Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Long and Short of Our Member District

Here's a picture of two wonderful women who live in the Tarma District. The woman on the left, my amazing companion, is the tallest female LDS member (5' 6" in height) in the district. The woman on the right, Dominga Contreras, a wonderful convert of a year or two, is the shortest female LDS member (about 3' 11") in the district. She lives in the high (13,500 feet), cold, windswept, remote town of Junín in the altiplano of the Central Peruvian Andes. She is a faithful member of my weekly Book of Mormon class there.

I just couldn't resist getting their picture together, much to the delight of all the branch members, who found the height difference as amusing as I did.

Amazing Story: 43 Years Later

I (Scott) made this entry in my missionary journal, dated January 13, 1966, while my companion and I (from the mission office) were visiting the missionaries in the newly opened city of Ayacucho:

"Something exciting happened today, ... [W]e gave the fourth discussion (about the Savior) to two families whose wives speak very little Spanish. So as we gave the lesson in Spanish, the husbands translated into Quechua. What a joy! The brother who did most of the translating is a member but his wife and the other couple are not. They had an interesting discussion … in Quechua, very little of which we (Elder David Putnum and I) could understand.”

Here’s the follow-up to that story. The missionaries in Ayacucho, Elders David Putnam, Jr., and Steven Lawrence, continued to teach these two families. The three nonmembers were baptized. An article about these new members appeared in the July 1966 issue of the Liahona, explaining that the two women were the first members of the church who spoke only Quechua, the language of the Incas.

Here's the follow-up to the followup. Elder Douglas Earl, currently a Perpetual Education Fund missionary in Lima, wrote this blog post, dated April 19, 2009:

“In Nov. 1967 David LeFevre and I were sent to Ayacucho in the high Andes to help a little branch of members. There were 5 families in the city that were members. Two of the families, Espinoza and Ataurima were the first members of the church that spoke Quechua. [See above article.] ... We were in Ayacucho 70 days then we left and it was closed down to missionaries from 1968 to 1978. It was really sad to leave this town without missionaries and we "knew" [quotation marks added] that the members would be lost.

“FAST FORWARD 20 years [1987] when we were getting to know our missionaries in Lima [Elder Douglas Earl was then President Earl, the first mission president of the Peru Lima East Mission]. Three of the 5 Ayacucho families had boys of mission age. ... The third was Josue Espinoza, the son of one of the two families that were the first Quecha-speaking families to join, and a cousin to Roberto Ataurima. ALL THREE OF THESE BOYS from these 5 families, THAT DID NOT HAVE MISSIONARIES [in their city] FOR 10 YEARS, sent missionaries to the mission field AND ALL 3 MISSIONARIES WERE SENT TO MY MISSION.

“FAST FORWARD April 2009: After 41 years, I have returned to see my families and my city [Ayacucho]. ... Four of the 5 early families ARE STILL ACTIVE with ALL OF THEIR CHILDREN and grandchildren. The fifth family ANGEL HINOJOSA (who we baptized) was active when he died. The city is 20-30 times bigger, has 4 chapels and l stake. ... This could only happen in the true church of God. I went from being sad about our failure in Ayacucho to knowing that God knows us and has extended another tender mercy in our direction.”

Elder Earl and I have since communicated with Dave Putnam, who was happy to hear about the follow-up.

I was thrilled to have a tiny part in this amazing story.

[Thanks to my daughter Melissa for digging up my missionary journal entry from 1966, and thanks to Doug Earl for giving me permission to quote his blog and use his picture.]

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Visit on the Hill to the Beraún Family

As you know, we are hiring local LDS artesans to make tapistries for us. Today Scott visited the home of Hovita Oscanoa and her husband Mario Beraún (second counselor in our branch presidency) to see how one of the tapestries is coming. Here, Andrea shows Scott her work:

The Beraún family poses by the tapestry loom:

This closeup shows the beautiful detail of Hovita's work:

After inspecting the tapestries, we hiked up a high hill east of town. Here Scott is stopped by an angry, barking, but hopefully harmless, dog:

From a high cliff, Scott got this view of the little valley on the outskirts of town:

At one point on the hill, we got a nice view of our Tarma home. It's the blue house in the middle of the picture:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Farewell, Elder Santos

We heard about Elder Ryan Santos even before we arrived in the mission, because his former bishop is a friend of Scott's. So we were thrilled when Elder Santos got transferred to Tarma about three months ago.

But now he's leaving Tarma and heading to Cerro de Pasco. It's hard to see him go, but Cerro is in our zone, so we'll see him at zone activities.

Elder Santos and Elder Bates visited us the night before Elder Santos left for Cerro:

Elder Illachura, another missionary here in Tarma, is also leaving. He didn't work in our area of Tarma so we didn't see him as much as we would have liked. Farewell and best wishes to both of these great missionaries.

"Souper" P-Day with Our Zone

Today was change day, so all the missionaries in the zone gathered in Tarma for their P-Day. Beverly made a huge pot of soup (chicken, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, rice, pasta, onions, celery, peppers, and spices):

Scott made sixty sandwiches (35 tunafish and 25 egg salad, with onions, red peppers, mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes) and added potato chips and soda crackers to the plates.

And 16 elders in our zone, along with Scott and Beverly, ate all the sandwiches and most of the soup. Our meal also included soda pop and cake. Nobody went away hungry. The elders shown here include (far left to right clockwise around the circle): Elders Bac, Watters, Zambrano, Bates, Choque, Herrera, Carraciela, Shiflett, Santa Cruz, Bird, Illachura, Delgado, Cossio, Puglisi, Santos, and Mendez.

It will be sad to see some of these elders leave in the next day or two, and we will be happy to meet the new ones who arrive. Such is life on change day.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Random Images for this Saturday in May

Here are some random pictures that Scott took today.

Our landlady's clothesline is in the foreground, where she is drying corn; our clothesline is in the background, where we are drying Scott's shirts. The picture shows some of our cultural differences.

On the outskirts of town, Scott took this picture. The rainy season is finally coming to an end, the hills are turning brown, and the sky is clearing.

Scott has taken over a thousand pictures from the back seat of our driver's car, but this is the first picture he has taken of the view we see most: the back head of our driver, José Quinto. Today, during our trip back from La Oroya and Junín, Scott taught José the fifth and final missionary lesson on Laws and Ordinances. José accepted it all, and was excited with the idea that he would receive the priesthood after he is baptized.

We pass these interesting homes by a trout farm every Saturday on our trip between Tarma and La Oroya. Finally today we had José stop so Scott could take pictures. The green pipe in the background is the water supply for the city of La Oroya. The thatched roofs are rare in our part of Peru.

As usual, today we got to Junín half an hour before our classes were supposed to start, so while we were waiting for our students to arrive, Scott walked to a little plaza on the south end of town, and found this interesting Catholic church.

Across from the church was a park. Like many parks in small-town Peru, the view is marred by tall cell-phone towers.

Still wandering around Junín, Scott was curious about what was on the other side of a fence that was too tall for him to see over. So he lifted his camera above the fence and took this picture sight-unseen. Not totally uninteresting. It shows that this land, at 13,500 feet above sea level, is indeed rocky.

Peruvians love to raise and eat "cuy" (guinea pig), but they normally keep them in cages. These two little guinea pigs evidently were running free, because they came out of the gate to their yard to feast on the green grass growing by a tiny stream.

We hope you found these random pictures to be interesting.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday is Market Day in Tarma

Tarma has an open-air market every day of the week, but on Thursdays and Sundays, merchants and farmers from all around the area come into town and set up their booths.

Here people are buying dried peppers, spices, flavorings, and other items:

This is where we normally buy our lettuce and carrots. The woman is laughing at Scott for wanting to take her picture, but she was thrilled that he did:

The market has rows and rows of vendors selling multiple kinds of beans:

In this typical scene, two women from the country, and a stray dog from the city, relax in the market. The women are selling potatoes. The dog is wondering why Scott is taking its picture:

Peru is famous for potatoes, and you can find dozens of types in the Tarma market:

You can also find all kinds of breakfast cereals (we've never tried any of them):

In fact, you can find about anything you want in this Thursday market:

Our Plaza de Armas (Tarma)

Every town in Peru has a Plaza de Armas. It's the central square, and the center of activity of the town. It's like a popular mall in the US, with swarms of people in the afternoon and evenings, and casual strollers in the morning.

This is a picture of the Plaza in Tarma this morning:

This is a closeup of the couple you see in the foreground of the picture above. They are just sitting around, relaxing, and soaking up the sun:

Tarmeñan women also enjoy the morning sunshine in the Plaza:

All the Plazas de Armas have a cathedral, and we have a nice one here in Tarma, the cathedral of Santa Ana. It was rebuilt in the 1952 by the then president of Peru, Manuel Odría, a native of Tarma, who is buried here.

The cathedral has beautiful stained-glass windows, this one of Moses:

And this one of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem:

The interior is beautiful:

That's the Plaza de Armas in Tarma, Peru.

As we passed by there today, after Beverly's music class at the LDS chapel, we ran into Melanie, a member from Lima and her non-member friend, an investigator who lives here in Tarma. They walked us home. Melanie even carried Beverly's musical keyboard:

We invited them in for "gaseosa" (soda pop). They were such nice women and so fun to talk to:

Every day is an adventure in Tarma.

P-Day Lunch with Young Elders

We have the young elders (is that an oxymoron?) over for lunch just about every P-Day, and we like to post their pictures because their families come to our blog hoping to get news about them.

Well, they are all doing well. They are healthy, happy, and working hard. Left to right: Elders Santos, Bates, Illachura, and Méndez.

After lunch (spaghetti, garlic bread, tossed salad, and cake), they played a round of Uno before heading out for a day of preparation, diversion, and work.

We love 'em.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

District Conference in Huancavelica

We traveled to Huancavelica (12,100 feet above sea level) to attend and speak at the District Conference, as well as to make a change in the district presidency.

The main session of conference was held in a lecture hall at this hospital:

The large lecture hall provided barely enough room for the conference. Here the brethren are setting up before the meeting starts:

Beverly tried out the keyboard before the conference (surrounded by Milagros, the music director, and a soon-to-be-sustained elder):

Scott had a few minutes to take pictures before the conference began, so he walked to the Río Ichu, which runs past the hospital, and caught these women doing their weekly laundry:

After the conference, Beverly took pictures of some of the members while Scott was in meetings. Here are (left to right), President Manuel Torres, new first counselor in the district; President Rudy Zorilla, newly released and past district president; and President Alfredo Huamaní, branch president in Huancavelica:

This group of women and little girls wanted their picture taken with Beverly:

Here Beverly poses with the members and missionaries who traveled two hours (not counting an hour delay because of a landslide) from Pampas to Huancavelica for the conference:

This happy member is typical of the many young women who attended the conference:

This spirited young man enjoyed the conference:

Most of the members in the mountains of Peru dress in "modern" attire, as you can see from the above pictures, but this older woman, who speaks little Spanish and converses mostly in Quechua, wears her traditional attire, including the hat worn by the women in Huancavelica:

We love these wonderful, faithful members, who meet daily challenges living in these remote mountain towns.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Third Trip to Huancavelica

On this, our third trip to Huancavelica, we saw more white fields:

We saw oats bundled in the fields:

We saw a new town market opening up for the first time:

We saw the rugged Andes Mountains, with patchwork farms where few people on earth would dare to climb. In the foreground of this picture, you can see the road that we traveled; it has been cut in the side of the hill:

Farm fields scale right up the face of the mountains:

And in Huancavelica, we had this view out of our hotel window:

The landscapes and people on our scenic drive to Huancavelica never disappoint us.