As Boyd was conducting interviews in Chincha, at one point I was sitting in the hall in the church by myself. There was a group of Relief Society sisters (women 18 and up) gathering together for an afternoon activity. As each one walked in and saw me, a perfect stranger, I was greeted with a smile and a kiss. It was lovely. I was amazed by the friendliness and kindness of these women.
I could hear them conducting their meeting in the Cultural Hall behind me, and eventually they sent someone out to fetch me in. They invited one of the Elders to come in as well (a rare opportunity for him!) to translate for me.
They wanted to show me the project they had been working on of making decorative pillows for their homes. Then they sat me down in the circle, and dismissed the Elder. I was on my own! One week into the mission! Yikes!
I didn't understand much of what they said. But each sister in the circle took a turn to go and pick up the pillow-case (sometimes several!) she had made, and talk about it. I understood "mucho trabajo" (lots of work!) and I heard it several times. I also understood when a sister said she had made one for her sister, or for her mother, as well as for herself. It was fun!
I was offered a salteña (delicious!) and an Inka cola (tastes like bubble gum!).
Afterwards they presented me with one of their pillowcases, and they wanted to take a picture with me. They also wanted me to talk to them. So I bore a short and simple testimony in Spanish (with an emphasis here on SHORT. And SIMPLE.). They asked me to keep their pillow, and always think of the Chincha sisters when I look at it.
It now has pride of place on our living room couch. And whenever I look at it, I remember the sisters of Chincha. And their kindness and warmth.
When Boyd finished interviewing missionaries, he joined us, and I think they even gave him an Inka cola. (But he didn't rate a salteña!)