Our faithful "Porteros" and good friends. Omar,
(middle) mans the gate and Segundo, (right) keeps
the grounds, which mostly are dirt, but he works hard!
Because of all the flooding in March and April, the end of April we were hit with several plagues: the plague of dragonflys, the plague of caterpillars, the plague of mosquitos, the plague of crickets, fleas, bedbugs and sewer water. I was beginning to think that we were going to make it through our last summer without mosquitoes, because they came so late. But that was very wishful thinking! We literally had to get the door closed in two seconds to not end up with mosquitoes in our house. I thought my legs were already covered in bites, but then I got fleas. Who knew that little tiny bugs that you can hardly see, could cause so much pain and misery. Where they came from, we have no idea! Our mattress was treated and our house fumigated and now we are doing much better. Mark even had some bites, which is unusual for him! We had lots of trials and experiments and tested every home remedy known to man! We can both verify that the best remedy for itching bug bites is ice. It just numbs it all up and you are good for an hour or so. Anything else only lasts a minute or two, even Benadryl or Aloevera.
My roses have really thrived with all the rain.
These red ones look like velvet.
The very worst plague was the crickets. Unfortunately, there were no seagulls to save us from the this plague! There were hundreds of them. They swarmed the outdoor mall, the churches and our yard! I hate bugs period, but the problem for my husband is that the noise they make drives him crazy. We had quite a chorus going in our yard. One night, we both woke up at about 3:00 am and were not getting back to sleep very easily. So, what did my husband do? He went out in the yard to go cricket hunting! It was a lot quieter when he came back to bed.... he killed over 10 of them!
One Sunday we had a special conference in Pomalca with Elder Montoya to change out the Stake Presidency. I was asked to play the piano for the Conference. When I got up to play there were two huge dead crickets under the piano. It really grossed me out. I was pretty horrified. Then I got up to play the closing song and noticed there was a new live cricket under the piano! It was divine intervention that I did not scream. When the closing prayer was said, I saw that there had been another live cricket right under the pedal where my foot had been. It was a miracle I had not seen it and fainted or something. Everywhere we go, there are dead squished crickets all over the floor. I would never step on one. They have been everywhere! It has been a nightmare.
One of the best ways to see and understand what the missionaries concerns and needs are, is through the Multi-Conferences held every 6 weeks. Besides being able to teach and train these amazing young missionaries, it is also an opportunity for them to get together and renew friendships and share missionary experiences.
Multi-Zone Conference activities. Mark is
creative in his teaching.
Multi-Zone Conference Game! It was fun!
I would just like to summarize the things we did in April to remember what a month in the Mission is like. The first week of April we had our Leadership Council for seven hours, then we did interviews for three days. The second week we sent home 6 missionaries with a dinner and testimony meeting in our home and welcomed 4 new missionaries the next morning with a breakfast and interviews. We attended two district meetings, spoke in a Stake Conference (three talks for Mark and two for me), had a District Conference, which is Mark's District and he changed out the District Presidency. Then the last week of the month, we had Multi-Zone Conference for two days and then left the very next day for Lima to attend meetings there for two days. This was our last Area meeting with the Area Presidency and it was kind of fun because we were the "graduating class", since we were going home with six other couples at the end of June. We were all invited to bear our testimonies and had a special group photo. We dearly love these friends and we will miss them! We all grew and learned a lot together!
President and Sister Riggins
President and Sister Boswell
President and Sister Rasmussen
After three years of being teased about not trying the famous dish in Peru called "Ceviche" (some sort of raw fish specialty) Mark tried it!!! It was NOT a big hit for him!!
The highlight of our trip to Lima was a special reunion that was organized by our former assistant Elder Pacherres, who is the best! We had a special meeting with a large group of former missionaries that all live in Lima. They wanted a chance to say goodbye to us. When we walked into the chapel, they were all standing in the front singing "Called to Serve." They were all dressed in dresses, white shirts and ties. We were so impressed! They asked us to say something and then every single missionary there (around 40) got up at the pulpit and expressed their love and gratitude for us. It was so touching and so sweet! Peruvians are so loving and so sweet! I could not believe it! It was just a really special night for us and we really appreciated the effort they made to be there. We took a lot of pictures that night!
Selfie with Elder Pacherres!
Some of the sisters. The sister on my right had
just gone home the week before.
As soon as we got back, the first week of May, we had the movers come and pack up all our stuff. It was very hard work. it was much harder than I ever imagined. We had a lot more "stuff" here in this house than I had remembered. What I thought would be a two hour job turned out to be a two day job! It was amazing. Our house is very barren now and the fact that we are leaving is starting to feel real. A day after that we left for our last trip to Jaen, to do interviews and speak in another Stake Conference. It was an exhausting three days, but it was so good to meet with the missionaries and the members of the Jaen Stake. They were very sweet and expressed their gratitude for our service. We will miss them!
All our junk waiting to be boxed. There was more
than we thought!
More junk !
Our junk after being boxed. At least we did not
have to pack it! It's on it's way to the United State right now!
The highlight of this month was definitely our last Mission Tour with Elder Godoy and his wife. He is the Area President of our Area, South America Northwest. He and his wife were so kind and so gracious. Mission Tours can be a little stressful. You want to make sure that everything is perfect and we both were asked to speak, but Elder Godoy really made us feel comfortable and only had good things to say about our missionaries and the Mission. It was such a wonderful way to "end" our Mission. It is not over yet, but we felt that the Lord approved of the service that we have given and that brought us a lot of joy after all we have done. I think it is normal to wonder when we are released from a calling, if the Lord approves of what we have done and that was the feeling we had; that He does. Elder Godoy actually extended us our release. He asked us to share with him the changes we have seen in each other during the Mission and that was a special experience.
The Godoy's are from Brazil and have four children. They
both speak three languages; Portuguese, Spanish and English!
They are pretty amazing!
Elder Godoy also invited us to participate in a Young Adult Fireside he was having on Saturday night. He asked us to respond to three questions: How did we meet, what did we admire in each other and what counsel did we have to give? We both answered from our own perspective. It was pretty fun to share our experiences, especially since it is our 36th anniversary next week! I told them that we have been together for thirty six years and that I still love my husband! They thought that was funny, but I was serious. I love my husband. He has become an even more humble and obedient man in the last three years. I have seen him struggle many times with the right way to do "something" and in the end realize that the Lord wanted it done a different way. That answer did not come without a lot of prayer and struggling, but once he knew the answer, he always obeyed.
On the beach with new missionaries making paper boats!
This has been our tradition!
We had a "special" visitor... a stray dog!
On Monday this week we sent home 12 missionaries and welcomed 12 new missionaries. It is amazing to me how the Mission is always in constant change. It makes it challenging to keep things flowing smoothly. We will have our last change in only three weeks, June 12th and 13th. The change was supposed to be the first of July, but to make the transition easier for the incoming new president, it was moved up earlier for us to do to give him a break. So our last change we will send home 19 missionaries and welcome 7 more! That will be a great experience at the end of our mission. The very last thing we will do is to hold interviews one last time. I will miss helping the missionaries with English. It has been such a rewarding experience. They have progressed so much and have been so grateful for the help. I love them all so much!
Twelve faithful missionaries headed for home! How we love them!
These are my missionaries with their English
certificates. I am so proud of them!
This morning I was reading in the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi chapter four where the Nephites all gather together in one group for seven years to fight the Gadianton Robbers and drive them out of their land. It took seven years! They were not fighting constantly all this time, but had to live this way and protect their lands for seven years. In the end, they were victorious and it says that they sang and praised God for preserving them from their enemies. "And their hearts were swollen with joy, unto the gushing out of many tears, because of the great goodness of God in delivering them out of the hands of their enemies." (3 Nephi 4:31-33) I have always loved this because there have been many times in my life when I have shed great tears of joy.
I could not help comparing this story to the last three years of our life, that have been difficult at times, and feeling joy and gratitude to God for preserving and helping us. I gushed out many tears myself and wondered why this related to us, since we had not been attacked by enemies. We had served a mission. But then I realized that God had preserved us from our enemies of fear and doubt which come from Satan. Satan does not want us to succeed in this work and I felt his opposition, in so many ways, more strongly than I ever have in my whole life. There were times when I was literally paralyzed with fears and doubts and temptations. It has been a battle for me many times. But I know the Lord has helped me and preserved me. We could never have done any of this without His help.
Former missionaries came back to visit. Elder
Woolstenhulme with his parents.
I was just listening to Michael McLean tell the story of his father, who had Alzheimers, and was asked to speak on Easter. He spent fifteen minutes talking about God the Father and about all of His divine attributes. Finally, at the end, he talked about how God the Father, the greatest of all, had left His Son alone when he was hanging on the cross. Michael's father said that he felt there was a reason for this. He felt the Father had left him alone because it was His way of saying that He had faith in His Son. Then he said, at moments in our lives, when we feel alone and we feel forsaken, maybe our Heavenly Father is saying to us that He has faith in us. President Eyring said, "So, the great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God's commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage."
There have been so many times on this mission that I have gone to my room, fell on my knees, prayed and cried for the Lord to help me in this calling. I was always hoping that I would feel peace or calm or have some kind of great revelation that would help me. But that never happened. For a long time, I felt that maybe those prayers were not being answered. But after I had been in the mission for more time and I looked back, I realized that the Lord had answered my prayers. It was just not in the way I wanted or expected. He answered me by giving me strength. No matter how beaten and how weak I had felt the night before, I woke up and had the strength to keep going every day. So many times, that was an absolute miracle for me!
I hope that we can all see and recognize the Lord's hand in our lives. I have prayed many times and I have said, "Father, I can't do this without thy help. Please do not leave me alone!" I know that he has always been there. I know that he never leaves us alone. He has faith in us. In D&C 90:24 it says "Search diligently, pray always and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good;" This message was repeated three times in the Sunday morning session of General Conference and I knew in my heart that it was the Lord's message just for me. I know even more now, after these three years, that this is true. God lives and he loves us and will always bless us. Our prayers are always answered!