Sunday, May 29, 2011

This is in the Belen area of Iquitos. The rainy season is just finishing and the water is starting to recede a bit where many people live. Belen is an area of much poverty. High water is just part of life for these people. Three to four months out of the year they have water at their doors. If the water rises over the floor boards they just add higher floor boards. The other months their homes stand on twenty foot high poles. People who live here just have a few necessities of life. Living in a third world country brings a totally different definition to poverty. Here "having things" don't define one's happiness.

Walking out on the twelve inch boards they use to make the walk paths was a little tricky. Being out on the water gives you a totally different perspective of life in Belen. Missionaries are allowed in some areas to walk out on bridges to teach people. If there is any question as to their safety they have to make other arrangements to teach people. Yes, this past year we had an elder fall into the water. After we learned he didn't know how to swim he wasn't allowed to walk on the bridges anymore. This water is not very clean.

Two hundred thousand people live in the Belen area of Iquitos. They call it the Venice of Peru.

This past weekend Presidente Blunck was able to participate with this family in their baptism. These two sister missionaries had taught this family. Their son had been a member of the church for the past four years. He has faithfully attended with his aunt each Sunday. After about ten different sets of missionaries trying to teach the father Hermana Reyes was able to make a connection with him. The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ rang true to his ears. The boy baptized his mother on Saturday and Larry baptized the father. The boy cried tears of joy after their baptism. Now they will work to be sealed together as a family in the temple.

This is our latest missionary to depart the mission, Elder Ochochoque. He has been a great missionary. He is a convert to the church and the only member in his family.

In the jungle regions of Peru we see some of the most beautiful cloud formations and some of the most violent thunder and lightening storms. While waiting for the plane to return to Lima it cut lose and poured. The waiting area in the airport started flooding with water. Luckily it stopped raining just in time for our plane to land and take us to Lima. Often time flights get cancelled when it is raining. Coming from Oregon this a little hard to understand. In Pucallpa there is a native village nearby called SanFransisco. This native woman was trying to sell me some of her bead work.

Looks like we won't make it to our destination today, too much mud. Many of the nearby roads in the jungle become impassible after days of rain.

It looks like the president has been out four wheeling with all this mud. Not so, we are trying to travel to a near by village about a hour away from Pucallpa and with some recent heavy rain the road became inpassible. We will have to try again another day.

Roads and rivers are every one's lifeline in the jungle. Most people do not have a means of transportation other than their own two feet. Often times during our travels we will see people walking down the roads out in the middle of no where. The strange thing is they are going somewhere.

These are our sister missionaries in Pucallpa Peru. Hermanas Sanhueza, Estrada, Yost, and Miranda. Despite the mud and mosquitos on occasion they love teaching in Pucallpa. Peanut butter is a real treat for them. Missionary work is all about talking to people and seeing if they are searching for more in their lives. Here President is speaking with a moto taxi driver.

Missionaries have to learn to make good use of their time each day on their missions. These elders have drawn a sample page from their planner so they can see their plan each time they enter their room.

Being a missionary teaches young people so many life skills. They become fluent in a second language. They learn study skills, people skills, organizational skills and most importantly they learn to love the Lord and His children. We work to help them become men and woman of God. Our hope is that they will take all the skills they have learned as a missionaries and continue to serve God and their fellow man. For some, a mission is one of the hardest things they will ever do. Pres. Uchtdorf says it well, "It is often in our trials and most difficult moments that we learn the most critical lessons that form our character and shape our destiny." Here, Elder Emmet is working on planning his week.

Part of each missionary's day is devoted to planning. Here Elder Castillo is planning with his companion. For most 19 year old missionaries, they have no clue about planning and organizing their day. Every missionary has a pocket calendar to plan with.

Elder Lee has been serving as a missionary in Nauta for seven months. He has helped to establish a new church unit in Nauta. When he first arrived there were about twenty people attending. This past Sunday there were eighty five people in attendance. He has learned first hand all the work and effort that needs to be put forth to establish a new church.

The church leaders in Nauta are Elder Nelson in the middle, Elder Orellana on the left and Bro. Pinche. I want to share some comments made by Elder Orellana, "We had two wonderful baptisms this past week, a father and his 14 year old daughter. Their family is living proof of what the gospel can do for a family that tries to live it and also of how the Lord prepared some of his children here in Nauta to receive His message. We contacted this family two months ago and invited them to church. The next day the whole family walked into the church (the mom, dad and four children). Step by step they have been progressing towards baptism into Christ's church. Two days ago the father and his daughter were baptized. Shortly the rest of the family will follow as they continue to progress. After his baptism the father stood to share his testimony, he was in tears. He said he had been a drunk but after being taught about Jesus Christ he knew he could change. He cried, his whole family cried and I was in tears. The spirit was so strong testifying of the conversion of this man whom I love with all my heart. The miracle of it all is that through the Gospel of Jesus Christ people can change. I love this work".

The sign on the casa capilla (house chapel) in Nauta Peru.

Church members and investigators in Nauta Peru.

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