Favorite recent and insightful quote I have read recently:

Favorite quote I have recently read: "The word temple comes from the Latin templum, which signifies an extended open space that has been marked out for the observation of the sky. In what manner is such a space marked out? According to Dr. Hugh Nibley, the word templum, "designates a building specifically designed for interpreting signs in the heavens--a sort of observatory where one gets one's bearings on the universe." The root "tem-" in Greek and Latin denotes a "cutting" or intersection of two lines at right angles, the point where the "cardo" and "decumanus" cross, hence where the four regions come together." Matthew Brown - "The Gate of Heaven"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Harry Potter in Lima

We enjoyed a pleasant weekend around the house here. Our weekends are shifted to Sunday and Monday as we have a very busy and full schedule on Saturdays in the temple. On Sunday Miky and Mica came over and we ordered pizza for dinner from D'nnos. It was very good and equal to our Papa Johns of North Salt Lake. Mica likes to be entertained as well as staying busy in our apartment. She is not quite two years of age but already enjoys the animated short movie “Gopher Broke” on my laptop, just like LG, CP, and the boys. I am sitting in my new Peruvian version of a Lazy Boy. It was custom made and necessary given the smaller size of furniture here. I needed some extra back support and they made it a little taller also. The chair is leather and was 800 soles or about $250.00 American. We ordered it on Wednesday and they delivered it on Saturday.

For entertainment we went to the Jockey Plaza this afternoon and saw the latest Harry Potter installment at a Cinemark theatre. We were advised to buy tickets for the version with “subtitulos” or subtitles in lieu of the dubbed versions. Somehow it seemed incongruous to hear Lord Voldemort as being addressed “Senior Voldemort.” We heard the original English with subtitles in Spanish. The film was good, maybe one of the best of the series.

After the movie we enjoyed the really good gelato that is sold at a number of locations around Peru. The chocolate is as good as anything I have had anywhere. We always enjoy talking with the taxi drivers we get on the street coming and going. For about a 15-20 minute taxi ride it is 9 or 10 soles or about $3.50. That is our main form of transportation other than walking.  

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving in La Molina

It was an unusual Thanksgiving Day for us here in Peru compared to other holidays in years gone by. Of course no one but expats celebrates or observes Thanksgiving Day here. The temple was open as usual and we were very busy.  It was, aside from missing everyone, a very pleasant day. A few of the more exposed to Norte Americanos workers knew what day it was in America and wished us in English, "Happy Thanksgiving Elder or Hermana Fisher." Our walk to the temple was very pleasant unlike Utah and elsewhere in the West.  Flowers are blooming and trees are filling with leaves.
One of several flowering bushes along our walk to the temple
We have much to be thankful for and the day really was enjoyable working in the temple. I thought of the Prophet Joseph Smith and I am thankful for him. I realize what I have and what he didn't have here in mortality. My bones ache now and again from long hours of standing at times, but I get to grow old together with my wife doing the things we love. We can enjoy our aches and ailments together. Among my siblings we compare notes on aging and the various maladies we inherited from the Parrish side of the family or the Fishers.  Joseph never knew of the golden years in his life. He never heard the sound of feet running and grandsons yelling "Grandpa is here." He was never embraced by a grandchild and told "You are the best. I Love you Grandpa." He never held a new grandson or granddaughter in his arms as he hardly had time to know his own children.  My children unlike his have reached their majority and we have many opportunities to enjoy their company and to observe them as they are caring and engaged adults in their own lives. Joseph never officiated in a completed temple in his life. Yesterday I conducted two sessions in Spanish and remembered to express gratitude for the Prophet in my prayers. It is because of him that we are here serving in the Lima Peru Temple and enjoying our lives as senior missionaries. We are among a people we love and who love us. Our Thanksgiving dinner when we arrived home after 9:00 PM was warmed up cuy and french fried Peruvian yellow potatoes, which was very good.

There are other holidays in Peru we will observe mostly working as they are our busiest days. On  Wednesday December 8th sessions will be doubled and held every half hour throughout the day to accommodate the Peruvian Saints who will come to the temple.  Peruvian Catholicism especially pertaining to holidays, as it is elsewhere in Central and South America, is a strange mix of indigenous Pre-Columbian tradition and mainstream orthodox religious practice. For example as mentioned in an earlier post, cuy  or guinea pig is being feasted upon by Christ and the Twelve at the Last Supper in the main cathedral in Cusco. So, on that Wednesday is Dia de Immaculada Concepcion. This celebrates Mary being without original sin. For Mormons it means a day to attend the temple here in Lima. A new religion has been added or grafted into the lives of some Peruvians and impacting how they celebrate their holidays. It is not surprising how culture blends into the religious. Afterall, was not Christmas originally a pagan holiday observed on December 25th and set aside by the Eastern Emperor Constantine?

Buses will arrive from other parts of Peru bringing their often sleep deprived occupants to the temple.  Likely we will work a little longer shift that day as they will short of workers. We probably will be as tired as the travelers by the time the day is over.

These are the holidays celebrated in Peru as far as we know. At Christmas we have a long weekend of four days off but are not planning on going anywhere. We will likely stay home but maybe venture to a new restaurant or two, do some cooking. RuthAnn will likely bake bread and will see if we can get our Skype telephone account working by then so we can call everyone and wish them "Saludos desde Peru."

January 1New Years DayAño Nuevo
April-MayHoly ThursdayJueves Santo
April-MayGood FridayViernes Santo
April-MayEaster DayDomingo Santo (Pascua)
May 1Labor DayDía del Trabajo
June 29St. Peter and St. PaulDía de San Pedro y San Pablo
July 28-29Independence DayDía de la Independencia
August 30Santa Rosa de LimaDía de Santa Rosa de Lima
October 8Battle of AngamosCombate de Angamos
November 1All Saints DayDía de Todos los Santos
December 8Immaculate ConceptionInmaculada Concepción
December 25ChristmasNavidad

RuthAnn in front of our apartment in Los Forestales Calle

Some of the trees have not regained their leaves yet
The flowers are all in bloom around the temple grounds
It really is not incongruous, neither unusual to be spending and working Thanksgiving Day in the temple.  Afterall, the Lord spoke to the Prophet about a temple in Zion and called it a place of "thanksgiving."

From Doctrine and Covenants Section 97:13 we find: "For a place of thanksgiving for all saints, and for a place of instruction for all those who are called to the work of the ministry in all their several callings and offices."
From Psalms: Psalm 26:6-8 6, I will awash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O Lord: 7, That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy awondrous works. 8, Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine ahonour dwelleth.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Eating Cuy (Guinea pig) in Lima

A little hole in the wall family restaurant with very good barbecued ribs,  chicken, and cuy
Today we went to a locally recommended barbecue place that also serves guinea pig. I tried both the pork ribs and the guinea pig and I have to say both dishes were excellent. In Peru and other Andean countries these rodents are called cuy. They do not exist in the wild but were domesticated and bred for their meat thousands of years ago. It is such a delicacy the animal was usually reserved for ceremonial meals by the indigenous peoples of the Andean highlands. Lately though it has become more socially acceptable for consumption by anyone including us gringos. It continues to be a major part of the diet in the highland areas of Peru, though not as easily found on restaurant menus here in Lima. Because cuy require much less room than traditional farm animals and reproduce very quickly they remain a more profitable source of food and income than many traditional stock animals.
This was my cuy just before being put into the oven. 

Whats does it taste like? Well, it does taste like chicken, such as the dark meat. I have to say I enjoyed enough that I would order it again and lieu of barbecued chicken which we get a lot of here anyway. Cuy meat is high in protein and low in fat and cholesterol. It has been described to me as tasting like rabbit but I think it is better. We had the cuy roasted in an oven. This style is called 'al horno.'
The chips are sliced potatoes on site and served hot from the frier

Peruvians consume an estimated 65 million guinea pigs each year, according to Wiki, and the animal is so entrenched in the culture that one famous painting of the Last Supper in the main cathedral in Cusco shows Christ and the twelve disciples dining on cuy. The animal remains an important aspect of certain religious events in both rural and urban areas of Peru.
It was hot and just out of the horno or masonry oven

Further, work is being done at research universities here in Peru, with the intention of breeding larger-sized cuy. I must have had one of these larger sized cuy as there was a significant amount of meat. Subsequent university efforts have sought to change breeding and husbandry procedures in South America, in order to make the raising of guinea pigs as livestock more economically sustainable. Beginning In the 1990s and 2000s, Peru began exporting the larger breed of cuy to the States, Europe and Japan with the hope of increasing human consumption outside of the Andean region of South America.

Making Chicha Morada this morning...

I am preparing some chicha morada here in our apartment this morning for our Norte Americano FHE group tonight along with RA making orange rolls and I contributing some mashed potatoes for an early Thanksgiving Dinner. The last time I made it Paco gave it only a “6” on a scale of 1 to 10. I am endeavoring to reach a 7 this morning. It should be possible considering I am using local ingredients and the pineapple is so sweet here. Chicha is a fruit drink made from a special corn grown in many places throughout the western hemisphere but comes from the maiz morado or purple corn. It is sweet and usually unfermented. Remains of a 1,000 year old production facility for chicha have been discovered on a mountaintop here in Peru. Chicha is a delightful drink and we appreciate our Peruvian friends for introducing it to us along with so much else. 

In recent years many health benefits of purple corn have been found and it is being studied seriously at universities in the US including Texas A&M. Research has shown that purple corn contains cell-protecting antioxidants with the ability to inhibit carcinogen-induced tumors in rats. Many plant-derived substances are believed to show these properties including blueberries, but few have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory capabilities and the potential as purple corn. Anthocyanins are responsible for the purple, violet, and red colors attending many plants. Anthocyanins belong to an even larger class of plant chemicals known as flavonoids and are found in diverse plants. These antioxidants in purple corn are 10 to 12 times the content found in blueberries. Other health benefits claimed by these anthrocyanins found in purple corn include prevention of cardiovascular disease, increases blood flow, act as diuretics lowering blood pressure, and the promoting of tissue regeneration and healing.

Our chicha, like other recipes, includes pineapple, fresh key limes, (added after cooking), apples, cinnamon, clove, and orange juice in addition to the purple corn. It is sweetened to taste and it will be enjoyed with our early Thanksgiving dinner in Peru. We have much to be grateful for though we are away from family and friends this year. We will be working in the temple on Thursday, but being here in Peru has only added to our gratitude for so much that we so easily take for granted. We see our fellow temple workers here who sacrifice food for the price of bus fare to be in the temple to complete their assignments. Many of the brethren cannot afford their white suits so and they rent jackets from the temple and make do with the best they have. Their shoes are worn and old but they are always a very happy people. I admire them greatly. 

If you want a recipe for chicha you can find them online and you can also email my friend Paco for a recipe. I know he won't give you his recipe for a "10" chicha but he will help you to enjoy this very healthy and enjoyable drink. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fresh Chicken and How Much Water does it take to wash a car?

RA is guilty, in front of the candy store
Fresh fruits are the best here in Peru
Today we ventured forth again being our day off.  We went to a mall of small shops and stores here in La Molina that sells everything from my new wallet, to keep credit cards from falling out, to Snickers bars that are 2/3rds the price of our super mercado. We bought a good amount of fresh and very large strawberries, along with mangoes,  a few giant figs, and some unnamed fruit.  We resisted buying any chicken though we have been assured it is very fresh and the reason it is opened up and the innards displayed is to demonstrate freshness. The chickens were all slain in the cool hours of this morning.

Chickens hanging for inspection
Muy fresca!

We have watched uniformed car wash attendants in the proximity of banks and stores cleaning customer's cars. It was pointed out to me that the entire car is washed with one, usually small, bucket of water and a couple rags along with a spray type bottle of cleaner for the tires. While RA stood in line to pay our cable TV and internet bill at the bank, that is how you do it here, I watched this guy across the street do a very nice job of cleaning this car.  No streaks, no dirt and looking very nice for maybe all of one gallon of water. I don't know what he charges, probably more if I asked being a gringo.
Maybe a one gallon bucket by the right rear tire

My favorite Carhart belt needed an additional hole because of our exercise and walking almost everywhere regimen. A cobbler punched in a nice new round hole and wanted only two centimos for his work. He also cleaned up a hole I had cut earlier. I asked how many Soles and he said "Two centimos."  That is less than 1 cent. Maybe that makes up for having to pay a dollar for a Snickers. All in all, life is good here. Tonight we are watching from ITunes a Tyrone Power movie called the "Black Rose."

Bribe paying in Peru

This is an excerpt from a blog site I visit about life for expats living in Peru.

"The issue of ‘greasing the wheels’ is something that comes up in our forums now and again. Whether it’s paying a little extra to get some paperwork through faster or sliding over a few soles together with your driver’s license to avoid a ticket, bribery is a fact here in Peru. It’s also something that no one should go along with – paying bribes really only leads to more corruption among officials as they come to expect people to pay."

We had our first experience paying a "propina" this morning. For more than six weeks we have been here we have not received our power bill. Well, guess what?  The power man came and tuned off the power and we watched him do it.  Fortunately, our neighbor and counselor in the temple presidency on the second floor interceded and asked the fellow to turn the power back on in our apartment.  He suggested fifty soles would make it happen so I ran for my wallet.  Who knows how long it would take to find a bill and pay it?  The man from the power company had a look of glee as we stepped into the shadows  and I handed him a 50 sole note.  He smiled and wished us a good day, "Egualmente," I offered in return. Our power is back on for another month and yes we should not have paid a bribe but we do have power today and likely for the month until the next one comes. Hopefully, we can get it. Fifty soles is about eighteen dollars. 

RuthAnn's View...

Our apartment has an interesting feature that I have not seen before.  There are two “courtyards” in our apartment that are open through all three levels.  We have a patio door and an office window opening onto one of these spaces.  The two apartments above us have windows opening on to this space.  The other “courtyard” is part of my laundry area.  There is a window in it to the kitchen and to the bathroom, but we have no wall or window closing it off from our living space.  On the floors above there are windows to laundry, bathroom, and kitchen.  Some of the neighbors hang their laundry out in the opening.  Once in a while we hear a crash and then get a knock at the door because the little boy on the 3rd floor has dropped something down to our floor.
It is hard to imagine how this looks, but here are photos to illustrate.
Looking from our kitchen, you see the water bottle on the counter, and the front edge of the washer through a doorless opening.  You can see the light on the floor beyond
Moving into the courtyard the open area is about 7' x 7'. There is a floor drain in the tiles and you can see my sweepings from one weeks worth of Lima air pollution. 
   Moving up the wall, our bathroom window opens on to this area, and on the top left side you can see our second floor neighbor's dryer's portable exhaust/lint filter hanging out of their window along with other windows in to their apartment.

       Looking all the way up is the third floor clothesline and a small chimney on the roof adjacent to our building

I decided that since it never rains in Lima, this is not a concern, then one morning we woke up to the closest thing to rain that happens here, which is a very heavy mist.  The floor in my courtyard and in my laundry was covered in water.  While mopping up I realized that the whole area was the cleanest I had ever seen it, so I decided that an occasional good mist was helpful for my housekeeping.

There is a third courtyard at the rear of our apartment.  Two of our bedrooms have windows that open onto this space, which is about 12 ft x 15 ft.  While the 2 floors above us also have windows to this space, only WE HAVE GRASS!

The commercially available applesauce here is heavily sweetened and overcooked to the point that the texture is almost gummy.  But the other day at Tottus I saw some nice big apples and decided to make some applesauce.  As I cut them open I was surprised to see that there were no seeds.  Actually I found 2 very small seeds in 6 large apples.  The cores were minimal. The skins were quite tough, but not hard to peel.  Out of 6 apples I made probably close to two quarts of sauce. When I cook apples at home, I add a little water to get them started, but the water in the apples make the sauce quite runny.  These were really dry apples.  I think I probably added 2 cups of water to keep the pan from boiling dry before the apples were cooked. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Six Weeks but Who's Counting...

Baby Eli and CP enjoying a moment

The weeks seem to slip by here in La Molina. For several weeks now in the temple both RA and I are able to complete all of our assignments as Obreros or ordinance workers.  The language is still a challenge of course but we are learning a few more words and things every day. Having worked in the Bountiful Temple for so many years helps a great deal here.  There is no question about the need there is in the temple for us. Most of the Peruano workers are there for one shift or one day. That means RA and I are about the equivalent of 10 other workers.  We sometimes take the earliest session and some days the last one on the shift.  We are not trying to get to or from work, or to a second job or to family. We don't have to ride a long time on the crowded buses to get to or from the temple. Our lives are pretty easy here.

We have always loved our Peruvian and Latino friends in Utah and appreciated their great food, hospitality and friendship but being here for these past weeks we have only grown to appreciate and love them more.  We observe the effort they give to accomplish what they do and often with so little.  The other Monday and Tuesday we watched a singular construction worker replace a section of sidewalk near our favorite grocery store Tottus.  He started early in the day on Monday and was digging out the area that needed concrete. The concrete was delivered in reused concrete bags and set to the side of his work site.  He used pick and shovel to clear the area.  Following the site prep he manually began mixing the bags of cement, the rocks and sand together on the street with his shovel and a little water, no cement mixer required even though it could easily have taken several mixers full. He worked throughout the day mixing and pouring and troweling. By nightfall on Tuesday in the lights the portion of the sidewalk was done.  I doubt he earned much for his solo back breaking construction job.  The area was taped off and now we walk on it on our way to the market.

We also had a couple boys come and install a bathroom vanity around our sink.  Their work was much the same. They carried the wood and their tools, used hand saws, measured and cut and framed it in then called the shop with the measurements for the doors.  They went outside and waited in front of our apartment for several hours while the shop made the doors. RA took them out some fruit, cookies and sodas while they waited.  The doors came, which they installed, then off they went with their tools to catch a bus back to wherever they were going.

Such is the nature of the Peruanos here. They make do with what they have. They are happy and they work hard.  We live in some amount of comfort and luxury by Lima standards. We have easy jobs in a beautiful place that is AC'ed and we wear white suits.  We are treated as being very special and appreciated for the little sacrifice we make in being temple workers. We are complimented for our ability to speak a few words with our best pronunciations. Spanish is a beautiful language, especially as we hear it from our fellow workers in the temple.

The only thing we miss of course is family and friends. The time is going by quickly and we will once again enjoy the company of grandsons and a granddaughter.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Preparation Day

Preparation day means we are going to the local Gold's Gym for some PT and exercise.  We walk there and back and it is about 3 miles round trip. As we are always shopping on Mondays at multiple locations,  the Jockey Plaza and a local farmer's market is on the list of things to do. Our boy Miky last week taught us how to make Papas a la Huancaihina so we are going to search in the local market for a special cheese only found here in Peru.  It is called cueso paria. We need a blender too which we do not have presently. We have not found this dish at restaurants because it is easily and mostly made at home.  I like it with the aji amarillo (yellow pepper) also.  We are indebted to our Peruano friends in Utah who have made this for us so many times.

Here is the recipe we found online though Miky's was a little different. He used black potatoes also.  I have always loved potatoes as family members know.  I have to say the very best I have ever had are here in Peru. I think potatoes were invented here.

Huancaína (wan-kay-eena) sauce is
typically served over cold sliced potatoes
in the famous Peruvian dish Papas a la
Huancaína. Made with aji amarillo peppers,
it is a versatile sauce that goes with many
flavors. Serve it as a dipping sauce
for bite-size boiled potatoes or raw vegetables.
You can adjust the spiciness by
using fewer or more yellow chile peppers.

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 yellow chile peppers (ají amarillo)
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed
  • 2 cups white farmer's cheese (queso freso)
  • 4 saltine crackers
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Remove seeds from yellow chile peppers and chop
into 1 inch pieces.

Sauté onion, garlic, and chile peppers in the oil until
onion is softened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from
heat and let cool. 

Place onion/chile mixture in a food processor
or blender. Add evaporated milk and blend.

Add cheese and crackers and blend until smooth.
Sauce should be fairly thick. Thicken sauce with
more saltines or thin sauce with milk if necessary. 

Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve at room temperature or chilled

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Montezuma's Revenge or is it Atahualpa's?

In the five weeks we have been here I have been hit by TD (traveler's diarrhea) twice now. I have researched it enough being home for most of the week that I have learned to spell it correctly, with two "r's". The source may be from a local dairy containing hot (not very), sauce that I like to pour on papas fritas and chicken.  I recall a few years ago a number of Fisher Company employees all got TD at a local NSL burger joint, likely due to the fry sauce that was not refrigerated properly.  The source of most TD's is an e-coli bacteria. Generally after a few days you begin to recover.  We have a missionary doctor here from Provo. He looks after all of us including the younger elders and sisters in our area. The good doctor recommended a high powered antibiotic called Cipro.  It is available over the counter as most things here are. No prescription is required.

We are careful to not order or drink anything with ice cubes and we drink only bottled water. We use Clorox laden water to rinse any raw veggies and fruit that would not be pealed such as apples and tomatoes. Even the temple has a water filtering system with taps in a number of locations we can get drinking water from.

It would not be correct to refer to our local Peruvian brand of TD as Montezuma's revenge since he was the last of the Aztec (Mexico) rulers when the Spanish sacked his civilization.  Atahualpa was the last of the Incan rulers in this part of the world. The story is true that he filled an entire room with gold to gain his freedom but Pizaro was a cheat and a liar in addition to being a genocidal murderer and killed him anyway. One of our senior missionary friends has been to this location, I assume in Cusco, and seen the very room. According to some scholars the Europeans brought TD to the New World along with nearly every other transmittable and contagious disease.  In the book "1491", the author Charles Mann reports that scholars estimate up to 90% of the indigenous population was destroyed due to these diseases.

If I were suffering from this in Egypt I understand it would be called the "Pharaoh's Revenge." It could also be called the "Cairo two-step." From India it could be the "Bombay belly" or "Delhi belly." If you were a trooper in Afghanistan it can be called "Kabulitis. In Nepal it is referred to as the "Katmandu quickstep." The best I can come up with here in Peru is the "Lima Rapid Transit." I attest to having been moving pretty fast at times for much of this past week. I think the worst of all the colloquialisms would be the "Bombay belly." Of course that city is now more accurately called Mumbai.

If any of you are world travelers and have experiences and other colloquialisms you would like to share please send them to my attention.

Otherwise, we love Peru.  I have to say I was so happy to be feeling well and working in the Temple once again on Saturday afternoon and evening, I really did not care about a football game in Utah.

Vaya con cuidado, siempre!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Our New Temple President and Matron...

President and Sister Lees on the left and President and Sister Bowman to the right

Last Saturday was the last day in the temple for President and Sister Bowman. They have returned home after being gone for nearly twelve years of service both here in Peru and Mexico.  We admire them greatly for their leadership and sacrifice.  In twelve years grandkids grow up, get married, and start families of their own.  We wish them well and know they will have very enjoyable days ahead being grandparents and parents.

Our new president and matron began their service Tuesday November 2nd.  From the Church News this biographical information was provided:

"Robert W. Lees, 67, Palo Verde Ward, Scottsdale Arizona North Stake, called as president of the Lima Peru Temple, succeeding President Carlos M. Bowman. President Lees' wife, Kay Lees, will serve as temple matron. Recently released as an Area Seventy, he has served as president of the Venezuela Maracaibo Mission, stake president, stake Young Men president and high councilor. A retired partner of Lees Mayfield and Associates, he was born in Los Angeles, Calif., to Gordon William and Melba Jensen Lees.
Sister Lees serves as a visiting teaching coordinator and served with her husband as he presided over the Venezuela Maracaibo Mission. She has also served as a counselor in a stake Young Women presidency, ward Relief Society president, ward Young Women president, temple ordinance worker and Sunday School teacher. She was born in Los Angeles, Calif., to George W. and Norine L. Miles Kaller."

We welcome them here and know they will continue to preside and direct the work of the Lord here in the Lima Peru Temple.  

Just an update on our service here. RA has now memorized in Spanish all that she is required to know for her temple duties. I am at least a month behind. However, we have worked together on sessions this past week and that has been very special for us. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Walking the Walk and Locking the Lock...

It is Monday morning and Preparation Day here in Lima for us.  We said goodbye to our President yesterday and last night to our mentors, friends, and neighbors, the Cordons.  Their 18 months are up.  I asked Steve as we walked to the temple on Friday if he thought the 18 months went by quickly.  He took a minute to think about it, "At times it went slowly," he said,  "but looking back on it now, it went very fast." They are, as I write this, somewhere jet lagged in Atlanta or maybe on their way to Salt Lake City and then to home and family in Boise. Several days earlier he had sent the following to his family and some friends. I asked if I could post it here. It describes his feelings, testimony, and observations, his last comments about their mission in Peru before they left.

Editor's Note: I now have the key from Steve to open the back gate to the temple grounds and that responsibility weighs heavily on me.  Security has complained about the gringos who do not know how to lock the lock. Neither Steve or I have any clue what the right or wrong way is to lock the padlock, so they may go on complaining about the gringos who do not know how to lock that lock. To you both Steve and Kay, you "walked the walk" five days each week for eighteen months.  We will follow in your footsteps. 

"Dear Family and Friends,

As a young boy I would sit enthralled as "The Cisco Kid" and his faithful sidekick, Pancho, would week after week successfully corral and jail the bad guys.  Then at the end of the show as they rode off into the sunset Pancho would yell "Hasta La Vista", Until We See You Again.

So Kay and her faithful sidekick now ride off into the sunset and we say to each of you and to Peru itself, "Hasta La Vista."  It is difficult to summarize in a brief e-mail eighteen months of living, learning, serving and loving.  We are not the same people who arrived May of 2009.  I suppose that is the goal of all people to not be the same person today they were eighteen months earlier.  If we are what then is the purpose of living.  So much of what we have learned has in reality been a reaffirmation and strengthening of what we have already known.

We arrived with the excitement of serving, of becoming acquainted with a new people, country and traditions.  What we have gained is all that and more.  We have enjoyed our traveling, seeing the wonderous sights of Peru, meeting native people in the interior of the country in their native dress and observing them living as they have live for centuries.  At the same time we have seen modern cosmopolitan cities that remind us so much of things at home and yet they are distinct and peculiar to Peru.  We have met a people so different and yet so similar to those at home.  They speak a different language have a different history and observe different customs.  Yet they are so similar.  There are both the good and the bad.  The bad can be like the bad in the US and can be very bad and the good are also like those in the US and can be so very good.  Almost all those we have come in contact have been the very good.  People who accepted us, cared for us and loved us.  We like to say we have associated with the very best Peru has to offer for they are the ones who live lives worthy to come to the temple of God to worship Him.  They are those who radiate and shine with the light of Christ.  They are those who are striving to become like Him in deed and action.  I have written previously of some of them individually.  There are those whose memory shall be burned eternally in my memory.  Those I have learned to love as fellow children of our Heavenly Father.

In addition there are our fellow missionaries both those from the states and those from Peru whom we have learned to love as we joined in our efforts to serve the Peruvian people.

Most of all we have grown in our love for and our understanding of God the Father.  We are told that "This is life eternal to know thee the only true god and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent".

So over the past year and a half we have grown to have a better understanding of our Eternal Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  It started a year and a half before we received our call and assignment to come to Peru.

October of 2007 we traveled to Chicago to visit children and while there at a church social we met Carlos Boman the newly called president of the Lima Peru Temple who was also visiting children who happened to live in the same ward as ours.  When I found out he was to serve as a missionary I mentioned to him that Kay and I wanted to go on a mission when I retired in a year and a half.  He asked me if I had ever considered a temple mission and I truthfully answered no I had not.  He then asked me if I thought we might like to and I indicated we might like that.  He then asked if we could stay in touch and when the time came for us to put in our papers for a calling and if it was alright if he let those in Salt Lake know that we had visited about our serving a temple mission.  He emphasized that the Lord would call us where He wanted us but at least the brethren in Salt Lake would know there is interest.  When we did apply to go on our mission temple service was about the fourth or fifth thing down on our list of things we would like to do.  As you know we were called to the temple.  I have since learned that this is where we needed to come and I have learned things here I needed to learn.  One thing I learned is God knows me and my needs better that I do and if I am willing to bow my will to His He will teach me those things I need.

I have learned by observance that truly He is not a respecter of persons.  He loves and blesses all those who come unto Him. We have seen Him as he has poured out his love and blessings on the rich and the poor of Peru.  We have witnessed those who have plenty who are in positions of power and authority in the community come and associate with, sit next to and love those who have so very little.  So little in fact that the mere fact of their paying 16 cents for bus fare to and then from the temple leaves them nothing to spend on food for the day.  The Lord blesses both with His spirit and we have seen the out pouring of His love upon both and we have learned.

We have learned that he is indeed a god of miracles as we have seen countless everyday miracles in our lives and the lives of those around us.  We have witnessed very personal miracles from the birth of a very special granddaughter to the spiritual rebirth of a family member.

We have learned He is a God of promises and the fulfilling of those promises.  As recorded in the Book of Mormon He promised Lehi that following Jesus Christ's visit to the people of this hemisphere that his, Lehi's, posterity would become a fallen, dark and loathsome people.  Then in the latter days they would become a delight-some and beautiful people as they again accepted Christ and worshiped Him as their god.  We are witnesses to the literal fulfilling of this prophecy in this day and age as we see the native people of this land becoming physically very beautiful and handsome children of our Heavenly Father.  And spiritually as beautiful as they are physically.
We have learned that God hears and answers prayers.  We have prayed fervently the past eighteen months that those who come to the temple might feel closer to their Heavenly Father because we are present.  It became evident last night that God heard and answered that prayer as when I said goodbye to one of our fellow workers he wrapped his arms around me in a big hug, pulled me close and said "Thank you Elder Cordon for helping me feel close to our Heavenly Father by your presence in the temple".
The most important thing I have learned is actually one of those reaffirmations of something I have known all my life.  There have been those times that I have known without a doubt and other times when it was blurred, but never has there been a time it did not exist.  That is the Lord knows who I am, I Steve Cordon, and that He loves me with a love so pure and great that I can not even fathom the extent nor intensity of it.  I just know He does even without being able to comprehend it.

Yes we have grown in our knowledge of our Heavenly Father and His Son.  I testify to each of you that this I know, there is indeed a God and that He lives.  I know He loves me and each of us, individually and collectively, sufficiently to have sent His Only Begotten Son even Jesus Christ to be lifted up that we might return to Him to live in the eternities.   I in the words of that great prophet Moroni, I say "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him".

I thank each of you for your love, prayers and support while we have been here.

Elder Steve Cordon"