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

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