Monday, May 26, 2014

Semana 20 in Iquitos (May 26th, 2014)

Hello my family!

Well this week flew by in the blink of an eye. I felt like I was just writing you all yesterday. 
Hermana Centeno and I are living the dream here in our area Las Colinas and working so hard. This week for sure had it's ups and downs but we are learning so much.  We're also going to be moving this week because Sister Gomez doesn't like our house all that much and wants us to move into an apartment owned by a family of members, it's for sure safer and the road in front of the house is cement (HALLELUJAH).  Its gonna be really tough though because our current house is basically inaccessible by motokar and I don't know how we're gonna load all of our stuff onto a motokar, but hopefully the members will help us out with that one!
We've been finding lots of new investigators and some awesome families that we're teaching.  One of of them is a super cute little 20 year old mom who has two little twin baby boys. Her name is Chana and we've been teaching here a week or two now.  Her husband is a member of the church but hasn't been active since he was a kid, but she is super interested and has come to church and wants to get baptized. So we've been teaching her normal, but this week we went and taught her with a member named Janina. Janina is awesome, she's always helping us out, giving us people to teach and usually tries to teach the whole lesson haha. This time when we got to the house, Chana's husband Jose, would not come and went and hid on the back porch. With Janina leading the way we marched around to the back of the house and brought the lesson to him. I literally sat on a log and we started teaching. We started getting to know Jose better and he said that he doesn't really have goals for his family and that his kids can do whatever they want. And with that Janina was off, she started with a social analysis of why Jose was that way, and then started burning him REALLY hard and started saying things like 'I know you have problems in your relationshiop and your family, and your babies are sick! Look at them! I can tell that they have diarhea! And your wife is suffering and lonely!" at this point my companion and I were slightly horrified and tried to cut her off before the damage got any worse. And right as I was getting ready to change the subject Chana, with a baby on each knee, started crying really hard. A cry of desperation, and of someone who really is suffering. Janina went over and started hugging and comforting her, and she too started crying and telling her to be strong and that we love here. And right then one of the babies started crying and had an accident of diarrhea. At this point I was kind of freaked out I had no idea how this sister was able to discern all of these challenges that this young women and her family were facing, when normally we would teach her and she would be there with a smiling face. That night, Janina went back to the house of Chana and gave her some money to take her babies to the clinic. I learned a lot from Hermana Janina and her example to me. At first I was like 'oh my gosh this woman is a wizard' but then I realized that when we are in tune with the spirit, we truly can discern the needs of these people. Because it's true, so many of these people are suffering in ways I can't even imagine, but the gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer. It's what truly brings families together and can heal all these problems.  I completely sure that Chana felt the love of Hermana Janina and this week came to church.  I was moved by this experience and pray for the spirit of discernment to help me open my heart and truly help my brothers and sisters here in Iquitos.
This week Segundo got baptized! He is so awesome and has lots of goals for his family. But sadly on sunday he didn't come to his confirmation.  It doesn't sound that bad, but for me and Hermana Centeno it was a pretty hard blow as missionaries and really sad. We went and talked to him to find out what happened and there were some issues that happened and he feels pretty bad about it, and I'm 100%  sure that he will be there next sunday for his confirmation.
So that was probably the low point of the week, but there are things that happen that are out of our control, what is important is that we are constantly learning. 
One of the members asked me how it feels when I see the families that we have found, taught, married and baptized in their dresses and white shirts and ties faithfully walking to their sunday meetings as families and reading their scriptures and Liahona's--I literally can't describe it. It's AWESOME. Missionary life rules. 

Hermana Benyo

1. Us and Segundo before his baptism, along with his now father-in-law/our convert Maykeel
2. Amazon river dolphin!!! awwww
3. Our neighbors selling their freshly caught piranhas 
4. The peruvian hairless dogs here are super cute!
5. Hairless puppies
6. The street in front of our house after it rains (ie every day)

Semana 19 in Iquitos (May 19th, 2014)

Wow do I have a lot to update you on this week! Hermana Centeno and I are pleased to announce that two of our families that we taught got married on saturday, Guido and Betsy, and Meredith and Segundo!! Woohoo! and after the ceremony, Betsy, their daughter Emily, and our other investigator Sofia got baptized!! And Segundo will be getting baptized this Saturday.  This week was a little crazy, filled with trips downtown to do marriage papers, we had a bar-b-que activity with the ward to help raise money for the matrimonies, decorating the chapel, and a little bit of stress on the side! Like I said the other week now that we're doing all the marriage papers it's a little more work and matrimonies and baptisms always stress me out a little bit but they also are so awesome I cannot describe to you how great it feels to see these families come together, be married, and enter into the covenant of baptism. Each on of them bore their testimonies after being baptized and hearing them firmly state their faith in Jesus Christ brings so much joy and warmth to my soul, Its not something I can even describe. After being baptized, Sofia pulled me aside and thanked us for everything and said that she feels like she really has started a new life, now that she has come to this great step of baptism.  It was an awesome day, the Elders also had a couple that got married so we had a joint ceremonies and they all got baptized afterwards. It was such a beautiful day and for real I'm still on cloud 9. I love being a missionary.
Oh yeah, I went to Ecuador this week. Hehe. So on Tuesday the zone leaders told me I would be flying to Lima the next day (Iquitos is surrounded by rivers on all sides and there's no roads connecting Iquitos to the rest of the world so leaving always means flying), but this news was normal because I still have to do some visa stuff. This is a really exciting thing for people serving here in Iquitos because Lima means McDonald's, and Papa John's and all kinds of other delicious American things that sadly don't exist in island cities in the middle of the jungle. So We flew in Wednesday night and they took us to a super ritzy beautiful hotel (WITH HOT WATERRRRRRRR). Yeah you bet I showered for a good 30 minutes. So yeah Lima was nice I legitimately thought it was about 38 degrees there it felt so cold to me, but when I saw the temperature it was actually 68...hahah, I'm so weak. So the next morning they piled us in a van and took us back to the airport....which confused me a little because I was expecting to go to immigrations. So when we got to the airport they were like 'Great, so you guys need to leave the country, so you're going to Ecuador?. hahaha what. So we hopped on a flight to a place I've never heard of called Tumbes and when we got there it was SUPER hot again and they piled us in a van and drove us to Ecuador lol. So that was an adventure, it's a lovely country with diverse people, but sadly I was only in Ecuador for about 2 hours. We had to leave the country and re-enter. But the good news is I have the Ecuador stamp on my passport so it COUNTS. Then they dropped us off in Tumbes in some plaza and we ate dinner and acted like tourists for a while, took pictures by the river. We ran into some missionaries that are serving in Tumbes too and they gave us some tips on where to eat and whatnot. So then we flew back to Lima, stayed the night in the Hotel, and flew back into Iquitos in the morning. haha so yeah that happened.
But for real this week was so great, different but I loved it. My testimony and desire to serve the people of Iquitos gets stronger and stronger every day. I love you all and hope you all know that I am working my heart out here and loving every minute of it!

Hermana Benyo

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Semana 17 in Iquitos (May 5th, 2014)

Hello family and friends!
Hope you are all doing well, I miss all your pretty little faces!  Everything is great here in Iquitos and I hope that spring has finally sprung up there.  Honestly I don’t know what season is because you can ask whatever person what season it is and get a different answer every time. But it’s safe to say that seasons aren’t really a thing here.  We just finished our sixth week here in Iquitos and I can’t believe we’re already at changes again, the time flies so fast. But I won’t be going anywhere for a while which I’m totally fine with because I really like my area and my companion, Hermana Centeno.  This month of May we’re teaching some really awesome people, and it looks like we will be marrying and baptizing one or two families (one for sure). The other news is that our Zone Leaders just informed us that from now on, we will be taking care of the marriage process for all of our families. Before, they did all the papers for everyone in the zone, but it’s gotten to be a huge burden so now we get to do it! Which is fun but also a bit stressful because the process can get kind of complicated depending on the situation.  This Saturday, Sofia is getting baptized! She is beautiful inside and out and learning and living what she’s learning. I love seeing the fire of her developing testimony, it always inspires me and brings us so much joy, everytime we meet with her. She is going to be great. The other family is the famiy of Hermano Guido and his wife Betsi. We have been praying and fasting for them so much and doing service for them to help them with some struggles and we know that our prayers have been answered. Guido has made a 180 turn and is ready to come back to church, get married and help his wife and daughter prepare to be baptized. It really is a miracle his change of disposition and we owe it all to the lord. Yesterday they all came to church and it was the best. I love having families that we’re teaching in the chapel with us together.  This week I’ve been feeling a little insufficient and like I’m not completely living up to my potential. And more that the spirit is not always with me. Our leaders gave us a really awesome talk that talked about one missionary who had a similar experience, and asked a well known leader in the church what he should do.  The leader told him that what he lacked was the accompaniment of the spirit, and this is because the spirit only dwells in holy tabernacles. If we are doing things that drive away the spirit, of course we won’t be at our full potential.  What we have to do is purify ourselves. So he told the young man to go home, start fasting and praying for one day and make a list of all the things and all the thoughts that drive away the spirit. Whether it’s thinking too much about your life at home, speaking sarcastically to your companion, or sleeping in a few minutes longer than you should, put them all on the list and present it to the Lord. With this list of things he challenged him to do a 40 day fast. For forty days, completely abstain from each of these things on the list, and he promised that he would see miracles. They did this and it completely transformed their attitudes and not only that, it affected the people they taught. They taught with more power and authority with this companionship of the spirit. After reading this, I was totally inspired and ready to go because it was exactly what I needed. There are so many things that I do that prevent me from living up to my potential and having the spirit with me at all times. So my companion and I made our list and this beginning of the new 6 week change starts our 40 day fast from all of our little vices. Even the little things, the distracting thoughts, the negative words, all of it. This is a process of purification and we know that we will see miracles. It won’t be easy and we can’t do it on our own by any means. But every morning we will look at this list and pray for strength to withstand temptation. And every night we will report back to the Lord how we did, where we messed up and commit to be better the next day. I know that this is a Gospel of change and that if we don’t actually change and repent, this life and this time of probation with be worthless. I'm so grateful for the grace of Jesus Christ which allows us to be better, to be transformed into the best version of ourselves, and to be purified. Habits and behavior don’t change overnight and we gotta keep going, every day is a fight and that is one thing that I just love about this life. I wish you all the best and hope that you too can be inspired to purify yourselves and live up to the potential that our father in Heaven has in mind for you all. I love you sweet people. Peace out till next week!
Ps can’t wait to see those guapo faces this Sunday on skype!
Hermana Benyo

Semana 16 in Iquitos (April 28th, 2014)

Hello my dear family!
Hope you are all doing fine, still can't believe you guys got another dog, but hey I'm pretty happy about that haha. Hermana Centeno and I had a fabulous week here in Iquitos, but what else is new I really feel like I'm living the dream here. We have a lot of new people who are preparing for baptism this month and several families who potentially may get married and baptized this month. Our area here in Las Colinas has some serious potential and we are working on turbo right now.  
We have a new investigator named Sofia who lives with a member, she is 19 years old and the definition of golden investigator. She's been attending church the last month and loves it. Our first lesson she expressed her desires to follow the Savior's example, start a new life and be baptized.  The second lesson in her prayer she asked Heavenly Father to help her to follow our example so that she can also serve a mission. We were smiling so big after that prayer. She has a such as sweet spirit, she literally glows. She is preparing for baptism on the 10th.
We are continuing to teach the soon to be son in law of the Torres Amias Family. His name is Segundo and he's really great as well. He's been praying to know if the Book of Mormon and the Church are true and he's said that he feels that it is. It's looking like we will be planning the wedding for them on the 17th.
It's pretty crazy because there's like three other families too that we could potentially be marrying and baptizing this month which could be a little stressful but we're way excited! May is gonna be a good one!
I've been thinking a whole lot lately about how great it is to be here. I'm exactly where the Lord wants me to be and there's literally no other place I would rather be. I love being a missionary and I love serving the Lord and his children.  I'm learning and stretching and growing in so many ways, dilligence, hard work, service, love and charity, humility, selflessness, focus....It's such a time of growing I wouldn't change it for the world. So thank you for supporting me out here. Thank you for the prayers, all of it. We never get discouraged here, because we're already on the winning side!
An update on Iquitos is that I realized recently that I literally don't even feel the heat anymore. It's completely normal and it's so sad to me that living this long in tropical heat and humidity with no air conditioning that I will shiver in anything less that 80 degrees. Yeah it's safe to say I'm officially not the Wisconsin girl I once was.  Update on the bats in our house, we haven't heard from them recently and the cucarachas have been keepin pretty quiet. Also the Elders in our ward have a huge monkey with a scary face living in the rafters of their house, so I mean yeah, I really can't complain.  Excited to call home in a couple weeks. All is well in Iquitos! Love you all, stay sweet, choose the right, and write me! 

Love, Hermana Benyo