Sunday, April 19, 2015

Week 13, 14

A couple of weeks have blown by!  The Mission Secretary calls us every Sunday evening for our weekly report, but it seems like he calls every 3 days.  Here's a recap of our last 2 weeks:

 I can't turn my camera anywhere without the Elders mugging for a photo.  We work all over the city, with different sets of missionaries every day, sometimes several sets a day.  We toted these Elders along for a visit with the Stake Family History Specialist.  Elder Andromidas is the Financial Secretary, he heeps all the mission bills paid, and does an excellent job.  Elder Asay is in training to be the next Mission Nurse (well, that's what they call him).  His trainer is Elder Caprio.  They work under the direction of Hermana Harbertson, and keep the missionaries healthy with training and cautions (don't eat from food carts, boil your water, watch for holes in the sidewalk, don't walk in front of cars and other helpful and useful tips).  When one of the missionaries does get sick, they arrange for medical care and treatment.  Since we have been here, they've helped with a couple cases of appendicitis, a couple of broken legs, various sprains (futbol on P-day), and assorted fevers and stomach bugs.  Hna. Harbertson keeps right on top of the health of the missionaries and the Nurses know how/where to get the care done.

 This is a pot of delicious chicken soup that I made, all by myself.  When I got all the ingredients in and simmered, I thought it could use a little tomato taste, so I dumped in a couple packs of tomato sauce.  We have found out here that for some reason, they put extra red dye in the ketchup and tomato sauces.  Doesn't affect the taste, but it turned the chicken bright pink!  Anyway, it was still delicious if we didn't think about the pink chicken.  We ate from it a couple days, then decided I made way too much.  I offered the rest of the pot to the office Elders, who live 3 floors up from us.  Hna. J didn't think they would want it, but they were down in a flash and took the pot away, along with a package of crackers, some juice boxes (the only way juice is available here), and cookies.  We had forgotten how much young men can eat, but we have been reminded of it very quickly.

 More of our favorite missionaries!  Well, we have about 220 favorites.  Hermanas Esplin and Sanchez helped us out when the elders in their sector got called away on an urgent task.  Actually, it was to our pleasure, as these Hermanas are delightful, and we got to meet 2 new families in their sector.  Hna J. always has her notebook handy to write down names, appointments, and notes about each family.

 It sometimes takes 2 or 3 visits for us to get the names of a family's antepasados (deceased ancestors) approved for temple ordinances, but sometimes we can get it done the first visit!  Like this day with Hno. Marco.  They are going to the Temple next month and will be able to take family names with them.

 When we're working with families, everyone gets involved.  Here, the 3 hijas (daughters) of a family are recording their family's information and history.  The older daughter (left, rear) knew everyone's birthdates, and made sure we entered them into the computer correctly. 

 We always enjoy our visits to Hno. Eusebio.  This time we were meeting him and there was a big commotion outside.  When he went to check it out, it was only his brother and sister-in-law.  They are pretty lively!  He invited them in, just as Elder Nicholls was identifying faces on an old family photo.  FamilySearch has a very clever and fun way to do this. Between the 3 of them, they were able to put names to everyone in the photo, and were pretty happy about it.  Remember that if you don't identify everyone who's in the family photos, when you die they will just be pictures of old dead people, and will lose their significance to your family.

Another day, another adventure in Cusco!  We had an appointment with a High Councilor from the Cusco Stake, but when we got to the chapel, the outside gate was unlocked, but the door to the chapel was locked.  He wasn't there, but there was a lovely lady whom we didn't know, sitting on the steps.  It turns out it was his wife, he had sent her to tell us that he was sick and couldn't make it.  We started talking to her (yes, we can say and understand a few words in Espanol), and asked her if she had her Mi Familia foletto.  It turns out that she did, and she had it nearly completed!  Since the chapel was locked (I have some keys, but not all, I think there is a principle here).  We just sat on the steps with her, got out the computer - with WiFi on my mobile phone, opened an FamilySearch account for her and started putting in her family names.

 We were nearly done when Elder Rhoades, one of our senior missionaries came over with keys (their Self Sufficiency and Perpetual Education Fund office is in this chapel) and let us in.  We knew Elders Zerillo and Matekel would arrive after their prior appointment and they helped fill in the gaps of our poquito (small) Espanol.  As we finished, and pushed the "Reserve" button for temple ordinances, Hermana Charlene got quite emotional.  Hna J. inquired, and found out it was her birthday:  Her parents had given her life on this day, and she was now giving her love back to them by making temple ordinances available for her parents and grandparents on her birthday!

 When we get FamilySearch accounts opened, we often times find the fastest way to get family information entered is to let the elders "drive".  Meaning I just hand my computer over to them, and they can hit the keys much faster than I can.  Elder Nicholls is fast with everything:  talking, walking, and the computer.  The rest of us:  his companion Elder Gonzalez, Hna J, and Hno. Eliseo just watch.  Hno. Elisio is in his 70's and has the most beautiful handwriting we have seen, and we have seen some lovely scripts and printing.  It seems like penmanship isn't a skill or art that is taught anymore.  Note Elder Nicholl's and Hna. J's scarves.  The season is changing here, the homes aren't heated and we all keep extra layers handy in case the weather changes - which it does several times a day here.  My WiFi sometimes doesn't get a good signal through several concrete walls, so I had it outside on a wall for better reception - and it started to downpour!  I dashed out and put a plastic bucket over it, and we kept on working.  Usually the rains can come and go pretty quickly (and mostly happen at night, thank goodness), but today it wasn't letting up.  When we finished the 4 of us made a dash for the street, I grabbed my phone from under the bucket on the way out, and we had to make it a couple blocks before we found a taxi.  The elders had a taxi stopped for us, and we jumped in and headed back to our apartment, clear on the other side of town.  The rain didn't let up, and we got to see Cusco from an entirely different perspective.  It's amazing how many drains, ditches, and paths they have for their "storm system".  It's been raining in Cusco for hundreds of years, and they have some pretty clever (and some rather simple) ways to get the extra water headed down the valley.

 For several weeks, we've been preparing for a meeting with Sr. Farfan, the Director of the Regional Archive Cusco, where the archival civil records of this region of Peru are kept.  The oldest record goes back to 1545, just 9 years after Pizarro and the Spaniards arrived.  The Church has a contract with the Archive to preserve a portion of the records through digital photos.  Recording the full Archive will take more negotiations and contract between the Church and the government.  Elder and Hermana Hasler are the Records Preservation missionaries here, and spend 8 or more hours each day taking high-quality digital photos of the records.  It's a long, tiring, and seemingly neverending task.  On a good day, they can take up to 5,000 images.  When one of their high-capacity hard drives is full, they make a duplicate of it.  One drive is sent to the Granite Mountain Records Vault above Salt Lake City, and the other is given to the Archive.  About 5 weeks ago, we went with Elder Hasler to deliver a drive, and met Sr. Farfan in his office.  He's very appreciative of this work, as it's the only way these precious records are being preserved.  He asked about the process the photos of the records go through until they are available as searchable digital records through  Inside of a few minutes, we had arranged to meet at one of the chapels in Cusco, where there is a Family History Center.  We had to reschedule the meeting once, so Elder Hasler wasn't able to make it, so it fell to me to not only plan the meeting, but conduct it.  Pretty daunting considering the condition of my Espanol.  Anyway, with some planning we got an agenda set, including a video of the GMRV, which was in Espanol!  At the meeting, we had the assistance of Hna. Denisse Bueno Villavicencio, who is not only a darling, but very experienced and capable in FamilySearch.  Sr. Farfan brought along one of his friends (who spoke very good English, as a precaution I think, not knowing how many Spanish speakers we would have at the meeting).  He needn't have worried as we had Hna Denisse, Elders Brown and Taipei, AND President and Hermana Harbertson.  Sr. Erick had the name of his grandfather written down, whom he wanted to research, and Hna. Denisse found the name of his grandfather linked to several records that had come from the very Archive that the Church had been working on!  The evening was a success, and we made some new friends that evening.  Here's a link to the GMRV video:   Note that "full" means full length, not that the Vault is full.  I actually got a tour of the Vault just after it was completed, I was still in High School.  They don't give tours any more, I'm really glad I got the chance to go, and still remember it very clearly.  Note that the video was made in 2012, and the references are made about microfilm, though digital records are mentioned.  Now all of the new records are digital, and the millions of rolls of microfilm are being converted to digital. 

 President Harbertson was marvelous (as always) in engaging Sr. Farfan in a discussion about the Church in Cusco, our members, organization, missionary work, and of course our love and commitment to Family History, through preserving the Archive as well as our work with families.  Sr. Farfan expressed an interest in having our presentation made to his colleagues, as well as the President of the Department of Cusco (like Governor of a state).  I was tasked with working to set it up (gulp - much assistance will be needed).  At the conclusion, we took a few minutes for a photo of the event.  Following the meeting, the President invited Hna. J and I to dinner, where we reviewed the meeting, and talked about our experiences in the mission to date, what we're hoping to accomplish, and a few light topics as well.  We love President and Hermana Harbertson, and it's a joy to work here under their direction. 

 Boys are boys everywhere.  As we were walking up a hill to another neighborhood, we saw two boys with cardboard sleds, sliding down a grass hill.  It looked like great fun, except that just off to the side of their landing pad was a pile of broken glass!  Hna H got their attention and pointed out the hazard, but like boys everywhere, they ignored it and kept on sliding.  Last we saw, they were having great fun, and kept missing the glass by a foot or so.

 A week ago, we met Hno David at the Villa Union barrio (ward).  We opened a FamilySearch account for him (he doesn't have a computer or cell phone, or email) but weren't able to get any family information entered.  We made an appointment for the next Saturday, and Elders Largent, Vasquez, and Quispe led us to his home.  No WiFi signal til we moved the phone a few times.  Elder Vasquez was about to run it up a nearby steep hill, but we finally found an adequate signal and got started.

 Either from memory, or with this assistance of his aged father who lives with him, Hno. David was able to recall detailed information through 3 generations, and we were able to send the names of 5 antepasados, including his mother, to the temple for ordinance work.  It's such a joy to be able to help members who otherwise don't have access to the technology that we take for granted.

 On the way back to our apartment, we decided to take a small divert to Mercado Huancaro, one of the local markets here.  It's open every day, but Saturday is the the big day.  It's primarily for produce, meats, fish, and a few dry goods.  But it's a hoppin' place for the locals.  Hna. J. and I were the only gringos we saw there.  And like every market, it's a new experience of sights, sounds, colors, and smells.  Here's a stack of lumpy pumpkins, I think they're some variety of squash.  their weights in kg are drawn on with magic marker so they an be priced.

 Flowers, fish, vegetables, fruits and other items are here in abundance.  Hna. J remarked how good it is to see so much available, and so much being bought and sold. 

 Potatoes of every variety and color, along with sellers in equally colorful dress.  This isn't the tourist part of town, the Chechua women, of whom there are quite a few in this region, dress like this every day.  They all wear hats, of differing style and color.  We've heard a few tales about their significance, but I do think the hats identify them by region and heritage.  There must be lots of regions, because there are lots of different hats, and we'll usually see women with similar dress together.  Another day, another adventure in Cusco!

We were on our way home from the market in a taxi, through a neighborhood we hadn't been in before.  I was amazed (nearly alarmed) at how close some of the homes are built to near-vertical dirt cliffs.  This isn't really a good picture, as I snapped it out the window while we were driving, but I think that in a few years or so,  some of these places could be perilously close to the edge.  

 One last visit this week!  Elders Bird and Pavon took us on a walk down a dirt road, at night, after a rain, then up a steep dirt hill, to visit a new family.  They're all new members, and are very excited about the Church and the teachings and principles, especially for the benefit of their children.  Like many families here, the father works out of town, in this case Puerto Maldonado, in the Amazon jungle where we were a few weeks ago, and is able to come home only about once per month.  He's coming back in 2 weeks, and we made plans for another visit when the entire family will be together.  They're making us a meal "en la tierra", which I think is a dutch oven buried in the ground.  They asked us if we like cui (guinea pig), we told them we like pollo (chicken).  In the meantime, we treated them to a video, some photos, and a touching Gospel message delivered by Hna. J - mostly in Spanish, so don't let her tell you that she can't speak in the language.  She isn't fluent by any means, neither am I, we're really beginners, but the spirit is present when she speaks, and the elders fill in the gaps.

Next week we've got a trip to Puno, the high (12,600ft)  and cold part of the Mission.  We're looking forward to that experience, and will be packing all of our warm clothing and rain gear.  We'll be there for a week, Apr 24-30 for a Family History Fair, Sunday meetings, and 3 days of meetings with leaders, missionaries, and families.  

We've been saddened to hear of the passing of our friends Patrice Swain and Dan Anderson this last week.  We will miss them, but know the message of the Restored Gospel is that we can be with our families forever - that's the message we teach here through Family History.

We're well, and send our love to all of you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Week #12 - views, Conference, parties, transfers, Incas, - AND - we've got our carnets!

We rotate our daily schedule throughout Cusco, and it turns out that about every 2 weeks, we are in barrio (ward) Cusco (1 of 14 wards).  It's on the side of the mountain, and the first thing that Elders Pavon and Jeffery do is walk us up to the top of it.  They are in good shape, and it's nothing for them, but for us oldsters, it's a little more challenging.  So far we haven't pooped out on any walk/climb, though we do take a stop or two to catch our breath or have a swig of agua.

One of the homes toward the top is on the 3rd floor, and it has a million-dollar view of Cusco.  Curiously, the higher-value properties are low on the valley floor, and the higher up, the less status they have (generally).  This is the view from the kitchen, looking toward the south.  The airport is visible, it's right in the middle of town.

To the left, more of the city.  See how high the homes go up on the hill?  And they go even further up to the left and behind us.  The street is steeper than it looks, believe me.  We live across the valley, just right of center. 

While we finished one cita (family meeting) and were waiting for another pair of elders, I snapped this photo of Elders Pavon, Jeffery, and Hna. J.  Just inside the building is a little C-store, and I treated the elders to helados (ice cream bars) while we waited.

Another pleasant surprise:  Hermano (brother) Marco is on the left, with his father and younger brother (hermano menor).  Note the photo his father is holding:  Two weeks ago, I took a digital photo from the large photo on the wall, taken when he was 20 (he is now 78).  There was only 1 photo, and Marco has 4 brothers, so I made copies for every one.  When his father arrived ( a surprise for us), I made another for him.  We had a wonderful cita with Marco's family, I spent close to 1.5hrs entering family names on  All the time, there was a terrible storm and lightning going on - that stopped just as we finished.  Luck of missionaries - or is it?  Anyway, we made it to the next cita without getting soaked - or even wet.  Hna J always has her compact umbrella with her, and I have my Gore-Tex hat - even if its sunny when we leave the apartment.  The weather is definitely changing to the colder season.  The days are nice and pleasant, but it really cools off in the late afternoon, and during the night.

Another delightful family:  Koky and Magnolia.  We took this colorful family photo in their front garden.  Hno. Koky has been a little reluctant to take the missionary lessons - all his family are members, but his heart has been changed, and he meets regularly with the missionaries to be taught the Gospel.  He is really a good dad and husband, and make sure the family gets to church every week, and to other activities during the week.

Conference Weekend is a big deal in Cusco!  All the sessions are broadcast live to the 2 Stake Centers.  All the sessions are translated into Espanol, but there is a room where it's in English.  I braved the Espanol sessions, and learned a lot - I will have to admit my comprehension is getting a little better, though I can't understand everything.  About 30% of the language, but 100% of the spirit.  Here, Presidente y Hermana Harbertson are watching the Sunday Afternoon session at the apartment of the Hasler's, where we were invited to watch - and to celebrate Hna. Hasler's birthday.

Here's the birthday girl.  The caske is no small achievement at 11,000 feet.  Elder Hasler put the whole dinner and party together as a surprise, and he managed to pull it off.  We enjoyed a delightful dinner - Mexican, prepared entirely by Elder Hasler (they're from New Mexico), a Conference session, and then a birthday party. 

Every 6 weeks is "change day".  The missionaries who have finished their service return home, new ones arrive to take their places, and others are transferred to other areas.  Elder Bentzen is on his way home, and Elder Solano will get a new companion.  They are the assistants to the president, and serve as his right-hand-men throughout the mission.  We have had some delightful citas with these faithful and hard-working elders.

Change days disrupt our schedules for about 3 days, since the elders in sectors where we have appointments may be transferred - as happened in several sectors during this change.  We took advantage of this by scheduling a quick trip to Lima (see below), and Wednesday we hired a driver to take us to 4 of the Inca sites that are very close to Cusco.  I won't type all of the site names, they are are of Chechua origin and are as hard to pronounce as they are to spell, but you can see them on a photo below.  I am fascinated by the logistics and craftsmanship of their work, about 650 years ago.  Note how the stones are fitted - 3 dimensionally, and with no mortar.  I'm still trying to figure out the strategic and religious reasons for the vast number of structures the Incas built.  There are lots of stories, and every guide has his own version, but there are a few authoritative sources that I'm getting hold of to find out more about their amazing buildings and construction - including roads and aqueducts.  If I had a fleet of dump trucks, D-9 Cats, big track hoes, cranes, air drills/hammers, cases of dynamite, and skilled operators, I still couldn’t do what these people did.

Our guide at this site shows Hna. J how they fitted stones around inside corners!  Outside radiuses as well.  Some of the stones have 11 different exposed angles around their perimeter.  The foundation stones extend about 6ft underground.

At every site there are sellers of colorful goods.  Some are hand-made, other claim to be.  Some will try to pass off synthetics as "baby Alpaca", so you have to be careful.  I bought a couple very colorful throws hand-made of cotton.  Right now they are in a plastic bag being treated with spray that will kill all the tiny crawlies that can get everywhere.  Pictures later.

Here's the remains of another fortification we toured on this trip.  They are all above Cusco, at about 12,300ft elevation. Some are obviously strategic, as this one.  Others are supposed to be religious or functional.

When they say they joints are fitted so closely (without mortar - just stone on stone) that you can't stick a knife blade between them, they are not kidding.  How did they do that with primitive copper tools?  Anyway, here's proof.

These are the sites we saw today.  There are about 16 different sites near Cusco.  The price list is in Soles (3 soles per $1).  Note that we now pay the "nacional" rate, since we have our carnets.  We opted for the "parcial" fare for today.  Sometime later we will go out again with the "general" pass, which allows us to visit 16 sites over a 10-day period.

Some sites are strategic, others religious, and this one is quite functional.  Note the clever water spouts that are routed through an aqueduct from above.  This site was built over 600 years ago, and is still functional today.  Note the channel that flows the excess water away.  One thing that is an advantage here, is that there is no hard freeze-thaw cycles like we have at home, the temperature rarely (if ever) gets below freezing so there is little of the effect that we see in our home climate.  Most of the rock are of some tough variant of limestone or basalt, and some in other locations were cut from granite!

Hermana J makes new friends everywhere!  We were waiting at the Cusco airport to catch our flight to Lima, and met this lovely lady:  from California via Germany (55 years ago).  Turns out she was a Church member, and caught sight of our badges.  She was traveling with a group of friends and we got to chat with all of them before we got on the plane.

Well, not very good focus, but these are our "carnets" or resident cards.  Think green cards.  These allow us to stay in the country for 1 year from date of issue (can be renewed), and they replace our tourist visas, which would have expired in 3 more months.  The biggest advantage of these cards is now that we get the same rates for transportation, hotels, other amenities that the locals do.  The tourists have to pay 50 - 80% more. 

It has been another exciting and adventure-filled week for is here in Peru.  We love our work, and the time is flying by.  Hopefully in another 3 months we will be at least tolerably fluent in Espanol.  We start our mission travel schedule later this month, with a 1-week trip to Puno (Lake Titicaca) for a Historia Familiar Conference, and several days of citas with leaders and members - stay tuned!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Week #11

 As you have seen, one of our primary responsibilities is assisting families in creating their own accounts, and helping them enter information.  It's great when we can just sit and observe, as I'm doing here.  Hermano Luis is entering his own information, with the assistance of his hija (daughter) Denisse, holding her sleeping baby to his left. She is the Stake Historia Familiar specialist, and really knows her job, and is a great help to us.  She has spoken at a couple of our group meetings, and is on our schedule for another.  Note the plate of brownies they prepared for us - they disappeared quickly - with the help of the elders who were translating for us.  I will have to admit that our Espanol is slowly improving, but we still need assistance.  A few more months, and we may be able to go it on our own, but for now we really appreciate the help.

 Here's the cutest family in Cusco (that we took a picture of this week).  Hermano Javier is a volunteer in the Self-Sufficiency office that is run by Elder and Hermana Rhodes, and he is also a tour guide and assists us with our travel and lodging arrangements when we go to other areas of the mission for Historia Familia meetings and events - our next one comes up later this month to Puno, next to Lake Titicaca.  That will be an exciting adventure for us, look for the report in a few weeks.  We made an 8.5x11 "grande" size print for them, and they were really happy.  There are 4 generations of Hna. Magaly's family living in their home, including her father in his 70's, and her grandfather who is 98!

 We met two lovely Hermanas (yes, they really are sisters).  You can see their Mi Familia folletos on the table.  Hna. J is comparing their information with the information already in familysearch.  Using all the sources, we were able to help get all of their family on Hna. Rosa's account.  She was quite excited to see them all on one page.  Next visit, we'll get Hna. Emma's family.  Helping is Hno. Ciro.  He's the esposo of Hna. Denisse, and they share the HF calling in estaca Inti Raymi.  The elders turn into pumpkins at 9:30pm, meaning they have to be in their apartments by that time, and we knew this cita (meeting) would go longer, so we asked Hno. Ciro to go with us and translate.  His English is very good, he's also a tour guide, AND he rides a motorcycle, so we're best friends already!

 The lesson to be learned here is:  "Su padres no vive siempre".  Or:  Your parents do not live forever.  Hno. Ricardo and his lovely esposa are both on their phones to their parents, getting precious information about their families.  Unfortunately, the official records in Peru are not very complete, and are difficult (sometimes impossible) to access, so the living memories of families are very important.  Unfortunately, there is not much information available past the 3rd generation (grandparents), and sometimes not that far.  There are exceptions of course, and it is fabulous to see some families with histories, pictures, photos, stories that go back to the early 1800's.

 We have to say goodbye to Hna. Gonzalez.  She has finished her misisonary service, and will be returning home to Argentina next week.  It was a joy to work with her and her companera, Hna Hill.  Changes/transfers happen every 6 weeks, so there are always new missionaries for us to meet, and to work with, which is one of the joys of our service here.  We love the missionaries!

 OK, this isn't the most healthy meal that we've seen in Cusco, but it's one of the elder's favorites (the Hermanas have more refined tastes).  It's "Salchypappas"  - sliced hot dogs on top of french fries.  Hna J. and I shared a plate, just to have the experience.  It was actually pretty tasty, and the green sauce was delicious.  We'll probably try other taste delights before we come back to this one.

 We were near the Plaza de Armas, and stopped for lunch (OK, it was McDonalds).  While we were there, this cute little nina (girl) came in selling hand-made llama figurines, made of sticks wrapped in wool.  Who could resist these darling eyes?  We bought a couple, the were only 1 Sol ($0.33) each.  She sold quite a few before the employees scooted her out.

 It's Holy Week before Easter, which means celebrations and parades.  We were walking through Plaza de Armas and the groups and crowds were just starting to gather.   There were a lot of Army people standing around.  Don't know if they are needed for crowd control, or just for show:  they all had holsters, but they were empty.  The red capes are used by the participants to indicate which group or order of the Catholic church they belong to.  Some wear blazers and ties that are distinctive.  The big celebration with fireworks is later this week, and if our schedule permits, we'll go again just to see it.  The real parts starts about 7pm, and goes til about midnight.  The square is jam-packed with people every night through Saturday.  Each city in Peru has a square like this, and most are named Plaza de Armas. 

      Our friends Elder y Hermana Hasler are a senior couple like ourselves, but their specific assignment is "records preservation"  They have a room in the basement of one of the government buildings here in Cusco.  It is set up with a high-quality digital camera on a stand, a platform for books with black background, computers, and high density digital storage cassettes.  They have an "inventory" of record books which they select in sequence, open up and align on the platform, take a focus and light check, then start photographing page by page.  If they are lucky, the books will open up and lay flat, and they can get 2 pages on one image.  These books contain birth, death, marriage, and other civil records from this area of Peru.  Right now they are working on a series of record books from the 1960's.  The records from this period (and before) are all handwritten in beautiful script.  It was some time afterwards, I think in the 1990's before the keeping of vital records switched to a digital format.  On a good day, the Hasler's can take 5,000 images.  If the books are unwieldy, it can be significantly less than that.  I understand that there are about 140 teams like the Hasler's around the world, photographing and preserving these records, which are essential to Family History.
     The photos of the that the Hasler's take are stored on a large cassette, about the size of a large paperback book.  Two copies are made:  one is sent to Church HQ, and when it is "verified", it goes to the Granite Mountain records storage vaults in Little Cottonwood Canyon on the east side of SLC.  Here, the images are permanently and securely stored.  The next step is to take copies of each of these images and then the individual images are made available for "indexing", where the data (names, dates, events, places and other data) is entered into a digital, searchable record.  Two people - volunteers, including youth - will independently enter the data from a single record.  If their results are the same in every field, then the record is "verified".  If the two results are not identical, then both go to an experienced "arbitrator", who looks at the original record, the data entries, and decides what's correct.  Once verified/arbitrated, the record then becomes available in for use by members and friends who are looking for their ancestors.  This is quite an involved process, but by utilizing original records, photos, storage, and lots of resources and volunteers, up to 1.4 million new records are made available for use in familysearch each day!

 On Monday, we went with Elder Hasler to deliver a digital cassette of their latest work to Archivo Regional Cusco, who receives the digitized photos for the Peruvian government.  The director was very cordial, and asked if he could know more about the process these records go through (as described above), so we set a meeting with him to come to the Inti Raymi chapel, where we have a Historia Familia room.  The meeting will be in 2 weeks, and we're excited to see him there.  While we were there, I had a question about a specific name that one of the members asked for help finding.  He asked if we would like to see the records, and of course we did.  He led us to another room and introduced us to the curator, Dr. CacerĂ©s.  When we walked into the archive room, we were astounded.  There are rows and rows and rows of record books.  We were shown Volume #1 (above).  Look at the dates:  1560 - 1570!  This specific book is still in remarkably good condition, and contains letters, orders, wills, property records and other information - it begins about 30 years after Pizarro came to conquer the Incas.  It was an unbelievable feeling to hold this much history in my hands.

 Here, Dr. CacerĂ©s shows the book to Hna. J.  There are sheets of clean white paper that interleave the pages, to help preserve them.  We were very careful as we handled these books that are over 500 years old.

 Here's a page from one of the books.  The handwriting is beautiful, and even with my limited Spanish, I can read a little bit of it.  Note the signatures at the bottom of the page, which are the signer's verification as witnesses of the accuracy of the events described.

There were more treasures to be seen!  Here is a handwritten family tree - in color that was contained in one of the books.  It's about 5ft long when unfolded, and is from the 1700's.  Unfortunately, a couple of the flaps have been torn off during the last couple hundred years, and are not with the book.  I would have to say that this room was about 2,000sq ft, and it was rows and rows of shelves, about 7ft tall, with records from 1560 til the 20th century.  What a treasure of information is here.  We're hoping that negotiations can be made between the Church and the government to preserve these records and make them available for people anywhere in the world to use.