Here we are - haven't changed a bit since 2012! We're headed to the Peru Cusco Mission for a year as the Family History Specialists.
Monday, March 9, 2015
Elder and Sister Sandberg come to town! They're assigned to Abancay, about 100km west of Cusco, where he is serving as a Branch President. This is the first time they've been to Cusco since we've been here, so we were happy to meet them.
All of the mission couples (4) were invited to the Mission Home for dinner with President and Hermana Harbertson. Here are the sisters: Sandberg, Harbertson, Hasler, Rhoades, and Johnson
An informal photos of elders Rhoades, Sandberg, Hasler, and President Harbertson. We had a delightful, relaxing, and enjoyable evening together, and a lovely meal.
Here's a large extended family that we met with, and it happened to be a birthday for one of the grandchildren, so why not turn it into a party! Bishop Villavicencio is one of the stalwarts of the Church in Cusco and has a very large family: 10 children (7 were here this evening, the others live in other cities), 20 grandchildren, and of course his wonderful wife who is the glue that holds everything together, like all moms and grandmoms.
Another day, another trip to a new part of Cusco, this is the "Choco" neighborhood. We were on appointments with Elders Vasquez (left), and Jensen (right), and crossed paths with Elders Halversen and Largent, and that made a photo opportunity.
It's a long walk uphill from the end of the pavement, and Hna Johnson and the Elders are up for it.
It had just rained, so the walk was a little gummy, but the house is way up the road, so nothing to do except slog on up. Luckily the rains come and go quickly most times, so it wasn't really too bad.
Working away on Family History. Our self-contained kit of tools: computer, printer, camera, booklets, worksheets, videos and other supplies allow us to work wherever we go.
In Cusco, here's how you get from one neighborhood to another: If you're lucky, there's a set of stairs rather than just a path. These stairs go all the way up the hill out of sight. At the higher edges of town, there's no roads for vehicles, only walking paths. The people who live there may come down 2 or 3 times a month for groceries or supplies, walking both ways.
Construction Zone! They're pulling down a hillside and making smaller rocks out of bigger ones. Most likely to obtain construction materials.
Doing it the old fashioned way, with a lot of hard labor. These guys are tough and hard workers.
When you need to build a building, or add on, a truck dumps a load of gravel, then a load of sand, then a pallet of cement, a mixer is pulled in and the work starts. The wheelbarrow carries the mixed cement up several stories on planks, pushed by the guy in the safety vest - they are tough and strong. Not a real efficient way to build, but it's economical and the job gets done. I'm detailing the construction of a building in our neighborhood floor by floor. Pictures will be posted when it gets finished.
We just finished teaching a lesson with Elders Castro and Olsen. As usual, Hermana J. lights up the room with warmth and love when she speaks, even if it is mostly in English and the Elders translate.
We're prepping for a trip to Puerto Maldonado at the end of the week, so it's shopping day. Our little pull-around cart is very handy for holding and transporting our purchases, and it fits in the taxis besides Hna. J. We're in El Molino, one of the markets in Cusco where you can buy anything from shoes to pork bellies.
Am I exaggerating? No, here are the cuts made from the whole the hogs that are carried into the market. The meat department is a little ways away from the shoe department, but not all that far.
The markets are nothing if not colorful. We are surprised at the variety and colors of the fresh fruits and vegetables, many of which we never see in the USA. There are some surprising (and very good) tastes from the strangest-looking fruits.
As part of our prepping for our first Puerto Maldonado trip, Elder Rhoades knew where the best shop is for rain gear, which just happens to be on the other side of one of the squares or plazas. He's also a good guide, and has learned a lot about the early Quechua and Inca cultures, especially their building methods.
Many of the Inca buildings and roads were in and around Cusco. Here E. Rhoades and Hna J. are looking at several "layers" of construction. The dark stones were once part of an Inca temple, and were covered in gold, til the Spanish conquistadores got here, and of course the gold was the first thing to go. Many of the Inca structures were demolished and Spanish churches built on top of them, that's what happened here.
Some of the Inca walls have been left intact, and here's one section. These are stones that are fitted together without mortar, and fit so closely that you can't stick a knife blade in the joints (really). These ancient methods of construction methods are not completely understood - like how did they cut and fit the stones? Their tools were pretty crude, they didn't have iron, only copper. They must have had a lot of labor, time, and skill. These walls have survived for 600-1000 years, and have withstood earthquakes, storms, and everything else. We're fascinated by the history that is so near to us in Cusco, and will be visiting the local sites in the coming months. We plan to make a 2-day trip to Macchu Picchu in May.
Here's probably the most enterprising guy in Cusco. He pedals his fruit cart around town, calling out his specials on his loudspeaker (look at the top of the photo) and causing traffic jams wherever he goes. His customers are pretty brave too, walking out into traffic to buy some grapes. This method is surely more effective than the other sellers employ. Beats sitting around and waiting for people to walk buy and look at your produce. Remember what I said earlier - nothing is the same here, and you have to admire the ingenuity of the Peruvian people.