Sunday, August 28, 2016

Week 54 Adios Tumbes :( August 22, 2016

This little boy with Down syndrome has my heart
I've been transferred! (yes I am devastated) I am now an hna leader with Hna Martinez (from Peru) in Talara- (think desert beach)

Fun facts:

1. Latins have the most expressive culture.
Example: When me and Spainhower walk by two people throwing their whole bodies around. Me: "Oh my gosh are they fighting!?" Spainhower: "No listen, they are just talking about the weather.." Me: "oh..."
Culture Dimension number nine is Expressiveness-- neutral versus affective.
In Neutral it is a sign of respect to control your emotions but in affective they express emotions more immediately, openly, and passionately. Latins are super passionate. I get a big kick out of it and love practicing my impressions. (;
2. Latins in the US would probably be considered racist...
If he's black you call him negro, if she's white she's colorada, if his eyes are a little bit Chinese looking his name is chino. If you re fat, tall, short, skinny... you are named accordingly!
3. There are five types of Dengue. Recently Elder Cloninger got lucky and became sick with the most dangerous type. He bled nonstop from his gums and nose and was hospitalized for 5 days. His platelet level was down to 70,000 (normal is 150,000) Don't worry missionary moms! Missionaries are crazy resilient (;
Singing and playing the uke with the legendary German!
This week was AMAZING!!

We have been teaching Hermano Harold frequently. Background info: Years ago Harold went out for a walk one Sunday morning, he felt inclined to walk in front of the Mormon Church. While passing, a member motioned for him to come in. So he did. Since then he has received the lessons from several different companionships and was almost baptized two other times. Each time at the last minute his work has transferred him to a different area. He recently came back to the church for the first time in almost a year.
Harold is awesome and so humble and nice. We put a baptismal date for the 3rd of September. This week while we were teaching him he informed us that once again his work is transferring him and to a location close to his home town near Lima. Our hearts sank knowing this would be the 3rd time!! So Spainhower my rockstar companion said, "We are getting on our knees right now and you are going to say a prayer and ask God if this is the right thing to do." And so we did. A few days later at the ward activity he pulled us aside and said, "I'm getting baptized on the 3rd." Can I get a HALLELUJAH?

My Last Tumbes Gospel Principles episode.... :(
*The missionaries teaching a lesson on honesty*
Elder: "So what does it mean to be honest?"
German: "well for example, my mom, hasn't come home in three days, she doesn't call. Sin verguenza! (no shame!) Where could she be? I don't know! Probably with some guy out on the street! But don't worry... I'm going to find her.. and we are going to have a talk.."
-Turns out his mother was taken to prison
And that my friends is the epitome of Tumbes!

Every single lesson we teach we commit the investigator, convert, less active to act! To do something! After committing them we promise them blessings. How would anyone ever do anything if they didn't receive some sort of recompense? As representatives of Jesus Christ we promise them whatever we feel is OK. The other day we promised Alver (convert's husband) that if he came to church this week he would earn more money at work then the last. He doesn't come to church in fear of losing too much money. So every time we make a bold promise like that it's always a Carrie Underwood "Jesus take the wheel" kind of moment.
So so sad!! (no one tell Hna Spain that I posted this) (;
To be completely honest I am sad and shocked that I was transferred. At first the thought of Tumbes scared me. But upon arriving I quickly realized that this is not about the place, this is about the people. When I received the call I just felt plain bitter! Six weeks? It was too short. I expressed to Spainhower how sad I was to leave a place where I had come to love the people so fast, and not being able to really establish relationships with a lot of the people. I still feel like they will forget my name tomorrow. But last night the missionaries and members threw the most secretive surprise party and I had no idea. They all popped out from a hidden room with a cute sign and I immediately started crying. Harold who is getting baptized in 2 weeks was super sad to see me go and Belen (my convert) cried and is already planning for when I come back to visit.
My beautiful Belen, an eternal friend.
They shared some sweet words that poured comfort into my heart. I guess we really can't preach "everything happens for a reason" without believing it ourselves. I know everything happens for a reason and I hope to see those reasons in my time here in Talara.

fun fact: when hermanas travel a far distance-- (Tumbes to Sullana to Talara, 6 hours) sometimes there just aren't any other hermanas to travel with you for parts of it... so guess who didn't have a comp for the first time in over a year? Me. how weird is that... even funnier it was just me and Elder Weight (district leader from CCM) on the bus to Talara. That was definitely a first for me! Luckily he is so cool and shared with me everything from all of the deep doctrinal books he reads. He is a genius.

Wish me luck!
con mucho amor
Hermana Ingram
With Hna Glunt and Rodriguez for divisions 
Got transfers? (drowning her sorrows?)
Near, far, wherever you are! The heart will go on
Just my South American model friends...
I cried!! "short and sweet"
Converts Belen and Daniela and future convert Harlod!
Paola and fam! Jean Pierre and Andre and the dog Chato
The best family!!
When ye are in the service of your fellow men...(painting Hna Lazo's nails)
So sad...Spain cried. I love her
He always turned my frown upside down when he blew us kisses for his porch. He kept saying "whiskey" with his big cheesy smile (they say "whiskey" for photos like Americans say "cheese")
Rice fields
Adios Tumbes :( You were an adventure...

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Week 53 Burning Ritual August 15, 2016

We did it!
Men and women, boys and girls, brothers and sisters. I did it! One whole year! I am currently patting myself on the back because I have even made it this far. An entire year without seeing my family let alone stepping foot on American soil. Sometimes I wake up, look at my surroundings, and think, "Wow! I'm still here!?" But here I am! They say that the most any human ever learns at one time is when they are babies, when they learn to walk and talk. Well I'm pretty positive that when someone serves a mission it's like they're thrown into the baby time period all over again. A new world, a new language. It's pretty terrifying. In just a year I have learned a million new things and gained a million more experiences.
A whole solid year!
In the book "Kisses From Katie" she describes what she calls, "The Crucible of Contradiction" and in my case, it goes something likes this: I hate living so far away and dealing with feelings of loneliness. I hate sweating 24 hours of the day and never feeling clean. I hate the catcalls and gestures from the disrespectful men on the streets. I hate feeling 100% mentally and physically exhausted after a hard 14hr work day. I miss so badly getting in a car and just driving to get some quiet, alone time. I hate feelings of inadequacy and not meeting goals or expectations. I hate eating food that I know will only make me sick. I miss spending time with my friends. I miss Sunday dinners with my family and family vacations. I miss going on dates and seeing movies. I miss hot showers and the feeling of carpet underneath my feet. I miss seeing mountains and changes in climate. I miss the comfort of my home. On the other hand, I absolutely love sharing my testimony 20 times a day. I love surrounding myself with people and the light that they shine into my life. I love studying my scriptures. I love the strong spirit I feel every time we open a lesson singing a hymn. I love recognizing the Lord's hand in my life and seeing miracles. I love all that I am learning, leadership, patience, faith, public speaking, using time wisely,etc. I love feeling my testimony grow and become strengthened. I love learning and speaking Spanish. I love this time to truly come to know my Savior without all of the distractions.

Most days joy fills my heart to the point of bursting. I have seen the most awe-inspiring changes in the lives of those around me and in my own. Others, my stomach clenches in frustration at times when those around me aren't willing to change or even when I myself fight against swallowing my pride and submitting to the Lord's will. Some days I feel so happy as I look back at my days as a missionary and see the times I did well, others I feel regret when I think of the days when I could have done better. Sometimes I feel sad when I think of everything else I could be doing, Others I am so happy in what I am doing. Most days are filled with happiness, some nights I cry into my pillow in exhaustion or frustration.

There is so much contradiction and it can be very confusing and hard at times. There are these powerful magnets pulling either side of you in opposite directions. I love my mission but sometimes it really hurts. I imagine our own Savior felt an extreme amount of contradiction when he cried, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." The contents of that cup were so vile and bitter yet He loved His Father. Sometimes we face a lot of trial and opposition. But for some reason we push right on through it anyway, I believe there is a greater love that drowns out all of the noise, that makes everything worth it in the end. I think that during this life we would be much better off if we would look at each opposition as an opportunity. Take Ammon, for example. As a servant to King Lamoni he was sent forth to watch the King's flocks. Not long after, some of the Lamanites came through and scattered them. Think about it, that had to have been terribly frustrating for him. Those around him said, "That's it, we are through, the King is definitely going to kill us." Ammon, on the other hand, stood amongst his co-servants --who were all in tears-- and thought, "Wow this is going to be great! I'm going to get all of the sheep back and maybe Lamoni will be so impressed he will actually listen to what I have to say!" He then proceeded to casually chop off all of the arms of his enemies. Ammon in our day is something like a General Authority with a part-time hobby of body-building. Favorite food? Protein powder of course. A spiritual and physical giant. What were the ramifications to a single change in thought-process? "Thousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord." Pretty amazing, and all because one man decided to look at opposition as an opportunity. "Every challenge you face, every hard thing you confront, every bad thing that happens to you, every unfairness, every conflict, every sadness, tragedy, every disappointment and heartache, every temptation and every opposition happens for one purpose only: to give you opportunity to respond by applying in your life the teachings of Jesus. As you do so you are changed to become more like Him."..."Without opposition the plan would be frustrated, you could not progress and the purpose of life would be unachievable."

Our trials are truly understood better in hindsight. We may not understand the reasons "why" in the opposition we face today. But I know that tomorrow-- or even years from now-- we will. Take my case for example. A new, energetic, ready-to-go young missionary in Morropon. We were told that we needed to either baptize or increase church attendance by 30 people to keep the branch and area open. In my mindset I thought, "Oh this is going to be the best success story!" We were fasting, praying, and working hard. My mom was even putting the names of my investigators on the temple roll. How could it possibly go wrong? In the end what happened? Church attendance decreased and in 3 months a single investigator came one Sunday leaving without ever wanting to return again. Almost a year later that branch is still shut down and there are no missionaries there. There were many, many moments when I thought, "why me?" But now thanks to hindsight I can look back full of gratitude for all that I was able to learn from that experience, everything that has helped me in the areas that followed. Each opposition is an opportunity.

My mission is not at all anything like I had expected. It has been full of opposition, in forms more than just hard companions and lack of success. There have been times when I have felt like my mission has punched a big emotional dent in me and I couldn't possibly bounce back. Yet somehow I do. Sometimes, I'll admit, opposition comes and I think, "In what way could this ever be an opportunity?!" --we all have times like that. But I know that we have the most perfect, all-knowing, and all-loving Personal Trainer that is constantly giving us just the right amount of weight so that we can become our very best selves. "We shall emerge from all of these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them."

In the scriptures we read, "The God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, and the God of Abraham." -Those must have been very personal and intimate relationships for Isaac, Jacob, and Abraham to be able to say, "Yep that's my God." My mission has really helped me to figure out who the God of Hannah is and where I stand in that relationship. I think that of the literal ocean of things I have learned on my mission the biggest and most important is that I know that my Redeemer lives. I've learned what that phrase means to me personally and what it can mean to those around me. It brings hope, it lets me know that I am never alone, it makes me happy.

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Ingram

Points from the week:
-we rode bus cama to piura, they mopped the floors in there the night before then left the windows open. Which also means the mosquitos had a hey day. 6 missionaries vs 6 thousand mosquitoes and the possibility of getting dengue. We fought for our lives.
Fighting for our lives!!! We got BUS CAMA! (like 1st class busses)
-Our new investigator is named Harold! He was almost baptized a year ago but fell away! Stay tuned- I can vision a baptism in the near future
-President gave us permission to ride on the boats at Puerto Pizarro! We made sure not to fall in...
Zona Tumbes float in on a boat (with permission....don't worry mom)
Adriano enjoying the ride! Leydi's (convert) son
Puerto Pizarro
-I bought a ukulele to celebrate one year. Then Hermana Spainhower and Elder Garcia followed... we may or may not start a band
-Jose informed us that because Adam partook of the forbidden fruit, every time we eat apples, we are cursed with an adams apple, "and that's why I don't buy apples, I don't want it to get stuck again!"
-Yesterday Elder Meier had me sit by the crazy evangelical lady that comes to church every once and while, its an adventure.
President Rasmussen in the greatest!
We love Hermana Rasmussen
The Queen in her element
Hermana leaders and tacos
Leadership of the Peru North Mission- (aka Tumbes and Puyango)
Look who I found! Her first words in English, "I am chubby"
And they're off! Elder Biedleman and Harris, mission accomplished
Teaching Jose! (convert)
"Hna Lazo! (pensionista) put Pepe by the calendar next to our year date!" *slaps him right on there
One of my favorite families!
For a second we thought Tumbes was pretty
Flowers and the market
"Someone poke it with a stick"
"This is our crocodile Sassy, she's got a bit of an attitude problem"

Week 52 One Year This Week! August 8, 2016

Puerto Pizarro
Guess who cumples one año this week!! I am still in denial... stay tuned, burning skirt pics will come next week.

Last P-day Hna "Espinhoweh" and I walked into a super fancy clothing store. Immediately it felt like a scene from Pretty Woman. The employee oh so wonderfully followed us around telling us all of the expensive prices. Then Espinhouse went over to the lotion and perfume shelves and began smelling all of them. All of a sudden I hear a gasp, turn around, and see Espinhouse's big eyes wide open and lotion exploded all over her face. The lady stood there fuming and I swear I saw an aura of flames. Thinking fast I hurried and cleaned off the bottle by rubbing it all over her arm, put it on the shelf, then grabbed my comp and booked it out of there... maybe it was just one of those "you had to be there" moments.
Comp pic!
I heard I was featured on Mormon Faces last week and I would just like to say that it's an honor to be a Z-list celebrity. I will leave this Internet cafe and happily walk my red carpet. (when I say red I really mean dog poop and cement.)

Friday night was ward mission night and us missionaries had nothing planned... so Elder Meier, one of my heroes used his creativity and came up with the best lesson and game. A BUNCH of people showed up! Including a member's uncle who in his younger glory days was a famous comical actor. He was 87 and hardly walking. For the game we sat everyone in a big circle and Elder Meier explained the song that was to be sung, "rock rock how i wonder, from one hand and to the other, is it fair, is it fair, to leave (name of person in the middle) standing there." But of course complaints were made as they can't even say the word "pop" or "need". So then it turned into "nah, nah, nah" Just imagine 40 of those annoying seagulls from Finding Nemo that say "mine" now change that to "nah", put them in a circle, give them a tune (98% are tone-deaf) THEN on top of that make them do hand actions with the objective of passing a little rock around without letting the person in the middle see, take my word for it.. it was hysterical. Then the 87 yr old comedian started yelling the song and each time the room erupted in laughter. He was reliving his glory days no doubt. In the end Elder Meier was even able to relate it back to the message, all the while us missionaries agreeing, "yep, the kids destined for med school."
With Hermana Stringham! (served here a year ago) and Elder Beidleman and Harris (going home tomorrow)
Yesterday at church was A-MAZ-ING! We heard some of the most amazing testimonies. Hermana Stringham came back to visit the mission with her dad. They both stood up at the pulpit as he testified and she translated. He talked about how his daughter wishes she could visit all of them and call them everyday but that she can't. "But she prays for you. She knows each and every one of you by name." It was so powerful and I couldn't help but think how awesome it would be to be given that opportunity. Tears came and they wouldn't stop, I loved it. Elder Beidleman stood up and shared his very last testimony as a full time missionary. He said something that really rang true. He quoted Holland by saying, "You are the miracle of this church, the members." I sat there and thought about it while looking around at all of the members surrounding me. The recent convert who brought her nonmember alcoholic husband to church for the very first time. The little 12 year old girl who comes to church alone and patiently waits for the day she will be able to be baptized. The woman who entered the sacrament meeting for the first time after losing her husband to a heart attack, having a firm testimony that she will indeed see him again. The old man who cares for and brings his adult mentally-ill son to sacrament each week to feel the spirit. The teenager who recently chose to painfully remove dear friends from his life who have started down a path of drugs and alcohol. They are the Miracles! Each and every one. I am inspired by them.
Saturday... oh Saturday... lunch with members.
We were looking forward to a light lunch after asking the relief society president to tell the sister not to prepare us any rice or noodles. All I remember is that Hna Spain was the first to walk into the eating area when she said, "Oh I want to die" in English. I had about the same desire too when I saw the absolute MOUNTAIN of noodles on our plates... more than the father and 16 yr old son. How thoughtful she was to give us each a package to ourselves. No doubt in my mind that was more than a days-worth of calories sitting on one plate. It's the times when I am drenched in my sweat from the stifling Peruvian heat while a perfectly functioning fan sits in the corner because if you turn it on "we will all die", all the while stuffing my face with carbohydrates until I can't walk let alone breath are the times I walk away thinking, "I hate Peru, I hate it." Luckily the Elders called us and faked an emergency so we made it out before going into a food coma.
A typical dead end street in Peru: 1. mototaxi, 2. kids playing soccer, 3. the virgin de guadalupe
We found and taught a wonderful woman named Monica who has a little more than rambunctious down syndrome boy. The only time he sat still and stopped screaming was at the beginning of the lesson while we sang "I know That my Redeemer Lives." The spirit was so strong and he was absolutely mesmerized. It reminded me of my cute aunt and her love for music! It's the simple moments like those when I think "I love Peru, I love it"

Love you all!
Con mucho amor,
Hermana Ingram
Bringing back the classic puppy picture
The sun was bright

Los congregos! 
Fresh squeezed orange juice...YUM!
Look at that cheesed! (our pensionista's grand babies)
Birthday boy! Hna Leydi (baptized the day before I arrived in Tumbes) and her son.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Week 51 The Life of a Celebrity August 1, 2016

5 fun facts:

1. A common term here is called "la hora Peruana" which means "the Peruvian hour" and refers to the MAJOR lack of punctuality. I am not exaggerating when I say that if you plan an activity or meeting at 6 it will start either at 7, 7:30, or 8... I NEVER understood this until finally Hna Sandison's dad sent her an article on Culture Dimensions! Latins run on an entirely different timetable than the US. It's called Event time. When an hour is said for a given event it is more of just a guideline, but in reality the event will start when all the people needed to be there arrive. Which can get pretty frustrating....
2. You can't go a full day without seeing, in the words of Elder Meier, a few scenes of "distasteful nudity." When you live just south of the equator clothes aren't number one on the list of priorities.
3. Latins are dreamers! If she dreamt her husband is cheating on her, it's true. If he dreamt he's getting called to the bishopric, it's true. If they dreamt the first vision before you taught it to them, they're golden. I can't believe people and their dreams here! In my last dream I was in a bathroom waiting room with Taylor Swift, we ate skittles and talked about her secret glass eye. So basically if I have the Latin dreamer-gift that means Taylor Swift is hiding something....
4. I would say about 1 in every 10 lessons we have someone telling us about the demons that are haunting them. Black shadows, invisible beings, unexplainable movement. Last night a man told us the most hilarious story about the female demons that are haunting him! Interesting....
5. Tumbes has by far the highest population of one-legged men, and we are good friends with all of them. They should start a club!
Happy Independence Day Peru!
On Tuesday there was a giant parade on the same road as the chapel. Every school kid within miles of Tumbes came to march in their school outfits and costumes for a competition to see who would get chosen for the big parade. Our stake president asked us missionaries to spend half of the day at the church letting people use bathrooms and drink water. It was a fiasco. The church immediately filled with kids! At one point I had two teenage-boys on either side of me while their friends took pictures and the little kids asked me to sign my name on little pass along cards. All the while my heart rate was well above 140 beats per minute as I thought, "Oh my gosh the celebrity life is so overrated, I'm just a missionary!" And then in my panic motioning to the elders to get the teenagers away.... On the bright side we were able to contact a million people!
Feeling like celebrities with our fans...
On Wednesday we needed to quickly prepare for the multi-zone that would be happening the very next day! Step 1: Clean the chapel!! What we thought would be a 2 hour project turned into 5.... The place was a disaster! The Biggest Reason: In Peru you cannot flush toilet paper! The sewage systems are a little bit behind. Luckily the church pays good money so that we can flush toilet paper in the bathrooms. But for a Peruvian off of the street, flushing toilet paper is completely foreign to them. So what happened when we let hundreds of kids from the street into the church to use the bathroom?? They threw their used toilet paper on the floor. Imagine that! I could just hear the horror music when I opened the door to the girls bathroom... a tear or two was shed. But have no fear! Elder Meier is here! And boy, is he fearless. Although he did work as a CNA for a while...
Elder Meier is FEARLESS!
The multi zone was awesome!! As well as a little bit stressful. Not only did Hermana Spainhower and I have to prepare a class.. but we also volunteered to give a special musical number. It was super fun to teach the missionaries! and our musical number turned out okay... We learned about the Book of Mormon and I loved every bit of it. The Book of Mormon is something that is super special to me! It is one of my firmest testimonies. I know that it is true! And every time I read it I feel my Savior's love for me. It's a powerful thing. There is nothing more frustrating than investigators who defiantly declare that The Book of Mormon was written by men and God only speaks to us through the Holy Bible. My invitation to everyone everywhere: Read it! If you allow the spirit to enter into your heart it will change your life! You will be happier. How wonderful it is to know that God continues to speak to us today through living prophets and apostles, THAT is how much He loves us.

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Ingram
I just had to go around and take pictures of the cute kids in costumes! For a second we thought our mission was really cultural
 Cusco and jungle girls 

 Jungle boys
The cutest little marinera girl
Incan warrior boys
Scare tactics
Peruvian Independence Day
Peruvian Army men, scary!
The wedding! (the Elder's investigators)
With the happy couple
Cake accurate!

On this episode of Deadliest Catch!
P-day at the beach-The district with the world's craziest DL Elder Del Busto who came straight from the jungle!
The cute oyster man working hard and selling oysters for 20 soles a kilo!
Harvest time
Cute Belen wanted to show us the LIVE crabs she bought!