What a week! Actually, better said, what a transfer! That´s right, six weeks have come and gone yet again. My sources tell me that I am going to stay here, and it sounds like a good plan to me, although I would be happy to get transferred out of Iquitos. My biggest fear would be getting a transfer inside of Iquitos. I guess I will know in a couple hours!
I wish that we wrote at the END of P-Day because that´s almost always when the good stuff happens. Last week, we went out into the deep, uninhabited part of the Jungle and it was SO great. I love living here. We took a bus out of the city and went hiking and exploring over by our Patriarch´s fish farm. I wish I would have had a camera! You wouldn’t believe all that I saw. Crazy spiders, little red poison dart frogs, and those really huge hairy ants that you see in National Geographic. AMAZING. I feel like an official Jungle Woman now.
We cooked chicken over a fire and ate it using leaves for plates and eating rice with our hands. Also, I hit a big Jungle Milestone: I can officially drink coconut milk without a straw! I knocked down, cut open, and drank my coconut right out of the shell just like a true native. I´ll admit, it was pretty impressive! Add that to my list of fleas and Parasites and eating turtle and crocodile and I think I just need Dengue to be an official Jungle Woman…but I´d rather avoid that one.
I was grateful for such a good P-Day because, honestly, the rest of the week was rough. One Hermana got sent home on emergency because she was starting to go blind, and it left her poor, new companion really scarred and stressed. Some of my best converts fell into problems with the Word of Wisdom and it really hurt to see it, but I know we´re going to help them climb back up—coffee is a LOT easier to deal with than Alcohol! Another sister has been facing problems with depression. A lot of people that were progressing just randomly stopped going to church and don´t want to get Baptized. I saw how I had kind of neglected to visit the sisters in one of my zones, and not a single one of them were able to Baptize last month and they feel really bad and I can’t help but feel a little responsible.
The worst part has been a sister that is struggling with some really scary stuff, something along the lines of Schizophrenia and I can´t even describe the sleepless nights, the fear, the Psychologist visits. I was really starting to feel a heavy load with all these things, even though they may seem small. It reminded me of the times that I would watch Mom or Dad face problems with work, kids, school, money, family, Anxiety, health, and everything and I could just see the weight on their shoulders. That´s how I was feeling!
With all of these happening, my companion and I lost a lot of work time and I was stressed out. Friday night, as I looked at how few lessons we´d have and how few people we´d been able to find, I remembered what I learned last week about being constant and decided that we still needed to meet the goals that we set. Saturday, we found some awesome members that worked with us all day long so that we could do divisions. We worked as hard as humanly possible, but at the end of the day we were able to see some serious results and see how many people we were able to help by deciding to remain constant even with the time we lost. It was amazing! We were able to see the rewards of our hard work when we saw how many people came to church.
The best part was when the Bishop announced the Baptism that we are going to have on Sunday, a man named Orlando, Orlando stood up and smiled and was waving at everyone, almost TOO excited for his Baptism. About three months ago, I knocked on Orlando´s door and he slammed it in my face and said he didn´t want anything to do with us. What a change!
I guess my last little thought is about the Temple. A few weeks ago, a family in the ward did a Fundraiser to try and go to the Temple in Lima to be sealed as a family and pick up their son from his mission. They worked so hard and had everything ready to go. They were supposed to leave on Sunday, and I was confused when I saw the husband on Tuesday. I asked him when he was going to the Temple and he just looked up and said, with a brave smile “Someday, Hermana Simonson. We´ll get there some day.” My heart almost broke.
They weren´t able to get the funds together even after doing EVERYTHING they could. If I could just beg the world (especially my family) to do two things they would be share the Gospel, and go to the Temple. I took the Temple so for granted before the mission. I had always heard stories before about people that have to sacrifice so much to go to the Temple and how we need to take more advantage of the Temples close to us. Hearing is one thing. Seeing it and living? So heartbreaking, so guilt-tripping, but oh, so inspiring!
For a long time, I thought that my call to this Mission had to do with my love for adventure and outdoors and craziness, but I finally understand better. It is for my incredible love that I feel for the Temple. This mission has a huge purpose: A Temple in Iquitos. Our backpacks and wallets have pictures of a Temple in the Jungle and it motivates me a ton. I so badly want these people to have this amazing blessing that we have.
The Temple is a huge motivator for me, but there is also another thing that really keeps me going. I´ve reached a milestone in the mission, a new nametag! Mine was so dead from repellent and son and dirt and it was almost unreadable. When I got the new one, I thought about what I wanted to put on the inside to motivate me.
The last one was great, the inside had an American flag, a sticker that a little girl in Tarapoto gave me, a sticker from the MTC, and I had carved Elder Simonson´s initials the day he entered the MTC. Now, as I looked at the new nametag I thought about what most motivated me, the answer came fast. Now, the inside of my nametag has a picture of 5 (slightly angry) kinds laying in leaves in Layton, Utah. My brothers. If anything motivates me, it´s the promise that I felt in my heart when I watched Finding Faith in Christ and heard the Savior´s voice whisper kindly “Thy brother shall raise again.”
You should know that on those days that I don’t feel like getting up on time or start to feel tired or that I don’t care, I just think of how much I want to bless my family and how I know that they will be blessed according to my obedience. I know that the Savior´s promises are real. Now, every day that I get ready and I put that sacred nametag on, I see the faces of four of the most important people in the world to me, and I wear them over my heart all day long, knowing that I can make as big of a difference in their lives as I can in the people here.
Love you all so much! Love this work. Love my Savior, and I love His church.