Thursday, May 27, 2010

Saludos a nuestra Familia y Amigos

We finished our appointments a little early this evening so I thought I would get this edition of YOU ARE IN PERU NOW ready and get it posted. Every day seems to be an adventure and I muse sometimes that every day would provide great material for an L.D.S. sitcom complete with insider jokes, potty humor, and spiritual antic dotes.

Por ejemplo(for example) yesterday after our district meeting at the capilla in Imperial we took Elder and Hermana Reich (Rich) to the Mercado so that Hermana could look for some material to sew with. The Mercado in Imperial is nice compared to some and it is the kind of place that you can expect to find almost anything, except for 70ish year old gringos. After we went to our favorite sandwich shop just off the Plaza de Armas(sounds kinda cool like it should be in designer district in a European city) which is just a space between two other buildings with a bamboo roof. I remember the first time we ate there, I was sure I was going to die, but sandwich tasted delicioso.

I would elaborate on some of the things I have seen in the shop but then you would be asking “why would we go back.” Anyway, we ordered our sandwiches, pavo on a bun(turkey is the house specialty) and they made a place for us to sit. As we were sitting there I looked at Elder Reich and then Hermana Reich, thought of my first visit to the sandwich shop, I knew what was going through their cabezas(heads) and said “A year ago would you have imagined that one day you would be sitting in a place like this doing what you are doing?”

I really didn’t know what they were thinking but Hermana managed to utter, “no, I sure didn’t.”

Our day was packed with appointments so we had to leave them there with the Elders to finish their lunch and go back to Mala. We sent them an email today to see how they are doing, we are not sure but maybe they are not talking to us because we did not hear back from them. Maybe tomorrow.

We are reopening the area of Quilmana with missionaries this transfer so today we went there to look for an apartment for them and a new casa capilla for the branch to meet in. The Presidency in Quilmana had been scouting around already and had some leads for us to follow up on. We are glad that we are not being transferred to Quilmana. Elder Powell and Elder Arajou were assisting us and after we had viewed one of the apartments I asked them how would they feel about the apartment if they were the ones being transferred to Quilmana. They both responded that they have lived in much worse, we just cringed.

The trip was cute short by an acute attack of “welcome to Peru.”

This last week we visited and taught in a few pueblos we had never been in before let alone knew existed. One is known as San Isidro pequeno (little San Isidro). We had to walk a fair distance down a dusty road through the chacra where the corn was about 7 feet tall on both sides of the road. It was impossible to see the place until you arrived. We had two appointments there the first is a single man, which today committed to baptism in two weeks, and the other was a first visit with a very nice young family. Well we did not finish until after dark and I mean after dark, it was pitch black, crossing overflowing irrigation ditches on wet stepping stones. The walk back to the main roadway was scary, kinda like Sleepy Hollow.

Sunday afternoon we had a very moving experience while we were visiting in Las Vinas. I need to set the scene of Las Vinas, as our new camera person took hardly any photos this week, it is nestled in a valley between two hills about 300 meters high. The hills are comprised of essentially pit run sized stones covered with about half a meter of sand. One side has been excavated to build homes into the hillside and this has been done with absolutely no retention.

This was our second visit with Dehlia in her adobe home with dirt floors and tarp and bamboo roof. As with all of our meetings we start with a hymn and prayer and Dehlia asked Hermana Whitney to pray, almost everyone asks her to pray, so she fervently offered a wonder prayer. When she was finished Hermana Romero in a slightly excited voice says, “Muy Fuerte” (very strong). Debbie said “why thank you.” Just as the ground started to shake again even “mas fuerte” than the first time only this time with a quick look around the table everyone sprang to their feet and ran to the street.

The whole community was in the street and mothers we crying out to their children to gather in. It truly was a moving experience that made our little hearts go pitter patter.

We have several families that we have visited in this pueblo and we have commented on other occasions that if there were ever much of an earth quake the whole community would be buried. Fortunately we did not have to find out if we were right or not.

The other thing that was shaken was Debbie that it was an earth tremor not her prayer that was “muy fuerte” but on the other hand who is to say but what that it was her prayer that stayed the hand of the destroyer for that community that afternoon.

That visit turned in to a lesson on emergency preparedness as Dehlia lost her home and everything in it in 2007 when the big quake hit Chincha and Pisco.

The other thing about Las Vinas is that it is a daylight only community, not safe for gringos and Hermanas traveling alone and it was not after dark. We had been there before after dark but always with Pedro Macha. Not wanting to leave the Hermanas alone we put them on the first moto(not many taxis like to go there) that came along hoping that another would come along soon. We walked to San Vicente before an empty moto would pick us up.

Notwithstanding where we were we knew that we had not deliberately placed ourselves in that position and had the assurance that if we were careful that all would be well, and it was.

Last Friday there was a conference at the CCM (missionary training center) in Lima with Elder Jay Jensen of the Presidency of the Seventy and we and the other couples in our mission were invited to attend. This is Los Jones the mission couple serving in Nasca, which is about 6 hours south of Canete, they had been on the bus for 8 hours. At this moment Elder Jones mission was to get some real food. We met them at the bus station so that we could help him fulfill his mission of the moment.

We completed that mission at the Chili's restaurant at Jockey Plaza. It was great for the three couples to get together and share a few war stores and for the Jones to get some real food. Where they live it very difficult to get american type food and they live on rice and canned tuna. Terry hates rice.

When I was relating the story of our turkey sandwich in Imperial I was thinking about this picture that I took of Los Reich at the temple last week. This is more of the setting that you would expect to find this great looking couple.

This couple looks great anywhere, no everywhere.

When ever we are at the CCM we check for misisonaries from Canada just in case we know someone that knows someone. This is Melodie Mathieson, her mother Kasandra, had alerted us to the fact that she was in the CCM. Mathieson's lived in the 8th Ward for awhile when she was growing up and somehow her mother got our blog address had had been keeping up with us. When we arrived at the CCM we directed into the auditorium to be seated and we wondered exactly how we would find her. It was uncanny like a spot light was on her, I walked directly to her and said buenos dias Hermana Mathieson your parents asked us to say hello. Ella esta muy feliz. Hermana Mathieson is one happy, prepared, and enthusiastic missionary. She sends her thanks and love to her family.

This random shot was taken along the highway, of sorts, to Quilmana, where were to meet Elder Powell and Arajou. It is a paradero (bus stop) between somewhere and nowhere.

Later that night we meet in Quilmana with a few members the branch, unfortunately there are only a few members left. Six months without missionaries has just about wiped out this fledgling branch.

This was a visit that we made with Hermanas Romero and Ajmac to meet Banet. Banet is a new contact that they have started to teach but her novio(boyfriend) is not in a rush to get married and it is preventing her from progressing in the lessons. She lives in another little pueblo called Progresso, in this house where she is raising her two young brothers. Both parents have fled the scene. Soon, next month, she will be raising one of her own.

The Hermanas were very late getting to a family home evening apointment on Monday so we decided that they should have to preform a castigo for their tardiness so they danced the "el pato" but before we left we all did.

This is the Palamino family that we were visiting that night. Samuel and Jesusa on the left and Daisy on the right are members, the other daughter whose name eludes me and her daughter love to meet with us but favor another flavor of religion. After left their home I found out the reason for the Hermanas being late, they had to walk a long distance to get there because they had run out of funds before the end of the month. I felt bad, they can ride now.

Like we said, everyday is an adventure; we are doing and seeing things that would never have imagined a year ago. It is ever clearer to us that all of our experiences in life have been preparing us so that we could do what we are now doing and we are glad that we are not wasting our life’s experiences by doing the easy things. It is an interesting musing to me, but what are these experiences are preparing us for?

Thanks for reading this edition of our blog.

Les amo mucho!

Elder and Hermana Whitney

Los gringos in Canete

Monday, May 17, 2010

Saludos a nuestra Familia y Amigos

We have just finished one of the busiest and most fulfilling weeks of our mission, so far, and the thing that I find most interesting is that I am at loss for words to describe the experiences that we have had. Partially because some of it you would had to have been there to appreciate the story and some because the experience is so very special to us that sharing all of it would diminish the sacredness of the events.

The most important thing/news that we have to share we are saving to the end of this installment with the pictures. It is nice to be the editor of my own blog/newspaper and I can put the headline story anywhere I want.

It is always such an epiphany when the final piece of one of life’s puzzles drops into place for you like this one; We have been wondering what the main reason for so many motorcycles on the roads here. Clearly they are more motorcycles than cars but what is the real reason. Safety can not be the motive because traffic rules are not rules at all they are merely suggestion (my personal two favorite traffic rules, one way streets which are which ever way your moto is facing regardless of the direction of arrows, and the other is the concept of lanes, the number of lanes depends on how wide the vehicles are and who yields first in the game of chicken). We thought maybe it was the economy of a motorcycle the lowest cost per man mile – I call it lowest cost per man mile because we see 4 and sometimes five people (including nursing babies) on one cycle. Another aspect of cost was we see hosts of cycles that are almost as old me, Honda S90 (has not been made for 40 years) Cub 50’s and 90’s that went out of production in the 70’s. Maybe other things like cheaper insurance, ease of storage (as most people park them in the house so that they are there when they want them). Many of them don’t have lights of any kind so maybe they don’t need safety inspections. It was just hard to say for sure.

Well today one of our friends, that owns a motorcycle shop, saw us walking down the highway stopped in his car to give us a ride and I told him we had been thinking of buying a motorcycle and I wanted to know how to get a license. Now I already knew that getting a car drivers license was really difficult and that you have to go to Lima to get it. He said don’t worry when you want one I will take to the town office and you can buy one, it is cheap. All the pieces fell into place and it explains where all the lousy motorcycle drivers are coming from. Mystery solved.

Just as a footnote, many of the operators to these cycles are women.

Two weeks ago we notified by the Assistants to the President that our zone was to attend a special Multi-Zone conference in Lima, events that we always enjoy but wish we would get more notice of. These conferences always work well for the missionaries from Lima because it has little impact on their schedules but for us we need change and cancel our full day. In order to be at the bus station at 5:00 am to make a meeting for 9:30 in Lima means a wake up at 3:45 in order to get ready, find ride to town and the bus station at that unholy hour, and wait for the rest of the missionaries to arrive. Considering it is a trip to Lima and a spiritual recharge it is a small inconvenience.

It is all good unless when you arrive you find your name printed on program for a 10 minute presentation on the restoration. What a shock to have the first person to greet you be the Mission President thanking you for willingness to participate in the program. In reality it was not much of shock for me because it was Hermana (Debbie) Whitney that the Assistant to the President forgot to call and invite to participate and whose name was on the printed program. (Those two will have to think twice about turning up at her door hungry hoping for a meal at 8:30 in the evening as they did the week before.)

I would have had trouble doing it in my native tongue let alone in Spanish but she did it and did it well in Spanish and she points out that she did it with our crying.

All in all it was an amazing meeting with some incredible music provide by the Presidents family that were visiting from the USA.

The zone meetings and conferences are a great diversion from our daily work and sometimes a change is as good as a rest but it is meeting with the people that warms our hearts and touches our soles.

We have a few photos to share, and oh yeah, the big news!

Two Saturdays ago our scheduled activity got rescheduled so we found ourselves with some bonus time so we went to Lunauana with our Peru family to sample some local food. Debbie commandeered the camera and took lots of pictures.

Pictures of trees at the resort we stopped to eat at.

Pictures of point setter plants that are really trees.

And more lovely flowers.

Alright, no more flowers give me the camera.

Finally, pictures with people. After a lunch of Camarones, which the locals catch in the river in the first picture, we took a walk through the resort to the river. They call them Camarones and they are prepared whole and all though they translate Camarones as shrimp they are Texas crawdads. This is Juan Carlos, Adriana, Octavio, and Adrian walking the lush forest. Just for the record I did not fare well on this local delicacy.

I recovered and on the following Monday we went a zone to the beach for a cookout. Elder Bearnson and Elder Ponciano arranged for Aravelo to pic us up in his combie in Buhama and take us the beach.

The picture you saw of Aravelo was also at the beach but he was dressed in all white. The picture before that was at his wedding.

The neat thing about the beach at this time of the year is that it is like a private beach, we were the only people there. Yes, that is the YMCA they are doing in the picture and on the make shift grill there is prepared meat in form of patties but no one was going out on a limb and calling them hamburgers.

Later that night we went to Rosa and Hubert's home for "noche de hogar" (AKA family home evening). When we arrived Rosa and Hubert were at the hospital with the little fellow on Rosa's lap and only Kiara and Jean Pierre were at home. We told them it was there turn to give the lesson, at first we were just kidding, but they said sure and pulled out some books. Kiara taught about the creation and Jean Pierre about the Book of Mormon form Predicad Me Evangelio. We were blown away by them.

What is there not to love about people like this. Then again when they love you it becomes very easy. We are working towards a temple with them in November of this year. Jean Pierre with the white beard was the winner or loser of the game we were playing and had to use his tongue to find the prized candy in the dish of flour.

Nicolas was just to cute to not put his picture. We up in Mala on Friday visiting his parents Iber and Chabella. We took them a copy of the booklet "House of the Lord" as we prepare them the temple as well.

This is big news that we have been dying to tell everyone about. Saturday evening Juan Carlos and Adriana were baptized and Sunday they were confirmed members of the Church. Believe it or not but I don't have the words to fully express how we feel about this marvelous event. Simple stated, we love them.

What a privilege it has been to see the hand of the Lord in the lives of our friends and watch and experience with them as they began to conform their lives to cast off the natural man and begin to be spiritual people. Good happy people recognizing that they can be better and happier.

We continue to be amazed by the blessings that we receive as we serve here. We marvel at the words that come out of our mouths and the things that we understand that are normally beyond our comprehension. The Lord truly takes weak things and makes them strong for his own purposes. I know that in D. & C. 4 it says that if ye have desires to serve ye are called to the work and that faith, hope, charity, and love with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify you for the work, but I am convinced that the Lord will take it one step further with us and if we just show up He will qualify us for the work.

I don't know why we have been so blessed, we just are.

Until next time!

Les amo mucho

Los Whitney

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Saludos a nuestra Familia y Amigos

It still seems funny or odd to us to be thinking that winter is coming when everything we have ever known tells us that May is spring and that summer is coming, well not in the southern hemisphere. Winter is on its way and we have noticed the change in seasons with cooler air and a little moisture. I call it moisture and stop short of calling it rain as it has many of the characteristics of rain but the ground never gets wet.

Winter temperatures here are generally in the 60’s F or mid teens C which is a far cry from the -40 F/C that we have experienced back home. Not withstanding it is humid and the cooler temperature feels cold or colder than one would expect. The upside to the change in weather is that we can close the window a bit, put away the fans and cut down on the dust that continuously filters through the house. I even think there are few types of insects around to vex us.

Last weekend marked the closure of the stores in Asia(Ahseeah) which also marks the end of easily available, store bought, supermarket type comida (food) and various other types of fun diversion such as TGI Friday’s, Papa John’s Pizza, Ripley’s department store. It is all gone until next summer, which starts Dec. 23 – things really are upside down on this side of the equator.

Saturday we went with our Peru Family to Wong’s for the last grocery experience of the season and we loaded up on non perishables and heavy things that are a challenge to carry home on the bus from Lima. We had hoped that Friday’s would have stayed open until the end but sadly, no, so we went to Cerro Azul for lunch. Juan Carlos took us to a Cerviche restaurant facing the ocean where experienced the local delicacy and house specialty, Cerviche, it was delicious. Sushi eaters beware, this raw fish is the bomb.

On the upside it gives us a reason to visit Lima more frequently and gives us something else to look forward to.

Last week was transfer week which is always one of those bitter/sweet experiences when we say good bye to someone. This time it was last transfer for Elder Walker and Hermana Mendoza. Elder Campos got transferred to the mission office to serve as one of the Assistants to the President, it did not surprise us as he is a great missionary.

Elder Walkers parents and sister came to pick him up and have been touring a little before they go home. We were fortunate to have them visit us in our home on Saturday and they attended a baptism with us in the evening. Elder Walker had been the zone leader here since his arrival and had set an excellent example for all the missionaries in the zone. The Walker family is very blessed to have him as part of the family. It was very difficult to say good bye to him twice in one week.

A lot of the work we do here is with the leaders of the church in our district. Our weekly schedule involves meeting with District Presidency, individual branch presidents, and occasionally auxiliary or quorum presidents. In addition we attend the regular presidency and council meetings in the various units. We also attend the full time missionary meetings as well as find, teach, and strengthen members.

For the last couple of weeks we have been trying to teach the District Presidency the real value of the reports in MLS, how to conduct a more effective leadership meeting, and how to help the branch leaders set goals that are not just wishes. I am not going to pretend that we are being extremely successful but as they say here “poco a poco.” Old habits die hard and the work of the kingdom is “work.”

We continue to have marvelous experiences with the people that we visit, teach, and ultimately become friends with. Last Friday afternoon we went up to Mala to visit Iber and Chabella (and little Nicholas), it is amazing how the gospel of Jesus Christ has changed their lives and as a result they are improving their circumstances. It was thrilling to see the light in their eyes as we talked about attending the temple together when they have been members for a year.

Sunday we attended in San Vicente for the first time in many weeks where Cesar and Janette and girls sat with us in church. The girls, Hilary and Shari, sat on my lap and I could not help but think how blessed we have been to have been touched by so many lives since we arrived here. Whether in Mala, Imperial, or San Vicente we have special friends that we have seen come back to church or be baptized and they have become like our family away from home.

Speaking of our family away from home we have an amazing experience that we are going to save until next blog when we share the big news about the family Iruri (Juan Carlos, Adriana, Octavio and Adrian)

We have some pictures and picture story to share, we hope you will enjoy it.

Our pictures from our last installment ended with wedding pictures for Arevalo and Sylvia so I thought we would start with our trip to the beach to baptize Arevalo. Everything looks muy tranquilo how ever the waves were awesome on this day.

Many members of their family and members of the branch turned out to show their support.

It will appear that we have an eating theme this installment however I assure you it was not intentional. Although it looks like a stampede breakfast note that one companion in each group has a blind fold. It might make for a fun stampede breakfast idea.

We won, it was not really fair as we have had years of experience feeding each other junk and keeping each other in the dark.

It was not until I looked at the picture that the significance was not just that their faces were white but it raises the question of how they got that way. In this game the losers had to find a candy with their mouth in a cup of flour.

This sour puss was balancing a lemon on a spoon when suddenly some yelled, "mira el esta Popeye." I had to agree that Popeye has certain handsome characteristics that makes him look like me.

Adriana was serving Oreo cookies to the missionaries but no one was closely monitoring Adrian and this picture was too cute to pass up.

The occasion was one of our weekly discussions with the missionaries and our Peru family. One has to admire the missionaries for their ability to keep to the task in stormy waters.

On one of our last trips to Asia we decided to indulge ourselves and bought a small carton of Hagen-Daze ice cream and sat and enjoyed. We will really miss Wong's and Asia.

On Saturday we went on a road trip with the Familia Iruri and while in Lima we decide to visit the Lima Temple to walk around the grounds. What a peaceful spot in such a busy city and a perfect place to talk about things that matter the most in life.

Meet Yawney (spelled Johnny) and his nephew Raul, that is right his nephew they are about 9 years apart in age. We had the privilege to teach Johnny and his aunt in the home their mother.

Another picture involving food and missionaries. This our, now, customary Cena del Zona (zone dinner) that we have the evening before transfers. Tonight was cylindro pollo con papas y maiz.

After dinner our zone and district leaders entertained us with selection of hymns. They are very talented and I have to say that I am disappointed that they did not share their talents with us before now.

This is a road side tienda on the Pan Americana Highway a few miles outside of San Vicente and is operated by member. She cooks meals, tomales, pollo, ect and sells confectionery to travellers and field labourers.

Yep, the out door bano. I am not sure what Elder Novoa is checking out and I don't want to know. The wind, which blows constantly, blew the off (at least I am hoping it was the wind). So applied all of my skills as self proclaimed southern engineer to repairing the broken parts.

Mean while everyone else carried timbers to a safer location.

When the work was done the Hermana put out some pan (buns) platanos(bananas) and gaseosa(soda pop) for everyone. She then told the missionaries that she had fixed a meal but it was just for los Whitney. We felt awful but decorum dictated that we accept. All I could tell the Elders was that it was delicious.

Saturday in Cerro Azul we ate again. Really when you think about it you have to eat everyday so we don't really eat a lot we just eat everyday. Today we ate a lot, cerviche, mariscos, camarones.

Elder Walker, his parents, and sister stopped to visit on their way back from Ica and Pisco. This week they are off to Machu Pichu and then home.

That night we went to another baptism. This is Johnny's aunt, Lady, in the white, between Debbie and I, the other person is her mother.

Elder Novoa and Elder Granados taught Lady and we were able to help them over come a couple of obstacles that Lady was having understanding and progressing through the discussions. We are blessed to have a close relationship with this family.

FIRE -FIRE -FIRE. This fire is on top of Elder Araujo's birthday cake which Hermana Whitney made and served at his birthday lunch. A lunch which she also made.

Notwithstanding the little trials that we have we are happy, enjoy serving, and short of a little time with our family we can not imagine anything in the world we would rather be doing.

Gracias por tu amor, les amo mucho.

Los Whitney