Monday, January 20, 2014

Peruvian Parents

January 20, 2014

Am I the only missionary in the world that misses her own baptisms? Because it happened AGAIN this week!  It’s all part of the craziness that is the Mission Field!

I know I talk a lot about the things that happen to me with the sisters, but it really has become one of the main focuses I have. Anyway, I’ve had one Sister that has been pretty sick for awhile and Saturday morning I got to the Church early to get my baptism ready, and she was there sitting in her baptism and was completely red and shaky and I touched her forehead and couldn’t believe how hot she was.

Long story short, they ended up asking me to take her to the hospital since I have all the insurance information and have kind of become the designated translator.

I left my poor companion in the baptism and she was scared to try and direct it, but
everything turned out okay.

Anyway, we get to the hospital and they gave her an IV and did chest X-Rays and blood tests and a bunch of things because of her fever. Then, they came in and saw how her clothes were covered in sweat and asked me if I had brought her a change of clothes…okay? No, I didn’t even think of that. So, the doctor looks at me and says “give her your clothes then, she’s going to get worse if she’s wet.”  So they made us change clothes and I just laughed and told her “I hope you realize that I love you so much that I am putting on your wet, sweaty clothes!” It was pretty funny.

Sometimes it’s easy to get bummed when your big plans for the day get changed and you randomly end up in the hospital with sweaty clothes, but I just always try to remember that we promise to use ALL of our talents for the building up of the kingdom of God…even the dumb talents like knowing Spanish Medical Terms and Church Insurance Information!

Other than that, things have been normal:  people, lessons, ups, downs, ants in my rice, broken arm jokes, and so on and so forth. I was laughing last night as I reflected on my week and thought about how “parented” I feel at times.

The whole room experience wasn’t the end of that story! I got out of the shower Tuesday morning to randomly find Hermana Gómez (the Mission Wife) sitting on my bed waiting for me. She came to check up on a few things and give us another chance to pass the room inspections. J I love it. A woman with a whole mission to take care of and she still finds time to come see if Hermana
Simonson made her bed in the morning.

You’d think it would bug me, but I actually love it, I feel more at home. It’s been pretty funny because they have a 19-year-old daughter that I made really good friends with back in the Tarapoto days when I was the only Sister her age in the mission. Now that she’s back from school and living with her parents here in Iquitos, she’s been coming with us to do splits with me or help us teach and things like that, so it’s not weird for me to come back to my house and find Hermana Gomez waiting outside of my door and things like that.

The other night, she started messing with my posture and told me I’d look skinnier if I stood up straight and that I need to put up my chest more and then made a joke about me not having a chest and I just about died of laughter because it was SO something that my mom always said and did.

Also, I don’t know if I have ever mentioned Lulú in my letters, but she’s basically my
Peruvian Mom. If I show up at her house, I can’t leave without her making me shine my shoes, eat fruits, and let her give me a massage if I look stressed.  She’s SO great!

Anyway, their family went to Lima to take out their Endowments a few weeks ago, and they just barely got back and she got right back into taking care of me.

Then, the other day my District Leader told me I need to eat more fruits because I have a lot of zits (result of the pills I have) and I just about died.

Well mom, somehow your influence makes it all the way to Perú! I love it.  J

I just love the experiences that I have here. The people win my heart a little bit more each day.  I can call a member and they are there right away. Their faith is amazing. I wish you could feel of their Spirit.

Have a great week!


Hermana Simonson

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January Photos

Elder Jake Powell's twin Baptized Rosa on the 21st.
She was the sweet grandma that I drug to church in the rain....

This is Alejandrina. She was Baptized while I was in the hospital with Malaria.
 My oldest convert: 89 years old!

Our zone's Soccer Jerseys for this month...this foto was taken just minutes after the famous broken arm.

 Christmas Morning "Futbol" with the zone.

Helenci's Baptism! What a beautiful family.

Jhuly's Baptism! The one that almost fell through at the last minute made it into the water
and is doing great right now.

This picture was found by Hermana Price's mom and sent to us on Facebook :)

Una Semana Mas

Here is Meg's latest letter.  She is struggling with anxiety and has been for a couple of months now.  I know she would love and appreciate any prayers you are willing to say on her behalf to help give her strength to keep serving during this time. Thanks so much for so many of your kinds words about her letters and how much you enjoy reading them.  She is an amazing missionary and we are so very proud of her! 

January 13, 2014

¡Hola Familia!

It’s been one fast and crazy week! Sometimes I feel like the craziest things in life only happen to me. This week was a big one: Interviews with President Gomez and Room Inspections with Hermana Gomez. It´s always the same, we get the room super spotless the night before, we put on our best clothes and get to the Church at least 20 minutes early and all that fun stuff. Well, let’s just say it didn’t happen like that this time around!

The night before, our District Leader informed us that the Assistants would kill him if they saw that we didn’t have our Mosquito Nets up when Hermana Gómez came and that it didn’t matter if we didn’t have the structure to get them up, we could just tape them to the ceiling with string. So, that’s how we spent the next morning. I tried hanging them up by stacked our beds up on ton of each other and jumping up and down several times to get each corner where it needs to go.  While I was getting all this done (it took about an hour) my companion was happily getting ready and getting pretty and organizing her stuff and shining her shoes. I wasn’t too worried about getting those things done because I knew that we still had three hours until interviews and two hours until Room Inspections.

When I finally got ready to get in the shower, my phone rings so I leave the bathroom to answer it and I hear my Zone Leader yelling in my ear (have I mentioned that I miss my old ZL’s?) saying that President was waiting for me and that our Interviews started five minutes ago. I just about died.

Without showering or anything, I threw some clothes on and started putting on Make Up that I couldn’t find and then trying to find my Area Book and I ended up throwing things from place to place trying to get ready in a hurry. Again, I didn’t worry about it because maybe my Interview was earlier than I thought, but I still had several hours before Room Inspections and I could get things back in order quickly.

We get to the Church and see one Zone Leader and one Assistant waiting for us very impatiently. Luckily, President was as happy as ever and told us not to worry about the confusion. When that was all over, we rushed to our house to get things in order but, with our luck, found Hermana Gomez with the other Assistant and the other Zone Leader already there waiting for us.

As we entered the house, our mosquito nets had half fallen and the tape string and scissors were sitting there on my bed, showing that we obviously have been without Mosquito nets for six weeks, which is a sin here in the mission!

To make it worse, they all saw my makeup thrown all over my desk, a bra on the floor, etc. etc. We thought we’d be in trouble, but Hermana Gomez just laughed as we explained what happened that morning and then gave me a tiny, but well deserved, talking to about how the example of all the Hermanas should be more organized. So  true.

 As she looked over the room and saw how tiny it was, she called the Elders over to where we were and said. “Listen. You didn’t know this, but Hermana Simonson suffers from Anxiety and sometimes can’t sleep at night. The best thing she can do for Panic Attacks is breathe, but how is she going to breathe if she lives in a tiny room without windows?” I turned super red, realizing that the big secret was out. The good thing is, we all ended up laughing in the end! It was stinking hilarious, but maybe you had to be there. 

My District Leader, Elder Muñoz, just about died of laughter as we told him the story and he said “Do you realize what you just did in the last few weeks? You went from Hermana Simonson, the really happy one that speaks perfect Spanish and is an expert trainer and area opener and is the first 19 year old sister in Perú and became Sister Leader with only 7 months etc. etc. to Hermana Simonson, the one that broke an Elder’s arm, doesn’t care about her Interviews with President, has a messy room, has panic attacks, etc.” It made me laugh.

As far as the Anxiety goes, I know you want the story and the details. I had written you about some stress problems the end of November but kind of left it at that. Well, the first week in December (now that I think of it, it was on Dad’s Birthday) my Alarm went off after a sleepless night. I was a little shaky and I remember just feeling super weak and sad and without desires to work. I had been like that for a while, but this time it was scaring me.

We went to give some papers to Elder Muñoz and I had to swallow my pride and ask for a blessing again, even though the same thing had happened just a week before, but this time it was worse. He let us inside and asked me what was wrong and I explained everything and how I hadn’t gotten better.

He just looked me in the eyes and said, among other things, “You are an excellent missionary.” Something about that phrase just stabbed me in the heart and I started to tear up a bit, I didn’t realize how badly I had needed to hear those words.  He offered his companion to give the blessing so that it could be in English.
They put their hands on my head and then his companion (the one that looks like Jake Powell) stopped in the middle of my name and said “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand anything, will you explain everything in English, you guys were talking really fast.”

 I turned around and started telling him everything, but the thing about talking in English is that it comes more directly from the heart and it feels so much more real. Plus, it didn’t help that, with the tears blurring my eyes, it looked as if I was telling these things to one of my best friends from the good old days.

After the blessing, Elder Muñoz told me that, he knew I wouldn’t like it, but he was going to have to call the zone leaders (this was back in the days of Elder Cruz.) Elder Cruz was there before I knew it, and made me call President, which I was just not up for, it seemed too scary! But, President was really concerned and told me to come to his office that same day to see what we could do. I spent about an hour alone with him and his wife and it was like talking with two concerned parents.

 The next day, Hermana Gomez did a few tests on my heart rate, blood sugar, and things like that. She gave me some vitamins and natural anxiety pills (she doesn’t want to get the Prescription stuff out if we don’t have to, and I’m right there with her). Things have been a lot better and I have been keeping a Journal of the Attacks and I am in good contact with Hermana Gomez and everything is getting better little by little.
The best cure has been my love for this work and the Lord, He carries me through everything. Sometimes, I swear I can just feel him here with me.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you the story so you can have all the details, and all so to show you how incredibly well I am being taken care of here. I really have been blessed by the angels that I was promised when I was set apart!

Other than the crazy room inspections and everything, it was a great week. We set new records this week with our number of lessons and the number of people that came to Church. It was such an amazing miracle!! Of course, for every up, comes a down.

When we left several families in Church to go find one of the Families that we’ve been teaching since we got here and that had a Baptismal date (the same one that we found out she was a member, it turned out it was a fake Record of her baptism and we reset the date…lots of drama!) and the mom just opened the curtains and said “I can’t go to church today, and I’m not going to get Baptized anymore.”

We went back and forth for a little bit and it ended in a lot of Heartbreak because of the love I have for this family, but in the end, we were able to be positive and focus more on the new families gained than the one family lost. In the end, everything is worth it!

Love you!

Hermana Simonson


January 6, 2013

What a week! Monday afternoon brought the Transfer Meeting again and I was ready. SO ready. I so badly wanted to open an area again and train again. I love it SO much! The meeting came and there I was, ready to do it all over again. The changes were announced and guess who was called to train and open an area? Not me! Hermana Dickey, my “hija!” I was excited for her, but when I realized that I wouldn't be getting transferred I was a little sad. Train and Open Areas every transfer is all I have done since I left Tarapoto and it was all I wanted to do for my whole mission. I started thinking that because my Anxiety Issues maybe President decided I couldn't keep opening areas or that I hadn't taught my companion enough or something like that. It was a bummer! I felt like it was the middle of the championship game and I had just been benched and looked up thinking “But why? I was doing so good!”

Okay, let’s be honest. Technically I am still training and opening an area. Training lasts two transfers and opening an area lasts as many as three or four at times, but, expecting that I would only be there for one transfer like last time, I accelerated everything and did all of the 12 Week Program in six weeks. I guess now we’ll just use our extra study hour to do more practices.

Anyway, as I let myself feel incapable and a little sorry for myself, I talked to another Sister Leader from another part and she told me that she hadn't been transferred either. Later, it was explained to us that Sister Leaders won’t be doing a whole lot of crazy area openings and things like that anymore because the tone of our mission has changed and our focus was to help the other sisters and we couldn't have a huge weight in our own areas. We were given a new list of responsibilities. Now, I have to spend at least 2 days a week out of my area doing a “work visit” with other sisters to see how I can help them in their areas. I have to keep visiting the Baptism dates that the sisters have, do interviews, obedience checks, etc.

It wasn't being completely taken out of the game. It was more like being a player that moved on to supervise. I wasn't benched…I was coached. My focus is now more of helping others have success and open areas and train and doing less of it myself. At first I was bummed. I remember thinking “Why don’t I just give the dumb leadership binder back to the offices so that they can send me out into the deep jungle with a newby to keep opening areas?”

But, little by little, I started to get a better attitude. We had the Leadership Council again (another month has already passed!) and I realized that, whether I believe it or not, I can make a better difference in the position I am than in the place I want to be. It was cool to see how one little idea that I had ended up becoming a lasting Mission Standard of Excellence. I also saw how not opening an area right now has helped me to actually work in several as I go out to work in different areas. It’s not exactly the preferred role that I would like to have right now, but I am trying to be happy and make the best of it.

This has also helped me to see how God’s promises have been fulfilled in my mission. I have seen how my experiences and trials have been able to bless all of the sweet new sisters that I work with. It would be easy to get frustrated and not answer when the call me with a bazillion questions or because they’re sad or stressed or sick or don’t know what to do. But, wanna know who keeps me in line when I’m tempted to shut down? I just try to think of a scared 19 year old girl in Tarapoto down on her knees crying her eyes out. Her body had broken out in some foreign rash and her leaders were on their way to take her to the Hospital that scared her to death. She didn’t understand a word that was said to her and she was convinced that she never would. She missed her family and friends. She wanted to go home more than anything. She asked the one English Speaker that she knew to give her a blessing and she was promised that all the experiences she was having would be for her good and for the good of many others.

I never, ever thought that I would come out of that place that I found myself in when I first got here. I cannot believe how much I have grown in this time. I didn't understand how my trials (which seemed absolutely unbearable in that time) would help me AND others, but now I see them everyday. The mission really is a “Refiner’s Fire” like I learned so long ago, but it is so worth it. SO worth it. If I have to step back a little bit to share my experiences with others, it is worth it. “Not my will, but thine be done!”

We had a beautiful Baptism on Saturday. We've been teaching Helenci (Rosa’s daughter) for awhile now but it was hard to get her to really accept Baptism. Her husband and kids are all members and seeing her Mom’s Baptism helped encourage her to want to do the same thing. Her husband came up to us after the service and told us “Thank you for completing my family.” It was so sweet. He was inactive for a long time, and now the whole family is strong in the Gospel. It was so sweet. Oh the people here, oh how I just love them. Members, Converts, Investigators, Other Missionaries, Companions, people in the street, everything. I love it!!!!!!!!!

Hermana Simonson