This week the zone leaders and I headed to Iquitos for our monthly vacation (haha just kidding President and Hermana Gomez get annoyed when we say that). Consejo de lideres!!! We drove to Tarapoto and met up with the sisters leaders of Tarapoto, Hermana Child and Hermana Tuckett (one of my best friends!). It was good to see them and we flew to Iquitos.
Going to Iquitos always feels like coming home. Don't get me wrong I LOVE Moyo, it's paradise it really is, and the work here is inspiring. But Iquitos, that's where my heart is.
Hermana Tuckett and Hermana Child and I hopped in a motokar with our three suitcase piled on the back and we headed off, us hanging on to them so they don't fall which is pretty much how it is as far as motokar transport goes. We were about a mile from the airport when we stopped at a stoplight and we felt someone RIP the suitcase from our grip. We turned around to see a little man running away with the suitcase towards his getaway motorcycle, driven by his accomplice. We screamed feeling kind of helpless seeing him jump on his motorcycle and ride off in the other direction on the sidewalk. Okay, this is where the story gets awesome. As we were screaming, before we had time to blink, about five or six motorcycles who had witnessed the whole scene, without thinkinbg twice, pulled out of traffic and onto the sidewalk to chase after him, our choffer had jumped off the motokar and was chasing him on foot!!! And that little coward out of fear dropped the suitcase and rode off. We just sat there watching the whole thing. First we laughed and then I almost just cried of happiness in such a sincere act of goodwill and teamwork to help three foreigners on the part of the people of Iquitos. I can testify that the police don't do anything here, the PEOPLE are who control the crime. Our choffer came back and apologized profusely and said that people like that are an embarrassmente to Iquitos and Peru. But we were like NO, what everyone else did was a a way bigger statement of what the people of Iquitos, Peru are all about. I was smiling for 15 minutes, I LOVE IQUITOS SO MUCH and feel so heartbroken toward the prospect of having to leave it one day. You have no idea. Such sweet, sweet people.
Anyway this week was far from ordinary. And I learned a really powerful lesson as well. There is a sister that I have had the privilege to serve here in my mission. Let's call her Hermana Garcia. I have been Hermana Garcia's sister leader for about six months...almost her whole mission, first back in Iquitos and for some reason the Lord put us together here in Moyobamba as well, so I've been here on the sidelines pretty much through it all. This sister has had a very very special and let's just say for lack of a better word miserable mission experience. I've spent more nights than I can count praying for her, thinking of what I could say or do to help her, work visits, phone calls, and p-day chats just to keep her going. But you know what, after months and months, after trying so long and hard and seeing her still suffering, wanting to go home every minute and really truly miserable, I started to doubt. It got to the point that I felt that if she REALLY truly is miserable and doesn't want to be here, that she should just go home. And that's pretty much where we were at. And she was there too. Contemplating calling it quits and throwing in the towel. And I had pretty much thrown in the towel too, labeling her ´'unhelpable'. but then Wednesday when I got to Tarapoto, I met up with Hermana Tuckett. She asked me how Hermana Garcia was (she's never met her) and...well...I told her the truth. She got really concerned and gave me some ideas of what I could say to her, she said she felt strongly like she could help her. And I won't lie, right there my pride started to talk and I kind of figuratively rolled my eyes and thought ''No you can't help her, you don't understand. She can't be helped. I've tried all that for the last SIX MONTHS. What makes you think you could do it better than me?'' And that's when I kind of heard myself. Do I really have such little faith? Am I just giving up on her after so long of fighting for her and fighting WITH her?? When we were in Iquitos for consejo I got a moment to pull President aside and discuss the situation. That's when the zone leaders came in with news of a phone call from Hermana Garcia´s district leader saying that Hermana Garcia had received and answer to her prayer and that she would be going home for sure. Shortly after, when Hermana Tuckett heard the news, she was just like ''Hermana Benyo, I know I'm not from your zone but I feel the spirit very strongly telling me that I could help this sister. Do you feel it too?'' Once more, my pride is what kept me from recognizing the spirit and I kind of just shrugged my shoulders telling myself that she was being presumptuous. She was offering to help but I didn't accept it so she went right up to President and told him that the spirit was prompting her to say something to help this sister. It was bold, especially considering that she's from a different zone let alone another city, it was bold and I really didn't do much to back her up and I respect her a lot for her bravery in following the promptings of the spirit. But he gave her permission to call Me and Hermana Garcia and on the off chance that Hermana Garcia did go home...she would have to pass through Tarapoto. Talking to Hermana Tuckett on the plane and the car ride back helped me to see things the way they really are. Had I been so blind as to have fallen in the same trap that Hermana Garcia had? To think that there's really no hope and that the only option is quitting? With permission from president, we got back that night and the zone leaders dropped me off right at Hermana Garcia's house to spend the night with her and talk it through. And we talked. And talked some more. ''You know your going to regret this forever, right?'' ''Yeah'' She talked and I listened and I talked and she listened and we both started to realize together that quitting was not the solution, it was exactly what Satan wanted. And that's when the prompting came, In that moment I felt the spirit SO strong that she needed to talk to Hermana Tuckett. That there was something she could say to help her. The SAME spirit that I had felt and denied earlier that day in the offices. But this time, I humbled myself, and picked up the phone. I couldnt tell you exactly what Hermana Tuckett said to her, I honestly don't remember and Hermana Tuckett doesn't either, but it was EXACTLY what Hna Garcia needed to hear in that moment. To keep her going, to know that Satan is trying to destroy her and though it may just be the hardest thing she's ever done, quitting isn't the answer. Right now, she is like a piece of coal being pressed to become a diamond, on all sides with amazing amounts of pressure. If she gives up now, she'll just go home still a piece of coal. Sure, she received an answer to her prayer that God will love her whether she's diamond or coal, but do you really want to go home a piece of coal? No. She hung up the phone with a realization and we kept talking until about. But she went to bed at peace and determined not ti give up. She's staying. In my prayer that night, I both repented and gave thanks. I repented for trying to give up on her so easily, for being so blind, for being pridfeful and worst of all for denying the spirit. And I THANKED the Lord for opening my eyes and hers too--to see things the way they really are. I thanked the Lord for a friend as awesome and spiritually sensitive as Hermana Tuckett and the good that she had done for the both of us. And so from this all I learned this great lesson: NEVER GIVE UP ON ANYONE. No matter who it is, whether it's a fellow missionary, investigator or stranger. Never give up on them, everyone deserves a second chance. An infinite amount of second chances. That is what the atonement of Jesus Christ is all about and who am I to deny anyone of that? Be that light of hope that they so desperately need. Don't EVER fall in to the same trap of despair thinking that there is nothing you can do to help. Especially to those you love. I called President the next day a happy, happy lady with great news and gave all the credit to Hermana Tuckett and the spirit. I can't wait to see Hermana Garcia finish her mission and the blessings that will certainly come from it. It is SO SO worth it. I am at forever will be eternally grateful for my mission and the priceless experiences that have come along with it.
As far as my life goes, I won't lie this week was HARD. Hno Jorge...our investigator preparing for baptism moved to Tarapoto and won't be back until June. We're pretty sad about it but that's life in the work of the Lord. He's still SUPER excited and will be baptized when he gets home in June, but everything happens for a reason. His niece Cristal is still going hard coming to church every week and doing her personal progress and we will se what happens with her. Honestly, being in your last change is HARD, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I am trying to keep going and finish strong and for that my companion and I are fasting. I WILL CONQUER THIS and come out strong. That's all, the gospel is true and I feel it every day in my life.
''Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.
Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.''
I love you all,
1. Us and Hno Jorge before he left for Tarapoto :(
2. Hermana Jackson and I challenging the Escaleras de Satanas for our morning workout, View from the top!
3. Airport in Tarapoto with Hermana Tuckett and Hermana Child
4. Me and my ex comp Hna Lozano at consejo de lideres!!
5. At the airport in Iquitos headed back to San Martin!!