As I get older and realize more and more how great my weaknesses are, I have grown to love the scriptures in Moroni 10:32-33. Moroni exhorts us to "Come unto Christ and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
"And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot."
That gives me so much hope and so much comfort. We will never be perfect, but we are made perfect in Christ, through the shedding of His blood. All God asks is that we love Him and live a pure life. Then His grace is sufficient to make us perfect in Christ. When I think of all the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional weaknesses that I possess, I am so grateful for the knowledge that my Savior will make it all better for me. This is the message of the entire Book of Mormon, beautifully summed up by Moroni, a true disciple of Christ. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that he suffered and died for me. This is the atonement.
I know that I have not written for at least three weeks, so obviously we have been extremely busy. We had our second transfers. Eleven missionaries left to go home and 17 new missionaries came and joined us in the mission. Right after that, we started Zone Conferences. We left and went to Jaen for three days, interviewed 30 missionaries and had our Conference. It was wonderful. We don't get to see those missionaries very often because they are the furthest from Chiclayo. We got home on a Saturday and went out to dinner to celebrate my birthday which would be the next day. We ended up at the wrong restaurant (not the one we wanted to eat at) but since we were there we decided to stay. After we got seated, we realized that Sept. 27 was the three month anniversary of when we got to Peru and we were eating in the same restaurant that we ate in that first night. So it ended up being a great way to celebrate our three month anniversary and my 53rd birthday! The restaurant is called "Fiesta" and the food there is actually very good, the best in Chiclayo.
On Sunday, we celebrated with the office elders and a Tres Leche Cake which was really delicious. I really did not think I would like a soggy cake soaked in milk, but it is really quite yummy! Another delicious food here in Peru is Chinese Food. For some reason, Peruvians are very interested in the Chinese culture. There is even a special school here to learn about the Chinese culture, so there are many wonderful Chinese Restaurants. We actually have a really good one right next to our apartment building, so we can indulge very conveniently any time we want. I actually like the Chinese food better here in Peru because they do not batter and deep fry all the meat. They have a dish called "Pollo con Fruta", much like sweet and sour chicken in the States, but the chicken is not battered and fried and they put there own twist on it, adding peaches and some other fruits along with the pineapple. It is very rico (rich). That is how they describe good food here in Peru.
The following week we had three more Zone Conferences. Two multi-zone conferences with four zones each in Chiclayo, then the next day we left for Cajamarca for the last zone conference and interviews. On the way up the mountain to Chiclayo, we saw this cute man, that I am sure I have seen before. He was riding a donkey that was piled with sticks. There on top of the sticks sat this little man, but the really endearing thing was that he was riding backwards on the donkey. I'm not sure why, but he seemed to have perfect trust that the donkey knew where to go and what to do. We backed up to take his picture and when we did he waved and smiled. He was so adorable! My huaband said to him, "El burro sabe el camino, no?" The donkey knows the way! He just waved and smiled! Then it was really funny because on our way home we saw him again and he was riding the exact same way! We honked and waved again and he did the same!
You cannot tell in the picture, but this donkey was trotting
at a really good pace. He knew exactly where he was going!
We lovingly call the man "Donkey Man" now!
One Sunday we visited a Family Group in a very small town called Cayalti. A Family Group is even smaller than a branch. Until we moved to Peru, we had no idea that such a group existed in the church. A Family Group has a leader and they are authorized to hold Sacrament meeting and take the Sacrament each Sunday. They can also hold a group Sunday School lesson, but they are not authorized to form organizations and quorums. We had the priviledge of joining them for Fast and Testimony Meeting and there was a great and strong spirit with these good people. The town of Cayalti was so small and the houses so close together that they all had their laundry sticking out from the front of their houses in way that we had never seen before. It looked like a colorful display of flags or banners or something, but it was laundry.
The little car in the foreground is a moto-taxi. They
are all over in Peru and a very common mode of
Laundry drying is a very common site in Peru, but
in Chiclayo we are more modern so ours is on the
I guess we are the only home in Peru with a dishwasher. When we ran out of detergent we looked everywhere but could not find any. They finally had to order some from Lima for us. It took three weeks for it to get here. Who knew that dishwashing detergent is a luxury? If you saw the size of our dishwasher you might not think it is much of a luxury, but it holds at least 8 glasses and 8 dishes. We had carpet put in our bedroom, but have had a small problem. There are no vacuum cleaners in Chiclayo either. Sometimes I just really feel like we are living in a different world. Our maid had to get a picture frame special made for us. I kept thinking, can't we just go to Walmart and get one? But it's not that easy here. If you need a birthday card, you have to make it yourself. My maid's daughter made me a really cute one!
Once I was interviewing an Hermana missionary from Bolivia. As we talked, she mentioned that she likes to cook. I asked her what a dish was that she liked to make. She described chopping up lots of vegetables like onions, tomatoes, carrots and celery and then sauteeing them in a pan. It sounded good to me. Then she said she chopped up something else and put it on top, but I did not recognize the word that she said. She tried to describe it to me. When she started pumping her fists up and down like a milking action, I realized she was trying to describe cow utter. I guess that is some kind of delicacy in Bolivia. I think she said the dish is called Pican Macho. I decided not to ask her for the recipe!
The other day I was interviewing an elder and he said that he has never liked the food much here in Peru. I asked for examples of dishes that he does not like. He said, "I don't really like guinea pig." I just laughed because I don't like it either and I have never even tried it. Many times driving in the country you see carts or wagons loaded with corn stalks and I have been told that they sell them for people to feed to their guinea pigs to fatten them up.
When we were in Cajamarca interviewing the missionaries, I had such a good feeling inside about the missionaries in our mission. I truly believe that we have some of the best in the Church. They are such good obedient wonderful souls. This is not an easy mission. Our missionaries walk many miles on dirt roads and rocks, wear out their shoes and their feet, suffer back aches and eat very crude food sometimes. But they are so willing to sacrifice and so obedient to do what we ask them to do. Some people I have talked to like to focus on the disobedient missionaries and the unwise choices they make at times, but those cases are very few. We are so thankful to associate with such great souls in our mission. One missionary told me the other day that he can't believe he almost didn't come on a mission because of the wonderful people he would not have met. We feel the same way. We are making friendships with some choice young people that will last for the rest of our lives. We feel so priviledged to be here.
My 53rd Birthday in Peru!