Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saludos a Nuestra Familia y Amigos

We have had a busy couple of weeks since the District Conference and the last blog entry and I have to admit that some of it has been more fun than work and the work has been more fun than work. The pictures tell the story best so that part we will leave up to the them (the pictures).

In the last issue I mentioned that we were having district conference and our concerns about how it would turnout. To say the least it was a rich out pouring of the spirit and I know that everyone that participated was blessed by it. Oh, that is not to say that we did not have our wrinkles because we did but all in all it was fantastic.

Our concern about the possibility of people not fulfilling their assignments was realized, five speakers did not turn up for their assignments, three of which were assigned to a meeting that I was conducting. It turned out fine as President Manning was speaking and he always needs more time that is allotted. People even said that they understood my talk which was surprising but gratifying.

Saturday activity of visiting members that I had been worried about went very well. The Imperial branch was a little light in attendance but San Vicente was very well represented and a lot of families were visited and some excellent training was given by the mission.

The Sunday session of conference was exceptional and very well attended with a total of more than our combined sacrament meeting attendance. It was great to see the Mala branch arrive on large bus with 68 members attending and a strong contingent from Quilmana. After the meeting Hermana Whitney gathered together a number of the families that we have assisted in one way or another to get married and we have included a photo.

Immediately after the district conference we left for Ica, which is about 2 hours south of Cañete, for another conference with the other couple in our mission. We had couple of very beneficial meetings and lot of fun. (Pictures to follow.) We stayed at a Hotel type of resort called Las Dunas which a beautiful oasis in a huge barren desert. It would not hurt my feelings to stay there again, it is beautiful, many activities, and great food. We don’t want to give a bad impression of us or sound dirty but we were able to have our first bath since we left home. We were supposed to keep this a secret, but I can’t, we even went swimming with the president.

This last week in most of our meetings we have been sharing a message about the crossing of the plains to the “largo salado valle” and bearing testimony of how much we owe to those early saints and sacrifice they made. I have always referenced the pioneers of the church in Peru of which we have a few of in the district.

Notwithstanding I have been surprised by how little of our pioneer heritage is understood and appreciated away from the center of the church.

My heart strings always get a little tight and my vision gets a little blurry when I contemplate the sacrifice of the early saints and my ancestors made. I think of the hardships of crossing the plains, the handcart companies, the cruel elements, scant food commodities, and the hard labor. Not to mention the religious persecution and opposition to beliefs.

Early this morning, while I was doing the laundry up on he roof top, I was contemplating the reasons why the sacrifice of the early saints seemed to be lost on many of the people here. As I look down to the roadway I saw the usual line of Peruano quad X 4’s (four, 4 legged donkeys pulling carts) going to the fields to collect the first loads of yucca and the vendors pushing their carts to the mercado, which they do seven days a week. I then looked out to the field to the south where they were already picking cotton by hand and then to the field to the north where the fields were planted and harvested by hand and ploughed by horse or mule with a single blade plough. Many sleep every night on a dirt floor and/or in an enclosure that has no roof and running water is what is poured from a bucket or bottle. They always have washed their clothes on a scrub board next to the irrigation ditch.

With complete respect for my pioneer ancestors, whom I am forever indebted, it just maybe that their story is a hard sell in third world countries where their experience sounds like just another day to them.

For reasons other than Pioneer Day this week marks a couple of other milestones for us. The first and most important is that it is Mother Gibbons birthday today, she turned 90 years and although I might kid her ask how it was crossing the plans I won’t. I will just wish her a great big


After the District Conference Debbie got some of our families together that we have been able to a part of their lives and have get married. We have been the "testigos for all of their weddings." The other point of interest is the banner behind them, this was the greeting sign for attendees at conference. Some habits die hard.

This is Las Dunas in Ica Peru, we stayed here for two nights during our conference in Ica. This oasis is lush and green and is in the heart of the the 4th driest desert in world. This hotel caters to foreign visitors and the rich and famous of Peru.

One of the claims to fame of this region of Peru is the high quality grape vineyards and the making of Pisco Wine. This is wine press that dates back about 200 years. Sure is a lot different than stamping the grapes with your feet.

Monday morning we went riding in the dunes and the proprietor of the "tube buggies" place had a box full new little puppies. Fortunately there is a mission rule prohibiting pets or I think this little fellow would have found a new home. The compound at the dune buggy place serves a campground of sorts and was being inhabited by a group of students from Israel that had been there for week sandboarding (snowboarding only on sand).

We were a little more adventuresome and went riding in this tube buggy. The presidents daughter and friend, Hermana e yo. It was thrill your socks off kind of fun and the operators was a lunatic. No seriously!

This is the lunatic and his enjoyment in life is scaring the daylights out of people. The word dunes does not do justice to these sand mountains where nothing grows and it is sand as far as you can see. We rode down the hills laying on snowboards, you can only imagine where you found sand. By the way, our lunatic will be 80 years old in October and attributes his long life and good health to driving fast, eating well, and loving his work.

Sand, beauty, and beautiful sand!

This is the other buggy that took the scenic more tranquilo route through the dunes. When we left the hotel in the morning it was down right chilly but buy the time we got out in the sandy the sun was intense and the sand hot. Precisely why it is one of the driest places on the planet.

A captive Condor which lives at the Ica Airport and it's wing span is wider than most to the planes there.

I know this looks like a golf course and is at the hotel. It was nine holes of fun but the longest hole would be about 6o yards so since we were the only ones playing we decided that we would play to the furthest flag regardless of which hole it was. We zig zagged our way around and made the most of it.

All good things come to an end and we went back to reality. One of the other benefits to Ica is they have some actual supermarkets and we took our cooler so that we could take home some fresh meats and other hard to get commodities.

Wednesday morning was a national strike and couple a thousand marchers went past our home to the Plaza de Armas where the other marchers were congregating for some peaceful speeches. Nice that it was peaceful for a change.

Thursday we were back to breaking rocks, literally. As a zone we went to Mala to provide service for some families that trying to have a sewer line put into their urbanization. If they can provide the trench the municipalidad with make the connection and install the pipe.

Using pick axes, bars made from 1inch re bar, and hammer and chisels we went to work breaking the granite blocks that we uncovered. Then we carried the excavated material away on rice bags.

The old timer in the upper two pictures managed to use one charge of dynamite to loosen some of the rock before the neighbors came unglued. I understand their point of view since they already have their sewer.

Saturday it was back to the other kind of work and we were back in Mala to a double baptism.

Which means we got to go to the beach again. This is new spot that is much calmer than others we have used for baptisms but we have great news from the Area office this week and we will soon have a new portable font in Mala.

This picture of love birds that we saw at the ocean was too precious not include especially because of the great work they do and example they set for us and the members in the district. Los Reich!

Monday night we had family home evening at the home Juana and Michael and the four children that live at home. Christian and Aylen we have known since we arrived in Canete.

Aylen and Hermana are preforming their castigo for losing the game that we played after the lesson. We have found that fun is a major component of family home evenings, should have discovered it earlier, like 35 years earlier.

Wednesday was a busy day. In the morning and afternoon we were shopping with people from the Area Office for a site to build a new chapel in Mala, regular appointments for training in San Vicente, and in the evening out to Quilmana for noche de misional. This is in the casa capilla in Quilmana.

The program in Quilmana has really picked up since we have Elders there again. Elder Parker and Elder Sardon have really made a difference and when I say a difference I mean a difference to the people that live in Quilmana. We love visiting and support the missionaries and members there.

Juana and Michael(his real name is Florencio, ya me too) on their wedding, which was yesterday. We have really come to love this family and have been so blessed to be a part to there progress and transformation.

We have never been fingerprinted so much, which is a good thing, before we came to Peru. Most legal documents here require your finger print and everytime we do this we get to. In an interesting sort of sense you could say that we are signing away other peoples lives. I hope they never hold it against us.

Not withstanding that is almost impossible to get people to smile these two were honestly excited about getting married.

Tonight we were able to see them baptized taking that entry step toward becoming an eternal family. Tonight Juana bore her testimony about how she became converted and because she was not married could not be baptized and could not take the sacrament until she was. She told how it seemed like it was going to be impossible because Florencio did not want to get married and even if he did they could not manage to finacially. She fervently prayed daily for change and help and how her prayers were answered.

This weekend also marks the midway point in our mission, it does not seem real that we have been here that long and in other respects it seems like we have always been here. Weird isn’t it.

The young missionaries have strange traditions when the reach their halfway point like burning a shirt or a tie, I wonder what their parents who have to buy that stuff think of that? We aren’t burning anything but I have been saving one new pair of trousers and couple of shirts for the second half so that I have a few fresh things to finish with.

We often have to remind the young missionaries that when we are finished we don’t have to go home and worry about who we are going to marry or what school we are going to go to.

But we do have to worry about where we are going to live and where we will work when we do get home.

Thank for reading this edition of “YOU ARE IN PERU NOW” and if you feel so inspired post a message or send us an email and let us know how you are doing.

Los Whitney, Gringos in Peru

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Saludos a Nuestra Familia y Amigos

It has been so long I don’t know where to start, I think not knowing where to start is why people don’t start things. Think about it, what stops people from starting their family history work, planting a garden, spring cleaning, or blogging.

Proving my point I wrote the first paragraph, above, 6 days ago.

We have been preparing for District Conference for the last week and I had never realized how much should go into those preparations. I was writing the Mission President about the preparations, answering his questions, when it dawned on me how much we need to rely on people to do what they say they will do. That does begin to be a concern for me because culturally people here always tell you they will do something even when they have no intention of following through, they just don’t show up. They don’t want to disappoint you in the moment that you ask them but for some reason it is okay later.

We will hold the Saturday meetings at the capilla in Imperial and the Sunday meetings in Cañete. The Sunday attendance for the conference is usually around 400 people which about 20% more than our combined Sacrament Meeting attendance and in any event is three times what any of our buildings will hold.

In order to seat everyone a large tent structure will be erected on the sports court/parking lot and everyone will be seated outside. It is winter here and it is cool and moist so outside will make it a little chilly. In reality only a little colder than inside as the buildings have neither heating or cooling systems.

Saturday Morning all of the leaders in the district and the Mission are going out to visit menos activos (less actives) and enfermos (sick) members. We have a goal to visit 100 families in there homes in two hours. We hope to have 40 companionships visiting. The math works but the logistics are challenging when you realize that only the Mission President has a car and the rest will have travel by foot or public transportation. I went out two weeks ago at the same time of day with the Elders Quorum President in Imperial and we visited 5 homes/places and managed to sit down with one family and arrange on be-back visit.

By the way I cheated on my talk, I wrote it in English and took it to Adriana to translate it.

Wish us well!!!

Back before New Years we became acquainted with a member that we met at his place of employment, we knew of him and know members of his family. He is a return missionary that had come home and had a few problems and consequently his membership is in abeyance and as a result was feeling bitter about it.

When we met him his job was going to expire in two days and because he would not be working that Sunday we invited him to attend church that Sunday, he did. We have been visiting him weekly for several months now and have really enjoyed watching his progress. Our first goal was to get him to come to church regularly, the second was to get him to read his scriptures, and then stay to the full block of meetings. He has been doing really well at all of these.

By meeting weekly, reading with him, praying with him, and really getting to know him we have been able to see him change. This has been a powerful learning experience for us and we have learned how important it is in these types of situations for these members to have a friend and an advocate. By knowing him well we were able to assess what his needs were for him to continue to progress and return to full fellowship and we were able to have his disciplinary counsel reconvened to consider his improving situation.

We have been able to see what he viewed as a hopeless situation converted to a brightness of hope and anticipation. What a blessing it has been for all of us. (P.S. Debbie is now trying to get him married off. She never stops.)

On the topic of returned missionaries getting married, it is a problem here just as it is at home. We have 7 returnados in the Imperial branch and it is a concern not only the church but of Debbie’s. She is constantly in their faces about it and quizzes them weekly about what they think of this hermana or that hermana. One of these (Raul) serves in the District Presidency with me and I was explaining to him how we served in Young Single Adult ward and that that had been a focus in our lives and it was hard let it go. He now goes around telling the others to watch out that Hermana Whitney is trying to get them married off.

One of the things that makes us the most home sick, and there are a few, is when we send off missionaries that have completed honorably and successfully their missions. It is hard for the mind not to turn to warm thoughts of home, family, and familiar things. (Not to mention driving a car, sleeping in your own bed, Costco, and fine dining.) So it was as we said adios to our friends Kay and Karen Cleverly who served in the Peru Lima Central Mission. They have been a real testament to how much good a Mission Couple can to do for the mission they serve in and how important couples are to the work. (Even our niece Bridget Lunn who went home Wed. the 7th from her mission in Calif. made us a bit homesick, cuz we know that her mom will be fixing all kinds of delicous food.)

We were the fortunate benefactors of their well stocked pantry of impossible to find food commodities and three sets of Phase Ten Cards. We divided bounty with the other two couple in our mission, everything except the cards.

Not everything we do revolves around food however this night it did. This was our farewell dinner with Kay and Karen at one of their favorite restaurants "La Tranquera." This is a steak house where the prices look like you were buying the whole cow but the steak looked like you were getting it. The penguin in the back is one of the proprietors and is a member of the church. You have never met a more attentive server.

Incahuasi is an archeological site near Lunahuana that we visited on one our prepartion days. It's origin is pre Incan however under Inca dominion it was second only in importance and stature to Machu Pichu.

We all boarded a combi and waited for the rest of seats to sell. When it was taking too long I told the driver that we were all missionaris for the church and he had two choice he could leave right now and we would preach a little or he could stay and we would preach to him a lot. With this eager lot he could have been real trouble.

"Just a second this ain't no ruin!!!"

This is!

The site is divided into three parts. This is a part of the garrison which during times of need housed upwards of 30,000 men. This picture is taken from a top of the adjacent "sacrifice hill" where the alter to the gods other than the Sun God received their offerings.

This is at the Sun God Temple site and this our tour guide and head of the Incauasi preservation society. He clamed and I have no reason to disbelieve him to be a decendant of the Incans.

These are friends Florencio and Juana and their four children. Christian, next to me, and Ailyn next to Debbie, were the first members of the family to accept the gospel. Tomorrow we will take Juana and Florencio to the municipalidad and on July 23 they will be married and the July 24 they will be baptised

Last Saturday we went with this small group of Adulto Solteros (YSA) to the Temple in Lima. I had gone early in the morning on the bus and met Los Reich on the way. Debbie followed later in the car with Juan Carlos, Adriana, and the children so that we could celabrate Adriana's birthday.

This was perhaps the happiest moment Adrian had on this trip.

Birthday lunch was at Tony Romas at Jockey Plaza and whole crew at Tony's got into act.

Jockey Plaza did not have enough shopping for these two so we went to LarcoMar in Miraflores where we were introduced to a whole other side of Lima and Peru. We will definitely be visiting here again.

The mall overlooks the ocean with serval restaurants that have terraces that open to the ocean view. We have seen this dashing couple before. We were left thinking how far this is from where we spend our days and we are not just talking about kilometers.

From another angle.

Mean while back at the farm, or in this case the casa capilla in Quilmana. We had to make an emergency stop at El Banjo at the capilla and Debbie caught this happy church goer trying to break through the back door to the capilla.

This is the backyard at the capilla and this chanchos home. See what I mean about how far Miraflores is from Canete.

Looks like another little piggy making its way up to the trough.

Just like Debbie is putting an end to the mould that was culturing to our living room shades it is time to put and end to this issue of 'WERE IN PERU NOW" and say adios until next time.

Remember, the shortest distance between two points is not always a staight line, sometimes it is just an adjustment in attitude.

Los gringos in Canete