a diverse collection of travel photos and firsthand experiences while venturing across the globe. each destination has welcomed us with open arms and warm smiles, making us feel right at home. from argentina to utah - and thousands of miles in between - these are our visual memories of 'home'...just as we never imagined.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This Month in The ENSIGN...

Yesterday, I had the true pleasure to accompany a very special group of friends into the vast wine region of Uco Valley, Mendoza. Ann Monson Dibb (Second Counselor, LDS Young Women General Presidency) and Silvia H. Allred (First Counselor, LDS Relief Society General Presidency) were here in Mendoza to provide a training session for multiple stakes.

President and Sister Lindahl (LDS Mendoza Argentina Mission) asked me to come along for a day tour and provide some historical insight as we drove towards Tupungato and the flourishing vineyards of Bodega Salentein. While none of us drink wine, we did enjoy a personal visit through the luxurious wine cellars of Salentein, a Dutch investment now attracting tourists worldwide for its modern design and fine art museum.

It was a joy to hear the testimonies and experiences of both sisters. This week alone, they will provide training sessions in Mendoza, Salta, Buenos Aires, and parts of Uruguay and Paraguay. Both Sister Allred and Sister Dibb are true examples of service as they continue to commit their time and efforts on behalf of the church. We shared great stories and good laughs...especially when learning more about Sister Dibb's dear father!

And where did we go for lunch? La Tupiña, of course!

Wordless Wednesday: Corks & Bottles

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Another Day in Buenos Aires...

Despite the long distance, I have been fortunate enough to occasionally travel to Buenos Aires for business. No matter how many times I have visited in the past decade, I find myself exploring something new (or at least revisiting something with a better camera).

Following an overnight bus ride (13 hours) and an awful, dramatic German film along the way (new trend?), I arrived to the capital and quickly headed to my hotel. I did not have too much time for sightseeing, but I did review a few spectacular hotels. In between meetings and clients, I took advantage of both the bus system and underground subway. While waiting for the subway, and especially when crammed inside, I noticed a unique smell in the air - the subtle blend of sweat, chimichurri, and cigratee smoke. Yes...spring is in the air :)

I thought I would post a few photos to highlight some additional Buenos Aires landmarks:

El Ateneo Grand Splendid is the nation's largest bookstore, and recognized as the second most glamorous in the world (the first being a restored 800-year-old church in Holland). Along Santa Fe Avenue, one can enter this four-story libreria and browse through thousands of texts, movies, and varieties of music. The original theater was inaugurated in 1919 (with a beautifully painted ceiling by Nazareno Orlandi). The bookstore opened in 2000, using former balconies as cozy literature nooks and the former stage as a coffee shop.

Café Tortoni, now celebrating its 150th anniversary, is a trademark restaurant of the nation's capital. Inaugurated by French immigrants along Mayo Avenue in 1858, Café Tortoni still draws thousands of tourists and locals for its great food and lovely interior (which draws you back into decades of historical icons and cultural pastimes). Besides Storni and Gardel, Jorge Luis Borges was also a regular guest, enjoying a daily breakfast inside.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Travel Slideshow #4 - Córdoba

Termed "La Docta" for its educational development and academic appeal, Córdoba is also referred to as Argentina's second capital. While the city center is crowded with office towers, government buildings, and endless apartments, the numerous locals also pride themselves on provincial history. First founded in 1573 by Spanish explorers, Jesuit missionaries arrived shortly after, dedicating the national university in 1621 (the oldest in Argentina). The Jesuit order, along with Carmelites and Franciscans, constructed multiple religious edifices across this central province: cathedrals, chapels, convents, and estancias. The capital of Córdoba combines both modern construction and colonial architecture with baroque and indigenous elements. The Jesuit Block, in the heart of downtown, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. The lush countryside offers narrow dirt roads, rolling green hills, and several religious sites. Alta Gracia, one of many rural towns, was also home to a young Che Guevara in 1932. It was his hope to escape Buenos Aires and breath the fresh air of Córdoba in order to relieve his asthma.

LDS Church History:

In 1925, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered in Buenos Aires to dedicate the entire continent of South America in preparation for Mormon missionary service. While multiple chapels were constructed in the following decades, the LDS temple in Argentina was not dedicated until 1986 (in Buenos Aires). Many sacred ordinances of the LDS faith are only available inside this religious edifice. For many years, church members scattered across Argentina have traveled great distances to visit Buenos Aires and enter the temple.

As Tania and I served as missionaries in Argentina's northwest, we witnessed how local church members often saved their money for years before taking this important trip (a distance of 800 miles from Salta). There are currently 128 LDS temples in operation worldwide. Such temples are established based on regional population of church members and other factors. The construction of such temples are financed through the tithes and generous offerings of faithful members (cumulative, not regional).

This weekend, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered worldwide to hear the semi-annual General Conference. In April and October of each year, religious leaders of the Mormon faith share important messages and principles with church members across the globe (a live satellite broadcast from Salt Lake City to nearly 100 nations and translated into more than 80 languages).

Just yesterday, 5 additional LDS temples were announced during General Conference: Philadelphia, Kansas City, Calgary, Rome...and Córdoba, Argentina. There are currently 300,000 members of the LDS faith inside Argentina. We are so happy for the local members here that have waited so long, in patience and faith, for this second temple in their homeland. Construction will begin shortly.

(click here for local newspaper article regarding mormons in argentina - i am actually sitting in the top right photograph)