Sunday, March 29, 2015

Week # 10 - and we've been here for more than 2 months!

 Time flies when we're missionaries and doing work that we love.  Every day is a new adventure, with new people to see, new places to visit, and a new culture that we're still getting acquainted with.  This day, we had a visit with a family that really knows their history, ancestors,  and loves them.  Every year they go to the temple, usually in Cochabamba, Bolivia, since it is the closest (only 20 hours by bus), and they spend nearly a week, so they only get to go once a year.  Along the way, they will divert to their family pueblos (towns, cities) where their families are from, and visit relatives, friends, and gather more information, and see the people they love.  They have kept a record of all their temple visits, and it's quite impressive.  They have pages and pages of their temple ordinance cards, which they keep in sheet protectors in one of several binders.  Their other files contain photos, original documents, and other memories.  We are humbled by their faithfulness and dedication.

 This is a photo of his mother at a birthday party.  Note the confetti on her head (a tradition here at parties) and what's those things she is holding?  Yes, they are roasted cui (guinea pigs), which are a considered a real treat and are traditionally served at parties.  This photo, along with one of his father (they have both passed away), was uploaded to his account, as "portraits", and pops up wherever their names appear in familysearch.  It's a clever feature that lets us crop the picture in a traditional oval shape, and paste it in FS.  I will say that when this fine brother saw pictures of his father and mother in his family tree, that it was quite emotional for him, which shows the love that the Peruvians have for their family. 

 A cute family, with the cutest little daughter.  Hno. Christiaan is a counselor in his barrio's bishopric, and we helped him get the names of his tias (aunts) entered in the correct place in family search.  It was a learning curve for me to get everybody in the right place in the family tree, but I think it was accomplished.  Little Shanny had just woken up from a nap, and was fed, so she was in a happy mood for this photo.  We left a "grande" (large size 8.5x11) print with them to add to their family memories of this time when Shanny is little.  When the children start to walk here, they look like little walking dolls - really!

 Christmas in March!  Our 1st package from the USA arrived.  I took a photo of the contents to make sure that everything was was shipped actually arrived (it was repackaged by the courier in route).  Everything was accounted for, except one bottle of aspirin - I guess somebody had a headache.  This may not look like much, but we need every single item in here.  Photo paper, ink cartridges (we go through a lot of these, and they are not available in Peru.  I thought I would save some money and buy cheap aftermarket cartridges, but after a while they gum up the printhead, so I had so buy a bunch more on eBay and have them shipped down).  Double-stick tape is quite a novelty and attention getter down here, and we use lots of it to stick photos in Mi Familia folletos.  Eyedrops are needed frequently: an hour after a rain, dust and grit can blow in our eyes.  Extra rechargeable camera batteries, chapstick, small folding knives (gifts for friends), and a big bottle of Metamucil.  In addition to the traditional use of it (no details will be provided), we also use it for the opposite condition (again, no details will be provided).

Thanks to Neil, who put together the 45-page picture books in 4x6 size that we use to show to families, to Bill Denkers who purchased the photo paper and OTC meds for us, and to Blake for getting it all packaged together and to the SLC-based courier service.  A "Temples" magazine that Monica sent in a separate package arrived the same day, so it was a double treat!

 One thing we can count on:  The elders are always hungry, and really appreciate a meal of something besides their usual daily diet of arroz y papas (rice and potatoes).  We took Elders Murillo and Black to Fuego's, a restaurant near Plaza de Armas that serves American-style food, including hamburgers.  These combinations are called "The Stroke", and they are likely to give you one.  From the bottom, the stack is:  bun, 1/2lb meat patty, cheese, fried egg, 2 onion rings, BBQ sauce, bun, and pickle.  With fries and salad on the side.

 You can see the effect of The Stroke about a half-hour later.  Don't ever bet the Elders that they can't eat everything on their plate, they were clean down to the last fry when they were finished.

I've told you about the traffic in Cusco.  Here's a long line of taxis headed back from the Plaza de Armas.  I'm either in the one on the left or the right, take your pick.  Driving is a game of inches here, really, along with dodging, honking, clouds of exhaust, and pedestrians running across the street in between fast-moving cars, hills, cobblestone streets, dogs, narrow alleys, and a long list of other sights and sounds.  Note that we're passing the Cusco Marriott on the right.  So there is luxury here - but why would you want to come to come to Cusco and stay in a luxury hotel?  The real Cusco is the city and the people we see every day and it's a completely different perspective. 

I just realized that next week will be our "official" 3 month mark, and the middle of April will be 3 months in Cusco.  The time if flying for us, and it seems like I get a call from Elder Olsen for our weekly report about every 3 days.  We have finally come across a calendar that allows us to see a week and month at a time, so that we can keep our appointments (which are constantly being revised) straight, not get double-booked, and make sure that we don't forget any. 

We just got word that our "carnets" or official Peru resident cards are approved.  These verify that we are legal non-citizens.  Think green card - though we are not permitted to earn money here - just spend it.  The timing is great, since our tourist visas expire the middle of April.  You would think that they could just put the carnets in the mail to the mission office here in Cusco, right?  Wrong again:  we have to fly to Lima next week, just to get these cards in person.  This also involves an overnight stay, due to all the waiting in queue just to pick up the cards and sign some more papers.  The Church has to go through a lot of expense and time just to keep the missionary's legal status current.  The usual government nonsensical bureaucracy, regardless of which country you're from.  We would be OK in country without the carnets, since nobody ever asks for them, but we would get impounded at the border when we leave if we didn't have current papers.  One advantage of the carnets is that as residents - not tourists - we get a significant discount on in-country airfare, hotels, and tourist attractions.  As an example:  tourists pay 2X the amount for in-country flights that residents do, the train to Macchu Picchu costs 5X for tourists over the locals.  We've been waiting for the carnets before we go to some of the very historical sites in the area - and even inside the city of Cusco.  As I say:  every day is a new adventure in Cusco.


  1. The nemesis of missionaries in the Canaries was residence cards. We had to go through so much red tape is was crazy. I hope you don't have to eat any guinea pigs. We have had a totally awesome winter in St. George. We are here now getting ready to go to Costa Mesa to move Maren back to Salt Lake. I imagine we will be home after that for awhile, but will miss our sweet life here.