A dangerously acute account of 18 months in Nicaraguan Territory.
Well, this week was rather difficult simply because Nicaragua has been celebrating its independence. Which means there is no one in the streets or in their houses because they are all in the town square watching all the hula-baloo? It was very frustrating trying to preach the gospel this week. BUT, I shall not continue to bore you with my babblings of unfair and unjust traversing. Better, perhaps it is, to talk of beautiful spiritual moments.
Jessena and her sister, Francys accompanied us to a Nicaraguan Cultural night where we ate cassava (does anyone even know what that is?), Rice and beans, and drank corn with milk. I know your mouth is just watering thinking about all the deliciousness that is dripping from my words, but don’t worry, we’ll have a Nicaraguan culture night when I make my return.
Afterwards, there was a baptismal service and Jessena and Francys accompanied us. They were both nervous simply because they thought the skinny kid doing the baptism wasn’t going to be able to support the bigger guy who was being baptized. In the end, everything turned out alright. They both felt the spirit and in that very moment we challenged them to be baptized. Francys’ face just kind of said, “wow, first time in their church and they’re inviting me to be baptized, are they crazy?” Jessena just said “that’s an excellent question” and looked sad. I know she wants to, it’s just these blasted sins that get us so down that we forget to choose the right! “Courage, not compromise brings the smile of God’s approval” (Thomas S. Monson)
Ok, here’s another topic: Mormon, the ancient Nephite prophet is an excellent example of enduring to the end. Listen to this scripture:
“Behold I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the daylong for them, nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts,” Mormon 3:12 “But behold, I was without hope, for I knew the judgments of the Lord which should come upon them; for they repented not of their iniquities, but did struggle for their lives without calling upon the being who created them” Mormon 5;2
It amazes me that he knew exactly what was going to happen to his beloved people. He could see it happening yet he carried on. He loved them, he fought for them, and he preached to them, he did everything he could to save them!
So now, when our lives get tough, “turning and turning in the widening gyre, the falcon cannot hear the falconer, [when] things fall apart [and] the center cannot hold; [when it seems that] mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,” (it’s Shakespeare I think)
Let us trust in the Lord, our God, maker of the Heavens and Earth. He loves us! He does nothing save it be for our good! Have faith that he will come to your rescue.
This is what a tropical storm looks like as it comes your way!!!!
I've got a lovely little coconut! "tee-dah-li-dee" (Name that movie)
Shakes with my Hermana friends!
"Return to Pooh" Corner by Kenny Loggins
This last week was rather interesting. Seeing as we share an area with the Elders, we ran into them a lot this week. But it’s quite fun because they immediately go into James Bond mode and start jumping fences and the like in order to avoid being seen by us, the dreaded Mormons. It probably makes us look even more crazy, but that’s just worth it sometimes. :)
This week in the District we had the funniest moment! All the Latin missionaries passed in front to share a story in English for their language study. All the other Elder and Sister stumbled through tales of baptism or other such fluff, but then our beloved District Leader gets up and just starts giggling as he looks at his cheat sheet. He finally got control of himself and started: “Come over here, baby hug me! Your eyes make me crazy! I would fly for you! I would cross wars and mountains to come to you! I love you!” We all were rolling around in laughter, not knowing whether to take him seriously or not! The best part of it all was his accent which cannot be accurately conveyed by letter and thus you will just have to try to imagine it.
Other funnies of the week: I have a new boyfriend! (ha ha just joking) but I do have a secret “Romeo” we shall call him. It all started when we said “Buenos!” at the house of a less active. The dog came running, barking rather loudly. Then the less-active came to the door and said “Come In!” We asked “does the dog bite?” “No” she replied. We sat down and started chatting. The dog started sniffing us out, getting to know us. I patted his head to show him I was friendly. It was while we were choosing which hymn to sing that he put his head on my knee (Just a little inappropriate, but I ignored him). His voice could no longer be held back and he began whining, crying for my love. I just laughed and kept talking with the sister. His pleas having been ignored, he jumped up on me, begging for my love! In my head, I screamed “You scandalous cur! Get off me! He stayed there while everyone laughed then the owner finally took hold of his collar and held him while we sang. His howls and moans still continued as we sang and during the prayer he got loose somehow and was all over me. I knew that dogs like me, but I didn’t know I was irresistible!
Now for a spiritual moment: have you ever considered how your life would be without the Holy Priesthood? I’ve thought about how mine would be, but I can’t even begin to imagine it. It amazes me that this was a blessing promised to Abraham and all His posterity, yet so few of God’s children use it’s power, neither do they know it exists.
This last week, the Elders gave a blessing of comfort and counsel to our investigator Jessena. She felt really good, but still does not feel right getting baptized. I sometimes just wish I could let her borrow my faith or give it to her so that she can take this step (Note: my faith is not at all that grand; but there’s enough there to be baptized!) But, the world just doesn’t work like that. We have to develop our OWN faith and then wait to see the miracles in our OWN lives.
“He who hath faith to see… shall see. He who hath faith to hear… shall hear. The lame who hath faith to leap… shall leap.”
And I would add:
“He who hath faith to be baptized… shall be baptized.”
*making cake with the sisters :) (Hermana Cone)
*I call this picture ´´ Nica no-bake cookies at midnight´´ (it was actually 10:15 p.m.)
*fun time in the gringa store (what you don´t know is that I have my real glasses on as well)
"not very pretty but we sure know how to run things"
(from the song “Team” by LORDE)
Well, yesterday was super eventful. We started it off bright and early at 5:00 am to help the other sister missionaries bring some people to church. We said a prayer and then went off, dividing up to bring the most people we could. That’s when all the fun started apparently. My companion went with Hna. Cones (from Arizona) and I went with Hna. Alvarez (from Costa Rica) Although I was not there to witness any of the following paragraph, I will relay it as it was described to me, from the eyes of an investigator.
The Honduranian Missionary
It seemed like any other morning of the week until I saw the Mormons turn the far away corner and start coming down the street. Mormons in the morning only meant one thing: it had to be Sunday. The two mormon women were really cool, but I could barely understand them. The white one made me laugh more than the other, but I loved them both. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to get baptized, but I liked their church. I hoped to go with them today.
While I waited for them to come, I thought about breakfast (ric and beans perhaps) and then saw that the determined course of the sisters had been broken as the smaller, darker one motioned to some rock. They went towards them and the Latina sister sat down. I hopped out the door and said “Hermana Cones! How are you?” I gave her a hug and we started chatting about the difficulty of washing clothes. Suddenly my concentration was broken by a “splat” sound behind the Hermana. I peeked around the Hermana and to my surprise found the other little one face down in the rock and dirt. She had passed out! I jumped into action and turned her over. The other sister was saying something about not eating or drinking for 24 hours, but I didn’t really understand her because my attention was on reviving the little girl. I fanned her and sat her upright while trying to give her air and water. While I wiped the blood off her face. She started to come-to. We sent someone to buy a Gatorade and sat with her while she retrieved all her senses. When she had all her capabilities again, I told her exactly what I thought. “Look sweetie, if you’re gonna go walk around all day, you’ve got to drink something. If you’re gonna commune with God, you can do it in your house, but out here, sweating buckets, na-ah”. She just laughed and said that sacrifices bring blessings. They later went on their way, but I didn’t want to go to their church anymore. Who would want to be a part of a church where eating and drinking is forbidden?”
More than my companion passing out, I had the strangest experience on Friday when we went with the Elders to teach one of my beloved investigators, Jessena. She always goes to church and knows almost everything about the Gospel, but she doesn’t feel ready to be baptized, so we started the lesson, shared a scripture, and the spirit was really strong. I started praying in my heart, “Lord please help her! Help her have faith!” A few of my tears leaked out and then the oddest thing happened. For some reason I stopped understanding what was being said. “Wait a second,” I thought, “Are they speaking Spanish? Because I’m not getting a single word.” I was a little startled, but waited until the lesson ended and we had left to ask my North American companion, Hna. Darymple, (we were on divisions), “Hey, did you understand?” She replied “up to a point, I understood, but afterwards, It didn’t sound like they were speaking Spanish.” In my head I was thinking, “Whoa, did we just lose the gift of tongues? Or did the spirit just take control of the situation and use His own language?” It was an interesting moment. But, something you can all do to help me out would be to pray for Jessena, she really needs some extra help understanding the answers God is giving her.
More than that, there wasn’t much else this week. Just know that God’s love for each of us is so big that He doesn’t forget anyone, not even missionaries who pass-out on the street in Nicaragua or foreigners who can’t speak the language in strange countries. We’ve just got to endure.
“If man wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the Kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God, for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation!
*Tip-Top!! (it`s Nicaragua`s version of KFC)
From the movie "Calamity Jane"
This last week was full of love, betrayal, hate, loyalty, trial, and a million other things. It would have made for an excellent soap opera, but seeing as missionaries rarely have their lives recorded and put on TV, you’ll just have to settle for this first-hand account, roughly written by a missionary who barely remembers English. But here we go…
We’re walking through the streets in Managua and we see this guy on a step sitting down. He shouts “Hermanas!” ok, it must be a member or someone. He follows…”I Love you! My precious, beautiful love!” ok, definitely not a member. But he doesn’t stop there…”Listen!” and he then begins blowing dramatic kisses our way. We just walked away quickly escaping the little drunk man!
Five hours later…
We’re teaching our last lesson on the restoration and the spirit is so strong when suddenly someone taps on the window and we hear…”Listen, Hermanas!” followed by kisses blown on the wind. Talk about a persistent lover.
I also had a flood of memories come to me this week about my baptism so long ago. The flash flood was caused when an investigator told me that I had no idea what I was getting into when I was baptized at eight years of age. His blunt statement took me back to a Saturday in March when I woke up and it was snowing (how perfect for a baptism, right?) watching the snowflakes drift down, I recall thinking “I should empty the dishwasher, because today, I’ll become a disciple of Jesus, and Jesus was nice. So, I’ll empty the dishwasher.” Other than this moment and also throwing a fit about my after-baptism dress being scarlet instead of white, I really don’t remember much, but it’s clear to me that it was my decision, and I clearly knew what I was getting into. So take that, blunt statement making investigator.
This last week we had President Russell M Nelson with us missionaries and it was amazing! Words just can’t even begin to describe it! I’ll use his words then…Please take a moment to bask in the humor of this old man and marvel at the simplicity of the gospel.
“I love these flowers. Welcome to Nicaragua!”
“If you really want something done in this world, you ask the sister to do it.”
“Moses, Jacob, Abraham, Nephi…They all knew about our day, but then they died”
“You could have come with Columbus across the sea in 1492. That would’ve been fun, but not much. That would’ve been scary.”
“Being baptized and then not enduring to the end is like paying for the whole meal and then only staying for the salad. Why not eat dessert? Postre?” (dessert)
“What you’re about…is a way of life that is happy.”
I testify he is a prophet of God. Fear not, the world is in good hands!
1. Making fruit salad! Because you can actually do that here :)
2. What`s this? No, it`s not an elephant eardrum, it`s a mango seed!
3. Working in a triciclio
This past fortnight has been quite the quest to help Ruben prepare for his baptism! He was kind of confused about the whole baptism by authority, but when he watched the Joseph Smith video, he understood a lot better. He’s really excited about being able to leave with the missionaries and preach the gospel in his own little way. I’ve been trying really hard to focus on applying my studies to myself and my investigators. I discovered a particular scripture that made me think a moment “And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves and sanctify yourselves, yea, purify your hearts…(D&C 88:74). It makes sense that to be His servant you have to be clean and prepared and organized. But even more, to be His disciple, we have to be sanctified and made pure and holy through His atoning blood to labor in His vineyard, we have to be like He is! The question is, are we becoming more like Him? In Preach my Gospel, there is a whole chapter on the attributes of Christ. May I suggest that we all read that chapter, find an attribute we need to improve, make goals, and then put into action the plans we’ve made? It would be a much more lovely world if we all were able to just become a little more like Christ.
OK…time to end with a pun and a story. Which first? Probably the pun…Even though there is hardly ever any in Nicaragua, I tried to catch some fog…I mist.
(pity laughter please)
Ok story time…
We brought an elder lady to church on Sunday with her little girl. Even though her child had decided to go swimming in the baptismal font, she stuck it out in Sacrament meeting and decided to stay for gospel principles. Everything was hunky-dory until about ½ way through the class, a member motioned for her to leave for a second. She politely excused herself and went out. About five minutes later a different member motioned for us to come out as well. We did so and found, to our great surprise, the woman sobbing great salty tears. A smile was the first reaction that came to me: “How strongly she feels the spirit!” thought I. My companion was a little more perceptive and asked a few probing questions to find out the whole truth: Her son had gone a little crazy, cut his wrist, took all the stuff that was in the house and sold it all, and then tore the barely standing wooden house to the ground. She asked between heaving breaths, “Why is God punishing me for coming to His church?” My companion looked at me (because it’s always supposed to be the gringa that doesn’t natively speak Spanish who should calm down those who do), I said “if our Heavenly Father knows of the sparrows in the sky and the lilies of the field, how much more is He aware of His beloved daughter Yamilett.” She stopped crying so much and we put her into the loving arms of the Relief Society President. Who can deny the love of our Eternal Father?
PS ok, I know you wanted one more pun: What happens to chemists when they die? They Barium!
1. Fresh from the shower and off to the meetin`
2. RUBEN!! and his awesome baptism!
3. Sometimes you just need a North American moment... So, I take pictures with my cousins, the North American mannequin ;)
So, in Nicaragua, in Chinandega, in El Viejo, there is a man. No one really knows his name, but everyone calls him the Taxi Driver. He’ll get you anywhere for 5 cordavos (20cents), and even though it’s a slow service, he always gets you there safe.
So we’re walking down the street in Divisions and my companion says, “hey, it’s the Taxi driver”. It’s this man walking quickly down the street. His left arm extended in front of him and his right arm out to the side, forming an L-shape. My companion says, “we’re gonna take a taxi. TAXI!!” The man buzzes right up and says “where you going?” She replies “one block east from the cemetery” He says “Alright, let’s go, hop on in!” I was chuckling as my companion opened an imaginary door about 3 steps behind the man. She motioned me to follow, and I did so, “shutting” the door behind me. He glanced back and said “Shut it harder” So I “opened” and “shut” the door again. “Ok” he says, and then we were off, walking inhumanly fast to keep up with the taxi driver. He got us there in good time and then headed off to “drive” someone else to an important date. Oh, the simple joys of living in Nicaragua. J
We also had a lovely surprise when we got home from church yesterday. I don’t know what it is about Sunday nights, but these giant spiders just love to pass the Sabbath day by in the houses of lovely young sister-missionaries. This time wasn’t nearly as epic because my companion was actually helping me to kill it and we were able to trap it and confine it to a small space. Thus, the kill was rather unexciting, but it did remind us of the importance of being prepared.
More unexpected than a tarantula in our house, was a member of our bishopric passed away on Sunday morning. It was really sad because we had just finished a giant service project the night before. It actually had enough community support that the money he needed for his operation was donated. The other sad part is that his parents, who belong to a different church, did not allow members of our congregation to enter the funeral. Even though it was very VERY sad, you couldn’t help but smile just a little, knowing that Hermano Antonio was finally free from his infirmity and doing an amazing job of preaching the gospel in the spirit world. For as Christ said “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live”
Take One Down, Pass it Around...
This last week the Central America missionary doctor came to give us a breakdown and chew us out for living terribly unhealthy in a third-world country. Among the many chastisements we received, the biggest one was about the water. Apparently, the sewage water mixes with the water that we drink out of the tap. Having been here a while and walked in the streets of Nicaragua, I can totally believe that, I just never thought about it before. So now, our choices are: Boil the water, use filter water bottles (which most missionaries have stolen within their first three changes here), or add 6 drops of bleach to every liter of water. For time saving purposes we chose the six drops of liquid in every liter of water/refresco/juice. He testified that it doesn’t change the flavor, but I personally think he was wrong about that. I feel like I’ve been walking around with a breath scent of “freshly-sanitized bathroom”, but hey, hopefully I’ll never get parasites! J
To help us get a better quality of investigators, we left with the members to look for the chosen ones. We had many spiritual encounters, but we also laughed a little bit. Well, it was mostly just me laughing at my adorable little Nicaraguans. One sister, named Hna. Blanco, came with us for a bit. She is a little old lady that would make a perfect female oompa-loompa. So we left, contacted a few references, had a few spiritual experiences, but the best part was when we passed by a different members house to make an appointment and although the Elders’ bags were outside, they were nowhere to be seen. While my companion talked to the member, I stood chuckling as I watched Hna. Blanco sneakily reach up on her tip-toes to get the Elder’s bags, scuttle behind a tree, and hide them in a giant bush. She then lurked over to me, giggling and winking. I’m still smiling and laughing about that one. What a blessing to have such a curious woman to work with. J
The coolest thing happening this month in the whole entire world is that an apostle will be coming to Nicaragua! What does that mean? (Cough, cough, temple soon, cough, cough). It means that this missionary is really preparing herself to receive some revelation in these coming days; to do so, I’ve been studying the words of the prophets and a particular part stood out to me: “To marvel at the wonders of the gospel is a sign of faith, it is to recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives and in everything around us. Our amazement also produces spiritual strength. It gives us the energy to remain anchored in our faith and to engage ourselves in the work of salvation” (Gerald Causse’)
Family, Friends, Strangers: This work is marvelous! This life is Fabulous! This Gospel is wonderful! I couldn’t be happier, knowing I’m here helping this work to move forward, something I hope we’re all doing! Love you!
Sadly, Naomi wasn't able to get her computer to work today, no letter! boohoo!
Happily...The letter that Naomi was going to send on this day arrived in the mail a month later...so now we can post it!
We are the dead.
hola! I'm Naomi and I love reading, my amazing family, and the color green.