Sunday, August 24, 2014

Landing in Lima

Landing in Lima.  At around midnight on June 1, 2014, after 24 hours of travel from Seoul, I wasn't quite sure how I felt.  Surely I was stiff, swollen, tired and relieved, but also curious, expectant, happy and anxious to begin our two-week encounter with Peru.  It was my first trip to South America, and while the deserts and mountains of Peru were beckoning, it was the reunion with our son, Michael, that was my most longingly anticipated moment.  His two-year service as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would come to a conclusion in less than 24-hours, when Bob - or should I say President Goodman - would release Michael from his full-time calling in the church.  Michael had arranged for the Campos', a couple from a ward in Lima, to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel in San Isidro which was within walking distance to both the mission office and President Douglas' home.  (Don't you just love the little Peruvian woman we saw at the airport with the hat and long braids tied together in back? - so iconic!)

We got a few hours of sleep and then set out to explore Plaza de Armas on Monday, June 2.  We watched the changing of the guard ceremony at the Government Palace and then walked down to Plaza San Martin, catching glimpses of the colorful markets on our way.

We took a tour of the 18th century Monastery of San Francisco and it's catacombs, which are said to contain the remains of 25,000 (though some say there are as many as 70,000) people.  It was fascinating to see all those bones sorted and displayed in such an assortment of arrangements.

For dinner that night, we stopped at a reputable looking restaurant called Vivaldi and had our first taste of Ceviche - the most famous dish in Peruvian cuisine.  For one who doesn't care much for sushi, this raw fish cooked in lime was surprisingly delicious!

Finally the appointed hour arrived, and at 9:00 p.m. we were welcomed into the home of Michael's mission president.  President and Sister Douglas were hosting a family night with the missionaries who were leaving this transfer to return to their homes.  In a joyful tear-filled reunion, we were invited to join the circle of these faithful missionaries and (try to) sing their mission song with them.  It was a special experience to feel of their tremendous spirits and sense their bittersweet emotions as they prepared to leave Peru.  

And then, for the first time in many years, the night of June 2, 2014, Michael was all ours!  What a rare and precious joy that is for a mom!  We walked back to our hotel and settled in to "the nicest place" Michael had stayed in Peru.  He shared with us a few experiences along with some local delicacies he wanted us to taste.  Michael offered us a seed-filled passion fruit called grenadilla, which Bob and I couldn't quite enjoy the way he did.  But the alfajores - which are two layers of cookies sandwiched together with a caramel-like filling called manjar - were delicious!  However, the sweetest moment that evening came when Bob - functioning in his priesthood role as President of the Seoul Korea Military District - officially released Elder Michael Goodman from his responsibilities as a full-time missionary in the Lima Peru South Mission.  It was a privilege for me to witness the tender love of father and son, as Michael received counsel and a father's blessing from the man he respects and admires most!

The father of our home leads our family
With wisdom's light in all that's right; my Father's good to me.
Father's are so special
With a very special love
They watch us and protect us
The guide us and direct us
Back to our home above.
(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Children's Songbook, p. 209)

After an exhausting emotion-filled day, sleep came easy for Michael and I, but Bob was suffering from jet-lag.  We awoke Wednesday morning ready to drag Bob around Lima.  Michael would be seeing it with new eyes this day.  Our attempt to visit some ruins within the city was halted when we arrived and were told it was closed while excavation efforts were going on.  So we set out walking toward the coast when we came upon several markets selling all kinds of Peruvian gift.  Of course, we managed to find a few bargains we just couldn't live without!

After working up an appetite with all our walking and shopping, we took a taxi to the Miraflores area and had some fast-food style traditional pork dishes. These were washed down with a very sweet purple corn drink called chicha morada.  Miraflores is the tourist area of town and obviously the most affluent.  It was fun to see the beautiful coastline and watch the para-gliders sail around the bay.

That afternoon, we hired another taxi to take us to the east side of Lima where the LDS Lima Peru Temple is located.  What a beautiful and peaceful location in La Molina - one of the more upscale housing developments in Lima. The Lima Temple is much like the Dallas Temple in design and size, and they bear a sweet similarity to the Seoul Temple (although it is much smaller in size). - Across the street from the temple was a small LDS gift shop where we purchased a couple of colorful Peru ties.

In the same area of town was the home of a couple who have a woodcarving business by the name of Woodflair.  We had seen many of their gorgeous designs at President Douglas's home, and I had decided then what I wanted to take home as my Peruvian souvenir(s)!  I really like the Inca Warrior set which the Douglas's own, but decided upon the nativity instead.  And when I saw they had a couple of extra custom order Salt Lake City Temples on hand, I really could not resist.  Isn't this beautiful woodwork?!

President and Sister Douglas accepted our invitation to take them out to dinner Tuesday evening in a token of appreciation for their tremendous care and influence in Michael's life.  We walked the streets of San Isidro to one of their favorite quaint Spanish restaurants and enjoyed a good meal and really great company.  It was so much fun to connect as friends in a more casual and relaxed atmosphere!  I am grateful that our bond of friendship will continue long after the missions conclude. 

1 comment:

  1. The time always goes fast when it is someone else's missionary. I can't believe it has been 2 years already. Reading your experiences reminded me of going to Ecuador to get Chace. There is nothing like the reunion with a precious son after two years. This weekend we have a sister missionary and her parents staying with us. They are touring the mission before she heads home in a few days. The joy just radiates off of this mothers face as she looks at her daughter. I am already trying to imagine what it will be like when we head home to our family after two years. We love the privilege of skyping, but it just isn't like being together, especially with the little ones. Enjoy your time together.!