I had to laugh because Meg made a comment that no one is probably reading her letters, hence the way she started this next one. I told her that more people are reading them than she thinks!
June 10, 2013
Hola Familia! (Okay, let's be honest here. Hola Mom and Dad!)
Things are so great. SO great. I finally am figuring out my purpose and getting lost in the work. I couldn't be happier. I really didn't get to write last week, so I'm going to get right into the important stuff!!!!
Bessy: I'm sure you remember Bessy. Well, we hadn't visited her since the day that was supposed to be her Baptism. My companion called her once and I guess it didn't go too well. We felt like we needed to visit her but we were certain she didn't want to meet with us again. Well, we followed the Spirit and went anyway and, guess what? She was THRILLED. We talked and laughed and cried and when she offered the closing prayer, she said "Thank you for touching the hearts of Hermana Vasquez and Hermana Simonson to finally come visit me again." It was so sweet.
The next day, we took a motocar to bring her to church and we were running late. Bessy lives on top of a steep, dirt hill that was super muddy. My companion was walking with me and she told me to run up and grab her. I took off sprinting and got plenty of funny looks. Bessy's mom looking up and saw the freakishly tall white girl in her weird church clothes and backpack sprinting up the hill and shouted "Bessy, your friend is here!" It was funny.
Marleni and Angela: Marleni was a reference in Morales and we met with her once. The second time we went to teach her we found her daughter 16 year old Angela. I LOVE Angela. She is so great! We haven't been able to teach the two at the same time, but it's worth the extra trip to teach Angela seperate. I issued my very first Baptismal invitation (¿Seguirá el ejemplo de Jesucristo y ser bautizado por algun que tenga la autoridad de Dios?) and she accepted! We're preparing her for June 22! Hopefully her mom can be baptized soon after.
Deyoosa: The big religious battle in Tarapoto is the Sabbath Day. Half the town thinks it´s Saturday, the other Sunday. When we talk to people, the first thing they ask is when we worship the Sabbath. When we say Sunday, some people immediately stop listening. Deyoosa has always strongly believed that the Sabbath is Saturday. Like everyone, when we first found her she asked us when we meet. She asked why we meet on Sundays if the Bible says it's the 7th day, which is Saturday. We explained that Jesus Christ fulfilled the law of Moses and if we were still following it completely we'd be sacrificing animals. We talked about how Jesus rose on a Sunday and for that reason we worship on Sunday mornings. She wanted to learn more, but she didn't seem satisfied. We taught her the Restoration and gave her a booklet.
We returned the next day and she had read the whole thing (live in the Jungle for 3 days and you'll understand why that's a miracle) and understood it all (bigger miracle). She had tons of questions and accepted our Baptismal invitation. She bore testimony that what we taught was true and she said, "I know that your church is true, and I know that Sunday is the Sabbath Day." It was so great! Some of these people are just so prepared to hear the truth.
Siomi: I seem to find my cute little handicapped kids wherever I go! Siomi is a little handicapped girl that came to church with a friend on Fast Sunday. She got up and bore her Testimony (right after me) and said she'd never been to church before, but that she felt really, really good. So cute. She came up to me after and asked if we could come visit her in her house to talk more about Jesus. We will be doing that this week! So excited.
Medaly: Medaly is preparing for her Baptism. We had to move the date because of our trip and because she wasn't at church this week because of her sick baby. But, things are looking good and she agreed to give up coffee which is a HUGE step!
Gilda and Juan: My first lesson with this family reminded me of a line from my setting apart: "Have the courage to Testify, even in opposition." The family of Gilda and Juan has two girls (12, 14) that were baptized but are inactive right now. The dad is Catholic and the mom just wants her family to be unified in a Religion, so she decided to learn more about what her daughters believe. When we got there, Juan assured us that he would never be baptized, wasn't interested, and believed in the Bible and only the Bible. My companion was pretty ticked and has a habit of not talking when she is angry or sad. Great, I thought, this one is all on me. I just kept my cool and smiled and said "Alright, let's just talk about the Bible."
I asked him what he liked about the Bible and he said that it is the word of God and it never changes. He said that the true church follows all the fundamentals of the Bible. I asked him to read Ephesians 2:20 (I don´t know it´s exact translation into English, but you can look it up :)) and he complained that he can't see without glasses and didn't want to go get them. So, I asked his daughter to read it and he talked to the other daughter while she read it, so I asked her to read it again when he was done talking. Then I asked his wife to read it and she lit up and said "Your church has Apostles!" And her husband got all tense and looked away. I kept pushing forward with all the courage I had and, long story short, he invited us back! It was hard, but so worth it! Nothing is more powerful than the Spirit.
LuzClarita: WE FOUND HER BIRTH CERTIFICATE!!! She will be married June 21 and Baptized the next day. I am so thrilled! I had the funnest lesson with her and her husband (he was Baptized at 8 but left the church for a long time) the other night.
My talk with Hermana Price made me think long and hard about who was called to serve this mission. I've tried to be perfect and exact and act like the people here, but my call was to Sister Meghan DeLee Simonson, so I've finally decided to be Meghan DeLee Simonson.
As we taught about the Word of Wisdom and Luz was confused about what she could and couldn´t drink, I decided to do some practices. I went all crazy and was running around grabbing random bottles and cups and acting the part of their friends, everything from an Aunt, a crazy Soccer fan, a neighbor, etc and offering them different things. Everyone laughed and Luz got the hang of things. Then, I sat down and we both bore Testimonies and the Spirit was stronger than ever.
The husband, TonTyler, is a recovering Alcoholic and still drinks now and then, but he drove us home in his MotoCar and when I said goodbye he said "I like the practices. Now I know what I can say when my friends try to get me to drink. I won't do it anymore."
Luis and Silvia: We met this family yesterday and they were great! Luis and Silvia are MARRIED. This is the first time I've ever met Peruvians that aren't members of the church, but are already married. Luis, Silvia, their two sons, and their daughter-in-law have already committed to Baptism.
Deysi and her Daughters: Deysi has been looking into just about every church out there. But, she prayed to know if Joseph Smith is a Prophet, and a few days later we returned, and she and her three older daughters committed to Baptism!!!!!!!!!! It was awesome! During our last lesson, we noticed that the little 12 year old girl was coloring. Towards the end, I finally got a glimpse of what she was doing. She was holding all the books they had been given by Jehovah's Witnesses, and writing "Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God" all over the pages. I'm ecstatic, but nervous because this week they're leaving town for two weeks to stay with Deysi's Mother, a firm Catholic. I am praying with all my heart that they won't forget how they felt.
Friday when we visited them, the 10 year old was sleeping and when the 8 year old saw us she sprinted into her house and yelled "Wake up, wake up! Our Sisters are here! We're going to learn the word of God!!!" So cute.
Well, these are our main investigators right now! We've also done a lot of work with Less-Actives.
My time in Lima was great. Being with Hermana Price was such a blessing. We talked and talked and it was so nice to feel like someone gets me! We're the only two American Sisters in all of the Jungle and we've both had a bit of a rough go being so different. But, we came to a nice conclusion. If we were exactly like everyone else, we wouldn’t change anything. We're so much a like, and we were called to the same mission at the same time, people like us are needed for a reason.
I also spent a couple days in Lima Proselyting and it was way fun! The people there understand a whole lot better than in the Jungle. If something happened, I could serve in Lima and be happy. But, when I got on that plane back to Tarapoto, I almost felt like I was coming home. These are my people.
So, I don't know if you noticed a random extra Peruvian (non-missionary) in my picture from our Mother's Day celebration. His name is Emerson, he is 20 years old, he is a ward missionary, he lives alone, and was baptized almost a year ago. He is so great. He has so much faith and has helped us so much. Well, this week, he received his mission call!!!!!!! He opened it in our Apartment with us and our Elders from our District. He will be serving in Arequipa Peru next month and is stoked!
This week was kind of sad as our dear Elder Gondara was transferred to Lima. We were happy for him because he wanted to spend his last couple months there before he heads back to Mexico, but we already miss him. But, our new District leader is great. Surprise! He is from America. Elder Turley is companions with another American! How rare.
Well, I love you all! Talk to you soon.
By the way, I have to return to Lima two more times for Immigrations, but I don't know when. So, if I don't email, don't worry!