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!!!

1 comment:

  1. It must have been a neat change to visit the plant, it all sounds really interesting and different from your everyday!