I can’t really think of a good word to describe this week. “Nice”, “beautiful”, “insignificant”, and “edifying” all seem to come to mind.
I learned a bit about myself this week. Remember how I talked about the “Lost Dog Effect”? I think it applies to a lot more than just dogs and companions. I seem to really put up walls at times. When the plane landed in Pucallpa, I felt myself straighten up tight. When Hermana Gomez asked me if I was glad to be back in Pucallpa I said that I was just indifferent . I even had myself fooled!
Halfway to the hotel, I realized I was just putting up a front and that I didn’t hate Pucallpa. But, I did feel that I had failed there and I was hurt for having left there early, so I told myself I hated it. It was hard to admit that I love a place when I spent so much time in the hospital. Or a place where I struggled so hard. But, do you know
what? If there was one thing I learned on this trip it was that EVERYTHING was totally worth it.
Why? Remember the Espinoza family with the four sons? I visited them. I found the oldest son studying the
Mission Prep manual, the mom reading the Book of Mormon, and the Dad talking about Baptism. The sons are taking the long trip to Lima next month to do Baptisms for the dead. With some converts, you get the feeling that they specifically needed you and your companion. That’s how I had always felt with them. I didn’t do what I wanted in Pucallpa, but I did what the Lord wanted me to do. I didn’t fail at all.
For Hermana Gomez’s birthday, we went to lunch at a Restaurant that floats on the river. It was awesome! Her, President, and the Assistants seem to have all gotten used to having me around on the trips, it’s been great. While we sat there eating, we saw two Amazon river dolphins right close by, it was AWESOME!!!!
We had a meeting in the hotel room , and then President asked to do a practice interview with me in English since he has been practicing and wants to be able to interview the new American Missionaries in their
native language. During the interview, he caught on to the fact that I was pretending to be myself on my first day. When he asked me about my mission goals, I told him that my goal was to have at LEAST one baptism every month. He broke character as well and asked, in Spanish, “Did you accomplish that??” I almost teared up as I realized how merciful God has been with me.
As I whispered that I had accomplished what seemed an impossible goal, and even more impossible with so much hospital time. Hermana Gomez whispered something that I had heard her say about me several times “A living example of someone who knows how to serve the Lord’s mission.”
Well, family and friends, I have a hard time believing that this the last time that I will be able to write you as Hermana Simonson, the Jungle Missionary. I don’t know what words to leave you with. More than anything, I want to thank everyone has supported me in the amazing journey. When I was set apart, I was informed in the blessing that my mission would be an adventure, and I can DEFINITELY see how true that has been! I know I have talked a lot about my struggles, especially with my health, but there is one thing that I wish to make
very, very clear. For the rest of my life, as I look back on my mission, I will not remember it as 18 months of suffering. I will always remember it as the most special, crazy, fun, spiritual, exciting, worth-it, interesting, hard, important, and BEST time of my life.
I would never have asked for the type of mission that I have had, but I would never , NEVER , EVER change it! Not one little moment not one little detail. The best part of my whole mission is that I can honestly say that I have NO regrets. Not one.
I love this country. I love this jungle. I love this Church. I love this work. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. We work to fill the Celestial Kingdom, and I can’t imagine the joy of being there with my converts. I love them. The church is true. One hundred percent true. I know that without a doubt.
In the offices, I found a picture that President Blunck had taken of me on my first day in Lima, after my REAL first interview. As I looked at that picture, I realized one of the greatest blessings of my mission: I am not that same girl anymore.
As we talked about my struggles on the mission, Hermana Gomez said that she can just feel that the Lord has great things in store for me. I know that is true. I know I still have a great work to do. My mission isn’t the end of my service…it is only the beginning. What a blessing.
I can’t lie and say I am not scared, but I know that everything will be okay. If I can put up with living in the jungle, being attacked by monkeys, eating worms, having fleas, typhoid fever, panic attacks, learning a new language, cutting grass with a machete, falling in a sewer, parasites, saving souls and all that stuff, well, I think I can just do about anything. Not because I am special, but because I don’t have to do it alone.
I didn’t actually suffer any of that stuff because I never could of. Like Emma Smith said “strength isn’t something you have, it is something you find.” I have no strength, but the Lord helps me find it and I know He will do it again and again.
I love you all. See you next week.
Misión Perú Iquitos
5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of
an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,which
the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me
only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.