Monday, January 27, 2014

Two-Mission Conference!!!

This week was awesome!! On Friday we had our two-mission conference with all the missionaries in Nicaragua, in both the North and South Missions, about 400 missionaries in total. Only about 3 years ago, we were all one mission. We met in the nicest chapel in Managua (in all of Nicaragua), which is, thus, of course, in Mision Sur, because all the fancy things are in the other mission. I got to play a (super fancy upright-style) electric piano/organ for about 3 hours, if we count practice, prelude, performance, and postlude. Not to mention I heard from Elder Soares, one of the presidents of the seventy, and Elder Ochoa, President Collado and President Russell (the two mission presidents in Nicaragua) and their wives. And the coolest thing, okay, there were lots of cool things, but at the beginning of the meeting, when Elder Soares and Elder Ochoa entered, they cued the choir and me to begin playing "Hark, All Ye Nations!", and when they entered, I started with the organ, the choir came in singing the first verse, and all the missionaries in Nicaragua joined in for the chorus. Boy was that powerful. And when Elder Soares and Ochoa passed by  me at the organ, I just felt, without a doubt, that those men are called of God and are powerful witnesses of our Lord and Savior, doing His work in His church. What a marvelous work this is! And what a blessing to be a part of it! We all went fasting, as a mission, to receive the revelation we needed for ourselves and our area. And boy, did the Spirit deliver. It was a feast, but only a few hours long, unfortunately. The wife of President Russell, who doesn't speak Spanish but read her talk in Spanish nonetheless, crying tears of nervousness, spoke on the importance of choosing to act now, that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the second best time is right now. That means I'm going to choose now to change the things that I wish I already had changed, or already were. And I'm going to change a little at a time, so that I won't get overwhelmed. Because there's so much I could or should do that right now I don't. But I can't change all at once, and, honestly, no one expects me to. What they do expect is that I serve with the best I can.

It was also really cool to hear Elder Soares talk about how all of us were called to be here by a prophet of the Lord, and that it could be for various reasons, but one that hit me was that here, the church is basically being built for the first time. It was only about 30 years ago that the war ended and the church members could start meeting again, and not until years after that missionaries reentered. I am basically living the Restoration here. How cool is that? I've always been fascinated by that time, by the histories of pioneers and the life of Joseph, Hyrum, and Brigham, and stories of people like Heber C. Kimball and James Mormon Craig. Now I get to be one of them. And it's sometimes frustrating that the church looks/functions a little differently here. But that's what happens when the church is young in a country and people still don't understand. I know that I can acheive remarkable results here, if I have the faith and I'm working well and the Lord chooses to give them to me. But it's also remarkable to see the church starting, here, and see who is touched by it and who chooses to accept it and stay.

Perhaps the most important thing the Spirit taught me in that meeting was simply to remind me that I love my Savior. So much. And this is what He asked me to do. He asked me to represent Him. What a privilege. Am I willing to fulfill His request? Do I love him that much? Of course I do! So I'm going to love this mission, because I can represent my Savior. 

I know this is His church, and this is His work. He gave His life to provide a way for me, for each individual and each family, to overcome the woes of this world and attain the happiness that Heavenly Father now enjoys, and that He desires for each one of us. I owe Him my all, as do each and every one of us. And as we, I, and those I teach learn to recognize that fact, and choose to come unto Him, the blessings start pouring out. Not the least of which is that we begin to recognize and understand His love for us. Aren't we lucky?

One pumped up missionary,
Hermana Ferrin

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Busy Mission Life

So, this week certainly has not been boring. Such is the life of the companion of a Sister-Training Leader. I think I mentioned that last p-day we spent 5 hours in a bus to go to Managua to practice with the choir for our multi-mission confernce with Elder Soares on the 24th. Well, we did the same today. And I have spent way too much time in a bus this week, 14 hours in total, I believe, and I am way too tall for Nicaragua, so I am in a bit of pain all over my tall body as a result. But such is life and the sacrifices we make for the good news of the gospel. And the good news for today is that I bought a camera to replace the one that got stolen, ate REAL BACON at Subway in the mall (goodbye mall, no more chances to visit you after the multi-mission confernce), and saw a half gringo/half latino Fundamentalist family in the food court. I was flabbergasted, and have a fantastic picture to go with that, but that will have to wait.

Tuesday was more or less normal. We're still loving working with Nelson and his family, and preparing him for baptism. His wife and son are inactive members, and he's separated from his wife, but lives close to the family to be around for his kids. He's been making good changes in his life and is finally ready to be baptized. There are challenges, of course, because there are always challenges, but he's going to make some big changes and it's going to be great.

Wednesday I went to Ciudad Darío, a town in the mountains about an hour and a half outside of Estelí to do exchanges with a Mexicana, Hermana Zepeda, so her comp could do exchanges with Hermana Ayala. That town reminded me of Panguitch, don't ask me why. It was tiny (compared to Estelí) and pretty and there were breezes that smelled like nature instead of exhaust and burning garbage, and I was enchanted with all the mountains and nature. The church is still pretty small there, an Elder is the branch president, but it's awesome. And one of the member families we visited is super pilas, and not just because they fed us rice, beans, and rojita (it's a weird, but good, red soda. Look it up), so I fully expect them to get ready to be branch president sometime soon. And then later, the lunch cita fed us dinner when we returned to have a lesson in her house. And apparently no one ever gives the sisters food there; only when I'm visiting. :) We had a lot of fun, not only because everyone fed us and I introduced Hermana Zepeda to tajadas, but because she has one change less than me in the mission, so it was up to me to set the tone, and it turned out to be a slightly goofy tone, and we laughed a lot and struggled and had fun. It was one of the best day of my mission. 

The next morning we went to Estelí to trade companions and have our interviews with our mission president. My first interview with him since I got here. And boy is that man inspired. I talked through all of my questions with him, and he had good answers, and told me again that he sees a lot of potential in me, so basically I need to prepare myself well and prepare myself better every day so that I can contribue all that the Lord is expecting me to and so I can become who He needs me to be. Tall order, eh?

The next day, Friday, I went to Managua to work with one of the Sister Training Leaders of the Sister Training Leaders (Leaders of the Leaders of the Sisters) while her companion did exchanges with Hermana Ayala. Lucky me. Seriously. I'm not a leader, but I got a chance to work with another "Sister AP," like when I did exhanges with Hermana Ayala in the last transfer. And I was working with a chela from Draper, Hermana Raymond. Because of her crazy schedule, we spent 5 hours together in the bus (round trip, to Managua and then back to Estelí the next day) and time studying together for companion study, but only about 4 hours out working, in which one of the families we were visiting fed us tostadas and fruit salad, which here is actually a really delicious cinammony drink filled with fruit. I was in love. And was keeping up my record of eliciting offers of food from strangers while on exchanges. But my time with Sister Raymond was like what would have happened had I had 5 hours plus companion study in which to talk to President. One of the most important things she told me was to let myself love this work, because she can see that I do, even if sometimes I forget. She's kind of inspired. And kind of awesome. And not just because she bought me Pizza Hut and we studied and joked in English. 

Saturday and Sunday Hermana Ayala and I were working to get people to church, and to write our talks because the four missionaries spoke on Sunday. President and Sister Barcenas (the branch president) fed us lunch on Sunday, and we google mappd our houses. Apparently you can see not only the two cool trucks in front of our house, but also the BYU windsock and the We Are BYU flag in the window. Creepy, but cool.

Anyway, life is good in Estelí, the work is ever marching forward, the church is true, and I love you all. Pictures to follow, I hope.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Starting a new transfer in Estelí

Well folks, my new companion's name is Hermana Ayala. She is from the city of Guatemala City, and is "dying" in three months. We have cumple-meses within one day of each other, mine the 2, hers the 3. She'll be going home one year minus one day before me, April 3. We are going to have a lot of fun together and get a lot of good stuff accomplished. I'm a little intimidated by her. She was just "released" from her assignment as Sister Training Leader of the whole mission to come and be the Sister Training Leader of our zone in Estelí, and my companion. But hey, I'll rise to this challenge, and water will rise to its own level, and other idiomatic expressions and what not.

Adventures from this week: meeting her and Hermana Joachin, who came to replace Hermana Merrill, on Tuesday, and having our first day of work together as real companions. We now have two sisters with 3 months, Hermana Aparicio and me (she was living with us when we both came to Esteli as our first area), and two with 15 months, Hermana Joachin and Hermana Ayala, who were companions in the CCM (MTC), in the two companionships in our branch. We went to visit a part-member family with a member family, and it was awesome. We're going to baptize them. When they finally get a divorce so they can get married and baptized...yeah...that takes a while here. Wednesday was also great, and we finished the day with a branch council meeting where they made goals for the year. The coolest thing was being part of planning the goals for members to receive endowments and be sealed in 2014, and missionaries to be sent out. Some of them seem hard to reach, but last year they accomplished all of them. I want to see this little branch become a ward! I love these members so much!

Thursday was my first experience with divisions this change. I'll be doing divisions every week, since Hermana Ayala is the Sister Training Leader for this zone, and has to do divisions with each sister this change. Fortunately there are only 6 of us. Unfortunately, it means that I'll have to learn how to be in charge of my area without her. It also means I get to go to meetings with her. She's the only STL that's working solo (as in her companion is not a leader as well. Her companion is me.), but I get the advantage of doing divisions without the benefits of...well, actually, I think I get all the benefits of being a leader, and the work of divisions, without the worry of being responsable to Presidente. So, that's good, I guess. :) I was in divisions with Hermana Joachin. Our names rhyme. She's a chapina (Guatemalteca) too, super chill, and a convert of almost 3 years. I'm excited to be working with her in our branch, and hopefully hanging out with her on pday. Thursday was rough, working in my area without my senior companion, but I'll get better, and we got some good stuff done.

Friday was good but unremarkable, except that I ate a TON of tajadas...oops...she's a bad influence on me. Oh, no wait, Friday morning when we were changing back from divisions, we found the fair in the central parque, and definitely did a little shopping. And saw two funeral processions, one including a menos activo friend of mine. We went to her house that night and got a chance to cry with her. That was a precious moment, getting to be where the Lord needed us to be to give her comfort.

Saturday, I had a slightly drunk and very old investigator bring me flowers, right before we watched Finding Faith in Christ with his family. They were actually very pretty and smelled like nature, which I rarely smell here, but I ended up giving them away to the wife in the next family we visited, and before I took a picture, too. But it was a nice thought, for sure. We also put a baptismal date with the father/spouse of a part-member family. It's so great to see someone ready to change, and to be able to help them make that change. His family will be so much better off. And they love the missionaries. We've only visited them twice, my companion and I, but they love all the missionaries they've met, and they always want to feed us and play ball with us and read with us, and I can't wait to see them start to receive the blessings they deserve.

Sunday we had two part-member families in church with us, and one come to the CES devotional with us that night. We're working harder and trusting God seeing the blessings.

And today, well, today we ran to Managua to practice the special musical number for the two-mission conference that we're going to have the 24th of January. If I didn't mention before, I get the honor of playing the piano that day, when a Seventy and a member of the Area Presidency, Elder Amado and Elder Ochoa, will come to speak in a conference for both missions, North and South, in Nicaragua. We went a little early and visited the metrocentro mall before we had to meet up with the choir at 1. I may or may not have bought some shoes, an some chinese food. It felt like America. I even heard english tourists and saw American families. Que trunky! And we got two buses with great music, though we had to sit on stools on the first one since we didn't get there in time for tickets for seats. Oh, the joys of long-distance bus travel.

I'm remembering how much I love my Savior, and what a remarkable opportunity it is to represent Him and testify of Him and be His hands. This learning curve is steep, but I'm going to make it. I'm learning to love living in Nicaragua, learning to understand most Spanish, and, most importantly, loving not only the members, but all the people.

And one last note: On Sunday, Hermana Joachin said "I like this chela. She's different." Hermana Corzantes and Hermana Ayala (my two companions) have both said the same, more or less. They say I'm humble, and enjoy working with me, unlike other gringas in the past...what can I say, I'm awesome.

With lots of love,
Hermana Ferrin