I hope you all had a great Halloween! I am sad to say they do not celebrate Halloween in Bolivia. Instead they celebrate something a little similar, but quite different. Let me just tell you about it. The holiday is called Dia de Todos los Santos or in English, All Saints Day. It’s a little like day of the dead, which is a more traditional Catholic event. However, Bolivia is one of the few places in South America that still celebrates Dia de Todos los Santos because the indigenous culture is still strong especially here in Potosi. It’s a day for families to worship their dead. They spend lots of money to make giant memorials inside their homes with candles, flowers, money and all the favorite pastries of their loved ones who have passed. They spend days before baking breads and cookies. On Sunday, people go out "tumbiando" (or tombing, they call their memorials tombs) I didn’t even know that word existed. The Bolivians go from house to house, just like we do in the states when we trick-or-treat. They enter the homes and sit for a little while by the memorials and pray. The homeowner offers wine or alcohol and large packages of the breads and cookies they have made. After spending the appropriate time honoring the dead, they leave. It’s seems a little weird, but it’s a long time tradition of these people. Throughout the streets everyone carries their large black bags full of cookies. Now, you’re probably wondering why I know so much about the workings of this night. My companion and I may have gone tumbiando just once, but it wasn’t intended. We were looking for a referral we received and we were told we would find him at a particular house. When we enquired about our referral someone told us he wasn’t there but insisted we enter the tomb. It was awkward and I think the lady got a little offended when we refused the wine and alcohol, but WE GOT COOKIES! Afterwards everyone was giving us a hard time. Ha-ha. So we got the full experience of "Halloween" in Bolivia.
This week we also moved. It was exhausting, but we finished and our new house is big and pretty and the family that lives there is so sweet. Their daughter who is my age and studying in La Paz is here visiting for two days. She lived in North Carolina for almost a year as an exchange student so I spent almost the whole morning talking with her in English. It was so Awesome!
Yesterday the stake began their Youth Conference and the Stake President invited my companion and I to bear our testimonies. The Stake President is incredible and we have become good friends. :) Of course you know that I was so excited to be invited. I love the young men and young women. And to make it even better one of our cute investigators stayed for the whole event after she came to church with us. Woo-Hoo!!!!
This week we were also part of a miracle. About a week ago we were waiting in the chapel for a lesson when a Sister we had never met walked in with the elders. As we met her we learned that she is the Stake President’s wife and is also an English Teacher. One of the elders has been helping her grade her students’ homework. The elders left and we had a chance to talk with her for a little while. She is so sweet! Then, this week we as missionaries went and helped in her English class. It was fun! We have developed a great relationship with her. On Friday we were having a lesson with Alejandra, a sweet girl we have been teaching for a couple of weeks. Normally, when we teach in the church building we snag a member to accompany us, but this night no one was available as they were preparing for a dance. So, we began the lesson and as we did so the Stake President’s wife peeked through the window and started waving “Hi” to us. I gestured for her to come in and accompany us. She sat with us and it was PERFECT! We have invited Alejandra in previous lessons to be baptized, but she has never committed to a date. Her family is super catholic, her dad is a priest and she is scared to tell them that she is listening to us. That is why we have been teaching her in the church building. It turned out that the Stake President’s wife was in the same situation before she became a member. She was the same age as Alejandra when she got baptized and her family is also strong in their catholic faith and did not agree with her decision. She bore a strong testimony and shared with Alejandra all the promises of baptism. It was so amazing and the spirit was strong. I know that we were supposed to meet this Sister a week ago and develop a relationship with her. Otherwise, she would have never acknowledged us in the window and been a part of the lesson that may have changed Alejandra’s life forever.
It has been a great week and I love being a missionary!
I hope you all have a great week!