A dangerously acute account of 18 months in Nicaraguan Territory.
People tell me it’s winter and I almost believe them…until I walk outside. That’s ok. I’ll just keep singing songs from Frozen and thinking cool thoughts like “ice bath” or “Snow cone”. I also feel the need to apologize for starting off all my letters talking about how hot it is. But it’s just something I have yet to get used to. And I probably will still be saying that a year from now when it’s time to head back home. It’s weird to think that tomorrow will be my fifth month out in the mission. Well, time flies when you’re having fun.
It was quite diverting this week because we were once again investigating a new part of our rather large area. Not only was I stumbling and tripping on every ridiculous rock on the path, but I’m also sure that the skirt I chose that day was not my most attractive. So it was no surprise that when we went to ask for help with our directions, the people were chuckling at this poor stranded group of girls, one of which was looking extremely distraught (and she was a gringa, to top it off). So we asked them how to get to a certain street and the reply we got was something like this…”Go straight on this street for two blocks and then take a left, stay on that path until you reach the house of the gringos…” I stopped listening after that because it just gave me the giggles. They didn’t say, “oh the red house” or “the house on the corner.” No, it was the house of the gringos. I laughed for about thirty minutes (which probably destroyed my image even further, but it was funny) Maybe I’ll start giving directions like that when I get home: “Well, you get to the high school and take a left for three blocks and at the house of the gringos…” Ha ha ha oh the simple joys of a Utah missionary in Nicaragua!
My companion and I have also been invited to participate and help out the ward youth choir, who will be singing in the Stake conference this Saturday and Sunday. We were practically commanded by the Stake President’s wife to wear a white shirt. You know what that means: SHOPPING!! We found a fairly good priced paca (think of D.I., but with clothes a lot more unattractive) we didn’t find any white shirts, but I did discover that my companion has a very serious shopping addiction. I mean, one can only buy so many skirts at one time! J It was a fun way to spend our p-day!
This week I really saw up close something I’ve never really witnessed before. We are teaching this thirty year-old guy named Francisco. His mom is a member that’s less-active, but one day we passed by and she introduced us to her son. We talked a little bit about the gospel and he told us that he had a lot of serious health problems because of things he had done in his youth. We gave him a pamphlet and said we’d come back the next day.
When we came back, he had read the whole pamphlet and only had one question about the apostasy and that was it. *Note: it’s rare for a Nica to only have one question. We left him with a pamphlet for the next lesson, the word of wisdom. Knowing his past, we approached the lesson very delicately. But as soon as we started, he jumped right in, pointing out things in the pamphlet and how they corresponded to teachings of Jesus Christ. He said he wanted to change his life and become a member. So, very happily, we left him a Book of Mormon and gave him a reading assignment.
And the next day, he had read it! At this point, we’re literally clicking our heels all the way down the rocky road (which is very hard to do by the way). Could an investigator get any more golden? we thought. Oh, how wrong we were.
The next day we show up and he isn’t there. So we teach the mom and at the end of the message he shows up. Shirtless with hooded eyes, he is the complete opposite: He hates his mom, doesn’t believe in God, doesn’t want to listen, doesn’t want to change, and all this because he was drunk. I thought that after watching enough Hogan’s Heroes shows, I would know when someone was drunk.
But the real test is you see it in their eyes. You smell it on their breath, and just like the liquor they drink, their face is hard, unfeeling of all the emotions that come from God. They’ve willingly given up their ability to choose and thus suffer the consequences of a degenerated body.
The Word of Wisdom isn’t just a silly rule a man made up; It’s a principle with a promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, showing forth the will of God for our Temporal Salvation. It is our protective shield against the elements of this world which would have us unhealthy and unhappy. We should keep this commandment!
--Hermana Naomi Beatty
We really can´t stay;
Hermanas it´s HOT out there;
We´ve got to go away;
Hermanas, You´ll fry out there
Yes, it’s hot here in Chichigalpa. I know that it’s probably just my imagination but I don’t think I’ve ever been this hot in my life. And I know you won’t believe me when I say my glasses are literally melting to my face, but it’s true. I’ll be sure to show you when I get home. What a mission artifact it will be!
We’ve been looking really hard to find new investigators because we’re still really new and the Elders before us didn’t leave us anyone. So we’re searching all over Chichigalpa, walking over mountains and neighborhoods and rivers and everything and it dawns on us “wait a second” we have an awesome family living below us! So we sneakily (well, not sneakily; smoothly would be a better word) start asking them questions, sharing a moment in the day with them (or in other words, teaching them a lesson), inviting them to church activities. And guess what happens? They show up to church yesterday! All by themselves! And they stayed for all three hours! And their daughter loves primary! And we’re teaching them how to do a noche de hogar! (home evening) And I just know that this is going to turn out awesome! That’s definitely a sign to shine where you are. And that you don’t have to look very far to find the opportunities the Lord has given us truly, miraculous!
My companion asked me, during one of our various travels, if something funny happened in Leon with Hma. Gonzalez. Instantly, my mind was filled with the vision of when she and I were patiently waiting in a taxi. (*Note: so sorry if I’ve told this one before, but it’s just so good). Patiently waiting, while other people were impatiently waiting. The car in front of us was dropping some very old ladies off on the corner. Just as these frail, infirm women so slightly opened the door, a speeding bicycle came through. The man didn’t even see it coming. BAM!! He was flying through the air, rolled over another car and landed, groaning on the ground. And then for the best part…These little old ladies go over to help this young man and what does he do? He starts yelling at them. So, these same women, quickly turning their guilty feelings into ones of annoyance, begin to scold him. After about two minutes of consequence- talking, the ladies walk off, one of them hitting him with her handbag as she walked away. Paper doesn’t do it justice, but oh, how memorable it was!
I’ve noticed something rather interesting about Nicaraguans. I don’t know if it’s like this in other Spanish speaking countries, but here in Nicaragua, the people end almost every sentence as a question, saying “I verdad?” or in English, “true?” It’s a phenomenon that I’ve never encountered before. I don’t usually say or respond by saying. “oh my day was great, true? “ Truth is knowledge, of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come. And we have a wonderful promise from the Savior, that if we will keep His commandments, we will receive truth and light until we are glorified in truth and knoweth all things (see D&C 93:28) I guess that everyone who doesn’t really know what truth is, hasn’t really kept the commandments. Let us seek after truth, or in other words, let’s keep the commandments.
And remember to never end a statement with a question mark (that was for all you grammar fans and Lolene Gifford too)
Let’s go Fly a Kite….
With four pesos for plastic and reeds
You can have your own set of wings
With your feet on the ground, you’re a bird in flight
With your fist holding tight to the string of a kite!
I never knew that kite flying/making could be such a popular enterprise! Here in Nicaragua, “kites” are called “leschusas” and they are everywhere. The kids make them by cutting palm fronds into thin reeds and then attaching a plastic bag. It’s so fun to see the different shapes and types they make from such simple materials. I love watching all the kids try to get the kite in the air; it’s especially hilarious when there is no wind, so you just watch the kids run up and down the street. I told one little fella that maybe if he ran a little bit faster, he could get it up there. He had such faith in my words; he ran his little heart out. Poor thing, his kite was still grounded. In the words of Brother Ellsworth, bless his little gizzard.
Time for trial of the week (what I really mean is the trial that I can explain in less than two paragraphs) so, here in Nicaragua the missionaries normally have a member in their area who they pay to make their lunch. Normally, we’re on our own for breakfast and dinner, but there was a missionary here in Chichigalpa who must’ve been a smooth talker because he got this same Hermana to give us breakfast too, for just a little bit more money! (Insert missionary shouting “yeah for rice and beans with egg! Anything is better than crackers”) the trial that I’m finally getting at is not the food (which is quite delicious) or the money we pay. It’s that this sweet family loves to listen to music. But more than anything, they love to listen to American music! Who knew that someone like One Direction could be such a temptation J it’s not that big of a deal for my companion or for them because they don’t understand the words, but I do. Even more, the words aren't even bad, but I definitely know that these songs aren't in harmony with the spirit of my calling. So, instead of singing along with Lorde “I’ve never seen a diamond in the flesh”, I politely ask if we can turn the music off for a little while…I know it may sound silly, but just know that the struggle is REAL!! (Especially for Naomi because she is such a fan of music)
This past Sunday was a holiday for lots of people in Nicaragua, it was "the day of the dead". But for being such a dead day, there sure were a million live people bustling to and fro, visiting graves, family, screaming and praying at the cemeteries (I’m not sure if I've shared this with you, but the people here are CRAZY)
Anyways, we contacted lots of people and talked with them about the Plan of Salvation. It was interesting to see the difficulty they had in accepting the happy message of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were obsessing with the deaths of their families. And just like that, I found this awesome quote from Elder James C. Talmage..
”Death has come to be the universal heritage, it may claim its victim in infancy or youth, in the period of life’s prime, or its summons may be deferred until the shows of age have gathered upon the hoary head, it may befall us the result of accident or disease, by violence, or as we say, through natural causes; but come it must, as Satan well knows, and in this knowledge is his present but temporary triumph. But the purposes of God, as they ever have been and ever shall be, are infinitely superior to the deepest designs of men or devils, and the satanic machinations to make death inevitable, perpetual, and supreme were provided against even before the first man had been created in the fresh. The atonement to be wrought by Jesus the Christ was ordained to overcome death and to provide a means of ransom from the power of Satan."
I feel like I should just say “Amen” to his words and call it a letter, but I would like to add my personal testimony that death is a necessary part of the Plan of Salvation. Once we've reached a certain point, we can progress no further, so we die. And yes, it’s sad. “But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ! (Mosiah 16:8)
With lots of love,
P.S. ha ha so will someone please explain to me this whole zombie thing?! Ha ha jk, jk
That is literally how we found our house last week when we arrived here in Chichigalpa! We were left without a phone, just some keys and the supposed address of our house. Well, the taxi driver dropped us off on the side of the road with our suitcases and after asking around a bit, we discovered that the missionaries definitely didn’t live on this block. Fortunately, the Lord blessed us with a random stranger on a bike whose brother was the President of the young men. We took down the address of his house and, trusting our luggage to a young random boy; we exercised our faith and our legs and began walking towards the direction indicated. We had walked about two blocks when a random girl (are you understanding that everyone in our day was random?), she shouted “Adios hermanos”, so, we went over to talk to her. From her house emerged a random woman who loudly proclaimed, “When are you Hermanos coming to eat?” at this point, we were really confused. But as it turns out, this lovely lady and her family were recent converts who helped us find our house and gave us dinner that night. The Lord really does watch out for us; He knows our every need.
My companion is a lovely girl from Guatemala who goes by the name of “Linares” We are both new to Chichigalpa, which is sometimes referred to as “opening the area”. What it really means is that neither of you know anything. So, needless to say, it’s been a really fun week.
We’ve been getting to know a lot of the members this week, which has also helped us to have new investigators. The members here are really sweet and always want to give us food. Oh, the trials we are blessed with. J On Wednesday, we had dinner with a member and it really was a trial. The food was alright and we managed to eat it all, but I just wanted to laugh my guts out when she handed us a glass of something. I sipped a little and, instead of receiving wonderful relief from my thirst, I felt as though I was drinking salt water, maybe with a hint of orange behind it all. These people are so CRAZY! They basically make their own poison with their sea water drinks! Talk about tasting the ocean. But they were a really sweet family, and that’s’ what matters, right?
I’m really excited to be here in Chichigalpa. It is SO beautiful! It reminds me a lot of the Hot Springs in Nevada (Warm Springs), if any of you have been fortunate enough to have visited there. There are palm trees that are SUPER TALL, a beautiful winding river, and gorgeous fields. But the most crowning landscape of all is the magnificent volcano that sits to the North, San Cristobal. It’s quite distinct and beautiful. It looks like a cloud maker. The other day we were walking and my companion said, “Look at how beautiful the volcano is today!” It’s true, it is really beautiful! But I just feel like that is not a normal thing that people say. Normally, you remark on the sky or birds or something. But the active volcano that is within the vicinity of your home? Hmmmm…I’m thinking that a volcano eruption would make for an excellent mission story…We’ll see what happens in the next six weeks J
This past week has been a very adventurous, stressful one, but I know that it’s necessary to have trials like this. If we’re never pushed to our limits, we’ll never know how far we are able to go. Unto whom much is given, much is required. So let us thank the Lord for the great blessing we have of this gospel and let us not shirk the next time He asks us to do something difficult.
He never said it would be easy.
He only said it would be worth it.
hola! I'm Naomi and I love reading, my amazing family, and the color green.