June 23, 2014


Hey hey hey!
I’m still here in Santo Tomé! Hermana Tapia is now in Pilar,Paraguay!!! Crazy.
But good news! My new companion is Hermana Gunter, and she’s from Utah! I can speak English now! just kidding i wish. we still try to speak in as much Spanish as possible because neither of us are fluent speakers, so we need as much practice and help as we can get! But luckily she was in Paraguay for 11 months, and so she has basically everything down. It’s just that Santo Tomé is her first area in Argentina, so she is adjusting to the accents here.

Hna Gunter is definitely what Santo Tomé needs. She is probably one of the most enthusiastic and outgoing people I have ever met. But she is super friendly and never overbearing. People love her! She likes to be creative in the way we meet people. So far we have tried about a bajillion different door to door approaches. Sometimes we’ll go up and tell the people that we are trying to improve our singing and need someone to listen and give us feedback (which is true). Then we’ll sing them a hymn, and lots of people will feel the Spirit during the song and will be willing to listen to us. We once went up to a door and before I could say anything, Hna Gunter says "Do you know we’re in a battle right now? And we need more soldiers!" The lady kind of chuckled and replied that if we were referring to the battle against Satan she was willing to help. And then she let us in and we talked to her and her husband about the importance of families! We left them with the Proclamation to the World, and we’re going back this week to discuss it with them. It’s definitely been very exciting having her as a companion.

Fun story time! Apparently about 5 or 6 months ago, the Elders in this area left their apartment in a mess. And since we don’t have Elders here now, the Mission Office finally decided to just cut the contract to the Elder’s apartment and put all the Elder’s stuff in storage. Hna Gunter and I have been the lucky people getting to sort everything out- work as mediators between the angry landlord and the mission office, collaborate with ward members to move out all the furniture, sort through all of the old Area Books and moldy old pamphlets, etc... I’ve only been with Hna Gunter for 5 days, but I’m fairly certain we’ve already accomplished more this week than I have in my entire first transfer! Things have been so crazy.

To get even more fun, Presidente LaPierre and his wife came to visit Santo Tomé on Saturday night and Sunday! So we definitely had a little panic attack trying to get everything ready for him. But it all worked out, and the President and his wife really are super nice and it was great to have them visit.

This past week La Copa Mundial started! That has been interesting. Everyone here LOVES soccer. Nobody has time for God, or they can never get off work for church, but the second that Argentina starts playing soccer the ENTIRE COUNTRY shuts down. haha. That has been pretty interesting. So far there have only been two games where Argentina played, but both times we had to change our proselyting schedule because we can’t be outside right after a game since the partying and celebrating can be a little intense. Even though we just stay in the apartment during the game, we always know when something exciting is happening. Hna Gunter and I will be sitting studying when all of a sudden everyone in Santo Tome will start cheering and yelling at the same time. So even though we can’t watch the game it’s fairly simple to know who’s winning, or when we’ve scored!

This week we taught a woman named Gladys. We’ve talked with her a few times and she’s been interested. But Saturday night we taught her about the Plan of Salvation and how we can see our families again after death. The lesson went fairly well, but as it was coming to a close I really felt impressed to sing her a hymn before we left. So Hna Gunter and I sang "Families Can Be Together Forever" (in Spanish, of course). The Spirit was so strong. And after we finished singing we all just sat in silence for a few moments, and then Gladys began to cry and explain how she had lost her father and sister and now she is so happy to know that they can all be happy together again someday. It was amazing!

Sometimes we forget that the Hymns really are sacred and I personally think we should study the hymns every once in a while too. "For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads." D&C 25:12. It’s way sad to me that hardly anyone here in Santo Tome can play the piano (or even carry a tune for that matter). Music has such a way of touching people’s hearts and reminding us to praise God. Sometimes for my personal study I like to read a hymn and study the scripture references associated with it as well! I suggest the same for all y’all as well :)

I love you all! Pray that everything goes through for Mariella and Fernando’s wedding and baptism this Friday!

Hermana Simmons

P.S.  Personal study:  Normally i take a while to go over the lessons we are going to be teaching that day and study for our investigators. But then after that it just varies. Sometimes i like to just choose a chapter in the Book of Mormon and really study it. Other times I’ll take a topic and then read and study as much as i can about that idea. Sometimes I’ll read from Jesus the Christ or the other Missionary Library books. I always read a little from the BoM, but I like to do different things every once in a while so I don’t just get into a rote routine and not pay attention when I study.

Washing:  We have to wash all of our garments by hand since we haven’t found a member who has been able to wash them for us yet.

June 16, 2014


Exciting update!!! This week we met with Fernando and Mariella. We were a little nervous since we needed to talk to them about chastity and marriage. They are living together right now and had never even discussed marriage, so we weren’t sure how this lesson was going to go for them. Anyway, we gave the lesson and it went fairly well, and we asked them at the end to go home and pray individually and then pray together as a couple to ask God if they should live the Law of Chastity, and then if they should get married. A few days later we met with them again and asked if they had thought about what we talked about last time. Mariella looked up with this huge grin on her face and said that they had prayed and talked together and decided to get married and want to be baptized!!! So we are helping them organize a super quick wedding for this week, and then a baptism the week after. So please pray for them! We want everything to go through and want them to remain true to the faith they have gained. It’s crazy to see how much they have changed and how closer they have grown to Heavenly Father and Christ just in the past two weeks. They never really prayed before, but now Mariella says she reads the scriptures every day and loves to pray and talk with God. It’s amazing! And Fernando has smoked his entire life (he started with his friends when he was twelve years old). And since our first lesson with them he hasn’t smoked once!

Also, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! I’m going to try to send some pictures after this email. But lots of the computers here don’t have a functioning SD drive slot or whatever it’s called to upload pictures. Hopefully this computer does.

Transfers this week! My companion is going to Paraguay! I’m staying here in Santo Tome and apparently my new companion is also from the U.S.! I’m so excited that I will be able to communicate! haha. I’ve missed English a little bit. So on Wednesday we are going to Posadas to meet our new companions and go our separate ways- super exciting and also really sad since Hermana Tapia won’t be able to be here for the baptism.

I love you all! The Book of Mormon is true and I know that by reading it we can grow closer to Christ than by reading any other book! And having faith in Christ is something we constantly should be working for. We will never reach a point where we can just say, “Well, now I’m a perfect person and know everything. I don’t have to work anymore or read the scriptures or pray. I’m good.” We constantly have to be praying and working to gain a stronger testimony and a deeper conversion to the Lord! 

"But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not." MOSIAH 4:30

Hermana Simmons

Also, just a fun little fact. I’m super glad that I have had so much practice with not using a restroom during long car trips, because about 95% of the bathrooms here are nasty. So lots of times I just wait until we get home or pass by the church or the house of a good member to go to the bathroom. It’s WAY nice. My poor companion has to go to the bathroom like every other hour it feels like haha. And sometimes she says she’ll walk into someone’s bathroom and decide not to use it since it’s so gross. She’ll just stand there for a little bit and then turn on the faucet and come out without doing anything so that the member or whoever doesn’t feel bad. haha. thought I’d let you know.

love ya!

Now that you've been in Argentina for a month or so, are there any items that you really can't get there, that you miss??

I miss the Kirkland canned chicken!!!! haha the only meat they have here canned is tuna. so we eat a lot of tuna because we don’t really have time to wait around and prepare other meat from scratch. I also miss s’mores! (especially those s’mores bites!) I don’t think graham crackers are a thing here. and tortillas. they don’t really believe in tortillas. But other than that the food here is great. They eat A LOT of bread and rice. But that’s okay because i LOVE the bread here. It’s so good. I’ve probably gained a lot of weight but i don’t even care haha. yeah we do a lot of walking and a half hour of exercise in the morning (crunches, squats, leg lifts, sit ups, etc...) which is good because if we didn’t we’d be little gorditas!

June 09, 2014

i love you all!

Well, this week has been interesting.

Good news first! We have some investigators who are progressing so quickly! Their names are Fernando y Mariella, and they read the Book of Mormon and pray every day, and every lesson with them has been super intense and spiritual. I can tell that they are both so prepared and ready for baptism, so please be praying that they will keep growing their faith in Christ.

For some reason, there has been a lot of death in Santo Tome lately. The father of one of the ward members is in the hospital right now with cancer. He’s over 90 years old and very, very, very sick. Hermana Tapia and I went to visit him, and entering the room I could FEEL how close he was to passing to the other side.

Another ward member’s son in law was riding his motorcycle from Virasoro to Santo Tome around midnight when he got into an accident and died. It was so unexpected and the family is pretty shocked.

I am seriously so glad that our Heavenly Father has a plan. He knows when it is our time to pass and He will take care of us as we are faithful and obedient. Death is not the end. I know that we can see our loved ones again after death because of Jesus Christ. I know that the gospel provides a way for us to live with our families forever. It’s been kind of an interesting week with all of this going on, and I just wanted to let you all know (parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, ward members, friends, anyone reading this haha etc...) I pray for you all the time and seriously wish the best for you! Thanks for all your support.

I love you all! Keep studying and pondering the scriptures!

Hermana Simmons

P.S.  It’s crazy to think how big the church is in Idaho compared to here. It took me a few days to get used to the idea that people have never heard of the LDS church or mormons or joseph smith or ANYTHING. We’re so lucky to have a temple so close and a ward that actually functions.

I think apathy is not recognized as much as it should be as a dangerous tool of the devil. So often we just focus on how he can cause people to turn into ravaging, crazy, angry, murderous people (which yes is definitely horrible), but it’s just as dangerous to turn into a cynical, uncaring person. Either way the person is allowing Satan to murder their spirit. It’s super sad. We have some investigators like that and i just want to get up and SCREAM or shake them or SOMETHING to get through to them that we are talking about SALVATION here, not whether or not it will rain tomorrow. ugh haha. 

(Questions and Answers)
1. How often do you get to meet with your mission president?
We have interviews with him about every 3 months (so they tell me), and sometimes when I’m in Posadas for paperwork (it’s called tramites) I’ll see him in the office.

2. Tell me a little about your mission president and his wife. Are any of their children on the mission with them? Is he loud and boisterous, or more quiet and reserved?
No, all their children are grown. He’s not super loud, but he likes to joke and is pretty funny in his own way haha. His wife doesn’t really speak Spanish. At all. But she always brings treats to meetings so that’s good.

3. Can you elaborate a little more about the “two package rule?” Is this rule only for missionaries, or is it for Argentinians in general. I was trying to find something about this on the internet, and the only information that I found was that it looked like the Argentinian govt. had limited how many orders people could place with international companies on the internet. Is this the law that is limiting your receiving packages?
I think that might be the law, but i don’t really know. They always explain everything in Spanish. but the paper they gave us just said that we can’t receive any packages of any kind except for twice a year. We can receive as many envelopes or pouch mail as we want. And apparently packages from the states normally take a few months to get here, at least one sister had to wait a long time for a package.

4. Will you get to go to a temple during your mission? If so, which temple will you attend?
No, maybe at the end of the mission we can go? I don’t really know. I do know that nearly every missionary gets the opportunity to go visit Iguazu Falls. If you are nearing the end of the mission and haven’t been transferred close to Iguazu the president recommends/allows you and your companion to travel to Iguazu.

June 02, 2014

This Week

Hola hola hola everyone and happy Monday! I’m spending another Preparation day away from home this week. Hermana Tapia is a Sister Training Leader, so she and another hermana went to Posadas (Google images, Google map) today for some meeting. So I’m here in Virasoro (Google images, Google map) with Hermana Averett. (Sister Simmons is currently living in Santo Tomé - Google images, Google map)

Some relatively exciting news is that I got sick for the first (and hopefully last) time on my mission this past week. The weather has gotten super cold, but normally the temperature wouldn’t be a problem- what’s killer is the humidity. I can just feel the cold seeping into my throat and my fingertips. I lost my voice completely on Friday and Saturday, but luckily I’m almost completely better now. Plus, we were finally able to buy a little space heater and that has helped tremendously.

It’s super sad to see investigators progress and learn, but then just stop- for whatever reason. We have been working with a lady and she is really interested in the church and learning about Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon. But her husband is not very supportive, and so she’s having trouble finding motivation to come to church when her husband doesn’t want to go. Another one of our investigators would love to come to church, but for legal reasons can’t leave her house! So that’s really sad to see the desire but not be able to help her progress very quickly until her legal situation is taken care of.

Something that has surprised me here is how willing people are to talk. Everyone wants to be understood and loved, so when missionaries come who are willing to listen and care everyone wants to talk. It amazes me how open some people have been- family conflict, health issues, legal troubles, EVERYTHING. I have heard from so many different people about so many different problems. It’s super sad sometimes, but I’m glad that they feel the Spirit testifying to them that the missionaries can listen and can help. Going along with this, I love the scripture in John 12:47 when Christ says that He "came not to judge the world, but to save the world." As a missionary, I’m supposed to be a representative of Jesus Christ, I’m supposed to follow His example to the best of my ability. That means I offer His gospel to all who will listen, but it also means that I love everyone and don’t judge people or get angry with them when they make decisions that I don’t necessarily agree with. I can be sad that they won’t be able to see the blessings, but I still love them and trust that maybe at a later time they will reach out to God.
I love you all!

Hermana Simmons
P.S. We had Zone Conference this past week, and a lot of what we talked about is not only using the gifts we have but also recognizing that sometimes we don’t have the same or as many gifts as others, and that’s okay. The Lord blesses us all and it’s just our job to do as well as we can, we shouldn’t hold ourselves to a higher standard than what the Lord holds us to (for example, the servant with 2 talents wasn’t expected to gain an extra 5, he was commended for gaining an extra 2). Sometimes it’s hard to remember that when we compare ourselves with others (other missionaries or other work colleagues).