“La Virgen de Los Angeles”

August 2, 2010

This last week was the famous Romeria here in Cartago. Its a holiday where millions of people walk from all over the country (and even other parts of central america) to the Basilica here in Cartago to see “La Virgen de Los Angeles” (The Angel's Virgin). I’m not exactly sure about the history on this, but from what I've heard, supposedly many years ago some little girl found a black stone in the form of a virgin on the ground in Cartago and brought it home. The stone thing somehow went back to the same spot the girl found it, so the Catholics took it as a sign and decided to build a church on that same spot. I guess they tried to build the church 3 or 4 times, but it was destroyed by an earthquake every time. In the end they decided to build it farther East and today that church is the Basilica. The ruins of the previous attempt to build the church are still there in the center of Cartago and it is called “Las Ruinas”. Anyway the black stone (La Virgen de Los Angeles), also known as “La Negrita”, is know housed inside the Basilica. It, or “she”, can supposedly cure diseases and some people come crawling on their knees to see it. So all this last week people were coming to Cartago, and there were concerts, games, and lots of food. Unfortunately we couldn’t buy any of the yummy looking food, many of it from foreign countries (not Costa Rica) because it was the end of the month. (No money?) Although there was stuff all week long, the official Holiday is yesterday and today.

Yesterday thousands of people were walking through Cartago, to the Basilica. They closed one of the main streets to cars, and a constant river of people were walking down that street all morning long. We walked against the current on the way to church (Book of Mormon in hand) and walked with the current after. We came up with an idea to use the Romeria to our advantage. Familia Araya (Xinia, Karen, etc.) live on the street that the thousands of people were walking down, so we decided to set something up in front of their house. We made a poster with Alma 7:10 written out on it (About Mary and her being a precious and chosen vessel for the Son of God) and the Book of Mormon at the bottom. We grabbed a bunch of folletos (pamphlets) and posters to give out and we set it all up in front of the house. The idea was that it could catch people’s attention and maybe spark their interest in our message and that we could get some contacts or give out some posters free. The problem is that as soon as we got it all set up, the river of people flowing by slowly dried up, and only a few people here and there walked by. Familia Araya helped us and we still contacted a lot of families and gave away some folletos and posters but in the end my dream of baptizing millions of catholics was shattered. We found out later that the reason that all the people stopped walking by is that the city had changed the walking route to the street just south of us. What unbelievably bad luck I have sometimes. I am sorry, there is Always next year *Ü*

Anyway, tonight is going to be the last night of the Romeria. Tomorrow morning “La Negrita” will be moved over to the Cathedral, where she will reside for one month. In September she will be moved back to the Basilica again. That little black stone is always in the basilica, covered in a huge gold case. In back of the Basilica there is a replica of the negrita, and a “holy water” fountain as well. Some people come every morning to drink or wash themselves with the holy water and I think they even sell it, or at least bottles to take it home with you.

So today we went to my comps one month checkup. Whenever new missionaries come in, one month later they and their trainers meet with President to see how there first month in the field was. I never had my one month checkup because my trainer forgot about it. It was fun. We went up to a high mountain overlooking San Jose, and we got to see the whole city. It was sweet, and president asked us what it made us feel seeing the whole city from above. It made me see the potential this country has and made me think about all the people waiting and searching for the truth. After that we ate lunch at President’s house.

Although the Romeria was happening and the Catholics in the city were more active catholics, this last week we found some good new investigators. We have been trying to let the investigators talk more so we can see what there needs are and teach according to those needs. Its hard sometimes because some of our investigators talk a lot, but its really helped as well. Jennifer, William, and Jessica all agreed to be baptized if they receive an answer that this is the truth. Yesterday Brun and Jasmine didn't come to church because they were out of town, but Jessica, Eddy, Eddy’s wife, and Eddy’s daughter all came to church and liked it. Jessica got up in fast and testimony meeting and shared how she feels really good at church and called us her “Angels”. She’s not even a member yet. *Ü*

On Wednesday I went to Paraiso on divisions, and saw Ana and her family. They taught me how to play with the trompo (top with the string). The little kids in that family are really good at the trompo, and they can do some sweet tricks with it. I also saw Walter and Helen and Helen gave the Family Home Evening. Part of Paraiso is all dirt and mud right now because they are changing all the pipes in Cartago. That's why they have been shutting off the water sometimes.

My comp has been learning quickly and we can teach the lessons more together now. We wrote down every lessons basic points and practiced a lot so he feels more confident now. We gave Hna Lijia a blessing a couple weeks ago when she asked for it, because of her health problems. We also taught her son Bryan about the Plan of Salvation on Saturday. He really liked it and we’re going to keep teaching him. Oh, and I don't know if a said happy fathers day last month but if not then, Happy Fathers Day Dad.

Elder Tobler