It. Is. COLD! I can’t believe it! Pucallpa, the hottest part of the Jungle, has been hit by a random cold front which is not too fun for a certain missionary that gave half of her clothes away in Iquitos, and then decided that sheets and jackets weren’t necessary. Sigh. Oh well, it should only last a couple days and then we get back to the heat.
Other than the cold, Pucallpa has been a big culture shock for me. My area is still just about as poor as my last one, but I can take a Motokar for ten minutes and go to a Mall, which is something I haven’t seen in a good 15 months! I was loving it last P-Day and was eating KFC and Pizza Hut and window shopping (way too poor to buy anything there) and at first it was fun, but then it started to stress me out. A lot. After all that, getting back to my area felt like coming home, and I almost burst into tears knowing that I had spent a few hours in my old reality, knowing that the people I have taught will never be a part of that. Church has also been hard because now, instead of being on folding chairs in a tiny Little room, we have a sacrament meeting room with microphone and carpet and soft benches and a real piano. Sitting in church really made me miss my small little ward in Iquitos.
We had such a sweet lesson this week with a new family we are teaching. The parents hadn’t prayed about the Book of Mormon, so we decided to review it again and then invite them once more to pray to know if it is true. My companion said something like “if the Book of Mormon is true….” And was cut off by their eight year old son that said “It is true.” I asked him how he knew it was true and he told us that HE had prayed and the Lord told him it was true. The Spirit was so strong and this little boy’s faith made it possible that his whole family accepted baptism that day. It was so amazing.
We married and baptized a family yesterday and when the Mayor came to the church to marry the couple, he started off basically putting in a bunch of plugs for the Catholic church that he belongs to and I started feeling defensive thinking “How dare he talk like that in OUR chapel!” Then, as he went on, he said he wanted to read a document that he thought explained the importance of marriage perfectly and that he ALWAYS read it in weddings. As he started reading it, I couldn’t help but smile. He was ready “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” It was just such a beautiful reminder to me that even the people that fight against the church, can’t deny that we have the truth.
I was playing hymns on the piano (WAY nicer than the keyboard I have been playing!) while waiting for the baptism to start and I realized that the people were really, really enjoying it since they’d just about never Heard that thing be touched. I realized how ungrateful I have been for so long. First, I fought about going to piano lessons, then I complained later on that I wasn’t some amazing concert pianist. In that moment, though, I was incredibly grateful for parents that had pushed me into lessons long enough to at least learn the Hymns, which has been an amazing blessing during my mission. I was so ungrateful for not being good enough at piano, while I was in front of a group of people in awe for what they could hear. To them, they think I am a concert pianist!
I guess sometimes we let ourselves think that if we’re not the best at something, it’s not worth doing it. But, music has blessed my mission as I have been able to play the piano in meetings and the violin in special events. I just started to feel so grateful for the things I CAN do and for the parents that helped me learn to do them. Maybe I was never the best runner, either, but I was always being cheered on by my parents and I was able to learn great things and thoroughly enjoy it. And volleyball didn’t last long, but I sure loved it while it did. My parents were always there as I wavered between college decisions and supported me in whatever it was. They even kept supporting me as I threw college aside for awhile to come to the Jungle and teach the Gospel.
Mom and Dad, just as I am not a perfect piano player, I know I have never been the perfect daughter. I can’t thank you enough for putting up with me all these years and supporting me in every way posible. I hope that you don’t think that I was a bad investment. I know I am overwhelmingly imperfect, but I graduated high school with honors, I had a somewhat successful cross country career, I went to college, I learned some music, I speak two languages, and I am trying so hard to be a good missionary, despite all the things that seem to get in the way. I don’t know what I would do without you guys and without your support. I know I was always so ungrateful, but it took a group of humble little Amazon people to really make me realize how fortunate I am to come from a great, complete family. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me, and I promise that, when I get home, I will do my best to try and make it worth it.
Love- Hermana Simonson