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
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
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.
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.