I have talked a lot about foods I do not like, so here are some that I do like. I love the fresh limeade! I have been sick twice since we have been here, both times on a trip, and the fresh limeade was the only thing that sounded good to me at all. The seafood here is delicious, very fresh and prepared perfectly. They have a dish with rice and mariscos or camarones (shellfish or shrimp) with yummy corn and peas and good seasonings; I think it has curry and some other things. The most interesting thing that I think we have tried is a juice called chicha morada (purple corn juice). In the grocery stores, you see large amounts of this dried purple corn that I could not imagine how they ever made it appetizing to eat. Then I learned that they make purple juice with it. They boil the corn and season it with cinnamon and cloves and then strain it, and of course they add sugar, to get this unique juice which is really quite tasty. We tried it at a restaurant and we liked it!
I love to hear Peruvians talk. Most of them speak such beautiful Spanish. The way they roll their r,s is amazing! (By the way, there is no apostrophe on our Spanish keyboard) One word I have learned is "chevere". It is the equivalent of saying "cool" in English. I am curious if they say it in Chile also (I always forget to ask Eric.) It does not translate to any other meaning. The day we were in Chachapoyas, there were two hermanas at the church building waiting for an institue class to begin. Here in Peru, institute is usually on Saturday night. The girls were 19 and 20 years old, but looked much younger. One was studying to be a veterinary and one to be a lawyer. Pretty impressive, just like most LDS young adults! They began talking to me and were very interested in me, maybe because I am an "American". They were very patient in listening to my very slow Spanish. I noticed after one of my comments that the one girl said "chevere". I was flattered that she thought something I said was "chevere" and I felt pretty "chevere" because I knew what the word meant!
This past weekend I have been touched by the kindness and love of the members here. Saturday, I had a little extra time and I really wanted to get my hair cut. Of course, I had no idea where to go. I thought of a sister I met at a dinner, Sister Gonzales. She is the wife of our Stake President and our neighbor. She had assured me several times that she would be happy to help me with anything that I needed. I had Mark call her and ask her where I could get my haircut. She told Mark she would be happy to pick me up and take me to a place she knew of to get it cut. I was touched by her kindness, but the story gets even better. You have to understand that most women in Peru do not drive and I have not even driven a car since we have been here, which seems so strange now that I am writing it. So this sweet sister comes to my 7th story apartment, and escorts me downstairs where I find my Stake President waiting in the car to take us to the hairdresser! I was already feeling bad for inconveniencing them and then the sister tells me that they have been busy getting ready for a huge birthday party they are having for their four year old son which starts in one hour! So these very kind people literally dropped everything they were doing to come and help me. Sister Gonzales went to the hairdresser with me, sat there with me and explained to the lady what I wanted. Then President Gonzalez came back and picked us up and drove us home. I am still overwhelmed as I think about these kind gestures from these people. There are definitely some choice saints here in this area.
Visiting the Coast after a ward conference. Our kids
say all we do is relax on the beach!
Sunday, (July 20th) was the most choice experience I have had on this mission thus far. It was so unexpected. I had actually been feeling a little bit useless the day before and wondering what I can contribute when I cannot speak the language. I prayed and asked Heavenly Father why I am here and what I can do. Saturday night we attended the longest baptism known to men. Baptisms here never start on time and when they finally do start, after they have finally gotten everyone assembled in the chapel, then they say for anyone who would like to take pictures to leave and go out in the foyer. This baptism was supposed to start at 7:30 pm and finally began at 8:30 pm. Remember, nothing ever happens fast and nobody is ever in a hurry. So, after six speakers and singing a dozen different songs, we got home pretty late. We were supposed to leave for a Branch Conference early, so I knew it was going to be a long day.
My prayer Sunday morning was to just have the strength to make it through the day. We left at 7:15 am and drove a little under two hours to a small town called Guadalupe and attended the Guadalupe, Peru Branch. They had a very nice chapel and I noticed right away that these people were special. They were all dressed perfectly; even the little boys were in suits and ties. Sometimes, this is unusual in Peru. Mark and I were sitting on the stand and I was marveling at how wonderful these people looked and I noticed an older gentleman sitting on the front row. He had on an unusual tie and at first I thought it was kind of hideous. It was a sky blue color with some big picture on it. Then I looked closer and realized it was a picture of the Salt Lake Temple! I was overcome. I thought of this humble man who I am sure has never and will never see the Salt Lake Temple in real life and yet here he was wearing its picture on his tie and obviously had a great love for this temple!
That morning the Spirit was strong and I felt the great love that the Lord has for these humble saints. Living the gospel is not always easy for them. They only go the temple once a year. They drive 12 hours on a bus to Lima on a Friday night, get there on Saturday morning, do temple work all day and then drive back on Saturday night to be home in time for church on Sunday. I felt the love these people have for the Lord and His gospel. They want to do their part. The feelings I had that day were tender and overwhelming. It was not easy to speak when I bore my testimony, but I knew what the Lord wanted me to say. I am so grateful that the Spirit is the teacher and the testifier and somehow I was able to convey to these people how the Lord feels about them in my broken Spanish. He loves them beyond comprehension, so it was easy for me to love them too. It was a miraculous day in so many ways.
These are my new friends, the sisters of the Guadalupe Branch.
The sister on my right is the wife of Mark's 1st counselor and the
one on the left with flowers is the Relief Society President. Notice
the flowers added for a touch of beauty! Relief Society sisters
think the same all over the world!