Hermana Wood's Missionary Adventures in the "Capital of the Peruvian Amazon"

awood@myldsmail.net

Monday, February 6, 2017

Iquitos to Lima (First Leg of the Journey)









Best Year-and-a-Half-and-Ten-Days of My Life!

 the goodbye dinner with president and sister li

goodbye, li family!

i was going to try to make this e-mail as normal as possible, but (there's no denying) i'm coming home today. it is the end of the end of the end!

more goodbyes!

bye, zone!

the last week has gone by like sand slipping through my fingers. i didn't even feel the time passing. we just kept working and everything was normal - now here we are.

it has been such an incredible journey! first, i want to thank everyone who has the taken the time to write me. even just a paragraph every now and then has kept me going! thank you for your love and support! i hope you know i love you all, too!

the goodbye "autosuficiencia" training

my experience with the mission has been incredible. i have learned so much and changed for the better. i'm so grateful i decided to come and serve. it didn't really hit me that it was going to end until last night when we got home. i sat on the floor and cried and cried and cried. the hardest is leaving this place, the people i've come to love, and no longer being a full-time missionary. there have been sooo many sweet moments in the last 18 months. bitter ones, too; but, that's just because we need both (opposition in all things)!

is this real?

well, this is starting to sound really cliche! but, missionary work is great. i'm happy to have served, happy to be coming home. this is the true church! everything we teach, it's all true. i will keep serving for the rest of my life. nothing stops here. les amo! nos vemos pronto!

hermana wood

More from this week's message from Hermana Wood's dad:
hey, dad! wow, i miss you guys so much, i am definitely excited to see you in like 24 hours. i'm already tired, haha - we went to bed last night at 12:45am. but, i am proud to say that even with the late night, i still got up at 6:30am today!

i have so many things to talk about! i am so excited to share all of my experiences and to hear how you all have changed in the last year-and-a-half! the first day is going to be sooo great!

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Greatest Miracle: My Own Conversion

amazing moments on the amazon river

i completed 18 months in the mission last week! things are wrapping up for me here in iquitos. they always say SOMETHING has to happen to you in your last weeks in the mission, and we have seen just how true that is. i have a crazy story (that's still unfolding) to tell you all next week, but you'll have to wait to hear it in person. ;)

this view!

this is the boarding dock on the river

we had the craziest week ever (also) because of the world training for missionaries! there are going to be some big changes in the daily schedule and also in the key indicators (they went down from like 10 to only 4). every missionary from here on out is going to have a very different experience than what we've had, and i'm so excited for them! i wish i could stay longer to see all the changes take place! it's just a testimony to me that the work is moving forward!

zone conference this week - the last one

my daughter is in iquitos!
it's been a blessing to see her one more time before i peace out

all the sisters in the mission who will be going home next week
are in the same city! coincidence? i think not! ;)

i have felt a great peace this week - my mission is coming to an end in 7 days. i've been reviewing mission journals and seeing how far i've come in the last year and a half. there have been lots of changes in me! i think the greatest miracle has been my own conversion. i testify that christ is our savior, that we are in the true church, and that this is the lord's work. despite slow progress in this part of the vineyard, the work is surely moving forward. thank you all for your prayers and your support! i love you! i'll be writing one more time on my last p-day (next monday), then i will see you next tuesday afternoon!

hermana wood

p.s. remember indira?? she GOT BAPTIZED!!!!


Monday, January 23, 2017

Need a Pedicure, But Only Have a Bucket

when you need a pedicure, but you only have a bucket
(#workingharderthanever #2moreweeks)

this week was great! it started with an oreo milkshake (that saved my life) followed by "grape cheesecake" (that was not cheesecake). but, best of all, we had sooo much support from the members this week! :) we would call them two at a time so that we could do what we call divisions (or "splits"). my comp would go with one member, and i would go with the other. that way, we hit double lessons and more street contacts. we are working harder than ever! someday, probably after i'm home from the mission (did i mention i have two weeks left?!), someone will see results from this concentrated effort. we are planting seeds and hoping this area will continue to be cultivated and begin to grow!

the grand amazon river

i had a great opportunity to testify to a less-active member (who was baptized when she was 10 but doesn't remember much of what she learned about the gospel) that we can become perfect through the atonement of jesus christ. we shared moroni 10: 3-5 with her, and i felt prompted to stop and ask: "llermè, how does it make you feel to know that we can become perfect one day?" she said "hermana, NO. we will not become perfect. it's impossible." she truly didn't believe that we can become like jesus christ! i testified to her that this is the reason we came to earth and that, in 3 nephi, christ says "que clase de hombres habeis de ser? de cierto os digo, aun como yo soy" (i don't remember it in english). we are here to become perfected in every aspect! in this life, we won't be "perfect." but, i've come to feel the reality that one day we will have perfect bodies and a fullness of joy, if we do our part here in this life!

a suuuper fancy cafe

i love missionary work!!! so much of my heart is here in iquitos - and tarapoto and pucallpa. the thought of leaving it all behind in just two short weeks and going home is happy but also so, so sad - it's truly bittersweet! i know with all my heart this gospel is true! and, i love preaching it!!

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
hey, moooom! i love this e-mail. haha, you guys are the most loving, awesome fam ever. and, i love those questions - they are so unique! i'll be thinking about them this week and will write down some responses. we will definitely have a lot to talk about! it's funny, sometimes out here you feel like everyone has forgotten about you. but today, allison wrote me (the provo girls are home from missions and back together!!!) and said they can't wait for me to join them. :) and, you guys are all getting ready for my return, as well - it just makes me feel so loved! :) haha, i know you all love me, and i love ya'll too, but the mission just makes you feel so far removed from everything! i'm so excited to come back and see all of the changes and jump right in! it's been way too long since i've seen you guys. trying sooo hard to focus, haha. it gets hard at the end! LOVE YOU. thank you for your prayers!

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Best Sunday Yet!

giving away stickers in the street

this last area is a challenging one, but we are (sort of) finding people to teach, and it's the best! we're particularly excited for luz de jesus and her mom, rosmeri, to whom we were able to teach "lesson 1" this week. luz asked us before the lesson, "how long do i have to be receiving these lessons before i can get baptized?" i was like "yes! that's a great question!" haha. :) we invited her mom to be baptized, as well, and rosmeri said "puede ser" ("could be"). she didn't say "no," so all i heard was "yes." unfortunately, they didn't make it to church (because luz slept in), but hopefully they'll be there next week!

preaching the gospel

we have been trying to help another sister, nancy, come to church, as well. we decided to pass by her house with a member who lives nearby to pick her up this past sunday morning. nancy had confirmed earlier in the week that she was good to attend, and we were excited! but, when we got there and saw her watching TV and asked "hey, are you ready to go to church?" she said she wouldn't be able to go, because she had to watch her kids. (in my head i thought: "hence, the primary.") that really tore me up! after so few people (aka none) coming to church these last couple of weeks, i felt really sad. because sunday, in part, is when you see the results of your work as a missionary. and, we had zero investigators in attendance, despite our best efforts.

our pensionista bought us churros!
my eyes are red, because we watched the movie "17 miracles."

so, as i was sitting in sacrament meeting thinking about all of this, i really felt devastated. but then, i felt a hand on my shoulder, and i looked up to see rocio - a woman who had been baptized after i taught her the gospel when i served in this area six months ago - she was just standing right next to me with a huge grin on her face! she and her husband (also recently baptized) and her son (who we'd helped to baptize, as well) had heard through the grapevine that i had come back to iquitos, so they came to visit me. :) i threw my arms around her, laughing, and thought "god knows exactly what we need. he is aware of us." like spencer w. kimball once said: "god does notice us. and he watches over us. but it is usually through another person that he meets our needs."

the best sunday yet! surprise visit by rocio and her family!!

i testify that what president kimball said is true, because i experienced it this week. sunday IS when you see your results - i count that blessing as the result of a long week of hard work, and i thank my heavenly father for sending rocio! LOVE YOU ALL.

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's dad (after learning that our family dog, Tootsie, had passed away):
we are working hard and seeing the hand of the lord strengthening us. i'm going to need that now more than ever, hearing this news. i'm so sad to hear tootsie passed away and hope you can all just feel at peace about it. i'll try to do the same. i love you all so much, and i'm just glad you're all safe and healthy and well. make this week better than last, and always keep tootsie in memory! i love you, dad!

came across paintings while souvenir shopping for the fam

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
i read something this week that i loved by elder uchtdorf: "the promises of the lord, if perhaps not always swift, are always certain." i trust that's true! especially the promises that the lord will hasten his work and that every living creature will resurrect one day. i'm so sad about tootsie, but i just hope you guys are okay and can hold up strong. i love you so much!!

Monday, January 9, 2017

A New Family and the Wrong Juan

he didn't want to come down :)

this was a good week! i'm just enjoying every last moment i have here! time is flying by so quickly, it's scaring me! i'm excited to see everyone, but i'm also so nervous to come home. trying not to think about it! :)

my companion got dirt on her leg,
then cleaned it off with a leaf (peruvian-style)!

we were walking in the street one rainy night this week, and my comp said "did you see that?" she had spotted "the family: a proclamation to the world" taped to an open door we passed. we immediately turned around, and as soon as we were at the door, a man came out to meet us. a second later, his wife pulled up and got out of a motokar. i asked "are you members, by chance?" turns out the woman's sister (who lives in lima) is a member, and they love the church! their daughter was in the beehives' (young women's) class in lima! we talked to them for a bit and set up a return appointment - this family just fell into our laps!!!! we are so excited!!! we already love omar, rosmeria, and their daughter, "luz de jesus" ("light of jesus")!!

we went back to the belen markets!

speaking of names, we went down our list of investigators and less-active members and called everyone we know last sunday morning to invite/remind them to come to church. we have an investigator named juan who we wanted to call, but we were unsure if the number in our phone was his or someone else's (also named juan). we called the number, and he didn't answer. but today (monday), he called back. my comp, thinking he was our investigator, said "we missed you at church!" and an entire conversation ensued. then, at the end, he said, "well, sisters, happy p-day! chau!" huh? investigators don't know about p-day, only members. so, that wasn't our juan! whoever he was, he now knows he needs to come to church next sunday, or he will be missed by the missionaries!

this is a fish skin!!! like the stuff they catch on river monsters!!
it's called "paiche." i've eaten it before. :)

breakfast! this is a "humita" - ground corn wrapped in a corn husk.
SO GOOD. like corn bread?

love you all, see you so soon! hugs and kisses!

hermana wood

Monday, January 2, 2017

SURPRISE! Back in Iquitos!

hey, everyone! let me take you back six group e-mails ago to when i got transferred to tarapoto. on that transfer, i missed my flight (not my fault, remember) and got to stay a night in iquitos with hermana snyder (my long lost bff) and a sweet sister named hermana velasquez. we worked in their area (clavero ward) for a full day while i was there.

fast-forward to the present: i've been transferred AGAIN. to what ward? clavero! i joined hermana velasquez as hermana snyder's replacement! SURPRISE! velasquez is the best; she has 15 months in the mission and is super fun! already love her!

me and my new comp in our sweet little room :)

iquitos is just like i left it - hot, sooo humid (i felt like a newbie stepping off the plane and suffocating, haha), lots of BIG cockroaches in the street, insane quick rainstorms, and another surprise: i have bed bugs and 20 new bites - most of them from new year's night. what a way to bring in the new year! but, i'm happy to be back here. i even got to see some members from my ward in iquitos (where i served for seven months of my mission), which was SUCH a sweet reunion! remember rocio and samuel? rocio was baptized right before i left iquitos, and now her husband has been baptized, too! :) #COMPLETEFAMILY 

in other miraculous news: one day this week, breakfast was two eggs (period). and, lunch was super small, as well. but, while we were out doing the lord's work, a lady said "SISTERS!" and gave us a bag of sweet bread (which we actually ended up giving away, haha). later we were in the market, and a member gave us an entire papaya. then, that night, other members gave us a big bowl of the most delicious chicken i've had in 17 months. heavenly father ALWAYS knows when i'm hungry and helps me out!

LOVE THIS WORK!! we are working hard and keeping spirits up! love you all!

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's dad:
HAPPY NEW YEAR!! can't even believe that i got transferred! wow!

this is a "pilato." peruvians blow them up for new years!
we found one that said "donald trump," haha.

it's funny, now that i'm in my last five weeks, rather than feeling "trunky," i just want to be as obedient as i can be and work as hard as is humanly possible! i'm so aware that things are ending, and i want to make the best use of my time! especially after hearing how so many hard-working sisters finished their missions being disobedient and not caring. i want to finish strong! LOVE YOU!

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
hey, mom!! how are you?? i bet you're super busy with classes and starting the semester again! we have been crazy here, as well, with TRANSFERS. couldn't even believe everything that happened!

and, guess what? i finally got to make that trip to lima! yay! we got pizza and donuts (from THE dunkin donuts), and i almost got a mcflurry but that would've been pushing it, because i also ate cinnamon sticks and a german chocolate dessert pizza. whew. :) also, i got to see vazquez and elder fiame and some others! and, we met some missionaries from trujillo who were passing through, and it was great! plus, a group of gringos fell into step with us and said "hey, guys! are you going home or are these transfers??" haha, so weird.

guess who took a trip to LIMA before going to iquitos?
THIS GIRL. :)

i'm happy with the transfer! my comp is great and chill, and we are both willing to work hard, which is such a relief! i know sisters who didn't finish strong, even after having good missions. so i'm very blessed to have a comp who wants to be obedient! :) have a great week! LOVE YOU, momma!!!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Last Transfer Starts Today!

we've had so much success proselyting with the church's "light the world" initiative that i'm very sad the christmas season is coming to a close. we don't have ipads, but we've been able to use the "light the world" video as a teaching tool, anyway. in fact, we've gotten pretty creative! we knock on doors and ask people if we can come into their homes, insert our USB drive into their TVs, and watch a short christmas video with them. and, lo and behold! almost everyone says "yes!" it's been the best! :)

said goodbye to hermana walker this week - she's headed home!

last pic of the zone in the airport!

we taught our investigator, indira, this week about service and invited her to do something christ-centered for christmas. she not only accepted the invitation but proceeded to share with us her thoughts on how some people are service-oriented and others are not. she has a lot of time to think (basically homebound with legs that don't function), and it was interesting to hear her perspective on the world and the people in it. listening to indira was humbling and really helped us to see into her heart. she is one of those amazing people without guile; someone who is truly good all the way through, not just superficially. i admire that so much about indira, and i'm so excited for her to be baptized!

we did service with a recent convert, norlith, and her kiddos!
she wanted to give us all of her lunch, but we told her no way jose.
she is so kind!

the aguierre family: a family of SIX lives in this little room!
it makes me so grateful for everything that i have!

today starts my last transfer! SIX MORE WEEKS, and i'll be coming home!! love you all!!!

hermana wood

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas in Tarapoto

hola, friends and familia! it's getting harder and harder to write these group e-mails; so much is happening every day! to really fill you in, i'd be typing for hours. ;) but, i'll try to condense it!

while we were proselyting this week, trying to find new people to teach (because we have very few), we found family #1. they were uninterested, but we asked them if they knew of anyone else (friends or neighbors) who might like to hear a christmas message. family #1 sent us two houses down to family #2, where a 16-year-old and her parents told us they were 7th day adventists. we kindly asked them for a referral of someone we might teach, and they sort of gestured across the street.

across the street, we chose a house with a woman out front. when she saw us approaching, she ran inside and literally hid behind her door. we said "hola!" and, she turned off the light. ;) my companion, hermana briggs, sighed: "you choose the next contact, because i can't seem to get it right!"

we then talked with a woman who doesn't celebrate christmas, because "it's such a worldly holiday" (and she refused to hear differently).

we kept walking.

then, we went to the house of a mother and her son. the mom, lucy, came right up to the door and said "hola, amigas!" we talked to her about the "light the world" initiative, and she seemed interested. we set up a return appointment, which she wasn’t home for, but we'll be going back soon! it was such a relief to talk to someone like lucy! moral of the story: even when the rejection is discouraging, keep pushing through! because, somewhere you have a lucy waiting for you. :)

all the sisters in tarapoto

our zone! merry christmas!

the two zones in tarapoto!

in other news, we had our christmas zone conference this week! president and hermana li couldn't be there, which was really sad. also, i was asked to give a 25-minute training, which was nerve wrecking. but then, i had the privilege of accompanying our zone on the piano (twice) for our christmas performances. that was so fun! i also played a solo piece, "o come, o come, emmanuel," for the two zones. i think it really helped us feel the christmas spirit!

our investigator's house flooded,
but we made the best of it!

indira, who will be baptized the 28th of january :)

last but not least, our investigator, inidra, came to church!!! it was difficult for her, because (remember) she can't really walk, but we arranged for a member to pick her up. she stayed all three hours, even though her foot started swelling really bad. i grabbed a garbage can, and we propped that foot right up on top of it, haha. she loved coming to church and is still good to be baptized on january 28th! :)

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! celebrate it to the fullest! i hope you've all been able to "light the world" during this special season! love you!

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's dad:
i can't believe i only have seven more weeks here - so crazy. time is flying! briggs and i are pretty sure she is going to be transferred, so we are sad. :( i'll be directing the area, then, after just six weeks being in it (plus, my responsibilities as sister leader). trying to learn all the streets still!

souvenir shopping with some of my christmas money :)

i feel recently like i've gotten better at teaching with the spirit and feeling the spirit in the lessons. it's harder than you'd think it would be as a missionary! there are so many things to do in a single lesson, and you sometimes feel like you're fighting for the investigator's attention or even their understanding (just because that's how some people are here). but, the spirit is so important. teaching with it is a skill so necessary for missionary work; i'm really striving to be in tune with the spirit! LOVE YOU.

we climb for our coconuts :)

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
this week, noemi told us that she'd been talking with her aunt, who told her that she shouldn't listen to us anymore. it was such a sad appointment. this whole week, we continue facing lots of rejection. we aren't getting discouraged, but it's hard. that night, after noemi told us she couldn't change churches, we went home at 9pm, and i sobbed for a good half hour. i just wanted everyone to have the gospel and was so sad for those who don't accept or those who haven't even heard about the restoration. i thought of the scripture in nephi, where he says his eyes wet his pillow every night because of the wickedness of his people. or the one about the sons of mosiah, where they quake and tremble at the thought that any one soul would have to endure endless torment. that's exactly what i felt, and i've never felt that way before. it was a strangely spiritual experience - i just felt so much love for everyone in the world who didn't have the gospel. i love this work truly, with all my heart. and i love YOU!

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