Subject: Y...¿cuándo pasó eso?
¡Pascua feliz para todos!
So, it's Christmas already. Don't really have any idea when that happened. Nope. Christmas really isn't too big a deal here, it kind of is but not much. Interesting thing, here in Chile Santa hath not a name. In song occasionally, but it doesn't make much sense because ''santa'' is Spanish for holy (of a feminine noun). Instead they call him ''Viejito Pascuera'' which more or less means a little old guy of the pascal season.
I got to play Visa games this last week, that was all fun. Lines and lines, and questions and lines, pictures and lines and forms. They do fingerprints differently here than in the U.S. We do the ink pad and finger press. They paint a small slab of plastic or metal and then roll your fingers on it. They also completely roll the finger for printing. And then there's a puddle of soap and a water bottle and you're left to yourself to figure out how to clean up your hands without messing up the government office.
There was an unofficial leak of information and the newspapers read Tuesday morning, front page mind you, ''Mormon Church to construct 'Mega Temple' in Quinta Junge.'' (Many denominations here in an attempt to be different call their buildings temples, 'salons', or other things.) The Church itself hasn't said anything, so the newspaper took the liberty to inform everyone who the Mormons are: A sect of Christians from the United States, followers of Joseph Smith, who believe in the Book of Mormon, scripture that claims that Jesus visited the United States. The rest actually was mostly correct, that generally we're peaceful, happy folk that don't smoke drink, etc. For the most part this will get people talking a bit, and interested. We'll see.
One of the members in the Stake, Riccardo, who gave us the reference of Abraham stopped by earlier this week with a wrapped gift for us. It was a referral to a family that lives around these parts. It made me smile.
As far as hoo-ha and fiddle faddle go, we can stay at house of a member until 10:30 Christmas Eve and for New Year.
Other cultural things I haven't mentioned: Whenever you enter the house of anyone, it is custom to serve drink of one type or another. Simple water is something almost unheard of here in Chile, everyone drinks some type of juice with every meal, and if not juice, Coca-cola or some other soda.
Milk is another thing that's different. In the U.S. we generally drink ye olde milk, with its 1 or 2% reduced. Here, milk comes in boxes, and if you hunt you can find unflavored milk, but it's either whole or half and half. Generally the safest is to go with strawberry milk.
When [on a bus] in the central part of the city, at just about every stop at least one person will get on at the front and make his way to the back trying to sell something, ice cream usually, and then get off before the bus starts moving again. Or you'll get the rare treat of a troubadour, those are usually great, someone with their guitar and songs.
Merry Christmas to you all, much love! I can't wait to talk with y'all this week!
Hurra for Israel!
P.S. Tell Liz that in fact, this is real Christmas, and not ''all a dream''