Sunday, February 28, 2016

Week in Review - February 21, 2016 - February 27, 2016

Laughs, Landslides, and Layovers

Well, sorry to hear your week was less than exciting... But here in the office there is always something new every week.  EVERY WEEK.  Let's go through what happened this week.

Starting with Saturday we began with the transfer.  The 4 who were finishing their mission went home (after missing taxis, bus problems, and almost missing their flights - up until I received calls from the Area stating that they received calls from the airport stating the missionaries had not arrived yet.  Yea!) 

The new group came in this week as well, first group we had them come in on Cruz del Sur, a local Peruvian bus company - by far the best bus company in all of Perú.  Truthfully we feel way better that we have changed this company, and it has made our lives way easier too as it is way less coordination that we have to do now.

Now, the fun part.  There is a word in Quechwa which is Huaico.  It means landslide.  How fun!  Luckily the landslide happened AFTER the transfer, but not after when we sent some missionaries to Lima.  I will tell the following story chronologically so it will make the most sense.

Tuesday Morning:  We send two missionaries from Huancayo to Lima to have a small operation that would be best carried out in Lima, due to medical staff, training, etc.  No problem.  They get to Lima safe and sound and are with the Area Offices for a good amount of time between Temple Trips and Medical Visits.  No problems here.

Wednesday:  Today was transfers in the mission... Missionaries all over the mission are carrying out their new transfers, which can easily include transfers from one end of the mission to another, which cold take about 14 hours in a car.  How fun!  

Thursday:  2 Missionaries are sent to Lima for immigrations purposes.  One from Huancayo and the other from Huanuco.  Both leave in the morning.  Both arrive in the Huaico (Landslide) in a rural part of the Main Highway between our mission and those of Lima. One missionary makes it to the landslide, the bus stops and says they will not be able to pass for 2 days, and lets everybody off the bus and allows them to find their own way to get to Lima with their own money.  I receive a call from this missionary and give him instructions on how to get to Lima (a 4-5 hour additional journey from where he was at the moment).   The area offices are informed and agree to meet the taxi in a special terminal in Lima and pay the taxi fees that I was unable to pay from here.  Missionary from Huanuco is done. Made it to Lima well.  Tired, but well.  

Now, we have the missionary from Huancayo.  He got stuck in the landslide.  I put myself in contact with the bus company (Cruz del Sur) and basically what it came down to is that the bus would either stay there for 3 days and wait it out, or this missionary would have to either find a car back to the mission (and pay super high prices) or find another car and take it to Lima.  His phone was dying, and didn't really have the desire to stay there for 3 days in the middle of nowhere.  And I do not blame him.  So... We sent over a few missionaries from the farthest corner of our mission in this area.  La Oroya.  We assembled a mini (rescue team) haha to see how this Elder was doing in the Landslide.  Sent them with a good amount of money, food, water, and a phone battery.  After about 5 hours they met up with the missionary and assisted him to find a taxi to Lima (still has to go to immigrations) and when the missionaries from La Oroya get there to the taxi, after passing through the landslide, they inform me it would be less than safe to return through the landslide at that hour..

So what happens next?  Well, President Henderson and everyone else was super out of cell phone range... So, I gave them permission to leave and go to Lima with everyone else. Best for their safety.  So... Lets see what we have got now.

2 Missionaries that have been in Lima for a while for medical reasons.  1 more that made it safe and sound passing through the landslide from Huanuco... and 3 more from the other side that also are now in Lima.  With help from the Area representatives in Lima we got the whole group of our mission together in Lima, and they will be working and being together in Lima until further notice.  Most probable for Monday Afternoon is when there will be the way to return back to Huancayo.  Poor guys, but i'm sure they are loving every bit of it.  Rescue teams, landslides, emergency temple trip, the works.  In the end, they are all good, and deep down, I think every single one of them has really enjoyed what has been happening in these last few days.  

And so, en fin, my phone has no joke been ringing non-stop since Thursday Afternoon from 5PM, all night, until Friday, 8PM.  Non-stop. But we got them all, everyone is happy, safe, but maybe the only thing they are missing is an additional pair of clothes.  But truthfully I believe they are happy.  And who wouldn't be?  Temple trip!  

So, I am sleeping again, President is still out and about in the mission, and I just ate pancakes.  Not sure what we will do for P-Day today, and I don't care, as long as I am not in the office, it is ok with me. I have just heated up one of the hot chocolate packets... thanks!

Also, I have attached a photo of me with Top Ramen and my Mini Parm Cheese when I was stuck in the office with the Landslide. It made the night go a bit better...

When we heard that Elder Holmes was in need of
Parmesan Cheese, we sent some over
I hope your week is not as fun filled as mine, and that when it rains, the whole main highway for your nation does not collapse.  

-Élder Holmes
Misión Perú Huancayo

Monday, February 22, 2016

Week in Review - February 14, 2016 - February 20, 2016

Well, this week was pretty calm, just a bunch of routine things to do.  The Tour of Elder Godoy finished technically on Sunday afternoon on his way back to Lima.  I got a call from President Henderson informing us that they had made it safely to Lima.  Woo!!  After that we were able to send off Elder Gutierrez, one of the Faithful Assistants to the Mission.  If I am not mistaken he served as an assistant for 10 months, so we made sure he had a good send off.  Normally with the groups that go home, they have a final dinner with the Henderson's in their house.  Well, he was the only one in this group based on timing for his schooling...So as Elder Gutierrez last request he asked that we in the office could eat with them for their last dinner.  Yumm!  

We ended up taking Elder Gutierrez to the airport that is nearby (over 1 hour by car, and driving at President Henderson Speeds) we got there pretty quick.  It was pretty cool too, usually we have to pay a pretty significant amount of overweight charges with this airport to get us to Lima, because they only allow 1 bag of 15 kilos.  Well... Missionaries go home with 23 kilos in EACH Bag, so the church (meaning us the mission) covers their overweight.  We get to the counter and I am processing his overweight fee, we get to the counter to pay it, they look at us... Back at the computer... They had problems with the computer system to pay the overweight.  Being here in Peru I thought they would have told us we couldn't take the additional bags (its a small flight, and they will do that a lot if you come later in) so they just told us... Na... Don't worry about it, we will wave the fees for overweight today.  Woah! In flights here in Peru all the prices are in dollars, and we saved about $150 just without having to pay for that overweight!  It was fun, we stayed at the airport until his flight took of, which was a plane that looked something like this...

While at the airport we found ourselves with a few gringo visitors... Sister Henderson did the usual Local Greeter and welcomer to Peru and helped them get a taxi.  Then we were off, back to the Pension to start the day...

One other day was worthy of mention... usually I have to go to the National Bank to make immigration payments so that we can do the paperwork to keep the missionaries legal here in Peru.  Well, of this many times I have to go to the lovely bank lines which look something like this... On a regular basis  .

So, once you actually get through the line outside, there is another large line inside the building... Once you get to the counter it is another story.  I had to process 30 payments of immigrations, of which can take a while to do, especially with people who arent accustomed to making these payments (there is no immigration office in Huancayo) I make it through the line... Get to the front... Then, I am on payment number 5 and what happens  The national bank system fails.  Stuck in the line.  I have 25 more immigration payments to make, and then suddenly everybody in the line behind me (there are about 8 lines within the building) are yelling, hey!  Gringo!  What is your problem!  What is taking so long!  I had warned in advance those in my line that I was going to be making 30 payments, and they all split up and went to other lines... But these guys were less then pleasant...  Luckily I have made friends a few times in the bank, and they defended me saying the whole system was down and we had to wait... Ya, the system came back within 20 minutes of working on it... And ya quickly we finished... It just wasn't that fun to do.  I really don't like going to the bank... I usually have to go at least 1 time each week.    

And to finish the week off, I called the landlady of the house we rent for the mission and told her goodbye.  We are working on the paperwork a week from today.  I really do not look forward to that, because the house has damages that are equally our and their fault... And a good number of them that aren't the cheapest types of repairs... Maybe we can invite Extreme Home Makeover Edition - Peru to take a look at the place.  I'm sure they would just run away though once they see the house.

That should be it for this week, hope all is doing well at home.. Love you all and will write next week...

-Elder Holmes
Huancayo Peru Mission

Monday, February 15, 2016

Week in Review - February 6, 2016 - February 13, 2016

Elder Holmes and his companion!
The Tour - Huatapayllana - The Tour - Elder Godoy - Traveling

Well to say the least, this week was extremely loaded with things to do.  To start off, we begin with Monday...

Monday:  We went to Huatapayllana.  Again!  Wooooo!!! And guess who I found there!  The Lego Mini-figure that I lost over 2 months ago, was found still waiting on the same rock I left him there...A little weather damaged with all the rain and ice and snow, but it made it through!  I will admit, the trip took a while, and we decided for the weather that it would be best if the two zones would stay together in ONE GROUP.  It was painful for those who wanted to go fast, to go slow and take many breaks, but in the end it was worth it.  We had a bit of snow for a few minutes fall, rain, beating sun... it all came out on us for that day of travel.  But in the end, it was great!

Tuesday:  Today was the Tour Preparation Day.  Elder Godoy of the First Quorum of the 70 is set to come to our mission within 48 hours and we were just running all over the place. Food, transportation for first 60 missionaries, then 36 missionaries, combie transportation, cars, the works.  Hotels, extra rooms, need for beds, Sisters in another house, more rooms, more beds, it was a planning nightmare.  Then, when I wasn't looking, Tuesday turned into Wednesday..

Wednesday:  Elder Godoy showed up today, but not after many prayers that all would work out.  The weather has been quite rainy these last few days, and it has gotten to the point they have canceled a few days of the flights from this airport that we have here in our mission.  And this lovely (international airport) doesn't have runway lights.,  So.... Bad weather means they cancel all of the two flights they have scheduled for the day.  But, he got through... I get the call from Sister Henderson... The´re here.  OK!  Lets get to work!  First all the  missionaries from the Jungle side of the mission had to be sent from their areas (max distance 6-7 hours from Huancayo) to Huancayo for the Multi-zone.  They all stayed the night in our rooms, or in the hotel next to our house, because the plumbing in our house is not sufficient for 30 Elders.  The house infrastructure would collapse.  So, we sent over a majority of the elders from our house to the Hotel telling them I would rent additional rooms just so we could shower at 5:30AM.  He went for it!  30 Soles later!  

Thursday:  Today is the Multi-zone for Huancayo and the Jungle Side of the mission (Don't forget they all came over here)  The Conference was really great, Elder Godoy and his Wife both Spoke, and you can definitely hear their Portuguese Accent when they are talking, and many times words in English and Portuguese just slip out.  Today we had the opportunity as the office staff and President to meet with them and talk about the mission and our responsibilities.  It was a nice meeting which really got down to some of the nitty gritties of what we should and should not be doing... Really great experience.  Also, after the Multi-zone finished, we split paths.  President Henderson and Elder Godoy went down to Tarma (3 hour distance) to give a few devotionals to the Members there.  They stayed the night, while we were traveling from 3PM on to go to Huanuco.  But, for weather reasons it took to long, we just stayed the night at 14,400 feet in Cerro de Pasco about 5 hours away. Man. Was that a cold hotel.  I can tell you though, we rented a cheap heater for 10 soles for one night.  Totally worth it.  Totally Worth It.  

This is an altimeter that Elder Holmes purchased while in Peru.
It shows that the elevation in Cerro de Pasoc (the hotel he stayed in) is 4,110 meters.
If you convert that to feet, 13,484 feet. No wonder he was a bit cold.
That is why it is the highest elevation mission in the WORLD!!
Friday.  We set out bright and early to go down to Huanuco (about 2 Hours from Cerro de Pasco) to get everything ready.  Why?  Because in Huanuco they were going to have the same type of meeting that we had, the multi-zone... but with a twist.  After their multi-zone, we would have all of the mission leaders miraculously show up for a Mission Wide Leadership meeting, in one of the corners of the mission.  Woah!  First time in the history of the mission that was done.  About 70 missionaries were there from Zone Leaders, District Leaders, and Sister Leaders were in attendance.  We had to send them from all parts of the mission, which we actually just ended up doing was putting the majority of them in 2 combies and shipping them around the mission.  Then, when they got to Huanuco, we had them go to their hotels, (i had to rent about 20 rooms (2 hotels) for all the visiting missionary leaders)  - They all got there safe and sound, and the meeting in the Huanuco Amarilis Stake Center began.  it was great.  Really great.  In email it is hard to describe how or what went on, but just know that it was all really good.  And it is quite interesting to state and notice how each conference was different, even if they were (planned) to be the same. haha.  Sisters Henderson's Brownies were a hit, and everything just worked out.  

Saturday:  Time to head out!  Missionaries assigned to be at the Huanuco Stake Center at 6:15AM to eat breakfast, so they can get to their areas before nightfall.  What an adventure here in the Peru Huancayo Mission!  Combie Rides back to the main centers of the mission (Tarma and Huancayo) then cars to get to the outlying areas which could be another 5 hours of driving.  I just got back within 2 hours ago, so I am just relieved to be here... Back at home... Ahhh... I am just not a fan of traveling in the back on Peruvian Streets... It is just nice to be home...

Yup!  So thats the week.  Madness, Meetings, and more.  Elder Godoy and his wife enjoyed their travels here (as he leads us to presume) and we are here just giving thanks that we were able to make it through the week.  Hope you week is less eventful then ours, and you find yourselves traveling where you need to and will be able to get there before sun fall. 

Elder Holmes
Peru Huancayo Mission

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Week in Review - January 31, 2016 - February 5, 2016

This week passed by super fast... Just about as fast as.. well every other week here in the office.  I don't lie to you, every week more that I have here in Peru and in the mission pass by even faster than before.  

This last week I had the opportunity to send another missionary home early for Health Related Issues which can only be resolved in the home, and not here in the mission. Woah.  More Immigration paperwork.  I'm becoming an expert in this whole Peruvian Law and Immigration Documentation Process...

This week we also had the opportunity to get all of the Mission Leaders (Zone Leaders and Sister Leaders) together for another training.  Pizza Hut and Burger King to the rescue!  The restaurants are learning.  They are coming on time.... And if they come late, they are giving us free stuff, and the managers come and deliver the food.  Yea, they are understanding it!  

We are also preparing for Elder Godoy to come to our mission, and frankly it is putting everybody up in arms... We are receiving mixed messages from his secretary of where, when, how, what they want to do.  We plan for one thing, and we find out they want something else!  Well, we cannot wait much longer, and its not like we can just pick up the phone and call the first quorum of the 70 up and ask him to change all the plans they made (because they are unfamiliar with our Geography or the Mission Specific Challenges that WILL arise if they follow their current plans...) - So, we push along... 

You might be wondering why I am writing today.  Well, today is Sister Henderson's Birthday, so we had to plan something.  Elder Islas, from Veracruz Mexico was our star cook.  I felt like it was kinda like the Cosby show where Cliff rents out the Caribbean Chef to cook for Clair.  Everything down to the last detail.  Well, we planned the food, went to 2 markets, 1 supermarket, to find all the ingredients we needed.  Needless to say - We found them, but it took a bit.  They were called Mole Poblano which consist of MANY INGREDIENTS, but is completely worth it.  Then, we also found a 3 Milks cake and called it a day.  There are photos, but I don't have them yet.. One day I will have them.  

To end the day we went and did a little shopping in the center.  The photos attached are what happens when you go shopping in the center.  There was a cultural event today.  Apparently it is fun to dance, yell, and throw talco powder all over the place...Then, you throw water from the rooftops on the talco covered people.  Dance, run, scare people, and call it a day!  How fun!  If I wasn't a missionary.... 

So thats it!  A week in the office... Obviously there are many other things that happen, but some of which I just talk about here, and many things that are just mundane, and aren't fun to talk about here in the email.  Hope you are all doing well, and enjoying Winter!  Its raining pretty hard here too! 

-Elder Holmes
Huancayo, Peru