Monday, July 28, 2014

Piranha Bite

This week was great! Remember how I told you about the family that we were teaching that we had some really cool experiences with their sons? They got Baptized on Saturday! It was awesome. It was so beautiful to see how these young men changed their lives, and it gave me a lot of hope to be a part of changing the lives of a few more.

My health has been a lot better and it felt SO good this week to get back to work. We had a lot of great lessons and committed a few more people to baptism and it was a great feeling. I remember thinking that I was 100 percent fine and invincible…but then a few little things happened that reminded me that I still need to be careful and that I am still sick and wounded and whatnot.

When reality hit me that I am not “as good as new” I fell into the temptation of feeling sorry for myself for a minute or two. I got a little dizzy and just started thinking “WHY? WHY is it SO hard? Why can’t I be okay?”

In the middle of all this, I stuck my hand into my backpack to get my keys out and felt a stabbing pain in my finger. I pulled my hand out and found a Piranha tooth in my finger. Okay, let me explain. Our keychain is a real, dead, dried, jungle Piranha. It’s awesome! (Don’t worry brothers of mine, I’ll bring one home for you guys too. Oh wait, who am I kidding. You guys don’t read my letters!)

Anyway, I dug the tiny little tooth out of my finger and thought “Just what I needed right now!” I was surprised at how much a little cut could hurt. I examined it for a second, it was basically nothing more than a paper-cut, but it left I tiny little mark on my hand. As I looked at my hand, I remembered other marks of someone else’s hand a long, long time ago. The whole reason I am here. Suddenly, I understood. That Little “Piranha Bite” was Heavenly Father’s way of reminding me why it is so hard.

I remembered a video we watched that was made out of a Jeffrey R. Holland talk called “The Atonement and Missionary Work.” He was talking to Future Mission Presidents about opposition and did a series of questions that their missionaries might ask them. As Elder Holland said “Why is it so hard, President? Why do they reject us, President? Why don’t they listen, President? Isn’t there an easier way?” the video showed Jesus Christ suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, being nailed to the cross, etc.

He made the point that the mission isn’t easy because Salvation isn’t easy. That even Jesus Christ asked if there was another way. He explained that maybe, just maybe, missionaries have to suffer because we have to walk, in the slightest way, the journey that He walked.

I started to think of my own mission.

Why can’t we so much as have air conditioning or warm water in our tiny, cement apartment? *Baby Jesus in laid in a Manger*

I know that my parents are worried sick, why do they have to suffer, too? *12 year old Jesus disappears to teach in the Temple and His parents can´t find him.*

Why is it so stinking hard? *Christ suffers in the Garden of Gethsemane*

Why do I have to suffer Anxiety and Depression? * Christ prayers for the Bitter Cup to pass…it doesn’t.*

Why won’t the people listen? *The people spit in His face.*

Why do I have these Parasites? *Jesus fasts for forty days and forty nights*

Why won’t my leg heal? Why did I have to fall in that stinking sewer in the first place, especially while suffering so many other things? *Jesus falls as he carries his own cross*

Why do the people lose their testimonies and go inactive? *Peter denies Christ for the third time*

How many more times will I have to go to the hospital? How many more needles are they going to stick me with? How many more blood tests will I need to do? *Christ bleeds from every pore*

When will I get a break? *Christ dies and immediately starts teaching in the Spirit World*

Fungus on my head! Why?? My hair is falling out and my head itches ALL the time! *A Crown of thorns is placed on His head*

Why have I been training non-stop for so long? It’s exhausting. It gives me more responsibility and there is so much that I have to do alone. *The Apostles fall asleep while Jesus suffers alone*

Why do some people discredit the message I share just because I am a young, female, and white? *Can anything good come out of Nazareth?*

Why doesn’t the Ward always trust me when I explain to them the new rules that the Area has given us? *Thomas awakens Jesus during the storm*

Why can’t the people just keep their commitments? Don’t they understand what they’re missing?? *The rich young man turns away*

Two stakes! Two stakes in Iquitos just disappeared! They people just stopped coming to church. Why? *Judas Iscariot betrays Jesus*

Why don’t I look the same as I used to? *The Apostles touch the scars in Jesus’s hands*

Why is it that my hardest trials in life come now while I am so far away from my family? *God leaves Jesus alone on the cross*

If it wasn’t easy for Him, why would it be easy for us? If nothing else, I can at least say that on my mission, I learned to love my Savior, because I started to feel the tiniest bit of what He felt. I’ve suffered a tiny bit to bring Salvation to others, while He suffered more than I can imagine for each of my many shortcomings.

I am SO grateful for the opportunity to do as Elder Holland said, and walk the tiniest part of the path that He walked and feel the tiniest bit of pain and rejection that he felt. I love Him now more than ever, because I KNOW Him now more than ever.

During several hard moments on my mission, I asked myself where He was. Now, I feel as a part of the poem “Footprints in the Sand” as I look back and realize that He was always there suffering alongside me. I love Him so much and love His work that I am a part of. SO. WORTH. IT.

Love- Hermana Simonson

Monday, July 21, 2014

Eternity There and the Purpose Here

July 21, 2014

Look out, world! Speed racer is coming through. That’s right, Hermana Simonson is walking around without a leg brace OR a knee brace for the first time in over two months. Still can’t run or play soccer, but I can walk around on my own a bit. HALLELUJAH!  Okay, I still have to wear it when I go out to Proselyte, but walking from my house to the Motokar and the Motokar to Internet without it is a great accomplishment for me. J

I learned so much this week. It started out really, really rough.  I spent all of P-Day in bed and was really not feeling well, and at 10 o clock that night, my District Leader called me to inform me that my companion would be leaving to Lima at 5 in the morning the next day and that I needed to find a member that could stay with me for two days until she got back. I was furious!  But, we found a member and the next day we were at the Airport at 5 o clock sharp…and no one was there. 

We called the Zone Leaders and they informed us that our District Leader was confused and that it wasn’t until 5 in the afternoon! So, at 5:15am, standing in the Airport, really sick, I decided to be really funny and call my District Leader. “HEY ELDER!!!!!!!!!!! ARE YOU AWAKE???” “Freaking, Hermana, I am now.” “Ya? Me too, thanks to you. And I am in the airport TWELVE HOURS EARLY!!” “Are you kidding?? Hermana, I am SO sorry. I think I am condemned now, I made a dying missionary get out of her bed at 4:00 in the morning.”

We had a good laugh. But I was feeling pretty sorry for myself since the whole “dying missionary” part was true. I was NOT feeling well, so I was being a little bitter. I looked at a poster in the Airport that said “Enjoy Peru, a Healthy Country.” HA! I laughed bitterly and walked out the door to get a Motokar and return to my bed. 

That night, I found myself in the airport again waiting for President and Hermana Gomez to take me to the clinic. My companion had left but Hermana Gomez didn’t just want to leave me with a member, so SHE became my companion for the night. More needles, more tests, more pills. Although I was upset for everything that was happening to me, I was so grateful for President and Hermana Gomez. They were taking such good care of me and even though there are about 150 missionaries here, they know me so well. 

Hermana Gomez was talking with the Doctor and I had to laugh when she said “Doctor, I know she looks happy and smiley, but I know her, she’s not okay but she doesn’t want to admit it.” She went on “ She’s had lots of problems with Anxiety, Depression, Hypoglycemia, Anemia, etc. Sometimes she checks out a bit.  Sometimes she gets these huge dark circles under her eyes. We want to make sure there isn’t anything else that she has! I want you to check her from head to toe!”

Well, I literally got checked from head to toe. Other than the things Hermana Gomez mentioned along with Parasites, Typhoid, and the leg, we found a fungus that has been growing on my head, for a few months, which is the reason why I’ve lost so much hair. We found that my cholesterol is high and some other things were low, all due to the way I ate in Iquitos because the members there are very poor and only gave us fried foods (we don’t cook for ourselves).

A few days later, as I kept feeling sorry for myself. I started looking at old pictures on my camera. The MTC. My Farewell. College. High School. “I was SO healthy.” I thought. “And HAPPY. I had long hair without a single bald spot. My legs worked just fine, heck, they worked pretty darn great. I could do anything I wanted! I never felt tired or depressed. I could eat whatever I wanted.” I mean, I wouldn’t change anything I’ve done. I love my mission. I’m a different kind of happy being a missionary. I love my Father in Heaven and I love His work. Still, I looked up in the mirror. I was pale. Hermana Gomez was right about the dark circles under my eyes. I looked down at my leg brace. I looked at my oh-so-thin hair. And I lost it. I completely lost it. I cried. I just remember thinking “WHY??? All I want to do is Preach the Gospel! Why does everything happen to me?? I’ll never be the same again.”

Then, I remembered a comment that a member made last Sunday while I was teaching Relief Society. I was talking about the Celestial Kingdom and one sister said “I’ll see you there, and you won’t have your leg all wrapped up like that anymore!” In the moment, it was just a funny joke. But now, it was an Eternal truth that opened my eyes. Everything is just so temporary. One day, the trials of this life won’t matter. Heck, in just a couple months none of these trials will matter! Hair grows back, legs heal, exercise can help the blood and rest can cure many things. As mom loves to remind me, in just 50 days all of these problems will be a thing of the past, and I will look back on them and love it, because I know that I will be so blessed for my service.

While I was with President and Hermana Gomez, Hermana Gomez said that she was excited to hear about all the blessings I will receive after my mission. She said “The missionaries that face opposition receive the most blessings, and since you have faced a whole bunch of opposition, you will sure receive a whole bunch of blessings!” I know it’s true. She also started talking about how stressed out President has been because they are trying to find ways to train the new missionaries and that lots of good practices have been lost and that we need models to teach. She said “I think we just need to put Hermana Simonson in a room and milk her for all she’s worth! Get the knowledge out of her and pass it on to everyone else!”

During my Interview with President, he started telling me that he has asked himself several times why it is that I have had so many trials with my health. He also explained to me that he didn’t want me to come to Pucallpa, he had other plans that he knew I’d like, but the Spirit was so strong and he felt compelled to change what he changed and take me down as Sister Leader and send me off the Island. 

He said some amazingly nice things about me and my abilities as a missionary. Then, out of nowhere, he got a huge smile and his face. He sat up fast and hit the desk and said that he had received an impression. He said that everything made sense. He said “Hermana, while your on rest for this time, I want you to take time to write down EVERYTHING that you do as a missionary. I want you to write about how to teach, how to find, how to Baptize, how to work with members. I want you to write down what it is that you have done to be so successful and we will use it as a model to train the whole mission!!!”

I was shocked. SO shocked. But so honored. And, everything made sense. All of the time that I have been sick, I have been able to study and learn a lot. Being in Pucallpa, I have more time to write and think and work on these things. And, I have always loved writing. Now, I would be able to write a book to help future missionaries in the mission that I so love. I would be able to make a HUGE difference. I had always felt that there was something, SOMETHING big that I needed to do in the last little bit of my mission because I have seen how Satan has thrown EVERYTHING at me to take me out. 

President and I both received a strong impression that this was it. This is what I needed to do and it could make a huge impact on the work here—on the whole mission!  Two prayers were answered in the moment. One of a Mission President that was trying to conserve knowledge before the “Last of the first” missionaries in the Peru Iquitos Mission go home, and one of a sick missionary trying to find her purpose. God ALWAYS has a plan. He always does. 

Now I know why I’ve struggled, and as I feel the Spirit each time that I sit down to work on my book, I know that it was so, completely, 100 percent worth it. He knows me so well. He knows how to help me and He knows how to use my talents. I love Him and am so grateful to be in His work.

Love- Hermana Simonson

Monday, July 14, 2014

Get Up and Finish the Race

July 14, 2014

What a week! I was able to learn a lot. On Monday, we had a Family Home Evening with a Sister who is less active. She is married to a nonmember and all of her kids are married to nonmembers, too, so it was a golden chance to teach about families. We started talking about families and the Husband asked us how we can be happier in our families. GOLDEN!

We read the Proclamation and talked about how the Doctrine of Christ (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Confirmation, Endure to the End) blesses a family. Then, we read a scripture about marriage (none of them are legally married). They were all listening well and I was so sure we would see them all in church soon enough.He asked me how long I had been married for. I explained that we’re both single. He then got quiet for a second and said “Do you really think it’s valid for a young woman who doesn’t even have a family to come to a different country and teach about families?” I explained that I had parents and brothers, but it didn’t matter. He had already tuned out. They all had. I was a little discouraged. I felt powerless. I remembered that I am nothing more than a young, single foreigner.

Then, I realized something. I AM a young, single girl from a different country, yet I still DO know everything that we taught them and I know that it’s true and I have seen it change my life and the lives of many others and I am a full time Missionary (Just weeks away from being a Returned Missionary). I have SUCH an advantage. Maybe not everyone is humble enough to listen to young, single people, but I have been able to see many lives changed by the ones who do.

The week got a little rougher as the days passed. Thursday Morning, my District Leader and his companion got special permission to come to our house to give me a blessing. My DL stresses out a LOT about my health, so you should have seen his face when he saw me there, pale and weak, with hair all over the floor. They gave me a blessing but honestly, I had lost hope. I didn’t pay attention. I actually remember at one point in the blessing I was reading a tag on the ground. I was so frustrated. I remember thinking “My anxiety is eating me alive! I am so sick and I can’t eat and I am losing hair and I am exhausted.”

He wasn’t convinced that it was all just anxiety. So, he started making phone calls and next thing I knew, I was on the Phone with President Gomez. I explained to him how I was feeling and they decided I needed to go to the Hospital the next day. I stayed inside for the day and I felt so defeated. “I am DONE.” I thought. “Why didn’t I go home when they wanted to send me? I just want to give up. I am not even going to try anymore. SO much has happened. I am just going to wait out my last few weeks and call it good. I’m done.”

 I felt alone. I missed Iquitos. I missed my Zone Leaders there that took such good care of me. I missed Hermana Ventura. I missed my ward. I missed living on the same street as President and Hermana Gomez and how they could take care of me. In another phone call, Hermana Gomez, some how reading my mind, said “Hermana Simonson, know that you can call us directly if you need anything. And, if you feel that you need to come back to Iquitos, that’s okay, too. You’ll do great wherever you are.”

It was so tempting. I was going to say it to her right then and there. Then, I remembered the lines to one of my Favorite Poems, and I was sure that I heard Dad’s voice reading it to me. “Get up and FINISH the race.” I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t ask them to bring me back. I had been called to Pucallpa for a reason.

My District Leader and one of my Zone Leaders took me to the hospital the next day. I didn’t want them to come. I didn’t want them to hear when I explained my anxiety to the Doctor. I missed Iquitos again. I missed having leaders that already knew and that looked out for me. I felt lonely once more. Then, out of nowhere, my Zone Leader asked “ long have you had hypoglycemia for? And have your problems with anxiety gotten better? Do you think that this sickness if because of that? You’re the only Hermana I have ever met that works so hard, especially while sick.” I was confused. I looked up at him and asked how he knew everything. He explained that, two weeks ago, my old Zone Leaders had called him and told him to take care of me. “They told me that you’re really special for everything that you’re doing despite your problems. And they said that if I ever see you looking tired or confused, I am supposed to give you sugar and protein. Oh…and something about talking to cats??”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “You were NEVER alone” a still, small voice whispered to my heart. Well, it turned out that it wasn’t anxiety that was killing me. I have a parasite called Ameba. And, oh ya, Typhoid Fever.

On top of the fact that I am in a leg brace from the ankle to the hip. Again, I felt that "out of hope" feeling. We got back to the house and I rested for a couple days. Sunday came and I didn’t want to get up. Not because I was sick, but because I was just in a bad mood. I was feeling sorry for myself. Then, that voice came back “Get up and finish this race.” So, I got up. I went to Ward Council and was fine.

Then the meetings started and I was asked to play the piano, and give a talk, and sing a special number in English with Elder Lancaster. I wanted to say no, to just be sick. Then the voice came back. “Get up and finish the race.” So I accepted.

Then, as I was sitting at the piano while they were passing the sacrament, my head was hurting and I wanted to just take the Sacrament and head home, but I looked in my bag and saw a little package of On-The-Go Peppermint Oil. Like mom had said “Great for Headaches!” So, this time it was Mom’s voice. “Get up and Finish this race.” So, I stayed.

Then we went to Gospel Principles and I wasn’t feeling too great and we got ready to leave early, and found a Sister waiting for us outside of the door. “Hermana Simonson, can you PLEASE teach Relief Society today? It’s about Baptism.” I wanted to say no, but then the voice was there again “Get up and finish this race.” So, I did.

After church, we were sent to dinner and such and a couple appointments and I wanted to work all night, but then I heard a different voice (although not sure who it came from) this one said. “Meghan, don’t be an Idiot.” (Surely the voice belonged to one of my brothers!) So, I went home and rested. ;)

I love that poem. I relate to it so much. At first the boy just wants to win the race. His parents want him to win, too. But one thing after another happens and he gets to a desperate point where winning isn’t possible, so the goal changes to just FINISH the race. To not just take it lying down. That’s what I need to do.

Maybe I am not the best missionary in the world, but I can finish my “Race” strong and worthy. What more could be expected of me??

Love- Hermana Simonson

Monday, July 7, 2014

Praying Again

July 7, 2014

It was hard to believe that, yet again, I found myself with that same prayer in my heart.. “PLEASE, Heavenly Father” I cried out in my heart as the Motokar sped from one hospital to the other. “Please just let me finish my mission. That’s all I want, is to serve you. I don’t have much time left. Please help me do it. I know it won’t be easy. I know they want to put a big cast on me and that it will look ridiculous and it will hurt. That’s okay. It’s fine. I’ll keep working. I’ll limp all over the Amazon Jungle if I need to. Just please, PLEASE let me stay here.”

It had been one of those really awkward moments. The doctor said that 4 people was too many, so our companions had to wait outside and me and my District Leader (Elder Quiroga, the poor guy just met me three weeks ago!) went in. We probably looked like a married couple as we sat there together waiting to see what came out on the ultrasound. The Doc explained a few things to us and Elder Q looked more nervous than me. I asked the Doctor if it was really that bad, and he got all serious and said “Look, SeƱorita, you’re really lucky that you didn’t shatter your leg.”

I was scared to ask him the question that was haunting me, but I got the courage up and let it out. “Will I every be able to run again?” I asked. His answer wasn’t too assuring. When the Motokar stopped at the second Hospital, I felt at peace. Somehow, I knew everything was going to be okay. This Doctor’s second opinion was better. He told me that I should rest for a couple weeks (the first Doctor gave me rest for four months), but if I really wanted to keep working like normal I could as long as I can handle the pain, and when I get home I’ll be able to rest up a little better and in just a few short months, I could even start running again.

I didn’t hurt myself again, but remember that whole sewer episode? Well, the blood collections inside of my leg started to hurt this week and I had a fever, so I had to go back to the hospital and they found a few new things. A small infection, tendonitis, some ligaments out of place or something like that, etc.

The doctor pointed out a few things in my knee that they couldn’t find in Iquitos and asked “Doesn’t that hurt you?” I told him it only hurts when I run or play soccer. He looked at me like I was an idiot. “You’ve been running and playing soccer with your leg like this?? Are you crazy? You got a little bit better and all of the sudden thought that you can play in the World Cup?” My District Leader looked at me and said, very sternly, “You will NEVER play soccer or run again in your mission.” Okay, point taken. Anyway, nothing serious. Just more pills and a brace that goes from my ankle almost to my waist, so you can imagine that I look super cool! But, I am out proselyting like normal.

I just felt stupid. Not just because I’ve been playing soccer and such, but because I shouldn’t have ever fallen. I was sick that day. Not sick, sick but, you know, panic attacks and such. My Zone Leaders told me I could rest that day and that it wouldn’t be a good idea to go walk in the rain while I was so dizzy. I didn’t care. I didn’t listen. I didn’t want to lose three hours of work time. Because of that, I had two weeks of bed rest, three weeks of crutches, and a month and a half later, I’m still not better! I just need to be smarter!

Other than with the leg, I was able to learn a lot this week. The first lesson I learned was about obedience and honestly. Two weeks ago, we had Zone Conference and a lot of new rules were made. Last Monday, our Zone planned to break just about every new rule. We decided that the rules didn’t apply until July, and that we were still in June. It wasn’t right. The next day, I felt really strongly that I needed to call President and tell him what had happened. I pushed the thought aside, not wanting to be a “Tattle Tale.” Besides, I thought. I didn’t plan the activity. I didn’t do anything wrong, I was just following the Zone Leaders.

All of the stuff we did (being in shorts and T-shirts, the zone going places together, everyone going to some Elders´ house to hang out, ending at 5, Elders and Sisters being together, etc) was just fine two weeks ago, so why worry? The impression to call was even stronger. I didn’t want to do it, but then I remembered how, after Zone Conference, Hermana Gomez pulled me aside and told me about something very touching that President and said to her about me. The impression was clear. Deep down, I knew that President would find out one way or another, and how would he feel if someone else told him about it. He’d know that I was there and that I didn’t fess up, especially after what he said about me.

That phone had never felt so heavy in my hand. When the phone started ringing, I looked at my companion and said “Wait! What am I doing? Is it too late to hang up??” He answered and asked how I was and we talked for a second and then I explained to him why I was calling. He didn’t even get mad at me for having been there. He thanked me for telling him and then said “Hermana Simonson, I hope you know how much I trust you. You’ve always been very special to us and a great example of a righteous missionary.”

I worried about the consequences, but in the end, things worked out great. President changed some of the rules back to how they were before Zone Conference. No one but him found out that I had called and everything went back to normal, but I gained more of my President’s trust. Win-Win situation. Even when it is hard, honesty really is the best policy!

Another cool experience happened to us this week with that family I told you about where the little boy testified to the whole family about the Book of Mormon. They also have a 14 year old son, but he is a bit of a lost soul. He told us he doesn’t believe in God and doesn’t like the Bible and things like that. But, we’ve seen a few subtle changes in him ever since we started teaching. This week, we somehow convinced him to say the closing prayer. He resisted at first, but finally accepted and started praying.

At one point in his prayer, his voice shook and he stopped talking for what seemed like a long time. He started talking again but couldn’t get himself together because he was crying so much asking that the Lord would bless the poor and thanking God for his family. It was wonderful to see how the Lord touched his heart. It also gave me hope when I got home that night and took my nametag off and looked at the picture on the other side and remembered some other hearts that I am praying will be touched in some moment. I know that the Lord can do it with anybody. Heck, he even did it with me.

Hermana Simonson

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cold Front and The Child That Saved His Family

June 30, 2014

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