Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Week 7! I think!

Hola Hola Hola!

Greetings from the Amazon Rainforest... so much to say and so little time! I´ll try to be fast... 

Getting off the plane at the Iquitos airport!  
Left to Right: Hna Gillingham, Hna Briggs, Hna Dickman, me, Hna Fink.
Two seconds after this picture was taken, we all put our hair up cause it was so hot!

My trainer´s name is Hna Tituaña. She is from Ecuador, has been in the field for 7 months, and has THIRTEEN siblings, who are all members of the church too.  We are also opening an area (I´m still not a hundred percent sure what that means) but basically we´re taking the place of two elders and we are starting from scratch.  Basically we spent this past week just trying to find the homes of all the previous investigators and members, so that´s been rough.  Back to Hermana Tituaña.. she is super nice and friendly... and she speaks 0 english. So its been really, really hard this week because I can never fully express what I want to say.  Also I went from spending all day every day with 9 of my best friends in the CCM ... to spending all day and every day with someone I can`t even really talk to.  It´s been very lonely. We´re also the only Hermanas in our zone, so she is basically the only other girl I can talk to. It´s been really, really, rough but I´ve had to learn to enjoy it.  

Me and Hermana Tituaña ... my trainer!

Hermana Tituaña, and Raisea (A young woman in our ward who comes teaching with us all the time.
She is super sweet and always tries to explain things to me in Spanish, even though I never understand!)

There is a whole different culture down here.
Like we´ve been teaching, and at least five different women have just started breast feeding... right in front of us.  Also, a lot of the kids are just in shock by me... one of the recent converts, Adolfo, has two little girls, every time they see me... they come up and just start petting my arm hahaha. One time I passed a kid on the street and he started laughing, ran inside his house and yelled, "I saw a gringa!!" One time during a lesson, two chickens just walked right in, and no one seemed to think it was strange, except me.  The houses here are all right next to each other, so if your neighbor is watching something on TV, you can hear like two houses down.  So one time we were saying a prayer with an investigator, and Centuries by Fall Out Boy just started blasting in the background.  It was super hard for me to focus on the prayer cause that´s actually one of my favorite songs... Anyways, it´s things like this that keep me happy and laughing despite never understanding what people are saying.  

I´m in the Secada ward in the Nuevo de Octubre stake, which is just down the street from the Iquitos airport if anyone wants to look it up on google maps. I'm basically living in one of the poorest parts of the whole mission. When we got to our apartment the first night, I was like "I have to live here????" but then we went and visited other members and then I was like "wow, i`m really privileged to get to live here".

Lots of people don`t have a floor, its just dirt that´s been walked on enough that it's hard. No one has any insulation, so whatever temperature it is outside, it's the same inside. My apartment has fans, and that´s way more than lots of other people. The only roads that are paved are the main ones.  The rest are all a mixture of dirt and mud and trash.  They´re okay to walk on, except when it gets rainy, and then you're just walking through mud. I don´t have any shoes that aren´t covered in dirt, haha. I actually don´t know how some people live down here, but they do! It´s kinda funny though because they live in like these shacks, but they all have cellphones and TVs and radios.. so it´s a third world country, but also not? 

The ward here is also super strange.. basically everyone here is a member, but 90% of them are inactive. The ward has 1,005 members (they told me that number in Spanish, so it could be wrong) but there was only 225 at church on Sunday.  Hna Tituaña said that this was the largest ward she´s seen in her whole mission. They are all such nice, friendly people.   I´m so honored to be here in Peru with them, I just wish I could actually talk to them.

Oh also fun fact- so I read two blogs of girls in Iquitos before I came here, one of them is Hna Benyo who trained Hna Tituaña, so she´s my grandma! hahaha, and the other is Hna Jimenez who happens to be my sister training leader, and also Hna Fink´s companion! She is the sweetest person ever, and it´s so nice to have her, especially since she speaks English. 

That also reminds me- when we go to email, everyone who is serving in the Nueve de Octubre stake all emails at the same place, so even though we´re in different zones, i get to see Hna Fink, Hna Gillingham, and Hna Dickman every Monday! Also when there are stake activities, like the general women´s broadcast last Saturday, we all get to be there together :) It's definitely an answer to my prayers to be able to see them every week! 

Okay I´m running out of time .... Love, Hermana Gurney :)

Friday, September 25, 2015




Dear Hermana Gurney Family:
We are pleased to inform you that we picked up your daughter today at the Lima, Peru MTC.  She is happy and ready to serve.  We have spent much of today interviewing and training your daughter, and she was assigned to work with a trainer.  We know that the mission experience will be life changing for your daughter.  As we often tell the missionaries, “Of all the converts you will have during your mission, you will be the best convert.” 
Thank you for helping to prepare your daughter to serve a mission.  We are very excited to serve with your daughter.  We have included two photographs of her.

Presidente Alejandro Gómez Moreno          Hermana Graciela García de Gómez
Misión Perú Iquitos                                       Misión Perú Iquitos

Misión Perú Iquitos
Jr. Napo #478
Iquitos, Maynas
0051-065-232-881 (Oficina)
0051-065-265763 (Casa)

Hola Familia!

I made it!  I'm in Iquitos ... holy cow, everyone said it would be hot ... but I did not think it would be THIS hot!!  I started sweating the moment I stepped off the airplane!  I don't know anything about my new companion or new area yet.  Sorry ... you'll have to wait until Monday to know!  But I'm doing really well!!  I miss my CCM district so much, but at least some of them came to Iquitos with me.  Fun story time:  Hermana Gillingham told a lady at the airport that she liked her earrings, and the lady took them off and gave them to her!! Basically the only transportation I've seen on the streets of Iquitos are motokars and motorcycles ... nothing else.  Presidente y Hermana Gomez son los maximos!  (the best)  They're super nice and friendly and awesome!  Also their house has a pool ... which was super tempting considering it's basically a sauna outside.  Sorry there's nothing else really funny to share, I've only been in Iquitos for like three hours and it's all been inside the mission home.  But I love you all so much and I can't wait to give you updates next Monday!  Keep on keeping on and remember the Lord loves you!!  (Also pray for my Spanish skills, thanks)!

Hermana Gurney

Friday, September 18, 2015

Week Five and I'm still Alive!

Hola hola hola!

My last email from the CCM! AHH next time you hear from me I´ll be in Iquitos... That´s so strange to think about! That reminds me though, I don´t know when I´ll be able to email next since I leave before p-day here, and I get to the field after p-day there. I might have to wait until a week from Monday :( lo siento..

Next stop - Iquitos!
So not much interesting has happened this week!  We´ve come to a decision that the CCM hates our district. First they decided to change our schedule from schedule B to schedule A, so now we never see all our friends on schedule B.  It´s so sad! Also now we have physical activity in the afternoon, when the sun usually starts to peak out, so it´s actually kind of hot out. But then not only that, but when they scheduled us for p-day activities today, they split up our district! So Hermana Fink and I were in one group with all the principiantes (the new kids) and Hermana Gillingham and Dickman were in a group with all intermedios (the kids who were new two weeks ago).  All our elders were with in another district. Anyways, so basically I have no cool pictures from this week because we weren´t together today!  Haha!

Good news of the week: today they actually rented buses to take us to the temple and to go shopping.  We didn´t have to squish into the city buses this time! yay! The driver was talking to us about where we needed to be and when so they could pick us up.  Nobody understood her but me! I tried to ask her questions back, and I think she actually understood me! Yay!  My Spanish is improving! In the temple, I talked to one Spanish sister about Iquitos for a little bit, so basically I´m fluent now ;) haha just kidding(or as we say here in the ccm.. hotah-kah, because that is how you say the letters j and k in Spanish haha)

Also this week our district decided to spice things up a bit in the dull CCM life and we started a prank one Elder. Basically, we just write "Sacapuntas" (which means pencil sharpener in Spanish if you were wondering) on a piece of paper and slip it into his stuff. He has no idea who´s doing it and he thinks it's hilarious! One day when we were playing futbol, he left his name tag on the side of the field so I put a piece of paper with his name tag.. and then our friend Hermana Ingram always gives him her rice at meals, so she slipped a small piece of paper into her rice so he would find it while eating.  Another Elder stuck a piece of paper into his Ranch powder (I don´t really know what that is, but that's what someone told me) hahaha Basically the whole CCM is in on it, except him and his companion. Even some of the teachers are in on it, it´s hilarious! (Little things humor us here!)  He and his companion have a list of who they think is in on it, and everyone in our district is at the top so we need to try to discreetly frame another district. I´ll keep you updated on any further developments.

Hmmmm we also changed "investigators" this week, so our teacher just decided to start playing an investigator named Kevin (except they pronounce it "Kay-bean").  I only really felt like sharing that because that´s Dad´s name and I wanted him to know how they say his name in Peru. But Kevin is good, he let us into his house the first time we went to go contact him.  He didn´t let anyone else from our district in, so that was funny. He´s kind of hard to teach because all his questions are super complicated, like why Nephi was allowed to kill Laban, or whatever, and of course we have to answer in Spanish so that makes it like ten times harder. We just started saying, we´ll study that tonight and give you an answer tomorrow, but right now we´re going to teach you about the Restoration hahaha. It´s fun!

Yeah there's like nothing really else going on ... only so much can happen when you sit in class all day every day. But next time you hear from me I´ll have a whole lot more to share!

Oh, also just wanted to let everyone know ... thanks for all your emails.  It really makes my day reading about everything going on back in the United States, so please keep emailing me! Sorry if I don´t respond, I don´t have a whole lot of time on my e-mail but just know that I really appreciate any and all emails I receive!

Love you all!
Talk to you soon! Next stop: Amazon Rainforest! (off to find Paddington Bear!)
Hermana Gurney

This is Mama Gurney ... I wanted to share part of her letter to me ... I had sent her a message and talked about the difficulty I had learning Mandarin on my mission and my vision of the "gift of tongues" referenced in scripture.  This was her response ...

"I have noticed the gift of tongues a lot, sometimes it's so subtle that I don´t realize it. When Sister Bednar, spoke to us a few weeks ago, told us "the more specific your prayers, the more heaven hears". So I´ve tried to be more specific in my prayers. The past few weeks I´ve just been praying that I will be able to understand what people are trying to tell me so that I can be better prepared to respond.  I´ve noticed that even when I have no idea what any of the words they´re saying are, I still somehow have this feeling about what they´re trying to say. It´s so great! Also I memorize words so quickly! I´ll write something down in class and two hours later in a lesson, I´ll remember it.  It´s times like those where I don´t stress about the language."

Love her!!  Thanks for all your love and support!!  Kim

Friday, September 11, 2015

Week Four is Done For

Hola hola hola!

Wow this week went by so fast... and now I only have two more weeks left in the CCM and then I have to go to the jungle!! AHHH

I´m actually really terrified.  I can´t speak Spanish and I have to leave all my friends here ... but it´s good because then I´ll actually be able to help real people and I´ll really be able to learn the language. :)

This week on Saturday we did a proselyting activity in Lima.. that was an adventure. So we went to the Lima Este Mission and I was paired up with another Latina Hermana from the CCM and a member in the area.. so basically no experienced missionaries.  The Latina Hermana was named Hermana Aguirre and she is the cutest person ever! Luckily for me, she´s a professor of English, so she could actually translate for me if I needed it, but I tried to get her to talk as much Spanish as she could. She´s so funny!  She calls herself Hermana Taylor Swift and kept telling me how great of a missionary I´m going to be because I smile so much! haha.. She left for her mission in Bolivia the other day and I don´t have a picture with her, but just know she´s the cutest ever! Apparently I give off the impression that I can understand and speak Spanish.   One person asked me if I was from Spain, and Hermana Aguirre was surprised when I asked her what she said because she´s like "you looked like you understood!" haha   Anyways, the whole activity I just felt lost. We went and visited less active people.  The first person we talked to was a 19 year old girl, who was the sweetest.  She understands English...but she just can´t really speak it. So we started just talking to her and asking how she´s doing and why she isn´t coming to church.  She starts telling a story and she starts crying! like full on sobbing! I had no idea what she was saying, so I didn´t know why she was crying.   It frustrated me so much that I couldn´t help her!   At one point she did say something about feeling like her heart was ripped out of her chest, but I didn´t understand any details.  While she was crying, I thought of this one scripture that helps me whenever I feel sad that I thought I should share, but then I second guessed myself.   I didn´t know if that scripture really fit her needs, and I didn´t want to ruin the mood by sharing some random scripture, so I didn´t.  Afterwards I asked Hermana Aguirre what she said, and apparently she had an experience which left her feeling as if God doesn´t love her.  The scripture I was thinking of would have totally helped! So I´m super mad that I talked myself out of it. I decided that from now on, for one I´m going to work even harder to learn Spanish so I´ll actually be able to understand what´s going on and two, I´m not going to talk myself out of sharing anything.  I never know how much of an impact it might make.

We did teach a family later who had just lost their mom/grandma, and I shared about how I can in a small way understand what they´re going through. I left my whole family for 18 months to be in Peru where I can´t talk to anyone and how prayer and going to church has helped me through it. I even started crying, which I was super embarrassed about. I didn´t even know if it would help, but it was a thought that popped into my head like the scripture.  I didn´t want to regret not sharing it later. Hermana Aguirre told me later that she loved when I shared that, so I guess that means it was helpful? Anyways, the main thing I learned from this proselyting activity is that I really don´t know Spanish at all. Like sometimes I think I can say things, but I really can´t.. I was complaining to Hermana Dickman the other day about it and she just said that even though you can´t offer the people of Peru a heartfelt Spanish testimony, you can offer a few things, like a smile and your happiness. That really helped pick me up.

 Me and the wonderful Hermana Gillingham!

District Selfie!

Selfie in Tottus, the Peruvian Walmart/Target.
The two other girls are intermedios and their district joined ours for the adventures
outside the walls of the CCM. We love them!

Also remember how I told you that no one can say Gurney down here? Well I introduced myself to this one Latino elder the other day and he said my name over and over and then finally he said, in English, "like meat?" and I was super confused because Gurney isn´t a type of meat.. but then he said "Carne!" which is Spanish for meat.  Carne is kind of pronounced similarly to Gurney if you have a thick enough accent. So now everyone just calls me Hermana Carne, or Sister Meat. Fun times hahaha.

What else what else.. this week I met an Elder Weight who is from the Caldwell stake in New Jersey! We figured out that we both went to that one dance in the Newark building when it was first built.  So we might have actually met before we just don´t know it. But if anyone knows any Weights from Caldwell, I met one all the way down in Peru.

The girls in our district plus the girls in the district across the hall! The back row goes me, Hermana Dickman, Hermana Fink, Hermana Alailima, Hermana Tirrell, then the first row is Hermana Gillingham, Hermana Jardine, and Hermana Briggs.  All of us are going to iquitos, except Alailima, Tirrell, and Jardine are all going to Cusco. They get Macchu Picchu, we get the jungle!
Another selfie of the Hermanas
Anyways, yeah nothing else exciting happened this week! It´s just like the same schedule for right now.  

Love you all!
Hasta lluego!
Hermana Gurney

Thursday, September 3, 2015

WEEK THREE WAS A BREEZE (but not really, it just rhymed)

Hola Familia!

Wow I've already been here for three weeks! It feels like two days but also two years at the same time!
Lima Peru Temple

Okay so Elder Bednar came last week, which was so great! It was a three and a half hour meeting though, so I was a little sore afterwards... haha.  Luckily, he made it go by fast because instead of a talk it was like a Q&A.  We talked a lot about how to better teach people, and how asking questions and gaining their trust is essential to finding out how you can best help and teach them. It was really good! He didn't stay around to shake hands though... all the CCM missionaries and missionaries from three of the Lima missions were all there.  It was a total of 700 missionaries or so.  It was crazy ...but so good! 
We got to hear Sister Bednar speak too ... she is the cutest! One time Elder Bednar said something was stupid ... she stands up, interrupts him and says, "I tried to get him to stop saying that word!" and then he said "I can´t even repent because I don´t feel sorry about it". So sorry if that gives anyone an excuse to call something stupid, but Elder Bednar did say it to a bunch of missionaries.   ;)

This week we also had the privilege of going to Interpol to apply for our visas... it was less of a train wreck than the trip to immigration.  It was still pretty funny since we don´t know Spanish. They had to do a tooth examination.  They just looked in my mouth with a flashlight and then recorded how many teeth I have.  When I go in there, the guy is like "sorry I don´t speak good English, but you have a..." and it took me a minute but I realized he was talking about my baby tooth.   I tried to explain that I didn't have a permanent tooth underneath, but of course I had no idea how to say that in Spanish.  So I said "baby tooth? si, si..." and I think he understood... haha.   They also took our fingerprints and this cute Peruvian man was trying to teach me how to say each of the fingers in Spanish.  The only one I can remember now is pulgar, which is thumb...so obviously I learned a lot that trip. :)

Oh also, apparently "Gurney" is a super hard word to say in Spanish.   They all pronounce it like "goo-where-knee" or sometimes they just don´t even say it at all, haha.

Also lets see, some random things from this week-

There was an earthquake the other day! It was like a small one, like the ones we had in California.  Everyone was freaking out. It was pretty funny cause my knee was hurting that day from playing futbol so much.  I had just shifted my weight onto the hurt knee right when the earthquake happened. So I thought it was my knee shaking from the weight of my body and I was so worried I had actually messed up something in my knee. But then everyone else felt the shake, so it´s all good. Also my knees don't hurt anymore, so no worries.

This week we changed leadership... Elder Meier is no longer our district leader, which is so sad.  Now the district leader is Elder Hosch, so hopefully he can fill the shoes Elder Meier put forth. The sister leaders changed too, so now Hermana Gillingham and Dickman are the sister leaders! I feel bad cause the Hermana leaders are over all girls at the CCM... so they have to deal with the problems of like 30 Hermanas.   They are feeling overwhelmed, but they´re such nice people that they´ll do awesome!

Today we went to the temple again! It was great! They only had four headsets to listen in English, so again I had to listen to Spanish...but i was so happy.  I actually generally knew what they were saying! I didn´t know specifics, but I knew when they said to do what and stuff. I´m so proud of my Spanish!!  Afterwards we went to the Metros, which is just like Tottus (where we went last time) but it has more clothes. Then there's these little outlet stores next to Metros, which have sports jerseys and tribal pants, so we all bought these cute tribal pants. (Hermana Dickman and I bought the same pair of tribal pants, not even on purpose, so that just proves how we are legit twins)  Brandon and Tyler, I tried inca cola.. I think it was you guys who told me to try it. It´s a strange taste. It's bubble gum flavored soda, and it just tastes strange. Also we managed to fit 20 missionaries into the aisle of one bus today, instead of only 16 last time. It was a huge achievement.

Our matching tribal pants!

 Anyways, I´m doing good! It still frustrates me that I don´t know Spanish yet, but I have to keep reminding myself that I'm doing really well for just three weeks!  This Saturday we´re doing a proselyting activity where we just go out in Lima and actually try to talk to real Peruvians.. so that will be the real test of my Spanish. Wish me luck and please pray for my Spanish skills!  

Everyone from left to right: Me, Hermana Fink, Hermana Gillingham, Hermana Dickman, Elder Hosch, Elder Almond, Elder Meier, Elder Farnsworth, Elder Jenkins, and Elder Arrington. They´re all so great! We literally have the best district in the CCM! We´re all sad that the elders are going to Piura and not Iquitos.  It´s going to be a very sad day when we all leave the CCM! 

Love you all tons!
Hermana Gurney