Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bringing sanity to the roads of Peru? Probably not...

Every small effort helps, right?  Every additional driver who will obey the laws and drive as if part of their brain had not been destroyed by tocosh should help the overall situation on the roads here in Peru, right?
Doing her small part to shove the stupid needle on the Peru highways more toward the left,
and in case I'm arrested for driving in my pajamas (see previous entry), Paula also decided to obtain a Peruvian driver's license.  This ranks up there with other easy undertakings, such as:
or that guy that had to roll the rock up the hill,
or maybe erasing the national debt.
However, ever the optimist, she set out to get it done.  Off to License Land!  Those bright signs hiding broken dreams, those smiling faces wanting to rent you a teeny car, those... oh, never mind.
By the end of the next four months, we could drive the road to License Land with our eyes closed, which, by the way, is how everyone else drives in Peru.
Remembering my struggles to pass the driving part of the test, she practiced at the 'driving school.'
We waited in what became known in the family as "The Pit of Despair" to take the test.
She flunked.
She practiced some more.
 She stood around for three or four hours and tried again.
She flunked.
By now, License Land was getting kind of old. 
After much frustration, and with the smiles on the nice 'driving school' instructors getting a little tired, she once more put down some cash and practiced again.
Somehow, and we're not sure how, and we really don't care how and maybe we don't want to know how, 
In Paula's defense, on the third try, she didn't touch any lines, she remembered to turn on her flashers when backing up, just like every Peruvian driver never does, and honestly made no mistakes.
So, after four months, passing the written test twice, practicing for hours in back lot 'driving schools,' and after twenty trips of some sort to License Land, she is now a licensed driver in Peru!
She says the whole Middle East peace thing is going to be a cinch.
We hope that you never have to get a driver's license in Huancayo, Peru.  Or drive there, for that matter.
Dave & Paula

Friday, May 16, 2014

So what do we REALLY do?

Sure, the posts on this blog try to point out some of the funny things and absurdities of life in the mountains of central Peru.  However, our real purpose in being here is to support the work of the Lord, and in particular, take care of the 200-some young missionaries assigned to our geographical Mission.
This includes making decisions about where to assign them, and with whom.  Hopefully, that works out well...
Every six weeks, those finishing their two-year assignment, or 18-months in the case of the Sisters, gather for a final dinner with us and head home.
Meanwhile, a new group comes in the next day, uneasy and breathing hard from the altitude, fresh from two to six weeks of instruction at the Mission Training Center in Lima.  They come from every country in South and Central America, and about a third are from the U.S.
About a third of the young missionaries are women.
Health problems arise, most often from contaminated food and drink, with brief gastrointestinal problems being the bane of the missionaries' existence.  Many suffer briefly from the altitude when they arise, but most adapt quickly.  Luckily, serious illness has been uncommon.
We are responsible for the interaction of the Mission with the excellent and faithful local Church leaders, many of whom are relatively recent converts themselves.  
We are also here to help those with problems of homesickness, anxiety, etc., which are also fortunately uncommon.  
We are helped immensely by the young leaders assigned from the missionaries themselves who watch out for and help each other.  
And yes, we take time occasionally to do fun things.
We are also blessed to have a great office staff of young missionaries who serve for three to six months, as well as two outstanding young men who serve as my Assistants.  We couldn't do this without these young men.  
At present, we also have a senior couple serving in the office for two years, handling the finances of the Mission and helping with reports.  
Our assignment is to last three years, starting last July 1st and ending in 2016, during which time we are not to leave the Mission.  We are provided with a place to live, food and transportation (see previous entries where we could be accused of abusing the latter).  
We are honored to serve, and although the work is sometimes difficult, and usually busy and tiring, it is fulfilling.  So far, we're glad to be here.
Dave & Paula

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Peruvian Road Trip®!!

As we slammed along on the dental-filling-loosening road on the six-hour-plus trip to Huánuco, with nothing to do but listen to parts of the car falling off as we jarred through the potholes and landslide sites, it suddenly hit me - the solution to any anxiety about our post-mission post-retirement financial wellbeing:  Peruvian Road Trip®, the new video game!
At the beginning of the game, you are given a brand-new Nissan SUV, 
a tankful of gas (at $6.50 USD per gallon), 
a credit card which randomly may or may not be accepted at gas stations, and three missionaries crammed in the back seat, all hungry. 
You are also given a loaf of bread, a jar each of jam and peanut butter and six juice boxes.  You have to get to Huánuco/La Merced/Cerro de Pasco by a certain time, depending on the game level, with the three missionaries still alive and your wife happy.
Each failure to do so adds six months to your assigned role as "Mission President."  By the way, nothing you can do shortens it...
Points are gained by:
Having your license (see previous blog post) at one of the innumerable police stops.
Stopping and feeding the crew at one of the innumerable pachamanca restaurants along the way.
(On the other hand, you lose points if the pachamanca makers weren´t washing their hands.)
Ah, but that's another video game!
You lose points, (and have to use 50 of them cleaning the front of the car) if you hit a llama.
You gain points if you don't become part of the landslide,
and if you get to your destination without the transmission lying on the road from hitting some rock.
However, you lose 50 points every time someone has to stop and throw up (or 100 if they don't stop to throw up) on the curvy roads.  By the way, this is Tarma, one of the cities in the Mission.
You lose major points if you get stuck in one of the landslides.
 OK, but how deep could that stuff be, anyway?
 Ha!  There go major points!  It was deeper than when we came through the week before!
Points back on the chart for a nice family flagging down a good-hearted truck driver.  With towing straps.
Major points gone for a broken towing strap, and tipping the driver.
Some more points down the tubes for the condition of your shoes.
Points back on the board for not being stopped by the police - while wearing pajamas.
Ooops!  Forgot the charge for the car wash guys.
 And the dry cleaners!
We hope you do better on your video games than we did on Peruvian Road Trip.
Hmm, how about Missionary Transfers® for XBox and Play Station?!
Dave & Paula.