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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Proyecto Visitante! (project visitor!)

I know a talented young man by the name of Fernando Rodriguez who has started a project called "proyecto 365".

 He is taking a photograph each day for a year and some of his photos are amazing! I particularly like the one he took of a lit candle.

That's where I got the idea for this post's title.

I haven't been taking photos but instead have been doing a multitude of finishing up projects or proyectos of my own around my house. As most of you know, my husband Wally is due back from the United States (USA) next month in January. I have been trying to use the money we normally use for him, like food and health insurance and instead using it to tackle problem areas that we have been neglecting. For instance, we had a past post that showed water almost entering our back patio door during a doozy of a rain storm several months back. So one project of mine was to put in a storm drain and have this work finished before Wally arrives home.

I finally saved enough for a second dog house, this time for Shila. Of course, she doesn't use it. Barney has used his from time to time but Shila (pronounced Sheila) is a little porky (like me, ha ha) and doesn't like the idea of ducking through that door, although Barney, who is taller does so easily! I used some broken concrete pieces to form a little garden planter around their houses and planted some lemon grass near Barney's house (the one with the blue roof). Lemon grass reportedly repels mosquitos and Barney has so little fur, hair really that he is prone to everything bothering him. Shila is like a tank and plows through life. Her thick fur keeps all invaders away from her body.

I have been threatening to turn our 3rd bedroom into a crafts room. I used to enjoy rubber stamping back in the States. Even though that sounds like a mindless pursuit, one can get really creative with cards. There's even stamping conventions that showcase some amazing creations. Well, while Wally has been away I have been slowly buying storage units and a desk for that purpose.

My dogs are diggers (out of boredom) because I don't go hiking and stuff with them. Maybe, when all of these projects are done I can turn to other pursuits. My point is, I understand why they do it. The challenge however has been to keep ahead of the holes and what better way to do that then to slowly concrete the back yard. Not completely, of course. I like them and me to have some grass to run and play on. Still, where I see a justification, I put down concrete or rather hire someone to help pour a concrete pad. For instance, I noticed that the space between my back (laundry room) door and the garage was a battle zone of "Fox holes" mounds, dug up by the dogs. In pictures it was quite ugly,  Oh, by the way the out building is too small to be a true garage, I just slip up and call it that sometimes. So, in other words, if I wanted to walk to our storage building from my back door, on a rainy day, I would have to cross mud. To pour a concrete pad between my back door and this building made sense!

I also, poured a walkway. It was done in 3 parts by two different people (companies). I tried to get one person to do it but he wasn't available and I didn't have the funds to do it all at once. The person I originally wanted to pour everything ended up doing only two sections of walkway, his sections butt up  against someone else's ugly section, one that I posted about before because I was so o disappointed.  Carlos was finally available again, so he poured my last section. You have to realize that here, if a worker returns your phone calls, he's cherished and passed around, expat to expat, like an inheritance.

Those have been some of my current projects underway while Wally is away. However, you may have noticed the title of this post is project visitor or in actuality I should say visitors!  I have to admit money has been tight this month. I had to buy bus tickets to attend a 2 day convention a few cities away. Both dogs need their end of the year, rabies shots and pills for parasites. They are due this month. That drain installation had cost me some pesos to put in and the last sidewalk section was accomplished along with the drain. So when I found out that our congregation was going to have visitors from the head branch, I kept my head low and didn't speak up to offer any hospitality in the form of meals. Yeah, me bad.

My good friend Carolina who speaks excellent English (most of the time) came up to me and said that the elders of our congregation (or Ancianos, in Spanish) wanted to know if I could have the visitors come to my house since they are from the USA and they speak English.They felt I would be able to converse with them. Since I happen to be the resident English speaker in our hall it was assumed that I would want to talk to them. So they asked Carolina to convey that thought to me.

Well, It seems that my lack of Spanish has finally caught up with me. Like the movie title "Lost in translation" (with Bill Murray)  I didn't know exactly what was going on with their visit. I thought they wanted me to have them come to my house for a meal. So I bite the bullet and told Carolina that yes I could host a luncheon for them along with a small group of congregation members at my house. I said I had room for about a dozen people for a sit down meal.

As a side note, being known as a native English speaker tends to mark you as a well known personality. Case in point, the post office recently delivered a letter to my door that had a return address in English. I had to explain to them that it wasn't addressed to me, as it was addressed to someone else who lived on another street, a different block, a different lot number and get this a different town! I live in Marindía and the letter was to go to Salinas, the town the post office is in! In fact that return address was from someone in Canada and I'm from the USA! To be fair, I had had several letters delivered to me that week and they just assumed this one was meant for me as well. I also don't have a mailbox up yet so all my mail is put under a rock on my meter box, why you would want to know that I don't know. However, most people know me as the English speaker.

So, I dipped into my savings and agreed to host a lunch for 12, (13 counting me) on Wednesday afternoon.  I went up to the Elders and said yes to the meal. The next day, Carolina called and asked if I had spoken to the Elders about what she had asked me and I said yes, I'm having a lunch for them and she said, but the Elders had wanted to know if the visitors could stay at your house for the week, spending the nights! That's where the translation into English had broken down! I now was to have house guests and a luncheon. I let Carolina know that "having someone to your house" was a little different phrasing from "having guests spend the night at your house" or "live with you!"

So the upshot is, I now have a couple, Ken and Molly Heighauss staying with me for the week!
Again, the title of this post is project visitors! After saying, "Okay", (slightly begrudgingly) that I would host them for a week I then realized that although I have a guest bedroom, the only thing in it is a bed, literarily, one piece of furniture, in a very tiny room. I would be sentencing these people to a one week prison cell. So my next project would have to be getting this room up to snuff in a hurry or to a proper guest room worthy status. Not that these people (who I had never met before) needed anything elaborate but rather my sense of propriety kicked into high gear. I have always fancied myself to be the "hostess with the mostess"(an old, corny saying).

So visiting my bank for the first time since Wally has been gone Stateside, I extracted enough dinero, the bare minimum, for a proper guest room. The money would be used for the most needed amenities and that lunch. I read under guest room etiquette, that some people don't like to sit on a bed (ever) so a proper guest room needs a chair! I bought a chair! A guest room needs a box of kleenex so that guests can  blow their  noses or do whatever a guest might do with a tissue, that is a must! I bought a box of tissues! A guest needs someplace to put their personal items on like a table or a dresser or something other than the bed. That purchase would be a challenge for me. The room is tiny!!! I would have to measure well for a piece to fit. First I moved the bed from the middle of the room to against the wall (an old trick) That left the mini fireplace to be proudly seen instead of its view being blocked by the bed. It seemed to open up the little room immensely (okay a little)! I didn't know what I would find but it would have to be skinny to be able to still walk by it and the bed. I ended up finding a tiny little old fashion looking desk. So, I bought a desk! A proper guest room should have an alarm clock in it so your house guests can arise without depending on you to rouse them up. I read it should be a lighted alarm clock but hey, at least a clock. I bought an alarm clock!  I couldn't find a lighted version on my time schedule of  9 day's notice. I madly cleaned the house for 3 of those days. It had been a long winter and wood stove smoke was still to be seen. A proper guest room should at least have a radio. I went to Geánt, a large Walmart type store to purchase one but the radios were expensive $79 USA dollars for a simple small one. Then I saw "on sale" a tiny little black and white TV set with a radio in it for $34 (USA dollars). So, I bought a television! A guest room needs a trash can. I bought a trash can. Then I noticed that by placing the bed away from the fireplace it was now in front of a floor reaching window and that a person would be leaning against the thin glass. I pictured my guests ending up with terrible glass shards in them. So, I bought a head board! Then I realized, there was no way to mount the headboard without the rest of the bed frame, so I bought the bed frame! By now, I was down to the little things. I bought hangers, 4 pillows, a bedspread set and a bottle of wine. I never had time to find any hooks or a coat/towel rack to hang those things on. I looked for a luggage rack that all the magazine articles said I needed to put into the room so, I bought a small metal stool, that would have to do. I cleaned the house some more and learning that they were vegetarians for health reasons,  I bought some fruits and vegetables for the week. Others, like myself would be feeding them big lunches throughout the week. Then I waited for their arrival.

Meanwhile, I found out that our congregations here in Uruguay have been consolidated and put under the care of the Argentina branch. My guest would be the new Argentina District overseer along with his wife. So my guests, although originally from the USA have now been serving in Argentina for some 22 years! So, of course, they speak Spanish fluently by now and could have easily stayed with any of the other Spanish speaking members. The elders had thought that since Wally has been away for so many months that I might need some English company. Ken Heighauss and his wife Molly were originally trained missionaries sent to Argentina. Then they served for some 22 years (as mentioned) in the traveling work.
He as a circuit overseer over various groups that form circuits. Because of the organizational change he has now been assigned as a District overseer. He covers both Argentina and Uruguay in his travels. So it really is a privilege to have this husband and wife couple stay at my house for their first visit to Uruguay as its District Overseer.

Well, they arrived on a Tuesday and a member of the congregation dropped off some dinner vegetable dishes for them. I ate too. The next day, I had a group over to my house for "the lunch" including the purpose of the meal my house guests. Included in this group was the Uruguayan circuit overseer and his wife. I cooked chicken, leg/thigh combos for the rest of the group who definitely do eat meat and the various guests brought tons of vegetable dishes for my house guests. It went well, Whew!

 Surprisingly, despite the responsibility of oversight that Ken has he doesn't wear a suit 24/7. They actually act and dress like normal people on their down time. Molly and Ken take a brisk morning walk together everyday for 1/2 an hour and in the evenings after eatting. It allows them some time to themselves, It burns off the calories from their meals and is good for Ken's health. Here they are after their tuesday walk.

So far, things have been going smoothly, I haven't mentioned to them that Wally's bathroom sink and toilet were having plumbing problems and that I had to have a plumber come out to fix his bathroom 3 days before they arrived so that they could use his bathroom. Nor, did I mention the electrician I had come out on the same day to put in some new wall outlets in their guest room so that they could plug in any devises they might need.

Let's just say, I'm very tired but interested to see how this project visitor turns out.  


~Em said...

I'm so proud of you! You went to great lengths to be a generous hostess! I am so glad that you were able (even accidentally) to have the D.O. stay with you. That is quite a privilege. I'm curious ... are your meetings in Spanish or English?

Seamus said...

Ah, Denise, when I was growing up we used to joke, "You'll get your reward in heaven."

But the truth of the matter is in Mathew 25:40: Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me.

And Mark 10:29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

I think he meant that to include the sacrifice of time and effort also.

I got busy in December and had not seen the new posts until today. Looks like you've been busy also.

Anonymous said...

Quite a surprise but it looks like it went well. ;)

Since Uruguay has afternoon siesta (I think), how long do guests typically stay after eating the meal itself? Is it a longer time than in the US?


Anonymous said...

P.S. Did you have to feed the district overseer for dinners or did the others in the congregation provide that?


Denise said...

Dear Mike,
The District Overseer and his wife were on a tight field service schedule so they left after the noon meal to go to the afternoon meeting place for service no siesta time. Thankfully dinners were provided for them and dropped off to my house by others. Everyone had a specific day. Note, one Brother apologized for dropping his meal off late because his father had just DIED! We were amazed that rather then not come he still brought the food.

Denise said...

Dear Em,
All our meetings are in Spanish only! What helps me is that I seem to be able to read and understand Spanish quite well. We study just using publications written in Spanish. It's speaking it and understanding what I hear that is so difficult for me. Yet in day to day situations I can nonetheless survive.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Did the Uruguayan circuit overseer stay with a household for the week as well? Did the Witnesses take him out or to their homes for dinner or did they drop the dinnners off at his accommodations for him also?


Wally said...

Mike- yes- the CO stayed with another family and shared in the meals provided.