So last week we went to a store called "Makro". It is the Peruvian equivalent of Costco in the United States. It has some products in bulk and some individual. Many that we would never use. We made three great finds; an air popper (that does not work very well), frozen berries and chocolate chips! They are a little different from Nestles, but they actually worked quite well. So, at the last minute, I decided to make chocolate chip cookies for some of the missionaries. As they came in for their interview, I presented them with one chocolate chip cookie. That was the best I could do with short notice. The reaction to those cookies was priceless.
muelle (speed bump). There are no speed limits, just
speed bumps right in the middle of the road to slow
Some of these missionaries had never tasted a homemade chocolate chip cookie before. In South America, they are not really big on using ovens because they feel like the energy use is just too expensive and wasteful. So most do not do a lot of baking. One Latin sister took a few bites and said, "These cookies are going to be famous in Peru!" Several asked me how I made them. Another sister, later in the day, said, "These cookies are already famous!" Word was getting around that you got a delicious cookie at your interview. The North American,s reaction was the same, because they had not eaten a homemade cookie for so long. There was one elder who reached slowly toward the plate and I could swear that his hand was shaking. His only comment was "Oooooooooh!"
One thing that was impressed greatly on my mind last week is that these humble obedient missionaries sacrifice a lot to serve their missions. Our missionaries in Peru do not cook for themselves. They have what is called a "pensionista". This is basically a person who cooks their meals for them and sometimes does their laundry. They go to the home of their pensionista for all their meals. Most of the missionaries do not have kitchens in their apartments so they are at the mercy of the pensionista for what they eat each day. They usually do not have any say about the menu. There are some exceptions. Peruvians eat a lot of rice and chicken. Most of the missionaries get huge piles of rice everyday. And they do not get to serve their own food and they are expected to eat whatever is on their plate. If not the pensionista may be offended and think they do not like the food. Sometimes they get a plate with rice, potatoes and pasta! Imagine what that would do to your system!
About two weeks ago, we had a sister with a doctor,s appointment that was late in the evening. It was too late and dangerous for she and her companion to make the two hour journey back to their area, so we invited them to stay the night with us. I cannot even tell you what a treat that was for them. They mentioned how they missed eating peanut butter. I casually said that I had peanut butter and they were welcome to have some. Their eyes lit up and they were almost jumping up and down. Then I casually asked if they would like it on toast. They both exclaimed, "Warm toast?" They could not believe it! They continued to react the same to cold milk, cold water and german pancakes with syrup. How many of us jump up and down at the thought of peanut butter or warm toast? I was so touched by their excitement for these foods we take for granted everyday.
Most of our missionaries do not have warm water either. One day I had this conversation with a missionary. Missionary: "We don,t have any warm water when we shower. There is a little heater there in the shower, but if you use it, you run the risk of an electrical shock while you are showering." Me: "An electrical shock!! That,s horrible!" Missionary: "It,s not a really big shock, but I do prefer the cold water rather than the shock." Me: "How can you take cold showers?" Missionary: "That,s just Peru!" We visited a sister apartment one day. It was decent, neat and clean. But extremely bare. Three rooms: "living room", bedroom and bathroom. Furniture: two beds, two dressers, bookshelf, table and two chairs. At the time we visited them, they had two extra sisters from another area staying with them. One sister had a foot problem, so she needed both the chairs in order to keep her foot elevated. The others got to sit on the bed or stand. I was wondering where the comfortable couch was to chill on!
The missionaries in our mission are not allowed to drive. It is amazing how they manage to get around and go where they need to go. A very popular mode of travel here in Peru is called a "Combi". This is a large van that operates like a bus. The Combis have no schedule. You go to the Combi stop and you wait until one shows up. Then you wait until the Combi is full with other passengers. They will not leave until it is full. Every single seat.Then you drived over bumpy roads in an extremely full van with no air conditioning, of course! For many missionaries, this is a two hour trip. One missionary told me that in order to get to the interview, he and his companion had to ride in a Combi, then on a motorcycle "thing", and then take a taxi. What an adventure!
Now as I write of these experiences, once again I am touched by the dedication of these missionaries. All of our missionaries are willing to work and to sacrifice so much! Mark and I live in luxury compared to these missionaries. We have a three bedroom apartment with tile, two couches (plus chairs), warm water and a fully stocked kitchen. The inconveniences we have experienced are nothing compared to our valient missionaries.
I have interviewed many missionaries who are the only member of the church in their family. One of these missionaries told me how hard the first four months of his mission have been because he has received no support from his family. They are not happy he is serving and have not written him one time. I told him that the Lord knows him and the struggles he is having. I told him that the Lord knows of his sacrifice and that he will be blessed for it. It was a very tender moment for both of us as the Spirit bore witness to this truth. Maybe I needed to remember this also.This could be said of every missionary in our mission, or in the world, for that matter. The Lord knows them and what they are doing and he will not leave them comfortless. He will bless them and prosper them for what they have doing.