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Snapshot of Peru – Spanish is the official language of Peru, though Quechua and Aymara are co-official in some regions of the country. About 80% of Peru’s population is Catholic, with another 12% being Evangelical. 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. 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 work in Piura is going strong. They recently split the mission because it was expanding so drastically, and a new stake was made just last year. The baptism rates are high, but membership activity is still in question.
In Peru overall, there are over 500,000 members of the Church. There are 10 missions, 786 congregations (wards and branches), 1 temple, and 113 family history centers.
In the Piura mission there are 2 districts and 6 stakes–4 stakes in Piura, 1 in Sullana, and 1 in Tumbes.
The mission focus is doing the will of the Lord and keeping the members active.
The most common food in Peru is chicken and rice (arroz con pollo). Other common foods are potatoes, lomo saltado, arroz con leche, and guiso.
Lunch is the biggest meal of the day in South America. In the mission, you will have a cook make you lunch every weekday, and members will feed you lunch on the weekends. For breakfast and dinner, you’re on your own.
For health reasons, don’t buy food from street vendors. The mission leaders will give you specifics on which foods to avoid.
The strangest foods you might eat in Peru are guinea pig, tripe, mondongo (cow intestines), cow heart, and chicken feet.
This is a walking mission, but if you need to get from one place to another quickly you can take a moto (a motorcycle that pulls a cab behind it). You can find them on any busy street, and you just have to raise your hand and call “moto!” to flag one down. There are also buses and taxis.
Robbery is the biggest safety issue. Try not to carry lots of money or expensive-looking items. Wear clothing that is neat but doesn’t mark you as a wealthy target for robbery.
Food poisoning is also a safety issue, especially with pork, strawberries, and lettuce.
When greeting the people, make sure to greet everyone individually. Don’t exclude anybody. Whether they are strangers or old friends, Elders should give a handshake to everyone, man or woman. Sisters give a kiss on the cheek to women, but shake hands with men.
When someone invites you into their home, say “permiso” to acknowledge that you are only entering with their permission.
When people feed you, make sure to clear your plate.
Piura has a diversity of cultures that differ from region to region, but there are many things that all Peruvians have in common.
At Christmas, the people stay up all night eating traditional foods and lighting off fireworks.
For New Year’s, the people build straw men filled with firecrackers and set them on fire at midnight (missionaries aren’t allowed to attend).
Easter is mostly celebrated by the Catholics with a pilgrimage to a place called Catacaos.
In the city Talara, they celebrate “El Senor Cautivo” in October, with processions, incense, music, and a pilgrimage to a statue in the mountains.
The people can be very superstitious, and witchcraft is widely believed to be a very real power. Consequently, many people believe that Halloween is an evil holiday.
Peruvians can have strange ideas about health. For example, you can’t eat anything cold while you’re sick. You can’t eat something hot and then go into the cold or your face will get paralyzed. If you get embarrassed enough, you get sick.
Soccer is the most popular sport in Peru, but volleyball has a large following, as well, especially with the women.
Bring a basic backpack to wear while proselyting, preferably one with a safe place to keep your money. You’ll be able to buy a coin pouch in Piura to hold the local currency, which mostly consists of coins.
Bring light-weight clothing, but also make sure to bring a few sweaters for the winter months. DON’T bring a winter coat. You won’t need it.
Elders won’t need more than one suit coat, as it will be too hot to wear except for special occasions.
It’s good for Sisters to bring bright-colored clothing, but be aware that clothes get bleached in the sun.
Sisters shouldn’t bring flats because they will fill with sand while walking on the dusty roads. Eccos, Danskos, and Keens are good, thick-soled shoes to bring to Piura.
It might be good to bring a wide-brimmed hat (no baseball caps!) and sunglasses to protect you from the glare of the sun.
Bring sheets and a pillowcase. A pillow and blanket will be provided to you at the mission.
Make sure to bring a good brand of sunscreen, and take bug spray with you.
Other random but useful items to have are a hole punch and scissors (for area book purposes).
Sisters, be aware that tampons are expensive, so bring some of your own.
The Piura mission is located in the northwest corner of the country. The rainiest month is February, but even then it doesn’t get very cold. Most of the year it is extremely hot and sunny, with lots of wind coming in from the coast.
Calle Los Naranjos Mz H, Lt 4
Urb. Los Geranios
“You will most likely work with several Latin companions, so be ready to work with a variety of people. You can get along with ANY companion if your’e willing to work hard enough, even though your cultures and backgrounds may be different.”
**Did you serve in the Perú Piura Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org**