"Go Royals! Go forth to serve well. Return with honor!

"Go Royals!  Go forth to serve well.  Return with honor!
This family photo is from August 2003, just before Brad left on his mission to the Philippines, but it remains a personal favorite

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cuzco: The Sacred Valley (July 24, 2010)

Andes Mountains from the friendly skies of Star Peru
            Admittedly, writing about the rest of our trip will be challenging.  It is so much fun writing about David and his missionary work.  From here on out I expect it will be more of a travelogue, although I hope to make it a bit more interesting than that.  So, here it goes.

            We actually made it onto a Star Peru flight - our first one.  It was about an hour late, but it got us to Cuzco - did the trick.  Earlier as we were getting ready to leave our hotel room and check out, Maralea was complaining to me about “how slow” David is all the time.  We, on the other hand, were moving at our usual quick, hurried pace to get from place to place.  David would just kind of stroll, whether it was messing with things within his bags, double checking around the room, or even walking within the airport terminal.  I had to turn around to find him and yell words of encouragement to get him to catch up to us.  It was such a contrast to how David was when walking the streets of Chachapoyas, Piura and Chiclayo, where he was the one walking quickly and I was the caboose.  David’s pace has slowed down noticeably.  I think he is now ready to sit back and be a tourist.     
At this lookout spot over Cuzco we found a young girl, Kelly, and her llama
Kelly actually did smile after we paid her 2 soles for the picture
See!!  A smile from Kelly.  That's what 2 soles gets you in Cuzco
            We were met at the airport by Julio and Jorge (different Jorge) who whisked us away for a tour of the Sacred Valley.  Cuzco is pretty.  It was warm.  The altitude here is about 12,000 feet.  There are warnings everywhere about altitude sickness.  We have been taking some things, drinking water, trying to stay hydrated.  We drove to a peak that overlooks Cuzco for a picture.  While we were standing there, a young girl named Kelly walked over with a llama for a little paid photo op.  She was too cute to pass up.  What a racket! ;) Julio gave us a little history lesson on Cuzco and the surrounding community during uor trip that winded through the mountains.  There are a lot of tourists here: hikers, bikers, shoppers, etc.  We saw some of the devastating effects of the major flooding they had here in February of this year, which resulted in many landslides that tore up the roads and railroad to Machu Picchu.  The road runs along side steep mountain sides that would present quite the hazard on a rainy day - much like what we saw on the road to Chachapoyas as we neared the city.
Our entry to the Sacred Valley - let the tourist stuff begin!
I had to remind David the water was not drinkable
Maralea and David at our first stop in the Sacred Valley (taking a needed rest)
Remember this pic: Royal parents making the peace sign - these people are way cool
Maralea and David looking within what once served as a home
You know, it would have been nice to rest and get acclimated to the altitude before doing all this climbing
The Incas were very hospitable, welcoming us into their homes
            I experienced a bit of a rude awakening as we walked points of interest in the Sacred Valley, with the very thin air here.  Walking up steps at 11,000 feet is pretty challenging.  We made it, though.  The Sacred Valley is beautiful, and it is so interesting to mingle with the Inca descendants.  They have adapted well to the tourist industry.  We bought some small gifts and a few ridiculous items, and managed to leave several of them at the table where we ate lunch.  It was a beautiful day and a clear night.  We had taken a lot of pictures, and had such a beautiful view of the moon from the valley.  It was bright and amazing.  I realized that this was my first time seeing the stars visible from the Southern Hemisphere.  I identified the Southern Cross, a first.  That was pretty sweet.  We got settled into our hotel room, then went exploring Cuzco’s night life.  This is a very interesting place.  We did not do much other than walk around the streets of stone and stop in for some pizza.  (David was very unhappy to learn that, like the gifts we purchased earlier, we left the uneaten pizza we had wrapped to bring back to our place sitting on the table.  David and I sat in the hotel lobby for a while visiting and catching up on world events online.  It has been fun just being with him.  Time has seemed to stand still.  And, since the internet is very dicey, allowing for only very limited access, it has been as though we have been cut off from the world.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  Today was one where all we did was run around with our tour guide.  The long drives were good for conversation.  I have been complaining every day about how tired I am, how I want to get to bed early, take naps, etc.; yet, I cannot find a way to do that when the rare opportunity presents itself.  I guess I just plain don’t want to miss anything.  We are looking forward to attending church tomorrow.
Maralea and I about dropped over . . . dead after this walk up the steps to an Inca temple
Sweet view from this point of the temple in the Sacred Valley
But our climbing was not finished - more exploring to do
At the top of the temple in the Sacred Valley
The terraces everywhere were pretty impressive

Temps dropped big time with the sun

The water ways throughout these Inca cities are most impressive
Canals like this are common within the Inca ruins
We became like mountain goats to navigate our way

Loved the moon over the Sacred Valley - got our first look at the Southern Cross constellation

Arriving in Lima: The Lima Temple (July 23, 2010)

This was a day to enjoy some time at the Lima Temple, here Maralea and David with Hermana Gladys

The flight that took us from Chiclayo to Lima - out of David's mission, a bittersweet event
            Despite the fact that we all set our cell phones were set to go off at 4:30 a.m., I was up at 4:20 a.m.  I dreamed that we slept through the alarms and awoke at 7:00 a.m., having missed our flight to Lima.  So, I was waking up every 20 or so minutes to make sure we did not oversleep.  I may as well have stayed up all night and actually gotten something done.  Anyway, we scurried about and got packed and downstairs in the lobby by 5:10 a.m.  After a short snack, we boarded the shuttle for the airport.  David’s bags are pretty heavy and we wondered if we would get hit with an added fee.  We did: $48.00.  Oh well.  We boarded the plane by exiting the terminal, walking outside and entering the plane from the back.  As the plane left the runway, David was seated by the window staring at the homes near the airport.  That is the area where he lived while serving here and he pointed out his former apartment to us, located near the Parra home.  I recalled hearing a plane fly overhead last night at around 10:00 p.m.  Flights are far and few between there, perhaps four or five a day.  I suppose David may wonder whether he will ever return to Piura, Chiclayo or Chachapoyas, Peru.  Time will tell.  But, I am sure he glad he came - we all are.
Desert area just north of Chiclayo - yikes
Area of Chiclayo where David served
            It was not easy to sleep on the plane.  We were tired and would loved to have just checked into our hotel and crashed.  We were met at the airport by Hermana Gladys, mother to my nephew Matthew Kelly’s wife, Erika.  She was present with her daughter, Rocio.  Neither speak English.  Hermana Gladys called Matthew on her phone and handed it to me without identifying who was on the other line.  She just put the phone to my ear, nodded her head, and said: “You, push this, speak.”  We went through that a couple times before I finally figured out that there was actually someone on the other line.  We had been talking as a group about some flight issues we were having and I initially thought that Hermana Gladys had called someone from Star Peru.  (That really was not a reasonable thought since she did not know what we had been talking about due to the language barrier.)  Matthew said: “So, I hear you are having some problems with your trip.”  I still did not know it was Matthew.  Hermana Gladys did not introduce him.  We exchanged a couple sentences before I realized who was on the other line.  At that point, we then talked a lot.  We got our bags together and walked to our hotel, located at the airport just across from check in.  Matthew stayed on the line as we continued our conversation, and I eventually handed the phone over to David.  In fact, we stayed on the phone with Matthew until we arrived at his mother-in-law’s home about . . . 45 minutes later.  David had him on speaker phone.  Matthew spoke freely about his in-laws in English, confident they had no idea what he was saying.  They did not.  It was actually quite funny.  Matthew, David and Erika will have so much in common with their Peruvian connection.  That was pretty cool.  Erika got on the phone and spoke with David in Spanish.  She has quite the sense of humor.  We said goodbye to Matthew and Erika as we exited the taxi to enter the home of Hermana Gladys, where we enjoyed some breakfast.  After about an hour, we left for the Lima Temple.
Maralea and Hermana Gladys at the Lima airport

            I thought driving in Chachapoyas, Piura and Chiclayo was crazy, but those places have nothing on Lima.  Wow.  I sat in the front passenger seat in our small car, with four in the back.  (Six people squished into a four seater is not unusual.)  I was so fatigued from just a couple hours sleep.  I kept dozing off - which was a blessing because staying awake meant fretting over each near miss.  Our driver, Freddy, was very good.  He is LDS, served a mission in the Peru Lima East Mission, and had on Church music (a nice change from other taxis).  But, it is a “dog eat dog” world out there on the streets where the timid, courteous drivers get left behind.  Freddy was not timid.  The aggressive driving is just the way everyone drives.  Period.  They turn three lanes into five, cut in and out of traffic, and it did not matter if it was taxi vs. semi - the driving was aggressive.  That was the biggest difference in Lima: the number of larger vehicles that could have squashed us.  I can live with taxi on taxi aggression, but the taxi on really big vehicle stuff was more of a challenge for me.  Still, we made it to the Lima Temple safely.

A little parade just outside the home of Hermana Gladys in Lima

            Hermano Jorge had told us in Chiclayo that they no longer allow photographs to be taken directly in front of the Lima Temple.  I figured that was just folklore.  Sure enough . . . as we were taking some photos right at the front we were asked to move away.  I suspect it is because there is really not much room there to do that and you block the front door, because we took photographs around all other areas of the temple with no problem.  Anyway, David and Hermana Gladys had become pretty good friends during the trip to the Lima Temple, talking non-stop in Spanish.  They were talking and laughing as Maralea and I tried to sleep.  I could see how David became so close to people here - he is a good listener and loves to talk with others.  I stuck by David’s side within the Lima Temple - as I was anxious about my inability to speak Spanish.  It was David’s first time in the temple since leaving the MTC in Lima in September 2008.  We had lunch in the cafeteria on the temple grounds - where we had the Peruvian dish: Tallarin Verdes (another dish I like to order from Mi Peru in Henderson).  It was really good!
David and Hermana Gladys talked non-stop!  They got along great.

At the Lima Temple
Opposite end of the temple from the picture above

            We arrived back at our hotel in the late afternoon.  I was hoping for a nap, but it was not to be.  Still, it was nice to just hang out in our suite, which was pretty nice.  It had one of the biggest jacuzzi bathtubs I have ever seen.  Sweet.  David and Maralea went to dinner without me.  I was fine just lounging, catching up on some personal writing time.  I received a phone call to the room by a guy who responded to my “Hello” with: “Hey dude, what’s up?”  I said: “Oh, are you calling for David?  This is his father.”  The person on the other end of the line seemed a bit startled.  It was Eddy Matchacuay, one of David’s missionary companions who had met us at the airport earlier in the day upon our arrival on his way to work.  We had invited him to come over to the hotel after work.  He said he was downstairs, that he had called David but David did not answer his cell phone.  That is because David did not have his cell phone, but left it in the room.  So, I went downstairs to meet Eddy, who speaks very little English.  I said Maralea and David were eating somewhere.  I did not know where.  As it turns out, they were sitting at a table at a restaurant just outside the hotel lobby, about 30-40 feet away, where they were even in sight of us through a window.  But, it never occurred to me to look there, so Eddy and I went to the airport terminal to check out all the fast food restaurants there.  With no luck in our search, we went up to our suite to visit and just wait.  David and Maralea arrived about 10 minutes later.  It was funny to learn we were so close, yet so far from finding them earlier. I took Eddy and David back to the same restaurant to get Eddy some dinner.  Maralea stayed in the room, working to get us organized for the next day. I sat at the table with them, writing on my computer, as David and Eddy just went on and on speaking in Spanish.  They are clearly very close friends.  Eddy had told me earlier that David was “one of my very favorite companions.”  David was telling him stories and showing him some funny things on You Tube I had introduced him to earlier in the day.  I would say something like: “Oh David, tell him about [fill in the blank here].”  David would laugh and tell the story, continuing to laugh.  He spoke with such animation and Eddy was just laughing with him all the way.  That went on for about an hour before we said our goodbyes.  Eddy, like all the other missionaries and former missionaries we met here, was so incredibly friendly, respectful, kind, gracious, and mucho likeable.  Eddy said he works for the LDS Church in the Perpetual Education Program.  He said he is aware of David Robertson, the new controller in this part of the area for the LDS Church who just moved his family to Lima - and promised to say hello.
David's former companion, Eddy Matchucuay, met us at the Lima airport on his way to work

            Our plans for an early evening retirement went kaboom.  I think that just is not really in the cards for us.  I was intent on wanting to enjoy the room a bit and just relax.  (Sleeping is apparently no relaxing enough for me.)  I tried to update the family on our adventures here, but that will have to come later.  Finally with bags all re-packed, organized, ready for Cuzco and the jungle, cell phone alarms set, we got to bed at about midnight.

Catacaos & Chiclayo: A very busy day! (July 22, 2010)

Maralea and David in Catacaos - ready to shop
David here met Beto, a member of the Catacaos Ward, who was selling - we bought from him!
             We awoke early with the objective of getting out the door by 9:00 a.m.  David had some chores to do before we departed for Catacaos to see Hermana Angelica, David’s pensionistta there.  A quick story about Hermana Angelica.  David called her the night before to advise we would be coming to visit.  She got so excited because she thought she had missed seeing David off at the airport Tuesday.  How much does Hermana Angelica love David?  She said that she raced to the airport Tuesday at 5:00 a.m. to see him off, and was very disappointed that she missed him.  No one there would give her any information and she sadly returned home.  (The missionaries used to leave on a flight at 5:00 a.m. on Tuesdays, but that apparently changed to Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. within the past few months, unbeknownst to Hermana Angelica.)  She became emotional as she spoke with David and learned that he was still in Piura and that he wanted to come visit her.  David had some thing to get settled with his Go Phone as the minutes added yesterday apparently were not added to his phone.  We planned on going to the same place from which he acquired the minutes the day before and learned it does not open until 10:00 a.m.  So that put us behind a tad.  We then discovered that we have yet another Star Peru flight change, which may compromise plans in Cuzco for Saturday.  Oh joy.  Regardless, we just pressed forward -expecting the worst and will be grateful when things go relatively well.

A self pic from the balcony of Hermana Angelica, a view from which David sent some videos home a year earlier
            We got all packed and stored our bags at the hotel as we took a taxi to Catacaos, which is about 10 miles outside Piura.  Catacaos is the area in which David served where he and his companion worked all afternoon one day to fill up the baptismal font with five gallon water jugs moved by moto from their apartment (about five jugs at a time), when the font water faucet would apparently not engage.  David sent home a digital videotape of that event, complete with moving the water, David climbing over the fence of the exterior chapel doors, his companion handing each jug over the top of the fence, as David would come set them down by the camera.  They then filled the font one jug at a time, making trip after trip, climb after climb over that fence with sharpened edges at the top.  The videotape ends with David and his companion sitting in their apartment, with David saying: “Well, you saw all the work that took place, and I am sorry to say that the baptism did not go through.  But, we still had fun, didn’t we elder!”  David’s Latino companion nods his head and the two of them bump fists to conclude the video.  I have watched that several times, so it was fun to see the chapel in person.  I tried to get a picture of it en route to the center of Catacaos, but could not get my camera out fast enough.  But each time we drove by an LDS chapel in Piura and the surrounding area, we would always ask David: “Is this the chapel where you filled the font with the drinking water from your apartment?” 

Tornado's family is in Catacaos
            We arrived in Catacaos and David took us down a street known as a place for sellers to gather and offer their wares.  We immediately met Hermano Beto, a member from the local ward selling goods who recognized David and said: “Hey, Elder Royal!”  We stopped and were introduced.  Maralea and I decided to buy a few things from Hermano Beto.  We walked the street, stopping occasionally to inspect items of interest.  I was looking for a wallet with Peru and Maralea wanted a necklace and some other gifts.  She had her heart set on something in a leather store and told David to go to work. A woman there said she would go as low as nine soles.  David said he would pay only eight.  She sent him to her husband, who then sent him back to his wife.  They would not move fro the nine soles.  David would not move from eight.  And there we stood, the equivalent of $.30 keep us from possessing the item Maralea wanted.  What did we do?  We walked out.  (Seriously, you always have to be willing to walk away from a deal.  That’s a key to every successful negotiation.  Although this one was not so successful, was it?)  David was stopped by a woman and her two daughters who just said: “Elder!”  They did not know David personally, but said they were visiting from Lima and wanted to say hello to him as a missionary.  He was later stopped by another man who said he was from Lima who said (in Spanish): “Elder, are you now finishing your mission?  Very good!”  We also ran into the missionaries presently serving in the area and visited with them briefly.  We went to see Hermana Angelica at her home, located next to the apartment where David resided when serving here.  I immediately recognized the area as David had sent home a video providing a tour of his apartment, complete with his view of the town from his second floor window.  It was amazing to actually be there.  Hermana Angelica was like all the other pensions we met: loving, kind, sweet, nurturing - someone who loved and cared for our son.  It was in Catacaos that David somehow contracted typhoid.  He lost a lot of weight due to a loss of appetite and fatigue.  Hermana Angelica would get after him to always eat all the food she cooked for him, even if he did not feel like it, insisting: “People who eat do not die.”  Sound counsel.  So, David ate and is still with us today.  Hermana Angelica busily went about cooking lunch for us.  She was in the kitchen for about 45 minutes, coming to serve us, then leaving, then returning with more food, then leaving.  She actually ate with a friend from the ward in another room as we ate.  David said: “That’s just the way they do things around here.  Don’t be offended by it.  She will come in and visit with us once we are done eating.”  Sure enough, after we had eaten and Hermana Angelica had cleaned off the table, she returned and we visited.  David gave her some gifts, including the apron he wrote on for her.  She asked Maralea and me to write on it as well.  Hermana Angelica told us that David is very special to her. She has a picture of David and Elder Matchacuay eating at her table when they served here together.  Other than the pictures of her two returned missionary sons, those are the only pictures of missionaries in her area of keepsakes.  She said she will never forget him, that David always ate her food.  She loved his personality, the way he would tease her, sneak up on her in the kitchen as she was cooking to scare her (something he did again while we were there, for old times sake), and so on.  It was another wonderful afternoon - a very memorable, sweet memory for us all.
Lunch with Hermana Angelica was sweet - she lovingly cared for David when he was ill
David with Hermana Angelica, showing off her new apron, signed by all of us
            Our goal was to make it back to Piura in time for the 2:00 pm bus to Chiclayo.  I knew that was wishful thinking, so I planed on 3:00 pm, maybe even 4:00 pm.  David seems to just lose track of time - something that seems to be common with the culture here.  Time exists, but it does not rule.  The people here let time come to them, they do not appear to be run by time.  So, if you are late - so what?  I kept trying to move David along to stay on schedule and he would just tell me to “chill” and assure me that everything was going to work out fine.  That kind of thinking is just . . . foreign to me, I guess.  Oh, I have another observation about Peruvian taxis - they are constantly honking their horns.  Honky, honk, honk.  I think they do it more often than not out of habit.  And, I learned something else about Peruvian taxis I did not know.  Peru is apparently very strict about its “seatbelt laws.”  The taxi drivers are insistent that the passenger in the front seat is wearing a seatbelt.  Elder Watson in the mission office said that he was recently riding in a taxi where the driver was stopped by police, arrested and his car impounded because Elder Watson was a front passenger not wearing a seatbelt.  Now, those in the backseat simply have to fend for themselves, as I have yet to come upon a vehicle here with back seat safety belts.  (Apparently there is no law requiring seat belts in the back seat.)  Frankly, the taxis are so small, everyone would be creamed in a moderate impact accident anyway, seatbelts or not.  The traffic kind of moves along the streets like a bunch of busy ants going to and from an ant hill, with cars going every which way, vehicles turning left from the right lane, running red lights, daring pedestrians to cross while within a crosswalk (the taxis will claim and take the right of way there every time).  It is just interesting.  Something to be said for the taxis, however, is that there are so many of them along the main streets, even the back streets, even late at night, that you always have that little safety net there when you are out walking late as we were last night.  Our taxi driver that took us from Catacaos back to Piura turned up the radio for our enjoyment so we could bask in the Latino rap he so loved.  It was pretty catchy, though I have absolutely no idea what they were saying (of course).

David with Elder Hanke at the Piura bus station as we prepared to depart for Chiclayo
            We arrived at the hotel, collected our bags, and got into yet another taxi, which took us to the bus station.  We arrived at about 2:30 pm, plenty of time to make the 3:00 pm bus.  David called one of his favorite missionary companions, Elder Hanke from Lima, Peru, who came to the bus station and visited for about 10 minutes before we left.  They were like long lost friends coming together, embracing, laughing, taking pictures and exchanging contact information.  Elder Hanke speaks some English - more than many of the Latino elders we have thus far met.  The bus has assigned seats to David handled everything to make sure we had the best seats.  To David, the “best seats” are the ones in back of the bus, “so you can recline and there is no one behind you to get mad.”  I like the way he thinks.  One problem however, is that we were seated right next to the bathroom.  So, while I personally enjoyed having the extra leg room without the guilt of inconveniencing the person behind me . . . the surrounding scent kind of offset the benefit a wee bit.  Otherwise, the bus ride from Piura to Chiclayo was easy, and comfortable.  They played some crazy American movie in Spanish that I did not watch and could not follow.  (My experience on three bus rides here is that they love playing the violent “R” rated American movies dubbed in Spanish here - because that is all we have seen.  You know the type.  To quote Arnold Schwartzenager in “Terminator” (before he helped lead California to financial ruin): “Hasta la vista, baby!”

On the bus from Piura to Chiclayo - with the bus restroom just behind me
Maralea did NOT like sitting close to the restroom on the bus - David did not notice the smell - she did!
            The temperature in Piura was great the entire time we were there - even a little warm.  It was San Diego, CA type weather.  As we arrived in Chiclayo, we noticed a definite temperature change.  Since we had been there a few days before, we were ready, with coats in hand.  We were met by Hermano Manuel, a member of the local ward there, who picked us up from the bus station and took us directly to the home of Hermana Rosilina for dinner.  She had actually written a letter to us several months ago, entirely in Spanish, in which she wanted to express the love she and her family have for David.  That was really cool.  We kept that as a wonderful memento from David’s mission.
Hermano Manuel got ALL our bags . . . plus us . . . into his taxi in Chiclayo
            We received three other emails in Spanish related to other intra country fights later in the day which I am afraid to read.  Honestly, I think if you plan a trip to Peru, which includes numerous intra country flights, my suggestion would be to plan loosely, give yourself plenty of time between flights - expect sudden flight cancellations/changes, and just be ready to roll with every punch.  It is kind of like the punching wall obstacle in the show “Wipe Out” (people try to walk across a wall with a ledge of about six inches with little handles to hold onto as they progress, while boxing gloves attached to mechanical arms pop out from everywhere to try to knock off contestants into the shallow pool of mud lying about a foot below): chances are that you are going to get a little muddy - so just plan on it and you will not be disappointed.  We have really tried to pack a lot into two weeks.  However, our number one priority has been for David to return to the areas where he served and see as many people as he can.  So far, so good.  If we were to leave for home after our arrival in Lima on Friday, without ever having made it to Cuzco, Machu Picchu, the Amazon jungle, etc., the trip will have been a great success in my book.  I told Maralea at the end of the day that I am beat.  However, I think David feels a sense of relief now that he has done his part, seen the people he wanted to see, delivered the many gifts he prepared for his loved ones in Peru, and can leave most of the leading up to us.
David with Hermano Manuel at the Chiclayo bus station
David with Elder Mostacero and Elder Santos at the Chiclayo bus station
             As we exited the bus in Chiclayo there was a noticeable change in temperature: it was much colder than Piura.  I stepped off the bus behind Maralea and was approached by an older gentleman who said: “taxi?”  I was not entirely honed in at that moment and, not wanting to let on that I do not speak Spanish, I immediately pulled out my passport and showed it to him.  David said: “Dad you don’t need your passport here.  He’s asking if you want a taxi.”  Sheesh.  “Taxi” is kind of a universal word I should have a grasp of by now.  Anyway, before I could stew long with embarrassment, David’s friend Manuel was there with a big smile on his face.  He was very happy to see us.  He and David embraced.  Manuel helped us get all our bags off the bus and escorted us to his taxi vehicle.  The small taxi vehicles here can barely fit four people, and there is virtually no luggage space.  And yet, somehow Manuel managed to get in six big pieces of luggage, and three passengers with backpacks.  It was a tight squeeze, but he made it happen.  Manuel took us to his home, where we met his family.  They have relatives in Orem, Utah (and sent us home with some items to pass along).  Manuel served a mission in Lima, Peru a few years ago.  He is now married and a father of one.  We had some good old fashioned apple pie with Inca Cola.  Hermano Jorge, our driver to Chachapoyas, contacted David and asked if he could see us again.  I was very happy to hear that we would reconnect.  Hermano Jorge (37) is always smiling, loves to talk, is very engaging and happy.  We actually grew quite close to him after that grueling Chachapoyas trip.  We visited, looked at lots of photographs together, and listened to some Bon Jovi (“Livin’ on a Prayer”) and Guns & Roses (“Sweet Child of Mine”).  Manuel had me surfing online to pick out songs I liked, and we would then start singing familiar songs.  I think his was the first home we visited that actually had a working internet.  That was pretty cool.  After leaving a few gifts, we left for dinner.

Manuel and his family
Gathering around the kitchen in Manuel's home, here with Hermano Jorge (left) and Manuel (right)
Hermano Jorge wanted to drive us around one more time, despite the moose ears
Hermano Manuel's son, McKay, showing off some Spiderman moves
            Manuel was going to drive us to our next destination, but Hermano Jorge insisted that he would take us.  He drove us to the home of Segundo “Papito” Parra, which was actually only a couple blocks away.  Papito’s wife, Hermana Rosilina, served as David’s pensionistta while he was assigned to this area as a zone leader.  They have three of the cutest children you will ever meet: Aaron (6), Shelly (4), and Jairo (almost 2).  Hermano Jorge stopped his vehicle outside their home as we got out and we said goodbye.  I had a BYU shirt I wanted to give him as a present, but left it in the hotel room.  So, I was going to give him one of the shirts I was wearing - the t-shirt from the 2009 Warm Springs YM Encampment (one of a kind).  But, Jorge said he wasn’t going anywhere, that he planned all along on waiting for us to finish our dinner and visit, then he would take us back to our hotel.  We told him we might be a couple hours, and he said that was fine.  Maralea and I felt bad about that, and suggested to David that we invite him in, but David said Jorge would not come in and he would not leave.  So, we just went ahead with our plans.
Together with Hermano Manuel, his wife Hermana Tania, son McKay, Tania's sister Dina
              Hermana Rosalina and her family had written us several months ago after David left Chiclayo.  She wanted us to know that we have a wonderful son whom they adopted as their own while he was in Chiclayo.  Maralea brought the letter with us on our trip to show the family and let them know we received it and so appreciated the warm sentiments they extended to us.  It is a long letter written with such care.  They went to a lot of trouble to send that to us.  We learned that this family, like the others we had visited, were absolutely in love with our missionary son and were anxious to share that love with us, as his parents.  As we approached the entrance to the Parra home, two of the young children came out and excitedly said: “Elder Royal!”  They ran to David and Hermana Rosalina invited us in.  She was so happy to see us.  We met Papito and were given a little tour of the home.  They showed David that they had a new kitchen floor, courtesy of Elder Kolb who departed the mission with David’s group.  Hermana Rosalina had prepared a great meal: aji de gallina.  She had asked David about what to prepare for us and that was his recommendation, relating that it is my favorite Peruvian dish.  And it was awesome!  Papito and Hermana Rosalia told us of how they met and began their beautiful family.  He was not a member of the Church and her father did not approve of him.  Papito was baptized and was then more actively pursuing Hermana Rosalina, but she decided to serve a mission and responded to a call to Bolivia.  When she received her call, Papito gave her an ultimatum: mission or marriage.  She called his bluff and chose the mission.  Papito waited, and was the first in line to greet her at the airport when she returned home.  Still, even though he had been an active and faithful member of the Church, Hermano Rosalina’s father did not approve.  But, they persevered and were married in the Lima Temple.  Hermano Rosalina said that Papito is not her father’s favorite son-in-law.  They are warm, strong people, devout Church members, and have a lot of love in their home and hearts, which they freely shared with us.  It seems that we took more pictures there than at any other home we visited, probably because the children were so active, so cute, and were all over David.  It was funny watching Shelly sitting on David’s lap as he took control of her arms and pretended that she was driving a car (something he and Elder Hanke had done many times before), or watching her slap his hands when he would say “chocola,” a Spanish akin to “squash this” while holding his flattened hand out.  (That is how David taught the children to give a high five.)  Hermana Rosalina loved her the autographed apron David gave to all his pensionisttas.  She was so cute trying it on, posing for photos.  The family was very touched that we would make the effort to come see them, to be in their home.  It was really a special, wonderful experience. 
Hermana Rosalina working on her new cement kitchen floor (installed by Elder Kolb)
David with the Parra family, the children (Aaron, Shelly and Jairo, from left) he described as "the cutest in the world"
The elders in Chiclayo stopped in to visit, David here with Elders Garcia and Ibarra
David with Aaron and Shelly
Segundo "Papito" with Aaron and Shelly
             Hermano Jorge was waiting for us outside the Parra home, just as he promised.  It was cold outside, but he remained his his vehicle listening to his favorite radio station.  He brought us back to our hotel and refused to take any money for the transport.  I asked him to wait and ran to our room to get a new BYU t-shirt I had set aside for him.  He was impressed that I would part with a BYU shirt, “the school of the Church.”  We tried to give him money for his time, but Hermano Jorge refused.  He said to me, through David: “You have a great son, because he has great parents.”  We hugged, said goodbye, and he drove away into the night.  We tried to get things ready for an early departure, and did not get to bed until after 1:00 a.m.  Since the alarm is set for 4:20 a.m., we are staying in a really nice, expensive place for the purpose of essentially taking a nap.

            As Maralea and David sleep presently, and I prepare for my little power nap, I am counting my blessings for having been present here with David in the Peru Piura Mission to meet the people among whom he lived, served, and clearly so loved.  It is an amazing thing to see some of the key landmarks he described, put faces to names, watch David so fluently speak the language, and observe the way he so easily and lovingly interacts with the people here.  We ran into two sets of missionaries in Chiclayo (all Latino) and they all stopped to hug David and visit.  It was all just really awesome to be here and walk where David walked, embracing those he embraced.   These moments were all golden.  They are over now, part of the Royal family history. That part of our trip is now sadly behind us, although David has made plans to have a former mission companion, Elder Matchuay, who resides in Lima (and who returned home three months ago) pick us up at the airport in Lima tomorrow morning.  (David is constantly on the phone making arrangements lately.)  Well, it is very late.  I am extremely tired although I admit to entertaining thoughts of staying up all night . . . just because I can.  I really should at least attempt to get some rest.  I will not have to count sheep to reach the point of slumber tonight (which will be challenging, because we have some live band playing outside the hotel across the street), because I will be busy counting blessings - and they are innumerable.
David with Hermana Rosalina and Shelly