Monday, May 14, 2012

Another region in Lynette's mission was the city of Puno located in
southern Peru.  This was our first stop on our five day trip returning to her mission.  Puno is perhaps best known for Los Uros, or the floating islands of Lake Titicaca.  Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and also the highest lake at 12500 ft.  We took altitude pills so we wouldn't get sick.  This lake borders Peru and Bolivia.  About 3000 people live on man make islands on Lake Titicaca.  In the Lima North Mission one of our missionaries is from Los Uros.  Here is a picture of Elder Charca's father and older brother Omar.  Omar was the first missionary to serve a mission from Los Uros.  There is a small branch of the church located on one of the islands and full time missionaries travel to the islands each day to work.  

Elder Charca's dad and brother, Omar picked us up in their small boat and it took us about 20 minutes to travel to the islands.  There are about 70 man made islands and about 350 families live on these islands.  Everything on
these islands is made out of the totora reeds that is harvested from the shallows of the lake bed.  These islands were originally built to prevent attacks by the aggressive Incas.  Today people continue to live here because of family tradition and ecomomic reasons.   
This is the island Elder Charca's family lives on.  Usually 5-7 families live
on an island.  They made this island 12 years ago.  Each island
had a watch tower.  Before cell phones this is how they would
communicate with one another. 
Each island has small buildings made out of reeds.  Each year these buildings are replaced as the elements deteriorates the reeds.
Here Elder Charca's dad tells us how the islands are created
Several root balls of the reeds are tied together.  Eventually the roots grow together forming a  mass that reeds can be stacked upon.  They stack about 3 meters of reeds on top of this floating root mass.  This mass floats in about 30 meters of water.
This is Elder Charca's family.  He also has two sisters who
were attending school while we visited.  Their means of livelihood
is fishing and tourism.  The men fish and create products out of
reeds and the woman create stitchery products. 
This is the kitchen on the island. The base
is a big stone slab.   They have to be very careful that
they don't catch the reeds on fire as they cook. 
Solar panels were installed about five years ago so they now
have one light bulb inside their buildings.  Before this time they used
a type of lantern. 
Elder Charca's mom displaying her stitchery. 
Each piece of stitchery tells a story.
A view fromt the watch tower of the other islands.
Elder Charcs'a aunt and uncle.  Elder Charca has a smile
just like his uncle.
We were able to travel to the island that has a branch of the church.  All the
buildings are made of reed.,
This is the main building they use for sacrament.
There is a separate building for relief society, primary and
young men and young women's.  Someday they hope for a
more permanent building.  About seventy people are
members of this branch.  A branch of the church is formed
when an area is being opened to the church.  Once enough members
attend a ward is formed. 
Here you typical houses and a little garden area.  They are able to grow a few potatoes but all other items are purchases in Puno.  Their diet consists  mainly of fish and vegetables. 
This family lives on the same island as the branch of the church. 
He has served as a member of the branck presidency. 
We were so grateful to the Charca family for the time
they took to give us a tour of their island.  It
truly was a once in a life time experience
to experence their way
of life.

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