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This South American mission is full of friendly, religious people. They are a humble and adaptable people who are not one to argue with the missionaries about doctrine. Many of the younger generation are influenced by their member friends.
The members of the Church are very strong in this area and are very willing to help missionaries via referrals. While some areas are very strong, there are some areas of the mission that are still considered branches. This mission is pretty large with over 200 missionaries.
This mission has a very unique meal system that applies for both elders and sisters. Organized by the mission, you pay a specific family in your area to cook your three meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner and you eat with the family. You will generally be eating with a new family every day. Usually these families are members of the Church, but on occasion you may eat with a non-member family.
You will eat a lot of good food that mainly consists of rice, potatoes, chicken and other meats. Peruvian cuisine varies from region to region, though the staples of meat (beef, pork, and chicken), rice, corn, chili peppers, and potatoes are common ingredients in meals throughout the country. Some popular dishes include lomo saltado (fried meat served with french fries, rice, and onions), anticuchos (barbecued cow heart), and ceviche (raw fish in citrus juice and served with chili peppers). A modified version of Chinese food, known as Chifa, is also popular.
The areas in this mission are not too large, so you will primarily be walking everywhere. You may have instances where you can take public transportation such as buses or a convee. A convee is a little bus that is often packed with people that will stop at multiple places. They are an extremely cheap mode of transportation with a trip costing around 25 cents. None of the missionaries use cars.
The risk of getting robbed is quite low. Dogs are very common, so use good judgment to avoid situations in which a run-in might ensue.
Pointing at a specific person is considered rude. Always say hello when you are approaching someone since it is the polite thing to do. Also, you should eat all of your food. Someone could take offense if you do not.
Many Peruvian towns have their own unique festivals and celebrations, featuring music, dance, and special meals. Marinera dancing is a popular feature of many of these festivities. Folk instruments such as the charango, cajón, and zampoña are popular, though modern styles such as rock and cumbia are also popular. Soccer is Peru’s most popular sport, though volleyball is also somewhat popular.
You might come in contact with those who do not know Spanish very well. These would be those who are a part of the older generation or those who are younger but do not have much education.
Bring a warm sweater for when it gets cold. Also, since the weather varies in different areas, bring a decent combination of long and short-sleeved shirts.
A package from the United States via the United States Postal Service to Peru could take a couple of weeks. It is recommended to send mail to the mission home. There is a company in Salt Lake, whose primary job is to sell phones in Cusco, that will take packages directly to the mission office. Of course, this comes at a fee, and you need to time it right, but they will take the package through security and customs right to the mission office. Many mothers and families do this since there is a sense of security sending packages this way and it is cheaper than going through the U.S. Postal Service.
Av. de la Cultura 2417
Frente de Urb. Santa Ursula
What items were hard to get or not available?
Root Beer and Peanut Butter
What did you eat the most of?
“Rice. A whole lot of rice.”
What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Cow udder. It was fried. It didn’t taste bad, it was pretty good stuff.”
What was most surprising about the culture?
“Just how friendly people are compared to people in the U.S.. They’re not offended by much and more free in their sense of humor. You get away with a lot more in joking terms.”
What advice would you give to someone going to Cusco Mission?
“Go in to it being happy. The members respond better to a fun missionary than a serious one.”
What do you wish you had known before you served?
“That my mission was going to be harder than what I expected. I also wish I would’ve known the scriptures better.”