Every day is a new adventure in the Cusco Mision! Today, 5 February (febrero) marks our 3rd week in Cusco, and 1 month as missionaries. Last Sunday (Domingo), the Picchu barrio (ward) sponsored a Historia Familia event, and we were invited to participate. Above, Hermano (brother) Meneses instructs the group of 37. He is the HF leader for the mission, and is very dedicated and a great resource for us. With his help, I got a WiFi-enabled cell phone and now have an internet signal everywhere we go for access to familysearch.com.
Hermana Johnson consults with the elders during the HF meeting, which ran close to 2 hours. The elders are now making follow-up appointments for us to meet with member families in their homes. With all the technology we're packing around, we can access family search.com from anywhere, and with the member's name and number, either access their account, or create one - and enter family information for temple ordinances on the spot - which is one of our primary objectives. AND we can upload family photos or ones we took right onto the member's pages. It's a real joy for them to see names ready for the temple, and to look at their own family photos that will be preserved on familysearch.com forever.
This young man (Gabriel) represents the future of the Church in Peru: well dressed, intelligent, computer savvy, and searching for his family members. He's learning English in school and practices it with us whenever we see him. He'll be a great leader some day.
Hermana Johnson at work with Elders Black and Guevara. We spend one afternoon a week in their sector (assigned work area), and have met several wonderful families. Here, Hermana Nayda and her ninos get to look at our family photo flipchart. Her hardworking esposo Americo got home a short time later, and we got family info and photos uploaded to familysearch.com
Here's a delightful couple we met the week before, Nico and Georgina. They are both retired, and have been working diligently on their Mi Familia booklets. Their home surrounds a courtyard with a papaya tree growing in the center.
With my technology, and Elder Brown's computer savvy, he opened familysearch accounts in just a few minutes. We have a worksheet that captures their essential information, and it makes opening the accounts very easy - especially with WiFi access wherever we go now. Elder Munoz and Hna. Johnson look on. We were able to photograph some of their priceless family photos and upload them to their familysearch.com page, as well as get family names ready for temple ordinances.
Well, it's not all work here in Cusco, and we're able to get together with the other two mission couples (Haslers, Rhoades) here about every week. We've just finished lunch at a fine local restaurant featuring fish (pescado) in several varieties. I had a mix breaded and fried with two tasty sauces, and Hna Johnson had a broiled fillet. She's a new fan of Tiger's Milk, which is what is left over when the fish is removed from the lemon juice. The only downer was the live band, who only knew how to play LOUD. I wish I had offered them 30 sols to take a break while we were eating. Note my stylish and functional all-weather hat. Whenever we're out and there's the potential for sun or rain (which is 100% of the time), I've got it on to protect against those elements. It's becoming my signature look in the mission.
A mother and daughter in traditional Chechua dress. Ok, they were at the Plaza de Armas, the main square in Cusco, trolling for tourists and they did charge me 1 sol ($0.30) each to take their picture, but they were so colorful I couldn't resist. Note the baby goat under her arm, a cute accessory.
After lunch, we went with the Haslers to the largest market in Cusco, where everything you can think of is for sale, including some delicious fruit in exotic varieties that we've never seen before. We bought some passion fruit - with a hard shell but tasty insides, as well as other varieties, to see which ones we like the best. We also went to the chocolate museum and sampled some of the excellent products made from cocoa beans that are grown in the mountain areas of Peru.
Just as we were heading home, we heard a band and dancers coming up the street. One of the Catholic churches was having a celebration for one of their Saints or historical, venerated people, and we got to watch the colorful costumes and dancing. At the end of the parade is the men carrying the statue representing the Saint they are venerating.
All the technology pays off! Here we've been searching, and just found a death certificate proving new information about Vanessa's grandfather. The historical records in Peru are sketchy, but there is a large effort that the Hasler's and other records preservation missionaries are involved in that's providing new family information every day. When pages of old records are photographed, they are then "indexed", with the essential information digitized and searchable. This was one of them that was found by entering her grandfather's name, location, and approximate dates.
Here we are with one of the wonderful member families we've come to know. Everyone dressed up for photos today, and we took quite a few, and left them with some wonderful prints as well as uploaded images to their familysearch account. I seem to have grown about 6 inches since I've been here, at least compared to the local population. The Chechua people are traditionally short and solidly built to thrive in the high altitudes of the Andes. This is probably the safest house in Cusco! This family owns a security business, and we are inside of their gated and wired home and office. Also note the watchful eye of Rambo, their Rottweiler.