Will I travel directly from Provo to Venezuela?
Its very hard to answer that question. In 1991, getting a visa to enter Venezuela was the easiest thing in the world. The flight attendants handed them out just before passengers landed in Caracas. No kidding! Carlos Andres Perez was president, and in spite of his many faults, he encouraged tourism from the United States. Ever since Chavez became president, missionaries have occasionally had to wait for their visas. Sometimes, they only have to wait a few days, sometimes only a few weeks, but lately, the political situation has been very dangerous. Its been at least four months since anyone has been called to serve in Venezuela.
The December group was the last group to register as current missionaries. They entered the MTC on December 11, 2002. That group included: Cameron Christiansen, Justin Gilbert, Chris Hare, Thomas Lowden, Jennifer Owens, Matthew Rusch and Anthony Selino. They completed their training February 11, 2003.
The November group entered the MTC on the 20th. That group included Matt Appel. They completed nine-weeks of training on January 21, 2003.
The October group entered the MTC on the 30th. That group included: Adam Barrus, Mike Call, Joseph Davis, Parker Donat, Bryce Esplin, Kimberly Kimber, Stephen Melson, Scott Peterson and Samuel Wilson. They completed nine-weeks of training on December 31, 2002. Elder Barrus is still serving in the Georgia Atlanta Mission. Elder Esplin served in the Alabama Birmingham Mission for nine weeks before being transferred to Venezuela on March 3, 2003. Sister Kimber served in the United States for ten weeks before being transferred to Venezuela on March 18, 2003. Elder Melson is serving in the California Oakland Mission. Elder Peterson is also serving in the California Oakland Mission. Thanks to Kirk Barrus, Aaron Burns, Jason Kimber, Kim Peterson and other family members for these updates, 03/11/03, 03/18/03, 04/26/2003.
The September group entered the MTC on the 18th. That group included Nathan Milward. He completed his nine-weeks of training on November 26. He served in the Texas Fort Worth Mission for three months. He arrived in Venezuela on February 17.Thanks to his family for this update, February 22, 2003.
The August group entered the MTC on the 7th. This group included Tyson Boyter, Zachary Edwards, Walt Garrett, Lorin Merkley, Valerie Prince and Ryan Willis. They completed nine-weeks of training on October 8, 2002. Elder Boyter didnt have to wait for his visa. He traveled directly to Venezuela. Elder Merkley served about six weeks in the Idaho Boise Mission. He arrived in Venezuela in mid-November. The current unrest had not yet begun at that time. Thanks to Sister Merkley and other family members for these updates, 03/17/03, 03/20/03.
Can I drink the water?
No! Drink bottled water or soda instead. It can get to be expensive, but not half so expensive as illness. Seek out the joy that is Malta. Malta Polar is the best. At first, it will taste like shredded wheat juice, but many missionaries learn to love the stuff. Do not confuse Malta with cerveza (beer). The same company (Polar) makes them, and the bottles look the same. Soda comes in many interesting flavors, including:
- Pepsi (pronounced pexi)
- Sprite (pronounced esprite)
- chinotto (lemon lime)
- manzanita (apple)
- pineapple (the webmasters personal favorite)
- frescolita (red bubble gum taste)
What's the weather like?
Obviously, being so close to the equator, it is hot. Down in the plains (los llanos), the temperature was commonly about 35 C (95 F) -- and the humidity did not help at all, either. In and around Caracas, it was not uncommon for the temperature to be in the 35 C range, as well. However, the humidity down there was not near as bad, and it did cool off at night. In fact, many missionaries bought wool sweaters to wear in the late evenings when it was down right cold (by Venezuela standards that is - perhaps 15 C, 60 F). Thanks to Christine Bramefor help with this answer, June 20, 2002.
- Laminate everything you can: church pictures, your discussions, etc. Your discussions will probably get ruined if they are not laminated and/or bound together. You can have this done in the MTC.
- Learn to lead music. If you can play piano, you will have the nicest baptismal services in the mission.
- In the MTC, you will be taught not to use the familiar tu even with your own companion. This is fine for the MTC, as it fits in with the MTC culture, but don't take them too seriously, or assume that you won't use the second person familiar once you get to Venezuela. Learn tu. Other missionaries are almost always tu. Some Venezuelan sisters prefer to address the elders in usted. Some people you teach will become offended if you address them always with the formal usted. Some people not from Colombians always use usted, even with pets! Maracuchos (your companions from Maracaibo) use vos, so you should pay attention to those vosotros conjugations as well, and not just for reading your scriptures. One time a Venezuelan from Spain referred to her missionaries as vosotros, and the elder just about burst out laughing, but Spaniards really do use that form, and it isnt strange at all.
- You will get wet during carnival. Accept this fact now. If the kids on the street do not get you with water balloons, the members will get you with buckets. Just protect your books and enjoy the festivities. Don't participate in water fights yourself. It isnt in keeping with the dignity of your calling.
- Bring just a one-strap bag instead of backpack. Theyre better looking than backpacks. If you plan to buy your bag at the MTC, consider bringing along a nice patch to decorate it with. All those bags end up in a heap at zone conference, and sometimes its hard to tell which one is yours.
- Take the proper precautionary measures suggested in the MTC to avoid physical harm caused by contaminated food and water. Purify your water, clean your food, do not eat from street vendors. Stay healthy!
- The entire country is beautiful. On your p-days, enjoy the outdoors of Venezuela. Take a hike. Visit a park or an aquarium. Take a trip to the docks at the harbor, look at the monstrous ships. Visit the Venezuelan forts from the colonial period. Get up early and watch the sun rise over the ocean. It is magnificent.
- Follow the rules. They help protect you from all manner of danger.
Portions of this page were compiled from
the Venezuela Maracaibo Mission Alumni page
by David G. Pope
the Venezuela Barcelona Mission Alumni page
by M. Hansen and Gayle Andrews and
the Venezuela Valencia Mission Alumni page
by Jeff Bullick, Jonathan Ward, Justin Yentes, Luis DeLeon and Collins Stevens.
Many thanks for their efforts.