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


Monday, September 26, 2016

Sweet, Sweet Tender Mercies

my companion, hermana garcia, and i

tracking in the jungle

this week, we began teaching a motokar driver named kevin. he was a referral from a member named jessica (kevin is basically her personal moto-taxista). funny story: while we were visiting jessica and asking if she knew of anyone we might be able to teach, kevin (a non-member) was sitting right there listening. jessica was really struggling to think of a name to give us. then, i said "hey! what about kevin?" and, we all laughed together; of course, the obvious choice was KEVIN! anyway, he accepted the invitation to be taught, and since we've started teaching him, he's already received his answer that the BOM is true! kevin asked how i came to know the BOM was true, and i told him that i felt an undeniable peace and confirmation in my heart when i was 12 years old. he told us that he has felt a lot of peace when he has prayed about the church and joseph smith, "just like you felt, hermana wood!" he's so receptive, and we are VERY excited for him!

service project

pig ears and skin (we did not eat this!)

this is heavier than it looks :)

in other exciting news, we watched the the general women's meeting of conference this week!! i was SO pumped and got everything set up for the gringa sisters to watch in english on the computers at the stake center. we were all settled - i'd been looking forward to this moment all week! then, picture this: the prelude music ends, the on-screen countdown ends, sister burton stands up, looks around at everyone in the conference center, smiles, and says "welcome" – then, POOF! the power goes out in the stake center! we were in total darkness!! all i could think was: "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!" (and, i might have said that out loud. ha!) eventually, we got it all worked out, and the broadcast came back on just as the choir was singing the last note of the opening hymn. sweet, sweet tender mercies. :) LOVE YOU ALL!

our zone leader drew a pic of all of us :)

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's youngest brother:
thank you so much for mentioning me in your primary talk! :) i'm so touched! you're such a sweetie! how was your week? mine was good - pretty basic! it was sooo fast! i think that was because we had the general women's meeting this week; we'd been looking forward to the broadcast, and it was sooo good! guess what, i almost stepped on a tarantula this week! we were walking in the more jungly part of our area, and hermana garcia suddenly said "CAREFUL!!! cuidado!!" i looked down, and there was a tarantula right by me! EW! love you, goober.

i almost stepped on this little guy

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's dad:
haven't heard, yet, about the extension. :( but, yesterday a bunch of ward members joined my companion and i, and we went out and knocked on doors looking for referrals. i did splits with the "missionary" twins in our ward, and we walked all the way to the cemetery at the end of our area! we actually went in and ate the mangoes that had fallen from the trees because of the rain storms. unfortunately, i think the mangoes might've been cursed with the spirits of the dead, because i had a tummy ache this morning. happy "early" halloween!!! LOVE YOU.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Mangoes from Heaven!

it's mango season in perú!

guess who got baptized on saturday? solange!!! we've known her for less than a month, but already she was ready and willing to enter into the waters of baptism! she's so amazing - and practically already a missionary!! when a jehovah's witness abruptly confronted her about praying in public and asked what religion she was, solange proudly told her she was going to be baptized into the mormon church, then invited the woman to her baptism!! (she didn't come.) actually, none of solange's friends or family came. she's mentioned to us that "her friends hate her," and that her father was threatening to stop supporting her and her toddler financially because of her decision to be baptized. :( this has not been easy for her. but, she knows god loves her and has a plan for her! i pray she will be strong in the church for the rest of her life!!

 solange's baptism!

baptism selfie

the official count of how many mangoes i've eaten this week reached a radical 57. i feel fine, and it's actually been nice to naturally cleanse (sorry if that's tmi). we finally were brave enough to ask mamita berita, our pensionista, to cook us dinner instead of giving us bowls of mangoes every night, so we've been eating real-ish food for dinner lately. but, that doesn't stop the mangoes falling from heaven! i love it so much. :) speaking of binge eating, this week i also ate an entire, giant bar of 100% peruvian cacao. (i highly recommend it.)

mangoes with mango juice for dinner

a typical night in mamita berita's house

lastly this week, in studying a liahona short story, i learned that life needs to be lived with passion and energy. each minute is a treasure, and once it passes, it's gone forever (reflected only weakly in memory). i've learned that if you're going to serve others or worship the lord, you're happiest and most effective when you do it with all the joy and energy you have. live with energy this week! it will be easier if you can find yourself 57 mangoes to eat! LOVE YOU ALL!!

more mangoes!

when members give you cookies and chocolate and mangoes
and you eat almost everything in one night!

hermana wood

More from this week's messages to/from Hermana Wood's dad:

QUESTIONS from Hermana Wood's dad:
  • Do Peruvians love to play soccer? In Brazil, kids played in the streets and vacant lots all the time. I don't know how they do it, but they play wearing flip flops!
  • Do the youth have mid-week activities, like we do in the States? How many youth are in your ward?
ANSWERS from Hermana Wood:
  • of course! if you're a latino, you love soccer! they play everywhere. they even set up courts in the middle of the dirt roads, with two sticks on the ground as goal posts. they have to stop playing when motokars pass, haha. and, they always pick up the ball and say "CAREFUL!" and stop playing when we pass. :)
  • saturday at 3pm is their weekly youth activity! idk exactly how many youth are in the ward....like 20-25 total?
also, remembering how you described your missionary experience in brazil, i think i've reached a point where i'm comfortable with sweating all day, every day. haha! thinking about extending has pushed me to really try to love the hard parts of missionary work; i figure that if i can love to work, it will bless me for the rest of my life. LOVE YOU, daddy!

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
this week our district sang a hymn in sacrament meeting! we sang "o my father" to the tune of "come thou fount of every blessing" (in spanish), but elder fiame (a samoan from utah) and i sang part of it in english! and, i had a little solo! it was terrifying. we had to sing really loud, because rain was pouring on the metal rooftop of the chapel - i was so grateful my voice didn't crack! fiame said i sounded good. i hope so - at least no one was plugging their ears. LOVE YOU, mommy!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Ice Cream, Tarantulas, & Cockroaches

we eat ice cream here every week! (stefano's)

hello hello, gringos! how's everything in the united states? it's a very big deal that i'm writing this e-mail, because as i was peeling my 15th mango this week (it's that time of year again - dinner has been nothing but a bowl of mangoes for three days straight), the knife went under my thumb nail and cut me (so, these keystrokes aren't pleasant).

twelve mangoes. this was dinner! i was so full!

this week has been interesting in that we are losing almost everyone we've been teaching. bummer, but the lord has a plan for this area. we spent two days walking around for five hours straight with no lessons, but it was all worth it when we found susan at 8:10pm on sunday night! it was our first lesson with her, and as we explained the restoration it was a true delight to see in her face what the right reaction to that message should be. her eyes got huge, and she said "so what did god tell joseph? which church was right?" i almost laughed out loud i was so thrilled. :)

just chilling outside a member's house

going to an investigator's house
on a "straight and narrow" plank

there's a new rule in the mission and in our area (shout out to ecuador and colombia) that missionaries can no longer eat PORK! no "chancho!" the pigs here are too sketchy. but, they didn't say anything about playing with the pigs or taking selfies, so don't worry, that will still be a thing.

look who we found wandering the streets...charles II!

our district being swaggy

for service this week, we helped celide (a member) clean her "huerta." i think that means "garden" or something in english. she had piles of wood and garbage EVERYWHERE, and she basically didn't want to move any of it; it's called "relleno," and it keeps the houses near the [amazon] river from flooding during the rainy season. in fact, MANY families purposely keep garbage and wood piles around the base of their houses. anyway, we helped her put all the wood into a pile, and as I lifted, tarantulas and cockroaches went scrambling. that got the attention of celide's chickens, who came and ate the bugs as i lifted wood and helped clear garbage!! i also dug out a 26-year-old beer bottle, which took about 15 minutes to unearth. my back still hurts. ;)

life is good in pucallpa. smile, jesus loves you!

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's parents:
hey parents! this week i decided i want to extend my mission. i'm working with president li and the mission secretary, elder marriot, and i'll have my answer/approval in about two weeks! i'm pretty sure it's what i want to do, because i love being a missionary and the time is so short. i can't leave yet! i've had a bit of a change of heart. i guess that's what the mission does to you. :) anyway, if it gets approved, i would be coming home march 20th instead of the first week in february. LOVE YOU BOTH.

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
hey, mom! it's been a good week! and yes, solange is getting baptized on saturday!!! isn't that so exciting??? we met her like less than a month ago! she was so prepared! we didn't do much; it was all the spirit.

yeah, sometimes there are sisters in certain areas and then sometimes there are only elders. in our ward, there's us and then two elder companionships. a little over a year ago there were only elders in my area. idk why it changes - revelation from the [mission] president, i guess.

also, the package didn't make it in time for leadership council at the beginning of the month, so it will come at the beginning of october. no worries!! LOVE YOU.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Family History & Heart Throbs

there's a mango tree in the middle of this house!

hey, everyone! we have an investigator named solange who is so golden! she recently moved in with a member who is semi-active named lucia. so we're in the process of helping lucia come back to church as we teach solange (two for one)! solange accepted the invitation to be baptized on september 17th, so we are really excited. :) this week, we had a lesson where we read in alma 7:15 about being born again. after we read it, solange just started laughing. when we asked "what's funny?" she replied "it's just so true!!" haha, love her attitude! it IS so true!

the jungle

my pig, charles

in other exciting news, pierro (our recent convert) is on fire with family history work! he has like four generations completed already!! that kid needs to get to the temple!!! he's such a great example to me. also, in the spirit of "cross-cultural sharing," i recommended that he look up "walk the moon," and the next visit, we came in and he turned up "shut up and dance with me" (and started singing at the top of his lungs, haha)! it took all my energy and every ounce of obedience i have to not have a dance party with him right then and there. :)

two kiddos got baptized!
their parents are starting to reactivate in the church

daniel (left) and david (right)

life is so good! i love being a missionary!! i read something that changed my perspective on prayer this week: "it is well to know that prayer is not compounded of words, words that may fail to express what one desires to say...prayer is made up of heart throbs and the righteous yearnings of the soul, of supplication based on the realization of a need, of contrition and pure desire." ~ james e. talmage ("jesus the christ"). prayer is not made of words! it's made of feelings! so cool. love you all!

hermana wood

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's dad:
hey, dad! yeah, we're excited!! we started with no one to teach, and now we have FIVE progressing investigators (with one family and two more baptisms for the month of september). garcia is so happy. the other night, out of the blue, she said "wood, THANK YOU for coming here." she is so sweet! i love her so much! but, the SPIRIT directs this work!!

my cute comp gets a little crazy at night

about the english classes, i just improvise what i know for the presentations, haha. i teach the whole zone after district meeting. we all come together, and i write stuff on the white board, and i think some missionaries benefit. others sleep. :)

also, i absolutely love my filtered water bottle! because: 1) the water here is weird, even the drinkable kind, and 2) we get our huge bottle of drinkable water replaced every week at district meeting, but when there are transfers or when the leaders go to iquitos, we don't have district meeting (which means, no water for a week, sometimes a week and a half). so, i fill my water bottle in the sink, but my comp has to buy water bottles when we're out. LOVE YOU.

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's mom:
OH MY GOSH! someone from my old ward in iquitos just wrote and told me that edwin got baptized!!! remember him?! one day we were walking down a street, and i felt prompted we should proselyte there, but we didn't. idk why, i think we were in a hurry. then, we were walking down the same street on a different day, and i felt the same prompting. this time we followed it, and we contacted edwin and karola (who is a member). now edwin is baptized!!!! SO HAPPY. love you, mommy!!

More from this week's message to Hermana Wood's sister:
this week, i bought a snickers bar for the first time in over a year!!! the temptation was too strong. it was only just over a dollar! also, dinner one day this week was 7 tiny bananas (the size of my index finger) covered with sweetened condensed milk. mmm! yummy.

in other news, we were walking one night, and i felt prompted to talk to a guy standing next to his motokar. we invited him to church and a "noche misional" we were having the next day. and, he and his WHOLE family got all dressed up super nice and came to the noche misional! there is power in talking to strangers! :)

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