Monday, September 23, 2013

Birthday Week :) LOTS of Pictures!

Well, I spent all the time with pictures so I only have about 2 minutes to write!

It was a great week and I just felt so loved and accepted by the people. I just want to share my testimony of this work. It is so amazing. It is so worth the sacrifices. Everyday is a challenge, but it's a good one.

I've never seen so many miracles. I love being here. I love the jungle. I love the people. Most of all, I love my Savior, Jesus Christ.

It is crazy to think that I spent my Birthday here. I never would have imagined this. But, God always had it in His plans. That's what I love. I know He loves me and is taking care of me. I am so incredibly blessed.

I hope the pictures gave you a chance to see the love that I'm being shown and the angels that I was promised. I am happy to be here, even if it is for just a short while.

Love Always,


 I still had my Birthday sleepover :) It definitely wasn't with my Jandee, Courtney, and Emily, but Hermana Rider and Hermana Reatagui were in the moving process and ended up having to spend one night with us...on my birthday. It was fun. :)

Hermana Alvear and I enjoying the Birthday party. Aren't we just too cute?

Ximena might have started a little bit of a frosting fight :). I love that girl, it's like having a little sister :)

Happy Birthday MOM!


 Party Friday, baptism Saturday:) Candy and Jorge helped us out so much with Katty.
They're such a great family!

 It wasn't my birthday anymore, but it sure did feel like it when Katty (from the first surprise party) was Baptized! Remember the story of the girl that was miraculously healed? That was Katty's daughter! It was so great to see how the Lord used His priesthood power to help Katty decide to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 

Candy and Jorge threw me a surprise Birthday Party! Katty, our Investigator, was there as well. I was super surprised and super happy. I felt so loved :) And, how funny to see two "gringos" together, Elder Rix, our zone leader was doing a work visit with Elder Limon. I think he really just heard that there would be cake :)

Patty, Astry, and Ximena also threw me a surprise party. It was SO sweet to spend some time with this beautiful family of my converts. They are such sweethearts. It's hard to watch the people give you so much when you know how little they have, but it means the world to me.

That is the LAST time that I EVER try to take a picture standing next to a monkey cage. WOW. Scared the living lights out of me. Later that day, we were all walking when all of the sudden a branch fell to the ground in front of a couple of the Elders and we looked up to find another monkey (this time a wild one) throwing things at us. I swear, these things would ONLY happen in my mission. And no, I am NOT kidding.
A cute little keyholder from Patty, Astry, and Ximena :)
And no, I'm not kidding. Surprise Party number three from the Sisters in the Relief Society. It's funny. I was thinking about how God never leaves me alone. My birthdays, up until age 18, were with my family. Age 19, my roommates and Jake, the family I was given at college. 

I left one family and it was so hard, but at least for now, he's given me a whole jungle full of family! Converts, Investigators, Members, Less actives, a District, a Zone, Zone leaders, Mission President and his wife, Couples Missionaries. I am so well loved and taken care of! It is such a blessing :) 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Danixa: Brady's Convert

September 15, 2013

Hola Familia!

Well, I want to introduce you to Danixa, a sweet little girl that we baptized on Saturday. She is a daughter of a less active family that we started working with about a month ago and it was sweet to try to help them come back to the church and to bring 9 year old Danixa into the waters of baptism.

I decided to refer to Danixa as "Brady's Convert" because of a sweet experience that we had with her Friday night. We were getting things all ready for her baptism when her family found out that her older brother, that lives two hours away, was going in for an operation on Saturday, the day of her baptism. The family was pretty distraught and wanted to cancel the baptism to be able to go be with the brother, but they left the decision up to sweet little Danixa. She didn't know what to say.

We knew that the family was scared, but we also knew that they really needed the blessings of the Lord. I felt impressed to share a little bit of how I've been feeling the last few weeks. How hard it is to know that someone you love is suffering, but that you can't be there with them because you're on the Lord's errand. I told a little bit of the story of what's been happening with my brother, and there was not a dry eye left.

Brave little 9 year-old Danixa looked at everyone and said the she would be baptized the following day. She then ran up and hugged me and didn't let go for literally almost 5 minutes. It was so sweet. When we arrived at her baptism, she ran up and told us that everything was okay and her brother was perfectly fine. Everyone knew that the brother had been saved for the faith of this sweet 9 year-old girl that I've come to love.

So, I forgot to tell you guys this a couple weeks ago. . .but we received more sisters in Tarapoto! At least I can see other Sisters without taking a 2-hour flight to do so. We had all been praying for this to happen, but it seemed impossible--we haven't received a single Hermana since the day Hermana Price and I got here. We've been politely informed to look around and see that it's "not a sister's mission." But, God always has a way. He sent one of the Sisters that was serving in Pulcallpa to serve here in Tarapoto, and although there wasn't a companion that could come with her, a member that is getting ready to leave on her own mission is October accepted the call to live with Hermana Rider as a "mini missionary." So, we have been released from serving in all of Tarapoto and can spend almost all of our time serving in our own little Branch. Such a tender mercy, and an opportunity to find families!!! 

When I was set apart, I was promised that I would see miracles. I see plenty of little miracles every single day. This week, I also got to see a grand one. Remember that a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that we had thrown aside a morning's worth of appointments to help the daughter of an investigator? 6 year-old Akemi had fallen down concrete stairs and had a fracture in her skull.

After 2 days in the hospital, Katty (our investigator) was able to bring Akemi home, but she couldn't do more than just lay in bed. Katty had asked for Akemi to receive a blessing, so we brought the Elders with us. Katty had to carry Akemi to put her in the chair so that she could receive the blessing. Elder Lopez gave a blessing that promised her that she would heal completely and return to walk and play. After the blessing, Akemi STOOD UP and walked over to her bed. Within minutes, she was playing with her dog. She still wasn't completely normal, but she was miraculously better.

Later, we found another problem as a result of the head injury: blood clots. Katty was going to have to leave town to go to Lima in order to get appropriate care for her daughter. She was getting ready to go, but decided to take Akemi in to the Doctor here for just one last time. Well, she went in and the Doctors found......absolutely nothing. No more fracture. No more blood clots. She was absolutely normal. It was such an amazing miracle and it really strengthened my testimony about the power of the Priesthood.

I also regained a "Testimony" of something that I had been passionate about before: exercise. No, I'm not kidding!  Hermana Gomez (our mission President's wife) was worried about my companion being overweight because its been causing her some health problems, so she put her (which means us) on a diet and exercise program and we've been going to the gym and I LOVE it. I feel so much better everyday and honestly, it rejuvenated me a ton to get me working harder.

I think that the easiest problem in the mission is falling into the pattern of apathy. It's so easy to just accept that ya, this is my life right now and this is what I'm doing and I just need to get through each day. But, I will NEVER be a completely effective missionary with that attitude. I really am trying to remind myself each day of how privileged I am.

I make myself remember that moment that the age change was announced, the moment I got my call, the first time I entered the Temple, my farewell talk, my first day in Peru, my first baptism and just all of these amazing moments to keep me going strong and enthusiastic. The fun thing about serving in the jungle is that you have to be really creative to be able to teach the people in a way that they understand.

Our old mission president, Presidente Blunck, said that in Lima, you learn to be a missionary, in the Jungle, you learn to be a "Maestro del Evangelio." It literally means Gospel Teacher, but it's cooler in Spanish because Maestro also means Master. I'm really trying to focus myself in being a better teacher. I had some cool ideas this week and made little paper bricks to build a house with different elements of the church that Jesus Christ established to be able to demonstrate better the Restoration. I also have gotten a little crazy with the booklets and started cutting them up and adding things to make myself my own little booklet of each lesson to use when I teach. I'm having quite a lot of fun getting creative and my companion and I can really teach a whole lot better just by using these small, simple things.

The church has started putting a new emphasis on working with less actives and I LOVE it. After all, our purpose doesn't say to invite investigators to come unto Christ, it tells us to invite OTHERS, which includes people who are already members. It's easy to think that if someone isn't attending church it's just for irrational reasons and they just need to pull their head out and do it, which is true, but that doesn't mean that we can't help them. It is absolutely amazing to see how one hour out of your week, and a little bit of love, can change someone's life and bring them back to the fold.

The Baptisms I've had have been great experiences, but want to know what's a better feeling that watching someone be baptized? Watching them keep learning and growing. It's the little things like Ximena sharing me something that she learned in Seminary, Patty inviting her mom to take the discussions, Alex being called as the Young Men's Secretary, Ericka being put in the Relief Society Presidency, Luzclarita walking to church alone carrying her toddler, etc.

I hope that these people that I love so much won't turn into some of the people I've found who are nothing more than an unknown name on the Branch Directory, don't remember why they were Baptized, and haven't so much as prayed in years. It breaks my heart to come across these people, and it really helps me focus on conversion more than Baptism. It take more time (and more angry calls from zone leaders :)) but it is SO worth it.

This is why I love my calling so much. I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Lots of Love,

Hermana Meghan DeLee Simonson

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Knowing the Heart

September 9, 2013 

Another week down! After last Monday, I really had a new view on the mission and remembered that it really is a privilege to be here. I think I needed that slap in the face a little bit because I had, once again, found myself caught in the Pride Cycle. It's amazing how easy it is to fall into that. I've just been really trying to focus myself in being more Christ-like, and God gave me the perfect opportunity to try it this week.

At the end of every month, we have a zone council where everyone has to give their baptism numbers for the month: How many baptisms, how many of these baptisms were families, and how many of these baptisms were adult men. It can be a bit of a downer sometimes.

We've always had the most Baptisms, and honestly, this time I was sick of it. I watched the faces of all these Elders just looking so down as the Zone Leaders went off about how they need to be more like the Hermanas and I had honestly kind of liked it before, but this time it got to me.

We were all sitting there looking at the numbers on the board as the Zone Leaders asked us one-by-one what we thought. When it got to my turn, I had the strongest feeling: You KNOW what you need to do. I knew it was crazy and that my companion might kill me, but I couldn't deny the impression. I sat there for a minute as they were waiting my answer and I said, "I think that...well honestly I think that three companionships are liars, and one of them is us."

I walked up to the whiteboard and erased the Aeropuerto 1 number, as well as Partido Alto, and Shilcayo 2. I gave Aeropuerto two baptisms with one family (Patty and Astry), and Partido Alto one Baptism (Teresita). Then, I turned to Shilcayo2 (us) and wrote a big fat 0-0-0. I was almost in tears as I said that we hadn't baptized anyone in our own Branch, we had only Baptized the references that the Elders had given us and that it wouldn't have been possible without them.

I explained that the only reason we had ever baptized more is because they were all looking out for us and that we couldn't keep taking credit for that. Maybe I was acting a little crazy, but in the end I had several Elders come up to me practically in tears, and it made it all worth it.

I also spent another 3 days in Iquitos this week! I've decided that Iquitos is kind of like my new Provo: The place I go to about once a month to see my friends and sleep on their floor. :)

This week was especially great because not only did I get to see Hermana Price, but also Hermana Vàsquez (mi "mommy") who are now companions!!! How awesome is that? Hermana Vàsquez just keeps on protecting me. Seeing her was such a well needed blessings. Long story short, I might have let some things get to me this last month and so this past Sunday, I decided to try and do the whole fasting thing and it went about how you'd think it would. Not a good idea.

Well, Hermana Vàsquez heard about it in the meetings that she was in in Iquitos with my companion, and she basically freaked out. She pulled me aside and told me she knew that something else was wrong and just asked me to tell everything. I told her how everything had been going and we both cried a little bit and before I knew it we were at dinner with all the sisters in the mission (you know, the whole whopping 8 of us) and Hermana Vasquez and Alvear were outside and it looked ugly.  Hermana Vasquez, as always, was calm and smiling, but Hna Alvear was yelling a bit.

Later that night, Hermana Vasquez and I were put together in the waiting room and I almost didn't dare ask her what she had said to my companion, but she read the look on my face and put her arm around me and said "Well, I told her that if she ever lets you pull a stunt like that again I'll kill the both of you, and a few other things that I had to say to protect my hija."  I laughed and just really enjoyed that time I had with her, knowing the sad truth that this was probably the last time I'd ever see her.

She was so comforting and told me to remember that God loves me and knows my heart and that I don't have to prove myself to anyone. She gave me this beautiful gold necklace of the Lima Temple and when it came time to say goodbye there were a whole lot of tears.

It's crazy to see someone that had been such a huge part of your life and know you might never see them again...and that's just the start of the mission pains! But, I know it will all be worth it. I just keep on loving this work and doing my best to be a good missionary and, with the help of my old trainer, I'm keeping in mind that the only opinion that matters is the one of my Heavenly Father, who really does know my heart.

Love you all!

Hermana Simonson

Hermanas in the Iquitos Mission :) 

Monday, September 2, 2013


Dear Family,

I'm grateful to hear from you guys. I know it's been a rough week at home and I hope everything is well. I want you to know that I am praying for you all the time. Thank you for being honest with me and telling me what's going on (with Brady), the last thing I want is to not know what's going on at home. Sometimes families think that they have to protect their kids from the truth, but it's really not that way. I can know what's going and still keep myself focused on the work.

I guess more than anything, right now I want to share my testimony with you guys about the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I always think back on those first three weeks of my mission. I didn't understand a word my own companion said to me, the people laughed at me every time I opened my mouth, I was in the hospital (a hospital that scared the living lights out of me) for some unknown rash that could have meant a disease that sent me back home, my companion was bedridden for 3 days, I was scared to death every time I looked out my window and was reminded that I was literally living in the Amazon jungle.

I was so close to going home. I really thought I was dying and I felt like serving a mission was the biggest mistake I had ever made. To say the least, I was miserable and thought there was no hope. 

It was at that time that I turned to an old habit of mine that I had used as a little girl to get through tough times.  I wrote a poem. I remembered being told that our trials are like the Refiner's Fire. They're there to make us better.

I wrote:

I never thought that I would have,
To pass through trials quite like these.
It seems like every waking moment,
Brings me right down on me knees.
And as I cry unto my Father,
I feel Him hold his breaking daughter.
And His love alone
Is enough to keep me from going home.

Well, I’ve found myself in the Refiner's Fire,
And it's sure burning bright for me.
In the Refiner's Fire,
I'm finding out who I was meant to be.
In the refiner's fire,
I'm learning all I have to learn.
In the refiner's fire,
I'm earning the stripes I have to earn.
‘Til I’ve been refined by this fire.

I know that somewhere down the road,
A different me awaits.
She's stronger and happy,
The light of Christ glows in her face.
But right now I'm just a scared little girl,
And it seems I'm holding all the world,
On my shoulders and I can't ,
Under the weight of it all stand.

Well, I think I'm in the refiners fire
And it's sure burning bright today.
In the refiners fire,
The old me is burning away.
In the refiners fire,
I'm being taught from above.
In the refiners fire,
I'm becoming worthy of the ones I love,
For them I'll endure this refiners fire.

It was through the Atonement of Christ that in just 5 short months, I've changed from that scared little girl that I was into the Missionary that's known for being bright and happy. He knows us. He feels our pains. He helps us overcome them.

Elder Holland shared the most poignant testimony in the Mormon Message entitled "Better Things Ahead" (Good Things to Come).   This message kept me on my mission and I hope it keeps you all pressing forward. Sometimes we don't understand why things happen to us, but I know that God has a plan. He will help us overcome everything. All of His plan is so that we can be happy again. That is really what keeps me going. Maybe my situation really hasn't gotten a lot easier, but I'm bright and happy because my relationship with God and with my Savior Jesus Christ has gotten better.


I love you. Push forward. Be strong. Your letters to me make my week better. Don't stop writing. I'm not disappointed in you, I'm still as proud as I could be. Those scriptures and advice that I sent you weren't just for your mission, they are for life in general. Take the advice and volunteer in the Temple, it will save your life. I'm praying for you everyday. God loves you and is there for you. Don't let this change your mind about serving your mission. Take it as an opportunity to keep preparing.  I would have loved to have a few extra months of preparation! Our deal still lives on. I want to see you in the LA airport in 13 short months, with your name tag, companion, and all. I'm here for you. You're my twin brother and there's not a thing in this world that I wouldn't do for you. I love you.

I wish I could be there with you guys right now, but I'm helping out more here in Peru than I could at home. God will keep blessing you.

It's been a great week. I had some really miraculous experiences. I'm learning what it really means to be a good missionary. It doesn't mean counting my baptisms or having the most contacts each week. It sometimes means dropping a whole morning's worth of appointments to comfort an investigator. It means learning charity and loving the people, even the ones that are unlovable. It means praying more than sleeping. It means forgetting yourself and realizing the two names on the nametag: My family, and Jesucristo are the two people that I represent right now. It means being obedient even when it's hard or even when it doesn't make sense.

It means a lot of meetings, a lot of heartbreak, a lot of closed doors. Luckily, closed doors also means opened windows that we have to go and find. It means learning to laugh at yourself and get over your pride. It means adjusting to a new culture. More than anything, it means opening up your heart and allowing the Atonement of Jesus Christ enter in and make us who we need to be..even if it means more time "in the fire." It means turning to Him for the comfort, counsel, and love that we need. 

I remember sitting on the beach of Lake Powell one quiet afternoon and drawing in the sand. It didn't matter what I drew or how deep I drew it, the waves always smoothed it over. This is the Atonement of Christ. We never know what will be drawn on the beach of our lives. Trials, sins, pains, sickness, depression, hurt, anxiety, inadequacy, stress, weakness, or just about anything. Nevertheless, the waves on the Atonement are always crashing on our beach. They truly are powerful enough to smooth out anything. . .no matter how deep it is.

I love you all with all my heart. I'm looking forward to another great week and I know I'll have plenty of miracles to tell you about next Monday!!!

Hermana Simonson

Here is the link to the talk Meg was talking about: Elder Holland, "Good Things to Come".  It's the full version of the video.