Thursday, January 29, 2009

FHE Group Activity

We are not the only North American missionary couple serving in Lima. Here are some members of our Family Home Evening group on an outing to the Manos Peruanas Museum (a folk art museum in Miraflores, an upscale part of Lima).

Members of the group shown in this picture include: Sister Drake (her husband, squeezed out of the picture, is medical doctor for the Lima missions), Bowmans (Lima temple president), Elder Lamb (Perpetual Education Fund), Goedes (Lima East mission office), Davies (Area office), Brother Messinger (US Army officer, working at the US Embassy in Lima), Ramirez (temple missionaries), Hawkins (temple presidency), our museum guide, Scott and Beverly (Lima East Mission presidency), Sister Earl (PEF), Cleverlys (Lima Central mission office), and Andersons (retirees living in Lima).

The museum contained prize-winning work by Peruvian artisans in metalwork,



wood carving (a bird, snake, turtle, and crocodile are carved into this piece of driftwood),

and ceramic.

Most of the work had a religious theme. This picture shows Scott standing by a large ceramic work of Mary and Joseph's flight into Egypt.

If you'd like to see other pieces from the exhibit (and a beautiful Peruvian sunset from a high-rise apartment in Miraflores), go to Scott's picture albums at

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Zone Leaders Council, Peru Lima East Mission

On Tuesday, January 27, we attended a meeting with all the Zone Leaders in the mission. Beverly gave a 5 minute talk and Scott gave a 45 minute presentation on studying the scriptures.

President Leyva presented the goals for the missionaries in our Area for 2009:
1. Read the Book of Mormon and to use it in our teaching,
2. Improve the quality of our teaching,
3. Prepare for the Sacrament and to partake of it worthily,
4. Understand the importance of planning in our missionary work,
5. Work with ward mission leaders and the members, and
6. Help families achieve the blessings of the temple.

After the meetings, we went to dinner at the Yeyas Hotel and Restaurant near the temple. These pictures were taken while we were getting ready to eat.

Another table of missionaries waiting to eat.

The same table as the previous picture, only looking from the other end. (President Leyva and his family are standing at the back.)

A table with some of the North American zone leaders. Each companionship of zone leaders has one North American and one Latino missionary.

This pictures shows some of the appetizers: Ceviche (marinated fish), camote (sweet potatoes), papas a la Huancaína (potatoes in cheese sauce), and chicha morada (a drink made from purple corn).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Our Miracle Home in Tarma

The Area Presidency asked us to move to Tarma to help the Tarma District prepare to become a stake. We've had several spiritual experiences that have helped us know that we need to be in Tarma. But most Peruvian mountain towns lack satisfactory housing by North American standards. We've had US missionaries, as well as a former president of our mission, tell us we would probably not be able to find adequate housing in Tarma.

We knew it would take a miracle for us to find a place to live, so we fasted and prayed for a miracle. We also asked for help from members of the Tarma District.

On Monday, January 19, after a weekend in Tarma working with leaders and attending church, we were shown various rental options by the district executive secretary, Brother Román, and the Modelo Branch elders quorum president, Brother Durmán (whom Scott met during a temple recommend interview in Lima a couple of months ago).

We looked at 9-10 places. None of them had hot water, refrigerator, stove, sufficient electrical outlets, or places for our automatic washing machine, etc. Most were dirty and run down.

A Miracle. But then we found the three-level home shown above. It's more than we could have hoped for. We will rent the first two floors. Other renters will be in the third floor and the owner of the home will move to one of three adjoining apartments. Our part of the home has a large living room, large kitchen, two bathrooms, and five bedrooms.

The home is clean and fully furnished, with refrigerator, gas range, tables, beds, etc. Furnished apartments are unheard of in Tarma. They're even rare in Lima.

The kitchen and bathrooms have hot running water. We don't even have that in our apartment in Lima! This is probably the only home in Tarma with hot water in all the sinks and showers.

Another Miracle. It turns out that Brother Durmán works for the largest banking chain in Peru and he deals with contracts and other legal matters. He drew up a rental agreement that both we and the landlady signed on the spot and which will safeguard us. We will move to Tarma in mid February.

The home also comes with a big yard, as you can see in this picture.

This shows the entrance to the house. It doesn't look like much--which, for security reasons is exactly how it needs to be. You can see the battered blue steel entryway and the high walls around the lot. It is located on a quiet side street about four blocks from the main town market, about seven blocks from the main city square (Plaza de Armas), and about a mile from the LDS chapel.

We would be unfaithful servants if we failed to bear witness of God's mercy to us. He has answered our prayers so that we can serve Him in Tarma. We know we are engaged in the work of the Lord in fulfilling the prophecies of the Book of Mormon that the truth would go forth to the children of Lehi and the house of Manasseh.

Tarma: Pearl of the Andes

The mission president sent Scott (and the other counselor in the mission presidency) to Tarma (at 10,006 ft.), known as La Perla de Los Andes (The Pearl of the Andes), to interview priesthood leaders for the reorganization of the Tarma District. We were excited because the Area Presidency has asked us to live in Tarma.

This was our first glimpse of Tarma during the daylight, as we descended into the city. In the foreground you can see the small farms on the outskirts of town, and in the bottom of the valley (to the right) you can see the city, which appears as a brown cluster.

During our stay in Tarma, we visited the home of Hovita Oscanoa, a church member who is an artisan. She makes beautiful tapestries. Beverly is shown walking with the daughter, Luz Karina Tinoco, on a path near their home.

The town center is in the valley, but many people live in the hills surrounding the city. This picture shows one of the dirt paths lined with homes, located about 200 feet above the city.

Tarma is a town of contrasts. The following picture shows an elderly woman near the central open-air market. She is wearing the traditional native dress of the Tarmeña women, but most people wear regular clothing.

We were in our hotel room one morning when we heard a band playing sad music. Scott leaned out the hotel window and captured a picture of a funeral band, with the men dressed in black, walking on a path on the side of a hill.

Leaving the city, we drove through the picturesque farmlands on the outskirts of town. Here are some of the farms at the bottom of the valley. (This and the other subsequent landscape photos were taken by Scott out the window of a moving car.)

This is a closeup of some of the farms. Click the picture to enlarge it, and you'll see people and sheep.

During our ride back to Lima, the taxi ("colectivo") that we had rented overheated. We were stranded for an hour out in the middle of nowhere (at 13,000 feet), but Scott got pictures of sheep, shepherds, donkeys, and high mountain hills. This woman lives in a nearby village. Scott gave her S/. 1.5o (about 50 cents) and asked her to pose for him. The bag she carries is full of wool, and she knits as she walks along.

Here's a close-up of her weather-beaten face.

Going over Ticlio Pass (15,800 feet) always provides stunning landscapes. Here's the picture Scott took this trip.

Our trip to Tarma was a spiritual and cultural treat.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lesson on Missionary Work to Young Woman

Scott was asked to give a presentation to the Young Women of Las Viñas ward (the ward which shares the building with our ward). Here are the YW and their leaders. The YW president is on the far right.

For the lesson, Scott told about our daughter, Andrea, who fellowshipped two of her friends (Teresa and Pua) into the Church. This picture shows the missionaries with Teresa. (Andrea is on the far right; Teresa is second from the left.)

Scott used suggestions from Andrea to teach the lesson: Be a good friend. Accept your friend's beliefs. Set a good example. Invite your friend to Church activities. Be patient. (Teresa went through 8 sets of missionaries before she was baptized!)

Scott also told about the Hewitts, who Beverly fellowshipped. Sister Hewitt was already a member, but through Beverly's friendship and help after Sister Hewitt had surgery, her husband started attending church. Brother Hewitt is now a member of a Stake presidency in Florida. Scott then showed this updated picture of Beverly with her daughters and daughters-in-law.

The Peruvian YW absolutely loved the pictures and came up after the presentation to look through them again on the computer. We gave each of them a copy of the Book of Mormon and challenged them to give the book to one of their friends. We hope they will accept our challenge.

Farewell to Two of Our Favorite Missionaries

Elder Ebert and Elder Leiva, two of our favorite missionaries, are leaving the office, so we took them and their companions to dinner. This picture shows Scott and Beverly with the Office missionaries: Elder Davis (assistant to the president), Elder Clark (new personal secretary to the president), Elder Ebert (former secretary, being transferred), Beverly, Scott, Elder Leiva (assistant to the president, going home to Arequipa), Elder Oliveros (mission supplies clerk).

Elder Leiva and Elder Oliveros celebrate the great food and drink.

This is Parrillada de Carnes (Grill of Meat), served at the Leña y Piedra (Firewood and Stone) Restaurant, located near our apartment. The grill of fillet mignon, tenderloin, chicken, and sausage is brought right to the table. It stays sizzling hot from the coals below the grill. The meat is delicious.

Testimony in El Libro de Mormón

We gave a Book of Mormon to our investigators, the Alvarez family, and included our picture and testimony in the front of the book. (Click the picture to enlarge it.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Week in the Life of . . . a Missionary Couple

So what do we do as proselyting couple missionaries? Here are the highlights of what we did each day during the past 7 days in the Peru Lima East Mission.

Tuesday, January 6. We went to visit Hermana Eli, a less active member, but she wasn't there for our appointment. Her 20-year-old son was there, so we invited him to church. He said he would come to church on Sunday, but he didn't.

Hermana Magdalena saw us walking by her little sidewalk market booth. She called to us, and asked if we would walk to her home with her. She walked up the hill with us, invited us inside her home, called her inactive son to sit with us, and left. We gave a message and said a prayer with Enrique, and invited him to church. He said he would come to church on Sunday and he did.

In the evening we went to the home of the Alvites family. Hermano Alvites and his wife are active, but most of their children and grandchildren are not (about six families in the extended family live in the house). We had prayer and a lesson with about 10 members of the family. We told them that we were representatives of Jesus Christ and we had come to invite them back to church. They all agreed to come to church on Sunday (but only one of the children and none of the grandchildren came. We set up an appointment for next week and will bring an activity for the children.

Wednesday, January 7. We went to the temple, where we met a sister from the Tarma District who was returning home from her mission. Scott gave this sister missionary her release interview. Then we took the three Office elders (who had picked the sister missionary up at the airport) and the sister to breakfast at the temple cafeteria.

Then we went through an endowment session with Beverly's family names. We served as the witness couple. Beverly struggled a bit with the Spanish during the session, but we had an enjoyable time.

In the afternoon, we went to the home of our ward Relief Society President. We had an appointment with her and her son to meet their nonmember neighbors and teach a discussion. No one was home.

Thursday, January 8. Beverly spent the day preparing materials for teaching children. We had family home evening with the Dinklang family. The father is a recent convert, and we are reviewing the missionary discussions with the family.

Friday, January 9. We went again to the temple with Sister Dinklang (it was only her second time). Again we were the witness couple. Again Beverly went through the session in Spanish. Again it was difficult for her--but she's learning.

After the temple, we went to the Mission Office, where we picked up some church magazines and Books of Mormon. In the evening we wrote in our journals and Scott prepared a priesthood lesson that he was giving on Sunday.

Saturday, January 10. This was supposed to be our preparation day, but Scott spent the morning interviewing members from Junín (a small branch in the Tarma District) and signing their recommends so they could attend the temple.

In the afternoon, we had appointments with two less-active families in our ward. Hermana Eli wasn't home (again), but she came to church on Sunday. Then we visited the Acevidos where we gave a lesson and a prayer, and invited them to church on Sunday. They all came!

On our way home, we met Hermana Zenobia. She invited us to her home where she poured out her heart about her difficulties in life. She doesn't have money to give her son the training he needs to enter the university. We are going to check into the Perpetual Education Fund to see if he qualifies. The bishop had told her that her son had to be 18 before he qualified, but he's only 15 (although he is a high school graduate).

Sunday, January 11. We attended our La Molina Vieja ward. Scott said the opening prayer in Sacrament meeting, for the third time in less than three months, and gave the priesthood lesson. Beverly played the piano for Sacrament Meeting and Relief Society.

After Church we visited the home of the Álvarez family, whom Scott baptized 43 years ago. We gave a missionary lesson to the son Blas (who is inactive) and to his nonmember wife. We had a great lunch and a wonderful discussion; however, Blas and Maria don't think it's the right time in their life to think about religion. Scott told them that this was the best time in their life. We bore testimony and challenged them to read our testimonies in the front of a Book of Mormon that we gave them. They agreed to read a few verses.

In the evening, Elder and Sister Lamb (Perpetual Education Fund missionaries) visited us. They said there probably is something the Fund can do for Hermana Zenobia's son. We'll relay the information to her.

Monday, January 12. We went to the Mission Office to attend the office correlation meeting. It was late starting, so Beverly took down all the Office Christmas decorations. President Leyvia asked us to go to Tarma so Scott can interview brethren for the reorganization of the district. So we made arrangements for our trip. We will leave on Saturday.

In the late afternoon, we went by Blas and Maria's flower shop to pick up Scott's camera that we had accidentally left at their father's home. It was an opportunity to talk to Maria for a few minutes.

In the evening Scott made more calls to Tarma and to the other counselor in the mission presidency to make sure everything is arranged for our Tarma trip.

So that's our typical week (if there is such a thing) in our life as missionaries.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Teaching Lesson #4 to the Dinklangs

This week Scott taught Lesson #4 to the Dinklang family. Lesson #4 is organized differently from the first three missionary lessons. Lessons 1-3 explain the doctrines of the gospel, whereas this lesson explains the specific commandments God has given us to help us live the gospel.

These commandments consist of the following: Praying often; Studying the scriptures; Keeping the sabbath day holy; Following the prophet; Obeying the 10 Commandments; Living the law of chastisty; Obeying the Word of Wisdom; Donating tithes and offerings; Observing the law of the fast; and Obeying and honoring the law.

It's impossible to cover all of the commandments in one lesson, so we discussed obeying the Word of Wisdom

and donating tithes and offerings.

We were able to bear witness to the Dinklang family that they will receive many physical and spiritual blessings as they keep the commandments. We look forward to teaching them the other commandments in future Family Home Evenings.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Blas Álvarez The Younger

Beverly and I went back to the Álvarez home last Sunday, January 4, 2009, two days after our first visit there. We went to "meet" Brother Blas Álvarez's son, also named Blas Álvarez. I put "meet" in quotes because I actually met him 43 years ago when he was five years old.

Young Blas (shown above next to his father in the picture above, and shown as the little boy sitting on the fence in the picture of the previous post) is a member of the Church, but he hasn't been active for over 30 years. Twenty of those years he lived in Sweden. His current wife María (far right in the picture) is not a member of the Church.

We talked with Blas and María about teaching them the Gospel. We said, half facetiously, that his mother (the marvelous missionary who died in 1981) had sent us there. Blas looked at María, asked her what she thought, and she said, "Yes, we should listen to them." So we are going next Sunday to teach them the first missionary discussion, in the very home where I taught his parents 43 years ago.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Visiting a Man I Baptized 43 Years Ago

Words can't describe the joy I felt today as Beverly and I visited Blas Alvarez, a man I baptized 43 years ago. We took a taxi to San Martín de Porras (a suburb of Lima). I was one of the first missionaries in that area. This picture taken in 1965, shows me with Blas (on the left) and his family.

Through miracles that I won't describe here, this family accepted the gospel, and I had the great blessing of baptizing them. Sister Felícita Alvarez (in the middle of the picture), was one of the greatest missionaries in the history of the church (I do not exaggerate; please read Alma 26:1, 4, 11-12, 22). She was instrumental in directly bringing more than 1,000 people into the Church and indirectly in bringing in untold others.

Sister Alvarez died of cancer in 1981, but Blas, age 82, still lives in the very house where my companion and I taught him the gospel, and he is still active in the church today. Amazingly he remembered my name and that of my companion (Elder Vance Dunn). Here's how he and I look today, January 2, 2008.

To my astonishment, when Brother Alvarez showed us his photo album, we found this page---containing a picture of Beverly and me (ages 24) and our year-old son Stephen, and a picture of me when I was 8 years old that I had sent to Brother and Sister Alvarez! Also in the album there was a picture of me as a missionary, along with dozens of other missionaries with whom Brother and Sister Alvarez worked between 1965 and 1981.

After a long and wonderful afternoon of conversation, Brother Alvarez bid us farewell. We are going back on Sunday to meet his son Blas, Jr.