Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Every three months each missionary has a personal interview with the Mission President. This is important because it is the often the only time (for many) that the missionary has individual, personal, private, one-on-one-face-time with the President.

We have over 218 missionaries in our mission. That's a lot of missionaries to interview!

The missionaries are divided into Zones; interviews are scheduled one zone at a time.  Those in the zone arrive at the church where the interviews are scheduled and wait while the interviews are being conducted. While everyone waits the Assistants meet with the missionary companionships to review their records with them. The other missionaries use the time to study.

The outgoing President set up our calendar for our first month here (which was so kind!), and scheduled 9 days of interviews for the 12 zones in our mission.

While Boyd conducted the interviews, and the Assistants worked with the Zone Leaders, I distracted the missionaries from their studies to get help with my Spanish!

My purpose was two-fold: 1) It helps me get to know the missionaries on a more personal level, and 2) It helps to emphasize the importance learning a second language. For the Gringo missionaries to learn to speak Spanish WELL, and for the Latino missionaries to learn English while they have a FREE tutor 24/7 (our mission is split nearly 50% between latinos and gringos). Many of our missionaries are taking advantage of this rare opportunity, and we are grateful for their hard work. We are strongly convinced of the advantages of knowing more than one language!

And - because missionaries are missionaries - I learned such useful words for missionary work as:

  • avestruz (ostrich)
  • ornitorinco (platypus)
  • otorrinolaringologo (ENT Dr)

I also learned words like:

  • desarrollar (to develop - but shared because they knew it would be hard for me to pronounce)
  • googlear (to google)
  • descorazonador (disheartening - a common feeling for missionaries, I think)
  • juego perdido (game over)
  • bamba (knock off)

We had lively discussions sometimes about the difference between limes and lemons, what exactly is a leek (in English OR Spanish), and the proper use of "permiso," "perdón," or "disculpe."

It was great fun.

I tried to capture pictures of each companionship. I missed a couple of zones, though. :-(

But here are some from just one zone!

Oh! How we love these missionaries!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Leadership Council and the Amazing Adaptable Chapels in Peru

We completed our whirlwind tour of the mission in the first five days.

And then - with less than one week in the mission - we had to plan and conduct a meeting for all the leaders in the mission. They come together from the various areas where they serve and meet for one day.

The missionaries are all organized by geography into small groups or "Zones." In our mission we have one zone for each stake or district of the church. We have ten stakes and two districts, which means we have twelve zones. Each zone has two zone leaders, who are companions. Each zone is divided again into "Districts," who are also organized by geography into even smaller groups.

Zone Leaders, Sister Training Leaders, and the Office Missionaries are all part of this meeting. We train them, and then they train the missionaries in their zones. It's effective. It's great training for the missionaries who are leaders. And it's also very daunting when you have never done it before. <grin>

This meeting allowed us to see these chapels in Perú in action. They are different from our North American buildings.

  • The chapels don't have carpet. They have tile.
  • Almost all (if not all) the churches are two stories (I'm sure that saves a lot on land costs!)
  • The pews are moveable/RE-movable. And they stack. So you can clear the chapel of all the pews in order to use it for something else.
  • Most of the kitchens are very small and virtually unusable. They really work just for serving or cleaning up.
  • Every church building has a parking lot that is mostly unused - except for the half that has basketball standards inset into the pavement (the base of the basketball standards are adapted to also be used as a soccer goal).
As for the training? It was fine. But we both feel for our own part that we can do better. I found it very daunting to have people taking notes when I speak. Just sayin'. The part where they counseled together was great, though. We are at the huge end of a learning curve, here. By the time we have figured it all out it will be time to go home. <grin>

Time for pictures!

Our lunch break
Subway sandwiches (who knew Subway is everywhere in Perú, too?)
Texas Sheet Cake.

The pews are all stacked and out of the way.

The chapel - all set up for our council.

And - at the very end - everything is put back in its proper place.

Monday, August 10, 2015

I Feel Pretty. Oh So Pretty.

Our Ayacucho Selfie - Enjoying the glorious sight of blue skies and mountains

We attended church on our first Sunday here in Ayacucho. My Spanish is limited, to say the least. My comprehension is even more limited. But the members in the Ward (congregation) we attended were so very friendly and warm and welcoming. Missionaries were waiting to help me find the Sunday School class after Sacrament Meeting, but I was caught in a phalanx of women who all wanted to greet me.

In Perú women greet each other with a light embrace and an air kiss to the cheek. It's lovely. I was meeting all these women, one after the other, and each one would murmur "que linda" as she greeted me. 

Well. I was pretty sure that linda meant "pretty" or "cute." So I was feeling pretty good about things in general! 

(As Sally Field would say, "You like me! You really like me!") 

These women, for the most part, were tall in spirit, while being short in stature. Especially the Quechua Mamitas; the ones you always see in the pictures of Perú with the braids and the hats. So I bent down and greeted each of them in turn with a hug and a kiss and they would softly murmur "que linda," and I would feel better and better and better.

Then I got to the last women in the group, and as I bent to greet her, instead of "que linda," she said assuredly, "QUE GRANDE!"

I didn't need to guess what that meant. But - I had received about 15 "que lindas" to 1 "que grande," and we take our victories where we can, right?

Later on we were in another part of the mission for missionary interviews. Boyd went into the chapel ahead of me, so I entered on my own. I passed a room that had three people in it, and they all came out to meet me. There was a man and two women, and they were working on the Self-Sufficiency Program (helping people train for jobs, interview for jobs, find jobs, and keep jobs). They were gracious and kind, and when the man met me he said, "que bonita." 

Ha! By this time I had confirmed with the assistants (subtly, of course, because I didn't want to be braggy), that "linda" means "cute." I knew that "bonita" was a little stronger than that. I walked out of the room on Cloud Nine.

In time I learned that saying "que linda," or "que bonita" is simply a pleasant greeting. And not actually a declaration of opinion.


I can't be too disappointed, though, right? Because what a lovely way to greet someone you have just met, by telling them they are cute, pretty, or lovely... 

And I have three more years to enjoy it.

Friday, August 7, 2015

From Salt Lake City to Lima to Ica to Lima to Ayacucho!

We arrived in the mission Monday night at midnight. The Outgoing Mission President and Wife met us at the airport and took us to our new home. They then went to their hotel, and would come and orient us the next morning.

Day One: Boyd already covered Day One.

Day Two: We met our first group of Missionaries: the missionaries of Lima. That is about half of our mission. Over one hundred missionaries! We spent the morning with them, and after lunch we traveled to Ica with our Assistants. That took about four hours of intense driving on the Panamericana Sur! Glad it was Boyd driving and not me. We stayed in a nice hotel in Ica, although we didn't have much time to enjoy it. As soon as we arrived we went out with more missionaries. Boyd with two Elders, and me with two Hermanas. 

We (the sisters) had an adventure with a large dog who was very threatening. It was very disconcerting to have a small young missionary put herself between me and the dog - to protect me. These missionaries are wonderful and sweet and loving and protective! The dog sniffed around each of us one by one as we stood like statues, and then he circled around again. I was sure he was going to choose the meatier one (me!), but he eventually just left us all alone.

I thought the roof of the hotel was lovely to look at.

I don't know what these giant cacti are, but they are TALL!

And they have flowers!

This is a lovely tree.

Beautiful architecture and lovely tile floors everywhere.
They keep them WELL polished. I have learned to watch my step so I don't slip.

Day Three: We rushed right off the next morning to meet all our missionaries who serve in the South of our mission: Chincha, Cañete, Ica, Pisco, Nazca, and Marcona. After our meeting with them we drove back to Lima!

Day Four: We unpacked our bags and started to settle into our new (to us) home. And we bought some groceries.

Day Five: We got a real early start as we flew to Ayacucho bright and early and had to be at the airport for 4:30 am. Which meant we left our home at 3:30 am. Not much sleep!

We spent the day in Ayacucho. The morning was spent in our Meet and Greet with the missionaries, and the afternoon was spent with Boyd interviewing each missionary one by one, while I got to visit and chat with the rest of the missionaries who were waiting for their turn to be interviewed (I'll explain more about interviews later.). It was fun!

Afterwards we came out to a beautiful sunset above the mountains. This was the first time we'd seen blue sky for five days, and it was wonderful!


The chapel were we met is on the left. This is a view of Ayacucho at dusk.

So happy to see the sun!
The Elders were trying to catch a taxi for us to take us back to the hotel at the end of the day, but they weren't having any luck. There was a soccer match going on, and Perú was playing. There was a small bodega with a TV, and there was a large crowd gathered around outside the store, on the sidewalk, and into the street, watching the game. When Perú missed an important chance to score,  all the taxi drivers walked back to their taxis and we finally got our ride.