Sunday, December 20, 2015

Week #49 - We plan another trip to Abancay, and make it this time - and a Historia Familiar Feria in Cusco

 Our last trip to Abancay got scuttled when we received a call in the middle of the night from Elder Hasler, 1st Counselor in the Mission Presidency.  There had been some violence (and deaths) at one of the large mines in the area, and there were reports that the following day, there would be roadblocks, demonstrations, etc, so we got a very early-morning driver and made it back to Cusco without incident, though we did take a dirt-road detour around a roadblock.

We made new friends on our first trip to Abancay when the Sandbergs were there (May), and really wanted to go back.  We were able to schedule another visit, found a good driver who was responsive to my "incentives" for driving safely - as opposed to a bus, combi, or shared taxi where there is absolutely no control over their driving 200km and 4 hours over twisty roads, up and down.  We take a break at the halfway point,  stretch our legs and grab a drink and snack.

We stayed at a nice hotel (El Peregrino, the pilgrim), and we got the same room that we had in May.  Off the street, and quiet til 5am, when the roosters who live right below started crowing.  Anyway, we had a good rest, and it was much more pleasant than the car alarms and dogfights that usually keep us up in Cusco.  The weather was shirt-sleeve perfect for 3 days.

 We first get to see our friend Hna Cooper who has been in Abancay for many months - and has enjoyed every one - and her new companera, Hna Davis.  You've seen how Hna J towers over many of the women here, so you can imagine the contrast with these two.

 We set up in what we consider "perfect" circumstances.  A room in the main capilla, strong WiFi signal from our new dongle, a bright, sunny room, and a flat-screen TV on a rollaround cart.  With this setup, everyone can see their family tree on the screen, and its easy for them to check our entries and make sure we spell all names and places correctly, and put everyone in the right spot.  We were delighted to have the District President, Moises Quispe and his lovely esposa Maria come and see us for a visit and tune-up of their family trees and ordinances in preparation for their next Temple trip.

Here they are, with the results in hand.  We really appreciate the leadership and example that Pres. Moises sets for the members of the Abancay district.

Notice who is "driving" most of this trip.  Yes, it's the very competent and proficient Hna J, who can maneuver through the intricacies of - in Espanol no less.  I do have to say that I'm a little faster on the keystrokes, but Hna J has really mastered this aspect of our work.  I finally get Hna Leidy to look up and smile.  Surprisingly (or not) the younger Hnas. are a little shy about having their pictures taken, but almost all will allow a photo - then they want to make sure they have a print.

Dos hombres mas guapo pause for a photo.  Elder Garcia wanted a copy of this to keep in his mission memories, and of the time he has served in Abancay, now as a Zone Leader.  He and his companion Elder Heaton had a little unorthodox method of scheduling our visits with members here:  for the last 2 weeks, they and all the missionaries let the families know we were coming, it was also announced at the meetings.  They took the names of everyone who was interested, and the morning of our arrival, they called all those on the list and made firm appointments.  It actually worked quite well, and nearly all of our appointment times were filled, and everyone who wanted to meet with us had an opportunity.

The elders practice for a skit to be performed at an event this evening.  Not sure what's happening here, but I think someone's getting "rescued".

During a short break after Zone meeting, we get a chance to take a picture with most of the Abancay zone.

The bulletin board in the hall of the capilla still shows the Sandbergs prominently in the center (too bad for the glare obscuring their faces).  They were much loved here during the 18 months of service in Abancay, and are remembered very fondly.

Our portable family history center that we pack around enables us to set up most anywhere.  Our newest tech gadget is the dongle, or WiFi modem (white, visible on the short cord attached to the laptop).  This beats our WiFi phone hands-down for reliability and speed, we just wish we had it when we first started, instead of a month ago.  Oh, well, that's what experience and learning are for, I guess.  Our location is remote and a long way from quick replacements if any of our equipment quits or breaks (or gets stolen), so we picked what we hoped would be the most reliable, and our MAC computers have certainly been that.  We brought or obtained or had sent redundant backups for everything, and with the exception of the stolen WiFi phone, have never had to use them, except for when we are so busy that we need to operate 2 systems at a time - which does happen occasionally.  Hna J always has an HDMI cable in her large bag, and we frequently can hook up to the flat-screens in the capillas or in the member's homes to give everyone a good view.

 You've heard of missionaries knocking on doors, and here's a photo of Elders Enriquez and Wilde doing just that.  Doors come in all styles and sizes, here's one style of front door that is rather unique to Peru:  It is a metal rollup door with an opening cut into it, usually only about 5ft high.  A removable welded metal frame with hinges fits into the opening, and is secured with a padlock.  You can either duck down and walk through that, or pull the frame out and roll the entire door up for access to your front room, courtyard, or garage.  As I have said many times, the Peruvians are very clever, and adapt to make the best use of their circumstances and resources.

Just 2 doors up (literally) from the photo above, is the cleanest, most well organized and equipped bodega or tienda (store) that we have seen in Peru.  Hno. Juan and his Esposa Eulalia own and operate this store, and we had to give them compiments on how nice we think it is.  They have a big freezer, refrigerator, electronic scale, it's well lit and totally organized.  They attribute their success in this enterprise to returning to activity in the Church, and paying tithing on their earnings.
Their hija Sulma portions pollo with a cleaver - she can get you whatever portion you want:  half, quarter, or eighth, with just a few quick chops. 

 Hna J gets into the details of Hna Eulalia's family tree, with Elder Enriquez and Sulma observing.  We just pulled up a table and got to work right in the store, and Sulma would jump up and help the customers as they came in.

Elder Heaton shows of his photo-filled Mi Familia.  Most of the missionaries here carry their follettos with them, it's always a good way to start a conversation - and show off your family.  Hna. Joscelyn is starting to get hers filled out, we took a couple photos to help her get started.

Sometimes events and circumstances come together in unexpected ways.  Hna Rocio had an appointment to meet with the local Historia Familiar Specialista this evening, in preparation for a very quick departure for the Temple trip.  Unfortunately, the Specialista didn't show, and we just happened to be there.  Well, what could have been unfortunate turned out quite well, as her family tree - and that of her esposo were rather complicated, and it took us some time to get everything sorted out for her.  Her esposo was working late to get ready to leave, but we were able to get him on the phone for his account login information, and get his family tree sorted out as well.  We were finally all done, or so we thought, and I was looking at the page we had printed - and saw a name that we had missed - how does that happen, to see a name that's not there?  We had seen the name before, but he wasn't on the printed page.  We backtracked and found the missing person in an obscure location on her tree, and made a reprint with everyone on it.  We worked late, but it was certainly worth it to connect with Hna Rocio.

Back to Cusco for a Day of Discovery event and workshop in Estaca Cusco.  Among the attendees is Hna Norma, one of our most diligent members in Historia Familiar.  The family research she has done is quite amazing in detail and accuracy, and Hna J assists with makeing sure it's all correct and in the right place.  Hna Norma has had some health problems, but has made an astounding recovery, and it was so great to see her here.

The workshop sessions of these events are our favorite.  About a dozen computers are rounded up, including ours, additional WiFi bandwidth is brought online, and we roll up our sleeves and get to work with those who have come.  It is always delightful and faith-promoting to see the enthusiasm and dedication of the members here, and the love they have for their families.  The workshop is scheduled as the last segment of the event, and as usual, it goes on for a couple hours longer than was planned, as the members come with much work to be done.  Knowing how this goes, we bring along some snacks to keep our energy up til we're finished.

Historia Familiar is enthusiastically supported in Estaca Cusco by Presidente Mario Garcia.  He sets a great example (along with that of his lovely esposa Marcia) in leadership and love for Historia Familiar.  Elder Talavera, who is exceptionally skilled in computers (MAC's included) assists them.

And when we think that we've done all we can for Hna Norma, her hija Leni arrives with more details from her esposo's family.  We are delighted to help them both, with the assistance of Elder Barry.

 On a walk through the central historical district, we come across a 2-block long queue of people - it extends for another block around the rear of the building and to the left.  What's this all about?  After a couple of inquiries, we find out that it's the vendor registration for the upcoming crafts fair and sale to be held in the main Plaza de Armas on 24 December.  Evidently this is one of the BIG events of the Christmas season, and the whole square is packed with vendors and locals who are looking for local hand-made items for decorations, crafts and other items.  We've heard to get there early, and plan on dense crowds, almost to the point of negative personal space.  Report to follow if we survive.

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