We have had an interesting couple of weeks full of high culture, well culture and heights. First of all Craig twice accompanied missionaries home for health reasons. The first was a relatively short flight from Lima to Iquitos (the city in the middle of the Amazon jungle) to meet up with a missionary who needed some help to get home because he was a little unwell. Fortunately Craig didn’t have to continue on for a 16 hour bus ride to the Andes mountains, but the missionary’s father graciously met them back in Lima and took him home by bus. The airport in Huancayo is notoriously unreliable due to poor weather, low visibility, or cows on the run way. The bus, although longer and up and over 14,000 foot mountains, arrives eventually.
The second trip, at short notice, was a bit longer andinvolved Craig flying to Trujillo at Monday lunch time, then accompanying a missionary back to Lima to connect with the flight to Atlanta and then on to Salt Lake City. Suffice to say this missionary was more than a little unwell, took all of Craig’s expertise, and more than a little divine help to return him safely to his family. He will be able to get the help he needs at home. Craig found the weather change a bit of a shock, from hot humid Lima to freezing cold snow covered Salt Lake City. Meet up with friends, or have a sleep in the hotel? Sorry friends! Early the next morning it was back to the airport and on to Los Angeles for an 8 hour wait (thanks to the 4 hour delay). But at least LAX international is very nice since the renovations. Craig stared out the window looking at what could easily have passed for Adelaide (see picture). Then it was the long flight back to Lima arriving home at 5 am Thursday morning. At least the traffic isn’t too bad at that time of the morning.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…. Being around so many American senior missionaries has introduced us to their Thanksgiving Celebration. So, for the second year, we celebrated Thanksgiving with them again last Saturday (as we were all working on the Thursday before because it is not a holiday in Perú, just like in the rest of the world). We were continually asked if we had Thanksgiving in Australia. Our stock answer was “no, it is an American holiday and we are thankful everyday…that we are Australians”. Lesley provided a typical non-USA Thanksgiving dessert, a giant pavlova with kiwi fruit, mangoes, and blueberries, for which they were very thankful.
Whilst Craig was away in the USofA, Lesley was busy with her own version of end of year activities, much like she would be at home. The first was the annual turning on of the Christmas Lights at the Lima Missionary Training Centre (MTC). All the local mission presidents and families, together with employees, and the Area Presidency were invited to join with the young missionaries currently in the MTC. At the devotional Lesley directed three choirs including the senior missionary choir, a smaller group item, and a mass choir of 100 young missionaries. All very cool (but not in the snow covered Salt Lake City sense).
On Thursday night Lesley had her second end of year recital for her young piano students, who range in age from 5 to 14. They all dressed in their best performance clothes, introduced themselves in English or Spanish, played two pieces including Mozart (Twinkle Twinkle doesn’t take very long), and then finished with a bow to rapturous applause from phone/camer toting parents. They were most excited about each receiving a small gift as Lesley handed out a bag of lollies, and Australian pencil, and a clip on kola. It was a hit. Even the 14 year old boy wanted one though he was too cool to come up and get it with the little ones.
Finally, on Friday night, together with a group of senior missionaries we had a traditional Christmas experience. We went to the Teatro Municipal in downtown Lima (a traditional theatre that burned down a few years ago and has been faithfully renovated with red velvet seats and gold leaf painting). We went to a ballet performance of el Cascaneuces (“the Nutcracker”). Keep in mind that Craig had a flying trip to the USA earlier in the week and might have miscalculated when he got back, although missing Lesley’s concert on Thursday night was probably not worth it in order to get out of going to the ballet. He struggled to understand the ballet anyway (it was in Spanish, not that there any words). The highlight was the nest of mice of very young aspiring ballet dancers dressed in mouse costumes with big heads, which made it hard for them to see, resulting in some confusion and near misses at times. They were a little ratty! Craig had a giggle, whilst Lesley had flashbacks of all those years backstage at ballet concerts. It was a beautiful theatre, great company, and the lights are on in the city. Lima does do Christmas well. It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas….