Monday, March 31, 2014

Semana 12 in.......IQUITOS!!!!

So, cambios (transfers) happened.

And I got transferred to......IQUITOS!!

Woohoo!!! So I was pretty sad leaving Tarapoto, because I had gotten pretty accustomed there. It was sad leaving my companion Hermana Salinas and my friends there. So Tuesday I hopped on a plane to Iquitos and when we got to the airport I met my new companion, Hermana Centeno, who had also flown in from another part of the mission. We're both new, she only has six weeks more than me, and our zone leaders informed us that we are opening an area. Ahhh! But let me tell you, our area is the best! It's not Tarapoto with beautiful mountains but its hilly and really pretty, a lot more jungly with bugs, and SOOO HOT. Wow.  I was a little nervous at first when they told us that we're completely starting from scratch and neither of us know the area, there's no street signs and a lot of the houses don't have numbers. Compared to our area here, Tarapoto is like super rich. But the people here are waaaaaaay friendly and the members are amazing. I'm finally in a ward and it's so different having so many members who help us do missionary work. Literally our first day here, we had ward council and the members here gave us tons of references and people to teach. One member told us that he has a family that he knows of five members who all want to get baptized. So we went to visit them the next day, and we now will be teaching them and helping all five them prepare to be baptized on the 19th. The parents, Lucina and Maykeel aren't married yet, so we also are working on the papers for their matrimony. They are a very sweet family with true desires to change their lives and follow Jesus Christ. It truly is so different here in Iquitos and honestly a lot easier. But I still miss my old area in Tarapoto, but I know that after a week or so I will feel right at home here.

Like I said it's super duper humid and hot and I actually have to wear sunscreen here. And our house is nice but we have cockroaches (not so nice :( ).  Everynight I tuck my mosquito net in really tight to protect's more a cucarachanet than it is a mosquito net. But it's ok, they're super friendly. But I have to get used to the freaky bugs because there's waaaaay more here and I guess that's just something you have to accept when you're living for 18 months in the middle of the Amazon for 18 months, right?

But I'm doing really well, we are seriously working so hard and learning a lot together and loving the work and loving the people so I'm not sure there's really much I could ask for! 

Con Amor, Hermana Benyo

Monday, March 24, 2014

Advice for missionaries called to the world's greatest mission :)


Congratulations on being called to Mision Peru Iquitos, ie the best mission ever!!

Heres what you need to know:

Dont overpack. youll regret it. Everything that you could possibly need you can buy here. Yes its the jungle, but its not what you are imagining (yeah sorry, no machete fights with monkeys or anacondas)

But seriously when I said dont overpack, DONT DO IT. Transfers here anywhere outside of iquitos are by plane and you get a suitcase thats only 22 kilos (youll have to do the conversion on that one) and a carryon, everything else you have to leave in the mission offices. And they give you about twenty minutes to figure out which 20 kilkos of your stuff is completely necessary and its way stressful. So maybe pack ahead one suitcase of the absolute musthaves for up to six months under 22 kilos, and everything else in your other suitcase!

Pack 18 months of tampons, they have other sanitary products but no one really uses tampons. If you wear contacts, pack your full supply of solution. Everthing else toiletry wise, you can get here, just pack for the CCM.

dont bother with bringing music or an ipod. Ipods arent allowed and we have a specific list of music that is provided for us on cds and a player that is given to us.

As far as bags go, don't stress, the bag that you will use every day is provided by the mission and will become your best friend (yeah its not pretty but its very functional).

Shoes, just buy the classic mary jane missionary shoes. Make sure that you can walk a ton in them. I also have a pair of crocs (yeah I know) disguised as flats, and theyre good because they're water proof. Pack LOTS of dress shoe socks, they may get lost in the wash.

As far as rain boots, the brand doesnt really matter. I bought short ones that go below midcalf and I really like them and use them a lot. I worried a lot about a raincoat too, but honestly i never really use it, just bring an umbrella and a light rain jacket. If its seriously pouring, youll use an umbrella, but otherwise just bring a light jacket because it gets alittle cooler when youre wet.

But seriously, the best advice I can give you is to not overpack. I learned this the hard way. You don't need anything that isn't on the list and you can buy pillow and blanket here (it's provided in the mtc).

Lastly, Peru is a different country. Especially in the MTC and in the field make sure you wear outfits that are cute but not too trendy or nice, because you will draw attention. We're in the jungle. And let's be honest you're never going to use that hair straightener or dryer so leave it.

Any other questions, shoot me an email!
Hope this helped and good luck preparing for your mission! See you soon!

Hermana Benyo 

Semana 11 in Tarapoto (March 24, 2014)

Hi Everyone!

This week was fun and I can't believe I've already been with Hermana Salinas a month and a half. Changes are tomorrow so I will let you know if anything happens! Everything is going great and this week we had a mini zone conference with President and Hermana Gomez. They trained us on Family History work and how we can use it as missionaries to help our investigators. It was really cool and eye opening. We then had a training just us hermanas with Hermana Gomez and talked out our struggles and challenges here as missionaries and it was really awesome. I love President and Hermana Gomez, they are the best and like parents away from my parents. This week Hermana Salinas and I have been working really hard to focus on the needs of the people we are teaching whatever they may be, praying harder for them and being better listeners. I have noticed a real difference as a missionary and a more real and profound love for every person that I talk to. Our message is a message of love and is more powerful when it is shared with real, sincere love.
On wednesday we were teaching up on the mountain when it started pouring rain--like that true rainforest style rain that I love, but unfortunately there's no moto taxis to escape into up there, so we just had to climb down in the pouring rain and we were completely soaked and my agenda got completely soaked through but hey, we had fun.
On Saturday we are proud to say that our investigator Richard got baptized! Yay! We are so excited for him and he bore a very powerful testimony afterwards about how the gospel has changed his life and inspires him to be a better husband and father every day. His wife and daughter came to the baptism as well and we are teaching them as a family. He is the best and such a great person, I know he's gonna go far!
So that's about all I've got to share this week, and I'll talk to you all next week!
Con Mucho Amor,
Hermana Benyo

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Semana 10 in Tarapoto (March 17, 2014)

Hey Everyone!! 
How are you all doing? I miss everyone back home but this week was really, really great!
First of all, Hermana Salinas and I discovered a part of our assigned area that we had no idea existed and it is gorgeous. We were visiting less active members on our list and climbed up this hill where they live and boom, it's just straight mountain valley. It quite the hike but we were working up there all week so we stopped and took some photos.
We are helping a lot of inactive members so that they can come back to church. Some of them are in dire need of love and assistance and we're working with the members so that we can help them in any way possible.  We also found a several new families who are really excited about learning the gospel, and this week our investigator Richard is getting baptized on saturday! He's really great and super charismatic. We're also teaching his wife.
Hermana Salinas and I just feel really good in general about this week, we're working much more efficiently now that we have new leaders and branch president they help us a lot and we're starting to get more referrals from them.
I really am so truly happy to be living here, sharing something that is so special to me with all those around me, so that they too can experience the joy that the restored gospel brings. It really is what everyone is searching for, whether they know it or not. Tarapoto is a dream, being a missionary here isn't easy but it's definitely worth it! I love you all and don't you forget that somebody up there loves you!

Hermana Benyo

Semana 9 in Tarapoto ( March 10, 2014)

Just another week in paradise, hope you're all still alive up there in the frozen tundra! This week was a bit of a struggle, but we are trucking through. A new Colombian family moved into the branch and they are really great, the husband named Anderson got called into the branch presidency, so now our branch presidency is more than just one person! So that's exciting! It's great having leaders come in to the branch to help strengthen the members.
For p-day (preparation day) this week we went as a zone to this place called Isla Bonita.  It was way pretty. We hiked about 45 minutes into the jungle, climbing up mountains and whatnot. Everything is so green and pretty and once we got way deep in,  there are people that live in huts, very remote from the city. They just stared at us as we walked by with their white face paint and machetes. It was one of those "Wait I'm actually in the jungle right now/I'm scared" moments. But they were really nice! Isla bonita was really pretty and we had fun/got eaten alive (by bugs not the natives).
We had very few lessons this week and are kind of in the middle of a drought as far as references go. But it was cool this week, we were visited by a member of the seventy, Elder Scott Grow. Our training with him was awesome and we had a multi-zone conference in Tarapoto with the missionaries from Yurimaguas and Moyobamba as well. We learned that we aren't here to baptize, we are here to convert. And we aren't here to convince people to be converted, we are here to find the people who are prepared to receive the gospel.  One thing I learned this week is that the difference between a good missionary and a great missionary is the Holy Ghost. If I am working every day, from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm without stopping, it's natural that I'm going to get tired. What Elder Grow reminded us is that if we are constantly searching for and praying to have the spirit with us, we will have that energy to keep us going.  We will have the desire to talk to more people, to share more, and my thoughts won't be focused on myself and my needs--when I truly have the Spirit with me, I am thinking about the needs of the investigators, my companion and those around me and I love that. I love that we have the power to change our own nature for the better through the atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that if we all try a little bit harder to have the Spirit with us as we pray and read the scriptures, every decision we make will be a little bit easier. Our attitude will be a little bit better, and we will all just be nicer, more loving toward others and more selfless. I'm grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost and I truly can testify of the strength that I have received daily since the day I was baptized.
Love you all!
Lauren Benyo

Semana 8 in Tarapoto (March 3, 2014)

Hey Everyone!

Sorry my email is going to be shorter this week. 
But just another week in paradise gone by, and I hope you're all doing well. 
This week we got a new branch president (yay!) and he is seriously the best. He is from Lima where the church is much stronger and served in a bishopric for several years. We're very excited about that and he is going to help us IMMENSELY. You have no idea, we're very happy.
We're also getting a new ward mission leader and relief society president.
Hermana Salinas and I are finally teaching families, but we still have many days of walking around aimlessly in the hot sun without lessons. But hey, exercise, right? We also live at the top of a mountain and die a little inside everytime we have to climb it to go home, but I guess thats the price we have to pay for the scenery.
My spanish is going so well! I'm thinking and dreaming and breathing in Spanish and it's kind of funny it's legitimately hard for me to pray in English.  I try sometimes and it reverts back to Spanish if I'm not concentrating hard enough, so that's going well.
Yesterday after fasting we were starving and at our lunch appointment we had chicken lung soup and I swallowed every one of them so that I wouldn't have to chew it, but other than that it was really good!
Every day I feel a little bit stronger and closer to the Lord and it's easier for me every day to focus on the needs of the people around me. We love them and want what's best for them. Being a missionary truly is a blessing!

Love you all!

Hermana Benyo