Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Saludos a Nuestras Familia y Amigos

We realized just how normal we are as missionaries this month as we waited and expected our letter informing us of our release date. It is the custom, at least in this mission, for the mission office to send a letter to each missionary informing them they have 6 months left and giving them the exact date of release. Technically we are still waiting because we have not received a formal letter but we have received an email from the President confirming our release date of June 10 and permission to spend one week touring as we see fit.

We realize that although we will finish our time here that the work will not be completed and we hope that the Mission Department will find other couples to pickup where we leave off.

We are seeing the culmination of some of our efforts and are excited for the Saints in the district. Next week will have a walk through and inspection of the new capilla in San Vicente. It is beautiful beyond belief not only physical but for what it means to people here. We have been planning a open house (puertos abiertos) to invite the local public officials and members of the community and then on March 20th at our District Conference the building will be dedicated.

Wednesday we received the written permission from the First Presidency to form the Rama de Quilmaná (Branch of Quilmaná). This was a quest that I started several months ago and now as soon as we can recommend a branch president we will be under way. Hopefully we will accomplish this as well at our District Conference in March.

One of the first things that we were asked to do when we arrived was to start looking for a church building site in Mala. So we started, we found one that we thought was perfect, we made maps, took pictures, and made a little presentation package then took it to the Area office in Lima in Nov. 2009. That is where we started to become educated about the labyrinth known as the Temporal Affairs Department. Not withstanding our naïveté we forged on. We learned about their budgeting process, planning, and most importantly about the qualifying process.

Clearly the Lord wanted the members to qualify for building in Mala because he sent the Elder and Sister Reich to Mala along with the best missionaries he could find. He then helped us find a Branch President that was on fire and full of desire to do things the Lord’s way (you know “in the Manual”).

Although the “perfect” place that we found was not the one the Lord wanted but it did get us in the planning and budgeting process and we are now in the due diligence period and hope to close on the right property very soon. This work has put Mala on the radar screen of the Area Presidency and they are now working with the Mission to advance the building program to meet the growing needs of the members in Mala.

Often (perhaps always) we find that our ability to make progress is limited by things that we actually have control over, that being our worthiness in the areas that are essential to the qualifying process. We have budget approval and construction scheduling for reconstruction of the capilla in Imperial. This would be a program similar to the San Vicente construction and would in essence double the size of the capilla with is desperately needed. BUT! Without tithing worthiness of the members we will get bumped from construction and a unit on the waiting list will take our place if we can not qualify. This week President Manning has asked us to verify the worthiness prior to the official report, we pray that all is in order.

Now for one of my round about stories:

Last Sunday night Hermana and I went to visit one of our longstanding friends in San Vicente, la familia Bariento - Renee, Jenny, Chantal, May, and Walter. When we first arrived in Cañete in Aug. 2009 we met the familia Macha then the familia Bariento, in fact Pedro took us to meet them. We have been visiting them for more than 18 months, we love them a bunch and we even think they are fond of us, but they have had a lot of trouble keeping their commitments to us. We used to visit and come away feeling so fantastic because they would promise to be at church that Sunday, we set goals to be able to attend the temple together, ect, ect. but not much materialized.

Well this month they attended twice. Now you have to understand that we only attend each branch once every 4 weeks so we have to contact some from the branch each week to see who has made good on their promises to us. Sunday night after we confirmed with Pedro that they had attended again we went to their home to share our love for them and share a message as is normal for us to do. It was an awesome experience we left feeling great, better than great, we had had a wonderful day.

Setting the scene:

The area in which they live is not well lit, the streets are dirt and quite narrow and about 50 yards from their home we surprised a couple of dogs which were in front of us and to our right. Since we are in Peru which has 33 million people and 66 million dogs we have had lots of dogs bark at us, charge at us, and that is usually all the energy they have.

The scene:

This time however the startled dogs startled another dog that was behind us and to left and with out a sound jumped out of the dark and bit Debbie on the back of the leg.

Now notwithstanding the situation here is the comical part, Debbie says in a surprised but not too excited voice, “that dog bit me.” Given that she did not show much more emotion than that I was thinking okay the dog nipped at her lets get going. She turned her leg to show me and there was already blood running down her leg. Perceiving that this was not just a nip we started to make tracks to where we could get a ride.

Once in a mototaxi I could see that there were three punctures in her calf and I told her that she needs to go to the clinic. Bless her brave little soul, she refused and said just take me home I’ll be alright. Leaving a pool of blood in the moto we went home.

Now in “la casa” and in the light we see that the wounds were deepish and ugly she decided to call our neighbor Helen, who has some medical experience, to come over and render assistance. Even though Helen thought she needed stitches, brave Debbie declined.

While Helen was still at the house our door bell rang, it was 9:30 in the evening, we don’t have many visitors (we don’t tell people where we live but everyone seems to know where we live). It was a young couple (compared to us) that wants our assistance in getting married. The sister attends our English class each week and we have come to appreciate her very much and we are blessed to be able to help them.

What does it mean:

The source of our joy on Sunday was not just that Renee and Jenny went to church that day but that we had 19 of our less active friends attend church that day in 3 different branches. This is where the rubber meets the road it is where individual people matter the most. Branches, buildings, and land are the necessary white noise but it is the people that we love and they are the reason that we do what we do.


Someone we know very well now goes to the clinic everyday for a series of Rabies shots which are leaving a nasty bruise on her tummy where they stick the needle.

Although we are saving the pictures and story until next blog we also concluded a very successful district youth conference yesterday. For now sufficeth it to say that you will never know how blessed you are and what favorable circumstances you live in until you have something less to compare it to.

We hope that you enjoy the photo journey!

You may remember Hermano Arevelo from his wedding, then baptism at the beach, the baptism of his wife, then daughter and now another daughter and her husband. He is one of the faithful and it has been a blessing for us wittiness his families progress in the Church. It was also a privilege to participate in his call and setting apart to serve in the Branch Pres. in Mala last year.

Preparation day activities often lead to castigos for the losers. Losers seem to have red lipstick on their faces. The really sad part is that the game required Superior language skills and I can understand the red marks on Elder Ewing and I but the others, I don't know.

When we first shared the notion of a youth conference with Los Reich they wanted us to meet some special friends of theirs in Mala. They have this Olympic length pool (piscina) in their back yard. Don't we look so natural in this setting, if only President Manning could see us now!

And they have this gigantic reception hall between the house and pool. It did not take very much imagination to see that this would be an outstanding venue for part of our youth conference. The owners gave us a package deal for swimming, dinner and a dance. The youth loved it.

We know that it does not look like much right now but this most likely going to be the focal point of all Mala when the Church is built here.

This site is a little larger than is required for a normal capilla and with a little forward thinking who knows what could occupy a site of this magnitude.

On a whim we decided to try the Sushi in Asia and all though real sushi eaters would say that California rolls aren't really sushi but in this part of the world we are not going to eat raw fish.

We frequently see the funeral processions marching through the streets of the towns and have wondered about the customs associated. This time we are not watching but rather we are in the procession. The deceased person is Carmen (Villalobos) Macha's father. We had just been at his farm two weeks ago helping harvest the uvas (grapes) with Carmen and many of her siblings and family.
Taking a cue from Pedro we joined the procession after they got into Imperial. At this point they had carried the coffin and body from his home on the farm 5 kilometers from here. It took three hours to here and they still had an hour to go. It was a hot day, of course it is dusty, and people were expiring from exhaustion. The girl in the black and white checks carrying the coffin is Jeanette Macha one of his granddaughters and one of our friends.

Everyone is placed above ground in one of these crypts and they are stacked six rows high. When we arrived at he cemetery the coffin/body was carried to the tomb of his father where he was presented to father before he could be interred.

This is one of the oxymorons in Peru. A pay toilet. It costs S/.50 to use it. It just so happens that S/.50 is about 1/20 of what a normal person makes a day. So a building like this is handy so that the hombres can go behind to you know what.

Transfer days come and go rather quickly and Hermana Laoyza was only with us one change but we feel very privileged to have got to know her even it was for a short period of time.

Valentines day came and went but not unnoticed. We don't have card stores here because people would't waste money on one but I do have dry erase markers so I liberally used them almost everything I could erase them from.

Yep, the mirrors, the windows, the refridgerator and the desks.

Unfortunately we had to say adios to Elder Hall but we know that he was needed elsewhere as he was sent to Nazca. Only the best misisonaries go there and only the toughest missionaries get sent there. The only way to describe Nazca is, HOT!

We had to get a little fast food in Lima on a quick trip to the big city but the thing that we want to point out is size of the drink. That cup is just down right unamerican. It wouldn't be acceptable if you got free refills. Coca Cola should be ashamed they could barely get their name on it. The chifa was pretty good though.

Sad and funny was when this plaque went up at the new capilla. On the bottom it says "Visitantes Bienvenidos" Presidente Borda called me and exclaimed they must have made a mistake they put this inscription on the sign. I assured him that it was true, correct, and that all over the world it was the same.

We snapped a quick shot in the hall of the new capilla but we will follow with more after accept the building next Friday and get the keys.

Unfortunately this is the best photo I could get by reaching out the back side window catching Debbie riding in the front seat of a moto taxi with the female driver. She looks amazingly at home doesn't she.
This is not halloween make up. This is Debbie's dog bite after we cleaned up on Sunday night. I was to animated to think about taking a picture until it was cleaned but this gives a realistic view of the damage. I don't think she is going to let me take a picture of her tummy to show the pattern of bruises from the rabies shots. (you got that right !)

We visited the Fortress Ungara again with this new group of misisonaries. I only carefully mention the name of the fortress because when I reported our first visit here in the blog our blog now appears like an acredited source of information when you google search it.

Elder Ewing is standing on part of the battlements where Huarco warriors lept to their deaths before they could be captured by the advancing Incas.

From this higher vantage point in the fortress you can see more of the remaining structure. The fortress was huge and the history books say that tens of thousands of warriors were garrisoned here in times of battle.
Although this battle is long since over and the relevance to life today is diminished an effectual battle still rages in this place. Last night as rode home from Mala with the youth from this part of the district we contemplated the future for one of our young friends from Quilmana as she sat across from us on the bus. She is just thirteen years old, we met her a few months ago in the home of her mother. We had gone to there to teach her mother about the law of chastity, of all things.
Our young friend was exhausted from the activities of the convention and had fallen asleep. Barely thirteen years old she is 7 months pregnant. We know that she can not begin to understand where the road she has chosen will lead and how many nights she will fall asleep exhausted trying to provide for her child. We were seeing a glimpse into her future.
Having the gospel of Jesus Christ is not enough, it is only through the application of its principles in our lives that it recieves the power necessary for our personal salvation.
To know and not to do is far worse than not knowing .
This brings an end to this instalment of YOU ARE IN PERU NOW! and we hope that you find it at least a little bit interesting.
Nos vemos mas tarde!
Los Whitney, Gringos en Cañete