Friday, April 25, 2014

Semana 15 in Iquitos (April 21, 2014)

Hellooooooo my family!!!

I hope you all had the best Easter! I had a pretty good one!
This week we had interviews with President and Hermana Gomez. They are seriously the best I cannot express enough how much I love them. I feel so much love from them and for real, mom and dad, they are literally the Mexican versions of you guys, so it's like I have my parents away from my real parents.  President Gomez is always happy, loving, and encouraging and Hermana Gomez is like the super smart mom nurse lady who loves her kids, it's so funny they remind me so much of you guys.  So yeah it's always great getting to see them. (Also, my zone leader is LITERALLY a Guatemalan version of Nick).
This week the Torres Amias family got married and baptized! Wooohoo!!!!!!! It was both mine and Hermana Centeno's first family/matrimony in our mission so it was a little stressful figuring out the paperwork, fundraising, clothes, decorations, food and all that jazz. But the Elders and the ward helped out a TON, and we are so grateul for their help and support. But It was a great day and we were so happy and proud to see them get married, baptized, and confirmed as a family. I know I've said it a bajillion times but I really can't express how much we love this family.
This saturday a little boy we're teaching named Angel is also getting baptized and he's pretty excited about it. Other than that, Hermana Centeno and I are trucking along, finding new families to teach and trying to help bring back the less actives to church. That is a big obstacle here in Iquitos, there are tonnnns of less active members. Pretty much every block in our area has one or more families of less active members, and many times all we need to do is visit them and show them that they are missed.
Hey fun news, we have bats in our house! We finally got rid of the nasty gigantic cockroaches only to discover bat droppings in our house. So my mosquito net has now been converted from my cucarachaprotection-net to my murcielagoprotection-net. We haven't seen them yet because they only come out in the night but they leave presents for us every morning. The elders advised us that we just have to sleep with a slingshot and we'll be ok, so we're thinking about trying that one out. hehe.
But other than that, all is well in good old Iquitos and I wish you all well!

Hermana Benyo

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Semana 14 in Iquitos (April 14th, 2014)

This week in Iquitos.....
I'm really happy and excited right now and I don't really know why but everything is great, is all I can say!. Not going to lie this week was a big ball of stress at times and at other times was so fun and so spiritual I can't even explain it.  Our area is seriously the best I could serve the rest of my mission here and be completly content.
Hermana Centeno and I are continuing finding new investigators and families to teach left and right, working till we drop and I'm honestly so content that way.  We are proud to announce that our family, The Torres Amias family is getting married and all five of them, plus their granddaughter and getting baptized later that day! They are the best and I love their testimonies and obedience. They also have the cutest kids, my companion and I love em so much! 
We found a new family this week that was a street contact! They live in a part of Iquitos super close to where I am called the Belén district.  There all the houses are wooden and built on stilts or on floating platforms on the banks of the river so that every 'winter' when the Amazon water level gets really high, everything floods up. The houses on platforms float up and the houses on stilts are usually ok. It's the area of our district leader and his whole area is pretty buch wooden platform bridgey things built over the water and right now the water is super high so a lot of the houses are inaccessible without a boat.  So we ran into this family walking down the street exactly as they were looking at a house to rent in our area because their house got flooded over and turned into a pool. When we contacted them, the husband, Guido said that he was a member of the church many years back when he lived in another part of Peru but had gone through some tough times and left it all behind.  He and his wife Betsi were super friendly and we went to visit them last night after they had just moved in. They are such great parents and it is so easy to see that they just want the best for their family. We testified of the atonement and how we can become cleansed and start anew. We invited him to come back to church here in Iquitos, to forget the past, and we invited Betsi to be baptized and she accepted. We have a really good feeling about this family and excited to see how they progress.
Also, Viviana who came to conference last week accepted a date to be baptized on the 26th and she has been praying and gaining a strong testimony. This week she wasn't able to come to church because her sons who live with her uncle in a nearby pueblo were sick. But we have faith in her and she is just a really genuinely good person and daughter of God.
That is one thing I love so much about the people of Peru. Everyone here has so much faith. They all know who they are, that they are sons and daughters of God, they may not have the fulness of the Gospel but they have such a great sense of divine identity and more or less their purpose in life, something that is so special to me about this part of the world.
Also getting baptized on the 26th is an 8 year old named Angel. He is the sweetest, and his parents are not members but they literally come to church every sunday. It maked me sad because his mom, Luz, wants to get baptized so badly, but she has had some complications that prevent her from marrying with the father of Angel. But they are an awesome family with GREAT testimonies.
So honestly our area is great, it has so much potential and Hermana Centeno and I are truly starting to see miracles here. We also had some way fun times this week. So when it rains here, it rains HARDDD. Harder rain than I've ever seen in my life. So we were out visiting people with a member when it started raining so hard that with the tin roofs we literally couldnt hear anything and had to stop the lesson there. We then walked home in the rain and we only had one umbrella so  I gave it to Hermana Centeno and the member and braved the rain. I got completely drenched but it was actually so fun. Then after it rains, our area is almost completely mud. Mud mud mud, up to our knees. My boots get quite the use. And on sunday, we were  picking up an investigator family to church when we came to a little stream. There was a little 6 year old girl that I was helping cross the stream when boom i slipped and stepped in the mud and literally my foot went in knee deep and my shoe completely disappeared. I had to dig in up to my elbow to get it and I was completely filthy but a nice neighbor brought me a bucket of water, and we were late to church but hey, it was funny.
Also this week there was a gian power outage which was an adventure in itself. It was like that one power outage in Appleton for three day except in Perú. So that was fun.
I love Hermana Centeno, we are always laughing and smiling and working, couldn't ask for much more. I've learned so much to have faith, work hard, and be happy. Because literally stressing does not help AT ALL. IT DOES NOTHING. And I feel like I'm finally learning that, because when I let go of all the negative 'What if's' and 'how are we gonna's and just be happy and work with trust in the Lord, that's when the amazing and great things come our way.
This week We went to this place called Quistacocha where the missionaries go all the time. It's basically like a zoo with all the Amazon animals and then in the middle of it is a lake with beach surrounded by jungle. It was pretty fun and I got to hold a snake. And I'm pleased to announce that I ate my first SURI! And I'm not referring to Tom Cruise's daughter, but a gigantic larvae that lives in rotten Aguaje trees in the jungle. It's delicacy here in Iquitos, and want to know the best part, they are eaten LIVE. It's basically like Pumba in the Lion King.  It's so terrible though you have to first eat it while it's squirming all around, bite its head off to kill it in your mouth, then chew the body and then the head. I wouldn't recommend it. It has the flavor of radishes but the terrible part is that it is such a mouthful, the body exteriour is so rough with gooey guts in the middle and then you throw in the head to top it off and it's crunchy like popcorn. Bon Apetite! No it's awful and I can't believe I ate it, my gag reflexes went nuts, but I did it and now I'm an official Iquiteño. I have a video but I can't figure out how to email it. So that was a little bit of my adventures for this week, hope you all have a great week until next time!!

Hermana Benyo

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Semana 13 in Iquitos (April 7th, 2014)

This week in Iquitos was awesome!
So my companion and I are working like crazy to find new families to teach and we've been straight contacting references and teaching every waking moment it seems and honestly----I love it. I feel like I'm working so much harder because there is so much more to do. This week alone we founf 24 new investigators with 7 families. We are also working way hard with less actives. I love my area it is a missionary's dream come true, and we are going HARD.
So Hermana Centeno and I are teaching the family Torres Amias (as pictured in the photo). We LOVE this family. They are so special to us and we are always laughing and having fun with them.They have such great desires to be disciples of Christ and we are helping five of them, the two parents and three of the children to be baptized on the 19th.  They are learning and progressing so well and we are so excited for them. We are preparing that matrimony for the parents, Maykeel and Lucina, and will be holding a ward fundraiser to help with the matrimony. We are excited and praying for them.
We are working way hard with all of our other investigators and we see a lot of potential in these sweet people. We have an investigator named Viviana who we contacted in the street. She is a single mom and was very kind and willing to receive us and actually came to General Conference this week! We were so happy, she is always so kind and smiling.I was watching conference in another room in English but my companion said that she was very attentive the whole time. I didn't get to talk to her after but we talked to one of our other investigators who is her nighbor, and Viviana told her that her heart was touched by the conference.  She told her that she has been to a lot of churches but never has felt the spirit the way she felt it in conference. Our other investigator told all of this last night and I was smiling so hard and so happy. That is the power of prophets and apostles, people. This conference was so amazing to me, I felt so spiritually fed and I have a testimony stronger than ever that they are truly servants, prophets and apostles of God, who speak to us and have the authority to guide us. I am sure of that, and so grateful for that knowledge. The whole time in conference I was feeling the spirit so strong and praying that our investigators in the chapel were feeling the same thing. And my prayers were answered, my companion and I felt true joy in knowing that these people had felt the spirit testify of the truth of the restored gospel.
I know this church is the same church that Jesus Christ established while here on the Earth, and that we have prophets and apostles who lead us and guide us back to his presence.
My FAVORITE talk from conference was that of Elder Bednar that spoke of the atonement and that we can use the atonement of Jesus Christ to bear our burdens. Not just to be cleansed from sin, but to be transformed into the kind of person we want to be, that God wants us to be. My desire is to use the atonement and repentence to become a little better every day.To love more, worry less, think about others needs before mine. It is a constant quest and I am so grateful to be here as a missionary. I am learning and growing in ways I never thought possible, in ways I could never have grown at home, and because of that (and many other reasons as well) the sacrifice is totally completely 170% worth it. I love you all and I'm praying for each and every one of you.
Hermana Benyo