Sunday, September 18, 2016

Adventures in Choir

President Blas declared 6:00 pm Sundays as choir practice time when no other meetings are to be scheduled. He really wants a choir that sings in parts, and he wants it for District Conference and Christmas. He even found us a singing teacher, Marleni, who has us doing breathing exercises and scales to improve our voices. Marleni's first step was to have us all audition for parts by singing solo in front of everyone. Do, re, mi in the spotlight... yes we were all self conscious, but it was enlightening to see people's difficulties in hitting the right notes. With a little guidance, most actually sang on key! Marleni has an amazing voice combined with audience appeal. She plays guitar and sings solo as well as in a group. She has a talent for singing straight from the heart. Imagine my surprise when she set down the music and started making up the parts as she taught them! The choir members were thrilled to have harmony, but I have conspired with the piano player, Elder Hart, to teach parts from the written music this week. Why do I feel so mischievous? Maybe we'll reach a compromise. Stay tuned to see what happens :)
In other news, Ken's suit was baptized in Inca Kola. After a visit to the dry cleaners it looks changed somehow; some of the chalk stripes are erased, but at least it's not sticky.
We took the Pulido family back to the temple. After we all went out for Chinese food. Peruvian Chifa has a style all its own with crispy wontons, thick noodley soup, and sweet n sour pineapple, peaches and tamarindo. We do enjoy it.
I made pizza at a Chao relief society activity for investigators. They mostly made it themselves since Flor and Katy had done it before. We also made leche asada, aka flan or crème brûlée. Imagine 6 cans of milk, 18 eggs, a half gallon of water, sugar and vanilla all beaten together and poured into glasses to bake in a water bath. In the end, it was deliciously worth it. Bon appetit! Provecho!

Brave basses and tenacious tenors

Maité takes a group shot at the Chifa restaurant.

Lizeth says, "It's the champagne of Peru!"

Making mega pizza with Flor and Katy

Vivi had no idea what her shirt meant when it said, "Free Kisses."

With President Risco beating eggs, who needs a mixer for this delightful leche asada!

They know exactly what they're doing.

Flor's oven is awesomely huge, but sometimes explosively cranky about temperature & gas regulation.

It's another grandiosa!

Elders Ortiz & Harper approve.

Elders Rokovitz & Portillo happily agree.

Elder Riddle is as happy as a monkey in a monkey tree.

One more monkey swinging in the tree...

Another fine group says good-bye.

Welcome new missionaries with Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa.

Happy Birthday to Elders Greer and Hernandez in the new Zona Virú!

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Carlos and Tania invited us up to their chakra/farmland for the day. We took a combi east from Virú into the foothills of the Andes where the air is fresh and clean, except for a brush fire that burnt itself out. We walked from the Plaza de Armas in Huacapongo to the bridge at Susanga where Carlos met us on his moto with their kids Andre and Ckeyci (pronounced KC). While the kids showed me the little fishes in the river, Tania arrived, so we all strolled up the hill. On our way we passed a cow that was giving birth, and we watched the new calf stand up and take its first steps. We passed more cows and burros, chickens, goats, ducks and turkeys, fields of corn, cane and fruit trees and finally their chakra. We sat down on some rocks by a tiny stream and ate warm tamales and sandwiches of fried bologna and canned shoestring potatoes. Tania calls them hamburgers. They have fields of small fruit trees: avocado, papaya and guava. The papayas should start producing in a few months and the avocados in a couple of years. Meanwhile Carlos has to come up to water the trees almost every day. Doesn't that stir up nostalgia of watering trees at the cabin? We strolled up another kilometer or so to see the well and planted a few more trees. I don't know what they're called, but they grow really big and have white flowers that turn into giant bean pods with large black seeds encased in sweet white cotton candy... one of the many perks of living in the tropics of Peru. We inspected the well, enjoyed strolling the grounds, met some interesting people, and watched Carlos work on his broken down combi. We also shared stories about tremblors, small earthquakes. We've felt a few lately, and the one this morning at 5:00 am came with a low rumbling similar to the sound of a spouse snoring, I won't say which spouse. Carlos remembered once when he jumped out of bed at what he thought was a tremblor, but it turned out to be Tania laughing. I guess when you live in an earthquake culture, you learn to laugh about it. Meanwhile Andre showed me how to use his slingshot and demonstrated on every target possible. He could certainly stand up to Goliath! Finally Carlos's brother Henry drove up to take us all home in his combi, complete with cold Inca Kola that we juggled and splashed along the bumpy road. We said goodbye with promises of cookies and pizza.

This is what happens when your burning gets out of control. 

Strolling to the chakra

After lunch this little girl Linsy came over, but she kept a cautious distance from us. 

Ckeyci and Tania take in the view. 

Carlos, ever the gracious host

Carlos guides Ckeyci over to look down the well. 

It must be pretty scary...I never did look. 

Ken calls that a deep subject. 

Tania seems a bit nervous.

Andre considers swinging out over the well. 

He decided to climb up some rocks instead. They asked me if our grandkids like to climb rocks too!

Linsy finally warmed up to us when her dog kissed me. She giggled like it was the funniest thing she'd ever seen!

Making pizza has become part of our job description. 

After teaching our regular lessons, it's fun to teach pizza lessons. Rosalia makes the sauce while Maité works the dough. 

Lizeth spreads out the sauce.

Maité adds the cheese, and she loves that mozzerella!

Rosalia makes the pineapple and ham pizza.

 Elder Whitney slices pepperoni.

And we all made brownies for dessert.

Isn't she a cutie!

And finally, Zona Virú with Elder Montoya

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Elder Montoya, Pulido family's temple sealing, Combis, and more

We thought we'd take a moment to describe the Chao combi experience, the one we ride every time we go to Chao. It's not that far on the map, maybe 15 miles, but the trip takes an hour in a customized Peruvian van. The van has a driver and a cobrador who calls out, "A Chao a Chao a Chao a Chao," as if he's trying to talk people into making the trip with him. We sometimes think that even though we might not intend to go to Chao, he might just talk us into it...not. The driver plays his horn like an instrument all the way there, "Chirp chirp, tweet tweet, wolf whistle, siren," over and over again. It's likely that their horns are connected to both the gas and brake pedals so they automatically sound whenever either pedal is pressed. As we make our way down the main street in Virú to the Pan American Highway, the intersection before the last block has recently been upgraded with a traffic light or semaforo. The traffic only stops in our direction because the arrows indicate a one-way street from that point on. Oncoming traffic, however, goes straight through without stopping. Wait, did i say "Oncoming traffic" on a one-way street? They don't enforce the one-way traffic, only the one-way traffic light. We turn left at the Pan American Highway and the combi makes its way through Virú Puente, San José, Valle de Dios, Nuevo Chao and finally arrives at Chao. Along the way the cobrador announces some interesting stops: mercado, semaforo, segundo semaforo, Etna (at the Etna billboard), llantas  (a pile of 3 tires), botica (a store), llantas (a pile of 5 tires), kilometro  (like a mile marker...there's lots of those), cruces (crossroad, also lots), escuela (school), molina (mill), banco (bank), Camposol, Danper (Ag companies), Entrada (entering Valle de Dios), Ramada Rosa (restaurant), paradero (bus stop), cemetario, cemento (not a cement plant,  just a big chunk of cement), and finally we arrive. 
Last week or maybe the week before, we had a visit from Elder and Sister Montoya from the Northwest Regional Presidency. We attended several inspirational meetings and two private lunches together with President and Sister Rios. Elder Montoya often mentioned the subject of his October, 2015 conference talk, "Tested and Tempted, but helped." He also mentioned that he sometimes moves people around within the area.  What a delightful visit! 
Tuesday was a national holiday, so the Manuel Pulido family took advantage of the time to be sealed in the Trujillo temple. We remember their baptism shortly after we arrived in Virú. They impressed us back then and have continued to grow ever since. This past month we taught them the temple lessons, so what a joy to finally see them sealed. They celebrated the event like a wedding inviting friends and family from near and far and holding a reception in the evening. The whole day was festive, plus an opportunity for the Pulidos to introduce the Gospel to their numerous extended family members. 

A Chao,  a Chao, a Chao, a Chao!  Wait, does that say,  Mathias?

On the road to Chao we see all kinds of strange sights. This group is on a pilgrimage from Lima to Trujillo and back to ask for some sort of miracle healing.

We're checking in to the temple albergue where we sometimes rent a hotel room on the temple grounds. 

Harley and Casey were in the winning dance group and are going to Trujillo for the advanced folkloric dance competion. Notice their condor wings and masks. 

With Sister Montoya...she doesn't collect nativity scenes. 

We're making pizza. 

Ready to's a grandisimo!

Madyson wishes she could eat pizza. 

Happy birthday, Elder Cruz!

These cookies just wouldn't bake...turns out we were out of gas. 

A thriving crop of cuys/guinea pigs...they broke out of their pen in pursuit of more food. 

Fun evenings teaching temple lessons to Maité & fam. 

Also Lizeth

Waiting at the temple comador/cafeteria 


The Pulido family is forever! 

A moment worth celebrating!

Later that same day...

Cool shoes!