Learning to go with the flow

It´s a good thing that I am a pretty flexible and laid back person. At least when it comes to most things. Which is good because after a very long story short I am now on my third partner for this missions trip. Her name is Juliana and she is awesome as well, but I am sad to lose my old partner Miluska.
The first week here in the jungle has been very interesting. I am very much learning to trust God and let Him be my strength. And I know I still have SO much to learn. This is the verse I´ve been really understanding more and more these past few days: Joshua 1:9 ¨Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
The communication has been a little rough. I know it will get better, but having the vocabulary of a 5 year old has been a little frustrating to me lately. Classes only in Spanish are exhausting. And having homework that would probably take me less than half an hour in English but takes me 2 hours in Spanish is a little frustrating as well. But I know that this is all necessary to improve my vocabulary. I am being humbled. I am learning to give up some of my independent spirit and rely more on my Father.
At the same time I am LOVING the jungle. I never realized quite how much I LOVE the rain. So far every day we´ve been here it has rained with thunder and lightning storms... and I just can´t get enough! And because of this it is so GREEN everywhere. I LOVE riding in mototaxi´s. I´m not sure that I´ll ever want to ride in a real car again. I LOVE having an hour of devotions every morning before the day has even started.
Our days are pretty busy... but I like busy. This is turning into a hodge podge blog but I´ll put it out there anyway:
Mon - Fri:
6-7am devotions
7-8am breakfast
8-1pm class
1-2 lunch
2-6 homework, studying, 2 days a week going to our church for ¨practicals¨ which means working in the church
6-6:30pm dinner
Then 3 nights a week we have church 7:30-9:30.
Any more free time for studying or mud fights in the rain.
10pm lights out

Sat: Our day of ¨rest¨ = free day. But we still have breakfast at 7am so no sleeping in.
Sun: Church in the morning and at night.

Phew! Busy life I seem to have now! Pray that I can bond with my new partner as I started to do with Miluska... and that I can learn to let God be my strength.

Oh yeah! I almost forgot... I got to give the devotional in the morning yesterday. All in Spanish. I was a little nervous about it but I think it went pretty well.

Dios le bendiga...


Two days ago we visited a part of Iquitos called Belen. This is a city where houses are literally built on the water. At first this sounded to me like a cool concept. Until I learned a little bit more. The poorest people of Iquitos live here. They use the water of the amazon where their houses are built to use for toilets, drink from, and bathe in. The houses are built right up against each other. Disease runs high. Things you don't catch in the picture are the filth around this area. The horrible smells that literally made me gag. My heart sinks for the people that have to live here. I could feel the oppression all around me. At the same time I had an overwhelming feeling of this is why I'm here. These are some of the people that I am supposed to help better their lives. I don't know what that looks like yet. But I'm grateful that this is where God has called me.
I would safely call it a life changing day.

Iquitos First Pics...

My awesome "companera" or partner... Miluska and I.

Houses built on the water.

Riding in a moto taxi... only way to really get around. Coolest thing ever!

Unpacking and setting up mosquito nets.

My Arequipa Family right before going to the airport.

Like a Kid at Disneyland

I can´t think of any other way to describe the feeling that I had yesterday as I was driving from the airport to my new living area in Iquitos! I was just filled with this incredible excitement. Yes I, Laura Benson, am currently living in the Amazon Jungle in Peru. Who would have ever thought huh? Yesterday we spent the day settling in a little bit. I set up my bed and my new pink mosquito net. Like my friend Melissa said... "I´ve always wanted to be a princess, and now I can be!" It has been super hot, but that of course was what I expected! I got my first glimpse of the Amazon river today. Had my first ride in a Moto Taxi. A moto taxi is like a motorcycle that has had the back chopped off and a seat added to the back. Pretty interesting! There aren´t too many cars here, just moto taxi´s and motorcycles. I got to see one motorcycle with a kid and 2 adults on it. Wow!
It´s currently pouring down rain. Although not really any cooler.
Oh! I almost forgot! I got to meet my new partner. Her name is Miluska (same as my mom in Arequipa), and she is actually from Iquitos. What luck for a person who is so horrible with directions! She´s super sweet, I can´t wait to get to know her better. All of the girls are super sweet, and very patient with our Spanish. It´s not quite as difficult to communicate as I thought it would be... but I definitely still have a TON to learn! Excited to start classes tomorrow. It sounds like we are going to be amazingly busy from here on out!

It's All in God's Hands

I am sitting in Lima dreading a little the fact that I have to get up at 4am so that I can catch my 7:30 flight to Iquitos tomorrow. Maybe what I should be doing is sleeping? Oh well.
We have been in Lima since Thursday evening where everyone met their Peruvian partners... everyone but me that is. The plan was to have a few days to get to know each other, with some training and team building workshops. However when we arrived on Thursday all of the Peruvians except my partner were here. After being told she is coming at this time and then that time... I was finally told that they couldn't get a hold of her. So now I am told that she isn't coming and they are working on a new partner for me. It's about 90% sure that I will have a partner who is actually from Iquitos and will hopefully be there when I get there. Something to be praying for! At least I am kind of a "go with the flow" person. I trust that God has it in His hands... and hopefully SOON I will have a partner!
Besides that things are going GREAT! I love all of the Peruvian girls... I haven't had too much of a chance to get to know the guys but they seem great as well. Using my Spanish is not quite as difficult as I thought it would be. However ask me again how I feel in a week after a week of classes in Spanish!
Surrendering and Trusting in Him...

Beginning the Next Leg of the Journey

In a little less than 4 hours I will get on a plane and fly to Lima, Peru where I will meet my Peruvian partner for the next 2 years. We have 2 or 3 days of training in Lima, and then we get on another plane and fly to the jungle city of Iquitos, Peru. This is where we will be training for the next 6 months. Taking classes on theology, anthropology, church planting, peruvian culture and more... all in Spanish.
From here on out everything once again changes. We will add 12 more Peruvians to our group of 12 Americans. I will only be speaking Spanish (yikes!)... living in a room with 14 girls in bunk beds pushed one up against another... no more hot showers... no more nice weather... no more high speed internet... no more time for relaxing.
But I can't WAIT. I'm so excited for this next part of my time here. Really starting to do what I am here to do. God is so GOOD! Pray for safe travels and that we are all able to mesh well with our partners.
1 Corinthians 2:9 "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has in store for those who love Him."

The North American half of my Pucallpa family... and Iquitos.

Saying Goodbye's

This is my last week in Arequipa. Actually I only have 3 more full days here before I leave for the jungle on Thursday. Last night our Peruvian family threw a going away party for us. It was for me and my 2 roommates. There were a ton of people there, mostly friends or family of our family. Tons of food, lots of music and dancing, and all in all a great night! It lasted from about 6:00pm until 2:00am. I was talking to our mom Miluska after the party and we were talking just about God and life and my mission here. How I got my call to come here and if I still thought I was where I was supposed to be (which of course I answered yes!). She also asked me to share my testimony... it was the first time I've said it in Spanish. I think it was pretty rough around the edges, but I was able to say most of what I wanted to say.

Bailamos en mi casa para mi fiesta!

I am going to miss our family so much! I think that we've both learned a lot from each other. Even though this family is Catholic it has never been a problem (In Peru being Catholic and being Christian are thought to be completely different things). Whenever we talk about our beliefs and share what we think about things, which has tended to be often, Miluska always says... "see it's the same thing, we are talking about the same theme, we serve the same God". And she is excited for us and supports our mission. I have been truly blessed to be a part of this family for 3 months.

Today at church we were asked to come to the front so that the church could say goodbye to us. They prayed for us and we (my roommates and I and the Foster family) were asked to say a few words. Talk about being put on the spot! And in Spanish! But it wasn't too bad. I'm going to miss my little church Alto Libertad. When I get to come back to Arequipa in June for a short term mission trip the construction will be underway and the church should finally have the starts of an actual building. Pretty exciting!

Learning a New Language...

In order to learn a new language I have found that you can't be embarrassed at all to make mistakes! In fact they can actually lead to a lot of good laughter and jokes for later. I thought I'd share some of the mistakes I've made and have heard made... hope it can make you laugh as well!

- One time I said my pants were "sueno" (sleepy) instead of "sucio" (dirty).

- My friend Melissa was trying to say to our professor that she explained "conceptos" (concepts) well. Instead she said she explained "concepcion" (conception) well.

- Melissa also said that she "rezo" (pray) for her legs instead of "Afeito" (shave) her legs.

- I said "yo tengo hombre" (I have a man) instead of "yo tengo hambre" (I have hunger)

- My friend Kristy instead of saying "sano" for healthy said "seno" which means breast.

There's many more but I can't remember them now. I'll have to add to this list later! Anyone else have any funny stories?

Some Videos

Here's a list of some different Extreme Nazarene videos... Just click on the title it's a link to the video.

My video for Faith Promise.

Puerto Maldonado short term project 1.

Puerto Maldonado short term project 2.

40/40 work in Iquitos. (This is where I'll be in 2 weeks)

All of these videos just make me so excited for the next phase of my mission here in Peru! I can't wait to start participating in some of these things!

My Pucallpa Family is Complete!

I have officially been matched up with my 40/40 partner, the person I will be working with constantly for 2 years. Together we will work to plant 3 churches in Pucallpa, Peru in 18 months. Her name is Esmith Julissa Davila Tanta (if you click on her name it's a link).

Our complete family (if you click on "complete family there's a link with pics and info) has also been put together. One cluster support family, 6 North Americans and 6 Peruvians.

I'm so excited to know who I'm going to be working with over the next 2 years. Can't wait to meet everyone in less than 2 weeks! Be praying for my Pucallpa group and especially for my partner Esmith Julissa. Thanks!

p.s. I updated my blog a little. On the far right you can find a list of a bunch of other Extreme Blogs. Feel free to check them out!


For the next 2 weeks I and the other 40/40 missionaries here have been given the job of calling people who at one point filled out a card that they were interested in information about Extreme Nazarene. Not really my favorite thing... cold calling that is. However I found in my list of CA numbers about 12 people from my church that I know and a few others not from my church that I know as well. The phones were a little messed up tonight (3rd world country and all) so I wasn't able to make too many calls. However I DID get the chance to talk to the Stockwell family. What a great excuse to make a free phone call! It was awesome to hear their voices! I'm looking forward to hopefully chatting with a few more people from Mission Naz over the next few days.
After being away now for a little over 2 months it was nice to have that contact with home!

Baptisms (Bautismos)

A couple of weeks ago 2 of the Nazarene Churches here in Arequipa went out to a water hole in a desert area to perform baptisms. There were about 11 or 12 people baptized that day, ranging in age from 10-80. It was so awesome to get to see and be a part of these baptisms. There was a service with singing and a message in the beginning and then the baptisms were held. After each person got out of the water the crowd watching would sing "I have decided to follow Jesus... I have decided to follow Jesus... I have decided to follow Jesus... no turning back, no turning back" (in Spanish of course). It gave me chills.

Afterwards people made lunches and played games and messed around in the water until about 5pm. It was a great chance to fellowship and an awesome experience to be a part of!

My Pastor (Elvin) is on the left. The District Superintendent Pastor Solano is on the right. Just one of the baptisms.

He decidido seguir a Cristo(3x)
No vuelvo atras(2x)
El Rey de gloria me ha transformado(3x)
No vuelvo atras(2x)
La vida vieja ya he dejado(3x)
No vuelvo atras(2x)