Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mud Pies in Andahuaylas

August 12-13 District Meeting #2 in Andahuaylas

 We had to travel by car half way again to get to Andahuaylas, only this time we had to share with another man so here is a picture of me hanging on to Lyle during all those hairpin turns for 3 1/2 hours. Seriously the man next to me was a big man so we were totally squished.  Look how happy Lyle is.
This is truly the blind leading the blind.  The blind man in front has his white cane and the blind woman behind just hangs on to his shoulder.  The man next to them is with the bus company helping them get to the gate.

I really wanted to get a full picture of this woman, she was about four foot nothing and had such an interesting face.  I always wonder  about the ancestry of the people here. Her hair is to her waist in 2 braids and she had about four layers of skirts ( the more skirts you wear the richer you are). 

One of the neighborhood streets in town being watched over by this statue.

There are a couple of gambling places in town and this woman and her children are waiting outside for her husband, It looks like she is praying he will really hit it big, or that he will get out of there before the money is gone.

This little boy came in to the bakery and held his little hand between the counter and the cash register.  He had a coin and wanted to buy a pastry.  The bakery girl gave him the pastry and no change.  He waited for the change and she explained that there was no change.  I am pretty sure the bakery girl was being generous in that the coin he gave her was not enough to pay for it as it was.  Well, he was not going to have any of that, no change, so he threw his pastry on the floor and was so mad.  I said, "Lyle all he wants is a little change, can you give him some".  He gave him a 5 centavos piece (which is about a penny and a tenth).  He picked up the pastry and walked off.  Later we come out of the bakery and we saw him with his brother and they are throwing the coin on the ground.  They were trying to see if the coin was real metal.  These tiny coins are so worthless the boys had probably never seen one before.
I just love the children being on the backs of their mothers, they get to see and hear everything their mother sees and hears. This little one is enjoying the Park along with her mother.

Watching the ice cream cart while mom is away.

It is potato harvest time.  On the way in town I saw brightly dressed workers (men and women) working as a large group, digging the potatoes out of the ground and putting them in huge bags. Now they are off to market.

Another first, won-ton soup with a few boiled quail eggs.  They are delicious and supposed to be very healthy.

In every market there is an eatery section.

Every market has a fruit drink section that is really tempting, but we don't dare drink or eat at the Market.

I bought a sweater from this lady and she let me get a picture with one of the hats she is selling.  This hat is pressed wool  and she has a stack of them.  A young man had just bought one for his young wife and she was so happy.  These are very traditional and well made.  They cost only 15 american dollars.  There is a hat shop across the street from this market with such pretty hats, that it makes me wish hats were still in style in the USA, I would definitely bring some home with me.

Sewing, mending and tailoring are common professions here and they can set up about anywhere.  This is in the market.

Lyle was very interested in this motorcyle/wagon.  They have these in every town but this one is new.

There are several little boys shining shoes in the parks of Andauaylas and it is hard to turn them away,  Only about 30 cents for nice shiny shoes - and you need it with all the walking and the dirt here.  

The people that lived  hundreds of years ago in this area were never conquered by the Incas.  To celebrate their unconquerable spirit they have an annual event called the Blood Festival.
A giant condor is caught, captured and held sometimes for weeks before the festival.  When the time for the festival arrives the condor is given alcohol to drink and is lashed to a half-ton bull in an arena.  The enraged bull tries to shake the condor off while the condor tries to gouge out the bull's eyes. These condors have a ten foot wing span and weigh up to 33 pounds, if they get injured in any way it is thought to be a bad omen for the village.  
Lyle was interested in watching this construction site where they are pouring a cement floor.  On one end of the floor the cement is several inches thinner.  It looks like someone forgot to level the forms before pouring.  It is always interesting to watch how things are built here. 

The cheese ladies with hand pressed cheese for sale. Notice the cat underneath the stools waiting for the women to look the other way.

A big rain/hail-storm hit the town just as we began walking to the church to meet the missionaries for Family History appointments. It came and left quickly and the children ran out to hold hail stones in their hands.  There was a mad dash to get everything covered and sweep the water away from the street market stands.

This little girl got stuck behind this pole and her father was gently coaxing her out.  She was stuck like that for a long time.

Wedding Cakes (like this one on display) are about $100 US dollars.  I haven't seen anything like this in the US.  They also have one's like this with princesses and other themes for birthdays.

Okay, we like to check out the bakeries and have found some great treats.  Nothing is as sweet as it is in the United States but I am getting used to that.  Lyle has found apple strudel and I found chocolate/pineapple cake.  Both are delicious.  Cakes are a part of every celebration and as you can see they go all out to decorate them.  Each bakery has it's signature design.  This town was full of bakeries with the white cream peaks as part of the decorations.
 While we were waiting outside the church for meetings to start on Saturday we walked across the street to watch these kids.  It brought back great mud pie making memories.  Aren't they cute?  While I was taking pictures and watching the kids, Lyle was talking to the Seventh Day Adventist leader from the church behind these children.  He had a great discussion with him about Jesus Christ and the need for all men to follow him.  Finally, the big brother showed up took the kids by their wrists and marched them home.  I sure would have liked to see their mother's face when they came in the door.

The district conference that we came for went well.  It was us, the mission president and his executive secretary.   The rest of the presidency needed to be in another town.  So I had to bare testimony in one meeting and talk in the other. It was a little easier this time.

 Lyle did a lot of temple recommends and he told me this story.  This town had just returned from a temple trip and Lyle had ridden all the way there and back (8 hours each way) only a few weeks before to interview people for recommends for the trip.  One sister that he interviewed this time said that she just couldn't afford to go with the rest of the members and it had been years since she had been. She told Lyle that she had a plan, though.  She was going to buy a little plant and it would eventually grow fruit and she would sell the fruit and save all the money, then the fruit would grow the next year and she would sell the fruit and save all that money too.  She would sell the fruit of this plant every year until she had enough money that her family could go to the Temple again.  Wow, how can you take going to the temple for granted after hearing a story like that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Crazy, Busy Three Days

Well, there are two things I told myself that I definitely did not want to lose here on the mission. And so guess what I lost?  Those two things - my camera and my work visa. That work visa took so much time and work to get. Arrgh!  I don't even know how it happened.  My little camera case that hangs around my neck has a zipper on top and the zipper was closed and there was no camera and I had checked it several times before we left and on our way to an appointment. Then on the way home I noticed it was gone. The appointment ended up being a no-show (with the people not the missionaries) and so I didn't even use the camera that night.  The visa went missing the same time too from a zippered pocket in another small bag that hangs around my neck. I have no idea how I lost them.

We bought that particular camera because it talks to the portable printer we have, and even though it didn't take the best pictures we knew we had to replace it with a similar one.  So here is a picture we took at a Market as we tried out the camera we were looking at buying.  In all of Cuzco we could only find about 15 different types of small point and shoot cameras and almost all of them were Cannons and they are all a lot more expensive than in the States.  I think this new one will not be as good as the last one and I was having a lot of problems with the last one.  It just doesn't take good pictures in low light.  So if the pictures in the blog seem worse, they probably are, but at least I can still post pictures for this blog and take pictures for our family history assignments.  Now I have to see what can be done about my visa.

Our First District Meeting

Lyle said that this weekend was the hardest three days he has ever had while serving in the Church. That includes his work as a Bishop.  We had a family history fair set up with the missionaries for Friday night August 12 which was crazy busy.  He had to give three different 20 minute talks in Spanish at the Adult Conference, Priesthood Session and General Meeting. With three languages in his head it gets crazy trying to give a talk from his heart in the right language.  In between the meetings he had a steady stream of Temple Recommend Interviews all in Spanish.  He lost his hearing aids about 6 weeks after we arrived and so hearing the voices of women is a real challenge. Sometimes he needs to explain the questions and that gets interesting too because the people here don't understand what some of the questions mean and Lyle tries to explain, but things like child-support are not understood by the people here.  They just tell them they love Jesus Christ and his Church and they just want to obey Him.  Isn't that beautiful?  They don't understand everything, but they do understand faith.  

To get to Abancay we hire a car, but if you only want to pay for two seats, you have to wait for other people to show up.  So we had to wait for about 45 minutes for someone to show.  I took these pictures while waiting.
Every district of the city has carved or cast statues that represent the area, this area has a Bobcat.  The mural painted on the wall behind the Bobcat is very pretty

I have tried to get a picture of this since I arrived and I finally had my camera ready at the right time.  This is guinea pig food.  You will see lots of little taxis in the morning caring a load of guinea pig food and they all look like this with the grass hanging out the back and on the top.
The woman in the picture below, is the woman who finally arrived to take one of the seats in the car. The driver tried to get us to pay for the last remaining seat in the back middle, but finally he just said we would go.  This is one of the drives with the winding switchback roads, so I was glad to have the empty middle seat by me.  Lyle takes the front passenger seat.  I don't like watching them drive so the back is just fine for me.

 The lady next to me looks like a business woman going on a business trip.  After awhile, she goes to sleep then wakes up asking for a "bolsa" (bag).  The driver opens the middle compartment between the two front seats.  She reaches in and grabs two bags and I am thinking, "we have just started and she already thinks she needs two bags, this is scarey".  She reaches into her purse and pulls out a whole roll of toilet paper and tears off about 40 squares.  I am getting nervous.  She lays the toilet paper and the bags on the seat between us and goes back to sleep.  Below is a picture of her sleeping with her legs braced against the drivers seat as the car sways back and forth on the switchbacks. Only a few minutes after I snap the picture she wakes up and grabs the bags, I quickly look out my window and roll it down a couple of inches thinking of anything else besides what is happening next to me, I didn't want to be sick too.  Finally, she feels better, ties a knot in the top of the two bags, puts them on the floor and goes back to sleep.  An hour and half later, she wakes up saying "bolsa!"  No one in front hears, I panic, push Lyle's elbow off the compartment where the bags are.  She grabs one and I just look out the window again, lowering it a couple of inches for fresh air and think about happy childhood memories, anything besides the three full bags on the floor of the car.

It was a long three and half hour trip.  The missionaries have to make the trip lots of times and a couple of them say they throw up every time.  One of the sister missionaries was here in the mission only three days when she had to make the trip and she had no idea she would get sick,  She threw up all over her dress at the first of the trip and had to sit there in a combi (van) full of people for the remaining 4 hours.  She can laugh about it now.

After that great ride here we got settled in our hotel, ate lunch and then went over to help the missionaries set up for our Family History Fair.  Here is a picture of us working.  We had another room with a computer and TV with videos and another computer behind me.  It was super busy and super fun.

 This sweet couple came to get an account and some family names to take to the Temple.  The branch is going in November and this couple will be sealed.  The faith of these people is incredible.  They save their money sometimes for years in order to go to the Temple.  We are not even sure how much they understand about the Temple, but they just say they want to follow Jesus and do what is asked of them.

This man has very light eyes, blue-green and very rare.

Here are our amazing Zone Leaders that set everything up for us.  We met Elder George and Elder Salazar when we first arrived and their time here is almost up. The time goes quickly and we hardly get to know the missionaries and then they are gone and new ones replace them.  It is a beautiful thing to see how this missionary work changes the lives of these missionaries.  We just love all of them and are so impressed with their selfless service as they truly build the Kingdom God here in Peru.

Of course, whenever I give them the job of taking pictures of people for their Mi Familia booklets, the missionaries find time to take goofy selfies for me to discover later.  They really are a lot of fun to be with, it isn't just all work.

On Saturday morning I took these pictures from our 5th floor hotel room.  This is what happens on all the roof tops of Peru.  The builders almost always leave rebar coming out of the tops of the buildings so that someday (maybe) they can put another floor on top.  It is the perfect place to make a clothes line.  Every time I come to Abancay I see this family doing laundry on the roof.  It must be a business they have because they spend hours there.  Makes me appreciate the washer and dryer I have in my apartment.  Most people here and around the world do laundry by hand and it takes hours.

This is a close up of the family doing laundry, and of course the children are there with them.  This little boy has what looks like a couple of toy rifles tucked into the back of his shirt.  He will just play on this roof under the watchful eye of his parents while they finish their work for the day.

 Our First District Meeting

In our free moments during the week before this meeting, Lyle and I worked on our talks.  It is so hard to put abstract ideas into another language and hope the Spirit will be felt at the same time.  Lyle had to prepare three talks, I had to prepare a 5 minute talk and my testimony.  The Saturday night adult session went really well.  I didn't have to talk after all - Whew!  The children were corralled in the church and church yard with babysitters while the adults attended the meeting.  It was wonderful to be with the Saints there in Abancay.  Before, after and between all our meetings Lyle conducted Temple Recommend Interviews.  

On Sunday morning Lyle spoke at the Priesthood meeting and continued doing interviews.  I arrived about 9:30 (our hotel is only a couple of blocks away so I could walk).  I sat up front with the other wives of the Mission Presidency.  I was shown the schedule and I was not on it.  So I just relaxed. There are two Church Buildings in Abancay and the chapel we were in was set up to send the proceedings to the other building.  Five minutes before the meeting, the electricity in our section of town went out and there was no telling when it would come back on.  We talked about different options while the members just waited patiently.  The children had prepared a song and they were on the front 3-4 rows.  An hour later it was decided to split up.  Two speakers went to the other building and two remained in our building and I was put on the schedule to speak.  The problem was without electricity how could anyone hear us?  I just bowed my head and prayed.  Several men were working on the problem, A generator was rented, but the cord didn't work so they were working on the cord. As soon as my prayer was over the microphone started to work and that was all we needed.  The men had figured out how to connect the cord for the generator.  We proceeded with the meeting.  

I spoke and everyone said they easily understood what I was saying and understood the principle I was teaching.  Wow,  another prayer answered.  Lyle told his dog and the old swimming pool parable.  It was perfect for the children sitting in front.  They had been sitting for almost two hours by the time he gave his talk and they were ready for a great story.  If you haven't heard Lyle's parable of the dog and the swimming pool it is a great parable about repentance and forgiveness and the gift of the atonement.  The children loved it and so did the adults.  He only made a few mistakes, like saying "piscina viejo"  (old swimming pool) which sounded like "vecino viejo" (old neighbor)  which is a very rude thing to say in Peru.  They honor their older people and you don't call them old, there is another word that is more respectful than the word "old",  There was a gasp in the audience and Lyle had no idea what he said wrong.  It was perfect because it woke everyone up and they soon figured out that he had not said what they thought he had.  He had included a few Italian words in the Adult session, but I think that the people are just so happy that we come here and try to teach them in their own language that they don't even notice our mistakes.  It was a wonderful experience for us to be there.

 I loved watching the children and thinking about how Jesus taught the Lamanite children in the book of Mormon.  They came up and sang a song.  One of the older girls played the piano with one finger.  She had just learned it the day before and was terrified.  She played really well and I was in tears when the song ended.  These children were so excited to sing to us.  They had been sitting for almost 2 and 1/2 hours by the time their turn came and they just jumped up and ran to the front when their turn finally came.  I have to pinch myself sometimes to see if I am dreaming.  I can't believe I am here with these wonderful Lamanite brothers and sisters in the Gospel, I just love it.

Even though we started an hour late, we still had to fill 2 hours.  I can't believe everyone stayed in their seats for three hours.  I think they were just excited to have us come all the way to their city to teach them.  Lyle said the Temple Recommend Interviews were great.  He loved seeing the faith of these people up close as they choose to obey and make the sacrifices to stay worthy of a temple recommend.  The full tithing some of them pay is five dollars a month.  They are poor as to things of the world, but not in spirit.  They are constantly teaching us what true discipleship means.

These beautiful girls insisted on taking a picture with us - the North American Missionary couple that has traveled all the way from Utah to hear their beautiful song.
We were able to ride home with the Mission President and his family.  After his two girls took long naps, we had fun singing with them and playing with them. Their grandparents are far away and our grand-kids are far away so it works out  perfectly for both of us.  Their girls are 7 and 5 and they have 180 big brothers, and a set of grandparent missionaries (us),  Their mom said the girls are loving it. One of their favorite things to do during meetings is draw pictures of the missionaries.  I can't wait to see our pictures.

This Last Picture is for my Daughter Lora Lee

I think I have seen only 2 real pianos in our mission, this is one of them and the children swarmed it after church.  Wouldn't you just love to teach these little boys how to really play?  

Friday, August 5, 2016

Flying Solo

When returned from our last trip, I came down with a very serious sore throat and cough.  The infection from my throat moved into my sinuses and then into the roots of my teeth.  I know, that sounds weird, but I couldn't even eat because my teeth hurt so much.  I found out that many people from this area had walking pneumonia at the same time.  I didn't dare go to the doctor and I surely didn't want to have teeth problems.  The Johnsons, who were here before us, said that to get your teeth fixed it is best to fly to Lima and use a United States trained dentist there.  After about 6 days without any improvement, I had Lyle give me a blessing.  Slowly, over the next week, I gradually got better and I am finally getting my strength back.  I am so grateful for the power of the Priesthood and my husband who shares that healing power with those who ask, not just me, but many others especially here on our mission.

While I was sick, Lyle went to do family history without me.  Here is a picture of a brother and sister that he visited.  Both have severe arthritis  and they are pretty much home bound.  Elder Poulsen and the missionaries had a really nice visit with them and were able to build their family tree.  They found some ordinance work for their ancestors and they will be sending the temple cards with Ward members because they can't go themselves.  These pictures were taken at their home.  I wished I could have been there. 

Lyle met with another person while I was sick, but finally I felt like I could go help him with the appointments below.  The first woman printed out the most ordinances we have ever seen here in Peru.  I can't remember exactly how many she had, but there were tears and rejoicing in finding so many names.  Her Ward is going to the Temple soon and there will be plenty of work to share.

 This young mother and her son are new converts.  We taught them about family history with the missionaries.  She has had such a hard life (like so many people here).  Her mother died when she was a baby and a few years later her father was murdered.  She had no where to go and no one to help her.  She had her son 10 years ago and she told me what a blessing he has been in her life.  He was great.  We asked him if he knew what the plan of Salvation was.  He explained it as well as any adult could.  He is so smart.  She was having some medical problems and Elder Poulsen and the younger Elders gave her a blessing.  I wish I could talk to her again to see how she is doing, but most of our appointments are only a one time visit.

The couple below have been making many changes in their lives as they work with the missionaries. We opened accounts for them and entered all the information we could.  As always, the people we work with think I can speak Spanish better than I can.  The woman was telling me all about her challenges and I just sat there and listened.  That happens all the time.  I am such a good listener, I just sit there and try to get the main idea of what they are saying and I just sit there and smile or act sad -whatever seems appropriate.  I never really know what they are telling me, but they seem happy to have been able to share with me.

A mother and her baby playing while the mother waits for someone to buy the few things she has laying on the blanket.

I pass this little boy every time we go from the main street to the mall.  He is always sitting here with a couple of bags of very hard beans to sell.  Today he was sitting on a couple of bricks, but usually it is a small blanket.  He never leaves that little space and I have no idea where his mother is.  It is really sad, I tried talking with him but he didn't answer me, so I just try to smile every time I pass.

Okay, here is why this blog is called "Flying Solo".  We have one phone that is not attached to the wall and it is the mission phone and can only be used here in Peru.  Anyway, it is expensive for most of the people here to use their phones.  When a call comes in they have to run to the phone store and put a couple of dollars on the service so they can call the person back.  Anyway, we try to use our phone whenever we can, especially on the very long calls (usually 20 minutes or more) to Family Search for specific information for the person we are working with.

The other night we let the person use our phone and they were on hold.  We had another appointment across town so we left.  We walked about a block when we realized we left our phone.  So we had to split up.  I had to get to the bus stop by myself and to the appointment across town while Lyle went back to retrieve the phone.   It was a dark corner I went to (I guess there was a better stop but I didn't remember that) and waited for my green and orange bus to arrive.  I kept repeating "la Salle" (which is the bus stop I needed to get off at) over and over again in my head.  I kept checking to make sure I had the right coins for my fare. Bus after bus stopped by, but they were not the one I was familiar with, finally the right bus came and I had to flag it down. I hopped on and said a little prayer.  You have to remember that there is no way to call each other and I had no idea if Lyle would be able to get in to get the phone back.  There are no doorbells and the place we left it had had a locked gate and we weren't sure if he could  even find the apartment again once he was inside.  Well, like all things that scare you, after you do it once and everything turns out all right, you are not afraid any more.  It all worked out fine, I got off at the right stop and walked the block to the church.  I started the appointment with the missionaries and their new convert.  Lyle showed up only fifteen minutes after I did and the appointment went really well.  I really think I could do it again now. It is important that I learn how to do things alone because Lyle needs to go out of town every once in awhile to do district work.  He left last weekend and I was able to get along just fine for the 2 days he was gone.

waiting for the bus at night

This is the bus we take most of the time and I know its route well enough to know where to get off and on.

Primary children practicing a song.  It was so beautiful listening to these beautiful songs in Spanish.

Lyle had the wonderful opportunity to release these two missionary twins that have just returned from their missions in the Dominican Republic.  The mom is on the right.  See how happy she is.  She said it just broke her heart to send both of them out at the same time, but as she prayed the Holy Ghost comforted her.  She asked in her prayer to please make the time go by fast and she said it really did go fast.  It was a wonderful experience for Lyle .
Lyle had to go to Andahuaylas to sign a bunch of Temple Recommends for a group that is going to the Temple this week.  He said it was a great experience.  The ride to Andahulyas is the longest and hardest.  The people were throwing up on the bus, no one wouid open a window, Lyle said he couldn't breath so he kept his nose by a crack in the window.  Luckily, he had a little 9 year old girl on the seat next to him.  He gave her his Ipad and she played with it for 3 hours then went to sleep.  She was so small that her body just kept sliding around in the seat at each hairpin turn the bus made.  Lyle tried to brace her with his leg, but at one time she had her head on the seat and body on the floor.  It was a long ride home, but he made it.

A few things to sell

I was glad to see the painter at work, he just can't stay on top of the graffiti that follows him as he works. 

heavy loads at the end of a market day

My pressure cooker kept blowing up so we went to the hardware part of the market to get a new ring.  This lady took our money and ran to another vendor and was gone at least 20 minutes, but she came back with the part and the change.  Talk about personal service.
Our apartment is just to left of this mall.

The above pictures are of the mall and the grocery store in the Mall that we shop at all the time now. Sometimes when I get tired of the dirt, graffiti and garbage that is everywhere else, I just walk over to the Mall for awhile.  This Mall is so busy during the weekends the traffic is backed up for blocks trying to get in to the parking lot and of course everyone has to honk.  We are getting used to the sound of honking, car alarms and dogs.

More Dog Pictures

Dog gangs just hanging out.

So these two dogs were not included in the gang above, do you it is because they are wearing sweaters?

Elder Poulsen's Book of Mormon Project

Elder Poulsen has set a goal to give away a thousand Book of Mormons before the end of our mission. He buys cases of books and takes them to different locations in town.  Lyle does this during the mornings when we don't have other responsibilities. Our family history appointments are usually in the late afternoons and evenings, because the missionaries study in the mornings. I do family history and study Spanish during this time.  Our goal with family history is 12,000 names, and we have close to 10,000 right now.

Elder Poulsen made this portable stand out of a garbage can with the wheels on it.  He has a vinyl cover he had printed and made to fit the over the can.  He can fit a folding chair, a box of books and whatever other supplies he needs in the can.  Sometimes he can wheel it to the location, other times he has to get a station wagon taxi to take him.  For every book he gives out he gets a phone number, name and address so the missionaries can follow up.  He has really enjoyed talking about the book with everyone.  He has had a lot of children come and ask for a book, but then there is no way for the missionaries to contact them and the mom's aren't around.  A couple of children have just hung around with him listening to him talk to the people about the Gospel.  The demand has been great and sometimes he has had to turn people away which is really sad.  Sometimes kind people give him something to drink or eat.  The lady in the last picture gave him a nice fruit drink.  The people here love to openly talk about Jesus Christ and about their love for Him.

In the sun it is hot, in the shade it is cold, here Lyle is talking about it with the woman on the sidewalk.
Kind people give Lyle drinks and food, here is one of them.