Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Semana 40 in 9 de Octubre (October 27th, 2014)

SO MUCH happened this week.
So cambios happened and I got changed! I'm back in my old zone 9de Octubre and i could not be more thrilled. Leaving Punchana and my companions was sad, leaving áreas is always sad, but I feel so happy and blessed to be back in my zone. Before I was here in 9 de Octubre in the área Las Colinas and now I'm in the area 9 de Octubre.  Me and my companion are the Sister training leaders for Zone 9 de Octubre and Zone Secada and get THIS: my companion is a gringa. Yeah so my life basically got turned upside down this week but I'm so happy about my new área and companion and also the chance to get to know and serve the sisters, we've got three other companionships of sisters here in 9 de Octubre and 2 more in zone Secada.  My companion hermana Burrell is from Texas/Utah and is super great and helping me learn everything I need to know.  We're going to do work visits this week and I'm excited also to get to do a work visit in my old área!
So 9 de Octubre may be in the same city as Punchana but I assure you that it is a COMPLETELY new world. I didn't get a chance to take pictures this week but it's the coolest área ever. We're right on the river and there's tons of hills and dips and rivets and bridges and Wood houses built on stilts...it's seriously a laberynth. It's small but there's tons of houses within a really compact área, under bridges etc.  So excited to work here. So here's the crazy part. In this tiny área that is like 8 blocks by 4, there are about 800 baptized members of the church.  The bishop here is so cool fore real, and we're really focusing in and strengthening the members here before we will be able to do anything and I know that if we work this way we will find tons of investigato as well.  The bishop asked us to help him with the President of Relief Society and the Ward Secretary...two callings which I've never had but hey, it's preparing me pretty good for future service in the church. 
I love Iquitos so much---and will always have a special place in my heart for 9 de Octubre and for that I feel like I won the lottery when I got transferred back here.  The Ward attendance is only at about 100 so we'vew got plenty of work to do and for real I am so happy, is it cool if I never come home?

Love you all,
Hermana Benyo

1. Me and my new compi Hermana Burrell (she's SO cool)
2.  A super cool abandoned ship in our área
3.  River so pretty here in 9 de Octubre

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Semana 39 in Punchana (October 20th, 2014)

Well, not much to say this week.
As I mentioned our area got divided this week and we have the part now where we almost never worked so we are scouring this three block wide area for all it's got!  We've found some less active members that we're teaching and basically every hour of the day talking to everyone to find people that need our help.
We are teaching a sister named Sara that was listening to the missionaries 2 or 3 years ago.  Honestly I am so glad we found her because she has lots of challenges and needs the gospel, and I think it helps a lot now that we are Hermanas because before she was listening to Elders. I love listening to people, especial people who have had difficult challenges, and giving them the solution that will truly bless their lives: the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It looks as though our trio is coming to an end. This week we had interviews with Presidente Gomez. I tell ya, I have never walked out of an interview with President Gomez on anything less than cloud 9 and ready to conquer the world. So greatful for him.
Well, it looks like our lovely trio is sadly coming to an end.  Today we find out about changes and one of us is going to leave.  I'll let you know what happens next week!
Short and sweet that's all for now folks, stay safe and try not to catch ebola please!
Hermana Benyo
1. My trio 'n me yesterday at church
2.  This was meant to be a dorky picture that turned our pretty
3. Luana, one of our pensionista's lovely grand daughters
4.  These niñas love to do this every time we try to leave the house
5. We're a happy family.
6. The district...was thinking seriously about cropping me out of this one
7. The zone Punchana

Monday, October 20, 2014

Semana 38 in Punchana (October 13th, 2014)

Wow wow wow
I realiza I'm a bit behind the rest of you, but General Conference was AMAZING!!!! Seriously so inspired I loved it! It lifted me up and inspired me like you would not believe. I am so greatful for the restoration of the Gospel and the opportunity to sustain the prophet and apostles and the true revelation that they receive from God.  So many new goals and plans met to tune up and self-evaluate.  I loved the speaker that said we should all learn frequent and joyful repentance because if we're not constantly learning form our mistakes and tuning up to be more obedient, we aren't progressing. 
And to throw the cherry on top of conference weekend, the Area 70 president Elder Uceda was here this weekend and had conferences with all the mission, woard councils, and stake presidencies in Iquitos. It honestly was SUCH a wake up call for everyone here. He  gave us some truly startling statistics:
The church here in Iquitos began in 1967 with a branch of about thirty members. Now in 2014, there are three stakes. However, on record, there are almost TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND baptized members of the church. Of that 25,000 less than 3000 regularly attend church. He said that Iquitos is in red alert  and that EVERYTHING, I mean EVERYTHING about the way we are working has to chang. The retention rates of  new converts are  dangerously low with lots of baptisms  and weak wards. With the number of baptized members there should be about NINE STAKES and we would be in the ranks for a temple. It was truly sobering. Like honestly yeah we know that there are tons and tons of less active members and that retention is a huge problem here but that kind of just hit us in the face. We are so concerned about baptizing baptizing that we don't even notice that  the wards are dying with about 60 to 70 every week and tons of inactive members walking the streets. Like we could keep baptizing but after 20 more years how many inactives are we gonna have if we don't get things in order?
Elder Uceda has proposed that we COMPLETELY and utterly change everything we are doing. He basically   (well, actually literally) called us to repentance and to change our mentality. We should be expecting the mission to change drastically.  He said that Iquitos is completely unlike any other mission in Peru or the area, so we have to work distinctly.  It inspired us a lot to realize the potential that this beautiful paradise Iquitos holds and  also animated the members to get to work with us in activation and retention--the work of salvation because we are in red right now. Truly exci ted to see what's going to happen. We have been in a shared area with the Elders and they told us today that it's now split to accomodate the new changes and it just so happens that the Elders have the side where ALL of our investigators live.  Our first reaction was to complain especially now that our area is like 3 blocks wide, but I know that this is like what Elder Eyring said in his talk, revelation that comes from a 70 and a mission president to help the saints in Iquitos. Maybe our first inclination was to complain but I know that this mandate comes from God and is going to allow us and help us to change our mentality and work in the way the Prophet wants us to.  I love serving in the Church of Jesus Christ and look forward to  continuing in this work throughout my life.
Another (paraphrased) quote I loved from conference ''Let's lose ourselves in rescue efforts of God's lost sheep, and we in turn will be rescued ourselves''

Let us all Press on in the work of the Lord, 

 Hermana Benyo

1. Me and my companions: Hermana Lozano, Cori (a girl in the ward), and hermana Tinta
2. My old companion, Hermana Centeno, reunited in the conference con Elder Uceda

Semana 37 in Punchana (October 6th, 2014)

Hey Everyone!
General Conference was so awesome right? Oh wait....I wouldn't know because I still havent seen it yet. There were elections in Peru on Sunday so church was cancelled and conference got postponed until next week. We went out and proselyted normal, woohoo!!! But I'm excited to see it, no spoilers please :)
This week I was so pleased to see AMAZING progress in Hermana Tinta as she is getting used to the life as a missionary. She mentioned that now she isn't thinking about her family anymore, but rather is focusing on our investigators and that is AWESOME! She seems a lot happier and the mood of our day seems a lot brighter with a stronger spirit.  She and Hermana Lozano are also getting along better, sure there's still some little struggles but we're definitely seeing big victories!
We're teaching a young lady named Glendy who is super excited and committed to be baptized on November 1st.  She went to the baptism of the Elders on Saturday and that got her really excited, we're working with the YSA to help her get to know the ward.  Monica is still really sad that she can't get baptized because her in-laws prohibited them from getting married and is thinking seriously about moving out or separating to be able to live the law of chastity and be baptized. Sure it's not ideal, but it's the best she can do.
We're trying to really get the members excited about missionary work and help them realize how amazing it is to help bring others unto Christ and be an active part in their conversion.  It's something that I want to do so much more actively when I finish my mission!
On P-day we went to every Iquitos missionary's favorite place to spend P-day: Quistococha. We used to go like every month but now that P-days have changed it's a rare treat.  It's like a little jungle zoo with a random beach and lagoon in the middle surrounded by wild jungle...(that's where we held the snake and ate the suri the last times)
Well I hope everything is good and know that I love you all,  and remember to stay anxiously engaged in a good cause!!

Hermana Benyo

1. At Quistococha
2. Me n' the monkeys (look closely)
3. Me and Hermana Lozano on the dock
4. Me and Hermana Linford being normal
5. My name plaque is getting dirty