This week Hermana Centeno and I have set a lot of new goals to get us 100% focused and we really feel so great! Although we don't have any families now that we are preparing to marry, we are so focused on finding, talking to every person we can, asking for references and working with the members. I feel so good and when we work like this I really feel the spirit all the time and can see the hand of the Lord in our work. I'm trying to not let myself panic that we don't yet have new families and just continue working and trusting in the Lord, that way I know he will direct our paths and bring us success if we are focused on our purpose here.
On saturday Luz and Jaime had the ceremony for the massive wedding that they signed papers for last week. There were 169 couples that got married here in Iquitos and tons of missionaries from all over the city who were also helping their investigators get married. It was fun and actually a lot cooler than the matrimonies that we've done so far on our own.
That night Luz and her son Angel got baptized. Jaime decided that he's not yet ready to get baptized, but he has a testimony and we know that his time is soon to come! It was great seeing Luz finally baptized and confirmed a member of the church, she has been waiting almost 2 years and never could because she wasn't yet married. But she was so grateful to finally have taken this step after so much time.
This week is a big celebration, a holiday called San Juan that they only celebrate in the Selva. And I live in the district of Iquitos called San Juan, so it should be extra loco. I'm still not sure exactly whats gonna happen but San Juan is on tuesday, I think we're gonna eat this food called Juanes, and think about San Juan, while listening to Juanes--should be neat. What I do know is that all the people have been fattening their chickens for about a month in preparation for this day...it's a big deal.
On that note, I know that this Gospel is true, that Jesus Christ is our savior and that through Him we can be cleansed, changed, and receive eternal happiness. Press forward with steadfast faith in Christ, with love of God and love for all mankind, until next week!
Love Hermana Benyo
1. The Happy Couple
2. All dem Peruvians gettin' hitched
3. The lovely wedding venue
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Hey Family! How’s it going! So today I just finished my second change here in Iquitos and we’ll find out who stays and who goes (I’m 99% fingers crossed sure that I’ll still be here). On Saturday the municipality had a massive wedding and the family of our investigators Luz and Jaime went and signed some papers to get hitched before their baptism this week. We're really happy about the change we've seen in Jaime, when we first got here he didn't want to get married and much less baptized, but he prays so sincerely now, tells us that he knows the gospel is true and is making the arrangements to set that example for his family and be married and baptized. We're happy for them.
This week was truly a week of serious reflection. Our leaders talked to the zone about obedience (everyone's favorite topic as missionaries!) but it really got me thinking and reflecting. That honestly I'm not doing my work like I should be or like I could be. When we came here to be missionaries we left behind our families, friends, studies, dating life, hobbies and all that. For 18 months to 2 years that's all behind us now. But what I really realized is that that literally isn't me anymore. I'm not Lauren, I'm Sister Benyo, a missionary and a representative of Jesus Christ. Never again in this time will my thoughts be directed towards my personal needs, desires, and passions but for this short time in my life I am serving the Lord and his Children. I have forbidden myself to come home the same person, I will never be the same so now while I'm here, our 100% must be focused on the Lord and His work. What a blessing to have this experience, but at times I feel like I am impeding myself from undergoing that transformation. I think about what I'm gonna eat next, time till the next P-day, how long I've got till I go home one day, I don't fill in the area folder at night and we leave the house 10 minutes late. It's all these things that add up, and I feel myself being a little bit too Lauren than I should be. But she is so gone and not welcome here. Here in Iquitos is a sacred place for me and never will I let these selfish distractions from who I once was keep me from being who the Lord wants me to be. On the eternal perspective a mission is SO short. This isn't 1.5 to 2 years, it's 1.5 to 2 seconds. We're throwing it all behind us now. That all is over now, 100% focus on working, on helping others and on having the spirit at all times. Without work and 100% obedience and self-discipline we are nothing. And frankly there's just no time for me to be Lauren. I'm so grateful for the strengthening power of Jesus Christ that helps us to be strengthened in our weaknesses. I love the Book of Mormon in Ether where it says "
But now is the time to repent and be perfected, to be a little bit better, a little bit more focused and selfless and hardworking than I was the day before. To contact a little more, to talk to more people, to find more people waiting to hear the gospel, to pray and fast more. Because honestly this time is so so short. And let me tell you I'm gonna remember it as the best 1.5 seconds of my life.
Love you all,
1. Luz and Jaime signing the papeles!
2. Zone 9 de Octubre...Take 1....
3. Zone 9 de Octubre!!!!!
4. A monkey in it's natural habitat in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest....no just kidding it's the zone leader's pet monkey posed on a tree (note the leash)
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
This week was weird but good and we learned a lot. We moved into our new house. It's a lot smaller and it doesn't have windows like our old house, but it's safer and were getting accustomed pretty fast. We finished up the wedding papers for a family named Luz, Jaime, and their son Angel who is 8. They have been investigatores for a loooooonnnnnng time and their finally taking that step and getting married this month. The municipality is having a massive wedding this month which makes things easier for all of us and it's a lot cheaper, so taht helps us out a lot as missionaries, it'll be on the 21st. They're really good, Luz is rock solid in church and in her testimony, and we are working with Jaime to help strengthen his testimony, read the Book of Mormon and resolve his questions. We're also teaching a sister named Blanca. She is seriously an angel. She was being taught by the elders but they had to pass us off to us because her husband didn't want to be taught, and she's so great it literally pains me to take their investigator from them and that relationship they have with her. But honestly she has got to be the most spiritually prepared person I have met on my mission. Most of the time leaving lessons at her house I feel like I just got taught by her. She has had a tough life, her parents abandoned her as a child, but honestly she has the most amazing attitude about everything. The light of Christ just shines from her and she has this burning desire and hunger to learn more about the gospel to read the scriptures. I just love her attitude about life, I wish I could describe it to you, she sells food in her home and before was selling beer, but now after talking to the missionaries she stopped selling beer and sells her Chicha Morada (a peruvian koolaid like drink made from purple corn---tastes better than it sounds). But she was just like ¨Hey I know that the Lord doesn't like when I seel alcohol and when I sell on sunday, so I stopped and it was a good paycut but I mean I'm not dead I'm still here, so we're all good!´. Wow I love her so much, and she and her beautiful little daughters are sooo so smart and ahhhhh. One lesson she told us about her childhood and how now that she's a mom she feels so blessed to have her little girls and have them safe and give them the childhood she didn't have, and her eleven year old daughter Galadria, listening to her tell this story just started crying and hugged her mom and it was literally so sweet and tender that I cried a little too. Also, all her neighbors are telling her to stay away from the Church but she just testifies to them that she knows its true, and invites all her friends to Church. For real this sister is going to be future Relief Society president I'm tellin you. But that's about it for this week! We got a new pensionista who makes breakfast for us now, her name is Hermana Lucy and she's awesome!
Love you all!