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

November 30, 2015

Week 40 ~ A Thankful Heart

Happy Thanksgiving

We are so thankful for what we have but more importantly what we have had in our lives, for such good and dedicated parents, for our knowledge and sure foundation received in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for our safety and health all these years, for our freedom and privileges living in America, for our dear friends from around the world who have inspired, lifted and loved us through the years. We are so grateful for the background we have that has given us what we enjoy today.  We only hope we can somehow give back to others who cross our path, to share our testimony of Jesus Christ, to give hope where there is despair and put smiles on the faces of those around us.

Following is what Elder Hansen shared at our Thanksgiving dinner. Helps us put things in perspective:

Received on 10 Nov 2015 from Dale Mouritsen

This sister missionary, Joslyn Bunderson, is serving in the Brazil Vitoria Mission.  She is the granddaughter of dear friend, Dale Mouritsen, in Sunnyvale, CA.  We love this true missionary, having never met her.

"Soon I will have to go wash my clothes by hand, with a washboard and soap.  And hang them to dry.  I will take a cold shower tomorrow morning, which I will be grateful for because I will have sweated all night. I'll brush the ants off of my table and eat some bananas and study the Scriptures and some Portuguese in the hopes that I will understand all the people and they will understand me.  Then I'll go into Sao Gabriel with my companion, praying and searching for the Lord's elect and loving the people I get to meet.  I am so blessed!!"

I sent the email to our children.  Later that same day our son, Clay, who served in Sao Paulo South (which is about 700 km southwest of Vitoria) a few years back, responded.

"And if she's really lucky, she'll be sleeping with fleas. It was so awesome being a missionary. Cold showers, washing clothes by hand, bananas and papayas and mangoes and avocados, fleas, big cockroaches, stray dogs, people throwing rocks at us and spitting on us, the magical moment when I understood what people were saying and heard myself speaking coherently in Portugues, dreaming in Portuguese, loving complete strangers, baptizing dozens of people in a river in the jungle, seeing people change their lives and be healed of addictions, just to mention some of the great experiences I had in Brazil," and we would add, in Bolivia, Venezuela, panhandle of Florida, England, Hawaii, Argentina and to mingle with people from all over the world at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

We love the people and the work and love being a missionary here in Peru minus the fleas and cockroaches.

November 22, 2015

Week 39 ~ Beautiful Weekend in Cusco

We had a very fast and unexpected trip to Cusco to help complete the outstanding audits. Although we were not there as typical tourists, we enjoyed the sights, sounds, smells, food, shops and cultural experience of this lovely city. Cusco is so clean with a mixture of the old . . . very old, and new. Everywhere in the old city is found the Inca walls of 1500 years ago, mixed with the Spanish colonial built around the original city, cobblestone streets and traditional Quechua Peruvians in their native costumes mingling with the modern generation and tourists. We had a little trouble adjusting to the altitude of about 10,000 feet, mostly light-headed and mild headache.

Some time was spent in the main Plaza de Armas and it was fun to just watch the people and the children. Since it was Saturday, the children and families were enjoying the beautiful weather and blue skies. The older Peruvian (Quechua) women don't like to have their pictures taken but the children love to pose.

The one thing we did was take a tour of Qurikancha. It was a little disappointing as most of it was Spanish colonial but some significant parts of the old Inca Sun temple have been uncovered after major earthquakes. The major earthquakes severely damaged the church, but the Inca stone walls, built out of huge, tightly-interlocking blocks of stone, still stand due to their sophisticated stone masonry. After the last major earthquake, I think it was 1995, the original Inca temple was again visible and is now a major attraction for tourists in Cusco.
 The Inca Sun Temple
(now the Church of Santo Domingo)

Saturday was spent with these two great men, Victor Condori who lives in Cusco and Hamilton Yupanqui who lives in Puno and took a bus 8 hours to arrive in time for our meeting Saturday.  We accomplished a lot and felt good about the training that took place.  It was a very important meeting to have and now we feel that things are back on track in the Cusco Coordinating Council.  Afterwards we ate lunch at a delightful Peruvian restaurant, Camino Real. We found the Peruvian food excellent.  The weekend was both busy and culturally fascinating.  Diane and I want to come back and spend more time here.  

We stayed at this hotel, Casa Andina. It was filled with antique furniture from the colonial period and some ceramics and stone pieces from the Inca. I asked about the beautiful antique tables shown here. There were about 7 of them along the corridor with chairs where people would sit and put their drinks on the table. Oh my gosh! These are at least 500-1000 years old and didn't even have glass on top. I asked if they were available to buy and the lady said, "Oh no, these are antiques and special to our heritage. We cannot sell them." You would think they would take better care since the inlaid wood was coming lose and there were some water marks from glasses set on the tables. Weird but these tables were beautiful in their antique state with the inlaid pictures depicting Peruvian colonial life.

November 15, 2015

WEEK 38 ~ The Bigger Picture from Above

This is a continuation of our weekend last week. After our day to the Ballestas Islands and playing on the sand dunes, we had another two hour drive east to Nazca. We drove through some charming little towns and enjoyed the real cultural experience of Peru. We arrived late at Hotel Alegria but at least the Cheneys had a late night swim which was perfect.

After viewing the Nazca Lines, we loaded up in the van again and rode for about an hour or so across the desert on a very rough dirt road to some ruins of the Nazca people, called Cahuachi, that have been nicely excavated. The Nazca were pre-Inca people living in the area about 100 BC to 500 AD. The structures that are currently excavated at Cahuachi were more for religious purposes vs. a functioning town where people lived, but there are another 30 mounds not excavated yet that will prove to be the rest of the city. My daughter asked me if the Peru ruins all start looking the same. Yes, pretty much. These temples are located pretty close to the Nazca Lines so it is thought the people from Cahuachi were also connected to the Nazca lines. It is all still quite a mystery. Maybe in the next life we’ll see the historical picture of how it all fit together. 

We continued on to a wonderful resort to have lunch. I think we were the only ones there at the time but it was a magnificent place with huge manicured gardens and lawns with a very large pool. We enjoyed the llamas and alpacas that roamed about the property, the two ostriches with their three eggs, the totally tame deer and the monkey. The monkey was naughty the day before as he had gotten into a bucket of purple paint. His arms and feet were purple as was the window sill and frame. The resort was so large to accommodate huge crowds we felt a little weird rattling around the huge facility with just the 8 of us. 

Very close to the resort were the Nazca aqueducts called puquios about 1500 years old. These were amazing as we saw how the underground stream was found and 36 spiral puquios were excavated. They were lined with large river rock where the people could walk down to the water and they were close enough together so they could be cleaned out periodically and to restore the canal in case of earthquake. These puquios extend clear to the mountains several miles away and most are still in use today to bring water to the desert. Amazing engineering!

We are currently in Cusco for several church audits and training. Last week in Nazca; this week in Cusco. We have had so many problems here in the Cusco Coordinating Council because the Assistant Area Auditor assigned to this region became very sick with cancer and didn't even tell anyone. He passed away last July. It took about six weeks to have another brother called to the position and because of the time lapse between the two AAA's, the work basically stopped. There is so much distance to cover between units, it's very difficult to get back on track, eight hours in one direction and five hours in another. BUT we are trying, teaching, training, talking, testifying, traveling and trucking along to get the work done. 

Today we attended church in a large ward and, quite by accident, we met the son of our AAA who had passed away. We had a nice visit and offered our condolences. Dave Adams from the area office joined us today as we attended in an area where he served as a missionary. He said it had grown so much. He actually talked with the lady whose house he stayed in as a missionary. She was sure surprised to see him. There are several large chapels here in Cusco and the people are so wonderful. I spent a few minutes in the Primary of about 35 beautiful children and loved to hear them sing the Primary songs in Spanish. Although we are not here as tourists, we did walk many blocks and got a feel for the city. We will report on the work undertaken and accomplished next week in this beautiful city.

November 8, 2015

Week 37 ~ Been There, Dune That

We spent the weekend with two other couples, the Bluths and the Merrills traveling south of Lima with our guide and driver, Eduardo and Jorge.  Our first stop was in Paracas and a boat trip out to the Ballestas Islands.  We spent some time in this delightful port city before we boarded a 30 person launch.  We were able to take in the sights, smells, and sounds of the fishing crews and their very old and "full of character" fishing boats.

The Ballestas Islands are sometimes called "little or poor man's Galapagos".  The ride took us about 1 1/2 hours out into the ocean.  On the way we passed by an Island with the ancient three-pronged Candelabra geoglyph, a giant figure etched into the sandy hills, which is over 150m high and 50m wide. No one knows exactly who made the geoglyph, or when, or what it signifies, but theories abound. Some connect it to the Nazca Lines, while others propound that it served as a navigational guide for ancient sailors and was based on the constellation of the Southern Cross. Some even believe it to have been inspired by a local cactus species with hallucinogenic properties.  The other islands provided amazing sights and sounds of sea life (sea lions, penguins, and thousands and thousands of several species of birds.  We were very enriched and invigorated by the experience.

Ballestas Islands

Our travel buddies, Rob and Mary Merrill, Diane and Joeus, Kelly and Robert Bluth.  

After eating lunch, off we went again. About 2 hours later and inland in one of the driest areas of the world, we arrived at the Ica sand dunes where we boarded a dune buggy and raced out into the mountains of sand dunes.  Diane and I sat in the front seat. We were a bit nervous at first as the driver drove like Mad Max, around, over, and nearly under the massive dunes.  Several time we thought, "well here is where we leave this mortal life" as we thought it would be the first time we would roll in a dune buggy.  We flew up and around the crest of a dune and then over the lip of another.  We were thrilled and survived but Kelly Bluth wasn't as impressed.  She was such a good sport and rode it out to the bitter end.  Then out came the sand boards (improvised from snow boards) and off we went speeding down the sand dune mountains.  What a thrill for these "old" but young at heart seniors.  

Our mission is such a diverse and cultural experience we will treasure the rest of our lives. We work hard in the office, especially now as we prepare for the annual meeting to include all the Assistant Area Auditors from all five countries (35 in all). A new member of the area presidency has been called, Elder Hugo Montoya. He is from Mexico but currently serving in Salt Lake. There is a problem getting the VISA cleared and will not be here in the office until the middle of December, just missing our annual meeting. Joe has been having a video conference with Elder Montoya nearly every day this last week since we will work directly with him.

We have been serving in the La Molina area for nine months and we were introduced to a new store called Macro. Oh my goodness, it is almost identical to Costco minus the variety of American items. The prices were cheaper and there were bigger quantities, more cheese and frozen food. It was easy to get frustrated because we have such a tiny freezer. We sure had fun looking at the warehouse full of food, personal care supplies and kitchen gadgets.

I stenciled this fun pattern on the white wall to highlight the pretty arch in the room. Putting our stamp on this place to make it feel more like home.

November 2, 2015

Week 36 ~ Halloween in Peru

It seemed appropriate to visit this national cemetery in October for Halloween. Finished in 1807, it has such beautiful mausoleums, statues and markers honoring those who died in defense of the country. It houses the remains of several important political, military and literary figures. Most prominent of all the mausoleums is the Panteón de los Próceres where war heroes are buried shown here with the marching guards.

I was so excited to see pumpkins in the store even though it is spring here. I bought three pumpkins, baked them, scooped 'em out, pureed the pulp and put the pumpkin in the freezer for pies and desserts in the weeks to come. Here's the finished bags of pumpkin in my tiny freezer! And strawberries, soup, beans and other vegetables.

While in Nazca Saturday night for Halloween, we walked towards the town plaza. It got more and more crowded and more and more noisy. The children were out by the dozens all dressed in Halloween costumes, going about from store to store chanting “Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!” as the store clerks dropped candy in their buckets. It was a scene I’m glad to have experienced.