and money that we spent to come down here. They understand that for most of us, we have enjoyed the trip, but we don't look at it like a vacation. We came to encourage and be encouraged.

I saw a lot of people there today in casual clothes which tells me that their invitation campaign was a real success. I can't wait to hear some of the experiences tomorrow.

When I came down a set of stairs, I saw Destiny's Child and Ruthie talking to these two brothers about 20 years old. When I walked up, Ruthie was enunciating the sentence, "You look a hot mess." She was teaching them how to say that! I got it on video. I invited them over to sit with us at lunch. They are named Lionel (pronounced Lee-oh-nell) and Esteban. We invited them over to our hotel on Tuesday to swim. You should have seen their faces. They don't know it yet, but we are going to take them out to eat that night. I'll tell you more about Lionel later.

I didn't get to each lunch today for talking to the friends around us. There was a brother and sister from Buenos Aires that I talked to for about 15 minutes (my Spanish is really clicking down here). They live in a part of Argentina that I didn't get to see. I am going to try to come back next year to see them. I'll tell you more about them later too.

The session today was great. They have a part each day with reports from other countries. They had the one from USA today. I don't have my stuff here to write accurately about it, so I'll write about it later. I do remember that they said in the US now there are congregations and groups serving 40 different languages.

They tied us into the other stadium where we were yesterday for the last talk today by brother Losch that was the release of the new book about Acts. There were 49,000 at the other stadium. We had 17,000, and I think the other stadium had over 20,000. I'm anxious to see how many show up for Sunday. They didn't tell how many were baptized at our stadium today, but I would estimate around 200.

After the session today, no one wanted to leave. They did the wave for a while. They did various claps and yells. One area sang a song. The couple I met from Argentina came up to tell us bye. They made us promise we could come back. She took off all her jewelry and gave it to Destiny's Child to remember her by. They gave her their earrings and something else. She wouldn't let go of them. Her and her husband both gave me a kiss on the cheek bye. Those Argentinians and their cheek kissing. We had heard about it, but we didn't meet many brothers in Argentina when we were there so we didn't experience it until the convention.

We make our way to the hall, and our bus captain asked us to get moving toward the bus. About that time, a couple from south Chile stop me to say hello. I talked to them for a while, and they want me to come to help them. They work in a rural area near the mountains. They said they have a big house on a ranch to stay at. The pictures of it were beautiful The are both pioneering, and he is the only elder in their hall. I told them that if I make it back down to Argentina, I'll try to head down there to south Chile before I come back.

I got moving again, and got stopped by a couple my age who wanted to make a picture. I talked to them for a while. They are from an area right outside Buenos Aires in Argentina. We talked for a while, and they want me to come stay when them when I come back to Argentina. Can you believe all of this??? So we said goodbye, and you know that that means. More kisses.

I get moving again, and who's there with his whole family to meet but Lionel. So I talked to them for while. He is wanting to help out in English in Santiago. His English is very basic but good. He can't find the hall though that does English. I told him that I would find Kylie tomorrow at the other stadium and give her his number. He gave me a big hug, made me promise to email him, and off I went again. But, who was standing there yelling my name? The three kids who came up and greeted me in English in the morning. They wanted to know if I could come with them and walk for a while. It killed me to tell them I had to go. I knew everybody was on the bus already. So I to give each one of them a hug, then they wanted a group hug. Tomorrow I'm not rushing out of there even if I have to call a taxi.

I grabbed Destiny's Child, and we headed toward the exit trying not to make eye contact. I felt so bad, but I knew there were 40 tired, hot people waiting on a bus to get back to the hotel. Then we couldn't find anyone we knew or the bus. They were gone. Then I happen to spot the sister from Santiago that has been in charge of our bus. Her and Devon came back one more time to look for us. Then we spot Devon yelling for us on the other side with these little kids yelling "Will Smith, Will Smith". He does look a little like him. We follow her and book it back to the bus. We got stopped twice on the way. We made it fast. As always, everyone was waiting patiently on the bus smiling. No complaints about where we had been. They knew. We had to circle the block that the stadium is on to exit the area, and everybody waved as we went by and blew kisses. Things like this are why I already have taken almost 500 pictures. What a brotherhood. How many times in your life have you driven down one city block and had 500 different people wave at you and blow you kisses?

We went to a restaurant tonight in the same area. Ruthie had a sister tell her today that she has always wanted to eat there, but never had the money. I hate to bring up Oprah again, but oh how I wish I had her money. The things I could do with it.

At the restaurant, I had THE BEST tres leches cake I have had in my life. There is a sister in our group that hates that cake, and she said this one was wonderful. We hoovered it down in about 2 minutes. On the walk back, we stopped to talk to several of the brothers and sisters we saw with badges from Brooklyn to San Diego.

Well, tomorrow is our last day of the convention. I don't know how it can top today.

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