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. Cacerés.  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. Cacerés 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. 

1 comment:

  1. It is good to hear your language is improving. I think your one on one with the people is a great help. I wish we could have had more of that. And I can see yoiu are accomplishing great things family by family, what a great blessing for you and them. We are driving to Costa Mesa tomorrow to help move Maren back to Salt Lake. It is a long story and I will call you soon. She has bought another house that we picked out. (she hasn't seen it yet) not so much a fixer upper this time. We will be ending our St. George winter stay. It has been wonderful beyond words. I will miss you at woman's conference Dawn. A week after that I am having foot surgery and will be layed up for 6 weeks. I am dreading that. You are doing wonderful work and we love reading your blog. Bless you! Charmaine