"Being together is like catching a sunbeam; each new memory we make reflects light hinting there is more to see and know."

July 19, 2015

Week 22 ~ Men of Faith, Commitment and Testimony

This blog represents more of the a "typical" week for us and our mission.  Not every week do we have the opportunity to spend our p-day visiting the many interesting places in this marvelous country of Peru.  Most of the days this week were spent planning for our "in country" meeting with our Peru Central AAAs. We did spend Tuesday evening, along with other, missionary couples, at a wonderful cultural event full of dancing and singing to celebrate the Peruvian Independence day.  We had a marvelous training meeting with seven amazing brethren from Iquitos, Huancayo, and Lima.  This now completes our nearly four months of training in four countries, including North and Souith Peru.
We have been enriched by these 35 wonderful brothers who are serving so faithfully, mostly on there own.  They are talented and knowledgeable, many of which are former stake presidents, mission presidents, and even area 70's.  We now enter the midyear audit cycle and then will begin planning our area wide training in December.  We are so thankful for the experiences we have had the past 5 1/2 months and await the next 6 months with wonder and anticipation.  

July 13, 2015

Week 21 ~ And God said, "Let the Earth bring forth every living creature . . . and it was so."

Actually, this has been a very average week and nice to stay at home but, then again, I guess nothing is very average with our mission although we get accustomed to the events of each day. We interact daily with the leaders of the area, the Area Presidency and 16 Area Seventies for the South America Northwest Area. We have wonderful and dedicated men who serve as area auditors. Our immediate supervisor is the Area Controller and also part of our office is the Local Unit Finance manager dealing with all the tithing and fast offerings and disbursements in the South America Northwest Area.

Also as part of our daily encounters, we associate and share with mission presidents, the MTC president, and temple presidents. In fact, the temple president for the new Trujillo temple we are very close to as they were the area auditors before us. We were at the grocery store the other night having taken a bus to get there, and the mission president got in line behind us and gave us a ride home. Our mission president President Boswell, is from Bentonville, Arkansas and Tessa knows of them although they left for their mission before Tessa moved there. When I visited Tessa in November, we actually went to the Boswell’s home so I even know where they live. We received a new Lima Central mission president this week, President and Sister Larson from . . . Caldwell, Idaho! They know Joe’s sisters very well!

We enjoy being with the other senior couples who are serving here. The Murrays are from Walnut Creek, California and we know so many of the same people and places. Brother Bill Murray serves as a real estate lawyer and Sister Billie Murray is writing up the history of the Saints in Peru. We love the Clarks, Ron and Bonnie, who are also from Eagle, Idaho, and also know Joe’s sisters very well. Here we are in Lima, Peru and it is just an extension of home.

We celebrated Joe's birthday over the weekend with a party at the office and then more surprises for Joe at home, especially the weight set. He was so excited he immediately did a workout.

Joe and I went to the Parque de las Leyendas (Park of the Legends) which included the Lima Zoo. It was a beautiful day. We felt adventurous so we caught a bus right outside our apartment building and rode it all the way to the zoo, about an hour to downtown Lima. The park was very nice, not that there were a lot of animals but what they had was great. My favorites were the large variety of monkeys from the Amazon regions, some monkeys as small as a little kitten. They were so cute. They didn’t have the gorillas but many other varieties with funny faces, including the howling monkeys from Ecuador we heard but couldn’t see when we were there. Another highlight were the cats! They were beautiful, two white tigers, an orange tiger that really gave us a show, a pitch black panther, couger, leopards, and the most beautiful black jaguar we have ever seen, in addition to the beautiful traditional brown/gold jaguars. Wow. We also enjoyed the hippopotamus pool; they were so active and playful in the water. Of course, there were also amazing birds and other jungle animals. We really enjoyed our day there.

BUT, as part of the experience, the zoo is built around pre-Inca ruins, so we were able to see ruins that date before the Spanish conquest right in the middle of Lima. There were six huacas, ceremonial/burial centers. Since they were so close together, I just imagine they were families or tribes in each huaca but they all interacted together in trade, farming and hunting. Most of the huacas had restricted access by a main entrance with a walled perimeter. Because the climate here is so dry, these ruins survived even though they are made of handmade adobe bricks. There was a museum also that had artifacts found at these sites with explanations and models of the huacas. It was all quite a unique experience at the zoo.

It was nice to be at home for our weekend. There are many interesting places to see right here in Lima to visit on our days off. We hardly want to see a Saturday go by where we don't get out to explore the area around us. It is all so very unique.

July 1, 2015

WEEK 19 ~ Temple of the Mountain God vs.Temple of the Lord

Week 19 in the missionary lives of Elder and Sister Cheney began with preparations for our 6th country meeting.  We left Thursday early afternoon and flew up the coast to the second largest city in Peru, Trujillo, to meet with our AAAs. of northern Peru.  We were especially excited for this trip because we knew we would be able to see and experience the beautiful and newly dedicated Trujillo temple.    

We were so blessed to be able to attend the  temple.  It was absolutely stunning.  While in the celestial room, as I was sitting there waiting for Diane to enter, I was watching with silent interest, a scene unfold before me.  There were two Americans in the session with us.  They were both waiting for someone to come through the veil into the celestial room.  As I watched, several women began to slowly enter the room.  I didn’t realize at the time that the ones I was watching were sisters.  One was waiting for another and then when she entered they embraced and cried.  Then another and another and another entered the room and they all joined together in a tight circle hugging each other and weeping with obvious joy.  I just watched quietly, touched by their overwhelming happiness.  When it settled down and one of the American brothers was by himself, I approached him and asked him what the occasion was for so much joy and happy elation.  He told me the women were all sisters (5) and it was the first time they had all been together in over 40 years. He and the other man were married to two of the sisters and had come down to be with them in the temple and witness their wives and their sisters be sealed to their parents who had long since passed on.  I was touched and felt that this indeed was a heavenly scene that would be carried out many times in the spirit world as dear souls leave this world and enter another to join with their loved ones once again. 

Saturday was a special day for training.  All the brother AAAs were in attendance.  In fact Diane and I walked the short two blocks to the institute building from the hotel, arriving 10 minutes early and all of them were there waiting for us.  We were amazed.  It was a wonderful meeting to be with these dear brothers, Enrique Montoya (Trujillo), Oswaldo Mendoza (Trujillo), Jose Montalvan (Chiclayo), and Roberto Merrino (Piura).  We loved being with them and were able to get to know them and learn of their families and children and their employment and Church experience.  This is the best part of our mission, to be with and learn and love these dear brothers.  Each time we meet with another group of men it is the same.  Diane bore her testimony.  I was especially proud of her.  She is just getting better and better and more and more confident with her Spanish.  Her sweet words brought the spirit into the room and it remained for the entire meeting.   I introduced both of us and  spoke of our beloved spouses who had passed on  and of how we came to be where we are now.  I always love telling the story and it always brings a tender spirit into my heart.  We had a wonderful training being together all day. We ate together, took pictures, embraced and said farewells. We left with our hearts full of love for these good good men.  

Trujillo Cathedral next to our hotel at Plaza de Armas

Below are the excavations of the temples of the sun and moon built 1500 years ago. The temples are made with tens of thousands of mud bricks that didn't hold up under the elements of time, but the ruins are pretty amazing. These kinds of experiences are what we really enjoy seeing, Peru's past, certainly more than we're used to seeing in America.

I walked around the Plaza de Armas, took some pictures and then was waiting for Joe to finish up with his meetings. As I was sitting on a bench, a taxi pulled up and a young man got out and came up to me. He said he had seen my name tag and wanted to talk more, asked a few questions and was willing to give me his name, Franco, and number for the missionaries to contact. He spoke English very well but I just wanted Joe to be there.

The other young man we spoke with was our waiter at the restaurant in our hotel.  His name is Jackson.   At the time we were the only ones in the restaurant.  As he waited our table he took a moment and began asking us questions.  He wanted to know why we did what we did.  I explained a who we were and why we were on a mission.  I spoke of the temple to him and its purpose.  He knew about the temple being built and was very impressed with its beauty.  He has an 8 yr. old and his common law wife is ready to have a baby.  I gave him a pass along card and asked him if the missionaries could come by.  He agreed very humbly.   Now we have some follow-up we must do.  

The temple being built in Trujillo has had enormous and profound impact on this area.  When we checked out of the hotel Sunday morning, the receptionist told me how much she loved “our new building”.  She had gone to the open house (Las Puertas Abiertas).  She was so impressed.  She told me that now she is just waiting for the temple in Arequipa to have an open house in three years so she can go.  I didn’t have time to tell her she did not have to wait three years to go into the temple again.  These dear people are truly ready and waiting for the gospel.  We just have to open our mouths and share our testimonies. The new temple will be such a blessing for Trujillo.

We have two missionary couples leaving for home this week and they will be missed, Val and Julene Kendall and Greg and VevaSue Bart. Val and Julene were working with the ESL for the Latin missionaries, encouraging them to learn English as part of their missionary experience. Speaking English will provide more opportunities for success after their mission. Julene has worked with mission presidents, conducted surveys and sent monthly newsletters, and Val is a graphics artist and has created posters and flyers. Greg Bart is a doctor and provides health services for the missionaries throughout the area. VevaSue is his support companion, a down-to-earth American country girl.  Each of them served for 18 months and now we think, we have 18 months to go.

What a week we've had.  Now our travel is finished for a season.  We have one more meeting with our AAAs from central Lima on July 18th.  Our experiences throughout the Area have been incredible and life changing and we are happy we can share with you.