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


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!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Under the Mistletoe

under the mistletoe

the christmas package i received from home is definitely going straight to my waistline. but, i am so grateful to have all of that chocolate! :) briggs and i have stayed up late a few nights, just sitting on the floor and partaking. i feel fine, haha. but, january is definitely going to be fitness crunch time!

weekly planning requires guanabana

we had a wonderful week as far as the work goes! we hit basically all of our key indicator goals, which is always exciting. we've been praying to find families, and god is hearing our prayers! we contacted a woman last night, named noemi, who is so ready for the gospel. she's never been baptized and wants to belong to "a church," so we're teaching her about priesthood authority and what makes the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints different from other churches. she's awesome!

the leaves used to make juanes

indira is one of our latest and greatest contacts. she has a disease that prevents her from walking very well, and she has limited use of her hands. it's really sad, because she lives alone with her dog, and every time we come over, she asks us to walk her dog or put her hair up in a bun (since she can't lift her arms). but, it's been such a privilege to serve her! she always reads the BOM and has accepted the invitation to be baptized on january 28th. :) we are so excited!

we taught a cute family...
and the kids wanted pictures with the gringas!

this sunday i was shocked to realize how few sundays i have left in this branch! throughout my mission, i've gradually gotten to the point where i feel comfortable in different wards, but in this branch, i've felt at home since day one. the area is great, my comp is great, our investigators are great, and the members are my family! i can't believe how soon this will all be ending! i'm going to miss everyone so much!

invited to lunch by the greatest members! :)

p.s. love you, fam! see you in two weeks on skyyyyyype!

hermana wood

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bread of Life

ice cream with my companion

i went to my first leadership council this week - we flew in to iquitos. it was interesting! and, it was so good seeing everyone again! i got to stay with the best hermana (vazquez) and also sleep on a floor (which i haven't done for a while). :) i woke up to kill a bug crawling across my face and, in the morning, to a huge cockroach next to my mattress!! i've missed iquitos, haha!!

hermana vasquez! and my old zone reunited!

the sister leaders of the mission

so, this saturday, we had a long day. honest to goodness, it was HARD! at one point, my companion (hermana briggs) just looked up at the sky and said in exasperation: "i feel like i've given EVERYTHING today." we had two members to accompany us, but every appointment fell through. all FIVE of them. we were so tired (it was like 8:40pm), but we decided to contact one more house.

a super nice guy who lived at the last house seemed willing to talk to us and (even better) had a knowledge of the bible. i was so excited when he said "i know the bible talks about 'other sheep' that jesus had" - PERFECT, i thought. :) i told him about the BOM and that the "other sheep" were the nephites on the american continent. i poured my heart into that contact, and he replied (in short) "thanks, but i'm 7th day adventist." (he didn't want to hear more.) my heart broke. but, then he said "wait one minute!" and went back into his house. i put my head in my hands and with tears in my eyes (after a long and discouraging day) wondered" "why? why don't people listen?"

when the man returned, he gave us two homemade slices of whole wheat bread - which may seem like a small gesture to you at home, but for two missionaries in the amazon jungle, it was the most amazing, most appreciated gift EVER!!! i was so touched.

anyway, even if people aren't ready for the gospel, god watches out for us. although that man didn't accept our message, father in heaven wanted to see if we had enough faith to try knocking on one more door before going home. we did, and he rewarded us - not in the way i thought he would, but he did. and, i was so grateful.

p-day journey in the "cloud forest"

next best thing to monterey's lone cypress!

beautiful tarapoto!!

merry christmas, everyone!! light the world, do something kind for someone, and CELEBRATE THE SEASON!!!

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
hey, mom!! i'm so good!! we didn't get to go to lima on the way to iquitos - maybe in january! it was still so fun, though - a really good refresher! today we are going to practice the song we'll be singing for the christmas zone conference. i'm going to accompany on the piano - its like a medley of a bunch of christmas songs. it's going to be cool! hopefully we can film it!! the only problem is there's NO time for me to practice (except on p-days), haha. too much proselyting (just kidding)! ;)

my district loved the trees!!! :)

also, when i flew to iquitos for leadership council, i picked up my christmas package - and loved it!! thank you so much for everything you sent! and, for putting in the time to put everything together!! so excited to give the HLJ rings out (thanks, mimi)!! i am so grateful!!! i put all the wrapped stuff under my little tree from last year. :) also, HOW DID YOU KNOW I WANTED MUDDY BUDDIES???? seriously you receive revelation for these packages. LOVE YOU.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sweet Sixteen!

thanksgiving dessert

thanksgiving this year was definitely kicked up a notch from last year's "half a cooked banana!" remember that? :) our pensionista prepared a peruvian version of mashed potatoes, rolls, and a piece of chicken. actually, thanksgiving dinner was lunch, because lunch is the big meal here. but later, after dinner, we went to a cake place in our area and bought little roll cakes (that were not worth five soles, haha). we also drank apple cider that morning. :)

briggs searching for the perfect coconut

this week, when we were out looking for people to teach, we saw a cute couple walking ahead of us. we've been trying really hard to find a family to teach, so we said let's go talk to them! we started speed-walking to catch up, and (literally) right when we got there, they both hopped into a motokar and sped away. my companion and i just looked at each other, discouraged.

but, then i said "we walked over here for a reason." so, searching for it, we started walking again. we randomly approached a house, and a man saw us knocking. he made a very exasperated noise, then came out to see what we wanted. hermana briggs and i exchanged another look, feeling a little exasperated. but, we started sharing a small message about the BOM with him.

then, briggs slowly pulled a book of mormon out of her bag, glanced at me, and offered: "hermano, this book is for you. will you read it?" we almost never give away BOMs like that, because we are so far away from the mission offices that it's hard to get more once we run out (they come once a month). i nodded at her, and the guy accepted it! turns out he didn't even live in that house, so we may never see him again. as we were leaving the man, hermana briggs leaned over and whispered "that is the weirdest impression i've ever received. hopefully he reads it!!"

utah girls in the mountains once more

even though thanksgiving is over, i hope we'll all remember to be grateful!! with christmas coming up, each of us has an opportunity to "ilumina el mundo" (light the world)! let's truly CELEBRATE IT this year!! love you all!!!

our pensionista's daugher's birthday -
she loved the card we made! :)

p.s. i complete 16 months in the mission today - happy sweet sixteen to me!! i can date now, right? (haha, just kidding.)

cake on p-day

hermana wood

Monday, November 21, 2016

Sister Leader in the "City of Palms"

bye, hija!

bye, mamita berita!

bye, pucallpa!

so, i was transferred, and i'm now in tarapoto, the jungliest part of my jungle mission, with my first gringa comp - hermana BRIGGS!!!! briggs is the sweet blonde whose "birth" i witnessed (when she was trained in pucallpa) more than a year ago! she is now my companion and will be finishing my mission with me this february (we'll actually be flying home to salt lake city together)! we are so blessed! also, i was called as sister leader, so lots of adventures ahead.

speaking of adventures, i missed my flight from pucallpa to tarapoto - lol (not my fault) - so i got to spend a night in iquitos with my bff, hermana SNYDER (a sister who i haven't seen since my first transfer in the mission over a year ago)!! all of those reunions were the best start to this week!!!

reunited after over a year!
(hermana snyder in iquitos)

TARAPOTO, "la ciudad de las palmeras," is a mountain city [356 metres (or 1168 feet) above sea level on the "high jungle plateau," aka the "cloud forest"]! i feel strangely like i'm in utah in the summertime!! but, the air is cool; in fact, it's the coolest place in the mission (which i'm very grateful for). also, i've become fast friends with our pensionista and all of the members - i already love everyone! and, two of my previous comps, osorio and garrcia, are here, as well! such sweet reunions!! being companions with a "gringa," though, is showing me just how low my english skills have gotten. it's hard to keep a conversation going sometimes, haha. also, there are no wards in tarapoto and no stake, either! it's just branches and districts!! but, i'm committed to see a stake here before i come home in february. :) i'm going to work my hardest to make that happen!!!

can you see the mountains in the background?

one funny thing: we were in branch council, and a muslim man came in who only spoke english (so hermana briggs and i had to translate for everyone), and he basically wanted the church to give him money to travel to the boarder of brazil and perú, haha. i was like "well, we can't help you financially, but we can give you as much spiritual help as you need!!" he couldn't speak spanish, so for the first time in my mission, i was in need of an english restoration of the church pamphlet (and there weren't any to be found). but, we were able to do some coordinating for him, and some members are going to help him out.

here's our branch presidente, jimmy.
excited to work with him!!!

love you all,
hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:

found a chocolate store. we're happy sisters! :)

okay, so my house is like a hotel. i was shocked as soon as i walked in. and, every day i look forward to the shower i get to take at night - WE HAVE WATER PRESSURE! is this what it's like to actually shower? to get an idea: turn the sink on to the lowest it can be without turning it off. that's how my showers were most days in pucallpa, haha. so, i'm so happy! and briggs is the sweetest most amazing person ever. we are just so excited to work hard!! LOVE YOU.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Most Important Work in the World

i love my mangoes!!
lots and lots :)

as my friend who is currently serving in ecuador put it, "there are two very important 12-week periods in a missionary's life: the first 12 and the last 12." and today, i start those last 12. time is slipping away so quickly!

i'm officially giving english classes twice a week in the chapel. we have quite a crowd, and i've gotten pretty good at it. i might be a spanish teacher when i get back. ;)


we walk a ton in the jungle and, this past week, all of that walking landed me in the "clinica" for a procedure on one of my feet and a strong dose of antibiotics. my toenail on my big right toe started cutting into the skin there, and it made a big wound. then, (as fate would have it) i accidentally slipped that very foot into some questionable water when we were crossing a narrow bridge after a rainstorm. needless to say, that toe got infected real quick (even though i washed it, like i always do, and put alcohol on it).

at the clinica, they gave me antibiotics and then shot anesthetic straight into my toe before cutting out part of the nail. (OW!) i think i scared my sister leader, the girl in the pic with me, because i started babbling for like 10 straight minutes to get my mind off of what they were doing. blessing, though - it doesn't even hurt at all. and, bonus blessing, i also got the first doughnut i've had in over a year (because there's a doughnut shop right next to the clinica)! what i won't do for chocolate fried goodness! :)

me and my sister leader in the clinica

right after the procedure

doughnut time! :)

in all honestly, there were many days this week that were just…bleh. that's the only word i can think of to describe them. missionary work is always crazy and there's just so much happening at once that sometimes you feel...bleh. but, god is even more aware of us during the bleh times. i know this because at the end of one of those days this week, we were teaching lesson one for the second time in a row that night (and maybe the millionth time that week) to someone new. but, as my comp related joseph smith's first vision, the song "praise to the man" started playing in my head (in an interesting mix of english and spanish) and tears filled my eyes. i felt in that moment that this is the most important work in the world. nothing to feel bleh about. since then, i've been trying to find more joy and excitement in the day-to-day that has been my life for the past 15 months.

beautiful catholic chapel

a great quote about patience by elder maxwell has been helping: "patience also helps us realize that while we may be ready to move on, having had enough of a particular learning experience, our continued presence is often needed as a part of the learning environment of others." patience is perseverance with a purpose! LOVE YOU ALL.

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's dad:
transfers are tonight! i don't think i'll get transferred. i really hope not. i'd be fine to die [finish my mission] here! if i do get transferred...ahh idk, i just want to stay here, haha. i haven't seen moyobamba or tarapoto, but it's so far away from everything. who knows, we shall see what happens! if i get transferred it'll be tomorrow morning! LOVE YOU.

mamita and my two brothers. now i have four!

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
kevin came to church and is continuing to progress! vicotorino also came! he and his wife are having a few problems, though; in fact, we had a lesson where meri, his wife, called him out on some issues. another member couple was with us, so victorino started defending himself to the couple and bashing on the church his wife attends. after like 30 minutes, i finally said "hermanos, we belong to the church of jesus christ - the true church. and, if both of you aren't reading your books of mormon TOGETHER and praying TOGETHER to know for yourselves that it's true, you can't progress together." i testified about the BOM, and you should've seen meri's face; she looked shocked, but i committed the couple to pray and read together. we'll see how that works out. i told them both how much i love them and expressed how much the savior loves them. i also told them that we'd pray for them throughout the week. after the closing prayer (offered by her husband), meri looked at me with tears on her cheeks and said "sister, i feel the 'espiritu santo' [holy ghost]." now THAT is gratifying as a missionary. THAT is what success is. helping others feel the spirit and be influenced by it. LOVE YOU.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Peruvian Miracle

us with our pensionista, mamita berita

this week, we learned (from a member) that there are parasites in the grass here, so you can't walk through it if the grass is tall. that wasn't too disturbing; i mean, who needs grass? what almost gave me a stroke was to learn that there are also parasites in the air we breathe. apparently, you need to get de-parasitized every six months. #peru

in other exciting news (ready for this one?), after a tour of the church and one of the most quiet, spiritual lessons i've ever had in the sacrament meeting room, kevin accepted a baptismal date! we are so happy for him!! we had to dig deep to find out what his needs are, and we tailored lots of lesson plans for him. we actually ended up asking him the first three baptismal interview questions: do you believe god is our eternal father? that christ is his son? and, that the church has been restored? he responded "yes" to all, which helped us help him recognize his testimony. and this week, kevin bought himself a white shirt and tie and came to stake conference! and, he's posting pictures of himself doing church stuff on facebook, "so that my friends know i'm changing my life," he says. i could not be happier for him! he is reading the BOM every day, and praying, and has truly come to know that the gospel is true. he's scheduled to be baptized on the 26th of november! i have LOVED sharing the gospel with kevin!! he is truly prepared and ready to start a new life. :)

mormon helping hands!
(never knew the sun could be so strong at 8am!)

lend a hand!

we picked up garbage on the streets!

also, my pensionista's son made me eat rice this week. it was sort of necessary as the dish is called "rice and chicken" and consists of nothing else, besides tomatoes (and an excess of onions, because my comp doesn't like them and gave me double), but i regretted every bite, haha. #antirice

speaking of meals, presidente and hermana li took us out to lunch this week - just at the moment when i most needed an italian pizza! as my friend in canada once said, "god just knows, doesn't he?" :)

trick or treating with a book of mormon

lastly, we received a referral this week of a family who wants to get married and start attending a church, but they didn't know which to choose. this, my friends, is a "peruvian miracle" in every sense. i've never seen this happen on my mission (and may never again). GRATITUDE! i am full of gratitude! and love for all of you!! :) see you three months from today.

fam, thank you SO SO SO MUCH for the package!!!!!!

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
hey, mom! i love these pics!! man, i have a good looking family. and, jordan is just glowing! aaah, i wish i could've been there for the wedding!!

we are working with a couple named meri and victorino who are amazing. meri totally opened up to us last night; we went to see how she'd been doing with her reading and ended up staying a long time just listening to her talk. she said she "feels so amazing when we're with her," and that she "feels god with us," but that when we go, she "gets stressed out again." i asked, what do you think you can do to always feel the way you do when we're teaching you? she looked at her BOM on the couch next to her, back at me, and said "read this book!" i promised her that was true! she wants to get married soon, and we're helping her to set some goals for her life. love being a missionary! LOVE YOU.

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