Sep 6, 2010

Playground for preschool nearly complete

Pedro and Sandro help build
By the grace of God and the generosity of supporters in North America, we soon will have built a playground for the preschool. We thank everyone who helped us raise the funds in time for the new school year.

The playground includes a swingset that we purchased from a metalworking shop in the nearby town of Barinitas, and a wooden clubhouse/jungle gym built by woodworkers also from Barinitas.
There were two men working on the wooden structure for a couple of days, then SeƱor Artilio started showing up by himself. So two of the youth from our mission, Sandro Perez and Pedro Santana, began helping him.

The playground equipment already has seen a lot of use and the new school year hasn't even started yet. We also have been able to do some needed maintenance work on our water system.

Five to be confirmed

God willing, we will confirm five on Reformation Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010. The young people who have been faithfully attending confirmation class include:
    Jeison, Jimmy and Jhonny
  • Karelis Santana;
  • Pedro Santana;
  • Jeison Arellano;
  • Jhonny Torres;
  • Jimmy Perez
Trip to Trujillo

As summer vacation time draws to a close, Luz Maria and I took a couple of days off and traveled to the city of Trujillo, capital of the state of Trujillo, the smallest of Venezuela's three Andes Mountain states. The city, situated 3,134 feet above sealevel, features many historic landmarks. It was in Trujillo that Simon Bolivar issued a "Declaration of War to the Death" against Spain in 1813. Actually he meant to the death or until Spain recognized Venezuela as an independent nation, whichever came first. Fortunately, it was the second option that came first and there also is a monument in Trujillo that marks the spot where Bolivar and Pablo Morillo, the leader of the royalist troops declared an armistice in 1820.
Virgin of Peace
Luz Maria and I spent an afternoon enjoying Trujillo's many beautiful parks and plazas, and narrow streets winding between houses in the classic Spanish colonial style (the city is named after Trujillo, Spain). The next morning we visited the city's major tourist attraction, la Virgen de la Paz (the Virgin of Peace) monument which stands above the city at an elevation of 5,249 feet above sealevel. The statue of the Virgin Mary holding a dove is 153.28 feet high, a little more than 2 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty (not counting the Statue of Liberty's foundation and pedestal, which add approximately 150 more feet to the height of the monument). The Virgin of Peace was built in 1983 according to a design by sculptor Manuel de la Fuente and plans by engineer Rosendo Camargo.

The Virgin of Peace is the object of religious devotion (the state government, which maintains the site, reported 11,000 visitors during Holy Week 2010) and there is a Roman Catholic chapel housed inside of a geodesic dome at the base of the statue.

But if you are not into veneration of the Virgin Mary, the statue allows a panoramic view of the surrounding area. We entered at the base and climbed the stairs all the way to the top (there is an elevator as well, but it currently is not in working condition). There are four observation ports along the way and in the statue's head you can climb a narrow ladder to peek out her eyes. Luz Maria climbed the ladder and found the "eyeball" view really wasn't worth the effort.

The climb to the top was a bit of exercise, but the stairwell was comfortably wide, much wider than the stairwell in the tower of Holy Hill Basilica in Hubertus, Wisconsin, at least as I remember it from 20 years ago. Holy Hill, located 30 miles northwest of Milwaukee, is the highest peak in Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine region. The top of the hill itself is 1,300 feet above sealevel, while the tower rises another 192 feet. A favorite fall pastime for Milwaukeeans is to drive to Holy Hill when the trees of the Kettle Moraine are changing colors, sampling fresh apple cider from farms along the way.

One reason we chose a trip to Trujillo is because preschool plans include teaching the children about the 23 states of Venezuela, starting with their home state of Barinas and continuing with the neighboring mountain states. So we will have plenty of pictures of Barinas, Merida and Trujillo with which to begin.

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