Monday, July 11, 2016

el 11 de julio

alrighty my friends. the last saga has begun.

to tell you the honest truth, dying sucks. everyone goes super trunky on you and then everyone asks what you are going to do to help them remember you... ummm. meet me up on facebook friends! i'll be there on friday.

i love you all. thank you all for your support and your letters, your emails, and everything in between. it really has made it all possible.

note about the picture of the four sisters in the back of a pickup truck. these are celeste, her mom, hermana estelvina; kiara and jaqueline (counterclockwise). hermana estelvina's husband, luis, gave us a ride back to the house on friday night because the whole world was a little giddy about a memorial march from managua to masaya. we decided it was safer to use a member's good offer than a taxi that night... 

my favorite person of the week is andy. a couple of weeks ago i sent a letter to a few of my converts, letting them know how much i love them and that this sunday would be my last here in nicaragua. andy and his mom came to say goodbye yesterday, and it was so tender to see him. my joy was full to see him and his mother sitting on the bench in the chapel. there really are no words to describe the joy that it gives me to hear that they go to church every sunday. margarita is still a single mother, since her husband moved out shortly after andy was baptized, and sister gomez and i supposedly really touched her heart. we had a good time playing the piano and sharing some memories. andy asked me if i still had all the pictures, and i proudly said yes. all my love for him. the gospel changed their lives.

today i finished reading doctrine and covenants, a goal that i really had to work for! but i read something that really touched me in the first official declaration of the church. it was something that wilford woodruff declared in 1890 in response to some bad comments were made about the church's polgamy practices. but it applies to all things that the prophet and other church leaders give to us:

::It matters not who lives or who dies, or who is called to lead this Church, they have got to lead it by the inspiration of Almighty God. If they do not do it that way, they cannot do it at all.::

there is a sister in our ward who really has touched my heart. hermana marlene is an older woman, who reminds me a lot of my grandmother graves. she even looks a little like her. ;) she has a very tender and growing testimony of the gospel and is the optime of a sister who is striving hard to be strong in a world full of everything wrong. she and her husband have had some difficult times spiritually lately, but we spent sometime with her this week sharing about the gospel and the church, and all the great programs that we have to help the members stay active and busy, even when they have been members for years... but the most tender part was a card she made for me and my companion. she worked hours, meticulously working on it, and poured her heart into a beautiful note. she's a gem, really. 

the biggest challenge this week was finding the balance of saying goodbye and working hard until the end. we took a coke break on wednesday and timed it just right that the coke guy came while we were there. he is a real jokester and ended up drinking a pepsi, while dressed to work for the coca cola... o what a cheester.

this week i learned that love and joy really are intertwined. there is no greater joy in seeing your investigators progress, no great joy in seeing them understand a principle personally in their life. there really is no greater love in crying and being sad when they decide not to listen to you one day, or they close the door. but love is still the same that it was forty years ago, four hundred, or four thousand years ago. 

john 3:16
::For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.::

everlasting life, that is what we as missionaries preach. an everlasting life with our savior and redeemer, jesus christ.

the thing that i will miss most about the mission is the constant ability to say the right thing because the spirit is always there to tell you what to say. there isn't a day that goes by that words don't come out of my mouth that i don't see help someone do something different with their lives. it's obviously not something that i boast about, but something that i can see happen. missionaries really do become the lord's mouthpieces, a chosen vessel to say the words the people need to hear to repent and come unto christ. 

let us all go up to zion, and establish her foundations, and bring the four corners of the earth to the mountian of the lord.

hermana graves

Monday, July 4, 2016

el 04 de julio

first of all... happy fourth of july....!

it may not be a big thing for the nicaraguans, but i can still celebrate my country's liberty.

i am winding down, and things in the mission are still picking up steam. i am so glad to see how much the ward here really has grown since i got here. yesterday we had a lot of less actives in church and the members really helped us out with our investigators. they were the main reason we even had investigators, and ones that are going to progress towards a baptismal date this month. i am trying to stay focused on helping my companion grow up a little. she is going to have a to teach the area to a new companion, something that she has never done, so we are going over how to keep better track of information and directions and all that kind of stuff. 

this week my favorite people is a family that we met this week. brenda and armando live next door to a referral that we received from some other neighbors. we had sat down with the referraled investigator and had a rather spiritual lesson. i didn't really notice, but armando had come out of his room and sat outside and listened to the majority of the lesson. at one point, a wandering drunk had tried to interrupt but he shut him out, saying that he was "listening to the word of god." props. well, we did a rather interesting thing, and placed a date with brenda and armando and said that we were going to pass by later in the week with a friend of theirs from the neighorhood who is a member. great. check. the member nor they were available when we passed by their home to share with them, and so we lost a little bit of contact until sunday morning. we passed by to verify about coming to church and they were all happy go lucky, sure!! we came by later to pick them up and they said that they were going to come with their landlord and they would meet us there. alrighty. sometimes i have the tendency to not believe people when they say that they will show up to church because it's very rare to find a nica who will actually follow through with that verbal commitment, but while singing the sacrament hymn, guess who walked in.... brenda and armando. YES!!!!! 

this week i have been reading through the final chapters of doctrine and covenants; this is the farthest i have ever gotten into it, and it's enchanting to find all the new knowledge at every new verse. this week i reached the part in history when joseph smith is placed in carthage jail. sections 121, 122, and 123 are his writings about his experience there, and the prayers and consolation that he received there. section 122 is a revelation about trials and tribulations that the lord gave to him while in the midst of it all... verses one through four give joseph hope that all will come through at the end

::The ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall rage against thee; While the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under thy hand. And thy people shall never be turned against thee by the testimony of traitors. And although their influence shall cast thee into trouble, and into bars and walls, thou shalt be had in honor; and but for a small moment and thy voice shall be more terrible in the midst of thine enemies than the fierce lion, because of thy righteousness; and thy God shall stand by thee forever and ever.::

then the lord teaches jospeh a lesson in verses five through eight

::If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea; If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters;and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can’t you stay with us?O, my father, what are the men going todo with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb; And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?::

all things are given for thy good. this is my most precious mercy.

this week we really decided to go to work. obviously it didn't all work out as planned, but it did work out one way or the other. we tried really hard to focus on helping our investigators progress, or receive the restored gospel and their own answer about the restoration. we had a neat experience with maria and raymond when we presented the video the restoration. raymond has a little bit of autism in him and he has a very attute mind. careful what you promise, or he will follow through. while watching the video he asked all the right questions, but when we asked him if he was going to church this sunday to prepare for baptism he said something along the lines of "we are going to be busy," not even really sure that they were going to be busy. cute kid.

what will i remember and take with me from my mission....
    honestly, there are lots of things that i will take from my mission. a stronger testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. a stronger testimony of the amazing power that the atonement has to save us all. but something that i have seen is this. the faces and the names are all different, but the situations that we bring to church are the same as in whichever other ward or branch in the world. there are poor, rich, fat, skinny, pregnant, widowed, recently married, recently divorced people wherever you go. i think the gospel truly is the only thing in this world that truly is one size fits all. 

::if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me! Behold, you have my gospel before you, and my rock, and my salvation.:: doctrine and covenants 18:15-17

enduring to the end
hermana graves

ps. a picture from hermana vasquez, elany, and daniela.