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


Monday, July 25, 2016

Tender Mercies Abound

week two in my new area is going well, so far - better than week one, anyway! i got sick halfway through my first week, so we couldn't leave the apartment for parts of the day. i think i just had a really strong cold/flu? it wasn't dengue [fever], so that's good news. it was mostly just frustrating, because i didn't want to abandon my brand new area a few days after arriving, so i pushed on and kept working through the sick. it made for a really tough week, but (as usual) it taught me the power of prayer in getting us through. heavenly father carried me straight through this week! and now, i'm all better!! tender mercies abound. :)

happy birthday to me!

in less happy news, weeeeee still have no investigators, and everyone in the zone knows it, and it's slightly awkward at district meeting and ward council. we have been knocking on sooo many doors, though, and have met some really great people! also, some really uninterested people. but, the majority of the jungle people are just so sweet that we don't face a TON of super hard rejection. a few doors closed here and there, but seriously everyone is just so nice!! now we just have to find the nice people who also want to hear the gospel. that's a rare combination in this area of the vineyard. i know they exist, though, and i will find them!!! #fivemonthsleft

my district

this week i was attacked by a peruvian pig - twice!! don't worry, he didn't bite me, he just nibbled my skirt and shoe! our less actives have a pig named "charles" who was a little too interested in my clothing, haha. it was actually terrifying, because i know nothing about pigs - do they attack, are you supposed to run, do they have teeth? i found out the answer to the last question, anyway.

LOVE YOU all! please don't get attacked by a chancho, like i did!

piggy, piggy

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's brother:
this week we taught a lesson to a less-active family whose house is smaller than my room was in iquitos. it's a little square and there are five people living there. we always go at night, and they don't have electricity, so we teach the lessons by two tiny candles they put close to us. it is so, so humbling to teach that family. it makes me feel so blessed to live where i do - not only in north america, but here in pucallpa, as well. the comforts we enjoy are insane.

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's dad:
hey, daddy!! haha, don't worry, i'll be pampered when i get home. no one knew about my birthday in my new area, which is totally fine - i'd rather have it that way. i was thinking about birthdays - they're so weird - it's just a day when we celebrate ourselves. and missions are spent serving other people, so that idea was really foreign to me. i preferred to keep the focus on others!

my area is SUPER jungle!! there are paved roads in some parts, but like, i am deep in the jungle! when i first arrived and was trained in pucallpa, i assumed the whole mission was like this. but iquitos (by comparison) is definitely a city, haha. it's really different to be back in pucallpa, and i'm still adjusting to it. there are parts of our area that are literally the limits of civilization - like the jungle just starts where the houses end. scary!! it's also constantly smelly, because the people burn their garbage here. even though the garbage trucks drive through all the time (they play a song so that people know they're passing by), everyone still burns their garbage all day and all night. no one does that in iquitos, and the smell in pucallpa is so distinct! not terrible, but not something you'd put in a candle, either.

p.s. please don't worry about the IV - i went to the hospital because i felt so tired and sick. the doctor didn't even do an analysis, though - he was like "go be on this IV." so, i got some vitamins pumped into my blood for like three hours, which was super nice. loved it a lot, actually.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Pucallpa, The Land of My Inheritance

guess what?! after transfers this past week, i'm back in pucallpa - my birthplace [where i began my mission or was "born"], the land of my inheritance. and, i'm serving with hermana garcia!! she was my companion for only two weeks before there was an emergency transfer [to help a sister who became ill in another area]. so, i'm glad to get to finish out a transfer period with her. :)

hello pucallpa

in other news, we had a zone conference with president li. since i'd already met him in iquitos, i was able to see him for a second time. he is awesome - the nicest guy ever and so willing to be a father to all of us. love him already!!

my new pensionista is also very lovable. she's a large woman with a large laugh, and she is SO funny. the only downside is dinner, haha. this week, she served us: (1st night) a quarter of a pineapple; (2nd and 3rd night) a pear and a piece of tres leches cake (repeated); and (4th night) bread. but, we're making it work! :)

making reeses brownies and birthday cake

turned out nice :)

so, pucallpa is DUST AND SUN. during my first hours working in my area, my eye contacts were plastered onto my eyeballs from all the dust. but, i'm slowly getting used to it again. there's a lot of work to do here, as hermana garcia had 0 investigators. not a joke.

i'm ready to work and contact everyone who will listen! i just hope i haven't scared my comp with the insane amount of door knocking we've been doing. gotta find the chosen ones!!

HBD (almost)

it may be hot and dusty, but our house is BIG (and everything is brown, like me), so it's all good. love you all!!

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's dad:
hey, dad!! i finally had my interview with the president, and we set a date!! i will be boarding a plane to come home on december 20th, which puts me in salt lake city on december 21st. five months to go!!!

i'm really happy to have all the familiarity in pucallpa - my comp (who was my comp previously), my zone leader, elder lopez (who was my district leader in iquitos - see picture with balloons), and yesterday at a stake ward council meeting, i got to see everyone from my old ward in ucayali!!!!! the happiness i felt was insane!!! apparently, they all still talk about me and the news spread so fast (that i was back in pucallpa), haha. i also got to see isabel, who was our pensionista (and basically mother) for the first 5 months of my mission. so happy!!!

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
hey, mom!! yes, the rumors are true, i'm in pucallpa!!! i'm in another area called yarina cocha, and it's apparently the strongest ward in the mission. the members here are incredible!! anyway, i've been happily working this week and love being with hermana garcia! she's willling to learn and improve, and we've been able to adjust to each other really well. LOVE YOU.

chau iquitos

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Waters of Baptism

rocio and samuel :))))

rocio and her 15-year-old son, samuel, were baptized this week, and it was one of the most spectacular events of my mission!! the day was perfect - not a single thing went wrong! we also baptized a little 8-year-old boy named cleber, who was going to turn 9 this month [children of member families are traditionally baptized at age 8]; so, we said to his parents "HE NEEDS TO BE BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY," and they were like "yeah okay." :) of course, the triple baptism was amazing! i teared up big time when samuel was baptized. and, rocio's testimony afterwards was the best i've ever heard. she thanked like a dozen ward members by name and basically said to her husband she knew he'd get baptized soon - which is true, btw, because we taught him for the FIRST TIME, and he accepted the invitation to be baptized! miracles are real!! i know without a doubt that i stayed in this zone for as long as i have to see rocio baptized, absolutely. and, i'm so happy for her sweet son, samuel.

the most prized photo i own


in other exciting news, we met our new mission president and his wife, president and hermana li, this week! they are from lima and are suuuper short, haha. but, so so sweet!! hermana li is very very loving and will definitely be like a mother to us! we had a great meeting with president and hermana li, and they told us their conversion story. i'm really excited to work with them!!

new pres! that's his wife next to me

also, i'm pretty sure i'm leaving this area tomorrow (transfers are tonight), so i said a million goodbyes at church on sunday. and basically, the ward freaked out. :) merly made me a cake, and her husband told us we'd always have a home and a family in iquitos; he thanked my companion and i for helping their family (we recently baptized their 11-year-old son, bruce), and i was really touched by his sincerity. so many great memories!!

goodbye notes

i love missionary work, what can i say more?! i have no words to describe the joy i've felt this week; it has been truly indescribable! all you who are on the fence about serving, just go. trust me, just go, because it will be the best experience of your life!! LOVE YOU ALL!!!

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's dad:
so, the day after rocio was baptized (the sunday she was confirmed), she attended one of our weekly "rescue activities" (every sunday we go and visit "less actives" with our ward, and the missionaries do splits with the members). and, rocio was my companion!!! finally, now that she's a member, she can accompany us - she's always wanted to and was so excited! :) unfortunately, we went to the elders' area, which has the river in it, and we went down by "the bridges." as in down to the river, where the people live on stilted houses. rocio has lived in iquitos her whole life and has never gone down there, because she said it scares her. (ha, "welcome to the ward, let's go to the bridges!!!!") she was fine, though, and she loved it! in fact, she wants to send samuel on a mission, so i was giving her some tips. it was another perfect day. ;)

rocio was my companion the day she was confirmed!

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
MOTHER, I GOT THE PACKAGES!!! ALL of them!! the birthday ones came last week!! i love EVERYTHING!!! thank you so much!!! i know sending packages is not cheap, and i am so grateful! i'm going to make the no-bake brownies today (can't wait). :) and yes, scarlett hand-delivered the gift bag from the monterey bay aquarium this morning (and, i opened it)!! haha, is it weird that i was hoping you'd send me an octopus tentacle (among other things)? thank you!! #tradition

Photo sent via Facebook Messenger by Scarlett - THANK YOU!

oh ps, fourth of july!! we ate hamburgers and hot dogs (yes, both) as a district, and i had chocolate cake and ate ice cream on three different occasions during the day (because i am an american and i'm proud). other than that, not much happened! my comp gave me a hug and told me "happy fourth of july." :) also, the zone sang to me and hermana brigs (who lived next door in pucallpa as willes's comp and is now vazquez's comp here in iquitos) and also elder lopez (our district leader) for our birthdays in july. since our zone has all been here for like 5 transfers (and we are practically family), we had to sing to each other before we leave!! I LOVE YOU!!!

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's youngest brother:
this week, our pensionista has been out of town, so her son and daughter-in-law have been cooking for us, and the portion sizes are bigger - so is my waistline, but also so is my happiness level. :) and, a member named cesar took us out to lunch this week! it was super nice of him; we went to portales (a little cafe), and i bought a hamburger, obviously. the elders in our ward (the zone leaders, haymond and espionza) came too, and it was a party!!

speaking of pensionistas, ours was telling us stories about mermaids. evvveryone here thinks they exist. deysi was saying her mother-in-law has seen them when she lived in a village by the river, and that they call her out to the water. the people say they steal babies and children. CREEPY.

Hermana Wood's sister selecting the perfect
octopus tentacle from the Monterey Bay Aquarium!

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Spirit of Pure Testimony

this week we had what was the most intense lesson of my mission. we contacted a less active sister and her husband, who let us right in. the husband told us that they'd had a bad experience with the mormons before, but the sister asked us to share our message. i asked if there was anyone else who could join us, and two daughters very grudgingly joined. we started, and there was contention everywhere. we got to the topic of prophets in lesson 1, and they were already disagreeing with us. they had lots of issues with joseph smith. they were all talking over us so much that i stopped everything and said, "CAN WE EXPLAIN?" but very lovingly. :) they all stopped talking and the dad said "yes." one of the daughters, who couldn't have been older than 13, said "joseph smith is like a saint for you! you worship him!!" she was so adamant for a 13-year-old! so, i explained the restoration, and the dad told me that no one can see the face of god without burning, and his second daughter, who must've been 18, agreed. he started talking about moses and other prophets, but i didn't want to bible bash, so i just testified of joseph smith.

towards the end, the older daughter said "why do you keep saying 'testify,' as if you were there to see all of this? as i understand it, joseph smith lived a long time ago, and you didn't see him." i explained that "to testify is to declare the truth. and even though i didn't witness them, i KNOW these things are true." she said, "then shouldn't you say 'i BELIEVE' he was a prophet?" i immediately responded "i KNOW joseph smith was a prophet, because i asked god and he told me through personal revelation, which exists - which each of you can receive if you pray." they were all silent. those words felt like fire, because they conveyed the spirit of pure testimony. the spirit was strong in a way i've never known it before - strong, as in it gave me strength. honestly, the whole family was attacking our testimonies, but we were firm. and, in that moment, i've never been more sure that joseph smith saw god and jesus christ, and that he restored the one true church. i know these things with all my soul.

after all of them had rejected our invitation to attend church, we were about to leave when the mother said "wait, i have a question for you," and pointed at me. we sat back down, and she said, "god told you? how? and, how can i know?" i smiled at her and answered "through prayer." then, we explained about the holy ghost. i thought no one in that family had been touched by what we said, but we had somehow reached this woman's heart. she didn't come to church the next day, but now she knows the message of the restoration. i am so grateful to be a representative of christ in iquitos. i love preaching the gospel, i love doing the lord's work, and i testify that joseph smith was called of god to restore these truths i hold so dear.

last selfie with president and hermana gómez

find the cat :)
this is deysi's house, our pensionista

me and my companion, hermana osorio

hermana wood

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