Wednesday, January 20, 2016

This is where I buy my groceries.

Does this remind you of shopping in Mexico?  They have a good variety of food.  I am told if you find something you like, although, you better get it now because there is no guarantee that it will be there tomorrow or ever.   We are enjoying the boxed juices (jugos).  Food is a little less expensive and I am loving the fresh fruits and vegetables.

A visit to Cuszo's Historic District

 Plaza Mayor is located in the historic part of Cuzco.  It is a beautiful Plaza surrounded by ancient buildings.  The center is a park with fountains and grass.  The Spaniards built these churches on top of the old Incan temples to prove they were in control
 The stones on these buildings are supposedly hand chiseled with stone.  They do not have mortar between the stones.
Are we lost?  These streets wind all around the city.

This is the inside of one of the buildings.  The rooms have been turned into offices.  Lyle is picking up cards with our name and phone number to give to the Elders and Members.

 Instead of  "where's Waldo" we play "where's the Tourist"?  There are people from all over the world visiting this city.

Even the Nun's have things to sell.  This display of breads and pastries is just outside the Convent

These little ladies are everywhere selling to the tourists.  I saw some lovely alpaca sweaters and other textiles.  See the cute little Peruvian dolls?  They know how to get the attention of mothers and grandmothers.

You will find the poor in every country.  Because of the low marriage rate (less than 20%) many women are abandoned and left to fend for themselves.  

The wall of a ancient kings house.  Look at this stone, perfect joints and no mortar.

We are being absorbed rapidly into the culture.  Aren't we cute?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A great appointment and traditional Peruvian Food and Dancing

Yesterday we met with a Peruvian newly returned missionary.  He told us of two dreams he had while he was on his mission in Mexico.  His grandmother came to him in the dream and asked him to find her brothers and have the temple work done for them.  Yesterday we helped him a little and then he figured out how to work familysearch by himself.  He sent 12 names to the Temple and he sent requests to familysearch to do his uncles names.  With the 110 year rule he needs to get permission from familysearch,  So as soon as familysearch gives him the okay, the names of his great uncles will be sent to the Temple.  It is difficult to get to the Lima Temple to take your own names, so he decided to just send them to the Temple to speed things up.  We felt like we were witnessing the answer to the prayers of his grandmother, it was a sacred experience.

The Haslers took us to a traditional Peruvian restaurant for lunch where I could have bought guinea pig, lots of people were ordering it.  About an hour before lunch, I had seen the cutest little white guinea pig in a cage being sold as a pet.  I just kept seeing those little pink eyes looking up at me and comparing that to what I was seeing come out of the kitchen all skinless and roasted with the legs all splayed out.  I guess I will have to try it someday, but yesterday was not the day for me. I ordered trout and it was delicious.

There were tourist from all over the world in the restaurant, including 2 tables of Chinese people with their tour guide.  I couldn't decide what was more interesting; watching the dancers or watching all the customers in the restaurant.

 These are traditional dancers that come out and entertain during the meal.  They are serious about their dancing here.  Look at the brightly colored costumes.  Each dance has a different story and a different costume from various areas of Peru.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Interesting weekend

The Hassler's invited us to go with them this weekend to two areas of the mission that are a little more remote.  It was a great experience as they were teaching us how this "Traveling in Peru" goes. We as missionaries in the Cuzco Mission do not have cars, we get to take public transportation.  So yesterday and today we spent 2-3 hours on a bus and then changed to a crowded van for 1-2 hours. We did this both days. The vans and buses do not work on a particular schedule, they just leave when they are full, so you just wait patiently and hope you have allowed enough time to get where you need to go. When we get off the bus or van, we take a taxi to the final destination.  We do this with all of our technology loaded in our backpacks. We had to stay the night so we included a small bag of toiletries and that is all - there isn't room on the vans for extras,  It is also the rainy season so we brought an umbrella. Here is a picture of a couple of the modes of transportation we used this weekend.
The thing in front is a taxi, a 3 wheel motorcycle with a seat in the back, they are called "Tuk Tuks" in Guatemala, they are all decorated differently.  When we get a taxi in Cuzco it is just a car, these three-wheel things are not available in Cuzco.  That is a bus in the background, you can take these but they get really crowded and stop a lot.  The bus we took on the longer ride was a lot nicer, but the van was wall to wall people, they even put a stool in the aisle to get one more person on.

This is Elder Hassler and Elder Poulsen walking the streets as missionaries just as they did almost 40 years ago.  Don't they look happy?

We visited this sweet sister in her home trying to help her with putting her parents and grandparents on familysearch.  This is her entire living space.  Look at the great sister missionaries.  It was incredible to watch them in action as they embraced this poor, lonely sister with such genuine love and compassion.  Elder Hassler and Elder Poulsen gave her a priesthood blessing, she had been feeling sick when we arrived.  We look a picture of her and printed it right there and gave it to her.  We could not help her with familysearch, but we did get copies of the names and dates she gave us of her ancestors.

This is me eating lamb at a bus terminal in remote Sicuani, Peru.  It was delicious, so tender.  They cook the lamb in a brick oven for hours, haul it here in a big bag and a blanket over the husband's shoulder.  He lays it on the counter and the woman behind us in the picture reaches in the bag with a cleaver and starts chopping.  Then she places a big piece on our plate with roasted potatoes, We sit down and eat with our hands, there are no knives and forks at this place.  This lady has a line of customers waiting to buy her food, it is that good.

This is the Church we went to today.  It is a beautiful, large building, but only the chairs showing were filled.  There was a lot of growth a few years back so the Church built these nice buildings, but membership made a nosedive right after the churches were built, so here they are almost empty.  So guess who was asked to bare testimony today in Sacrament Meeting and gave an impromptu class (which included everyone who attended Sacrament Meeting)?  That would be us.  There is no Young Men or Young Women and no Primary, so we all fit into one large room, the rest of the Church was empty.  One young return Missionary, lead the music, gave a talk, conducted and gave the lesson after ours.  He is amazing, so humble and full of faith.  Elder Hassler and Elder Poulsen gave another Priesthood Blessing to a sister after the meetings. 
 The night before, Saturday night we met an amazing Stake President that is also acting as a Bishop because they cannot find anyone to be the Bishop.  This has been going on for months, He also has a young family. I just don't know how he can do both callings.  He has so much faith, but he looked tired, He asked us to help him find his ancestors and his wife's ancestors(she is an orphan), We will be making the trip again to help him with that, it is the only help he asked  for.

The cities we visited are located about 14,000 feet in altitude, it the the Altiplano. Some of the people wear the native dress and speak Ketchua.  Several of the sisters in Church were dressed in their big skirts, sweaters and adorable hats.  It was such a great experience to be with these people at Church. Their faith in Christ is inspiring.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Just one more out of order picture.

This is for anyone that wonders what a years worth of supplies looks like at the airport.  Four 50 pound check-on bags and 2 carry-on bags with 2 backpacks.  We are taking all our technology with us, laptops, printers, ink, paper, lots of different cords and office supplies. We will be visiting the homes of the members to help them set up their 4-generation familysearch accounts and hopefully find and take family names to the temple. The missionaries set up our appointments for us - mainly new converts and those who are returning to activity. Very few people here have the technology needed to do this on their own, so we will bring it to them and pray the WiFi  will work.  We also packed our clothes (warm and cold season), shoes, and everything else we will need for the year.  I even threw in 4 and a half pounds of chocolate chips (which I understand you cannot find in Peru), for missionary cookies.

A trip to the open market

These pictures are of the open market that is open all the time in the old part of Cuzco.  This market is huge.

There are literally hundreds of varieties of potatoes - no large Idaho russets. This is as big as they get.

 In the picture below there are dried llama fetuses that died before they are born.  The Shaman use them in their witchcraft but we don't know why or how.  The bottles around the woman in the booth are magical potions.
This woman is selling baby frogs.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Entering the MTC on December 28, 2015

Here is a picture of us saying good-bye to our grandchildren when we entered the MTC.

We are finally here in Peru.

We had an inspiring week at the MTC last week and boarded our plane on Monday, arriving in Cuzco on Tuesday Morning at 5:00 am.  It was so beautiful flying in over the clouds and mountains as the sun was rising over the horizon.  President and Sister Harbertson met us at the airport in Cuzco and drove us up to the Statue of the White Christ where we had a spectacular view of Cuzco.  We showered, rested and ate at the Mission home.  We met with the Mission President and talked about our assignments. Afterwards we were taken to our apartment to unload our things with the help of the missionaries.  The missionaries here are wonderful and we are so excited to be working with them. Then we went out to dinner with President and Sister Harbertson and Elder and Sister Hassler.  For anyone that didn't know, Elder Richard Hassler was Lyle's favorite mission companion when they both served in Italy.   They are so happy to be serving in the same mission again.

We are still settling in and getting used to the thin air.  We did have an appointment with a family last night and that was fun.  We have have been busy organizing our apartment and our missionary work the past couple of days and we even took time to explore this beautiful city. We love the wonderful people here in Peru.  Everyone has been so kind and we have felt so grateful for the warm welcome everyone has given us.