We were at Jocky Plaza at Saga Fallabella’s, a store similar to Penney’s. It is four floors so Joe was on one floor buying a couple of shirts and I had gone up one level to look for his socks. I was in the process of choosing when a woman employee came up to me and started talking to me . . . in Spanish. She had noticed my name tag and was asking questions and explaining something to me but I couldn’t keep up. I started to get pretty frustrated because she just kept talking like I could understand. I was so relieved when Joe showed up and took over the conversation.
She had been sick, looking for answers and was looking for a church to go to. Her name is Milagra and Joe gave her a pass-along card and invited her to church. We don’t know where she lives but we hope she will look up a church or call the mission home number on the card. It was a miracle Joe showed up to talk to her when he did because there was a long line downstairs to pay for his shirts but, while he was standing in line, an employee came up to him and told him she would help him at another register. It only took a few minutes what would have been 10-15! The Lord takes care of the small details in our life, especially when we are on his errand! Again, our taxi driver going home was very interested, as well, and Joe gave him a pass-along card. We just pray we say the right things so the Spirit can testify to them.
The work in the office is going well. I am learning more and more every day. I have access to some pretty amazing and confidential sites on the church website. My eyes have really been opened. I study Spanish about an hour every day at my desk, as well as answer emails. They come in Spanish, I translate, ask my mentor how she would respond, and then write a reply in Spanish. I do a lot of expense approval which doesn’t need any Spanish at all, and I created quite a complicated Excel form. I had to learn how to use Excel because it's been so long and I couldn’t remember anything. The days go by fast.
It is summer here so there are lots of fruits available and they are so good. In the picture, can you name the different fruits shown? The bananas go bad here really quick, probably because they are so fresh, so I made some awesome banana pancakes and banana muffins last week. Yesterday, our outing for the day was to walk to the fruit store. We bought one of every kind of fruit so we could try them all since we had not seen many of them. That was weird! The little red (plums) were all seed but tasted good what little meat there was. The mango and papaya were great. The prickly pear was a total disappointment because it was so full of seeds. I guess the people strain it to get the pulp to use in recipes. I have no idea. And then the biggest laugh for us was the passion fruit, the pretty peach-colored fruit the size of a baseball with a hard outer layer. I cut it in half and scooped out the seeds that were really slimy. All that was left was a thin layer of gristle and the hard shell. We just through it out and found out later that it was passion fruit and the slimy substance around the seeds is the heart of the fruit that they make juice from. That was the first thing I scooped out into the sink!
Last Wednesday we were at Jocky Plaza, the big mall downtown. We bought a sofa table to put against the wall, and I actually found a silk fichus tree that was priced reasonable. The table was delivered, but Joe was a good sport to carry the 5’ tree all over that huge mall, in and out of stores, for the next hour or so. Then we bought two area rugs I had to carry and then catch a taxi home! The apartment is feeling like home. I've included some updated pictures.
The security at our apartment is really good. There is a gate that cars have to go through that is opened by a guard who sits at the gate. Then there is another gate to our six apartments that we have a key to. Even our door has a double bolt. The security at the church office building is very tight, as well. It takes us about 5 minutes to walk to the office and then we go through a security check point that is a little house we pass through to get to the inside property. It is opened from the inside when they see who we are. We enter the building through the big double doors but to get past the reception area we need our key card to open the inside door to the offices. The food here is pretty expensive and there’s not much in the way of familiar items. We learned about the lunch room downstairs in our building so we’ve been going there. You can by a pretty extensive hot meal for S/. 7 (7 soles) which is about $2.25. I still take a few things from home for lunch but Joe has been buying lunch there and then we eat a very light dinner, a salad or sandwich. We go out to dinner about three times a week because it is so good and not very expensive. Joe had prime rib tonight with potatoes and it was only about $13. My dinner was $10. When we buy food at the grocery store, we can hardly get out with less than $50 for a few staple items.
Monday we had a Family Home Evening group for all the senior missionaries, about 32 in all. It was held at the temple cafeteria so we learned we can eat there after work and before a session. We had a barbeque and everyone brought a potluck to share so there was plenty of food. We even played games!! We did the hula hoop, suck the marshmallow to another cup relay, and stack and collapse cups. We have met some wonderful friends here which mix up our work, home and play.
Oh, we found a nice place to walk/jog just a few blocks from our house. It is a green belt down the middle of a very busy thoroughfare at 7:00 in the morning. It’s almost park-like with a big fountain and sculptures made in the grass with cement and bricks, etc. like a turtle, snake, ant, ladybug, butterfly and alligator. Can you see the animals? Along the path are groups of workout equipment which is a nice alternative. It’s about a mile long path so it’s a good little run down and back a few times with cars and buses passing by.
Last night we attended a baptism that turned out to be quite a sweet deal. While we were out in the morning, I wanted to get some fresh flowers for our apartment. They have beautiful flowers for little expense. While I was looking at the different arrangements, I just got a strong impression to get flowers for the baptism and to give them to the Jessica whose two good looking sons were being baptized, one 21 and one 16. The floral store only had arrangements in red and yellow so I asked if she would make up the same arrangement in white with a little pink. She said she would and since it is right around the corner from our home, Joe picked it up an hour later. It was beautiful and only cost S/.70 ($23) with white lilies, white roses and white starbursts.
The baptism was 5:00pm at our building. We walked over with the Acosta's but when we got there, we learned from a Brother who came to the church especially to notify anyone who was there that it was moved to another building about 15 minutes away as part of a stake baptism. Bless him for taking time to come by! We hustled to find a cab and the first one that came along knew exactly where the LDS building was! Wow. After winding through many neighborhoods around and about, we got to the ward house 15 minutes late but they hadn’t started yet. I had time to meet with Sister Jessica and her family to tell her the flowers were especially for her and then we placed them in front on the podium. I felt so happy I had listened to the spirit because the chapel was full with 9 baptisms and the flowers added such a beautiful touch. We were a little worried that certainly there would be no passing taxi in that neighborhood to take us home but a good brother from our ward who works at the American Embassy was there with his big Honda Pilot. His family was not with him so he had room to take us and the Acosta's
There is apparently only one sister in Relief Society who plays the piano. She is a senior missionary and will be going home in July. Today she was filling in with the Primary so someone had heard that I played. They asked me to fill in . . . right now. Oh my goodness. I played a little prelude and said a sincere prayer. Our song was Dad's favorite, How Great Thou Art, and I played it almost flawless and wasn't even nervous. It was a tender mercy and answer to prayer. Maybe I can be of some service to play. There is a piano at the office so I will try to practice a few times a week. One observation I had today was that all the young boys wear suits, whether or not they are passing the Sacrament. During the Sacrament, they look so good! We live in a very nice and affluent part of Lima so I'm sure it's not like this on the other side of the city.