Thursday, December 16, 2010

"These Are a Few of My Favorite Things"

These December days are flying by. Only two days on the calendar are not filled in. That's OK. Something picture worthy will happen for sure. In the meantime, these are a few pictures from early to mid December.

Dad had time to accompany me and the North American missionaries on their excursion to Old Lima by way of the coast. Instead of stopping on the beach, the bus driver took us to a scenic spot on the cliffs overlooking the sea. I love my role as the official tour guide for the missionaries who have three more weeks in the CCM. The Latins have only three weeks.

At a stoplight we watched this mime artist. The acrobats and jugglers are out in full force now. All the schools are out for the holidays and the summer vacation which began this week and will end in March.

Just below the cliff where the Elders are is the surfers' monument, a three sided, surfboard-like structure.

The views are particularly beautiful from this vantage point. We are looking down onto the surfers' monument and park which has been under development since we came 16 months ago. All along the coast parks, playgrounds, and sandy developments are under construction to make the coast a destination for families.

The Christmas tree on the Plaza de Armas/Main Square is under construction--a tree-shaped wooden structure over the fountain. The large brass nativity is in on the balcony of the Governor's Palace, and the traffic policewomen are in festive costume.

We are sitting on the steps of the Basilica waiting for our tourbus which was nearly an hour late. However, we enjoyed people watching and visiting with strangers who were quite taken by the sight of all the Elders in their white shirts and ties and the Hermanas and me. We had some strange and interesting encounters. The downside to the long wait was that I had invited the Armstrongs for dinner at 6:30pm. We didn't get back to the apartment until 6:00pm. Dad set the table while I put together the Lion House Chicken Salad dinner. I had made the salad earlier so it was just a matter of putting the dinner together.

The Area office grounds are just spectacular--the colorful gardens and lightposts are decorated with garlands, pinecones, and lights.

The artist of this multicolored nativity lives in Lima. The only place one can purchase his art is at Larco Mar in Mireflores or at the Lima Airport. I have his phone number and email. It might have to be the last nativity we buy here.

The North American wives lunch was such fun. We played Christmas songs on the bells, ate scrumptious food and visited. The young mother in the blue t-shirt just had her first boy. She has two little girls. She is one of 15 children who has written a fascinating book about growing up in a large, well organized family. Her little girl is under the table in the next picture. Her husband works for the US Embassy.

Kennedy was fun to watch. I took several pictures of her in different positions.
What child doesn't like to play under a table. I remember when we had a quilt on in the living room that one or two of our "people" played under the quilt.

More of the CCM plaza is lighted now. When we came out of the auditorio after the despedida on Sunday night, I took pictures. It's magical at night.

The La Molina Ward party was a kick. Santa had a present for every Primary aged child. He called their names, one at a time. The nativity presentation was so fun. The little sheep refused to keep his headdress on. Little Mary (Graciela's daughter Camila) was very big with child--she could hardly move from the many balloons stuffed under her robes. I sang three Christmas songs with a group of Relief Society sisters. For not practicing at all, we sounded really good. Dad said the harmony was balanced. I love how they do things here--no pressure!

With 151 missionaries, the auditorio is nearly filled. This is the group which sang for the US Embassy's top people a couple of weeks ago. President Whetten gave me permission to shoot some pictures Sunday night. Cameras are allowed only the P-day before they go into the field and on the day they are boarding buses for the airport or meeting their Lima mission presidents.

The despedida--the farewell gathering before the missionaries go to their missions--is our favorite event at the CCM. All the districts present a theme and scripture and then sing a hymn. We are amazed at the creativity of some of the districts.

Since I had my camera with me, I asked the Hermanas if I could take their pictures. Teaching Relief Society to the North Americans is one of my favorite "things" of our mission. The sister on the far left is going to one of the northern missions to serve as the mission nurse. Dad is so grateful for their presence--only three missions have nurses and they are invaluable.

Barbra Brasher, Cheryl Whitaker, Betty Ann Armstrong, and I had to have a "farewell" picture together. The Whitakers are returning to Las Vegas at the end of the month, the Armstrongs are going home for the holidays, Betty Ann and her daughter are staying until the end of February, and we are leaving on the 25th of February.

A perfect picture to end with is this young juggler who could juggle three balls in one hand or five in his two hands while standing out in the middle of the road where five lanes of traffic merged into an ovallo wide enough for three lanes of cars. What a way to make a few centavos!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

La Bistecca

Dad and I cannot help thinking about the great and grand buffet meal we had at La Bistecca on Monday. We liked the food so much, we want to gather a crowd and go back for more.

Juana and Liliana, full-time secretaries for the Area presidency, are the movers and shakers in the office. All business goes through them. The Area secretaries, Jack Beals and Bruce Ghent, who are serving missions with their wives, handle all the ecclesiastical affairs under the direction of the Area presidency. Even they could not do all they do without the skills of Juana and Liliana.

These missionaries were a raucous bunch. The Ghents, on the left, are shirttail cousins. Hna. Ghent is cousin Tim Hess's sister-in-law. The Strattons, from Provo, serve in the temple presidency. President Stratton was trying to blame his run-in with the chocolate fountain onto someone else. He's a great tease--he gives dad a bad time about the weight he's lost and he calls him "Doc." Fun, hard working people!

These are the Brashers. She is the Area psychologist and he does all the computer work to keep her free to counsel. We are really enjoying them and appreciate the long, long hours they keep.

The Whitakers from Henderson NV have just completed their third mission. They have been working on the Perpetual Education Fund, PEF, which helps young men and women get an education. In Peru and Chile there are no scholarships. Education is very expensive and many cannot afford to go beyond a high school educational experience.

This is the pasta bar I tried to get a shot of last December. One of the cooks told me I couldn't take a picture. This time I shot it from afar. I cannot begin to describe the choices of pasta. I ordered four different ravioli creations which was just exactly enough food for me. Last year I filled up on the salad and meat. The menu boards are hanging overhead, but I just pointed to the examples on the counter, and one of the cooks whipped up four appetizer-size creations.
Dad took advantage of the buffet and tried a little of many different creations.

Somehow I deleted the picture of the Chinese food section. You could eat here every day of the week and never repeat choices. I sometimes wish we lived in San Isidro, not just for the gastronomy, but for the proximity to the ocean.

This section was all pasta salad creations, different beans, and avacado preparations--an interesting assortment. The line for the sushi bar and the grill was so long, I gave up. Instead, I went for the very rich milk chocolate fountain and the dozen assorted cookies, cakes, marshmallows, fruits, and candies for dipping in the fountain.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas

Our little tabletop tree has a split personality--the lights chase each other, they twinkle, they grow from dim to bright, and different strands light up the different sections of the tree. We find ourselves "tree watching."

Elder Nash and his counselors spoke at the South America Northwest Area Presidency Christmas Devotional on Monday morning. After the devotional, all the office employees and Area missionaries boarded buses--there were four huge tour buses--for a trip to San Isidro's La Bistecca Restaurant, a grand buffet.

This is one of many pictures taken of us. The spacious restaurant was totally filled with the office people. I'll include pictures of the different "stations" on the next blog. Chuck-a-Rama is a back yard picnic compared to La Bistecca.

Brother Ospino, on my left, helps us every Sunday with our power point presentations. He is a computer guru with the kindest heart.

We were on the first bus load to return to the office. I shot this picture from the bus.

The CCM courtyard sparkles with white lights.

"The stockings were hung by the 'chimney' with care, in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there." When there is no chimney, a black upholstered chair works.

The Christmas pottery we bought at the grocery store adds color to the corner of the room.

This nativity shows the culture of the reed boat people of Lake Titicaca in Puno, Peru. When the Jeffries were here, we took a ride in a reed boat around the family's island.

This is one of my favorite nativities depicting the Highland people of Peru.

This nativity is made of tiny gold glass figures. Another version of this style is done with blue glass and gold headdresses.

One of the Elders serving in Lima South Mission sent this nativity from Ayacucho. The stable is made of river rock.

Me encanta with the tiny one-piece nativities. The white one is made of the white sillar stone from the volcano Misti in Arequipa. The roof is in the style of the typical knitted Peruvian hat. The round nativity is a reproduction of nativities made in Colonial Peru.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thanksgiving Celebrations Aplenty

Thanksgiving at our home has always included making the Indian cookies which reminds us of the Indians who saved the Pilgrims' lives by teaching them to plant corn and other vegetables and fruits as well as how to hunt for game. The first Indian cookies came from Grandma Hess who bought them at Mrs. Backers' Bakery one Thanksgiving in the late 1980s. Truth be told they are just fun to create and even more fun to eat. When some of our friends moved away from the neighborhood they told us what they missed most about not being neighbors was the Indian cookies. Fun to know!

The Jeffries sent this picture of the tradition continuing at their house. Kate, Emma, and Spencer were in charge of decorating the cookes. Emma and Margaret made and baked the cookies. Even Ellie was in on the act until it was her naptime. We just love to see this tradition continue into the next generation.

In Lima the FHE group, the missionary couples, continued the long tradition of holding their own Thanksgiving dinner on the Monday night before Thanksgiving. The food was so plentiful and so good, we all overate. The tables were decorated with colorful Peruvian cloths. However, we couldn't find a turkey ceramic, a picture of a turkey, or even turkey cookies anywhere.

The Lees, Lima Temple president and directora, just arrived a few weeks ago. They enjoyed their first Thanksgiving feast in Lima.

Look at that table--two kinds of sweet potatoes, two turkeys, homemade gravy, homemade rolls, green beans, cornbread stuffing, creamy mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and more--it was all so good we stuffed ourselves.

Two of the hermanas are from Peru. Two of our desserts were decidedly Peruvian, including this heavenly flan.

Because the dinner was held in the office comedor, we had access to professional equipment. This display of desserts like the offerings in a professional bakery but they were homemade.

One of the activities was for each one to tell what he or she was thankful for. I said I was thankful for family--Dad, our children and grandchildren, extended relatives, and the missionary couples who are like family here.

On Thanksgiving morning we gathered out on the soccer field for the Nash Family traditional Thanksgiving football game. Anyone who wanted to play football was invited to come play--the young Primary age children and the junior high and high school kids played the adults. The deal is they just play--every one wins.

Even touch football is fast and furious--the passes were long, and the young and not so young were running everywhere.

How's this for comradery--two Cougars, one Aggie, and a Ute playing together.

Our friends, Betty and and Dave Armstrong and their daughter, took time out for a picture. Dave had already pulled a muscle but he was determined to go in for a second game. Fateful decision--three of the five men who played that game were injured--a thoroughly pulled muscle, a dislocated finger which had to be reduced, and a torn achilles tendon which resulted in surgery the next day. Good grief! At dinner they talked about how fun it was to play the game in spite of injuries.

Later that afternoon the North Americans gathered at the home of the new comptroller. You are looking at the front door which is on the street. It looks like a front door to the house, but typical hacienda style has a formal gate and fence with a courtyard in front of the home and a spacious lawn in the back.
Again, the meal was scrumptious, the food was plentiful, and the visiting was such fun. There must have been twenty North American families there. Everyone brought a dish or two.

The adults ate under this floral pergola. The teens had their own area. The children were off in another corner at their own tables. It just concentrates the mind to think we were eating Thanksgiving outdoors in warm, scented air.

And swimming on Thanksgiving day? Hard to believe but the kids were loving it.

Then later that evening, the Armstrongs and we went the CCM for the traditional North American Thanksgiving dinner cooked by the Peruvian caterers who provide three meals a day for the missionaries. I heard one Elder exclaim, "This is the best day of my life," as he carried a plate heaped with turkey, potatoes, vegetables, salad and pie. The pumpkin pie was the best we have eaten in a long time.

The branch leaders sat together with President and Hna. Whetten who are sitting at the end of the table. Dad and I ate conservatively--we were still full from the afternoon meal. We eat together every Sunday after the three-hour block. We really enjoy the people we serve with at the CCM.

Super happy North Americans enjoying their Thanksgiving meal, they were happy to pose for a picture. The Elder on the left was in a cast for a sprained ankle so he is not wearing his suit. The doctors here cast sprains which drives Dad crazy. His cast was off by the weekend--he wasn't that injured.

This final picture is of one of the caterers. I love this picture because she is smiling so broadly. When we first arrived, she never smiled and hardly acknowledged us. Now she greets us and we exchange conversation. We have enjoyed getting to know her.