Saturday, December 3, 2016

Great News, Elder and Sister (Bevin and Susan) Johnson are called to replace us!

This wonderful couple will be here on Tuesday to replace us.  We will have about 3 weeks to spend together until we head home on the 28th of this month.  We are so excited to meet in person and share this incredible mission with them.  They are a beautiful, faithful couple and I know how excited everyone is to have them come and serve in our mission.  They are affectionately being called "the new Johnsons" because the couple before us are also the Johnsons (Pat and Dawn). and the native Spanish speakers are glad that they all ready know how to pronounce their name.  Some just gave up on Poulsen and always call us President and Hermana.

Elder and Hermana Johnson

Did I say something at the end of October about it being our last trip to Puno?

Well I was wrong, I have been there two more times.  We were asked to go a couple of weeks ago to attend and talk at Stake conference.  It was a wonderful experience.

Another eight-hour bus ride.

Puno pizza is the best.

The wood-fired pizza oven.

Each pizza individually made and cooked by this pizza chef.


Look who we met on our way back to the hotel after we ate our pizza.  It was late and these two sisters had about a half  hour to make five more contacts.  What faithful sisters, we talked with them later and they had met their goal for the day.  Who wouldn't want to talk with these cute sisters.
 Elder Poulsen talked in both the Priesthood and Adult Session of Conference. We both talked in the Sunday morning session.  My talk is the written one I have ready at all times. There is always a  noticeable sigh of relief when I finish as they all pray that I will be able to speak in Spanish.  It feels like everyone is cheering me on.

We had an incredibly sweet experience as the choir below sang.  It is a ward choir and they were amazing.  They had a violinist join them in both numbers and he and the piano player were so talented.  The choir sang like angels.  Not many people here read music, let alone play an instrument by reading notes, and the choir sang in parts which is also rare.  The best part though was their selection of music.  They were two of Elder Poulsen's favorite pieces.  He bawled through both of them.  The first is the primary song "Whenever I hear the Song of a Bird", in Spanish of course.  When he got up to speak, he told them how when he was a little boy in Primary, he remembered the sun coming through the windows just like it was during that morning in Puno and he and the rest of the Primary were singing that song.  He told them that was the first time he had felt the Holy Ghost and how it was one of the sweetest experience in his life.  Well, the closing song was, "If I Could Hie to Kolob" which is another of his favorite songs and with the beautiful violin and piano and choir singing that song neither one of us could hold back the tears.  After the meeting was over and as everyone was leaving, the choir stood up and sang that song one more time for us.  They knew how much they had touched our hearts and they wanted to share their beautiful song with us one more time.  Then they gathered for a picture and included us in that picture.  This will be a treasured memory for both of us.  That experience alone was definitely worth the eight hour bus ride.  The Stakes in Puno are full of strong members and leaders, always I think about the Lamanites when I see so many faithful members.  It was an inspiring meeting.

A Ward Choir that sang at Stake Conference.  I love the bright pink flowers and ties.  On the far right are the violinist and piano player - so talented.

Surprise for Thanksgiving!

 Look who showed up to share Thanksgiving with us.  Lyle's two brothers and their wives and one of my sweet nieces.  We went to Machu Picchu again and loved it just as much as the first time.  It is so fun to share the treasures of this country with our family.

We stayed in the Sacred Valley for a night after we visited Machu Picchu and were able to visit the amazing Las Salineras Mine.
 The women decided to split up and I took them to Puno to see the floating island.  Two missionaries were on our bus and my sister joined them as they found favorite scriptures and talked about it.  The sister is from Chile and spoke English very well, so with her to translate the three of them had a really nice time. The parents of both missionaries are not members, but the Elder has 3 younger brothers who had joined the church at the same time he did.  Their parents are very supportive.  The sister seemed a little sad and my sister had felt a prompting to talk with her.  She was coming to finish the last 8 months of her mission.  Her father had just died of cancer and she had gone home to be with him.  He made her promise that she would finish her mission.  She is the only child, but her mother was expecting another baby that was to be born soon.  I am so impressed with the faith of these missionaries.  I can't imagine how hard it must have been for this young sister to leave her pregnant, grieving mother in order to finish her mission, but both parents really wanted her to finish and she has the faith to be here.
Sharing favorite scriptures with two missionaries.
The Floating Islands are the home of the Uros,

Sitting in the home of one of the families that lives on one of the Floating Islands.  This is the complete house.  They have four or five children.  They cook outside.

A ride in a boat made of  reeds.
 I have come a long way since we first arrived on this mission.  The first six months I stayed right by Elder Poulsen, not wanting to wander too far away.  Now, I took my sister, sister in law and niece on a tour of the Floating Islands and all the way to Puno and back without the help of our Spanish speaking men. All of us spoke a tiny bit of Spanish and we did really well considering.  Of course it is easy when you have been there lots of times.  We always stay in the same hotel and they really go the extra mile to help us.  They even let us stay in our hotel room until 9 pm when we left to take the night bus back to Puno (a great way to save time -sleeping and riding at the same time.)

When we returned to Cusco, we had to shop for gifts to take home.  Check out the fun hats for sell.

You can even get a llama hat handmade with llama wool.

My family was able to see the poverty here and it was heart-breaking.  They decided to buy some nuts from this little boy to help him out.  The nuts are so hard they break your teeth, but it felt good to help this boy and his family.

We did celebrate Thanksgiving. My sister brought a stuffing mix and we made mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans, but no turkey, cranberries or pumpkin pie.  We had roasted chicken instead of turkey.  We actually ate it the night before Thanksgiving because we went to Puno on Thanksgiving day.  We went to a bakery in Puno and my sister had a slice of apple pie that she shared. That was the simplest Thanksgiving meal ever but having family around you is by far the best part of Thanksgiving.
This is the tech world of the United States -everyone on their phones, I haven't seen this in months and I know it will be an adjustment when we return.
 This is San Blas Market in Cuzco with lots of beautiful hand-made crafts.  It was a great place to buy souvenirs. 

We will be moving into this apartment owned by a lady that is going to visit her children in Europe.  She wanted to rent it to us for the month of December.  We are total strangers so it was nice of her to trust us and allow us to stay here. This way the Johnsons can get settled in the apartment we have been living in.  This is a picture of the living room in the apartment where we will be staying.

Potatoes for sale. So many varieties.

Well, they had Black Friday here just like the United States.  I was surprised how quickly the decorations went up.

Remember it is Spring here and instead of sweaters and boots being on sale, it is summer clothing and sandals.
A little girl waiting for Santa.

This is what Santa Claus looks like in Peru.  I wonder how long it took him to grow out that beard.  You see very little grey or white hair here, so a white beard is surprising.

Christmas decorations and swimming pools for sale.

I will miss fresh gladiolas for only $1.50 a bundle.  You can buy these year around.  They are a Spring flowers in Utah and yes it seems strange to be buying them at the same time all the Christmas sales are on.  


  1. I want one of those Llama hats made from llama wool. 🤓

  2. Hola Poulsens:

    Well you have done it. 2016 has blown by so fast (as 2015 did for us). Time to look back and recall the people you met, the work you did, the things you learned, the places you've gone, the things you've seen. Enough memories for a lifetime. Getting Johnsons nuevos on the receiving end of a massive infodump will be about your last task, and they will so much appreciate your experience and being able to pass your knowledge to them on-site as they commence their work. Knowing where to catch combis and intercity buses, how to negotiate taxis, where to stay and where to eat (and where not to) will be such a help to them.

    Have a Merry Christmas, and be sure to be where you have a good view of a wide section of the city by 11:45pm on Christmas Eve. Just before midnight and for about 1/2 hour, the whole city lights up with the most illegal (US illegal) fireworks you have ever seen. A rooftop is a great view. Enough time left to make another swing through the Cusco wards and see your friends for the last time (it was hard for us to say goodbye to them).

    If you do have a day with the Johnsons, where you can get down to Urubamba and Ollantaytambo by combi, those are two of our favorite close places, both with members and friends we met, as well as things to see. Say hi to my friend Cunyaki the jeweler (just on the left across the bridge in Ollantytambo, walking toward the ruins) if you see him. We never did get to Chinchero to see the weavers and sites there, though we passed by it numerous times. Being there for a year, we didn't see more than about 30% of the things there are, but after all, we weren't there to be tourists.

    See you soon! Be sure to let us know about your homecoming report as soon as you have a date and time. When you're packing your bags and checking out the max weight with the handy scale, remember there's no such thing as too much alpaca! You'll never get anything so fine for those prices ever again!

    Con amor,
    Los Johnsons viejos

  3. We'll miss reading your posts when you go home. You have truly had a marvelous adventure. Thanks for sharing it with us on your blog. Merry Christmas from your friends in Germany (Tad and Jana)