Tuesday, December 31, 2013

More Life in Estelí

The Hermanas of Distrito Estelí, Rama Cento, after grocery shopping on a pday. Never a dull moment with us. I really love these sisters a lot.

This is a family that I love love love with one of our investigators. In the very front we have 2-year-old Albert, who loves the sister missionaries so much and is probably the funniest kid I've ever met. Every picture he sees of himself, he says "woah, guapo!" I need this kid's self-esteem! Holding Albert is his uncle, Juan Garcia. He was our ward mission leader until he left for his own mission on December 18th in the D.R. He's super pilas and super excited and is going to be awesome. On the right are his mom and sister. His mom reminds me of my Aunt Sylvia, one of the sweetest, most faithful and angelic women I've ever met. She makes me feel so loved and so at home. His sister is 12 and she is super sweet, too, and so funny. One of my best friends here in Estelí.

More Catching Up: Life in Nicaragua

This is the new missionaries training meeting at the end of October in Managua. There were 5 new missionaries being trained in our zone, which means 10 missionaries from our zone were at this meeting. In order to get back to the bus terminal, we fit 8 of us in a taxi and 2 in a bike taxi (like you'd imagine in Asia. They're here, too). You can just barely see my face in the back. Here we have Elder Shaff taking the picture, and you can see his comp's shoulder. There are two other sisters "not pictured" here because you can't see them behind the other missionaries. Good times.

This was a cumple-mes surprise for me, on November 2. I came back to the house to find the remnants of these cockroaches in my shower; they total about 12 or so. Apparently they were all alive in the afternoon when Hermana Merrill found them. She killed them all, so it ended up being my job to clean them up. Life in Nicaragua. :)

Still catching up: more pictures from my first week in Nicaragua

My artsy shot from the top of Mirador Tisey, a the highest mountain in the Estelí area. This is my life, now. I. Love. Nicaragua. Always green, always huge, blue sky. That's right. Be jealous you're not me.

Our district in front of Salto Estanzuela. You can't tell how cool this waterfall is from this picture, but the important part is how cool the district is. 

In front on the left, we have Elder Yardley, who "ya se va por su casa" this change (he's headed home now). He and the gringo in the blue shirt, Elder Witt, were our Zone Leaders, and were awesome. Elder Larson in the red shirt is from Mesa and is pure cowboy. We get along great. He knows Cowtown Boots and Bill Johnson's Big Apple and Snowflake, AZ. His comp in the blue polo, Elder Tercero, is from Chinandega, Nicaragua. He was here in Mision Norte for 8 months waiting on his visa for his mission in Guadalajara Mexico. Elder Barton and Elder Giron are the other two in front. Elder Giron is my district leader, as I mentioned before, and Elder Barton is a democrat. Enough said. And the other Hermanas, Hermana Merrill and Hermana Aparicio, lived with us for a whole change before they finally found a house of their own. President wants us to be living only 2 missionaries in each house, so they left for a more fachenta casa (ritzier place), but still serve with us in our branch and we still hang out together to do girl stuff on pdays. They're the best. Hermana Merrill is from Utah Valley, so luckily we'll be seeing a lot of each other even after the mission. In this first change she was our Sister Training Leader - basically the female version of a zone leader.

My first week was full of culture shock and drowning in the new language and new culture of mission life, and each day felt like an eternity. I got to Esteli on a Wednesday, worked until Sunday, went hiking on Monday with the zone, and went to multi-zone conference in Matagalpa on Tuesday, where I finally had my first interview with the president, where he told me he could already see an improvement in me. ! I was still drowning, gosh dang it! Thank heavens for a good branch president, a good mission president, and other good missionaries. There is a support system here, after all.

Catching up: pictures from my first week in Nicaragua

This is me with my mission president and his wife on my first night in Nicaragua. I had flown in only hours earlier, met my comp and the APs, and my mission president and his wife, of course, and they took us to dinner at Rosti-Pollos, a pretty ritzy place for Nicaragua. I still didn't speak Spanish too well, I was overwhelmed and tired because I'd woken up at 3:30 and traveled all day, and yet I still felt great being with them. They're my surrogate parents and my ecclesiatical leaders for the next 18 months.

This is a "family" photo in the Tisey Reserve on my first pday. Trainers are always "mom" or "dad," and your first District Leader is your "dad" too. So, here I am with Hermana Corzantes and Elder Giron, both of whom are rather short. Just goes to show that with genes, you never know.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Cumpliendo 23 in Nicaragua!

So I turned 23 on the 13th. And the Hobbit 2 came out. That were the two biggest pieces of news for the day. Here's what went down in Esteli in the course of that week:

My lunch cita made us a special chicken dinner when she found out it was my birthday. And it was super delicious. And had garlic. That is a treat. (my comp doesn't like to count when she takes pictures. I get lots of candid shots)

Hermana Alba Iris. She is an angel, and so faithful. She is so sweet, and reminds me of Aunt Sylvia. She loves the missionaries so much, and takes such good care of us. She invited all four of the sister missionaries in our branch to eat dinner at her house for my birthday. On my plate are "manuelitos," basically thick crepes filled with syrup and cheese. Weird, but good.

After eating dinner with her family, we played "What If...?" in Spanish. Some of the golden moments were:
"What if Hermana Ferrin danced on her head? She'd lose 30 pounds."
"What if Hermana Corzantes were a model? We'd know she was an imposter."
"What if Hermana Merrill were gordita? She'd find herself a cowboy like Hermana Ferrin found." And that is a story in and of itself that I have yet to recount here. Maybe next week.

This week Nicaragua is celebrating my birthday with fireworks. Actually, it's the Patron festival of Esteli, which means we get gigantonas (giant creepy dolls that dance in the streets), fireworks, the biggest rodeo in all of Esteli, and a noche de compras, full of music and food in the streets and parties and dancing...which means they're celebrating my birthday all week.

For my birthday, on pday, I went on a shopping spree. There are these lovely things called "pacas" here where they sell new and used American clothing for what is a lot less than it would be in the states. So I bought all this for about $50, give or take. I feel like such a girl. And shopping here is so EASY! There's always stuff in my size, since no one else is as big as me. :)

We were going to go to a super ritzy place for my birthday, but ran out of time. We ended up eating hamburgers and batidos at Toto instead. The batidos were SUPER HUGE.

On my birthday, we were going to have our mission president visit us to do interviews and work with the areas who are struggling the most, but he changed the date. So instead, I went to the house of a member who reminds me of Aunt Sylvia, since she'd offered to cook for all four of us missionaries for my birthday. And it was wonderful, and we stayed and visited with her family for a long time. Her son is about to leave on his mission to the D.R. tomorrow, and he's been our branch mission leader.  The day before, we contacted someone who turned out to be a really rich guy, and while visiting with him in his house he was showing me his collecting of grammars of miskitu, a native language on the coast of Nicaragua. He had a duplicate, and when he saw my interest in linguistics, he gifted it to me, not even knowing it was my birthday. And aside from all the other birthday songs and wishes from other missionaries, my District Leader (thus, my "mission papá"), not knowing of my own dad's tradition of singing las mañanitas to us on the guitar for our birthdays, called me and sang me Las Mañanitas with guitar accompaniment. It was pretty awesome.

This week, our ward went on a temple trip, and one of the families here was sealed. After three years of working towards that. It was beautiful to hear them talk about how much they loved that experience. I'm so grateful to see the members here gaining the blessings of the temple. I'm starting to love these people a lot, and it's starting with the members, who are so faithful even though there are so few of them.

Still loving it here in Este Ley.
Hermana Ferrin

Monday, December 2, 2013

2nd Cumple-mes!

Today marks my two-months in the mission. For those of you keeping score at home, that means 16 months left mission Lee Ferrin. Lo siento. But I'm enjoying my time here, too.

Time keeps moving faster and faster here, and it seems like not too long ago that I was last writing in the Ciber cafe. This week has had its ups and downs. Turns out, as I learned on Thursday, that after the rains leave Estelí, it gets DARN COLD. Usually the Nicas are really cold and wonder why I'm not feeling anything when there are a few breezes or it gets a bit cool, but this time I was shivering and reaching for a non-existent jacket (I accidentally left my only sweater in my mission president's car, I think, but decided I wouldn't actually need it in Nicaragua). Just kidding! I definitely do need on in this zone in December. It's feeling a little like an AZ Christmas, even. And to make things even better, both my companion and I have had colds all week. We asked for a blessing on Wednesdasy in zone conference, and were promised that our sickness wouldn't interfere with our work, but we were starting to feel on Thursday that we needed to spend some time sleeping off our sickness in the casa when we got a call from a couple sisters in Managua. Turns out they are our new sister-training-leaders. They just changed the way that's organized in our mission, and now all the leaders are in companionships so they can maximize their time in divisions. The sisters in Managua got the zones with the fewest sisters (we lost a companionship of sisters and gained a 2 companionships of elders in the last changes, since we needed a branch president in one of our areas, and the other is too close to Honduras for comfort for the sisters), and we're one of those. So I had the chance to go to Managua to do divisons on Friday with a sister 3 years older than me, also from Utah, and it was great to talk in English, and we taught a lesson in English, and they have a ton of members and a ward who all wants to feed them and teach with them, and I'm a little jealous. I just loved being in Managua, with a bunch of people, noisy buses, Evangelical music on every corner, and it felt like a working vacation.

Things seemed a bit easier there than in Estelí. I think it's because I still have a lot of fear that is keeping me from exercising the faith that I need/want to in order to work well and powefully, fear that I didn't feel while I was working in someone else's area and could trust the responsible, older leader to direct me and take care of me. But in Managua on that same division, in my personal study, I finally came to an understanding of D&C 6:36, which says "Look unto me in every thought,doubt not, fear not." This is like a loving earthly father, who is helping his daughter learn to walk, or give a talk, or ride a bike, and is standing there with his arms out, or sitting there expectantly, with his eyes trained on his daughter, saying "just focus on me, just come to me, just pay attention to me, don't worry about anyone else, and everything will be okay." And I sure am counting on that promise. I can physically feel the fear when it makes its way into my heart, and it sure is uncomfortable. But if I take that same thought and look at it by way of Christ, suddenly, I'm not afraid. Suddenly, I don't doubt. Suddenly, I trust that I can accomplish His will. What a remarkable promise.

We ate lunch with our Branch President and his wife on Sunday, and they played 17 Miracles for us as we ate. That may or may not have made me a little trunky, as the clothing and music is all reminiscent of Philmont, not to mention I got to see Sister Breinholt and my friend Caitlin, both of whom are actresses in the movie.

We keep on keeping on out here in Estelí, and my spanish is better every day. I feel fairly confident with it now. It's still difficult to eavesdrop, but other than that, I can understand most everything if I pay attention, and I keep getting complimented on my spanish. I credit Dad for my accent and the fluency that I came here with. Thanks, Dad. :)

Still no pictures due to the jankiness of internet in ciber cafes. I promise it'll happen before the new year.

By the way, my birthday is coming up, and you know what the best gift would be? Letters or emails. Just sayin'.

Love from Nicaragua.