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.|
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!
|We stayed in the Sacred Valley for a night after we visited Machu Picchu and were able to visit the amazing Las Salineras Mine.|
|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.|
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.|