Installing a Playground in the Scenic Andes, Peru

The playground equipment (4-seat swing set, monkey bars, and climbing tower) for a primary school in the Andes was fabricated by David Cardenas-Torres and his friend Jhon.  It was then loaded on a minivan and literally hauled across the Andes to a small community situated in the Andes Mountains above the town of Lares, Peru

Loading the Playground Equipment on the Minivan

The community of Vigilancia, at an elevation of 12,500 ft asl, provides guides, porters, and horses for hikers and trekkers.  It has a small primary school at its center.  This is where we installed the playground equipment.  While David, Jhon, and several villagers assembled the equipment and dug holes, my son, granddaughter, David’s sister, and I took a short hike up toward a nearby waterfall.

My Son, Granddaughter, and I Enjoying a Short Hike in the Andes.

On our return to the work site, my son helped with the final installation.  The altitude was bothering me so I took it easy.  Everyone worked hard, particularly the locals.  After the equipment had been concreted in and tested, the locals provided a lunch of trout (caught from a stream that flows through town) and potatoes.

Testing the Swing Set at Vigilancia Primary School

Work Crew Posing after the Completion of the Playground Installation

After our meal, we enjoyed a beautiful drive back across the Andes to Calca.

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An Incredible Road Over the Andes

The road from Calca, near Pisac in Sacred Valley to Lares is an incredible ride.  We traveled it in medium-sized minivan packed with playground equipment destine for a primary school located high in the Andes.  We started at elevation 9,000 ft. asl and climbed to a mountain pass at 14,600 ft and then we descended to Lares.

Elevation at the Pass (in Meters) on the Calca-Lares Road

The scenery on or near the pass is spectacular.  On the way up, there were herds of Llama and Alpaca.  Above us were the jagged peaks of the snow-covered Andes.  At about 13,000 ft, we hit the snow line.

Llamas and Alpacas on the Road Create Additional Hazards

The road itself is a 1-1/2 lane partially paved road.  Going around corners, our driver would honk his horn, hoping to alert drivers coming the other direction.  There are few road guards.  And frequently the exposure is intense.  All in all it makes for an incredible ride.

The Road of the Andes Is Occasionally Unpaved

The road from the summit eventually reaches the town of Lares, gateway to trekking in the Andes and home of a heavily developed hot springs.  Farther down the road, you invade the Peruvian jungle.

Lares Hot Spring in the Andes Moungtains

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On the Road in Peru: Between Urubamba and Calca

There are spectacular views of the snow-covered jagged mountain peaks between Urubamba and Calca.  While commuting, I stopped and took a couple of photographs.

Halfway Between Urubamba and Calca

Elderly Gentleman Transporting Crops

Waterfall and Mountains

Waterfall from Inca Canal

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Another Day Installing Playgrounds in Peru

Rugged Snow-Covered Mountains

Yesterday, the weather was perfect, clear with a few fluffy clouds.  An excellent day for installing playgrounds at remote Quechua village schools.

Playground at Ocutuan Primary School

The first installation was in the village of Ocutuan.  Here we installed a swing set, climbing tower, and tether ball set (including ball).  The Cardenas-Torres family directed the assembly and installation.  But the locals did much of the work, digging holes, and mixing and placing concrete.  For Ocutuan, we had an incredible view of the nearby snow-covered mountains.  The village of Ocutuan is situated at more than 12,000 feet asl.

Making Minor Adjustments at Weaving Center Playground

While in Ocutuan, we visited the site of a weaving center that is being constructed by Eagle-Condor Humanitarian, a Utah-based NGO.  The C-T family had fabricated a playground equipment for the project and it was great to see it installed.  We made some minor adjustments on the swing set.

Assembling Swing Set at Sunchumarca

Next we traveled a couple of hours to the small community of Sunchumarca, located over 12,800 feet high in the mountains.  The road to the village climbs over 2,000 feet.  Switchback after switchback.  First on a narrow paved road, then on a partially paved road, then on a gravel road, and finally on a dirt road.  When we finally arrived, it was getting late in the day, so we just unloaded the playground equipment—a swing and tire set, monkey bars, and climbing tower—and assembled the swing set.  The installation work was done today by the locals.

Assembling Swing Set at Sunchumarca

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LDS Church Should Fire Its Lawyers and . . . .

I’m disgusted with the LDS Church’s lawyers, lobbyists, and PR personnel.  Why can’t the Church leadership look at issues from a Christ-centered perspective and do what’s right?  Tithing money is being wasted, and for the most part, these consultants are serving the Church poorly.

The following are NOT issues to be wasting the Church’s resources and reputation on:

  • Religious freedom, the world views this issue as the Church wanting the right to discriminate.  And they’re probably right.  Didn’t we learn anything from our racial discrimination against blacks?
  • LGBTQ issues, this cultural war has fortunately been lost, the Church needs to stop discriminating.  If there is a hereafter, I’m sure the Lord will sort this out.  We should be supporting loving relationships, not promoting celibacy.
  • Legalizing medical marijuana in Utah, there are so many more important issues.  And if marijuana helps patients in pain, it is cruel to withhold it (or make patients drive to Colorado or Nevada).  The 20+ excuses, for not legalizing medical marijuana, was little more than the Church’s lawyers running up their billable hours.

The following are issues that the Church leadership should be engaged in”

  • Empowering women,
  • Rooting out sexual harassment and abuse, and
  • Helping the poor and disenfranchised.

And these activities don’t require a lot of lawyers, lobbyists, and spin-doctors.

I think for above changes to occur, President Eyring and Elders Uchtdorf and Holland need to take the lead.  President (and lawyer) Oaks needs to take a back seat.  And the Church leadership needs to come clean on the money it is spending on lawyers, lobbyist, and spin-doctors.

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Arrington Question: Why is the LDS Church Bureaucracy so UnChristlike?

The LDS Church has a very top-down management system.  But management’s relations with employees has not always been very Christlike.  One example of this phenomenon can be found in the Leonard Arrington archives:

It is normal for an employee to expect occasional expressions of appreciation for his work, and we try to do this for our own employees. But with all the books we have published, and articles, we have never had written or oral communications from Elder [Joseph] Anderson [Executive director of the Church History Department], our Advisors, members of the Quorum of the Twelve, or the First Presidency about them. As if each is fearful of putting something in writing which would later embarrass him. One almost feels that the bureaucracy and the hierarchy fail to use the Gospel in their dealing with their own appointees and, instead, rely on legalistic pronouncements and coercive administrative power. I have never seen a group of people so afraid to do something, so fearful of doing wrong, so terrorized by the possibility of vindictiveness. And this is a Church!

Hopefully, things have improved at the COB.

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The Real Jesus and Mary Magdalene

In this blog, I’ve argued for a more realistic depiction of Christ.   Mary Todd Grey on provides a stark, but unquestionably realistic, description of Jesus and his living conditions:

As far as the world’s opinion of what constitutes greatness, Jesus was nothing special.  He was not just poor, he was impoverished.  As Elder Holland reminds us, there were times when he was even homeless.  According to Isaiah he wasn’t attractive.  And while the KJV describes Jesus as a carpenter a more accurate translation would be what we might think of as a construction worker.  Nazareth was a poor village, he would have grown up with no luxuries—luxuries at that time being things like furniture and clothing that didn’t itch and enough food to stave off hunger.  He wasn’t physically clean—only the wealthy had access to any kind of bathing facilities.  There was no soap, no change of clothes, no privacy. There wasn’t enough money and there were too many taxes and there was no one to care.

Scientific Guess at the Face of Jesus

[Jesus] was not someone who served a mission to the poor or who threw a beggar the occasional coin or who used a position of power to help those less fortunate.   He was not a handsome, clean, well-fed benefactor who visited and talked with and showed compassion to the poor and then went home to a bath and a change of clothes and a meal followed by a comfortable bed.  He couldn’t be those things, because what he was, was one of “them”.  He was the less fortunate, the forgotten, the beggar.  And he was these things because he was a God completely uninterested in protecting himself because he was completely committed to his hope in humanity.

Douglas R. Coombs commenting on Mary’s post promotes a similar description of Mary Magdalene:

My mind raced to think of Donatello’s “Penitent Magdalene,”  which presents a ragged, tattered and torn Mary Magdalene, very human, yet reaching for the divine.

Donatello’s Penitent Mary Magdalene


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