Monday, October 31, 2016

Week 64 Happy Halloween! October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

It's not often that a holiday just happens to fall on our only free day of the week, so of course we had to take advantage of it! Hna Sepulveda and I rented cute little Peruvian costumes and have been sporting them all day and enjoying every weird look we receive.

*brainstorming on what to do for Halloween with the district*
my comp: "too bad they don't have haunted houses here..."
Elder Wilde: "I know! We could just go take a walk down a street in San Pedro." (dangerous part)
Me. "Perfect, the knives are real, the dogs will bite, and get this?! You don't even have to sign a waiver or pay a fee!"
Halloween party! Elder Wilde and Elder Richards (with the wigs) were "the ugly stepsisters". Elder Sheanshang (with the gun) is Men in Black, and Elder Ward is spongebob squarepants (or at least his homemade name tag said so)
Last week Hna Sepulveda commented about some of the pictures her friends sent her at haunted houses. Then both of us sat there and thought, "Oh haunted houses? That's what people are doing right now? Oh ya! It's October! That's what people do in October I almost forgot..."
This is what happens when you live in a desert where there is no indication of seasons changing or holidays celebrated.. how sad.

You know to be honest I have finally forgotten what life in the US is like. Peruvian life has become the new normal. Well until we saw kids taking turns going to the bathroom in a plastic bottle in the middle of the sidewalk... it was like someone shook me and said "Yep Hannah! You're in a third world country!!" and me thinking, "oh ya I remember now"
Evidence of a third-world country...No water for 2 days! This was our homemade contraption to save water when all that would come out was a trickle from the sink. It worked!
This week was much better!
I was beginning to feel a little bit nervous as we hadn't seen Toni and his family for an entire week while they traveled to Lima. Being away from an investigator is super nerve wracking. Literally anything could happen! We were walking down the street on Saturday when all of a sudden Toni ran into us and started saying, "Hermanas November 5th! November 5th! I want Hermano Rosalez to baptize me!"
Toni and Fam!! I'm so excited for this family!
My face totally lit up. I am SO excited for this Saturday! Toni is someone I've worked so hard on and it will be super gratifying to see him finally reach his goal and then continue progressing from there.

This week in the mission home I finally got my first hot shower since December and was served hot pancakes with maple syrup. I feel like it's foreshadowing events to come. (;

99 days to give it my all out here!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Ingram
Freaking out because I have less than 100 days left and she has less than 50!!
Happy Halloween!! (We are literally the only people dressed up in Peru right now) all of the members keep asking us, "Aren't you embarrassed to be walking around like that??" haha...
Happy, happy!
Pics from the Specialized Training with President and Sister Rasmussen

My cute Hermana Sandison, always good to see her!
HERMANA THOMAS! Finally found her after all this time! (:
Spainy!! I've missed her!
The 3 gringas from our group
Key Lime pie....yum!! 
Hermana Lunch
My cute comp and I
Señor de los milagros, (Catholic holiday) 
Luisaac and typical Talara
Señor de los milagros decor and the Book of Mormon!

Week 63 Emptying the Ocean with an Eyedropper October 24, 2016

Look who I found in Catacaos!!!
This week was not my week... I'm not sure who's it was but it wasn't mine. I hope it was yours!

Not only did I accidentally give myself a third degree burn but the next day I tripped and fell almost straight on my face. Luckily the only people who saw were my comp and the homeless man on our street. He got a good chuckle out of it. You know it's a bad day if the bum is laughing at you...

Luisaac asked me why I was all scraped up.....
me:"Oh you know, just exfoliating the dead skin" (and new)
Luisaac:"with what?"
Me: "The asphalt."
Short cuts...
A little over a month ago Hermana Tanuvasa told us a story around the lunch table. I know I won't give this story/analogy the justice it deserves, but in essence, it goes like this:

Hermana Tanuvasa's younger brother is currently a high school football player. Standing 6 foot 3 inches and weighing 225 pounds he plays on the defensive line. In one particular Friday night football game his opponent stood at 6 feet 6 inches and weighed 280 pounds. (sounds like NFL right?!) The first play began and as her brother pushed and pushed his enormous opponent he could not get him to move. When the play ended he walked over, sat on the bench and put his head in his hands in frustration. His dad, from the bleachers, observed him and headed down to the field. He calmly talked to his son, giving him counsel and encouragement until the next play. He stepped on the field and with even more determination than before, stood strong against his opponent. But again he was unable to get him to even budge. There he sat, on the bench with his head in his hands as his dad stepped down from the bleachers to be with his son. This pattern continued throughout the entire game until the clock ran out and the final whistle was blown. He walked off the field feeling frustrated and defeated. But to some surprise, his team had won. He had won.

To be completely honest I feel as if a little bit of frustration is beginning to creep into my generally positive attitude. Talara is a difficult area. I've done the hard stuff, I've learned the language, I've figured out how to be a missionary. At this point in my mission I feel like never before have I been oh so determined to make a difference and to see results. Hermana Sepulveda and I are working so hard, we are obedient, and yet everything fell through this week. There have been no results. Sometimes missionary work truly feels like emptying the ocean with an eyedropper. I wake up every morning to go to work and someone hands me my schedule: "Dig a bottomless pit." This work is beginning to feel impossible!

Last month the missionaries of the Peru Piura mission received an email from President Rasmussen that said:
I just received the monthly report from the missionary department. Each of our key indicators consistently measures above the average in the South America Northwest Area. Through the first eight months of the year the Peru Piura Mission has baptized 465 people -- 60 more than we baptized during all of last year. And note that last year we had 42 more missionaries than we have now. You are miracle workers.
I want to express my thanks to each of you for your diligent and obedient service. I testify that it does make a difference to be obedient to the rules and standards given to us by our leaders. We are a team. The individual efforts of each of you are making a huge difference in our collective accomplishments. 
Once, in a meeting, President Rasmussen talked about how this mission isn't always easy. We are not big wards and stakes with every auxiliary organized and home and visiting teaching implemented. We don't have activities that members put on or a temple visitors center to take our investigators on tours of. The church is still relatively new here and I know of very few third or even second generation members. The majority are converts still struggling with turning their membership to the church into a lifestyle rather than a hobby or part time activity. Yet I consider it a huge blessing to play even the tiniest part into Piura one day getting a Temple, or even Talara becoming a stake. I may feel frustration when I don't see immediate results but I'm immensely blessed to have leaders, friends, companions, family members who consistently help me, like in our mission song to, "carry on, carry on, carry on!" Until then, I'll continue emptying this ocean with my eyedropper, having hope in knowing that I'm on a team, The Lords team. We cannot lose.

con mucho amor,
Hermana Ingram
I love talking to the Peruvian children almost more than the adults (:
My comp and the Jesus statue in the distance

Monday, October 17, 2016

Week 62 Friendship Knows no Color October 17, 2016

I asked Hermana Sepulveda to caption this one. She said, "Friendship knows no color" Amen!
Week 3 of transfer 11 was off to a good start until I lost my balance while carrying the boiling pot of water to heat my shower and spilled it down my thigh. My borderline 3rd degree burn really rained on my parade.

Yesterday Hermana Susanna claimed that I only took her out to do visits with us so that she could lose weight with all of the walking we do. Since I love going along with sarcasm I said "how did you know?!" and then grabbed her by the arm and started running. After that we did some high knees and then a light jog. I sure hope she will come out with us tomorrow. (;

Toni as of now is our most progressing investigator! His family is coming up right behind him. His baptismal date is officially the 5th of November! I'm super excited.
The Talara Zone
I'm pretty satisfied that week 2 came to a close. This week we had the most amazing multi zone whose theme was "being disciples of Christ". I feel like I may have enjoyed it more if I didn't have to do two musical numbers and a class. But nonetheless it was fun! In preparation for our class we spent a few days asking everyone we came in contact with 3 questions:

1. Why is it important to repent?
2. What are the blessings we receive when we repent?
3. Do you believe those blessings apply to you personally?

What we noticed was that the vast majority of people see repentance as a bad thing! I could hear the crickets chirping when we asked question #2. Wait blessings? For repenting? Yes! Did you know that repentance is actually a good thing? Did you know that it's an essential part of God's plan? I have learned more fully what repentance is on my mission. Upon arriving I had very high expectations for myself. I had this idea that I was going to be the next closest thing to perfect. Boy, did I get a wake up call. I quickly realized that that is impossible. The entire system is set up in such a way that you could never possibly go a day with perfection. You could never rely on your own talents and abilities. You will always fall short. We are constantly being reminded of the Higher Power in whom we rely on.

Photo credit: President and Sister Rasmussen ;)
Yesterday was awesome. We had 9 investigators at church! I feel that if the branch and the leadership was a little more involved in missionary work these people would already be baptized. I think one of the biggest reasons this branch has been a branch for 35 years is because there is no retention. You baptize someone and later on they become less active. How sad! It's not uncommon for us to visit a less active and hear a story about a member or leader offending them. It's pretty unfortunate that they feel that that is a valid excuse. Think of Judas! He was an Apostle of God yet he betrayed Jesus Christ. He definitely offended a lot of people in the making. Does that mean the disciples should leave the church and Christ because of the mistakes of a leader? Are we justified for leaving? When Christ extends his invitation to "come and follow me" that means follow him no matter what, forever.

I know that as we strive to learn more about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, his teachings and example will become engraven in our minds. It will effect our thoughts, feelings, actions, and our character. We will become true disciples of Christ.

Con mucho Amor!
Hermana Ingram
The ever-so-lovely Hermana Rasmussen
Las Hermanas
The vultures that eat all of the dead dogs...

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 61 Earn Your Pillow!! October 10, 2016

Found my BFF at leadership council! (photo courtesy of President and Sister Rasmussen)
Hermana Sandison used to have a phrase on her wall that said:

"Earn your pillow!"

Which means work your butt off until you feel so exhausted that you know you truly earned your pillow that day. This week was unbelievably busy. Back to back to back to back appointments and responsibilities. We didn't even have enough time to visit everyone we needed to visit. Needless to say, I'm EXHAUSTED!
Hermana Sepulveda and me!
We have been working so hard with Toni that sometimes I feel like I keep telling myself "Ok Jesus take the wheel because we have done all that we can at this point." I have never wanted something so bad in my mission than to see Toni get baptized! His dilemma this week was that his parents don't support him and think he needs more time investigating. So we thought of the only solution; teach his parents! They both came to church yesterday and sat and listened to the members bear their testimonies. Later on in the day we went to Toni's house and sat down with his other 3 siblings and both of his parents. The first thing his mom said was, "Ok before we start with the message I just have a question. Why should I believe in your church?" That's what I like to hear Juli! (; We told her why and at the conclusion of the lesson the entire family agreed to be baptized if they felt that this is the true church... (it's only a matter of time) (:

Before we closed Toni's dad broke down, tears began streaming down his cheeks. He choked out through his sobs how grateful he was that we found Toni and that we are changing his life. His wife was also in tears and kept hitting her husbands knee and saying, "calm down Jesus, calm down."
He explained to us how good he felt in church that morning and how badly he wanted to go up to the pulpit and share his feelings.

I know as missionaries we aren't changing Toni's life. We are merely sharing a message. Miracles happen when people are taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Spirit bears witness of these truths. They change. When all is sad and done I am always left amazed at our Savior and His Atonement and the power that it can have in our lives. I don't take credit for any success we have I just thank my Father in Heaven for letting me enjoy the ride. Being a missionary is awesome.

14 months in the mission tomorrow!!! Only 4 months left, how crazy.

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Ingram
Those from my CCM group at leadership council! With Elder Meier as the new AP. (I called it!) (:
My reaction when Elder Norman said, "Reverse Polygamy"
We were made fun of for taking this picture...Elders...
With Juan Pablo! The cutest little Colombian!
My, "I hate flying kites" face
The elders were pretty successful in flying their garbage bag kite. I think they found their inner Peruvian kid...
My kite flying consisted of 1% flying the kite and the other 99% untangling the knots.. 
Los Surfistas!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Week 60 Saying Goodbye to Hermana Martinez October 3, 2016

Floyd featured in my classic puppy picture
And transfers are here! But first...

I knew this week would be a little bit on the slow side when my comp packed her suitcases on Tuesday haha.

Hermana Martinez was sitting at her desk casually gazing out the window when she says, "Normally you want to see birds flying but instead you see plastic bags..." I look out the window and sure enough there was a flock of plastic bags taking flight. Me: "Hey the white one almost looks like a dove!".... Just so you get an idea of Peru and their major garbage problem.

People are so insistent on giving you their food and beverages that Hermana Martinez decided to get crafty... She hates milk. The other night in a family home evening a member tried to give her some warm milk so with quick thinking and not a bit of shame she yells, "MILK GIVES ME DIARRHEA!" That lady booked that milk out of there so fast and left me in tears on the couch. Hey you gotta do what you've gotta do I guess.
Hermana Martinez with our investigator Claudia!
And yet another transfer has come and gone and leaves me taping my eyes open and telling myself, "DON'T BLINK DON'T BLINK!" It's a definite missionary cliche but time really does fly!!
Now I am down to just 3 transfers left out of thirteen. My time with Hermana Martinez was one for the books. She is a favorite no doubt. In the beginning I felt pretty blind as to why in the world was I leaving Tumbes after just 6 weeks?! But there is no way I would trade my time with Hermana Martinez. I know I needed to be with her and learn from her. Another amazing friend made out here!
Dropping off Hermana Martinez at the bus stop :( So sad!
My new comp is Hermana Sepulveda!!! I'm super excited! She is from Mapleton (Utah), just next door. Last week I saw her at the mission home and we were talking about how fun it would be to be comps! Well here we are (:

Not too long ago my companion and I were doing our weekly planning. We sat at out desks and meticulously wrote down the names of each person we were teaching. Some of those names we had little knowledge about, maybe a visit or two. Others we have been teaching for longer periods of time. We prayed for those individuals. We discussed what their needs may be. What they are struggling with. We used our resources to find possible solutions. We planned who could befriend them and make them feel more loved. As we sat at our less than comfortable card table-desks and pored our hearts and minds over those hand-written names I turned to Hermana Martinez and asked her, "What if they knew? What if these people knew that 2 sister missionaries in a Harry Potter closet were writing their own name down, they were praying for them, they were wanting to help them overcome their trials? What would they do if they knew?"

As the two of us sat there and thought about it, a very distinct thought, that did not originate from me, came to mind.

"If only you knew."

We truly have a Father in Heaven who loves us. He knows us by name. He watches over us individually. He hears our prayers. He tirelessly assesses our current needs, time and time again. He is aware of our pain and our sorrows. He "customizes our mortal experiences to help us grow into our very best selves." He has great plans for us, even if we are completely blind to the bright future ahead. Often it is comforting to know that "God's plans for your life far exceed the circumstances of your day." This is especially comforting to me as I step in yet another pile of dog poop and my skirt gets caught in a moto as it begins to drive away.... *sigh* I'm grateful to know that behind the scenes our loving Heavenly Father is planning big things for us. He, just as a father and his children, ultimately wants our happiness, because "men are that they might have joy"

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Ingram
Just practicing my French short conversation with Floyd (named by Hna Martinez after Pink Floyd. She's a big rock music fan. Who knew?)
So the mission manual says you can't play sports competitively...Oops! I needed to win that foozball game against Luisaac!
Conference in the native tongue (:
Hermana Martinez when I made her wash her stinky feet... "No! Don't take pictures! You're going to put them on your blog!" (: How did she know?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Week 59 Greetings from the Northern Peruvian Desert! September 26, 2016

Our best imitation of that American gothic painting. (Explanation: Poor Hna Susanna had a little accident when she left the sink on all night and flooded the house. Dirt floor to MUD floor!
Greetings from the Northern Peruvian Desert!

Today I got to crunch on crushed ice. That's a really big deal.

Talara mornings have proved to be colder than I would have thought and the normal cold shower just crossed the tolerable line. So every night my comp and I fill two pots of water and put them on the stove. We also fill a big tub of water in the shower. In the morning we boil that water, then add it to the tub. cold + hot = warm. Voila! The most perfect cup shower ever (:
Happy 21st Birthday to Elder Hanvey!
Claudia is one of our awesome investigators. She is 19 years old and has been taking the missionary lessons for some time now. Before this transfer she has never made it out to church and we weren't exactly sure how to help her commit to coming. So in our first appointment we talked in detail about why we go to church. Her dilemma has always been that she doesn't have time to take three hours out of her studies. Right then and there we promised her that if she went to church and didn't study on Sunday she would pass her Chemistry exam that week. She did it. (then the angels started scattering around trying to make it happen). God has made us a promise that if we put Him first, everything WILL work out!

"I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise."

Well Claudia went and checked her results. She was the ONLY student in her entire class to pass her test. She comes to church now frequently. Unfortunately she is facing all sorts of opposition and we have had to postpone her baptism. :( It's a waiting game!
Can you believe that Hermana Rasmussen has 7 grandchildren? 
Well I wish I had more time! I am so happy to be a missionary! There is nothing else I would rather be doing than learning about my Savior and His Atonement in this third world country. There is nothing quite like it. I miss you all!

Con mucho amor
Hermana Ingram
She hates cats, but at the same time I feel like she loves them as she constantly goes out of her way to torture them (:

The district on a stroll in Piura. Photo courtesy of Elder Wilde
This lady is always asking me how I got my hair color the way it is..."Because every time I bleach my hair it just turns orange!" Me thinking..."Well your hair also is naturally jet black..."
With Sidney! The cutest returned missionary (Ecuador) and then the elders...