Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saludos a Nuestras Faimilia y Amigos

We offer a quick apology to any of you that have been checking to see if we had updated the blog recently only to find the same old story, sorry!

When we last wrote we were in the warm up to Christmas and we mentioned the Christmas project in the pueblocito for the children. The program created a lot of good will in the community and a lot of unity with the congregation in Imperial.

The good tidings were followed shortly by disaster when in the first week of the new year nearly the entire village was destroyed by fire. Constructed of sun dried bamboo, plastic tarps, and cardboard a fire quickly spread from house to house leaving 70 plus families without anything except for the clothes on their backs.

We were very touched as we experienced our people scrap together what they could to provide immediate support while government agencies were being activated. Help poured in from entire community to provide sustenance and shelter.

This was devastating for them to be sure, but contrary to our way of thinking it does not take months to rebuild the homes they live in. The Alcalde in Imperial provided the bamboo mat materials for the walls and roofs and with in a few short hours comparable shelter was erected. Brother Quispe and his family of five, one of our member families that lost their home, through the generosity in the community for the first time ever have a bed for everyone in the family.

Fortunately no lives were lost and life goes on.

As it got into the week before Christmas we got very busy, that is mostly the royal we, as Debbie toiled in our little kitchen with her glorified camp stove and oven baking cookies, squares, making candy and baking cakes. She made a plate of baking for almost everyone that we know. It took several trips to deliver the baking in just in our neighborhood.

We have 24/7 security in our little barrio and we discovered when we first got here that the guards (they are called Vigilantes) and our maintenance staff responded well to us when we remember to respond well to them. So, on Christmas afternoon Adrian, Juan Carlos and Adriana’s three year old, and I walked around to wish all of the Security and Maintenance people a Merry Christmas. We bought them loaves of panetone bread and we stapled an envelop to it with a little $dinero$ inside. Through the year we take them food and other treats.

When we come home late and after dark they always make sure that we get to our home safely and the bicycle patrolman makes sure we are inside the house. It is a simple principle in life, treat people like they mean something to you and they will reciprocate.

After we delivered every thing that we could in the community we packed presents and remaining baking into our giant bolsas (zipper bags) that we use for carring our groceries on the buses. We had some distance to go and a number homes to visit and we were not completely sure about the logistics, we were like Santa’s without a sleigh. We got about a block from the house when Juan Carlos came along in his car and said he had come home early just to help us. What a relief.

We finished our deliveries at the home of the Familia Macha where Juan Carlos left us and we spent the early evening with them and some of the missionaries.

The custom here is to have the big Christmas meal at, or at least close to, midnight and then they open all of their presents in the evening before dinner. It seems like a perversion of the “true Christmas” or a least the traditions that we grew up with. It was not until Christmas Day as we were traveling to Mala, for our traditional dinner, with Elder and Sister Reich and the Missionaries that I realized the practical reason why they have these traditions. As we passed by the tiendas and the Mercado is was obvious that Christmas Day was business as usual for most of the working people. The shops were open, the buses were running full schedule, taxis filled the streets, the markets were full of people, and for the more part it looked like any other day. It is not that they are not believers because they are but rather it is their reality. You work to eat, if you don’t work you don’t eat.

We, those that experience a different reality, often take for granted the privilege that we enjoy and don’t slow down long enough to experience the joy and peace that our lives should afford us. We get caught up in the thick of thin things and use a disproportionate amount of our energy on the things that matter least at the sacrifice of the things that should matter most.

We hope will have the time to enjoy our photo journey and remember if you ever want to ask us questions or make comments you can leave a comment with your email address or email us at

Talent shows seem to be a part of all the various fiestas and Christmas is not left out. This was taken a the Christmas Fiesta in Quilmana. Hermano Chumpitaz is one of the ones that really has a talent. The other talents were comprised of magic tricks, dance routines, reciting poetry from the Sierra, and singing. All of our visits with the saints in Quilmana it was fun and rewarding (spiritually).

Early the next morning I had chartered a mini bus to take all of our Zone to Lima to the Mission Christmas get together. This year the mission treated us to a movie, president rented a theatre and we watched Toy Story Three with English subtitles for the learning impaired. Last year we got a tie, no one will contest that this was way better.

After the movie and our Christmas dinner, which I hate to be critical was not delicious, we had a few skits which were only slightly better than than dinner. Our skit was about making a movie of the story Ammon at the waters of Sebus. If you missed the movie it is okay.

The best part of all the mission get togethers is getting to see the missionaries that we have served with. Hermana Stocks was with us just a short time in Canete but we are always excited to she her.

Immediately after our mission party we jumped a bus to back to Imperial for their Christmas Chocleterra and Talent Show. This young couple are truly talented and have won competitions dancing the traditional Marinerra (I hope that is how it is spelled). Adrian, the young man, attends our English classes and is active in the youth program. This stage was erected in the cochera at the capilla and Luis and Adriana and their committee decorated the entire courtyard.

Contrary to back home where Hermana usually wears her Christmas outfits to maintain her Christmas Spirit while doing her Christmas baking this is more of a matter of survival in the heat with the window open and fans blowing. It is amazing what Debbie put together in her three and half feet of workspace with her glorified camp stove.

This is her plate staging area at about midway through the campaign.

The finished product, in way that only she can do.

All month long we were able to come home to our tree lit up. It is a little on the humble side but nonetheless it was our reminder of how blessed our home is and how blessed we are and turned our thougth's to our Savior and to our family and loved ones.

Christmas Day all of the Zone gathered at the Elder and Hermana Reich's home in Mala for back home American styled Christmas Dinner that lacked nothing. The missionaries love these kinds of meals, you have to appreciate that they all eat at pensionistas where they are served a plate of food which usually consists of a lot of rice or spaghetti, a little serving of some kind of meat and some kind of sauce and when they are lucky a bowl of chicken foot soup. No seconds. There were plenty of seconds today.

After lunch we had a zone family photo before we left for our areas. In our area we went back to the Christmas baptism (they call them "white Christmas") which we had scheduled for that evening.

A couple of days after New Years we had the heart wrenching "it is time for transfers again" experience and we said good by another group of the excellent missionaries we had grown to love. This one is Elder Salsado.

This one is Elder Tombs from Lubbock Texas. Elder Tombs was in the CCM in Lima with us so we felt like we have know him a long time. He served as a District leader in our Zone, he is type of young man that has leader written all over him. Clearly a credit to his family.

Transfers out mean transfers in and we welcomed our new missionaries, this is at our preparation day lunch was taken in an out of the way restaurant in Canete.

One of the milestones that we are very excited about is our updated and expanded capilla in Canete. When the addition started they discovered that existing structure was not capable of supporting the addition so it was cleared right to the ground and started over. We were starting a progress inspection with the site engineer and president Borda.

This photo is on the second floor where the salon de sacramental will be located. This building is truly magnificent and will greatly bless the saints here. It has sufficient space to organize classes for all of the auxiliaries and quorums, satellite for all of the church broadcasts, ample bathrooms, and a water purification system for the Santa Cena. I guess you have to be here to really know what it means for them.

Elder Ewing, a great new missionary from Las Vegas and his companion, Elder Baylon from Peru, invited us to a service project to move a pile of dirty and debris. The plan was to distribute the tierra over the dirt roadway. So we did.

We were just about finished when city workers came and exhibited some concern about a manhole cover that was now buried. I had news for them, it was buried before we started.

The day of the service was also Debbie's birthday, as an unexpected gift she got her nose in the way of a stone that was being tossed into the stone pile. The missionary that through the stone was very very sorry. I am really glad that there was no lasting damage and in a couple of days you could not even tell it had happened, almost. I was glad because she may never have forgiven me.

We had to hurry home to meet Chabella, Heber, and Nicholas, the familia Pomatay, that were coming from Mala to visit us. We got home and quickly jumped into the shower when the door bell rang, understand that you have to conserve water and lets just say we were both wet, oh no they are two hours early. No they weren't it was Hermana and Elder Reich, they had come down from Mala to bring a cake and birthday greeting to Debbie. AWKWARD! We all had a great laugh and excellent cake. The familia Pomotay arrived later and all was well.

In the late afternoon Elders Hall, Merrell, Perez, and Vera arrived to serenade Hermana Whitney and wish her a feliz cumpleaños, shared some of the cake that Hermana Reich brought and quickly got back to work.

"Mas tarta" earlier in the week Adriana called me and asked what I was doing for Debbie's birthday and I said that was business as usual for us, she said that would not do. She said her children would be very upset if they did not get to have cake with Debbie so she offered to pickup a cake for me.

The next day was business as usual and we were in a little pueblocito outside of Quilmana where we visited Olaga and Anders new litter of piglets.

Monday for preparation day we organized a photo scavenger hunt for the missionaries with a list of about 20 photos that they had to get and bring back to the starting point. When they came back we told them the ones got the photo of four missionaries eating ice cream were the winners. They all said that it was not one of the items on their lists, we told them it was on ours and showed them our picture.

Meet the familia Ayllon. Omar is a return missionary he is married and sealed to Ghemmi and their three children. In a chance discussion we heard about them, they had not attended church for more than two years and asked why, no one had an answer. We have really enjoyed getting to know them and through help of their home teachers, who are now visiting them, are attending church, not quite regularly, but attending.

Elder Vera and Elder Perez with Rosa and Huber's son on the way to another service project. Part of the value of this photo it the orange ground cover in the background. This mais or corn that has been laid out to dry and will later be ground into animal feed.

Rosa and her Sister Juana and their families some how managed to acquire this plot of ground with an old plantation building on it are converting it into habitations for their families. It is not near as good as the homes they are leaving but this land will one day be theirs.

Our assignment; move dirt and debris and distribute. This time we also built a retaining wall with adobe bricks we found in the debris and banked the cleaner fill behind it for a future garden. There seems to be strong back and weak mind theme developing in or service projects. This week we harvested grapes, pictures next time.

We had trouble convincing Juan Carlos that going to the beach on Sunday was not in the spirit of keeping the Sabbath Day and that Saturday would be more appropriate, if for no other reason that the mystery photographers would not go on Sunday. So they went to the beach on Saturday.

The mystery photographers enjoyed the beach, the sun, and good friends.

They also enjoyed the great food in Cerro Azul.

We were having some shoes repaired and found this cat asleep in the zapateros display case and I thought that it was a fitting ending to our photo relato this month. Too many of God's creatures are looking for a safe place to sleep without getting kicked around.

Thank you so much for continuing to follow our adventures here in Cañete and thank you for your notes of encouragement that mean so much to us. We realize that our work here will not be done when we leave and as we approach our final few months we hope that another couple has been prepared to pick up where we will leave off. We love the people here and want so much for them to succeed in changing the generations that will follow them.

Take care until next time and remember that regardless what happens to you in life, what you do about it is entirely within your control.

Los Whitney, Gringos in Cañete