Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our Ward in Lima

We attend this wonderful little chapel located about a 15-minute walk from our apartment. It's in an upper-middle class area of Lima. This chapel houses two wards. Ours is La Molina Vieja.

Today, we arrived at the Gospel Essentials class to find that the instructor wasn't there. So I filled in and gave the class. My only vocabulary mistake was to say that Jesus gave hearing to the "cerdos" (pigs) instead of "sordos" (deaf). The class really laughed at that one.

After the meetings, the ward held a baptism for an 8-year-old boy. Beverly and I decided to stay because no one was there to play the piano. Beverly accompanied the audience in singing childrens' songs. Then, just before the meeting started, the counselor in the bishopric asked me to perform the confirmation. I was happy to do so, because I haven't done a confirmation in Spanish for over 43 years. This picture shows me with the newly baptized boy, Diego, and his mother and sister.

Beverly was also asked to accompany a special musical number that the Young Women are doing on Friday night. Here's she's practicing with Pamela Gomez (the flutist) and Hma. Yenny (vocalist).

Several of the brethren stood around and chatted after church. Almost all the men and boys of the priesthood are diligent in wearing white shirts and ties. During the cooler months, they almost all wear suit coats, too.

This ward has very wealthy and very poor (by US standards) members, but they all dress nicely for church. They are wonderful, faithful members, even though they face many cultural and family challenges.

We are happy to attend this ward and to support the members as best we can. We have begun to visit some of the less active members in an effort to encourage them to attend church. Beverly plays the piano most Sundays. I have been asked to pray in at least one meeting every Sunday since we began attending here. I will teach Sunday School again next Sunday. We pray daily for the wonderful members in Peru.

Answers to Prayers

As I prepared for and left on our mission, I had five major prayers in my heart. I pleaded before the Lord to receive the following five blessings:

  1. An increased testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  2. Health and protection that my heart and the rest of my body could endure the rigors of missionary work and the travel challenges in this, the mission with the most changes in elevation of any mission in the world.
  3. The gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation of tongues for me and for Beverly, so that we could speak and understand Spanish and so that we could speak with the voice of angels in proclaiming the gospel.
  4. The gift of discovering the mysteries of the scriptures, that is, having the knowledge, applications, and sacred truths of the scriptures opened to me.
  5. I wanted Beverly and me to gain a stronger testimony that our calling as missionaries and our assignment to the Peru Lima East Mission came from the Lord.

I now acknowledge and witness that He has answered my prayers in wonderful and miraculous ways. I have given examples of some of these here in this blog (see the blog on how well my heart handles the rigors of traveling through the Andes) and will give other examples in future blogs. The Lord has been good to us.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving II: The People

We all loved our "authentic" Thanksgiving dinner in Peru. Here are our guests enjoying it.

Sister and Elder Goede, from Layton, are the Office Missionaries in charge of records and finances. They bought the pies and the rolls. (Notice the newly-painted walls in the background.)

Here are "our" elders who came: Elders Shiflett, Leiva, Flores, Davis, Ebert, and Gurel.

Elder Leiva (from Arequipa, Peru) and Elder Davis (from Texas) are the two assistants to the mission president; Elders Flores (from El Salvador) and Elder Ebert (from Sandy, Utah) are office elders, and Elder Shiflett (from Arizona) and Elder Gurel (from Texas) are the two missionaries who work in our ward here in the La Molina area of Lima.

Elder Davis ate so much that he said he couldn't eat dessert. But he ended up taking three pieces of pie anyway! (No, he didn't finish them.)

Thanksgiving I: Challenges of Preparing the Food

Beverly slaves away, trying to fix dinner for 10 people in a tiny apartment in a foreign land.

She doesn't give up.

You can't buy bread crumbs here, and it's too humid to leave bread out overnight, so she made her own, by cutting and then drying the bread in the oven.

One thing we can buy here is delicious avocados, for making guacamole (which you can't buy here).

The adventure begins with spices and sauces. Some things are the same, others are different.

We found frozen turkey breasts in our local supermarket.

Peru has a huge selection of potatoes, so picking the type that would work for mashed potatoes was an adventure. The ones here on the right worked great. The sweet potatoes (shown on the left) were fabulous, but Peru doesn't have brown sugar, so we used a crude cane sugar and marshmallows to make candied yams.

Here's the serving table with the pre-dinner snacks, including nuts, fruit jello, candy, chips, drinks, guacamole, chip dip, and salsa. This was the first time the missionaries had enjoyed most of these things since coming to Peru. It was the first time the two Latino missionaries had ever had some of the food.

The serving table with the main course, including rolls, ham, turkey, yams, green beans, potatoes and gravy, etc.
We topped everything off with wonderful pies that were purchased at the local bakery: lemon (lower left), apple (top center), and pecan (lower right).

We spent many hours planning and preparing the meal, and many hours cleaning up afterwards, but it was worth it. The elders loved it (see the post above).

Fixing Up Our Apartment

After nearly seven weeks of living in our apartment, we finally got a few things fixed. Most importantly, we had it painted. The walls were dirty and faded, as you can almost see in this photo:

So we hired a wonderful member our ward, Hermano Filipe ("Pipo") Álvarez, to do the painting, as shown here.

Pipo is the ward executive secretary and all-around-handyman. He painted and did some plumbing and electrical work for us.

We have been impressed by how industrious and hard-working the Peruvians are. Pipo arrived bright and early each day at 8:00 am and worked almost nonstop until 6:00 pm each evening. If we hadn't fed him lunch, we don't know whether he would have taken a lunch break or not.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Skype: The Miracle of Free International Calls

The young missionaries have a restriction that they can only call home twice a year; however, couple missionaries have no such restriction. Hey, we have the responsibility to keep track of our seven kids (and their spouses) and our 17 grandkids. We gotta call!

So we just got Skype (go to for information). We get unlimited, essentially free (except for the low monthly charge of $5.95) calls to land lines and cell phones in the US and Canada through high-speed Internet. Skype is fast and easy to use, and it gives nice, clear, static-free calls. We love it!

Map of Missions in Peru

This map shows the area covered by each of the seven missions in Peru. Click the map for a bigger view. The seven missions are Peru Lima North (Norte) in turquoise, Peru Piura in brown (far north), Peru Trujillo in yellow, Peru Lima East (Este) in purple (the greatest mission in the world), Peru Lima Central (Central) in red, Peru Arequipa in blue, and the Peru Lima South (Sur) in orange.

Our mission, Misión Perú Lima Este, is made up of the eastern part of Lima and the regions of Huánuco, Pasco, Junín, and Huancavelica.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mission Ups and Downs--Literally

Just like all missionaries, we have our ups and downs, but here I'm talking about literal ups and downs. We live in the mission with the greatest elevation changes required to go from one missionary zone to another of any mission in the world. Here is the elevation profile of our 5-day trip through the Andes Mountains to hold Multi-Zone Conferences with the missionaries.

And here are pictures of the high point, 4818 meters (15,800 feet) above sea level:

A high mountain lake near Ticlio:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What It´s All About

Our mission to Peru isn´t all fun and games. It´s actually quite difficult. But we are here because we have a testimony of The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is what our mission is all about.

We bear witness that The Book of Mormon is true, that it is the word of God, and that it changes lives. As missionaries, we are asked to carry The Book of Mormon with us at all times. It brings us great strength and comfort. Our mission president has asked all of the missionaries in the Peru Lima East Mission to read the entire Book of Mormon in four months. We invite you to do the same.

Faces in the Peru Lima East Mission

Beverly plays the Zone activity, Temblores y Terremotos (Tremors and Earthquakes), with two sister missionaries:

Four happy missionaries of the Peru Lima East Mission:

Here´s a picture from another recent baptism (Anna Navarro), by two of our favorite elders, Elders Shiflett (far left) and Gurel (far right). They are disappointed that they had to leave their original missions in Bolivia and come to Peru, but Hermana Navarro, and our ward bishop, think they are angels sent from heaven. We agree.

It´s impossible to overstate how wonderful, dedicated, handsome, and effective the Latino missionaries are in spreaking the Truth in our mission. The Latinos come from Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Central American, and other Latin American countries. What a blessing they are to Peru! Here are three of them who work in Lima:

Three sister missionaries. The sisters in our mission are exceptional! They work hard, they teach, and they ¨baptize¨!

Computer Training at the Area Offices

We went to the South American West Area offices a few days ago, and there we received training on the Church´s computer system, MLS, so that we could train leaders and clerks when we move to Tarma.

The Area offices are beautiful. The inside was already decorated for Christmas. The outside, as you can see, is beautifully landscaped.

Here´s a nice flower bed with palm trees, bushes, and flowers.

The Peruvian flag and flower bed near the front entry.

More beautiful landscaping, as viewed from the front of the building out toward the front gate.

The important thing is that we are progressing in our preparation for working with the district of Tarma in helping it become a stake.

Pictures of Elder Hurst (we hope)

Dear Bro. and Sis. Hurst. I think we figured out which of the La Merced elders is your son--the quiet, kind, new elder who is working hard to understand Spanish! Great guy. Let us know if these are or are not pictures of him. To get a better view, click the picture so that it expands.

I think he´s the one on the bottom, third from the right. Right?

This time, he´s on the bottom, far right side.

Here it looks like he´s on his prayer rug, while others stand and watch, but actually, he´s the first elder down on the blanket, ready to build a human pyramid.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Activities at the Multi-Zone Conferences

We just completed all of the Multi-Zone Conferences with three meetings in the provinces and three meetings in Lima. All of the missionaries from all 11 zones of the mission were present. We couldn't take pictures of the training that was held in the chapel, but we were able to take pictures of the activities during the breaks. Here are some pictures. Some of the activities were pretty intense, but they were all very fun.

It looks like a free-for-all and it was.

Elders Ebert and Flores, with whom we work in the mission office, run a three-legged relay:

Here are Hermana Garcia and Hermana Farmer (probably the shortest and the tallest sisters in the mission) also doing the 3-legged relay.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Foods of Peru

Here are a few more typical foods of Peru.

Bifstec a lo Pobre (Poor man´s beef steak), with steak, eggs, rice, french fries, and fried banana.

Pollo a la naranja (orange chicken), here served with rice and vegetables.

Pollo a la Milanesa, which is a fried, flattened chicken breast. Here it is served with yuca frita (fried yuca, a type of root plant) and plátanos fritos (fried bananas).

Guanábana juice. The juice was delicious, somewhat like piña colada (without alcohol, of course). Scott had never heard of the fruit, so the restaurant worker brought one out for him to see.

Pollo a la Pizola. This is a favorite among missionaries in Huancayo. It´s a pizza made with flattened chicken breast instead of pizza crust. It´s fabulous.

This picture shows how a store in Huancayo sells their bananas--in a glass container in the front window of the store.

Elders of La Merced, Peru

Hello to the parents of Elder Hurst, from Dallas, Oregon. Is your son´s picture among these pictures of the human pyramid? During our Mult-Zone Conference in La Merced (at the edge of the Peruvian jungle, at the side of the river Perené, whose waters eventually drain into the Amazon River), the special activity during the break in the 5-hour conference was building human pyramids. Here are the pictures. If Elder Hurst isn´t among those in these two pictures, we´ll post some others later. We met him and talked to him for a while. Great missionary!

This zone completed their pyramid--almost.

This shows the beautiful sky and mountains surrounding the green (and very hot and humid) jungle town of La Merced, with the LDS chapel and the missionaries.

A big pyramid just as it collapsed: