Changes! Always great to be together!
My husband and I feel like we have been through some kind of strange initiation now because we have both had a root canal here in Peru. I actually had two, but my husband was the most brave because he was the guinea pig and had his first. He went to two other dentists and finally found this endodontist who is fantastic. We recommend him to everyone. His name is Dr. Noa. He is very professional, honest and skilled. His office is pretty modern too. We have had no problems with our teeth since having the procedures. What a blessing! We would not be able to serve if we were in pain or our teeth were rotting out!
The President is always fixing something!
I learned something I didn't know during interviews in July. It is customary and expected that any person working on or in your house will be given food. For example, a missionary was telling me that a sister in their ward was supposed to help with an activity, but did not show up. Another woman explained that the sister could not come because she had men putting a new roof on her house and she was expected to cook for them. When we first came to Peru, we kept going to our refrigerator to get leftovers and they were always gone. I thought my maid was throwing them away because most Peruvians do not keep leftovers. One day my husband walked in the kitchen during lunch and realized our maid was following this same pattern. He said, "Edna is sitting in the kitchen eating the same things we are!" We now understand that this is a normal custom here in Peru. We are responsible to feed her each day because she works in our house. I still wish we had those leftovers to eat!
Our favorite restaurant here in Peru is right across the street from our apartment building. We watched the whole process of it being built. It is very nice not to have to fight the downtown traffic and just walk across the street to eat. Although it is taking our lives in our hands to cross the busy street we live on! The food is very delicious. They make two salads that I love, the "Maximum Salad" and the "Tropical Salad". They also have imported beef from the U.S. The steaks are fried, not grilled, (very unhealthy), but they have such a delicious flavor. They are always tender and cooked perfectly. The waiters and waitresses always fight over us because they know we will give them a big tip. That is not customary here in Peru. Tips are not expected and are rarely given. We like to give them as much as we can to help them out. They work so hard here for very little.
A Missionaries shoes.
They work so hard!
Going Home with worn out shoes.
Yesterday we went to the Central Market to buy some material and ribbon for making some Christmas gifts. I was looking for some brightly colored Peruvian tablecloths that they make here. While we were looking for them, (of course, they were very difficult to find) several people directed us to a back street right outside the market. There are other markets surrounding the main market and they are just like zoos, literally, so chaotic, dirty and congested. We passed by dozens of cages full of turkeys, chickens, chicks, rabbits, quinea pigs, pigeons, ducks and free roaming roosters walking around on the sidewalks and cockle doo dooing. Like I said, it was a zoo! Just amazing. On our way back, after not finding the tablecloths, just as I walked by one of the roosters, it let out a very loud cock-a-doodle doo! It scared me to death and I jumped and let out a little yell. I think the Peruvians thought that was funny; the American lady afraid of the roosters!
Sisters, Sisters, never such devoted Sisters.
These markets are so essential and important to Peruvian life. They could not survive without them. Many people rely on the fresh food and meat, everyday, because they do not have refrigeration. All those animals in the cages are sold and raised by the people for food. Practically anything that moves here is eaten, except for dogs and cats. And there are hundreds of them roaming the streets.
Animals always everywhere. Love the cows.
Last month we had interviews; 130 to be exact.We also made a trip to Jaen to interview 16 missionaries serving there and to visit a branch in a small town called San Ignacio. This is the most northern unit in our mission. This are is absolutely gorgeous. The drive was so scenic and beautiful. Green mountains, palm trees and other vegetation. It was our first time visiting there. The Saints were so warm and receptive and we were impressed with the strength and size of the branch. The Spirit was strong in testimony meeting and the lesson in Gospel Doctrine was amazing, the best I have heard in Peru. The teacher had visual aids, an object lesson and was a very effective teacher. He was enthusiastic and funny. Every time somebody read a scripture, as they were reading, he would yell out, "Ah hah!", as if we had just discovered something amazing. Mark and I couldn't help chuckling every time he said it, because he did it so much, He obviously had a great love for the scriptures. I did not realize until then that they say "Ah hah" in Spanish, but I guess they do! It was a great privilege to be there and many thanked us for coming and bearing our testimonies.
A giant woman welcomed us to
San Ignacio! Not sure why,
but it's a good picture.
A couple of weeks ago, we had the opportunity and privilege of attending a very special baptism. The spirit and joy of the gospel were so strong in the meeting, that I am sure, now that I think about it, there were others there from the other side. The woman being baptized was probably in her early sixties. She is the mother of two children. Her husband died from head trauma when he was very young. She was left to raise her two children on her own. I have no idea how she supported herself, but I am sure it was not easy. Then, three years ago, her adult son passed away. Since then she has had health problems and suffered from depression. But now the gospel has changed her whole life. Depression has been changed to joy with the knowlege that her family can be eternal and she can see her loved ones again. She has hope and peace in her life. Her goal is to go to the Trujillo Temple in one year. I can't even imagine what that day will be like for her, to kneel in the temple with a proxy and be sealed to her sweetheart. After the baptism, as I congratulated her, she took my hand and expressed her deep gratitude for the gospel. Everyone there wept for joy together. I have never been to a baptism like that in my life.
Baptism of a Mom and her daughter.
We just finished our Zone Conference this past week. We love spending that time with the missionaries, but it is also a relief when it is done. It takes hours of preparation to get it all pulled together. This time we focused on three talks by Elder Bednar, "Ask in Faith", "Converted unto the Lord", and "Seek Learning by Faith". Elder Bednar will be visiting our mission on August 29th and we are all pretty excited. He will hold a meeting with our missionaries for three hours and has asked us all to read those articles to prepare for his visit. We want them to be well prepared for this special experience. We all learned a lot about prayer, faith, testimony and conversion. This was our first Multi-Zone Conference that we only held for two sessions, instead of four, now that our mission is smaller. It was pretty nice. We did not have to do any traveling. The missionaries from Jaen came to Chiclayo and joined with three other Zones. Each Conference had four zones combined. Each one lasted for about six hours.
We could not do anything without our Office
Elders. (For Sister Banks!)
I don't know why some things come so easily and others are a great struggle. I spoke about President Benson's talk on Pride and from the very beginning I felt so much opposition in speaking about this topic. I had doubts about understanding the article and speaking about it. I had doubts about having time to prepare, etc. In the end, I had plenty of time to prepare and was able to understand the words, but still doubted my ability to speak in Spanish. I spent several hours preparing a powerpoint presentation. The day of Zone Conference, I felt sick with fear. I was so afraid to speak in Spanish. While I was waiting for Mark to give his introduction and give my presentation, I realized that we had never sent my powerpoint from the home computer to Mark's laptop. So in other words, we did not have any of my visual aids. Right at that moment, when I realized that, I should have been in a total panic, but I had the most profound feeling of peace come over me. I felt and knew that everything would be fine and I felt no fear at all anymore. Just great peace and calm. It was an amazing experience. I was able to adjust my talk and do it competely different on the spur of the moment with the Lord's help. It went very smoothly and well. I felt so blessed. The Lord is so merciful!
Zone Conference. It's always wonderful
to be with the missionaries.
The next day, I did my presentaion again, and I struggled a lot. But when I began to bear my testimony, the words began to flow with no struggle at all. I have had this experience on so many occasions in meetings with the missionaries. Especially when I meet with the Hermana Leaders. The words just flow out of me when I am bearing my testimony, with hardly any effort or thinking about it. The gift of tongues is real. I know, because I have felt it. The Lord knows that missionaries need to be buoyed up and edified and we are always blessed with an outpouring of the Spirit. I know this work is true and that it is the work of God, "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." We are trying to spread the most important message in all the world; the message that Jesus Christ lives and directs His church and that he suffered and died for each one of us. Every single person on earth needs to know this! I am so thankful for the wonderful young adults of this church who are willing to do this important work. If there is one thing I have learned here, it is that missionary work is not easy. These missionaries are so dedicated and diligent. They are such an example to me. I know the Lord watches over, protects and cares for them in every way. They are loved!
Just knocking another door! So dedicated!