Tuesday, November 5, 2013


November 3, 2013

Hola Familia!

Well, they don’t celebrate Halloween a lot here, but I can at least say that I had a scary week!  Hermana Dickey had the idea to switch clothes and tags to dress up for Halloween. At least we think we're funny.

It was also the day that we went to the Bank. We were all standing there in the middle of Iquitos and we heard a bunch of noise and looked down to see a Halloween Parade and I was stoked....until I noticed that it was an Anti-Halloween/Anti-American type protest. A whole bunch of people were holding signs that said "Jesus Lives! Halloween is a lie!" "I believe in God, not in Halloween." "Real Peruvians don't celebrate Halloween" and funny things like that.

In the midst of all this, we had to go down this same street to buy Mosquito nets and it was kinda sketchy being two American girls, but one Elder Mercardo, a big Latino, made it his responsability to escort us down the street. It really wasn't that bad, but he saw us through until we were on a Motokar headed back to our room. It was sweet. I used to hate being protected but I'm learning to love it. Some Elders are just so sweet.

Our Halloween fun didn't end there. Our Pensionista (the lady that makes us dinner everyday) told us some Ghost stories that just happened to come from the family of one of our investigators, and we had an appointment with her after dinner. Her house of itself is a little creepy at night, and she wasn't home. My companion didn't understand the story that she told us, so I translated it for her as we went to use the payphone that hangs on the wall of this house. We started to call and then the phone shut off and flashed for a second. Definitely scared the daylights out of the both of us!

Our other great Halloween story actually happened today. I woke up at about 5am and looked over at my companion’s bed and she wasn't there.  Okay, I know this is going to make my sound like the world's worst trainer but I was really tired and so I just turned over and slept until 6:30 when the alarm went off. It definitely scared me a bit when she STILL wasn't there. 

Then, I heard bathroom noises and figured she'd just been under another typical “Newby Diarrhea Attack”.  I went to go into the other bathroom (I went from my dorm in Tarapoto to an apartment with two bathrooms!) and saw some little, black creature on the floor in the corner of my shower. I thought it was either a frog or a really big cockroach (yes, these things do randomly show up in apartments in the Jungle), but I wasn't sure so I started throwing toilet paper balls at it to see if it would move. I missed it each time and we ran out of toilet paper, but we had some crackers so I went and got some crackers and started throwing them. It got close the first time and the cockroach/frog thing squirmed. Then, I decided to hit it straight on and it spread its wings and flew at me. So. Not. A Frog!!!

I screamed and went running into my bed like a baby and my companion (still dying in the bathroom) asked what was wrong and I just responded with "Where's the phone?? Where's the phone??" I called my District leader (they live just down the street) but realized that I had NO idea of how to say "bat" in Spanish so I just explained frantically that we have a problem and I don't know how to explain it and he asked me to just say it in English and he'd try to figure it out. 

I explained that there was a bat in our bathroom and he repeated the word bat over and over again trying to figure it out. "Bot? Bot? Butt?" And he asked his companion if he knows what "butt" means and said that we have one in our bathroom. I was still frantic and said "Well ya, that too but that's in the other bathroom where my companion is dying. But the other bathroom has a BAT!" He still didn't understand so I finally said "Like a vampire!!"

They finally understood me and I just asked them to come kill it and, even though it still wasn't quite 7 yet, they said "Ya, sounds fun to us we'll be right over!" A few minutes later, they showed up--PJs and all--with their Mosquito Net from their bed and huge smiles. So they went in and trapped it in the net and then saw that we had new pictures up so they just casually stand there in my house, holding a bat, looking at our pictures. We screamed at them to get that thing away from us. They threw it out the window (okay, windows don't exist here because glass is hard to find, they threw it out of the hole in our wall) and headed out the door. I miss glass windows. Not only do they keep you from getting rained on in your own bed (another fun part of my week), but they also keep the bats out! Be grateful for what you have!

Okay, well on a more serious note, I had to real learn to be brave this week as we faced a different kind of scary. I think I told you about the young man that we found that opened the door and said he thought we would never come? His Baptismal date is for this Saturday but there's been a problem--he's only 17 and his dad won't sign his permission form. We were happy that his mom signed it in our first lesson without a problem, but our leaders informed us that we need both signatures. His dad is ridiculously hard to find because he works a lot and we've never met him. Friday, Juan called us and told him that it was better if we didn't come because his dad is there, but we needed his trust and his signature so I know it was better if we DID come because this was probably our only chance. I was scared to death. We called a a counselor in our Bishopric to come with us, but we waited and waited and he never ended up showing up...so we headed out there alone.

Juan answered the door and let us in and his mom greeted us, but his dad stayed hiding in the back. I asked Juan if we could help him for anything to prepare his Baptism and he told us to talk to his dad. He went back to try to bring his dad and we just heard some yelling and refusal and I remember my legs just going dead. Finally, they both came out together to talk. His dad remained calm as we tried to play our cards right and just talk to him like normal for a second, but then Juan decided to start talking about his Baptism and his dead freaked out. He started going off by saying "God didn't just randomly decide to start existing in 1820!" "Prophets are false!" and things like that. Then he started informing us that he studied the Bible for years and had scriptures memorized and looked at me and said "I assume you can recite John 3:16?" Of course I could. In English and in Spanish. Forwards and Backwards. But, that's not what I was there for. I also could respond to everyone of his lies about Prophets with scriptures from the Bibile, but I wasn't there for that either. I was just there to testify. So, I did that. All I could do was share my testimony.

Then, Hermana Dickey, who wasn't really understanding everything that happened, put together a short but powerful testimony with her little Spanish. That was definitely the most powerful part. She even ended up placing a Book of Mormon with him! We closed with a Hymn and Juan said a prayer, and we left with nothing more to do than wait.

The next day, Juan's dad apologized to him and handed him his signed Baptismal Permision Form. We actually got a laugh out of it because he signed it, but wrote "I am no responsible" by his signature. He wasn't happy about Juan's decision and he didn't want to be responsable for the reason that, this Saturday at 7:30pm, Juan is going to be a "Mormon," but he decided to let him make this own decision because, somehow, something had told him that everything we said was true. He didn't like it, but he couldn't deny it. It was so special.
Our other experience was with a couple that we found our first week. They are really great, but they live with some extended family that are "Evangelicas" and they really, really don't like us. They've lied to us many times to say that Lluliana and Emerson aren't home and we eventually lost complete contact with them. But, this killed me because they were such a great couple and had accepted a Baptismal Date and really needed this blessing in their lives. Well, that night as we stood with the haunted telephone, I had the impression to try calling them. The problem is that they don't have a phone, they can only be contacted through their Evangelica Sister's phone. If she heard my accent she'd know who it was and it would be game over. But, the Spirit was strong and persistent.

First Call--no answer. I was actually relieved...until I had the impression to call again. I called again and the sister answered I was praying so hard that she wouldn't hear my accent as I asked to talk to Emerson, and it must have worked as she passed him the phone.
We started talking and Hermana Dickey burst into tears. It had been 2 weeks of searching and praying and crying to be able to find this family, and there they were. We were able to set an appointment at a time that they could be waiting for us outside to bring us in so their sister couldn't stop us.

We were all smiles as we walked to them the next morning ready to see them outside waiting for us...they weren't there. Only their sister was out there and she saw us from a distance shouted that they weren't there. We knew we couldn't call her a liar or anything like that, so we just brokenheartedly walked away. Then, Hermana Dickey asked if we could walk by the street behind their house and see if they were there. It was a crazy idea and I tried to explain to here that we can't see the back of their house from the other street, but then I realized that, for whatever reason, she had felt the prompting to do it and I needed to let her do it. We went around and absolutely nothing happened, we ended up just doing a loop and were back in front of their house again, and there was Lluliana, waiting for us. It was amazing.

The next night we went back (through mud and in pouring rain) to see them and the same thing happened--an angry sister shaking her finger at us telling us that they weren't there and weren't coming back anytime soon. We had a member with us and she had the idea to call her husband and have him call the sister's phone to be able to talk to Lluliana and Emerson and tell them we were there. We were discouraged when he called back and said they didn't answered. I was ready to quit, but I felt really strongly that we could send the member to go knock on the door again and we waited around the corner. The sister answered and started to say "I told you, they're not here," but a little girl in the house said "Yes they are, I'll go get them!" and went running for them.

The sister just started saying that the girl didn't know what she was talking about because she's young and that they're really not there. The member just politely said that they could at least wait for the little girl to come back. And, back she came, Lluliana in hand. They let us in and we began to teach. That same night, after just about giving up, we were standing in the copy store with LLuliana and Emerson copying their Identities to start preparing for their wedding, which was to proceed their Baptism. It was a miracle indeed.

It's amazing what can happen when we just decide to put our fears aside and let the Spirit guide us. It takes a lot of courage to follow an impression of the Spirit...a LOT of courage. But, God always guides us through. He protects us as we decide to be brave and follow His promptings. This bravery brought us miracles this week!

Love you all,

Hermana Simonson

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