Sunday, May 4, 2014

South America Visit to Pick Up Elder Nate

We were greeted in Santiago by the Dolls, our good friends from Concord Stake.  They are serving a two year mission over the missionary training center in Santiago.
We were able to see Elder Schwartz on the last full day of his mission in the ward where he was serving.  He gave a great talk on the Atonement on Easter Sunday.  No, I don't understand Spanish, but as a parent, I'm sure it was great.

On Monday, the group of elders leaving the mission field, want one farewell picture together.
After picking up our elder, at his request, we drove off up into the Andes to see this beautiful lake and beyond it, a park with towering peaks and an area of hot springs....

This is the park and the peaks in the background.  Later we learned that we were only a short distance from the Argentine border.

On our way back into town we stopped in a small town, San Jose de Maipo, and enjoyed some Helado (ice cream), and watched the street dogs chase each other around the town.

After a nice visit with Pres. and Sister Wright, we stopped by two member families (Paula and Adrian and their kids, Fabian and Benjamin, and also Eduardo and Ivonne) from the Geronimo ward that Elder Schwartz was very close to.  We loved to meet these wonderful friend, who, we could tell have great love and appreciation for our son.   Gracias for the lovely evening of food and company.

The next day we took a great tour with the Schade family to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar.  Here Elder Schade and  Elder Schwartz pose in front of the famous flower clock of Vina Del Mar.

Later Tuesday evening we stopped by to see Daniel and his mom, Edith.  They served us a wonderful dinner and share some wonderful uplifting stories of faith and blessings of answered prayers.

The beautiful Barraza family shared dessert and drinks with us as the evening grew late.  Thanks to their wonderful hospitality.

Wednesday we shopped in downtown Santiago and visited the Santa Lucia park which takes you high up a hill to the top of a tall tower where you can view all of city.  Later that evening we flew to Peru, stopping in Lima, then on to Cuzco (at 11,000 feet high up in the Andes).
In Cuzco, we met Elder Joe Sercovich (he was released from his mission and from his last companion, Elder Schwartz, just 6 short weeks ago) and his mom, Jeny, and his uncle, Victor.  What wonderful people and great new friends!  We enjoyed seeing many sights in and around Cuzco with them.  This was a large Incan site in the hills above Cuzco.

Traceey and Elder Schwartz at the Incan site.  The stones in these walls are huge and no mortar was used.  The stones fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

The three of us in the hills overlooking Cuzco.  After touring several other sites around town, we had a nice dinner at a place that specialized in chicken dishes.
Tracey had to find some cute baby animals -- in this case, baby alpacas.  

The next day, we headed out towards Machu Picchu.  This is the two elders with the Sacred Valley area in the background.

Saturday morning we were at Machu Picchu.  It was cloudy and rained a bit, but what a wonderful place.  Massive and Impressive and two of the words that come to mind describing this wonder of the world.  Here we are at the Sun Gate, the traditional entrance to the city.  It was a bit of a hike to get here, but well worth the effort. Kurt even found a geocache nearby in a rocky outcropping.

It rained a bit on the way back down from the Sun Gate

We enjoyed a great tour of the area and just being there was a moving experience.

We were so pleased that the Sercovich family joined us and made us feel so welcome in Peru.

Finally, later in the day, the clouds started to part and we could see the famous peak called Huyana Picchu behind the Machu Picchu ruins.  

Sunday we attended church in Cuzco.  A large group of doctors and family and friends from the Salt Lake city area showed up in sacrament meeting.  Among that group was a former BYU professor of Tracey's named Paul Warner.  What a small world!

Tracey in Plaza de Armas, the central square in Cuzco, a truly beautiful city.

The two young women in this photo were from the ward in Cuzco and happily showed us around the downtown on an informal walking tour.  Such sweet young ladies!

Elder Schwartz and Pops with their Peru shirts and matching beanies.  We departed Cuzco later that afternoon and 30+ hours later we arrived home to see Elder Schwartz released by our stake president, President Score.  Now he is Nate or Nathaniel again.

After a few days at home we went over to the church on Sunday, so Nate could give a report on his mission to some of the leaders in our stake.  Mom and dad were proud to listen as he gave a great report.  We loved picking him up and seeing the land and people of his mission service.  It is an experience that we won't soon forget.

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