Monday, November 11, 2013

My first taste of Nicaragua

We're going to pretend that I didn't just fail to write on my blog for the first month of my time in the mission field (fail). I've been waiting for the chance to upload pictures, because what is a blog post without pictures, but that's not going to happen anytime soon, so here goes:

Culture shock is real, and there's the Spanish culture, the Nicaraguan culture, and the missionary culture to adjust to. Fortunately, there are a lot of people here to love, and to love me, and that's what I need to stay focused. Our little branch of about 70 had an activity the other day, with food and dancing, and I realized just how much I'm coming to love the people in this little country.

I love all the missionaries in my zone. We're a great, big family, and I wish I could see them more often. We do get together every Tuesday for meetings, and the district gets together every Monday for Preparation Day to play soccer and eat lunch. We have a lot of fun, cheles and natives alike, playing futbol and shouting at each other in English and Spanish. My trainer, aka "mom," is Hermana Corzantes, a Guatemalteca with 3 months in the mission. We're the youngest (experience wise) companionship in the whole mission, and I feel like we're Rory and Lorelai Gilmore, sometimes. In both good and bad ways. But I love her. My mission "dad," (my first District Leader) is an amazing 25-year-old from Guatemala who is an amazing speaker, amazing leader, and great at loving the people he serves and works with. He gave up some of his afternoon to help us with our investigators who had a legal problem to finish before they could be baptized (that has a sad ending...short version, it didn't work out), and though he "machetes" us occasionally when the numbers aren't great, he does so the way the D&C asks in 121 (I think), with an increase in love afterward, as he helps contact in our area to help us find more families to teach.

The other sisters we live with are just awesome. Sister Merril, the sister training leader and one of my roommates, is from Alpine, UT, and loves to joke around and sing in the house. Her companion, Hermana Aparicio, is brand new like me, and she's from Panama. It's always fun when she and I have divisions together so that Hermana Merrill can do training with my companion. With a month and a half of experience between the two of us, we get awfully lost in the streets of Esteli. Everyone is willing to give slightly convoluted directions, though. I'm sure going to miss those sisters when they move to their new casa. We spent a couple hours playing soccer this morning with them and a recent convert and an investigator at the capilla. I earned myself the name "Wall of Steel" for my defensive skills. And we found a basketball today in a secondhand store, so you know what's next week.

As for peopel to love, we have a new investigator, Dayelis, who is 16 and wants to get baptized. We've been teaching her for a while, but she was hesitant to commit to baptism because she never felt like she'd received her response. Then she was praying one day for her answer, opened her book of mormon, and found the discourse on baptism in 3 Ne, and took it for her answer. She's so excited, we're so excited, and I know she'll find a big family and lots of love in our little branch here.

We have another investigator, Salvador, who lived in the U.S. for about 14 years in total, and who encountered the missionaries once or twice there, but never heard the discussions. He's encountered almost all our doctrine in his study of the Bible, and he's ready to be baptized. But then this week his brother died, and his house was robbed twice, making a total of 5 times in the past month. I'm still trying to learn how to teach people who have so little, and who have such great temporal concerns. I know the gospel can bring temporal blessings as well, but how to teach that sensitively...? That's what the spirit is for. I don't know enough on my own for that.

I'm realizing just how big and how important this work is, and how little I know on my own, and how little I can do on my own. I'm learning more now than ever before how to rely on the spirit and on my Savior. And that is making this place precious to me.

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