Monday, June 29, 2009

A Day of Mormon and Peruvian Culture

Today was a national holiday, San Pedro and San Pablo (St. Peter and St. Paul), and all the members of our district (all ten branches) were invited to the San Pedro de Cajas branch, located about 75 minutes north of Tarma. We went with our investigator family, the Quintos. On the way to San Pedro, we asked the Quintos if they had talked to their adult children and had set a baptismal date. They told us that they have talked to their children and have set the date for the last week of July when their entire family can be here in Tarma to witness the baptisms. They want Scott to baptize them. Here are Martha (on the right) and José, and their granddaughter Sharon (their daughter Mayra, who also will be baptized, had her university classes and couldn't join us):

They are such a wonderful family. They attend church every Sunday and attend most of the other branch and district activities. They are faithfully reading the Book of Mormon.

We arrived in San Pedro de Cajas (elevation about 12,000 feet) at about 11:00 am:

On our way there, we saw vicuña, as usual. Scott, of course, had to stop and take more pictures of them (for reasons unknown):

To start the day's activity, all the members gathered in a big circle for opening exercises:

The first activity was a volleyball tournament, played on the volleyball/basketball/soccer court adjacent to the LDS chapel. All the chapels here in Peru have this type of sports court:

After that, there was a soccer tournament:

We enjoyed being with our wonderful LDS friends. Here Eliza and Beverly pose for a picture. Eliza (from Colombia but now living in Tarma) is one of Beverly's faithful piano students and a wonderful friend of ours. Her husband is counselor in the district presidency:

Beverly played games with some of the little kids, who got bored of watching the older kids play sports:

Later, we went into town to enjoy the huge festivities in the Plaza de Armas in San Pedro. An elderly woman, in traditional Peruvian dress, came to town to join in the fun:

Scott also got a picture of these three woman in their daily, traditional dress:

On special occasions like today, some women dress in beautiful costumes that have the general appearance of the traditional dress but are much more ornate:

These richly decorated and colorful costumes were worn by dancers, who paraded through the streets of San Pedro de Cajas:

Their capes are ornate, colorful, and beautiful:

People came from all over Peru to participate in the festivities. Here two young dancers from La Merced (in the Peruvian jungle) pose for a picture. We had to leave before they danced:

These dancers are from the town of Junín, not far from San Pedro de Cajas:

The Plaza de Armas (town square) was filled with spectators:

Back at the church, these three women served lunch, Ají de Gallina (chicken with hot sauce) with rice and potatoes:

We all enjoyed the meal, especially these three children of Claudia, a recently baptized woman:

While in the town center, Beverly bought a ceramic figurine from this woman:

This is one of two figurines that Beverly bought to add to her collection of "mother and child" dolls and scultures. It shows a Peruvian woman carrying a baby wrapped in a blanket on her back, with two alpaca at her side:

We had an absolutely marvelous day!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Missionary Games and Other Weekend Activites

Friday night (June 26), the three Tarma missionaries, along with the two zone leaders (who live in La Oroya, an hour away), held a fun multi-branch activities on missionary work. Members played games and "earned" money, with which they could "buy" prizes. Here's the money they used (which Scott designed and printed for the missionaries). The pictures are of Elders Castro, Winn, and Bates, respectively. The design is similar to the Peruvian bills:

The members could also win "talents" by answering gospel questions or doing some other "spiritual" activity. This one-talent bill has a picture of the Lima Temple:

The zone leaders, Elders English and Lowry, show the phoney money:

Elder Bates explains the "prizes" (which turned out to be empty boxes) that the members could "buy" with the phoney money:

The members loved the game, even after they found out that the boxes were empty, a symbol of what happens when we win the "prize" of the gospel but we don't share it with others: our "prize" is hollow.

After the missionary activity, about eight young people surrounded Beverly and asked her to teach some English. From left to right: an unidentified girl, Mayra Quinto (our investigator, in the white jacket), Sharon (Mayra's niece, also our investigator), and Luz Karina Tinoco (a member and good friend of ours):

Saturday morning (June 27), Beverly and Scott made Mexican salsa, something we love but can't buy here in Tarma. This is the second time we've made it, but we like it so much, we did a huge batch this time, and then put it in empty Mexican salsa bottles that we brought from Lima:

Such was our Friday and Saturday this week in Tarma, Peru.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Baptismal Services and Other Weekend Activities

Saturday, June 20: We attended two baptismal services.

The first baptism was of a young mother, Claudia, shown here with Elders Bates and Castro and her four children: Isaac (age 11), Brenda (10), Sharon (8), and Matthew (3).

The second baptism was of Maritza, sister to three church members, only two of whom are shown here, with Elder Winn:

Sunday, June 21: We attended several meetings.
  • Scott spoke in sacrament meeting on Father's Day. He was asked to give a 10-minute talk just two minutes before the meeting started, but he always carries several talks in his briefcase, "just in case."
  • Scott had several interviews with branch presidents, gave two temple recommend interviews, set apart the new counselor in the district presidency, and gave a 30-minute training presentation to the branch presidencies in our district.
  • In the meantime, Beverly gave a piano lesson to two of her regular students who used to come on Tuesday/Thursday mornings, but who now work. She gives them a lesson each Sunday evening.

Monday, June 22: We had our regular Preparation Day

We invited the three Tarma elders to our home. (Elder Méndez has been transferred.) We ate ham, O'Briens (fried potatoes with onions and red peppers), and French toast. The young elders also prepared peach cobbler, which we ate with ice cream. Now that's a rare treat in Peru!

As usual, we had a full, wonderful weekend.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Noche Misional (Missionary Night)

Every Wednesday evening, our branch (Rama Modelo) has a Noche Misional (Missionary Night). Members and nonmembers come together to have short spiritual messages, often to see a Church video, to receive encouragement regarding missionary work or joining the Church, to play games, and to have refreshments.

Last night was no exception. Here Elder Bates (San Antonio, Texas) and Elder Castro (Guatemala) explain the game: Habla Chancho (Speak Pig!).

Here you can see part of the group. Going clockwise from Beverly: Sharon (granddaughter of our driver José Quinto and one of Beverly's favorite piano students), Luz Karina (a member friend), Mayra Quinto (daughter of José and also a piano student of Beverly's), Iván Orihuela (a young member who we have befriended), José Quinto (our driver), Martha (José's wife), and Isaac, a young boy whose mother, Claudia (sitting to the right of Beverly) was baptized recently:

Here Sharon is getting ready to be blindfolded by Mayra as part of the game:

This shows Iván, who had to pay a penalty for "losing" the game. He had to put water around his mouth and then try to bite a piece of candy that was buried in a bowl of flour:

We like Noche Misional because our investigator family, the Quintos, seem to really enjoy it. They come every week. They have agreed to be baptized at the end of July, after they talk with their adult children who live in Lima. We pray that the conversation with their children goes well and they are baptized.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Quick Trip to San Pedro de Cajas

Beverly and I went to San Pedro de Cajas last Sunday for their branch conference. When I got home, I discovered that I had left my triple combination there in the chapel. The sad part is that this is the second time I have left my scriptures in San Pedro.

So today I took a "colectivo" (car for hire) to San Pedro and back. The normal one-way price is US$1.70 per person for a ride of an hour and 15 minutes, but I paid two fares so that I wouldn't have to share the front passenger seat with someone else! On the way there, I took pictures to show how the agricultural valley between Tarma and San Pedro is drying out as the rainy season has come to an end. This picture shows that much of the valley is still green, but many fields have been harvested and plowed. The hills are starting to turn brown:

Here, workers are filling baskets with the last of the lettuce crop:

Here's a common site along this dirt road---sheep blocking the way:

The sheep in the above picture belong to this shepherdess and her sheep dog (why isn't the dog working to keep the sheep out of the road?):

I also captured a picture of this woman resting on the side of the road after a hard day's work in the fields:

Once in San Pedro, I went to the home of the branch president, Árgeles Rojas, to get my triple combination. He invited me into his workshop, where he spends his days weaving:

His two sons also work on the looms. Here is his son Wilson Rojas, counselor (to his dad) in the branch presidency, making the cloth for a book bag:

Wilson asked me to leave a blessing on their workshop. I was happy to do so. My heart goes out to the millions of Peruvians like the Rojas family who work long hours every day and still live in poverty. The Rojas family sacrifices much of their time in serving the Church.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Visit of MTC President and Sister Groberg

Last Sunday, the Lima MTC president and his wife, President Joseph and Sister Jeanne Groberg gave a missionary fireside in Tarma. The youth of the district loved their message of encouragement and inspiration on preparing to serve a mission.

Right after the meeting, a Tarma member took this picture. It shows Scott with President and Sister Groberg while Beverly is playing the postlude music for the fireside:

The next afternoon (Monday), the Grobergs came back to Tarma (after giving a fireside in La Merced) to stay with us. We had a nice meal and great conversation. Elder Groberg was an Assistant to the President in the Andes Mission when Scott arrived in June 1964. We also knew the Grobergs in Provo when the four of us were BYU students. We had a wonderful time renewing our friendship and reminiscing about our missionary experiences.

On Tuesday morning, the Grobergs walked to the church with us. Our Tarma missionaries, Elders Bates and Castro, were there. Elder Bates' father was a missionary here in Peru 28 years ago under then mission president Joseph Groberg.

The Grobergs then went to Cerro de Pasco, where they held another fireside, and then they stayed with us again Tuesday night. This morning before they left for Lima, we had our picture taken with Neli, our landlady:

The Grobergs are charming, friendly and gracious. We enjoyed their visit.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Great Missionaries of Tarma

As always, we have a great group of missionaries here in Tarma.

This picture shows all six Tarma missionaries, at the baptism of Mariela, last Saturday (June 6). Left to right: Elder Castro from Guatemala, Elder Méndez from El Salvador, Beverly, Scott, Mariela, Elder Bates (from San Antonio, Texas), and Elder Winn (from West Valley, Utah, if we're not mistaken):

We had a fireside yesterday (Sunday, June 7) with President Joseph Groberg of the Lima Missionary Training Center. He asked who were planning to leave on missions during the next three years. Mariela (age 18) was one of the first to raise her hand! She also bore a wonderful testimony yesterday in Fast and Testimony meeting.

Today (Monday, June 8) we had the four elders over for pizza on their P-Day. We had tossed salad, pizza, carbonated beverages, and cake. They sang happy birthday to Beverly (a day after her actual birthday). Here are Elders Bates, Castro, Méndez, and Winn:

We love 'em!

Only in Peru: More Road Signs

There are two animal crossing signs along the highway on our way to Junín, on the high altiplano.
The first is a Vicuña Crossing sign. Almost every trip to Junín, we actually see vicuña crossing the highway:

The second sign is a Skunk Crossing sign. We've never seen a skunk crossing the highway, but we have smelled the results of one of them trying to cross but not succeeding:

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Peruvian Money: The Nuevo Sol

Our granddaughter Jeniel requested an explanation of Peruvian money. Okay, here it is, Jeniel.

The currency used in Peru is the "nuevo sol" (which literally means the "new sun"). I think the currency is called a sol because the Incas were sun worshippers, and if you ever spend a warm day and a very cold night in the High Andes Mountains, you understand why they worshipped the sun.

During my first mission in Peru (1964-66), the currency was the sol, then several years later, it changed to the inti (which is Quechua for "sol" or "sun") [Thanks, Sister Richardson, for pointing this out], and finally, in the 1980s, it changed to the nuevo sol. In common conversation, however, the currency is just called a "sol" (rather than nuevo sol), and the plural is "soles" (pronounced SOUL-ess).

The only bills that I have seen during my eight months this time in Peru are those of 100, 50, 20, and 10 soles. This picture shows the 20- and 10-sol bills:

Each sol is divided into "céntimos," just as the American dollar is divided into cents.

The Peruvian coins are those of (from left to right above): 5 soles, 1 sol, and 50, 20, 10, and 1 céntimo.

In Peru, to indicate the amount of, for example, 5 soles and 20 céntimos, you would write S/. 5.20, similar to how we would write $5.20 in the US, to indicate five dollars and 20 cents.

One US dollar equals about three nuevo soles, but the actual value has varied between S/. 2.95 and S/. 3.10 per dollar during our time in Peru. When we buy something in soles, we always estimated the value in dollars by dividing by three. For example, last week I bought a desk lamp for S/. 17, which means that is was worth 17/3 = $5.67 in US money.

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Mi Compañera!

A warm Happy Birthday to the best missionary companion I've ever had!

Here's a picture of the wonderful sister missionary taken just last month:

Here's a picture (taken this week) of her teaching piano lessons to her student Eliza in Tarma:

And here's a picture (taken yesterday) of her playing games with her music students of Junín. When the kids got restless and couldn't learn any more music, she took them outside and taught them to play "drop the handkerchief" and "button, button." They loved it. They loved HER!

Thanks for being a great missionary. Thanks for being young at heart, even if you are now a year older. I love you.