Cochabamba, Bolivia Temple

Cochabamba, Bolivia Temple

Monday, May 30, 2016


I feared last week that, because that letter was (hopefully) a good one, this letter would be a little bellow-average. However, I think the fear will be postponed another week or two since this past week also had some fun experiences. Not to make ya'll think that if I don't write much that means that I didn't do anything, but sometimes there really arn't many exciting things that happen (or that I'd include in a letter home; I have to save something to talk about when I get home, ¿no?).
The cooked meat we ate (yumyum)
So, after finishing writing the last letter, we went as a zone to a city park and cooked up some meat and make BBQ sandwiches. We also played some Capture the Flag. The BBQ was tastey, and it was fun playing CtF. I don't even remember when the last time was that I played CtF, and it went a whole lot better than kickball with the Latinos. Not as many complicated rules I guess. Also, in the park, there is a giant boa called the sicuri. It's about 7m long. We went to go see it. Unfortunately they didn't let us pick it up, but oh well, guess we have to do that in the nature and not in a park.
The head of the sicuri
A bird in the park
When we went to eat lunch Tuesday, we got surprised with some fish to eat. We got an even bigger surprise with one of the types of fish, called curubina. For whatever reason, this type of fish naturally has 2 stone-like objects growing in its head. We gladly grabbed one stone each to keep as a souvenir. The rock think is white and shaped kind of like an arrowhead made from stone. We're not really sure why this fish has these rocks in its head, but I think it's how they use telekenises or how they transmit brainwaves from one fish to another. Like a sci-fi show. Maybe. Or at least something like that I hope.
Me with a cooked fish. Not sure if it was the curubina or the sabalo
Later in the night, as we were visiting with a family, we were offered something called aceite de bufeo and aceite de caiman. We were told that they're natural cures or something like that. While I'm not entire sure what it was, they explained that this oil is taken from cooking the caiman or bufeo (river dolphin I think) meat and draining all the grease. Then they take the grease and boil it and do I don't know what to make the concoction. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, I gave it a shot. It tasted absolutely terrible; would not recomend. E' Quiroga also wanted to try it, and it almost came back up with his dinner. We're told that it's very good for the lungs and helps cure bronkitus. Good thing I dont have bronkitus...

The taste was still in the mouth when we woke up Wednesday morning, but a little breakfast chased it away. And then we had an intercambio. For the first time since I was in Paititi, I left my asigned area to do some proselyting in another part of Trinidad. Not that I went very far really, just to the other half of the ward, but it was a change. I think it was a pretty good day as well. Thursday was also pretty calm, until we found out the men of the family of our lunch pensionista had left to go fishing, leaving us without anyone to join us for lunch. Luckily there wasn't too much dirt in the street this day (not really; we found a neighbor to help us).

The weather for the most of the week was nice. It has been chilly in the morning, warm in the afternoon, and then cold again in the night. Reminds me a little of the Arizona winter. But, for whatever reason, Friday morning got really cold, it it seemed to get colder as the morning rolled on. I feared that another sur had arrived. And then it got hot again just in time for lunch. I'll never understand the weather here. Friday night a family gave us a fruit called tutuma. While it's not for eating, the dried shell makes an excelent water-holder. And so Friday night and Saturday morning I was trying to make my natural cup think. It came out alright I guess. Not so sure what to do with it now, however...

Speaking more on the spiritual side of things, The flia Gaston that we've been visiting are doing super well. In fact, they're getting married Wednesday and baptized Saturday. We're super excited for them. I'll make sure to include the fotos next week of these gran events. And I'll send fotos from this week too.

Mucho Amor,
Elder Yates
A painting of the Trinidad party that we found.
Hope it clears up any confusion in my explaining (in his last letter)

Un loro we found. Very big

Sometimes we stumble upon the strangest American products in our travels

And sometimes we stumble upon the strangest Bolivian scenes in our travels
(cat drinking milk from a dog what?)

Monday, May 23, 2016


This week that has just ended was a pretty exciting week for us, as
many interesting things have happened. As such, I have several things
to write about, and this letter is probably one of the easier ones
that I've had to write. So I'm sure the next week's letter will be a
very difficult one to write. But, one week at a time is how these
things go.

Last Monday we were getting excited to have a BBQ as a zone in a
nearby park, but we got news that Pdte Zambrano was coming to
Trinidad. And we would be having interviews Monday afternoon, so we
wouldn't have time to do the BBQ. Instead, we only had time to clean
and wash a little before we had to be in the stake center at 4:30 for
our scheduled interviews. While we were there on time, the interviews
were passing by very slowly. I think it was because it was the last
interview that we would have with Pdte Zambrano before he goes home.
And so, when 7:40 rolled around, we had to ask if we could go have at
least one of our visits and have the interview the next day. I think
there were 6 of us that had to postpone our interviews. Peruanos sure
do talk a lot.

Long story short, we made it to the appointment just on time. Tuesday
morning we had our last conference with Pdte Zambrano and his family.
I think half of it was learning how to improve the missionary work,
and the other half was talking about the life of the Zambrano family.
For lunch we went to a Brazilian buffet. I was hoping something like
Fogo de Chao, but it wasn't. It wasn't even like a normal,
pay-to-enter buffet. It was a serve-your-plate-and-weigh-it place. Oh
well, I still made sure to pile the plate well. And the food was
pretty decently tasting too.
My plate of food and the restaurant

After the lunch, we took our last pictures with the Zambrano family, and the last 6 of us that didn't
have our interviews returned to the stake center to have them. And
now, I'm not entirely sure I'll see Pdte Zambrano again here in
Bolivia. Strange to think. Then we moved on and spent the rest of the
day visiting and sharing the gospel.

My (last?) picture with Pdte y Hna Zambrano
The background of the pictures with Pdte

It looked like it was going to rain pretty hard Wednesday morning, but
after about 10min of sprinkling it all went away. And then it only got
a little cold. Hurray for jackets? As we set out to visit, we found a
hilarious scene of 3 boys trying to learn how to drive a motorcycle
together. Not sure if I've mentioned this before, but Trinidad
basically only travels by motorcycle. It's hard to find a car around
here. Anyway, it was funny to watch the 3 kids (probably 13-15yrs)
swerve around before landing (softly) in a ditch. Then they all hopped
up laughing before trying again, almost hitting a passing motorcycle.
I guess they have to learn somehow. When we went to visit a family, we
wanted to have a little fun with their loro (parrot I think?) while
exploring the nearby jungle. It seemed like the greatest idea ever at
the time. After a little while, the loro grabbed hold of a nearby
branch and started to try to climb away. So, we had to try to grab it.
I grabbed one of it's tailfeathers, but before we could grab the rest,
the feather came out. Sorry birdie. Somehow we brought the loro back
to the house, and I walked away with a feather (will include the
The loro that tried to escape
 The loro that tried to escape, with a better view of the branches that he tried using
 The tail feather with pen to scale

Thursday decided that it didn't like us, and it got even colder. But I
guess it had some pitty, because it didn't rain. E' Quiroga woke up
kind of sick because (supposedly) of the restaurant we ate at combined
with some tea (of tree leaves) that we tried out. Luckily he was fine
by the time we finished the District meeting and we kept on walking
and talking. As we were walking, we found another scene of youth and a
motorcycle. This time, however, the motorcycle slid from one side of
the road to the other, crossing a ditch and crashing into a fence. The
two riders were left in the dirty canal. While it looked like there
wern't any injuries, I bet it was still quite a shock for them. And I
don't think the parents will be too happy with what happened with
their motorcycle. Since there wasn't wanything we could do, we kept
moving on.

Over the weekend (I'm not sure which day) it was Trinidad's
anniversary as a city, turning 330 years old. And, since the people
are pretty fanatical about their city, we were told that we had to
return home by 7 Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Darned parties that we
can't go to. And so, we had to give up the best time of the day to do
some visits. Luckily the cold went away Friday so we could walk
without jackets, and we went about preaching normally. When we got
home early, we spent the time talking and reading and the like. Not
very exciting. Saturday was pretty much the same. However, the warm
morning fooled us as it got really cold in the afternoon. I was pretty
happy to return home early and put some more layers on. Also, Saturday
night, we ordered a pizza and had a little bit more of an exciting
night than Friday.

The weather Sunday was a lot like the weather Saturday; warm in the
morning and then cold in the afternoon. This time I made sure to bring
a jacket with me, and kept myself a lot warmer than Saturday. It was
hard, however, for us to find people to visit Sunday because most of
the people were at the jocheo del toro. For all of those that don't
know what that is, it's the local costume here for the anniversary. I
guess you could call it a sport, or at least a tradition. But what is
it? First, they make a corral and but a giant post in the middle. Then
they grease up the post, put prizes on top, and let people try to
reach the prizes. To make things interesting, they also throw an angry
bull in the corral. Not sure how they came up with such a tradition,
but the fact is that many people were watching and/or participating.
Our day was pretty boring until we returning home early, and then
spent time talking and reading. A very exciting way to end the week.

And an even better way to end this letter, ¿no?

Elder Yates
 Some ties to share (thanks!)
 Hunting to the people ready to accept the gospel.
 A part of the brick making process
 A book one of the members had in Church this last Sunday

Elder Yates mentioned in passing to me a couple weeks ago that his sandals were broken and he would send a picture. I got this in an email this morning.

I remembered that I said I would send a picture of my sandals the other week, which I didn't do, so here it is. I tried glueing the things down some times, but since it seems like they don't want to stay together, I just leave them.

I'm not sure why he doesn't go buy new ones as I keep telling him to do, but I told him they probably broke because he was wearing them with socks. Hehehe

Monday, May 16, 2016

Nuevo Cambio!

Well, this past week was the start of the new cambios. And, during the course of this letter, we'll see the results of what happened. It was quite a big surprise for all of us. In side news, this is also the last cambio for Pdte Zambrano, and will quickly end his mission. So, the next cambio we'll have a new mission presidente. Crazy to think about.

Anyway, we didn't get to do anything for an activity last Monday because they wanted us to clean the house up nice and pretty for the next cambio. So, all we really did was celebrate a birthday and clean and wash clothes. Super exciting. Then, in the evening, we went to have what might have been the farewell FHE with the 4 of us missionaries in Mangalitos with a family. Tuesday was also pretty calm for the most part. We had an interesting conversation with one investigator we found the other day. He told us that he had talked with missionaries for the last 15 years. He agreed to talk all we want, but never would be baptized. Made me feel a little sad for him, but the mission moves on.

And so, Tuesday night we got a call telling us of the changes that happened in Trinidad. As it turns out, almost no one in all of Trinidad changed at all. There was one Hermana that left and one that came, but that's it. A very uneventful cambio. And so, the big excitement gone, we decided to go and play futbol Wednesday morning out in Paititi. It was fun I guess. The rest of the day passed by without incident, until we met with another interesting investigator. To better understand what I'm about to write, remember that the people here in Bolivia are much more believing than in the States, and usually believe just about anything anyone that looks like a pastor tells them. As such, it's widely known that Jesus resurected and lives today. However, when we visited with this investigator (who does believe that He resurected), he asked us how we knew that Jesus was still alive today, as 2000 years have past.

Sometimes the beliefs here get pretty mixed up and tossed around. It's always an adventure trying to figure out what the people here actually think. So, we tried explaining and testifying the best we could, but I'm not entire sure he was convinced in the end. And so the mission moves on. Not sure what to write about for Thursday, as after the District Meeting we headed out to preach the gospel normally. We didn't even have an interesting experience with an investigator either. How boring the mission life, ¿no?

Not that Friday was much better honestly. We did our weekly planning season and then headed out to visit. This day, however, we did find someone interesting. After starting to talk for awhile, the person asked if someone could just return to Church, kind of just like out of the blue. A little surprised, we asked him if he was a member, and when he was baptized. He told us that he was baptized when he was 5 in the Stake Center. We didn't know what to think, but, thinking about other stories I've heard from Trinidad, we just might believe him. Sometimes some pretty crazy stuff happenes around here. We told him that yes, one could just return to church, and we latter left pretty confused.

To work out our confusion, we went to play futbol Saturday morning in the big field. For whatever reason, the missionary attendence has been dwindling and not very many people showed up. (To be fair, if E' Quiroga wasn't so maddly in love with futbol, I don't think I would go either) Then, after changing and studying, we went out to visit a bit. In the evening we were asked to help gather Church chairs that someone had taken to use in a memorial service (as a side note, 2 people here passed on) and return them to the Church Building. Even though the chairs here arn't folding chairs, it seems like I can never escape from getting asked to put up church chairs...

And that's just about it for this letter. The weather here was pretty nice, as the full-on Sur never arrived, and it didn't rain too much, but the temperature was lower and we had cloud cover. I didn't even have to used the borrowed jacket! Let's see if this next week will bring the same luck.

Con Amor,
Elder Yates
A fruit here called guayaba. I heard that it exists up in California.
It's pretty sweet and the middle is filled with seeds.

  Don't remember what this fruit is called, but it's basically 100% natural chocolate (not cocoa). One sucks on the seeds and they're sweet, then lays the seeds to dry to grind into a hot chocolate powder.

 The inside of the chocolate fruit

  A little path through the jungle we found.

 The aquarium for a little alligator that a family has in our area.
In the picture the little head can be seen; can you find it?

A familly gave us another queque de coca, and we made sure to take a picture of it to show.
It's actually pretty tastey.

Monday, May 9, 2016


Well, as I start off yet another letter, I have to try wringing something else out of my mind to share after the Skype call I had last night with my family. I'll probably repeat some stuff, but that's alright. My study of the scriptures tells me that repetition means that something is really important. Not sure if the same principle applies in letter writing, but whatever; close enough.

So, unlike last week, this past week we managed to escape from all the cold and rain. There were some days that started out a little chilly, but then the sun came out. There were also some days that started off rainy, but then the clouds went away (hopefully they won't come back another day). But, all in all, it was a bright and sunny week. I've been told that the cold is supposed to arrive today, but we'll just have to wait and see.

I don't remember is it was last week of the week before, but I wrote about how the first part of the week was a lot more interesting than the second part of the week. Well, this time it's the opposite; all the exciting stuff happened in the last part of the week. For example: Monday zone activity was watch the movie 17 Miracles. While it was good, we didn't de any running. I think that's the reason why I'm getting fat. Tuesday was also a pretty normal day, where we walked and visited a bunch. Something kind of interesting, we accidently found the extended family of an active member. E' Quiroga told me that he had received the reference to visit them a long while ago, but could never find the house. Well, problem solved.

We were going to have our weekly service project Wednesday morning in the house of a guy that got parcially paralyzed after brain surgery by fixing up his fence. However, because of the morning rain, the earth was all mud, thus making any effort we would of done in vain. So, instead, we went over to the house of some members so we could clean up their yard a bit in preparation for the activity Saturday night (more on that later). We cleaned up a bit and ate some grapefruit, then continued on working.

Our schedule to have our missionary meetings and do our weekly planning got a little screwed up when the ZL where still in Santa Cruz Thursday morning, thus making it impossible to have the Zone meeting. So, instead, we did weekly planning a day earlier and had the meeting a day late. It didn't really change much, but it was something different. Also, as we were ending a visit with a family, the family brought out one of the biggest bowls I've seen filled with a dish called majadito con charque. So, we had a little more work to do before leaving. This might be another reason why I'm getting fat. At least it's super delicious.

After our dinner Friday night, we realized we still needed one more thing before we were set for the Saturday night activity: firewood. Luckily the house where we eat dinner is the house of brickmakers, so they have a whole bunch of wood. We asked if we could have some to make a fire, so they gave us 2 giant logs and told us we could have them if we could split them.

I don't think I've ever seen a wood so hard; it was extremely hard to split. Eventually we chopped the logs down a bit, and we transported the wood over to the member's house before continuing our normal work.

And so, Saturdayb night we had a bonfire. But before that, in the wee hours of the morning we woke up to go play a little more futbol before the cambio ends. The rest of the day was pretty normal, and passed pretty quickly so we could arrive at the activity. While it wasn't exactly a bonfire (E' Quiroga wouldn't let me do it), we did have a little fireside with marshmellows (marvaviscos in Spanish, if anyone is wondering). It was pretty funny to see people try to roast marshmellows for the first time, as there where many shouts of surprise when their little treats caught on fire.

It made me a little trunky, because I wanted to go camping, but whatever. And then Sunday I skyped home in the stake center with a borrowed taptop, because it was free and a whole lot easier to do than try to find a place to do. 

And so that's my super exciting week. I'm making sure right now that the pictures are gettin transfered up there, and I'll make sure to tell ya'll who my new companion is next week.

Con bastante amor,
Elder Yates

Monday, May 2, 2016


Woo it's now May! Hard to believe the time is pasing by so quickly. The good news is that I still have plenty of time to enjoy the mission. And this past week was a super special week to enjoy (especially for a desert rat) and will quickly get around to that. In other news, the time of cambios (transfers) and Mother's day is quickly approaching. However, we havn't been told anything about either one of this big events, so I don't have much to say about that. Just wanted to make the letter look longer...

So, for our great P-Day missionary activity, we did something that I havn't done for years: kickball. What a great childhood memory. However, I remember it being more fun and how it was. It might have to do with the fact that latinos in our zone didn't understand anything about the rules neither kickball nor baseball, so we had to explain and re-explain some things during the game. Still, it was a blast to play something other than futbol. And the day was nice and sunny, with plenty of warmth to go around.

But the joy was not to last. We woke up Tuesday morning to an interesting sight, as everything outside had a yellow hue to it because of some sun logic (don't ask me, I ain't no scientist), and it quickly cooled down. Eventually it started to pour down rain as well, making for a wet and cold morning. The best news is that I still only had a rain poncho to wear, as the Sur arrived just as strong as it was in Santa Cruz. Luckily, the rain stopped in the evening, so we could wander through it in the morning and afternoon. What a great way to start the week!

The coming clouds that brought our great joy

Luckily some members took pity on us and let us borrow some jackets, because, as it turns out, none of us missionaries in the house brought winter gear. It seems like we all listened to the same missionary say that it never gets cold in Trinidad. Anyway, the 4 of us were given jackets and stuff to help us keep warm. I made sure to take a picture of what I was given, and I'll make sure to send it your way so you can get some laughs.
Me in my borrowed winter gear

And until now the cold has persisted. During the day, when we're in the sun, it's pretty manageable, to the point that I can take of the jacket. However, when the sun goes away, it's pretty darn cold. This cold front was supposed to end Friday, but it looks like another front was following right on its heels, as we don't know when it's going to warm up. I just hope it's soon; don't want to forget to return the stuff I borrowed.

Anyway, after all the cold and rain from Tuesday, we had a pretty fun Wednesday trying to walk through all the mud without slipping. We also found an investigator again that we were visiting before he went to Santa Cruz. Since he's from Cochabamba, he was enjoying the weather as it reminded him of home. Then he want back to Santa Cruz to work. Oh well, guess you gotta work where you can find it. Thursday, after the missionary meetings, we had the idea to look for some less-active members we didn't know with the help of the first councilor, so we pulled hime out of his house and got walking. Even though we wern't received, at least we now know their houses. Now there's no escape...

Friday and Saturday wern't too exciting, as we spent the days walking and visiting. The cold did make for a difficult weekly planning, but at least I'm not serving in Siberia. We also found a member that hadn't attended Church for years, but still recognized and greeted passing Elders. For some time we had planned on visiting hime, but it wasn't until Saturday that we actually visited him. And, talking with some other members, turns out he's quite well known. We'll have to see what we can do to help him.

Well, that's just about all the writing I want to do this week. Sorry if it's not what you expected, but the time is short. I'll keep ya'll updated with the stuff I know, and only allude to things I dont know. And, if someone asks and I don't know for sure, I'll make something up that sounds reasonable.

Elder Yates

Some new reading material for personal study
(just kidding; the collecting a family that we visited had)