The Great Puppy Rescue!

Alrighty friends, listen up because do I have a story to tell you!

Yesterday, Hna. Knighton and I were teaching a lesson to Rossio and her mother, and we had a nice long conversation about how Jesus Christ IS Jehovah, because they had been taught by the Jehovah´s Witness that God is Jehovah and Christ is…just Christ. Kind of different. Anyway, after our lesson, Sandro showed up to tell us that they had found a dog who was trapped and starving. Now let me explain to you the set up of how this dog got trapped: Bascially, this dog had climbed under a fence to get into an abandoned property. This fence was locked, and Sandro only knew about the dog because this property was a dittch right behind their own land, and the only way to get into this ditch was by climbing down this incredibly frail ladder that was no stronger than a bunch of rusted paperclips. Anyway, we joined them to go bring some food and water to this poor dog. Agustin, their son, and Hna. Knighton climbed down the frail ladder and managed to coerce the dog to come and eat some food. This was also when I realized (because apparently everyone else already knew) that this dog was a MOMMA and I realized this because she was clearly swollen. After hunting around a bit, Hna. Knighton found SEVEN new born puppiers under a cabinet (there was a lot of junk there), and she rescued them and brought them to their mother. They were soooo hungry! Aaaaand around this time I decided to brave the ladder and join them in the ditch. I got to hold three puppies too, and they all fell asleep in my arms! They were so young, they hadn´t even opened their eyes yet! More people joined us and we got more food for the momma dog, and we fashioned a resting place for the family on a mattress. It was such a crazy experience. But my biggest regret out of all of this is that I DIDN´T BRING MY CAMERA so you´ll just have to take my word for it that this really happened. However, we are visiting them again tonight, so next week I will have pictures for sure.
We had a lot of miracles this week! Fidelia was baptized on Saturday, and it was so exciting to be apart of that experience. Her husband and son weren´t ready to be baptized, but she decided to go forth alone, and I think her family will be very blessed by her example. We also had 10 investigators show up to church! That´s practically unheard of! Bolivian people are sooooo lazy and really struggle with commitments, so I feel so blessed that so many people showed up. The biggest miracle for me though was probably Eduardo, whom Hna Knighton had received a referral for three months ago, but every time she knocked on his door, he wasn´t home. This week, however, we chose to knock on his door and there he was! We didn´t have time to teach a lesson, so all we did was give him a pass along card and invite him to church. AND THEN HE CAME TO CHURCH. How crazy is that? But then I was really nervous because we were teaching a lesson in church to the new converts and investigators, and the topic was the law of chastity. That topic is kind of awkward already, but then we have to teach it to people who are all adults, plus this Eduardo guy is, as Hbna. Knighton would describe him, “a player”, so I felt like this lesson would scare him away from the church. And then, to my utter amazement, he actually had a lot to contribute to our lesson and why he felt from his own experience it´s important to be chaste. I think this really just goes to show how the Lord knows people better than I do. We have a lesson with him this Wednesday, and I´m so excited!
One person that we visit is this super old lady named Elvita. She´s so sweet and slightly crazy, and she loves holding our hands. She´s not a member but we visit her as a service. Hna. Knighton told me to practice teaching the Word of Wisdom to her because she doesn´t pay attention. I ws skeptical, so she said, ” Elvita, do you understand me?” And Elvita was like, “What?” It was pretty hilarious. She also threw a small fit over eating a banana. Awwww, good times. I really love her though.
In other news, I think my vision of losing weight on my mission was incredibly misconstrued because everything here is fried and the proportions are giant. I´m in deep trouble. So if anyone has some weight maintenance tips, please. I need them.
Ciao for now!
Hna. Ius

My First Week in Bolivia!

Hi everybody!

Ths last week has been CRAZY! So much has happened that I can´t possibly write it all down in one email, but I shall try. We left the CCM Monday afternoon. Our van was an hour late, so we were stressing out pretty hard, but we made it to the airport with an hour to spare. While we were there, we met a French guy who asked us about our religion, and we were able to give him a pass along card. It was pretty cool. The flight to Peru was six hours, and honestly the nicest plane I´d ever been on. It was also kind of boring because we couldn´t watch movies, but that was okay. When we arrived in Peru it was night, so we couldn´t see any of the city, but the lights were very beautiful. From there, we took a tiny little plane to Bolivia at 12:30 AM. It was exhausting! We arrived around 4:15 in the morning, and our mission President, his wife, and two Elders were there to greet us. They are all so wonderful. They took us to a really nice hotel where we slept until noon. Then we had training stuff and whatnot at the President´s home, and at night we went our for dinner….to Papa John´s! Yum, pizza!
The next day was spent getting visa stuff done for us newbies and training. Hermana Jensen and I are the first gringo Hermanas to arrive here in 16 months! Other hermanas arrived here with us, but they were all Latina. In the afternoon, we went contacting for the first time. I´m so amazed how nice everyone in Santa Cruz is and how open they are about talking about religion. At the end of theday, we went to an Italian restaurant. They had a very interesting take on Italian food.
And then the next day, I met my new trainer, Hermana Knighton! And as you might have guessed by her name, she´s white! It´s really funny actually because there are only two white trainers, and Hermana Jensen and I got both of them. However, it´s been really awsome having Hermana Knighton as my trainer. She helps me so much with my Spanish, and I´ve really learned a ton from her in just these past few days. All I can say is, the gift of tongues is real! My first area is in Tarija, a city way down south. There´s only three different cities that Hermanas are allowed to serve in, so I´m really gratfeul that I got assigned here.
So, what´s the culture like? Pretty amazing if you ask me! The driving here is no where near as terrible as it is in Mexico or the Philippines. If I absolutely had to, I feel like I could get behind the wheel here myself. I won´t do that though because my chances of dying would significantly increase. The people are super friendly and really nice. And there are also about a billion and a half dogs! Like, I knew there were strays here, but Bolivia is like, the country of dogs. They´re just everywhere, and of all different breeds, too. A lot of them just like to chill on the sidewalks, others like to chll on the rooftops. Seriously, everywhere. The most unique pets I´ve seen so far are a rooster and a lamb.
The food is sooooooo good! Lunch is their major meal here, and it comes in three parts: soup, a plate of meat/pasta/rice/vegetables, and dessert. I gain about 10 lbs after lunch everyday. But then I lose some of it by walking up and down all these hills in our area! My stomach is having a bit of a hard time adjusting to the food though….The first day, Hermana Knighton and I had to make an emergency trip to the church so I could use the bathroom. Haha it was pretty funny. Sorry if that was TMI though! I had my first salteña today! It was delicious. One of the major highlights was definitely on my first day when we kncked on an investigators door and they let us hold their new born puppies!! The little doggy fell asleep n my arms and I was soooo happy.
Something that´s really funny though is, of course, how many people just assume I´m Latina! The only reason people believe I´m nt from around here is because I can´t fluently speak the language. Someone actually pinpointed me as being from Argentina, so that´s cool. I´m actually the first  North American companion that Hermana Knighton has has, and she´s been here for 16 months!
I absolutely love all of our investigators. Rossio is a recent convert to our church, Hermana Knighton had been teaching her for 6 months before she decided to be baptized, and before that she had been taught by the Jehovah´s witness for 7 years. She was looking for the truth for a long time, and I´m just so glad that the missionaries were able to help her find it. We´re teaching her husband now. He keeps resisting baptism because he thinks his Catholic baptism was good enough. Last night, we taught them a lesson with Presidente Rodrigues (he came down for the first Stake Conference here because techinically he´s the stake  president). They had me bear my testimony of prayer in Spanish, and afterwards, Hermana Knighton told me that the Spirit was so strong right after I spoke that Presidente Rodriguez invited Sandro to be baptized! Haha Sandro still hasn´t completely said yes, but I think there´s hope for him, I´m just really grateful that the Spirit can work through me despite my inability with the language.
On my first day in the field, Hermana Knighton and I were out contacting and looking for the homes of some possible investigators. There was one point where I got confused and stopped in front of a house because I thought it was our destination, but then I realized it wasn´t when Hermna Knighton kept walking. However, she noticed that I had stopped so we decided to knock on the door, and a nice woman opened it and agreed to let us come in and teach her! She was really open to our message, and we have another appointment with her next week! Looking back on that experience, and I know it was totally a spiritual propmting to stop there, and I hope she continues to have the desire to hear us.
That´s all for now folks! Although I will say that if any of you want to send me letters or whatever, that´s totally awesome, but just so you know the mail system is backed up for about a month and a half. So now´s an okay time to send Christmas cards.
Love you all!
Hermana Ius
Update: Here’s a note from Hermana Ius’ companion that she wanted us to include!
Hey I love your daughter so much! she is learning so fast spanish and she is my angel. I know I will learn so much from her.. and she is helping me remember english! Be so proud of her! I know she will change so many lives here including mine 🙂

We played a little welcome to Bolivia joke haha with the chicken head but don’t worry she didn’t have to eat it!


Surprise everybody!

I know my traditional P-day is on Friday, but this is our last week here and tomorrow we have assessments all day, so instead my P-day is today! I can´t believe it´s already out last week here. On Monday, I was called to be a Travel Leader, which is just a fancy way of saying that I´m in charge of us missionaries headed to Bolivia Santa Cruz. There´s only four of us going there. Thankfully, we leave at 12 in the afternoon, unlike the majority of people who have to be on the buses by 2:30 AM. Definitely a tender mercy from the Lord. Sadly, we´re flying through the LAN airline (or airport?), which means that we get to check in two 50 lb bags for free, but out carry on MUST be 17 lb…and my carry on was 33 lb when I first came here, not to mention the 14 lb worth of material I was given. We actually went to reception to check how much it would cost to check a third bag…$150. And if it´s overweight? $75.  Needless to say, I got rid of a LOT of stuff, but so did all of the other Hermanas in the casa, so I don´t feel too bad. Our donation box is overflowing. And I´m sorry, mom, I tried to eat all of the food you sent me, but the chicken soup and the lemonade mix had to be let go. On the plus side though, my carry on is now 14 lb and both suitcases are under 50! Hallelujah! But I don´t know if any of you remember this, but they have my name wrong here in the system at the CCM, and they wouldn´t change it. Turns out they should have because they reserved my plane ticket under the name “Amanda Ruth Lus”, so I had to tell them about the mistake and make them scurry to get it changed! Luckily it´s all being taken care of and tomorrow I shall have a plane ticket reserved for “Amanda Ruth Ius”.
So last week Hna Jensen caught a cold, but she refused to go to the enfermeria, so for several days she just suffered through it with some generic cold medicine, but on Saturday morning it was finally bad enough that she relented. As it turns out, she had a sinus infection! What a silly goose. The doctor gave her a ton of medicine, but she didn´t heal quickly enough because I CAUGHT HER COLD! I was not very happy. But I recognized the symptons the very first day, so we went to the enfermeris immediately. As soon as the doctor checked my throat, he just went “Oh yeah. You have what she has.” Luckily I didn´t have to take as much medicine as Hna Jensen had to, so that´s nice. That night, however, I took a sleeping AND NyQuil, AND IT TOTALLY KNOCKED ME OUT. I actually had a full nights rest for once because I was on so much medication. When the alarm went off in the morning, I fell back asleep 5 minutes later. It really freaked Hna Jensen out because I´m always the first one up, so she thought I had died or something overnight. That wasn´t the case, needless to say, but I was so out of it that we ended up missing personal study, and then an hour after breakfast we came back and I slept until 3:30. After that I felt a lot better, and today, I feel 98% normal! Hooray! But the best part out of this whole experience was getting to play with the puzzle in the enfermeria while we waited to see the doctor. Tender mercy indeed.
Today was Elder Glasgow´s birthday in our district, so we planned a surprise party for him in the classroom. We all went to the Tienda and bought him a ton of Takis and Pringles and food, so much so that he insisted we all just help ourselves to whatever we bought him because he couldn´t eat it all. It was actually a lot of fun though, and I think he was pretty surprised and happy that we all did that for him because he thought his birthday here would be like just another regular old day.  I´m glad that we got to make his birthday at least a little special.
My biggest Spiritual/Language accomplishment this week was finally teaching a lesson entirely in Spanish with no-helps AND by asking a lot of questions! We´ve been going solo español for a few weeks now, but our lessons still had so much to improve on (and probably still do), but for critiques this week, our teacher told us we were doing just great and that we needed to have more confidence in our language skills! I really feel like we´ve improved so much, but I know that it´s all a result of our diligence and desire to serve Heavenly Father. As we´ve proven our responsibility, He has enhanced our capability. I still have so much to learn, and I´m terrified to go out and teach people in Bolivia when I still have such a vague grasp of the language, but I know that through Heavenly Father, I can do all things.
My biggest non-Spiritual accomplishment this week was learning how to solve a Rubiks Cube! The Elders found one lying around, and a bunch of them taught us Hermanas how to solve it. I did it twice – the first time it took about an hour and half, the second time about 5 minutes, so big improvement!
My Spiritual thought to you all this week is in Spanish because I can´t remember it in English, but I think the reference is Luke 1:37 — “Porque ninguna cosas es imposible para Dios.” It means that nothing is impossible with God. This was one of the scriptures I memorized this week, partly because it was so short, but this whole week we´ve been saying it in lessons and through out mini trials, and I´ve really gained such a large testimony of this simple truth. Whatever you´re going through, Heavenly Father can help you through it.
I love you all!
Hermana Ius
PS Hermana Jensen also has a blog about her adventures in Bolivia, so you can all go check it out at hermana-jensen.blogspot.comand compare our experiences. 🙂

The Ant Infestation (and my one month anniversary)!

Hello friends!

I´ve had yet another amazing, hard-working week. A lot of trials, but many, many more miracles.
Well, the first thing that´s really been crazy this week was the fact that we had an ANT INFESTATION in our bathroom! Yep, it started off as just a few ants, two or three, and we thought it was gross and whatever but they´re so small so we just smashed them, but then the Hermanas who share a bathroom with us on the other side asked us if we had an ant problem. We walked into their bathroom and their floor and walls were covered in ants! Thankfullly we were like no, we don´t, and then we went back to our room to shower. But then when Hermana Jensen finished showering, she walked out AND OUR ANT PROBLEM HAD EXPLODED!!! Literally ants everywhere. It was horrifying. We cleared out our bathroom items and sprayed all the bugs like crazy, but holy cow it was crazy. aND IT HAPPENED RIGHT AFTER WE GOT THE HOUSE FUMIGATED, TOO. Well, today we went ahead and bleached the entire bathroom, so hopefully it wont happen again. Honestly though, I would have rather had a centipede climb up through our shower drain than an ant problem, but whatever! It will be okay.
Today we wanted to play volleyball again, but the court we usually use was occupied. We walked all around campus for thirty minutes trying to find another one, but they were all used. So while the Elders were debating what to do, I took the volleyball and boldly walked back to our court. Hermana Jensen was freaking out, and was all like,”What are you doing? You´re insane!” But I went back and talked to them, and it turns out they were just playing during their gym time which conveniently ended right at that moment, so they all walked ff the court as the Elders from my district arrived, and they were all freaking out because they had no idea how I got them all to leave. I felt pretty good for a little bit.
On Saturday, we had TRC, where volunteers come in and pretend to be investigators of the church. We practice teaching them a lesson, and we had no idea we were doing that until 5 minutes before. Anyway, everyone was freaking out, but I was pretty chill because I was thinking that´s it´s not a real investigator, it doesn´t matter if my Spanish is perfect, etc. And then two minutes before we go teach my teacher comes in and he´s all like ¨WE HAVE A REAL INVESTIGATOR TODAY¨and we all go pale, and then Hna. Jensen and I have a panic attack when he tells us we´re the ones who will be teaching him! So yeah, that´s the story of how I taught my first investigator! But the lesson actually went pretty well, and our teacher, Hno. Tapia, joined us and helped us out. Later, the man we taught told us he really felt the Spirit and enjoyed our lesson, and he said yes to all of out commitments, too! It was so amazing. I feel like it was really a blessing for me to be able to teach a real person like this because one of my worries was that I would get out into the field and no one would understand me, but that´s not the case! And my inability with the language is made up by my ability with the spirit.
We got a new district in our zone this week! It was soooooooo awesome. We met the new Hermanas last night and they seem pretty happy to be here! We also went on splits with the other girls in our zone so that was pretty awesome.
We had a devotional Tuesday night broadcasted from the Provo MTC. Elder Nelson was the speaker, and I felt like everything he said was just 100% directed at me. It was absolutely amazing. I´ve been reviewing my notes from that devotional ever since.
We´ve also started talking to and befriending a lot of Latinas around here! On Tuesday night, we sat next to some Latinas in the Comedar who had only arrived that day, and we were practicing our Spanish with them and just having a lot of fun. One Hermana asked us if we had ´novios´ back home (boyfriends), and of course we were all like “no way! Do you?” And she said no, and when we asked why, she loudly exclaimed “Porque es pecado!” (Because it´s a sin) We just about died laughing! It was so funny.
So Hermana Hilker has been leading me in some yoga this week during gym time! It´s been pretty awesome but booooooy am I tired! I´m so grateful to have her here, though. She´s inspired me to join a yoga studio when I get home and become super fit and flexible!
So I don´t have a lot of other things to say, but I´ll leave you all with a spiritual thought from one of the devotionals we´ve had. Sister Bonnie Oscarson gave a devotional a few weeks ago, and something she said that I really loved was, “Our Heavenly Father knows us better than we know ourselves. He will always know what´s best for us.”
Next week is my last week here! AHHHHHH I´m so excited to go out into the field!
I love all of you!
Hermana Ius