Friday, July 31, 2015

Into the jungle - again

A Historia Familiar event was scheduled in Puerto Maldonado, in the Amazon jungle, and we were invited to attend.  It's a mining and logging town, located at the "Y" where the Tambopata river joins the Madre de Dios, a tributary of the Amazon.  It's 600ft above sea level, and 2400mi downriver to the delta.  Puerto has its own pace, much different than Cusco, and the climate during all seasons is quite tropical.  We're here in the "dry" season, which is only about 3 deg cooler than the hot season, but it doesn't rain, and the level of the river drops significantly.  When we were here in March, the river was quite a bit higher. 

We scheduled an extra day for a trip down the river, to see some of the sights we didn't get a chance to on our earlier trip.  There is quite a bit of traffic on the river, mostly in the long, narrow river boats seen here.  Most of the motors are the "mud buddy" homemade type, but a few do have real outboard motors.  They tie up and launch from the makeshift docks here, it's pretty much a free-for-all.  Several tour companies also operate out of here, and we selected one so that we didn't end up with an "African Queen" type of experience.

At our first stop, we tied up on a mud bank.  A few months ago, this was all under water, and the mud oozes down from the runoff.  The mud is quite unstable, and we saw a lot of it falling off into the river, hence the brown color of the water.

Lots of fauna and flora to see.  Many trees are entwined with the "strangler" vines as shown here.  Today there was a light overcast, and it took the edge off the heat, and made it a very nice day - but there's no escaping the humidity - it's like Mississippi in the summer.

Our first stop was a "canopy tour", with narrow cable bridges strung between big trees.  We got a good look at the forest from up high - about 60ft off the ground, and it really gives a different perspective.  I took a good look at the cables and bridge before Hna. J was allowed to cross.

Here's the 2 adventurers making their way across another section.

 Part of the adventure was a zipline through the trees.  Again, after a good inspection, Hna. J harnessed up and was the first one across.

There she goes -  -  -

 And here she comes again.  Never hesitated for a second.

All that adventuring earns a good rest and a little time in the shade before lunch.

The experiences never stop.  Fearless and intrepid Amazon explorer "Buckshot" heads downriver in search of new adventures.

 Narrowly escaping the fearsome denizen of the river, like this gigantic caiman.  Actually it was only about 5ft long, a baby.

 Fighting off the hordes of man-eating monkeys.  Actually these little critters are pretty cheeky, and are "protected", so if they approach you, you're supposed to stand still and let them poke and snoop around you.  The guide put some bananas in his pockets, and they come right up and take them out.  Luckily no defensive action was required.

After a day of adventuring, a beautiful sunset.

After discovering the long-lost "Orb of Light", fearless adventurer Buckshot instantly reverse-transforms into mild-mannered senior missionary Elder Johnson, and we make our way to our scheduled Family History appointments.

We've scheduled a week in Puerto Maldonado, actually extending our trip for an extra day of meetings at the end.  Puerto is one of Hna J's favorite places in the mission, but it's so far away that we may not be able to make it here again, and we want to take advantage of our time here.  Stay tuned!

Weeks #28, 29: Work, Followup, - and Conferences

One thing that always keeps our work interesting - no two days are ever the same.  Our work is focused toward pushing our Historia Familiar calling ahead, but there's always a new twist, new people to meet, new places to visit and work.  Here, Hna J is waiting in front of the Santiago capilla for a meet with the elders.  If we're a little early, it's a treat to just stand on the sidewalk and watch the city.  You never know what's going to come by.  Just down the block there were a couple of guys taking a shower in the street from a hose after spending all day in hard labor mixing and hauling cement up a building they were constructing.  We've started to put some focus on this area of town.  The leaders and the members are very warm and welcoming, and love to see us.

 If you've got a motorcycle and a wagon, you just weld them together and you have a motorized cart to tote your goods (or family) all over town.  Even better when you have an assistant to ride along.  The Peruvians are nothing but clever and enterprising, and can use anything they can get their hands on to to help their business, and give them a little break from manual toting and lifting, of which much is still done here.

On a detour through one of the local markets on the way home, we were looking for some nuts and fruit to make a mixed snack bag for our next trip.  Came across this dried, self-aborted llama fetus for sale right next to the raisins and cashews, and stuck in a bag of small potatoes.  It's supposed to have some mystical medical properties, but I'll pass, and just stick to stuff that we know won't make us sick.            
The missionaries are some of the biggest fans of Historia Familiar.  They are allowed 1 hour per week to work on their family history, after they have 1 hour to send and receive emails to their family.  Some of them need a little help to get started, get oriented, and figure out how it works. Elder Salas just had an exciting experience - he got an email from home with some clues and ID numbers for his ancestors that were missing from his family tree.  With a little work, we located them, and printed them on his fan chart - some out to 6 generations.  In case you're wondering where the Angel Moroni is, he's a missionary in Peru, with the last name of Salas.  Some of the members here give their children names that relate to Bible, Book of Mormon, or Church History names - gives them quite a legacy to live up to - especially for Alvin Joseph Hyrum Sanchez Quispe.  Elder Salas' companion is Elder Mann, a descendant of Anson Call, whom we found out several great pioneer stories about, he was a contemporary and friend of the early church leaders, including Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor.  Quite a surprise to Elder Mann to find he is the legacy of so much heritage.

We get to meet so many wonder people wherever we go!  They quickly become our "favorites".  During a Sunday family history meeting (2nd hour, during Sunday School) at Barrio (ward) Santiago, we got to meet Neyssy and her daughter Brunella.  We were so busy during that our that we didn't get all of their family history information - and pictures - entered, so we made an appointment at their casa (home), way up on the side of one of the Cusco hills.  As we started to enter the family information from Neyssy's Mi Familia, I was sure I recognized the names, but I couldn't place them.  After a while, I realized they were the same as we had seen in a family from Urubamba.  Then I realized they were from her mother, Luz Marina.  Turns out that Neyssy had more information that we were able to update both accounts - and - her sister lives upstairs, who had even more information and pictures - what a treasure trove.  Neyssy was especially close to her bisabuela (great-grandmother), who died when she was 12, and has always felt a special connection to her. 

Old photos are always our favorites, and we're always happy to take digital photos of these precious memories and upload them to, as well as provide a new print for their albums.  Here's a photo of Neyssy's great-grandmother (as a young woman in traditional dress).  She just had her bis-abuela's temple ordinances approved this week, and sent them to the temple to be completed.

An important part of the follow-up from the Huancaro Feria a few months ago is processing and distributing the referrals we received.  Quite a job to quickly get 1151 referrals out to the missionaries.  The Church has a new software program that is linked to a global map system, so with the address (and it is surprisingly good at locating them, even with the convoluted address system here), name, and cell phone number, we are able to "drop" them right into the missionary sectors where they live.  The program then sends an email to the individual missionary's LDS mail account with that information, and we can then monitor the progress.  President Harbertson authorized us to use the young missionaries for data entry in shifts, and with the help of about 30 of the missionaries in Cusco, this information was entered and distributed quickly.  Hermanas Arroyo and Vitola are some of the most proficient, and got a lot accomplished during their shift.

Hermano Valentin finds his grandfather!  He's one of the liveliest and funniest of the old men we have met here.  He's always got a joke or a quick comment.  He and his lovely esposa are among the stalwarts in Barrio Santiago, and it's a delight to visit with him.  We were able to find some information about his bisabuelos, and change the yellow box (visible on the right) to green, and have temple ordinances approved.

Hermana Liliana is the specialista de Historia Familiar in Barrio Santiago, and the daughter of Valentin.  She's just as quick and lively as her father, and sometimes its a little challenging to keep her on topic, but she is very helpful to the members of the Barrio, and always recruits a room full of people for us to meet with.

Two sets of elders are assigned to the sectors in Barrio Santiago.  Our plan is to "cycle" through the Barrios in Cusco, so we spend about 3 Sundays in a row in a Barrio, so we have a chance to meet with those who are interested, and then fill up the weeks with additional appointments.  After a Sunday meeting block, we took a minute for a photo with these fine elders:  Pena, Mann, Zerillo, and Salas. 

The Peruvians love to parade and march, and there always seems to be an event for which they gather in the Plaza de Armas and parade around - singing, chanting, and shouting.  This event was for a protest/commemoration for 2 local politicians who were shot - except that event happened 35 years ago, the perpetrators were never caught, and they have become martyrs of a type.  Any excuse to get off work and march around is a good one.

This picture shows that you're never too old to do Family History work.  In fact, some of the older people are the best source of family information, since the records here are so sketchy and sparse.  Hermano Rigoberto is proof of that.  He's really old (at least older than us), but is very sharp and intelligent, and he had a notebook full of family information that - with the help of Elders Mann and Zerillo, was able to help us understand it to complete 4 generations of his family's ancestry - going back to the early 1800's.

Elder Juan Uceda of the 1st Quorum of Seventy made a multi-zone tour through all the Mission.  He and his lovely wife were delightful, and we were able to attend several meetings with them.  Each of the missionary zones posed for a picture with the Ucedas and Presidente and Hermana Harbertson.  I did't include all of the pictures, but here is one of "our" zone - Inti Raymi.  We know and work with all of these missionaries frequently.  This is one of 4 zones in the Cusco area. For this meeting, the zones came from as far away as Puerto Maldonado, Abancay, Andahuaylas, and Sicuani.

All of the remaining mission couples are based in Cusco, so we got an opportunity for this group photo:  Richard and Julie Hasler, ourselves, Presidente y Hermana Harberson, the Ucedas, and David and Cindy Rhoades.  These couples have become our close friends and mentors, and we love our association and work with them.

This wraps up a couple of weeks.  Next week we're off on another adventure, this time a return trip to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon jungle.  Puerto is one of Hna J's favorite places, as it's warm and humid, a real contrast to the high/dry/warm-cold of Cusco.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Week #27 Cusco, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo, Huyabamba and Quoricancha

After recovering from the Feria, we're ready to get back to our "regular" work.  The follow-up continues, and the office Elders are implementing a new program that will locate the addresses of the referrals to the individual missionary sectors.  So far, it works pretty well, but it takes time to do all the input.  All of the referrals should be distributed by the end of this week.

Well, changes happen - and missionaries come and go.  This time, its the Sandbergs, who have finished their 18 month service (they served their entire time in Abancay, about 80KM northwest of Cusco) are on their way home to California.  We were able to intercept them on their way through, and have them at our guests for dinner.  The Hermanas are enjoying a nice meal on their side of the table at our favorite restaurant in Cusco, named "UCHU".  It really is good food there, and would be considered outstanding cuisine anywhere in the world.  Elder Sandberg and I had our own conversation going on on our side.  We will miss the Sandbergs, and unfortunately, there is no incoming mission couple to replace them.  So if you're wondering what to do for the next year or 18 months, there's an opening in Abancay.

We enjoy the time we spend with the other mission couples, and if it looks like we spend all of our time together eating, you're only about half right.  Here's Hermanas Rhoades and Johnson in front of our favorite seafood restaurant in Cusco.  They do a good job of preparing that comes from the water - but you can keep the cerviche - all sushi lovers should know what this is - raw fish that's soaked in lemon juice until it gets lemony, don't call it cooked.  The leftover brine is called "leche de tigre" or tiger's milk.  I pass on that also, though Hermana J will try a little bit of it on occasion.

Here's the Hermanas on their way to an appointment.  These are Hermanas Guzman and Wight, with Hna J, who are watching the oncoming traffic closely for a chance to dart across.  In Cusco, pedestrians definitely do NOT have the right of way, and you better be careful, especially if there's a bus coming.  We're headed towards the main square, Plaza de Armas, to visit a family who lives a couple blocks up the street to the left.

 The Elders spend so much time working hard that they take every break they can for a nap.  Elders Lundell and Solano, along with 4 others, have just carried all the furnishings from the Sandberg's apartment in Abancay from the moving truck outside, up to our spare bedroom.  Since we have an extra, the mission is storing the furniture there instead of a warehouse.  Unfortunately -- their nice sofas and recliner were so big that they wouldn't fit down our narrow hallway on the other side of our living room, so we had to exchange our rather small items, for their big items.  And I sure do enjoy that recliner!

 Hermana Avelina is quite a musician and singer.  She and her esposo live about 5KM down the main street from us, and we are able to visit them to help with their Historia Familiar.  Not only do they both play several instruments, but they sing in Spanish and Chechua.  During the recent visit of Pres. Uchdorf to Cusco, they were part of the Chechua choir that sang during his fireside.  Hna Avelina is nearly blind, but that doesn't seem to hinder her musical abilities.  We get serenaded every time we come to visit, and that's always a highlight.  Her voice is extraordinary.  So many of the people here are talented in many ways.

Since the Hasler's have been on their well-deserved break back to New Mexico (after extending their mission twice - for a total of 3 years), we volunteered to travel to Urubamba to "chaperone" the district meeting, so it doesn't look like a double date.  The district meeting starts at 6pm on Mondays, after the missionaries "P-day", for preparation.  This is the only time during the week that they get to read and send emails home, wash their clothes, clean their apartment, and have a partial day for recreation and diversion, before getting back to work that evening.  The district meetings are well planned and conducted by Elder Jensen, the district leader, and we enjoy participating.  There's prayers, a spiritual thought, instruction - this week on referral follow-up from the Feria, reporting and accountability.  After this meeting, we took them to a Polleria (chicken restaurant) for "pollo abraso" or spit-roasted chicken.  It's very tasty, and you can order either a whole, 1/2, 1/4, or 1/8, and you get fries with it.  Can you tell that Elder's favorite vegetable is ketchup?

We stayed 2 nights in Urubamba, at a nice hotel that's right next to the church.  That enables us to work for the next 2 days in this area.  Tuesday morning we got an early combi (van) to Ollantaytambo, for a meeting with Hermano Hernan or "Cunyaki" in his jewelry and craft shop.  He makes very lovely jewelry from local stones and metals, Hna J has a nice necklace that he made.  He also sells locally made crafts, and we bought some dolls for the granddaughters.  I put my WiFi phone against the window to get a good signal, open up the laptop, and we're connected to (espanol version) and in business.  He's just pushed the button, and sent names of his grandparents to the temple system for ordinances.  The cable from the computer goes to my battery-powered printer on the floor.  He was so delighted that he took us next door to the Chocolate Museum (every town should have one) where his wife works, and treated us to locally brewed chocolate caliente, and delicious chocolate croissants.  Then we had to come back to his store and pick out a few macrame bracelets and another handmade necklace!  Hermanas Crump and Hinostroza are our guides and translators for the day, and we had a delightful time with them.

At the other end of the Sacred Valley is Huayabamba, and Hno. Policarpo and his family.  The afternoon was so perfect and warm that he just pulled out some chairs into his courtyard, I put the WiFi phone on top of a nearby adobe wall, and we had an enjoyable and very productive 2 hour Historia Familiar meeting.  It was the perfect setting for a family photo, which we printed in 8.5x11, and presented them with it.   This town is in a narrow valley between mountains on either side.  The shaded side has ancient terraces all the way up that used to be farmed by the Incas, but are not used these days.  You can see some of the high Andes peaks in the background - some of which have snow year round, and even glaciers.  We're at 9,400 ft here, the peaks are 14,000+.
We heard some chirping around the corner, and thought it was some chicks, but when we looked, it was their guinea pigs.  They are raised like chickens, and eat mostly greens, grow quite fast, and are quite profitable, as "cui" is a delicacy here, and is eaten at celebrations and special occasions.  Hard to believe this cute little guy will be lunch someday.

When I say that there's an adventure every day here, its no exaggeration:  First on this trip, I left my hat in the taxi when we got out at the hotel in Urubamba, and in a minute it was gone.  We looked in several spots where the taxis and combis wait for passengers, but couldn't find that taxi, so the driver got a nice hat as a tip.  I'm pretty bummed about it, because it was by "signature" hat here, and a good OR gore-tex that I bought in Jackson Hole just for this mission.  Bought another one the next day in Ollantaytambo, locally made, about the same look (wide brim to keep the sun off my face and neck), same color, and less than $7, so I won't care if I lose that one.

Next, I left my iPhone on the combi when we got off in Huayabamba, discovered that about 5 minutes after we got off.  I usually do a self pat-down whenever we leave or move, just to check and verify that all my hardware is accounted for, and this time it paid off.  Ran back and he wasn't there, so I was totally bummed.  When I'd given it up as lost, I remembered I have the "find my iPhone" app on my iPad, and was able to get that up.  I found that the iPhone was still in town, a little ways away, so we started toward it.  Then I saw that the phone was moving, and was sure I'd lost it for good.  I heard a vehicle around the corner and started running to catch it, and it was the combi, the driver had heard the buzz when I pinged it, and was looking for me.  I gave him a nice tip and was really glad to get it back. 

 Speaking of lunch someday, we heard some real squawking the next morning walking over to meet the Elders at the church, and found a bag of chickens headed to the market.  A couple of cockfights were going on inside the bag. 

At the other end of town, after a ride in moto taxis (3-wheeled motorcycles with a canopy) we had a delightful morning meeting with Raul and Maria.  They both have a great love for their families, as evidenced by the volume of Historia Familiar work they had prepared and waiting for us to input.  Not only are they musicians as well (Hna J bought a couple of their CD's of traditional Andean pipe and string music - very relaxing and pleasant), but Raul also makes the instruments he plays, as well as sells them.  Unfortunately, I have no musical talent, so the 10-string charango wasn't of interest to me, but the pipes could be pretty simple to play.  But I'd much rather listen to someone who has real talent play them.

Want to know why the buildings and temples built by the Incas are still standing after 500+ years?  Well, first they were marvelous engineers and builders, and they built out of stone, not wood.  Here's a lintel over the door of an adobe building, built about 1960, and you can see what the termites have done to the wood.  In order of durability:  wood, adobe (above the wood), brick, then the ultimate:  fitted Inca stones.

Anywhere there's a street is a good place for a market.  They set up about anywhere, some are there just for a day, others are permanent, and there is always a good selection of local produce and vegetables available - very inexpensive as well.  Which you can consider good in that it doesn't cost very much to buy food, but on the other hand, the growers and sellers don't make very much.  Anyway, farming is an ancient tradition and livelihood, and they seem to make a living doing it.  The farmland here is quite fertile, but due to the terrain, it's not in very big plots, and thus almost all the farm labor is by hand, with minimal mechanization.  Here, labor is cheap and undervalued, and that cycle keeps a majority of the people at the lower end of the economic scale.  But they are happy, and love their traditions and their families. 

Lower down the valley about 100KM, is Quillabamba, where they grow cocoa, coffee, bananas, plantanos (plantains) and avacados (paltas). That's on our list to visit in August when still relativel cool for the hot areas (now we know the lay of the land, we shedule to the hot areas when its cold in Cusco.  The Heramanas who get assigned to the hot areas in the bug  seasons get pretty bitten up, but we have some heavy-duty repellent that works quite well when applied strategially sand in liberal amounts 

Wednesday night after we finished our appointments, we tried to get a taxi back to Cusco at 8pm.  No luck, as the drivers can't make the 1.5 hour drive and find passengers who want to go to Urubamba that late at night.  One guy offered to drive us for 100 Soles, but that was way too much.  So the Elders helped me haul our luggage about 4 blocks to the combi stands, and we found one going to Cusco, but he didn't have a roof rack for our suitcases, so he was going to charge us for 2 extra seats for the bags.  After about a half-hour he decided he didn't have enough passengers to make the trip, so he found us another combi who actually was going to Cusco, and we moved our bags and after about 15 minutes got under way.  I'm pretty sure I got overcharged by that guy when we got into Cusco late at night.  When I asked "quanto" - how much - he replied in some words that I didn't understand, probably Chechua, but by that time we were just glad to be close to home.  One more taxi ride with us and our bags squeezed into a little car, and we were finally at our apartment about 10:30pm. 

Also:  earlier that day, Hna J counted a new record for squeezing people in a combi:  28 in a 15 passenger van.  Say goodbye to any personal space you think you might have.

Back in Cusco, on Saturday we made a 1-hour walk from our apartment to the Plaza de Armas, dodging cars and buses all the way, and met up with the Rhoades for lunch.  Afterwards, Elder Rhoades suggested a visit to Quoricancha, just a couple of blocks away, and we were excited to go, as we had walked past it many times, but hadn't taken the time go go in and look around.   This was the most sacred temple of the Incas, and at the time that the Spaniards arrived, it was layered in gold.  As you might imagine, the first thing they did was strip all the gold off, melt it down, and send it back to Spain.  Then using the Incas that they had basically enslaved, the Spaniards forced them to tear down their temple, and build a cathedral over its foundation.  There's very little of the original structure visible, but you can see some in the gray stone on the right. This was made out of the fitted stones, with their very best workmanship.  That part of it has survived for at least 5 centuries, and many earthquakes.  There was a big earthquake in 1950 that knocked a significant portion of the cathedral down, but the Inca foundation held with almost no visible effect.  The cathedral has been since rebuilt, and not very well, but there are some lovely artifacts, paintings, and history inside.  No photos allowed inside, which I observed, but most people didn't.

Some of the outer Inca walls still remain.  This was taken from the opposite side, and a small portion of the rounded dark gray Inca wall can barely be seen on the left.  The grounds and building are fairly well maintained (since they do charge admission, at least some of the money goes for upkeep) and its quite interesting to see the contrast between ancient and old.

Hna. J always takes time to smell the roses.  She really enjoys the local plants and flowers, many of which we don't get to see back home.

We close this week with another adventure:  We were in a taxi, bumping along the rough streets, when the ride got extra bumpy.  It didn't take the driver too long to figure out that he had a flat tire, so we got out, paid a partial fare, and walked the rest of the way to our meeting.  It was a beautiful warm day, so we were glad to walk together.  Along the way, we got a phone call that our meeting had been delayed, so we had some extra time, got to our meeting place, found a bus bench with some shade, and bought a helado (ice cream) from a local vendor, and had a few minutes to relax and enjoy the day. 

Our love and best wishes to all of you.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Week 25 - and the Feria

How the weeks speed by.  We have spent several weeks preparing for and running an exhibit in the Cusco Huancaro Feria (think state fair).  It was a lot of work and stress, and some changes on-the fly to overcome some obstacles that were thrown in the way, but we survived the 10-day event, with some outstanding results.

I had to start out with this picture of a bag with 2 legs, at least that's what it appears to be walking down the street.  Actually this is a Chechua woman bearing a big burden, which seems to be their life.  I feel that Peru was built upon the backs of the people, especially the women.  Most of the abuelitas (little grandmothers) are permanently stooped over from carrying heavy burdens all their lives.  Even when they aren't carrying a load, they are still bent over, and many limp and shuffle.  When we get to meet some really old ones - we find out they're younger than us, just worn out and spent from a lifetime of heavy labor. 

Here's some take-out food from the Chinese restaurant around the corner.  Arroz y pollo (rice and chicken) on the right.  And what's that on the left?  It's lemonade in a handy container.  You just poke a straw in it and suck away!  The Peruvians are nothing if not clever and adaptable to their circumstances, and they find a way to get most everything done, even if its not the most efficient.

In the stages of Feria preparation.  We're doing an on-site inspection of our exhibit space, which was supposed to be 4 x 3 meters, except at the last minute, we got switched to a 3 x 3 meter space.  All of our banners were made for 4 x 3 meters.  Aggravating, but we will adapt.

Here's the "before" picture:  3 brick walls and a gravel floor.  Doesn't look like much, but we'll see if we can make a silk purse out of it.

After some major recalculations, several trips to the hardware store, a tall ladder, and the help of 4 missionaries, we have the booth all set up - 2 days before the Feria opens.  I can't stand to wait until the last minute and then get jammed up on an unexpected detail.  Of all the hundreds of exhibits in the Feria, we were the first one up.  The director of the Archivo, our co-sponsor and his assistant are on the left.  Next are Elder Yorgasen, the Hasler's, and Elder Olsen.  This was one of those setup projects where I had it all calculated in my head, didn't have enough time to explain it all, and hoped it would come together as planned, and it did.  I calculated it would take about 2 hours, but it took nearly 4 (hey, that's good for Peru).

After the setup, the Hasler's invited the Elders to dinner, and we got to come along.  Elder Olsen is being reassigned as a trainer for a (lucky) new missionary, he has managed the visas, transportation, and office management of the Mission for a number of months, and has done an outstanding job.  Whenever we need some assistance, he is our go-to guy.  He has trained Elder Yorgasen well, so we're still going to be in good hands.  The Hasler's are delightful and so faithful:  You have to be to extend your 18 month mission call to 36 months!  They spend most of their day in a dark, cold basement taking photos of old records.  This sounds like a mundane job, but they do it very well, and their work is so essential to what we do in Historia Familiar.  Their photos go to the Granite Mountain Records Vault up the canyon from SLC, where they are permanently stored, and then made available for indexing, when they become searchable records.  The Archivo gets an identical duplicate copy.  When we log onto the FamilySearch account of a member or friend, we can see what records are available that are linked to their family and ancestors.  And we find invaluable records like birth, marriage, and death records.  There is a gigantic worldwide backlog of records that need to be indexed, so learn how to do it, and get involved.  Who knows, you may index a record that we will be searching.  In her spare time, Hna J. is indexing Peruvian records.  While she's not fluent in Spanish (yet), her familiarity with it helps her to interpret the words and dates.

Some essentials that we're running out of.  I sent this photo to Blake, and he rounded up these items, along with some others, plus items that I had ordered from eBay.  The Hasler's are taking a well-deserved break home to the US, and they will be our couriers to get all these items, plus a few more, back to us.  Actually we continue to think of items we need, and hope they have room to include them.  We love to get items from home, but be aware:  the cost of postage is more than the cost of the items - no joke.
Well, back to the Feria.  This was the morning of the 1st day of the Feria, or as it's known in Peru:  setup day.  Which it was for everyone but us.  We had to endure traffic of all kinds down the main street where we were, including a huge bus - it must have gotten lost, I don't know why a bus would drive down here, but everything else did:  trucks, cars, motorcycles, llamas, bicycles, and lots of people packing loads on their backs.  Choing dust, noise, confusion, and in the afternoon, a few visitors actually started to trickle in.

We had missionaries from the 4 Cusco zones helping to staff our exhibit.  Well, they actually were the staff, as our Expanol isn't good enough to carry on extended conversations.  I was really glad the missionaries were there when a local reporter came through.  Elder Day gave her a good account and explanation of our exhibit:  the importance and love we have for families, and how it ties to the records that are kept in the Archivo. 

All politicians like any photo op and any opportunity for glad-handing.  The gentleman in the red cape and yellow hat is the Governor of the department (think state) of Cusco.  He and his entourage (all dressed in local costume) made a walk through he Feria about mid-afternoon of the first day.  He stopped at our exhibit and made a short speech about it

Our exhibit got a gold medal from the department Governor, and Sr. Farfan, the director of the Archivo, got to wear it.  We are very grateful to him and the Archivo for inviting us to the Feria.  Through the thousands (literally) of people we talked to, we were able to give them a good understanding of the work of the Archivo, and its responsibility for preserving the records of Cusco and Peru:  They have records going back to the 1540's.  I have seen the original signature of Francisco Pizarro!  The Hasler's are working to photograph and preserve these priceless and irreplaceable records, but there are many that they will not be able to get to in the next year.  So if anyone has a year or so that you'd like to spend in an exotic and culturally important place in the world, we can help arrange that, just give us a call.
What would a fair be without livestock.  And what is cuter than guinea pigs, or Cui, or Cuy as they are known here.  They are cute, cuddly, and - delicious.  They are considered a delicacy by the Peruvians, and are served at celebrations and special occasions.  In all forms:  you can get filet of Cui, Cui plancho (flattened), nuggets of Cui, whole roasted Cui and deep fried Cui.  When I get home, I'm going to get a Cui for a pet, and when I get hungry - I'll have a bowl of cornflakes!

A fair is no fair without food, and in addition to the numerous vendors throughout the Feria, there was a large food court with a tent (a great idea to block out the blazing sun), where everybody gathered.  I must say that we were warned that things might get a little rowdy, especially during the big holiday Inti Raymi (part of the sun), and weekends.  However, all (and I do mean all) of the people were courteous, well behaved and respectful, even into the evening when the food court was jammed, the beer garden was busy, and the bands were jumping (they did have some good ones, along with ones that needed more practice).  Again, our respect for these wonderful people was increased by this experience.

Despite all the confusion and distraction of the first day, we received 38 referrals.  After the first day, the visitors really started coming, and our exhibit was very popular.  The missionaries were busy explaining the Archivo, our relationship with it, the historical artifacts and information it contains - and our connection to families.  The Peruvians are rightfully proud of their heritage, and were pleased to know of our efforts to help preserve it.  They also love their families, so it was a natural fit, and we were very well received.

One of our banners showing photos of families (recent and old), along with some of the historical documents in the Archivo.

Our Mi Familia folletos were quite popular.  We had allocated 1,000 to disribute during the 10 days of the Feria, but when things got going, we saw that we would run out of those, and I had to scramble and rush-order another 500!  We gave away 1430 during the Feria.  The English version is "My Family", and is a helpful booklet to record names, dates, places, photos, and stories about and descriptions of family members and ancestors. 

A Feria is not a Feria without many displays of agricultural products, and papas (potatoes) are no exception.  Here's a few of the more than 400 varieties grown in Peru.

And there are about as many varieties of maiz or choclo (corn) as well.

The days were very hot, and the missionaries were real troopers.  I kept them slathered in sunblock, even the Latins, and kept them supplied with bottled water.  The sun bears down really hot, even though this is the "cold" season.  The actual temperature was probably around 75F, but when the sun was bearing down directly, it feels like you are in an oven.  This is due to a combination of the altitude (11,000 ft), and the latitude (13 deg S).  It's one of those things that you have to experience to really understand it.  We've never experienced anything like it til we came here.  At the end of each shift (2 per day), all the missionaries got a 5 Sole allowance for helados (ice creams), which really helped to cool them down.  Here are some delightful Hermanas (David, Hill, and Dominguez) enjoying their end-of-shift refreshment. 

The crowd on Inti Raymi day, about 32,000 people visited that day alone.  Can't say that I've ever been in such a massive and constant crush of people as this, and everyone was polite and courteous.  It was like this at least 3 of the 10 days.  This is like a "Waldo" picture:  can you spot the missionary?

Two of the (very) few non-Peruvian visitors were Brent and Maria, from Florida.  Brent had been a missionary in Trujillo about 25 years ago, and had come back for the Temple dedication there a week prior, and they were making a trip through most of Peru, including Cusco.  They now have a son on a mission, and are part of a big FaceBook group of missionary parents, which also includes Elder Andromidas' mom.  So they good to meet him here at the Feria, along with Elder Asay.  Maria is from Puerto Rico, and is a native Spanish speaker.  She was so enthusiastic, and kept scooting people from the street into the booth to see it.  We wished she could have stayed for the entire Feria.

Elders Asay and Andromidas at work.  They loved talking to the Feria visitors.  In addition to a Mi Familia and other literature, we offered a follow-up visit, and many people enthusiastically agreed and provided their contact information.  They love our message about families, and are anxious to learn more.

I think every schoolkid in Cusco got to come to the Feria at least one day.  We had literally thousands stream by over the 10 days.  They are all in uniform.  How do you keep them all together and not lost and wandering all over?  Easy, just bring a long rope, and they all hold on to it.  I keep saying that the Peruvians are clever, and this is just one of the many ways.

One night we were exhausted (well, that was every night), we decided to go the food court in the mall for a bite.  The mall was pretty well deserted, which was curious, but we could hear some big noise at the food court end.  They had set up a really big-screen TV, and that end of the mall was packed - the Copa Americana (America Cup) futbol (soccer) quarter-final game was on:  Peru v. Chile.  It seems that all national pride is one the line with these games.  If I was an owner of one of the shops in the mall, I would have been upset, because no one was buying anything, everyone was watching the game for 2 hours.  But the owners were probably there too.  The crowd was pretty animated and chanting:  "PeruPeruPeru" constantly, and when Peru scored, it was pandelerium!  What's the longest word in the Spanish language?  It's goal - pronounced "Gooooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllll"

Hna J got on tippytoes to watch, even she was pretty excited when Peru scored.  Unfortunately, Peru lost 1-2, and were out of the Copa. 

We found a little time to squeeze in a couple of family visits.  We delight in seeing their old family photos, and love to help them preserve them with our digital camera.  The little guy in the center with the dark shirt is my age, and he's now the father of one of the really great families we have gotten to know.  His papa and mama are on the left.
We'll set up anywhere to get Historia Familiar work done, even in the back of the chapel after Sacrament Meeting.  Out comes our computer and printer, we connect to our WiFi phone, and we're in business!  The Elders are always eager to help, and we still rely on them to translate.  Elders Ludlow and Flores are always ready to mug for a photo.  We can actually carry on gospel and HF related conversations, but we sometimes still get stumped on a single word or phrase that we don't know.  The love of the people and their patience with us overcomes our inadequacies.

Another quick visit - what did we find this time?  The birth certificate of Hermano Roberto - the little guy in a previous photo!  The work of photographing and indexing original records really pays off.  It was so delightful for him to see his name, and the names of his padres on a forever-preserved document.

Well, back to the Feria.  Remember I keep saying the Peruvians are clever?  Have you ever seen a gasoline engine powered cotton candy machine?  Well, now you have.

Hna. J negotiating the crush of the crowd.  She takes it all in stride, and loves being out with the people, even on a crazy event like this.

Elders Olsen, Salazar, and Yorgasen at the end of their shift in the booth.  Note their clipboards are filled with referrals.  They had a wonderful day, met many great people, made many new friends, and were quite productive.

A photo of some of the yummy lookin and smelling food at the Feria: rib chops, 1/4 pollos, papas, and veggies.  It was pretty tempting, but we remembered that it's still classified as "street food", and passed on this opportunity.

I have always said the Peruvians are clever, but sometimes I can't say they are efficient.  As an example, this sign: Ingreso Exposistores, or "exhibitor's entrance".  This went up on the afternoon of the 10th (last) day of the Feria.  The entrance for exhibitors had been moved twice from the start of the Feria, was never marked with signage, and nobody knew where it would be on any given day.  Much confusion and shouting.  Anyway, our plaques (missionary badges) soon became well known, along with my signature hat, and whenever we would get to the right entrance and be seen, the gatekeepers would just wave us in, along with all the other missionaries.

The midway and carnival are always a big hit with kids everywhere, including Peru. 

Snapped a pic of some large prize-winning llamas as I walked by.  These are the largest of the camelids here, which also include alpacas, guanacos, and a couple others.

We got some help one afternoon from Hna Roxana, one of the local members who is responsible for records indexing in Cusco.  She came by to help out, and just started passing out literature which really wasn't helpful.  We gave her a little training and encouragement, along with her own clipboard, and she really went to work.  In just a short time, she had a full page of referrals!  We love her enthusiasm and smile.

Well, all good things must come to an end, and this one finally did, after 10 days of nonstop action, challenges, heat, fun, and blessings.  We (the missionaries) talked to literally thousands of visitors to the Feria, and we received over 1150 referrals.  Referrals meaning the persons themselves wrote down their contact information.  The next phase is timely follow-up with the referrals who want to know more.  It will be a big job, and the Presidente has committed some significant resources to that task.  After the Feria was over (6pm last Monday evening), we went to work taking the booth down, and it came down a lot faster than it went up.  Our tall ladder was not available, but luckily we had a tall Elder Falslev who was able to clip the top ties with ease.  He and his companion Elder Domador staffed the last shift, and they finished it up very well.

The booth is down, the banners rolled up, TV is ready to carry out, backpacks are full, the Elders are tired, and we are exhausted.  It was a wonderful blessing to be able to participate in this event, just don't ask us to do another one real soon.  Our love to all, Elder y Hermana Johnson