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

January 24, 2016

Week 48 ~ We Found Gold Here

We had stake conference today. It was really good and the large chapel was packed including the stage. The Peruvians are beautiful people. Diane doesn't understand much of what they say and she feels uncomfortable just smiling and saying “Gracias” and wants to just go home.  Joe likes to visit with everyone. He loves that interaction and would stay until there was no one else to talk to. Joe explained that especially the women love to see Diane and give her a hug, actually it’s always a kiss on the cheek, because she is an American and a missionary. Trying to be more patient even though she doesn’t know who they are or what they’re saying.

We enjoyed a day out yesterday with Jerry and Jeri Prince from Canada. They are a great couple we enjoy being with and it was sure nice to get to know each other a little better, our background, work and families. We went to the Gold Museum of Lima not very far from our apartments. We spent three hours looking at all the fascinating collections. There were two floors of the private collection of Miguel Mujica Gallo, a dedicated Peruvian who spent most of his time and fortune collecting items of Peruvian history and world weapons.

The first floor was the Museum of World Weapons. Very impressive with huge quantities of ornate knives, guns, medieval armor, shields, helmets and battle axes, cemeters, clubs and swords. Amazing. There was a room strictly devoted to Japanese weapons and Samurai warrior armor that was great.

The basement was dedicated to Peruvian history and the different cultures through the centuries. It was here that we saw the metal craftsmanship of the people in silver, copper and a lot of gold jewelry, head dresses, earrings, and funeral masks. Most all the artifacts were found in the graves so it is assumed the items were not used for every day but were made specifically for the burial of a high ranking individual. We saw some wonderfully preserved pieces of pottery, along with two fancy litters to carry an important person, a perfectly preserved mummy of a woman complete with hair and fingernails, and woven tapestries. No pictures were allowed but I managed to get a few. Joe was sure I would be reprimanded since there were cameras and security guards everywhere.

This is our wall at the office with pictures of our children and all the grandchildren. It is quite the conversation piece with those that come by to talk, especially our local workers who are fascinated by the blond American families.

January 17, 2016

Week 47 ~ Missionary Service

Not much unusual or exciting this week to report....except our "exciting" and interesting couples we associate with on a daily basis.  We decided it would be a good time on a slow week to introduce you to these wonderful friends and fellow missionaries. They have added so much to our mission just being our friends and such wonderful examples of dedication and service.

Manny and Lydia Acosta from Salem, Utah. Elder Acosta serves as assistant to the president and Sister Acosta helps with the missionary applications from the area and translating before sending them on to Salt Lake. She usually has an interesting story to tell about these valiant young people. The Acosta's have served four missions.

Bill and Billie Murray from Bountiful, Utah. Elder Murray serves as a real estate lawyer and deals with all building transactions in the area. He just told us a few days ago that Arequipa temple site has just received clearance for building as the agriculture zoning was finally changed to building and development. Now the permits can be obtained and building started for southern Peru. Sister Murray teaches an institute class and also works on the historical timeline for the South America Northwest area with relation to church growth and area politics and growth. Elder Murray serves as Branch President of the MTC branch and always shares wonderful stories from the new missionaries. The Murrays know Joe's brother Tom very well as they lived in Walnut Creek at the same time.

Rob and Mary Merrill are from Winache, WA and they both work Humanitarian. They are very involved with eyeglasses, wheelchairs, improved water, new baby care and food production in many remote and jungle areas of Peru. In fact, just Friday a family came in the office about 4:45 from Ica (about 4 hours away) wanting a wheelchair for their son. They didn't have any paperwork from their Bishop and we don't have them in the office, of course. They need to go through our partner who serves more groups than just our church. The family wanted to take the wheelchair right out of the lobby! It was sad to have to send them away where a phone call would have saved them the hassle. Rob is a retired dentist.

Robert and Kelly Bluth are from Medford, Oregon. They also serve in the legal department. Elder Bluth is a lawyer and helps with legal matters while Sister Bluth teaches an institute class. They have eight children so she spends a lot of time keeping up with internet and facebook, pictures and birthdays.

Steven and Janna Rogers are from Lehi, Utah and serve full time in the temple. We see them on Sunday in our ward and at many of the missionary activities but don't see them every day at the office so don't know much about them.

Steven and Linda Record from Santa Barbara, Califonria. Elder Record serves as an assistant to the area presidency. Sister Record also serves in the presidency office helping with missionary applications and other office work. This is their second mission.

José and Monica Gonzalez are from Pereira, Colombia. They have served as President of the MTC next to our area office. Sister Gonzalez figures she has seen over 2000 missionaries enter and leave the MTC during the last two years. They have been released and will leave here Tuesday for their son's wedding in Provo. Another son is the bishop in my daughter's ward in Arkansas. Joe has been playing ping pong with President Gonzalez and gets quite a workout!

Jerry and Geri Prince are our youngest and newest missionary couple from Alberta, Canada. They bring a sweet spirit to our group. He is a retired owner of a dental lab making teeth for implants and crowns. They serve as self-reliance missionaries and are still understanding their calling and scope of their responsibilities. Sister Prince now plays the organ for our Sacrament meetings and fills in for Primary music.

Nelson and Amy Burton are from Virginia and are serving in the office as missionary medical. Elder Burton is a retired heart surgeon who trained under Elder Russell Nelson. Sister Burton is a nurse and she also organizes the FHE events each month and organizes the special farewell dinners. She teaches the 9-year-olds in Primary in English!

Kim and Julie Lowe are from Santa Rosa, California. They are serving in downtown Lima in self-reliance but we get to see them often as they have reason to visit the office. They are active with workshops for all people in different parts of the city. Sister Lowe is also teaching an English class using the same technique Joe uses from Blaine Ray. I heard Elder Lowe talking to someone and mention Garberville. I know that is just north of Ukiah so I told him I was born in Ukiah and grew up in Sebastopol. He marveled and shared a memory of doing car ralleys with a guy from Sebastopol who had a blue volkswagon named Randy . . . . I was speechless and told him that was my brother, Randy Portlock.

Roger and Linda Sheffield from Highland, Utah just went home last week. They served as missionary doctors for the area and did some traveling. They were well known for their day trips all around Lima and an expert on the best places to go. He and Joe have been on many bike rides together.

Juan and LaPriele Hernandez are from Kennawick, Washington and serve in the mission office as assistants to President Boswell. There are 5 missions in Lima but the Lima East mission is right here so they get to join us for many of the activities. LaPriele also teaches in English the 6-year-olds in Primary.

Craig and Lesley Raeside are from Adelaide, Australia. They both have that great Aussie accent. Elder Raeside serves as the missionary mental health doctor and Sister Raeside is busy teaching piano lessons to 23 students. She has been choir director for the high school for years and headed up our Christmas choir. Elder Raeside also serves as a counselor in the MTC branch presidency.

Peter and JoElla Hansen are from Half Moon Bay, California. Elder Hansen serves as assistant to the area presidency and JoElla helps at the front desk. We have Walnut Creek in common and know many of the same people. They are serving their second mission. He serves as a counselor in the MTC branch and is wonderful with the missionaries.

Couple missionary service is great and we enjoy our time here with our dear friends.

January 11, 2016

Week 46 ~ The Sun God Left in Ruins

We are grateful for weeks that are easy going even though there are a lot of happenings with our responsibilities and those we work with. Elder Montoya was to arrive in Lima last Wednesday from Salt Lake but there were complications with his family and he will not arrive until February 13. We do a lot of Skype and phone conversations with him as our direct leader. We are trying to replace two assistant area auditors even as we enter another audit cycle in two weeks. They will need to be trained and able to follow up on the stake audits during the month of February.

We enjoyed Saturday with four other missionary couples as we rented a van to travel about 45 minutes south to the ruins of Pachacamac, the most popular ruins in Lima right on the ocean. 

The tour was informative but the ruins, although massive, were only about 25% uncovered . . . if that. Let me explain a little: fifty years ago archeologists would begin the excavation work for a particular site and rebuild, so to speak, the broken down adobe walls to what the original building would have been. Some of the work is extensive. But then in the 1990’s, new laws came out that prohibited replacing original work. Currently, only cleaning, uncovering or stabilizing work is allowed so to the regular tourist only sees piles of rubble.
Ravaged by time and weather,
Stalked and haunted by shadows
And ghosts of the past.

What was once a royal temple
Standing proud and strong,
Now blows away with the wind
And is buried by the sand.

After our tour, we went to lunch at a wonderful resort that had play areas for the children and a small bird aviary with a friendly toucan, several parrots, doves, a hawk and others. There were rabbits, llamas, sheep and goats. During our meal, we had live entertainment with the Peruvian flute and Folklorico dancers. We got home about 4:00 and it was a pretty perfect day. The weather was even perfect being mostly cloudy so we didn’t have the sun beating on us as we were in the open. Being so close to the beach, we wish we had time to just walk along the shore and dig our toes in the sand. THAT would have been perfect!

We actually had a rainy day!! We really had to watch ourselves as we walked the narrow path to the office because the buses and trucks would spray water and mud ten feet wide. It was still 80 degrees with rain coming down most of the morning, the first we have seen since we’ve been here. They say, whoever “they” are, that this is the El Nino year and we will have torrential rain the first quarter. I imagine that will be mostly in the mountains of Peru because Lima doesn’t get rain and it would definitely be a disaster if they did because there are no windows, no run off, no gutters, and no underground drainage. 

Until we wash away . . . 

January 3, 2016

Week 45 ~ 2015 Ends with no Regrets

Just before midnight, we walked over to the church office building and climbed up to the roof and then up more stairs to the air conditioning box to watch fireworks all over the valley. We could see about 180 degrees. It was unbelievable and hard to put in words. Joe says it was like the bombing of Bagdad, constant and noisy.  

Even going to the Oakland Temple to get a view of the whole Bay Area was a treat, but, even then, the fireworks were in pockets, here, there, over there. But our view New Year’s Eve was one spectacular show. The whole sky was exploding as far as we could see. New Year’s Day we had Belgian waffles with strawberries, bananas and whip cream, watched the Rose Parade, Joe went for a bike ride while Diane just scrapbooked and watched football.

Joe wrote this poem for the New Year we want to share:

       Goodbye Old Friend – Hello New Friend
                By Joseph Cheney – January 1, 2016

Three hundred and sixty-five days ago the old year quietly died
And a new year like the ocean deep, rolled in like the thundering tide. 
We can reflect and remember the good and the bad the year we just laid to rest
And now we must build and strengthen again, this new “friend” with which we’ve been blessed

We may not know what lies up ahead, or of things which we may be afraid,
But the old friend to whom we just said goodbye, if we listen, can still give us aid.
He would tell us, “be strong, have courage and faith, remember you came through just fine.
The new year and friend you have just welcomed in will help you become more refined."

Be kind and be patient, love and forgive, just as you’ve done in the past,
And when this year ends and closes its eyes, this truth you'll see you have grasped:
A year is just a blink of an eye, especially the older we get,
And someday we’ll know and understand well these words on our own epithet:

“It mattered not the years that he lived, most important to him he said,
Are relationships built on respect and trust and strengthened in family and friends.
So this new year, full of wishes and dreams, written goals to which we devote,
The thing that will last through every New Year are those that give us most hope.

And the one that to me will matter the most, that strikes the most sure chord
Is to love and to trust and give of my life to Him who is Savior and Lord.