We get to start with a "couples night" that was sponsored by barrio Vista Allegre. It was on a Saturday evening, and was an opportunity for the adult couples of the barrio to get together for inspiring music, videos, and speakers. Hna J was one of the featured speakers, and everyone enjoyed her telling about how we met, got married . . and are still together nearly 42 years later. Elder Andromidas helped with translating, but Hna is starting to get in the rhythm of the language. I got to speak a little as well, and Elder A was there to bail me out when I got stuck. We're really slow with the language, not very easy for us. Learning a new language is one thing, but speaking and having to have the right words on your tongue in the exact moment is something else. The people are so tolerant of our mis-prounouciations and mis-speaks.
Also on the speaker's list is the new Stake President of Inti Raymi stake, formerly Bishop of barrio Vista Allegre, Presidente Moreya. Only tonight, Hna Moreya got the microphone while the Presidente got to stand and smile. We love them both, and support Pdte M. in his new responsibilities. And I should say that Hna M makes some of the best chocolate caliente in town and is very diligent in her own family history.
We discovered that in addition to being outstanding and dedicated missionaries (Elder Andromidas handles the finances of the mission, and Elder Yorgasen makes sure all the foreign missionaries, including us, have legal status, and that the carnets are all up to date and deals with all the bureaucrats), they have extraordinary musical talents as well. This photo should convince all Mothers that their sons need to learn to play the piano, as this talent is sorely needed in all missions around the world.
There's always delicious food at all social gatherings, and pollo (chicken) is usually the featured entree, which is great with us, as we really enjoy their preparation methods here. Salad and dessert was also on the menu. The event was well-attended, with about 40 in attendance.
If you were wondering where all the leftover pollo went, here's your answer. The missionaries were in the kitchen "helping" and I saw the elders snacking down on several juicy drumsticks each. The cook or "pension" for the elders in this sector, Hna Elena prepared the entire meal, and she did an outstanding job, with thumbs up from Elders Salazar and Andromidas. Hnas Guajardo and Crump helped with the serving, but I didn't see them snarfing down extras like the elders.
Well this is a little unusual. The mujeres jovenes (young women) are usually tapped to provide babysitting for children during these events, but tonight it was the hombres jovenes. They seem to be a little more fixated on the Angry Birds video than the ninos they are supposed to be watching, but they kept everything under control.
Speaking of couples, Alesandra and Carlos were married earlier that day. Peruvian law requires a civil ceremony, church weddings aren't recognized as legal, so it's a civil ceremony first, then off to the temple. They were honored with a solo dance, a bouquet, photos, and congratulations from everyone.
This week, we got to meet a new family, courtesy of Hnas Crump and Guajardo. Here are Alain and Rina, with one of their sons. In addition to being a chef at one of the restaurants we patronize, he and his wife operate a little convenience store in the front of their home. These are numerous throughout Cusco and the other cities and towns. They offer a good selection of products, and they usually have a few fresh produce items as well. Sometimes we can find things here (like sweetened condensed milk) that for some reason we can't find in the larger markets. Hno. Alain was just baptized a few months ago, and Hna Rina was reactivated. We were told that they had already started their Mi Familia folletos, and sure enough (see what Alain is holding), they have assembled several generations of family information as well as collected memories and stories. Hno. Alain told us how his life has changed so much for the better since has has joined the church, and we can really feel the sweet spirit of this family.
Here are their two cute boys. Mihael is on his way to school with his pack and "homework", and Aderlyn had to jump in the picture with his smile.
How many friends does Hna J have in Cusco? Well, the list grows every day. On our way to a cita (meeting), we got to see our friend Wendy, whose mother runs a little C-store close to the Vista Allegre chapel. If you know our little friend Jenny White, then you probably know Wendy. She is sweet and charming, always cheerful, and is delighted to see us. And for those of you who question the long puffy coats, yes it is that cold here in the evenings. Note Hna J's gloves.
Hno Fredy and Hna Flor Mary show off their two delightful ninas after a HF meeting in their home. These little girls are so cute that it makes us want to stuff them in our pockets and bring them home. The girls love Hna J and her iPad with games and Magic Piano.
Hna Sonia gets ready to push the button and send family names to the temple. Her esposo, Hno Juan is a direct descendant of Huayna Capac, one of the Inca kings from the 1500's. They've got pretty good documentation of their lineage, but it gets a little fuzzy after several hundred years, and we're trying to help clarify the direct line. We're trying to work it both ways and hopefully meet in the middle. Huayna Capac is pretty famous, (sort of like Elvis) and there are about 15 entries of his name. We're trying to find the one that has a direct connection that can be made to the ancestors of Hna Juan. Hopefully we can find the right one!
Another challenge we face, is that our work can be rather basic on one hand (Mi Familia folettos), it's rather high-tech on the other, and we depend heavily on a reliable WiFi (or weefee) signal. Most homes that we visit do have a reliable signal, but others are sketchy - and require moving my WiFi phone around the house - and a few times out of the house. Curiously, the worst place for a signal in Cusco is on top of the highest hills, where you'd think the signal would be the best. Tonight was one of those frustrating nights, I moved the phone several times, and would get occasional bursts of data through, then it would fade out. We did take advantage of the good signal whenever we could get it. The absolute best WiFi signal we have had is in Quillabamba, which had max 4G data everywhere we went. Hopefully Cusco will get some upgrades that we can take advantage of.
We have visited Hno Armando and Hna Epi in their home a couple of times, and unfortunately, they live right behind a big hill (really big) that seems to completely block any WiFi signal. Hna Epi is the Stake Primary President in Cusco Stake, and he has a temple trip planned for next week, and wanted to make sure she had family names. We met her in the Cusco Stake Center so that we could get this done. We are on the 2nd floor, my WiPhone is in the window to grab the best signal, and you can see a cord trailing off my computer to the printer on the floor. We really appreciate the help of Hnas Corsetti and Hollingshead to coordinate and translate, so that we can get this work done for Hna Epi.
Hno Felix and Hna Riomalda are filling out more family information in their Mi Familia folletos. They live in Barrio Vista Allegre, and serve in the Elders Quorum Presidency, and as music director. They have 2 delightful ninas, and their home has a great view of the Cusco valley (meaning they live rather high on the hill). The info from their folletos got transferred into FamilySearch.org and they are building their family trees into the 4th generations. They rewarded us with apple/pineapple juice and crackers - delicious - after we were finished.
At the east end of town in Barrio San Jeronimo lives Hna Dunia and Hno Celso and their two lovely teenage ninas (not teenage ninjas). Like most busy families, Hno Celso was taking the girls to piano lessons, so we got to help Hna Dunia update her familysearch account. Elders Nielsen and Morales were very helpful also. Hna Dunia is one of 10 adult children in the Villavicencio family, most of whom live in Cusco, and are strengths to the Church in several barrios (wards), along with their stalwart and faithful parents.
Hna J and her new friend Tryssa, just back from school in her uniform, with a colorful door hanger made today. Another session of Magic Piano for Tryssa, and help with another DuoLingo Espanol lesson for Hna J, courtesy of Tryssa.
After our Historia Familiar session, Hna Cynthya darted to the kitchen to whip us up a batch of superb crepes, as you can see, which contained fresh bananas that you can also see. Her esposo, Hno Luis works in Puerto Maldonado for long stretches, and their other daughter Ballolet was at an after-school activity. These crepes (for which the young Elder Johanson takes credit for the recipe), along with some chocolate caliente, and we were fortified and warmed up for a walk down the hill from her home to catch a taxi back to our apartment.
Last Sunday, we got to visit Hno. Helbert again. He's a Civil Engineer, and is also remodeling his family home. He's pretty adept on his own computer, so we just observe while he logs into his familysearch account, and updates it. We do have a few suggestions to offer, but he really understands it, and is able to negotiate some of the quirks in the program to build his family tree. His family and his esposa's family have a long history of service to the Church in Cusco and throughout Peru.
My camera and "magic" portable printer are becoming well known around Cusco and we got an invitation to attend a Primary class in barrio Tullumayo, and take photos of the class in preparation for a Stake Primary activity . Their were 21 in attendance, and that would have enabled me to get the job done in 7 photos if the boys would have cooperated, but we finally got the job done after about 9. What little cuties these ninas are, with our friend Damaris in the center.
And the ninos are quite guapo (handsome), as this photo confirms.
The Hermanas who teach this class - and maintain order of 20+ lively youngsters - pose for their photo. Hna Perez on the left arranged for us to come in and take these photos, which will be used in a big Primary meeting next Saturday, to which we are also invited.
While waiting at a corner of the Plaza de Armas for the missionaries to accompany us on a cita, we got cornered by a very persistent, but friendly local craftswoman, who hand-makes woven cloth belts. I think she may have sensed that Hna J had a soft spot, or else she just needed to make her last sale of the evening. She was very pleasant, and even sat down, slipped off her shoe, looped one end of her hand loom over her toe (she's holding a partially completed belt on the loom), and gave us a demonstration. She says she even spins and dyes the wool that she uses, and I believe her. After all that, we paid 20 Soles (about $6.75) for the colorful belt that Hna J is holding. Note the ever-present colorful carry-all blanket on her shoulder, and the completed selection of belts at her feet. Usually the sellers around the Plaza are obnoxious, but in addition to being very skillful in traditional crafts, she was polite and engaging - everyone with her sales skills would be very successful. And yes, she really is that short. And this is the daily dress of the Chechua women. They all wear hats similar or of some variation of this - every practical. The different style of hats are said to represent pueblos (villages) or clans, but I have never been able to confirm this for sure.
Afterwards, we invited the Hermanas for lunch at the Andean Grill, one of our favorite places, just off the Plaza de Armas. 3 lovely Hermanas paused for a photo in front of one of the historic cathedrals fronting the Square.
Saturday is Baratillo day. This is a local market that is held every Saturday, and it is a "locals" market, meaning that its not in the tourist areas of the city, and only locals go there. Since Elder Rhoades and I live here, we decided to be locals for a day and see what's there. We first passed a "choclo" vendor. This is boiled, large-kernel corn that is very tasty with a little mantequilla (butter) and sal (salt). A big ear for 3 soles (less than $1), and you peel the kernels off one at a time, they are about as big as nickels.
A view down one of the streets. This is a regular street during the other 6 days of the week, but on Saturday it is blocked off and the vendors set up. There is a grid of about 4 blocks that turns into the Baratillo every Saturday. Elder Rhoades (on the right), checks out some of the wares.
Have I said the Peruvians were clever? Here is an alternator with a rectifier, which turns it into a motor, which turns an auto air conditioning pump which functions as an air compressor, all mounted on a small tank. Quite a clever setup. Slightly used, I would say, and fortunately, I don't need one of these in Cusco. But now I'll know how to make one if I never need to!
Elder Rhoades has an eye for rare coins, especially silver Spanish Dubloons. We were hoping to find some today, but were not successful. A lot of other interesting items, but nothing exceptional. Some old coins made into necklaces, and some paper bills (now worthless Intis) for souvenirs. An old bone made into a flute.
Today's event was interrupted by a rather cold rain. It didn't stop the market, everybody just put up tarps and plastic. There was a tent for sale, so one mama and her nino just ducked inside for shelter.
The Baratillo is where the resellers buy in bulk to peddle to the tourists. Here, Elder Rhoades buys a 10-pack of colorful handmade wool gloves for his kids and grandkids. 35 Soles for 10 pairs, or about $1.15 per pair.
Like I've said, you can get anything you want here, including bed frames or - what's that? Yes, it is a donkey head, along with other assorted donkey parts, including a foreleg. Luckily, Hna J had already made plans for dinner, otherwise I may have brought her home a surprise.