Monday, September 29, 2014

Semana 36 in Punchana (September 29th, 2014)

I won't lie to you this week was hard.
I normally don't really say much to you guys in my letters when times get hard in my mission because I don't really feel like it's worth it because I know one day when I look back I won't remember them. The trials that we pass don't define our experience, they refine it!
My companions have been struggling a lot since we got together in a trio and sometimes I feel like the ref in the middle of the two trying to make peace between two nations. Hermana Tinta is having a really hard time and requires a LOT, I mean a LOT of patience. My capacity to love and my patience has grown so much. This week we had a small mid-mission crisis between the three of us that, to not give too many unnecessary details ended in all of us crying (me getting legitimately homesick for the first time since christmas!) and a long talk with the mission president. When all was said and done, we came out a whole lot stronger and President and Hermana Gomez are the BEST!!! For real I always say this and, mom and dad I don't want to make you jealous, but they are literally just like you two...with the same personalities and everything and it's a nice mom and dad substitution for a short year and a half.  But I think we left the offices feeling better about everything and Hermana Tinta and Hermana Lozano seem a lot happier and are really making an effort to love each other.
We have faced a LOT of adversity in our area and after three months it started wearing down on me amidst the problems in our companionship.  But I feel like the lesson that I am here to learn amidst all of this is patience and humility. Patience. Patience....Patience. But also hard work and dilligence to match it, knowing that if we continue forward with a good attitude and offer our whole heart, might, mind and strength on the sacrificial altar, good things will come our way.
A little tender mercy I had this week is that amidst everything, in my area here in Punchana, I ran into one of my convert families, Guido and Betsi, from 9 de Octubre. It was the sweetest thing ever and I gave Betsi the biggest hug, we haven't seen them since I left for punchana.  It was so great to see them, they are SOOO active in church, he is ward secretary and she is in the primary and planning their temple sealing for July of next year in the temple of Trujillo.  They made me promise I would be there and it hurt my heart too much to admit that I probably wouldn't be able to afford it so I told them I would do everything possible. I love those guys so much, they said they cried when I left and when the new missionery came who is latina, their little girls said I miss ''mi leche''!!! Haha I had no idea that they refered to me as leche..or milk...because I'm white, I think....
haha I love peruvian kids.

Hope all is well for you guys!

Hermana Benyo

1. Manejando mi motokar! ...just kidding it's parked
2. We helped a family move in on wednesday.  One of my fave photos of me and Hermana lozano...we call it Peruvian Gothic
3. If I'm not mistaken, a while back dad wanted to know that toilets are like in uh, here ya go dad! 

Semana 35 in Punchana (September 25th, 2014)

This week was interesting to say the least.
The bad news is that Monica and Badick were all set to be married and baptized and SO excited but their parents said that if they get married they will kick them out of the house and not support them at all. They don't have much so this was a great challenge for them. From the moment they accepted I told them that absolutely without a doubt something would come up that would try to stop them from keeping this commandment and being baptized. They have very strong desires to do so but in the end decided against being married because the price was too big to pay. It honestly hurts so bad that I cried, and it wasn't a discouraged was just so sad that as a missionary you can come to love these people so much and give your whole heart and soul to help them change and make covenants with God and they even come to know that it's true...receive such a strong undeniable witness and still decide that it's not worth it. That they are going to keep the commandments when it is convenient for them, when there isn't a price to pay. There is always a price to pay in order to be obedient but the blessings that will come will ALWAYS make up the difference and beyond. Always.
It was a week of stress with our investigators and also trying to help my companions and wednesday night the Zone leaders called me to tell me that I would fly into Lima the next day for visa stuff. It was somewhat of a relief to know that I would have a day or two to forget the disappointment and stress.
Thursday evening my companions dropped me off at the airport, it's at the opposite end of Iquitos so it's a solid 30-45 minutes in mototaxi just to get to the airport. From there we flew in to Lima and got there late.  The choffer group that transports missionaries picked us up and drove us to La Molina, the district of the CCM and the Temple, but Lima is ginormous so that was like another 45 minutes in car and finally we got to the hotel and they fed us Papa John's (you have no idea how amazing that is after 10 months in the jungle, sweet sweet american food). And then we finally got to bed a about 1:00. At 2:30 they woke us up to go back to the airport! So like zombies we piled in and at the airport they gave4 us our tickets...I assumed we would be going to Tumbes again and cross into Ecuador, but this time when I looked at our ticket it said Tacna....Tacna is at the South boarder of peru.....So I guess that means we're going to Chile this time right? So we got to was soooooooo cold and we piled into a van and crossed over into Chile. At the boarder we waited in line to leave peru and enter Chile. So that was fun we stayed in Chile for a sec and took some photos and crossed right back on over to Peru. ahah but it counts right? Then we piled back in the van, drove back to Tacna and flew into Lima. Drove back to La Molina and oh yeah, at this point it was 7 pm we were running on and hour of sleep and they hadn't given us anything to eat all day. They took us to KFC (again YUM)  and we begged them to take us to the temple but they told us that we wouldn't be able to go.  Five minutes later they got a phone call and someone from the area gave them orders to take us to the temple!!! Woohoo we almost died of happiness! So we went into the temple so so happy and did a session and although we were like zombies it was honestly so awesome and rest for my soul.  I love the temple.  
We left happy and went straight to the hotel. And this is the part where the trip went south. Mom, please brace yourself.  I looked in my bag and my passport was not there. Immediate panic overtook me completely.  I searched my things 8,000 times. Nothing. The last moment I remembered having it in my hand was on the plane from Tacna to Lima and I was so sure I had left it on the plane but I was so deliriously tired and hungry that my brain broke a little bit.  So I basically cried and searched and cried and called the airport all night. Got put on hold a lot, no one wanted to help me because the airline offices were closed. One of the zone leaders that was there had his phone so we called the Mission secretary and that's when they told me about an elder who lost his passport in Lima and got stranded in Lima for SIX MONTHS. Thats when the waterworks really started. He had to change missions until he got his new passport because you can't fly without it and Iquitos is only accessible by air.   Seriously and our flight left that morning and we would heve to leave for the airport at 2 am.  Once again we did not sleep and I was panicking SO HARD. I CANT STAY IN LIMA FOREVER ITS SOOOOOOO COLD AND THE SKY IS ALWAYS GRAY WITH POLLUTION PLEASE NOOOOOOO. I prayed soooo hard that I would be able to make it safely back to the jungle and decided to put it in the hands of the Lord. That morning we went down with all our stuff and the Choffer from the area told me that I wouldn't be able to travel and to go back upstairs to sleep more. I cried some more and went back to bed, ALONE. It was soooo weird being alone in a hotel room for a bit as I haven't been alone since I started my mission. It was gross and weird.
At ten they picked me up to take me to look for my passport in the airport but they weren't much help so the area offices just had me go to do some papers to invalidate my passport and fill out some papers to get a new one. After that they told me I would be stuck in Lima for an undetermined amount of time and sent me off to stay in the Lima North Mission. I stayed there with some Hermana's that were really cool. About a year ago Iquitos was part of the Lima north mission and so we had a lot in common because the two missions are really similar. Many of the missionaries in Iquitos started their missions in Lima North so now I can say that I too was a Norteña :) While I was there I was just praying that God would let me go to sleep that night in Iquitos, not in Lima. I felt impressed to check the pockets of my missionary handbook and there I miraculously found my expired drivers license from when I was like 16....I don't even remember putting that there but it was the only form of ID I had and sufficient to be able to board a domestic flight!!! That night I got to fly into Iquitos and completely kissed the ground when I got back. Ahhhhh I almost froze to death in Lima and missed my blue skies and green and weekly rainbows. Not to mention the people, total cuties I love them.  I got back late and President and Hermana Gomez picked me up from the airport and my prayer got answered, I finished they day, went to bed in Iquitos--with a hot shower and a comfy bed in the mission home.
It truly made me realize that my heart is 100% in Iquitos. I cannot express how grateful I am for the Lord looking out for me, even when I'm dumb and lose my passport.
Hermana Benyo
ps mom I know what you're thinking, please don't panic my new passport is already being processed and taken care of 

1. Crossing the boarder into Chile!
2. Crossing the boarder into Chile!
3.  In the middle of the Chilean desert
4. So great to be back in Peru again...
5. The temple Lima, Peru!
6. Was a Lima Norte missionary for one day!! Greatful that it only lasted one day.....

Semana 34 in Punchana! (September 15th, 2014)

WOW. So much has happened since the last time I wrote you guys.
After three weeks of working without a companion We're finally seeing some fruits!  On Tuesday I had the COOLEST most spiritual lesson of my entire life with our investigator family Badick and Monica!  I honestly don't even remember what was said, it was 100% lead by the spirit but after weeks of denying baptism and matrimony, Monica took a complete 180 turn and told us that she felt in heart that it was what she was supposed to do. We prayed together, we fasted together, adn she has finally had a mighty change of heart. I love that SO much! An investigator that you truly see change and humble themselves and submit themselves to the will of the Lord after weeks of prayer and fasting and teaching.  I would take it any day over a golden investigator who decides to get baptized the first lesson. When they accepted I literally cried with happiness. Hermana Lozano is up and walking again so we've been working on the wedding papers this week! Love those two!
Our other big news is....WE'RE IN A TRIO!  TRAINING A NEW MISSIONARY!!!! We were kind of shocked when they told us that but hey, I'm excited!  Our new companion is Hermana Tinta from Bolivia. We went to the meeting of the new missionaries. There were 18 new missionaries, 3 Hermanas and 15 Elders....and almost all the elders were really excited 18 year old gringoes, it basically looked like the Orem High School graduating class of 2014 haha. We're training one of the 3 new sisters, Hermana Tinta. Hermana Tinta is very sweet and a bit shy. She is a new convert as of two years ago and although she doesn't know much about the gospel and admitted that she really had no idea what to expect or what missionary life is like, she has a great testimony and a sweet spirit. So far getting used to the heat, the walking 9 hours a day, the food, the being away from home, and talking to strangers has been VERY difficult for her. But being her companion just these few days has honestly helped my heart grow like 3 sizes.  I have learned in my mission to be much more expressive and loving, and I owe it to my latina companions who for the most part need those kind of qualities in a companion.  Hermana Lozano is struggling a bit because, although she is latina, she is a rare exception and she has always expressed her love in other ways such as service. She is NOT about that hug-giving life, which has been fine because up until now all of her companions have been gringas, and she doesn't know what to do when someone is crying a lot and this will really be a trial to help develop more charity. But I see it as a great learning experience and I'm trying to do everything I can to help both of my companions, one who is really sad and having trouble adjusting and one who is feeling very stressed. But I know that if we are patient everything will be okay, and hey the Lord is blessing us with success in our area! We have a matrimony coming up on the 27th and another investigator named Hayde who came to church accepted baptism for October! 
The Lord is always going to bless us and always going to give us trials. Maybe before our trial is that we weren't seeing our fruits and this is our trial now, honestly I am very content but please pray for my companions!  God gives us trials to stretch our souls, to refine us, and to transform us. We on the otherhand must learn to drink the bitter cup without allow it to make us bitter. Be patient, be kind, have the faith to accept God's will instead of praying to change it.
I love both my companions and know they both will be ok!
p.s. After hearing all this awful news in the middle east, I'm pretty glad to be in an isolated island in the jungle surrounded by a spiritual bubble. Mom and Dad, Don't worry about me, I think I'm safer here than you guys are there! :)
Hermana Benyo
1.  Me and Hermana Tinta
2. Walking to our lesson in Bella Vista
3. Bella Vista
4. Monica--getting ready for the matrimony/baptism!!
5. It poured last night for hours straight
6. Basically all the houses in Iquitos got flooded in
7. The plaza got turned in to a makeshift swimming pool

Semana 33 in Punchana (September 8th, 2014)

Week number 2 ridin' solo.
Definitely went better than week 1. But it's all good the members are supporting us a ton and we're definitely having PLENTY of lessons with member to report.  Hermana Lozano is doing better, she can pretty much walk fine, but the doctor is gonna have her rest one week more because there starting to send people home for even minor injuries and sicknesses and we for sure don't want that. 
Also changes are tomorrow. I'm not expecting to go anywhere, but we have a feeling that Hermana Lozano is gonna leave. But I'll let you all know next week if anything crazy happens.
My favorite family of investigators right now is the family of Vadick and Monica. I was telling you about them last week and they are the coolest. Vadick is an inactive member but super cool and has a great testimony of the gospel. Monica suffers from arthritis and has trouble walking. They are both young 20-22 and that's fun teaching a young family because we are pretty much the same age and can relate. They are the cutest couple and he writes music and has a ton of songs that he wrote about Monica that they're starting to play on the radio here in Iquitos and he's hoping to get it to play in Lima and other parts of the world as well. He's very talented and we'll be keeping watch for when he gets big!  They are the best and I'm 100% sure that they are going to get married and that Monica will get baptized.  She's a little shy about accepting a date, we've been inviting her to accept for the 27th.  She says she feels the church is true she just doesn't feel ready yet. But on Sunday we fasted together and she even went and paid a fast offering! She said she felt the spirit in her fast and I know she's going to accept the date this week. I'll keep ya posted!
This week we ate Motelo. Which is a delicacy here. And it is a type of turtle that lives in the Amazon river. It was quite a roller coaster of emotions because he was really cute and I got a little attached then they killed him and then we ate him :(
But that's life in Iquitos, Peru, if you want to eat you have to learn to kill animals.
But it was super good though, 5 out of 5 would recommend!
Well that's all for this week folks! See ya next time.

p.s. I MISS CHOCOLATE. If someone sends me a bag of dove chocolate I will feature you on my blog and you'll probably get famous. 

Hermana Benyo

1. Cutie Pie!!!!
2. Me n my buddy
4. He died so young.
5. But he tasted so good. mmmmm. I also ate turtle eggs and that was kind of weird.
6.   I used to think I couldn't eat anything with a face...especially with sharp teeth. But if there's anything I've learned from living in Iquitos, I've learned to eat creepy looking, bony amazon fish....And I LOVE it. For real it's like my favorite food. I love our pensionista.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Semana 32 in Punchana (September, 1st, 2014)

Riding solo as a missionary is less fun than it sounds, but it's possible.  Because as I've come to learn that the Lord has a way of widening our natural capacity or abilities, especially as a missionary.  It's so funny before coming on my mission I was worried that I wouldn't like having a companion, never having a single moment to yourself apart from the five minute ice cold shower in the morning. But as time has passed and now that I've come to love my companions working without them stinks. And it's sad. Going out in the streets with members in place of your companion is like a widow going to the family reunion without her husband....she still has her family but it just ain't the same. Dramatic? nahh haha.
No I'm happy and well and we're staying with our pensionista Hermana Rosalia because Hermana Lozano can't climb up the stairs to our apartment. She's treating us like royalty so no complaints there.  Hermana Lozano has a slightly torn ligament and has strict orders from the doctor to rest for three weeks. This morning we had to make copies of our area report and I didn't have anyone to accompany me, so we jokingly said 'Man I wish we had a wheel chair'.... Hermana Rosalia heard us and next thing we know she's walking out of her room with her Mom's wheelchair. So we walked three blocks to the copies pushing my companion in a wheelchair. Now that's companion service.  It was funny. We're thinking about going out proselyting like that hahaha.
We've got some cool families that we're teaching and came to church yesterday. One of them is a young couple named Vadick and Monica. Vadick is a less active member but has a strong testimony. Monica is his girlfriend who suffers from severe arthritis, even though she's only 24 and almost died from it a few years ago. She is awesome and very receptive and says that she feels as though God gave her another chance and that now is the time to pay it back. She is praying to know if the gospel is true.
This week I learned something cool from one of the talks mom sent.  That not only did Jesus Christ suffer for our sins and temptations and afflictions, he had to be capable of doing it.  Only someone completely sinless and perfect could have saved us. I he had even slipped up one time and gave in to temptation, he would not have been in any position to save us, rather he would have had to worry about his own salvation. But he never messed up, and that is why God sent Him.  If you get thrown in prison, you're not gonna go to another inmate and ask them to call the lawyers and pay the bail...they aren't in any position to do that, you're gonna call your family who has the money and freedom to do so. So not only did Jesus suffer for us, he defied 33 years of temptations because he loved us enough. Because He knew that that was the price to be paid. I can't even go a DAY without sinning and I am so indebted to him for that. Love you all, shine bright.

Hermana Benyo
Perks of Staying with Hermana Rosalia: her grandkids!!!

Pday we went and made traditional dolls with one of Hermana Linford`s converts