Sunday, May 3, 2015

Week 16: We're traveling - to Puno!

 Our much-anticipated "official" travel schedule through the mission has begun!  We have traveld to different places before, as "scouting" trips, but we're now establishing a schedule that will take us to all zones of the mission.  Our bus is getting prepped for our 10-hour ride to Puno!  This is a "tourist" bus, meaning that it is equipped with comfortable seats and a bathroom, and we're making 5 scheduled stops along the way, including one for lunch.  Early morning departure from Cusco, 7:00am.

 Our first scheduled stop is the Catholic Church in Andahuaylillas.  Built in the 1700's, its known as "The Sistine Chapel of the Andes".  No pictures were permitted inside, but I can tell you that it's pretty ornate, tells stories in murals and carvings, and some of the figures are covered in gold, or what looks like gold.

 At every place we stop, there's the enterprising locals with their wares out.  The color and variety of the goods, together with the clothes of the vendors is a delight to the eyes.  Knowing we'd be back here, or at least to places like this, we didn't buy much, but they do have some very clever little flutes and whistles - from clay, shaped like birds that you put water into and they warble when you blow them. 

 Here's the remains of a temple wall at Wiracocha.  This once was a huge site.  Note the different eras of construction:  The base made of finely fitted stones is pretty much the same as it was when it was built, probably at least 600 years ago or more.  The adobe on top is crumbling, and has had a roof cap installed later to prevent further erosion from the top.  All of these sites are very fascinating, and I don't know if anyone has the real story on the when or why - every guide has their own take on everything.

 These are the grainaries or storage buildings at the same site.  There are dozens of them:  no windows, only a small door, the roofs are gone, but the circular walls are still intact and in good shape.  The consensus is that this was the central storage facility (corn, quinoa, some other grains) for the area several hundred miles in every direction.

 Is this cuteness, or what?  We stopped at Sicuani for lunch, and this little girl was leading her baby alpaca around, and would pose for pictures for a few Soles.  I was glad to pay for this one.

 The top of the La Raya pass at about 14,400 ft is essentially the continental divide.  The Amazon is born in the Chimboya glacier, way in the far mountains.  Like every place, there are vendors as every stop.  Unfortunately, it was cold, and had just stopped raining, and the vendors had covered their goods, and were just starting to uncover them when we made a brief stop.  How they do business at this location, elevation, and adverse climate is bewildering to me - and there are about a dozen merchants selling essentially the same type of handmade goods, so how does anyone prosper?  Anyway, it was colorful and interesting, but we were back on the bus in only about 5 minutes because it was so cold.  Note the sign:  SSHH, meaning the bathroom is just over the hill.  Glad I didn't have to go.

 Next stop is at the Lithic Museum of Pukara.  The relics from this site are pre-Inca, the guesses are about 400AD.  Note this figure holding a head.  Well, it's supposed to represent one of their priests or kings doing whatever it was that they did.  No real records or histories exist, so there's a lot of speculation here, but - one story is as good as another, and the tales they tell make it pretty interesting.

 At Pukara, there's another elegant Catholic church, again built in the 1700's.  Unfortunately, it was locked, the gates were closed and we couldn't even take a look inside.  Also, it looks like the grounds and probably the interior aren't well maintained - too bad we couldn't look inside, as the exterior exhibits some real craftsmanship and elegance.  Other than the museum, there isn't much going on in this little town.

 Well, after our 10-hour bus ride and stops, we got to Puno and got settled into our hotel for a welcome rest - why would we be so tired from sitting all day?  A good thing, as the Historia Familiar Faeria (Family Histori Fair) started the next day.  Here are the Hermana missionaries getting everyone registered for the event.  They were all very welcoming and charming, as Hermanas are.

 Everyone got a Mi Familia foletto and other materials. People came from all over the Puno district, from as far away as Juliaca to the north and Juli to the south, both about 1 hour/40 miles away.  The event was very well organized and carried out - there was a chapel-full of attendees.  Elder Herberth Alarcon, the Area Seventy was the featured speaker, and though lots of people came to hear him, and he is wonderful, the big attraction was the opportunity for people to get their own family history work done.  There were 16 computers set up, and all staffed by the missionaries, to help people who don't normally have access to computers, and aren't familar with the nuances of

 Here, Hermana Gonzalez is helping a couple of the local members.  Their dress is Amara, not Chechua, similar, bu the language, dress, and customs are different.  Unfortunately, I don't know the nuances between the two yet.  Nevertheless, they are friendly and happy, especially when they get some help with their antepasados (ancesctors) and families that they otherwise wouldn't get.

 Here's the organized of the event:  Hno. Dulio Delgado, the Manager of Family Search for the South America Northeast Area.  He and his counterpart for our mission (Hno. Enrique Meneses, just out of view to the left) did an outstanding job of planning and organizing.  To give an idea of the success of this event - it ran about an hour long, with all the computers being fully utilized.  The Stake President finally had to come around and shoo everyone out - otherwise they would have stayed for at least an hour more.  We are so appreciative to Hnos. Delgado and Meneses for this event, which certainly increased the interest and participation in Historia Familiar for the members of the Puno region.

 After the HF meeting on Saturday, we were invited by the Elder and Hermana Hasler to go with them to Juli to a District Conference.  Juli is the southernmost part of the mission, still on the west side of Lake Titicaca.  From here, you can look a short distance and see Bolivia.  Elder Hasler forgot his hat, so did I, but I bought one for 10 Soles ($3.50) from a local vendor, and it did the job, functionally if not stylishly (is that a word?).  Anyway, this elevation (12,600 ft), the sun is HOT when its out, and it's cold when it's not, or even when you walk in a shadow.  I'd heard this was the case, but didn't believe it til we got here, and it's true.  Luckily for us, it was a sunny day, which made it quite pleasant.

 Each town has its own Catholic church, most of which were built at least 200 years ago.  This one has been added on to the left.  The clocks on most of them don't work, and they are usually closed and locked - even on Sunday, which was curious.

 The markets feature lots of local foods, including these baskets of pan (bread).  In this case, small rolls at 6 per Sole.  Or 6 for $0.33.  Nice that they are so inexpensive, but again, it's a business model that I can't figure out.

 We got to Juli by combi (van) a little while before the District Conference started, so we were able to walk to the center of town to the square, and enjoy the day and sun for a little while.  Note the coats.  Remember hot in the sun and cold in the shade.  The churches are not heated, and they're cold inside, so everyone attends the meetings bundled up like this.

 Finally, we got to see some friends from Farmington!  President Harbertson's brother Scott and his wife Kristen and friends had arrived in Juli in time for the Conference.  They're visiting Peru and the Cusco area, and will visit a few days with President and Hermana Harbertson.

 What a great guy! Scott has just given his tie to one of the member kids, and has made a new friend in Peru who will always remember him.

 Here's the missionaries serving in the Juli district, along with President and Hermana Harbertson.  The missisonaries love to pose for photos, especially the the President. 

Here's some new friends we met at the Conference.  Our Spanish still isn't good enough to carry on much of a conversation, but like all members here, they made us feel very welcome and appreciated.

 Well, another day, another adventure in Peru.  After the Conference, some of the local Hermanas spreadout a Wiraccha (I think that is the name), which is a feast of potatoes, fish, and other local delicacies.  Here you can see a mixture of old and new, together with traditions.  The potatoes are small, and just bite-sized.  Very flavorful.  This is quite the social event, with everyone surrounding the blankets on which the food is spread, enjoying good food and friends.

 Hermana Johnson got invited to the party.  She's checking out some of the varieties of potatoes, of which this one is about the size of and looks like a crawfish tail.  But it's really a potato, and very tasty.

 Included at the other end of the spread was fish (very tasty), and in the bowl, little fishes, about the size of anchovies.  All in all, a tasty and enjoyable experience.  And there is no end to the colors!

 No doubt as to the enterprising nature of the Peruvians!  Knowing there was a church meeting going on with a couple hundred members, they set up their food carts just outside, even appropriating a parked combi to tie their shade to.  They did a pretty brisk business to, with members exiting the meeting, and locals walking up and down the street.  Following Hermana Harbertson's advice to all missionaries, we took a "pass" on eating any food from street carts.

Back to Puno, we started our family meetings and HF fair follow-ups.  A delightful meeting with a family in their home, complete with their cat and youngest daughter with her "future missionary" tag.

 Tuesday, we took an early morning combi to Juliaca, where we were met at the terminal by our friend Elder Saunders and his companion Elder Sanchez.  They are the Zone Leaders here, and with advance notice of our arrival, had an entire day of meetings scheduled for us in  one of the capillas (church buildings, as distinguished from the Iglesia, which is the Church as an organization).  There are numerous little subtle identifiers that clarify small differences, some of which are ignored in English. 

 After a short ride in 2 moto taxis, we had a short walk to the capilla.  Hna. J makes it across a street before a truck zips past.

 Right to work!  These members were working to add information to their Mi Familia folettos they had started at the HF Feria in Puno a few days before.  We opened up our computer, logged on, and got their family names entered.

Later in the day, we held a training meeting with the youths who were called as HF specialists in their barrio (ward).  We showed them our methods for creating accounts, acting as "helpers" for members who are not able to open their own accounts, due to lack of technology or access to it, and answered questions.  They are enthusiastic and ready to go to work helping their family, friends, and barrio members!

 I almost thought it was possible to take a picture of elders without thumbs, but a few popped in.  Note they are always in the "up" position.  With our hardware and the enthusiasm and help of these Elders, we were able to get a whole page of family names approved for temple ordinance for this fine Hermano - who otherwise would not have been able to!  He'd been collecting his family information for some time, but wasn't able to get it temple-ready until we came.  The members here are so faithful and patient!  And they really appreciate the missionaries, as you can see.

 Well, if this isn't the cutest picture!  Back in Puno on Wednesday, we had another full day of meetings.  We were so pleased to meet Alfredo and Marina, who came in with their foletttos all filled out and waiting for help to get them into  One of their treasures was a photo of themselves when they were married 42 years ago!  We took a digital photo of this, and made them a print for their foletto, in exactly the same pose! 

 What's new in this picture?  Yes, for the first time, Hermana J is at the computer, doing the account creation and data entry - on a Spanish screen believe it or not.  She's conversing with the family, with help from the Hermana's, but she's doing the driving here. 

 The result of her work?  Hermano Wilfredo is ready to push "send", which will share the ordinances we have just got approved to the temple system for work to be done.  Everyone is happy that we were able to get this done the first time we met them.  They were well prepared, so it made our job pretty easy, much to the relief of Hna. J. 

 Another all-time great picture, here's the story.  This is Thursday - we extended another day in Puno because there were more people who wanted to meet with us than we could squeeze in on Wed.  Due to a miscue, Hermana Martina got literally "locked out" of the gate around the building, and she waited for an hour, and finally had to leave.  By good fortune (and a little help from the right place, I might add), she saw Hnas. Wattles and Tuft that evening, and they made sure she came back the next day.  Despite the lack of a cell phone and email, she had all her family names through her grandparents in her folettos, to include her hermanos (brothers and sisters) and tios (uncles, aunts).  All she needed was our help to get this information into  Note the "approved" form with bar code.  She'll take that with her on her next visit to the Cochabamba, Bolivia temple to get this work done for her beloved family.

 The end of a long, tiring (and rather chilly) day.  Here we're wrapping up with the Elders and friends.  Note the jackets, scarves, sweaters, and hats - no joke, it's cold in here.  I didn't think it was possible to take a picture of elders without thumbs.  Actually we took a thumb picture just a few seconds before.  We're finished after a week on this trip, and ready to head back home to Cusco.  What a rewarding and enjoyable trip.  We will always remember the work and the new friends we made here.  And we'll be back in a couple of months to see them again, one of the joys of our assignment.

 Heading back home by "fast" bus, this time it only took 7.5 hours with one stop at a little isolated pueblo (town).  The countryside is rather stark, but at 13,000 feet it should be.  Surprisingly, there are large herds of llamas and alpacas grazing all over, they must thrive in this climate.  The homes are pretty colorful as well.

This is the "please - not another picture" look, from the otherwise eternally cheerful Hna. Johnson.  After this week of hard work and a total of 23 hours on buses, she's earned it.  This bus was as close to total comfort as is possible, with reclining and comfortable seats - but it's still a bus, and a long ride.

We're exhausted from this trip, and look forward to a day or so of recovery before we're back at work in Cusco.  We love y'all.

1 comment:

  1. It is great to see that you are having many wonderful opportunities to see the mission sites, meet people and do your family history work. It always amazes me at what the senior couples can do. I need to call Dawn soon.