Sunday, January 31, 2010

Saludos desde Los Whitney en Canñete!!!

Summer technically arrived here December 21st and we, reportedly, were heard to comment that if this summer this isn’t so bad. Well, summer has arrived in reality and it is hot and muggy. You can actually break into a sweat thinking. I try and not think too much because I hear that thinking messes with your tan even if it only is a farmer tan (above the collar and below the elbows).

Sunday was the anniversary of our community (urbanizacion) and there was a fiesta in the afternoon for everyone in the community, lunch, games, a youth dance program about the nativity ect. It was hot enough that everyone came and got their food and went home to eat inside. Juan Carlos and Adriana invited us over to sit on their roof top patio and visit.

I now have patio envy; the patio is the third floor of their home with tile floors and view. From the roof top they can see the ocean, mountains, and everyone else’s roof top. It did not take long in the direct tropical sun and my face got a lot of color, I was looking quite native for a day or two. Debbie, the wise one, sat in the shade with sunscreen on. I guess I should also add she was the comfortable one that slept well. I still maintain that it is a good that ends with a sunburn, Debbie still maintains that I am crazy.

We seem to be in the middle of a building boom in our neighborhood. Today they are digging the foundation for the third new home of the season across the street. When I say digging that is exactly what they are doing, three guys with picks and shovels. They will excavate the footings and foundation walls by hand, approximately 4 feet deep. They do not use forms for the concrete below grade as they cut the hole just wide enough for the wall. Debbie has done a complete photo journal on the first home built across the street and when it is done or nearly done she is going to do an entry about it. It is interesting to see how they run a wide white chalk out line of all the supporting walls and then dig. More when Debbie’s photo journal is published.

Apparently we are sleeping soundly these days, we were talking on the phone with the Area President, Elder Nash, last week and he commented that we must have survived the earthquake. When I got off the phone I checked the U.S. Geological Survey and found that there had been a tremor the night before. I would not know because Debbie shakes the bed to stop me from snoring, she can’t tell the difference because my snoring shakes the room. Not withstanding this is not to diminish what those poor people in Haiti have suffered.

Some have written to know if we are near the mud slides and flooding that is making the international news. In the Cusco area mud slides have taken out entire towns this week. Conservatively more than 25,000 families are without homes and thousands of people are missing. It has been unusually wet high in the Andes this year and flooding has been extreme, considering that proximity to water is the reason people inhabit an area flooding has maximum impact one populated areas.

Last blog we introduced a young couple, Iber and Chabella, they have been progressing through the charlas(discussions). Or at least Iber has been very attentive and they have been attended church with Elders Servan and Bearnson. They have a desire to get married and Iber wants to get baptized. Note how I said Iber wants to be baptized.

This last week while discussing the steps they need to take to be baptized Chabella said she did not need to be baptized as she had been baptized. Elder Servan said, “yes we all were baptized in other churches but it is necessary to be baptized by one possessing the proper authority.” She said, “yes, I know, I have been a member of the church for seven years.” Iber, stunned, said he had no idea. The poor woman had been living the burden of her conscience ever since the missionaries started to teach her husband.

This week we meet with them again and what a change in Chabella. She was full of life and excited. As we visited with them this week we were able to witness the joy she was experiencing putting things right in her life, she was so full of gratitude. They are getting their papers together for marriage and have us to be their Testigos. We are honored and very excited for them and feel it to be a true blessing in our lives to be able to assist them.

We have mentioned in previous blogs how many of the good and humble people we encounter here opt for common law relationships because of the insurmountable cost of getting married. If you would like to know how you might help, drop us a line and we will let you know how.

Sunday at the Los Reyes anniversary party in the park with Juan Carlos, Adriana, Octavio, and Adrian. You can see that January in Canete is quite pleasant. (Also note how tall Debbie is compared to Juan Carlos and Adriana.)

Here are three amigos that are having fun. There is nothing like the great outdoors.

We were a little unclear as to why the program was a dancing musical rendition of the nativity but not withstanding it was a very well done program. At the end they called on volunteers to come up and recieve a figurine from the nativity and they also get to donate money for the community.

Earlier that day our neighbors children, that were moving out of their home, launched these items over the back wall in to our courtyard. Purple corn and coat hangers, we had been finding various items in recent history but none since they left. No need to wonder anymore where they were coming from.

Mentioning the courtyard I thought I would show what it looks like so as not to give any false impressions of grandeur. You can see our little washing machine with the canopy that we made to protect it from the sun. At its widest part it is 8 feet across and has an 8 foot wall around it. This is also our clothes drier, we hang everything on a line.

Elder Zea and Elder Walker had a double baptism on this day. The young man being baptized is the first baptism from Quilmana in a long time, the family on the right side of the picture are one of the faithful families from Quilmana.

Every second Wednesday night we travel to Quilmana for a "Misional" which is an activity night for members to bring friends to. We have a program like a family home evening (noche de hogar) part of which is playing games. When you lose the game there is a "castigo"(punishment) which often is embarrassing. Here President Huarhua and I really getting down with El Pato, the duck dance. He and I actually like it so we don't mind losing.

This was one our our weekly work project. We demolished some brick partitions on a roof top "el bano" that is essentially an open air space. We had to carry the rubble down two flights of stairs to the street in buckets. Oh did it hurt the next day.

While we were working the district Hermanas and Elder Nova were playing dress up having their own little beauty contest. Actually they were moving the effects of small tienda that was on the main floor when they came across this fun stuff.

Later that we went to Zharry's third birthday party. She is Janet and Cesar's youngest, it was a fun time for all.

We hope that someone will forward our blogspot to our friends at the Sunsplash Sun Tan salon in Edgemont so Melissa (Mel)can see this. This is in Asia.

This baptism was in Canete, Hermana Mendoza and Hermana Mogollon taught the Taya family and these four members were baptized on the same day. Note the family name, this family were found as a consequence of the chance meeting we had in the street one night three months ago.

Last Monday we went with Elder Zea and Elder Walker to Gamara, which is the shopping district in Lima. What a zoo, tens of thousands of people, half the people selling and the other half are buying. Gamara is home to the best pickpockets in the world.

Here is last weeks work project. We were helping Melissa and her sister clean an area of their home. This open air space is part of the living room with a tree in the middle. We found the most interesting spider with a crab like shell. Our pictures did not turnout but Elder Walkers did so when we get them we will post it.

This is the outdoor kitchen. Rustic, as a description, would not do this justice.

The group photo of the workers, Melissa is the middle. She was very thankful for the help and we all were glad to be able to help.

Meet Ray (pronounced Rye) Elder Servan and Elder Bearnson(Mala Elders) introduced us to Ray, they have been teaching him and his father. He is 16 years old and tutors mathematics at the university level. Before we started the meeting I challenged him to be baptized, it just seemed like the right thing to do, you could have knocked the Elders over with a feather when he responded that he is ready and had selected a date.

Thank you for reading another edition of Whitneysinperu. Drop us a line or leave us a comment to let us know how you are doing.

Les amo mucho!!!

Los Whitney

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hola Familia y nuestros Amigos

Here it is the middle of January, or Enero here in Peru, and I am playing catch up with the blog. One or both of us have been sick since last weekend and neither of has been highly motivated to work on the blog. We have had a few days that we needed to stay close to home. I can’t figure out why but we did nothing to the guy named Montezuma so what is his revenge about. Staying close to home would not be half bad but for the fact that our internet has been out most of the week which also made impossible to work on the blog.

When we signed up with Telefonica for internet we had to get a telephone as a package deal. At first the internet was great but the phone did not work – nada. Instead of leaving well enough alone we pushed them to get the phone working, you guessed it, the phone started working and the internet stopped working. Now I know why you have to have the phone, so you can call them when your internet doesn’t work.

I tried to reason with Telefonica over the phone but that quickly became futile. I just don’t have the vocabulary to explain the technical problems and the phone company would have had there way with me except for the secret weapon, our vecinos(neighbors). Adriana came over once in the morning and once in the afternoon each day and put the service department of Telefonica through their paces until they fixed it.

Dustin, in Calgary, had already diagnosed the problem on Teamviewer, before the service shut down altogether, as a server problem and the codes that had failed. Adriana kept telling the tech on the phone what to look for and finally they did and fixed it.

What an interesting apperception of life how someone so far away can reach out across the immensity of distance and provide an answer to a problem. If those who the message is intended for will listen, the problem will be solved. Funny how in some instances when the answer is provide people will still look for their own solution. I wonder if God finds it amusing when we ignore his messages and seek to create our own answers.

Other than being sick we have an interesting couple of weeks. Last weekend was our District Conference, mission equivalent of Stake Conference, it was an amazing out pouring of the spirit. President Manning had been contemplating a change in leadership for some time and asked that we be prepared to give our recommendations for changes. As time got close to conference we worked in concert with one of the counselors in the district providing a list of potentials for interviews and profiles for each candidate. We were blessed to see how the hand and will of the Lord is made manifest in this process and how he called our new district leaders as well as branch changes that came a result.

Along with the District changes we have received a new branch president to work with, our good and dear friend Pedro Macha. He will be presiding over the Rama de Canete.

We also received lots of spiritual guidance through President Manning for furthering the ministry of strengthening the saints in our district and we are already pressing forward with that direction.

On the lighter side of things we had what they call a companionship preparation day this week which means that we did not get together as a zone for an activity so we were on our own. Left to our own devices we decided to go to The Boulevard in Asia for lunch and then to Playa de Golf, to see the golf course, which we have seen from the highway each time we went to Mala or Lima.

Now this is going to sound 00oh sooo American and you are going to wonder what all the complaining is about, we decided to have a hamburger at TGI Fridays. Once seated in the restaurant we found several big screen TVs, in one corner was the golf channel and the other was the Dallas Cowboys and Philly Eagles wild card round playoff game from the day before. It felt heavenly for about 2 hours. (Just remember Asia is open from December 24th to February 28th)

We then took a taxi to the golf course where the first person I met greeted me and said “so Elder where are you from?” (in Spanish of course) I said so you know the Church? “Si” he said “my brother is a bishop in Arequipa.” I said “your not a member?” “No,” he said. Then his conscience got him, he is a member, not attending. He then introduced to me the golf pro, from Montreal Canada. As it turns out the course is open year round but is private and in the summer you need to be a guest to get a tee time unless of course you are a Canadian, a Missionary, and call him in advance. In the off months, which are 10 months of the year, you can walk on any time. Now, if only we had brought our equipment and could afford it.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda! Life with no regrets!

Our service project for this week! This is the multi-purpose area of the home. It is an open air space which contains the kitchen, shower, and livestock(chickens, a turkey, and cuy. We were moving a mound of dirt out of it and leveling the ground. Hermana M. in the blue shirt is standing in the shower.

El bano.

Hermana Whitney and Elder Nova breaking up the packed ground, in the background is the kitchen with stove, sink(blue) and food preparation area.

Hermana Whitney had a great idea for transitioning the level from the doorway to the kitchen so we went to work making adobe mud and using some bricks that we found.

The sister that we were providing the service for loved the idea, so did we.

This fugitive really needs to rethink his living accommodations, a chicken living in the kitchen. One mistake and you are dinner.

Elder Garay and Elder Novoa having a little fun with our only piece of heavy equipment on this project. This passes for a dump truck in these parts.

We have not had a proper get together until we have a group photo with the benefactors of our service. This Sister is really grateful for what she has, she has a little garden and is trying to grow a little patch of grass. When you see these types of things it puts a different perspective on things and helps you to understand that regardless of what we see outwardly that inside this sister has hope, and aspirations for a better circumstance if only incrementally. We really are concerned for this sister and her children as this home is built into a very unstable hillside with insufficient retention and the next earthquake, well we don't want to think about it.

When you talk about how the other half live this is about as stark a contrast as you might find. This is banking Asia (Ah-see-ah) style. It is a bank cafe, stop by do a little banking, a cup of jo and spend a few minutes and connect to the internet. It is a completely different world.

This is a view down the boulevard, it looks like a ghost town right now but the rich and famous that live in these parts don't get moving about until much later in the day.

This is the Ripley's department store and is so totally different than the Mercado that we are used to. It is hard to believe that the whole place closes down and moves back to Lima in 8 weeks.

Who is that caliente Gringa strolling the boulevard?

I know this looks bad but one pizza really is Debbies and yes that is the good Dr. in my hand. Papa John's and Dominos both have stores here, I will miss this when they are gone but that won't stop me from enjoying it when I can. Choose your poison I always say and today it is Mickey D's for an ice cream treat.

A nice view of the Playa and the golf course. The homes you see in the back ground, and thousands of others on the coast, are vacant 10 months of the year.

Feliz cumpleaños!

Debbie celebrated her birthday this week with the missionaries. They arranged for the pensionista in Imperial to fix a lunch for her and they picked up a cake for her. She put on her best happy face for the event but inside I know she was longing to have lunch with her crew back home. That and the fact that she was so sick she could hardly hold up her head most of the day.

Notwithstanding, I know that she will look back fondly on this day and remember the day she had her birthday with these friends and remember the love they have for her.

They told her it is a custom for the celebrant to take the first bite before the cake is cut. It sort of is but the reason is so that they can push your face in the cake. Debbie was born in the night but not last night so they did not catch her on this day.

Meet Iber, Chabella, and son. They are a wonderful couple that live in Mala that are in an all too familiar situation here where circumstances make it so difficult for them to get married. On this day we were meeting with them to share our message of eternal families and the blessings that they could enjoy. They have four walls and no roof in there living quarters, a dirt floor, a couple of chairs, and HOPE.

So many people in the world have so much of this worlds goods but have no HOPE. If I had to choose between the two I think I would choose HOPE.

Thank you for reading our blog and please feel free to leave a brief comment we really do appreciate hearing from you.

Les amo mucho!

Los Whitney

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Feliz Año Nuevo!!! Familia y nuestros Amigos

The New Year really comes in with a bang here in Peru and in true Peruano flair. The partying kicked into high gear around 9:00 PM on New Years Eve and finished around 3:00 AM thirty hours later on January 2nd. Mucho ruido(lots of noise) music, fireworks, guns, our neighbouring community had a live(Latino music) concert in the parque. We could hear as if we were there, until 3:AM.

Christmas week was challenging for us as we very wanted to be with our family and friends back home, comfortable in familiar surroundings, even if was cold. Our melancholy was added to by the fact that it was transfer week and four of our very good friends left us. Elders McAllister and Grossman made the transition back to civilian life and went home arriving with there families just before Christmas. Hermana Labeau was transferred to Pisco and Elder Juarez went to Lima. All four of these missionaries had been with us since the beginning of our mission and we miss them immensely.

Back home the missionaries are always invited to members homes and included in the Christmas festivities with families, not so here. Christmas Eve the missionaries had their meals with their pensionistas and that was about it for them. We felt a little bad as we had more invitations than we could accept. Early we went to the familia Macha and then to Juan Carlos and Adriana’s for dinner. In Peru the big meal is on Christmas Eve. We will remember that for next year and wont we late. We stayed late and watched the children open gifts. Christmas is about people, not things, and we are fortunate that we have made some great friends and were able to spend time with them this Christmas.

Christmas morning Dustin, Melissa and family called on skype and we participated with them in opening their presents. It is hard to describe how great it was to be included and be able to spend that time with them. We were able to spend time on the phone and skype with all of our kids and grand kids and it was a real boost to our spirits.

Christmas day we planned a meal for all our missionaries and invited all that wanted to spend the day with the familia Whitney. I got the first text message around 8:00 in the morning to see if it was time to come over yet. They started arriving around 10:00. Many of their phones would not work to make their calls to their families and were disappointed. As soon as we found out we made sure that every one was able to make their calls using skype, magicjack, and our Area Cell phone. We played games, ate nachos, and talked about families. It was a good time. (Pictures to follow)

Christmas night we celebrated a White Christmas in the Cañete branch with a convert baptism. Alex is a super motivated young man of 17 and is already preparing to serve a mission in 2 years. His parents are now taking the discussions and hopefully will follow his example. (Pictures to follow)

It was so much fun they asked it they could come again for New Years Day only tacos, guacamole, and nachos. To get ready for that we need to go shopping so we decided to go to Asia(Ah see ah) which is in full summer mode. Asia has a full line of upper end shops, the best supermarket in Peru, the best restaurants, as well as Papa Johns and Dominos pizza and it is only open for 2 months a year. The rich and famous from up north come to their summer homes at the beach and the place is packed with them.

Juan Carlos and Adriana said they would take us up in their SUV, riding in an auto instead of a bus is so much nicer, so we spent the afternoon shopping and eating. As an interesting side note, where ever we go we get stopped by people that recognize our name plagues many of which are members and they talk to us, this day was no different. While we were walking the boulevard a young woman, a member of the church, assumed that Juan Carlos and Adriana were members because they were with us and stopped them and asked where the church is located, as the young woman and family were on holidays and were not sure where to attend. They are not members, although they look like the model poster family for the church, and Adriana casually told them where they needed to go to attend. We had a lot of fun.

In the line in the grocery store an older couple pulled in behind Debbie and started to talk to her and asked her where she is from and when she told him he started singing Oh Canada. They are Peruanos that live in Toronto six months and at the beach near Asia the other six months. Small world when you talk to people.

Speaking of talking to people, we find it very strange that the only people that really don’t talk to us and even avoid making eye contact is the white English speaking people. They all pretend not to be white and never respond when we say hello, we have come to the conclusion that all these people are part of the FBI witness protection program and are afraid that their true identity will be discovered. It is sad and funny at the same time, I actually feel sorry for them.

This week we got our own Internet connection and a land telephone line. The Internet is fantastic but the phone doesn’t work, go figure. It was amazingly easy to get the phone and Internet, Juan Carlos who is the head honcho for the Peru version of the IRS, or CRA in this district, made a couple of phone calls and Telefonica was more than eager to accommodate us. I am sure it was his charming personality that did the job.

I think we have mentioned Reese Woolsey in previous blog entries but quickly; he is from Drayton Valley Alberta, his company is responsible for all things related to safety at the Peru LNG gas plant about 50 km south of Cañete, he is the father of David Woolsey who many of you know. Boxing Day Reese invited us to the plant for a tour and lunch in his executive commissary then we went to a granite quarry about twenty five km away to see some Incan archaeological sites that predate the Conquistadors, including a portion of an Incan highway/trail. Reese doesn’t really talk about what he does there but we noticed that when he comes around people snap to attention and all the señoritas seem to want his attention. Reese and his driver picked up in the morning and we had an extremely interesting and entertaining day. Reese finishes his part of the project in a few weeks and we will really miss him and so will many people here that he has helped during his three years in the area.

Pictures to follow.

In front is Elder Juarez and us, in the back from the left Elder McAllister, Hermana Labeau, and Elder Grossman. We heard from Elder Grossman just after he got home and it sounds as if he is doing great. Elder McAllister and his girlfriend were at David and Patti Lunn's(Debbie's brother and wife) this week and it appears he is on schedule as well.

We arranged with a local restaurant to fix a turkey dinner for us, we figured that a chicken place could fix a turkey and we not disappointed. I found out the the proprietor of the restaurant is a menos activos member of the Canete branch so I used this an opportunity to invite him to return. We now have a good enough relationship that we will be able to visit again.

It must have been a magical sort of day as the bird just disappeared before our eyes.

Yes they saved room for desert, it was a giant fruit salad mixed with yogurt. We welcomed our new missionaries: Hermana Mollgon(she will kill me because I spelled her name wrong), and Elders Servan, Garay, and Bearnson.

That evening was a spiritual feast as we gathered for Alex's baptism. Presidente Gutierrez preformed the baptism. No, I don't know what Pedro's hand is doing in front of his face.

The LNG plant is an enormous undertaking and is a labyrinth of piping. It took three years just to move the dirt around to get to the point of beginning the structural aspect of the plant. It is complete self sufficient and the only thing it needs to have supplied to it is the natural gas.

This tank holds 130,000 cubic meters of compressed gas at a temperature of -130 degrees C. At ambient temperature it expands to 600 times this size.

This is Debbie and Reese standing at the base of the tank above. It looks like the tank is standing on rubber shocks, it is, it is designed to absorb an earthquake greater than the one that devastated the area two years ago. Reese was on site when it occurred and said that things were shaking so violently that you could not stand or walk. In some places the ground rolled and swelled like a huge wave in the ocean.

Us standing at the top of the pipeline to the ship loading facility. The pier is 1.3 KM long is home to millions of birds, sea lions, and dolphins.

The have a team of divers in a zodiac boat in the water 24/7 while they have workers on the dock.

Another view with us. The long T at the end of the pier is a breakwater that will allow the tankers to safely harbor while loading. A super tanker will take about 12 hours to load out. The break water is made from white granite that was trucked from the quarry in the mountains that we will show you later. They moved more than 3 million tonnes to build it.

On the pier

This is an Incan trail. Follow the line of rocks starting in the foreground of the picture, see how the line crossed the valley floor, in the middle of the picture you can see another line to the left hand side, The trail is about 20 feet wide and continues all the way up the valley to the right upper corner of the picture. We were told that the Incan runners would run 15 abreast when they were on the trails.

This Debbie and Reese standing in what was an Incan pueblo the pile of rocks to the right of them was the base of as stone home. apparently the ceilings were very low and they slept crouching on their feet. I am standing beside a couple of other similar dwellings.

The archeologists have posted this site where you can see the where they built up the road way with stones just to the right of the sign.

Standing flat on the ground you could not see anything different about this site but but getting to a slightly eleveated position you could se this unique glyph on the valley floor. It is a spiral somewhat reminisant of a representation of the Milky Way galaxy. It appears to have had some kind of walls or structure around it and looks like it was 5 sided.

This is the quarry where the granite for the breakwater came from.

During the week we had a leadership training meeting with one of the branches and when we arrived we found the Relief Society(Sociodad Socorro) was having a baking contest to see who had the best traditional Peruano desert receipe. Debbie was honored to be asked to be the judge and got to taste all of the deserts.

This was the New Years day taco feast before they started eating.

This is what happens when you make a hungry mob wait to have their dinner while you are taking a picture.

What a happy family photo. Elder Servan in the middle had a birthday this week and did not tell anyone until it was over and is about to receive some love, the hands coming up behind him have eggs in them and Elder Novoa in the Orange shirt has a bag of flour. Oh Yeah!

By the way, if you read last weeks blog, I got my bigger pot and life is so much better. Much of what we write in our blog is about the fun we have but it is only secondary to the work and service that we do as missionaries. We are part of very hard working group of misisonaries in Zona de Canete and we feel privelledged to be apart of the group. We constantly see the hand of the Lord in our work and even though we are far from mastering the language we are experiencing progress and even have moments where we experience or the people we are meeting with experience the gift of tounges.

Thanks for keeping up with us and remember; WE ARE IN PERU NOW!!!