Saturday, March 29, 2014

White Night and Mile Two

March 24, 2014

What a crazy week! Remember how I hate weddings? Let me just stress
the fact again that I HATE weddings. And want to know the worst part?
Planning weddings that aren't my weddings! But, when your District
Leader is in the Hospital for three days and he calls you begging for
help, what else are you going to do? So we were running around like
crazy trying to get his wedding together, and also working on our
wedding that we have this Saturday. Oh, so fun. On top of all that, I
had to "Babysit" this week since one sister had her companion in Lima,
so she stayed with us and we worked the two areas while doing Elder
Muñoz´s dirty work. LOVE IT!
Saturday was one of the best nights of my life. We called it a "White
Night" as we had the opportunity to have seven Baptisms in our ward,
and our Mission President was there to see it! I'll send you the
picture next week. We call it Hermana Simonson, Hermana Ventura, Elder
Muñoz and Elder Scott Doing Work. It was so beautiful. Yesterday,
Nelly, one of the women that was Baptized, was set apart as the new
Young Women's president just one hour after being confirmed a member
of the church. AMAZING. Also, we didn't even have talks in Sacrament
meeting last week. Why? The whole hour was confirmations. I love,
Love, LOVE this work.
It seems impossible to believe that I am hitting the one year mark on
Thursday. Or, better than call it one year, I call it the "Two Mile
Mark." It's a long, hard, great race.  Just less than five and a half
months left, so instead of slowing down and getting tired and lazy,
I'm choosing to get ready for my "Sprint Finish." I don't care that
I'm exhausted I don't care that the panic attacks have been strong I
don't care that my shoes are completely warn out or that my skirts
have holes in them or that there are a ton of sisters to take care of
or that I hate weddings or anything.  When you're the most tired, you
just have to tell yourself you're not and just keep running strong.
Afterall, the best kinds of races are the endurance one. Strong and
fast for the last mile!!!!!!
Love you!
Hermana Simonson

48 Hours

March 17, 2014

Another one of those weeks that went by so fast that I don’t even know what to write about it. Well, it’s official. I have been in Iquitos for more time than I was ever in Tarapoto! Crazy how fast time has gone by. I had three and a half transfers in Tarapoto, in one more week I will have had four transfers in Iquitos, and also in one more week I will only have four transfers left. WHAT?? Time is insane.

I had to buckle down this week and do the thing that I hate most: Work Visits. I HATE them. I have to leave my area for 24 hours to go visit another Hermana and try to magically solve all the problems in her area. Leaving my area behind for that long stresses me out, even though I know that my companion is there doing a good job, it’s weird not being there myself.  After procrastinating the visits for so long, I had to do two and a half this week. They’re rough, but kind of fun.  It’s funny, I noticed that I really was able to help them out in a lot of ways. Hermana Allphin looked up at me during a lesson during her work visit and said “How do you DO that? I wish I could be you!” It made me laugh, but then at the same time made me feel bad as I thought “Why can’t I magically solve all the problems in my own area?” Then I realized it had nothing to do with me or my experience, but it’s just always nice to have an outside opinion to look at things in a different way. BOY, do I sure wish someone could come do a Work Visit to me in my area!

The cool thing was that I was able to see the blessings of being obedient and doing what I need to do. Even though I left for two days, we were able to work really hard the days that I was there and, by some miracle, we were able to find more new people, have more lessons, and have more people progressing than we have had this whole transfer. Even though it doesn’t make sense sometimes, it’s amazing what happens when we just trust in the Lord.

I was reflecting a lot this week about how I’ve personally been able to change and grow in the last year and I was going to write a little bit about that right now, and then I looked down at myself wearing my old running shoes and Batman shirt, drinking Chocolate Milk in a Thor box, and writing my parents and complaining about fulfilling my duties….so maybe I haven’t changed that much, right? ;)

Love you! Have a great week!!

Play By Play

March 10, 2014 

I don't even know how to explain my week, so I'll just have to give
you the day by day.
Monday: Still upset from a long, hard week. Internet getting cut short
didn't help. We went to work at night and I thought things were good
until Elder Muñoz called us wanting me to thank him for saving my
life. I asked why and he explained that the Zone Leaders were really
mad at me because they thought that I wasn't working hard enough and
that I was bored of my area and wanted to interview me, but he
convinced them not to and they said they probably wouldn´t. I didn't
care about the interview, the thing that killed me was that they
thought my Indicators were THAT bad and that they thought I just
wasn't working. It was true that we had had two really bad weeks, but
they were things out of our control. While my companion was sleeping,
I knelt down in prayer repenting for not working good enough and
asking what else I could do. The answer was clear, but unwanted "the
only think you need to do is have pacience." Oh, I hate that word!
Tuesday: They didn't interview me...they found a better way to get after
me. Every week, we have a leadership meeting with me, The District
leaders, and the Zone Leaders. It's always weird being alone in a room
full of 5 Elders! Anyway, during the meeting, the ZLs pointed out that
there was a concern in the zone, then went on to say that that concern
was Hermana Simonson´s area.  I wanted to day. Everyone turned to look
at me and I know I went bright red. One ZL looked at me and said
"Frankly, Hermana Simonson, we know there is a problem and we want an
honest answer, are you bored of your area? Do you think that since you
Baptized so much before you can just stop now?"  I wanted to die.
Then, they started burning me because the other sisters in the Zone
had people fall through and wanted to know why I didn't save them, as
if I was Superman or something. When we left and I found my companion
waiting outside, she knew something was wrong, but I just tried to be
positive. Elder Muñoz called me at night to make sure I was okay after
the burning, and I really was fine, but his words helped a lot.
Wednesday: So much better! A wonderful family that I love finally
accepted a Baptismal date! Walking on clouds.
Thursday: I had asked Elder Muñoz to go with us to visit the family
because it's always nice to have a little reinforcement in a delicate
situacion. Of course, to be able to do it he had to ask permission
from the Zone Leaders because technically only the Sister Leaders can
do visits with the sisters' investigators to reinforce, but I don't
exactly have a Sister Leader. We were sitting in the lesson waiting
for him to show up, and he walked inside. I expected his companion to
follow him, but the next Elder that entered was that same Zone Leader
that burned me the day before. I wanted to scream. "I don't need HIS
help!" I thought. "I'm better off on my own he doesn't need to come
just because he thinks I'm uncapable!" I was angry. He plopped down
next to me and I was ready to explode, until I remembered the words to
the Musical Number we had been practicing in the zone "Savior may I
love my brother, as I know thou lovest me." And "Who am I to judge
another, when I walk imperfectly?" I knew that if I sat there in
anger, the Spirit wouldn't be able to help us help the family. I
prayed with everything in my heart that the Lord would help me forgive
and love this Elder. Afterall, the 12 Elders in my zone are my
brothers for this time (and I thought that having four was bad!).  The
lesson went great. When I didn't know what else to say, I swallowed my
pride and gave time to the Elders. We ended up going back and forth
teaching the principles and verifying her Baptism, and found we have
very similar teaching styles, and were able to help this family a lot.
That afternoon, me, and all the Zone Leaders from Iquitos were called
into a special meeting with Elder C. Scott grow from the Quorom of the
Seventy. We were a group of 8, along with our President and Elder
Grow. He asked us a lot of things, and then went around and asked
every companionship how many Less Active Families they had rescued
this year. I wanted to run and hide. At least the ZLs were all there
with their companions to take the heat in two, but I was all alone.
Each companionship only had had 2 or 3 and I could tell that Elder
Grow was disappointed. I was dreading my turn. How was I going to
stand up in front of a General Authority, by myself, and tell him that
I hadn't rescued a single family? How was I to explain that I had
never given it importance because I was too focused on Baptizing
because, in my mind, it's more fun? I felt awful. The last
companionship before me reported one rescue, and that was enough for
Elder Grow. He looked at us all and said "many people don't rescue
because they would rather Baptize, but I promise you in the name of
the Lord that if you rescue, you will also start to Baptize even more
than before." Yes, that was enough for me to get on the ball with the
rescue thing! I was lucky that I never had to give my number, but all
the same, I had seen that I was in the wrong.
Friday: An all-day conference with Elder Grow and his wife. The
message was powerful and beautiful. I was able to share a few comments
as well and the Spirit was so strong. It was interesting, he talked a
lot about marriage and how we should make sure we choose a good
spouse...not a typical Mission Conference, but I loved it. He also
talked more about rescuing and I loved it. He told us about how the
Prophet had talked about wanting to send the missionaries out to
rescue Less Actives, and how Elder Jeffrey R. Holland stood up and
told President Monson a story that he had kept sacred for a long time.
He talked of how when he was ten years old, his father was inactive.
One night, while his father was outside smoking and drinking coffee,
the Bishop, another leader, and the Sunday School president came over
and extended his father a calling as a teacher. They told him the Lord
needed him. Soon enough, he stopped smoking and brought the family to
church. Elder Holland explained that he himself, being an Apostle, was
nothing more than the ten year old son of a rescued family. He said
that, in the Milenium, while everyone is in line to meet Joseph Smith
and Moroni and Nephi, he will be out searching for that Bishop, that
leader, and that Sunday School President, and thank them with all of
his heart. It was so powerful.
After the meeting, I thought I heard Elder Grow whisper my name from
behind the pulpit. Then, President Gómez stood up and asked if I would
go to the Stake Offices right away. I wasn't sure why, but I did it
anyway, and ended up having the amazing opportunity of having a
personal Interview with Elder C. Scott Grow. He asked me to tell my
story of how I got to the mission. He listened to every detail from
the Bishop that told me to prepare when I was just 16 years old,  to
the run I went on but was impressed to turn back and got just in time
to hear the announcement, to the moment when I sat in silence with my
parents, avoiding the subject knowing that none of us understood what
was happening, until dad finally just asked when and I looked up him
through the brim of my Lin's Meet Hat and sad that I would be meeting
with the Bishop the next day, and my parents gave me stressed, but
humble and accepting, looks.  He teared up as I talked about the night
I went through the Temple and how it just happened to be the answer a
young future Bishop was looking for when he saw my dad there with me,
and how my dad conducted my last Sunday at home.  It was such an
amazing opportunity for my simple, but powerful, little story to be
heard and I was amazed at how genuinely interested he was. I was
flattered that, of all the missionaries in that room, he felt inspired
to talk to me.
"Sister Simonson, will you do a favor for me? Will you write your
family on Monday and tell them that this week, you had a personal
Interview with a General Authority and that he looked into the eyes of
their daughter and saw deep into her soul and saw that she is a
beautiful, righteous young woman that has dedicated her life to the
Lord, and that will work miracles for him throughout Eternity through
her righteousness."
Elder C. Scott Grow, First Quorom of the Seventy
Sunday: We saw the fruits of our labors and our patience. We had three
families come to Church and two that are now preparing for Baptism.
Things were even better than they had been in a long time. The Lord
truly blesses us when we work diligentely, even when we work a long
time without seeing results.
This work is amazing. I love it. Go out and find less actives and
bring them back to the fold, it's a commandment from the Prophet and
it bring blessings!!! Love you.
Hermana Simonson

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pressing Forward

March 3, 2014 

"Well," I thought as I stared a way too dry Baptismal font. "I bet this is what getting left at the Altar feels like. " One of the hardest feelings I've faced during my mission is when, at the very last minute, someone decides not to get baptized. But, that was just the icing on the cake after a really, really long week.  Probably the hardest in my whole mission.

It started out with my companion going to Lima for three days, a crazy lady on the street yelling at me and threatening to call the police because apparently she lent my old companion an umbrella last month while I was in meetings and she never
brought it back, my Zone Leaders deciding to randomly change my area limits and take out the part where all but one of my Investigators with a baptismal date live, my District Leader missing my one other Investigator's Baptismal Interview, sending my Investigator late to work and then getting in trouble at work and then making him question baptism and the date falling through, and then my Zone Leaders turning around and burning me because I don't have any Baptismal dates right now, crying in the middle of church, then being on Lock Down all Sunday afternoon. Just great.

Sometimes it is just SO hard to be positive. After the whole problem with my Investigator, my District Leader saw me and knew I was mad, he swears I have the worlds most obvious angry face, and asked what had happened. I tried to kindly remind him of an Interview that he forgot about and at first the kind part worked, then he started laughing and my kindness went away.

The next day, he brought a coconut to me to try to make up for it, then threw a water balloon in my face. What a smart kid. Anyone that knows me well, knows that when I am angry or sad or stressed out, apologies or encouraging words don't do a whole lot, but after a good laugh, everything seems to be okay.

In the end, lock down was kind of fun! Sunday was a really crazy Peruvian holiday where they get really drunk, dance with Machetes, and throw water balloons, paint, alcohol, and pee at people in the street. Oh, Peru.  So, our President decided we shouldn't be out in the streets in the middle of that.

After church and lunch, we spent all day Sunday watching Church movies, writing letters, eating, and laughing. It was actually a nice little break from such a hard week.

Sometimes, you just have to remind yourself that it was never meant to be easy.  I know that we are only weak at times so that God can make us strong.

Well, I should have forty more minutes of Internet time, but the Zone Leaders are yelling at all of us saying that we have to leave right now because we have to go to the bank or something...I think this mission has turned into a Monarchy! Haha.

I had a lot of good things to tell you about as well, but looks like they'll have to wait!

Talk to you next week!

Love ya! Hermana Simonson

Saturday, March 1, 2014

God Our Strength Will Be, Press Forward. . .

February 24, 2014


Well, there is a riot outside of the Internet building right now, so my letter will probably be funny since I am a little distracted.

Woah, not kidding something just blew up. Okay never mind it was just a firecracker. This is fun! Gotta love Iquitos.

Well, I think my theme of being "Infinitely More" last week will be the same this week.  As promised, I'll be completely honest about everything.

I was making a lot of progress and things had gotten a lot better, but anxiety showed its ugly face yet again this week. Things were going great until one night when a night panic kept me from sleeping. . .then the next night, and the next night. I was feeling awful and finally had to reach out, yet again, for help.  

I am so incredibly blessed! Normally a District Leader gets changed out every transfer, but I've been with the same one for almost six months now. Yes, remember Elder Muñoz, the one from Chile that was super mean and made me cry every week while I was with Hermana Dickey? But then he ended
up being the one that got worried enough about me to talk to me about the possibility of anxiety and made me talk to the President and all that and then ended up being a huge help for me? Yup, he's still here and I am so thankful!

When I called asking for a blessing, he already knew what was up. He didn't even need to ask me to remind him what my full name was or if I want to do the oil and who I want to do the sealing, he already knew the drill since this is like the 4th time I've been "sick or afflicted" in the last five or six months.

The blessing was incredibly powerful. It was so specific and I was promised so many good things.
When I was just getting ready to sleep that night, he called to ask how I was and promised me that I would be able to sleep that night because those exact words were in the blessing. I felt very well taken
care of.

But even with that, I didn't sleep that night, or the next night. I was confused. I remember thinking "why isn't it working?" They have the Priesthood and I have faith, everything should work out as it was said in the blessing. That's when I realized something. The promises in the blessing didn't come with a timeline. Everything is the Lord's time and I am being blessed with the opportunity to learn patience
and keep forward even when it is hard. I am so grateful for the help of my leaders, the power of the Priesthood, and the Holy Ghost, all of which make this a lot easier.

Despite the problems of last week, last night as the Zone was leaving a meeting in the Stake Center, the Zone Leaders stopped us all to make a few announcements. P-Day, goals, the normal stuff. Then, they said "Her District Leader asked us to wait a bit longer to tell her, but we've decided to do it anyway! We talked to the Assistants last week, and Hermana Simonson has exceeded the Mission Standard of Excellence for Familias Baptized!"

Yes, I know that this work isn't mine and that the Spirit does everything, but it was still a good feeling to
know that I really do have a purpose here, help families! After everything, I was reminded, yet again, that "We are Infinitely More than Our Afflictions and Limitations!"

My companion, Hermana Ventura, continues to amaze me. It doesn't seem like we are from different parts of the world, we have been able to work SO well together. She told me that when she got here, she was praying that her Companion would be a Gringa or a Sister Leader, and she got both! I don't know what is good about either of those things, but it's what she wanted.

In other news, this week made me realize how proud I am to be from St. George! The other day at lunch, Elder Scott, Elder Muñoz's companion from Salt Lake, told me that he misses St. George more than his own house and Elder Muñoz, who wants to live in the States after his mission, asked what's so great about it. So we explained everything and he said "Oh, that's why you're so crazy? You grew up climbing rocks and playing in rivers and stuff?" It made me laugh. He absolutely loved the pictures and even though it's all a blur, I love my home!

But enough about home. I am here now. And I love it here! I love this work so much. We met a new family this week and when we knelt down to pray with them at the end, the father went off in his prayer about how much he just wants to be forgiven for his sins. That's really the point of the Gospel, isn't it?

I am so incredibly thankful for a Savior and Redeemer that can help me through anything...absolutely ANYTHING!  I love him so much and am so thankful to be part of His work.  Love it, love it, LOVE IT! It doesn't matter how hard it is, the mission is the best experience in the world.

Love you!

Hermana Simonson