Sunday, September 27, 2015

District Conference

After today's District Conference, we're proud to say that Distrito Virú pulled it off every bit as good as Huaraz's Stake Conference, except we had a choir and they didn't. During Saturday session, the Primary Choir sang "I feel my Savior's Love," and they sang it with gusto! I was so proud of my kids from Nuevo Chao. My young piano student Alissa accompanied and did an excellent job. When the Mission President asked questions in his talk about the differences between consequences and tests, my kids shouted out the answers with little Spencer in the lead.
At the Sunday session the choir stole the show, at least we thought so. We contrived this grand ceremony where I strutted up on the stand and waved the choir members up from the front rows. They all loved it. We opened with "I love to see the Temple" accompanied by Maria, another young piano student. Elder Miller came through with shining colors pumping out the "third" verse with trills and improv on his harmonica. The congregation was spellbound. Our closing song, "Rise, Ye Saints, and Temples Enter" ended the meeting beautifully with Maria's sister Angie on the piano, and I know everyone was proud of a good job well done. Also on the program was a special soloist, a sweet young girl from Trujillo. Her brother accompanied on the piano most impressively. The District pulled off a great conference with lots of participation and minimal help from the missionaries.
Later on we attended a training session focused on visiting and home teaching using the spirit. The key note speaker was me, recounting humorous adventures in visiting teaching. I closed with a story about how I asked Martha to teach me how to teach piano. She told me to just love them and follow the spirit. I'd post my talk, but it's in Spanish. They showed a video about what not to do when visiting teaching. I wondered what everyone thought about the big American houses and luxury cars that nobody has here. Maybe they just figured that's how it always is in movies.

I feel My Savior's Love  by the Primary Choir 
The whole gang after District Conference
After District Conference 
Elders Arévalo & Miller after a successful harmonica gig, "I Love to see the Temple"

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Back down again

Monday we put our lives back into the hands of a Peruvian bus driver and headed down the mountain. We have sweet memories of Huaraz. After attending Zone Conference, a baptism and Stake Conference we learned what strong saints live here. They run their wards with little help from the missionaries.
After Zone Conference President Rios took everyone out for pollo a la brasa complete with Inca Kola and three kinds of dessert. Two of the sister missionaries told us about living in an isolated mountain pueblo where they helped with a fund raiser for a temple trip: they plucked chickens. One sister was brand new and giggled as she told us everywhere they go is uphill. I want my granddaughters to be like them. Go Hermanas!
Later on at the Baptism President Rios gave a talk where he seemed to personally address each person in the room, members and non alike. It felt like his comforting arms reached out and embraced everyone there, and he's only five feet tall:) I mentioned this to Sister Rios, and she pointed out that it was because the spirit was so strong.
Sunday at Stake Conference we listened to Elder Godoy from Lima, our area Seventy. He was full of stories. Once as he sat in the temple, another patron struck up a conversation. When he asked what his ward calling was, Elder Godoy replied he didn't have one.
"What, you don't have a calling and here you sit in the temple? You know the church doesn't run by itself. Everyone has to help. You march right in to see your bishop this Sunday and ask for a calling!"
Elder Godoy told him he didn't plan to attend this Sunday. What he didn't tell him was that he would be out of the country on assignment.
"What? When do you plan to attend?"
"Oh not for a few weeks. I'm busy."
"What? So you're inactive too? And yet you dare to attend the temple." After a stern chastisement and a promise to see his bishop as soon as possible, they parted ways. A month or so later, Elder Godoy had a speaking assignment in a certain stake conference. Seated in the front was that same brother from the temple. He didn't recognize Elder Godoy until he started to speak, then his jaw dropped open! Elder Godoy's moral of the story was, Don't rush to judge others:)
Elder Godoy told another story about a young man who went to his bishop week after week for counseling. After numerous visits without really applying the given counsel, the bishop hit on a method to bring home the fact that he continued to ignore his counsel. This time when the young man arrived he offered him a glass of chicha. As the bishop poured, the glass filled... and then overflowed. The young man said, Stop, what are you doing? The bishop replied, You come to me every week with your glass still full from the last session. I want you to take your glass full of counsel and use it all up solving your problems before you come to see me again.
Then Elder Godoy addressed us with, I hope all of you today come to me with empty glasses, having followed all the previously received counsel and ready to learn something new.

Mount Artesonraju, the inspiration for the famous Paramount Pictures Logo

Mount Artesonraju
Our bus waited its turn to go on this bridge. We wondered how it would ever fit. 
What pretty llamas....until one spit stinky green muck all over Elder Whitney's white shirt!

 Typical Incaica cuisine: cuy (roast guinea pig), llunca (soup with chicken and boiled wheat), panchamanca (chicken, beef, pork roasted in banana leaves) and chicha morada (fruity tasting drink made from dark purple corn) Pronouncing the names of each dish is as much fun as eating them! 

Atypical Inca chullo wearers

In Huaraz with Mount Huascárn 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Huaraz - 2 mile high city

Checking the map to Huaraz, the road looked like a series of lightening bolts. As the bus swayed over the edge on each turn, we kept telling ourselves that the driver knows exactly where his wheels are. At first we felt impatient that the bus only went 20 km/hour, but the more zig zags we climbed, the more grateful we felt. What a breath taking sight to finally  behold the city nestled in a bowl surrounded by Andean peaks.
That evening we strolled the streets searching for a pollo a la brasa recommended by our hotel hostess. Along the way we made the delightful acquaintance of Hermana Pilar, who recognized us by our missionary name tags. She escorted us right to the restaurant, however by then we were so taken by her friendliness and the charm of the city that we craved more typical food. She recommended La Colina for cuy (roasted guinea pig) and other traditional treats. Unfortunately La Colina is only open during the day. Then she mentioned her bother's restaurant,  Don Vito, named for her father. It was perfect. We sat upstairs with a bird's eye view of the fascinating street action. We feasted on  anticuchos de corazón, beef heart pieces grilled on a stick. Also for our enjoyment: grilled chicken & sausage, fried potatoes and chicha morada. The waiter brought us little toy dishes for salad bar, and that was delicious too. I almost committed a faux pas by frowning at the tiny salad plates. The waiter promptly offered us larger plates, but we recovered by insisting that no no, the doll plates were fine!
Inca harp

Huaraz: a city of many hats

Color cordinated with blue and purple

Black & beige, it goes with everything. 

Tipped to the side for that special flare

Hats are a must for selling choclo corn.

Just not fully dressed without the hat

With her hat on, she's ready for anything. 

Her hat is a perfect accessory.

View from our hotel

Can you  ever tire of looking at the Andes?

If I ever swat flies on chicken, stop me!

Thursday, September 17, 2015


For the Conferencia Chimbote we enjoyed the luxury of riding up with President and Sister Rios. What fun to meet with the Chimbote missionaries and see some of our "long lost sons." Here in Virú they have what's called "Casa Capillas," churches in little houses, but in Chimbote they have a "Templo Capilla." It's not a temple, but it sure looks one. After the conference, we did some sight seeing and wound up by the ocean eating ice cream. Hermana Rios, being such a kind hearted saint, bought an ice cream for a man out picking up trash. He thanked her, then crossed the street to share it with his daughter and her baby. Hermana bought them another ice cream. Just then a little boy joined them, a son. Hermana bought another ice cream. Then another child showed up, a little girl. Hermana bought another ice cream. As they all strolled away eating their ice cream, they waved good bye with big smiles on their faces.

El templo capilla: a church that looks like a temple 
Feliz Cumpliaños!
KFC feast! Notice Colonel Sanders on the Inca Kola cups.
Llama the llama.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Primary Activity

Saturday we boarded a compact mini van, 17 of us, what a squeeze. We headed down the highway from Nuevo Chao toward Chao, when wait, stop, we forgot Susan! Turn around, let's go get her. After a bit our tall eleven year old came strolling down the sandy road from her little house. She towers over everyone at about 5 feet. I don't know how, but we fit her in too. At the park in Chao we talked about the anniversary of the primary, played some games, I tried to teach them Ring around the Rosy, but they kept singing Aroz con Leche. They did get into rolling the Rs in Ring around the Rosy. We played some voleybol and futbol. The tire swing was a huge hit. We had juice and cookies then crowded back into the little van to go home. Successful outing!
Later on the kids met me at Puente for District Conference choir practice. This is for Saturday session and just primary children. They sang their hearts out and I took a video to show them Sunday. After practice there was a big Primary Fiesta, again celebrating the anniversary. I think it was a few years ago, but that's okay. We sang songs, and danced till everyone was exhausted. Then they brought out treats: cups of jello, chicha pudding, picante mashed potato balls on toothpicks, popcorn, candy, cake. They really know how to throw a fiesta!

Are we there yet? 
Treats at the Primary Anniversary Celebration 
Spencer dancing at the fiesta
Let's dance! 
Angels singing at choir practice
Treats at the top of the slide

Successful Primary Activity 
Cielo's turn in the tire swing
Where's Elder Whitney's hat?
Jeffrey's having fun! 
More dancing
King of the tire swing 
Dance, dance, dance!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Multi Zone Conference

Being around all these young missionaries makes us feel young. 
We have Hermanas...
...and Elders...
...and Feliz Cumpliaños...
...but not much Papa John's pizza left. And I was expecting beans & rice. 
Oh that Elder Pacheco bombing my photo, again?
These two moms are so proud of their "sons" and "daughters"!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Folklorico in the Plaza

This week the school kids have been practicing their dances in the plaza of Virú. We love watching the energy they put into leaping around in rythm to the flute music. Sometimes they caw and screech like condors. They've gradually added costumes like deer skins and bird wings with face masks of deer and falcons. I could picture my grandkids jumping in and dancing right along with them. One of our neighbors has a son dancing and invited us to come along to Huamacucho this weekend to watch them perform. Tempting, but we had to decline.
Links to Linda's videos of the dance practices: (Falcons in Virú) (Hunters and deer in Virú)
This week I craved molasses cookies for zone meeting. After searching a few days for molasses, you figure here in the middle of all these sugar fields we could find some, we found some chancaca in the market and melted it down to perfect molasses. We also grated in fresh ginger for the spice. When we were done, all I needed was an improvised cookie water bottle personalized and voila.
The choir struggles without our old harmonica player. The men just can't sing in the same key as Elder Miller's "C" harmonica. It is just too high. Last practice Elder Rivera started howling like a coyote during practice. I almost lost it and started was so close to the actual sound. Of course maybe Elder Rivera was just trying to sing along, who knows? In Trujillo this week we found a music store that sold us a G harmonica, and Elder Miller sounds better already. Can't wait for next practice.
I continue to learn from piano lessons. Some people just don't have the natural coordination in their fingers. At first I thought it was all motivation, but there's more. I was teaching a lady who seemed so motivated, but by the third lesson she still couldn't move her fingers over the scales. Even when her little granddaughter showed her how, she couldn't coordinate all her fingers. Wait a second, how could the granddaughter, Cielo, just whip those scales out without any practice? Maybe I should teach the granddaughter. Last night a young teenager, whose family was just baptized, asked me for piano lessons. She seems really smart, motivated and coordinated...perfect, but she just couldn't get her fingers around the keys. Finally she went off with her friends, but her cousin stayed with me and wanted to try. He played my whole page of scales! I told them both to meet me at the church next week for another lesson.
We visited Sister Alicia again and brought her some supplies including Enfamil and vitamins for Marco. Three of us got in the back of a moto taxi with our heavy load. It's always a struggle for me to trudge up the sand hill to her house, but it was too much for the moto taxi. We had to get out and walk, and fortunately our driver carried the heavy load. 
Challenge question: Elder Volquez, one of our new transfers, likes beisbol and speaks Spanish like Matthias. Why? 
Chinese food Peruvian style.....mmmmm
Quail eggs, a Peruvian treat!
I should get a hat like this. They're popular and add 10"to your height. 
Maria & Angie, accompanists for district conference
Mmmmm...ceviche & lomo saltado
Selfie after Primary with Lidia & Trinidad 
World's widest beach 
Asparagus fields forever
Cookie jar, on to zone meeting
Food, or favorite pastime?