Converts, wildlife, needy member
The first photo is of the Zapata family, a complete family baptized on December 29. The 14 year old young man (Eliecer) is especially sharp. He is learning some English, is taking Virginia's piano class, and took the missionaries from a neighboring branch (and us) to teach the family of some friends. He can't wait to turn 19 to serve a mission. In fact, all of the kids are very bright, each is reading his or her own copy of the Book of Mormon, and all read aloud better than most adults we work with.
On New Year's Day we took the mission president and his wife out to the Soberania National Park to look for wildlife. We saw lots of monkeys and a number of pretty birds, which were difficult to photograph very well with our little camera. The first is a toucan, the second a monkey, the third a pretty butterfly on a pretty flower, and the fourth is another pretty bird whose name we don't know. The fifth shows the biggest birds of all, but isn't from the park but from a member's home that we visited. The turkeys had unusually pretty blue heads.
To help us all appreciate what we have, we post here some photos of the home of a brother Melanio Urriola, nearly 70 years old, who was run over by a car a year ago and seriously injured. He survived, but walks with a cane and has long scars down his front and on his leg. He gathers aluminum cans to try to get a little to eat, but you can see he hasn't eaten much. His home is about as close to nothing as you can get--sheets of sheet metal leaning together, held in place by poles, etc. He has a hammock for a bed. His water comes from a dirty river behind his place. Local hoodlums have stolen tools from him and even his cane, as he has no security at his place. He shares the home with a snake, a spider, and other univited creatures. He says there is a crocodile in the river below him where he gets his water. He holds the Melchizedek Priesthood and attends church regularly when he's not sick. We are working on getting a special grant from the Area Presidency to help build a block home with a lockable door, with labor to be donated by missionaries and members. We're going to try to complain less when we encounter such comparatively minor inconveniences as having no running water for a day.