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


Monday, February 29, 2016

The Importance of Charity

where did february go??!! it's crazy to think that as of yesterday, february 28th, i've completed 7 months in the mission field!! this has definitely been the fastest month of my mission, so far, and quite possibly of my life.

  me, the peruvian flag, and the amazon river
...this picture says it all! :)

i'm flyyying! (titanic)

this week for p-day, we went to a boat museum!! literally, the museum IS a boat that was used during the amazonian rubber boom in 1906. it was super cool to read about the history of iquitos on papers that were tacked up on the walls of the boat. i wish i had read up more on iquitos before coming!! it made me feel more connected to this little place. admission to the museum was five soles (and totally worth it). also, i got to see the amazon river for the first time! what more could a 19-year-old girl want?! :)

 my girls

 (count on hermana wood to ruin the cute pic)

 what's up?

an amazon river boat from 1906

in other news, i found a scripture this week (alma 8:22) that describes our pensionista situation perfectly. i'm pretty sure they were writing about us when they said "and it came to pass that [hermana wood and hermana arteaga] ate bread and were filled; and they blessed [andra] and her house, and they gave thanks unto God." attitude of gratitude, people!!!

for the beauty of the amazon

so, one of our two investigators, katy, has moved. *tears* but, we passed the referral along to another set of hermanas, and they're going to take care of her for us!! hopefully she can keep progressing, because she really wants to get baptized!! in the meantime, that leaves my comp and i with even fewer investigators - just one, to be exact. and, diomedes (we found out when he called us at 2:30am) has a drinking problem, so we'll be having a little chat about the word of wisdom this week. staying positive, though, because there's a lot of potential in this area!!

my comp and i, the elders (zone leaders),
and our ward mission leader, leo

last night, hermana arteaga really opened up to me. she is struggling with a lot in her life right now, but you'd never even suspect it, because she's always SO positive. literally, she is constantly joking and laughing. when she confided in me last night, it made me realize the importance of loving our companions. i wish i had served her more than i have, because she needed it so badly!! i've always done nice things for her, but she was reeeally struggling. i told her i loved her so much and shared a scripture with her (like the cheesy missionary i am) and told her god's plan is PERFECT - even though it's frustrating sometimes. moral of the story: it's easy to love the members, and you'll come to love your investigators, but loving your companion takes concentrated effort. so, here's a challenge to all of my missionary people all over the world: get to know your companion, let yourself get close to her/him, and SERVE her/him every day!! in other words, develop charity!


basically, being a missionary shows you every single flaw you have - but, it also shows you exactly how to overcome them. i can't put into words all the things i've learned here - the importance of charity, how to forgive, the meaning of repentance, not to mention gaining an appreciation of how the atonement is incomprehensible in its scope yet applicable in our lives every single day! i could go on and on listing the things i've learned, so far. i love my savior, i love being here, and i love all of you!!

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's dad:
this week has been super inspirational, as usual!! i swear i learn a million new things in every single personal study session. it's so incredible (the gospel). :) m. russell ballard says that once the spirit of christ enters our hearts, we will never be the same. so true! i feel like a completely changed person, and i know i will never be the same!! i'm pretty sure you won't recognize me when i come home!! haha, well maybe, but i feel really different. the gospel is perfect and pure and can change us completely!! recently, the fact that i'm going to live forever with god and have eternal life (if i'm righteous mwaha) has become very real. it gives me so much hope!! like it makes me feel giddy! sometimes i feel like a little kid thinking about it, haha. god and jesus are so real and the spirit can speak to us and give us their words, and basically the church is true and god has a plan for us. :) haha, i think i just gave you an overview of the first three missionary discussions...but, that's how my brain works now. ha, love you, daddy!!

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
so, our chapel has a super old piano (the one i mentioned a couple of months ago) and an electronic one with no pedals (that's basically worthless, haha). but every sunday, we go to a different ward to help visit less actives, and we always have to wait forever, so this week i brought the marshall mcdonald book bill sent me and PLAYED PIANO for the first time in over two months! it was INCREDIBLE - i could've stayed there for hours!! the whole time i was playing, i had ants crawling on my feet and biting me, and the keys made my fingers black with dust - but, i was playing and didn't care. life is good. :) love you, mommy!!

Monday, February 22, 2016


hi, everyone!! thanks for all of your e-mails!!! you are the greatest!!!!

this week's temptation: peruvian amazon chocolate

so, remember our investigator, diomedes (who loves having the spirit in his home and "doesn't want it to leave with us")? we left a book of mormon with his mom, and he started reading it! we haven't been able to set a teaching appointment with him (because our schedules always seem to clash), but we stop by often and leave him new reading assignments - and he reads everything!! one day when we caught him at home, he basically recounted to us the story of the BOM from the jaredites down to present day (pointing out that "we're descendants of the lamanites"). WHAT?! that very rarely happens here - we were so so happy!!

we had district p-day and played games in the mission offices!

katy (another investigator) came to church for the first time on sunday, which was also super exciting!! she stayed ALL THREE HOURS - big news, people!!!! with a baptism date set for the 19th of march, she just needs to get herself legally hitched, and we're golden. :) we'd also like to meet and teach her live-in boyfriend, who travels A LOT.....it's a work in progress! but, katy has gained a testimony of the book of mormon and joseph smith!! and, it's so neat to see her progressing right before our eyes!!!

this was lunch

yes, i ate it all :)

my comp and i are studying (in "preach my gospel") how to find new investigators, because right now we've basically only got diomedes and katy. we're also praying for the "faith to find!" we use the members a lot - they're awesome and give us referrals, but the referrals don't live in our area. we also "contact" and find a few investigators by "iniciativa propia" [their "own initiative"], but it's a painstakingly slow process.

this is the fanciest dinner i've had in a long time 

anyway, missionary work is so great, and i love being here!! it's hard, but it's worth it. if you're deciding whether or not to submit papers, JUST DO IT. don't over-think, just do it!!!!! well, i mean pray about it a little, but then SEND 'EM. it'll be the best decision you ever make!!! i promise! love you all. have such a good week!!!

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's youngest brother:
guess what, goober? i ate a fish head for lunch!!! i totally didn't know it was a head until i flipped the fish piece over with my fork. it was sooo funny, because i almost screamed!! then, i started laughing so hard that i cried!!! and then, my comp started crying!!!! and literally, we couldn't stop for about 7 minutes. it was hiiiilarious. and, i ended up eating the fish head - so, that's cool. :) hahah.

Instant message (e-mail) dialogue with Hermana Wood's dad:
Mark: Six months ago, you would've been so grossed out by that fish, you would've refused to eat it! Congrats on being brave!!
Amber: right? i'll eat basically anything now. on my list to try is turtle, crocodile, and anaconda. :)
Mark: Whoa! Do they eat those things??!!??
Amber: yeah!! our pensionista talks about them, haha. imma ask her to make them for us! :) also, look up the recipe for tallarin verde and especially aji de gallina (my favorite foods). :) i think they'd be easy to make!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Happy V-Day!!!

hey, everyone!! we made it to another monday - wooooot!! this week was really good!! i hope you all had a great week, too!

this was dinner last night - that's a ball of cooked bananas :)

so, one night it was raining, and as we were hurrying to our last appointment, we passed a teen sitting on the side of the road with his head in his arms. arteaga and i didn't even need to confirm with each other, we both went right up and said "hey, buenas noches!" we asked him if there were anything we could help him with. he said he was waiting for the rain to stop so he could walk home!! he'd been studying all that day and was exhausted. in our previous appointment, our investigators had loaned us two umbrellas (because we forgot ours), so we said to this boy (whose name is alexis) "let us walk with you - we have umbrellas!!" we walked about a block and half before he told us he lived REALLY far away. so, we said "here, just take three soles and get a motokar!!" we invited him to church, but we'll never know if he attended (because he lives far away). hopefully, though, we did some good in his life!! :)

also this week, we had an investigator (named diomedes) tell us that he can feel a new peace and union in his home since we've started visiting, and that he doesn't want that feeling to leave with us. i testified to him with all my heart that if he prayed and read the book of mormon, he would be able to always have that spirit in his home.

happy v-day!!!

for valentine's day, we made valentines for people in the ward!! but, they were on cutesy heart paper, so (obviously) we didn't give them to the elders. instead, we caught a cockroach and put it in a box and tied a bow on it and said "happy valentine's day - don't open this till you get home!!!" i don't think they appreciated it, because we found out later they had re-gifted it to our ward mission leader. who didn't appreciate it, either. :)

our ward mission leader's daughter

in my personal study this week, i killed 22 ants on my desk!!!! not okay!!! but, we can still feel the spirit every day, so i guess it's fine. i'm learning a ton here and can't believe i've already been out for 6-1/2 months. time flies!! as i was studying this week about alma and the sons of mosiah, i read that they were blessed because they "published peace." the word "publish" has reference to everything others can perceive - our words, actions, the way we dress and behave; so, all of those things should publish peace!! everything about us should shout from the rooftops the peace of the gospel! :)

this tried getting in under our door!

another random bug (for carson)

anyway, i love you all! have another great week everyone!! xoxoxoxo

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's youngest brother:
want to hear something funny? we have a recent convert named waldo, and we can NEVER find him in his house to teach him. but, we finally had a lesson and "found waldo!" that story was a lot more exciting in my head....okay, here's another one: a member named leny gave us crackers this week that are called "mini kraps," hahaha. and, the elders never stopped bugging me about it. they were like, "well, mini craps are better than huge craps." then, i accidentally left the wrapper in the chapel, and the elders said "you left a pile of crap in the chapel!!!" oy, elders. love you, goober!

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's dad:
Q: I'm glad you like the LifeStraw filtered water bottle we sent! Would you recommend that new missionaries coming to Perú bring a filtered water bottle?
A: the ccm gives you a filtered water bottle (which i used for the first 5 months of my mission), but no one else i know uses a filtered one!! i guess it's just personal preference. the water we have in our houses is always safe!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Crazy Wet

this week it rained so hard!! the water in the streets was covering our feet!! it was crazy wet and actually cold - which was a first!

also, it was fast sunday this past weekend, and on a whim i decided to fast for tatiana and her little sister, stela (because they both need to attend church). and, guess who we picked up sunday morning? and then, guess who stayed for all three hours [of the meeting block]? THAT'S RIGHT!!!! it was super cool. :) and, the best thing was that the ward members were so incredible with our investigators - i was impressed!! everyone was all smiles, tatiana and stela got a warm welcome from the bishop at the beginning of sacrament meeting, and the young women were really nice to stela (12). we were sooo grateful for the members' help!

random vista in the amazon

we're also teaching a 70-year-old lady named judith, who happened to find us on the street this week. she said "come with me; there's someone you need to share your message with!!" and she took us to a member's house, where we shared a lesson with a family. and then, this past weekend, judith HERSELF came to church!!! what??!! she only stayed for sacrament meeting, but progress is progress. :)

in other crazy news (as all of you in south america know), this month is CARNIVAL. here in perú, they celebrate it by getting everyone wet - but, not just with water! i've heard they also fill water balloons with rocks/liquid, throw the water they cook with, and hermana arteaga said they even throw urine!!! EW!!!!

also for carnival, they hoist up palms in baskets
...and tie on a bunch of random stuff

due to the festivities on sunday, we had to stay in our house (with the exception of going to church) for EIGHT HOURS. we were antsy, but productive! i cleaned, read every church magazine ever, and made valentines for 22 lucky souls (among other activities). it was kinda fun!!

a look into the secret life of hermana wood and hermana arteaga

and, as all of you in south america ALSO know, it's mango season. am i tired of them yet? no. are my intestines? yes. because one mango is the equivalent of three "fiber one" bars. i feel fine. :)

love you all! remember more faith, less fear!!

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's dad:
hi, daddy!! i'm good, haha - yes, i'm as happy as i sound in my e-mails, i promise. :) but, thank you so much for your prayers - they carry me through every week!! yeah, time has been flyyyying. january was so so slow, but the first week of february is already over, and i can't even believe it!! the past few weeks, my focus has been developing charity and being truly kind in every moment - which is actually much harder than it sounds! dallin h. oaks says that the most difficult commandment we have is loving others, and now i know why. when you consciously try to be kind and love everyone ALL the time, satan starts pushing against you. my friend (patrick) describes it like "forces" - you can't know the strength of a force until you push against it. but, the act of pushing makes you stronger. so, it's a continual process of repentance every day, then waking up and trying again - i know i'm getting stronger!! love you, daddy!!! :)

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
remember rebecca from the tribe, who lives with our pensionista? well, we're teaching her brother, juan (who is exactly like she used to be). rebecca has come out of her shell, and she's reading the BOM every day, but we're starting from ground zero with juan. he's slowly learning; we had to describe to him in the last lesson what the word "purpose" means. and the word "plan." oy, it's hard. but, i've been given the gift of tongues!! i can define words in spanish!! it's so cool, and i'm so amazed at what the spirit can do. also, juan accepted a baptismal date for the 27th, so that's super cool!! i hope he knows what the word "baptism" means. when we gave him the fecha [date], he whispered to the dad of our pensionista's family that the pastor in his village told him he needed to "think and really mediate before being baptized." which is true, haha - and exactly what we want! love you, mommy!! HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Happy Sisters!!!

these, my friends, are aguajes;
at any given time in iquitos,
there are 239,847 people eating aguajes.

drum roll, please.....so, this week there were.....NO TRANSFERS!! i'm still on "28 de julio" [the name of our street] with my other half, hermana arteaga, and we are happy sisters! :) we were putting up valentine's day decorations on saturday (THANK YOU, FAM), and she said "i hope we never get transferred." life is very sweet, and it got even sweeter when we received valentine m&m's, fat-free marshmallows, and some other definitely not fat-free treats. happy sisters!!!


in other news, we've been working with a lady named tatiana; she's 28, and even though she attends a different church on sundays, we've continued teaching her because she has a testimony of joseph smith and the BOM. she even agreed to a baptism date!! but, when we invited her to OUR church this past sunday, she accepted and then didn't show. we went to her house sunday night and asked what happened. she said "oh yeah, sorry." so, we invited her to church NEXT sunday, and she said "no, i cant; i have to go to my church, too." WHAT!?! i was stunned into silence and my comp had to take over. when i came back to my senses, i told her "look, we love you so so much, tatiana, and we want you to belong to the only true church of jesus christ. we want you to be saved in the kingdom of god and have eternal life through faith and baptism. but tatiana, if you don't come to church, you will never progress spiritually." she nodded at everything we said but didn't say much. still, we're staying positive!!!!

kiddies loved the valentine's bubbles :)

one night this week, we ate chicken and bananas for dinner. i was so happy when i saw that plate of food! then, i stepped outside of the situation and thought to myself: "i'm eating chicken and bananas for dinner." such a weird combination, and even more weird that i was so ecstatic about it! :)

we also had an awesome lunch appointment with an 80-year-old gringo named legrand who's visiting from the states! he gave me peanut butter and fig newtons, so he's my fav.

this is legrand dancing at our lunch appointment :)

anyways, that's all for this week! remember that i love you all!! also remember: more faith, less fear!

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's brother:
want to hear something funny? so, my comp and i take turns praying in english before leaving the house (she's trying to learn english), and the other day when it was my turn my prayer was INSANE - it didn't make ANY sense! i felt like i couldn't speak english!! after i said "amen," hermana arteaga told me i had used some spanish words!! haha, i hadn't even realized it!! also, i'm starting to use my tongue differently when i speak spanish to make my accent better (we had training from our zone leaders a few weeks ago), and now i use my tongue in english the way i would when i speak spanish. SO confused. i wont be able to speak at all when i come home. :)

Special thanks to Mimi and Papa
for helping us send lots of love to Perú!

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
hi mommy!! you are SO the greatest, thank you SO SO MUCH for that package!!! everything arrived in PERFECT condition; the marshmallows, the toiletries - everything!! you are SO thoughtful - i couldn't believe all the details!! down to writing on the ziplock baggies - WHAT?! mother of the year award!!! i LOVED the shampoo and conditioner - they smell so good, and of course the colors matched, haha. the crocs are great and fit me perfectly!! i don't wear the toms anymore, so i've been soley on the purple crocs. and now i have the pink ones, too! :) the color is so fun, so great!! and, oh my gosh, arteaga was the happiest sister ever!! she said she's been wanting a rubber ctr ring, but she didn't know how to get one!! and she also said she had some bracelets back home like the ones you sent - she was so excited to wear them to church on sunday, SO excited!!!

apparently, valentine's day is huge in south america; arteaga says in ecuador you can barely go out because everyone's partying so much. idk what'll happen in iquitos, but i've already seen some teddy bears and hearts in the shop windows!! i also LOVED your love scriptures!! i'm going to ponderize one every day for the next 40 days - so cute! mom, you're the best! thank you!!! and the pink microfiber cooling towel is sick, what the heck?! where did you find that?! definitely will be using that! happy valentine's day, mommy! love you all SO much, and thank you again for everything. arteaga and i were so incredibly happy - i have the best fam ever! :) tell summer thank you for the ADORABLE CARD she made that everyone signed. i loved carson's hand-hearts card, too - he's so adorable!!! speaking of cards, i already wrote and sent out 7 valentines on those cards/envelopes you sent, and i have plans to use the heart confetti and doilies (which made me so happy to see) to make valentines for ward members, because v-day is on a SUNDAYYYY. :) love you, mommy!!!

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