Friday, May 1, 2015

Week 15

This week started off with a long-planned Historia Familiar meeting with the Relief Society of barrio Vista Allegre.  Due to scheduling conflicts, we had to postpone it twice, and we were very glad that it came off as planned - and was well attended.  The members are so sweet here, especially the hermanas.  After an introduction and video, and a talk by Hna. Denisse Bueno (the Stake History Familiar Specialist), Hna J is instructing, with Elder Black translating.  It won't be too much longer (well maybe) before she'll be able to speak in Espanol all by herself.  As we've said, learning the language is the hardest thing for ancianos (ancient ones) like ourselves.

 After the meeting, the hermanas stayed around, had some refreshments, and shared stories and photos of their families.  The "after party" lasted about as long as the meeting, and everyone had a great time.

 Hermana J. makes friends wherever she goes.  This delightful hermana invited us to her home for a "cita" or family meeting.  We've got it on our schedule, but it will be a couple weeks out, as we're traveling to Puno for a big Historia Familiar Feria (fair) next week.  Despite her claims of not being able to speak the language, Hna J. does communicate with everyone, though we will admit that this lady did speak some Ingles.

 No, these are not identical quadruplets, but they are 4 hermanos (if even one male is in the group, they are hermanos, and you don't have to separately distinguish hermanos and hermanas).  The actual hermano on the right is submitting his mission papers, so he's at least 18, but looks about 16 in the photo.  We met with them during 2nd hour of church (poached them from Sunday School), and got their Historia Familiar started - easy since it's identical for all of them.  We've got a meeting scheduled in their casa (home) when we return from Puno.

 Elder and Hna. Hasler invited us to District Meeting in Urubamba, about 1 hour and down the hill from Cusco.  We were delighted to go, and had a wonderful time with the 4 missionaries there.  The Haslers are assigned to go there every week, so District Meeting doesn't look like a double date.  Elders Bentson and Bravo are the district leaders and Hermanas Minaya and Crump  make up the district.  To give credit, it was one of the most well-prepared and spiritual meetings we have been to.  Lots of leadership being trained here, the Hermanas as well as the Elders.  We look forward to going down there again soon, it's a great little town - and it's warm!

 Travel by combi (van) is always an adventure.  Here's the deal:  We go to an area of town where the combis gather, you couldn't really call it a bus terminal.  They park with a sign on the windshield or hawkers calling out the name of the destination.  You get in and wait til all the seats are filled - usually 12 or 15, then the doors close and you're off.  There's not really a long time for the van to fill, usually 10 - 20 minutes and every seat is full.  You never really know who your seatmates will be.  You can just see the top of a woman's head leaning over on Hna J. after she went to sleep.  As usual, Hna J. just takes it all in stride with never a grinch or complaint.  I'm in the back seat with the Haslers.  The drive to Urubamba is really scenic, with lots of natural features, and some ruins in sight from the road.  The fare is ridiculously cheap, less than $3.  How do the drivers make any profit?  After mentally calculating revenue and expenses, I don't know how this business model works, but it seems to. 

 Yes, fruits and vegetables are washed, just like our water bottles and dishes.  No use taking any unnecessary chances on getting a stomach bug.  We've been careful (or lucky) so far, with just a couple minor incidents, but they're uncomfortable and annoying, so we follow the mission rules for food and water (thanks to Hermana Harbertson) pretty closely.  The veggies and water bottles get a chlorine rinse afterwards.

 How delightful when our members are savvy enough to have their own laptops and are proficient with them.  Not only does it save the small hassle of getting ours out and connected, but they can access whenever they want.  This is our 2nd visit to Hna. Rosa, who always keeps us entertained with her bubbly personality and enthusiasm.  Note:  no comments about my hair, I just got it cut really short that morning, thank you.

 We ended our week with a cita to Ernesto and Margarita, both in their 80's.  Hna. Margarita had a fall about 18 mos ago, and is just now getting mobile again, with the assistance of a walker.  The Sister missionaries (Hnas. Rodriguez and Jesperson) help them out by walking with them (5 blocks) to church each week.  Not only does it get them to the meetings, but it's good therapy as well.  When we first started the cita, they "couldn't remember" much of anything.  But then Hna. Rodriguez started asking them about their parents, stories, childhoods, growing up, and pretty soon they "remembered" the details of their parents and their early lives.  It just took the right person and the Spirit to get their memories going and we enjoyed them telling some funny and interesting stories.  I told Hno. Ernesto that I hope I am as handsome as him when I grow up!  Their son is a Stake President in Lima, and he'll be surprised when we send him the temple-ready names of his grandparents!

Well, it's home to pack and get ready for our week-long trip to Puno, Juliaca, and Juli by Lake Titicaca at the very southern end of the mission.  It's higher there (12,600 feet), and its colder, so we're packing all of our warmies and hope to survive.  It will be another adventure, and another opportunity to serve the wonderful people of Peru.

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