A dangerously acute account of 18 months in Nicaraguan Territory.
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.