Friday, December 25, 2015

Week #51 - Christmas is here!

With Christmas at the end of this week, we assess our dwindling availability of days, and decide to make a P-Day trip  to Ollantaytambo, for a look at those ruins that we have been close to several times, but have not had the opportunity to see up close.  We hire a car and driver with the Hasler's and head up and over the hill out of Cusco to the north, hoping to see the high peaks and glaciers on the other side of Urubamba, but due to the season, they are covered by clouds, and we're not able to see them.

Ollantaytambo is a site that was under construction at the time of the Spanish invasion.  Wikipedia has some good information about it.  It is essentially a series of terraces starting at the valley floor, with temples or palatial residences on top.  Still in remarkable condition, attesting to the enduring quality of the Inca builders.  Note that all of the stones used here were not gleaned from the surrounding mountainsides (those are not homogenous and easily fractured), they were brought from the other side of the valley, and the biggest ones were put on top.  Their means and methods are not known with any degree of certainty, and have remained one of the biggest puzzles of the ancient world.  Hnas J and Hasler open their umbrellas against the intermittent rain and head toward the top.

Here's a view from near the top looking up the smaller fork of the valley.  On the other side you can see several groups of structures that were built, these were likely for storage of grains and other crops, the buildings were made so they were ventilated, and air could circulate and dry the grains for long-term storage.  The Incas fought a battle with the invading Spaniards at this site.  It would take too long to describe it in detail, but Wikipedia "battle of Ollantaytambo" has a good description.  In short, the Incas fortified this site and some of their important leaders were here.  The Spaniards who had already taken Cusco decided to come down here and take it.  The Incas had enough preparation that they diverted the river (not visible to the right) so that it would turn across the entire width of the valley, so the Spaniards would have to cross it.  Then they dammed up the smaller river in this valley and held back the water.  When the Spaniards finally made it into the valley, nearly to the site, they broke the dam and flooded this valley, so the soldiers and horses were in a quagmire.  The Incas had the high ground and with their slings and rolling rocks down from the heights, the Spaniards couldn't take it.  After deciding there was no quick win, the Spaniards retreated at night back to Cusco.  The Inca leaders decided that they really couldn't hold this site against a prolonged siege, so they abandoned it.  Thus this battle was really indecisive.  This area is one of our favorites in the area, only about 9,000ft, so the temps are mild, lots of crops grow here, and we have met several delightful and interesting people.

These are some of the larger stones that were moved from across the valley, somehow moved up to the top, then carved in the finest craftsmanship, indicating this was a temple or holy site.  It was left unfinished after the battle, so it's hard to tell what their overall plans were for this site.

The terraces are still quite intact.  They are not farmed now, but some similar ones across the valley up and down from here still are.  Before the devastation by the Spaniards, the estimates go up to 8 million people living in the Cusco area (which includes this), so there were a lot of people to feed, and the Incas used most of the available land for farming, even if it included terracing the mountains.

 A stoneyard at the bottom shows some of the work in process, left where it was for nearly 500 years.

A few of the local alpacas take shelter from the rain against a thatched roof building.  Elder Hasler approaches for a photo op.  There are several varieties of Alpaca, with different grades of wool, the one on the right is a "suri", higher quality and finer than the one in the back.

After our visit and a nice lunch in Urubamba, we head back to Cusco.  I'm on the lookout for oxen working in the field, and we come across Gabino working his fields with this pair.  He has already plowed with the same team, and now has a harrow hooked up to flatten the furrows.  His oxen are well trained, they move with voice commands and his little switch.  They can turn tightly at the end, and move at a fast walk down the field.  Gabino and his antepasados have been working these same fields for probably 400+ years (no oxen til the Spanish came, before that, all the ground was turned and worked was done with hoes/mattocks.  Hard to imagine in the 21st century, but this is still how it's done in several parts of the world we have seen - if they're lucky enough to have oxen or water buffalos as draft animals.  Otherwise it's all by hand.

Instead of harnesses, Gabino lashes the singletree to their horns with leather straps.  It's a solid setup, one can't even lie down by itself.  Note the modern buildings in the background - what a contrast.

The whole family was out in the campo (field) today:  Gabino's wife and 2 hijas.  She asked for a propina (tip) for us taking photos, which is customary, and we were glad to provide,  The smallest hija, sitting in the shelter of a rock on a blanket all day got a granola bar and her own small propina.

On 23 Dec, the entire Plaza de Armas is taken over by the campesinos (farmers, hill people), who bring their moss, greenery and crafts in to sell.  It runs for 2 days, and we got there the morning of the lst day, before it got really crowded.  Most of the city will come here to buy items for their Nativity sets and other crafts for the celebration in these 2 days, and we're glad to get here and out again before there's negative personal space.

Here's a sampling of the crafts:  These are pre-made stables for Nativity sets.  Or you can buy parts to make your own.  The moss and greenery are purchased every year, as part of the rather elaborate and creative construction of these sets, which are the Christmas centerpiece of the homes.

Anyone who can guess what these are wins a stupendous prize!  Any takers?  Hint:  the come in many sizes.
They are underwear for dressing baby Jesus.  Every year he gets dressed in new clothes as part of the tradition, and these are for the different size dolls.

The week before Christmas, the nuns carry around a baby Jesus. each one dressed per their own taste

After our trip around the plaza - where I bought a miniature Nativity set - 5 pieces that I can hold in the palm of my hand, and they let me mix and match (trades cows for llamas) - we stop at a place known to the Hasler's by the reputation of:  "We haven't ever got sick eating here", which is the first recommendation of any restaurant here.  Their specialty is chicharron, or fried pork.  This isn't exactly on the mission's approved list, but it sure looks and smells good, and after it's fried, what kind of bugs can still be living in it.  You get your choice of 2 or 3 chicharrons, plus papas and choclo, just the right size, but not the kind of lunch I could eat every day.  Anyway, we had a very enjoyable time with the Hasler's, who are flying to Lima for Christmas.

The mission Christmas event was held the evening of 23 Dec.  The 4 Cusco Zones, plus Sicuani gathered in the Inti Raymi building for a movie "Freetown" (the only one the missionaries get to watch during the entire year, a very spiritual and moving devotional centered on the Savior, complete with a slideshow of all the missionaries serving, plus a dinner and gift exchange.  The hermanas line up first for dinner.  This is only a quick shot of a few of them.

Our friends Hnos. Willian and Marisol are our favorite cooks for large events like this, and they always do an excellent job.  There was plenty of pollo milanesa (chicken fried in egg batter) for the elders to have a 2nd round, and some of the hermanas as well.  Hna Kunz checks out the potato chips.

Elder Freestone seems to be the first in line whenever there's food to be served, after graciously allowing the hermanas to go ahead.

Here's our Inti Raymi zone:  Elders Henderson, Niupari, Heslop, Card, Thacker, Yorgesen,  Hnas. Viriochea, Fernandez, Robinson, Celan, Paez,  Hansen,  Elders Osinaga, Flores, Melo, Flores, Urritia, Webb, Tsosie, and us.

The Stake Presidentes and their esposas were invited, and Presidente Garcia insisted on a photo with us.  We really love him and the dedication with which he leads the Cusco Stake, especially in Historia Familiar.  He is a great supporter of us and our efforts to assist the members here.

The Presidente and Hna Harbertson lead the missionaries in an Espanol version of The Night Before Christmas, with cues and clues to pass the gifts left and right.  If the one you hold during a pause has a red ribbon, you can exchange it for any other gift.  We saw the same gifts go back and forth in front of us a number of times.

When the game finally stopped, Hna J really scored with this knitted sweater with hood.  I thought she may want to negotiate an exchange it for something else, but she wasn't letting go of it, and it has become her warm and cozy favorite very quickly.

Lots of small vendors out on the street at this season selling little packages of corn or nuts for 1 Sole.  These cute kids had small sacks of abbas (roasted beans) that are so hard they would crack your teeth before you could eat them, but I bought their remaining stock so they could go home.

 A stop at the home of Hnos Romulo and Emma show the results of what you buy in the Plaza this season.  He has made an elaborate nativity scene, over 40 animals, plus the wise men, Mary, and Joseph.  Where is baby Jesus?  He doesn't arrive until midnight, when he is placed in the manger.

Here he is, fully dressed in this year's elaborate costume, complete with the underwear you have seen earlier.  All part of the unique and memorable traditions that celebrate the birth of the Savior all around the world.

Hermana Liliana invited us for lunch, but it appears that she forgot to tell her parents, so we trundle into a taxi and head for a traditional Peruvian restaurant.  I can vouch the food here is really good, and the lomo saltado is excellent.  We really love her and her family.  She is always enthusiastic and dedicated to her calling as HF Specialista, even though she is a little excitable at times (most of the time).

About 15 minutes before midnight, the fireworks start.  This was the largest and longest fireworks event we have ever seen, and all of the ones shot off are what we could consider unregulated, illegal back in the US.  They're not launched from one central location, it seems as if every house had their own large supply.  We looked out our front window for a long time admiring the show, then I realized I should get photos.  A little hard to do, as I couldn't find the time exposure button, but I did get a few shots of them.  Last year there was so much smoke in the valley after they were over (about 12:30am), that the airport had to be closed for a couple of hours as the night visibility was obscured to the point where landings and takeoffs were unsafe. 

This week has been very memorable for us and we're looking forward to having a quiet Christmas day for reflection and recollection of our blessings, and contemplating the birth of the Savior.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Week #50 A dash to Sicuani, farewell to missionaries, talent, chicken foot soup, pannetone - the Peruvian fruitcake

50 Weeks!   That sound like almost a year, and it is, but we've still got lots to do before week 52!

 A Historia Familiar conference was scheduled for Sunday in Sicuani, about 2.5 hrs south.  When Hno Meneses, the advisor to HF in the mission, and Hno Delgado, the Area Manager invited us to go with them to the conference, we thought they were renting a car.  What they really meant is that we could ride with them on the same bus, which we did.  Hno. Degado has thumbs, just like missionaries, as Hna J points out. 

 We arrived in Sicuani in time to check into our hotel, and get a quick bite before the conference started.  The only place open was El Fogon, which had been recommended to us for its delicious pollo abraso, or roasted chicken.  When we order 1/4 pollo, we also get a small salad and chicken foot soup.  Hna J is a little sad, as this is probably the last time she'll get chicken foot soup for the rest of her life.

 The families in Sicuani are very active and enthusiastic about Historia Familiar, especially with a couple of featured speakers, and a new meeting format for this conference.  About 55 people were there when the event started, and nearly 80 by the time it was over - and then about 30 of those stayed over for some additional help with their familysearch accounts and family trees.

The format was a little different than we have seen:  In addition to the featured speakers (Hnos. Meneses and Delgado), 6 families were selected to present and talk about their families.  It was really interesting to see and hear the different presentations, which ranged from reciting names from their Mi Familila folletto to a fully scripted PowerPoint presentation, and everything in between.  The variety and creativity were especially interesting.  Hno. Edgar has his family tree shown on an actual tree, with branches going everywhere.  He's put a lot of work into this, and not just for this event.  It's as descriptive as a fan chart, and really easy to follow the family lines into tios and primos (uncles, aunts, and cousins), much easier than the available fan chart view on familysearch.  All the other presentations were interesting, and it was a big deal for each family to get up and speak about their family, ancestors, and history.  It's when the names, dates, and places become real people that you know about, their lives, challenges, accomplishments and foundation for their descendants to come that they really become alive - even though they've passed away.

We claimed a table in the corner and ran 2 computers for about 3.5 hours - which was longer than the conference was scheduled for, but the Sicuani members were so excited to get their families from follettos into the familysearch program that they were willing to stay.  Note that Hna J is driving our MAC, which she's quite familiar with, and I've got a plain old PC laptop with a Spanish keyboard, which I now have figured out, so I don't hit the keys that are in different places, and make the special characters ñ, á and others when needed to correctly spell names and places.  Two others computers were running as well, and we got to meet many new friends that evening.

We appreciated the help of the Sicuani Zone Under the direction of Elders Pavon and Denham, in organizing translation for us.  We also got to see our missionary friends whom we know from other areas.  Being here almost a year, the missionaries may get changed to different sectors 2 - 4 times.  The last time we saw Elder Denham, he as in Puno, and Hna Hill, Elder Pavon, and Elder Martinez were in Cusco. 

We wrap up the conference after the last computer is shut down, and the last member leaves.  Time for a last-minute photo with Hnos Delgado and Meneses.  We really appreciate their dedication to promoting Historia Familiar in the mission, and for sponsoring events like this.

 We stay at Sicuani that evening so we dont have to make a bus ride back in the dark, on twisty roads that may be littered with rocks falling down the hillsides in the rainy season, or cows, pigs, horses or llamas that may wander across.  A good night's rest, and we were up and ready to head back to Cusco in the daylight.

We had a Christmas Birthday meeting scheduled with Hno. Felix and his hijos Uripe and Joe.  Felix is a single father, and is very dedicated to being a good dad, teaching his kids correct principles, and making sure they are fully involved in Church activities as well as school.  The theme of the meeting was birthdays.  Since we're not going to be here for everybody's birthday, we put a candle around the cake for everyone present, 7 total.  Everyone got to make a wish, then carefully blow out their candle only, when we finished, there was an 8th candle in the center representing the birth of the Savior, and we had a few points to make about that, including a couple appropriate videos, the Savior's candle remained lit til we cut the cake in pieces.  A final wrap-up by Hnas Hansen and Paez tied the theme together nicely, and it was a very memorable evening.  This attractive torta is tres leches (3 milks) chocolate cake, and is very moist and delicious.  We will really miss the fine little family, and may not get to see them again so this evening was very special to us.

 Every 6 weeks missionaries who have finished their service (2 years or 18 months) are invited to the Mission Home for a final dinner with Presidente and Hermana Harbertson.  It was a very special evening for us as well, even though we weren't leaving the following day, we will be gone before the next change, so we were asked to come to this one.  These fine missionaries are among those whom we know and have come to love and have had the privilege to work with many of them.  Hna Roman is next to Hna Harbertson, then Hna Hill next to the Presidente, and Hna J on the end.  Me directly behind, then left to Elder Caprio, Garcia Halversen and Talavera.  On the left are the Rhoades who are hanging around this week to finish up a couple of last-minutes assignments, they they are headed home as well.  Its really hard to express the love and good feelings we have for all these missionaries, and how much success and happiness we wish them for the rest of their lives.

We get a picture with Presidente and Hna Harbertson.  It has been a real joy to serve under their inspired leadership.  Presidente has given us clear directions and objectives, but no micro-management, so we had had to figure out most of the details, how-to's and methods that suit our abilities and capabilities to best serve the wonder prople here throughout the Cusco Mission.

 Of course when we work, we sometimes eat as guests of our members and friends.  The Ortiz family are certainly both, and they invited us to a tasty dinner of papas and ayacucho (roasted potatoes and chicken and beef on a stick).  They had a tasty and spicy green (garlic and pepper based) sauce that had some zing to it, along with a good strong flavor. 

Also served at these traditional meals are choco, or giant corn.  The kernels are bigger than corn nuts, juicy and tasty, and the best way to eat them is to peel off one kernel at a time and snack it down.  On the street, the vendors sell these, but we generally stay away from them due to the preparation and sanitation methods employed (or not).  I will say that these samples were delicious, and nary a stomach burble from anything here.

Back at work again, Hna J helps Hermanas Cooper and Davis (this is a shot from Abancay) knock the door of our afternoon appointment.  It's not unusual to knock the first-floor door, and get an answer on the 2nd floor.  Sometimes it's the family who lives there, because the family on the lower floor often has an open courtyard of considerable size, and they just can't hear the knock (or pebbles thrown gently against the window) to get someone's attention, who then hollers at the person we want to answer the door.

 I thought I'd seen the last of chicken feet soup, but Hna decided she wanted to make her own, so I was sent to the local market to buy 1/2 kilo of feet.  The first ones I saw were pretty grody, so I went to another, and they looked fresher and cleaner.  To assure there are no toenails boiling off and floating around, I used my sidecutter pliers to cut off all the toes, then a sharp knife to remove the foot pad - more details than you wanted to know, right?  After a good boil for a few hours it tastes very good, and the visualization makes it extra memorable.  So if you're wondering what to serve at the next family gathering, Hna J can give you the recipe.

 Friday night, barrio Vista Allegre had their Christmas talent show.  These young dancers are Luzkamilla and Kevin, hijos of one of our favorite families.  They are quick and light on their feet, and dance in the traditional style.  I think Kevin is about at the max age to enjoy dancing with his sister.

 The final chorus of Feliz Navidad (Silent Night to you gringos), but this lovely rendition had a Chechua verse thrown in.  At least now I can tell when then switch from Espanol.  It was a delightful end to a memorable evening with our friends.

 Hna J on the trail of some fresh fruits and veggies, of which there is always an abundance here.  Some are seasonal, like the red plums, and we bought 1 kilo for 2 Soles, or about 60 cents.  They are sweet, juicy, and delicious.

 For all of you who don't know what to get us for Christmas next year, DON'T get us pannetone.  It is the Peruvian version of fruitcake.  It is "the" gift that you give to your friends here, and they buy it by the case, and even the truckload.  It is so loaded with preservatives that they will be selling the leftovers for the next 3 - 4 months.  The candied fruit leaves an aftertaste in my mouth for about that long.

 Just when we think we're running low on appointments for our last weeks, we attend Sunday meetings in barrio Santiago, and load up with 5 new ones.  We were invited to their Historia Familiar Sunday School class, which is very well attended and enthusiastic (Hna Liliana the Specialista on left).  We recover lost passwords and usernames, create new accounts, and even send family names to the Temple, all in 1 hour. 

 Our first follow-up appointment is with Hno. Raul, who brings his Mi Familia totally filled out through 3 genrations, and his familysearch username and password in his head.  With the help of Elders Chacon and McKay, his page of temple-ready names will hang on his wall as his constant reminder that his next Temple trip will be soon.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Week #49 - We plan another trip to Abancay, and make it this time - and a Historia Familiar Feria in Cusco

 Our last trip to Abancay got scuttled when we received a call in the middle of the night from Elder Hasler, 1st Counselor in the Mission Presidency.  There had been some violence (and deaths) at one of the large mines in the area, and there were reports that the following day, there would be roadblocks, demonstrations, etc, so we got a very early-morning driver and made it back to Cusco without incident, though we did take a dirt-road detour around a roadblock.

We made new friends on our first trip to Abancay when the Sandbergs were there (May), and really wanted to go back.  We were able to schedule another visit, found a good driver who was responsive to my "incentives" for driving safely - as opposed to a bus, combi, or shared taxi where there is absolutely no control over their driving 200km and 4 hours over twisty roads, up and down.  We take a break at the halfway point,  stretch our legs and grab a drink and snack.

We stayed at a nice hotel (El Peregrino, the pilgrim), and we got the same room that we had in May.  Off the street, and quiet til 5am, when the roosters who live right below started crowing.  Anyway, we had a good rest, and it was much more pleasant than the car alarms and dogfights that usually keep us up in Cusco.  The weather was shirt-sleeve perfect for 3 days.

 We first get to see our friend Hna Cooper who has been in Abancay for many months - and has enjoyed every one - and her new companera, Hna Davis.  You've seen how Hna J towers over many of the women here, so you can imagine the contrast with these two.

 We set up in what we consider "perfect" circumstances.  A room in the main capilla, strong WiFi signal from our new dongle, a bright, sunny room, and a flat-screen TV on a rollaround cart.  With this setup, everyone can see their family tree on the screen, and its easy for them to check our entries and make sure we spell all names and places correctly, and put everyone in the right spot.  We were delighted to have the District President, Moises Quispe and his lovely esposa Maria come and see us for a visit and tune-up of their family trees and ordinances in preparation for their next Temple trip.

Here they are, with the results in hand.  We really appreciate the leadership and example that Pres. Moises sets for the members of the Abancay district.

Notice who is "driving" most of this trip.  Yes, it's the very competent and proficient Hna J, who can maneuver through the intricacies of - in Espanol no less.  I do have to say that I'm a little faster on the keystrokes, but Hna J has really mastered this aspect of our work.  I finally get Hna Leidy to look up and smile.  Surprisingly (or not) the younger Hnas. are a little shy about having their pictures taken, but almost all will allow a photo - then they want to make sure they have a print.

Dos hombres mas guapo pause for a photo.  Elder Garcia wanted a copy of this to keep in his mission memories, and of the time he has served in Abancay, now as a Zone Leader.  He and his companion Elder Heaton had a little unorthodox method of scheduling our visits with members here:  for the last 2 weeks, they and all the missionaries let the families know we were coming, it was also announced at the meetings.  They took the names of everyone who was interested, and the morning of our arrival, they called all those on the list and made firm appointments.  It actually worked quite well, and nearly all of our appointment times were filled, and everyone who wanted to meet with us had an opportunity.

The elders practice for a skit to be performed at an event this evening.  Not sure what's happening here, but I think someone's getting "rescued".

During a short break after Zone meeting, we get a chance to take a picture with most of the Abancay zone.

The bulletin board in the hall of the capilla still shows the Sandbergs prominently in the center (too bad for the glare obscuring their faces).  They were much loved here during the 18 months of service in Abancay, and are remembered very fondly.

Our portable family history center that we pack around enables us to set up most anywhere.  Our newest tech gadget is the dongle, or WiFi modem (white, visible on the short cord attached to the laptop).  This beats our WiFi phone hands-down for reliability and speed, we just wish we had it when we first started, instead of a month ago.  Oh, well, that's what experience and learning are for, I guess.  Our location is remote and a long way from quick replacements if any of our equipment quits or breaks (or gets stolen), so we picked what we hoped would be the most reliable, and our MAC computers have certainly been that.  We brought or obtained or had sent redundant backups for everything, and with the exception of the stolen WiFi phone, have never had to use them, except for when we are so busy that we need to operate 2 systems at a time - which does happen occasionally.  Hna J always has an HDMI cable in her large bag, and we frequently can hook up to the flat-screens in the capillas or in the member's homes to give everyone a good view.

 You've heard of missionaries knocking on doors, and here's a photo of Elders Enriquez and Wilde doing just that.  Doors come in all styles and sizes, here's one style of front door that is rather unique to Peru:  It is a metal rollup door with an opening cut into it, usually only about 5ft high.  A removable welded metal frame with hinges fits into the opening, and is secured with a padlock.  You can either duck down and walk through that, or pull the frame out and roll the entire door up for access to your front room, courtyard, or garage.  As I have said many times, the Peruvians are very clever, and adapt to make the best use of their circumstances and resources.

Just 2 doors up (literally) from the photo above, is the cleanest, most well organized and equipped bodega or tienda (store) that we have seen in Peru.  Hno. Juan and his Esposa Eulalia own and operate this store, and we had to give them compiments on how nice we think it is.  They have a big freezer, refrigerator, electronic scale, it's well lit and totally organized.  They attribute their success in this enterprise to returning to activity in the Church, and paying tithing on their earnings.
Their hija Sulma portions pollo with a cleaver - she can get you whatever portion you want:  half, quarter, or eighth, with just a few quick chops. 

 Hna J gets into the details of Hna Eulalia's family tree, with Elder Enriquez and Sulma observing.  We just pulled up a table and got to work right in the store, and Sulma would jump up and help the customers as they came in.

Elder Heaton shows of his photo-filled Mi Familia.  Most of the missionaries here carry their follettos with them, it's always a good way to start a conversation - and show off your family.  Hna. Joscelyn is starting to get hers filled out, we took a couple photos to help her get started.

Sometimes events and circumstances come together in unexpected ways.  Hna Rocio had an appointment to meet with the local Historia Familiar Specialista this evening, in preparation for a very quick departure for the Temple trip.  Unfortunately, the Specialista didn't show, and we just happened to be there.  Well, what could have been unfortunate turned out quite well, as her family tree - and that of her esposo were rather complicated, and it took us some time to get everything sorted out for her.  Her esposo was working late to get ready to leave, but we were able to get him on the phone for his account login information, and get his family tree sorted out as well.  We were finally all done, or so we thought, and I was looking at the page we had printed - and saw a name that we had missed - how does that happen, to see a name that's not there?  We had seen the name before, but he wasn't on the printed page.  We backtracked and found the missing person in an obscure location on her tree, and made a reprint with everyone on it.  We worked late, but it was certainly worth it to connect with Hna Rocio.

Back to Cusco for a Day of Discovery event and workshop in Estaca Cusco.  Among the attendees is Hna Norma, one of our most diligent members in Historia Familiar.  The family research she has done is quite amazing in detail and accuracy, and Hna J assists with makeing sure it's all correct and in the right place.  Hna Norma has had some health problems, but has made an astounding recovery, and it was so great to see her here.

The workshop sessions of these events are our favorite.  About a dozen computers are rounded up, including ours, additional WiFi bandwidth is brought online, and we roll up our sleeves and get to work with those who have come.  It is always delightful and faith-promoting to see the enthusiasm and dedication of the members here, and the love they have for their families.  The workshop is scheduled as the last segment of the event, and as usual, it goes on for a couple hours longer than was planned, as the members come with much work to be done.  Knowing how this goes, we bring along some snacks to keep our energy up til we're finished.

Historia Familiar is enthusiastically supported in Estaca Cusco by Presidente Mario Garcia.  He sets a great example (along with that of his lovely esposa Marcia) in leadership and love for Historia Familiar.  Elder Talavera, who is exceptionally skilled in computers (MAC's included) assists them.

And when we think that we've done all we can for Hna Norma, her hija Leni arrives with more details from her esposo's family.  We are delighted to help them both, with the assistance of Elder Barry.

 On a walk through the central historical district, we come across a 2-block long queue of people - it extends for another block around the rear of the building and to the left.  What's this all about?  After a couple of inquiries, we find out that it's the vendor registration for the upcoming crafts fair and sale to be held in the main Plaza de Armas on 24 December.  Evidently this is one of the BIG events of the Christmas season, and the whole square is packed with vendors and locals who are looking for local hand-made items for decorations, crafts and other items.  We've heard to get there early, and plan on dense crowds, almost to the point of negative personal space.  Report to follow if we survive.