The branch president of the tiny Palcamayo Branch of the Tarma District invited us to speak in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, February 22, 2009. So we rode 18 miles north of Tarma along an unpaved road through agricultural valleys, with scenes like this one at every turn:
As we neared Palcamayo, the taxi driver stopped at Shaprash so we could take a picture of this famous cliff, the "Rostro de Cristo" (the countenance of the Savior's weeping face).
Palcamayo, with about 5,000 people, is at an altitude of 11,623 feet. It has no industries except those related to agriculture and tourism. The town has the little Palcamayo River running through it, as shown here:
It is a sleepy, quiet town, where you can see animals walking down the middle of the street:
This young man is packing some feed for his animals. On his back, he is carrying a plastic container with liquid pesticide for his farm.
We arrived in Palcamayo about an hour before church started, and went with President Coronel (a young, newly married branch president) to visit members and to invite them to church. Without a special invitation, they will sometimes go to work in their fields on Sunday. Here President Coronel knocks on the door at a member's home:
Inside the home were two members, a mother and daughter:
We visited the home of one of the first members of the church in Palcamayo. Here she is shown on the left (she is with her 95-year-old mother and her charming but shy daughter):
We posed with them for this picture:
The grandmother let Scott take this picture:
The first member to arrive at church was the Young Women president with these four children:
We took our musical keyboard with us, so that Beverly could play for the meeting. Even before the meeting started, the members asked Beverly to play their favorite hymns. They have probably never had an accompanist in the branch.
Eighteen people attended the meeting (five of whom were visitors from Tarma). Afterwards, we took a group picture, shown here. (You can barely see Beverly who is seated.) At far right is the first counselor in the District Presidency who also visited the branch that day. One of our purposes for visiting the branch was see whether the branch should be closed due to the small numbers and lack of priesthood holders.
This is the "casa capilla" (house chapel). You can see the name of the church on the wall above the balcony.
After two hours of meetings (there aren't enough members to hold the three-hour block), we climbed a hill in town to visit a young man who joined the church a couple of months ago but who hadn't attended that day. He wasn't home.
Beverly pauses on our hike back down to town:
Scott loved hiking the hill and taking pictures of the quaint little town below:
We were filled with the Spirit as we met and spoke with the members in Palcamayo, and attended their meeting. We were awed by their picturesque valley. This was one of the most wonderful experiences of our mission so far.