Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saludos a Nuestras Familia y Amigos

It is Sunday afternoon and I have a few minute before my next meeting and thought that I could get started with what will most likely be our last installment of “YOU ARE IN PERU NOW’ while we are still in Peru. The time is just flying by and each day we come closer to finishing our time here we become more aware of all the work that is yet to be done.

Since we attend a different branch each Sunday we have been saying our good byes branch by branch, today we were in San Vicente and ten minutes before the meeting started Presidente Macha told us that were to be the concluding speakers. He then went down the hall laughing. I would have thought that by now he would know better, if he had not planned for me to speak I would have made him change the program so I could.

Once with 30 minutes left in the meeting and without prior warning he turned to me and said “Su tiempo El Presidente” (the time is all yours president). I filled the time and then some. He had no idea that the Spirit had been preparing me all week and as I read and studied the thoughts of what I was to teach flooded into my mind, what amazed me was that it came in Spanish.

When I woke up at 6:00 this morning my message was already in my mind. I have come to understand that when the Spirit instructs you what to say or what to do, you need to do it. This is probably what I will miss the most about being a full time missionary. “Que bencidión ser un misionero.”

Not withstanding that we have made many dear friends and acquaintances while we have been here there are a few that are anxiously awaiting our departure in hopes that they can relapse into following their false traditions and practices that they love so much. I think they will be disappointed in their designs as the new leaders are better trained and committed to follow the manuals and the inspired programs of the church.

It is now Monday morning but a week later, wow, time is just flying by and I must get this blog posted or the first thing we know we will be at home.

We have been executing fairly well on our goals for the things we wanted to see completed before we finished. The three weddings came together, eight of the ten baptisms were accomplished, and so far we are on track with the families to the Temple. We will not make 100% but be assured that it is not for a lack of effort.

This past Saturday we hired a van to take a very special group of friends to the Temple; Renee and Jenny Bariento, Sonia Limay, Pedro and Carmen Macha with their daughter Jenny and son-in-law Evis. This was a special day for the familia Macha as Jenny and Elvis were married for time and all eternity and it was exciting to be a part of their big day.

This was also a milestone day for Renee and Jenny and us because for twenty two months we have been visiting, singing, teaching, testifying, encouraging and befriending. They now qualify to hold current Temple recommends and Renee is in the Elders Quorum Presidency. The experience of being with them in the Temple with them was so special that I am not sure if I should write about it as even now my eyes are a little blurry with tears of joy. Jenny, Debbie and I arrived in the Celestial room first and as Renee crossed the room to join us a vision of the picture of the Savior with the oveja perdida (lost sheep) on his shoulders opened up in my mind and I experienced impressions of His joy over the one that was found.

Later we stood with them and Pedro and Carmen in one of the sealing rooms and looked into the opposing mirrors together, friends forever.

Friday and Saturday of this week we will spend in Lima at the Temple as well. Friday with Iber, Chabella and Nicolas (their son) and Hubert, Rosa, and their three children; Giermo, Kiara, and Jean Pier. It is hard to keep referring to everyone as our special friends but I don’t know how else to express how much we love them and what a privilege it is be a part of their lives and them ours. When each of these families came into our lives we said that we wanted to help them become eternal families and as they go to the Temple this week it will be the culmination of our part of the agreement and the beginning or at least a continuation of theirs.

This Saturday the final stone will be in place when we attend the Temple with Juan Carlos, Adriana, and their two boys Octavio and Adrian. They completed their first year in the Church on the 16th of May and what a blessing they are to the church here.

As outside observers we can also testify as to what a blessing the church has been to them. I know the transition for them has not been without a certain amount of discomfort or out right pain but they have persevered and grown spiritually. To really prove they have embraced the gospel and are willing to do their part, you guessed it, Adriana is pregnant.

Over the past couple of weeks we were blessed to able to participate while Juan Carlos and the missionaries taught the discussions to Juan Carlos’s mother who was visiting from Arequipa.

Juan Carlos is now the Branch President in the Rama de Imperial and is an awesome leader. Watching him assume his responsibilities has really been a testimony strengthening for me as I have seen the mantle of leadership rest upon him and observed the Lord directing his actions and while giving loving counsel to the members.. The Lord really can take a good man make that man a great man.

So it is with any of us, the gospel of Jesus Christ when accepted and lived will improve anyone and given a chance would improve everyone. All the Lord requires is a willing heart and mind and enough desire to believe and he can and will build the rest.

Enjoy the photos, there are a lot of them.

This is the Soyus bus station in Cañete and we were just leaving to meet the other couples in Lima to go on one of our few couples conferences that we were supposed to have every three months. Why I took the picture was the stack of brooms next to the bus and it reminded me of a Halloween joke, by bus or by air!

Los Jones, Los Reich, and us in Ayacucho. We flew to Ayacucho, by plane, which is in the sierra or mountains. It is an impressively beautiful city known as the city of churches because it has 35 Catholic churches more churches per ca pita than any other city. It also has one Stake of Zion. It is also near the place of the final battle for Peru's independence from Spain and is the center for the shinning path terrorists.

One of the main churches located in the Plaza de Armas.

One of the many quaint side streets demonstrating the 400 year history and colonial architecture.

Scorpion we found in the bath room of our hotel the first day we arrived. Needless to say we slept well feeling secure. We showed the picture to the hotel front desk only to get the classic, quite or everyone will want one.

Another Church, we found that many of the older churches are not usable as the structures are unstable because of the many earthquakes they have experienced.

Our first day we took a trip to the battlefield, it is Peru's equivalent to America's Gettysburg.

It was a real pleasure to be in the sierra and experience the fresh air and we had actual rain where the ground gets wet. You can see the greenery and for us it was a real treat as we live in the driest dessert in the world.

A view of one of the typical habitations we saw perched on hillside bluffs.

The Ayacucho river still muddy from the fall rains that caused a lot of mud slides and flooding.

This is an archaeological site along the way. The excavation is of a settlement that dates back 1400 to 1800 years and would coincide with the final 200 years of Nephite civilization

More scenery along the way

The Battle of Ayacucho (Spanish pronunciation: [aʝaˈkutʃo]) was a decisive military encounter during the Peruvian War of Independence. It was the battle that sealed the independence of Peru, as well as the victory that ensured independence for the rest of South America. It is thus also considered the end of the Spanish American wars of independence.

As of late 1824, Royalists still had control of most of the south of Peru as well as of Real Felipe Fort in the port of Callao. On December 9, 1824, the Battle of Ayacucho, or Battle of La Quinua, took place at Pampa de La Quinua, a few kilometers away from Ayacucho, near the town of Quinua between Royalist and Independentist forces. Independentist forces were led by Antonio José de Sucre, Simón Bolívar's lieutenant. Viceroy José de la Serna was wounded, and after the battle second commander-in-chief José de Canterac signed the final capitulation of the Royalist army

At the battlefield are these young boys about 12 to 15 years of age that have memorized the history of the battle and provide guided tours of the area and monument. It was amazing how once the boy was engaged to provide our tour he adopted the persona of a professor lecturing his students. He would change the pitch of his voice and referred to all of us a jovenes much like a teacher saying, now children follow me.

Other children were also part of the locals that make the monument part of their way of life. For a few centamos they would sing and do a little dance. Their parents have little refreshment and souvenir stands.

The local artisans are excellent and make these very interesting adornments and yes we now own one, a very little one.

If you notice the little statues on the roof of this building it is typical of the little monuments that adorn the roof top of every home and building in the the area. They bring good tiding to the inhabitants.

Another dig that dates to pre-Inca times.
The two missionaries in the middle are now serving Ayacucho but both served with us in Cañete. Elder Sardon and Elder Ponciano. We had a great little reunion with them.

Big statues are a big thing in Peru .

Hermana Whitney and hermana Manning in the Plaza de Armas in Huanta which is about an hour and half from Ayacucho. There are two missionaries serving here and they are literally on their own.

Us in the same place.

These children wanted to have their picture taken with the gorgeous Gringa.

With much watermelon clearly we were near the garden of eatin. This tienda is just outside of Cañete on the way to Puente Clarita. A 9 kilo sandia is about $3.00.

We were having some trouble with our bank so we had to make a trip to the big city, Lima, to get some things straightened out so we took advantage of the situation and stopped in at Larcomar for a little Sushi, well a I guess it was a lot of Sushi.

This cute little couple come to church almost every Sunday in Quilmana, we have no idea what they say to us we think they are speaking Quechua. None the less we are glad to see them.

More friends, Elvis and Lucero, live in Quilmana, you would remember them from the blog about a year ago when we went with them to the Temple for their fist time.

Los Ayllon, Marcello and Rebeca, they have been really close to us. They lived 25 years in the States, all of their children live in Idaho. When they retired they bought a little chakra outside of Quilmana. They go visit their family about every year and a half for 6 months. Yes we love them too.

We love this group as well, it was Easter and Hermana Whitney and Hermana Reich made everyone an Easter bag of treats.

Eduardo Acevedo, in the green hat, organized the youth in Imperial to have a Saturday service project and Elders Ewing and Huaman took them to La Florida. The service project was for a disabled woman that had been in bed for 25 years.

Wedding bells rang out for our friends Leonor and Mario. The first time we met Mario we told him that there is a living Prophet on the earth today, he said "I know his name is Thomas Monson I watch him all the time on the BYU channel." Mario had polio as a child, has leg braces and needs crutches to walk and cares for their 4 children at home while Leonor works. He can get the BYU channel for Latin America on his brothers cable TV.

Their clothes were borrowed but their joy was genuine and all theirs.

A random picture that demonstrates the wide desparity in the cultures of Peru, from where cat is meal to this park in Lima dedicated to felines.

This was the next big step in their lives as they were baptized along with Mario jr. and daughter Nicole. Debbie is hold another of thier daughters named China, affectionately know to us Chinita.

Elder Ewings mom sent him a cake mix for his birthday so he came over and he and Hermana Whitney baked the cake. Then we ate the cake.

A little friendly diversion with a game of Kiwi. We were joined by serveral of the San Vicente youth. A side note or point of interest but I discovered that you can not create enough rules to keep the people from cheating, it is in their genes.

Another service in Quilmana building an adobe home. Here Elder Milstead is mixing mortar on the ground, what is unique about the supervising group?

Afterwards we dined on local cuisine prepared by the benenfactors of our labor. The meal consists one serving of carapucra, one serving of sopa seca con pollo and yucca. It was good going down.

The story here is intesting, we were teaching in another home down the street from their home the girl in the white T-shirt knocked on the door and asked if we would visit when we were done. So we agreed and did. The fellow in the orange was in auto accident a few years ago and has a stainless steel plate in his head and has a lot of pain and difficulties. The story is longer but the short of is we gave him a priesthood blessing and made an appoint to have the Elders visit. They are progressing and have a date to get married the 11th of June.

This another part of our extended Peru family, the occaision is Juana's birthday. We did not plan this picture but only one person in the photo is smiling.

Finally after 17 months and 14 missionaries we got Mery and Carlos to the marriage alter and another huge step forward for this family of 6. The story here is long and personal, some day you should ask us about it.

Same day as Mery and Carlos we had Caralina and Willy get married in the Matrimonial Masivo in San Vicente. Again another story worth hearing about but you will have to ask. We were testigos for both these couples and were featured on the local TV evening news in Cañete and our pictures have been posted on the Municipal Office building in the Plaza de Armas. FOR REAL,

Spiritually Elder Ewing is much taller than than real life but after spending his first 6 months in the mission field with us in Imperial we had to say hasta luego. His parents can be proud of him and the work he is doing for the Lord.

Elder Merrill was fortunate enough to get to finish his mission here in Cañete as our Zone Leader and we were very fortune that he did. We wish him well as he returns home with honor.

Elder Rodas also moved on this transfer after spending nearly nine months in Mala and Cañete. He is with out a doubt one of the hardest working missionaries to come this way with a real zest and talent for teaching.

On one of our preparation days we made a little trip to Lima to see the Cathedral de Lima and the Monastery de San Francisco.

Inside the cathedral are a dozen smaller chapels that are dedicated to different groups or guilds like the shoemakers, carpenters, ect. under each are crypts where noteable people from the groups are buried.

This is the main alter area along each side are seats that are built into the wall for the various rankings of preists.

This is us at the Temple with Iber, Chabella, and Nicolas. When we finished the Temple preparation classes with them we took a trip to the Temple just to show them around.

Afterwards we went to Wongs for an ice cream and we had a little shopping cart rodeo with Nicolas

The Gringos in Cañete are in the final stage of this this adventure and looking forward to the next stage in our lives. As this picture depicts we always on the road to somewhere and we should always make sure the road is leading to somewhere worthwhile. No matter what the outcome how you react to it is your decision.

The next and most likely final edition will be from home!

Love to all,

Los Whitney, Gringos in Canñete.