Thursday, February 21, 2013

Our Assignment

As a previous post noted, we will be starting a new assignment as of July 1st.  We have been notified that we will preside over the new Peru Huancayo Mission.
Huancayo is a city of approximately 400,000 people, situated at 10,731 feet at the end of the Mantaro Valley.  It is about 300 km to the east of Lima, to the north of Cusco, and is presently in the Peru Lima East Mission.  We've not been informed of the exact boundaries of the new Mission.

The airport for Huancayo is located in Jauja, a one-hour drive up the valley.  A 12-hour train ride from Lima to Huancayo tops out at greater than 15,000 feet, and is known for its scenic beauty.  There are several national parks with >18,000 foot mountains within a couple of hours.
We are looking forward to serving in the new Mission, and we'll keep you posted as time gets shorter.  
Dave & Paula

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Lifelong Dream....Fulfilled!!

It took Ben (Laura's husband) until age 35 to kick a pigeon, and it took a trip to Bogotá, and Simón Bolívar's iconic Square to get the job done.  The look on Ben's face can only be compared to Christmas  morning.
It was worth the wait!
In other aspects, the week-long trip down was also a great success.  Laura and Ben got to tour Paloquemao, the insane huge market, where they could have bought anything from a whole pig to roses to a catfish to a half-mile spool of ribbon.  
They have the best banana leaves there, as I'm sure you're aware, and Laura learned how to make Colombian tamales from her mother.
We rented a car, which seemed to be fine, but more on that later, and drove four hours north to the achingly picturesque and Colombian town of Villa de Leiva.
We stayed in an achingly picturesque Colombian inn.
We watched the achingly picturesque Colombian downpour, having arrived from checking out the shops moments before.
So, the next morning we headed back to Bogotá through the beautiful countryside, and the sun was shining, and we were laughing, and.... the car flat out died.  We drifted back in to a safe parking place and awaited rescue.
The tow truck showed up with a great 20-year-old at the helm, who has been driving tow trucks since he was eight ("it was easier then, not so much checking licenses"), and I rode and talked and laughed with him back to Bogotá, while Paula successfully directed his mom (in Spanish!) driving the other car to back to our place.  It was the timing belt, by the way.
The next day, Ben suffered briefly from some of the achingly picturesque Colombian food we'd had, and so we left him in peace in Bogotá and took the bus to Zipaquirá (that's right, accent on the last syllable) 
to the #1 Colombian World Attraction, the Salt Cathedral.  In the mined-out galleries of the long-lived halite (rock salt) mine, the miners and then artists have created chapels and stations of the cross, and a gift shop, of course.  By the way, to get scale, that cross is 70 feet tall.
Laura proved that the place is, indeed, carved out of salt.
 As in any salt mine, we watched a 3-D movie.
 We also found the stairs of Cirith Ungol (see "Lord of the Rings" Book 2),
as well as Shelob's nephew (same book).
On Friday, we toured the historic Centro part of Bogotá, checking out the museums.
Towards sunset, we went up on Montserrate, the old cathedral built on the top of a mountain at the edge of the city.
We had a great dinner and watched a beautiful (achingly so) sunset over the city,
and then watched the city lights come on.
On Sunday, we took Laura and Ben on the colectivo bus up to church in San Luis.  I'd put in pictures, but the normal people on the bus wouldn't have like it, and it's hard to do in a swerving colectivo dodging the cyclists while you're hanging on to the bar with both hands standing because the bus is once again crammed full.
We enjoyed Ben and Laura's visit immensely and already miss them.
We hope all your experiences are achingly whatever.
Dave & Paula

Thursday, February 7, 2013

You Say Ajiaco, I Say Chicken & Potato Soup

Everyone makes a big deal about ajiaco (that's Ah-hee-ah-co), which is a soup indigenous to the Bogotá area.  Well, frankly, the first couple of batches I tasted were OK, but nothing to e-mail home about.
However, making an effort to learn the local cuisine, we pulled a normal-looking recipe for it from the 'net and went to work.  We discovered that you have to have guascas, which we figured to be an exotic Colombian herb.  On further looking, we learned that Galinsoga parviflora, also known as 'gallant soldier,' is something that Paula believes she has pulled out of her flower beds many times in North Carolina.  Indeed, no less an authority than Wikipedia states, "In much of the world, it is known as 'potato weed,' and is considered one."
Which, of course, begs the question, "What desperate Colombian grabbed some weeds, threw them in the pot, tried the goulash and pronounced, '¡¡Now that's AJIACO, baby!! Come 'n' get it!! Yee Hah!!'"
Figuring that what we had previously was kind of <boring> we took some liberties.  Like when they said "2 cloves," (right) we put in (left) a head.
When they said skinless a chicken breast, we threw in two whole legs, skin and all.
When they said 2 cubes of bouillon and 12 cups water, Paula said, "Throw in three and put in some water."
They said "Add a dollop of heavy cream."  We said, "Cream is for wimps! We want good old, salty Colombian SOUR cream!!"
"And while we're at it, toss in some capers, a bunch of cilantro and some good ripe avocado on the side!"
Now THAT's ajiaco!  Or Colombo-Gringo ajiaco!
We hope that all your potato/chicken/weed/ajiaco soup turns out so good!
Dave and Paula

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A New Assignment

     We were originally called as an Area Medical Advisor to serve here in the upper left-hand corner of South America for two years, finishing this coming September.  However, the Lord had a different plan.
     In early October, we received a call from Salt Lake in which a Church authority asked about our family situation and availability to serve.  On Halloween, while we were in Quito, we spoke with a member of the First Presidency of the Church, also by video chat.  During that conversation, he called us to be Mission President, a three-year assignment, beginning about July 1st of this year.
     The Church has more than 350 geographic Missions throughout the world, each presided over by a Mission President and his wife.  Each one normally has from 150 to 200 young missionaries serving within its borders, though this number will probably increase during the next year because of the change in age requirements for missionaries.  The Mission President makes assignments as to areas of service and missionary companions, he counsels and trains the missionaries, and works with local Church leaders.  The specific assignment will be made in the next several months, and will most likely be Spanish-speaking (sorry, Paula).
     We are excited, though nervous, about this next phase of our lives.  Instead of leaving Colombia in September, we'll pack up mid-March in order to have time to visit our kids, grandkids, siblings and other family members, and we'll be in Raleigh for long enough (we hope) to re-pack and get affairs re-settled.  During the three-year assignment, I'll be asked to not leave our mission area, and Paula can travel home briefly only for the most important family events, such as weddings and funerals of immediate family.
     We'll continue the blog; we hope to stay in touch with all of you!
     Like it says, out of the frying pan...
Dave & Paula
P.S.  Here's the announcement.  I really AM bald.