Oh my goodness, it’s already March!
“The bad news is time flies.
The good news is you’re the pilot.”
Saturday we walked to the National Agrarian University specializing in the management of the land. We’ll have to catch it on a weekday as everything was closed on Saturday EXCEPT the great shops with organic food, fruits and vegetables and meat market. We checked out the little shops and then enjoyed a great lunch of grilled trout and salad. The process for buying the items at the small shops everywhere is really weird: first you pick out what you want, they write you a sales ticket, then you go to a separate cashier outside the store to pay, and return to the store where they have your items in a bag behind the counter. When you show them you paid for the items, they give you your bags. That includes meat and cheese, whatever. Of course, you have to wait in line for each step, even when you go back to collect your items. We know it is to protect the shopkeepers as they don’t have any money in their shop and the cashier is behind bars.
The Lima MTC was constructed and then dedicated by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on August 27, 1998. It has a bed capacity of 144 missionaries, and is within walking distance of the Lima Peru Temple, maybe 15 minutes. Currently there is an average of about 120 missionaries organized in two branches consisting of both native Spanish-speaking missionaries (three week stay) as well as English-speaking missionaries who are learning Spanish (six week stay). The MTC contains three buildings: an administration building; a building with the kitchen and eating area on the bottom floor with a large auditorium above; and a building that houses the classrooms on the bottom floor with residence and laundry facilities on the second and third floors. The campus is always meticulously maintained and has a sand volleyball court, an artificial turf soccer field, an outside basketball court, ping-pong tables, and other sporting and exercise equipment. We can see these from the window of our office. Although it's been too hot to see any activity as of late, it's fun to look out to see the missionaries playing volleyball, basketball or soccer.
Bill Murray serves as Bishop of the English speaking missionary branch and loves the spirit that is there. Recently, there have only been one or two sisters and 10-12 elders since this is a low time of year. During the U.S. summer months, that number goes up to 40-50. Joe goes over every other Wednesday to serve as an investigator for the brand new missionaries. Their spirit is strong and energetic as they only left home two days prior and look forward to serving. The purpose of the exercise is to get the new missionaries to ask questions that will help them really know this person they are talking to, their problems, family, concerns, work, etc. He chuckles when he is introduced to the group and the first question to him is "What do you know about the Book of Mormon?"
One day when I arrived the group of new arrivals was very small, 5 elders and 1 Sister. Bill Murray had told me that the sister’s name was Truly Benevolent. (I can’t remember her last name so will call her Sister Jones.) I’m sure she had been teased over the years, but I couldn’t wait to gently tease her, too. I sat there for the hour and engaged in conversation with them. Sister Jones was great and asked many questions. She really did quite well and was very sincere. When we were finished, I got up to leave and then turned to all of them and said, “This has been a wonderful experience. You have all been Truly Benevolent,” and, turning to Sister Jones specifically, “especially you Sister Jones.” She just gasped, shook her head and laughed. I don’t think the elder missionaries had a clue what was going on. It was a lot of fun. I truly (no pun intended) love to be with these dear and benevolent missionaries every chance I get.
In the office Friday, we had a chance to talk with the new MTC president, President Garry Moore. He was the worldwide administrator for Church Education and Joe worked with him a lot over the years. He has been serving pretty much non-stop for the last nine years, in Madrid, Spain as temple president, then Frankfurt, Germany as assistant to area presidency, Salt Lake area over senor missionary couples in the temple department, former president of the Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission and now here in Peru as the MTC president. Such an example of faith and dedication! In evaluating ourselves, I'm not sure we could commit so much of our life, but then again, in pondering how it would be different with more space and convenience in the apartment and a car to run errands, life would seem more normal with the opportunity to serve every day together. The hardest part is learning a foreign language.