this is our recent convert silveria's store
and this is us with her grandkids :)
and this is us with her grandkids :)
this is our relief society president agripina's store!!
pure cacao - not sure exactly what it is, but it's super good
and costs about one american dollar! similar to chocolate?
okay, so i still have SOME (just kidding, a TON of) slip-ups in spanish. some days i can talk fine, and other days it's like my mouth wasn't made for this language. one day this week, we were in a lesson with madeleine (a less active member) teaching the word of wisdom, and i was trying to tell her we can't consume addictive substances, "sustancias." but, i accidentally said "sustantivos." so now, no one in that house will be consuming addictive VOWELS. :)
i left a christmas surprise for our neighbor hermanas...
...and made this little compilation for hermana willes :)
later that same day, we were teaching the pinchi sisters. they are supe close and so cute - if i wasn't a missionary, i'd hang out with them!! their names are andrea and mirian (latter is a less active member). so, the lesson somehow got turned into a family home evening (FHE), and we started talking about the atonement. it was one of the few times i was able to speak really well - no pauses or anything. i testified of christ and the power of his atonement, and i don't remember the specifics of what i said, but the spirit was really strong. then we got to watch the "ha nacido un salvador" video the church made, because andrea's phone had internet. :) it gives me goosebumps every time!!
basically, the whole lesson i could feel christ's love for all four of us and the power of his sacrifice. being a missionary is so cool! i get to testify of christ every single day!! before i came and even when i was in the CCM, i didn't know how i felt about that life [being a full-time missionary]; would i still be myself when i got back or would it make me weird or what? but after being here for four and a half months, i can say i'm still myself!! in fact, i'm being transformed into a better version of myself! amber wood 2.0!! it's all working together for my good. also, andrea told me she understood me and my spanish perfectly. :)
everyone has these nativities in their houses!
it's a big deal!
it's a big deal!
so, yesterday may or may not have been my last sunday in ucayali!!! i handed out all the HLJ ["haz lo justo," or "choose the right" (CTR)] rings mom sent. they all went to laly's nieces and nephews (among them are mateo and edilberto, who we baptized). as soon as i gave one out, the rest of the kids ran over and i had ten little fingers held up to me, waiting for a ring. they were all SO happy!! four of them came back and asked where i bought them, and i said they were from the U.S. they all looked at their rings in unison and said "ooohhh!!" it made me so happy to make them happy. :) shout out to mom for being a star!!!
also, laly gave me a bit of advice. in passing between church meetings, she said "hey, you seem so serious lately! be happy!!" i smiled and said "okay," but 100% of me wanted to explain that it's really hard to be happy when i've been living with a difficult companion for 4.5 months!!! as i thought about it, i realized that's no excuse to not be happy. happiness is a choice!! then i thought "well shoot, maybe i didn't learn my lesson this cambio, maybe i wasn't happy enough. oh no, i messed up - what have i been doing?!" but then, i reflected on it some more, and i realized i've been doing the best i could with the circumstance i was given. i did what i could, and i'm working to be better every day. still, i definitely applied laly's advice immediately; i'm truly trying to be myself and be happy no matter what's happening around me.
last night we had the most rockin' "noche de hogar" (FHE) ever. my companion surprised me with a message on enduring to the end that i just had to go with, but when it was my turn to talk, the words just flowed. i shared the scripture in the "doctrine and covenants" about enduring well [D&C 121:8] and testified about the power of the atonement, and that we were all there as a ward to help and support each other. it was super cool. the gift of tongues is real!!!
so, as we were wrapping up i was thinking the closing song's got to be stellar - what if this is my last noche de hogar here?? the song was "the spirit of god," which is sung at every meeting ever in south america. so there i was, singing this song for the 2,308th time, and i looked around at everyone and just felt so happy. i felt so peaceful and grateful to have been in this area, and i started tearing up a bit. i love this ward and truly hope i don't leave!!!
my mantra this week has been psalm 118:17: "i shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the lord." i will survive!!! and all you other missionaries out there will, too. :) shout out to you for being strong! love you all!!
Answers to questions from Hermana Wood's dad:
1. Do Peruvians have a hard time saying Wood? Brazilians do. They usually say "Voodgee."
2. Are you 'totes' Spanish Queen? 'Probs' you are. How is your español coming?
3. When we talk to you on Christmas, will it be by telephone or Skype?
4. How is your health? Have you gotten sick?
1. yeah, people struggle with it, haha. i mostly get "wow," or "woo." i've also heard "wook." :)
2. totes the illest spanish speaker ever. it's pretty good, sometimes i just don't want to speak it, haha, because my mouth like gets stuck on the r's. but, i'm getting better at rolling them.
3. i'm going to be calling you on the phone this coming monday between 10 and 11am - they just told me!! the call will be "five minutes" (ha). we'll coordinate everything then!!
4. i havent gotten sick!! in your father's blessing (which mom transcribed and sent me), you promised i wouldn't, and i haven't :) yet. sometimes my comp gives me a stress headache, but that's about it.
christmastime is hard without family; we're told it's a time to be with family - to enjoy each other and grow closer - and here [as missionaries], we don't have that. but, it just puts the focus so much more on the savior and his birth, which is truly the meaning of christmas - and hey, i still get to write you guys every week!! know that i think about you often, and i pray for you a lot, daddy. i love you so much and want to thank you for everything you did and are still doing to keep me out here!! thank you for your love, support, and prayers. love you!!
More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
YOU ARE SO THE BEST, THANK YOU!!!! The "favorite things" pictures were exactly what i needed!!!!!! also, i opened my food package - i couldn't wait!!! the other one i peaked in, but still haven't opened. it's killing me - it stares me in the face every day. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE DRESS, it's adorable!!!!! i'm going to wear it for christmas. :) and, i got the crescent ridge 6th ward letter!!! DYING TO OPEN EVERYTHING. i love you so much, and i'll talk to you on monday!!! be prepared for the transfer news. :) merry christmas!