Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hola from Pucallpa!

Hola from Pucallpa! (My first area)
I am now all settled into my first area in Pucallpa Peru. I love being here so much. Im so glad that Im in the jungle and not in the city. My first day in Iquitos I stayed the night with another companionship because my flight was the next day and it was fun to just enjoy the city of Iquitos for a little bit. I went to breakfast with the Hermanas I was staying with and we had a potatoes thing wrapped around an egg!! I didnt like it very much but it was fun to try a new food. Here in Peru people know how to use their potatos... and the chicken... and rice.haha!
Travelling to Pucallpa was a little crazy. I had a few minutes to pack my bag and then I was given 10 soles, the address of the airport, and asked to get me and another sister to the airport. It was raining a ton and I dont know spanish very well but we managed to get a motokar to the airport. When we got the the sister I was with got on her flight and I was left a lone missionary in the small Iquitos airport to wait for the Elders to come. So, I did as any good missionary would do and I talked to everyone! I gave out a few pass along carde, used my spanish, and taught a lady a whole lesson on the plan of salvation. When I looked up, I saw a group of Elders just watvhing me teach. They were so proud of me haha! I just love talking to people. 
The flight to Pucallpa was beautiful. We flew over ons of rainforest, the river, and at the edge of it all is the beautiful city of Pucallpa. I have so pictures from the flight but I was just so excited to get to my mission. When we lamded the music of the jungle started playing and it was just perfect!
Its a little less hot that Iquitos in Pucallpa but its still really humid and the people here speak a different sing-song version of spanish so Im learning how to understand them. The houses are made of cement and old wood mostly and most of the time they only have 1-2 rooms. My first day here my heart broke because of how little these people have, but even with so little they are so happy and so ready to hear the gospel. 
My new companion is Herman Prince from Arizona and I am her first gringa (American) companion and the first person she has ever trained. This is also her last transfer in the mission so she has a lot of changes happening right now. She´s so sweet and Im so excited to be teaching with her. The work here is great. We have a baptism set fo April with Lucero who is the coolest lady in the world. She has cancer and has close to nothing. She is getting married, baptized, and having a baby shower all on the same day! She amazes me!
This week we also found a golden family. They had one lesson with us and already want to be baptized. And theyre already married!!! Which is super rare in Peru. Were hoping to get them ready for april which means well have three baptisms in april. I love everyone here so much. 
The people here have so much faith in Jesus Christ and they only have part of the story. Its so fun to share the restored gospel with them and help them know more about Christ. I know that he is our savior and that he can help us through any challenge we have in our lives. He loves us so much and he wants us to be happy. I want to invite everyone to start building a relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, womens conference was all about Jesus Christ so watch it! And dont forget about general conference. Its going to be great. 2 Nephi 25:26.
I love you all so very much!
Con Amor, 
Hermana Toponce

Family letter:  My oh my I love you all so much! I am doing really good. The first day here was really hard because the language is a totally different spanish so I was frustrated that I didnt know what was goign on at all, but Im doing a lot better now. I still dont understand anyone, but Im sure I will at some point! Im safe from flooding. Its been raining a lot but the rain doesnt effect here very much because it always rains. Our house is so much nicer than other peoples homes here and it makes me feel bad, but Im glad that they treat the sister missionaries really nicely. We have a four room apartment with a bathroom and its realy clean. We have spiders occasionally that are pretty big but im used to them now1 They dont bite either. They just eat the bugs that do. Im really healthy which is good. We only have a pensionista for lunch her name is Rubi and she makes delcicios food. We make our own breakfast and dinner... Cereal!!! They have  milk here and it makes me so happy. One funny story from this week. Everyonce greets eachother with akiss here and I forgot about the rule that men cant greet me with a kiss so one gut gave me akiss on the cheek and Hermana Prince freaked out. I wont forget that rule again. Ive never kissed so many people in my life. Its going to take some getting used to.
Im sorry to hear that everyone had a cold. I hope you all get feeling better soon. Being sick is no fun! I hope things are going well at work for everyone. Keep me posted on that. Hallie you looked SO So beautiful for prom. Im glad I got a picture. I hope it was fun for you. How is soccer going this season? How is the ward doin? How are our friends? I love oyu all so much and I hope you have a fantastic week!! Keep prayin and working hard and everything will work out how its supposed to :)
Con Amor, 
Hermana Toponce

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Arrival In Iquitos!

We got this letter from Natalie. She sent it after arriving in Iquitos after the CCM. We anxiously awaited word of her arrival for a couple days before we got it! I'm glad to get proof of life! :)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Last Email from the CCM (week 5)

My oh my this has been a busy week. I love the CCM so much but I cant wait until I get to go to Iquitos. My knee is feeling a billion times better this week. I was worried about it on Friday because we were going prostelying on Saturday but I woke up on Saturday and my knee wasnt hurting at all. It was a MIRACLE. I know its because of everyone´s thoughts and prayers being sent my way so thank you! Ill still take it easy, but Im glad that it doesnt hurt anymore. Prostelyting on Saturday was such a wonderful experience. It wass my first and last time teaching the people of Lima, Peru. Our companionship got to go with Hermana Williams, an hermana who has been here for 14 months, and do some street contacting. The people of Lima are so kind and open to hearing about religion. It was so much fun talking to them! We literally walked up to people and said in spanish "Can we give you a card about Jesus?" And they would just always accept and we´d get to teach them about the LDS church. It made me so happy that they were so willing to listen. At the end of talking to people, the women would always give us a peruvian goodbye which is a kiss on the cheek and a hug. I love how kind people are here and I hear that theyre even more so in Iquitos.
> The city of Lima is really interesting. The traffic is horrible and they dont have very many laws about driving and on top of that people start crossing the road whwnever they want to so things are pretty crazy. There are a ton of dogs in Lima, most of them are nice but there are a lot that arent. Its really dusty, and it has a distinct smell that I really cant explain. All of the houses are really close to eachother its hard to tell the difference from the houses and the shops. We had a chance to teach Gerrson (a real investigator) in his home and it was so fun. I cant wait until I get to do that all the tiime.
> My favorite experience this week was sharing the gospel with a woma nat the park. Hermana Bergsma and I talked to her about the book of mormon and she was really interested and we gave one to her. I was so happy that us new missionaries who dont know very much of the language were able to share something so special with her. We walked away after talking to her and I had the feeling to look back and when I looked... she was reading it!! It made my heart smile so big. I love being a missionary and I hope I can have more moments like this on my mission.
> I also want to share my testimony of the Book of Mormon again. I know I did a little last week but I just finished it again this week and its amazing. I know that it is true. I know that it was translated by joseph smith so that we can have the fullness of the gospel on the earth. I know that it can answer all of our questions and that anyone who reads the Book of Mormon and prayes to know if its true WILL gain a testimony that this church is true.
> Thank you all for your sweet and uplifting emails. I love to hear about how things are going even if I cant respond. Keep praying and working hard and everything will work out how its supposed to. If ive learned anything from the CCM its that.
> Con Amor,
> Hermana Toponce

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Un Mes en Peru!!!!

Hola familia y amigos,
So sometimes when things are going really well, life decides to give you some challenges. This week has been full of so many new and exciting challenges. It started out with our entire district getting sick. When people are sick here they have to wear surgical masks so our entire district walked around wearing them until we stopped coughing. Having a cold wasnt fun, but at least we looked good!
I had to go talk to mission medical about my knee because it was still hurting after a few days which usually doesnt happen when I hurt my knee. On my way to talk to him I was so worried that it would be something id have to go home for and I started to cry. Even just the though of going home already made me so sad. When I talked to medical he had a hard time speaking english so I told him to just say it in spanish and I understood him perfectly! He said that I stretched a ligament in my knee when it collapsed, but because it didnt tear I will be okay. Im just not allowed to run for a month which means no more CCM soccer for me. Im sad about that, but Im SO glad that its not as bad as I thought it was. Im so happy to be hear and I pray that my knee heals quickly and stays healed :)
Another challenge of sorts is that we has a companionship change. I am now in a trio. .Hermana Felshaw and I are still companions, but the new group of missionaries brought us another companion we didnt know we were mission. Her name is Hermana Bergsma . She is 22 and from california and she is the only new american Hermana that came with this new group. Even though its really different to be in a trio, I couldnt be more grateful for this opportunity to grow and train a new companion. She is so kind and hardwoking and Im excited for the last few weeks with her!
My relief society lesson went really well. I got to teach about the restoration and the lesson I taught was a lot different from the lesson I prepared. I think its amazing how the spirit takes the lesson where it needs to go. On top of teaching relief society I also had to give the opening prayer in sacrament meeting... in SPANISH! It was a bit of an intimidating sunday, but it all worked out and Im stronger for it. haha.
In a lot of classes, devotionals, and meetings this week we talked about faith.  I just want to share my favorite point that Hermana Griffith brough up this week. In Nephi when he has to make a bow to get food for his family, the scripture says he made an arrow. Not a few arrows. An arrow. If this doesnt show faith I dont know what does. He knew that if he trusted in the lord and did his part he would only need one arrow to get enough food for his family.
I love this mission. I love my challenges. I know that if I put my faith in the Lord and do HIs will I can accomplish anything! Salvation isnt easy, but its oh so worth it.
P.S. If any of you have questions about this church or about life in general please read the Book of Mormon. It has all of the answers!!
Con amor,
Hermana Toponce