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.