A dangerously acute account of 18 months in Nicaraguan Territory.
As sung by Dean Martin...
(Note: the above subject title should be taken very seriously; WARNING: this email may or may not contain graphic and exaggerated descriptions of my week)
Yesterday was a very interesting day. It all started when I woke up; but things really got going when I had finished brushing my teeth and was joyfully skipping down the Hermana hallway to the exit door at it's end. It should be noted that this door leads into a intersection for the elders hallway as well. As I energetically burst through the door, just as happy as can be, I was suddenly stopped by an abrupt object impeding the door. How odd I thought, especially considering that I had flown through the door with so much ump; I was surprised anything could stop it. I tried again, but more slowly and to my amazement the door opened just fine. Finding the source of my obstacle, I beheld an elder, lying dazedly upon the ground, wonder what hit him. Don't worry he was alright, and even more, he is from my hometown, so I don't think he is allowed to be bitter towards this rather unkind accidental action. So, the moral of this story, never stand by a door which may or may not lead to the living quarters of enthusiastic Hermanas. Following this advice will extend your mental capacity and keep you from lying half-conscious on the floor.
That's not all however. The hour was that of deportes (sports). I was just finishing my cool-down lap, with most of the elders already having left except for a few who straggled behind kicking a soccer ball around. I was just plodding along, only half listening to their conversation on trick kicks and amazing goal shots. As I turned the corner, I distinctly remember hearing Elder Day say: "the trick is waiting like this and then pounding it". Literally half a second later, a ball was in my face, my glasses were crushing my temples and my head was trying to make sense of everything. Of course I was fine, but I still appreciated the concerns of the elders. The moral of this story is to always listen entirely to conversations and don't be stupid enough to run parallel to the structure the elders call a 'goal'
Oh, but it gets even better. Immediately following deportes, off we were to lunch. Having finished our meal and simply chatting with the other Latina Hermanas, my companion so kindly told of both my embarrassments of that morning. The Hermanas laughed FOREVER and could barely stop; only to ask us which elder it was who had the unfortunate accident of kicking the ball. Seeing as lunch was almost over, it was really easy to point out and see elder Day at the other side of the cafeteria. One Hermana by the name of Mendez, grabbed her steak knife, turned around in her chair, and yelled "ELDER DAY!!" She then began to threateningly bang the knife against the head of her chair as if to say, "You better watch out". Elder Day looked surprised and perhaps a little confused, but all of the Hermanas found it hilariously funny. We laughed about it the entire day.
On a more spiritual note, I noticed the other day how much the lord answers prayers. My companion and I were............ not having a good day, due to issues that could've been avoided. After about an hour of crying and hugging Hermana Cox, We went directly to class, thinking we could handle it. My companion did, but for some reason, my tear ducts were still flowing. Our teacher Hermana Menendez took us outside and told us he was there for us, if we needed anything. Before we walked back inside, he said "one more thing: please, please stop crying, because if you keep crying, I'm going to start to cry". My little heart went "AHH!” What a kind teacher. Many more miracles were evident that day: Another teacher telling us we were his friends, a random scripture found in D & C 50, Hermana Chaves sharing stories from her mission and the elders in our district being unusually funny and sharing chocolate with us. The Lord really does clothe the lilies of the field, and feed the birds in the sky.
Attention everyone, I really need your help!! Right now I'm teaching a 17 year-old boy and honestly I have no idea how to. He loves skateboarding and video games, but it's really hard for him to pay attention during lessons and to have a desire to read. What to do? (It's like I'm teaching my little brother or something ;) )
Because this gospel is the word of god, we can all return to him one day! This plan is so great, what have we to fear?
"Being a God in Embryo, having the seeds of godhood deeply sown within him, and the power to become a god, man need not fear. He will not fail"
-Spencer W. Kimball
(or something to that effect)
...When I have the companion I do?
This week has been very musical; no other word in the English Language can describe it. It's due mostly to my companion, a music major from Magna, Utah who cannot stop herself from escaping melody of any sort. Just on Sunday, we performed at seven different occasions, five different songs. And just yesterday, we sang quite a few farewell songs to the lovely Hermanas who departed the CCM this morning. At one point, my Hermana felt impressed to sing to a district of elders all the way down the hall, stuffed in a simulated house-room. When we walked in, most of them were crying, they had been laughing so hard. Or perhaps it was from the smell...... in fact, I'm pretty sure they were laughing about certain gaseous emissions from their bodies (oh elders). I didn't want to sing to them, mostly because no one appreciates a good song when they're still stuck on the last joke. My Hermana insisted however and we sang to them whether they liked it or not. They chuckled once or twice during the first two verses, but by the end they were all feeling that strong presence we call the Holy Ghost. It was a wonderful experience to share with these elders and with my companion.
We're down to 17 Hermanas here at the CCM, in comparison to 140 elders. Needless to say, life is never dull. It's great to see how we all change as time goes by, the young ones learning how to stay awake, the older ones teaching them how to be funny ;) we have a grand old time here at the CCM. What helps the most is that we love love lOVE making jokes with the teachers, but we can only do it in Spanish for them to understand why it's funny. It not only helps us learn Spanish more quickly, but it also develops a bond of kindred ship betwixt all of us.
I now know why I'm here at the CCM!!! I thought I knew a few weeks ago when I got here, but now I really know!! There is an Elder by the name of Sandoval, who hails from the love country of Canada. He came in with us four weeks ago, but already knew Spanish. He left this morning to his mission somewhere in Guatemala. However, one day everyone went around in this huge circle of people and said where they were from and where they were going. I think I've mentioned before that I'm the only person going to the North mission in Nicaragua. Anywho, after 60 people had announced their hometown and their mission, we were dismissed. No sooner had the circle of people broken up then I was immediately pulled to one side by this Elder Sandoval. His face was alight with excitement as he told me of his family he had never met, seen, or heard from that lived in my mission in Nicaragua. Not only was he desperate to get in contact with them, they are not members of the church! I was glad to hear his tale, but didn't think much of it until last night when I was once again chased down by this elder. He looked at me very seriously and said "Hermana Beatty, here is all the information my mom and I have concerning our family who lives in the Leon, Nicaragua. Everything I know about them is on this paper. I give this to you with the hope that you will teach them! My mom considers you a vessel in which you will teach her family of this wonderful plan of happiness. Please don't forget them! Please find them!".......................... Alright, if he hadn't have been so earnest, I would've chuckled and said sure, but I knew that he trusted me with this sacred calling. As I took the paper from his hand, I considered it the most precious gift I had yet received for my mission. Here were people waiting for me, waiting for someone sent by their nephew Carlos Sandoval to teach them the gospel. That's why I'm here, for no one else at the CCM is being sent to North Nicaragua. Had I been at the Mexico MTC, the hopes of Elder Sandoval and his mother would've been mere fancies of the mind, never likely to come into reality.
I testify God has a plan for each of us. An INDIVIDUAL plan that cannot be thwarted by any amount of devils. This work is Holy and sanctified by our Father in Heaven. If it were not, how could such miracles as these be?
Raindrops do keep fallin on my head, but only in the best way possible!!!
Yes, the weather is super rainy and all day is sunny and bright, but with loads of clouds. Then suddenly, right after dinner, you see it, coming just over the mountain, the evaporated water bodies curling their fingers over the hills and houses of this city. You can see it coming, in great drones of H2O, you hear it as it slaps pavement, houses, cars, people; you feel it deep deep down and think: now this is rain! A quick sprint from a classroom to the CCM leaves you drenched, despite your greatest efforts to outrun it. It's so awesome! Yesterday, I was praying out my window to our Father in Heaven, telling him all about the things in my life. I was just then thinking of solutions or things I could do better when the most roaring thunder I'd ever heard broke the silence of the sky........ Alright, lord, I get it, that's what I need to do ;) So literal raindrops here, hopefully some will make it back home to Utah!!
Another blessed raindrop(s) in my life includes the food here. So, for the past two weeks we've been eating Central American food. And it's good! The flavors are really delicious. However, one can only eat bean splat so much before one desires a new taste to come to their tongue. President Cox received inspiration that this was the desires of our hearts at the time and with this new shipment of missionaries coming into the CCM, we have been blessed with one American style dish every day! Surely, the Lord God answers so many prayers in mysterious ways.
Last p-day we were fortunate enough to go to the Market in Guatemala. HOLY COLORS!!! HOLY SOCCER JERSEYS!!! (Dad, remember that story you used to tell us about the meat market in Africa or somewhere? Yep, totally know what you're talking about) Our elders had a grand old time, and so did we! They were really sweet, offering to buy us little trinkets, staying with us solo Hermanas so we wouldn't get lost or hurt or abandoned. I'm telling you, the Lord, in just these few short weeks, has made these boys into servants of the Lord. Any young man who desires to reach his fullest potential would be wise to dedicate his time solely to the Lord.
While we were out and about, we were driven to a 3-D map of Guatemala. It was so crazy to see the country of Guatemala laid out before your eyes, a vast expanse of rich, green earth and ridiculously beautiful mountains. While there, Elder Burrbridge, the CCM nurse, shared with us a few hypotheses that he had read from scripturians about the Book of Mormon. He told us how many people believe parts of the Book of Mormon took place here in Central America. I was only half listening until he started talking about the day Christ died and what happened to the people of Nephi that day. In the scriptures, (3 Nephi 11 I believe) it talks about the calamities that befell them. Elder Burrbridge asked, "what could possibly blacken the sky so much that no light could be seen, no fire kindled?" As we looked at this map, it came to us simultaneously: Volcanoes. According to Elder Burrbridge, there are 21 active volcanoes in Guatemala today; who knows how many were active during that time? Needless to say, we were mind blown, we went home and read the chapter, more mind blown. Read it and feed your brain with a quizzical puzzlement about the Book of Mormon.
Speaking of this book, we had a great lecture by a Hermano yesterday. He said we all receive revelation through the Book of Mormon. What's revelation? It's God talking to us, His children. He then put it this way: if your parents were in that restaurant across from the CCM, what would you do to talk to them? Needless to say, there was much talk of jumping out windows, breaking down gates, and hopping fences. This is exactly how we should feel when we have the Book of Mormon in our hands. God is right there, sitting in that book; what would you be willing to do to talk to Him? Would you read it? Would you pray about it? Would you ponder its teachings? Easy things to do compared to physically jumping over the twelve foot wall that surrounds the CCM. This book that we have is not to be taken lightly; it is not candy to be thrown out at a parade. It is a treasure, one which we should prize in our hearts, for it is God's words to you, and to you Austen, and you Grandma J, and you Aunt Paulette, and you, and you, and you, and everyone. I exhort you all to pick up the book, give your Father in Heaven a call, and chat with Him through the inspired words of the Book of Mormon.
Love you all!!!
As a side note, it should be noted that the above mentioned restaurant has Karaoke night... There was a particular gentleman who must have had a disease of the ear, for it took me most of the song to realize that he was trying to sing "I was made for loving you baby, you were made for loving me". Obviously, he was not made to sing.
(Please read the blog title in a sing song voice
to Les Miserables' "One Day More")
Happy Birthday America! It was such a sad and happy affair here in the CCM. My companion, Hermana Valdivia, loves to sing, so of course she volunteered us to sing the national Anthem for our district. It was really really cool, despite the blunted acoustics of the classroom. Hermano Menendez, our teacher, told us that he'd never heard such a beautiful song before; and he's not even American!!! Somehow, the news leaked to Presidente (probably through our district leader) and he asked us to sing it at lunch. It was even better there because the chef had prepared a huge cake that was white, with blueberries and strawberries in the shape of the American flag. Hermana Cox was so happy we did sing for everyone; it just reminded us all of our homes, and the happiness our families enjoy because we have such freedoms. Trying to be in the true spirit of the day, we had our own barbeque with boiled hot dogs and plantain chips...... but at least the chefs tried.
We had quite a fun surprise the other night. There I was, sleeping quite soundly, despite the loud American music from the bar next-door, when, Suddenly, I was awoken by this wonderfully annoying rocking....... Fully conscious and completely out of my stupor, I tried to determine its source. Hypothesis 1: someone has a nervous tick and is tapping my entire bed with their foot, kind of like that little kid does during stake conference. Hypothesis 2: my companion (who sleeps in the lower bunk), is having a major seizure and causing the whole bed to shake. I feel bad because I didn't even look down to confirm or dismiss this hypothesis. Hypothesis 3: the earth was quaking. The next morning, we discovered, and president confirmed that it was an earthquake. Of a magnitude of 6.1, at least five people died in Guatemala. Here at the CCM, it was not that big of a deal and was actually quite relaxing. The Lord truly does bless those he calls.
So we're teaching this guy named Pedro right now; SUCH a sweetheart. I just am feeling really inadequate because he is struggling with the most basic principle of the gospel: faith in God and believing that he is. Yesterday we shared Moses 1:39 and Alma 32 with him. We even got him to pray!!! (YEEESSSS) but teaching him and helping him to develop that faith has only increased mine ten-fold.
Even more inspiring, we watched Joseph Smith, the prophet of the restoration, a movie I don't think I've seen all the way through before. It was........ a fantastic film. I don't think it's possible for movies to make you feel that way unless they contain the truth, such as this film did. I was so inspired by Joseph's selflessness, his desire to just do what is right. I hope you all take the time to do something to remember the restoration: read JSH, Look into a little pioneer history, or even watch this movie. Your testimony will be fortified and you will KNOW that Christ lives.
So long everyone!!
P.S. sorry for any mistakes, this email was written in the short time frame of 15 minutes. The reason for this is because we're going to the HUGE Guatemalan market today!! Wish me luck in my Spanish!!!
Welcome to the CCM in Guatemala, where all the furniture is new, the sisters and elders are awesome, and the food is....... different.
Why am I here, you may ask, and not in Mexico. Perhaps I should tell you. The fact of it is, my travel plans were changed by the church, on behalf of a special request from President and Sister Cox of the CCM. I really didn't understand why the sudden change until I actually got here and Sister Cox took me aside and told me how grateful she was that I was here. Apparently, when they had received the list of missionaries coming that day, there was only one sister, Hermana Valdivia, who was scheduled to stay at the CCM. Knowing how tough it would be to be here without a companion, Hermana Cox immediately called and asked for other sisters to come. She told me my flight was the cheapest and therefore the easiest to change (note: I'm not bitter about my cheap flight plan, especially now. The amazing accommodations definitely make up for any lack of expense during travel;). So now I am here....
My companion (the only sister who arrived with me) is Hermana Valdivia. She's from Magna, Utah, she sings like a giant and plays the trumpet, piano, and cello like a beast, that is if giants can sing and beasts can play. Her dad is Peruvian (thus the Hispanic last name) but she speaks no Spanish and is really excited to learn so she can speak to her grandma for the first time in her life. Her mission call is here, in Guatemala City, South.
*BTW only one missionary in the CCM as of this moment is going to Nicaragua. Me :)
The other sisters and elders here are really neat too, but I just love love love the sisters who have been here for five weeks. Even though they'll be leaving soon, they just took us under their wings, so to speak. I really enjoy this one sister, Hermana Bacon. She's about five feet tall and has a circumference equivalent to one of my legs. She is so quiet but has the best sense of humor. The other day during sports, I asked her what her favorite work-out to do was. She said she loved all of them and then said "but I will tell you this: I despise anything that makes me break a sweat". She said it so seriously that I thought she was going to rage around the room, throwing bikes and weights and treadmills. But she was just joking, in her little person way. Wow, it sounds really lame through an email, but give me a pity laugh because it was that funny.
Our teachers are both very different, but our district definitely needs them and their differences (side note: Elder Joseph Wikan, from Hurricane, is in my district! What a blessing). Our teacher for the morning is Hermano Menendez, seriously the greatest teacher ever. He's really understanding and he jokes around with us. He has the greatest love story ever...... I smiled for three days because it was that awesome. To add some suspense, I won't tell it here, but I'll definitely mention it eventually. Our other teacher, Hermano Escobar is more strict, doesn't know as much English, and really gets on us in teaching our investigators. But it is really funny when he tries to be sarcastic in English. None of us can tell.
We started teaching investigators the first day we were here- in Spanish. It was really difficult because I wanted to tell Sabrine (our investigator) all these things that I didn't know how to say. Now I know why the prophet asks us to teach by the spirit, because I honestly hated reading random words in Spanish from preach my gospel. Everyday gets better and better though. Yesterday we challenged her to be baptized; she said she'd pray about it and give us an answer tomorrow :/
President Cox and Hermana Cox are super neat! They're from California, where they own a large farming business. You can tell that they really apply the principles they've learned from their work to how they live the gospel. President Cox is all about WORK WORK WORK; He never loses energy when he speaks, but is only motivating. He's really tall and every time I see him or hear him speak, I think "What a great basketball coach you would make, President Cox". He really loves missionary work and he's helped me understand that being a missionary is about baptizing people. When I used to hear people say that, I thought that was kind of selfish of the church, to only want more members, to only convert people enough to be a number in our books. But that's not what it is at all. Our purpose as missionaries is to bring others to Christ, through faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end/owment. Baptism is just the first step in really bringing someone to Christ. Baptism is the first step to seeing someone in the Temple. In just one short week, this mission has taught me that I have been given a work to do by Christ. It's not longer about me anymore; It's about Him and them. Everyone should go on a mission!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hardest, but best thing you will do in your life!!!!!!!!!!!! (observe the multiple exclamation marks: either my daily dose of beans has been drugged, or I'm telling the honest-to-goodness truth).
Have a fantastic week everyone!!!
P.S. so sorry that was so very very long. feel free to skim over boring parts.
hola! I'm Naomi and I love reading, my amazing family, and the color green.