Sunday, October 10, 2010

Saludos a nuestra Familia y Amigos

Shaken all over! Yes, it is a line from a favorite Rock and Roll song and it also describes the feeling that you get from a siesmo.

A couple of weeks back I had an upset stomach, not unusual for me in Peru, and I had sort of fallen asleep sitting up on the sofa. At around 3:00 AM I heard a roaring sound that kind of sounded like big truck was going to come right through the house. That would be significant event because we live on the second floor. As I was regaining my faculties I realized that we were experiencing an earthquake. I struggled to get to my feet to get Debbie, it was a sensation something like trying to walk up an escalator going down, only to find her coming down the hall exclaiming “I think it is an earthquake.”

The big roll finished rather quickly and the first thing that went through our minds was, “was that the little one before the big one or was it over.” Thinking somewhat quickly but not thoroughly we grabbed our 72 hour emergency kit, which we now realize was in a completely inconvenient place in case of an emergency, and placed it by the door for a quick get away if necessary.

Our hearts were racing but the seismic shaking was finished. We looked out our front room window to see most of our neighbors in the street, probably wondering the same sort of things that we were, is it over or is it just beginning?

With our emergency kit ready at door we were discussing the right thing to do, should we quickly get out of the house or what? Some experts say that you should not leave the safety of a good building others the opposite.

In this moment while observing the neighbors I questioned, “do you suppose we should get dressed?”

In that moment we realized exactly how unusual we might appear on the street with our neighbors and everyone standing around in their underwear.

The quake registered 5.9 and the epicenter was about 25 miles away, which in terms of earthquakes is relatively strong and close. The big quake here in 2007 registered 7.9 and leveled buildings for a hundred mile radius. Although strong it was short and that apparently makes a big difference. We have felt several tremors but this was powerful.

We learned a few things about unpreparedness as a result of the little shake up. For one, the first thing to grab is your clothes which should be close and together because there will be no time to make up a earthquake outfit (think like a fireman). Second, there is a difference between an emergency kit and storage. Third, we don’t want to experience any more earthquakes.

We finally found a new “casa capilla” for the members in the family group in Quilmana. We have been looking for several months to not much avail. We are challenged by the fact that as a “Family Group” they are not recognized by the Church as an organized unit notwithstanding that a “Family Group” is recognized in the manuals as the basic unit of the Church. Which makes them an officially unrecognized group, the bottom line, they are not afforded their own budget for physical facilities. They have to be funded through the budget of one of the Branches which means less funding for both congregations. (We have included some pictures in the photo section.)

Several months ago when we started looking for the new casa capilla that the long term solution to the budget problems was to become a recognized Branch and receive funding for the physical facilities and other programs of the Church. My initial inquires about qualifying as a Branch were all turned down on the basis that they said the group did not meet all the requirements. Being told no is not much of a deterrent for us.

As I meditated on the subject the thought came to me, “all of the answers are in the General Handbook of Instructions.” That is what we tell all of the leaders, look in your hand book. Sure enough the answers were there and according the written word we could qualify with a little work.

The next step was to get past the “no sayers” and unbelievers. If it is one thing the temporal church has it is bureaucracy and everyone has some one over them so I followed the instructions in the manual and started making requests for maps and applications for forming a new Branch through the proper channels. The hitch was that I made all the requests in English apologizing for lack of proficiency in Spanish. To our amazement it only took 2 days for our requests to end up in the office of the Area President.

They confirmed that my interpretation of the General Handbook was correct but stated that they Area had established additional criteria with the intent that new Branches have the ability carry forward and grow. However, based on the information that we had provided they would support our application when it was properly presented to them. They further offered suggestions on how to make qualifying simpler.

With that written response we cured all of the nay sayers and instead of red lights we now have green lights.

I have no idea how long the actual approval will take but it does it will make things a better for the faithful saints that have been hanging on in Quilmana.

A few weeks ago we went to interview a brother in Mala that had been told, 25 years ago, that he was to be excommunicated from the Church for conduct unbecoming. He now wants to be reconciled to the Church, wants to be married to his conviviente wife with whom he has 6 children, and his wife and three children want to be baptized. The General Handbook of instructions prescribes the process very clearly. Except, when his leaders, 25 years ago, said they were going to excommunicate him they never did. Twenty five years is a long time to carry that burden.

I have had a few interviews but none as moving as this one and hearing about his journey back to the point where he wanted to be reconciled to the Church. How he discovered that there was a Branch in Mala 700 miles from where was baptized and presumed excommunicated. Tears flooded his eyes when I told him as far as the Church was concerned he was still a member but we still had some work to do for him to be a member in good standing. He asked if he would now have to excommunicated before being readmitted. I answered that I did not know at this point and then asked him how that would affect him if it was necessary. He answered, ”what ever it takes I am prepared. I want to be an active member for the rest of my life.” I told him that was right answer.

Today we had lunch with him and his wife here in CaƱete along with Elder and Hermana Reich, and Elders Schofield and Chancafe after they had filed all of the required documents and set a date for their marriage. Elder and Hermana Reich have taken them under their protective wings and are guiding them along the path to marriage so that they can make this first major correction in their lives so they can focus on looking forward and not looking back. (Elder Reich also paid for lunch.)

It is so exciting to be a part of this great work and to be blessed with so many great people around us. We were not really sure what we expected when we decided to serve a mission, we are quite sure that we did not know what to expect when we got here, and for certain we know that we could have never imagined what we are experiencing and the blessings that we are receiving.

This is the familia Cuba at the Temple in Lima, the little girl in the red(Annie) is not part of the family but like a lot of people here when they see someone is taking a picture they all want to be in it. It was a long but important day for them. This photo was taken at about 5:PM and we started this journey at 7:AM

Annie does belong in this photo with her mother and father, the familia Chumpitaz. They are part of large family in Quilmana that comprises the backbone of the family group.

This is Elvis and Luchero, the familia Garcia. Elvis is the Branch President in Quilmana. You can tell how special this day was for them by how Luchero is dressed, Elvis borrowed Presidente Acervedo's jacket for the picture. They have a daughter that is not quite two yet, she is not in the picture, that was sealed to them. She is the poster child for the terrible twos but she likes me.

Although this looks like a prayer meeting at the beach but it is not. When you look at the fire you might conclude that it is some kind of weird sacrifice near the ocean......

Well there were some burnt offerings but as you can see we were having a cookout at the beach for our preparation day. Normal comida(food), hot dogs, hamburgers, and bananas. Okay bananas are not usually found on my BBQ but according to Elder Ponciano, todos bien.

Yes I am happy, I have my fishing rod and I have my line in the water. The fishing rod is the block of wood in my left hand. All the locals use them, it is a block of wood with the line wrapped around, has two hooks, and a lead weight. I did catch something but never saw it as took my hooks and lead.


Last week I caught this beauty sitting in a park in Lunahuana, which is about an hour from home. We had been asked by the Elders in Nazca to obtain a birth certificate for an investigator that was getting married.

This statue is in the center of the plaza de Armas in Lunahuana and depicts the harvest of grapes. The are is famous for the grapes which are grown here for making Pisco.

It was elections in Peru last week and this one of the countless/endless political rallies that we observed. This one is in Quilmana, we had gone to meet with the owner of the new casa capilla.

The missionaries wanted to have an international food day where each missionary prepares a dish from his home country. We have had them before and they are always very good. I am not sure of the authenticity as these elders were making crepes and none of them are from France.

Kids and canned whipped cream.

Moving day for Elders Sardon and Jurez. We helped them move, hook up their shower, and left. We could tell that they were not going to clean the place before the set up and we could not stand to watch.

The old casa capilla in Quilmana, the chapel room was on the second floor behind the big sign and the class rooms were on the main floor in the back next the pig pen, no seriously. The sign on the roof was a political advertisement that was big enough to be seen from outspace.

Even though there is a resemblance of a jail cell it is not, is the new casa capilla and we had just started our make over.

This the living room which is now converted to a class room.

Painting here is like nothing you have experienced. The paint comes in gallon buckets and then is mixed with three parts water. They don't us roller trays they just dip the rollers in the tub and start slapping paint or water or tinted water.

Las Chicas came to watch but getting dirty working was not in their program.

This long narrow space is where we now have set up for sacrament meetings and hopefully this week will find the money to order a nice glass front for the chapel. It will be bright and with a smooth surface floor we will be able have be clean. We have seating for about 60 people and we look forward to having full.

In conclusion just a brief thougth about topic that one of our new friends of another faith brought up to us last night. They commented that you people don't seem to be into idolatry. He explained what he meant about images and statues ectera and although we did not argue with him I did cause me reflect on what other types of things we tend to put our trust in.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by the blog and we hope that you have enjoyed this edition of YOU ARE IN PERU NOW as much as we have enjoyed providing it.