Sunday, May 29, 2016

¡Farewell, goodbye, chao, hasta luego, tupananchiskama, but not adios!

We have such mixed emotions as we arrive at the end of our 35 month mission to Cusco, Peru. Our hearts are heavy to leave our dear Peruvian friends and the members of the church here. We will miss you terribly in the coming months. It feels like Jacob said, “…the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream…” Jacob 7:26

Our uncle told us that a mission as a senior couple was wonderful and great 90% of the time. At the time we laughed but at this point it is about right and 90% at 61 is pretty darned sublime! We have loved our mission, Peru and wonderful people here. We cannot help but bid a heavy farewell and have wept a fair bit. Nevertheless, in no way do we imagine that this is the last of our time in Peru! We fully expect to return at some future date.

At the same time, we are exited to enter the next stage of our life with our family and friends in the United States. We know a lot of changes await us and we are up for that as well. We are excited about it and look forward to many new challenges. We will keep busy and enjoy life as we have here!

Nosotros tenemos sentimientos tan encontrados mientras llegamos al fin de nuestra misión  de 35 meses en la Misión Perú Cusco. Nuestros corazones  están pesados en dejar nuestros queridos amigos peruanos y miembros de la iglesia aquí. Los vamos a extrañar terriblemente en los meses próximos. Sentimos como dijo Jacob, <<…el tiempo se nos ha pasado, y nuestras vidas también han pasado como si fuera un sueño…>> Jacob 7:26

Nuestro tío nos dijo que una misión como pareja mayor esta maravillosa 90% del tiempo… Nos reímos pero, ahora nos parece correcto y 90% a los 61 años es bastante bacán! Hemos amado nuestra misión, Peru y personas maravillosas aquí. No es posible no sentirnos apesadumbrados al despedirnos de Uds. y hemos llorado bastante. Sin embargo, de ninguna manera creemos que eso es. ¡Con toda confianza anticipamos nuestro regreso!

Al mismo momento, estamos muy animados para entrar en nuestra próxima etapa de la vida con familia y amigos en los EE.UU. Sabemos que hay muchos cambios que nos esperan y estamos aptos por ellos. Vamos a quedar ocupados y disfrutar de la vida que tenemos esperándonos. Muchos abrazos y saludos hermanos nuestros, tupananchiskama!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"All over but the shouting"

All above: Outdoor Multi-zone Conference
Juliaca bus station
Packing up the camera
Shipping the camera setup, 70 + kilos(More than 150 pounds) of gear

Birthday celebration with Irina our Ukrainian friend

Tore it down to build a "New" one
New wall

Señor de Qolloriti parade 

A lot to put on a trike
Women loading the bus
All chicken parts

On Wednesday we participated in our last out of doors multi-zone conference. We do these once each year and they are wonderful experiences. The young missionaries are amazing. In a world of selfish entitlement and political “correctness-itis”, it is positively inspiring to spend the day with young adults whose vision of service is clear and who understand who they are and what they have to offer and who actually perform selfless service to so many. We loved spending time with them in such a sublime setting!

On Saturday, we left for Puno on a lightning trip. We leap frogged in busses from Cusco to Puno and made it in just 7 hours. Then on Sunday morning, we took a combi to Juli where Rich interviewed and changed out the branch president. Then we literally ran to catch the combi back to Puno and then leap frogging again back to Cusco. The Juli to Puno was a total of eight and a half hours. Rich needed to be back by 7pm Sunday evening to hold a recommend interview. We got in at 7:50 with just barely enough time to do that.

When got on the bus in Juliaca a family of four clambered into the two seats next to us. They had two small girls, the youngest of which stared at Julie’s very white profile for the next hour, at least. 

While they sat there, Julie overheard the father warn the little girls to be careful of the white devils. Some of them are “Pishtakos.” The pishtako is a “fat” stealing thief. Many years ago we heard of this strange belief among the mountain people. When Rich was branch president in Espinar years ago he asked his counselor about a rumor that gringos came here to steal children for their fat...  He affirmed that this was true and not just children and that not all gringos were guilty. Over the years the story only got better. We came to refer to these suet bandits as “fat vampires.” Sort of the Peruvian version of the Mexican, Chupa Cabra. The stories even made it into such news feeds as Reuters and the BBC.

The mountains are full of goblins, elves, dwarves and other enchantments. Several years ago, Rich went to Huancavelica, the poorest of the Peruvian departments to look at some exemplary social projects run by an arm of Catholic social services. During the visit while being chauffeured around by one of the young engineers there, Rich could not help but notice the gape-jawed stares he got, especially from some of the women walking along the road. There are not many bald gringos that wander around Huancavelica.

When the engineer realized that Rich noticed the glances, he asked, “Where you are working, do many folks think you are a Pishtako?”

Rich responded, “To my knowledge, no one thinks that.”

The engineer said, “Well, they do here…”

This legend has strengthened the lack of trust of white people, especially non-Spanish or Quechua speaking ones.  There is no question that it hearkens back to the period of Spanish oppression and atrocities. The suspicion is that we are here to steal children for their fat and the language inability amplifies the lack of trust.  The church counselor also told Rich that these Pishtako stories are used to frighten children in classic “Little Orphan Annie” or boogey man fashion.  “If you don’t eat your chuñu or your quinoa, the Pishtako will get you…”

Julie struck up a conversation with the littlest girl to try and allay any nervousness and talked about school and showed her some pictures of our grandchildren. Even with all that, the little girl continued to steal glances but at least she was smiling.

Monday morning we said our goodbyes to our friends in the archives and turned in our keys. We are really, truly finished here. We met a sweet friend Fanny for lunch and then had our last district meeting. Our zone met their English goal again, so we had one more ice-cream bash in our apartment. We will miss these wonderful young missionaries and their faith, dedication and devotion to the truths they teach. They are fabulous!