i have been called to serve a mission for the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints for eighteen months in the nicaragua managua south mission. my family has agreed to post my weekly emails here, as well as any comments or posts they wish to add.
woo! another week, really? sitting down, thinking about all the
adventures i have had, i can see where all the time is going, but at
the same time, yikes! slow down already!
a big success... getting over an upset tummy. this week, just for a
couple of days, i got a little rumblies in my tumblies, and thanks to
some good ol' pepto bismol and some tums, i am back on track.
no fever, need to worry.
our biggest challenge... sunday night we had to have 12 lessons with
investigators, 8 lessons with converts or less actives, and 40 contacts
to complete with the standards of excellency. and what did we do?
completed with almost all of our lessons, all of our contacts, and
almost all of our recent converts. here, after nine oclock, everyone is
in bed, doors closed and ready for bed... so it's kind of hard to find
converts to talk with... and do you want to know why we were so in
the pit with numbers? because we had a multi-zone meeting!
thursday we woke up at 4:30am, travelled an hour in a bus to get to managua, and spent all day with President and Sister Russell, learning and practicing, and doing a lot of listening. we even got special permission to watch Meet the Mormons in Spanish! i almost understood all of it, but thanks to having seen it two times before in the MTC, i had a basic understand of what was going on... of course, photos had to be taken, because i saw sister garfield!
here, we dress up real nice for activities like that, so of course i had
to wear my $1 skirt, and my new shirt!
i also received my medallion, which certifies that i successfully
completed my training as a missionary, almost three months late,
but we won't talk about that.
a tender mercy... this week we found a brother of an investigator
with lots of desires to learn and understand the church. he came to
church, and was a little confused because the speakers got a little
baptist-preacher like, but we ended up having a great discussion
afterwards, and he is now on the path for a baptism the eighth of
my favorite person this week, would be my mother. she taught me
so many wonderful things in my childhood, and i am so glad that i
was able to be born into a home where the gospel is so intertwined
into everything. there is no other way to live the gospel...
it's a way of life.
::For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that
humbleth himself shall be exalted.::
something that i am working always to do, is to emmulate more the
attribute of christ. i am, after all, his representative, and i need to be
more like him in every way. him that is humble will be exalted, and
those who stand tall in pride, will be struck down and humbled
this week was a very humbling one. we have a set of
standards that we are expected to complete, and one of the those is bringing six investigators to church. i don't want to sound proud, but sometimes i feel like we as missionaries here have a higher set of standards than the missionaries in the states. they have their own set of problems, i know, but looking through some of my other friends' emails, it makes me feel proud to be here in nicaragua working as hard as i do. this week was humbling because we only had two people at church. of the 25 people we normally have committed to come, i am used to bringing at least 6 (if not 8) people to church. we literally rang the bell to bring two. it was literally extremely humbling to realize that although we can work all week long, and we can fight to have them come, sunday morning and afternoon really is a magnifying glass underneath the sun. being rejected on the doorstep with taxi money in hand is very, very discouraging. especially because for some people, "next sunday" never comes.
my agenda this transfer has a picture of the temple on it, a
constant reminder that my work here in nicaragua isn't complete until these members enter into the temple and make their own temple covenants with the Lord. one sister here has been fighting to make it to the temple for over 15 years, and this august will be making the trip to costa rica to surprise her son and daughter-in-law, and go through the temple. it's so amazing to see the joy that she has, when she thinks of that goal that is almost here.
a big success was finally finding out what was keeping us from
shifting gears together. sorry for the metaphors this week, they
don't really translate very well into spanish sometimes... working
with some leaders, sister martinez and i worked through some
problems we were having, and now we are back at square one,
ready to leave the blocks together.
this week's scripture is found in both doctrine and covenants
15:4-6, and the following section (word for word) in 16:4-6...
::For many times you have desired of me to know that which
would be of the most worth unto you. Behold, blessed are you
for this thing, and for speaking my words which I have given
you according to my commandments. And now, behold, I say
unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto
you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you
may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with
them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen.::
many times i have asked the lord what my purpose, why i am
here in this specific area, and this scripture gave me the comfort
to know that my purpose here is the same in every area,preach
the gospel of repentance to the lost and fallen sheep.
this week we are planning on focusing our studies on being
more and more unified, teaching with the power and authority of our holy calling.
and because it was the fourth of july, of course i had to wear
red, white and blue. and of course with the stars and stripes! one of my zone leaders is from LA, so he called me and wished me a happy independence day. the people here (this could sound bad) but didn't really care that it was any other day than a saturday. and that's okay with me. we will just have to have a grand party a couple days late next year!
one year from today, i will be sitting with the other sisters and
elders in the mission home, wondering what i am going to do
without my plaque and authority to preach the gospel. but not
to worry, i still have lots of time to work and play here!
this week was one of the easier changes in my misson; the
change from loma linda to pancasan, however, was not as easy. tuesday afternoon was full of goodbyes, and hurrying to run from one end of town to the other to say goodbye to members, converts, and still try and fit in the things that we have to do normally. the hardest goodbyes were with elizabeth, andy and emily. i made emily a little missionary plaque so that she can remember to always help bring her less active parents to church. to prepare one day to be a missionary when she will have to walk a lot further to bring a whole lot more people to church. so this is hermana martinez, my new companion! (note from Mom: the picture didn't load)
she is only a few months older than me (better than my other companions, who were 24 and 22, respectively) and is from San Salvador, El Salvador. for those of you who don't know where that is, you're with me. i have long ago forgotten my mental map of central america that i memorized in high school spanish class. hermanamartinez was actually the mtc companion of hermana
gomez, which makes her the third of about 6 sisters from that group that i have been companions with... what a treat!
this is about how all of the main streets are here in granada...
house, house, house, huge catholic church, rich house, house, house, huge rich house. the more neighborhood like roads, are still rather rich, although they are a little bit more humble. i miss my loma linda houses of metal. the opportunity to change places and learn a new set of tricks is something that i was almost anticipating, but actually being here was almost a dream for the first couple of nights. but here we are! a new set of friends, and a whole new set of challenges. the streets here are flat (hallelujah!) and so, my long lost friends, the calluses, are back in full force. thanks to an early birthday present, i have some saving graces, but here's to high hopes that they heal faster than last time.
a great scripture for this week... let's go with mark 2:17 ::When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.:: the lord came to help us all, because all of us in one form or another are that sick and afflicted. the sinners are the ones invited to come unto him, and follow him. the righteous will have their reward.
some new foods this week include beet lemonade. it was very
interesting, and something that i haven't quite made up my mind about yet.... a work in progress.
this week has been a whirlwind of new experiences, a tiny little church
building, like the stereotypical central american church building (fans attached to the walls to provide some reprieve from the heat, an electric piano, and only about four classrooms in total). a new branch president, who is very ready and willing to retain the new members of the church. we are working right now on our SIMY (i don't know what it stands for, i just know that it's the converts of the last 18 months who came to church), because it's seriously lacking... here we go to work!
our greatest success this week would have to be having 52
lessons with investigators, and 28 lessons with converts or less actives. (the standard here is 50 lessons with investigators and 28 lessons with less actives or converts. usually we hit right at the 50 and 28 mark, but this week, we surpassed it.
::a note about our daily work:: each day, we have to contact
24 people, have 7 lessons with investigators, 4 lessons with recent converts, and place a baptismal date with three people. that's each day. with about nine hours of work and one hour of break time. break that downinto half hour segments into 18 segments, and we have a full plate. but we get it all done, thanks to the good old man upstairs.
one thing that we are really working hard on right now, is our
retention of the new converts. latin america is famous for having a plentitude of baptisms, but far and in between is the member that once they are baptized, stays faithful all his life. we are working right now on making all things possible for the nicaragua managua south mission to have this success in retaining our converts; making sure all the lights are flashing green so that they make it to the right path.
a great tender mercy was finding gloria, a señorita who lives
alone with her oldest son and his children. we were out looking for a less active and we stopped to ask for directions (sounds like the start of a good country song, right?) and we ended up having a short lesson with her to introduce her to the church. we set a time to come back a couple of days later and her demeanor had changed. for the better. we found out that she is really worried about a family situation, and we promised her that this message would bring her peace and guidance. she accepted the invitation to be baptized, and made the promise to come to church two days later. we called her sunday morning and she was on her way to the church building. arriving with a friend! she felt the truth of the gospel light, and is already looking to help us with the missionary work.
my goals for this week include finding the gusto to do our morning
exercise more effectively. i love my morning stretches, but we should be doing more than a couple of yoga poses.... here's to good
this week a favorite scripture is in john 10:27
::My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me::
the lord has offered us sufficient comfort, if we are only willing to
come and follow him. all faith needs a little action.
my favorite person this week is hermana maria jose, who on short
notice allowed us to come into her home and make us food. hermana gladis has some family in town that doesn't like that she is still making food for the missionaries (she's almost 80) and so we had to leave for a month while they are here. it's so weird not to see her and have a great ol' mama gladis hug every day!
but until next week, here is a picture of my zone!
i'm in the middle, with the yellow skirt. we are all matching
as companions, so it's easy to pick out who is with whom.
what could be my final picture with hermana gladis... tears!
this week was an adventure, but all missionaries can testify, that it's always an adventure.
our biggest challenge this week was working through the rain. having the
spunk and the energy to work through torrential downpours is a little rough
on the soul, but we did it!
a big concern right now is that our teaching pool is really small, and we should
be working with more people than we are. this week will be almost pure new
investigators if we play our cards right!
a big success, helping michael make his dreams come true and get baptized
this week. also, helping roberto each day remember his promise to live the
word of wisdom. we started out calling him each day, but by the end of the
week, he started calling us to let us know that he had stayed strong that day.
here come the baptismal waters!
elder velasquez, the young men's president (kevin) and michael. an older
gentleman in the ward gave michael a tie, and we had to re-tie the dang
thing four times to get it to sit right. but he was soo excited for it!
my favorite person this week is president russell. we had the opportunity to
have an interview, and it was great to see the progress that i am making. it
was really hard to pray in english, and i ended up slipping into spanish in
the middle of the prayer. between the two of us, we had to think really hard
to talk in english. we looked at my numbers and talked about ways that i can
be a better companion. he thinks that i have a lot of potential to be a leader
in the mission, and i simply told him that i am here to do the lord's work.
where he needs me, i will go.
for a significant tender mercy, see the story above about roberto.
this week i am not looking forward to preparing to say goodbye. we find out
next tuesday if loma linda 1 will see any changes, and i really hope not. but
the feeling has been the same since i started this change, that my time is
coming to a close here in loma linda. give me two weeks and i will tell you
how close i really am to knowing myself.
the greatest scripture this week is one that has been on the back of my
planner for the past month. lucas 24:5-6
::Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen::
with the comment, seek him.
at first, i thought it was talking about Christ, and really the intention is of that.
but it hit me with another application: our investigators. we search and search
and work and work to help people come unto Christ. but some seeds we aren't
meant to harvest. we are meant only to help them grow to a point. and like the
parable of the forgotten harvest, to leave field for a while. why look for the
living investigators among those who aren't progressing. there aren't there,
but walk among another crowd, another field.
we really struggled this week to manage our time well, and partly
due to the fact that douglas, who we will discuss later, lives in the other extreme of our area, and is like a wandering dog, not always in the house. and as part of it all, we have to visit our investigators each day the week before their baptism because the spirit of temptation is the strongest, so we chased the wandering dog each day and helped him find a home to stay in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
after sunday, we were really concerned about hermanos roberto
and veronica, a couple who are investigating the church. roberto has problems with alcohol, and for fifteen days he resisted all of the temptations to drink. but last sunday morning, all ready for church, he sat with liquor in his hands. so, saturday we gave him this:
his personal calendar to count the coming 21 days to his baptismal
date. here, investigators have to attend church three times, and go for at least two weeks without alcohol or cigarettes before they can be baptized, hence the importance of the coming three weeks and his recovery from this addiction.
another great success, would have to include helping this little
guy into the waters of baptism, as the pioneer of his family. his brother will be baptized next week, and his parents are starting to open up to listening to our message for themselves, so we may have a wedding--baptism party again! (no Photo)
jose daniel and me, all ready for his confirmation the next day!
(picture didn't load from her)
a great tender mercy here is not having a fault of food. the
people here are humble, and also willing to share with us. they understand the principle that daniel taught, that if they share with the Lord's servants, they too will be blessed with the nourishment they need. this is usually what we receive for dinner:
eggs, rice, beans, and bread. something simple to show their
hermano neftali makes the list this week as favorite person,
because he cares enough to travel a great distance to travel another great distance to visit investigators. a great ward mission leader!
this week i did a little study about the cross that christ asks us
to take upon ourselves in matthew 10:38-39
::And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not
worthy of me. He who seeketh to find his life shall lose it: and he that sacrificethhis life for my sake shall find it. He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.::
but what is this cross that we are asked to take? we read later in
::Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me,
let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments. Break not my commandments for to save your lives; for whosoever will save his life in this world, shall lose it in the world to come. And whosoever will lose his life in this world, for my sake,shall find it in the world to come. Therefore, forsake the world, and save your souls; for what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?::
take up our cross, deny yourself all ungodliness, keep the
commandments of the lord.
and the next part is probably my favorite: break not my
commandments for to save your lives. for whosoever will save his life in this world, shall lose it in the world to come.
the lord invites us to take upon us our own responsibility and
take action. our salvation is individual.
james e. talmadge says
::a cross was a symbol of ignominy, extreme suffering, and death.
however, should they lose their lives for His sake, they would find life eternal.::
the lord's grand promise is life eternal. take up your cross, and
come to him.