Monday, January 20, 2014

Semana 3 in Tarapoto

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 Our group going to Iquitos from the MTC

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Tarapoto from our house 
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 Hermana Talbert and I at the airport in Iquitos
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Freaky abondoned plane at the airport in Iquitos  

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  So randomly some horses showed up in our I have no idea who they belong to but they just started chilling and nursing right in front of our house. Normal.


Tarapoto is awesome. Teaching is hard.
That´s pretty much my week summed up.  This week was for sure a challenge.  But honestly I feel like I´ve come so far. It´s tough expressing all that I want to say in a second language and at time I feel like the people don't really comprehend.  It´s really interesting here, the people are all very sweet but you have to teach simple simple simple, or they don´t really get it.  I'm starting to feel more at home and the members in the branch are so very sweet. Also, everyone greets with a cheek kiss and bids farewell with a cheek kiss and I always forget to do it and people think I'm rude but I'm just not used to it. Funny story, so we're missionaries and all and this one teenager tried to greet me and kiss me and I had to like dodge it and pull away was kind of awkward maybe you had to be there.
I feel so blessed to start off in Tarapoto because it´s in the high jungle, and so the weather is awesome (iquitos is wretched), the food isn't weird (no reptiles), and it's really cute and cozy. It really reminds me exactly of Appleton except completely different and in the Peruvian amazon.
In Lima it wasn't a big deal being a gringo, because there were plenty, its a big city with tourists, but Tarapoto is a lot more remote. In actuality, I think the missionaries are literally the only gringoes in Tarapoto. The whole language and teaching thing is difficult but without challenges, I wouldn't be progressing so I'm thankful for that.
It's a little frustrating because our investigator Eli was going to be baptized the 25th but it fell through because she didn't come to church yesterday. We have another investigator named Hisela and I love her so much. She really is so sweet and so smart and has such desires to change her life and come unto Christ. She is cautious and wants to learn more, which I think is great so we have been teaching her often.
One of our goals as missionaries is to love the people of Peru, and I'm really praying that I can do that more, and think of myself less. Because ultimately that's what missions are all about, right?
Love you all! CIAO!

Hermana Benyo

Semana 2 in Tarapoto

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 My run with Hermana Ruesch 

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 The view from our apartment

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 The Amazon River. nbd
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A man casually cutting grass with a machete

Hola mi dulce Familia,

So this week has gone by so fast but I've learned so much. I'm finally starting to learn street names, where I am, members in the branch, and our investigators. Names are SO hard for me here. Like I was expecting a bunch of Miguels and Alejandros but no, they all have 15 names and they're Gringo names but pronounced hispanic. Like 'Richard' but with a really strong accent so people tell me they're names and I have no idea and forget instantly. 

Anyway, so Hna Alvear and I live in a little room about the house of our pensionista, who is Hna Luzmila, the Relief Society president in our branch. Our room is about what you would expect, cement floors and brick walls with a little cupboard in the corner covered by a curtain that is our bathroom. So funny story the other day I was showering, there's no hot water here, so i tried to move the shower head and I realized it was just a pbc pipe so it snapped and water was spraying out of a hole in the wall. hahah I cant remember if I already told you that last week, but its fixed now.

So we eat meals with our pensionista and lunch with members every day. I haven't eaten anything too weird yet, but all the weird food is in iquitos, here is mostly just rice and such.  But there's TONS of fruit I love it. Lots of Pineapple, mango, papaya, coconut, maracuya, passion fruit, star fruit, and other ones that I don't know the names of. The other day we bought a coconut from this man on the street who cut it open with a machete and stuck a straw in it. I also tried this fruit called aguaje which is weird and tastes like cottage cheese but at the same time is kind of good/disgusting. 

This week Hna Alvear and I went on intercambios with a companionship and I went with Hna Ruesch, who is from South Jordan, UT. And she´s only had 6 weeks in the mission....haha. Two gringas who had no idea what they were doing. It was for 24 hours but seriously it was SOOO fun.  She is the best and honestly yeah we´re not that good at spanish but our lessons went so well and we felt the spirit so strong. We visited some less actives and they came to church the next day. We also taught our investigator Eli and with her we read Enos in the Book of Mormon and talked about prayer and conversion. Our lesson was very simple, but the spirit was so strong. I love the Book of Mormon, it really speaks for itself. And that lesson she committed to be baptized the 25th, yay!!

Our area is a little bit tougher to find people, but I like the challenge, and when we do find people that need it, it's so sweet.

But yeah so On our intercambio, Hna Ruesch and I went for a run through the jungle and it was SO COOL!!! And we ran up this hill that overlooks the mountain and the valley below. Its so pretty here. And I love being a missionary. My testimony is being strengthened each day and I`m learning more than I thought possible about the gospel.

I love you and miss you all!!

Hna Benyo

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Semana 1 in Iquitos!

 Tarapoto, Peru
 Tarapoto, Peru (again!)
 The famous motokars! 


Okay so this week has been CRAZY. Crazy but awesome. So tuesday I left the MTC at 2:00 Am to fly to Iquitos. I got to go with Hna Talbert and we were the only gringos so that was fun!  Not gonna lie it was so nice leaving Lima and the flight was so cool. We flew over the Andes mountain and then it all turned to green jungle for miles and miles and miles, it was like the ocean. Once we were about to land in Iquitos, we were super low and passed over the Amazon river. It was the coolest thing of my life, I was fan-girling so hard I actually cried. You think I'm kidding. I'm not.

Bueno, so we stepped out of the plane and I was immediately smothered by humidity as expected and the scenery looked like Jurassic Park. There was also this freaky abandoned plane there, it was cool. So we got to meet President and Hermana Gomez and let me tell you, they are the sweetest people on planet earth.  We ate breakfast in the mission home in Iquitos and then our areas were announced. I got sent to Tarapoto!!  And the best part is that Hna Talbert did too!  Our mission is so huge that we need to fly to every area during transfers. So that got announced and then they were like 'oh by the way you can only bring one suitcase that is 20 kilos and you have 20 minutes till your flight leaves". So I panicked and ditched over half my stuff at the mission office in Iquitos and hopped on another plane.

On the flight I met a man who was asking about the church and the flight to Tarapoto, I taught him the entire first lesson of the restoration and gave him a folleto. It was so fun and cool!  

Okay. TARAPOTO. I'm not even exaggerating when I tell you that Tarapoto, Peru is the most beautiful place I've ever been in my life. I freak out everytime I step outside. Its one of the areas that has mountains and waterfalls and its super green and tropical. They call it the paradise of the mission and that is no exaggeration. Another awesome thing is that it isn't as hot as Iquitos. The weather is basically like Wisconsin in July. Its soooooooo pretty, I can't send many photos so just google image search it. The city is so cute. It's like the size of Appleton, except everyone speaks spanish and its in the middle of the jungle and mountains.

There are no cars here, only motokars and its so fun.  There just these little motorcycle with a bench on the back and we take them everywhere we go.

My companion. My companion is Hna Alvear and she is great! She's from Ecuador and a very experienced missionary and is the Hermana equivalent of zone leader. She has trained 7 gringas and this is her very last transfer, so she will be going home in a month.  

This week we invited two of our investigators to be baptized and they have dates set in january.  I got to invite one of them and since I'm training, I've been doing a lot of contacts which is scary but fun. I honestly feel like I am in such a perfect place to do missionary work because the people are SO awesome. I have never seen anyone as friendly as these peruvian jungle people. Like I almost feel spoiled because I haven't received any negative response and almost everyone is willing to learn more about the gospel. On sunday we did branch missionary training and I taught the members the importance of teaching people, not lessons for their visiting and home teaching.  I feel so blessed that I can speak spanish, but that doesn't mean I have any idea what Im doing. Hna Alvear keeps saying that she forgets that she's training because I can speak and teach, but in reality I have NO CLUE how to be a missionary. Its quite funny. But also not funny.  I'm really working to get to know our members and investigators and just planning and teaching in general. The people in the jungle have very simple understanding so its essential that you teach as simply and clearly as possible, almost as if you're teaching children. Its cool, I just don't know how to do it.

Anyway, pray for me because I have a LOT to learn.

I have so much more to say but SO little time. Love you and miss you all!

Sunday, January 5, 2014


I just want you to know that I had an awesome christmas!! Christmas eve was really hard but the next day was so so so good. We didnt have class so that was good, and it was literally the most beautiful day. The sun was shining and I got to spend time outside and with my old district, and we are all super close and a lot of us felt the same homesickness so it helped a lot to spend time with them. I just kept noticing how beautiful it was outside and we got to play volleyball and enjoy it. I also got to spend time reading scriptures and really reflect on the life of the savior. Although I wished I was home with you guys, it was honestly one of the best christmases I´ve had and I felt so close to my heavenly father and it just made me so happy and put me in such a good mood. I think the main thing I was sad about was that I didnt get to call home, especially when im only a few days from being in the field where I could have called home. But it´s okay because I really wasnt sad at all on christmas, so dont feel bad I was actually really really happy. I read about the saviors life and his atonement and I just felt such and immense overpowering sense of love and gratitude, more than I´ve ever felt on christmas, and I think that being away from all the tinsel and materialism that normally clouds my vision during the christmas season is the only thing that truly allowed me to feel the TRUE spirit of CHRISTmas. I´m so grateful for this Christmas, and I don´t think I´ll forget it and I know I won´t look at Christmas the same again.

We also had an AMAZING christmas day devotional from Elder Bednar from the quorum of the twelve apostles. It was the best christmas present ever. He dad something a little different and it was really great. He handed out a bunch of cell phones to all the missionaries at the MTC and had the missionaries at foreign mtc´s email in questions that we had for him. Anything we wanted to ask, and he spent the hour answering them. It was amazing hearing him speak so frankly and unscripted, but everything he said was so spiritually powerful which strengthened my testimony that he truly is called of God.

One question he answered was "What is the most important thing you learned on your mission?" He said that he learned that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has two prominent parts: The cleansing power and the strengthening power. We all know of the cleansing power of the atonement and we teach that we can all be cleansed from our sins, but oftentimes we overlook the strengthening power of the atonement. This means that even if we are not directly sinning, our efforts will always be insufficient and short of perfection. Entonces we need to understand that we can ALWAYS rely on the atonement of Jesus Christ to strengthen us and become better. Yes the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made is for sinners who need to be cleansed, but also for disciples who are trying to become saints. Another cool thing he said was that a lot of people fall in to the trap of thinking that it´s okay to sin because you ccan just repent and be cleansed again. This is false because thinking this way has completely disregarded the strengthening power of the atonement. If you are always spending time in the cleaners working to become cleansed, that is precious time that you are losing which could have been used refining yourself and slowly progressing toward our eternal and great potential. Pretend there is a jar full of black sand that has a hole at the top and the bottom that is large enough to fit exactly one grain of sand. If you push one grain of white sand in the jar and one grain of black sand pops out the other end, what happens? Is the jar going to look significantly different? No. But is the physical makeup of the sand in the jar going to be different? well Yes. Praying or repenting one time is not going to make us any different. However, if we continue dilligently to push in white sand one grain at a time, through daily prayer, scripture study, serving and loving others, keeping the commandments, and thinking good thoughts, slowly but surely that jar is going to be nothing but pure white sand. Becoming saints is not going to happen all in one day. It is a lifelong process and something that can only be done with the strengthening power of the atonement.

One other question someone asked is "is it more important to serve my companion or the investigators that I´m teaching?" Elder Bednar stated that they are both equally important. I think of the way the savior treated his disciples and it all makes sense to me. My companions deserve to have a good companion. They deserve to be loved, cared for, and served. He said that the best quality that a missionary can possibly have is to forget themselves. When you are not always thinking about "me me me" you´re going to forget that you´re away from homĂ©, that you´re sweating buckets in the jungle, that your companion gets on your nerves, and that you´re eating weird food. This is not my mission, this is the Lord´s mission and I am a vessel carrying the spirit to help the people of Peru. Being a missionary is SO sweet. It´s LO MAXIMO!!! (Slang I learned from the latino missionaries)

Anyway, In the end I had a really great Christmas and I´m really happy.
Latino district is awesome and challenging. I get SOOOO much more out of my lessons and the teachers are so so good. I leave for Iquitos on Tuesday. ((CANT WAIT!!!!))

Peace and Love,
Hermana Benyo