Oh My Family!!
I am here in the jungle. Literally it is the jungle-- it appears that for the next 18 months, I will be doing something along the lines of camping. But I really like it!! The first three days were difficult. It is a completely different world. I have never seen anything close to this in my life, but after I received a priesthood blessing (in English!) all is well. Priesthood blessings really are amazing, in my life I always thought they were for very difficult times. But now, I see that they really have been the umph I need to get a good place! That and the prayers of all of you.
Well, my first area is Secada. It is in the south part of Iquitos (about 30 minutes from the mission offices) and is more of the outskirts. My companion is Hermana Arone,23, and she`s from Lima. She`s been out on the mission for almost 7 months. I love the people here already. And our little area (actually our area covers a large spot). They are the flock of the Lord that I`ve been chosen to take care of!! I am so excited to get to work (which we already have!)
Yesterday was my first time with the Ward. They are all so dear. The bishop is young, 28 years old, but he`s great. I had the opportunity to introduce myself during sacrament meeting which is always fun. The ward has about 300 people so pretty decent sized. They are the biggest ward in Iquitos I believe. During the second hour we teach Gospel Principles which I`m really excited about. I love teaching--it went well yesterday, but I didn`t know until Sunday so I didn`t have a ton of time to prepare. Next time though, I will be on the ball. For the third hour we had Relief Society. I love the sisters. The bishop`s wife taught the Joseph Fielding Smith (I believe) lesson on Temples. It was beautiful. She shared her experience of her marriage in the temple. It was only her and her husband. None of her family was able to attend. Here in Iquitos, it is very difficult to get people to the temple because of money. People here are so poor. The homes in our ward are unimaginable. I know that I joked about living in huts out here in Iquitos but really, it`s pretty accurate. People live in dilapidated homes made of tin and wood. And some people literally live in huts. At least 6 people live in spaces that are the size of your Master Bedroom. Only well off families have electricity. Anyways, her story was very touching. She bore testimony of the power of the temple and of it`s importance. It was more important to her to make covenants in the house of the Lord, than to have any of her family there when she was married. Other women bore their testimonies of well. They are faithful here. Please don`t take advantage of the temple. It really is such a privilege to live close by to many in Utah. I love the women here in Iquitos!
After we had ward counsel. There are a lot of financial difficulties in the ward. But I love that we have the opportunity to be ward builders and establish a stake of Zion here in Iquitos as missionaries! Well, our day to day schedule is the same:
6. 30 Wake Up, Exercise, and Get Ready for the Day
7: 30 is Breakfast. We have a pensionista who cooks all of our meals so I`m eating well! She is so dear. Hermana Sonar and her husband Cristobal. During every meal we sit and chat. Hermana Sonar`s mother who is 90 (this little frail old woman) talks with us. I love this family. They remind me so much of Grandma and Papa. The food is great. Rice and Chicken are the main things, but we have fruit smoothies for breakfast, toast. We`ve had spagetti--so it doesn`t look like I`ll be eating anything scary since we don`t eal meals with the member.
From 8-10 is Personal Study, and then Companionship Study
From 10-1 we proselyte, do Service on Wednesdays, or have district or zone meetings. This past week we had a zone meeting has there have been some changes to the mission in terms of planning and teaching. All things that were not new to me as it was taught in the CCM. It was great. I love President and Hermana Gomez. Presidente doesn`t speak much English. Hermana Gomez does but she`s a no nonsense lady! I love them though, and I love their testimonies.
From 1-4 we have Lunch, Language Study (my comp studies English) and then an hour of training specifically for my first 12 weeks out in the field.
From 4 until 9 we have dinner and then teaching.
We come back from teaching to plan and then prep for bed, so time is very short!
Our apartment is like a townhome with the Familia Velez`s home (my pensionista). No AC and no Hot showers. But it`s not has bad as I thought. The weather here is hot but it`s really not that bad. But when it rain, it pours. Thank goodness for my boots. Oh! Here we either walk, or travel by motorcar (google it)
Spanish is coming along just fine. I feel like I can understand depending on the situation 60-85 percent. Talking is more difficult, but I`m not worried at all. I`ve only been here for 7 days so I know it will come! As for teaching, we meet with a lot of Recent Converts. I love Familia Quio. Roy, his wife Milagro, and there two sons Junior (12) and I don`t know the other one`s name.We`ve met with them several times--they are so dear and I love hearing their testimonies. I love teaching. It`s hard to communicate and understand. But I feel the help of the Spirit to prompt me what to say. We have 6 baptisimal dates--one family, Familia Mozombite and Junior who is 17. I was there when Junior committed to baptism. It was our first lesson. Apparently he`s been coming to church for the past 2 months, and no one knew he was not a member. He told us he wanted to get baptized and one day serve a mission! It was awesome. We also started teaching another family--Rogner, his wife Victoria, and their 6 year old son Larry. The spirit was so strong as we taught the restoration. There is power in the Book of Mormon. Rogner was very interested and said that he would read it as he saw that it was important! It was great. The people here are so sweet.
Well, I Love you all! I Love this work, and am excited to find teach and baptize. Know that I`m doing great in the jungle of Peru